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ghost of miles

"Strange City: the Secret Music of Herbie Nichols" on Night Lights

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This week on Night Lights it's "Strange City: The Secret Music of Herbie Nichols." When pianist Herbie Nichols died of leukemia at the age of 44 in 1963, he left behind dozens of unrecorded compositions. Some of them were entrusted to friend and trombonist Roswell Rudd, while others remained undiscovered for decades, until the efforts and detective work of a group known as the Herbie Nichols Project found them in the Library of Congress and elsewhere. For the past 10 years the Herbie Nichols Project has been performing and recording Nichols' music, much of it never put on vinyl by Nichols himself. (Nichols recorded only a handful of LPs for the Blue Note and Bethlehem labels in the mid-1950s.) We'll hear music from all three of their CDs--LOVE IS PROXIMITY and DR. CYCLOPS' DREAM on the Soul Note label, and STRANGE CITY, the most recent recording (2001), released by Palmetto. In addition, Project co-leader and pianist Frank Kimbrough will talk about the group and the Nichols compositions that it's recorded. This program is a repeat of a September 25, 2004 broadcast, and therefore already archived for listening under that date. It will air at 11:05 p.m. EST Saturday night on WFIU, 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville, and at 10 p.m. EST Sunday night on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio FM 90.3 and 88.8.

 

The best biographical pieces on Nichols to date can be found in A.B. Spellman's 1967 book Four Jazz Lives. Roswell Rudd's liner notes for the original Mosaic box-set of Nichols' Blue Note recordings are fascinating as well, but hard to find these days. Frank Kimbrough and Ben Allison contributed a combined musical/biographical essay to the 1997 Blue Note commercial re-issue of the same recordings. The website for the Herbie Nichols Project can be found here.

 

Next week: "Nat King Cole's St. Louis Blues."

Edited by ghost of miles

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Hi Ghost - thanks a lot for repeating that show - Herbie's smiling on you...........All best, FK

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Inspired by this program, which aired June 25th on Blue Lake, tonight Jazz From Blue Lake will feature the Herbie Nichols Project, the music of Herbie Nichols and various other musicians associated with Herbie Nichols' music, Roswell Rudd, Ben Allison etc. (At midnight we take it out on Blue Lake with an unrelated hour that will feature recent music by trumpeter Herb Robertson). 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. e.t. www.bluelake.org

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What was the name of the Mary Lou Williams tune she copped from Herbie?

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Mary's Waltz - Herbie's (original) title was the Bebop Waltz. I think Mary Lou took the composing/publishing on this, but Herbie wrote it........FK

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Lazaro, sounds great--unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to tune in, as I'm taking my wife out for a late dinner in celebration of her birthday today. You going to play anything off Buell Neidlinger's BLUE CHOPSTICKS? That's one of my favorite Herbie tributes outside of the HNP cds.

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I am now!

(edit to add, Whoops, maybe not: don't have it here, just "Locomotive").

Edited by Lazaro Vega

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Laz, I suggest playing some stuff trom that '83 ICP program you have on radio transcriptions. Great stuff.

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Will do. The Herbie Nichols Project adds the previously unrecorded Nichols compostions to the legacy, and "enlarges" Nichols original trio compositions by adding horn parts. (Nichols did previously record with horns, as a sideman, so they weren't playing his music. See: Rex Stewart, Joe Thomas).

Those transcriptions Chuck mentions are a good example of Nichols music played with the fluidity of bop, the punch of a big band, and the textures of a chamber group by the ICP Orchestra. House Party Starting.

Writers were intrigued by Nichols attention to detail in the rhythm of his music. As Kimbrough points out in the Night Lights interview the West Indian and African influences, bebop hyper drive, Teddy Wilson touch and dignity, the piano translated to ensemble music of Jelly Roll. Maybe the attention to detail in Morton's music led Nichols to even "score" parts for the drummer. Not sure if he does that here, but the original Nichols 'Shuffle Montgomery' then the Herbie Nichols Project doing the same tune, featuring their drummer, Matt Wilson.

(And that introduction to the program was disaster on the air just now -- toomuchfunatcamp! and need to add the classical influence....)

Edited by Lazaro Vega

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Upping this today despite my cringe-worthy early radio-presentation style, solely because of Frank Kimbrough's commentary throughout the show.  (Well, and the Herbie Nichols Project's recordings of Herbie's music as well.)  I love Frank's story about hearing Herbie for the first time on the radio during a January 1985 NYC snowstorm.  R.I.P.

Strange City: The Secret Music Of Herbie Nichols

Edited by ghost of miles

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Listening now, it is awesome.

Amazingly, since then, MORE new songs have surfaced! 

Herbie's grand nephew, Lawrence Sealey, had a trunk full of music he had kept all these years. There is a bit of water damage, which makes me wonder if these are in fact the pieces that Roswell Rudd had suggested had been lost in an apartment flooding.

I am working on an inventory of Herbie's pieces and would like to reconcile it with the list that Roswell Rudd had gotten from Herbie's father which he had supposedly salvaged from the flooded trunk. I would like to ask Verna Gillis if she still has it, but I am a bit shy. What is puzzling is that Roswell said that the list had about 170 titles, but many were lost in the flood. But I also have approximately 170 titles, so in fact nothing may have been lost at all, unless Herbie wrote even more. What is amazing is that sheet music exists for all but 2-3 of the titles. The Library of Congress has a lot of them of course, and then there is the stack that Lawrence Sealey had. Roswell has 27, which he published in a book (1,000 copies were lost in a fire :( - I bought two). A few others are scattered, e.g. Bartok (as discussed in the Night Lights Show). Several of the ones with no sheet music are on the Bethlehem record, so sheet music can be made. One of them is Whose Blues from the Savoy date, now available on Don Sickler's website: 

Herbie Nichols | jazzleadsheets.com by Second Floor Music

The site discusses the new pieces and the recording project described in another thread. 24 new songs played solo by 23 pianists (Frank did two, IIRC). I attended the first session on Herbie's centennial (1/3/2019), with Frank and Glenn Zaleski each recording one new piece. A dozen members of Herbie's family were there!

Let's hope Don finds a way to release this soon, if only in memory of Frank who did so much to hip the world to Herbie...

Bertrand.

The Army Blues performing Herbie Nichols music; I helped organize this, the premiere was at the Smithsonian three days before:

(296) The U.S. Army Blues | Music of Herbie Nichols - YouTube

Ben Allison joins the Army Blues and two Nichols pieces are on the program (and some great pieces by Ben):

(296) The U.S. Army Blues - Millennium Stage (October 2, 2018) - YouTube

Edited by bertrand

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Very much enjoyed relistening to this program. Thanks again for helping to document the work Kimbrough and co. did to preserve — heck, enhance — Herbie Nichols' legacy.

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