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News: Recording

Backgrounder: Johnny Hammond - Breakout

Backgrounder: Johnny Hammond  - Breakout

As Johnny “Hammond" Smith became increasingly popular, he added his middle nickname to avoid being confused with guitarist Johnny Smith and organ great Jimmy Smith. He began recording as leader in 1959 and was a sideman throughout the 1960s. In 1971, Creed Taylor signed him to Kudu Records, his soul-flavored subsidiary of CTI. Smith's album Breakout ...

News: Recording

Backgrounder: Jimmy McGriff - Step 1

Backgrounder: Jimmy McGriff - Step 1

Philadelphian Jimmy McGriff began as a pianist but fell in love with the organ after hearing Richard “Groove" Holmes play the Hammond B3 at his sister's wedding. He bought his first organ in 1956, spent six months at New York's Juilliard School of Music and then studied the organ privately with Milt Buckner, Jimmy Smith and ...

News: Recording

Backgrounder: Leon Spencer - Bad Walking Woman

Backgrounder: Leon Spencer - Bad Walking Woman

After reviewing Wonderful!, Mike LeDonne's new organ jazz album yesterday, I was drawn to my favorites from the late 1960s and early 1970s. To give you a feel of this jazz period, I thought I'd select a few lesser-known gems. Today, I'm featuring Leon Spencer Jr.'s Bad Walking Woman. Recorded in 1972, this LP was Spencer's ...

News: Recording

Black Art Jazz Collective: 'Truth to Power'

Black Art Jazz Collective: 'Truth to Power'

Many jazz fans break out in a sweat when they see the word “collective" in the name of a jazz group. One assumes the music is going to be avant-garde and free form to the point of incoherence. You'll be happy to know that that the Black Art Jazz Collective's new album Truth to Power (HighNote) ...

News: Recording

Backgrounder: Ray Bryant - Alone With the Blues

Backgrounder: Ray Bryant - Alone With the Blues

Recorded in December 1958, Alone With the Blues was Ray Bryant's first solo piano album. Growing up, Bryant was deeply influenced by the church, and gospel always played a big part in his approach to jazz. His mother was an ordained minister in Philadelphia and made sure Bryant was with her in the pews. He began ...

News: Video / DVD

Bill Evans: Here's That Rainy Day

Bill Evans: Here's That Rainy Day

I've always loved Bill Evans's solo interpretation of Here's That Rainy Day from Alone in 1968. He opens with enormous sensitivity and delivers a measured ballad reading, followed by rising intensity and swing as the tempo quickens. The master take that appears on the album never fails to thrill me. Yet despite his beauty, Evans didn't ...

News: Recording

Marlon Simon: On Different Paths

Marlon Simon: On Different Paths

Harry Sepulveda has great taste in Latin music, especially Latin-jazz. He should, considering that for decades he managed Record Mart, the Latin record store that first opened in 1958 and stood in the Times Square subway station near the Grand Central shuttle. I first met Harry in the 1970s when the record shop was located several ...

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News: Interview

Interview: Ada Rovatti

Interview: Ada Rovatti

Saxophonist Ada Rovatti and trumpeter Randy Brecker have been wife and husband since 2001. The pair met in 1996 when Randy traveled to Italy to perform with a local jazz band there. Ada was responsible for bringing him the music and talking him through how the concert would roll. As she told me below, it was ...

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News: Recording

Backgrounder: Gerry Mulligan - Jeru

Backgrounder: Gerry Mulligan - Jeru

"Jeru" is a nickname Miles Davis came up with for baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan in the late 1940s when they were rehearsing the Miles Davis Nonet. The recordings they made between 1949 and 1950 would eventually wind up on a Capitol compilation album entitled Birth of the Cool. Jeru is also the title of an album ...

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News: Video / DVD

Bill Evans: On Green Dolphin Street

Bill Evans: On Green Dolphin Street

To the best of my knowledge, there are only 10 known recordings of Bill Evans playing On Green Dolphin Street. Composed in 1947 by Bronisław Kaper (with lyrics by Ned Washington), the song was written for the film Green Dolphin Street, which was based on the 1944 novel of the same name by Elizabeth Goudge. The ...


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