Profiles

PROFILES

Tribute to Art Porter Jr.: Reflections of a Grateful Art

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During the early to mid '90s, soprano and alto saxophonist-composer Art Porter, Jr. was charting a blazing course on the contemporary jazz soundscape. The 35-year-old Little Rock, Arkansas native had recorded and released four albums for Verve Records. He had been a guest on the albums of such titans as keyboardists Ramsey Lewis; Jeff Lorber (who also produced and played on three of Porter's albums); and Tom Grant; guitarists Lee Ritenour and Evan Marks; and powerhouse vocalist El DeBarge, to ...

PROFILES

Gregg Allman: December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017

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“Well, I'll keep on moving. Things are bound to be improving these days. One of these days..." Gregg Allman recorded Jackson Browne's lament for his 1973 Capricorn release Laid Back. The song clung to him like smoke, the length of his career, surfacing here and there, until, finally he sang the song with its composer for the special, All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman (Rounder, 2014). That was a fine moment, one curiously ...

PROFILES

Malcolm Griffiths: A Man For All Seasons

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We talk often of the stars, like 'Trane and Miles. We remember the bandleaders, such as Basie and Duke. We even recall the composers and arrangers, Ellington again, Gil Evans and Monk. And we never forget those star soloists like Johnny Hodges or Lester Young. But the guys in the machine room, the guys who make their leaders' visions real time and again are all too often just an afterthought. Yet stop and think about what made those ...

PROFILES

Martin Speake: The Thinking Fan's Saxophonist

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British alto saxophonist, Martin Speake, is one of the most adventurous and articulate musicians in a music peppered with creative artists. That he is not a household name--even within the proscribed and marginalised world of jazz--says more about the times than it does about Speake or his single-minded approach to his art. Speake combines in his music a purposeful curiosity with a love of the jazz tradition. He is equally capable of flights into free improvisation and into ...

PROFILES

Arthur Blythe, 1940-2017: A Remembrance

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The emotive power of Arthur Blythe's bracing alto saxophone tone and flighty phrasing set him apart from many of his generation. A poet, a muezzin, an angry activist, a lamenting lover: Blythe conjured a broad array of sonic images through his nonpareil approach to music. The beloved altoist, who had battled Parkinson's disease for the past several years, passed away on March 27, 2017 at the age of 76. Blythe's musical cohorts and fans remember him with deep ...

PROFILES

Billy Krechmer: A Philadelphia Story

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There is a story told of the last night of an iconic jazz club in Philadelphia in 1966. The bandleader-owner, it was said, had been called away prior to closing. He was unable to return before the end of the last set. Walking back, he watched the crowd filing out. Some, I am told, had tears in their eyes. Ok. Too good to be true. Or too sentimental to be true. Unconfirmed by independent sources. All true. But if the ...

PROFILES

Rolling in Rhythm: Philly Joe Jones and Charles Wilcoxon

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Drummer “Philly" Joe Jones is known as one of the most recorded drummers in jazz history, appearing on more than 200 albums. His legacy as a studio drummer appears on seminal classics like John Coltrane's Blue Train, Thelonious Monk's Blues at the Five Spot, Miles Davis's Milestones, and Bud Powell's Time Waits. Beside these recordings, Jones regularly toured as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet and a later incarnation of the Bill Evans Trio. Jones also learned or received ...

PROFILES

Dwight Sills: Creating His Own Space

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After delivering three projects on other record labels, guitarist-composer-producer Dwight Sills decided it was time to start creating an outlet for himself on his fourth and most personal CD yet, Short Stories. Creating this outlet was not a new concept for the Houston, Texas resident. Most of the eight tunes on this eclectic and engaging 2016 offering were written by Sills during the early '80s, when he was honing his craft on the ever-burgeoning jny: Houston jazz club ...

PROFILES

The Early Years of Sonny Stitt in Saginaw, Michigan

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As one of most recorded saxophonists of his generation, Sonny Stitt made more than 100 albums under his own name. He also performed as a sideman with the likes of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Blakey. Despite the breadth of recorded work he left behind, Sonny Stitt's upbringing in Saginaw, Michigan is less well-documented. The basic facts of his birth have been widely circulated: Edward “Sonny" Stitt was born Edward Boatner Jr., the son of a Massachusetts concert singer/composer ...


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