jazzolog

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  • Birthday 03/10/1940

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  • Location Athens, Ohio, US
  1. A Child is Born

    There's got to be a story somewhere about the Alec Wilder lyrics. Wilder rarely wrote words even for his own songs...and of course he's known mainly as a composer rather than a lyricist. Gunther Schuller points out, "Sometimes Wilder wrote his own lyrics for his songs, but more often he collaborated with outstanding lyricists such as William Engvick, Johnny Mercer, Arnold Sundgaard and Loonis McGlohon." http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/acc/wilder.php Actually I came upon this thread as I looked for who did write the words for A Child Is Born. The various copies I have, including vocals, just list Thad's name. One of the earliest vocal versions was by Singers Unlimited in a very rare album they did with Oscar Peterson (now reissued by Verve I think.) Gene Puerling arranged just an oooooo-thing, which I would assume means there were no lyrics yet in 1971. The best vocal version I ever heard is by the PM (Phil Mattson) Singers from 1985. Originally on a Doctor Jazz LP, the set got preserved on CD. http://www.a-cappella.com/product/329/phil_mattson If this performance doesn't bring you to your knees, I guess you'll just have to spend your life up-tempo.
  2. Thanks for the comment Dan. I know what you mean about tough sledding---for instance, through all the police investigation and interrogations. I don't know why Lady Haig put so much of that in, except perhaps to present as much objectivity as possible so you make up your own mind about Bonnie's death. Grange has her view of it, but even that is full of mixed emotion. Maybe she's conveying that. No question about Al's artistry though...and that's also a mystery. That is, how can a man with such anger inside produce music of aching beauty. His touch was magic. Surely we feel the same way about Stan Getz.
  3. RIP Gene Puerling

    Perhaps the news services finally caught up with the death of Gene Puerling last week because some obits are beginning to appear. The LA Times was the first yesterday, and is notable for including the wonderful comment Bing Crosby made about The Hi-Lo's, http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/c...1,1634219.story but this morning's column in the San Francisco Chronicle is even better, as Jon Hendricks is quoted. I left a comment online there, because of course Don Shelton didn't come in for Clark Burroughs. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/arti...2/BAUGVUHDD.DTL
  4. RIP Gene Puerling

    Well it just goes to show how sloppy we Yanks are! I grew up in Jamestown, south of Buffalo, New York, and CJBC mostly (and CBL sometimes) was where I tuned in during my teen years. By 1952 I was getting into jazz and Dick MacDougal ruled my Saturday afternoons. His 2 hour show was divided into half hour segments, of dixieland, swing, bop and new releases. He taught me the basics, until I got to New York 10 years later and heard those jazz jocks---particularly Ed Beach on WRVR. But in the '50s I guess I thought everything up there was the CBC---and obviously I stayed that way, even though I was aware there were commercial and other kinds of public radio stations emerging. Yeah, T.O. was the chart! Thanks for reminding me of the title. I hope you remember Rob's hilarious introduction. I think NPR broadcast it, but it must not have been live because the stuff wasn't in that order. I recorded some of it, including The Hi-Lo's version of Tenderly which they performed acapella. I don't want to get too far off the thread, so let me say I'm astonished there still are no obits in the major papers---at least picked up by Google News---for Gene Puerling. Is it possible this music is STILL too far ahead of the general public? Here we have the man generally regarded as the greatest vocal group arranger of all time...and certainly a major innovator of jazz choral singing. Granted, there's not a huge audience for this but surely most American high schools now have a number of pieces in that style in their choral program repertoires. At least the bloggers and message boards are posting some memorial comments.
  5. RIP Gene Puerling

    It's particularly moving for me to find that Ted O'Reilly created this entry. For those of you not acquainted with the CBC---or now maybe too young---Ted's radio shows always proved he is among the most brilliant of jazz DJs...you know, like in the whole history of the music. I mention this because the revival of The Hi-Lo's at Monterey in the late '70s was broadcast (and therefore a recording of it must exist somewhere). Rob McConnell brought his band down for it to accompany them, and also got a feature spot in the festival. At one point he introduced a piece Ted used for a theme song, and tried to describe for the audience what Ted's shows were like. He said they felt like stepping into some kind of time warp, as Ted usually thought nothing of segueing from Ornette Coleman to Jelly Roll Morton. I remember Rob and The Hi-Lo's stomped off with Seems Like Old Times for the concert. Sensational!
