Follow us on Facebook
Sandy Brown Jazz
Would you like us to let you know each time this magazine page is updated?
Click HERE, send the email to us, and we will email you when an update is made.
International Jazz Day - 30th April 2015
In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30th as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day is chaired and led by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, and legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz. The Institute is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration.
International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to 'celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication'. Each year on 30th April, Jazz is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change.
International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month in America, which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage. The United Nations and UNESCO now both recognize International Jazz Day on their official calendars. Last year, Osaka, Japan served as the Global Host City. The day’s festivities began with 6 hours of free jazz education programmes at Osaka School of Music where musicians, journalists, philanthropists and educators came together to deliver workshops, lectures, master classes, panel discussions and more.
This year Paris will be the Host City. An evening concert at UNESCO Headquarters will feature performances by Dee Dee Bridgewater, prodigious young Chinese pianist A Bu, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, South African Hugh Masekela, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter and many more. It will be streamed worldwide from Paris - you can click here to watch it on 30th April. In London The Human Revolution Orchestra play a special concert ‘Ode to the Human Spirit 2015’ with American guest trombonist the internationally renowned Robin Eubanks, at The Union Chapel in Islington, North London.
Click here for more information.
New Vinyl Releases for International Jazz Day
Edition Records have announced that they are to release 2 vinyl albums to coincide with International Jazz Day on 30th April.
To celebrate Phronesis’s 10th anniversary, Edition Records are producing a special edition 2 LP vinyl release of their internationally acclaimed album Life To Everything including three bonus tracks recorded live at Copenhagen Jazzhouse. Phronesis will launch the vinyl album at their ‘Pitch Black’ concert at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival on May 1st 2015. The album, recorded live in London, was nominated for ‘Best Jazz Act' at the MOBO Awards.
Click here to sample Life To Everything.
Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola has embarked on his journey from a star-in-the-making to fully-fledged European jazz star. His latest album, Bullhorn, was recently described by Jazzwise Magazine as taking ‘its place among the truly finest albums of recent times’. Verneri Pohjola launched his ‘Bullhorn’ album at The Finnish National Theater, Helsinki on 22nd March.
Click here to sample Bullhorn.
New Orleans In The 1920s On Video
Bob Snelling brings our attention to this collection of brief video clips of New Orleans in the 1920s (click here). It may be short, but it gives an authentic flavour of the city at the time. Mike Scott, who recently wrote about the rediscovered footage on YouTube says: 'Whether in your Mamere's picture albums, in art galleries and museums, or, yes, even in your local newspaper, you've doubtlessly gazed with a certain amount of delight at sepia-toned photos of New Orleans dating from the city's 1920s Jazz Age. What you probably haven't seen, however, is very much film footage from the era.'
'That's for a good reason. While the city was home to what is considered the country's first permanent, for-profit movie theaters -- that would be Canal Street's 400-seat Vitascope Hall, which opened in 1896 -- film cameras were still relatively new-fangled things in the 1920s. Bulky, expensive and difficult to operate, they weren't the sort of gizmo to which ordinary people had access -- and certainly not the sort of thing they carried around in their pockets, as they do today.'
'But recent footage of the Big Easy purportedly dating to the city's Jazz Age heyday recently surfaced on the Internet, and it's a mesmerizing thing to watch. Running just more than three minutes -- and set to the sound of Hoagy Carmichael's song "New Orleans" -- (the video then continues to an item about the Ford motor company. Ed) the silent footage shows tantalizing glimpses of life in the city at the time. Among other things, we get scenes of Jackson Square; wrought iron balconies; a streetcar rumbling its way past the what appears to be old Strand Theatre, which operated at the corner of Baronne and Gravier streets; horse-drawn Carnival floats -- and hats, hats, hats.'
London Jazz Festival 2015
Is it really that time already? It seems like only yesterday that the 2014 Festival was taking place! Tickets for this year's EFG LondonJazz Festival started to go on sale at the end of March.
There are some great names emerging in the programme for this year - including:
Kurt Elling, Cassandra Wilson, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Nik Bärtsch, Sons of Kemet, James Farm (featuring Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland), Maria Schneider Orchestra, Jarrod Lawson, Average White Band & Kokomo, Jazz Repertory Company presents Paul Whiteman, Britten Sinfonia with Eddie Gomez and the opening gala Jazz Voice.
Click here for the EFG London Jazz Festival website.
European Jazz Festivals 2015
The website www.jazzfests.net gives a comprehensive, month-by-month programme of Jazz Festivals in Europe - click here.
Paul Whiteman: The King of Jazz - Bix, Bing and Rhapsody in Blue
As part of this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, the Jazz Repertory Company is presenting this show on Sunday, 22nd November at the Cadogan Hall in London.
Forward information tells us: 'It’s been over 40 years since a complete programme of the music of Paul Whiteman has been heard in London. Back in 1974 Keith Nichols collaborated with Bix Beiderbecke expert Dick Sudhalter and presented Whiteman’s music with his trademark authenticity and expertise. Now Keith is back with a 26-piece orchestra (including half a dozen violins) and a programme that features jazz piano titan Nick Dawson in Rhapsody in Blue (conducted by Ronnie Scott’s Big Band director Pete Long), jazz trumpet star Guy Barker as Bix and Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham (who toured the UK as Bing Crosby in 2014) returning to the role he has made his own.'
'Paul Whiteman’s gigantic orchestra was the biggest thing in popular music in the USA of the roaring twenties. The band was earning an astonishing $65,000 a week in 1927 and in that year Whiteman hired the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke along with other big names such as sax star Frankie Trambauer, violinist Joe Venuti and guitarist Eddie Lang. The band scored four Number 1 hits in 1927 and the distinctive sound of ‘Bix’ and ‘Tram’ added an exciting new jazz flavour to the music of this musical behemoth. This concert features such classic hits of the 20’s as Dardenella, That’s My Weakness Now, Singin’ The Blues Till My Baby Comes Home, There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears and Because My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe Now.'
The concert includes Rhapsody In Blue: 'No tribute to the astonishing career of Paul Whiteman would be complete without including this masterpiece with which he’ll be forever associated.'
Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2015
Now in its eleventh year the Parliamentary Jazz Awards are the premiere awards in the UK jazz calendar and are voted for by the public online with a shortlist of nominations subsequently voted for by a selection panel of jazz industry figures. Judging members of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) then chooses the winners. The awards, sponsored by PPL, were introduced by well-known broadcaster Moira Stuart, and presented by a variety of significant figures, including Dame Cleo Laine, on 10th March.
Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Norma Winstone MBE
Moira Stuart, Peter Edwards and Ken Clarke MP
Tony Milliner - My Favourite Things
Irving Fazola - My Inspiration
For this month’s track, Tony picks a recording from 1938 by clarinet player Irving Fazola. My Inspiration is a composition by bassist Bob Haggart, Ray Bauduc and Nappy Lamare and Tony points to a description of Fazola’s playing by Charles Fox in the sleeve notes to Tony’s LP: ‘ …a full tone and decorative style, very much in the tradition of Jimmy Noone.’
