Articles by Peter Rubie

Jazz Fiction

Tonal Warriors

Read "Tonal Warriors" reviewed by Peter Rubie

New York City, July, 1983 “Man, it's like walking with lead shoes on," I complained. Roger, our drummer, smiled, shook his head and muttered, “I may just take off in a minute." Eddie said to me, “You're a miserable motherfucker sometimes, Phil. You know that?" The three of us sat on the stone steps of the waterless fountain outside the Plaza Hotel. We were dog-legged across from a horde of street vendors by Central ...

The Jazz Life

My 'Other' Brother -- Remembering Jack Wilkins: 1944-2023

Read "My 'Other' Brother -- Remembering Jack Wilkins: 1944-2023" reviewed by Peter Rubie

Prologue This piece, in a shorter form, appeared as a post on my Facebook page a few days after my friend Jack Wilkins died on May 5, 2023. On behalf of a group of close friends I also helped write a remembrance piece for WBGO, one or two quotes of which are also included here. I thought that was it. I had written out my grief, certainly in terms of public displays anyway. Then we discovered that the ...

Liner Notes

Jean-Luc Ponty: No Absolute Time

Read "Jean-Luc Ponty: No Absolute Time" reviewed by Peter Rubie

When we talk about world music, we often use the phrase in quiet desperation to describe music that defies familiarity and our expectations but still appeals to us. Its very newness is often both slightly disturbing and refreshing at the same time. Two years before No Absolute Time was released in 1993, Jean-Luc Ponty (JLP) produced one called Tchokola. In an interview for this re-release, JLP said, “Tchokola was a very special project for me. I recorded it ...

Liner Notes

Jean-Luc Ponty: Individual Choice

Read "Jean-Luc Ponty: Individual Choice" reviewed by Peter Rubie

By 1982, jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty had established an enviable reputation as a pioneer in jazz-rock and jazz fusion. He began as a young bebop player in the late 1950s with little interest in becoming another swing or gypsy style violinist. It was the “sheets of sound" music of John Coltrane that spoke loudest to him. By the early 1970s Ponty was recording and touring with rock composer Frank Zappa, and playing with John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as ...

Liner Notes

Jean-Luc Ponty: Open Mind

Read "Jean-Luc Ponty: Open Mind" reviewed by Peter Rubie

If Individual Choice was the sketchbook of Jean-Luc Ponty's (JLP) decision to take his music in a new direction, Open Mind (1984), released the following year, was a deeper exploration of the emerging world of synthesizers and sequencers and their impact on live (studio) performance. Here, complex rhythmic patterns shift in the background while new sounds appear and disappear on the surface in colorful bursts, and outstanding jazz improvisors create familiar music in new settings. It's almost an audio version ...


Jean-Luc Ponty: Imaginary Voyages, Part 2

Read "Jean-Luc Ponty: Imaginary Voyages, Part 2" reviewed by Peter Rubie

Part 1 | Part 2American violinist Stuff Smith once said about the young, classically trained and self taught jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, “He plays violin like Coltrane plays saxophone." Born in 1942, Ponty has almost single-handedly taken jazz violin from the swing era into modern jazz, and beyond. At rock musician Frank Zappa's urging, Ponty moved to the States in 1973 to record and tour with Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. In the following years he made ...


Jean-Luc Ponty: Imaginary Voyages, Part 1

Read "Jean-Luc Ponty: Imaginary Voyages, Part 1" reviewed by Peter Rubie

Part 1 | Part 2 Jazz is an art form that has been a singular hothouse of musical talent over the decades. There are, and have been, lots of not just great but brilliant players. But perhaps not unsurprisingly, there have been far fewer jazz originals. I mean by that, musicians whose playing has not only outshone most of their contemporaries, but continues to impact generations of players. We might well argue about who has been left out ...

Extended Analysis

Lennie Tristano Personal Recordings, 1946-1970

Read "Lennie Tristano Personal Recordings, 1946-1970" reviewed by Peter Rubie

They called it the Cool School, but what's in a name?In this case, quite a lot as it happens. The Cool School included musicians like Chet Baker, John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Dave Brubeck. Under the guidance of arranger and composer Gil Evans, it established itself in an unquestionable way with the release of Miles Davis' album Birth of the Cool (Capitol Records) in 1957, though the music had actually been recorded some eight or ...

The Jazz Life

Fit As A Fiddle: How the Violin Helped Shape Jazz, Part 2

Read "Fit As A Fiddle: How the Violin Helped Shape Jazz, Part 2" reviewed by Peter Rubie

Part 1 | Part 2 This is Now I hate to confess this, but I've never been that keen on Stephane Grappelli's playing, as masterful and brilliant as he assuredly was. ("He plays with an accent," violinist and Berklee professor Rob Thomas confided to me when I hesitantly mentioned this to him. What Rob meant was that Stephane used a lot more vibrato than most other jazz violinists.) “It was that gypsy, slightly classical style," Detroit-born ...

The Jazz Life

Fit As A Fiddle: How The Violin Helped Shape Jazz, Part 1

Read "Fit As A Fiddle: How The Violin Helped Shape Jazz, Part 1" reviewed by Peter Rubie

Part 1 | Part 2 That was then... Considering jazz is an art form that mostly makes it up as it goes along, it's ironically appropriate that printed records--i.e., data--from the days of its birth are decidedly sparse. We know, at least, that during the 18th and 19th Centuries in New Orleans white plantation owners, one afternoon a week, allowed their African slaves time off to play their music and dance together. This music, direct from Africa, albeit ...

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.