Thursday, July 30, 2015
YOU LIKE THE FLUTE? I'VE GOT PLENTY, PLENTY OF FLUTE TONIGHT...
If you like hearing the flute then the third hour of tonight's show is for you. Ali Ryerson has been on the jazz scene for many years making beautiful music. Ryerson has worked with many great players including legendary violinist Stephane Grappelli, trumpeters Red Rodney and Art Farmer, pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Roy Haynes, and fellow flutist Hubert Laws. In 1997, she also released an album with the great guitarist Joe Beck simply called "Alto" (DMP Records). In 2003, Ali was on a recording with fellow flutists Frank Wess and Holly Hoffman called "First Date" (Capri Records). It was excellent and collectively they called themselves "Flutology." Ali's last release was in 2013 called "Game Changer" featuring the Ali Ryerson Jazz Flute Big Band (Capri Records). A graduate of the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, Ali is a noted jazz educator and currently is a member of the music faculty at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Ryerson has performed extensively with classical musicians including The Big Guy--Luciano Pavarotti (while flutist with the Monterey Bay, California Orchestra). Ali has performed at clubs and in open air concerts all over the world. She has released nearly two dozen albums as a leader or co-leader on such labels as Concord, DMP, Capri, and jazz producer Bob Thiele's Red Baron label.
Tonight I'll be featuring selections from Ali's 1997 recording on Concord Records called "Brasil: Quiet Devotion." If there's time I'll feature a track or two from her "Alto" album with Joe Beck. Ali has a very busy summer touring schedule. This month she performed in Carmel Valley, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Ridgewood, New Jersey; and Erie, Pennsylvania (last Saturday). In August she has performances scheduled for Litchfield, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington D.C.; Charlevoix, Michigan (in the northern section of the state); Westfield, New Jersey; and Pawling, New York.
I'll finish the show tonight with the fine Brazilian singer Carol Saboya from her recording released earlier in the year, "Copa Village" (AAM Music) with her father Antonio Adolfo and harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens. "Tall and tan and young and lovely...the Girl from Ipanema goes walking...." Well, you know the rest.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will air at the usual time tonight...9:30ish central/8:30ish mountain daylight swingin'.
The question will concern a famous American labor leader who didn't make it out of the restaurant parking lot. He went there to meet with Tony Pro and Tony Jack but something went terribly wrong. He hasn't sent any emails, Facebook or Twitter messages to anybody lately. Huh???
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
On July 29, 1959, Hawaiian voters went to the polls to elect their two new U.S. Senators and a congressman. Hawaii officially became the 50th state on August 21, 1959. Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959. Billy Van in Larchwood, Iowa correctly guessed during trivia last night that Arizona and New Mexico were the previous states admitted to the union. Arizona was officially admitted on February 14, 1912 while New Mexico was admitted on January 6, 1912.
South Dakota and North Dakota were admitted as states together on November 2, 1889--they were the 39th and 40th states of the union. Previous to statehood there was no north and south designation--it was simply the Dakota territory. Here are the others that followed--Montana and Washington (on November 8th and 11th, 1889 respectively); Wyoming and Idaho (1890); Utah (1896); and Oklahoma (1907). The United States has five territories with Puerto Rico having by far the largest population at over 3.7 million people. If a 51st state is to be admitted in the future it probably will be Puerto Rico. The others are Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific. None of those will be considered for statehood because of their small populations (a territory would need at least 500 thousand people to be seriously considered). Washington D.C. might also one day become a state (it's been discussed). The population of the nation's capital is almost 650 thousand people. That makes it larger than the population of both Wyoming and Vermont. By the way, South Dakota's estimated population as of 2013 is approximately 845 thousand people.
Billy Van is a repeat trivia winner but it's been a while. Here's the running 2015 trivia tally: West River 68, East River 50, Florida 6, Iowa 5, Nebraska 3, Texas 2, Georgia 1.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
IS PAT METHENY JAZZ OR NOT JAZZ? ONLY HIS HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE...
It's been quite a while since I've featured guitarist Pat Metheny on my show so I've decided he'll be my "Artist in the Spotlight" during the third hour tonight. The question that presents itself is whether Pat plays jazz or a form of non-jazz. He looks like a 70's rock star with that long hair. Is Pat a genuine jazz guitarist or a de facto rock guitarist? It's pretty much a moot point. Metheny has delved into many musical styles during his long career including progressive and contemporary jazz, post-bop, Latin jazz, bossa nova, and jazz-rock fusion. But he is really beyond category--Metheny makes what can best be described as Pat Metheny music. A consistent jazz guitar poll winner over many years, he was inducted into the "Down Beat" magazine Hall of Fame in 2013. Pat has worked with an incredible assortment of musicians in his career but his musical lode star has been pianist and keyboard player Lyle Mays. Whether you think Metheny is genuine jazz or not, nobody can deny that he is a virtuoso on the guitar, tremendously proficient in a technical sense and endlessly resourceful and creative. Metheny burst onto the scene as a guitar wunderkind in the mid-1970's and made his mark with Gary Burton's band. As a group leader Pat has recorded 47 albums over the past 41 years. He will be 61 years of age on August 12th. Three of his albums have gone gold and he has received 20 Grammy Awards (you can't beat success). Pat will perform in Canada in early September and then will perform over four nights at the Detroit Jazz Festival (September 4th through the 7th) where he is this year's designated artist in residence. He'll perform in Newark, New Jersey on September 17th, then is off to perform at the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Yokohama, Japan on September 27th. He's slated for a performance in Sweden on October 10th.
I'll finish the show tonight with the wonderful Jackie Ryan. I had the very enjoyable task of interviewing Jackie on "Jazz Nightly" a couple of years ago. Jackie is also keeping busy. On Thursday, August 20th she perform at Feinstein's in New York in a Michel Legrand tribute. On Thursday, October 1st, Jackie will perform in Boulder, Colorado with the Eric Gunnison trio. You might remember that Eric on piano and his Denver-based group backed singer Kathy Kosins during her April 10th performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls.
My question will be about these fine United States of America...specifically about the statehood entry of two states that we're all familiar with. Can't give you any more clues because that wouldn't be prudent and I simply can't make all of 'em easy for you.
ARCHIE, THE DINGBAT, THE MEATHEAD, AND GLORIA...
Yesterday was the 68th birthday of actress Sally Struthers. Jeff Vostad of Brookings correctly guessed that Struthers portrayed Gloria Stivic, wife of Michael Stivic, on the 1970's hit CBS TV sitcom "All in the Family" (which also starred Carroll O'Connor as the lovable or not so lovable right-wing bigot Archie Bunker, and Jean Stapleton as the simply lovable Edith Bunker). "All in the Family" aired from 1971 to 1979 and for five consecutive seasons was #1 in the Nielsen ratings. "All in the Family" explored a variety of very sensitive social issues never addressed in primetime before and changed the nature of TV sitcoms forever. "All in the Family" led to a spin-off, "Archie Bunker's Place" (more or less a continuation of the old show), which ran from 1979 to 1983. Struthers starred in her own spin-off called "Gloria" in 1982, which lasted one season. There were three other long-running spin-offs of "All in the Family," all which ran on CBS..."Maude" starring Bea Arthur, which aired from 1972 to 1978. Maude was Edith's aggressive cousin and nemesis of Archie. "Good Times" starring Esther Rolle was a spin-off of "Maude." Rolle as Florida Evans was Maude's housekeeper. "Good Times" (which also starred Jimmy "J.J." Walker) ran for six seasons from 1974 to 1979. And there was "The Jefferson's," which aired for 11 seasons from 1975 through 1986. George Jefferson and wife Louise (Weezy) were the one-time next door neighbors to the Bunkers...but they moved on up to the East Side. Like Maude, George also didn't get along with Archie but few people did.
Created by liberals Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin (and written in part by them), "All in the Family" was funny every week it was on the air (even the episode when Sammy Davis Jr. got lost in Archie's Queens neighborhood and stopped into the Bunker house to ask for directions. When he leaves a photographer takes a picture of Sammy kissing Archie on the mouth). "All in the Family" dealt with issues that never had been dealt with before on a network primetime show, even a drama much less a comedy--racism, homosexuality, women's liberation and feminism, rape, religion, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, the generation gap, menopause, impotence--you name it, the hot-wire issues were there. Why was "All in the Family" funny? Because Archie/O'Connor didn't play it for laughs. O'Connor commented on why Archie was funny and his intention with the character (O'Connor was in real life a dedicated liberal). Archie did not have a sense of humor. Every nonsensical, outrageous, and reactionary thing that came out of his mouth was serious. He was not making jokes. Thus the audience (or most of it) was quick to pick up on the ridiculousness of Archie's statements and the seriousness and earnestness in which he delivered them. And that is where the comedy was contained. The constant bickering and insults between Archie and his son-in-law Michael Stivic was the classic generation gap which existed in families throughout the country in the 1960's and 1970's. Archie was a youth during the Great Depression and entered manhood during World War II (where he served in the military). His core values were formed during this time. Michael's values were formed during the 1960's and the Depression and World War II had little relevance to him. Michael Stivic was just as stubborn as Archie and not fully aware or concerned of where Archie was coming from. There was more than a little bit of liberal smugness and superiority in the character of know-it-all Michael Stivic. The conflict between Archie and Mike Stivic revolved around the permissiveness of the 60's--the youth counterculture (sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll), African-Americans demanding their freedom, and the turmoil of the Vietnam War. Like many older white men of that era, Archie could not understand or tolerate what was happening to America in the 60's and 70's and this made him very, very angry. And he took it out on the "Meathead." That's why Archie defended Richard Nixon (although he probably voted for George Wallace in 1968, who was much closer to his real opinions and values). At heart Archie was a bewildered, angry, and very frustrated man who could not fathom the changes that were happening in the America he thought he knew. And yet the show was funny, always funny.
However, Archie was not a buffoon and he had many good qualities. He was a hard-working man who provided for his family the best way he could. The Bunker food budget was severely impacted by Michael's voracious appetite (Michael was basically freeloading off Archie while finishing his college degree). Despite putting Edith down and belittling her intelligence ("Stifle it"), he loved his wife and would have lost without her. He dearly loved his daughter Gloria but did not quite understand her. And deep down he had grudging respect for Michael. As Edith so accurately pointed out to Michael, Archie both resented and respected his son-in-law because Mike had the educational opportunities that Archie was denied. After high school, Archie was forced to go to work at the docks. Michael went to college and then graduate school. And this, along with the generation gap, made all the difference.
The Archie Bunker character softened with the arrival of the Stivic grandchild, Joey. Archie was completely smitten with the child and was a devoted grandfather. Bunker's character also softened when Edith's 9-year old grandniece Stephanie (played by Danielle Brisbois) was introduced in the final season of the show. Her character continued on "Archie Bunker's Place." The relationship between Archie and Stephanie was quite tender. The Bunker character also changed when Archie left the docks and bought his own bar, "Archie Bunker's Place." It was his lifelong dream to own his own bar and the audience felt glad that he was able to achieve his dream. Many of Archie's good qualities--friendship, loyalty to friends, comradeship, joviality--were on display at "Archie Bunker's Place."
Norman Lear was quoted as saying that he knew many Archie Bunker types when growing up--unsophisticated men who were essentially bigots and educated in the school of hard knocks. It has been reported that Mickey Rooney and Jackie Gleason were offered the role of Archie Bunker and turned it down because of the controversial content of the scripts, Archie's intolerance and bigotry, and because they thought the show would fail. So the role was offered to journeyman actor Carroll O'Connor and he became a household word and a cultural icon. Would Rooney or Gleason have worked in the role? Maybe, but probably not. Gleason and Rooney would undoubtedly have played the character for laughs and demanded joke lines--and that was not what Archie Bunker was about. Gleason's Ralph Kramden persona would not have worked because Kramden always had the punchline.
O'Connor fought typecasting after he left the Archie Bunker role--a huge task given the nature of Archie's character--and succeeded. He portrayed the southern sheriff in the successful TV series "In the Heat of the Night" (based on the 1967 movie starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier). It was a very different kind of role. O'Connor died in 2001 at the age of 76. Jean Stapleton appeared in a couple of episodes of "Archie Bunker's Place" and then the character was written out of the script with the explanation that she died. Stapleton died in 2013 at the age of 90. Rob Reiner (Mike Stivic) went on to become a very successful film director. Sally Struthers did some acting on television after "All in the Family" and "Gloria" but her career sputtered out. She continues to perform but mostly on the summer theatre and dinner theatre circuit.
If Archie Bunker was around today he certainly would be listening every day to Rush Limbaugh and become a "ditto head." He'd also be listening to all the other right-wing reactionary AM radio talk show hosts. Limbaugh and his ilk directly appeal to the Archie Bunkers of America--aging white guys who cannot fathom or tolerate the changes that have happened to this country over the last fifty years (please don't bring up Obamacare) and all of them are very, very angry. Obama is not their president. They are not listening to NPR or public radio. Limbaugh made 59 million dollars last year hosting his radio show (a shade less than Howard Stern's 95 million), so he must be appealing to somebody. Limbaugh and his like continue to dominate the AM radio airwaves. Today Archie would be supporting Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or maybe even The Donald for president. And whether you like it or not, the Archie Bunkers of America are still a substantial number and they are demanding that their voice be heard. And they don't indulge in the niceties of public discourse.
Jeff in Brookings put another one back into the eastie column. Here's the running 2015 tally: West River 68, East River 50, Florida 6, Iowa 4, Nebraska 3, Texas 2, Georgia 1.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Coming up tonight on "Jazz Nightly"--voted in 2014 by "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine as regional quarterfinalist for "Most Improved Public Radio Jazz Show":
The Boss Tenor from Chicago: Ammons' professional career started at the age of 18 in 1943 when he went on the road with King Kolax's band. In 1944, he joined Billy Eckstine's newly formed bebop band where he played alongside Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dexter Gordon. Ammons' tenor duels with Dex during this period became the stuff of legend. It was Billy who named him "Jug" when the straw hats the for band didn't fit and Gene's ears had a tendency to stick out. Why hipster bebop players needed straw hats on the bandstand remains a mystery. After the Eckstine band broke up in 1947, Ammons led his own band for a while which included a young Miles Davis and alto/tenor saxophonist Sonny Stitt. It was the start of a long professional partnership with Stitt and they made recordings together into the early 1970's. In 1949, Ammons replaced Stan Getz as a member of Woody Herman's Second Herd. The 1950's were Ammons' most prolific period as a recording artist and he performed with many of the greats from that era including Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Mal Waldron, Art Farmer, James Moody, Howard McGhee, and Duke Jordan. However, some of the most valuable years of Ammons' career were lost to imprisonment due to narcotics possession--from 1958 to 1960, and again from 1962 to 1969. Ammons and Von Freeman were founders of the Chicago school of tenor sax. Ammons was influenced by Ben Webster and Lester Young and his playing was always forceful and expressive with a thick, warm tone. He was also able to negotiate the style of bebop as well as straight blues and r&b. Ammons is considered one of the most important players of the 1960's "soul jazz" movement which paired the tenor sax with the Hammond B-3 organ. He recorded one album with organist Richard "Groove" Holmes in 1961 and four albums with Brother Jack McDuff in the 1961-1962 period. Ammon's "fat" sound on the tenor horn influenced other players to come including Stanley Turrentine, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Houston Person. Despite the time he spent in prison, Ammons recorded abundantly--52 albums as a leader from 1952 through 1974. He died of cancer on July 23, 1974 at the age of 49.
John Dokes is a fine swinging big band singer who also does the ballads well. He's listened to his share of Joe Williams, Nat Cole, and Frank Sinatra albums. He definitely reminds me of Joe Williams and a little bit of Billy Eckstine. For a number of years John has been associated with George Gee's Swing Orchestra out of New York. The Gee Orchestra, directed by David Gibson, has maintained a long-running gig at the Swing 46 Jazz and Supper Club in Manhattan. Tonight to end the show I'll be featuring selections by John from the latest George Gee Swing Orchestra release, "Swing Makes You Happy" (Rondette Jazz), and a 2010 release, "John Dokes Sings, George Gee Swings" (Swing Theory Entertainment). If swing doesn't make you happy, then you've tuned in to the wrong radio show.
A fairly well-known actress is celebrating a birthday today and I'll ask you about the hit 1970's TV show she co-starred in, a show that changed the nature of TV sitcoms forever. Her character on the show had her share of fights with her husband but they loved each other. I wonder whatever happened to little Joey?
EDWARD R. MURROW...
Last night was pretty much Louis Armstrong night on JN with King Louis taking up all of the third hour. During first hour trivia I played a segment of a 1956 interview with Louis recorded in Paris. It appeared in a film about Louis Armstrong's European tour and was included on the Columbia Records album "Satchmo the Great." I took the interview segment right off the LP, which I figure has been in the SDPB music library for close to sixty years. Russ Bakken of Black Hawk, SD correctly guessed the legendary interviewer as none other than Edward R. Murrow.
Murrow's legendary status in electronic journalism is unquestioned. He was already a legend before his death in 1965 at the age of 57. Murrow joined CBS Radio in 1935 as director of "talks and education" but did not first appear on the air until 1938. He was one of many CBS correspondents who covered Hitler's takeover of Europe in the late 1930's. When Hitler seized Austria in March of 1938, Murrow was in Vienna to report what was happening. When World War II broke out in September 1939, Murrow moved to London and that was where he became a radio star. He covered all of the Nazi blitzkrieg of London during 1940 and 1941 and began with what became his signature opening, "This is London," with the emphasis on "This." Around this time he also came up with his signature sign-off: "Good Night and Good Luck." Under his direction the outstanding CBS Radio correspondents covering the European war became known as "Murrow's boys." Murrow stayed in Europe throughout the duration of the war. He became vice president of CBS Radio and head of the news division at the end of 1945. He started anchoring nightly news broadcasts in 1947 and continued daily news reports on the radio network until 1959. Throughout the rest of the 40's and into the 1950's Murrow developed the "Hear It Now" program, which described historical events of the distant and recent past. The "Hear It Now" format served as a series of historical albums made for Columbia Records called "I Can Hear It Now" (with producer Fred Friendly). These albums, which chronicled the period from the 1920's through the 1940's, were first released on 78 rpm records and later on 33 1/3. My father, a history teacher, had these albums and this is where I first became familiar with Edward R. Murrow as a boy in the 1960's.
Murrow made the transition to television in the early 1950's although radio was his medium and not TV. He always distrusted the TV medium which emphasized pictures instead of the spoken word. In 1951, "Hear It Now" was re-christened "See It Now." In 1953, Murrow launched his second weekly TV show, "Person to Person," which was an interview show featuring persons of substance, various newsmakers, and celebrities. On March 9, 1954, a half-hour "See It Now" broadcast featured a scathing report on the abuses of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who dominated the first half of the 1950's in his pursuit of communists in the federal government and abroad. The broadcast led to a nationwide backlash against McCarthy, who previously enjoyed wide popularity. The Murrow broadcast marked the beginning of the end of McCarthy's influence. The nail in the coffin was the nationally televised broadcast of the Army-McCarthy hearings later that spring. After the hearings concluded McCarthy was finished as a political force and he was censured by his Senate colleagues at the end of the year.
Murrow never anchored a nightly news broadcast for CBS-TV. This seems strange now; perhaps Murrow simply didn't want to be tied down to a nightly anchor desk. The first anchor of the 15-minute broadcast in the 1950's and early 60's was Douglas Edwards, and Walter Cronkite replaced him as anchor of CBS's 30-minute broadcast in September 1963. Murrow continued to host "See It Now" and documentaries for CBS including 1960's outstanding "Harvest of Shame," which documented abuses involving migrant workers in the United States. As the 50's wore on Murrow became increasingly disturbed over the network's emphasis on entertainment programming over news and documentaries, and this led to a split with his long-time friend and benefactor, CBS chairman and founder Bill Paley. In January 1961, Murrow quit CBS and was appointed by President Kennedy to become head of the United States Information Agency, parent of "Voice of America" international shortwave radio broadcasts. In September 1962, he introduced educational television to New York City with the debut of WNDT, which later became WNET. Murrow advised President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 and became involved in the information (propaganda) campaign in the early stages of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Murrow reportedly had strong misgivings over the U.S. support of the South Vietnamese regime led by Ngo Dinh Diem and did not believe Diem had any strong support among the Vietnamese people.
Murrow smoked three packs of cigarettes a day or more and this is what led to his early death. In 1963, he had a lung removed and was in rapidly declining health for the rest of his life. He resigned from the USIA in early 1964 because of his battle with lung cancer. He died two days after his 57th birthday, on April 27, 1965. After his death, The Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy was established at Tuft's University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. In a long overdue honor, Murrow was posthumously inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1984. In 1971, the Radio and Television News Directors Association established the Edward R. Murrow Award, honoring outstanding achievement in the field of electronic journalism. There are four other journalism awards also known as the "Edward R. Murrow Award."
Here's the running 2015 trivia tally: West River 68, East River 49, Florida 6, Iowa 4, Nebraska 3, Texas 2, Georgia 1.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Well, the weekend came and went and it's the start of another working week. Thanks to everybody who showed up for my pool party at the mansion on Saturday with buckets of fried chicken and potato salad. A good time was had by all even though my neighbors Cher, Oprah, Charo, and Jane Fonda did not show up. I think they're standoffish, even stuck-up.
Took a walk through the deserted streets of Vermillion at about 4 a.m. this morning. Just call me the midnight creeper. I have done this a couple of other times this summer when the weather was warm and I wanted to get out of the confines of the mansion. I'm always up at a 4 a.m. anyway so what the hey? Jimmo loves his solitude. Needless to say, I never take a walk around town in the middle of the night during winter. You want quiet? Try Vermillion at 4 in the morning. Even the young scholars in the USD dorms and fraternity houses are done sipping orange soda, eating popcorn, exchanging study notes, and listening to Tommy Dorsey on their hi-fis. They say New York is the city that never sleeps (and maybe Des Moines). Ain't so in Vermillion. And as far as I am able to ascertain, all is quiet too in Meckling, Gayville, Wakonda, and Irene at 4 a.m. (and possibly 10 p.m.). Good Night Irene, Good Night.
NEW RELEASES JUST IN TO THE JAZZ DESK, THE JAZZ NERVE CENTER OF SOUTH DAKOTA...
Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo--"Swing Zing!" Frank Vignola Music. If you like traditional guitar sounds and the good old songs, this is your kind of CD. Vignola is a well-known jazz guitarist who has been on the scene for many years; at age 26, Vinny appears to be his protege. There are also appearances on this CD by the great guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Gene Bertoncini as well as a younger player, Julian Lage. Singer Audra Mariel does a nice version of Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are." Another guitar player is featured here, Olli Soikkelli, as well as Gary Mazzaroppi on bass, best known for his many years in Marian McPartland's group and who was featured on Marian's outstanding public radio "Piano Jazz" show.
Layfayette Harris Jr. Trio "Bend to the Light" Airmen Records. This one features Lafayette on piano, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums.
Anthony Dixon--"Up on the Roof" Baby Pat Records. Anthony is a young singer and there are some interesting selections including the title cut (a hit for the Drifters in the early 60's and later James Taylor); Dave Brubeck's "Take Five"; the Hoagy Carmichael chestnut "Stardust"; a version of the Johnny Mathis hit, "Chances Are"; and "Jazz Ain't Nothin' But Soul."
"Live from Litchfield Jazz Festival--20 Years of Great Jazz." The Litchfield Jazz Festival is held in Connecticut. The outstanding cut that I've never heard before is Dave Brubeck's "Big Bad Basie." The late great singer Kenny Rankin does a splendid version of "The Way You Look Tonight." The late Eartha Kitt was invited to the festival one year and her version of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love Baby" is on the CD.
Dee Dee Bridgewater--"Dee Dee's Feathers" Okeh Records. This is New Orleans jazz all the way and was recorded in observance of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Big Easy. Joining Dee is trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Among the notable selections: "Saint James Infirmary" (a New Orleans classic); "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?"; "Big Chief" (featuring Dr. John); a great version of Duke Ellington's spiritual "Come Sunday"; "House of the Rising Sun"; and the great Louis Armstrong vocal, "What a Wonderful World." There have been reports that Dee Dee has been battling cancer. She has had very close cropped hair over the past several years. In the photos on this new CD and on her website she is completely bald.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
The weekend is finally here! You're all invited to my pool party at the mansion this afternoon but you're required to bring lots of fried chicken and potato salad. B.Y.O.B. Tell all your friends--the more the merrier!
IT WAS FREE-FORM PROGRAMMING ON FRIDAY NIGHT DURING THE SECOND HOUR: Hope you enjoyed my little foray into the fantasy world of Jimmo radio programming from 9:30 to 10 central/8:30 to 9 mountain last night. I began with Uncle Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins (king of the jazz DJs), Uncle Slimmo Gaillard, Uncle Steverino Allen, and Uncle Ray-o Mantilla doing a touching version of "The Three Little Pigs" hipster style. Then I put a record on my hi-fi in 33 rpm--a San Francisco travelogue of sorts from the 60's on KSFO/560 AM--which extolled the joys of the city and played the San Francisco Giants theme song (Yay Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Juan Marichal!!). Base-a-bol been veddy veddy good to me. "Jazzbeaux" used to work at KSFO. Then there was a couple of minutes of some easy listening music for the middle-of-the-road crowd with the promise of Andy Williams to come. Then pianist Yoko Noge and her Jazz Me Blues Band (featuring Detroit Junior) doing "Yoko's Boogie" (the kids always like this one). Yoko love John but Yoko no like Paul, George, and Ringo. Finally the inimitable Irene Reid with Hammond B-3 blaster Charles "The Burner" Earland doing a rousing version of "More Today Than Yesterday." Hope y'all dug it.
This was either divinely inspired and creative radio programming or it was daft. Probably both.
