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Happy 90th birthday Ken Nordine!!

Posted by Whitmore, April 13, 2010 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Ken Nordine
Ken Nordine
You may not know it, but you do know Ken Nordine, and you know him well. His deep resonant, baritone voice, gritty in a perfect kind of way, has sliced through television and radio ads for decades now. But you should know him for his "word jazz." He recorded his first Word Jazz album back in 1957, backed by the Chico Hamilton band. Nordine’s pieces play in the common -- words, bopping and shifting, wit pedaling to and fro in between the everyday bits of everyday life nimbly budging the predictable out of the way. Colorful is the perfect adjective, absurd is another word that should have a turn here too. Mundane is not in his vocabulary.

Anyway, today the legendary wordsmith is 90 years old -- Happy Birthday, Ken Nordine!






Happy Birthday Gábor Szabó!!

Posted by Whitmore, March 8, 2010 09:22pm | Post a Comment
Gabor Szabo 
According to legend -- and we always print the myth around here -- while growing up in Budapest, the Hungarian born jazz legend Gabor Szabo was inspired to pick up the guitar after seeing a Roy Rogers singing cowboy feature. He started playing at about fourteen and at the age of twenty, on the eve of the anti-Communist uprising, he and his family escaped the Iron Curtain for sun saturated California.
 
After attending Berklee College (1958-60), he joined Chico Hamilton’s celebrated quintet featuring Charles Lloyd. Gabor Szabo would develop into one of the most original guitarists to emerge in the 1960s, crafting a singular and distinctive sound. From about 1966 on he would lead his own bands (that year alone he released four albums including the stellar Spellbinder and Jazz Raga -- with one of the coolest looking album covers ever printed!). Unlike most every jazz guitarist of the day, Szabo almost always played an acoustic guitar, specifically a Martin Dreadnought guitar, usually the D-45 or the D-285. I suspect Szabo, for the most part, was never taken as seriously as he would have liked in the jazz world, what with his mixing of jazz, commercial rock and pop, folk, Hungarian and gypsy music, it just didn’t fit the program. But Gabor Szabo was always the iconoclast. You can still hear his influence on modern guitarists today.
 
Szabo’s career was relatively brief. He died just short of his 46th birthday back in Budapest in 1982 from liver and kidney disease while on a visit there. Today would have been his 74th birthday. Happy birthday Gabor Szabo!





Django Reinhardt

Posted by Whitmore, January 23, 2010 08:41pm | Post a Comment
Django Reinhardt 100th birthday
Legendary Jazz guitarist  Django Reinhardt was born 100 years ago today, the 23rd of January, 1910.

From the Gypsy camps where he learned to play to his Quintette du Hot Club de France fame in the Parisian jazz scene, the man’s style has probably been ripped off more times than any other guitarist of the 20th century. His playing was joyous, often wild, always expressive and lyrical. His legend was sealed way before his early death from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 43.django100th birthday
 
The most amazing story about Reinhardt is, of course, how at the age 18 he was caught in a caravan fire that left his left hand partially paralyzed. As the story goes, one night on his way to bed he knocked over a lit candle, it hit the floor, catching some artificial flowers made off celluloid and paper on fire. Everything, caravan and all instantly burst into flames. His injuries, from trying to save his pregnant first wife, Florine "Bella" Mayer, were severe. The entire right side of his body was badly burned, especially his leg, which doctors intended to amputate. His left hand, his fretting hand, was also horribly burned. Reinhardt would spend over a year in and out of hospitals. He was never expected to play again, but his brother bought him a new guitar, urging him to give it a try. With only the index and middle fingers on his left/fret hand for soloing, and his two twisted fingers for simple chord work, he re-invented his own technique.
 
Happy Birthday Django Reinhardt!



(In which Job & Corey celebrate #3.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 11, 2010 12:38pm | Post a Comment
Reading sentences is weird, isn’t it? Just the way you’re sitting at your computer right now, scanning these lines of organized scribbles and, as a result, you’re hearing these words in your head – words that I typed on my computer sometime in your past.
horse

All of which is pretty intimate, don’t you think? I mean, you’re trusting me enough to allow whatever I decided to write to enter into your consciousness via language, not necessarily knowing what I’m going to type. I mean, what if I wrote this sentence:

We oftentimes remove the hamster’s eyes and replace them with fresh-churned butter, which allows them to see less and makes their faces smell vaguely of movie theatre concession stands.
chicken
First of all, there’s a lot of things about that sentence that're willyish, and what if you’re not in the mood to deal with it? But now you’ve read it and there’s no going back. It’s recorded in your mind forever. Even if you someday forget it (which is almost certainly advisable), it will be catalogued somewhere, there in the delicious depths of your awesome brain.
fancy
Anyway, the boyfriend and I just celebrated our third anniversary yesterday. It was swell! The cat and I allowed him to sleep-in until noon, while we spent time organizing my music library and watching birds be weird.

Best Jazz Reissues and New Releases of 2009!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 23, 2009 03:52pm | Post a Comment
by Scott

2009 was a good year for jazz. As usual, there was a focus on reissues, but there were also plenty of new releases that were worth picking up. The bulk of the items in my best of have a link to Great Britain.

freedom

1. & 2. Various - Freedom Rhythm & Sound

This release from the British label Soul Jazz is both a nice hardcover book of album covers and a 2 cd set. Billed as "revolutionary jazz original cover art 1965-83," that description doesn't mention that there are a lot of words in the book giving nice encapsulation of different artists and organizations related to the civil rights movement. Along with this book, which has albums you thought you would never see in a 12"x12" reproduction, the cd version has a beautiful booklet filled with both information on the music and political events relating to civil rights. Along with bigger name folks like Sun Ra and his Arkestra, there are tracks by lesser known artists: the Hasting Street Jazz Experiment, Stanton Davis' Ghetto, and Lloyd Miller. Some of these albums were limited to 500 pieces, so being able to look at the covers and listen to cuts from those albums is a rare treat.

Prince Lasha insight

3. Prince Lasha Ensemble - Insight

The first domestic release of a Columbia LP from 1966 by local horn master Prince Lasha (pronounced "Le Shay," it says in the liner notes) Ensemble: Insight. The disc features Mr. Lasha with a cast of brilliant British musicians, including pianist Stan Tracey and David Snell on a very hip harp. There are beautiful ballads, peppy bop cuts and both original compositions and standards. I had a chance to meet Prince Lasha in our store a few years ago and had him sign an LP of his to me, then after I thanked him, he hugged me.

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