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  1. Vintage Cannonball Clip

    Thanks for locating, Jim. I'm embarrased I didn't track it down myself (and I call myself a reporter). FYI, follow Jim's link and at the bottom of the page you can link to the clip of Cannonball on "Kung Fu" with Jose Feliciano. There are no words. Half tempted to start a new thread about unlikely TV appearances by jazz musicians.
  2. Vintage Cannonball Clip Came across this burning film of Cannonball's Quintet with Nat, Barry Harris (!), Sam Jones, Louis Hayes. It's in color. I've never seen it before. Anybody know anything about its origins? Tune is Sam's "Del Sasser" and Barry's presence would date it to 1960. The sound is pretty bad until about halfway through the alto solo and then it stabilizes. 'Ball and Barry sound especially great -- dig the saxophone coda. More info anyone?
  3. I don't have the Woideck book but there's a good explanation of this issue in DeVeaux's "The Birth of Bebop." (Page 189, footnote 4). The Chili House" anecdote -- the notion that Bird's great harmonic epiphany that led directly to his mature style, thus bebop, came to him in a moment of inspiration playing 'Cherokee' in a chili house in 1939 with guitarist Biddy Fleet --derives originally from a 1949 Down Beat article about Bird by John Wilson and Michael Levin. The authors barely quote Bird directly, telling the story almost completely in paraphrase, including the key sentence: "Working over Cherokee with Fleet, Charlie suddendly found that by using higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, he could play this thing he had been 'hearing.l' Fleet picked it up behind him and bop was born." As DeVeaux notes, the pendantic reference to "appropriately related changes" seems clearly to to be the authors' own approximation of the technical explanation they could pick up from Bird This passage was picked up by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff's oral history "Hear Me Talkin' to Ya." -- except that now this entire passage has been put into Parker's mouth. This is the version that's become part of the history of jazz: Here's the end of the "quote." "Well, that night, I was working over Cherokee, and, as I did, I found that by using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, I could play the thing I'd been hearing. I came alive." Not only did Shapiro/Hentoff transcribe these words as Parker's own, they also imported the final line "I came alive" from an earlier part of the Down Beat article (also in the author's paraphrase) giving the story an extra punch as the great "Ah, Ha!" moment in the birth of bebop. But, of course, the notion is ridiculous. No musician would actually talk this way. It's not entirely clear what the passage actually means other than a vague reference to 9ths, 11ths, 13ths and substitue changes. Plus, the notion of a single epiphany is dubious on its face. This is a great example of the historically poor standards of jazz scholarship and criticism in which urban legend becomes codified as fact. As an aside, this was one of the themes of a seminar I took in jazz history at the University of Illinois back in the mid '80s with the pioneering jazz musicologist Larry Gushee, who was always bemoaning that standards of accuracy in the field were so much lower than would ever be accepted in classical music. (The chili house story was one that came up in the class, I recall.) The reasons, of course, are complex. Part of the issue has to do with the history of jazz criticism and journalism, which became the de facto historical record, but which was penned mostly by enthusiastic, often unduly biased fans and other writers without the musical knowledge or research and writing skills to get it right. A lot of b.s. found its way into the bloodstream and hasn't worked itself out yet. And jazz scholarship wasn't taken seriously either for a long time either, so standards remained low, though, thankfully, this has changed dramatically in the last 15-20 years. Guys like Porter, DeVeaux, Berliner -- standing on the shoulders of Gushee and a few others -- are meticulous scholars and they are helping to train the next generation. Even if you don't agree with this or that conclusion, the empirical foundation of the work is secure.
  4. Luciano Pavarotti, dead at 71

    Chuck: Ever see him at Lyric? Or thwarted by the cancellations? Before he was banned around 1990, I think he cancelled 26 out of 41 times. MS
  5. Luciano Pavarotti, dead at 71

    Pavarotti was a complicated aesthetic case. There were certainly more profound singers, artists of more intellect, versatility and musicianly depth. He could be slovenly, lazy, was never much of an actor and his addiction to celebrity (and cash) eventually undermined his art. But make no mistake: In his prime, he had the most naturally pure and beautiful Italianate voice and phrasing -- silvery, luminous, warm with a steely core, thrilling and charismatic -- of any tenor of the second half of the century. For me, only Jussi Bjorling compares in the bel canto and lyric-spinto repertoire. I wish I were old enough to have heard him on stage in his prime. Here's a taste: 1979, La Scala, "Che gelida manina," the signature first act aria from Puccini's "La Boheme." Wow. MS
  6. "We Three" label confusion

