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Peter Arnott's drama based in WWII comes to the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry from 13th to 27th September and moves on to Nottingham Playhouse from 3rd to 18th October. The Belgrade says: 'The jazz scene in 1930s’ Berlin was one of the most vibrant and exciting in the world – a time captured brilliantly in Kander & Ebb’s musical, Cabaret. But what happened to those talented singers and musicians as the Nazis’ grip tightened? The Nazis hated jazz – they saw it as decadent and impure. But one of them, Propaganda Ministry official, Karl “Charly” Schwedler, understood its true power. And he made it his mission to harness that power so the Nazis could use jazz as a weapon of war!'
'Propaganda Swing throws a spotlight on the gripping true story of ‘Charly and his Orchestra’. Featuring a fantastic swing band live on stage, this enthralling show reveals the characters behind the story of how some of the greatest German jazz musicians of the day entered into a Faustian pact with the Fascists – they could keep playing their beloved music at the price of seeing it corrupted for evil. Features some of the coolest jazz songs of the era, including It Ain’t Right, Makin’ Whoopee, You’re Driving Me Crazy, Nightmare, St Louis Blues, Big Noise from Winnetka, Tiger Rag, Minnie the Moocher, Lili Marlene and more. The captivating combination of WWII intrigue and drama set against a backdrop of glitz, glamour and Big Band swagger, makes Propaganda Swing the must-see show of the Belgrade’s autumn season.'
Go to the Belgrade Theatre website to hear the playlist (click here).
September sees the release in the UK of Woody Allen's latest film, Magic In The Moonlight. In recent years there have been differing opinions about Woody's movies. I really liked Midnight In Paris, but I was completely out-voted by last year's Blue Jasmine in which most people saw a real return to form by the director. One thing you can pretty much always guarantee is that the soundtrack of a Woody Allen film will have a good jazz soundtrack, and Magic In The Moonlight is no exception.
Magic In The Moonlight is described as: 'A romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue.' It has, of course, already been released in America, and on the International Movie Database David Ferguson from Dallas says: 'One of the most prolific writer/directors since the end of the studio era, Woody Allen cranks a new script and film out every year. A few are great, while the others fall somewhere between highly entertaining and watchable. None would be considered a true dud. His latest is a bit fluffy and falls comfortably into the watchable category ... The lineup here is again quite impressive: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney, Catherine McCormack and Hamish Linklater. They each perform admirably, but aren't enough to elevate the somewhat lackluster script. Ms. Stone and Ms. Atkins are especially enjoyable here.'
'Woody mixes his love of magic with his cynical religious views, and blends those with his too frequent older man/younger woman sub-plot. The scenes with Firth and Stone are fine, but their on screen banter would have been better served as Uncle and Niece than awkward rom-com aspirants. Despite this flaw, there remain some excellent lines and moments, plus a hand full of staggering shots from the south of France locale. The wardrobe and cars are stunning ... the film is set in 1928. ... Still, it must be noted that even at his least brilliant, Mr. Allen delivers films that are pleasant and watchable. We can live with that as we await his next masterpiece.'
Click here to watch the trailer for Magic In The Moonlight.
Emma Stone and Colin Firth in Magic In The Moonlight. Picture: Allstar
Writing in The Observer in July, Edward Helmore had seen the premier in New York. His article suggests that the film will do well despite the continuing sexual molestation allegations that Woody Allen denies. Of the movie, Edward Helmore says: ' Magic in the Moonlight, set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s and starring Colin Firth as a celebrated illusionist and Emma Stone as a would-be medium, comes in the wake of Midnight in Paris and To Rome with Love. ... the latest film is clearly highly personal. Allen briefly performed as an illusionist. He told the Observer the film was inspired by a story he had read about the fraudulent spiritualists that the illusionist Harry Houdini was committed to exposing. ... According to Firth, it would be mad not to exploit the years of craft contained in one directorial brain. "His writing, how he conceives characters and the plots he places them in, flatter actors," he said. Magic in the Moonlight, with Cole Porter's You Do Something to Me as its repeating soundtrack, also revisits the director's nostalgia for the elegance and aesthetics of past times.' (Click here for Edward Helmore's full article).
As for the jazz score, there are many gems, a gift to Woody in setting the action in 1928. Bix Beiderbecke is present several times playing Big Boy, Thou Swell, Sorry and At The Jazz Band Ball. Ruth Etting sings It All Depends On You, the California Ramblers play Sweet Georgia Brown, and there are tracks by Paul Whiteman, Sidney de Paris, Firehouse Five Plus Two, Ute Lemper and Nat Shilket. (Click here for the tracklist).
As David Ferguson says, Woody Allen delivers films that are pleasant and watchable. Magic In The Moonlight opens in the UK on 19th September.
Jazz North has set up a new scheme to stage high-profile gigs for young jazz talent in the north of England. Together with festival and music colleagues, the scheme has grown from the 'Manchester Jazz Festival Introduces' scheme which aims to showcase jazz musicians under twenty-five who live and study in the north.
The first band to benefit from the project is Jam Experiment and they will play at Lancaster Jazz Festival, Marsden Jazz Festival, Southport Jazz Festival and Liverpool Jazz Festival. Jam Experiment is: bandleader Rory Ingham, 17, (trombone and BBC Young Jazz Musician of Year 2014), Alex Bone, 17 (saxophone), Toby Comeau, 17 (piano), Felix Moseholm, 16 (bass) , and Jonathan Mansfield, 18 (drums).
The band describes its approach as “energetic, connected, creative, swingin’, humorous, enthusiastic”. It came together after a weekly jam, and the players’ ambitions are to play exciting original compositions and arrangements, make a strong impression and search for something that is musically new. Among its inspirations and influences are guitar titan Pat Metheny, keyboard legend Herbie Hancock, bassist Christian McBride and pianist Gwilym Simcock. Jam Experiment receives a package of help as part of the Jazz North Introduces scheme, including payment and expenses for the gigs, a photo-shoot, a video showreel created from interviews and performances and assistance in creating an electronic press kit.
This is just one of several projects under the Jazz North wing - click here for more information where you can also listen to Jam Experiment playing Messed Up Shaped.
Last month we mentioned the plan to stage an open-air gig on 13th September in Gillett Square by the Vortex Jazz Club in London in which Orphy Robinson and a band would play to the D.W. Griffiths movie Broken Blossoms - A tale of love and lovers set in 1919 Limehouse.
Sadly this gig has had to be cancelled through lack of sufficient funding, but it is hoped to stage it at some future date inside the Vortex Club.
Album First Released: 6 October 2014 - Label: Efpi Records
Tony Milliner - My Favourite Things
Trombonist Tony Milliner chooses Straight No Chaser by Gil Evans as his favourite track this month.
Tony says: ‘I have this Gil Evans recording of the Thelonius Monk tune on a 1959 LP Gil Evans – The Great Jazz Standards, although I expect it is available on other compilations. The album is promoted as featuring the trumpet player Johnny Coles, but there are some other great performances by other members of the orchestra including Curtis Fuller on trombone, Steve Lacey (soprano sax) and Gil himself on piano. Johnny Coles was from New Jersey and nicknamed ‘Little Johnny C’. He was present for the Sketches of Spain album with Gil and Miles Davis but he went on to play with Mingus, Herbie Hancock and others.’
Click here to listen to Gil Evans Straight, No Chaser.
The Great Jazz Standards album featured a number of interesting tunes including Bix Beiderbecke’s Davenport Blues, Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring and Fran Landesman/Tommy Wolf’s Ballad of the Sad Young Men. We are lucky to also have a video on YouTube of Thelonius Monk playing Straight, No Chaser from a BBC television programme in 1965 with Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, Larry Gales (bass) and Ben Riley (drums) - click here.
Gil Evans’s The Great Jazz Standards album is available as part of a four album collection on the Avid label (click here).
The London jazz club has moved to a new venue at St. Mary Overies Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1. The Nursery is a great place to hear new rising talent as their programme shows. They opened on 31st July with the Sam Crockatt Quartet and the Sam Braysher Quartet and future gigs include the Nick Costley-White and Alex Munk Quartets (25th September),Lauren Kinsella/Liam Noble/Chris Batchelor plus Bex Burch's Vula Viel (30th October) and on 20th November: Huddie: The Life and Times of Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) featuring The Dixie Ticklers and friends.
Click here for more information.
Rob Adams reports that the Edinburgh venue The Outhouse has won a Herald Angel award at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Outhouse, which is home to the weekly Playtime series of Thursday jazz concerts and hosted Playtime’s first Fringe run this year, has been presenting jazz on the Fringe since 2009. This year it featured American singers Barbara Morrison and Lillian Boutté and Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin as well as shows involving Scottish musicians including singer Alison Affleck and pianist David Patrick. Its compact and bijou loft space has become a favourite among jazz audiences and is recognised for the quality of its music programme presented in an intimate atmosphere.
Now in their 20th year, the Herald Angels are awarded by Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for excellence across the range of festivals taking place in Edinburgh each August. The awards are much coveted by performers, companies and event organisers and previous winners with a jazz connection include Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar and international musicians including the Bad Plus and singers Barbara Morrison and Christine Tobin.
Kim Finlay (far right) with her Outhouse crew and Dr Sandra Cairncross, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Computing & Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University (centre).
Collecting the statuette Kim Finlay, whose family own and run the venue said: “This is a great surprise because I’m not sure we realised that venues could get awards like this. It’s a real boost to have something we’re doing – and the venue itself - recognised as being of a high quality, especially when you look at the fantastic standard of the other winners this year and over past years.”
Formerly the Bank of Scotland Herald Angels, and with recipients of the distinctive Angel statuettes based on all five continents, the awards have a reputation that extends across the world. They were sponsored this year by Heverlee Belgian Beer and Edinburgh Napier University.