Irving Fazola, Faz, was born Irving Prestopnik in New Orleans, it is said that the name he adopted ‘Fazola’ came from ‘fa, sol, la’ – ‘one of those fa sol la guys.’ Another story is that Louis Prima told him ‘Fazola’ meant ‘beans’ (i.e being cool) in Italian. When Ben Pollack’s band came through New Orleans in 1935, Faz joined them as they travelled on to Chicago and New York. He played with Gus Arnheim and Glenn Miller before joining Bob Crosby’s band in 1938.
By 1943 he was back in New Orleans where he said he was comfortable, but he became obese and drank heavily. He died of a heart attack in 1949. He was 36.
One admirer of Fazola is clarinettist Pete Fountain who sat in for Faz at the Opera House the night Fazola died. Apparently Pete has Faz's Albert System clarinet, but says that the odor of garlic that comes from the horn when it warms up makes it virtually impossible to play even after having been reconditioned by the factory.
There are a few reproductions of this recording on YouTube, this one doesn’t have the pictures to go with it, but it is a reasonable reproduction to listen to - click here. Alternatively, click here to listen to another less clear reproduction but with a fascinating collection of photographs.
Tony Milliner has been unwell recently and we hope he will be feeling better soon.
You kids gotta learn about time.
Sonny Rollins, man, he knew about time. Sonny could play a downbeat, and walk out of the club. He'd stroll into Binky's, you know that coffee house on the corner of Squid Street and 32nd, and maybe sit in on a little blues but then he'd make his way down to the basement, where there was an old girl telling fortunes. All this time, his heart's a-beating the pulse.
Sonny says, "I want to know why I play this music."
The gal sighs, looks him up and down, and shuffles the deck. She deals out three cards. His heart's in his mouth, but it ain't rushing a single beat. She takes the first and turns it over. Two of coins. She checks him out again, more quizzically this time. "You betcha don't do it for money."
She turns the next. The Lovers. His heart sits back on the beat a little, wistful; doesn't drop the tempo though. "And you sure as hell don't do it for love." Sonny's eyes narrow. Not so thrilled about that one.
One more card, and the answer is his. His pulse gets urgent, like Blakey. All those years. He spent a day practising each note on his horn; a month took him from the cavernous bottom to the lofty reaches, then he did it all over again. With solemn grace, the lady turns the card.
She meets his eye. "Rest easy, chile, it ain't like that. It means change. The answer is yours if you look inside your heart."
His heart's tied up though, spang-a-langin' flawlessly through the twentieth chorus of 'Existentiality' down the street and refusing to tell its secret. He wails inside, stands and bolts up the stairs, not leaving her even a dime. Out the door, down the road ... his eye is fixed on that beating heart, squeezing and probing, trying to keep time too, and then he sees it; for a moment, it's beautifully, terribly clear. His heart drops a beat, and he scoops to catch it. Just as soon, the answer's gone. He shakes himself loose, slinks back into the club, smacks into the top of the head like he'd never left, and he has no idea why.
[Rob Brockway - writings].
Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins - Plus Four + At Basin Street
This new release on the Masterworks label is a re-issue of two studio albums from 1956 first recorded on Prestige and EmArcy. The personnel includes Clifford Brown (trumpet), Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Richie Powell (piano), George Morrow (bass) and Max Roach (drums).
Writing in Jazzwise magazine, Roy Carr says: 'There may have been a smattering of (mainly live) posthumous releases, but this is where the legend was carved in stone ... No excuses, if you don't already possess these recordings then go out and get 'em now!'
Just A Gigolo
Just A Gigolo
I don’t think I have ever, knowingly, met a gigolo, but then I lead a sheltered life. Come to that, I have never paid someone ‘Ten Cents A Dance’ and I guess that is a more well-known tune. So, how would I recognise a gigolo if I saw one?
Thank goodness for Wikipedia to guide me: A gigolo, they say, is 'a male escort or social companion who is supported by a woman in a continuing relationship, often living in her residence or having to be present at her beck and call. The gigolo is expected to provide companionship, to serve as a consistent escort with good manners and social skills, and often, to serve as a dancing partner as required by the woman in exchange for the support. Many gifts such as expensive clothing and an automobile to drive may be lavished upon him. The relationship may include sexual services as well, when he also would be referred to as "a kept man". The term gigolo usually implies a man who adopts a lifestyle consisting of a number of such relationships serially, rather than having other means of support.’
Paid for every dance
The Urban dictionary is more direct: ‘A male prostitute equivalent to a high-class call girl; gigolos service wealthy women, as opposed to servicing homosexual men like most male prostitutes do. Gigolos sometimes receive gifts in lieu of payment for services, for example a Rolex or a Mercedes’.
So – look out for men who can dance, drive a Mercedes, wear a Rolex, and service women. It looks as though the word emerged in the 1920s as a male alternative to the French word ‘gigolette’.
But I think we need a visual introduction. Click here for the trailer to the funny 2014 film Fading Gigolo written by, directed by and starring the excellent John Turturro. Woody Allen, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara are along for the ride, and we get a taste of the Just A Gigolo tune. Sadly the film did not do well at the box office. In the story, Dr. Parker, a wealthy dermatologist, mentions to her patient Murray (Allen) that she and a woman friend, Robbie, wish to experience a ménage à trois and asks if he knows a willing man. Murray, whose used bookstore has failed, convinces his friend and former employee Fioravante (Turturro) to take the gig, as both are short of money. Soon, they build a thriving gigolo trade with Murray as the pimp, but all does not go as planned when Fioravante falls in love.
Fancy the job? Well, to start with you need to know how to dress. Click here and Richard Gere will show you how in this clip from the 1980 film American Gigolo.
The tune Just A Gigolo is best known from the 1936 recording by Louis Prima where it is sung merging into I Ain’t Got Nobody, but its history goes deeper. The song "Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo", was an Austrian composition from 1928 by Leonello Casucci with lyrics by Julius Brammer. It was performed in Germany in 1929 by several orchestras and emerged in other countries with their own translations.Click here for a video of Louis Prima and his band performing the number.
The concept behind the song describes the social collapse in Austria after the First World War. The singer remembers himself as a soldier in uniform but who now has to earn a living as a hired dancer. ‘The music features a simple melodic sequence, but nonetheless has a clever harmonic construction that highlights the mixed emotions in the lyrics, adding a nostalgic, bittersweet effect.’
Chappell & Co commissioned lyricist Irving Caesar to come up with an English version. Caesar took out the Austrian references in the verse although the verse is included in a 1931 version by Bing Crosby but the song this time is set in France:
It was in a Paris cafe at first I found him.
The same year, 1931, saw this recording by Louis Armstrong who picks up the pace half way through with his trumpet solo - click here.
If we have not grabbed your attention so far with this tune. Stop and check out this version of Thelonious Monk playing Just A Gigolo from Clint Eastwood’s movie Straight No Chaser - click here.
There will come a day
Did you hear about the rich woman who asked an inventor to design a gigolo robot for her? The inventor tested the robot on a first woman who reported back that her evening with the gigolo robot had been a great success. Testing the robot a second time, the second woman reported back that the robot had behaved perfectly and the evening had been entirely wonderful. The robot came back wearing a Cartier watch and with a Gucci Man Bag hanging across his shoulder. The next day, the inventor delivered the robot gigolo to the rich woman who immediately took it to her bedroom. After three hours, the inventor started to become worried, thinking that perhaps the robot had malfunctioned and killed the woman. Taking a chance, he opened the bedroom door only for him to see the woman chasing the robot up and down yelling: ‘Come here you liar, if your battery is down, how come you are running?’
