Thursday, May 9, 2019

Willis Conover Interviews Gil Evans

Possibly taped in February 1968 but broadcast on May 16, 1968, this is a short, informal chat between the DJ Willis Conover and jazz composer/arranger Gil Evans." Here, Evans mentions working on a new recording with Miles Davis which is most likely the one known as The Falling Water sessions (released only decades later in the Evans/Davis Columbia set.) Evans sounds laid-back but not very candid. There's an interesting reminiscing by Conover about a meeting between Harold Arlen, Evans and Friedrich Gulda (at 5') but even more interesting is Conover's mentioning of a screening of The Sound of Jazz (feat. Miles Davis/Gil Evans) in Russia which he had personally attended a year before.

The source is here.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Willis Conover's Eulogy for Duke Ellington

This is mainly a detailed (and moving) description of Ellington's funeral. From a 1974 VOA's jazz hour broadcast.

This was the source.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The CBS Tribute to Duke Ellington, 1974

Broadcast on the day that the Duke died, featuring concert footage and interview with colleagues and band members such as Ella Fitgerald, Sony Greer, Russell Procope, Billy Taylor and Stanley Dance, this is a newly digitised tape.

Forgive the silly John Wayne clip and the sillier ads popping up which are good reminders of the crude world in which Ellington was creating his sophisticated and inimitable art.

Friday, December 14, 2018

RIP Nancy Wilson (1937-2018): Lady With A Song

Originally posted on 21/12/2013. Re-posted on 14/12/2018.

Moving on with our Women in Jazz series, sooner or later I had to mention Nancy Wilson whom I came to know and admire in the Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley album.

Here is a digitised copy of a tape of mine from 1997, recorded off air during Bern Jazz Festival,  featuring Lew Matthews on keyboard, John Williams on bass and possibly Roy McCurdy on drums. They perform Lady With A Song.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Date with Dizzy (1958)

Aside from being the greatest trumpeter since Louis Armstrong, or being held high as one of the greatest composers in jazz, Dizzy Gillespie was a comedian of sorts. Alluring the audience with weird hats, funky language, and cake-walking, Dizzy was more than a musician, dominating any stage with charisma, an animated performance and a rare sense of ease.

In 1958, a filmmaker tried to capture some of these features on film, though camera's fascination with Dizz can be traced back to the 1940s and his first Soundie films. Directed by the independent American animator John Hubley, A Date With Dizzy presents Dizzy Gillespie Quintet with Sahib Shihab, Wade Legge, Nelson Boyd and Charlie Persip.

Combing comedy with animation and fragments of Dizzy's classic pieces, the story concerns a day in the studio, while in presence of an indecisive director and a nervous company representative, the band is trying to score for a couple of silly cartoon commercials such as Instant Rope Ladder and E-Z Popcorn.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jammin' in Helsinki: A Retrospective of Jazz on Film

To the Finnish readers of this blog (if any): Throughout February 2018, my small selection of jazz films will be played at the Orion Cinema in Helsinki as a part of Black History Month in Finland.

The selection includes the 35mm prints of classics such as Black and Tan Fantasy (Duke Ellington's first appearance on film) to more recent documentaries, such as the witty and touching Keep On Keepin' On, featuring Clark Terry, and the new must-see Lee Morgan film, I Called Him Morgan. The Finnish TV archive has been dug up for some rarely screened performance films with Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

If you wish to continue reading in Finnish, go here.

Jammin' in Helsinki would be played in eight sessions:

Mili (right) behind the scene of Jammin' the Blues

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bobby Hackett With Vic Dickenson: Live at the Roosevelt Grill

If I have to pick one trombone player whose playing embodies both the tradition and a rare timelessness that would be Victor Dickenson (1906-84).

Celebrating that artful master of melancholic humour, here is a tape worth listening to from the David W. Niven collection. Recorded live in 1970, Bobby Hackett Quintet, featuring Vic Dickenson, plays one of its regular nights at the Roosevelt Grill, located inside The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

The place was opened in 1924 and later became synonymous with Guy Lombardo whose orchestra performed there for nearly three decades. It was only a year before Roosevelt Grill was used as one of the locations for the copper movie The French Connection that jazz critic Whitney Balliett caught up with Hackett and Dickenson one late evening:

"My head full of cute muted trumpets and toy-soldier rhythms [of Sy Oliver band], I went over to the Roosevelt Grill for the final moments of Bobby Hackett's quintet, which will soon be dissolved when Dickenson replaces Kai Winding in the World's Greatest Jazz Band and the rare Benny Morton replaces Dickenson in Hackett's group. Hackett and Dickenson together are Jack Sprats of jazz. Hackett is cool, golden and mathematical, and Dickenson is hot, shaggy, and funny, and between them they encompass most of what is worth knowing about jazz."

Friday, September 1, 2017

John McLaughlin Trio in Stuttgart, 1992, Part II

John McLaughlin Trio | Live at Jazzgipfel, Stuttgart, Germany | July 3, 1992

John McLaughlin (acoustic guitar) | Dominique Di Piazza (electric bass) | Trilok Gurtu (percussion)

Reincarnation (McLaughlin)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Benny Goodman Picks the 60 Greatest Jazz Records of All Time

We always look for ways to expand our jazz library, including open our ears to recommendations, especially when it comes to obscurities, rarities, and discoveries. Listing is one of the most popular games played towards that aim which is never entirely devoid of edifying values.

This list of the 60 Greatest Jazz Records of All Time is hardly an addition to any library, as by now, most of them are standard components of any serious jazz collection. However, it is so rare that a musician like Benny Goodman comes forward and shares his list of must-have albums with you.

"Unfortunately, the triumph of jazz in the U.S. as a whole is a little incomplete," Goodman bemoans in the introduction to the list, "the American people - especially the teenage population which has been weaned on rock 'n' toll - are losing sight of that very jazz heritage."

Compiled for Los Angeles Times (November 12, 1961), Goodman commits to enlighten the reader who is not quite sure where to start: "Over the years many of these people have asked me to draw up a list of 'the greatest jazz albums ever made.' I believe there is now a crying need for such a guideline."

In fact, the list was a sequel to an LA Times article by Leopold Stokowski, selecting his dream library of classical recordings.

Goodman lists has its own surprises and unexpected picks. Categorised according formats and instruments, he doesn't bother to allocate any space to bass players. Saxophonists are present, but there is no mention of John Coltrane. However, at the end of the list, under the amusing title of "Far Out", suddenly Ornette Coleman appears (Goodman's most surprising moment here) and even a Thelonious Monk who, by 1961, was a established figure and in the light of latest developments in jazz could have been seen as a traditionalist rather than a Far Out musician. More surprisingly, Goodman opts for a big band recording of Monk's instead of his trio or quartet works.

Going through the history of jazz, Goodman gives little criteria over his selection except consciously omitting big dance bands (Glen Miller, Dorsey Bros., Harry James, Les Brown, Claude Thornhill) as in his mind, they are already known by public. While many great instrumentalists are missing in the list, Goodman claims that this list is derived from a need to acknowledge the individual soloists. Finally, the old master introduces no less than three of his own records (one under Charly Christian) and saves Fats Waller for the vocalists section.

One last message from Mr. Goodman before we go ahead with the list:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Buck Clayton Quartet 1965

A concert commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the UN
Buck Clayton Quartet
Genève, Switzerland, 24/10/1965
Buck Clayton (trumpet),  Henri Chaix (piano), Isla Eckinger (bass), Pierre Bourru (drums).
Duration 22:35

Set list:

  1. 'S Wonderful
  2. I Can't Get Started
  3. Honeysuckle Rose
  4. Perdido