  6. Happy Birthday! Come back to the big O!

  7. On the set of Shall We Dance, 1936, are dance director Hermes Pan, Fred Astaire, director Mark Sandrich, Ginger Rogers, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and musical director Nathaniel Shilkret. Come back to square one, just the minimum bare bones. Relaxing with the present moment, relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything is changing all the time---that is the basic message. ---Pema Chodron Awakened, I hear the one true thing--- black rain on the roof of Fukakusa temple. ---Dogen I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is, and not as a comment on my life. ---David Ignatow Saturday morning, and I was delighted to read the cover story of today's New York Times Book Review. Garrison Keillor writing about George Gershwin. I've neglected to report how wonderful I thought Garrison was in the Robert Altman movie about his radio show. I had put off seeing it because Prairie Home Companion can get too cute at times, and I thought a cast of Kline and Streep and Tomlin and Harrelson might be too great a temptation in that direction. And I've heard Keillor personally is pretty aloof and out there, in his own world...so I thought probably this movie is going to be painful. Besides, for those of us who grew up in front of a huge radio that was bigger than we were---with glowing, radiating tubes in the back that looked like a Flash Gordon outer space city---how many times had we gone to the movies to see an adaptation of a favorite radio show? Yuck! How many were any good? The Shadow? The Lone Ranger? The Fat Man? Arthur Godfrey? A wonderful voice comes out of that dumb guy? Most were about as flat as a Lux radio version of a movie. But, except when Meryl Streep tries to loosen him up a little, Garrison Keillor is wonderful in the movie. In fact, he makes great fun of himself as someone totally out in his own world. And he nails radio when he tells Lindsay Lohan---who also is wonderful---that nothing ever ends in radio, nobody gets old, nobody ever dies. But of course the kind of music on the show---oh god, Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly singing Bad Jokes is worth the price of admission...and by the way, The Behind-The-Scenes feature on the DVD may be better than the movie---I say, the music ain't exactly Tin Pan Alley. Tin pans galore, but we don't hear In The Still Of The Night. So why does anyone think Garrison Keillor should be reviewing a new book by Wilfred Sheed about Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Arlen, and Kern? It's probably because, like me, Garrison grew up in the '40s and listening to radio, so what has come to be known as The Great American Songbook is imprinted in our neurons. If we're walking through Central Park with a girl, and Dancing In The Dark begins to play, we may have to turn our walk into a dance that will be legend in the minds of anyone who sees us. Those songs do that to people. They still do it...maybe more than ever. Many rock singers just have to try an album...like jazz players want that one with strings. Opera singers too...and while it used to be horrible to sit through, some of them are starting to get it. I heard Renee Fleming sing You've Changed the other day...and I had to nudge Billie Holiday over in my mind to make room for her. So Garrison, like Guy Noir, has blues in the night in his sinews. He can set 'em up, Joe, with the rest of us. The rest of us who have heard a tune on the juke box...a tune so devastating there was nothing more to do but get up off the stool, reel toward the door, and out into the lonely night. Maybe she'll be there. THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT With a Little Help From Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty. By Wilfrid Sheed. Illustrated. 335 pp. Random House. $29.95. July 22, 2007 Here to Stay By GARRISON KEILLOR Way back in the '20s, with the advent of radio came an intimate style of singing that addressed a single listener in the dark, and with it a style of song, syncopated, swinging, capable of verbal play and subtle tones and colors. American vernacular poetry. It shoved out the stale cream-puff operettas of Herbert and Friml and the madcap yowza-yowza-yowza vaudeville revue and took over the Broadway theater and the movies and reigned supreme until Fred and Frank and Bing got too old to be romantic and then rock 'n' roll came in. That period, embalmed as the Golden Age of American Song, has been saluted and high-faluted in books and wept over repeatedly, but "The House That George