ON MONDAY NIGHT'S BIG BROADCAST...A FULL HOUR OF KING LOUIS ARMSTRONG
King Louis will be featured during the entire third hour of Monday night's JN. I'll be playing various Armstrong trumpet and vocal selections and also will include tracks from his 1954 album, "Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy" (Columbia Records). Handy, who lived from 1873 to 1958, is regarded as one of the most important songwriters of the early 20th century, a huge influence on jazz that was being born in the second decade of the 1900's, and the developer of the modern blues form. During his lifetime he was widely regarded as the "Father of the Blues." It is said that Handy took of the blues out of the 19th century southern slave plantations and churches and made it contemporary. His most famous song was "St. Louis Blues." Other well-known Handy songs are "Beale Street Blues," "The Memphis Blues," "Yellow Dog Blues," and "Long Gone From The Bowlin' Green." He lived long enough to receive proper recognition from the public and critics alike. In 1958, a movie about his life--"St. Louis Blues"-- was released starring Nat King Cole as Handy, with Pearl Bailey, Mahalia Jackson, Ruby Dee, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Eartha Kitt making up the rest of the cast (how's that for an all-star lineup?). It was Nat's only film role and despite his great talent critics felt he was not right for the role. W.C. Handy died on March 28, 1958 at the age of 84. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church and many thousands more congregated around the vicinity of the church. Handy was a beloved figure in the urban and rural African-American community.
TRIVIA MONDAY NIGHT...
I'm going to play an excerpt from a 1950's interview of Louis Armstrong. I'll simply ask you to name the interviewer. He makes some introductory comments and then starts asking Louis questions. In an unintentionally humorous moment he asks King Louis what a person needed to do in order to be regarded as a "cat." You shouldn't have problem guessing who the interviewer is. The older folks will know who it is right away. This interviewer always ended his broadcasts with the trademark line "Good Night and Good Luck."
DICK AND NICK GO AT IT...
On July 24, 1959, the famous "Kitchen Debate" took place is Moscow (the former Soviet Union), not the lovely state of Idaho. A.J. Silva of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia last night that the debaters were none other than Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. It was called the "Kitchen Debate" because most of it took place in an American style state-of-the-art kitchen.
This late 1950's media "happenin'" took place at the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow. The Soviets opened their own exhibition in New York City the previous month and Nixon was invited to open the American exhibit in Moscow. The so-called "Kitchen Debate" took place at a number of locations at the exhibition but primarily in the kitchen of an American style suburban model house, cut in half for easy viewing. In the kitchen were all the latest model appliances--electric stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc. Nixon told Khrushchev that most Americans could afford such modern luxuries. Khrushchev dismissed it all and said the Soviet people would have all of the same things in a few years time. The encounter wasn't really a formal debate as such but rather a frank exchange of views through interpreters. Nixon naturally defended capitalism and Khrushchev naturally defended communism. Khrushchev said the Soviets would soon pass the Americans in a few years time and then wave the United States "bye bye." The encounter was video taped in color (then in its infancy). The exchange was shown on American television the next day (most Americans watched it on their black and white TVs). The Soviets showed an edited version of the exchange on July 27th on late night TV with Nixon's remarks only partially translated. This came as no surprise.
A few weeks later Khrushchev visited the United States. He made a stop in Iowa and was amazed at the productive farmland and cornfields and the vast agricultural output of the country. That was the high point of Nikita's fascination with the United States. The next year the American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Russia. Khrushchev came back to the United States and banged his shoe at his desk at the United Nations. He claimed that "we will bury you" and that American grandchildren would someday live as adults under communism. Well, it didn't happen, right? In October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis took place bringing the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. The cool heads of John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev faced reality and sanity prevailed.
A good many Americans though Khrushchev was crazy. He wasn't crazy--he was just crude and unsophisticated. He also was very smart. Khrushchev was a shrewd politician and a survivor. He rose through the Soviet government ranks in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's. He participated in the Stalinist purges of the 1930's which caused utter devastation to the intelligentsia of the country. But Khrushchev was no Stalin. After Stalin's death in 1953, Khrushchev gradually gained control of power in the Soviet Union. On February 25, 1956, at the 20th Party Congress in Moscow, he emphatically denounced Stalin's purges (which he participated in) and pledged to usher in a less repressive era in the Soviet Union. Khrushchev was actually a moderate as far as Soviet leaders go. However, his domestic policies were often ineffective, particularly in agriculture. The truth was the Soviet communism could never begin to match the industrial and agricultural output of the United States and its abundance of material goods. In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis (seen throughout the world as a victory for President Kennedy and a defeat for Khrushchev), his power began to ebb. He was unceremoniously dumped in October 1964, replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier. Within a few years Brezhnev was totally in charge. Khrushchev spent the rest of his days as a non-person in the Soviet Union, a pensioner at 600 rubles a month with his own small apartment and dacha. He was fortunate not to have been "liquidated." His memoirs were smuggled to the West and published in part in 1970. Khrushchev died a broken man on September 11, 1971 at the age of 77. His son later became a U.S. citizen. Twenty years after his death the Soviet Union was no more.
Rapid City ends the trivia week back in control. Here's the running 2015 tally: West River 67, East River 49, Florida 6, Iowa 4, Nebraska 3, Texas 2, Georgia 1, Moscow, Idaho 0, Moscow, Russia 0, Minsk, Russia 0.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Have we reached the end of the working week already? Guess I have to make plans for this weekend. Oh, that's right, I have no plans.
ANOTHER WINNER FROM MARK WINKLER..."JAZZ AND OTHER FOUR LETTER WORDS"
Just received LA singer Mark Winkler's new release, "Jazz and Other Four Letter Words" (Cafe Pacific Records). This new recording is kind of a continuation of Mark's release of a couple of years ago with Cheryl Bentyne--"West Coast Cool." In other words, it evokes the ethic and sensibility of West Coast jazz of the 1950's and 1960's. But there are definite references and hipster nods to the East Coast. Cheryl is back for duets with on two of the cuts on this new release--"I'm Hip" (by Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough), and "I Wish I Were in Love Again" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, not West Coast cool guys but you know their reputation). Mark is a well-known and respected lyricist and he wrote the words to five of the songs here including the title cut (with music by pianist Jamieson Trotter). The opening track, "My Idea of A Good Time," gets things off to the right start. In the West Coast hipster cool mode, other songs are titled "Your Cat Plays Piano," Stay Hip," and a Paul Simon song, "Have a Good Time." There's a great New York medley--"In a New York Minute/The Great City/Autumn in New York." Mark has great LA musicians backing him including Jamieson Trotter on piano, John Clayton on bass, Larry Koonse and Pat Kelly on guitar, and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Trombonist Bob McChesney and saxophonist Bob Sheppard also make appearances.
Mark is a singer and musician continuing in the long line of West Coast musicians of the 50's and 60's--guys like Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, Bill Perkins, Conte Candoli, Jack Sheldon, the Lighthouse All-Stars, and many other stellar performers (I'll be featuring Jack later tonight). Mark has also been influenced by the Chris Connor, June Christy, Julie London cool singing school. But there are other vocal influences as well and Bobby Troup, Nat Cole, Sinatra, and perhaps Blossom Dearie have to be among them. One critic said recently that Mark Winkler may be one of the successors to Mark Murphy. I really see Mark as a successor to Californian Bobby Troup (he recorded a tribute album to Bobby a number of years ago). Bobby's songs were always hip, quirky, and thoroughly California cool. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark a couple of years ago when "West Coast Cool" and his Laura Nyro tribute CDs came out. If you didn't hear my interview with Mark at that time I can assure you that he's a really nice guy. We talked some about his memories of listening to one of the great AM radio stations in LA in the 50's and 60's--KMPC. "Jazz and Other Four Letter Words" is Mark's 14th release. He was just named in the 2015 "Down Beat" magazine critics poll as male singer "rising star." The rising star category has always perplexed me since many in this designation have been around a long time and everyone knows who they are. Mark has been performing professionally for more than 30 years.
Yes, jazz is a four letter word, but it's a clean word for the kids to use...and more importantly, to listen to.
REGARDING LAST NIGHT'S MUSIC: Kenny Burrell--Groove and Class. Nancy Wilson--Smooth and Class. Again it was one of those situations where you're weren't going to hear forty straight minutes of Kenny Burrell's guitar or twenty straight minutes of Nancy Wilson's singing on any radio show in America but mine. I brought it to you and I'm glad I did (drum rim-shot please). I did it because that's my "Special Nature" (and because I'm a lover of good music).
TONIGHT...TOMMY NEWSOM AND HIS TV JAZZ STARS...AND JACK SHELDON
Saxophonist and arranger Tommy Newsom had a long association with Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." He was there for the entire duration--from October 1962 until Johnny retired in May 1992. When Tommy joined the band pianist Skitch Henderson was the leader, then there was a short period where the band was led by a fellow named Milton DeLugg, and then Doc Severinsen took over leadership of the band in 1967. Doc had been part of the "Tonight Show" band starting in the 50's when Steve Allen was the host. Newsom was Doc's right-hand musician and assistant director of the band. When Doc was away or sat in for Ed McMahon Tommy was in charge. The "Tonight Show" band under Severinsen and Newsom was a well-oiled machine. Of course, Tommy was often the butt of Johnny's good natured jokes. Tommy's clueless poker face set up Carson's punch lines. Tommy was Mr. Excitement. And Tommy's conservative and rather drab dress was the opposite of Doc's loud fashion style. But Newsom was a terrific musician and arranger. He arranged much of the music for the Severinsen band and other musicians outside the group including Skitch Henderson, Woody Herman, Charlie Byrd, opera star Beverly Sills, and even John Denver. Tommy passed away on April 28, 2007 of bladder and liver cancer at the age of 78. He is greatly missed. Tonight's I'll be featuring selections from a 1990 CD--a band led by Tommy called the "TV Jazz Stars." This group consisted of Tommy on sax, Conte Candoli on trumpet, Snooky Young on trumpet and vocals, Ross Tompkins on piano, David Stone on bass, and Ed Shaughnessy on drums. All these guys were part of Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band but for legal reasons they couldn't use the "Tonight Show" name so they were just called the TV Jazz Stars. And what stars they were!
Trumpeter and vocalist Jack Sheldon's recording career goes back to the mid-1950's. He emerged at that time as part of the West Coast jazz movement. Although Jack was not exactly a cool jazz player, he was part of the 50's West Coast jazz scene and played with an assortment of great musicians including Gerry Mulligan, Curtis Counce, and Jimmy Giuffre. Jack's first recording came out in 1954, and he has recorded about 30 albums as a leader. He was considered one of the best trumpet players of his era. In the 60's he became a fairly well-known TV actor in various guest roles and in the 1966-67 season starred in his own short-lived CBS-TV sitcom "Run, Buddy, Run." He became known as a top LA session player during the 60's and thereafter. To the general public he is probably best remembered as Merv Griffin's bandleader and second banana on Merv's talk shows in the late 60's and early 70's. Jack today is also probably better known as a singer than a trumpet player. Jack is a very funny guy and a character. He's also a terrific musician and a swinging singer. Tonight to end the show I'll be featuring various Jack Sheldon vocal selections including tracks from a great 1988 Concord Records release called "Hollywood Heroes."
The question will concern a famous debate which took place more than 50 years ago between two famous international political figures. There was no love lost between the two. Here's a very offbeat clue: They had to stop the debate midway through to put food into the state-of-the art refrigerator and put "Snowy" detergent into the state-of-the-art washing machine.
THE VANESSA WILLIAMS MISS AMERICA SCANDAL...
On July 23, 1984, 21-year old Vanessa Williams resigned her title of Miss America with seven weeks to go in her reign. As Miss New York Vanessa Williams was the first African-American to be crowned Miss America. She was replaced by Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, also an African-American. Mike Fitzgibbons of Sioux Falls correctly answered during trivia last night that Williams was forced to resign as Miss America when nude photos of her appeared that summer and were shortly thereafter published in "Penthouse" magazine.
The black and white photos were taken in 1982 when Williams was 19 years old by a photographer friend. They featured her in erotic poses with another woman. Hugh Hefner, publisher of "Playboy" magazine, was first offered the photos but declined. Hefner said he would have been interested in publishing the photos had Williams given consent but of course that was out of the question. Hefner has made it a policy never to publish nude photos without a model's consent and without providing financial compensation. Bob Guccione, publisher of "Penthouse," had no such qualms. The nude photos of Williams were published in the September 1984 issue of "Penthouse" and that issue attracted huge interest and earned Guccione a reported 14 million dollars. That same month Williams filed a 500 million dollar lawsuit against Guccione and the photographer who took the photos, Tom Chiapel, but dropped the lawsuit a year later saying that she wanted to put the scandal behind her. The consensus was that Guccione and Chiapel did a sneaky, unethical, and cruel thing by making the photos available and then publishing them without Williams' consent. Although Williams was shamed into relinquishing her title, publication of the photos created sympathy for her situation.
Yes, Vanessa Williams did a dumb thing but we all do dumb things when we are young (and middle-aged and old). Despite the scandal and public humiliation, Vanessa Williams has become the most famous former Miss America in the history of the pageant. She has been a successful recording artist (garnering 11 Grammy nominations), has appeared in eighteen films, nine plays, and has made many television appearances as an actress over the years. She is a fine singer. Among her most remembered roles was that of the scheming, self-absorbed diva and supermodel on the ABC-TV series "Ugly Betty," which ran from 2006 to 2010. She was Ugly Betty's nemesis on that show.
The Williams Miss America scandal is a cautionary tale to young women who want to become stars or think they may enter the public spotlight some day. American attitudes toward public nudity are not as straight-laced as they used to be fifty or even thirty years ago. However, a young actress or singer who poses nude is never regarded the same way by the public again despite our more open-minded and tolerant age. That is simply a fact. To this day Miss America contestants are kept on the straight and narrow and no potential contestant would think seriously about posing nude.
Jazz singer Ann Richards was married to Stan Kenton and released five albums between 1958 and 1964 including one with Kenton in 1961 called "It's Ann, Man!" She was a good singer if not a great one. She appeared nude in the June 1961 issue of "Playboy." Of course, she gave consent to the photos and was paid for them. But she paid dearly and her decision to appear in "Playboy" pretty much destroyed her singing career. She was never taken seriously again. Kenton and Richards split that same year. Ann Richards committed suicide by shooting herself in April 1982. She was just 46 years old. Yes, it was a different time back then but a certain social propriety still applies, and a female jazz singer today would be crazy to appear nude in a men's magazine or make nude photos available online.
Mike is a first-time trivia winner and three jazz CDs are on the way to him. Here's the running 2015 tally: West River 66, East River 49, Florida 6, Iowa 4, Nebraska 3, Texas 2, Georgia 1.
EDITORIAL COMMENT ON "UGLY BETTY": Yes, Vanessa Williams is a strikingly beautiful woman. But if you've watched "Ugly Betty" you know or should know that Betty was truly the beautiful one (as portrayed by actress America Ferrara). Betty was not ugly. They tried to make Betty ugly by having her wear glasses, putting braces on her teeth, and thickening her eyebrows. So when does that make a young woman ugly? That's absurd. Guys with sensitivity and discernment who watched the show knew Betty was the beautiful one. So America--if you're out there in cyberland--Jimmo says you're beautiful!!!
NEW RELEASES FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 20, 2015. All plays are reported to the "Jazz Week" national chart service.
Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra (with special guest Doc Severinsen)--"Primetime" Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra Music
Mark Winkler--"Jazz and Other Four Letter Words" Cafe Pacific Records
Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra--"Dee Dee's Feathers" Okeh Records
Cecile McLorin Salvant--"For One To Love" Mack Avenue Records
Molly Ryan (featuring Dick Hyman)--"Let's Fly Away" Loup-Garous Productions
Mitchel Forman Trio--"Puzzle" BFM Jazz
THE TOP 50 RECEIVING AIRPLAY THIS WEEK (in no particular order):
The Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra--"Joyful Noise: The Music of Horace Silver" Southpatch Music
The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band--"Holmes" Tapestry Records
Steve Washington (featuring the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra)--"Right To Love" ManDora Records
Mark Christian Miller--"Crazy Moon" Sliding Jazz Door Productions
Kait Dunton--"Trio Kat" Real and Imagined Music
Dion Parson and the 21st Century Band--"St. Thomas" United Jazz International
Candice Hoyes--"On a Turquoise Cloud" U.O.J. Productions
Ramsey Lewis and his Electric Band--"Taking Another Look" Ramsey's House Records
George Cables--"In Good Company" High Note Records
Heads of State (Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams, Al Foster)--"Search For Peace" Smoke Sessions Records
Corbin Andrick--"Olmstead's Whistle" Corbin Andrick Music
Adrian Cunningham--"Ain't That Right! The Music of Neal Hefti" Arbors Records
Lee Smith--"My Kind of Blues" Vectordisc Records
Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra--"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" Blujazz Productions
Linda Dachtyl--"A Late One" Chicken Coup Records
Columbia College Jazz Ensemble of Chicago--"Columbia College Jazz Ensemble" Columbia College Jazz Ensemble Music
Jim Martinez--"Good Grief! It's Still Jim Martinez--A Tribute to Guaraldi, Schulz, and Peanuts" Invisible Touch Music
Antonio Adolfo--"Tema" AAM Music
Charlie Dennard--"5 O'Clock Charlie" Charlie Dennard Music
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet--"Intercambio" Patois Records
Bob Mintzer Big Band--"Get Up!" MCG Jazz (Manchester Craftsmen's Guild)
The Jazz Professors--"En Plein Air--The Jazz Professors Play Monet" Flying Horse Records
The Flying Horse Big Band (Jeff Rupert, director)--"Into the Mystic" Flying Horse Records
Charenee Wade--"Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson" Motema Music
Maria Schneider Orchestra--"The Thompson Fields" Artist Share Records
Kurt Elling--"Passion World" Concord Records
Steve Kaldestad--"New York Afternoon" Cellar Live Records
Jeb Patton--"Shades and Tones" Cellar Live Records
Halie Loren--" Butterfly Blue" Justin Time Records
The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble--"Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland" Planet Arts
The Montgomery, Hermann, Quinlan Sextet--"Hear, Here" Summit Records
Vincent Herring--"Night and Day" Smoke Sessions Records
Cyrus Chestnut--"A Million Colors In Your Mind" High Note Records
The Dan Brubeck Quartet--"Live from the Cellar: Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck" Blue Forest Records
Eugenie Jones--"Come Out Swinging" Open Mic Records
Pat Bianchi Trio--"A Higher Standard" Pat Bianchi Music
Steve Wilkerson--"Alone Together" Steve Wilkerson Music
Cory Weeds--"Condition Blue--The Music of Jackie McLean" Cellar Live Records
Chris McNulty--"Eternal" Palmetto Records
Mary Stallings--"Feelin' Good" High Note Records
Royce Campbell--"Romancing the Tone" Moon Cycle Records
Harold Mabern (with vocalists Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit, Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, and Alexis Cole)--"Afro Blue" Smoke Sessions Records
John Fedchock Quartet--"Fluidity (Live)" Summit Records
Beegie Adair--"The Good Life: A Jazz Piano Tribute to Tony Bennett" Green Hill Productions
Dave Stryker--"Messin' with Mister T" Strikezone Records
Eliane Elias--"Made in Brazil" Concord Records
Kenny G--"Brazilian Nights" Concord Records
Russell Malone--"Love Looks Good On You" High Note Records
Ernestine Anderson--"Ernestine Anderson Swings the Penthouse (Seattle, 1962)" High Note Records
George Gee Swing Orchestra--"Swing Makes You Happy!" Rondette Jazz
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Welcome to the House of Jim (All you can eat Chinese buffet for $9.95 including unlimited egg rolls and won ton/egg drop soup. Soft drinks are free (I have no liquor license) but dessert will cost you extra. Kids under 14 eat for $5.95.
TONIGHT ON THE BIG BROADCAST...KENNY BURRELL AND NANCY WILSON
During the third hour I'll once again be featuring my main man Kenny Burrell, the bluesiest and most groovin' guitar man on the planet. Kenny came out of Detroit in the mid-1950's. He made his first recordings with Dizzy Gillespie while still in the Motor City in 1951. After touring with Oscar Peterson he moved to New York permanently in 1956 and was quickly signed to the Blue Note label. And he's been recording prolifically ever since. As a group leader Kenny has recorded close to 70 albums (but who's counting at this point?). As a sideman he's recorded with just about everyone--the big jazz stars are just too numerous to mention--he's been on hundreds of releases over the decades. Last night I featured Kenny on Blossom Dearie's 1959 Verve release, "Blossom Dearie Sings Betty Comden and Adolph Green (with Blossom on vocals and piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums). Kenny is the sole surviving member of that quartet. He will celebrate his 84th birthday on July 31st.
I have mentioned this in the past so I won't belabor the point but why Kenny Burrell is not in the "Down Beat" magazine Hall of Fame totally baffles me. He didn't even turn up on the critics ballot this year. What do you have to do? Kenny has only been recording for more than 60 years. The criteria for those being considered for the DB Hall of Fame seems totally subjective, capricious, and somewhat mysterious--not much more than a superficial popularity contest. Most if not all of the DB Hall of Famers are deserving of the honor. But there are many omissions. Based on their contributions to jazz and their longevity there are a bunch of people who should be inducted collectively by the readers and/or critics. In addition to Burrell, this group includes musicians who are still living--Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes, Curtis Fuller, Doc Severinsen, Phil Woods, Ramsey Lewis, Tony Bennett, and Nancy Wilson, Jack Sheldon. There are others who have departed who should also be in--Marian McPartland, Cedar Walton, Art Farmer, Chet Baker, Hank Mobley, Red Garland, Bobby Timmons, Mel Torme, Carmen McRae, June Christy, Chris Connor, the classic 50's Four Freshmen, and a few others. Jimi Hendrix (??) and Frank Zappa (??) are in the DB Hall of Fame but these other legends are not. It makes no sense to me.
Legendary bluesman Muddy Waters was elected by the critics to the DB Hall of Fame this year (announced in the August issue). B.B. King, who passed away a few weeks ago, was elected last year. There should be a separate blues wing in the DB Hall of Fame (of equal status to the jazz musicians) and perhaps a "Beyond Category" Hall of Fame group which includes musicians who are neither jazz or blues (Hendrix, Zappa). You cannot put someone like Duke Ellington in the same group with Muddy Waters, B.B. King, or Frank Zappa. It's like comparing apples and oranges.
A WOMAN WITH CLASSIC CLASS...
Nancy Wilson retired from performing and recording about four years ago. She came out of Columbus, Ohio and at the suggestion of Cannonball Adderley relocated to New York in the late 1950's. Within four weeks of her arrival she got her first big break when she was called to fill in for Irene Reid at the Blue Morocco club. She was soon booked on a permanent basis, singing four nights a week and then working as a secretary during the day. Nancy was signed by Capitol Records in 1960 and shortly thereafter had her first hit with "Guess Who I Saw Today?" Based on the strength of that song Capitol released five Nancy Wilson albums between April 1960 and July 1962. Throughout the 60's she alternated between jazz singing and contemporary middle-of-the road music. Every recording Nancy has done has been total class. There have been a couple of recent versions of "Guess Who I Saw Today" by female singers (I won't name them), and they both fell completely flat. It seems only Nancy can do justice to that song. Of course, the tune is about a wife who is betrayed by her husband (who meets his lover at a fancy French cafe and bar). Nancy communicates shock at the affair, a touch of sarcasm ("Did you get caught in the rain, did you miss your train?"), and a sense of cool, icy irony at the betrayal. Only at the end of the song does the betrayed wife divulge to her hubby that she spotted him with the other woman ("Guess who I saw today? I saw YOU!"). Somehow we know this marriage is headed for divorce court. I'll finish the show with this 1960 Nancy Wilson classic, a kind of "Mad Men" time capsule from the betrayed wife's perspective. The husbands play around, the wives get hurt. But maybe they get even in the end (can you say alimony?).
The only other song I can think of in which there is only one definitive version by a female singer is Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" by Leiber and Stoller, recorded in 1969. Again, I've heard a couple of other singers do it and they simply needn't have bothered. Peggy brings a certain cool, detached, existential irony to the song which is hers alone--"Is that all there is to love? To life? Is that all there is?" If so, "Let's break out the booze and have a ball."
BOB DOLE...OR IS IT BOBDOLE?
Hello Texas! Hello Dallas! Or in the words of Conway Twitty: "Hello Darlin!"
Susan Varble of Dallas, Texas (The Big D in the Lone Star State) correctly guessed during trivia last night that Bob Dole's hometown is Russell, Kansas, a small town in the center of the state. Mr. Dole celebrated his 92nd birthday yesterday.
Dole has always been very loyal to his hometown and still has a residence there. Dole left Russell to join the Army and was severely wounded in Italy during the closing days of World War II. He suffered massive injuries and his rehabilitation took years to complete. He was never able to regain full use of his right arm. After he was discharged from the hospital Dole put his life back together and graduated from college and then law school. Dole is a case study of rising through the ranks in politics. At the age of 27 in 1950 he was elected to the Kansas state house of representatives and then spent the rest of the 1950's as a county prosecuting attorney in Russell. Dole served in Congress in the House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969. He served in the Senate from 1969 until he resigned in the early summer of 1996 in the midst of his losing presidential campaign against Bill Clinton. Dole was Gerald Ford's Republican vice presidential nominee in 1976. Before becoming the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, Dole made losing runs for the Republican nomination in 1980 and again in 1988. He served as Senate majority leader from 1985 to 1987 and again from 1995 to 1996. He was Senate minority leader in from 1987 to 1995. He served on powerful Senate committees from the 1970's until his retirement. He also was the chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973 and was involved in the unpleasant task of defending Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Dole is the only person in the history of the two major U.S. political parties to have have been a party's nominee for both president and vice president but who was never elected to either office. Today Dole is known as Mr. Republican and enjoys a reputation as a respected elder statesman. Since his 1996 defeat by Clinton he has been active on many fronts, serving as co-chair of a commission to investigate problems at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an active fundraiser for a World War II memorial in Washington D.C., and a lawyer at a prominent Washington law firm. The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics is housed at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and was established to bring bipartisanship back into politics...obviously something that we sorely need today. Dole has been married twice. In 1975 he married Elizabeth Hanford, a cabinet member in the Gerald Ford administration and later U.S. Senator from North Carolina.
Susan Varble says she was traveling across South Dakota and stopped by Mount Rushmore when she turned the JN program on and thus became hooked on trivia. Susan is my first Dallas, TX winner. I had another Texas winner earlier this year...Jackie...but she's from Houston. San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Lubbock have yet to call. Here's the running 2015 trivia tally: West River 66, East River 48, Florida 6, Iowa 4, Nebraska 3, Texas 2, Georgia 1.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
JUST IN TO THE JAZZ DESK...THE JAZZ NERVE CENTER OF SOUTH DAKOTA...
