September 2003


Billy Strayhorn – “Something to Live For” – The Music of Billy Strayhorn.
Book - By Walter van de Leur

For lovers of Ellingtonia, jazz, and twentieth-century music, Walter van de Leur’s new book is indeed Something to Live For. The first in-depth study of the music of composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn, this volume is meticulously researched, clearly written, and enriched with excerpts from Strayhorn’s monumental 28-year contribution to the Duke Ellington Orchestra and music he wrote for other contexts. Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn sets a new standard of excellence for jazz musicology.

Bill Kirchner, Composer-arranger, saxophonist, jazz historian, producer, educator and editor of the Oxford Companion to Jazz.

Oxford University Press

Betty Carter – “Open the Door – The Life and Music of Betty Carter”
Book - By William R. Bauer

Betty Carter was the only post bop singer who could be mentioned in the same breath with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan. Focusing on her music, William Bauer also illuminates her fierce independence as a woman. Passionate but balanced; Open the Door is a splendid contribution to jazz literature.

Francis Davis, Author of Like Young and the History of the Blues.

The University of Michigan Press

Various Artists - “Calle 54” a film by Fernando Trueba

Acclaimed as one of the very best motion pictures ever made about music, the vibrant Calle 54 offers an incredible behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of Grammy Award winner Tito Puente and some of the greatest Latin Jazz artists of our time. Whether it’s created in the hot back-street clubs or recording studios from Miami to Havana, the Bronx to Andalusia, the pulsating sounds of Latin Jazz capture the heart and soul of an entire culture. Showcased in a series of extraordinary performances, Latin legends use their immense musical talents to weave an innovative tapestry of sound, style and rhythm that becomes a passionate celebration of life. From the director of the Academy Award winning “Belle Epoch” (Best Foreign Language Film –1993) - featured artists include the late “godfather of Latin music” Tito Puente, Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, Argentinean tenor sax great Gato Barbieri, Paquito D’Rivera, Jerry Gonzalez, Michel Camilo, Chucho Valdes, Chico O’Farrell and many more you don’t want to miss. H.H.

Miramax DVD 22597

Benny Goodman Quartet - "Together Again"
Duke Ellington - "Live and Rare" [3 CD's]

RealAudio Sample

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RCA once again dips into its archival vaults to offer the listener some welcomed treats from the later stages of the Goodman and Ellington aggregations.

The Benny Goodman Quartet of themed-30's, featuring Goodman - clarinet, Teddy Wilson - piano, Lionel Hampton - vibes and Gene Krupa - drums, is reunited on a re-release from 1963, recapturing that spirited magic that revolutionized the swing band era, compelling "every big swing band to have a subsidiary small group" within its larger aggregation. It was also a breakthrough in race relations with white and black musicians playing together in public venues across the country for the first time. None of that original creative spark is diminished here; each number (only "Runnin' Wild" had been recorded by the quartet of the 30's) displays "a refreshing liveliness and spontaneity in everyone's playing", as though 25 years later, time had not interrupted their incredible flow of brilliant and exciting jazz.

The 3 CD set of Ellington material covers recorded sessions from 1965 to 1973, much of it previously unreleased. Disc 1 offers three segments; the re-release of the 1973 Eastbourne concert from London [12 numbers]; 4 selections from the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival June 20, 1965, including a previously unreleased "Ellington's Father's Day Greeting", 3 hitherto unissued pieces February 28, 1968 titled Newport Jazz Festival Announcement Party.

Disc 2 presents The Duke at Tanglewood with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops [1965] including rehearsal takes of 5 selections; Disc 3 is made up of Reader's Digest recordings [1969] drawn from their various released sets with previously unreleased alternate takes.

There are some delightful sides with Ellington, "the piano player", on Discs 1 and 2. At Eastbourne he is featured on "The Piano Player", "Pitter Panther Patter", and "Meditation", while "A Train" and "Second Portrait of the Lion" are offerings from Pittsburgh, with Earl Hines in tandem on their "House of Lords". Ellington is showcased on the 3 cuts from Newport. The trio with John Lamb - bass and Louis Bellson - drums plays to the Boston Pops. Though it is generally agreed that the Ellington Orchestra of the early 40's was his ultimate achievement, it would be an error in judgment to dismiss these later orchestral outpourings as trivial. He continued to develop his compositional skills, and still "..wrote increasingly for the ensemble to play together.. still found new soloists of distinction". Both the Eastbourne performances and the Reader's Digest verify this, with their sense of joyous energy and unanticipated surprises. These are welcome reissues, many of which are rare finds for the avid collector, often giving intimate insights into the man who created such wonderful music for nearly half a century. J.S.

