Thursday, October 31, 2013

WKCR Frank Wess Memorial Broadcast


Columbia University's WKCR 89.9FM is commemorating the life of Tenor Sax/Flautist Frank Wess with memorial broadcast from 6pm Thursday October 31 - 9pm Friday November 1st (Eastern Time). Tune in!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

recent listing: october contrafacts

Lately I've been listening to a few contrafacts (tunes written on the chords of other tunes).  For the most part I have been looking for pre-bop contrafacts. Drop me a line if you know any good ones.

First up was checking out some tunes based on changes from "Tiger Rag" (which shares plenty in common with "Won't you come home Bill Bailey") - Duke Ellington was a fan - "Daybreak Express," "Hot & Bothered," "Braggin' In Brass" & "The Slippery Horn" come out of "Tiger Rag."
A couple of others "Tiger Rag" based tunes I've come across include Louis Armstrong's "Hotter Than Hot" and Sidney Bechet playing "I'll Take That New Orleans Music" (Wilbur DeParis).

There are plenty based on "I Got Rhythm".... "The Jeep Is Jumpin" (Hodges/Ellington) "Apple Honey" (Woody Herman) "Seven Come Eleven" (Charlie Christian) "Shag" (Sidney Bechet) "Chant Of The Groove" (Coleman Hawkins).

Coleman Hawkins wrote a few contrafacts - "Bean Soup" (Tea For Two) "Bay-U-Bah" (Sweet Georgia Brown) "Bean At The Met" (How High The Moon) and I listened to his takes of a couple by Thelonious Monk too - "Rifftide" (aka Hackensack (Lady Be Good) & "Stuffy" (aka Stuffy Turkey (Stompin' At The Savoy).

Another based on Stompin' is "Byas A Drinkby Don Byas. He'ss a player I haven't listened to that much. I remember giving his famous duo with Slam Steward on I Got Rhythm quite a few listens, but that was some time ago.

A few different versions of "Moten Swing" (You're Driving Me Crazy) have been on, including Jay McShann (featuring Bird), Gene Ammons, Eddie Durham and Sonny Stitt.

The Count Basie band on "Dickies Dream" (I Found A New Baby - which seems to share a bit in common with "I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music" though I haven't sat down and tried working it out.)

Charles Minugs' band playing "Take The A Train" and "Exactly Like You" at the same time. This is from the album "Mingus Revisited" (aka Pre-Bird - Mingus wrote the pieces before he had heard bop) I hadn't heard this album in ages - I'll have to find time to have a listen to the rest of the album.

I didn't really listen to many of the bop melodies. One I did check out was Charlie Parker's "She Rote." For this the melody is over of pedal tone and the blowing in on the changes from "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" - I've been listening to Nat Cole's version with Stuff Smith and another by Roy Eldridge.

Aside from contrafacts I have also been listening to artists improvising on standard forms without stating the melody (and renaming the tune in the process). Again, I've pretty much been sticking to pre-bop stuff. If you know of any others - from any era - please let me know (I have the Tristano work pretty well covered).

A couple of favourites to start of with - Roy Eldridge & Chu Berry on "Sittin' In" (Tiger Rag) and "Forty-six West-52" (Sweet Georgia Brown)

Not as well known as his 1939 version Coleman Hawkins' "Rainbow Mist" (Body & Soul) from 1944 is worth checking out. Another one from Hawkins in the mid-40s is "Hawk Variations." I'm not totally sure on this one yet - it sounds as if Monk's "Round Midnight" makes and appearance in the 2nd half but I'm not sure of the 1st half yet..... suggestions? This is an excellent (and surprisingly not very well known) solo saxophone performance. Apparently this was recorded as a promo for Selmer saxophones.

Couldn't pass up a couple from Lester Young too - "Lester Swings" (Exactly Like You) and "Lester Blows Again" (Honeysuckle Rose).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hamilton College Jazz Archive

For those of you interested in jazz oral histories be sure to check out the Hamilton College Jazz Archive. A couple of hundred interviews covering a wide range of artists from Michael Abene to Danny Zeitlin and Nat Adderley to Snooky Young.

Here's a little bit from the talk with clarinetist Kenny Davern.

Monk Rowe: Was there a point where you said music is going to be my career?
Kenny Davern: Right.
MR: A definite...
KD: A definite — I can remember it like it was yesterday. 
Kenny Davern & Bill Payne
Photo by Mark Weber

There used to be Ted Huesing’s bandstand. Ted Huesing I think originally was a sports car enthusiast or whatever. And he had, he played popular music like from three to six everyday, I forget what the station was, WJZ or WOR or something like that. And the last 15 minutes he played Dixieland band music. And I liked that. I liked the way those bands sounded. I liked it especially because the clarinet was free. And then on Saturday mornings from 11 to 12 he’d play a whole hour of all these different people, you know, Dixieland jazz bands, whether it be Tony Parenti or Wild Bill Davison or you know, you name it, whoever was around at that time. And one day he played a Muggsy Spanier recording of Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtime and they were playing “Memphis Blues.” And I was just standing in the kitchen listening and I heard this, because the radio was on top of the ice box. And I heard this instrument growling and grunting and [scats], and this beautiful background like the band playing whole notes. And it was Pee Wee Russell playing clarinet. Well you know you can go look at paintings, you can read books, you can see movies, you can listen to music, and if you haven’t had a musical experience from any one of those things you’re never really going to be hooked. I mean if a book can make you laugh and cry and the same with a painting or whatever, if you can experience something — prior to that you just listen, you know, like a fan. Yeah that’s good, yeah. But if it doesn’t really grab you emotionally — and I stood there transfixed looking at that radio. And I said that’s it, I want to do that for the rest of my life. I was about 14.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Jazz Review

Recently, I sent this link to some friends and thought I may as well post it here too.

The Jazz Review was published between 1958-1961.

Lots of interesting articles including album reviews by musicians - The February 1959 issue has Cannonball Adderley reviewing albums by Ahmad Jamal and Tony Scott and Bill Crow reviews Adderley, Paul Bley and Ray Charles.

The same issue contains a review of Warne Marsh's self-titled album on Atlantic. Possibly one of Marsh's longest reviews.... about 75% of which is dedicated to his tone (reviewer Mimi Clar is not a fan!). Great album - be sure to check it out!

Currently there are about half a dozen copies online (PDF files) - they intend to upload the journal's entire run.

Jazz Studies Online has plenty of other articles and book excerpts
Here's Barry Ulanov's feature on Lennie Tristano from the August 1949 issue of Metronome.