Album First Released: July 2014 - Label: Jazz Continuum
Graham Collier Jazz Ensemble:
Luminosity, The Last Suites
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Steve Waterman, Martin Shaw (trumpets); Jonathan Williams (French horn); Mark Bassey (trombone); Andy Grappy (tuba); Graeme Blevins (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Art Themen (soprano & tenor saxophones); Andy Panayi (alto flute, alto saxophone); James Allsopp (bass clarinet); Ed Speight (guitar); Roger Dean (piano, keyboards); Roy Babbington (double bass); John Marshall (drums); Trevor Tompkins (percussion).
Graham Collier died on 9th September 2011. For a generation he was one of the key composer/bandleaders to forge a distinctly British approach to composition and improvisation within the jazz orchestra. (I share Collier’s predisposition for italics in such a context.) The 1960/70s produced opportunities to creatively explore this medium through mainstream record companies. It lasted a comparatively short period; in the UK groundbreaking musicians like Graham Collier, Ian Carr, Keith Tippett, Mike Westbrook and Mike Gibbs grasped the moment to startling effect.
Collier was a creative academic and musical explorer; his Hoarded Dreams from 1983 joins Tippett’s Septober Energy, Westbrook’s Citadel/Room 315 and Gibbs’ Tanglewood 63 as being game-changer recordings. Each one is important and stands the test of time because, in different ways, they left Americana for a detailed orchestral purpose arranged this side of the Atlantic. Influence was drawn from contemporary composers like Olivier Messiaen and rock music coming out of Abbey Road rather than Chicago. When the American jazz orchestra did come into play, the circumference was Gil Evans/ Miles Davis and Mingus circa Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.
Neither Davis or Mingus were fond of the word ‘jazz’. The word was not a problem for Graham Collier, yet he remained a composer concerned with, to quote him, ‘how music is moved off the paper’. An issue for anyone dealing with the dichotomy that is jazz composition; if the j-word has life it is in the improvising of it.
The double CD, Luminosity, contains two fascinating examples of Collier’s art, recorded in June 2013; the writing completed before his death but the works themselves unrecorded. The first disc is The Blue Suite inspired by Miles Davis’ quintessential album, A Kind of Blue. Disk two carries the title Luminosity, and is to my mind the real splash of colour, dedicated to the painter Hans Hofmann. The ensemble is mainly made up of ace-in-the pack musicians long associated with Collier. Roy Babbington, double bass, and John Marshall, drums, have been everywhere and back but they still snap, poke and blister this music right on target. Roger Dean, piano, and the good doctor, saxophonist, Art Themen know Collier’s music like their own.
It took me a lot of listening to get some comfort from The Blue Suite. For me there is a problem basing such a detailed formal composition on Davis’ epoch recording. The exhilaration that comes with A Kind of Blue is bound up in the sparseness of the arrangements and the writing. The original 1959 session was a wide-open thing, leaving Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and crucially, Bill Evans, space to flow free – it’s all of a piece. In the end, Collier’s composition came good for me but I had to clear A Kind of Blue from my head before The Blue Suite began to speak.
No such problem with Luminosity. The opening crack drives straight through the ears only to give way to a filigree of percussion leading to Martin Shaw’s suave trumpet turning on a sublime featherweight riff. It sets the scene for a performance of poise, the charts trading off spontaneity and abstraction. Two soloists who blow a fine balancing act are: Andy Panayi, his flute pressing a breathy vibe into the mix, and James Allsopp on bass clarinet. I caught Allsopp live earlier this year in Mark Lockheart’s band, where throughout the whole set he kept bubbling under with ideas. On this Collier project he does the same thing; cut away to bass clarinet and it feels like a deep vein.
One quirky irony about the Graham Collier story is that the big band Loose Tubes, recently making a welcome return, were originally a Collier workshop project. Those loose guys could trip over a banana skin and still stand up balancing a ball. Yet I have never heard anything ‘loose’ coming from Graham Collier. And yes, sometimes in the past his work has seemed too tightly packed. Tippett can roll an articulate fanfare over roaring raw improv; Westbrook can swing a British Brass Band whilst staging an elegant elegy; and Gibbs could invent innovation to order. Graham Collier always seemed like a man of measurement. He took his time, a one man creative work/shop; knowledge literally put to work, creativity ‘hoarded’ and painstakingly put together piece by piece. Credit is due to all the players on Luminosity for making these two final suites move from paper into sound. Music lives.
Click here to sample the album.
With thanks to Alvin Roy
Album Released: January 2014 - Label: Fulltone Music
Saxophonist Howard Lawes reviews this album for us:
It is worth noting that there are two albums called Tone Poetry available so make sure you get the correct one.
A tone poem was a popular music form in the 19th and early 20th centuries and was designed to inspire listeners to bring to mind images or moods, an example being Gershwin's An American in Paris. Josh Kemp's Tone Poetry is perhaps a series of "poems" evoking feelings amongst others of loneliness in the track Solipsism, love, in the track Requited and parental pride in Posy for Rosie.
The album as a whole is easy to listen to, sounding familiar but leaving the listener wondering where they might have heard that chord or style before. Tracks such as Mach 6 and Six Steps have the feel of John Coltrane about them while others reflect Josh's interest in the piano playing of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. The improvisations are interesting, melodic and almost entirely by Josh and pianist, Tim Lapthorn, well supported by drummer Jon Scott (Richard Barr on tracks 1,4 and 8) and double bassist Mick Hutton (Spencer Brown on tracks 1,4 and 8).
This is music to play at a romantic dinner party and then again when you discover the motifs that you missed the first time, and again because it is a very enjoyable piece of jazz music.
Click here to sample the album.
Josh read philosophy at Oxford University and won scholarships to study Jazz at London's Guildhall and Trinity Schools of music. It is worth mentioning that he is a member of the E17jazz Collective of musicians who play regularly at the Orford House Social Club in Walthamstow, East London and who have been involved in a number of multi-disciplinary arts projects which have led to the award of the Waltham Forest Culture and Arts Award (http://e17jazz.com/). On this website you can also listen to Mach 6 from the Tone Poetry album.
Award winning drummer Lloyd Haines is fresh. The terms ‘rising star’, ‘name to watch out for’ and ‘new kid on the block’ would be equally appropriate, but are becoming well-worn. Lloyd is not.
Click here for video clips of Lloyd playing with the Kevin Figes Octet in March 2014 in Birmingham. An album by the Octet is due out later this year.
Lloyd is one half of the Haines twins, his brother Alex, a guitarist, is also a talented musician. Which makes one ask where does this two-fold gift come from? Inherently, their parents are not musicians, although their father did play a bit of rock guitar in his youth. Lloyd and Alex were born in Cwmcarn, a small village outside Cardiff, in June 1990. They were both given acoustic guitars when they were six, as happens with many children trying out musical instruments when they start school. Alex took to the guitar almost immediately, but Lloyd was not so enthralled and practice slipped.
Photograph courtesy of Hayley Madden
By the time they were eight, Lloyd was aware that Alex was doing well with the guitar. He explains that it is something of a ‘twin thing’ that he was feeling a little left behind. ‘I remember that one day I went round to a friend’s house,’ he says. ‘There was a pair of drumsticks on the side. No drums – just sticks. I picked them up and started playing with them and something just clicked. I needed something as Alex was playing, so asked if I could take drum lessons.’
His parents were supportive and as the house which his father had built had no immediate neighbours in the village, there was no problem with people banging on the walls. By now, Alex was taking private lessons locally, and Lloyd started taking drum lessons from a local drummer, Lee Nicholas, ‘He was really helpful and a great musician. He was more of a rock drummer which was great for me at the time, and helped me with jazz when I was just getting into it.’ says Lloyd. ‘I was with him for around nine years.’
At Dempsey's in Cardiff 2013 (photograph by Fieldgate)
The brothers went to Cwmcarn High School, but until the last year or two there they played very little with other people. ‘There was this kid, Ethan Redmore who played trumpet and wanted to start a jazz band,’ Lloyd recalls. ‘I think Ethan eventually went into medicine. Anyway, I didn’t really know anything about jazz. I had to listen to Herbie Hancock and other people whose music we wanted to play and I just got sucked in. As I listened more, I became intrigued by what the drums were doing in the music and I wanted to find out more.’ In November 2007, Alex and Lloyd were both winners in their respective categories of the Schools’ Young Contemporary Musician of the Year competition organised by Caerphilly Borough Council. Cwmcarn High School opened a New Performing Arts Centre the year the twins left.
It speaks of the progress that they had made musically that they both applied to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and were both accepted for places the following year.‘We took a year out,’ Lloyd explains. ‘We spent most of that time practising. We went into Cardiff all the time and hung out and played when we could. We had stopped taking lessons by that time, but we were listening a lot and became very involved in the Cardiff scene.’ This helped when Lloyd and Alex started at College as they already knew many of the people and were accepted as part of that circle.
Click here to listen to Alex and Lloyd with Hannah Vivian-Byrne playing I’ve Got A Crush On You from a gig at Dempsey’s in Cardiff.
‘We both started College in September 2009,’ Lloyd says. ‘The first couple of years I worked pretty intensely during the day. I guess I was quite driven and practised a lot. In the evenings we would hang out, listening to and talking about music all night. The Royal Welsh College is a good environment musically and socially, surrounded by people who are committed to music.’
Lloyd describes how far the other musicians at college are influential. ‘You tend to appreciate the talent of people in the years ahead of you as well as those in your own year, and these people and their ideas tend to become your influences. You also develop working contacts that continue after college. We had some great tutors too – Geoff Simkins, Iain Ballamy, Huw Warren, Martin France.’
During his time at Cardiff, Lloyd attended the Fondazione Siena Jazz school where he played and studied with Eric Harland, Miguel Zenon & Michael Blake and won a scholarship to return again the next year.