Two state of the art jazz releases--The Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra with special guest Doc Severinsen--"Prime Time" (Alan Baylock Music). Alan is the arranger and composed four of the tunes on this recording. The Good Doctor is the guest star and at age 87 is in fine form. Doc is featured on three tracks--"I Want To Be Happy," "September Song," and "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" (playing flugelhorn). Baylock is a young cat and most of the members of his 19-piece band are also young cats. In addition to the Baylock songs there's a version of Eddie Harris's "Cold Duck Time," and an eleven and a half minute version of The Beatles' "Hey Jude." Doc sounds strong and looks good. Too bad Johnny, Ed, and Tommy Newsom are not around. They would have enjoyed this recording.
Cecile McLorin Salvant--"For One To Love" (Mack Avenue Records). Cecile is one of the hottest female singers in jazz right now and probably the one getting the most attention. She was on the cover of "Down Beat" last year and just won the DB critics poll for best female jazz singer (this is tough to figure out--Cecile got over 250 votes, Mary Stallings only 22). Anyway, Cecile is one of the up and coming young singers at age 24 and she sings true jazz--not some hybrid of jazz-pop/jazz-funk/jazz-rock/or jazz-hip-hop. Cecile composed five of the songs here. There are also versions of Burt Bacharach/Hal David's "Wives and Lovers"; "The Trolley Song" (made famous by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie "Meet Me in St. Louis"); "Something's Coming" (by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim from "West Side Story"); and a very obscure Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein song called "Stepsisters' Lament." On this recording Cecile is working in the trio format with Aaron Diehl on piano, Paul Sikivie on bass, and Lawrence Leathers on drums.
COUNT BASIE FOREVER!!!
Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra. Perfecto!!! Diane recorded her album with the Basie band (under the direction of Frank Foster) in 1987. It was recorded at a venue somewhere in New York or LA and Diane and the band blew the roof off the joint. She won a Grammy for best jazz vocal performance by a female singer as a result of this recording the following year. It was completely deserved. Diane...if you're out there in cyberland...record another CD with Scotty Barnhart and the current Basie band because it's long overdue. Love ya Deedles!
TONIGHT ON THE BIG BROADCAST...BOBBY HACKETT...NOT BUDDY HACKETT...
Tonight I'll be bringing back trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Hackett whose career spanned from the 1930's until his death in 1976. Bobby was associated with traditional Dixieland jazz and Bix Beiderbecke was a huge influence. But Bobby played all kinds of styles--trad/swing/straight ahead/and easy listening. Benny Goodman hired him to recreate Bix's famous "I'm Coming Home Virginia" solo at Benny's famed Carnegie Hall concert in 1938. By the late 30's Bobby was playing in Vic Schoen's Orchestra and backing the Andrews Sisters. There was a failed attempted at leading a big band (it went under financially leaving Bobby with a huge debt), and then Glenn Miller hired him in the early 40's. Bobby appeared on Glenn's 1941 hit, "A String of Pearls," and also on "Rhapsody in Blue" in 1942. A career highlight was appearing in Louis Armstrong's 1947 Town Hall concert in New York. He also played on two Frank Sinatra singles in 1947. But Bobby was probably best known for playing the cornet on seven albums by the Jackie Gleason Orchestra in the 1950's on Capitol Records. These were "mood music" albums by the Great One and they were extremely popular. Gleason basically fronted the band, made a few musical suggestions, and passed out the checks. The first album, "Music For Lovers Only," was released in 1952 and stayed on the Billboard album chart for three years. The first ten Gleason albums all sold over a million copies. This was music for the adult cocktail set, not for the teenagers who were listening to Elvis and ushering in the era of rock 'n roll. The Gleason albums remained popular well into the 1960's. Nearly all of the Gleason albums on Capitol are still available and have been re-released on CD. They remain a collector's item for discerning hipsters sipping their highballs and those who want to remember an era long passed. In the mid-1960's Bobby Hackett toured with Tony Bennett and also in this period performed and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie. He also did shows with singer Teresa Brewer. Apart from the Gleason albums, Hackett recorded a total of 29 albums as a leader from 1950 to 1970. Tonight I'll be featuring selections featuring the Bobby Hackett Sextet and Quintet--recordings made between 1962 and 1970 with Bob Wilbur on clarinet, Urbie Green on trombone, Vic Dickenson on trombone, and Dave McKenna on piano. Also I'll be playing cuts from live recordings Bobby made at the Roosevelt Grill in New York in 1970. Bobby Hackett was a native of Providence, Rhode Island. He died of a heart attack on June 7, 1976 at the age of 61. In 2012, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.
Tonight I'll also be bringing back Blossom Dearie, the hip singer with the little girl voice. Yes, that was her real name. There was no singer remotely like Miss Blossom. She sounded like a five year old girl (okay, maybe eight) but her ballads were poignant and the uptempo numbers always swung. Blossom was also a fine pianist and always accompanied herself on her recordings. She got her start in the mid-1940's as a part of Woody Herman's vocal group, The Blue Flames, and later sang with The Blue Rey's (Alvino Rey's band) before starting her solo career. In 1952, she moved to Paris and formed a vocal group-- The Blue Stars of France--which included a young Bob Dorough and Christine Legrand, Michel's sister. The Blue Stars would later evolved into a better known vocal group, The Swingle Singers. Also in 1952 she recorded a version of "Moody's Mood for Love" with King Pleasure. By 1956 Blossom was back in the states and recorded her first album on Verve Records the following year. Blossom later recorded for Capitol Records and Fontana Records before forming her own label, Dafodil Records, in which she released 15 of her own albums. Two of her early champions were Dave Garroway, the original host of the "Today Show" (1952-1961), and Jack Paar, the host of the "Tonight Show" (1957-1962). Miss Blossom wrote many of her own songs and became a decades-long fixture on the New York jazz club and supper club scene. She also did regular gigs at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London. Blossom continued to perform in clubs until 2006. Among her most requested songs were Dave Frishberg compositions--"Peel Me a Grape," "I'm Hip," and "Quality Time." Blossom passed away on February 7, 2009 in Greenwich Village New York at the age of 84. She appeared as a solo singer on at least 27 albums and her voice was included on many other anthology albums featuring other artists which spotlighted the work of a specific songwriter.
As I said, there was absolutely nobody like Blossom Dearie. Back in the glory days at WNEW Radio in New York the music hosts played her songs, and that's where I heard her first. My first thought was "This is very unusual!" But I dug her from the very beginning. Tonight I'll be playing selections from a great 1959 recording on Verve-- "Blossom Dearie Sings Betty Comden and Adolph Green." Comden and Green, of course, were master lyricists and this vocal album has New Yawk written all over it. Just great songs by such composers as Jule Styne, Leonard Bernstein, and Andre Previn. Blossom plays piano with my main man Kenny Burrell on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums. It's simply excellent! Kenny Burrell is the sole surviving member of this 1959 session. He will celebrate his 84th birthday on July 31st. Betty Comden passed in 2006 at the age of 89. Adolph Green died in 2002 at age 87.
THE SCOPES MONKEY TRIAL....
On July 21, 1925--90 years ago yesterday--public high school teacher John Scopes was found guilty of violating Tennessee's Butler Act. He was fined $100. The verdict was later overturned on a technicality. Jim Pearson of Yankton, SD correctly guessed during trivia last night that Scopes's "crime" was teaching evolution in a state-funded school.
The Scopes Monkey Trial was one of the most celebrated court trials in America during the 20th century. It raised issues which are still being debated today--namely whether "creationism" should be taught side by side with the science of evolution in public schools. The trial publicized the "Fundamentalist-Modernist" controversy. In short, modernists said the teaching of Charles Darwin's doctrine of evolution is not inconsistent with religion. Fundamentalists contend that the word of God as revealed in the Bible is the only source of truth regarding the creation of humankind.
The Scopes Monkey Trial took place in Dayton, Tennessee. It was intended as a test case by the American Civil Liberties Union to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools. Scopes' defense was led by the legendary criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow. The prosecution was led by William Jennings Bryan--the prairie populist from Nebraska, the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in 1896, 1900, and 1908, and President Wilson's first secretary of state. By all objective measurements Darrow demolished Bryan's arguments completely. The Scopes Monkey Trial became a media circus. More than 200 newspaper reporters from all across the country attended as well as two reporters from London, England. Trained chimpanzees performed on the courthouse lawn. WGN Radio in Chicago broadcast the trial--the first of its kind in the infancy of radio broadcasting-- and the spectacle captivated the attention of the American public. The town fathers of Dayton wanted the trial in their town to attract publicity and drum up business and they succeeded. Dayton was also the home of Bryan. The bitingly sarcastic newspaper columnist H.R. Mencken attended and he didn't bother with the niceties--calling the town's citizens "yokels" and "morons" and Bryan a "buffoon." The press coverage of the trial gave credence to the teaching of evolution in schools and basically denigrated religious-based opposition to it. The temperature in summertime Dayton was absolutely stifling. The trial and Darrow's unrelenting cross examination damaged the public credibility of Bryan, whose belief in fundamentalism was more complex than has generally been understood. Bryan was considered to be basically a pacifist, and he believed that the "only the strong survive" and "might makes right" doctrine of evolution corrupted human morality. Five days after the conclusion of the trial Bryan died in his sleep at his home in Dayton at age 65. In the 1950's the Scopes Monkey Trial was turned into a play-- "Inherit the Wind"--based loosely on the trial and with fictional title characters. It was made into a movie in 1960 starring Spencer Tracy as the Darrow character and Fredric March as the Bryan character.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
I hope by now you have forgiven my motor mouth Top 40 DJ rant during trivia at about 8:45 p.m. central time last night introducing "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris. I just couldn't help myself. Yes, I did play "MacArthur Park" at my first radio station in American Samoa circa 1970-71: "It's Jumpin' Jimmy on the Big 1230 AM, WILT, the 50-watt powerhouse in Tafuna, baby...and now for all you cats and kitties in Nu'uli and Coconut Point, Number One this week on the Coconut Hit Parade, "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, baby!!!"
At that point I wasn't quite ready for the WABC Radio Top 40 gig in New York. Needless to say, I never made it to the Big Apple. Cousin Brucie had nothing to fear.
The Truth: I did play "MacArthur Park" by Mr. Harris and several other selections from his 1968 album "A Tramp Shining" (and the follow-up, "The Yard Went On Forever"), but I wasn't good enough back then even to be a Top 40 motor mouth. I'm not sure I was good enough to sweep the studio after the real DJs were through. I talked a lot on the air though (still do). Back then I was still an earnest and very immature radio broadcaster urging people to drive carefully on the roadways (this was on an island where the speed limit was 30 miles per hour). However, this was probably a good idea because there were a lot of drivers on the road under the influence of Hamms beer. And it is true that I was all-over-the-road--playing songs from Steppenwolf, Andy Williams, B.J. Thomas, and Moby Grape in succession. Uh, it was free-form radio back then. Didn't know much about the radio game as a teenager but it was a good start. Not sure I know much about it now, probably not a lot.
There were no repercussions when I came into work this afternoon for "breaking format" last night (what is the format?), so it looks like I still have a job.
TONIGHT ON THE BIG BROADCAST...
More groovy sounds from the Count Basie Orchestra. It's Basie, baby!!!
I'll finish the show with Diane Schuur from her terrific 1987 live album with the Basie band led by Frank Foster. It was released on GRP Records and the following year it won Diane the Grammy for best jazz vocal for a female singer. Sadly, it was the last recording by Basie's great long-time guitarist Freddie Green, who died a week after the session. For some reason there's no information on where the live recording took place and the venue, but I'm sure it had to be New York or LA.
SOMEONE LEFT THE CAKE OUT IN THE RAIN...
Rod Lefholz of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia last night that the original singer of "MacArthur Park" was none other than British actor Richard Harris. A jazz vocal version of the song has just been released by Steve Washington on his CD "Right To Love." "MacArthur Park" was written by Jimmy Webb in the summer and fall of 1967. Harris recorded it in late December of that year. It was released in April of 1968 and by June it had gone to #2 on the Billboard pop chart. It was everywhere on the radio that year and still turns up from time to time on oldies radio stations today. It was Harris's first pop recording and appeared on the album "A Tramp Shining" (originally released on Dunhill Records). All of the songs on the album were Jimmy Webb originals. The album was nominated for a Grammy in 1969. A follow-up album, "The Yard Went On Forever," was also released in 1968, and this also contained Jimmy Webb songs. I'd say Jim Webb must have had a rather large backyard or else he was exaggerating.
"MacArthur Park" is one of those songs that you love or absolutely hate. I would say most people hate it or at least don't take it seriously. However, somebody must have liked it because it went to #2 in the summer of '68. The song has been covered and spoofed by numerous singers and comedians over the years. Some serious music critics loved it; others felt it was artsy, pretentious, and spacy. In the early 1990's newspaper humorist Dave Barry polled his readers and "MacArthur Park" was voted the worst song ever recorded--the worst overall song with the worst lyrics. Well, you can't please everybody.
Webb has stated that everything in the song is true--somebody did leave a cake out in the rain in MacArthur Park, there were old men playing checkers by the trees, and his girlfriend was wearing a yellow cotton dress. So take your pick--the song is eloquent and heartfelt...or just a little too over-the-top.
Here's one man's opinion: I think "MacArthur Park" is a great song but I'm not above making jokes about it (as I proved last night). The song was a follow-up to Webb's huge 1967 hit for Glen Campbell, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Webb would shortly go on to write the hits "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston' for Campbell. Webb says he wrote "MacArthur Park" as a wistful recollection about the breakup with his girlfriend. "MacArthur Park" is a real park in LA, and Webb and his former significant other spent many a delightful day there until it all went south (I guess he split for Phoenix). Webb wrote the song as an extended cantata and first brought it to the attention of the pop group The Association. They considered too complex to record and passed. Harris, who recorded the vocal soundtrack to "Camelot" the year before (he portrayed King Arthur in the 1967 film), agreed to see what he could do with it. The track was laid down in late 1967 with members of the famed LA studio group "The Wrecking Crew" backing Harris on vocals and Webb played harpsichord.
In addition to "MacArthur Park" on "A Tramp Shining" there were a number of other great songs on the album including "Didn't We" (later recorded by a number of vocalists including Frank Sinatra); "Lovers Such As I"; "Name of My Sorrow"; "In the Final Hours"; and the title cut, "A Tramp Shining." I played 'em all during my days at WILT Radio. A follow-up album was also released in 1968 called "The Yard Went On Forever" and this also contained a number of Jimmy Webb songs. The title cut was quite moving. Why "MacArthur Park" rises above pop schlock are the complex arrangements, a serious poetic sensibility, and Harris's British actor sophistication. His singing is detached yet passionate, wistful and poignant. Simply put, there was nothing like it on radio in 1968. The song goes seven and a half minutes. The rule for AM Top 40 and middle-of--the road radio stations in those days was that no hit went over three and a half minutes. The only other Top 40 hit of that year that went over seven minutes was The Beatles' "Hey Jude," which went to #1 for several weeks in the late summer and early fall of 1968.
"MacArthur Park" was covered by the Four Tops in 1971 and then Donna Summer did a disco version and took it all the way to #1 in 1978. Maynard Ferguson recorded a nine minute version of the song in London in 1970. The song has remained in the music book of high school and college bands for decades.
Harris recorded twelve albums during his career. "A Tramp Shining" was his first pop album and recorded when he was 37 years old. He was much better known as an actor. In addition to his role as King Arthur in "Camelot," he appeared in such films as "This Sporting Life"; "A Man Called Horse"; "Unforgiven" (with Clint Eastwood); "Gladiator"; and two of the Harry Potter films. He was known as a wild party animal in the 60's and 70's because of his addiction to booze which he finally kicked. Harris died of Hodgkins disease on October 25, 2002 at the age of 72.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Good day music lovers...It's the start of another workin' week... and to cop the title of an old Beach Boys greatest hits album from the 70's, it seems like an "Endless Summer" (except it's not--it will all be over by the third week of September in these parts). "Endless Summer" was also the title of a 1966 surf movie. As I was telling Brian Wilson just the other day, Vermillion is a lonely town when you're the only surfer boy around. I'm still looking for my surfer girl.
It was good to see all of you at "Jazz Fest" at the second stage on Saturday. To kick things off there was a great performance by the "Jazz Fest" Jazz Camp Band (youngsters on the junior high and high school level--some of them looked to be in the 6th or 7th grade). As I said in my introduction, these kids are the future of jazz. These kids will be playing and listening to jazz well into the second half of the 21st century. Some of them will be around as the century closes. Think about that for a second. Not all of these youngsters will major in music in college and some may not even go to college. But it is my hope they'll keep playing music well into adulthood and be jazz lovers for the rest of their lives. These young jazzers were super, and I especially enjoyed their version of Count Basie's "Reminiscin'," a hard tune to play.
Hats off to guest clinician, trumpeter Allen Vizzutti, as well as the other local musicians and jazz educators--Mark Isackson, Jim McKinney, and Dr. Paul Schilf. Paul is the director of jazz bands at Augustana College, Mark is the assistant jazz director, and Jim is former director of bands at South Dakota State University. Mark and Jim are regular jazz performers on the Sioux Falls jazz scene. To me the "Jazz Fest" Jazz Camp Band performance is the best thing about the yearly "Jazz Fest." Congrats to the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society for making all of this all possible.
There were also great performances on the second stage on Saturday from the Chris Borchardt band, the Steve Raybine band from Omaha, and local South Dakota legend Hank Harris on guitar and vocal (with Jeremy Hegg on keyboard and Jimmy Goings on drums). The Borachardt and Raybine performances were recorded by Skip Gerard of Ragtime Studios in Sioux Falls and they'll be made available to me to play in a few weeks on my South Dakota Jazz Stars segments on Monday and Thursday nights.
The weather at "Jazz Fest" did not fully cooperate this year. A violent windstorm suddenly came through on Friday night and the big tent over the second stage literally blew away in a matter of seconds. The main headliner on Friday, Boz Scaggs, went on early and cut his performance to five songs before he was forced by the weather to end it (he apparently did not do "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle"). Maybe Boz can return next year or at some point in the near future. The hot sun made it uncomfortable for folks hearing the music on the main and second stages Saturday but everybody seemed to have a good time. Lottsa beer and lemonade was sold.
Thanks music lovers for your kind comments--especially the young folks I met--and thanks for taking all those jazz CDs off my hands. I hope to do it again next year.
TONIGHT ON THE BIG BROADCAST...THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET AND THE DAN BRUBECK QUARTET...
The classic Dave Brubeck Quartet from the 1950's and 1960's will return during the third hour tonight--Dave on piano, Paul Desmond on alto sax, Gene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello on drums. The 70-year old love story between Dave and Iola Brubeck is well-known. Dave passed in December of 2012 just before his 92nd birthday. Iola passed away in March of last year. Son Chris has released a new recording in tribute to his parents--"Live from the Cellar: The Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck" (Blue Forest Records). The live recording was made in August of 2013 at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, British Columbia. The personnel on this recording are Dan Brubeck on drums, Adam Thomas on bass and vocals, Steve Kaldestad on sax, and Tony Foster on drums. The new release received a four star rating in the August issue of "Down Beat" magazine, and I'll be playing selections from it to end the show tonight.
SOMEONE LEFT THE CAKE OUT IN THE RAIN...
Trivia tonight will concern a new jazz vocal version of a 1968 hit that went to #2 on the pop chart in June of that year. The song is unusual for a number of reasons. It was the first pop recording for the original singer and he was 37 years old when it became a hit. The song was played on Top 40 and middle-of-the-road AM radio stations throughout the country and it went a full seven minutes. This was during a time when a pop hit could not go more than three and a half minutes. The only other song in 1968 that went seven minutes and became a Top 40 #1 hit was The Beatles' "Hey Jude." The lyrics of the song that I'll play tonight were considered spacy and even loopy--"someone left the cake out in the rain...and I'll never have that recipe again." It was a song you either loved or hated--there was no middle ground. The song was lampooned a number of times by singers and comedians in the years that followed. The singer was famous and gifted in another artistic field and was known as somewhat of a wild man with a definite problem with the bottle. Two famous and successful versions of this song were later recorded-- one by a disco singer in the 70's and another also in the 70's by a famous big band leader. Love it or hate it, the song is unusual and it's a kind of cultural snapshot of the late 60's. My judgment: I like the song and the singer. I played this song at my first radio station in Samoa in the early 70's and also some of the singer's other songs. His first two pop albums were titled "A Tramp Shining" and "The Yard Went On Forever."
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured at the usual time tonight--9:30ish central and 8:30ish mountain daylight swingin'. I'll be featuring the Chris Borchardt band from "Jazz Fest" in 2012. I also received some CDs from Steve Raybine on Saturday and I'll be playing a couple of selections (he's my honorary South Dakota Jazz Star). Finally, I'll be featuring a song from Kathy Kosins' performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls back in April.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
To all the East River music lovers and Sioux Fallers...hope to see you at "Jazz Fest" at Yankton Trail Park on Saturday afternoon. Most of the time I'll be lurking behind the second stage. Come up and mingle. I'm bringing a couple of boxes of my finest CDs from the extra pile (some good stuff) and it's first come, first serve for y'all.
To all the rest of our loyal "Jazz Nightly" contingent: Stay cool and stay mellow and I'll be back at my usual place on Monday night.
Coming up on Monday night's show during the third hour--once again the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I'll finish the program with selections from the new recording by the Dan Brubeck Quartet--"Live from the Cellar: The Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck." It's a live recording made a couple of years ago at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, B.C. Dan--the devoted son--is the drummer and group leader, and bassist Adam Thomas provides the vocals. This new recording just got a four star review in the latest issue of "Down Beat" magazine.
For trivia Monday night I'll be playing a new jazz vocal version of a hit from the late 1960's and ask you to name the original artist. Then I'll play the original vocal version and follow it up with a well-known instrumental version of the song. CLUE: If I knew you were coming I would have baked a cake but wouldn't leave it out in the rain.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured at the usual time--9:30ish central/8:30 mountain daylight swingin' time. And as usual I'll be playing the best of the new releases.
HERE'S THE LINEUP FOR "JAZZ FEST" TODAY:
"Jazzed" with Bobby Gripp 12 noon
Jazz Fest Jazz Camp Band with trumpeter Allen Vizzutti 1:30 p.m.
Alicia Olatuja 3 p.m.
Slim Man 4:30 p.m.
The Record Company 6 p.m.
Galactic 8 p.m.
Grace Potter 10 p.m.
Jazz Fest Jazz Camp Band with trumpeter Allen Vizzutti 12 noon
Chris Borchardt Band 1:15 p.m.
Vibist Steve Raybine and His Band 3 p.m.
Hank Harris and Guests 4:30 p.m.
Work of Wolves 6 p.m.
El Dub 7:30 p.m.
Dino Basic and Philly Fate 9:15 p.m.
More jazz Saturday night at Paramount in downtown Sioux Falls with drummer Bobby Gripp and guitarist Randy Royer from 8 to 11 p.m.
On the other side of the state... at the Spearfish Festival in the Park today the J.D. Fiedler Jazz Trio will perform at the Watering Hole Beer Garden from 1 to 3 p.m. Admission to the festival is free.
FRANK AND CHRISSIE...
It was pretty much Sinatra night last night on JN with Frank being featured during his days with Tommy Dorsey and then some classic 50's tracks to finish the show. During the first hour I played three selections from Frank's final recording made in 1993, "Duets II." Terry Murray of Rosebud, SD correctly guessed the vocalist on the first song as rock star Chrissie Hynde--founder and lead singer of The Pretenders. Francis and Christine sang the Frank Loesser classic from "Guys and Dolls," "Luck Be a Lady."
You wouldn't think Frank and Chrissie singing together would work. But both had sass, both had swagger, and the tune fairly jumped and crackled. "Duets II," released on Capitol Records in 1994, was Frank's 59th and last studio recording. His voice had seen much better days but the swagger was still there. "Duets I" was released the previous year and landed almost immediately at the top of the Billboard album chart and sold well. On both albums Frank and his duet partner did not record together--Frank laid his track down and then went golfing. The duet partner then laid down his or her track. I don't know if Frank even had a chance to meet most of those who appeared on the two CDs. As a result some of the chemistry was lost. But everybody knew that these were Frank's last recordings and they wanted desperately to become part of them. Among the singers on "Duets I" were Tony Bennett (good friends but their first pairing on an album); Aretha Franklin; Barbara Streisand; Natalie Cole; Luther Vandross; Carly Simon; Julio Iglesias; and Gloria Estefan. In addition to Hynde on "Duets II," other singers included Stevie Wonder; Linda Ronstadt; Antonio Carlos Jobim; Willie Nelson; Neil Diamond; Lena Horne; Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme; and Frank Sinatra Jr.
Friday, July 17, 2015
In the words of the great jazz and blues singer/shouter Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson: HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, DON' CHA GO NOWHERE! Now that I've got your attention I feel obligated to hold it right there for a couple of minutes.
"Somebody call the cops. There's loud Tommy Dorsey music coming from Apartment 1243A at the Oprah Sunnyside Apartments in Vermillion, west side. I think a cat by the name of Jimmo lives there."
TOMMY DORSEY, FRANK SINATRA, AND BUDDY MORROW...
I'll be playing music from Tommy, Francis, and Buddy during the third hour of tonight's show. Along with the big bands of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Glenn Miller, Tommy led America's top flight big band starting in the mid 1930's and it lasted until his untimely death at age 51 in November of 1956. The Dorsey band was a great band in all respects and if its songs are not as memorable as Glenn Miller's, the musicianship in Tommy's group was simply excellent. In fact, Dorsey's band gave many young musicians their start --many of them became jazz legends or at least well-known and respected figures: Buddy Rich, Buddy DeFranco, Louie Bellson, Bunny Berrigan, Jess Stacy, Joe Bushkin, Doc Severinsen, Charlie Shavers, and Ziggy Elman. Then there were the arrangers--Sy Oliver, Paul Weston, Axel Stordahl, Nelson Riddle, and Bill Finegan. Tommy created the Pied Pipers singing group in the late 30's with the wonderful Jo Stafford. Young Frank Sinatra joined the band after leaving Harry James in early 1940. Although Frank stayed with Dorsey for only about two and a half years, his time in the band was well-spent and he became a star. After he left he became a superstar. Frank claimed that he learned about breath control and phrasing from the way Tommy played the trombone. Sinatra recorded 80 songs with Dorsey. The Dorsey-Sinatra relationship did not end well because Tommy made it extremely difficult for Frank to get out of his contract when he decided to go solo in mid-1942. If you believe published reports Frank did not attend Tommy's funeral in 1956. However, he later recorded an album titled "I Remember Tommy." Dick Haymes, another gifted and now neglected singer, replaced Sinatra in the Dorsey band. Another prominent male vocalist in the Dorsey band before Frank came aboard was Jack Leonard.