In 1932 a Betty Boop cartoon appeared in which Betty introduces Irene Bordoni singing Just a Gigolo. Ignore the beginning, the cartoon starts swinging one minute in and ends with a singalong! Click here.
David Bowie was not pleased with the film and is reported to have said in an interview with New Music Express: "Oh well, we've all got to do one [bad movie] and hopefully I've done mine now." Mind you, I would not be surprised to learn that David Bowie has a Rolex watch and drives a Mercedes.
When the end comes I know
A Music Business For A Grand
Got a music industry idea? Fancy a start-up grant? Aged 18-30? How far can a grand (£1000) get you? If you fancy a challenge and think you can create a viable music industry project or business with a maximum of £1000 in a 50/50 joint venture, then you can submit a business proposal in a competition being run by BBM/BMC (British Black Music / Black Music Congress) in association with Akoben Awards. The closing date is 11th May.
What do you have to do? You are asked to submit a business proposal (maximum of 4 A4 pages) outlining organisational (human/skills), financial (money/cash flow forecast) and marketing (promotion) plans for a music industry-related business idea/project as a 50:50 joint venture with BBM/BMC. Applicants must show that they can actualise the idea or project within a 6 month timeframe and with a maximum cash investment of £1000. 2 grants of a maximum of £1000 each are available. There are no interviews - decisions will be based solely on submitted business proposals. There is a £1 registration fee.
Click here for full details which you should read before taking part, or email editor@BritishBlackMusic.com, subject heading: A Music Business For A Grand.
Early Bird - Charlie Parker's Cherokee
[You are able to listen to the music discussed by Sam Braysher at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here. This will take you to the article on another page on our website where your computer might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].
Our thanks to saxophonist Sam Braysher who discusses Charlie Parker's recordings of Cherokee.
Click here to listen to the 1943 recording of Cherokee.
The alto saxophonist’s beat is incredibly strong, even at the age of 22 or 23, and playing along with the recording, for me, only makes this more apparent. The whole thing is imbued with an incredibly joyful sense of swing, which perhaps stems from his years playing nightly gigs for dancers in the raucous, mob-controlled Kansas City of the 1930s from his mid-teens.
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
Click here to listen to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie playing KoKo.
Of course, this mystical ingredient of bebop is something that is almost impossible to put into words: the 1943 Cherokee sounds different somehow to Parker’s later works, but is still instantly identifiable as Bird: intricate, chromatic lines abound and there are some phrases that crop up in both, such as the line he plays in the bridge of the second chorus of both solos (bar 97 of Cherokee).
Click here to listen to Charlie Parker playing Cherokee in 1942 at Monroe's Uptown House.
We hear lots of the same material from the 1943 version (although he is certainly improvising with that material), and the first part of the bridge of the third chorus (bar 161) also appears almost note for note in the earlier version. By all accounts he was practising this tune obsessively during this period (it was certainly considered difficult at the time, largely due to its fast tempo and the number of less familiar keys it cycles through in the bridge, and apparently many musicians steered clear of it entirely), and this particular line seems almost like an impressive ‘set piece’ that had been been worked out and practised in advance.
Click here to listen to Charlie Parker at the age of 20 playing Lady Be Good.
Along with Cherokee and I Found a New Baby, there are two other tracks from the 1943 session – Body and Soul and My Heart Tells Me, and it goes without saying that both are very much worth hearing.
Incidentally, I’ve also just finished reading Stanley Crouch’s excellent Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker, which looks at Bird’s early years up until a few years before this recording was made. Featuring interviews with people who knew Parker as a young man, including many which Crouch began conducting in the early ‘80s, the book sheds some real light on the roots of one of jazz’s most mercurial soloists.
© Sam Braysher
Click here for Sam Braysher's website
As from this month, I shall be archiving our album reviews on the website. It will take a while to catch up with adding past reviews to the page, but you will be able to look back at current and previous reviews if you click here.
Record Store Day
The 18th April celebrates the eighth annual Record Store Day. The day aims to focus attention on independent record stores and also to recognise the growing interest in vinyl. Record Store Day started in 2007 when over 700 independent stores in the USA came together to celebrate their unique culture. The UK followed suit. Organisers say: 'This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, meet & greets with artists, DJ's, in store quizzes and many other events.' Berwick Street, Soho will be transformed into a mini music festival for Record Store Day to celebrate the culture of independent records stores in and around Berwick Street.
Click here for a video about Record Store Day.
Jazzwise Magazine carries details of some special vinyl releases that co-incide with the day including a previously unreleased 1959 recording of Wes Montgomery from an Indianapolis jazz club, a second release from Concord Records of the Miles Davis The Prestige 10-inch Collection, The Curtis Full Quintet's Bluesette album and Jaco Pastorius's Anthology: The Warner Bros. Years.
Click here for the Record Store Day website.
This month, Anthony Abel concludes his look back to his early introduction to jazz and the escapades that went with it. Anthony ended his recollections last month at the point where he left England for Australia. He was not 'banished' or 'transported for life' for crimes undertaken in the UK although, as we have read, he and his friend Bryan inevitably seemed to end up being caught after some transgression or another. Anthony's story about Finding Trad reads very much like a 'Rites Of Passage', and I wonder how many at that time had jazz as the background to their youth?
In March 1962 not long after our 'great toilet roll theft', the National Front, the forerunner of the BNP were holding a rally outside the curry house in question in West Street Croydon, a deliberate provocative act guaranteed to inflame the owners. The then leader of this obnoxious party was a chap called Colin Jordan who was to be the speaker. A good crowd had gathered including a great number of protesters against this racist rant.
Bryan and I decided to go one better and pelt the speaker with tomatoes. The uproar was a sight to behold, fists flying, press cameras flashing and the police trying to maintain order. I was grabbed by a policeman, cuffed and arrested and so was Bryan. We appeared before the magistrates on the Monday and were both fined £5 for breaching the peace. At the time I was working at a company where my mother was a director, she duly informed the manager that I wouldn't be in that day as I was not well. Unbeknown to her my picture in the arms of a policeman had been taken by a cameraman from The News Of The World and one of the warehouse staff at the company had pinned it on the notice board for all to see. It caused her so much embarrassment that I was told not to return to work again. It stopped Jordan's speech, but unfortunately not my mother's when she got home. That woman had no sense of humour at all, my father and I had a laugh about it in secret.
I was talking to my pal Bryan last night and he told me he was drinking with Johnny Bastable in the Fighting Cocks in Kingston the night Johnny was run down by a bus and killed, a real tragedy. Incidentally Bryan was in an antique business with the also deceased Brian Hetherington who played drums for Ken Colyer for a year or so.
I think it was in the last months of 1964 when I went to Australia. By then the clubs I used to go to were shutting due to lack of audiences, indeed I recall my last visit to the Croydon Jazz Club when there were not many more in the audience than there were members of the band. I had fallen out with Bryan at that time and was very disillusioned with my job and the social scene.
