Al in NYC

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About Al in NYC

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  1. RIP, Sidney Poitier.

    The score of which inspired this very fine album. One of the very very rare sideman appearances by Sun Ra.
  2. RIP, Sidney Poitier.

    First movie I thought of when I heard of his death. Just saw it again recently on TCM and it's not bad at all, although it's more a romance than anything else (and you can pretty clearly see the romance between Paul and Joanne), and clunks a bit in spots around the jazz parts of the story despite Louis Armstrong's interesting character and the Ellington soundtrack. Nice role for the late Diahann Carroll here, and her romance/debate with Poitier around living black in the US and France really seems the best part of the movie today.
  3. Jimmy Smith "Plays Fats Waller"

    I find Fats own organ recordings, both the electric and (especially) the pipe organ sides, much much more interesting that this JOS semi-tribute recording. Like others, I found it rather lifeless and much too "polite" compared to Jimmy's other records of the time and have hardly ever played it. I've always assumed it was recorded as an effort to expand JOS's audience and in search of an album hit like the (much better) 'Satch Plays Fats' Louis Armstrong Columbia album of several years earlier.
  4. Have you written for Wikipedia on jazz artists?

    I always try to fix obvious errors when I see them, and often try to straighten out the tortured prose and cracked chronologies that result from having way too many cooks (with English obviously not being a first, or second, language for many of them). Sometimes I even add a bit of sourced background material to flesh out bare-bones entries. Fortunately, most jazz articles aren't subject to the seemingly endless agenda-driven edit wars that affect so many Wiki entries on political and historical subjects, and serve to bend them further and further away from truth and accuracy.
  5. Barry Harris RIP

    I've been out in rural Ontario for the past couple of weeks, so I'm just now catching up on this sad news. Oddly, just before I went out there I was back in Detroit for a few days in November and had a conversation with a friend of mine about, among other things, Barry Harris. We talked about our favorite recordings of his (Magnificent! is my choice) and our experiences seeing him play, especially his annual Kwanzaa benefit concerts in Detroit and his luminous 2014 performance at the Detroit Jazz Festival. Then my friend told me of a memorable night he spent in the early 2000s with his friend, the late Detroit pianist Bess Bonnier, which ended up at Barry's Detroit house at 2 AM. Great food and drink were provided by Barry's wife and daughter, while Barry and Bess sat at the piano trading songs, lines, tricks, and old war stories of the Detroit jazz scene of the 1950s until the sun was high in the sky. As many here have said, Barry's death represents the winding down of so many threads in jazz history, especially bebop and the direct Bird and Bud lineage. For as much as Barry Harris was one of the great flame-keepers of the music here in NYC, for us Detroiters and ex-Detroiters his passing also represents the sun now setting quickly on the most fecund and vital period in the city's jazz, and musical, history.
  6. Blues Oriented Jazz Pianists

    Harold Mabern Duke Pearson (as a pianist) Willie Pickens?
  7. The Great Day in Harlem poster, which has long hung over my Dad's music collection in what is now, by inheritance, my cottage in Ontario. In my Queens apartment: a couple of framed album covers (Birth of the Cool, Brilliant Corners), some 'slicks' I picked up from Mosaic (Miles' Complete Bitches Brew and Louis' Complete Decca are the ones I have framed), a poster done by one of my cousins for a jazz festival in California, and a few posters from past Detroit jazz festivals, including the Andy Warhol/Keith Haring number from 1986.
  8. thanks for bearin’ with me!! Presenting that 78 I promised

    The tune is the US Coast Guard anthem, Semper Paratus.
  9. Jazz guitarists--nice guys?

    Due my dad's grilling skills, there was never more than one degree of 'doneness' available.
  10. Does this mean that we'll soon have annoying PBS fundraisers full of cheaply recorded concerts by superannuated former hip-hop stars? What a future to look forward to.
  11. Jazz guitarists--nice guys?

    Kenny Burrell was someone my parents went to school with and knew. They would always go to see him when he came back to Detroit to play and Kenny would unfailingly come by and greet us very warmly. One time when he was doing an extended gig in town another friend of my parents who was closer to Kenny brought him and some of his local family members out on a Sunday for a day at our cottage on Lake Erie. He was warm, talkative, and very friendly and relaxed, and really enjoyed a day swimming at our beach with some of his family and some old friends from WSU. Later, when we were grilling some burgers etc. for dinner he even strummed out a couple of short songs on my mother's old rarely-played acoustic Gibson with a teenage friend of ours who had her flute. I understand he could be a real stickler on gigs for musicianship, but he sure didn't seem to be upset about those amateur circumstances, It was a low-key memorable day which, alas, despite promises to return, was never to be repeated.
  12. crazy private press of some sort P. Rugolo 78 i just found