Goodman - Bluebird 09026-63881-2
Ellington - Bluebird 09026-63953-2

Eric Harding - "Deadline"

RealAudio Sample

I first became aware of the remarkable talents of pianist Eric Harding last year (2002) at the Markham Jazz Festival when he shared the stage with the superb jazz violinist Mireille Proulx. It was a complementary match that elicited enthusiastic audience response. Active in his native Montreal both as a performer and educator, Harding here releases his debut CD with Michel Lambert - drums, Frank Lozano - tenor/soprano saxes, and Ron Seguin - bass. Harding and Lorenzo are paired lyrically on such numbers as "Cedarwould", "Erdante", and Larry Willis' "To Wisdom The Prize", relaxed and explorative, fluid and expressive, delicately delineating some lovely moments together. As well, there are spirited pieces like "Redemption" with its swelling and subsiding sequences, or the shifting rhythms of "Organized Negligence". The cohesively supportive roles of bass and drums throughout, always sensitive to the exchanges between sax and piano, help to make this a first-rate outing for the quartet. J.S.

Effendi Records FND 019

Keith Jarrett - "Always Let Me Go"

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The trio of Jarrett - piano, Gary Peacock - bass and Jack DeJohnette - drums retains an immense popularity in Japan reflected in the response to this concert (approaching Jarrett's 150th). The 8 originals run for two hours, 17 minutes of exclusively "…free music that was not written, rehearsed or planned in advance of the performance". The question of leadership becomes irrelevant here for roles constantly shift and identities become erased in the "…organic improvisations and exhilarating interplay". There is an abundance of melody in these spontaneous constructions, notably "Paradox" and "Relay", and there is an underlying sense of structure which keeps all the music in focus, despite the "..cascades of tone clusters, …deep grooves, wide-ranging dynamics, silences, and quiet dissonances". Such complexity and intensity is especially true for lengthier pieces like "Hearts in Space" or "Waves", the latter capturing the ebb and flow patterns suggested by the title. J.S.

ECM 1800/01 [2 CD's]

Jimmy Halperin - "Cycle Logical"

RealAudio Sample

This is the first recording (alive performance) by this trio of Jimmy Halperin - tenor, Don Messina - bass and Bill Chattin - drums. Without the familiar chording of a piano, Halperin flirts melodically with numbers derivative of the "cool school" of Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, or Lennie Tristano, swinging freely against the steady pulse of Messina's walking bass lines. His mellow, discursive improvisations, "flexible and spontaneous" whether with standards "Everything Happens to Me", Konitz's "Subconscious Lee", and Tristano's "317 East 32nd Street", or originals such as "Cycle Logical"/ "The Dean's List", seem timeless, each taking on a life of its own. His seemingly inexhaustible well of musical ideas is plumbed with ease and vitality, given admirable but unobtrusive support by musical cohorts who fully understand what he wishes to achieve. J.S.

Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1142

David Murray Latin Band - "Now Is Another Time"

RealAudio Sample

I must say that some of David Murray's recordings have not been 'my cup of tea', but this album is wonderful. As the liner notes proclaim "A Breath of Fresh Air". Murray is supported by a long time musical friends, Craig Harris - trombone, Hugh Ragin - trumpet, Hamiet Bluiett - baritone saxophone, plus some of Havana, Cuba's best musicians including percussionist Jose Luis Quintana, tenor saxophonist Orlando Sanchez Soto, pianist Miguel Angel de Armas, and Cristobel Ferrer - trumpet. This CD has a terrific feel from beginning to end; Mambo, Bolero and several Cuban airs will have your body swaying. Solos throughout are magnificently crafted, Murray shining in everything he does. R.F.

Justin Time JUST 161-2

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