By the end of 1966 I was back in the UK and as far as I could see the Trad boom was well and truly over. I did try to recapture past glories by visiting folk clubs, which were far too sedate for my taste. I did frequent several R&B gigs around the West End seeing Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner and John Mayall, but the atmosphere in those places was totally different, as were the audiences. There always seemed to be an undercurrent of violence there. Long gone were the days where people were of a far gentler disposition as they all seemed to be in the Trad days. I married when I was 24 and we shortly after had a son together, and all ideas of clubbing were impossible.
The best years as far as I was concerned were from 1959 to 1963, from the age of 15 to19 years old. I have had plenty of good times and bad since then but I can honestly say without looking through rose tinted glasses that those five years into the 1960s were the best years of my life. I'm really glad that I am back in touch with Bryan again as we speak often and reminiscing about those days is a delight for both of us.
Click here for Anthony's previous articles.
Please contact us if Anthony's memories trigger memories for you.
Dave Burman writes: 'These have been enquiries from time to time about Peter Shade. I've known him for rears and he played with me in Poland recently on vibes. They provided the vibes which I am glad were all good!! He can be seen with me on Youtube - click here.'
In Anthony Abel's continuing story of 'Finding Trad' (click here) we asked last month whether anyone had a picture of Fionna Duncan to go with the article. The response we received showed that there is a lot of affection out there for the Scottish singer. Next month we plan to share the pictures that were sent to us as part of an article about Fionna. If you have any stories about Fionna that we might include in the article, please contact us.
Thames Hotel, Kingston and Ron Wills
Noreen Wills writes from Australia: 'I’ve just been looking at your blog about the jazz scene in an around Kingston on Thames in the 1950’s and 1960’s (click here). I grew up in the area and remember going to the Thames Hotel in the early 60’s. My friend and I used to go on two different nights; Jazz on one night (Mondays I think) and Rock-pop on Friday’s. My memories are vague (its a long time ago) and wonder if you confirm that this venue hosted music events other than jazz during this period. (I’m researching for a biography I’m writing). I do remember it was a great venue, full of atmosphere. I also noted your reference to a gig at the Hinchley Wood College (in Esher) in the mid 50’s and wonder if you knew or knew of my brother Ron Wills who was a student there around that time. He went on to be a senior sports journalist on Fleet Street.'
Please contact us if you can help.
Clarinettist Alvin Roy writes: 'In the Forum section, Gary Capon was asking about the drummer Colin Seymour. Here is a link to a video from the100 club with Colin on drums. The late Alan Littlejohn (trumpet), Matt Mathewson (piano) and George Oag (guitar) are in the line up together with Digby Fairweather (trumpet) and Mick Hutton (bass) (click here).'
'I would point out that Digby, myself, Mick Hutton and hopefully Colin Seymour are still around......in body, if not in spirit....it's the others who, sadly, are no longer with us.'
[This is a fine piece of archive footage with some historic figures from the UK jazz scene and highly recommended viewing from a time when jazz lived at the 100 Club. Ed.]
Jim Mullen: Technique Should Be The Servant, Not The Master
Thorbjørn Sjøgren in Denmark shares with us his interview with guitarist Jim Mullen:
On an evening a couple of years back, I was visiting the London pub “The Bull’s Head” in the southwest part of the English capital. They have been presenting jazz for half a century, almost as long as Ronnie Scott’s, actually. Guitarist Jim Mullen was playing, fronting a quartet which included piano player John Critchinson, playing a fine selection of not too overdone standards. Buying his then-recently released CD, we got to talk and he told me that he had a daughter and two grandsons in Copenhagen.
During the following months I bought several of his CD’s, and one night my wife asked me “wouldn’t it be nice to try to set up a few gigs for him here?” Mullen quickly agreed to that, we got Brian Kellock (piano) and Hugo Rasmussen (bass) to go along, and for four days they played their socks off. Fast forward to a year later, and I’m sitting with Jim Mullen at his hotel in Copenhagen. He is 68, white-haired, six feet three, and broad-shouldered…:
“A few months back I started going to a gym and paying more attention to my meals. Now it’s more about vegetables and meat, and less about rice, pasta, and white bread. I simply felt I was in getting into bad shape, which is not too good when you’re at my age.”
For many years Jim Mullen has been living in central London, but he was born and grew up in one of the poor parts of Glasgow…. “I was part of the baby boom, which I’m sure you had in Denmark, too. I was born on November 26th, 1945, just one day before Randy Brecker. Growing up there at that time….well, there was a great austerity. There was rationing, going on until I think, 1953. That’s not what I heard my parents talk about, I remember it well. I went with my mother to the Social Security where we got these big round tins of dried milk, dried eggs, dried orange juice…just add water… and we had something called The Rag Store, almost like a pawnbroker’s thing, where my mother sometimes sold some of our clothes, so we could get food on the table, but we were not allowed to tell my dad, who was a very hard-working man, as he’d have been completely mortified that this should be necessary."
"He was a carpenter, and a very good one. He actually tried to make me a guitar at one point, about that time I had started bugging him. He succeeded in making the body, I remember I found he had a woodworker’s magazine on how to make a guitar, but guitar making takes years to learn….and finally I was allowed to buy a guitar, on payments. I had a newspaper route… Many working-class families had a piano, but the poor, almost ghetto-like part of Glasgow’s east end, where I grew up, we didn’t have pianos there, and a guitar was a cheap replacement. It was a time when families would entertain themselves, I was a teenager before we got a TV. Families were singing together in the evening, and if you didn’t have a piano you could learn a few chords on the guitar pretty quick. Well, this wasn’t the reason I bought it, but I had started listening to skiffle music…Lonnie Donegan…he was also from Glasgow.”
“There was something democratic to music. Everybody contributed what they could. Recently my 95-year old mother told me that when she put me to bed, she offered to read me a story, but I would rather have her sing to me. She was always singing along with the radio, singers like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett doing all the great, classic evergreens. When I got into jazz, I almost felt that these songs had gotten into me by some sort of osmosis. I have a lot to thank my mother for.”
“When I was around ten I had a slightly older friend, living next door. One day he played me some records by guitar players…Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, Barry Galbraith, Jimmy Raney, Mundell Lowe…cats who played in studio bands and were playing jazz for fun. I was like crazy, I knocked his door, “Can I hear some of that music again ?” … "Oh, I’m with my girlfriend, come back next week…". That was the beginning of the process and that made me fall in love with this strange and crazy music.”
“Music is an abstract art, actually. You rely on your feelings. It’s not like a painting, where you can see the brushstrokes, or a poem. Somebody once described music as ‘the poetry of tonality’ and that is a great expression. I’ve always been fascinated by how a particular configuration of notes can hit you like a ton of bricks. Often music reduces me to tears, it can be incredibly moving, I’m not ashamed to say that. That’s the way I feel about the CD that my girlfriend, Zoë Francis, just recorded. She’s surrounded by a handful of Britain’s best musicians and they really work for her. She really gets into the songs and her singing really gets a boost. I never completely understood why music can hit you this way. But with me it’s not only jazz. I’m a great fan of Verdi and Puccini. Partly, you might say that some music has an almost iconic character, known all over the world and able to pass on moods like loss, homesickness, lost love, etcetera. Take a song like Danny Boy….”