Built" is a big rich stew of an homage that makes you want to listen to Gershwin and Berlin and Porter and Arlen all over again. Wilfrid Sheed's jazzy prose is a joy to read. It goes catapulting along, digressing like mad, never pedantic, a little frantic, which is just right: the jazz song, like all true art, is a flight from depression, indifference, the cold blank stare, the earnest clammy touch. Sheed lopes along through decades of pop, bowing to Berlin (whose lyrics seem "not so much brilliant as inevitable") and upholding some neglected masters (Richard Whiting and Harry Warren), throwing some cold water (Richard Rodgers had a "fatal taste for comfort music"), naming classics — Kern's "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and of course "Stardust" and "Here's That Rainy Day" and Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss" ("I would instantly vote this the most beautiful song ever written, except for this one problem of the words ... grandiose piffle"). About Porter's "Begin the Beguine," he writes: "The chief musical gift the non-Caucasian world had to offer back then was a variety of exotic beats, and Cole would use these as a semisecret weapon to provide the kicker in his songs, in the form of vivid bass lines that worked like pistons under the melody." He loves the music elaborately while tossing off dollops of gossip about the canoodling of the masters, Porter's flamboyant gayness, the drinking, the meanness of Johnny Mercer when drunk and how a few lines of a song could soften him, Jimmy Van Heusen's roistering with Frank Sinatra, "whose singing seemed to get wiser as his life got sillier and more childish," so you get an idea where their blues came from. George Gershwin is the main man, though Sheed traces the jazz song back to 1914 and Kern's "They Didn't Believe Me" ("And when I told them how beautiful you are, they didn't believe me"), not some jiggly novelty tune but elegant, swingy, "a perfect loosey-goosey, syncopate-me-if-you-care, a relaxed and smiling American asterisk-jazz song." Gershwin is the president of the fraternity, the all-American golden boy, hyperactive, booming with self-confidence, who went up to Harlem to learn from James P. Johnson and Willie (the Lion) Smith and whose ascent was swift ("no songwriter ever wasted less time reaching his prime") and who, when he reached the top, was openhearted and went out of his way to praise and encourage his brethren. Sheed gives a nod to the beautiful myth of a music made by Jews who'd been to Harlem, Jews with the blues, one oppressed people listening to another, the blacks using the Hebrew Bible as their text, but in the end he acknowledges that "music is not produced by whole groups, but by one genius at a time." And those geniuses included Midwesterners who learned how to outslick the slickers, like Fred Astaire of Omaha: "Fred had uniquely mastered the art of swinging tastefully, without entirely tipping over into the down and dirty. He could be hot and cool at the same time." And there was Cole Porter of Peru (pronounced PEA-ru), Ind., who wrote jazz songs, and smart patter songs, and was also "a sentimental country boy who can tug on your heartstrings without any tricks at all." And Hoagland Carmichael of Bloomington, Ind. "Carmichael was, like many Americans, a divided soul, part nomad and part homebody, who seemed a little bit at home everywhere, but was probably more so someplace else, if he could just find it. ... What had dislocated him the most was the arrival of jazz, which had sneaked into rock-ribbed Indiana by way of the great music river, the Mississippi, and which would hit young Hoagland with the force of a religious conversion." The music was nothing if not memorable, so it was spread by "the average absent-minded whistlers and hummers" — "If you knew the music, you whistled it, as if all the backed-up melody in your head was forcing its way out through your mouth like steam from a kettle ... respectable bankers and businessmen in stark colors and homburg hats whistling their way to work like newsboys or Walt Disney's dwarves." And it was composed by men who tended toward glumness. "Over the Rainbow" was written by the bipolar Harold Arlen — "Arlen's manic side may have been almost as necessary to his compositions as his gloomy one, simply because it gave him the heart to write in the first place. In other words, he had to feel that good to tell you how bad he felt; if he felt any worse, he couldn't have written at all, even sadly. And when, for reasons beyond his control, he couldn't write any more anyway, the