    I think I may have a copy of this somewhere in my currently inaccessible mound of 78s. Although, if memory serves, it doesn't have the bit about the Ship's Service Store in Alameda on the label. A good friend of my father's was in the Coast Guard during WWII and either plays on this record or knew some of the guys who did. The Coast Guard recruited a bunch of swing musicians for its touring band during the war, and, again if memory serves, this is a sort of swinging dance version of Semper Paratus, which is the Coast Guard's anthem.
  13. Sadik Hakim

    Sadik Hakim spent some time in Montreal in the late '60s and early '70s. He wrote and recorded music for CBC radio in 1973 that was released on a couple of records, which were, as far as I know, the first recordings to come out under his own name after East Meets West. The most interesting of these is his long-form 4 part London Suite, which has been put out on a number of issues under different names (Transcriptions, Canada, London Suite, Grey Cup Caper, Hakim's own name, etc.) with an array of covers and a varying number of his other small-group compositions included. These performances also feature the rather mysterious US/Canadian multi-reedist Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr, the great tenorist Billy Robinson, and guitarist Peter Leitch.
  14. Phil Schaap R.I.P.

    On the very first morning that I was a resident of NYC I set my clock radio alarm to the very first station I could pick up clearly on the FM dial. I awoke the next morning to the unmistakable sound of Charlie Parker in full flight, followed by another Parker tune, then another. I couldn't believe that someone was playing Bird, lots of Bird, first thing in the morning on a Tuesday, in 1987. It seemed to me some sort of New York miracle and I just lay there listening to it rather than get ready to go out and look for the work I'd need asap to supplement my very paltry grad student stipend. Then this guy came on, talking and talking enthusiastically a mile a minute about some minutiae involving the music we just heard. I was fascinated listening to him go on and on, bringing in side stories and personal anecdotes and the most unlikely bits of knowledge. That was my introduction to Phil Schaap and he has been a core part of my New York soundscape ever since. Yes, he could be comically, tediously, and even infuriatingly pedantic. Playing a tiny snatch of music over and over again to hammer on some point or bit of phrasing or sound in the background that only he could actually care about. Or launching into a seemingly endless soliloquy to explore some arcane area of musical or social or technical history that, with even a modicum of conciseness, could have been thoroughly discussed in a few minutes. But it all came from that overwhelming enthusiasm, and very real very deep love, for jazz music and its history that was at the core of his work and his life. His spots during the various WKCR birthday broadcasts were often amazing fonts of information and insight about important artists, but his real love of the music shone through on his Traditions in Swing programs when he would joyfully shine his little spotlight on, and share so much background knowledge about, recordings and artists long forgotten by the world. I only met Phil a few times, all but once for very short periods of time. The longest I ever spoke with him was after a Benny Carter show in Tompkins Square when he saw me standing mesmerized by the side of the stage. I told him my dad had seen Benny Carter at the old Paradise Theater in Detroit (aka Orchestra Hall) on a bill with the King Cole Trio (Nat, that is), and Phil instantly gave me a month and year for that event based on his top of the head knowledge about those 2 bands (later research showed he was off by a month). The last time I spoke to Phil was at Junior Mance's last show at St. Peters and I was very surprised that he remembered me, and even more so that he recalled I share a birthday with Charlie Parker. In the spirit of Phil I guess I have gone on way too long here, but crazy fixations and all he will definitely be missed. It will take a long time, most likely all the time I have left, to get used to a New York without Phil Schaap.
  15. Like a few folks here, my dad went back with Mosaic to the original Monk set. He had belonged to a couple of those old style record clubs like Columbia and Musical Heritage, and I guess Mosaic must've bought into some lists at the start because one day in the mail came the solicitation from this new outfit to buy this Monk set. Dad had a lot of it already on the old 10 inchers, but he was a huge Monk fan and the lure of having all of those recordings in clean sound on new LPs was too much to resist. I remember him sharing the exciting news with my then-college student self and sending cassettes to me. He then bought the next 2 sets, Mulligan/Baker Tenetette, and Albert Ammons/Meade Lux Lewis, of music he also loved and had a longtime relationship with. So someone in our family had the Mosaic bug early. Tina Brooks was someone who Kenny Burrell had hipped my dad to back in the old days, but of course Tina had all too soon faded away. But when a complete set of his unobtainable dates magically appeared in the Mosaic catalogue it was an easy sale. Dad loved that set and played it in regular rotation for months hipping us all to Tina's work.