“I guess I’m from the last generation of completely self-taught players. Where I grew up, there were no music teachers who could correct my mistakes. Actually I am left-handed, but I play right-handed now. The plectrum slipped out of my hand so I got used to using my thumb. Gives me a slightly warmer sound, but it also means that I can only do downstrokes. So I tell my students to listen to what I play, but not copy my technique, as it’s not very practical. The only chance at that time to have serious teaching was the Scottish Academy of Music, and to get in there, you’d have to be very talented and have had private lessons. Well, it’s like learning a foreign language: you learn some words, some phrases, and little by little you learn to communicate. But that doesn’t make you a poet. You don’t get to that level until you’ve learned to express your feelings. And of course there has to be a reason that you want this, plus a wish to be able to express your most sincere feelings in this language. As a jazz musician you have an obligation to try to personalize your expression. If you’re honest in what you do, you can have a personal voice even though you’re not an original. Each generation only has a few originals, but lots of fine, personal interpreters. You mentioned Johnny Griffin a moment ago. He’s a good example: Not a great original, but a wonderful interpreter.”
“Me, I’ve always been attracted by emotional musicians: Miles Davis and Charlie Parker when they were playing ballads, John Coltrane in his early years when he was the most soulful melodist….and I am a huge fan of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Bing Crosby. Also Fred Astaire…he really knew how to sing a song. Later in life I met Tony Bennett. I was playing with Claire Martin and he was standing in the wing of the stage. When we finished he had some very precise and insightful remarks. Most big stars are not at all interested in the local boys, but Bennett was different. And I still play with Claire, with her I got into scatting the lines I was playing at the same time. Like George Benson. But the audience wanted to hear my singing and not my playing, so I stopped doing that. But sometimes I use it when I’m doing workshops: Try playing and, at the same time, sing what you play, what you want to express. It’s the same process, and if you have a certain ability on your instrument, you should be able to do it. That will help you focus…”
[Click here for a video of Claire Martin singing Getting High in 1998 at the 606 Club with Jim taking the guitar solo]
Rewind….back to Glasgow in the early sixties, when Jim Mullen didn’t have any idea what to do professionally, when school was over….
“My dad tried to get me an apprenticeship as a carpenter, but that didn’t work out, as I couldn’t hammer a nail into a piece of wood without everything being a disaster. So for a couple of years I had a no-future office job. I had started playing the bass, but then I got into journalism. I never thought of music as a profession….and there were many more newspapers then, but I often worked nights, which is not very good for a young man. I taught myself bass playing pretty quick, four beats to the bar, it wasn’t that difficult. And during these years we saw the release of all the great Blue Note records…Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Grant Green…state of the art music… But I couldn’t find a piano player who was able to accompany me the way Herbie or McCoy did it, so I went back the guitar, left journalism, and moved to London.”
“The musical menu was rock music for a couple of years until I hooked up with Brian Auger, a really fine pianist and organ player. I was with his band for a couple of years. We played loud, and I developed a tinnitus that is still bugging me. This was the time of fusion music, but basically Brian was playing bebop phrases with a powerful backbeat. After that I hooked up with Dick Morrissey, a fine English saxophone player, and we got in touch with a Scottish band, The Average White Band, which was enormously popular around that time. Their two saxophone players were both crazy about Morrissey, and they wanted to make an album together with us. But Dick was the most un-ambitious musician I ever met. He felt no need to become famous, and playing little, humble pub-jobs satisfied him perfectly. I got the offer to join in, actually I’d had my share of rock, for me it had been going on for four or five years and it’s not the sort of music you want to play all your life. Dick was getting fed up with it, too, for years he’d been playing with the very successful band IF, and during a New York tour he had heard Phil Woods at the Village Vanguard, and for him this became the turning point. I had had the same sort of experience when, touring with Kokomo. I heard a wonderful trio in a hotel bar. We talked and Dick asked me how I felt about the music of Stanley Turrentine, George Benson, Cornell Dupree, The Jazz Crusaders, etcetera, and I just said “Yeah, I love it.”.
[Click here to listen to Kokomo playing Anytime with a guitar solo in the middle of the track. Kokomo returned to the Half Moon in Putney in 2014. Click here for a video of them singing I Can Understand It. Jim takes a great guitar solo at about 3.50 mins. They are playing the Komedia, Brighton - Wednesday 1st April and at The Band on the Wall - Manchester on Friday 3 April 2015].
“Around that time I owned my guitar and a suitcase. I was sleeping on the floor with a friend who had a house in Wimbledon, ready for demolition. I was thirty years old and I had nothing, and I seriously considered leaving music and going back to journalism. But we went to New York and made the album with The Average White Band for Embryo which was an Atlantic sub-label. The record was released and then withdrawn after six weeks, a few moments after it had gotten favorable reviews. That was a ‘wake up to reality’, yeah, lost in the shuffle. Dick went to Sweden, where he knew a girl, and I went back to London, but we got together again and formed a small band that kept going successfully through fifteen years. Dick was a very original saxophone player. Sadly, he died in 2000."
"I played sideman gigs until, a couple of years later, I put together a quartet together with Gareth Williams, Mick Hutton, and Gary Husband. We were together for a couple of years, but two years ago I ran into Mick and we agreed upon trying a reunion. You know, sometimes memory can play funny tricks, but in this case it was just like going on from the point where we had left ten years earlier. We got to record a couple of CD’s, of which BURNS sold fairly well…. I’ve received several awards, but most of them are just a diploma or a thing to put on the shelf. Recently I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scottish Jazz Federation, but the day they wanted to give it to me, I was scheduled to go into the studio with Incognito, a fusion band I’ve also been playing with, and I couldn’t afford to cancel that date, so I had to get a colleague from Edinburgh to go and accept it on my behalf. And, by the way, Incognito has an offspring, Citrus Sun, led by a very creative producer and guitarist, Jean Paul Mauninck, that plays a sort of smoother, more accessible jazz."
[Click here for a video of Citrus Sun playing Love Has Come Around a tribute to Donald Byrd]
" Since 2000 I also had my organ trio with Mike Gorman and Matt Skelton, and we’ve released half a dozen CD’s. And I play function gigs, where nobody listens, but the money is fine. You have to be pragmatic. You can’t pay many bills with the 50 pounds or so that you are paid for a jazz gig at a small café. But then, it’s often that sort of gig that keeps you alive, artistically. And for the rest of the year, well, my book is not packed, but there are several festival and club gigs ahead, so…it’s OK. And I love accompanying singers. I still play with Claire Martin, and Elaine Delmar calls me whenever she can afford an extra man on a gig….”
We are about to pick up Brian Kellock and head for the first gig, tonight it is Toldkammeret in Helsingør, but before we do that, there is time for the inevitable question: Which guitar players (if any) are regularly in Jim Mullen’s CD player at his London home? “Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and George Benson. Fantastic musicians, each of them has his own way of doing things. Wes didn’t use a plectrum, either. And among the slightly younger players I really appreciate Peter Bernstein.”