College also brought him a working friendship with pianist Joe Webb and bassists Huw V. Williams and Chris Hyson. The Joe Webb Trio was first formed in 2009 when Joe and Lloyd teamed up with bass player Huw V. Williams – ‘Huw is a great writer,’ says Lloyd. ‘No-one else was doing what he was doing at college, and he brought everyone along with him…’ The trio recorded an album and played at the 2012 Brecon Jazz Festival. Lloyd continues, ‘…also Chris Hyson wrote and is still writing some of the most beautiful and honest music of anyone I know that age. Playing with these guys had a definitive impact on my taste, and made me aware of things that I wasn’t previously listening for - not just in jazz, but everything from Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell to Brazilian music to the downtown New York City scene. Also James Clark, another great up and coming creative musician with his own big band, exposed a lot of guys in college to some pretty crazy Brazilian and Bulgarian music. I was in a few bands that were all playing such different music… a great position that all the creative outlets I desired were available to me. It really was all the guys I was with at college, not so much the teachers, that shaped my musical tastes.’
Lloyd describes his main influences as the people he is surrounded by in London. 'There is something about watching a great musician play from inches away that listening to records cannot replicate. As a result, I feel like my biggest influences are the guys who are in London today, my age or a few years older, that I get to watch up close on a regular basis. James Maddren has been very important in my development, and I have gained a lot of inspiration watching and speaking with other great young drummers, such as Dave Hamblett, Josh Blackmore, Dave Smith, Tim Giles and Jon Scott'. Lloyd also describes New York City based musicians Jochen Rueckert and Nasheet Waits as big influences, as well as Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette and Roy Haynes. 'I feel like the general sound you make on the drums is really important, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the overall balance of instruments on the kit, and my touch. Also time and feel. When I’m practicing… the basic fundamental stuff is the biggest thing for me.'
Yamaha Jazz Award gig (Photograph courtesy of Hayley Madden)
In 2013 Lloyd graduated with a 1st Class degree and the BMus 4 Award for academic results. He was nominated by the College for a Yamaha Scholarship and received his Yamaha award at Westminster. The award included £1,000 which helped him to move to London and with the other Scholarship winners, he recorded a CD that was given away with Jazzwise magazine and launched at London’s 606 Club. Lloyd says that, like many recordings, the CD provided a ‘marker’ of his playing at the time. The award also introduced him to other winners and since then he has worked with another Yamaha Scholar, pianist Elliot Galvin.
At CafeJazz in 2014 with Greg Sterland (tenor sax) Tom Ollendorff (guitar) Peter Komor (double bass) Lloyd Haines (drums).
Now based in London, Lloyd is regularly working with a number of bands. He has recently toured with John Law and has worked with Kevin Figes, Rick Simpson, Geoff Simkins, Michael Blake, Pete Hurt and Ant Law, as well as Young Poet Laurette for Wales, Martin Daws. He is involved in the CEC (Creative Ensemble Collective), which includes great international musicians Mick Coady, Vibraphonist Jeff Davis (Portugal), Trumpeter Voro Garcia (Spain) and Vocalist Fini Bearman.
Look out for Lloyd playing with the Geoff Simkins/Pete Hurt Quintet at the Bull’s Head, Barnes on the 1st October; with the CEC on 16th October at Dempseys in Cardiff, on October 20th at Ronnie Scott's, and with Czech jazz group Inner Space at the Spice Of Life on the 20th November.
Lloyd has a lot going on at the moment, and is still very much dedicated to developing his drumming, but given time he wants to make space for writing and producing. In the meanwhile, to return to those well-worn clichés, Lloyd Haines is a ‘name to look out for’ in bands that might be playing near you.
Album Released: June 2014 - Label: JazzMain
A Sound For Sore Ears
Vic Arnold reviews this album for us:
A Sound For Sore Ears is their first recording, released in June 2014. It was produced by the Sound Cafe Studios, in Scotland, and they have captured a very warm relaxed sound. The group have been performing together for the last 10 years and they play a swinging style of jazz with its roots firmly in the Blue Note camp. There are 12 tracks to listen to, ranging from original numbers to standards such as Almost Like Being In Love and Tin Tin Deo and, they are all very, very good.
I particularly liked Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, but every one who listens to this recording will find their own favourites. As I said earlier, JazzMain are based in the Edinburgh area, so readers who live in that area should be able to hear this fine group live. The rest of us will have to make do with listening to, and enjoying, this fine recording. Sandy Brown came from Edinburgh and I wondered if he would have liked the fine sound that this group make. I would be prepared to bet money that he would have found this group excellent.
JazzMain deserves success and this, their first recording, deserves to be listened to. If you like good swinging jazz, do yourself a favour, buy a copy of this recording, you will not be disappointed. Highly recommended.
Click here to listen to Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most. Click here to listen to Tin Tin Deo. The album is available to download via iTunes (click here) or on CD through the Jazzmain website (click here).
The idea behind this item is to offer a 'taste' of a musician, singer or band that you might not have come across before. This month, we spend time with ......
For this month’s Taster we wind the clock back nearly one hundred years to Chicago in the 1920s. To start at the end, on 1st March 1932, a twenty five year old clarinet and saxophone player died in a traffic accident, the car driven by cornet player, Wild Bill Davison. In his biography of Tesch, Mike Donovan describes how Frank had invited Wild Bill to spend the night at his apartment before a band rehearsal the following day. At around 2.00 am, after a visit to Charlie Straight’s Speakeasy with George Wettling, they set off for the apartment. ‘Tesch was hunched down against the wind and cold in the front seat with his hands thrust deeply into the pockets of a heavy overcoat. As Davison began to cross Wilson Avenue, his car was struck broadside by a Yellow Cab travelling on Wilson Avenue with its headlights off. The Packard was spun into a tree and both occupants were thrown over the windshield. Tesch struck his head on the concrete curb, suffering a very severe skull fracture. He was transported to Ravenswood Hospital (about a mile west of the accident site) where he died four hours later.’ Tesch died a few days before his 26th birthday.
Frank Teschemacher had been born in Kansas City Missouri. The family moved to Chicago in 1925 when Frank’s father took work there with a railroad company. Tesch was largely self-taught and played clarinet and saxophone although he could also play violin and banjo. Bix Beiderbecke was a strong influence on him and in turn it is said that Frank’s playing influenced Benny Goodman.
In Chicago, Frank went to Austin High School and became one of the group of jazz musicians that the school gave birth to at that time and who are affectionately known as the ‘Austin High School Gang’ – Jimmy McPartland, Bud Freeman, Jim Lanigan. Mike Donovan writes that life at school was not easy for Frank: ‘He was slight of stature, non-athletic, noticeably cross-eyed, bespeckled, acne afflicted, quiet, shy and (with the exception of musical subjects) academically below average.’
Click here to listen to Frank Teschemacher and the Chicago Rhythm Kings playing Baby Won’t You Please Come Home.
Along with drummer Dave Tough, the Gang formed a band named the Blue Friars and were soon playing local gigs. Eventually, Frank dropped out of school and spent more and more time hanging out with other musicians in Chicago – Eddie Condon, Gene Krupa, Joe Sullivan, Muggsy Spanier … He was soon playing regularly and his first recording was with McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans in December 1927. In the spring of 1928, he recorded again with McKenzie and Condon and then in April, made his first recordings under his own name, Frank Teschemacher’s Chicagoans, for the Brunswick label. The recordings were never released, but a pressing of Jazz Me Blues surfaced many years later.
Click here for a great hot recording of Indiana with Eddie Condon’s Quartet in 1928: [Eddie Condon (guitar), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet, saxophone), Joe Sullivan (piano), Gene Krupa (drums)].
Later that year with many of the others, Frank went looking for work in New York City. He had only recently been married. He did manage to work with Sam Lanin, Ben Pollack, Red Nichols, Miff Mole and the Dorsey brothers, but was homesick and after just five months, went back to Chicago.
Click here to listen to Frank playing Farewell Blues with Ted Lewis and his Band in 1929. [Ted Lewis (clarinet, alto), Muggsy Spanier, Dave Klein (cornet), George Brunies (trombone), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), Tony Gerhardi (banjo, guitar), Sol Shapiro (violin), Frank Ross (piano), Bob Escamilla (brass bass), John Lucas (drums)].
Tesch made further recordings during 1929 and 1930, but the Great Depression was making an impact. Click here to listen to Copenhagen played by Elmer Schoebel and his Friar’s Society Orchestra in September 1929 [Dick Feige (cornet), Jack Reid (trombone), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), Floyd Townes (tenor sax), Elmer Schoebel (piano), Karl Berger (guitar), John Kuhn (brass bass), George Wettling (drums)].
Frank divorced in 1930 and found working playing violin in Jan Garber’s sweet dance orchestra, and there he met Wild Bill Davison. They decided to form their own band and secured a booking at Guyon’s Paradise Ballroom on Chicago’s West Side that was due to start in March 1932. You know the rest. Frank was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Illinois, not far from Austin High School with Jess Stacy and George Wettling helping to carry the coffin. (Click here for a two minute visit to Frank at Woodland Cemetery).
As Mike Donovan says in his biography of Frank, there remains controversy about how good he was and whether, given more time his potential would have blossomed. Mike ends his summary with: ‘Teschemacher ignored his critics. He knew where he was going even if he did not always get there, and he usually seemed unconcerned about whether anyone else understood or cared. Frank Teschemacher played hot jazz for Frank Teschemacher.’
Click here for Mike Donovan’s informative biography of Frank Teschemacher.
We finish this taster with a recording of China Boy by McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans from December 1927 (click here) [Eddie Condon (banjo), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), Jimmy McPartland (cornet), Red McKenzie (kazoo), Joe Sullivan (piano), Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Jim Lannigan (tuba), Gene Krupa (drums)].