Some of Dorsey's best remembered songs include "Opus One," "Well, Git It," "Song of India," "On Treasure Island," and "You." Many of the Dorsey-Sinatra collaborations have become classics and summon up the great romantic longing of that era as the young men of America prepared to go off to war leaving their wives and girlfriends behind. Tommy and brother Jimmy formed their own band in the early 30's and it broke up in 1935 amid great acrimony. The brothers later reconciled. Tommy died on November 26, 1956. He had been taking sedatives and died in his sleep from choking after eating a heavy meal. The Dorsey brothers had their own popular TV show from 1955 until Tommy's death in 1956 (Jimmy died in 1957). On one of those shows the brothers introduced a new talent from Memphis, Tennessee by the name of Elvis Presley. This was before Presley's famed appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Clearly Tommy and Jimmy had no idea of the force they unleashed and what was going to happen soon to popular music.
After Tommy died his band was taken over by another fine trombonist and bandleader, Warren Covington. Sam Donahue then led the band starting in 1961. Trombonist Buddy Morrow took over the band in 1977 and led it until his death in September 2010 at the age of 91. These days the Dorsey Orchestra is still performing and still on the road and is led by clarinetist Terry Meyers. There is also a Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra that continues to perform. On July 4th the Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras went at it in a "Battle of the Bands" at the Montreal Jazz Festival. The Tommy Dorsey band did a tour of England in June. Earlier in the year the band performed in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Plant City, Florida, and at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. This band doesn't do a continual string of one-nighters like the current Glenn Miller band does but it keeps busy.
I had the great pleasure of introducing Buddy Morrow and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in Michigan during the summer of 1982. The concert took place at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan, a great place for a summer outdoor concert. At the time I was doing a big band/1950's adult standards show called "Million Dollar Music" (the title of the show was not my idea) at WSGW-AM in nearby Saginaw. I met Buddy briefly ("Hi, kid") and introduced the band wearing a powder blue tuxedo. Not real comfortable in the summer heat but I had a good time anyway. I think that's the last time I wore a tux. By the way...I will not be wearing a tux on the second stage of "Jazz Fest" in Sioux Falls on Saturday.
Morrow was a fine trombonist and a major figure in big band music in the post World War II era. He had one big hit, "Night Train," recorded in 1953. I'll be playing a 1970's album featuring the Dorsey band led by Morrow and will be playing "Night Train" from that recording later tonight. I'll also be playing great tracks from the Dorsey-Sinatra years and well as some later recordings by the Chairman of the Board.
"JAZZ FEST" NIGHT 2 AT YANKTON TRAIL PARK IN SIOUX FALLS. HERE ARE THE ACTS:
Brian Masek and Friends 6 p.m.
Harper and Midwest Kind 7 p.m.
Haden Sayers 8:30 p.m.
Box Scaggs 10 p.m. (I'm sure he'll be doing his classics "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle." I'll be playing a couple of tracks from his fine jazz-style CD "Speak Low" later tonight).
The New FM 6 p.m.
The Unnotables 7:30 p.m.
Noah Hoehn 9 p.m.
Don't forget..."Jazzed" with Bobby Gripp (12 noon), and the Jazz Fest Jazz Camp Band with Allen Vizzutti (1:30) will take to the main stage Saturday afternoon. The Jazz Fest Jazz Camp Band (12 noon), the Chris Borchardt Band (1:15), and the Steve Raybine Band from Omaha (3 p.m.) will perform on the second stage Saturday afternoon.
REMEMBERING DINAH SHORE...SEE THE U.S.A. IN A CHEVROLET...
Hugh Hagel of Flandreau, SD correctly identified my mystery vocalist during trivia last night as none other than Dinah Shore. I played selections from a recording Dinah made in the summer of 1959 with pianist Andre Previn called "Dinah Sings/Previn Plays." It was released the following year on Capitol Records. You can't go wrong with Andre backing you. It's really a fine album with sensitive renditions of torch songs and ballads. Shore was a major star for more than 40 years, roughly from 1940 to 1980. Yet nobody under the age of 50 remembers her at all now. Oldsters sixty and over probably remember her from her TV show in the 50's and early 60's sponsored by Chevrolet. She always sang off the show with the rousing ditty, "See the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet!" and then threw a big kiss to the audience. She probably got a free car every year in the bargain. Later, in the 70's, she was was one of the pioneers of the daytime TV talk show format, on the air at the same time as Mike Douglas and Phil Donahue and long before Oprah.
Dinah Shore was not a jazz singer or a big band singer. She was a pop singer (like Patti Page a few years later) and probably could better be described as an all-around "entertainer." Like Patti, her image as a singer was bland. With the exception of Bing Crosby, Dinah was probably the first solo singing star in the 40's who was not identified with a big band. All of the other great singers of that era-- Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, June Christy, Jo Stafford--were part of big bands (even Billie who spent time with Count Basie and Artie Shaw). The emergence of Dinah Shore as a major star by 1945 marked the beginning of the dominance of the solo singer in popular music and the decline of the big bands. Dinah did sing with big bands--Xavier Cugat, Ben Bernie, and later Glenn Miller's AAF band in the last days of World War II--but was not really a part of them. Dinah's real name was Frances. She came from Tennessee and made her radio debut on the famed WSM in Nashville. A major break was when she was hired in the late 1930's at WNEW-AM in New York. The first great radio disc-jockey at WNEW was Martin Block. Dinah (then Frances) started singing the then popular song "Dinah" on the WNEW broadcasts. Block couldn't remember her first name and so he called her the "Dinah girl." The name stuck and a star was born.
When you read Dinah Shore's biography on Wikipedia you're struck by her popularity in all mediums--records, radio, film, and later TV. She became America's "Girl Next Door" about the same time as Doris Day, before Peggy Lee and June Christy, and not long after Judy Garland. She was a major fixture on radio by 1940 and starred in seven network radio shows between 1941 and 1954. She scored numerous hits in the 1940's and well into the 1950's. Her biggest hit came in 1948 with "Buttons and Bows"--the #1 song of the year (it was not a good song, terribly corny and full of schmaltz). Dinah appeared in thirteen films between 1943 and 1959. If you can believe this, Dinah appeared on TV for the first time in 1937 on the experimental station W2XBS in New York, which became WNBC-TV. She might have been the highest paid recording artist of her time. In 1950, she signed a contract for $1,000,000 to record 100 songs (that's worth more than 10 million dollars today). But most of us remember her from television. The weekly "Dinah Shore Chevy Show" aired from 1951 to 1963 on NBC, first in a 15-minute time slot, then 30 minutes, and then 60 minutes. The Dinah Shore Chevy Show was one of the first regular TV programs to be broadcast in color. Dinah had all of the music and entertainment greats on that program. When it ended there were more TV specials in the 60's and early 70's. Her daytime show, which ran from 1970 to 1980, was first called "Dinah's Place" on NBC and then "Dinah and Friends" (broadcast in syndication but featured in most TV markets in the country). Her final television program was called "Conversations with Dinah" on TNN, the Nashville Network, which ran from 1989 to 1992, where she interviewed her show business friends and political figures.
Although a fine ballad and torch singer when the material was good, Dinah couldn't swing at all as a singer. You see this if you view old clips of her TV show--she seems wooden and stiff when singing the uptempo numbers and can't get into any kind of rhythmic groove, unlike Ella, Peggy Lee, and Rosie Clooney. But Count Basie loved her and she loved the Count. However, Billie Holiday reportedly didn't think much of her.
Dinah was a devoted golfer and a long-running women's golf tournament was named after her. She liked the gentlemen and was linked to many male stars over the years including Frank Sinatra in the 50's and in the 70's to Burt Reynolds, who was more than twenty years her junior. After the romance cooled they remained good friends. But the universal opinion was that Dinah was a very nice lady, a good if not great singer, and a total class act. Because her career encompassed so much and was so successful, it is puzzling why she is so little remembered now. Her torch records receive no airplay at all on jazz radio shows and virtually none on programs that feature big band music. Dinah Shore died of ovarian cancer on February 24, 1994, five days before her 78th birthday.
THE RIGHT TO LOVE...
Last night I played a new version of the Lalo Schifrin-Gene Lees song "The Right To Love." It's done by a fine singer by the name of Steve Washington who... yes, is from Washington D.C. In addition to singing he also has considerable acting experience. Among his credits is starring in a show called "Nat and Sammy Remembered" (a tribute to Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr.).
Schifrin and Lees wrote "The Right To Love" in the mid-1960's and it appeared in one of Schifrin's movie scores. What is the song about? Simply it is about interracial romantic love. Specifically it is about black men and white women getting together and vice versa. The climate in America during the mid-1960's was definitely not conducive to interracial romance. It's much better today because the young people are more accepting of it but it remains a sensitive and complex subject. The white racist attitudes of the 50's and 60's made black/white love a social taboo and it's been a taboo throughout our country's history. Thus, "The Right to Love"--while not directly referring to interracial romance--was a groundbreaking song for its time. If you listen to the lyrics closely you know what the subject is.
To the best of my knowledge Nancy Wilson was the first to record the song on her 1967 Capitol album "Lush Life," and with strings backing her it is magnificent. Tony Bennett also apparently recorded the song (Tony marched with Dr. King in the 60's). In 1998, Freddy Cole also recorded a wonderful version of the song on his CD "Love Makes the Changes" with Grover Washington Jr. playing gentle soprano sax. Before Steve Washington's new version appeared the song was apparently last recorded by the great iconoclastic singer k.d. lang. It should be recorded more by other singers since it's an outstanding song. It was great in 1965 and it's great today. Gene Lees, a fine lyricist and jazz historian, died several years ago. Lalo Schifrin is still alive. He wrote a number of fine jazz tunes including "Somewhere on the Ground" for Wes Montgomery and Gerald Wilson's Orchestra. He is better known as a first call film and TV composer--"The Mission Impossible Theme" is his best known score.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Summertime...and the livin' is easy (if you're on vacation or between jobs).
HOUSTON PERSON, BILL CHARLAP, AND MARY STALLINGS ON TONIGHT'S "JAZZ NIGHTLY" DURING THE THIRD HOUR...
I figure we're in good shape during the third hour of The Big Broadcast tonight since I'll be bringing back Mr. Smooth--the venerable tenor saxophonist Houston Person, as well as pianist Bill Charlap and singer Mary Stallings.
Now age 80, Houston has been performing professionally since the 1950's and recording as a leader since 1966. The man just doesn't seem to stop...it seems he's on everything, one or two releases of his own every year--year in and year out--and on a half dozen other releases as a sideman annually. Houston is known for his smooth style but has performed in the hard bop, swing, and soul jazz genre. He, along with saxophonists Scott Hamilton, Harry Allen, and Eric Alexander, are perfect entryway jazz performers for new fans because their sound is so accessible. Houston has said a number of times in interviews that the melody is everything to him and that he wants to make music to help people relax after a long day. Houston may be best known for his long association with singer Etta Jones. They were devoted friends and musical soul mates until Etta's passing in 2001. Etta and Houston together were simply perfect. Houston has pretty much done everything there is to do in jazz. He has recorded over 50 albums as a leader, many of these on the Prestige, Muse, and High Note labels. The recordings on which he appears as a sideman are almost too numerous to count. In addition to Etta, he's backed such singers as Charles Brown, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Dakota Staton, and Janis Siegel. He was also on LaVerne Butler's last release, "Love Lost and Found Again," in 2012. In 2014, he backed a great San Francisco singer by the name of Lisa Ferraro and served as executive producer on her release called "Serenading the Moon." As a sideman Houston has recorded with an assortment of outstanding musicians including pianist Horace Silver, fellow tenor player Gene Ammons, guitarist Grant Green, bassist Ron Carter, as well as premier organists Joey DeFrancesco, Charles "The Burner" Earland, Don Patterson, Shirley Scott, Richard "Groove" Holmes, and Johnny "Hammond" Smith. I had the great privilege of interviewing Houston on JN a year or so ago. It was a great thrill and opportunity because he remains my main man on the tenor horn.
Tonight I'll be featuring a 2006 duet recording Houston did on the High Note label with pianist Bill Charlap called "You Taught My Heart to Sing." Bill has been a major player on the jazz scene for more than 20 years. He comes from a musical family--his mother is singer Sandy Stewart and his father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer. He is a distant cousin to the great jazz pianist Dick Hyman. Bill has recorded two albums with his mother--the first in 2011 and the second in 2013. Now age 48, Bill has been recording as a leader since 1994 and has made 17 albums with his trio, seven of them on the Blue Note label. He has backed many great jazz instrumentalists including Gerry Mulligan, Benny Carter, Ruby Braff, Phil Woods, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, and Brian Lynch. He's also served as an accompanist to Tony Bennett. He has a long-standing gig at New York's Village Vanguard jazz club, where he appears at least twice a year with his rhythm section of Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. He's also been involved in another group, the New York Trio, with bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill Stewart. That group has released nine CDs over the years. Two of Bill's recordings have been nominated for Grammys--"Somewhere"-- the music of Leonard Bernstein from "West Side Story," and another live recording from the Village Vanguard. Bill obviously likes to be around his fellow piano players--he's married to the fine jazz pianist Rene Rosnes and they have two daughters and he also has a stepson.
THE WONDERFUL MARY STALLINGS...
I'll finish the show tonight with singer Mary Stallings. I always use the adjective "wonderful" to describe Mary because she simply is wonderful. I confess that I didn't become fully aware of Mary until a few years ago but when I did I became a devoted fan--she totally won me over. Mary began her career in the late 1950's in her hometown of San Francisco, and by the time she was out of high school was performing with the likes of Ben Webster, Cal Tjader, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Teddy Edwards, Red Mitchell, and the Montgomery Brothers (Wes, Monk, and Buddy) at such important and classy clubs as the Hungry i, The Purple Onion, and El Matador. Her first recording came out in 1961, "Cal Tjader Plays, Mary Stallings Sings" on Fantasy Records out of the San Francisco Bay area. It garnered excellent reviews and she was on her way. Mary then toured east Asia--Tokyo, Manila, and Bangkok--and later performed with Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie. During the 60's she shared with bill with such singers as Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and Joe Williams. From 1969 to 1972, she sang with Count Basie's band and that was an education all in itself. Then she took an extended period off to raise her young daughter, Adriana. Adriana Evans is now a well-known r&b singer. Mary returned to full-time performing in the early 80's and her comeback recording was with the Gene Harris Quartet in 1994, "I Waited For You," on the Concord Jazz label. I will feature that CD tonight. Mary has released many recordings over the last twenty years including "Feelin' Good" (on High Note Records), released just a few weeks ago, and 2013's "But Beautiful," also on the High Note label. In June Mary performed at the Smoke Jazz Club in New York (with Bruce Barth on piano, Vicente Archer on bass, and Montez Coleman on drums). In April she performed in Fort Meyers, Florida, and back in February she appeared in St. Louis, Missouri. In September she'll be performing at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Chicago. I interviewed Mary about two years ago just before she was to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival. She has made several appearances at this legendary West Coast jazz festival over the years and continues to perform in the San Francisco Bay area, which is still her hometown. Mary's the best!!!
WAKE UP GRANDMA AND GRANDPA...THE BIG BANDS ARE BACK...THEY NEVER LEFT!
A great new big band recording has just arrived--The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band (yes, two Bigs) and it's called "Holmes" (Tapestry Records). Benedict is a saxophonist and many of these players are from LA but also hail from other locales--Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio. Jeff says in the liner notes that he taught jazz band at Augustana College in Sioux Falls thirty years ago. His star trumpeter on this recording, Tom Tallman, was his pupil at Augusta. Really good to see the local guys succeeding in the larger jazz world! "Holmes" is the middle name of Jeff's father. There is so much good jazz coming in that it's a delight to receive it from day to day when I come in to work. But it's especially pleasing to receive the new big band and jazz orchestra releases. This great big band tradition is very much alive. For a taste of the big bands and hearing youngsters who are the future of jazz, check out the "Jazz Fest" Jazz Camp band (directed by Allen Vizzutti) on Saturday at "Jazz Fest" in Sioux Falls. I'll be introducing them from the second stage at 12 noon and then the group performs on the main stage at 1:30 p.m.
Actually when you wake up grandma and grandpa you'll find they've probably been dreaming about the Beach Boys and the Lovin' Spoonful. Time marches on. Your great-grandparents were around during the heyday of the classic big bands.
POST-SCRIPT ON JEFF BENEDICT: HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! It has been brought to my attention that there are two Augustana Colleges...the other one is in Rock Island, Illinois. I don't know if Mr. Benedict worked for the Sioux Falls Augustana or the Rock Island Augustana. He doesn't mention the exact town in the liner notes to his new CD. However, I'll get my crack team of USD intern investigators right on it and get back to you next month, sometime in Augustana.
"JAZZ FEST" LINEUP FOR TONIGHT...
The big eastern South Dakota music festival, "Jazz Fest," gets underway tonight at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls, just off Minnesota Avenue. The yearly event is organized by the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society and will run through Saturday night the 18th. It's free (but please feel free to patronize the food concession stands). Here's the music lineup for tonight:
Hank Harris 6 p.m.
Tweed Funk 7:30 p.m.
Marcia Ball 9:30 p.m.
Elizabeth Hunstad 6:30 p.m.
Main Avenue Warehouse 8:15 p.m.
Also tonight in Sioux Falls--the jazz group "Bone-ified Jazz" will perform at the Icon Lounge, 402 North Main Street, at 7 p.m. Drummer Bobby Gripp and keyboardist Cole Swanson will perform tonight at Ode to Food in Sioux Falls (formerly Wild Sage) from 5:30 to 8 p.m. "Jazzed with Bobby Gripp" will perform on the main stage at "Jazz Fest" on Saturday at 12 noon (with Chris Champion on guitar and Eddie Dunn on bass and vocals). On Saturday night Bobby will be back at the Paramount in Sioux Falls from 8 to 11 p.m. with Randy Royer on guitar.
Also on Saturday at "Jazz Fest"...the Jazz Fest Jazz Camp Band led by trumpeter Allen Vizzutti will perform on the second stage at 12 noon and the main stage at 1:30 p.m. Vibist Steve Raybine and his band from Omaha will perform on the second stage at 3 p.m. I'll be making a very rare and oh-so-intimate public appearance at the second stage on Saturday from noon to about 5 p.m. and will introduce the Jazz Camp band with Allen and later Steve. Come up and mingle. I'll also be bringing a couple of boxes of CDs for giveaway (no strings attached, just take 'em) and I've got some old "Jazz Nightly" posters that I'll give away if you want one. Fun for the whole family guaranteed!
THE LOVELY LINDA...
The Orlando, Florida trivia contingent once again came through last night. Bambi Loketo correctly guessed that Linda Ronstadt's first hit in 1967, a song called "Different Drum," was made with her backing band The Stone Poneys, a folk-rock group. "Different Drum" was released as a single in September 1967 and was a top 20 hit. It was composed by a member of the Monkees, Mike Nesmith. The song still turns up from time to time on oldies radio stations. Linda celebrated her 69th birthday yesterday.
Linda is from Tucson, Arizona and that's where she met the future members of her band around 1964--Bobby Kimmel on rhythm guitar and background vocals and Kenny Edwards on lead guitar. The name of the group is derived from a very obscure tune recorded in the late 1920's by a Delta blues singer by the name of Charley Patton. By 1965, Linda and the Stone Poneys were in Los Angeles performing in clubs. Linda and the Stone Poneys recorded three albums and then ended their association in 1968. Linda went solo in 1969 and her first album was released that year, "Hand Sown, Home Grown." The follow-up release, "Silk Purse," came out in 1970--both were in the folk rock or country rock style. However, the big breakthrough album came in 1974 with "Heart Like a Wheel," which produced the number one single, "You're No Good."
There were many fine female pop and rock singers who were prominent in the 1970's but Linda is the one singer who is associated with that decade and that's when she became a superstar. She was also very easy on the eyes. There was a poster of Ronstadt in just about every radio studio in the country during the 70's so lonely DJ's (moi) could gaze at the lovely Linda during their air shifts. There's a famous photograph of Linda performing in concert in the 70's in what best can be described as a very tight fitting Cub Scout uniform (I'm not making this up). Then there were the celebrated photographs in "Rolling Stone" magazine (circa 1977) with Linda in a decided bedroom pose wearing nothing but a flimsy nightie. Ah, the wonderful memories keep coming back!
What made Ronstadt so great as a vocalist is that she could sing anything--torch songs and ballads, Motown songs and r&b, big band swing, pop, traditional country (with Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou Harris), country-rock, hard rock, Mexican and Cajun traditional folk songs, even Gilbert and Sullivan light opera from "The Pirates of Penzance." Her versatility as a singer was simply amazing. Only her brief foray into hard rock in the late 70's was not successful. It took you about a nanosecond to recognize her voice when one of her records came on the radio. Her two great albums with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in 1983 and 1984 remain classics. Last night I played her duet with Frank Sinatra, "Moonlight in Vermont" (which appeared on Frank's last album, "Duets II" in 1994) and she simply shines.
The numbers tell the story: 11 Grammy Awards, 100 million records sold, two Academy of Country Music Awards, an Emmy, and nominations for a Tony and a Golden Globe. She has released over 30 studio albums with 15 greatest hits or compilation albums. Ronstadt charted 38 Hot 100 singles on the Billboard chart, 21 reached the Top 40, ten were in the Top 10, three were #2, and "You're No Good" reached #1. Linda charted 36 albums, ten went into the top 10, and three of them went to #1 on the Billboard chart. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Also last year she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities.
But the story has a sad ending. Linda announced two years ago that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and this has left her unable to sing. She has been officially retired since 2011 and it appears that her days as a performer and recording artist are over. Her autobiography, "Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir," was published in September 2013 and became a best-seller.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
My sincere thanks to vibraphonist Steve Raybine and trumpeter Allen Vizzutti for joining me on the air last night. Both will be in attendance at "Jazz Fest" at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls on Saturday. Allen will be directing the "Jazz Fest" Jazz Camp Band (local junior high and high school musicians) from the second stage at 12 noon and the main stage at 1:30 p.m. Steve's band from Omaha will take to the second stage at 3 p.m. Yours truly will be on hand to give 'em a good introduction. I had a really nice chat with Steve and Allen about all things jazz, and I thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules to join me.
I'll be passing along more information about the "Jazz Fest" acts on the show tonight and tomorrow night and Friday. "Jazz Fest" at Yankton Trail Park, just off Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls, begins tomorrow night and runs through Saturday. I'll be at the second stage on Saturday afternoon kissing cigars and handing out babies. I'll also fill you in about the other big music event on the other side of the state--the Spearfish Festival in the Park, which takes place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
TONIGHT ON THE BIG BROADCAST...HAMMOND B-3 ACE BILL HEID AND LAMBERT, HENDRICKS AND ROSS DURING THE THIRD HOUR...
Bill Heid (Hide) is a veteran soul jazz and hard bop Hammond B-3 organist and pianist originally from Pittsburgh and he'll be my "Artist in the Spotlight" during the third hour tonight. Bill spent his formative years in the early 60's hanging around the Hurricane Bar in Pittsburgh soaking up the sounds of Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, and Dr. Lonnie Smith-- the usual guys who were the greatest organists in the history of jazz. When he wasn't in Pittsburgh Bill was in Newark, New Jersey where he hung out with his mentor Larry Young. Bill also frequented the Crawford Grill in Pittsburgh where such touring musicians as Freddie Hubbard, Max Roach, Gene Harris, Bobby Timmons, and Wynton Kelly held forth. Pittsburgh, of course, is the cradle of such legendary jazz musicians as Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, Erroll Garner, Billy Strayhorn, George Benson, Eddie Jefferson, Mary Lou Williams, Stanley Turrentine, and Jimmy Ponder. Heid later traveled to Chicago and worked with such blues legends as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Son Seals, and Koko Taylor. Heid has gigged with many more great musicians including Sonny Stitt, Grant Green, and David "Fathead" Newman. These days he's based in the Washington D.C. area. Bill has released nine CDs as a leader since 1996, the last being "Wylie Avenue" in 2009, and I'll be playing selections from it tonight.
Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross have had a terrific impact on jazz singing although they weren't together long. Their heyday was from 1957 to 1962. Known for their intricate vocal arrangements and studio overdubbing, they invented jazz group vocalese, a style that would be continued by other vocal teams including the Manhattan Transfer. The first LHR album, "Sing a Song of Basie," was released in 1957 and it created a sensation. I'll be playing tracks from it tonight as well as other Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross gems. The death of Dave Lambert in 1966 in a road accident was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of jazz. If he had lived the group undoubtedly would have gotten back together at some point. Dave died when he was changing a tire along a roadway and was hit by a car. There are are certain tragedies in the jazz world which are really beyond words... trumpeter Clifford Brown (1956) and bassist Scott LaFaro (1961) were killed in car accidents and Lambert died in the same manner. John Coltrane died of liver cancer at age 40 in 1967. Some jazz performers lived rather dissolute lives (booze and drugs) and basically were responsible for their own deaths. But the loss of Brown, LaFaro, Lambert, and Coltrane were huge tragedies because they would have continued to make outstanding music if they had been permitted to live to old age.