[The Jim Mullen Organ Trio album Catch My Drift was released in March 2014. Click here to sample it]
© Thorbjørn Sjøgren. Thorbjørn Sjøgren is a Danish writer who has worked as a music librarian from 1970 to 2008 and as a reviewer for the Berlingske Tidende (1988-1994) and politics (1994-2002). He has worked for Radio Jazz since its inception in 1987 and the magazine Jazz Special since its inception in 1992. He is a contributor to a number of encyclopedias and reference books. This article was first printed in Jazz Special magazine, issue 138 (April, 2014). Jazz Special has been released bi-monthly since 1992.
The Essential Album Collection
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.
Woody Herman - The 3 Herds
Woody Herman was an American jazz clarinetist and saxophonist and big band leader who led various groups called "The Herd". Herman was one of the most popular of the 1930s and 1940s bandleaders. His bands often played music that was experimental for its time. His music combined the beautiful sound of the leader with the innumerable talents of the group members, both playing and arranging. Many of them went on to become big names in jazz.
This edition compiles the complete original LP The Three Herds (CL592), which was Herman s own selection of some of his hits from the period of 1945 to 1954. Fourteen extra tracks from the same period have been added as a bonus. Includes 20-page booklet. The compilation features Shorty Rogers, Pete Candoli (trumpet), Bill Harris (trombone), Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward, Flip Phillips, Bill Perkins, John LaPorta (reeds), Jimmy Rowles (piano), Red Norvo (vibraphone), Chuck Wayne, Billy Bauer (guitar), Chubby Jackson (bass), Dave Tough, Buddy Rich, and Don Lamond (drums), among others.
Click here to sample this album which is also available as a download.
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. (If you are not on Facebook, please tell your friends about us anyway!).
New Kid On The Beat
If anyone wonders whether there are any new drummers waiting in the wings, take a look at this video that one of our readers has found (click here). It is amazing that at three, a child can play like this.
As someone says, this 3-year-old boy Lyonya Shilovsky is 'casually being a boss on the drums while playing with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra. He enthusiastically beats along with a giant smile on his face, completely unaware that: 1. It's kinda a big deal to be playing with an orchestra, and 2. He's totally owning it.'
Lyonya from Novosibirsk appeared on the Russian talent show 'Minute Of Fame' in 2014. Eventually, he leaves his drum kit to receive a bouquet of flowers and take a well-earned bow. The impressive performance took place at the New State Concert Hall of Arnold Katz in Novosibirsk in February 2014 but footage only surfaced online some months later.
Classic Jazz from Dave Shepherd for the National Jazz ArchiveAn afternoon concert on Saturday, 11th April features clarinettist Dave Shepherd with his Quintet. This concert is one of a series during 2015 to raise funds to support the work of the National Jazz Archive.
Dave was voted Britain’s best jazz clarinettist four times between 1990 and 2000. During his long career, he has played with American jazz legends such as Teddy Wilson, Bud Freeman, Yank Lawson, Ruby Braff, Wild Bill Davison and Barney Kessel. He led his own groups, including the Freddy Randall / Dave Shepherd Jazz All Stars, and the Pizza Express All-Stars for more than 20 years.The Quintet features the excellent Roger Nobes (vibes), John Pearce (piano), Paul Morgan (bass), and Stan Bourke (drums). The venue is Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB, close to the Archive’s home in Loughton Library, where there is extensive parking. It is 1 km from Loughton Station on the Central Line, and served by numerous bus routes.
Dave Shepherd said: “The National Jazz Archive does great work in preserving the history of our music. It’s a pleasure to bring my group to play to help raise funds to support it.” The concert starts at 1.30pm, and tickets cost £15.
Click here for further details and booking.
As we know there are three groups of people.
Group one - those who think the banjo is a joke. This is for you:
A man was walking around Dover when he happened upon a little antique shop, so he went in and took a look around. Way up on a high shelf he saw a little brass mouse figurine, and he really liked it. He asked the owner how much it was, and the guy said, "It's £20 for the mouse, and £50 for the story that goes with it." Well, the man didn't care about any old story, he just liked the little brass mouse, so he paid the guy £20 and walked out with the mouse in a brown paper bag. As he was walking home, he noticed the figurine was hollow with two little holes. Holding it up to his mouth, it made a melodious whistle. No sooner that he started, he was being followed by three little mice. When he stopped, they stopped. When he turned left, they turned left. "Whoa, this is creeping me out," he thought. As he walked, the mice were joined by more mice, until our hero looked like the Pied Piper. He started to run, and he wound up at the edge of Dover's White Cliffs. All the mice in town are right behind him. He is so freaked out that he throws the bag with the brass mouse over the cliff and into the water, and all the little mice jump after it, fall into the ocean, and drown. "Man, this is weird!" he says. He goes back to the antique store, and the owner doesn't seem surprised to see him. "Ahhh, you've come back to hear the story!" he says to our dilapidated hero. "No, man," says he, "I was just wondering if you have any little brass banjo players?"
Group two are those who value the banjo in classic jazz. This is for you.
Click here to listen to the Wilbur De Paris band playing Beale Street Blues with Eddie Gibbs on banjo. The full line up is: Wilbur DeParis (trombone), Sidney DeParis (trumpet), Omer Simeon (clarinet), Don Kirkpatrick (piano), Eddie Gibbs (banjo) and Freddie Moore (drums) recorded at Jimmy Ryan's, New York City in May 1952, a bonus track on a Wilbur De Paris album Wilbur De Paris Live In Canada 1956.
Eddie Gibbs was born in 1908. He began playing banjo seriously in the 1920s with Wilbur Sweatman, Eubie Blake and Billy Fowler. From 1937 he was with Edgar Hayes, touring Europe in 1938, joined Eddie South's band in 1940, and thn moved on to play with Luis Russell, Claude Hopkins and Cedric Wallace. He started playing bass with a trio at the Village Vanguard but returned to playing the banjo in the 1950s. After playing both bass and banjo in the 1960s he retired in the 1970s and died in 1994.
Woody Allen used a Wilbur De Paris track of I Found A New Baby with Eddie Gibbs on banjo in the 1995 film Mighty Aphrodite (click here to listen).
Then we come to group 3 - those who recognise the talent of today's banjo players.
John Jack writes: 'As rambled I through the banjo section (click here) I was brought up short by a passing mention in the piece on the Tatty Boggle to the "late Les Muscatt". I first encountered Les when he became part of the Dobells tribe; his wife worked with Teresa Kendel, later Teresa Chiltern of blessed memory, in Collets, a few floors below my flat, which was immediately opposite the Kendell's in Charing Cross Road, so we would sometimes shout across, or at least wave!!.'
'The Muscatts lived round the corner in Lyle Street and we tended to often end up at one or others’ pad to continue a evening’s roistering. After Les moved to America to work in the Red Garter bar circuit, initially in New Orleans, he also took part in some classic recording sessions. I believe they then moved to the West Coast. It's now a long while since I had any news of them. I do hope the mention of Les now being the "late" is unfounded - would appreciate knowing.'
'I also notice no mention of my long time favourite who is still working the international club scene, the demon Eugene Chadbourne, scourge of country 'n' western bars, the avante garde clubs, and guitarist / banjoist extraordinaire. Click here for a video of Eugene and a rocking banjo playing Roll Over Berlusconi in 2009.'