Sadly, we don’t have video footage of Frank Teschemacher, so we have to settle for this amazing archive video of China Boy by Eddie Condon’s band just over a year later in 1929 (click here). It gives us a taste of the time and a chance to hear Pee Wee Russell taking the Frank Teschemacher chair. Red Nichols is on trumpet.
A new album of Frank Teschemacher’s music was released in June this year on the Jazz Chronicles label. Click here to sample it.
American pianist and bandleader Louis Durra sends us a link to this Australian video of 'a man happily demonstrating how one makes a reed instrument from a carrot...'
Click here for a five minute diversion.
Album released: February 2014 – Label: Babel
Oh, Lord, don't let 'em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don't let 'em stab us!
Oh, Lord, don't let 'em tar and feather us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
This track from Charles Mingus appeared on the classic Mingus Ah-Um album and has an interesting background. Mingus wrote it explicitly as a protest against Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus who in 1957 sent out the National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American teenagers.
Name me someone who's ridiculous, Dannie.
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won't permit integrated schools.
Faubus served as Governor from 1955 to 1967, and he is best known perhaps for defying the United States Supreme Court decision to allow the integration at Little Rock Central High School. Apparently Orval’s father said of his child: "Little Orval was different from most boys. Kids liked to get into mischief, but all he ever did was read books. He never done anything if he couldn't do it perfectly. You'd never find a weed in his row of corn."
Click here to listen to Fables Of Faubus from Mingus Ah-Um.
Wikipedia tells us that in Orval’s early political life he was: ‘A 'moderate' on racial issues, his political realism resurfaced as he adopted racial policies that were palatable to influential white voters in the Delat region as part of a strategy to effect key social reforms and economic growth in Arkansas.’ In the 1954 general election, Faubus defeated Remmel by a 63% to 37% percent margin. The election made Faubus sensitive to attacks from the political right. It has been suggested that this sensitivity contributed to his later stance against integration when he was challenged by segregationist elements within his own party.
Governor Faubus speaking to a crowd protesting about integration in Little Rock.
Then he's a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)
During the first few months of his administration, Faubus desegregated state buses and public transportation and began to investigate the possibility of introducing multi-racial schools, so his stand on the Little Rock School issue seems surprising. Commentators have argued that behind the situation was a move earlier that year in which Faubus introduced a controversial tax to increase teachers’ salaries. His position was also being challenged by conservative Senator James D. Johnson, a segregationalist. Journalist Harry Ashmore said that Faubus used the Guard to keep blacks out of Central High School because he was frustrated by the success his political opponents were having in using segregationist rhetoric to arouse white voters.
Picking up the Wikipedia account: ‘Faubus' decision led to a showdown with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and former Governor Sid McMath. In October 1957, Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to return to their armories which effectively removed them from Faubus' control. Eisenhower then sent elements of the 101st Airborne Division to Arkansas to protect the black students and enforce the Federal court order.
Name me a handful that's ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.
Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower
Why are they so sick and ridiculous?
On the 25th September, 1957, the BBC reported: Nine black children have finally been able to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. But they had to be surrounded by more than 1,000 US paratroopers to protect them from segregationist whites. On the orders of President Dwight D Eisenhower, the troops arrived last night in full battledress with fixed bayonets and rifles and took over from local police following three weeks of disturbances.
The children, six girls and three boys, had to walk through a cordon to get to the school building. Outside about 1,500 whites demonstrated and at least seven were arrested. Inside, students were warned by the commanding officer, General Walker, that anyone who disrupted the school day would be handed over to local police.
Click here for a video with a commentary by Jefferson Thomas, one of the nine young people involved.
In retaliation, Faubus shut down Little Rock high schools for the 1958—1959 school years. This is often referred to as "The Lost Year in Little Rock”. I wonder how far Faubus underestimated the consequences of his action and how far Eisenhower over-reacted with the amount of military power he sent in? The end result of both actions resulted in highlighting a moment that became a significant part of American history.
Faubus served as Governor for six two-year terms to 1967, so the Little Rock event did not unseat him. After his period in office Wikipedia tells us that: 'During the 1969 season, Faubus was hired by new owner Jess Odom to be general manager of his Li'l Abner theme park in the Ozark Mountains, Dogpatch, USA. According to newspaper articles, Faubus was said to have commented that managing the park was similar to running state government because some of the same tricks applied to both.'
Two, four, six, eight:
They brainwash and teach you hate.
When the song was first recorded for the Ah-Um album, Columbia refused to include the lyrics, and it was not until 1960 that the lyrics were first included on the album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus on the Candid label. Because of contractual issues with Columbia, the song had to be renamed Original Faubus Fables.
Click here to listen to Original Faubus Fables with the lyrics. Charles Mingus (bass, vocals); Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone); Ted Curson (trumpet); Dannie Richmond (drums, vocals).
The song, either with or without lyrics, was one of the compositions which Mingus returned to most often, both on record and in concert.
The tune has been played many times since and seems to be a favourite for youth jazz orchestras who regularly use a distinctive baritone sax introduction. I wonder, hoever, how often the history of the tune is recognised? Click here for a video that does recognise the background, down to the original words that introduced the lyrics, but with a different arrangement by the Italian band Quintorigo who introduce a Latin flavour into the tune.
‘Jazz celebrates older generations and not just the youth movement. When you 'sell' only to people of a certain age, you get cut off from the main body of experience.’ (Wynton Marsalis)
In 1981, Peter Laslett at Cambridge University hosted a conference in Cambridge to discuss the possibility of bringing the University Of The Third Age (U3A) to Britain. The conference caught the attention of Michael Young, whose many initiatives include the Consumers Association and the Open University, and others who were prepared to take the idea forward. The concept was to establish a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. It now consists of local U3As all over the UK, which are charities in their own right and are run entirely by volunteers. There are 933 U3As in the UK with 339,366 members.
Scott Stroman and the Guildhall Jazz course students
Photograph courtesy of Mark Thomas
Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership. Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking.
As the movement has grown different subjects have developed specialist national advisers. The adviser for Jazz is Mike Whitaker. In recent years Mike has built contact with London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Jazz course and again this year the two organisations have come together for a jazz study day. Mike tells us about this year’s session:
On 16th July, 270 jazz-loving members of various U3A jazz appreciation groups filled the Kennedy Hall at Cecil Sharp House in London (HQ of the English Folk Dance and Song Society) to enjoy a day of great music led by Scott Stroman, Professor of Jazz at the Guildhall School of Music.
During the morning, Scott and the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra demonstrated how arrangements were put together and how the various sections of the band worked together. To demonstrate, Scott and the band used standards such as Paper Moon and Mood Indigo, classic jazz pieces like Mingus’s Better Get It In Your Soul and Chick Corea’s Windows and a great vocal arrangement of Something In The Way She Moves arranged and sung by student Ayesha Ahmed.
In the afternoon, the band played a concert of those same pieces, enabling the audience to see how the techniques demonstrated in the morning were put into practice. Those who say that young people don’t get jazz should have been there. The crispness and drive of the ensemble, the inventiveness of the solos and the adventurousness of the arrangements make it clear that jazz is alive and well.
If you are a U3A member, does your U3A have a jazz appreciation group? If you are a jazz lover and of a U3A age (say 55+), have you checked your local U3A, to see if it has a jazz appreciation group? Either way, you can always get more info from U3A jazz appreciation adviser, Mike Whitaker (click here).
Mike also shares the hosting of a jazz radio show Sounds Like Jazz on 10Radio community radio station which is available online. The show is broadcast live on Tuesdays from 8.00 to 10.00 pm and repeated at 2.00 am the following Saturday and 10.00 am on the Thursday of the following week.
Booking agency operating from Chinatown.
with thanks to Ron Rubin
This month's video suggestion comes to us from Chris Mitchell via John Westwood. In fact we offer you two videos about the late reeds player Ian Wheeler - the long version and the shorter version.
Chris and John's suggested video is the longer version, about an hour, with Ian Wheeler being interviewed in 2007 by Sean Moyses - click here. The sound quality is, at times, not that clear as the interview seems to have taken place in a public place, but to listen to Ian telling his story mixed with his recordings is interesting.
The shorter video put on YouTube by Ed Jackson, is a wonderful slide show of pictures of Ian with the Chris Barber band backed by some of Ian's playing and with text telling us about the musician. It runs for about four minutes - click here.
Ian Wheeler played clarinet, saxophones, harmonica and guitar. He was born in Greenwich, London, in 1931 and after playing with Charlie Connor and Mike Jefferson formed his own River City Jazzband in 1952. The next year he joined Mike Daniels and then went on to play with Ken Colyer. He joined the Barber band in 1961 and stayed until 1968 when he moved to the West Country. Years playing with Rod Mason, Hefty Jazz with Keith Smith and his own band brought him back to Chris Barber in 1979 and there he stayed until 1999.
Ian Wheeler passed through the Departure Lounge in June 2011. His Ian Wheeler at Farnham Maltings (only used copies are now available) was voted the best new jazz recording of 1993 by the Music Retailers Association.
Thank you to those people who have liked our Sandy Brown Jazz Facebook page and who have commented on posts. I hope that you have found the items there of interest. Using Facebook gives us a chance to share information that arrives between issues of What's New Magazine. If you do visit our Facebook page, please Like us and Share us with your friends.
Richard Taylor sends us this poster of Chris Watford's Dallas Dandies to add to the gradual increase of information we are getting about trombonist Mick Clift. Click here for our Profile of Mick - we shall be adding a little more to it for next month, so please let us know if you have any other pictures or information we can include.
Front row left to right - Mick Clift, Dennis Armstrong, Chris Watford.
Back Row left to right- Dennis Mowatt, Jerry Card, Geoff Over.
Do you have a photograph that triggers a jazz memory for you? Perhaps it would trigger memories for other people too? We'd like to hear from you and the photo doesn't need to be a work of art as long as you can make out the detail. You could either email a JPEG copy of the photo to us or if you would prefer, post it to us and we could copy it, and send the original back to you. (Click here for our contact details).