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
Larry Schrag of Sioux Falls correctly guessed that Sheriff Pat Garrett shot and killed legendary Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid. The deal went down in Fort Sumner, New Mexico on July 14, 1881, 134 years ago yesterday. The shooting of Billy--also known as Henry McCarty, aka William H. Bonney, was the culmination of what was known as the Lincoln County War in New Mexico. The Kid stood accused of many killings including that of a county sheriff, the only crime of which he was convicted and sentenced to hang. He escaped from custody but Garrett tracked him down. The Kid was credited with killing between 15 and 26 men (perhaps fewer) between 1877 and his death in 1881 at the age of 21. After his demise at the hands of Pat Garrett the Kid's legend grew and his public image evolved into that of a notorious outlaw and something of a folk hero or anti-hero. The Kid is buried in Fort Sumner.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
It's a two-fer tonight on "Jazz Nightly." I'll be interviewing two of the performers who will be appearing on stage at "Jazz Fest" in Sioux Falls on Saturday. Steve Raybine is a vibist from Omaha with an impressive musical resume. Steve and his band will perform on the second stage at "Jazz Fest" on Saturday at 3 p.m. I'll be talking to Steve at about 8:40 p.m. central/7:40 p.m. mountain tonight. During the second hour I'll be speaking to trumpeter Allen Vizzutti, who will be directing the Jazz Fest Jazz Camp Band on Saturday, first on the second stage at 12 noon and the main stage at 1:30. My interview with Allen will get underway at about 9:30 central/8:30 mountain tonight. See more info about Steve and Allen below.
THE CELEBRATED NBA SHORT GUY...SPUD WEBB...
Doug Wermedal of Volga, SD correctly guessed last night's trivia stumper. Former NBA player Spud Webb was basically known for one thing...he was one of the shortest players in NBA history--officially listed as 5 feet 7 inches soaking wet, so to speak. Webb celebrated his 52nd birthday yesterday. These days he is president of basketball operations for the Texas Legends, a minor league team of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. For the record, Spud's full name is Anthony Jerome Webb. He obviously got the nickname "Spud" because of his diminutive stature. Actually 5' 7'' is not unusually short in the real world but in the NBA it is tiny.
I'm no NBA expert but know enough to understand that NBA players below 6 feet 6 inches are considered short. It's a tall, tall man's game. Thus Webb's long career in the NBA is simply remarkable. He was no novelty act--Webb was a productive player. Webb played for the Atlanta Hawks from 1985 to 1991, the Sacramento Kings from 1991 to 1995, the Hawks again from 1995 to 1996, the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996, and he finished his NBA career with the Orlando Magic in 1998. As a point guard Webb played in 814 NBA games, averaged 9.9 points per game, and amassed 8,072 points and 4,342 assists in 12 seasons. He was fast and crafty and knew how to dunk the ball. He won the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk contest. His dunks included 1)--the elevator two handed double pump dunk; 2)--the off-the backboard one handed jam; 3)-- a 360-degree helicopter one-handed dunk; 4)-- a reverse double-pump slam; 5) and a reverse two-handed "strawberry jam" dunk from a lob bounce off the floor. He outdunked all the tall dunkers. He was a human dunk machine.
Monday, July 13, 2015
A gracious start of the working week to you (unless you work weekends). Another very warm afternoon in Vermillion Town, V-Town, My Town, West Side. It got up to near 100 degrees yesterday. But I'm not complaining. You know I complain about the winter wind chill incessantly, but I will not complain about a little warmth. Seriously, no complaints. That dip in my guitar-shaped pool at the mansion before coming to work this afternoon felt fine.
"JAZZ FEST" PERFORMERS TO BE INTERVIEWED ON "JAZZ NIGHTLY" TUESDAY NIGHT...
Of course, "Jazz Fest" in Sioux Falls will take place later this week (Thursday through Saturday nights), and I'm delighted that I'll be able to interview a couple of the performers on my show tomorrow.
Steve Raybine is a super jazz vibes player from Omaha. Steve and his band will take to the second stage at "Jazz Fest" on Saturday at 3 p.m. Steve has an impressive resume as a jazz musician. He's a graduate of the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and has degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa. He's toured throughout Europe and played at venues throughout the United States including the Lighthouse and the Roxy in LA. In the 1970's he settled in LA as a studio musician and played on numerous TV soundtracks. He's worked with a lot of heavy hitters including Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Ed Shaughnessy (long-time drummer for Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band), pianist Roger Williams ("Autumn Leaves"), and singers Karrin Allyson, Jack Jones, and Michael Feinstein. Steve has taught jazz studies and percussion at the university level and these days is based in Omaha. His music has turned up over the years on Nebraksa Public Radio and on jazz stations throughout the country. He has recorded two albums as a leader--"Balance Act" and "Bad Kat Karma." Steve and his band perform contemporary and straight ahead jazz which incorporates funk, r&b, pop, and Latin music elements. My interview with Steve will get underway Tuesday night at about 8:40 central time/7:40 mountain.
Allen Vizzutti is a noted trumpeter and jazz educator who is based in Seattle. This year he is directing the "Jazz Fest" Jazz Camp Band--consisting of young people in the Sioux Falls area who are in junior high and high school. The "Jazz Fest" Jazz Camp band with Allen will perform on the second stage at "Jazz Fest" this Saturday at 12 noon and then go directly to the main stage at 1:30 p.m. Allen has worked with many top flight musicians over the years--he appeared on a great CD called "Trumpet Summit" with Bobby Shew and Vincent DiMartino a number of years back, and he was also a long-time member of Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" band. I will definitely ask Allen about his experiences with Doc's band and the "Tonight Show" years. Allen was based in LA for most of the 80's and performed on countless TV and movie soundtracks. His trumpet also appears on recordings by The Chairman of the Board--Francis Albert Sinatra as well as Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, the Commodores, and even Prince. Allen's latest CD is called "Ritzville," and his band includes Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. Allen has performed all over the world as both a jazz and classical artist. He's also a noted jazz educator and has taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Ohio State University, West Texas State University, and Kansas State University, as well as in Canada and Europe. My interview with Allen will get underway Tuesday night at about 9:30 central time/8:30 mountain.
NEW RELEASES JUST IN TO THE JAZZ DESK...THE JAZZ NERVE CENTER OF SOUTH DAKOTA
The Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra--"Joyful Noise--The Music of Horace Silver" Southpatch Music Bassist Isarels is probably best known for his association with pianist Bill Evans (he became the bassist in Bill's group following the tragic death of Scott LaFaro in 1961). You can't go wrong with Horace Silver songs--this sounds really good to my ears.
Dion Parson and the 21st Century Band--"St. Thomas" United Jazz International
Mark Christian Miller--"Crazy Moon" Sliding Jazz Door Productions Mark is a vocalist and he's got some great LA musicians backing him--Josh Nelson on piano, Larry Koonse on guitar, Ron Stout on trumpet, and Bob Sheppard on bass clarinet. Some interesting song selections--a couple of well-known tunes and others by major songwriters that are nevertheless obscure.
POST-SCRIPT ON DORIS DAY...
Received an email over the weekend from Sacramento-based pianist Jim Martinez. Jim's new CD is called "Good Grief! It's Still Jim Martinez--A Tribute To Guaraldi, Schulz, and Peanuts." Jim knows Doris Day and has performed at a series of birthday parties over the years for Doris at her home in Carmel, California. Jim also says he's talked with Doris a number of times on the phone. Jim says at age 93 Doris is still "sharp as a tack" and her usual sunny, friendly self. Doris is the last of the big band singers from the 1940's still with us. She's outlived all of the prominent big band leaders of the 40's and the 50's. In fact, every big band and jazz musician from the 40's may be gone now--I can't think of any who are still with us. Gerald Wilson departed last year--the last link from the late 1930's--and Clark Terry, who got his start in the late 40's--left us a few months ago. Needless to say, Doris has a lifetime of memories to share. She would be an incredibly interesting interview subject.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
A very mellow and cool weekend to each and every one of you! The temperature is supposed to reach near 100 degrees in the east on Sunday. Turn on those air conditioners. If you don't have AC then switch on the electric fan. If you don't have a fan then you're out of luck. Cool yourself with one of those paper fans from the local Chinese restaurant.
As the "Tonight Show" audience asked Johnny Carson in Burbank after a steamy southern California day: "How hot was it?" "It was so hot that a sparrow hid in the shadow of Orson Welles." If you're young and don't know who Orson Welles was, ask your grandfather.
Hope you enjoyed my little story last night about the brief period I spent in the Barre, Vermont Junior Chamber of Commerce almost thirty years ago. I decided to join because after all the Jaycee's carry my initials. The Jaycees do good work, but I'm afraid I wasn't the right rah-rah fit, and it was better for the morale of the organization when I departed. I decided I was not worthy. I'm a little over the age limit to be involved in the junior chamber now. And besides (in the words of Groucho Marx), I wouldn't want to join a club that would have me as a member. Jimmo goes his own way.
Hope you enjoyed the full hour of Les Brown and His Band of Renown with Doris Day last night. What disc jockey in America was playing Les and Doris Friday night? Moi, that's who. Doris made it look so completely easy and effortless when she sang. She simply had one of the finest voices in the 20th century. Doris is now 93 years old and living happily with her pets in California near Seaside and Monterey. Doris is the last surviving big band singer of the 1940's. A two CD compilation of her songs from the 50's and 60's--""With a Smile and a Song" (Sony Masterworks/Turner Classic Movies-TCM) was released in 2012, and it's simply terrific.
CONTE CANDOLI AND MARK MURPHY...
Monday night I'll be featuring the late great West Coast trumpeter Conte Candoli during the third hour and will finish the show with the hippest bebop singer in the history of jazz (okay, maybe Jon Hendricks is the exception)...Mark Murphy.
Sunday, July 12th, would have been Conte's 88th birthday. He passed away at the age of 74 on December 14, 2001. Candoli was associated primarily with the post-World War II West Coast jazz movement. He was West Coast jazz without necessarily being a "cool jazz" player like his contemporary Chet Baker. Conte emerged during World War II as a teenage trumpet phenom. Starting in the summer of 1943 at the tender age of 16 he played alongside his older brother Pete, also a trumpeter, in Woody Herman's First Herd. He then played in Chubby Jackson's well-regarded Fifth Dimensional Jazz Group, then went to Stan Kenton's orchestra with a stop in the Charlie Ventura band. From 1957 to 1962, he and Pete formed their own band. He also spent time in the bands of Benny Goodman and Dizzy Gillespie. He played with the Terry Gibbs Dream Band in the late 50's and the Gerry Mulligan Concert Band from 1960 to 1961. Conte was also part of Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars in LA from 1956 to 1960. In the 70's he played trumpet in the LA-based Supersax group led by Med Flory. From 1967 to 1972, he was the guest trumpeter in Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" band when it was based in New York (Doc Severinsen took over the leadership of the band in 1967). From 1972 to 1992, Conte was the regular trumpeter with Doc's band during the rest of Carson's tenure when the show was based in Burbank, California. Conte worked with all the great LA jazz musicians of the 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond. He was featured on Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn TV show soundtrack albums. He recorded with such great players as Chet Baker, Bud Shank, Shorty Rogers, Bob Cooper, Teddy Edwards, Maynard Ferguson, and Dizzy Gillespie. From 1959 to 1961, he recorded four albums with LA drummer Shelly Manne. He backed such singers as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., and Sarah Vaughan. When Johnny Carson retired in 1992, Conte continued to play with Doc Severinsen on tour from time to time. As a group leader Conte was featured on more than fifteen albums. His last recording was on a release by the Bud Shank Sextet--"On the Trail," which was released after his death in 2002. Conte was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997. Monday night I'll be featuring selections from a classic 1956 album, "Powerhouse Trumpet" (Bethlehem Archives/Avenue Jazz), which also featured Bill Holman on tenor sax, Lou Levy on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Lawrence Marable on drums.
Mark Murphy is now 83 years old and semi-retired. There has been no jazz singer remotely like him in jazz (although his successor appears to be Giacomo Gates). Mark's first album was released in 1956, "Meet Mark Murphy" on Decca Records. The follow-up album was "Let Yourself Go" in 1957. As a young man in the 50's he came under the tutelage of Milt Gabler, A&R man for Decca Records, who predicted big things for his young charge. Mark is known for his creative jazz vocalese, scatting and incredible improvisations--which sometimes go off into wild flights of fancy. He is a disciple of Jack Kerouac and the Beats. Murphy wrote the lyrics to Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments," and it remains one of his finest songs. Although to many he may be an acquired taste, Mark's talent is so huge, his creativity so immense, that he is hard to adequately describe unless you sit down and listen closely to his albums. Like many jazz singers, Murphy struggled to find gigs in the lean years and became a successful actor. He has recorded at least 40 albums, the last in 2013--"A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn." In the 1990's and early 2000's Murphy was the consistent "Down Beat" magazine poll winner for best male jazz vocalist. At last report Mark has been in an assisted living situation in New Jersey and is slowing down. He is one of the hippest, heppest singers in the history of jazz. I'd love to get into a room with Mark and Jon Hendricks just to hear them talk about music.
THE RAGING BULL...
John Halverson of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia last night that Robert DeNiro played boxer Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film "Raging Bull." LaMotta, who reigned for a period in the late 1940's and early 1950's as the middleweight boxing champion, celebrated his 94th birthday yesterday.
"Raging Bull" was based on LaMotta's 1970 autobiography of the same name. The black and white film was directed by Martin Scorsese and is generally considered to be DeNiro's finest movie role. This is a film that had to be in black and white. Color would have diminished it. DeNiro won the Best Actor Academy Award for the LaMotta role. "Raging Bull" graphically tells the story of LaMotta's rise in boxing-- his violent self-destructive and obsessive rage, sexual jealousy, and animalistic impulses which ruined his relationship with his wife, his family, and friends. The boxing scenes are graphically violent as are the scenes where LaMotta abuses his wife Vicki. In addition to DeNiro, the stellar cast of "Raging Bull" included actor Joe Pesci, and an unknown actress by the name of Cathy Moriarty, who portrayed the alluringly sexy and very young Vicki LaMotta. The film also portrays LaMotta's downward spiral after he left boxing. DeNiro portrayed a pathetic LaMotta in the 1960's as a "comedian" and MC at nightclub and bar dives. DeNiro gained 60 pounds for these scenes. He did not wear a "fat suit" or rubber makeup to put on the pounds.
As a middleweight LaMotta became famous for six separate bouts fought against the man generally considered to be the greatest middleweight champion ever, Sugar Ray Robinson. Jake also threw at least one fight when the Mob told him to go down for the count. LaMotta's fight career spanned from 1941 to 1957, with 30 knockouts, 19 losses, and four draws. LaMotta was a real piece of work. Somehow he got his act together and managed to salvage his life. "Raging Bull" was not an immediate box office success when it was released in late 1980 but is now considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and thought by many to be the greatest sports movie ever because of its stark realism. LaMotta has been married seven times. His last marriage took place two years ago at the age of 92. Jake liked the ladies. By all accounts LaMotta should have died by the age of 50. He is a survivor but by his own admission he hurt a lot of people along the way.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Thanks once again for arriving at my "Jazz Notes" column on the SDPB website. If there are any serious computer glitches and blackouts like the ones that affected United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday I may have to composer these notes using a manual typewriter. However, I don't know how I would get them to you--send snail mail letters via the U.S. Postal Service, I guess. That would mean a lot of envelopes and 49 cent stamps. I made mention last night that actor Tom Hanks collects manual typewriters. I gave mine to Goodwill in 1995. That manual Remington served me well for over twenty years and now I wish I would have kept it. May need it again someday.
RAMSEY'S BACK...THE NEW RAMSEY LEWIS ELECTRIC ALBUM...
Pianist/electric keyboardist Ramsey Lewis has just released a new CD, "Taking Another Look" (Ramsey's House Records). Here he's on electric Fender Rhodes piano. Most of the songs are Lewis's compositions and done in a modern jazz style. Others are more in the funk mode. Included here are Ramsey's renditions of Stevie Wonder's "Living For the City," and the Stylistics' 1970's hit, "Betcha By Golly, Wow." There's an Earth, Wind, and Fire selection--"Sun Goddess" with EWF members Maurice White and Phillip Bailey on the track. A bonus track, Ramsey's "Jungle Strut," has Dr. John on piano. The other members of Ramsey's band are Henry Johnson on guitar, Mike Logan assisting on keyboard, Joshua Ramos on bass, and Charles Heath on drums.
LES BROWN AND DORIS DAY...
I'll finish the week with Les Brown and His Band of Renown and singer Doris Day during the third hour tonight. Brown led his big band from the late 1930's until his death in early 2001. Brown's band was considered just below the top tier of the great classic big bands of the 30's and 40's--Ellington, Basie, Goodman, Dorsey, Miller, Shaw, and Kenton. I consider the Les Brown band underrrated and underappreciated--it was a fine big band, always musical and swinging with many fine songs and crisp arrangements. Among the best known Les Brown songs were "Leap Frog," "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm," "A Foggy Day," "Just One Of Those Things," and the great number from 1945 with Doris Day, "Sentimental Journey." Brown's band was a favorite on college campuses throughout the 1940's and 1950's. Brown had a long association with Bob Hope for almost fifty years--on radio and TV, and the band also accompanied Bob on his USO tours in the 40's, 50's and 60's (including shows for GI's in Vietnam). Brown's band appeared in a total of nine films including the Jerry Lewis classic, "The Nutty Professor," in 1963. Brown's band appeared on a number of TV shows including those hosted by Steve Allen and Dean Martin. After Les Brown's death his son Les Jr. took over the band. The current Brown band continues to perform throughout the country and has a regular show in Branson, Missouri.
At age 93, Doris Day is the sole surviving big band singer from the 1940's. She was a superstar for more than 25 years and today probably is best known for her film roles rather than her singing. Day appeared in her first film role in 1948 and over the next 20 years starred in 39 movies. Throughout the 1950's and early 1960's she was one of the top box office stars in the country and practically the only woman on the list. Of course, she got saddled with the "goody two shoes" good girl image in her film roles, one largely of her own making. Writer, humorist and lyricist Oscar Levant--who could be bitingly sarcastic--once said he knew Doris Day "before she became a virgin." Day's choice of film roles showed a limitation in her acting range and as the 60's went on her box office appeal faded. She starred in her own successful TV series in the late 1960's and early 1970's. After it went off the air she retired from show business and then became an outspoken animal rights activist. However, it is in her singing that she really shines. Doris was the perfect big band singer who emerged as a classic pop vocalist in the 50's and early 60's. There is much more to Doris Day's singing than "Que Sera Sera." Her pristine voice remains remarkable when you hear it again on her recordings. As a solo singer Day recorded on Columbia Records her entire career, from 1947 to 1967. In 2011 at age 89, Day released a new album called "My Heart." (City Hall Records) These tracks were recorded years before and produced by her late son Terry Melcher. "My Heart" went to the top 10 album chart in England and also became a best seller in the United States via the Amazon purchasing website. This proves that Doris still has many devoted fans. Tonight I'll be featuring tracks from a 2012 two disc compilation released by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) called "With A Smile and A Song." These songs were recorded in the period from 1951 to 1966.
THE STONE AGE...
I made mention above that Doris Day is the only surviving big band singer from the 1940's. The passing of Gerald Wilson last year and Clark Terry this year marked the end of musicians who got their start in the big band era of the late 1930's and 1940's. The ranks of those who came along in the 1950's are thinning. Tony Bennett started his professional singing career right after World War II but didn't have his first hit until 1951. Mark Murphy recorded his first album in 1956. Among the pop stylists, Johnny Mathis had his first hit in 1957, "Chances Are." Nancy Wilson recorded her first album on Capitol Records and had her first hit in 1960. Jack Jones had his first hit in 1963. Dionne Warwick and Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, had their first successful records in 1964. The jazz musicians who came along in the 1950's are down to a dwindling few...Phil Woods, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes, Doc Severinsen, Jack Sheldon, and maybe a couple of others. The passing earlier this year of Lauren Bacall marked the end of the 1940's film stars. Carol Burnett may be the last TV star from the 60's who people still clearly remember today.
Which leaves us with the rock 'n rollers. Some of the 50's rock stars--Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Fats Domin0--are still around but no longer recording. Then you get into the 60's rock 'n rollers and all of them are now old. Ringo Starr just celebrated his 75th birthday. Paul McCartney is 73 years old. Barbra Streisand (not a rock 'n roller) is 73 years old as is Aretha Franklin. Tina Turner is 76. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young are old men. Paul Simon is well over 70 as are Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. Rod Stewart is over 70. Joan Baez is 74, Joni Mitchell is 73 (is that possible?), Carole King is in her 70's, and James Taylor is pushing 70. These stars from my youth--all eternally 25 years old--are in the last phase of their lives, if not exactly the final sunset years.
All of this poses a question: when does a musician or singer cease to be relevant in popular culture? The music tastes of the public change extremely fast and there seems to be a new thing every five years, maybe every three. There is no question in my mind that jazz, blues, and classical music performers can make vital and creative music well into their old age. Tony Bennett has proven without a doubt that older is better. Look at B.B. King and Buddy Guy. Country music fans have always been extremely loyal to older performers. Whether rock 'n rollers can still be relevant as old men and old women is problematical. Maybe they can-- it depends on who you are talking about. However, in my mind a 70-year rock 'n roller who prances around on stage like a 17-year old (Jagger) simply looks ridiculous. Likewise, the grease paint antics of KISS-- these so-called "musicians" now well into their 60's--are utterly ridiculous. On the other hand, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen have proven that older rock guys have still got it. The jury is still out on performers in the hip-hop world and whether any hip-hop singer past the age of 30 (maybe 25) has any relevance to the younger audience.
To today's young people--those in their teens and early 20's--the big band era of the 30's and 40's is the prehistoric stone age. The 60's are still the stone age. For someone in their early 20's, the 1990's are the distant past. Madonna is pushing 60 and her relevance escapes me. But keep this in mind young folks--Jay Zee, Beyonce, Rhiana, Miss Ga-Ga, and this Miley person will some day be old and in the proverbial rocking chair. Time marches on and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
They say you're as young as you feel. I guess that's true. Groucho Marx said it best...you're as young as the PERSON you feel.
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
Jim Seeber of Aberdeen correctly guessed that actress Rita Wilson is the wife of actor Tom Hanks. Tom celebrated his 59th birthday yesterday. Wilson will celebrate her 59th birthday in October. Of course, Hanks is a superstar film actor whose movies almost insure instant box office success. Among the roles Hanks is famous for include "Big"; "Forest Gump"; "Philadelphia"; "Saving Private Ryan"; "Sleepless in Seattle"; "Apollo 13"; "You've Got Mail"; and "The Green Mile." Wilson's stardom is of a much lower wattage but those familiar with her work maintain her acting skills are just as great as her husband. Wilson started to appear on TV long before her husband did and has been featured in secondary roles in a number of very successful movies. She also has expensive experience as a stage actress. Wilson has produced several films including the 2002 sleeper hit which came out of nowhere--"My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Thanks for coming onto my "Jazz Nightly" web page. Hope this posting will lead you to check out my very personal jazz stylings on your radio dial or in this computer box later tonight. At precisely 8:02 p.m. central/7:02 p.m. mountain The Big Show begins. It's my party and I'll make wisecracks if I want to.
TRUE STORY: One of the more unusual occurrences since I began employment here happened today. I came in this afternoon and found a package on my desk. Somebody sent me a hardcover copy of the Quran (Koran), the Muslim holy book. It evidently came from an Islamic information project in New Jersey. I have absolutely no idea how I got onto their computer mailing list. Why would they send a jazz disc-jockey in South Dakota a copy of the Quran? On the cover is inscribed "Exclusive Edition for Jim Clark." The text is in Arabic with English subtitles. Okay, maybe I'll get to it this weekend and share it with my friends at the neighborhood mosque in Vermillion. This totally unexpected mailing only proves one thing....Jimmo is gettin' popular!
P.S. Don't send me gifts of any kind. It is morally wrong and reprehensible and besides I could get into a lot of trouble. We have rules about this sort of thing. A few months ago somebody sent me a "Dave Koz Northwest/Alaska Tour" muffler/scarf, which I wore last winter. But that's as far as I'll go. I can't accept your Cadillacs, your Florida time-share condo packages, and boxes stuffed with Hershey bars. I'm a man with a conscience, right? Right??
I want to thank the king of the jazz DJ's, Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins, for joining me for a few minutes during the final hour last night from his perch in the "Purple Grotto" at KSFO Radio in San Francisco. What do you do when Joe Williams and Woody Herman are on the line? You answer the phone and let them on your show, that's what you do. I always get a kick out of listening to old recordings of Jazzbeaux holding forth on the radio. The way his mind worked was simply amazing. As far as hipness and cool are concerned, I'm simply not in his league.
THE NIGHT OWL...
During the second hour last night I played a selection from Chicago saxophonist Corbin Andrick's new release, "Olmstead's Whistle." The song was called "The Night Owls," and it reminded me of my days as a callow young radio broadcaster in Michigan. In 1976, I was working the overnight shift (midnight to 5 a.m.) at WHLS-AM, the 1,000 watt powerhouse, in Port Huron, Michigan. One day the program director called me into his office and said that I was henceforth "The Night Owl," and that was officially the name of my show. Okay boss. A very creative title, not. Unfortunately, I had no control over the music selection on the overnight program. WHLS was a "light adult contemporary" station (whatever that means)...and thus we played all of the "good stuff"...Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Anne Murray, KC and the Sunshine Band, etc. etc. I wanted to play George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, and Sinatra to get people in the mood overnight but it was definitely a no go. I broke the programming format a couple of times but did so at the risk of getting fired. About the best thing available in the music library were the three minute versions of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," and Chuck Mangione's "Feel So Good." And those records were made available very rarely. In case you don't know, commercial radio DJs have absolutely no control over the music they play--it's all dictated by program directors or more likely by "expert" marketing consultants somewhere in New York, LA, or Timbuktu. If you willfully break format you'll soon wind up in the unemployment line. Let me tell you, things don't get more real for relaxin' than playing Olivia Newton John at 3 in the morning. Olivia Cupcake wasn't my bag back then and still isn't. I'm glad to say that I've now eliminated Kenny Rogers from my life entirely (although his roasted chicken was pretty good). Mr. Kenny Burrell is my main man now. Nobody tells me what to play anymore in the public radio jazz game and for that I thank my lucky stars. Let me own up, I'm grown up.
Hey, it was the mid-70's, man. We were at the height of the Gerald Ford presidency, leisure suits were fashionable, and disco was just about ready to destroy music.
BENNY CARTER IS MY "ARTIST IN THE SPOTLIGHT" TONIGHT...