'He turns up about once a year either at the Vortex and / or the Cafe Oto in Dalston. He has lots of records on his own label, Fireant, which are full of surprises; like for example "Jesse Helms Busted with Pornography” the C&W Opera by Eugene Chadbourne and friends including Lol Coxhill.'
'By the way, soprano virtuoso Lol often gigged with fretless banjo player Gerry Fitzgerald, another name perhaps not familiar to you. Must 'pling' off now as it's soon time to dash to Dalston for Charly Hart and his merry minstrels at the Vortex.'
Tuba Skinny and the Shotgun Jazz Band
Alan Bond also shares this video (click here) of two young bands, Tuba Skinny and the Shotgun Jazz Band, each with their banjo players, joining forces to play Over In The Gloryland at the Bix Festival at Racine, Wisconsin in March. Happy bands. Happy music.
The Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra
Award winning reeds player Andrew Linham is taking his big band on a 'mini-tour' in London during April. This is a good chance to catch a big band loaded with young talent. Andrew believes that enjoyment is a large part of entertainment so his bandleading is fun as well as introducing some of his own amazing compositions and arrangements. Numbers like Apples Are Not The Only Fruit will get feet tapping and his pastiche based on Dante's Inferno is not what one would expect.
Highly recommended if you can make any of the following venues. We shall be featuring Andrew in next month's What's New.
Click here for a video of the band playing Eli And The Monobrow.
Saturday, 18th April - 7.30 pm - St Luke's Church, Upminster, RM14 1LD - £8 / £5
Sunday, 19th April - 12.30 pm - The Gunnersbury Tavern, W4 5RP - £10
Tuesday, 21st April - 7.30 pm - The Great Northern Railway Tavern, Hornsey, N8 7QB - £5 / £3
Sunday, 26th April - 2.00 pm - Ivy House, Nunhead, SE15 3BE - Free
The National Jazz Archive - The Story Of British Jazz Project
Three years ago, the National Jazz Archive in Loughton, Essex, received match funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make its resources more accessible. With support from Essex County Council and voluntary contributions the Project has achieved:
Click here for more information.
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:
Orrin Keepnews - American record producer born in the Bronx in 1923. Initially the editor of a jazz magazine, 'The Record Changer', he launched Riverside Records in 1953 with Bill Grauer. In 1955 they signed Thelonious Monk followed by others including Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans. Keepnews received Grammy awards for his notes to albums by Monk and Evans. In 1963, Grauer died and Keepnews started the Milestone label in 1966, later selling it to Fantasy Records which he joined as head of jazz. Fantasy was taken over by Concord in 2007, Keepnews resigned and launched his last label, Landmark. He died on 1st March 2015. Click here for a video of Orrin Keepnews talking about recording Sonny Rollins.
John Renbourn - UK guitarist born in London, John was playing banjo at the age of five. At Kingston Art College he became interested in the music of Big Bill Broonzy and other great Blues players but his leaning was towards folk music and opportunities to stretch that with other influences. He teamed up with Bert Jansch and their album Bert and John included a version of Charles Mingus's Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Jam sessions at the Horseshoe in Tottenham Court Road resulted in the formation of Pentangle with singer Jacqui McShee, bass player Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox. 'Their gentle mix of styles couching traditional songs in blues and jazz arrangements struck an immediate chord far beyond the folk world.' Click here for a video of John Renbourn and Stefan Grossman playing Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.
One From Ten
We spend time with an album from our list of new and reissued recordings below.
In The Beginning
On the 6th April the Resonance label releases these two albums from the guitarist's early years. At the time - 1949 to 1958 - Wes Montgomery worked as a welder for a maker of radio parts and gigged during the evenings and nights sometimes getting home at 5.00 am and being back to work at 7.00 am. He frequently led a band with tenor saxophonist Pookie Johnson in which his brothers Buddy (piano) and Monk (bass) also played. Much of this release comes from this band, recorded at the Turf Bar and the Missile Room in Indianapolis.
The following year, 1959, that year when so much happened in jazz, Cannonball Adderley introduced Wes to Riverside Records. This collection shows the potential that Adderley spotted.
Resonance say: 'This deluxe 2-CD set includes 26 newly discovered live and studio recordings. The set includes a complete 1955 Epic Records session produced by Quincy Jones, newly discovered 78 RPM sides with Wes as a sideman recorded for Spire Records (1949), a live recording from the home of Ervena Montgomery, Indianapolis (1956), live recordings from the Turf Club (1956), the Missile Lounge (1958) in Indianapolis, and the C&C Music Lounge in Chicago (1957).'
'In the Beginning features extensive liner notes, and meticulously designed artwork that have become Resonance Records' trademarks. The 2-CD version includes a 55-page booklet of liner notes by journalist and noted jazz historian and biographer Ashley Kahn, legendary producer Quincy Jones, guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who, alongside rare never-before-published photos from The Montgomery Estate and friends in Montgomery's native Indianapolis. Since Wes Montgomery's passing in 1968, only two other albums of predominantly unreleased material have been released - Willow Weep for Me (Verve, 1968) and Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance, 2012). Resonance Records is pleased to introduce the third such archival offering with In the Beginning.'
Click here to sample the albums that are also available as mp3 downloads.
On the morning of June 15, 1968, Wes woke up at his home in Indiana and said to his wife that he didn't feel well and then collapsed with a heart attack. He was 45 years old and had just come back from a tour with his quintet. Indianapolis has named a park in his honour.
Click here for a fascinating video of Wes Montgomery playing a concert in 1965, just three years before he died. It shows just what a marvellous guitarist he was but also gives us an insight into the person as he and the other musicians discuss the music. One person says of the video: 'I really enjoy the planning between songs, actually - you can watch them building something in progress. I usually don't see this, so it's a treat for someone like me, who is not a jazz musician.' Another person says: 'Wes Montgomery's style has been copied by thousands of jazz guitarists over the past 4 decades, so it's possible that you are hearing a bit of Wes in everything out there.'
Click here for another video of him playing 'Round Midnight introduced by Humphrey Lyttelton.
Ten Recent Releases and Re-Issues
Frank Holder’s Sextet at Pizza Express
Lunchtime on Sunday, April 26th, the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street, Soho will be the place to celebrate Frank Holder’s 90th birthday. Frank is one of the very few still-performing jazz musicians to have played on the London Jazz scene that followed the Second World War. His enthusiastic singing and conga playing featured in the bands of Leslie Hutchison, Joe Harriott, John Dankworth, Ronnie Scott and Duncan Lamont as well as more recently his own Latin American band, Paz.
The gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club starts at 1.30 pm with doors opening at midday. Frank will be accompanied by Stan Robinson (saxophone), Geoff Castle (piano), Shane Hill (guitar), Val Manix (bass) and Les Cirkel (drums). Entrance £12.00. Click here for the Pizza Express website. Click here for more about Frank.
Chris Hodgkins – New Album and Tour
Trumpeter Chris Hodgkins recently retired after 29 years as the Director of Jazz Services, the national support charity for jazz music and musicians. During his time at the organisation, he was honoured for his Services to Jazz at the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards and in July 2013 at the British Jazz Awards. In March this year he was awarded the Services to Jazz Award at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2015. Despite his successes championing British jazz he still found the time to play himself, and as a musician released several great albums with his various groups
In September last year Chris Hodgkins returned to Wales to record an album of originals, standards and one or two tunes from the archives. For the past 7 years Chris, on his visits to Wales, has worked with Dave Price on piano and Erika Lyons or Ashley John Long on bass. All three joined him on the album and the result is Back In Your Own Back Yard which we plan to review in our next issue.