Have you checked out our page of Photographic Memories? There is now quite a collection that are well worth a look. Click here
Album Released: 29 September 2014 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Cloudmakers Trio: Jim Hart, vibraphone; Michael Janisch, double bass; Dave Smith, drums.
Music doesn’t run in straight lines. On the 28th September the Cloudmakers Trio is going to be playing at The Albert, Bedminster, Bristol. My home town, unfortunately I won’t be home. It’s likely that drummer, Dave Smith is going to be on tour in the States with Robert Plant. In Bristol and later, London, it will be composer and vibraphone extraordinaire Jim Hart and bassist Michael Janisch, plus a special guest drummer (clue; a very hairy one so the rumour goes). Catch them if you can.
All of a sudden we have serious vibes. The vibraphone legend Karl Berger is recording again, Orphy Robinson and Black Top are happening; Corey Mwamba is a one man revolution; Bobby Hutchinson is back on the mallets. So the Cloudmakers Trio’s album comes at a busy time, do not ignore them. Abstract Forces is something special and in terms of experimentation, however exhilarating it is to hear the maestro in action again, more progressive than anything on the recent Hutchinson set.
Click here to sample Snaggletooth from the album.
Forces is focused, beginning with a groove of clever stuff, Jim Hart scoring the melody – pulse coming off the bass and drums. The themes develop, these are smart, bright ringing vibes with Michael Janisch’s bass blocking up the rhythmic twists against Dave Smith’s subtle bang and wallop – the vibraphone close up to tom-tom and snare hitting parallel lines. And then comes track 3: Post Stone, we have reached the hard hill, a place without safety. Here is what I hear.
Post Stone is where Cloudmakers build something monumental out of sound. Everything they have played before has brought us to this rough hewn encounter of improvisation. The strength of this music is fashioned out of a three-way encounter. Buzz, rattle, bell, gong, mallet, stick, cymbal scrape, the echo of a vibration – reaction to abstraction. After the fifth minute of bold to brittle interplay the thing suddenly breaks cover, a tri-centric leap through an invisible hoop into a rollout that resembles composition but could equally be totally made in the moment. A solo is pulled together as if bass violin is a tuned drum. When Post Stone ends it is hammered into place with intention. In my view it is a mighty performance, its only short coming that it finishes in just over nine minutes thirty seconds; there is more here than meets the ears.
The greatness of Post Stone is that for the hearer (I can’t speak for the players) it releases the throb of the four tracks that follow. I doubt that the track-listing on the album is in the order they were recorded. These things rarely are. I would put a pound to a penny that Post Stone was an early energiser and of course, it remains so. Interestingly the final track, Conversation Killer (I like the title) ends with Hart’s repeated refrain fading out against Janisch and Smith shifting drum and bass out of sight down the distant highway. Jim Hart is a clever man; he does all this difficult stuff, countering and crossing, switching time signatures and then ends the recording simply beating out his own existence.
Trio music, three points of an equal triangle integral to the mix. Which of course means from a live point of view, Dave Smith’s temporary departure to the States with the Zeppelin Voice is going to leave Jim Hart and Michael Janisch on a high wire act throughout their autumn tour. The intense pressurised dexterity of ideas so evident on Abstract Forces means I cannot envisage Hart and Janisch not pulling it off. They are technically world class, more importantly their game is on.
Cloudmakers Trio are on tour:
28 September - The Albert, Bristol (The excellent James Maddren is on drums, not the 'very hairy rumour' Steve suggests - Ed)
Which jazz albums make up a collection of classics? We suggest an album each month so that we can gradually build up a list - in no particular order. Do you have these? Click here for our Essential Albums page where you will find the suggestions that have been put forward so far.
It is easy to assume that everyone has recordings by the Hot Five and Hot Seven in their collection. It might be that you have some of the tracks as part of a Louis Armstrong compilation, there are so many compilations available.
These recordings were the doorway to jazz with solo improvisation and established the phenomenon that was Louis Armstrong. It is difficult to know which Hot Five / Seven collection to recommend, there are several and reviewers comment on sound quality (these were very early recordings) and lack of consistency in the way tracks are included or ordered sequentially.
The album we have included here is recommended by Cub Koda on allmusic.com who says: ‘This four-CD set brings together all the recordings made during the period of the Hot Five and Hot Sevens along with all the attendant recordings that Armstrong was involved in during this breakthrough period. Although this material has been around the block several times before -- and continues to be available in packages greatly varying in transfer quality -- this is truly the way to go, and certainly the most deluxe packaging this material has ever received with the greatest sound retrieval yet employed.'
'In addition to sounding better than the competition, it also sensibly lays out all the recordings Satchmo made during this period, grouping all the original Hot Five recordings from 1925 to 1927 (and all attendant material) together on the first two discs, all of the Hot Sevens on disc three, with the final disc devoted to the second coming of the Hot Five in 1928 along with the attendant material from the following year. There are also several categories of "bonus tracks" aboard this deluxe set …’. Click here for the CD and mp3 downloads.
One From Ten
Jon Turner at Broad Street Jazz specialist record shop in Bath selects an album for special mention from his list of new and reissued recordings below.
Jon says: 'This is an important release and I believe it is partly down to John Coltrane’s son, Ravi, that the recording has been issued. It will not be for everyone as it is late John Coltrane and somewhat avant garde, but it has many assets other than the ability for us to add it to the John Coltrane collection.'
'The recording at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1966 was made just nine months before Coltrane died. Despite it being a live recording, the tapes have been remastered and the sound is clear and well-balanced, although at times the double bass and piano seem to be difficult to hear.'
'The personnel include Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Johnson and Rashied Ali and a number of unknown musicians. At the time, Coltrane was very encouraging of young players and it seems that he was quite happy for people to come up on the stage and sit in. Some of them, particularly sax players, make a good contribution.'
'The album is released by Resonance Records on 23rd September. Resonance seem to been granted permission to use the Impulse packaging / ‘livery’ and the package also includes a 23 page booklet by the respected jazz journalist and historian, Ashley Kahn. There is also a limited-edition 2 LP edition on 12” 180-gram vinyl.'
Writing in Jazzwise magazine, Stuart Nicholson says: ‘The album provides a useful yardstick with which to measure the distance his music had travelled from A Love Supreme, recorded virtually a year earlier.’
Jon Turner introduces other albums in this month’s selection:
'I have chosen the John Coltrane Offering album as my ‘album of the month’ (see above) but there are other interesting releases out this month as well. Ted Curson played trumpet on a number of Charles Mingus albums at the same time as Eric Dolphy was with Mingus. Avid has now released this collection of four classic albums (£7.99 + pp). The other Coltrane album this month, John Coltrane and Friends – Sidemen: Trane’s Blue Note Sessions is also an interesting compilation album, although not everyone seems to appreciate this approach to compilation albums currently being taken by Blue Note as I find people are still looking for the original full albums.'
'The Ahmad Jamal / Yusef Lateef collection includes 2 CDs and a DVD and is issued following Yusef Lateef’s death last year. The Cedar Walton CD (£12.99 + pp) is previously unreleased material from Cedar Walton’s regular band with Bob Berg (tenor) and Freddie Hubbard playing on 3 tracks. Although Bob Berg might not be a well-know name, it is interesting that I have had customers asking for some while for recordings by the tenor player and they have been difficult to find.'
Album Released: June 2014 - Label: Leo Records
Information has arrived about the following musicians or people connected to jazz who have passed through the 'Departure Lounge' since our last update. Click on their names to read their obituaries where we have them:
Roy Crimmins - Roy's daughter Judi has given us the sad news that the much-respected trombonist Roy Crimmins passed through the Departure Lounge on the 27th August in London. Born in London, but of Irish descent, Roy was self-taught but later had lessons with Ray Premru and Don Lusher. He played with Mick Mulligan, Freddy Randall, Alex Welsh, Harry Gold and led his own band. Roy was instrumental in setting up the Red Sea Jazz Festival and eventually moved to Israel. Click here for our profile of Roy which he put together with us in 2007. Following the funeral on Wednesday 3rd September it was Roy's dying wish to be buried on a hill overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee in Israel.
If anyone would like to add their memories of Roy to the page, please contact us.
Idris Muhammad – New Orleans drummer who played soul jazz, acid jazz and avant-garde music with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Others with whom he collaborated included Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson, Ernest Ranglin, John Scofield, Nat Adderley, George Benson and Roberta Flack. His career started when at sixteen he played on Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. Click here for information about the book Inside the Music: The Life of Idris Muhammad (2012).
Click here for a video of Idris Muhammad playing a drum solo in Pittsburg.
Lionel Ferbos – New Orleans trumpeter who at 102 was thought to be the oldest performing jazz musician. Starting out with New Orleans society jazz bands he performed with Walter Pichon and Captain John Handy, saxophonist Harold Dejan, trumpeters Herbert Leary and Gene Ware and vocalist Mamie Smith. He continued to play in New Orleans whilst having a day job as a metalworker in the French Quarter, eventually taking over the family firm.
Click here for a video of Lionel at 101 singing I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter.
Fred Stead - Norman Grodentz writes: 'Just had sad news that my old friend Fred Stead has died. He was a New Orleans drummer in the old style, his favourite being Sammy Penn of Kid Thomas' band and he played for Brian Carrick for a while. He took up guitar and when he heard me sit in as a novice clarinettist suggested we got together. This ended up as a regular Saturday afternoon session for over ten years having fun and progressing musically on our level until he got too ill.' The funeral was on Monday 11th August at Golders Green Crematorium'. (We have no obituary for Fred).
Click here for a video of Fred playing At The Jazz Band Ball at the Lord Hood in 2007. John Belcher (bass), Tony Otten (clarinet), Burt Butler (banjo), Mike Jackson (trumpet), Fred Stead (drums), John Wexler (trombone).