depression that had been waiting to happen became quite suicidal." Sheed is in peak form, and the book just gets better and better. You start to hear ghosts talking and they're funny ghosts, not stuffed shirts. "Like most of his colleagues, only a little more so, Irving always needed someone else to tell him when he was good. Witness the famous instance when he almost discarded that most palpable of hits 'There's No Business Like Show Business' because his secretary didn't like it, and perhaps more seriously, because Richard Rodgers didn't light up when he first heard it. A more confident man might have realized that Richard Rodgers never lit up over anything and that he was hearing this new song under the worst possible conditions: Irving was playing it himself. And Irving's pianism was so primitive that Hoagy Carmichael once said that it had given him the heart to go on, on the grounds that 'if the best in the business is that bad, there's hope for all of us.' " (Berlin also discarded "How Deep Is the Ocean" for a while.) Sheed is so engaging, he can be forgiven a sour note: "By 1945, the kids had seized control. ... And just like that, the magical coincidence of quality and popularity was over, the music in the public square was nowhere near the best music anymore." Not true, so not true. "Never apologize for a song that sells a million copies," Berlin said, which covers the Beatles very nicely, and Paul Simon and Springsteen, and a hundred others, and so does Jerome Kern's advice: "Stay uncommercial. There's a lot of money in it." Meaning: throw away the formula, break the mold, be surprising. By the early '50s, pop music was run by hacks, and bright young talents walked in and drove them away. George would have approved. Garrison Keillor is the author of "Pontoon: A Lake Wobegon Novel," to be published in September. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/books/re...amp;oref=slogin
  8. I'll see if I can contact the book's author to stop by and read Allen's self-interview. It might be well for us all to have a good talk with ourselves when involved in difficult material on something we care a great deal about. Celebrity personal life seems often to get screwy, but it's particularly disturbing in an artist whose output contains such breathtaking beauty as Al Haig's does. I think I was more shocked with the biography of Stan Getz though. I believe the book was A Life In Jazz by Donald Maggin. I remember as a teenager seeing the infamous photo in DownBeat of Stan under arrest for trying to rob a drug store. It scared a lot of rebellion out of me I must say. But I thought Getz had cleaned up pretty much after that, but no... And then there was Frank Rosolino. And of course Bill Evans. I can't tell you how disturbing it has been for me to wade through such tragedies and still love the music as much as I do---including theirs. Thanks for the fabulous comments folks.
  9. I put up a copy of this review, as something of a lark, over at MySpace...and who do you think showed up for a bit of a Mother's Day romp yesterday? Grange, at age 69, has set up the coolest pad in the joint and, if somehow, you're in there too you must stop by! http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea...DEFA57A46135983 Her comment at my little hovel~~~ LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MOTHER'S DAY Just returning from The Ritz Carlton at Lake Las Vegas, and a photo shoot with my agent, I laugh outloud thinking that myspace will create bebop havoc with the likes of this wonderful review by Mr. R. C. a kahoona in his own right. The book took a lifetime, or so it seemed, however, AL HAIG deserves to be remembered as a JAZZ MASTER of THE PIANO. I'm just glad I am the the wife who cared about the music. L. H. Posted by LADY HAIG on Sunday, May 13, 2007 at 3:23 PM http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseacti...0A960E845864897
  10. Yep, would credit otherwise. Weirdly I became acquainted with both Bob Rusch and Grange Rutan quite separately...and maybe the coincidence landed me a copy to review. Never tried this before, and decided to put it online when both Rolling Stone and Down Beat turned me down. I hear it's selling well, so maybe those zines will get one of their own people to take a look. JazzIs will publish their take on it next issue I think.
  11. I decided to try a review of it myself. Take a look~~~ http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=34163
  12. What vinyl are you spinning right now??

    Basie. No, the one from 1954: the Gus Johnson band, with "Down For The Count" on it.
