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Posts posted by johnblitweiler

  1. WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago streams over the web at but is now down to 28 hours a week of jazz.  My program ZoundZ! is Mondays 6:30 to 9 pm Central Time;  there's jazz on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Saturday and Sunday daytimes and late nights.  It's the University of Chicago station and the schedule is subject to the university's whimsies - for example, the whole station is off the air until January 7 we now go off the air at midnight all the time.

    A more reliable station is WNUR ( at Northwestern University, which has jazz every weekday morning 6 am to noon.  It has an especially fascinating program on Mondays, 10 am to noon: Writers Bloc with Art Lange and Peter Kostakis.  For one thing, they're how I discovered a Wilton Crawley CD exists.

    Two other especially good programs. A number of radio stations around the country carry Steve Cushing's 5-hour program Blues Before Sunrise each week.  It's about 70% or so blues (1920s to '60s) and the rest is older jazz, mostly vocals.  And Lazaro Vega is nightly jazz host on the two Blue Lake radio stations ( - some of his broadcasts are live performances, typically with important artists.


  2. This is something new for me:

    In 2018 I volunteered to help program a student film society and one of the series I proposed, a Satyajit Ray series, was accepted.  It will happen for 10 weeks in the spring, a night after a 10-week Claude Chabrol series.  (I know, 10 weeks is merely an overview of both directors.)  No problem locating 35mm  or 16mm prints to show, but finding and contacting he/she who has the rights to these has been a bit of a problem

    A bigger one is, for another series proposal, finding who has the rights to the Bert Stern film "Jazz on a Summer's Day" now that Stern has died and the distributor has vanished.  So far just some dodgy advice or "try so-and-so" who suggests trying someone else.

    Some of you Organissimo folks have experience programming film groups or eaters.  Is there somewhere a grand catalogue of who currently own copyrights to films and who distributes them?  

  3. Jody played with Wolf, Bo Diddley, and plenty  of other Chicagoans worth hearing.  He said he invented the "Bo Diddley" guitar line, also the guitar line that Mickey Baker played in "Love Is Strange."

  4. Recent reading:  The Doomed City by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - Curiouser and curiouser, a long allegory about people living in a ramshackle artificial state with baboons running loose.  Would people who lived in the Soviet Union 50 years ago undersand this more than we who didn't live there then?  Gotta keep reading the Strugatskys and hope for another as fine as Roadside Picnic.

    The Fall by Albert Camus - Very much a post-WW2 attitude, it seems.  His despair doesn't seem to fit 21st century life, however depressing events seem.

    Diablerie by Walter Moseley - It's jive.  Granted hard-boiled is artificial, Moseley once could write good hard-boiled, but this mess is padded with the glitz and sex and psychologizing and silly plotting of a writer at the end of his rope.

    Reread the script of Mother Courage by Brecht, a breath of fresh air lately.

    Anna of the 5 Towns by Arnold Bennett - The over-the-top distant, miser father and emotionally strangled daughter are all too believable, the Methodism of the Edwardian times is familiar from my 1950s boyhood, and the industrial-city setting is horrifying amidst Blake's "dark, satanic mills."




  5. 13 hours ago, JSngry said:

    On "Moon Rays", it funny listening to Louis Hayes on the shout chorus. It's definitely a Basie-type thing, and the drum fills would be a perfect place to pull out some Sonny Payne-ish slickness (or even some Philly Joe type brashness), and Hayes, god bless him, doesn't have that going on just yet.

    To the point of the chart, though, it's such a perfectly written quintet chart that expanding it out for a big band or even an expanded small group could very well end up diluting it. I'm sure somebody's done it somewhere, but not sure if I want to hear it.

    Yes, God bless him.  He was 20 years old when he recorded that.  He led an enjoyable band at the Chicago Jazz Festival this year, too.