Album Released: February 2014 - Label: CD Baby
Shawn Maxwell's Alliance
Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:
Shawn Maxwell is a Chicago based saxophonist/composer and the album has 18 of Shawn's compositions on it. This sounds like a lot and value for money but some of these items are very short and Shawn describes these as "sketches". Shawn Maxwell acknowledges that there are many great saxophonists in Chicago, mostly all doing the same thing, so it is difficult to get noticed and he wanted to do something different from other projects and his previous 4 albums. So the compositions do not "swing", at least not in the conventional sense, but no one will mistake the underlying beats for the classic rhythmic engine of hard-bop or the streamlined pulse of more modern styles.
Shawn says that he "threw abandon out of the window and it was just what he heard in his head". He put the group together to see what would happen at rehearsals and had no plans to record the result, but after hearing the music played live, he changed his mind. As with all things that are slightly different, some people may not like it whilst others may think it is unique enough to catch on.
The instrumentation is different from your normal jazz ensemble as well. Maxwell did not design the band to meet any pre-supposed notion of how it should sound. It was just that his friends played these instruments and were willing to work with him on this experiment, and so we even have French horns (his wife plays that as does one of her friends). He also included a vocalist although he states that he did not want to write lyrics, so the vocals are used as another instrument. As with all experiments, in my personal view not everything worked, but full marks for trying something new and you just wonder what might emerge from this group if it stays together in the future.
The name of the group and album started out as Super Friends which was the working title. It was then changed to Rebel Alliance in homage to the Star Wars saga but then shortened to just Alliance. The musicians are Shawn Maxwell (alto and tenor sax, flute and clarinet), Chris Greene (soprano sax), Keri Johnsrud (vocalist), Stephen Lynerd (vibraphone, percussion), Mitch Corso (guitar), Rachel Maxwell (French horn), Meghan Fulton (French horn), Stacy McMichael (bass), Marc Plane (bass), and Paul Townsend (drums).
Click here for an introductory video with Shawn talking about the album.
There are too many tracks contained on this album to comment on them all but there seems to be a bit of everything for all tastes so I will pick a few that I found interesting and enjoyable.
Fun Five Funk is the first track and is very catchy, with the alto sax and Keri Johnsrud vocals inter-playing and Lynerd's vibraphone joining in later. Track two Lynes Crayons starts very classically with the French horns but is then is joined by some haunting guitar chords followed by Shawn's flute and is the longest track at just over 8 minutes.
From Parts Unknown is intriguing interaction between the instruments and the voice weaving between the repeated melodic sections. Some chaotic areas neatly resolving back into the repeated melodies. In Shadowbox I can see where the title comes from as the wind instruments carry the melody and harmony through the rhythmic maze with some interesting passages from the bass.
In You Alright? I Learned it by Watching You! a distinct beat underlies the layers backing onto the tune and the tenor sax carries this into the distance where the flute and soprano sax finish the track. Somehow this seems incomplete still but could be a really lively track. A promise that is not quite fulfilled.
I felt that some tracks or as Shawn calls them "sketches" are too short to comment on, however there was potential for future development whilst others did nothing for me.
Click here to sample the album which is available as a CD or mp3 download.
South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has been a key jazz musician for more than fifty years and in November he is playing a number of gigs in the UK. A quote from The Guardian newspaper says: ‘People don’t like Abdullah Ibrahim, they adore him, bestowing on him the devotion normally reserved for Nina Simone. When he plays, melodies tumble out effortlessly, as he slides from theme to theme like a laid-back South African reincarnation of Thelonious Monk.’
Abdullah Ibrahim Ekaya Septet
The tour dates are:
Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya Septet + New Trio – Saturday, 15th November – London, Royal Festival Hall
Abdullah Ibrahim: New Trio – Sunday, 16th November – Saffron Waldon, Saffron Hall
Abdullah Ibrahim: Solo Piano – Wednesday, 19th November, Gateshead, Sage Gateshead
Abdullah Ibrahim: Solo Piano – Thursday 20th November, Leeds, Howard Assembly Room
Click here for more information and to book tickets.
Some months ago, author Keiron Pim contacted us about a book he is writing on David Litvinoff. Keiron said:
Do you remember David Litvinoff? He was around the Soho jazz scene in the 1950s and '60s, a well-known face at Cy Laurie's and a friend of George Melly, who describes him in vivid fashion in his memoir Owning Up. Litvinoff was, wrote Melly, ‘The fastest talker I ever met, full of outrageous stories, at least half of which turned out to be true, a dandy of squalor, a face either beautiful or ugly, I could never decide which, but certainly one hundred percent Jewish, a self-propelled catalyst who didn’t mind getting hurt as long as he made something happen, a sacred monster, first class.’
Melly also mentions giving a lecture at the ICA on the subject of 'Erotic Imagery in the Blues', which descended into drunken chaos and culminated in Litvinoff manhandling the event's chairmen from the stage, stripping naked and belting out his own version of You've Been a Good Old Wagon. If you knew him, you'd probably remember him. Also, I'm keen to contact Victor Bellerby, whom I think had some dealings with Litvinoff. Does anyone happen to know of the Vic Bellerby who was a jazz critic and who chaired the infamous lecture at the ICA by George Melly?
I've been told David Litvinoff worked briefly as road manager to Mick Mulligan's band and he was a familiar figure in both Soho and Chelsea during those years, cultivating connections that spanned the worlds of music, art, journalism and criminality. He was born in the East End in 1928 and died in 1975. I'm writing a book about him, to be published by Jonathan Cape, and I would be extremely grateful if anyone who remembers him would get in touch. Any details can be of help, no matter how insignificant they might seem to you! Please call me on 01603 487679 or 07921 376656, email email@example.com or contact me via my website, www.keironpim.co.uk.
Harry Miller and Bert Quarmby
Bandleader Bert Quarmby's daughter Lesley Garbutt writes to say:
'I was so pleased to read about Harry Miller in your web page and wondered if you had found out any more information. Harry was my dad's drummer in the 1950s. Bert Quarmby and his band. Known as 'mad Harry. I have very fond memories of him when we were in Margate in 1956 for the summer season. He always gave me 6d. The way to win any 8 year old's heart. I also remember mum and dad kept in touch with his mum and dad and remember visiting them. Am I right in saying he also worked as Harry Miller and the Millermen? Bert my dad died ten years ago. There is a nice picture of dad's band with Harry on drums if you go to Bert Quarmby big band.' (click here).
Bert Quarmby Band. Taken at The Glen, Bristol 1954. Harry Miller to left of the word 'WHO', Bert Quarmby holding his trombone on the right.
© Lesley Garbutt
We have not heard any more recently about Harry Miller. Originally one of the Photographic Memory picture we received featured Joe Harriott with drummer Harry Miller. We wondered then if anyone knew what had become of Harry. There was a well known bass player also named Harry Miller that some people picked up on, but that was a different Harry. Bunny Austin came up with some other interesting information about 'drummer Harry':-
'Harry Miller (real name Harry Shillingworth) was a very good drummer, playing in the Freddy Randall band from circa 1946 to 1950 when Freddy replaced him with Lennie Hastings. Harry recorded with the Freddy Randall band in June 1948 and again in September 1948 on the old Cleveland Rhythm Club label. Harry also recorded six sides with Freddy on the Tempo label in September 1949.'
Harry Miller (left) with Joe Harriott
Photograph courtesy of Bunny Austin
'In the 1950's Harry Miller ran his own band, and also acted as a band booker. I played for Harry in the Whitechapel area of the east end of London along with my friend Laurie Harris, an alto player. The venues were generally over a type of Burton's clothing stores. Harry's mum and dad used to carry in Harry's drum kit and assemble it on the stage, then when the gig was finished they would dismantle the drum kit and march off! Harry's dad was an accordion player. Sometimes, to liven things up, Harry would fire off his blank cartridge automatic! (Not exactly the way to introduce the band to the citizens of Whitechapel!). Laurie Harris told me half the audience vanished when Harry did his party trick!'
'In the 1960's Harry Miller was a member of the Ferry Boat Jazzmen who played on Sunday lunchtimes at the Cook's Ferry Inn at Edmonton, north London.This band had Nevil Skrimshire on guitar, Harry Miller on drums, Ted Fawcett bass, Alan Wickham trumpet, Dave Jones clarinet, Bert Murray trombone, Pat Mason on piano and Jack Jacobs alto/clarinet. Harry would sing one or two numbers (he was quite a good vocalist).'
'About this time Harry Miller also lead a band on Sunday nights at a rugby club not far from the Ferry. I played at this venue a few times. One night Jimmy Skidmore and Art Elefson turned up to play - they nearly blew the roof off! I lost touch with Harry Miller towards the end of the 1960's, but perhaps there are a few people who can help with later news. I know that Harry has died, quite some years ago, diabetes trouble, but don't have a definite date, but I'm tracking it down.'
If anyone has any other memories of Harry or of Bert Quarmby, please contact us.
Bob Kerr writes to tell us: 'I have my Jazz Festival on the 27th & 28th September in my little village of Stradbroke here in Suffolk - information on www.stradjazz.net after that we have for the Whoopee Band the Marsden Jazz Festival (near Huddersfield) 10th October, Dereham Jazz Club Norfolk on the 21st November and our Grand Christmas Show at the Half Moon in Putney London SW15 1EU on the 14th December.We started at the Half Moon in 1967 and have been playing there every year ever since.'
As promised, we have set up a page on behalf of the banjo. Banjo joke or banjo king? Which side are you on? click here.
Peter Maguire sends us this cartoon originally sent to him by Ron Rubin:
The caption says: 'Stop! Stop! What's that sound? What's that sound?'
Clearly the problem is with the cellist who seems to have her instrument on her lap and is playing it like a guitar.
