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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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MILES DAVIS' KIND OF BLUE HONORED BY THE HOUSE

Posted by Billyjam, December 15, 2009 12:16pm | Post a Comment
Miles Davis Kind of Blue
As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Washington has decided to commemorate jazz great Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue. The House voted (409 to 0) yesterday to honor the landmark fifty year old recording's contribution to the genre. Kind of Blue, originally released by Columbia Records in August 1959, featured Davis along with saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian ''Cannonball'' Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers, who sponsored the measure, said that Davis and the other album contributors ''made musical history and changed the artistic landscape of this country and in some ways the world.'' Indeed, the album's influence has been far reaching, influencing all types of music far beyond just jazz, including Latin, rock and hip-hop. And over the years many musicians have done their renditions or reinterpretations of Kind of Blue, including Portland, OR blip artist Andy Baio, who earlier this year recorded an inspired 8-Bit reinterpretation of the album that he retitled Kind Of Bloop.

Below is a video honoring Kind of Blue's fiftieth anniversary made in conjunction with Legacy Recordings' recent releasing of the album's Collector's Edition Box set which is available at Amoeba Music. 


Miles Davis - Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary

Happy Birthday Arthur Tatum Jr., October 13th, 1909

Posted by Whitmore, October 13, 2009 12:25pm | Post a Comment
 
Art Tatum is acknowledged by anyone who knows anything as one of the greatest and most influential jazz pianists of all time. A child prodigy born with perfect pitch, Tatum was picking up church hymns and tunes off the radio by ear at the age of three. As a teenager, the nearly blind Tatum started at the Columbus School for the Blind where he studied music and learned Braille. His first musical heroes were his contemporaries like the stride pianists James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, and Earl Hines. Within a few years he was playing in New York settling at the Onyx Club where he recorded his first sides for Brunswick. Tatum developed an incredibly fast improvisational style, and though he rarely ventured far from the original melodic lines of a song, his technique and ideas are a direct line to the bebop revolution of the late 1940’s. One of Tatum’s great quotes was “There is no such thing as a wrong note.”
 
Though I’m often dubious of many opinions laid out by jazz critic Leonard Feather, I have to more or less agree with him when he called Tatum "the greatest soloist in jazz history, regardless of instrument." Legendary French writer and artist Jean Cocteau called Tatum "a crazed Chopin." Count Basie called him the eighth wonder of the world. Classical composer Sergei Rachmaninoff once said, "he has better technique than any other living pianist, and may be the greatest ever." Dizzy Gillespie said, "First you speak of Art Tatum, then take a long deep breath, and you speak of the other pianists." Charlie Parker, who briefly worked as a dishwasher at Jimmie's Chicken Shack in Manhattan, where Tatum regularly performed, once said, “I wish I could play like Tatum’s right hand!” One of the most famous quotes about Art Tatum was by Fats Waller, whose introduction one night announced, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house." Waller also once said, "When that man turns on the powerhouse, don't no one play him down. He sounds like a brass band."
 
Art Tatum died in Los Angeles on March 12, 1955 at Queen of Angels Medical Center from the complications of kidney failure. He was originally interred at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, but in 1991 he was moved to the Great Mausoleum of Glendale's Forest Lawn Cemetery.



Happy Birthday Thelonious Sphere Monk

Posted by Whitmore, October 10, 2009 12:37pm | Post a Comment

 “I'm famous. Ain't that a bitch?”
 
“Wrong is right.”
 
“Sometimes it's to your advantage for people to think you're crazy.”
 
“If someone wants to play music you do not have to get a ruler or whips to make them practice.”
 
“Be-bop wasn't developed in any deliberate way.”
 
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”
 
“All musicians stimulate each other. The vibrations get scattered around.”
 
“If you really understand the meaning of be-bop, you understand the meaning of freedom.”
 
“Man, that cat is nuts.” (Monk’s comment about Ornette Coleman.)
 
“Jazz is my adventure. I'm after new chords, new ways of syncopating, new figures, new runs. How to use notes differently. That's it. Just using notes differently.”
 
“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”
 
“I don't have a definition of jazz... You're just supposed to know it when you hear it.”
 
“I say, play your own way. Don’t play what the public wants -- you play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doing -- even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years.”
 
“Miles’d got killed if he hit me.”
 
“Where’s jazz going? I don’t know? Maybe it’s going to hell. You can’t make anything go anywhere. It just happens.”
 
“Those who want to know what sound goes into my music should come to New York and open their ears.”
 
“I like to sleep. There is no set time of day for sleep. You sleep when you’re tired, that’s all there is to it.”
 
“I don’t consider myself a musician who has achieved perfection and can’t develop any further. But I compose my pieces with a formula that I created myself. Take a musician like John Coltrane. He is a perfect musician, who can give expression to all the possibilities of his instrument. But he seems to have difficulty expressing original ideas on it. That is why he keeps looking for ideas in exotic places. At least I don’t have that problem, because, like I say, I find my inspiration in myself.”
 
“At this time the fashion is to bring something to jazz that I reject. They speak of freedom. But one has no right, under pretext of freeing yourself, to be illogical and incoherent by getting rid of structure and simply piling a lot of notes one on top of the other. There’s no beat anymore. You can’t keep time with your foot. I believe that what is happening to jazz with people like Ornette Coleman, for instance, is bad. There’s a new idea that consists in destroying everything and find what’s shocking and unexpected; whereas jazz must first of all tell a story that anyone can understand.”
 
“Well, I enjoy doing it. That’s all I wanted to do anyway. I guess, you know, if I didn’t make it with the piano, I guess I would have been the biggest bum.”
 
Thelonious Monk was once asked what he thought of Downbeats jazz polls, he thought for a moment and replied, “I have a lot of respect for the Polish people, especially the way they can drink vodka.”



The roots of jazz - ragtime

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 24, 2009 04:48pm | Post a Comment
Although for most people the strains of "The Entertainer" and other rags now primarily evoke quaint, scratchy images of silent films projected at the wrong speed, when ragtime first appeared around the 1870s, it was the soundtrack of Missouri's whorehouses, parlors and gambling clubs.

st. louis 1870
St. Louis in the 1870s

Ragtime was also one of the first truly and distinctly American musical forms. After cakewalk, ragtime was one of the first global music crazes. That Ragtime's cradle was the river towns of the Missouri Valley shouldn't be a surprise. Missouri, located at the center of the country, has long been and remains a crossroads of cultural exchanges. No state borders more than Missouri and noted ragtime musicians came from all the neighbors and spread to them (except Nebraska and Iowa, states whose people are known to be deaf to the joys of melody and dance). The character of ragtime -- drawing from folk, European and American marches, minstrelsy, spirituals and other forms -- connects Europe, Africa and North America, town and country, classical and popular, black and white.

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