  6. Yes, King of the Blues is pretty wonderful.  Along with the inventive horns, there's the Baby Dodds interplay, so hyperactive and colorful all the time  -  he's not just accompanying, he's really engaged with the horns.  Bunk is such a beauty.  Even on some other American Music CDs, when Bunk is not tip-top, George Lewis and Dodds keep the music lively.  But yes, some of the post-1945 albums are disappointing.  

    His eight sides with the Yerba Buena band are special favorites, partly because the band seems so reckless  next to the lovely trumpet melodies.  I like Sister Lottie Peavey's singing, never did enjoy Clancy Hayes' singing.

    Last Testament was the first Bunk Johnson I ever heard, many decades ago.  "Kinklets" and the lilting trumpet in "Out of  Nowhere" won me over.  Jeff, thanks for remembering Bunk Johnson.


  7. I'd like to retire lots of classical music, especially since our Chicago classical radio station is a sort of Top 40 station.  Sometimes I scream uncontrollably when I hear a Beethoven false ending.

  8. "Music in the Making" - a little book by Wilfrid Mellers that is about the questions Larry raises.  Published around 70+ years ago and extremely hard to find.  Sure enough, I want it today but lost my copy in the fire and have not yet found a replacement copy.

  9. On 7/22/2018 at 8:50 PM, jlhoots said:

    Leave No Trace - powerful film.

    Agreed.  Great attention to detail and nuance. Another stunning actress (not in the sense of beautiful). It was made by the director of Winter's Bone.  

    Incidentally, ever since seeing Leave No Trace I've been trying to peel oranges in single strips, like the girl and her father do. Seems to work best with Valencias and Clementines.

  10. It's late at night, so maybe I'm missing something.  Are you saying that improvisers have "a path" they follow as they create - an emotional or intellectual path above/beyond chord changes, meter, tempo, sound?  Maybe some do.  But for a comparison, do you know how you feel about a piece of music before you write your review?  (I usually know only vaguely.)  For me, listening to all those alternate takes of "I Have a Good One for You" on the "All Music" CD is a very good demonstration of how a solo arises, evolves, becomes an fulfilling work in an artist.  There's a path.

    Today I heard a knockout Lester Young "Lady Be Good," broadcast with Basie ca. 1938, that was totally unlike the 1936 classic.  Totally improvised out of the aether?  Or a different path that night?

    As to how how intervals, harmony, rhythm affects listeners, the way sound waves land in our ears and the way our nervous systems respond seem to answer your question.  

  11. "Same Thing Could Happen to You" and "You're Gonna Ruin Me, Baby" are two favorites. What was Lazy about his music?  Was it just the drawl?  Because singing and playing he always was on top of the beat and Neal is right, his music is hot.  Less stylized than the Chicago singers like Muddy and Wolf, so the minimal accompaniments of the Excellos were an asset: Bigger bands sounded like they were competing with him.  Sorry I'll never get to see/heat him in person.

  12. 1 hour ago, ejp626 said:

    Saw Organissimo play once in Chicago, so that was Jim, Joe and Randy at that time.  Larry Kart was at the concert, and we chatted a bit.

    I used to see a fair number of jazz concerts at the Jazz Showcase or Chicago Jazz Fest with sheldonm and sal.  And jazzkrow once or twice.

    Met John Litweiler once in Chicago to buy one of his books (and I think I traded him the Ayler Holy Ghost box, since his had been lost in a flood or fire).  It wasn't a one-for-one trade... ;)

    Met Van Basten II in Montreal and sold him a jazz or classical set, but I can't recall which one.

    Met a board member in Vancouver to sell some CDs.

    I think that's it, but I may be missing one or two more chance encounters.

    I did see David Weiss and the Cookers play a set in Vancouver, but I think we only PM'ed after the show and didn't meet in person.  I may of course be totally mis-remembering this.


    True, you sold me that Ayler box in Chicago.  Thanks for the kind ;).  I hope you're thriving there in Toronto.