Help Me Information
with apologies to Chuck Berry (click here)
Can you help?
We regularly receive requests for information about musicians, music, etc. Responses sometimes come months after we have featured the request so we have started a separate page. Please click here to see if you can help ...
Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB
The National Jazz Archive continues its fundraising concerts with this concert featuring vocalist Liane Carroll.
'Liane Carroll is an authentic Diva and superb jazz pianist. She has worked with many great artists, and presents her own unmissable shows of the Great British and American songbooks she loves.'
The gig is followed the next day with
John Altman's All-Star Jazz Party - Saturday, 6th September - 1.30 pm (doors 12.30 pm) - £15
Loughton Methodist Chuch,260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB
'Saxophonist John Altman’s career spans film scores to TV commercials. He has worked with everyone from rock stars including Van Morrison to James Tormé (Mel’s son) and a cavalcade of premier American jazzmen.'
You can buy a combined ticket for both concerts for £28.
Click here for more information.
Rob Adams gives a 'head up' on the drummer who floored “Q” taking his exciting young band to Scotland:
London-based drummer Ollie Howell, who leads his acclaimed quintet on its first tour of Scotland in September, has friends in high places. Howell’s musicianship “floored” Quincy Jones, the legendary film soundtrack composer and record producer who worked with Frank Sinatra and oversaw Michael Jackson’s multi-million-selling album Thriller, during a performance staged to feature some of the best students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff in 2009. This led to Jones, who is affectionately known in the music business as 'Q', mentoring the Wallingford-born Howell and monitoring his progress as he has moved into a full-time professional career.
“Quincy’s one-quarter Welsh and was being presented with an honorary doctorate at the RWCMD when I was a student there,” says Howell. “I was a big fan of his work on the Sinatra at the Sands album and when he invited me to New York to play with some of his friends after hearing me on that concert in Cardiff, I had to pinch myself. He later invited me to Montreux Jazz Festival and I’ll be visiting him in Los Angeles later this year to go through plans for my next album.”
Howell has also been taken under the wing of the legendary former Miles Davis drummer Jimmy Cobb, who featured on Davis’s classic Kind of Blue album, and is the first musical recipient of a Sky award, having won a Sky Academy Arts Scholarship earlier this year. A television documentary will be screened on the Sky Arts channel during 2015 as a result. In between these and other career highs, which include winning the prestigious Peter Whittingham Development Award in 2012, Howell has had to deal with being diagnosed with a debilitating brain malfunction, which required urgent surgery. He has now fully recovered and named his first album, Sutures and Stitches, which was released on Whirlwind Recordings in 2013, after the experience.
His quintet, which features tenor saxophonist Duncan Eagles, trumpeter Mark Perry, pianist Matt Robinson and bassist Max Luthert, appears at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline on September 17th, and continues on to the Blue Lamp, Aberdeen (18th), Eden Court, Inverness (19th), Lyth Arts Centre, near Wick (20th), and Edinburgh Jazz Bar (21st).
For some time now we have been telling you how good we think Barney Lowe's young London City Big Band is. Comprised of students and graduates from the jazz courses at the colleges of music, the arrangements, playing and solos are outstanding.
LCBB usually play once a month at The Spice of Life in Soho, but after a summer break, they are booked to play at Ronnie Scott's Club on Saturday 27th September. Click here for a video of the band playing Evil Man Blues.
Barney says: 'Being close to our anniversary month (October), we have decided to celebrate our three year anniversary a few days early and we are really excited to say that the fantastic Mark Nightingale will be joining us again on trombone. Mark featured with us in October last year at the Spice of Life. It was one of our most memorable gigs so far, so we had to invite him back again.
Mark has established himself as one of Europe's leading jazz trombone players and is always in huge demand. He performs regularly with the BBC Big Band, Skelton Skinner All Stars and the John Wilson Orchestra. For this gig we will be performing almost an entirely new set of music, with charts from the Count Basie Orchestra along with his collaborations with Frank Sinatra and the Grammy Award winning Diane Schuur. The charts of Bill Holman and trumpet player Thad Jones will also be performed, with Mark Nightingale featuring as guest soloist.
We are all extremely excited and hugely proud to have been given this opportunity, and it certainly promises to be the most exciting and prestigious gig we have ever performed. Needless to say, we would love nothing more than to see as many people supporting as possible.
We will be performing 2 x 75 minute shows on the Saturday night (the same set on both shows). Doors: 18:00 (Support from Ronnie Scott's All Stars) Show 1: 20:30 - 21:45 / Doors: 22:30 Show 2: 23:15 - 00:30'
Tickets through the Ronnie Scott's Club website. Not to be missed.
Booking is now open for many events that will be taking place at the EFG London Jazz Festival which will take place from Friday 14th to Sunday 23rd November 2014.
Performers include The Bad Plus, Ian Shaw, Branford Marsalis, John Surman, Snarky Puppy and many more.
Click here for the Festival website where you will find more details.
Some September Gigs
It is impossible for us to include a list of all the gigs taking place during a month. I have decided to take an approach where we will look at venues geographically and give you their website links so you can check what is going on in a particular area.
I will choose some Gig Picks that you might find interesting - but check their website for other gigs. Where a venue doesn't have a website, then some details of what is taking place are included below.
Dublin: JJ Smyth's, 2, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. www.jjsmyths.com
Dublin: Sugar Club, 8, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. www.thesugarclub.com
Scotland: The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, 1a, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HR. www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Wales: Dempsey's, Cardiff , 15, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS. www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk
Lancashire: Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, Atrium Cafe Bar, Clitheroe Castle Keep, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 1BA. www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: The Jazz Cafe, 25 - 27 Pink Lane, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 5DW. www.jazzcafe-newcastle.co.uk
Liverpool: The Capstone Theatre, Shaw Street, Liverpool, L6 1HP. www.thecapstonetheatre.com
Yorkshire: SevenJazz, Leeds, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, or Inkwell Arts, 31 Potternewton Lane Chapel Allerton, Leeds. www.sevenjazz.co.uk
South Yorkshire: Sheffield Jazz, Various venues in Sheffield. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk (Closed until the autumn season. Back 3rd October).
Manchester: Matt and Phred's, 64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW. www.mattandphreds.com
Norfolk: Norwich Jazz Jam, The Windmill, Knox Road, Norwich, NR1 4LQ. www.jazzjam.org.uk
Essex: The Electric Palace, Harwich, King's Quay. Harwich. www.electricpalace.com
Essex: North Weald, North Weald Village Hall, CM16 6BU Essex
Buckinghamshire: Amersham Jazz Club, Beaconsfield Sycob FC HP9 2SE. www.amershamjazzclub.co.uk
Oxford: The Oxford Jazz Kitchen, The Crown, Cornmarket Street, Oxford . www.oxfordjazzkitchen.com
Oxford: The Half Moon, The Half Moon, St Clements, Oxford.
London: King's Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. www.kingsplace.co.uk
London: Lume, Hoxton, The Long White Cloud, 151 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL. www.lumemusic.co.uk
London: e17 Jazz, Walthamstow, Orford House Social Club, 73 Orford Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9QR. www.e17jazz.com
London: Pizza Express, Soho, 10, Dean Street, London W1. www.pizzaexpresslive.com
London: The Spice Of Life, Soho, 6, Moor Street, London W1. www.spicejazz.co.uk
London: The 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, London W1D 1LL. www.the100club.co.uk (The 100 Club only occasionally stages jazz gigs these days)
London: The Forge, Camden, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden, London NW1 7NL. www.theforgevenue.org
London: Chickenshed Theatre Jazz Bar, Southgate, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE. www.chickenshed.org.uk
London: The Vortex, 11, Gillett Street, N16 8AZ. www.vortexjazz.co.uk
London: Club Inégales, 180 North Gower Street (corner of Euston Street). www.clubinegales.com
London: Southampton Arms, Highgate Road, North London
London: Little House, 1 Queen Street, London W1
London: Jazz In The Round, The Cockpit, Marylebone, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH. www.thecockpit.org.uk
London: 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0QD. www.606club.co.uk
London: The Jazz Nursery, St Mary Overies Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1. www.jazznursery.com
London: Putney, The Half Moon, 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1EU.
Kent: 144 Club, Nr Tunbridge Wells and Rochester, Finchcock's Musical Museum, Goudhurst, TN17 1HH. www.finchcocks.co.uk
Kent: The Roffen, New Road Rochester, ME1 1DX. www.144club.co.uk
Surrey: Harri's Jazz, Shepperton, Bagster House, Walton Lane, Shepperton, TW17 8LP. www.harrisjazz.com
Surrey: Thames Ditton, The George and Dragon, High Street, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY.
Surrey: Watermill Jazz, Dorking, Friends Life Social Club, Pixham Lane, Dorking, RH4 1QA. www.watermilljazz.co.uk
Sussex: Brighton Jazz Club,. www.brightonjazzclub.co.uk
Wiltshire: Bradford-on-Avon, The Fat Fowl,
Bradford on Avon,
Wiltshire BA15 1JX.
Bristol: The Be-Bop Club, The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol, BS8 4SF. www.thebebopclub.co.uk
Somerset: Ilminster Arts Centre, The Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0AN . www.themeetinghouse.org,uk
Dorset: Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR. www.bridport-arts.com
Cornwall: St. Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, Gabriel Street, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LU. www.stivesjazzclub.com
The following items appeared in the last magazine but may still be of interest to readers:
There is currently an exhibition at the Tate Modern of the work of Kazimir Melevich that runs until the 26th October. Who is he, you ask? Malevich was a Polish/Russian artist who was at the forefront of one of the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. Not a jazz musician then? Well, no, but I think he might have had something to say. Do I understand his work? Well, bits, perhaps. Do I like his work? Well, some.