"The problem of expressing the contributions that Benny Carter has made to popular music is so tremendous it completely fazes me, so extraordinary a musician is he." Duke Ellington
"You've got Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and my man, the Earl of Hines, right? Well, Benny's right up there with all them cats. Everybody that knows who he is calls him King. He is a King!" Louis Armstrong
"Everybody ought to listen to Benny. He's a whole musical education." Miles Davis
"When I grow up I want to be just like Benny Carter." Dizzy Gillespie
Those four quotes from the jazz masters pretty much sum up the story of Benny Carter. He was an extraordinary musician--alto saxophonist, trumpeter, band leader, composer, arranger. What is amazing was his longevity. Benny was born in 1907. Buddy Bolden was still playing in 1907 and this was before King Oliver and what became known as New Orleans jazz had even started. Benny's life spanned the entire century of jazz. Benny made his first recording in 1928 and was still recording into the 1990's. This is a man who played with the early Ellington players Bubber Miley and Rex Stewart. He played with pianists Willie "The Lion Smith," James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson. and a young Duke Ellington. He led one of the truly great jazz bands of the 1930's. From the 30's onward he played with all of the great jazz musicians who would soon become legends. He wrote songs and did arrangements for such singers as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, Mel Torme, Lena Horne Peggy Lee, Pearl Bailey, and many others. He wrote some great songs--"Blue in My Heart," "When Lights Are Low," "Key Largo" (made famous by Sarah), and "Only Trust Your Heart." Miles Davis made his first recording with Benny's band in 1945. Carter became the first major black film composer and inspired Quincy Jones to enter the field. Benny became a noted jazz educator and received honorary degrees from Princeton, Rutgers, Harvard, and the New England Conservatory of Music. Yet for some reason his name is not included in the top pantheon of jazz greats--Armstrong, Ellington, Goodman, Gillespie, Davis, and all the rest. This is probably because Benny was a self-effacing man who simply preferred to work under the radar. Benny continued to make vital music into his late 80's. He officially retired in 1997 at the age of 90 and left us on July 12, 2003, just before his 96th birthday. Make no mistake about it--he was one of the all-time greats. I'll be playing Benny Carter music tonight from the 1960's, 70's, and 80's, and also from a terrific 1958 album featuring his orchestra, "Aspects."
I'll close the show with the lady I consider to be the finest female vocalist in jazz, LaVerne Butler. I had the great privilege of introducing LaVerne at the Oprheum Theatre in Sioux Falls back on November 22, 2013. It was a very special night of music. Even if I had never met LaVerne I would still put her at the top of my list of contemporary female jazz singers. There's a lot of competition out there, and there is a great deal of outstanding female vocal jazz talent today. But this Shreveport, Louisiana native has got it all as far as I'm concerned. LaVerne's latest release was 2012's "Love Lost and Found Again" on the High Note label. I've been in touch with LaVerne via email a number of times since the Orpheum Theatre concert. She lives just outside New York City in the Jersey suburbs and is currently involved in teaching music, English, and her own writing projects. I hope she will get back into the studio to record another album very soon because LaVerne's the best!
PUCK HAS THE PUCK...HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES!!!
Michelle Sauvage of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia last night that the profession of Wolfgang Puck is celebrity chef and restaurant owner. He does not play in the National Hockey League. Puck celebrated his 66th birthday yesterday. He is a native of Austria and his actual last name is Topfschnig. Puck looks better on the marquee.
After training as an apprentice chef at Hotel de Paris in Monaco and then at the famed Maxim's in Paris, Puck came to this country in 1973 at age 24. After a stint at a restaurant in Indianapolis, he moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and became chef and part owner of the Ma Maison restaurant. He is best known for opening Spago, first on the Sunset Strip in LA and later in Beverly Hills. Spago is considered to be one of the finest top of the line eateries in the country. It is where all the rich beautiful people go and is said to be quite difficult to get a reservation there. Puck is now a corporate mogul who owns restaurants throughout the country and has branched out into catering services, kitchen and food merchandise, and canned foods. He has also published a number of cookbooks. He is active in philanthropic endeavors and charitable organizations. He has been long been a favorite on the "Food Network" and other cooking shows and has even appeared on television as an actor.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
We're already halfway through the working week and so I hope you're working. It's a good way to make money legitimately. That said, I hope your job agrees with you and that you remain a productive all-around good citizen.
Tonight during the third hour of the show I'll be featuring one of the greatest tenor saxophonists in the history of jazz--Ben Webster, also known as "The Brute" or simply "Frog." He came out of the Kansas City jazz scene in the late 1920's and for a time played in the Young Family Band (which included Lester Young). In 1932, Ben joined Bennie Moten's band which was Kansas City's top group and on its way to making itself known nationally. Of course, Count Basie played piano in the Moten band and later took it over when Bennie died. Webster was also part of the Andy Kirk, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, and Cab Calloway orchestras in the 1930's. Webster became a major star when joined Duke Ellington's Orchestra and by 1940 was Duke's major tenor soloist. By the early 40's Webster's contributions were so important that the Ellington unit was informally called the Webster-Blanton band (together with that of bassist Jimmy Blanton). However, an angry altercation with Duke in 1943 led to his departure. Webster was known for a mercurial violent temper that exploded when he was drinking. He returned to Ellington for a brief period later in the decade. After leaving Ellington he worked extensively in the 52nd Street jazz clubs in New York City. In 1953, he began a collaboration with Oscar Peterson that resulted in a number of outstanding recordings. He also recorded in the 1950's with Art Tatum, fellow tenor player Coleman Hawkins, and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. By the mid-1960's Webster moved permanently to Europe where he spent most of the remainder of his life. During this period he performed and recorded with a number of expatriate and touring American jazz musicians. Webster died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Amsterdam, Netherlands on September 20, 1973 at the age of 64. Tonight I'll be featuring three recordings featuring Ben Webster--"Soulville" (Verve) from 1957 featuring Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Stan Levey on drums; a November 1959 recording on Verve, "Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson"; and a 1960 recording "Ben Webster with Strings--The Warm Moods," arranged and conducted by Johnny Richards.
I'll finish the show by bringing back Nat King Cole. I played two Nat Cole Trio songs last night by John Pizzarelli--"Don't Let It Go To Your Head" (from "P.S. Mr. Cole") and "Beautiful Moons Ago," a neglected gem written by Nat and his guitarist Oscar Moore. This appeared on John's album "New Standards." If you're a jazz fan and don't dig Cole--either the jazz trio years or the classic pop years--consult Nurse Betty to take your pulse and give you some music appreciation pills.
When I lived on the east coast I used to listen to one of the great commercial radio stations in America--WNEW-AM in New York. WNEW played all the classic singers-- Crosby, Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella, Sarah, Billy Eckstine, and of course Nat. At some point--probably in the 1950's--Nat went into the studio and recorded a WNEW station I.D. The station will still running it in the 1980's. It lasted only about 10 seconds. Just Nat and the piano. I wish I had it to play for you: " There's only one...W-N-E-W, 1130 in New York." That's it. It was perfect. It was Nat. Unforgettable.
LITTLE DEAD ALIEN SPACEMEN IN THE DESERT...
On July 7, 1947, the infamous Roswell UFO incident took place which later led to stories that alien spacemen crashed their spaceship while checking things out. Kelly Buum of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia last night that Roswell is located in the state of New Mexico.
When the Roswell incident occurred the U.S Air Force said a weather balloon went down. What really happened was that a "flying disc" used to monitor nuclear testing was the actual device. The issue went away only to be revived more than 30 years later by conspiracy theorists who said there was evidence that aliens crashed in Roswell, their bodies were recovered, hauled away and stored, and the federal government covered everything up. The Roswell "conspiracy" became a cottage industry and what was wild and unsubstantiated rumor became a form of American mythology. If you thought the government was hiding something from you then you probably gave credence that something peculiar went down in Roswell. In the 90's the U.S. Force issued two reports which stated in no uncertain terms that no alien spaceship crashed in Roswell and no alien bodies were recovered. But it was a pretty good story nevertheless. Late night radio host Art Bell made his career on the Roswell incident and other convoluted conspiracy stories. Art's show was greatly entertaining--wild, weird, and totally wacko. And the Roswell Chamber of Commerce made out pretty well-- a lot of tee-shirts and souvenirs were sold. If you see little green men coming out of flying saucers in your neighborhood, call the proper authorities and take a sedative.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
TONIGHT ON THE BIG BROADCAST...
My "Artists in the Spotlight" will be the great clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, guitarists Bucky and John Pizzarelli, and singer Jessicca Molaskey, who happens to be John's wife. I'll be playing selections from a great 2003 recording on Arbors Records--"Cookin' the Books"--featuring Buddy, John, along with John's brother Martin, a bassist, and Butch Miles on drums. I've featured this recording a number of times in the past and am delighted to bring it back.
We lost Buddy DeFranco last year. He was considered to be one of the greatest clarinetists in jazz in the post Benny Goodman/Artie Shaw swing era. Buddy was the first clarinetist to fully embrace the bebop sound in the late 1940's. But he was as comfortable in the swing style as the bebop style. In the 60's he led the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Buddy was an immensely talented musician and is greatly missed.
John is probably better known as a vocalist these days than a guitarist but he's a master on the six-string. He has appeared on over 140 albums as a sideman, and most of his own albums as a singer and guitarist have been critically well-received and have sold well. He has a "cool" and sort of detached vocal style and some have compared him to his contemporary Harry Connick Junior (although Harry is more of a straight big band singer). Both Pizzarelli and Connick have made their names as singers of standards and the Great American Songbook. But John sings jazz well and has delved into other styles including bossa nova and pop. One of his early gigs was opening for Frank Sinatra in the 80's. Noticing that John was a skinny guy, Frank told him to eat something and gain some weight. John has recorded with a diverse collection of performers, everyone from George Shearing and Rosemary Clooney to Paul McCartney and James Taylor. He's also recorded with the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops. Two of his greatest albums are a Nat Cole tribute, "P.S. Mr. Cole," and "New Standards." As a solo vocalist Pizzarelli has recorded about 25 albums. He last appeared a a sideman last year with father Bucky on an Annie Ross vocal tribute to Billie Holiday, "To Lady With Love" (Red Anchor Records).
Bucky Pizzarelli is the patriarch of the family and has been around forever. He got his start at age 17 in 1944 when he joined Vaughn Monroe's band. Monroe was a very popular singer in the 1940's and 50's although he is largely forgotten today (he was sometimes derisively billed as "The Iron Lung" for his steely sounding voice). Bucky cites Django Reinhart, Freddie Green (Basie's great guitarist), and George Van Eps as his main influences. He played on a number of occasions with Benny Goodman. In 1952, Bucky became a staff musician for NBC-TV playing under the direction of Skitch Henderson and then in 1964 he became a part of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" band in New York, still being led at that time by Skitch. Later in the early 70's he was in the house band of the Dick Cavett Show on ABC. Bucky has been leading his own groups and recording albums on his own since the 1970's. He prefers the standards and traditional fare. In addition to sons John and Martin, Bucky's daughter Mary is a classical guitarist. A New Jersey native, Bucky resides near Saddle River with wife Ruth. He is now 89 years old.
Vocalist Jessica Molaskey has been married to John Pizzarelli since 1998. She is basically known as a singer of torch songs, show tunes and cabaret tunes with occasional forays into jazz material. She is a well-known Broadway actress and has appeared in a dozen shows on the Great White Way. John has appeared on five of her albums. Jessica and John have had a long-running gig at the Cafe Carlyle in New York (where Bobby Short ruled for decades). Jessica and John's daughter Madeleine is also a vocalist and guitarist. Jessica and John host a nationally syndicated weekly two hour radio show called "Radio Deluxe" which is broadcast from their living room in a high rise on Lexington Avenue in the Big Apple. Nice work if you can get it!
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...LOVE IS ALWAYS LOVELIER THE SECOND TIME AROUND...
Everybody who called last night responded correctly. Rick Sternadori of Sioux City, Iowa correctly guessed that Ronald Reagan is the only divorced president in U.S. history. Reagan was married to actress Jane Wyman from 1940 to 1949 (she passed away in 2007). The reason for the divorce is not completely clear but it is thought that Wyman wanted out of the marriage because of Ron's increasing involvement in Hollywood politics, namely the Screen Actors Guild, of which he would soon become president. The first Reagan marriage produced three children--Maureen (who died in 2001), an adopted son Michael, and a little girl who died one day after being born. The divorce was said to be devastating to Reagan. He met Nancy Davis shortly after the divorce and they were married in March 1952 (Reagan's best man was actor William Holden). The second Reagan marriage produced two children, Patti and Ron Jr. By all accounts the Ron and Nancy union was an extremely happy one. Ronald Reagan died at age 93 on June 5, 2004 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Nancy Reagan celebrated her 94th birthday yesterday, making her the oldest living former First Lady.
It used to be that a divorce was the kiss of death for a politician who hoped to have a future in national politics. The thinking was that being divorced was a serious character flaw. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller's presidential hopes were basically dashed when he divorced and remarried in 1963. By the 1970's, however, nobody really cared anymore whether a person running for president had been divorced and Reagan's first marriage did not hurt him in any way politically.
There have been three First Ladies who were divorced before marrying the man who would some day become president: Betty Ford, Florence Harding, and Rachel Jackson. Rachel Jackson was reputedly a bigamist because she married Andrew while still legally married to her first husband. Both Andrew and Rachel evidently had no idea the divorce had not been granted. The charge of bigamy came out in Jackson's 1828 presidential campaign by supporters of his opponent John Quincy Adams and it created a scandal. Jackson won the election but his wife died before Andrew was sworn into office. Jackson said the salacious gossip killed his wife and he never forgave those who spread the bigamy story during the campaign.
Three presidents got married while in office--John Tyler, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson. Tyler and Wilson lost their first wives when they died and then remarried. Cleveland was a bachelor when he married but admitted in his first presidential campaign in 1884 that he had fathered an illegitimate child a number of years before (politics is hardball). There has been only one bachelor president--James Buchanan, who served in the lead-up to the Civil War (1857-1861). He had been engaged but his fiancee died. However, there were rumors throughout his life that Buchanan was in fact gay. However, there has been no real proof to this allegation.
Monday, July 6, 2015
Good day jazz music lovers and South Dakota land lubbers. Hope all of you had a wonderful, restful, mellow, fairly sober, and happy Fourth of July holiday with family and friends. I'm back at the salt mine and ready to do business.
My "Artist in the Spotlight" during the third hour tonight will be the great alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. Of course, Paul is best known for his association with the Dave Brubeck Quartet for all of its existence (1951-1967). It was Desmond who wrote the quartet's most famous song, "Take Five." He was a close friend of Dave and played with him many times after the quartet officially disbanded. Desmond also recorded extensively outside of the quartet starting in the 1960's and continuing until his death in 1977. He did some wonderful work with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Jim Hall, and others. His 1970's recordings were outstanding. The "Desmond Sound" was light, airy, and always melodic. You only had to listen to two or three seconds of a Desmond solo to know who the player was. Although Desmond and Brubeck were both natives of northern California, only Desmond really became associated with the West Coast "cool" jazz sound of the 1950's--Dave was into something totally different. Much of the success of the classic Brubeck quartet was due to the juxtaposition of Desmond's airy style over Brubeck's sometimes heavy, polytonal piano work. The classic Brubeck quartet of the 1950's and 1960's (with Gene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums) was hugely popular on college campuses and among young people, at least until rock 'n roll took over. Desmond and Brubeck, despite their close and devoted friendship, were two totally different people--Brubeck was the good family man while Desmond was a ladies man who drank a lot of scotch and smoked too much. The smoking is what led to his untimely demise as he succumbed to lung cancer on May 30, 1977. He was only 52 years old. Desmond was known for his wry wit. He said he wanted his horn to sound like "a dry martini" and it did. Among other notable quotes: "I was unfashionable before anyone knew who I was"..."Writing is like jazz. It can be learned , but it can't be taught"..."Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of 23 and above." Desmond is one of those instrumentalists I can listen to all night. He is extremely easy on the ears. Paul left us much too soon and is greatly missed.
I'll finish the show tonight with Julie London. There was nobody like Julie, nobody. Her vocal range was limited but this worked to her advantage; she sang smoky, sultry, sensually, sexy, and cool. She's best remembered for her 1955 signature song, "Cry Me a River." From the 1955 to 1969 period she recorded prolifically on Liberty Records and then retired from singing completely before her 45th birthday. It's still not clear to me why but the best explanation is that her singing style went out of fashion among the mainstream audience and she became a casualty of rock 'n roll. Many people still remember Julie London as nurse Dixie McCall on the "Emergency" TV series in the 1970's, co-starring husband Bobby Troup and produced by former husband Jack Webb. London began as an actress and made her first film in 1944 at age eighteen. She was a featured player in numerous films from the mid-1940's through the 1950's and then appeared frequently on television in the 1960's and 1970's. But she's best remembered today for her singing and remains one of the great California West Coast "cool" jazz singers. Her album covers are unforgettable. This is a woman who projected adult sexuality--sex with sophistication. One of her more memorable songs was "Good Girls Don't Stay for Breakfast." Julie's sexual sophistication on film carried over into her music. Her friends remember her as a down-to-earth kind woman who always put people at ease...in other words, no diva star trip. London continues to have a hard-core following of loyal fans and over the years has gained increasing respect as a jazz singer. One imagines her as statuesque when in fact she was only five feet three inches tall. After retiring from singing and acting in the late 1970's she led a very private life. Husband Bobby Troup died in 1999. Julie suffered a stroke in 1995 and remained in poor health until her death on October 18, 2000 in Encino, California at the age of 74. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for recording) is located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured as always at the halfway point of the show--9:30ish central/8:30ish mountain. And I'll get to as many of the new releases as I can.
Here are the new ones that just landed on my desk--the jazz nerve center of South Dakota:
George Cables--"In Good Company" High Note Records
Heads of State--Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams, Al Foster--"Search for Peace" Smoke Sessions Records
Sammy Figueroa--"Imaginary World" Savant Records
Robert Glasper--"Covered" Blue Note Records
Saturday, July 4, 2015
All of you have a great Fourth of July holiday! They tell me I'm a state employee and have to take the night off. However, rest assured that we've covered during the JN hours tonight. Like a good neighbor Jazz Nightly is there. During the first hour on "Jim Jazz Gems"--the guitar of Wes Montgomery and the vocals of Ernestine Anderson. During the second hour..."Big Band Spotlight" with Karl Gehrke featuring World War II songs. During the third hour a program called "The New Jazz Archive: Jazz Americana." The "Jazz Nightly" playlists for Thursday and tonight are on the main JN page along with everything else I've played on the program dating back to 1957. Also scrowl down below for the listing of this week's new CDs and the top 40 releases I'm featuring on the show.
I'll be back live on Monday night with my "Artist in the Spotlight"--alto saxophonist Paul Desmond--during the third hour. Of course, Paul was part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet during the entire existence of the group from 1951 to 1967. He reunited with Dave frequently after that. Paul was quoted as saying that he wanted to sound like "a dry martini" and he succeeded. I'll finish the show with a woman with a come hither voice, perhaps the sexiest singer ever, Julie London. Julie was NOT the girl next door. But most guys wanted to get to know her better. Our Miss Julie sang jazz well and looked great as a calendar girl.
As usual, the trivia question will be posed during the first hour and my South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured at the halfway point of the show. And as always I'll be playing the best of the new releases.
A FOURTH OF JULY MEMORY...
My family was celebrating the Fourth in Vassar, Michigan in 1961. Vassar, a small town of about three thousand people, is about 20 miles east of Saginaw in Michigan's Thumb region. My dad was a history and government teacher at the local high school. We were living in a great house on Day Road just outside town. My uncle and aunt and cousins stopped by. After the Fourth of July barbeque feast Mom and Dad let us kids light sparklers. My younger brother Joe lit one and then got a little panicky. He threw it on the roof of the garage and it landed in an eaves-trough. For a few seconds there was the possibility that the garage might burn down. My dad and Uncle Don acted quickly and fortunately there was a garden hose nearby. Unfortunately it didn't quite reach to the garage so they filled pails of water and threw them onto the roof. Crisis averted. There was no property damage and nobody got hurt. I suppose my brother learned a lesson. The lesson? Kids, watch where you throw those sparklers and don't do something immature...even if you don't know any better.
I talked to my brother Joe a few days ago and he couldn't even remember the incident. The summer of 1961. For me that was several lifetimes ago.
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was shot at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station in Washington D.C. by a crazed and delusional office seeker, Charles Guiteau. Garfield died of his wounds on September 19th. Mary Panerio of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia that Garfield's successor as 21st President of the United States was Chester A. Arthur.
Guiteau can best be described as a "loser" and was completely delusional at the time of the shooting. He had somehow convinced himself that he was responsible for Garfield's election as president in 1880. In the early months of 1881 he repeatedly hounded major officials of the Garfield administration--including Secretary of State James Blaine-- for a high level ambassador appointment, namely to Austria and then France. He was told in no uncertain terms to cease and desist. After the shooting Garfield suffered massive infections because doctors probed his wounds with unwashed hands and non-sterilized instruments. Had the sterilization practices of modern medicine prevailed Garfield likely would have survived. Guiteau was charged with murder and sentenced to death. He was hanged in Washington, D.C. on June 30, 1882, just two days before the first anniversary of the shooting. He remained unrepentant to the end. Garfield served as president for a little more than six months. His successor, Chester Arthur, was denied the Republican presidential nomination in 1884 and served until the end of Garfield's term. He died shortly thereafter.
It is worth nothing that in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century there were three presidential assassinations in the course of 36 years--Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Garfield in 1881, and William McKinley in 1901. The fourth president to be assassinated was John F. Kennedy in November 1963. There have been a number of other presidential assassination attempts--the last involving Ronald Reagan in March 1981.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
GREETINGS FROM THE NEUHARTH MEDIA CENTER DANCE HALL...
Hi! How are you? This week I've consulted the most brilliant computer tech minds in the state of South Dakota in an attempt to get these jazz notes on the main Jazz Nightly page. I think we've succeeded. Go right below last night's playlist on the main page and the jazz notes for Thursday, July 2nd will be there--info on my "Artist in the Spotlight" tonight--Ahmad Jamal, as well as Kurt Elling. Starting tomorrow all of the jazz notes will be there in a daily file instead of the long continuous dated stories that you are seeing now. It's a brave new world, baby!
LAST NIGHT'S TRIVIA...
Gerald McKinney of Howard, South Dakota correctly guessed that the Battle of Gettysburg--which determined the future course of the American Civil War--was fought in the state of Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought over three days from July 1st through the 3rd of 1863, 152 years ago. Gettysburg was a bloodbath. There has been nothing like it in American history. The battle was a marginal victory for the North but an important one since it shifted the tide in favor of the Union in the Civil War. The numbers tell the story: Almost eight thousand men died over three days--approximately 32 hundred Union soldiers and over 4,700 Confederates. In addition to the dead another 27 thousand were wounded. Only one civilian was killed--a young woman who was hit by a stray bullet while in her kitchen in town. Because of the summer heat the dead soldiers had to be buried quickly, and some three thousand dead horses also had to be buried. The stench was said to be overwhelming. Abraham Lincoln came to commemorate the Gettysburg battlefield in November 1863 and delivered his famous address which has gone down in history as one of the greatest speeches ever made by an American president. It lasted less than five minutes. The Gettysburg battlefield, a national historic site, continues to draw many visitors today, particularly those with a strong interest in the Civil War.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Welcome to July! Rent's due at my mansion today. I always pay up promptly because if I don't my landlady gets very, very testy with me.
Tonight on The Big Show during the third hour: the vibes of Steve Hobbs and then I'll bring back one of the greatest jazz singers ever, Mel Torme.
Steve is a veteran performer who has been on the scene for over thirty years. As a youth he started playing trumpet and then drums. At age 17, he switched to vibes. Steve received a bachelor's degree in music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1978. He received a master's degree in music from the University of Miami in 1982. He has performed theater concerts and given performances in jazz clubs through the United States as well as in Canada and Europe. As a sideman he has worked with a variety of great musicians. I'll be featuring tracks from two releases--a 2000 recording called "Second Encounter" (Candid Records) with pianist Kenny Barron, Peter Washington on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. I'll also be playing selections featuring Steve from a 2012 recording--a group called the North America Jazz Alliance--"The Montreal Sessions" (Challenge Records).
What can you say about Mel? He was a true renaissance man--singer, songwriter, drummer, actor, writer. Mel's career spanned over 65 years. He got his start at age four in 1929 with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra in Chicago singing "You're Driving Me Crazy" at the Blackhawk Restaurant. In the 30's and early 40's he was a child and teenage radio actor. At age 16, he published his first song (recorded by Harry James) and shortly thereafter began singing and playing drums with the Chico Marx band. At age 19, he formed the "Mel-Tones," one of the first jazz-influenced vocal groups. The Mel-Tones were inspired by Tommy Dorsey's Pied Pipers but its jazz leanings and sophisticated arrangements later made the way for the Four Freshmen, the Hi-Lo's, and Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. By 1947, Mel was a major singing star and made his solo debut at the Copacabana, the premier New York nightclub where the elite gathered to meet and greet. Soon afterward he was dubbed "The Velvet Fog" by a New York disc-jockey, Fred Robbins. Mel hated the name but it stuck. In the early years he was a swooner-crooner with a devoted following of teenage girls (like Sinatra a few years before), but by the early 1950's he was developing into a genuine jazz singer. The great jazz and gospel singer Ethel Waters was quoted as saying: "Torme is the only white man who sings with the soul of a black man." Noted jazz critic Will Friedwald said this about Mel:
"Torme works with the most beautiful voice a man is allowed to have, and he combines it with a flawless sense of pitch. As an improviser he shames all but two or three other scat singers and quite a few horn players as well."
Mel left us on June 5, 1999 at age 73 but his discography over the course of 50 years is considerable. I'll be playing some classic Torme tracks from the 50's and 60's to end the show tonight.
LAST NIGHT'S TRIVIA...
Martha Desue of Orlando, Florida correctly guessed that Mary Wilson was one of the original members of the 1960's Motown superstar group The Supremes. The others were Diana Ross and Florence Ballard. Ballard would have been 72 years old yesterday. She died tragically young, of a coronary blood clot at age 32 on February 22, 1976.
