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Al in NYC

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  1. He was back when they were holding down Mondays at the late Jazz Standard. But these last 2 nights when I saw them Wayne Escoffery was calling the tunes, making announcements, etc.
  2. Mingus Big Band tonight with Orrin Evans, Adam Cruz. Conrad Herwig, a trumpet section of Randy Brecker, Freddie Hendrix, and Phil Harper, and lot of other fine players. Wayne Escoffery is now helming the band. Was invited out to see them last week by someone I know who works with the band, with a somewhat different lineup (including Helen Sung and Craig Handy). It was literally the first jazz show I've seen since I caught Ben Waltzer and Steve Nelson at Mezzrow just a week before all hell broke loose back in March 2020. Saw the lineup for this week and said that I'd just have to come back. Venue for these Wednesday night shows is the brand new Midnight Theater in the ludicrous Hudson Yards development. The place sure wasn't ready for prime time last week (QR code menu and online ordering system not working reliably, no paper menu backup available, very amateurish service, etc.) but the limited menu of pricey Chinese snacks was OK, and the music was, of course, sublime, with just the right touch of Mingusian chaos.
  3. It was not so much the Yes records I wanted to bake, as those Rick Wakeman solo albums. Oh, and ELP, definitely ELP.
  4. I must say that I'm somewhat surprised to see no comment here on the PBS documentary on Ron Carter that aired last Friday (or am I missing something?). It's not often that we get 2 hours on a jazz topic in the national media, let alone an extended piece on an important musician who spent most of his professional career as a (indispensable) sideman. As usual with such things, it featured less uninterrupted music than I would like. But it did get quite intimate with Ron himself, along with interviews with many of his fellow musicians and fans, and examined both his illustrious history and his ongoing life as a working musician. One part I found very affecting was to see him return after many years to the house his father built just outside of Detroit, where he grew up.
  5. I had a copy of this Wyncote Jimmy Smith/Don Gardner record, and a copy of an even cheesier record on the "Guest Star" label out of the Synthetic Plastics Co of Newark NJ featuring 2 Smith/Gardner cuts and a whole bunch of Wilson Lewes Trio fluff, both of which I bought out of some dollar or 50 cent record bin in an east side Detroit party store way back when I was in high school or college. Unfortunately my roommate was a real prog rock head and hated my jazz organ records. He threw both of these records and a copy of an old McGriff bargain bin LP into a toaster oven and baked them until they were smooth, and gave them back to me in their covers with "this is a coaster" written across the label. Still have at least one of 'em, weirdly enough.
  6. What a tragedy. I was fortunate enough to see Joey play several times. He was always very popular in Detroit and played the festival there almost annually for a while back when my dad was involved there, always to great acclaim. I also saw him play here in NYC and other places. Most memorably a funky as hell show with Houston Person and a glowing late night with Bobby Hutcherson. He was clearly a real craftsman and always attentive to his audiences and the history of his music, and on the couple of occasions I had to interact with him he was open, affable, and humorous. What a loss for his wife and family, for his fellow musicians who clearly loved playing with him, and for his many many fans everywhere. I must say that I too was surprised to find that he was so young. Perhaps because he's been on so prominently on the scene from such a young age, and played with so many accomplished senior musicians, in my mind he seemed quite a bit older than 51. Not to go too far into speculation, but I have to wonder if his recent swift and noticeable weight loss had something to do with his death. We put such a big social and medical premium on just weight loss itself, but I have known several people who have suffered serious health damage from quick weight loss via drugs, crash diets, or surgery, including friends who have died. He will be very much missed, most especially by we fans of the organ groove of which he will always stand as one of the absolute masters. Bye Joey D.
  7. The score of which inspired this very fine album. One of the very very rare sideman appearances by Sun Ra.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Harold Mabern Duke Pearson (as a pianist) Willie Pickens?
  13. 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.
  14. Due my dad's grilling skills, there was never more than one degree of 'doneness' available.
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