  13. Yes to Johnny Dodds and George Mitchell in "Perdido Street Blues."

    AND Johnny Dodds in King Oliver's :Someday Sweetheart."

    And Johnny Dodds in his "Hear Me Talking."

    And Johnny Dodds in his 1938 "Melancholy" and Charlie Shavers too.


  14. A non-jazzfiend friend recommended a Geoff Dyer book to me today and it reminded me of this, from a review I wrote in 1996.  Incidentally, I regret my careless clause about emotionally crippled lives :

    Like 20th Century American poets and visual artists, jazz musicians have suffered a fearful toll in terms of early death and devastated lives. The causes ought to be obvious--most important among them virulent racism in American society and the unnatural circumstances jazz artists have had to endure just to survive. There still are some jazz lovers, most gray-haired by now, who sentimentalize the disabilities of their favorites, and Englishman Geoff Dyer wrote "But Beautiful" for just those fans. It contains portraits of seven jazzmen--most of them major figures, all of them leading emotionally crippled lives--that demonstrate his thesis that their deaths resulted from something inherent in the art form.

    The book is an exercise in endless mopery. Dyer maintains that it's necessary to know the musicians' lives to appreciate their music. It's true that jazz artists' creations tend to reflect, probably unconsciously, their awareness of life; witness the terrific tension and brittle phrasing of dope fiend Art Pepper's alto saxophone solos, or the similar tension and extreme, perilous, linear developments in the mentally ill Bud Powell's piano works. Pepper's autobiography certainly reflects that tension better than Dyer's "poetic" prose.

    As for Dyer's chapter on Powell, he addresses the pianist: "Your music encloses you, seals you off from me. . . . Somehow you made it to the piano stool, fingers drooling over the keyboard, dripping from it, like booze from a spilled glass, the tune falling to the floor in puddles. . . . Are you tired of me talking at you like this?" As the Bud Powell character said to the fawning jazz fan in a Terry Southern short story, "You're too  hip, man."

    Lonely men dying in dark rooms fill the book; Dyer rubs your nose in gloom. His "insights" were cliches decades ago: The fiery Charles Mingus and the fiery music he composed and conducted; a sodden Lester Young staring out the window of his hotel room at Birdland, across the street; his description of Thelonious Monk: "He was a funny man, his music was funny . . . " (Would someone please point out what was so funny about the music of this immensely earnest artist?)

    It's not that Dyer's portraits are wholly untrue, it's that he's just so darned maudlin, and his invented dialogue is absurd. For instance, he has Monk cussing like a '90s rock star. He devotes 34 pages to reflections on jazz history, especially his jazz-is-death thesis. There is a well-organized, if unoriginal, discussion of the music's social relevance, rising to the familiar "jazz today is too sophisticated to articulate the lived experience of the ghetto; hip-hop does that better." Dyer's dying musicians to the contrary, there's still plenty of vital jazz being played today as well as a terrific wealth of historic jazz available, and there are plenty of people listening.

  15. On 6/13/2018 at 10:58 AM, gmonahan said:

    The Savory set finally arrived, and I opened it to find that I have booklet number "2." There's proof positive that Mosaic sets really are random. I'd have thought that Cuscuna or Wenzel would have gotten the first numbered booklets, but I guess not!

    Lacking any of the self-control some of you exercised, I went straight to the first Basie disc (V), because the Old Testament Band has always been my favorite big band, period. The magnificent exuberance of that band comes through loud and clear, and I came as close as I ever have to one my earliest and most exquisite listening experiences: the first time I put the old Decca 2-record "Best of Count Basie" disc on my old "portable" stereo turntable nearly 50 years ago. Jimmy Rushing in full shout, Lester Young unloosed, Herschel Evans before early death robbed us of him. I am *really* going to enjoy this set!!!




    The 1938 band, with Dickie Wells and Hershel Evans, is my favorite big band too  The Savory tracks are a great way to hear what a grand tenor player Hershel Evans was.