Having visited the exhibition, it made me think about jazz music. Malevich was well able to paint life-like pictures, there are paintings of his mother, his father, himself and others that are pretty good. He then started to develop his work, exploring the ideas of the Impressionists, the Cubists and eventually establishing a form of painting he called Suprematism.
I think there is a parallel here with improvisation in jazz, the stretching of that improvisation and the term avant-garde applied to jazz music. In looking at the stages of the paintings in the exhibition, I think it helped my understanding of that parallel.
The exhibition says of Malevich's work: 'Malevich ... argued that "the artist can be a creator only when the forms in his picture have nothing in common with nature." Dismissing the artists of the past as mere 'counterfeiters' of nature, he declares: "Suprematism is the beginning of a new culture... Our world of art has become new, non-objective, pure. Everything has disappeared, a mass of material is left from which a new form will be built."
'At the heart of Suprematism was colour, harnessed into geometric forms. Many of the compositions convey a sense of agitation and movement, of forms drifting together or apart, in a finely balanced tension between order and chaos, while the white background against which they float carries a suggestion of infinite space.' I was reminded of the work of Paul Klee which again for me parallels jazz music and the relationship of musicians and sound working together.
The development of Malevich's work is set against the history of Russia, including periods of war, regime change and turmoil. As Stalin came to power 'official voices were already speaking out against avant-garde art.' Eventually, Malevich's work became more simple until he abandoned painting, moving into architectural designs based on Suprematism, models based on buildings without a specific purpose or reason. When he later strated painting again, his work returned to naturalistic portraits and rural scenes, but within them, some of his geometric and Suprematist ideas remained.
Having travelled to Germany, Malevich was arrested on his return in 1930 and held for two months accused of being a spy. His friends destroyed many of his manuscripts, worried that they might be used against him. He died from cancer in 1935.
I was reminded of a conversation with pianist / bass player Ron Rubin who told me that there was a time when he was 'into playing avant-garde jazz', but that he eventually felt a need to return to more melodic improvisation. It must be inevitable, as with Malevich, that some concepts encountered during times of musicians' experimentation will remain as elements of their future work.
I recommend the exhibition as I think it provides an interesting insight into how music and art have much in common.
'Malevich' is at The Tate Modern in London (not far from Waterloo / Blackfriars stations). Click here for more information.
Alan Bond has sent us this link to the doctorjazz.co.uk website that carries a collection of World War 1 'draft cards' which include those of many of the famous New Orleans musicians of the time, chief among whom are Louis Armstrong, Johny Dodds, King Oliver and Bunk Johnson along with a host of other familiar names (click here).
The website has a .co.uk address, and appears to focus on Jelly Roll Morton with a wide selection of articles. It is nicely presented, but is not clear about where it is based. As Alan Bond says, it all makes fascinating, and revealing, reading.
There are informative essays about each of the musicians involved and the draft cards reveal clues to a range of facts. For example, the essay about Jelly Roll Morton says: '... Jelly Roll listed his occupation as “Actor” and his employer as the “Levi Circuit, San Francisco, Calif.” It was not unusual for featured musicians on the vaudeville circuit to list their occupation as an actor (for example, Bill Johnson and Eubie Blake). The “Levi Circuit” was actually Bert Levey Circuit of Independent Vaudeville Theatres, which operated, as an agent for vaudeville artists and independent theatres, from the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco with branch offices in London, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles.'
Pianist David Stevens, now retired and living in Australia, tells us about his encounters with a list of jazz musicians that most people only get to hear:
It all began when my then wife and I met a young photographer at a party somewhere in London, who we found out was the son of the legendary Mezz Mezzrow (his real name was Milton Mesirow).
When he heard we were planning a trip to Paris he said "You must look up my Dad", and gave us his phone number. In Paris, we duly contacted Mezz, and he proved to be a delightful fellow, telling us stories about his life, showing us round and introducing us to local musicians, who (unlike Eddie Condon) revered him. All went beautifully until one day, at a restaurant, I unwisely mentioned that I liked Charlie Parker. That did it. Mezz was on his feet, shouting abuse at me - much to the amusement of my wife and the other customers. He stalked out, and we didn't see him again.
Back in London, we met Milton junior once more. Of course he laughed at the Charlie Parker incident, saying "That's the way he is". He invited us to his 21st birthday at a flat in Hampstead, which we happily accepted. He said his godfather would be there. We looked blank. "You'll be glad to meet him" said Milton, "his name's Louis Armstrong". So that's how we met Louis, and the Allstars, who also came along to the party. It was at the end of a series of concerts they'd been doing in London.
I was chatting with Trummy Young, and asked how they were enjoying London when they weren't playing. Lots of parties and outings, no doubt? "Well, no", said Trummy, "We just hang around the hotel, play cards and watch TV."
Trummy Young and Louis Armstrong
I was amazed. Here were these famous guys, being cheered by huge audiences every night, but when they weren't playing there was no-one to talk to them. I resolved to do something about it when the next American jazz group was in town.
The next group was the Duke Ellington Orchestra. At their first concert, I looked at the faces. Johnny Hodges? No, he has his usual "I'll bite ya" expression. Lawrence Brown and Harry Carney looked pretty serious, too. But one guy was grinning most of the time, having a ball - Clark Terry, a trumpet player I much admired.
So next morning about 11 a.m., and with some trepidation, I phoned their hotel and asked to speak to Clark. Not a good move - obviously I'd woken him up and he sounded pretty pissed off. I stammered out an invitation for him to come round for a meal, and got a gruff "Gimme your number. I'll call you".
That's it, I thought. I've blown it. But a couple of hours later, I got a call from Clark, cheerful and friendly. "Yeah, love to meet you guys. Gimme your address". After that, for the rest of the Ellington band's stay, he was round at our house nearly every day, always cheerful and chatty, treating us like old friends.
David says: 'At least Buck, Roy and Clark are easily recognisable, even if the inscriptions aren't!'
A month or two later, the phone rang, and a deep voice said "Is this Dave Stevens? This is Buck Clayton". One of my friends, trying to trick me, I thought. "You can't fool me", I said, "Come on, who is it?". An uncertain voice said "Pardon me?" "Oh my God, I'm sorry", I said, "It really is Buck Clayton?" "Yeah", he said, "Clark Terry gave me your number".
So we got to meet Buck, and the members of his band visiting London, which included Buddy Tate, Dickie Wells, and drummer Herb Lovelle, all of whom we got to know and spent time with during
While chatting with Buddy Tate he asked me if I'd ever been to New York. "No", I said, "I hadn't really thought of it. I guess it would be pretty expensive staying there?" "Well", said Buddy, "I live with my family in Amityville, some way out of town, but I have an apartment in Harlem where I stay when I'm working (he'd had a long residency with his band at the Celebrity Club in Harlem). You could stay there".
Me, living in Harlem? I could have floated to New York on the clouds, no need for a plane.
Of course it was a marvellous week. Buddy introduced me to his friends, and people in the local bar, as "my friend Dave from London", so I was made welcome by them all. Quite apart from the musical side, I explored during the daytime, and, on one day, took a train to Greenwich Village and walked all the way back to Harlem.
The next visitor was Roy Eldridge. He was in a quintet accompanying Ella Fitzgerald in a series of concerts, which also included guitarist Les Spann and pianist Tommy Flanagan. We got to know Les Spann quite well, too.
Roy is a musician I've always admired. He was a lovely man, very warm-hearted and outgoing, though with no time for small talk. I learned not to make careless or casual remarks, or Roy would jump on me! He was often round at our house, and one day he said "I'm always eatin' your food, about time I cooked for you".
The inscription on the photograph reads: '"Best wishes to Lady Trixie and Lord David from your friend Roy Eldridge"
So he did. I wish I'd had the camera to hand when Roy, wearing a kitchen apron was cooking us what he called Hot Tamale Pie.
Sadly, they're all gone now, all except Clark, blind and without his legs. Poor Les Spann died at only 57, a derelict in the Bowery. But I still have some mementos, including a picture frame with autographed photos of Roy, Clark and Buck, and an LP by Clark and Buddy Tate, on which one track is called "20 Ladbroke Square', our London address (click here to sample the tune from the album Tate-A-Tate - Buddy Tate with Clark Terry).
[Dave Stevens hosts a jazz radio show in Australia Midday Jazz which you can listen to online at www.2rrr.org.au. The show goes out on Wednesdays from midday to 2.00 pm, currently that is around 3.00 am to 5.00 am in the UK, or at other times depending where you live and the time difference].
For the second year running, Astar Studios in Heywood, Lancashire has been nominated for the Pro Sound Awards on the 25th September. Andy Ross and Astar Studios record the Yamaha Jazz Scholars each year for a free CD that is given away with Jazzwise Magazine to promote the work on the award winning musicians.
Astar were finalists last year in the Best Studio category of the Pro Sound awards, and this year they are finalists again alongside Snap Studios, Metropolis and Assault and Battery (Miloco).
The awards, which will be decided by the editors of the Intent Media music and technology titles, include Best Theatre Sound, Best Recording Production, Best Sound in Post-Production and 14 other awards, including the Grand Prix and Lifetime Achievement. Click here for the full list of finalists.
Jazzwise magazine still has openings for people looking for work experience as interns at its offices in St Jude's Church, Herne Hill, South London. The magazine is offering a series of monthly intern placements from January 2014 to January 2015. Interns will participate in all aspects of the magazine's preparation and production cycle and this opportunity will be of particular interest to people who want to pursue a career in journalism and jazz, have a keen interest and knowledge of the music and are currently studying or have completed a degree or educational course. Previous interns have gone on to work for music magazines, record companies, press agencies and radio production companies.
If you are interested, write to The Editor, Jazzwise, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PB enclosing a CV and covering letter, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for the Sandy Brown Jazz Site Directory on our Home page.
The Directory includes regular features, articles, people profiles (let us know if you would like us to add a profile) and many other items including information about clarinettist Sandy Brown after whom this site is named.
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