Chris Hodgkins (picture by Martin Dayleman)
“Aside from two originals and the poignant Black Butterfly, the repertoire suggests a formulaic Mainstream set that one might hear at a jazz party. But that narrow assumption vanishes once the music begins, for Chris, Dave, Erika, and Ashley offer serene yet searching chamber jazz, refreshing improvisations on familiar songs.” (Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives).
April Tour Dates
12th - Hanbury Arms, Caerleon Uskside, Newport NP18 1AA – 5.30 pm
* With Dave Price (piano) and Ashley John Long (bass)
Frome Jazz Club Moving
The Jazz Club at Frome in Somerset has been obliged to find a new local venue. From April onwards, Frome Jazz Club will be on the 3rd Sunday of each month, 7-10 p.m.at Frome's The Grain Bar. All events will still be free entry, and now with the added attraction of mezze and local beers. The grand re-opening on Sunday 19 April features pianist John Law. Until now, Frome Jazz Club has used Facebook to advertise its listings, but the move to The Grain Bar, a regular music venue, will allow the Bar's website 'events' page to include the Jazz Club gigs.
New Jazz Venue For Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Pianist John Law tells us: 'On Friday March 27 a stylish new jazz club started up in Cirencester. The opening act was a quartet featuring the great Andy Sheppard! It's going to be every last Friday of the month. taking place in the beautiful surroundings of the Vaulted Cellar Lounge at the Kings Head Hotel, 24 Market Place, Cirencester GL7 2NR. Doors open 7.45 pm and gigs start 8.00 pm, finishing 10.30 pm. Tickets are £10/£8 concessions in advance and £11/£9 on the door. You can order tickets via the Ticket Hotline on 01285 700900 or call in person at the hotel.'
The gig on 24th April features Jake McMurchie's Michelson Morley.
Items Carried Over From Last Month
The following items appeared in the last magazine but may still be of interest to readers:
New Concert Hall For London
Plans are in hand to explore the idea of a new state-of-the-art concert hall in London. The government has announced a grant of £1 million for the Barbican to lead a six-month feasibility study into the proposal. Most of the capital’s concert halls at the Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican have been criticised for their acoustics and a new venue would need to meet modern expectations. It is expected that funding for a new hall would come mostly from the private sector and the cost is estimated at over £200 million.
Sir Simon Rattle
The site of the Museum Of London, not far from the Barbican is being considered as one option with the Museum moving elsewhere. The new hall would be expected to provide educational facilities and share its music throughout the UK using digital facilities. Sir Simon Rattle, currently with the Berlin Philarmonic, has said that he would consider moving to the London Symphony Orchestra if better facilities were available.
A concern arises from the wording in one report that says: ‘If the new hall is built, the Barbican …would keep its existing venue but develop it more for non-classical music and other events.’ This appears to suggest that jazz would not be seen as a suitable genre to play at the new venue, and that seems unjust. Click here for more information.
Blazing Flame Blow
At the end of January, Steve Day took the band Blazing Flame to a studio in Bristol to film. Steve is a poet, a writer and a vocalist who has described himself as an aquired taste. His vocal style is distinctive. The band has played together before, so there is an understanding between the members and only limited rehearsal took place for a session based on improvisation.
The resulting film footage looks and sounds impressive, but we need to start by listing the musicians who make up Blazing Flame. There is a lot of talent here. Pianist Keith Tippett and vocalist Julie Tippetts should need no introduction given their long and respected international contribution to improvised music and they bring their experience to this recording. Aaron Standon, alto saxophone and Peter Evans, electric violin make breathtaking contributions, and Fiona Harvey, electric bass, and Anton Henley, drums, anchor the rhythm section.
The film was made by Bristol film maker, Steve Gear, the recording by Jim Barr (bass player with Get The Blessing) at J&J Studio. They both deserve credit for the result. All the tunes recorded and filmed are freely available on YouTube.
The band previously recorded an album High Mountain Top, but Steve Day says: 'This time I wanted visuals of the band. Playing gigs is difficult for an ensemble like us. I don’t say it’s never going to happen but the circumstances would have to be quite special. But what we can do is set up something in a studio which is ‘live’. Quit overdubs and endless re-takes; bring new material into spontaneous performances which hopefully find their own audience out there in the ether.'
Apart from the main theme, the music is entirely improvised, something that comes over effectively from the way the film is made. Steve again:
'I wrote ‘Blow’ for Aaron Standon and Peter Evans, it is the first track in the new filmed series. The Bird Architects are a quartet that Aaron and Peter have been playing in for decades. For me the ‘Bird Architect’ description is an exact fit for Aaron. Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker defined the alto saxophone, he literally was Bebop and beyond. Aaron’s playing is drawn to scale, a true architect of Bird’s legacy. I’m a writer – words. This is not a casual conversation, I believe in the poetry of language; the poetry inside words is crucial. Even in those dark moments, within Blazing Flame I am fundamentally having fun mentally, with the art of spontaneous music making running parallel with my prewritten words. In a way ‘Blow’ is about that process.'
Click here to watch and listen to the film of the band playing Blow. Other videos from the session will be seen to the side of the YouTube page.
Blow © Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
Jazz Talks: Buckinghamshire and Norwich Areas
Dr Bob Moore has contacted us saying:
'I am a member of the U3A (University of the Third Age) Jazz appreciation section. I now have given four talks to them on each of the following: Louis Armstrong, US swing bands of the 40's, Modern Jazz Quartet and Stan Kenton. I should say that I am not a profession speaker but I have reasonable knowledge of the subject. Now that I have given the talks, it is most probable that they will gather dust in a cupboard but if anyone local to me in High Wycombe is interested, I would be prepared to repeat the talk for free with possible expenses for petrol if far away.'
'The talks mainly simply require a good audio system plus someone to put on the CD's but the Kenton talk does included some excerpts from Youtube on the internet but these could be edited out. If I use the Internet it would require screen plus associated equipment. The talks take about 90 min and the usual format is general background on the artist or group followed by tracks from CD's.'
If anyone would like to take up Bob's offer, you can email him at email@example.com
Similarly, Roy Headland who gives occasional talks to Norwich Jazz and Blues Record Club is offering to give talks with music to other groups in the Norwich area.Roy's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony and Denise Lawrence will be arranging their Jazz Weekends again in 2015. From March to November they book places in hotels around the UK with jazz entertainment provided.
As an example, in Bournemouth at the Wessex Hotel on West Cliff, three nights dinner, bed and breakfast including a five-course gala dinner will cost £209 per person with Kevin Grenfell's Jazz Giants featuring Matt Palmer, John Maddocks Jazzmen, and the Denise Lawrence Band with Ron Drake providing jazz in the ballroom during the evenings. Other weekends take place at Shrewsbury, Windsor, Dawlish, Banbury, Cheltenham, Lyndhurst and Stratford Upon Avon.
Click here for more details.
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.
© Sandy Brown Jazz 2015