Friday, August 28, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President....

A happy 100th birthday (a day late) to Lester Young. I have been listening to some Prez today for the first time in a while and I must get some more into my rotation post-haste.

Lester is one of those cats that I always feel like I "should" listen to and never do. I have written about primary sources before and Prez CERTAINLY counts as one. All of my favorites have links back to him and, as today's listening has shown, he is QUITE heavy. His sense of line is something I want to dig into over the next few months. Currently, I'm digging "Ad Lib Blues" from Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio. Just beautiful playing.

On a different note, I am adding the Twitter widget that Howard Mandel has put together. This is a great idea and I hope many will use it. It is designed to act as a way of tracking who is hearing live jazz direct response to the "Is Jazz Dead" article and conversation that has been going around. Here's what Howard has to say about it:

"Start a Twitter campaign, and see what happens! Do as many people hear live jazz in a week as attended Woodstock, say? Using the hashtag #jazzlives, a rough count is underway, supported by independent jazz activists, musicians, festivals, journalists but most of all the listeners themselves. It's a lesson in how people participate in culture now, with encouraging findings."

I am still formulating my own thoughts on the issue, at least trying to put them together in a coherent enough fashion for posting here but, based on the attendance and demographic at the Newport Jazz Festival a couple of weeks ago (at $75.00 a day!!) I am encouraged, with reservations. I'll be exploring those reservations in the next couple of days. Until then, dig some Prez...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Newport 2009 - Day 2

Sorry for the lag...

The second day of the Newport Jazz Festival was an absolutly amazing experience.

I love Joe Lovano. I have loved Joe Lovano since "Universal Language" back in the 90s.

Joe Lovano played on Sunday as the first act on the main stage. It...was....beyond....words!

NPR webcast the performance and it is available for download here. RUN, do not walk, to this site and download it. US5 is, in my opinion, his most creative project yet and they were in top form. The 2-drummer format worked very nicely...very textural and not much "bashing" (although, there was some). Esperanza killed it for a second day in a very different setting. She is an amazing musician.

Roy Haynes and Ron Carter (!)...another killer set. Ron's bass sound is as thick as ever and his playing is even more refined than I remember.

Brubeck was as elegant as always. Played mostly Duke tunes and it was great to hear his sensibilities steeped through Dukes compositions.

Enjoy the pics:


Lovano and some hack...

Roy Haynes and Ron Carter


Lovano on Tarogato...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Newport 2009 - Day 1

What a great day. The weather was perfect, bright and sunny (as evidenced by some very unfortunate tan lines on your's truly...I was wearing a Kufi. Use your imagination....) and not too hot. The music was wonderful! I heard:

The Cedar Walton All Stars - Cedar with Lou Tabackin and Curtis Fuller. Lou is always a treat to hear and what a privlidge to hear Curtis. One of the only (if not THE only) bone players to play with Trane. The music was right out of the hard bop/modal genre. Cedar's great tunes sound great with the tenor/bone combination.

Esperanza Spalding - How is it that I have not been listening to her for the past couple of years?!? Killer bass player, that goes without saying, but her vocal work really knocked me out today. Informed to my ears by Betty Carter as well as artists like Stevie Wonder, there is an element on her upper range that just grabs at my heart. I'll be visiting iTunes soon.

Joshua Redman - Josh hit with his double trio, which at times covered the entire spectrum from solo to sextet, with all mathematical combinations in between. I haven't checked out much of Redman's music in the past few years. Hearing him today makes me realize what I have been missing. The music was exploratory, very textural and formally VERY interesting. No head-solos-head.

Branford Marsalis - When I was in high school, Branford was my hero. I begged my father to take me to hear him when he would come through Chicago/Ravinia etc... I have gotten away from listening to him in the past few years, but today was a nice reminder of how much I like him. A good mix of standards and originals, his set was full of mastery. Branford's harmonic sense is quite original while keeping touch with history and his rhythmic concept is just amazing. He can shift gears between upper and lower neighbor meters with more ease than anyone I can think of. His soprano tone is to die for!

A great day of music and I can't wait for tomorrow...Photos follow...

Esperanza Spalding

Joshua Redman

Esperanza Spalding

Branford Marsalis

Esperanza Spalding

The crowds

The NPR Command Center

Cedar Walton, Curtus Fuller, Lou Tabackin

Friday, August 7, 2009

Newport Up! - Day 7

I must admit, I spend a good part of yesterday listening to OMD and The Cure. But in honor of the Festival starting tomorrow, here is one of my favorite performance clips from Newport.

See you at Ft. Adams....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A brief pause...

from the run up to Newport Jazz Festival to pay tribute.

The Newport videos will return tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Newport Up! - Day 6

Joe Williams and Jimmy Rushing take us to Chicago, by way of Newport, with Basie's band providing the propulsion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Newport Up! - Day 5

I have always thought that Dave Holland's Quintet with Chris Potter was one of the best. Here they are in 2002...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Newport Up! - Day 4

Today, a KILLIN version of Midnight Sun by Esperanza Spalding. She'll be there this year too with Joe Lovano's Us 5.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Newport Up! - Day 2

Today I offer a short little gem. Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the 1962 Festival. Bro. Rahsaan tears up some flute...