Sunday, June 29, 2008

Free Jazz

Free Jazz, in this case, is not the classic Ornette Coleman album or the style pioneered in the 60s. I wanted to blog about the jazz that was free, as in no cost. Specifically, podcasts.

As a commuter (146 miles round trip), myiPod has been indispensable to my sanity. It helps drown out the mixture of traffic noise, conversation and snoring one gets in a vanpool setting. In addition to the songs I've condensed from my CDs, LPs and iTunes (18,415 and counting), there is a large variety of FREE podcasts available.
On previous blog entries, I mentioned the Sonny Rollins Podcast and the John Coltrane Traneumentary. Additionally, NPR has been running a series entitled Jazz Profiles. Hosted by singer Nancy Wilson, it's featured artists like Charles Mingus, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Gil Evans, Bessie Smith and Count Basie. It's both informative and entertaining.

Marian McPartland's long running Piano Jazz is another source of great music. Guests like Stephane Grappelli, Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans are featured.

Last, but certainly not least, Riverside records founder Orrin Keepnews is the focus of Orrin Keepnews, Producer. He recorded folks like Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley and Wes Montgomery back in the 50s.

Although it doesn't fall into the free category (but certainly highly recommended none the less), the latest of some landmark Keepnews-produced recordings have been released as part of the Concord Music Group's continuing reissue of his distinguished oeuvre. The new series highlights Coleman Hawkins - The Hawk Flies High, Sonny Rollins - Freedom Suite, Wes Montgomery - Incredible Jazz Guitar, Nat Adderley - Work Song, and McCoy Tyner - Fly With The Wind. After a half-century plus career, fortunately, Mr. Keepnews is still very much with us. I belong to the Thelonious Monk Yahoo! group and he is also a member and a very active participant. His emails to the group are very much in keeping with the personality he shows on the podcasts. Happy commuting!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Money Jungle

I recently found out that the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia will be included in the 2009 continuation of the state quarter program. The people of Washington, D.C. chose native son Edward Kennedy Ellington for their design!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Cult of Rahsaan Roland Kirk

This month’s issue of Jazz Times has a cover story on Rahsaan Roland Kirk with the title shown above. ‘Cult’ has such a negative connotation that I’m surprised with that choice. How about ‘Legacy’? But otherwise, it’s a nice article that helps perpetuate his memory. Another thing that helps is more available video of his performances; today’s audiences are much more visually oriented. Fortunately, Jazz Icons has a release planned for September!

I didn’t get a chance to write about it at the time, but the January 2008 issue of Down Beat magazine featured a transcription of Rahsaan’s dual horn improvisation on Moon Ray. (It’s from Roy Haynes’ Out of the Afternoon album.) The transcription was done by yours truly. There was an error in the chord progression that was caught by no less than the author of Yardbird Suite: A Compendium of the Music and Life of Charlie Parker, Lawrence Koch: "The basic progression in the A-section should be: Em C#m7b5 / F#m7b5 B7b9 /. Leaving out the b5 designation completely destroys the minortonality and confuses anyone trying to study the transcription analytically. Further, the bridge prorgession moves basically like this: Bm7b5 / Bm7b5/ E7 / E7 / C#m7b5 / F#7 / B7b9 / B7b9 /. Again, forgetting the b5chords obliterates the minor key." Oops!!

Monday, June 02, 2008


1918 was quite a year: the "war to end all wars" came to a close. It also saw one of the great disease outbreaks of modern times - influenza.

On a jazz note, it saw the birth of two giants who are still very much with us and very active - Gerald Wilson and Hank Jones. They're celebrating together at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday, July 30th.

On the personal side, on this date 90 years ago, John Weary and Beulah Buckhalter Weary gave birth to their third child, a daughter they named Amanda Artilean. That's her on her mother's lap and also pictured as a young woman. She's my grandmother. Happy 90th! (The party's on Saturday!)