  13. In the photo Grange boards plane to meet Al. (1960) Death Of A Bebop Wife by Grange (Lady Haig) Rutan Published by Cadence Jazz Books, Redwood NY 13679 http://www.cadencebuilding.com/cadence/cjb.html The modern pianist has a very special relationship with his drummer and his bassist. As his instrument has hammers, it resembles the drums; and as it has strings, it's like the bass. His position in the rhythm section is more detached, and more ambiguous than that of his partners, the bass and the drums. If he feels like it, he can stop playing for a few bars and let the bass define the harmony and the drums ensure the rhythm. He can suggest new harmonic directions, fall into step with a soloist, then break away a moment later. On again, off again. He opens or he closes. He's present at the heart of the rhythm, then suddenly he's gone. ---Laurent De Wilde from chapter 5, p. 21 There's a scene in Grange Rutan's long-awaited book about her first husband Al Haig in which the legendary piano player introduces his young bride to Miles Davis. The men had played together with Charlie Parker in the tumultuous beginning years of bebop, and Al was pianist on one of Miles' Birth of the Cool sessions. By the summer of 1960, Miles Davis was packing in crowds at the Blackhawk in San Francisco, but Al Haig was scuffling for work. After turning down Miles' urgent invitation to sit in with the band, Al sheepishly confesses he and Grange have no place to sleep. Without hesitation, Miles reaches into his pocket and hands Al Haig the key to his dressing room. It was there, on a stained mattress in a shabby back room of a nightclub, the couple consummated their marriage. The bride looked brave, despite 2 black eyes. Much about jazz, its artists, its working conditions, its devoted followers, and both the generosity and freakouts, is revealed in that passage. There have been many books written about the history of the music, including the death-defying years of bebop, but here's one long overdue from the perspective of a woman who loved a man who created some of it. And Grange Rutan goes beyond her own marriage of 2 1/2 years with Al Haig, into his next marriage which that girl did not survive. Rumors of murder persist to this day, and Grange presents her view as to whether Al could have done it. Please consider, we are talking about a creator of some of the most gentle and sensitive beauty on jazz piano to come before Bill Evans. Here's a man whose daily warm-up practice involved pieces by Bach, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Debussy, and especially Chopin. Imagine if you can Chopin playing Night In Tunisia, and you'll get the idea. With a touch as light as Teddy Wilson's, it was Al Haig that Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker had to have in the group if they could get him. And shortly after, Stan Getz would launch a career of gorgeous gold to Al Haig's accompaniment. Could a quiet, dedicated artist like this hurt a woman? What did it take in a segregated 1945 to be one of the only white men to play this music? What was required to learn the lightning twists and turns of bebop lines? Who can hum for me right now the melodies to Driftin' On A Reed or Quasimodo? I often compare learning bebop to identifying the opening movements of the Haydn symphonies by number. What does it take out of someone to do that...and to do it every night between the hours of 10 and 3 in the morning---maybe 40 minutes on and 40 minutes off---in a smoke-filled room where the audience is getting drunk...and perhaps worse? Lady Haig, thus dubbed by Dizzy when he met and noticed her regal qualities, does not disguise the wild streak that got her hooked up with Al Haig in the first place. Living in a comfortable Presbyterian home in Montclair, New Jersey, the family nevertheless found itself close enough to the Meadow Brook Ballroom to enjoy the influence of the great dance bands of the late '30s and early '40s. As Grange became a teenager, she was listening to jazz DJs out of New York, instead of that new rock 'n roll stuff. When it came time to be out of school and at her first job, the City's where she headed and meeting jazz players was her goal. It was a risky challenge, considering she vowed to maintain purity for marriage. While the story is gripping and all jazz fans love to hear new anecdotes about the masters of the music, it's Grange Rutan's wonderful writing style that you'll notice at once. This work of about 550 pages, including index, chronology and discography, 15 years in the writing, is like a scrapbook. There is something of a linear development, but she can't be hemmed in by a structure like that. Maybe it resembles a screenplay, that darts back and forth in time...or a conversation over lunch delightfully going every which way. Actually her style is like a jazz solo. Some of what she plays she's played before, and she relates the material over those same chord changes again and again, but then she's into new territory and trying to describe an experience one more time in a different way. That's how it is when you remember a love from long ago. Images stick in the back of one's memory and sometimes even the sound of a "tinkling piano in the next apartment." We have both foolish and very serious things in Death of a Bebop Wife, but about one thing there is no doubt: Lady Haig has expressed to us what her heart meant. We begin, "I long to see Al's face. He's still in there and his power over me grows stronger in spite of his death. I never knew what he was going to say next. Some mornings I would wake to see his handsome head leaning on the palm of his hand, staring at me, silently crying. I just didn't know how to handle all this drama. Let me try to pull this together, not just for you but for both of us." http://www.grangeladyhaigrutan.com/