Jazz Viewpoints (222)

Under the banner of the huge Verve Music Group comes some of the greatest jazz catalogs of recent vintage, including Verve, Mercury, ABC Paramount, and A M/CTI. Fortunately, the mother company has seen fit to a balanced reissue program that draws liberally from all the catalogs. Of the several reissue programs they have, the main one is their Master Edition series, which features deluxe gatefold covers, photographs, new liners, and restored 24-bit sound. Very briefly, we take a quick survey here …
In looking at jazz and film noir in the 1950s, some of the music was good and some achieved varying degrees of success depending upon the composer who scored the music. Much was happening in the jazz community throughout the United States.

Essentially, film noir refers to a period of film making in the United States developing in the 1940s through the 1950s in which the themes, motifs, and general lighting and appearances were considered dark. It comes from the French word, noir, meaning blac …

Very much like his former employer Miles Davis, John Coltrane's later work always seemed to raise more questions than there seemed to be answers. Miles' cronies would have just as easily favored him playing "Bye Bye Blackbird" with mute in hand as to be subjected to the electric onslaught that marked his work from the early '70s until his death in the early '80s. In the same way, Coltrane's followers were much more comfortable with "Giant Steps" and "My Favorite Things" than the radical innovati …
29.01.2011

2001 Jazz Christmas CDs

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A Nancy Wilson Christmas (MCG Jazz/Telarc). Nancy Wilson’s first ever full-length Christmas album with proceeds benefiting the Pittsburg-based Manchester Craftman’s Guild. Joining Nancy on this benefit holiday album is the Nancy Wilson Trio, The New York Voices, and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Band and guests comprised of Herbie Mann, Monty Alexander, Claudio Roditi, Ali Ryerson, James Moody, Jimmie Heath, Jon Faddis, Earl Garner, Antonio Hart, Renee Rosnes, Slide Hampton and coun …
On several occasions in the past few years, the Fantasy group has taken the lead from their Japanese counterparts, reissuing special edition titles in 20-bit form. The latest items to come from this series are taken exclusively from the Prestige catalog and focus entirely on material from the early to late '50s. As with past issues, these sets come in a cardboard slipcase and are limited editions. Furthermore, they feature originals graphics, a facsimile CD label, and 20-bit remastering supervis …
LONDON - Since 1975, the Milan-based Black Saint and Soul Note labels have ranked amongst Europe's most influential recording names, developing a global reputation for excellence over the intervening two decades - Europe's answer to Blue Note.

Indeed, these recording institutions have collectively ploughed a distinguished furrow through the fertile musical soils of jazz and improvised music.

With a staggering catalogue of close to 500 titles, the pair of labels have been boldly managed b …

29.01.2011

Dee Daniels

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LONDON - For those who have been closely following the flowering of Dee Daniel's musical talents over the last decade, recent nominations for the 2001 West Coast Music Awards come as no real surprise. The Vancouver-based American jazz vocalist has been simmering on a slow but bright fire with three generally under-appreciated albums including the uniquely themed Love Story (3XD 502-2) nominated for Best Jazz Release.

Each of the ten standards on Love Story is a chapter in the romantic narrat …

29.01.2011

A Grand Day For Swinging

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When it comes to vintage jazz of the '50s and '60s, nobody has a larger archive of independent material as does Fantasy, Inc. Not taking into account their pop and blues holdings, the company counts among its jazz labels the Prestige, Riverside/Jazzland, Pablo, and Contemporary catalogs. It has been largely due to their Original Jazz Classics program over the past decade or more that much of this great legacy of jazz recordings has come to light for new generations to explore and enjoy. Even des …
New Orleans merges music and culture from three continents during the turn of the 20th Century to help create Afro-Cuban music - A Historical Perspective. Part 1 - 1900 - 1999

Since the inception of jazz, a Latin influence has been very apparent in various early incarnations. One variation such as the Storyville, New Orleans style, incorporated Latin rhythms into the jazz lexicon almost 100 years ago. These Latin rhythms have proved very influential to the development of jazz, as we k …

29.01.2011

Hard Bop and Beyond

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It's been some 20 years and some 200 albums later and Criss Cross Jazz is still going strong as one of the major purveyors of mainstream jazz sensibilities. Run almost single handedly by producer and talent scout Gerry Teekens, Criss Cross started out by just releasing a few albums each year. Times have changed for the better and now it's hard just keeping up with a release schedule that includes four to six batches of new titles annually. In brief, we now take a look at some of the latest title …
For several decades now producer Nils Winther has nurtured a bastion for jazz recording in what would seem an unlikely place. From his home base in Denmark, Winther has built-up a stylized catalog of recordings true to the artists' vision and packaged in a no frills manner. It's been a bit dicey here in the United States since SteepleChase ended it's relationship with its longtime distributor, Allegro, a few years back. Now under the guidance of Stateside Distribution, based in Chicago, the cata …
For Al Harewood, jazz drumming is much more than keeping time and being the backbone of a small ensemble or big band. It's a way of life that has kept him in a privileged position as a pioneering bebop percussionist.

