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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Herbie Hancock: An Essential Top Ten Albums

Read "Herbie Hancock: An Essential Top Ten Albums" reviewed by Chris May

The title of Herbie Hancock's 1973 hit single “Chameleon," pulled from his jazz-funk monster Head Hunters (Columbia), was an apt one. Hancock had already undergone several transformations: from the blues-and-gospel-infused vibe of his Blue Note debut, Takin' Off (1962), to more experimentally inclined Blue Note albums in the mid-to-late 1960s, and on to his early 1970s ...


Article: Album Review

Becca Stevens and Elan Mehler: Pallet On Your Floor

Read "Pallet On Your Floor" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Elan Mehler is well known as a producer and as co-founder of the all-vinyl Newvelle Records label, which he co-founded in 2016. Mehler's pianist-composer bona fides are long-established. His eight recordings to date have reflected a wide variety of approaches. The experimental remixes of Scheme For Thought (Brownswood Recordings, 2007), classical influences on Early Sunday Morning ...


Article: Profile

Cotton Pickin' Blues

Read "Cotton Pickin' Blues" reviewed by Martin McFie

Blues began with enslaved African peoples' work songs in the cotton fields of the Deep South of America. The Slave Narrative of Mr. Sam Polite, given at 93 years of age, chronicles that life. It was written on St. Helena, a cotton producing Sea Island in the Carolinas, where Mr. Polite was born into slavery. The ...


Article: Under the Radar

The Black Swan: A History of Race Records

Read "The Black Swan: A History of Race Records" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Montgomery, Alabama native Perry Bradford was an African-American composer and vaudeville musician when he approached General Phonograph Company, Director of Artists, Fred Hagar in 1920. Bradford was pitching Mamie Smith, a relatively unfamiliar pianist and singer from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hagar agreed to a two-side recording deal. Widely regarded as a blues singer, Smith more frequently ...


Article: Live From New York

Matthew Shipp, Marc Ribot, Dorado Schmitt & Randy Weston

Read "Matthew Shipp, Marc Ribot, Dorado Schmitt & Randy Weston" reviewed by Martin Longley

The Matthew Shipp Trio Dizzy's Club November 3, 2014 It's not often that a hero of New York's alternative downtown improvising scene ventures uptown to play a mainline jazz club. It's even more of a rarity for a Dizzy's set to consist of a single long piece. In fact, ...


Article: Extended Analysis

Sonny Landreth: Elemental Journey

Read "Sonny Landreth: Elemental Journey" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Sonny Landreth Elemental Journey Landfall Records 2012 How did we arrive at the phenomenon that is guitarist Sonny Landreth? In his autobiography, Father of the Blues: An Autobiography (Da Capo Press, 1969), African American composer W. C. Handy detailed his experience of sleeping on the train platform in ...


Article: Album Review

Bob Greene: St. Peter Street Strutters

Read "St. Peter Street Strutters" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

Back in December 1964, pianist Bob Greene, cornetist Ernie Carson, tubaist Shorty Johnson and banjoist Steve Larner went into the studio to record this set of New Orleans tunes. The music was played by groups larger than a quartet, but size did not matter; the four filled the music with a sense of tradition that has ...


Article: Book Review

Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and the Birth of Concert Jazz

Read "Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and the Birth of Concert Jazz" reviewed by David Rickert

Ellington Uptown: Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and the Birth of Concert Jazz James Howland Hardcover; 360 pages ISBN: 978-0-472-11605-8 University of Michigan Press 2009 Ellington Uptown addresses the development of concert jazz, a largely neglected style that emerged near the beginning of the ...


News: Book / Magazine

Blues Capitalist W. C. Handy

Blues Capitalist W. C. Handy

If Beale Street could talk, it would say, Who the hell is the guy depicted in that big statue by the entrance to the park? W. C. Handy, once so famous as the Father of the Blues that he was memorialized with a bronze monument in Memphis, is not nearly as well known today to people ...


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