Ballard's demise was a very sad story. Ballard, Ross, and Wilson met in the Detroit housing projects in the late 1950's and first became known as the Primettes. They were signed by Barry Gordy to Motown Records in early 1961, and it was Ballard who came up with the idea of naming the group The Supremes. After a number of singles that didn't go anywhere, The Supremes scored their first hit in 1963 with "When the Love Light Starts Shining Through His Eyes." The follow-up record, "Where Did Our Love Go," shot to #1 in the spring of 1964 and ten more #1 hits followed in the next three years. However, Ballard and Wilson resented Ross emerging as the lead singer and focal point of the group. Ballard started drinking heavily and this finally resulted in her being dismissed from the group in July 1967, replaced by Cindy Birdsong. At precisely this time the group became known as "The Supremes with Diana Ross" and thereafter became her star vehicle. Ross left the group in 1970 and quickly emerged as a solo singing star. Wilson stayed with a reformed Supremes lineup until 1977 when the group broke up. Ballard attempted a solo singing career on ABC Records in 1968 but was unsuccessful. She continued to struggle with alcoholism and reportedly wound up on welfare in Detroit. She was in the process of attempting a comeback when she died in 1976. In 1988, the original Supremes--Ross, Wilson, and Ballard--were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wilson continues to perform from time to time. Ross has mostly retired from music.
Last night I played guitarist Charlie Apicella's version of a 1966 Supremes hit, "I Hear a Symphony" (music by Holland, Dozier, Holland). I am not aware of any other Supremes' songs that have been covered by a jazz group or a jazz singer.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
TONIGHT ON JIMMY C's SUMMERTIME FUNTIME GOODTIME JAZZ SHOW: Pianist Mike Longo and vocalist Kevin Mahogany will be featured during the third hour.
Mike Longo has been a fixture on the jazz scene for more than fifty years. In his case it helped to have friends in high places...in other words, distinguished musical mentors. He was born in Cincinnati in 1939 but as a small child moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As a teenager in the mid-50's Mike came into contact with Cannonball Adderley. Cannonball, who had yet to make a name for himself in New York and was still living in Florida, helped young Mike get jazz gigs. Mike later went on to receive a bachelor's degree in music from Western Kentucky University. Then good fortune struck again when Dizzy Gillespie heard him in a jazz club, the Metropole in New York. Diz would later become his main mentor and subsequently hired him for his quintet. Over time Mike became the musical director of the group. He also was part of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band. Through the decades Mike had a close personal friendship with Diz and was with him on the night he died in January 1993. These days Longo performs weekly at the Bahai Center in New York, named in honor of Diz, and like Gillespie he is a member of the Bahai faith. Another important mentor was Oscar Peterson. Mike took lessons from Oscar for about six months from 1961 to 1962 and learned much of his technique from the master. Longo has been leading his own trio since the 1960's. His latest release, a live recording from the Bahai Center, came out last year.
Kevin Mahogany is one of the finest male jazz singers in the world today. He's originally from Kansas City but these days lives in Miami (I interviewed Kevin about a year and a half ago on JN). Mahogany attended Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas and after graduation returned to KC. He's been performing professionally since the 1970's and started to attract a strong local KC following in the early 80's. In 1991, his vocals were featured on a big band CD by a fellow Kansas native, Frank Mantooth. Kevin's first CD came out in 1993, "Double Rainbow." He has issued a series of fine recordings over the years on his own label, Mahogany Jazz. He's also recorded on the Enja, Warner Brothers, and Telarc labels. Several years ago he recorded a great collection of tunes associated with Johnny Hartman. His last two releases were "Next Time You See Me" with the Dave Stryker Organ Trio in 2012, and "Old, New, Borrowed, and the Blues" in 2013. In 1996, Kevin appeared in the critically praised Robert Altman jazz film "Kansas City," and his character was said to be based on that of the great blues singer Big Joe Turner. Kevin is sometimes compared to Johnny Hartman and Joe Williams--deeply influenced by the blues--but his singing style is completely his own. He cites as his vocal influences Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, Al Jarreau, and Eddie Jefferson. As a jazz educator, Mahogany has taught at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and also at the University of Miami. Kevin will be 57 years old on July 30th, and he's at the top of his game. Kevin is no stranger to South Dakota, having performed a few years ago at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls.
MY CUP RUNNETH OVER WITH JAZZ LOVE...
More new releases have arrived at the jazz desk...the jazz nerve center of South Dakota. Here's what just arrived and what I'll be playing in the nights ahead:
Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra--"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" Blujazz Productions. Trumpeter Warfield has had a number of releases out in the last few years. Hell's Kitchen is the infamous po' section of New York City where Warfield still resides; this new release is pretty straight ahead jazz orchestra style with just a slight touch of funk. The title cut, of course, is the great Cannonball Adderley song.
Linda Dachtyl--"A Late One" Chicken Coup Records. Chicken Coup is B-3 organist Tony Monaco's label and Linda is a Hammond B-3 player/drummer out of Tony's hometown of Columbus, Ohio. A very interesting selection of songs here including Horace Silver's "Mysticism," Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night," something called "Bucketful of Soul," and "Topsy--A Tribute to Cozy Cole." Chicken Coup Records is an offshoot of Summit Records and the label is devoted to young and/or unknown Hammond B-3 players across the country.
Trumpet Summit Prague--Randy Brecker, Bobby Shew, Jan Hasenohrl and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and St. Blaise's Big Band, conducted by Vince Mendoza--"The Mendoza Arrangements-Live" Summit Records. An ambitious project--anything with Randy and Bobby on it gets my immediate attention.
Danielle Reich--"While They Were Dancing" Danielle Reich Music. Danielle is out of Austin, Texas, a fertile music ground that is known for more than country/folk/ Americana/and rock music. Most of the songs are well-known standards but one is written by the redoubtable Leonard Cohen--"If It Be Your Will."
A Bu Trio--"88 Tones of Black and White" Bluejazz Productions A Bu is a 15-year old phenom jazz pianist from Beijing, China. A jazz scene in mainland China? You bet. A Bu recently spent time studying jazz at a summer camp at the University of Kansas and later went to summer jazz camp at SUNY College in New York. That's the great thing about jazz--anyone anywhere can become a jazz musician. The other members of the trio are Ma Kai on bass and Shao Ha Ha on drums.
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
Yesterday was the birthday of the late great Minnesota Twins slugger and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. "The Killer" passed away in 2011 at the age of 74, and he is probably the greatest and most beloved player to ever put on a Twins uniform. Killebrew played 22 seasons in the major leagues. His last season was spent with the Kansas City Royals in 1975. The Twins began playing in the American League starting in 1961. Roger Campbell of Sioux Falls correctly guessed last night that the Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota following the 1960 season. Killebrew played for the Senators from 1954 until they moved to Minnesota. The Senators were one of the original American League teams when the junior circuit began in 1901. The Senators never had much success--as Washingtonians they were known as "first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." When owner Calvin Griffith moved the franchise to Minnesota, an expansion Washington franchise--also called the Senators--replaced them for the 1961 season. That team also was a perennial cellar dweller in the American League. The expansion Senators moved to suburban Dallas, Texas and became the Rangers for the 1972 season. Washington now has a third major league baseball team. The Nationals have played in the NL since 2005, when the Montreal Expos left Quebec for good.
Monday, June 29, 2015
A gracious good day to you all. Hope you all had a great weekend and were able to relax and stay mellow if that's your thing (it definitely is my thing). The weather really couldn't be better in Vermillion town--no complaints. This will be an abbreviated week because of the Fourth of July holiday. Friday is a state holiday for state employee #7562345781A moi but we'll have the "Jazz Nightly" hours covered--"Jim's Jazz Gems" during the first hour featuring Wes Montgomery and Ernestine Anderson; "Big Band Spotlight" during the second hour--World War II songs; and music from "The New Jazz Archive" series--"Jazz Americana" during the third hour.
NEAL HEFTI FOREVER...
I get 'em in and I play 'em. Just received a super new release by saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist Adrian Cunningham--"Ain't That Right! The Music of Neal Hefti (Arbors Jazz). To the non-jazz audience, if they remember Neal Hefti at all, they remember him as the guy who wrote TV's "Batman Theme" in the 1960's. Jazz fans in the know remember Neal for so much more...mainly for his compositions and charts for the "New Testament" Count Basie band in the 1950's and early 60's including "The Complete Atomic Basie" in which Neal composed the whole thing. He got his start in Woody Herman's band in the 1940's and then after he left Basie's employ led his own band for a while. He composed, arranged, and conducted great albums with Frank Sinatra and Della Reese. Over the years it seems his songs have been recorded by everybody, big bands, small jazz groups, and singers alike. At some point everybody gets around to doing "Girl Talk" (with lyrics by Bobby Troup). On Cunningham's new release all of the great Hefti tunes are there including "Girl Talk," "Li'l Darlin'," "Cute," and "The Odd Couple Theme" as well as others not so well known. Among the other players on this excellent CD are Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Dan Nimmer on piano, Corcoran Holt on bass, and Chuck Redd on drums. Neal left us at age 85 in 2008 but music lovers--the real jazz fans--will never forget him and all of his great songs, particularly his contributions to the Basie band.
ALSO JUST IN...
Lee Smith--"My Kind of Blues" Vectordisc Records Really nice sounds here with veteran jazz players. Bassist Lee Smith is the father is bassist Christian McBride. The son is just a chip off the old bass block . Dad taught him a trick or two.
Donald Vega--"With Respect to Monty" Resonance Records. Pianist Donald Vega's tribute to piano legend Monty Alexander. Seven Alexander compositions are featured here. The other players: Anthony Wilson on guitar, Hasaan Shakur on bass, Lewis Nash on drums.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
If you're consulting this during the weekend...well, you probably don't have enough excitement in your life or you get bored easily or your dog left you. Maybe your wife or husband/girlfriend or boyfriend flew the coop. But I'm glad you've checked in to my page anyway. Have a great weekend! I'll be back at the popsicle stand Monday night same time and same place. You know where to find me.
THE TWO BOBBYS ON MONDAY NIGHT...
The spotlight will be on the two Bobbys during the third hour of "Jazz Nightly" Monday night--Bob Mintzer and Bobby Caldwell.
Specifically, I'll be playing selections from Bob Mintzer's Big Band and a great series of recordings he's made over the years. Bob has just released a new CD with his big band--"Get Up!" on the MCG Jazz label (Manchester Craftsmen's Guild out of Pittsburgh). It's pretty funky. Bob may be the hardest working man in jazz today. For over three decades he's been a multiple threat--leading his own quartet and big band, leading a separate group--The Yellowjackets-- composing and arranging for his own groups and others, and heavily involved in jazz education. Known as a great tenor saxophonist, Bob tours all over the world. At age 62, Bob's breadth of experience is simply amazing and he has performed live or recorded with many music giants--everyone from Buddy Rich, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and Tito Puente, to James Taylor and Steely Dan, to Art Blakey to Nancy Wilson and Kurt Elling to the New York Philharmonic. His musical epiphany came in 1967 when he was a sophomore at New Rochelle High School just outside of New York City. Dr. Billy Taylor's "Jazzmobile" came to his school, and Billy was with tenor saxophonist Harold Land, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Grady Tate. Bob says that's when he decided to become a jazz musician. Later that year he went to Manhattan and heard a double bill featuring the Miles Davis Quintet and the Thelonious Monk Quartet, and that sealed the deal.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob about a year or so ago when he stopped in Vermillion to conduct a jazz clinic and then gave a performance at the University of South Dakota. He had just returned from Europe, went straight to LA, and then a few hours later flew to South Dakota. The man was tired and I really appreciated him showing up for the interview after a very long day. At 5 in the morning he sent me an email from his Vermillion motel room thanking me for interviewing him. Bob keeps moving, always moving. In May he performed in Switzerland, then headed to the famed Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., then went to the Blue Note jazz club in New York. Earlier this month he spent a week at the Hong Kong Jazz Festival, then immediately flew to Europe for a week of performances. Last night--Friday, June 26th--he performed with the Yellowjackets at the Rochester Jazz Festival in Rochester, New York. He returns to Europe for a series of gigs on July 1st through the 15th. Then a week in Port Townsend, Washington conducting a jazz camp. Then dates in August in LA (at the Hollywood Bowl), and San Diego. In September he'll be performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival. I think's he's doing more dates these days than Tony Bennett. I hope he's getting a significant financial break by racking up all those frequent flyer miles. He must feel that he spends most of his life on airplanes and in airports.
I'll finish the show with singer Bobby Caldwell, another man on the move this summer. Bobby first became known as a pop singer with a hit in 1978, "What You Won't Do for Love." That single went to #9 on the U.S. Billboard pop chart, #6 on the R&B chart, and #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart. He has become especially popular in Japan. In the 90's he made the transition into big band singing with two great recordings, "Blue Condition," and "Come Rain or Come Shine" (Sin Drome Records). The man knows how to swing Sinatra style...he's got it down. Bobby goes back and forth these days between blue-eyed R&B/pop and swinging big band singing. He was interviewed a week ago by Tavis Smiley on his PBS talk show. Bobby will perform in the R&B style during a show in Denver on Saturday, July 11th. Then he returns to Japan in late July for shows in Tokyo and Osaka. In August he'll perform in Fresno, California, then Sculler's jazz club in Boston, and finally B.B. King's club in New York City. On Friday, September 4th, Bobby performs his "Perfectly Frank" show (the songs of Sinatra) at the University of Nevada in Reno.
Because I'm filling Monday's third hour with two Bobbys, there will be no room for Bobby Dylan, Bobby Darin, Bobby Short, Bobby Hutcherson, Bobby McFerrin, Bobbie Gentry, Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vee, Bobby Sherman, or Bobby Vinton, or running jazz commentary by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. By the end of show we'll probably be all Bobby'd out.
ME AND MRS. JONES...WE'VE GOT A THING GOIN' ON...
Last night I played organist Tony Monaco's vocal version of "Me and Mrs. Jones." During the third hour I had to give the ladies equal air time so I followed it up with Irene Reid's version of "Me and Mr. Jones." The song is about bold-faced adultery and a man's/woman's moral misgivings about it and the complications that ensue. Illicit relationships are so complicated, don't you think?
Pat Weisbeck of Rapid City correctly guessed during trivia that Philadelphia soul singer Billy Paul had the big hit with "Me and Mrs. Jones" in December of 1972. It spent three consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart and went to #1 for four weeks on the Billboard R&B chart. The song was featured on the album "360 Degrees of Billy Paul" and was written by the famed Philly songwriting team of Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert. You can still hear the song occasionally on pop oldies radio stations. Other versions of "Me and Mrs. Jones" have been recorded over the years including by Johnny Mathis, the 70's soul group The Dramatics, and more recently by crooner Michael Buble. It also has been covered in live performance by Darryl Hall and John Oates, as well as Stevie Wonder. Billy Paul was 38-years old when the song became a hit and he's now 81 years of age.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Tonight at precisely 8:02 p.m. central time/7:02 p.m. mountain daylight swingin' time...the weekend officially begins by my official decree. Take a post-it note, mark down the time, and put it on your refrigerator door or on your forehead. That's when we swing.
TONY MONACO TONIGHT DURING THE THIRD HOUR...
I'll be bringing back one of the most seriously smokin' and dangerous Hammond B-3 organ players in the world today, the formidable Tony Monaco. I had the great pleasure of introducing him on the main stage at "Jazz Fest" in Sioux Falls way back in 2002. I also had Tony on for a phone interview last year. Tony is a native and current resident of Columbus, Ohio but does gigs all across the country as well as a good amount of teaching on the B-3. Tony's been playing the organ since his early teens and also is an accomplished accordion player. A long-standing engagement in Columbus has been at the 5:01 Jazz Bar, and that's where a live recording was made a number of years ago. Tony has released many recordings on the Summit Records label and in recent years has been in charge of a subsidiary of that label, Chicken Coup Records. Chicken Coup is reserved for Tony's recordings and also those of other young B-3 organ players. On the 5:01 Jazz Bar live recording he does a ten minute version of "Takin' My Time," which blows the roof off the joint. He oh-so-slowly took his time and then there was a nuclear explosion near the end. He did "Takin' My Time" at "Jazz Fest" all those many years ago. Tony performed last week in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, and Elkhart, Indiana. He'll be performing next month in Buffalo, New York and then in Erie, Pennsylvania in August. We need to have him come back to South Dakota to perform VERY soon.
Tony's also a fine singer and a few of his vocals appear on his CDs. During trivia tonight I'm going to play Tony's version of a hit by a soul/pop singer from Philadelphia that went to #1 for three weeks in late 1972. I'll ask you to name the original vocalist.
I'll finish the show and the week with the unforgettable Irene Reid, who left us in 2008. She also employed organ players on her recordings including Charles "The Burner" Earland. I imagine I'll get around to playing "Big Fat Daddy"--an anthem for overweight males--one that gives us hope of finding a "satisfying" physical relationship with a significant other, perhaps romance and all that mushy stuff. This song is right out of the "Party Central" directory. Irene was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia but moved to New York in 1947 when she was seventeen. She then decided to try out for the famed Apollo Theatre weekly amateur contest. She not only won it the first time but won it again for the next four weeks. From 1961-1962, she sang with Count Basie's band. Her first album--"It's Only the Beginning for Irene Reid"-- came out in 1963 on MGM Records. Her second on Verve Records in 1965, "Room for One More," was arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson. Irene recorded only sporadically after that and like so many female jazz singers was negatively impacted by the domination of rock 'n roll in the 1960's. But she came back strong in the 90's with a series of great recordings on the Savant label. There was nobody even remotely like Irene. She let loose and took no prisoners.
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
I seem to have one devoted listener in Orlando, Florida. Darlene Young was listening on the web last night and correctly answered that actress June Lockhart starred in the CBS-TV series "Lassie" from 1958 until 1964. It's largely forgotten now but the "Lassie" show went beyond the 1960's and aired on CBS until 1973, a total of 20 seasons. After 1964 the program changed its story line significantly. Lockhart portrayed mother Ruth (opposite Hugh Reilly as her husband Paul, and Jon Provost as son Timmy). Lassie, of course, portrayed Lassie and he/she? was a good dog. "Lassie" went on the air in 1954 with actress Cloris Leachman originally cast in the Ruth role. June Lockhart celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday. She had a number of prominent film and TV roles before "Lassie." She was known for her on-screen wholesomeness and is remembered for being the quintessentially good-hearted TV mother of that era. After her involvement in "Lassie" ended Lockhart starred in two more TV series in the 1960's--"Lost in Space" and "Petticoat Junction."
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Good Day Music Lovers. Lots of great sounds are coming up on tonight's Really Big Shew (thanks to Ed Sullivan). I signed off last night by saying the show felt like it went by in seven and a half minutes. For me it's an intense three hours and then it's over. Hopefully it's a relaxing three hours to you. Let's play two!! (thanks to the late Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks).
SINGER LAUREN HENDERSON..
Just received a release from vocalist Lauren Henderson. It's called "A La Madrugada." She appears to be part Latino-American and part African American. Originally from Massachusetts, she's currently based in New York. She's a really fine jazz singer who does Latin numbers as well as straight-ahead jazz tunes. I will debut this new CD on the air tonight. There are beautiful women and there are REALLY beautiful women. Lauren falls into the second category. Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez have got nothing on her. Trust me on this. You can go to Lauren's website--laurenhendersonmusic.com and find out what I'm talking about.
RELAXIN' MUSIC WITH GUITARIST JOHNNY SMITH TONIGHT...
Today is the birthday of the great jazz guitarist Johnny Smith. He would have been 93 years old. Johnny passed away almost exactly two years ago--June 11, 2013--just before his 91st birthday. His career began in a hillbilly band that traveled around Maine. Then at some point in the late 1930's he began to listen to jazz and the big bands on the radio and made the switch. Smith was considered one of the most versatile guitarists of the 1950's and was greatly respected by fellow musicians. He first became known in a series of recordings in 1952 with tenor saxophonists Stan Getz and Zoot Sims. The result was a hit, "Moonlight in Vermont," and other gems that have retained a timeless quality. I'll be playing selections tonight from Smith's classic sessions from 1952 and 1953. A Johnny Smith original composition, "Walk, Don't Run," was recorded in 1954 and soon another great young guitarist, Chet Atkins, covered it. In 1960, the Ventures guitar group recorded it at a much faster tempo, and it went to #2 on the Billboard pop chart in September of that year. It was the start of a string of successful records in the 60's for the Ventures. Three separate guitar manufacturing companies--Gibson, Heritage, and Guild--made models designed and endorsed by Johnny Smith. He moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1958 and essentially removed himself from the big city jazz scene. Smith stayed there for the rest of his life, teaching guitar to students and running a music store. The move to Colorado followed the death of his wife and when he was faced with raising his daughter alone. The Johnny Smith discography is fairly limited. He recorded just eleven albums in his career. Here's an interesting sidenote: former SDPB Director of Radio Terry Harris once took guitar lessons from Johnny Smith as a kid. However, Terry did not become a professional jazz guitarist. Instead he later became my boss. There's a lesson to be learned here. Terry took guitar and I took one year of clarinet. The lesson is if you want to go into management, pick up a guitar.
ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY...
I'll finish the show tonight a great New York City based singer, Ann Hampton Callaway. She effortlessly goes back and forth between pure jazz singing and the cabaret style. Ann is noted for her tireless devotion to the Great American Songbook of the 20's, 30's, and 40's. She's also a gifted songwriter and her songs have been sung by major performers including Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein, Blossom Dearie, Karrin Allyson, and many others. If you're a singer who happens to be in New York, call up Ann and she'll give you a song. Callaway also has extensive experience as an actress in stage musicals. She has recorded 14 albums over the last twenty years, the last being 2014's excellent "From Sassy To Divine: The Sarah Vaughan Project" (Shanachie Entertainment), a live date in New York. Ann is probably best known to the general public as the one who sang the opening theme to "The Nanny" TV show in the 1990's. She composed the song--it's catchy and it swings. The show, however, was not for intellectuals.
SOUTH DAKOTA JAZZ STARS...at the usual time, 9:30ish central/8:30ish mountain daylight swingin' time. I'll be playing selections from the Sioux Falls Big Band, the Rausis/Royer jazz guitar duo, and more from singer Kathy's Kosins' performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls back on April 10th.
TRIVIA LAST NIGHT...
Cindy Ellsworth of Madison, SD correctly guessed that character actor Al Molinaro portrayed the owner of Al's malt shop in the 1970's and early 80's classic TV show "Happy Days." Molinaro celebrated his 96th birthday yesterday. He first became known in the early 70's on TV's " The Odd Couple" (starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman). Molinaro portrayed police officer Murray Greshler, the guy who got laughs by sticking his nose through the peephole doorway of Felix and Oscar's apartment. From 1976 to 1982, he was featured on "Happy Days" as Al Delvecchio, the good natured owner of Al's, the place where all the kids hung out. After "Happy Days" ended its run Molinaro appeared briefly in a spin-off called "Joanie Loves Chachi" (it bombed). Still later he appeared in TV commercials for On-Cor frozen dinners, and also with former Chicago Bears star William "The Refrigerator" Perry for "Mr. Big" toilet paper (no further comment is needed). His role on "Happy Days" is fondly remembered by today's grown-ups who were kids when the program was on. However, this show also was not for intellectuals. It had only a slight resemblance to what was really going on in American life in the 1950's.
"THE LOOK OF LOVE"...TRUTH IN ADVERTISING...
FROM THE MISTS OF TIME: During the first hour last night I played singer Rene Marie's excellent version of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David classic "The Look of Love," which appears on the new recording by The H2 Big Band led by trumpeter Al Hood and pianist Dave Hanson. Dusty Springfield had a big hit with the song in 1967, which originally appeared in the movie "Casino Royale." I impulsively mentioned that film horror legend Boris Karloff recorded the song shortly after Dusty's version came out. I am almost completely certain that Karloff recorded it--not singing it but reciting the lyrics in spooky spoken form to a lush instrumental backing. But I can't prove it. I searched the Wikipedia listing for those who have recorded "The Look of Love" and also Karloff's own Wikipedia bio but couldn't find any information whether Boris recorded it. Then I thought it might have been Bobby "Boris" Pickett who did it (he was famous for "The Monster Mash," a hit on two separate occasions in the 60's. However, that search didn't turn up anything. But I think it was indeed Mr. Karloff, who died in 1969.
Here's what I remember: I came upon the recording in the mid-1970's when working as a disc-jockey at a radio station in Port Huron, Michigan. To the best of my memory it was a promotional recording--an anthology of different artists-- issued only to radio stations so that they would have something to play during Halloween. The album had been in the music library for a number of years. The Karloff version was never released commercially to a national audience and that's why there's no information on it now. I am almost certain of this but probably will never be able to prove it. I could be wrong so don't bet the rent payment on it.
"The Look of Love" has been recorded by a wide assortment of very diverse artists. I'm counting over 60 versions of the song in all musical genres--middle-of-the-road pop singers in the 60's, rock groups, soul singers, an incredible assortment of talent. Great vocal versions were done in the 60's by Nina Simone, Dionne Warwick, and Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. Early jazz versions of the song were recorded by Louis Bellson, Willie Bobo, Ahmad Jamal, Gene Harris,Barney Kessel, Stanley Turrentine, Ramsey Lewis, Ray Bryant, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, and organist Reuben Wilson. Later jazz versions were recorded by trumpeter Chris Botti, organist Larry Goldings and tenor saxophonist Harry Allen together (in 2010). In addition to Rene Marie's new version, the most recent jazz versions have been recorded by pianist Beegie Adair with the Jeff Steinberg Orchestra, and singer Diana Krall. The song has proved to be a royalty gold mine for Mr. Bacharach and the estate of Mr. David.
If you stumble upon the Karloff version of "The Look of Love" on a 45 or 33 rpm record at a garage sale, hold on to it because it's probably worth a lot of money. I think I'm on solid ground regarding Boris recording the song--it's an absolute hoot. Would I lie to you, baby??
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
It's the middle of the working week if you're workin' (a good way to earn some dough). For me these are "The Days of Wine and Roses"...and typing (sorry Mr. Mancini). Actually, I'm not a fancy wine drinker. I drink the cheap generic instant coffee rotgut brand, and I fear it isn't doing me any good.