Last winter, patrons at the Paint It Jazz Festival in Barbados would have caught him in action as he led a stellar quartet of musicians who were all more than half his age.

Born in New York City to Barbadian parents a little over seventy years ago, Harewood has been a major …

Trumpet playing and diplomacy are not usually uttered in the same breath.

The jazz trumpet is a notoriously difficult beast to tame, and numbered among its exponents have been more than a fair share of temperamental and 'media-hostile' personalities.

Dapperly dressed, and exuding a refreshingly urbane air, trumpeter and flugelhorn player Harold Beckett, by contrast, cuts the image of an artistic ambassador. The interview has taken place in the teeth of yet another brutish British winter, …

It's the most exciting time of year, and after spending most of the winter sick with a nasty flu, I'm ready for it! We've got a ton of great things going on in the Spring jazz season in this already-blooming-for-the-last-month-town, so let's get to it. As usual, the Productive Season begins around here in the Fall of each year after a Summer Hibernation period of sorts. Post-Jazz Fest (early July), everyone kind of shuts down and regroups, making plans for the next 'jazz season', which runs from …
29.01.2011

DellaRatta Delights

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The Rick DellaRatta Trio starts off mellow at a crowded Catalina's on Saturday, St. Patrick's Day. DellaRatta's loud silk shirt and black fedora belie his gentle demeanor. He sneaks onstage and pedals softly.

"Kojo Notsuki," an original arrangement of a Japanese melody, opens the first set. DellaRatta begins in a pedal-happy Winston-esque prelude accompanied by Eddie Gomez' rich bass bowing, then with a sly smile introduces a more up-tempo left-hand rhythm that propels the band into the hear …

29.01.2011

Budget CDs

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Everyone loves a bargain and sometimes your local Wal-Mart or other discount store can yield gems if you have patience. Personally, I enjoy weeding through the discount bins of CDs in search of jazz items that are often of questionable value and origin. But who among us cannot afford to purchase a recording for two or three dollars. A large part of my vinyl collection was picked up in the ‘cast-off’ section of record shops who were only too anxious to part with LPs at 3 for a dollar. What the he …
29.01.2011

Kind of Blue by Ashley Kahn

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Mutli-versed music journalist Ashley Kahn has written a book about "the most well-known jazz record of all time", entitled KIND OF BLUE: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece. The structure of this book is extremely tight, apparently, according to the preface, on purpose. Kahn writes about the times both historically and biographically before and after the making of the original 1959 recording at the now-defunct 30th Studios of Columbia Records with the transcripts of and annotations on the …
In association with PBS and Ken Burns, Verve has introduced twenty-two CDs featuring performers covered in the recent Jazz Series on the Public Broadcasting Service. I happened to purchase the Lester Young issue while visiting a bookstore on the weekend. Having watched the series on TV during January, I can't withhold my comments any longer.

This is, without a doubt, the most important jazz documentary ever. Filmmaker, Ken Burns, has been working on this project for six years and has done a …

The world of contemporary jazz is no stranger to great instrumentalist who collaborate on projects together. Just like the bebop and early swing eras of the past, we have a great engaging synthesis of two great artists on the same instrument with two new releases and a world tour to usher in the New Year. This January in Japan, a great tour begins with two-time Grammy winner Bob James of America and a favorite daughter of Japan, number one female contemporary jazz artist, Keiko Matsui. The new m …
29.01.2011

Kazu Matsui

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Kazu Matsui is synonymous with American cinema music, particularly the films that feature Ry Cooder and James Horner as composers. Bursting on the scene in the early eighties with his eerie, suspense-laden accompaniment of the epic TV movie SHOGUN, he has been an ever-growing staple of action films. While he is a resident of Huntington Beach, CA, Kazu is the main proponent of his instrument, the Japanese shakuhachi flute, in the Western world. While carrying on the tradition of his mystical inst …