    Gang: Just to be clear again about my particular LP: The issue is not a mismatched inner LP label and jacket cover: It's the fact that the front of the cover says New Jazz and the back of the cover says Status. MS
  7. "We Three" label confusion

    I've been swamped with Detroit Jazz Festival coverage ever since posting my initial question, so I haven't been able to respond until now, but I wanted to thank everyone for their detailed responses -- I learned a lot. Interestingly, I happened to see Ira Gitler at the festival -- he wrote the original liner notes for "We Three" -- and when I asked him about the label/jacket/liner issue (front of the jacket saying New Jazz; back of the jacket saying Status), his best explanation was that it was simply a screw up. MS
  8. 2007 Detroit Jazz Festival

    For those who might be interested, here's a link to a bunch of reviews and other weekend coverage from the Detroit Festival. Great pictures from the gig. Sorry I couldn't make it. For the record, I was at another stage for Bill Charlap. MS
  9. 2007 Detroit Jazz Festival

    Actually, it has always been this way. The Detroit festival has been held on Labor Day weekend ever since 1980. Chicagoans may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Chicago festival started a year earlier in 1979; I'm assuming it was centered around Labor Day weekend right from the start too. In any case, if people are now more aware of the conflict, it may be because the Detroit festival has become much more widely publicized in recent years and has become a much bigger event than in the past.
  10. Howard Mandel has an interesting exchange on his new blog ("Jazz Beyond Jazz" at with Lewis Porter about the financial realities of writing/publishing books on jazz.
  11. Jim: I understand the distinction you are making between a "conquering" aesthetic on the one hand and an "absorbing and cooperating" mode on the other, as well as a belief in new perspectives of creativity. But I'm uncomfortable with ascribing these qualities to a specific gender -- it's a masculine-feminine stereotype not that different from the familiar black-white divide. You can easily create lists of musicians who subvert it. Wouldn't Ingrid Jensen, Renee Rosnes and Myra Melford all qualify as more conquering than absorbing? And wouldn't Wayne Shorter, Tom Harrell and Maria's hero Bob Brookmeyer all qualify as more absorbing than conquering according to your definitions. And on some level wouldn't Duke Ellington be the ultimate absorber? (Maybe he's the ultimate absorber and conquerer at the same time?) There clearly was a time in jazz when women were forced to to adopt an aggressive, overtly masculine approach -- it's always curious to come across old liner notes in which Toshiko, Melba Liston, Vi Redd or somebody is praised for "not playing like a girl." I suppose you could say that women are more free to play like women today, but wouldn't the more important point be that they are more free to play like themselves -- whether that means they lean toward what you're defining as masculine or feminine aesthetics? And if there is a movement afoot in jazz to give greater weight to feminine values as opposed to masculine values wouldn't the natural swing of the aesthetic pendulum and a recognition that the old ways are played out be a more critical determinant than the influence of a newly liberated class of women musicians -- especially if the feminine values have always been present in some fashion in the jazz of the past? MS
  12. Larry hits on some very interesting ideas here -- the intersection of a composer's inspiration, imagination and skill along with the way a listener perceives these things. Certainly program music can easily fall into cliche or sound overly determined, but in classical music there are plenty of composers whose program music remains full of surprise and on the highest level of invention and whose aural responses to their mind's eye became cliches only when they were imitated by others. I'm thinking of the Strauss tone poems, Mahler symphonies and various scores by Liszt, Sibelius, Janacek, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov and Beethoven's "Pastoral." In jazz, Wayne Shorter might be considered an illustrative composer -- "The All Seeing Eye," "Odyssey of Iska," "Dance Cadaverous" and many other of his pieces have very specific visual images or narratives at their root, though Wayne's sonic realizations are extraordinarily inspired. Here is a composer, as Larry says of Ellington, driven to compositional heights by his program/plot. Creation is complicated. A specific image, scene or story might fire a composer's imagination, but then it becomes an issue of using abstract tools of music -- harmony, rhythm, melody, color, etc. -- to realize a purely musical structure that may or may not suggest the original inspiration to a listener. It's about the gray area between program music and absolute music. So a question: what other jazz composers might be said to write program music with success? MS
  13. happy birthday to Kenny Burrell and Hank Jones

