Friday, October 24, 2014

David Redfern, Photographs

Stan Kenton in London; Price: £750 - £1000. Visit the website.

The jazz and rock photographer David Redfern died at the age of 78. The Telegraph obituary is online here. This gallery, assembled from various online sources, mostly Tumblr, shows some of Redfern's best photographic works. All rights belong to David Redfern. For further information, visit his website here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tricky F. (A Story About Art Tatum)

"The English pianist Alan Clare was once intrigued with a workman who was carrying out some remodeling inside his house. Clare was playing some recordings, and he began to notice that the workman was whistling along with whatever music he put on—Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, it didn't seem to matter. Even if he hadn't heard it before he had the natural musical ability to follow a melody closely and almost automatically.

Clark Terry: Further Years at the University of Ellingtonia (1955-56)

"Never think you are too hip, because two hips make an ass." — Clark Terry

Here is my second post on Clark Terry at the University of Ellingtonia, complemented by David W. Niven's audio archive and his selection of Terry's solos played and recorded over the course of two years.

This collection is particularly interesting because of introducing more flugelhorn solos into the Ellington repertoire.

I also quote passages from Clark Terry's autobiography, where he is giving astute descriptions of other members of Ellingtonia. The book, which aside from its invaluable insight into CT's life is a great piece of literature, can be purchased here.

This is how Mr Mumbles introduces his colleagues:

"Harold "Shorty" Baker got his nickname because of his height. Sometimes we'd call him "Shorty Boo," just to mess with him...He had a gorgeous sound on his trumpet and played beautiful and interesting solos."

"We called Ray Nance 'Little Dipper' in honor of Louis Armstrong, whose nickname was 'Big Dipper'. He was the sweetest cat in the world. Never harmed anyone. He smiled most of the time, and there was always a pleasant atmosphere around him. He played elegant trumpet solos and was an accomplished violinist, tap dance, and vocalist as well."

"Willie Cook came over from Dizzy's band. He was playing 'à la Birks,'...Very small but a powerful player with interesting solos. Dark-skinned with nice features—almost like a Native American. He wore a conk all the time."

"We called Johnny Hodges 'Rabbit' because with his long ears and small eyes, that’s what his face resembled. He was a marvelous lead alto player with a very mellow sound. Quiet and unassuming, but he could play his ass off."

"Russell Procope played alto. He was short and more portly than Rabbit. Kinda intellectually talkative at times. He was from the old John Kirby band. He was a dependable reader and had a beautiful sound."

"Jimmy Hamilton was a tenor player who was featured more on the clarinet. His old nickname was “Joe Trump” because he had played trumpet in Philadelphia years before. Everybody loved his playing. He was a little shorter than me, of average complexion and with a little moustache. Sort of slow of speech."

"Harry Carney had been with Duke for a long time—ever since he was seventeen. Ended up staying with Duke for forty-five years. An incredible musician. First cat in the band I saw doing circular breathing...Harry played clarinet, bass clarinet, and baritoneax. He was a big guy with intelligent conversations, and he was Duke’s favorite riding buddy. They rode together often in Harry’s Chrysler while we rode on the bus."

"Juan Tizol played valve trombone beautifully. A Cuban who spoke broken English. Olive complexion, and he wore glasses. He was a hell of a composer, too."

"Britt Woodman was a studio man who played slide trombone. Phenomenal chops, beautiful tone. And he could sight-read like nobody’s business. Such a delightful person to be around. Kinda short, with a light complexion. He was also sedentary, and would go to sleep on you in a New York minute."

"Quentin 'Butter' Jackson was a master with the slide trombone and the plunger. He filled a great void with his incredible plunger techniques after Tricky Sam left the band years before."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet: BWi

Cecil Payne Dossier#6 - An ongoing series on one of the giants of baritone sax 

The last video from the Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet in Switzerland happens to feature the opening tune for the concert which also, in my VHS copy, misses the beginning. The tune is a Payne original, BWi.

Jazzfestival Bern, Switzerland, May 8, 1998
Eric Alexander(ts), Cecil Payne (bars), Stephen Scott (p), Ron Carter (b), Lewis Nash (d)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Clark Terry: The Ellington Years And Beyond (1952-60)

Clark Terry. Photo courtesy of Riverside

"Nobody ever says a bad word about Clark Terry." -- Richard Cook

I just saw the documentary Keep On Keepin' On (2014), about Clark Terry and his messianic belief in jazz education, thus I'm in the mood for nothing but CT. (Hopefully, soon I will be writing a note on the film for this blog.) Here, what I've got to offer is a compilation of various solos CT played during his decade-long stint with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.

"Duke was endowed with a supernatural magic," remembers Clark Terry, "he could cuss you out and rarely use a cuss word. He'd chastise you from the piano by hitting a discord and everybody knew what was going on. A frequent utterance of his was simply 'Aaaaaahhhhh!' It might mean something like, 'You're not paying attention! You're not listening!' Or it might mean that what you played was beautiful to him."

With exception of one track, everything you'll hear is recorded live in concert, mostly with non-professional tools and less than skillful engineers. As Clark Terry would say, these tracks are surveying a life on the road: "East coast to west coast and all in between - clubs, ballrooms, and theaters. The Beehive,  Blackhawk, Blue Note, DeLisa, Regal, Apollo, Trianon, Savoy, and many others."

There are various takes on How High the Moon which was Terry's solo feature throughout a good part of the 1950s. And then there is a surprisingly bop-ish arrangement of that tune from a Birdland session in November, 1952.

Perdido is another tune with which Terry was featured in Ellington's band. They are by far the most exciting takes of this old tune on Ellington's recorded catalog. It's like "magic" to see how Ellington manages to bring a new musical angle to the same song played over the course of the years. For that matter, one only has to go back, or forward, to compare other interpretation of the same song and see how the master tailor is re-fitting the old suit to Clark Terry's sound and musical (or even personal) character.

The voice heard on this tape is of course of Mr David W. Niven's, giving some useful information about Terry. He is responsible for this compilation. However, be aware that not all the dates and facts given are accurate. For a more reliable discography of the sessions see below.

All sessions are under Duke Ellington's leadership unless noted.