    Chuck: If your rejoinder was directed at me, please tell me which words I have misconstrued. Seriously. Informed differences of opinion are one of the things that make this board so much fun and illuminating, so if I'm missing the tenor of your or others' arguments, I really do want to know. MS
  14. happy birthday to Kenny Burrell and Hank Jones

    Chas: I think your reading is correct. But I will say that I can understand affection for Ahmad Jamal while still finding Jones and Flanagan too polite (or something). Ahmad is the wolf in sheep's clothing. Beneath the surface gentility he's a conceptualist and a subversive in his absence of melody, replacing the linear melodic improvising that defines the mainstream with an aesthetic based entirely on dynamics, dramatic silence, theatrical surprise, texture, contrast, riffs and, his idee fixe: the play of tension and release. Basically, you know what's going to happen in Jamal's music; you just never know when it's going to happen. MS
  15. happy birthday to Kenny Burrell and Hank Jones

    To dismiss Hank Jones as a conservative or to damn him for never offering a note to offend seems incredibly misguided to me. It attempts to judge him by criteria that make no sense given his age and idiom. It ignores the enormous expressive range of his music and its rarified degree of individualism, control and authority. It ignores his flexibility and the fact that in some respects he is an innovator – the sophistication and breadth of the harmony he applies to standard songs and his pioneering approach to solo piano. His left and right hands interlock in a kind of modified stride, spreading out the rhythm between both hands, but at the same time he's able to include a highly linear approach to melody. It's a way of playing that bridges a huge chunk of jazz piano history and has influenced generation after generation of other pianists. Here is a guy who was a full- fledged professional before the start of WWII, who was rooted in Wilson and Tatum and made his first records with Hot Lips Page, but then assimilated bebop. True conservatives of his generation never picked up on Bird or Bud, so already he's established himself as a modernist. He continued to add and alter his style, able to blend in with nearly everyone in jazz short of free players. He played modal tunes with Ron Carter and Tony Williams and his most recent records find him blending beautifully with Joe Lovano. Hank is also a true improviser, playing in the moment. Listen to the way he shadows Lovano on their new duet album. The last time I heard him live, he was re-harmonizing tunes on every single chorus. Never offered a note to offend? What, exactly, is that supposed to mean and how is it relevant to his art? Yes, Hank’s music is defined by its suppleness and grace, and if those are values you don’t respond to, well, ok. Tomato, tomahto and all that. But I wonder about this line of reasoning. Who deliberately offered notes to offend. Tatum didn’t. Ellington didn’t. Bird didn’t. Mingus didn’t. Monk didn’t. Trane didn’t. Ornette didn’t. Of course, many people were offended by their playing because it was new, unusual and represented a challenge to the status quo, and they stuck to their guns in the face of enormous criticism. I can certainly accept that many innovators are driven by the need or desire to challenge the conventions of their time, but at least as important, perhaps the fundamental force, is their search for their own personal language of expression, a desire to play what to their own ears is beautiful or, if you prefer, expressive. Out of this comes a willingness to offend, but it’s a byproduct. Back to Hank. Yes, he spent his career refining mainstream principles, but some perspective, people: He turned 50 in 1968! I wrote a piece last year in which I said this about him: “Jones' art is comprehensive. He is a sensitive accompanist, a brilliant solo pianist and an emotional improviser who develops ideas like a storyteller. His roots lie in the piano kings of the '30s -- especially the ornamental sweep of Art Tatum and the refined elegance of Teddy Wilson. But Jones also embraced the rhythmic and harmonic advances of the bebop modernists of the '40s, particularly pianist Bud Powell. “The result is a supple style beyond fashion or category. Liquid single-note lines melt into luxurious chords. Deft interplay between left and right hands animates the structure. Luminous harmonies shift like light in a Turner landscape. His swing is impeccable, his taste unerring, his touch angelic. And there is just enough grease in his ideas to balance his tuxedoed elegance with down-home soul. “Jones' marriage of grace and guts created the template for a school of modern jazz pianists from Detroit -- he was later followed by Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Roland Hanna -- and his often overlooked influence has seeped into the bloodstream of jazz.” Mark Stryker