TONIGHT ON JIM'S FULL SERVICE JAZZ SHOW (OIL CHANGE AND LUBE WILL COST YOU EXTRA):
Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, who grew up in Kansas City, left for a long while, and then eventually returned. In the early 1970's he attended the University of Miami where he counted Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, and Bruce Hornsby among his friends. After graduating in 1975, he moved to New York and later joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers--"The University of Blakey Graduate School"--his first big break. He stayed with Blakey from 1977 to 1981, eventually becoming musical director for the group. Since then he's been involved in many projects and formed many musical associations. He's backed such singers as Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Betty Carter, Lou Rawls, and Carmen Lundy. With bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis he formed the nucleus of a group called Horizons. Watson also led a group known as The High Court of Swing--in tribute to Duke Ellington's great alto player Johnny Hodges. Another Watson group is a 16 piece big band while another is a four piece all horn ensemble. A noted jazz educator with stints at William Patterson University in New Jersey and the Manhattan School of Music, he's also been involved in the Thelonious Monk Institute's yearly "Jazz in America" high school outreach program. In addition to live performances and recording, in recent years Watson has served as director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Bobby has recorded 21 albums as a leader and was part of 11 recordings during his time with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
JOHNNY HARTMAN...OF COURSE...
I'll finish tonight's show with one of the greatest ballad singers of all time--a man I always like to bring back to the airwaves--Johnny Hartman. Johnny is best known for his classic March 1963 recording with John Coltrane. That album has achieved legendary status over the years. Raised in Chicago, Hartman emerged as a singer right after World War II with Earl "Fatha" Hines' band and made his first recordings in 1947. He also had a short stint with Dizzy Gillespie from 1948 to 1949. Then he worked for a short time with pianist Erroll Garner before going solo in 1950. However, Hartman's first long-play album wasn't released until 1955--"Songs From The Heart" on Bethlehem Records. His recording output was sporadic but he managed to be featured on a total of 28 albums (a number of them were released posthumously)--a significant amount of music. Major stardom eluded Hartman and it's perplexing why given the nature of his deep baritone voice, good looks, and smooth style. The racism of the 1950's and 1960's in the recording industry and show business circles blocked him from achieving a high profile. Poor management was likely another reason. He didn't get the big mainstream break he deserved although he retained a loyal following among many jazz fans. By the 1970's Hartman turned to playing cocktail lounges in New York and Chicago. Johnny died of lung cancer in 1983 at the age of 60. He did not live to see the overwhelmingly favorable public reaction to his music that was featured on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood's "The Bridges of Madison County," released in 1995. Eastwood remains a big Hartman fan as does Tony Bennett, who stated a few years ago that he thought Johnny was one of the greatest singers of all time. There apparently was no scandal of any kind in his life, nothing that would give rise to fodder in the tabloids. A biography of Johnny Hartman was published in 2012 by Scarecrow Press--"The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story" written by Gregg Akkerman. It remains available for sale on Amazon.com. As I've said before many times on the air, Johnny was simply the best!
LAST NIGHT'S TRIVIA QUESTION...
Miller Peterson of Rapid City correctly guessed that Dr. Jonas Salk is credited with being the founder of the vaccine that eradicated polio in the United States. Salk died twenty years ago yesterday at the age of 80. The Salk vaccine began a comprehensive field trial test in 1955 and was soon declared a success. By 1957 the vaccine was being administered to everyone. The Salk vaccine saved the lives of countless people, particularly children. The statistics tell the story. An epidemic of polio in the U.S. in 1952 affected nearly 58,000 people, and over 3,000 people died. By 1962, polio in this country was practically eliminated with only 910 cases reported. However, polio today continues to be a serious problem in certain third world countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Salk's contributions cannot be overestimated. To this day he remains a hero for his efforts to end suffering.
If you were a child in the late 1950's or early 1960's you almost certainly remember being taken by your parents to the doctor's office to get your polio shot. I do (Vassar, Michigan, circa 1959). I did not want to get my shot. I cried while the needle was being injected. But looking back on it I'm glad I got one, very, very glad. Thanks Dr. Salk!
POINT OF INFORMATION REGARDING THE NIGHTLY PLAYLISTS....
The wonders of computer technology! As you've probably noticed these jazz notes look slightly different as we've gone to a new type font. Regarding the nightly playlists on the main JN page, there have been some format changes over the past few weeks. The photos of album covers (when they're available) add a nice touch. The information provided in the nightly playlists is intended to satisfy your curiosity and to aid you if you want to purchase these releases. Most of the information is basic: artist, song title, name of release, composer, and recording company label. I've also added the catalog number which may help you if you want to look these releases up online and purchase them. I'm also adding a new feature starting with last night's playlist--the year of the release date. As a music lover with a historical mind, I always want to know when a piece of music was recorded. For instance, my nightly theme song--Kenny Burrell's "Saturday Night Blues" (with saxophonist Stanley Turrentine) from the album "Midnight Blue" was recorded and released on the Blue Note label in 1967, a long way back. This is good to know because it puts a recording in the proper historical context.
Here's one more important thing. You can go back a long ways in looking for something I played on "Jazz Nightly." On the top of the previous night's playlist there is a date. Go to the "X" to the right of that and a calendar will pop up. You can then look up tunes I've played in previous nights. It's kinda handy.
What am I doing different? Not much. Same thing as I did in the 10th grade: type. Don't know much about history, don't know much about biology, don't know much about this social media stuff. But at least I'm giving it a try.
GUNTHER SCHULLER DIES...THE MAN WHO COINED THE TERM "THIRD STREAM"...
I must make mention of the passing of Gunther Schuller this week at the age of 89. There are real music "theologians" (i.e. intellectuals) and there are all the others. Schuller was probably a musical genius. He was a classical composer and orchestra leader but also a lover of jazz. He coined the term "Third Stream," which came to mean the synthesis of classical music and jazz into an entirely new form of music. Some embraced this new music wholeheartedly, others hated it. A good many classical purists detested "Third Stream" as did some jazz purists (who maintain jazz is rooted in the blues and African rhythms and European classical music has no place in it). However, "Third Stream" involved a number of prominent jazz musicians and groups and it very much can be heard in new jazz releases today. Among the most prominent jazz musicians who incorporated "Third Stream" were The Modern Jazz Quartet, Miles Davis in association with Gil Evans (listen to "Miles Ahead" and "Sketches of Spain"), Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Eric Dolphy, guitarist Barry Galbraith, even Ornette Coleman (who died a couple of weeks ago). There is no question that Wynton Marsalis has been influenced by "Third Stream" (he is also an outstanding classical player) as well as his brother Branford. I hear some "Third Stream" in the music of Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. Paul Winter is definitely a "Third Stream" artist, and there are a number of others. Leonard Bernstein's excursions into jazz and popular music could be related to "Third Stream." Schuller's basis and logic for "Third Stream" is simple: there should be no boundaries or classifications in music. To restate Duke Ellington's premise: Music should be "beyond category"...there are only two kinds of music--good music and bad music.
Schuller won the Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral work of "Of Reminiscences and Reflections" in 1994. He was said to be an adherent to the "12-tone method of the Second Viennese School". Don't ask me what this is--you'll have to consult our classical host Owen DeJong. A number of Schuller's classical works from the 1950's onward contained the "Third Stream" aesthetic. As a composer, Schuller was self-taught, and he took a certain pride in the fact that he did not possess a college degree in music. He may have felt that too much rigid training in college and university music programs kills spontaneity and the process of discovery. Along the way Schuller went from the horn section in the Cincinnati Symphony to the pit of the Metropolitan Opera in New York to the presidency of the New England Conservatory of Music and then the artistic directorship of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. He created controversy. He stated that it was time to abandon intellectualism in music for intellectualism's sake. He lambasted classical orchestra conductors and musicians for taking the joy out of music and replacing it with "apathy, cynicism, and hatred of new music." He encouraged experimentation and improvisation in all musical forms. He was a lightning rod for those who were traditionalists and wanted to maintain the status quo.
Schuller was mostly unknown by the general public and not that well-known even among well-informed jazz fans. But he left an indelible mark in the music world, and his insights were always penetrating and fascinating. For those who embrace the "Third Stream" aesthetic, he remains a huge influence.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Day Two since my return from vacation. Did I get my mojo back on the air last night? As the Clairol ad told us boomers in the 1960's: Only my hairdresser knows for sure. How's that for a non-sequitur?
Tonight on The Big Broadcast: Vibraphonist Dick Sisto. He's originally from Chicago but spent some time in the 1970's in northern California where one of the things he did was compose and perform music to the beat poetry of Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He relocated to the very unbeat locale of Louisville, Kentucky more than 30 years ago and has been a fixture on the jazz scene there ever since. He serves as music director at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, and his trio has worked with various national jazz musicians when they pass through town. Dick also has performed throughout the country including gigs at the Jazz Showcase and Green Mill in Chicago, the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, and the Blue Wisp in Cincinnati. He's also done five separate tours of Great Britain over the years.
IT'S DIANE, MAN!!!
I'll finish the show tonight with the incomparable Diane Schuur.
Diane is a native of Tacoma, Washington and has been blind since birth. She got her first gig as a singer at age nine in 1962. By the age of ten she was singing country music at the Tacoma Holiday Inn. Her first 45 rpm single in 1971 was a country tune. Despite her early country excursions Diane's singing heroines as a girl were Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, and you can hear their influences today. The big break in Diane's career was when Stan Getz heard her at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1979 singing "Amazing Grace." In 1982, Stan asked Diane to accompany him to the White House to perform for the Reagans. Getz continued to mentor Diane until the end of his life. Another important influence was Frank Sinatra. Diane's last release was 2014's "I Remember You: With Love to Stan and Frank" (Jazzheads). Here she sings songs associated with Stan the Man and the Chairman of the Board in her usual superlative way. Diane's first LP as a jazz singer was 1984's "Deedles" (her nickname). Diane moves effortlessly among jazz, blues, and pop tunes, but I think her masterpiece is the 1987 self-titled album with the Count Basie Orchestra (GRP Records) in which she burns the joint down--in other words, with incredible vocal power. She won a Grammy for best female jazz vocal for that album. Her other Grammy came the year before with "Timeless" on the GRP label.
Diane can hit a high note and sustain it like nobody else although occasionally she wanders into the Patti LaBelle histrionic zone. Diane has recorded a total of 23 albums over the last 31 years. Her last live performance was a month ago in Atlanta which wrapped up a tour of the East Coast and Midwest. In April she performed in Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, and Finland with two shows in London. Tonight on JN I'll be featuring selections from three Diane Schuur CD's--a great collaboration in 2001 with Maynard Ferguson--"Swingin' For Schuur" (Concord Jazz); "Some Other Time" from 2008 on Concord Jazz; and a 1992 recording on GRP called "In Tribute"--songs associated with some of the greatest female jazz singers of all time.
Diane apparently has a salty sense of humor. I saw her perform in Scottsdale, Arizona about twenty years ago. At one point in the show she made a decidedly off-color joke. I can't even remember it in detail but I remember the gist. I'm no prude but the remark caught me a little off guard. Then Diane moved on--nobody got hurt and nobody in the audience walked out, not even grandma and grandpa.
Diane, if you're out there in cyberland, do another album with the Basie band, led these days by long-time trumpeter Scotty Barnhart.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN...
Before I went on vacation my last trivia question concerned Republican President George H.W. Bush, numero 41, so I thought I'd give the Democrats equal time last night. John McLaughlin of Sioux Falls correctly guessed that Senator Elizabeth Warren hails from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts--also known as the Bay State. Senator Warren celebrated her 66th birthday on Monday.
Warren was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, defeating Republican incumbent Scott Brown. She presently is one of twenty women who are part of the congressional upper chamber. Warren's public profile has grown considerably over the last two years. There has been much speculation among political pundits and her supporters whether she'll run for the Democratic presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and a couple of other announced candidates. Warren has stated emphatically that she has no intention of running for president in 2016. However, it is still early in the game.
Warren is not a native of Massachusetts but was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her maiden name is Herring and her current surname is taken from her first husband. Warren graduated from the University of Houston in 1970 with a B.S. degree in speech pathology and audiology. She enrolled at the Rutgers University of Law in Newark, New Jersey, where she graduated in 1976 and then passed the state bar. Warren taught at a number of universities and finally landed at Harvard Law School in 1995. During her time at Harvard she was the only tenured law professor who was trained at an American public university. While at Harvard she specialized in bankruptcy law and became known throughout the country as an expert in her field. Following the 2008 financial meltdown she served as chair of the congressional oversight panel in charge of what became known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). This panel was charged with overseeing the government's Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which implemented emergency measures in the wake of major financial institutions and brokerage houses that went under in the aftermath of the 2008 implosion--a crisis which sent the American economy into a deep tailspin. In the administration of Barack Obama she served as assistant to the President and special advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren has been extremely critical over the practices of corporate America and the banking industry. She has voiced alarm over spiraling medical costs incurred by Americans of modest means. Warren has stated that current economic trends are leading to the destruction of the American middle class and those below--indicated by the sharp rise of bankruptcies among middle and low income Americans. Many of these bankruptcies, Warren contends, are as a result of astronomical medical bills which families cannot afford to pay even when they have private medical insurance. Warren has published many articles over the course of her career including two books--"The Two Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke" (co-authored with her daughter Amelia), and "A Fighting Chance," published in April of this year. In this book Warren states that the American middle class and the working poor--people who have worked hard and played by the rules--are being shut out of achieving "The American Dream"( i.e. upward mobility) and are steadily losing ground with each passing year. Warren is a former Republican but starting in the mid-1990's she began voting for Democratic candidates and continued a pattern of ticket splitting until her 2012 election to the U.S. Senate.
Monday, June 22, 2015
I'm back from vacation...rested, tanned, relaxed and ready to throw my hat into the ring in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. I did absolutely nothing during my time off (which is just the way I like it). Ate a lot of Chinese food and read while plopped in my trusty recliner at the mansion. Those Danielle Steele novels are brilliant.
Tonight on the Big Broadcast: the tenor sax of Scott Hamilton during the third hour--I always like to bring him back. I'll finish the show with a super singing group--The New York Voices. My South Dakota Jazz Stars will again be featured at the halfway point of the show--9:30ish central/8:30ish mountain swingin' time.
Hope you enjoyed the jazz programming while I was away last week. Those shows from the U.S. Air Force Band which included major jazz stars were super. Karl Gehrke did his usual excellent job on "Big Band Spotlight." Regarding the rebroadcast of "Jim's Jazz Gems"--the music was excellent but the announcer only fair--I'd give him a C minus grade, C tops. On on a couple of those JJG shows I mentioned that it was a "holiday edition." I hope that didn't confuse you. After all it was my holiday.
Here are some of the new releases which came in while I was away and which I'll start to play tonight:
Antonio Adolfo--"Tema" AAM Music (super!!)
George Freeman and Chico Freeman--"All In The Family" Southport Music
Charlie Dennard--"5 O'Clock Charlie" Charlie Dennard Music
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet--"Intercambio" Patois Records
"Jeff Denson Trio and Lee Konitz" Ridgeway Records
Steve Slagle and Bill O'Connell--"The Power of Two" Panorama Records
Jim Martinez--"Good Grief! It's Still Jim Martinez--A Tribute to Guaraldi, Schulz, and Peanuts" Invisible Touch Music
Michael Suser and the Night and Day Band--"They All Laughed" Michael Suser Music
Saturday, June 13, 2015
WE ALL ENJOY A LITTLE TIME OFF...
I'm on vacation all of this coming week. I expect to spend most of it at my mansion enjoying the so-called good life. I'll be back at the popsicle stand live and very direct on Monday night, June 22nd. If you have an overwhelming need to send me a message of some kind, my desk number is (605)-677-3117--yes, that's a real phone number. My voice mail will record your thoughtful comments and I'll try to get back to you. My home phone number is kinda private. Or send me an email at email@example.com. You can also contact my crack team of lawyers at the Vermillion firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, but I must tell you that most of them are also on vacation this week...in the Cayman Islands.
Here's what coming up during the "Jazz Nightly" hours this week:
Monday through Friday during the first hour: An "encore" (that's French) of "Jim's Jazz Gems": Monday--Gerry Mulligan and Chris Connor; Tuesday--Dizzy Gillespie and Keely Smith; Wednesday--The Gerald Wilson Orchestra and Carmen McRae; Thursday--Bill Evans and Tony Bennett; Friday--Antonio Carlos Jobim and Eliane Elias.
During the second hour all of this week we'll be featuring "Big Band Spotlight" with Karl Gehrke.
During the third hour on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday--a great series of programs from the United States Air Force Jazz Band Heritage Series. On Thursday, a broadcast of "American Routes"--a tribute to Billie Holiday on the 100th anniversary of her birth. On Friday, The JAS Quintet from their "Miles Smiles" show at Prairie Berry Winery East Bank in Sioux Falls last February.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PRESIDENT BUSH # 41...
The 41st President, George Herbert Walker Bush, celebrated his 91st birthday yesterday. The patriarch of the Bush clan is obviously is looking forward to the coming presidential campaign now that his son Jeb--the former Florida governor--is in the race. If Jeb makes it to the Oval Office he will be the third President Bush, following his father (who served from 1989-1993) and older brother George W. (2001-2009). Carol B. of Sioux Falls correctly guessed during trivia last night that President George H. W. Bush's native state is Connecticut, not Texas. Actually, Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts but at a very young age moved with his family to adjacent Connecticut. His father, Prescott, later became a senator from that state. After serving as a naval aviator during World War II and then graduating from Yale University, Bush set off for West Texas to enter the oil business and became a millionaire by the time he was forty. The Bush family summer home is in Kennebunkport, Maine, on the southern tip of the state next to the Atlantic Ocean.
If the elder Bush were looking for a job right now as a political or foreign policy consultant he would have the perfect professional resume. U.S. President; U.S. Vice President (under Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989); CIA Director; Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office (de facto ambassador) to the People's Republic of China; American UN Ambassador; Chairman of the Republican National Committee; member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas. In 1970, Bush was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Texas but was defeated by Democrat Lloyd Bentsen (who would later become Michael Dukakis's vice presidential running mate in 1988 and Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton). Bush handily defeated the Dukakis/Bentsen ticket in 1988, and thus got political payback for his earlier loss.
The Bush family represents one of the greatest political dynasties in American history, now in its fourth generation. The son of Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush became the 41st president. His son, George W., became the 43rd president and earlier served as Texas governor. Younger son Jeb is vying to become the 45th president. Jeb's son, George Prescott Bush, is a rising political star in Texas at age 39. Last year he was elected to statewide office as the commissioner of the Texas General Land Office (in charge of all public land). The Bush political dynasty exceeds that of the Adams family (John and John Quincy, 2nd and 6th presidents); the Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin), and even the Kennedys. No other family in American politics has had members of four generations elected to office and to such prominent positions.
At age 91, the elder Bush is one of the oldest former presidents in American history. Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford lived to be 93; Jimmy Carter will be 91 on October 1st. Herbert Hoover lived to be 90, while Harry Truman lived be to be 88. Here are a couple of fun facts: George and Barbara Bush have been married for 70 years (they took their vows in January 1945). I think that marriage is going to work out okay. Their son George W. is one month older than Bill Clinton, born in 1946. When Clinton succeeded the elder Bush to the White House in 1993 he was younger than George H.W.'s son.
The elder Bush is only in fair health these days and confined to a wheelchair most of the time. However, last year he celebrated his birthday by making a parachute jump from a helicopter near his home in Kennebunkport. Not bad for a 90 year old man. It was his eighth parachute jump, including jumps on his 80th and 85th birthdays. On February 15, 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom--the highest civilian honor in the United States--by President Barack Obama. Bush is the grand old man of the Grand Old Party (GOP) and is generally held in high regard by most Americans.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Good day music lovers! I'll finish the week on "Jazz Nightly" tonight with Oscar Peterson and Nat King Cole. Duke Ellington called his friend Oscar "the Maharaja of the keyboard." Peterson was an extremely prolific recording artist over six decades and performed everywhere across the world. He is considered to be one of the greatest pianists in the history of jazz. His contemporaries couldn't believe his dexterity at the piano and those who followed remain astonished too. Nat Cole was in a class by himself as a vocalist and was no slouch at the piano. Nat was an innovator as a jazz pianist in the late 30's and throughout the 1940's with his trio and then gave it all up to concentrate full-time on singing. Thus, there will be jazz royalty during the third hour of the broadcast tonight--" The Maharaja" and "The King."
Oscar Peterson's piano virtuosity amazed everybody. Many felt that only Art Tatum exceeded him in his lightning speed and reflexes at the piano. Peterson performed all over the world and was an extremely prolific recording artist with over 200 albums. He worked in all musical formats--solo, duo, trio, quartet, small bands, big bands, and full orchestras. He was born in a black neighborhood in Montreal, Quebec in 1925, one that was steeped in the culture of jazz. He was a fixture on the Canadian Broadcasting Radio Network (CBC) by the late 1940's and was discovered by jazz impresario Norman Granz, who was listening on the radio to Peterson perform in a Montreal club in 1949. Granz took him to the United States where Peterson gained fame in Granz's "Jazz at the Philharmonic" shows. Granz remained Peterson's manager for most of his career. Peterson's great strength was in the trio format, particularly his long association with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown. Peterson cut one album as a vocalist and sounded amazingly like Nat King Cole. He was a noted jazz educator in Canada and transcended his status as a musician in that country to become one of Canada's most respected and revered citizens. A stroke slowed him in 1993, and after much therapy he came back to perform and record but was never at his peak again. Peterson won eight Grammy awards over the years and was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978. In 2013, Peterson was inducted posthumously into Canada's Walk of Fame. Peterson was regarded by most critics as more of a highly proficient technician than a true innovator. Very picky people complained that he played too many notes. But he was a giant of jazz and remains on a very short list of the greatest pianists of all time. His health deteriorated sharply in 2007, and he died of kidney failure at his home in Mississauga, Ontario on December 23, 2007 at the age of 82. He is buried in Mississauga. When he passed the entire jazz world mourned him. On January 12, 2008, a memorial concert for Peterson was held at Thomson Hall in Toronto with all 2,500 seats filled. People waited in line for more than three hours to attend.
THE MUSIC OF GIL-SCOTT HERON...
Just received a powerful new release by singer Charenee Wade--"Offering: The Music of Gil-Scott Heron and Brian Jackson" (Motema Music). Charenee has had other releases out in the past and she's an incredible vocalist. The lyrics of Gil-Scott Heron force people to confront the problems of racism and other forms of social injustice in our society ("Home Is Where the Hatred Is" is one of his better known songs). On much of this new recording Gil-Scott Heron's songs voice concern about the disintegration of the family in the African American community and implores preservation of family bonds and family history Among the players on this new CD: Dave Stryker on guitar, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, Stefon Harris on vibes, and Lakecia Benjamin on alto sax, Brandon McCune on piano, and Alvester Garnett on drums. Spoken word commentary is provided by famed bassist Christian McBride and Malcolm-Jamal Warner ( who portrayed son Theo on "The Cosby Show"). This is the second recent release of music and lyrics by Gil-Scott Heron, who died a couple of years ago. In 2011, vocalist Giacomo Gates released "The Revolution Will Be Jazz--The Songs of Gil-Scott Heron" on the Savant label.
HEADS-UP ON PROGRAMMING NEXT WEEK...VACATION, VACATION, VACATION...
I'm on vacation next week but the jazz will continue unabated during the JN hours. All next week "The Best of Jim's Jazz Gems" will be featured during the first hour. I haven't recorded that many "Jazz Gems" programs but I'm calling it "the best of" anyway for public relations sake. Among the artists featured will be Gerry Mulligan, Chris Connor, Dizzy Gillespie, Keely Smith, Gerald Wilson, Carmen McRae, Bill Evans and Tony Bennett, and Antonio Carlos Jobim and Eliane Elias--in other words, the cream of the crop. Karl Gehrke's "Big Band Spotlight" will air during the second hour all of next week. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during the third hour...a great new program of music by the United States Air Force Jazz Band. Your federal tax dollars are being well spent. During the third hour on Thursday there will be a rebroadcast of "American Routes" featuring a tribute to Billie Holiday during the 100th anniversary of her birth. On Friday during the third hour the JAS Quintet will be featured from their "Miles Smiles" performance at Prairie Berry East Bank in Sioux Falls last February.
I have no plans to travel during my vacation week. I will stay poolside at the mansion, rest, read, reflect on the human condition, and eat Chinese food at the local Asian Buffet restaurant here in V-Town. I will not go camping. I might take a walk if in the mood but probably won't. I do consider myself a "nature boy" in touch with my natural surroundings and can "rough it" if need be...as long as there's a Chinese buffet a quarter of a mile away.
REMEMBERING VINCE LOMBARDI...
One of the greatest coaches in NFL history, Vince Lombardi, was born on June 11, 1913 (yesterday marked the 102nd anniversary of his birth). Lombardi is known by pro football fans everywhere as the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, whom he guided to five NFL championships including wins in the first two Super Bowls. Bob Riggio of Rapid City correctly answered during trivia last night that Lombardi coached the Washington Redskins for one season in 1969 after leaving the Packers. He would have continued coaching the Washington team but tragedy struck. He developed colon cancer and died at age 57 on September 3, 1970.
Lombardi remains a legend--almost a deity--among Green Bay fans and his reputation there will never fade. But he was a winner as a coach wherever he went. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and played football as a youth although at five feet eight inches and 180 pounds was undersized and his athletic abilities were limited. He won a football scholarship to Fordham University in Queens in 1933 and played football there all four years. He graduated in 1937, briefly entered Fordham Law School, and then dropped out. Lombardi began at the lowest level of coaching--first as an assistant coach at a Catholic high school in New Jersey in 1939. He eventually became the head football coach at the high school. Then he returned to Fordham to coach the freshman football and basketball teams. Soon he became assistant coach for the Fordham varsity football squad and thereafter became the "de facto" head coach. In 1949, he went to West Point Military Academy and became an assistant coach. It was there that he learned his basic coaching philosophy which would guide him for the rest of his career--one which instilled players with strict military discipline, endurance, and no room for error. In 1954, Lombardi became the offensive coordinator with the New York Giants of the NFL. The defensive coordinator was a man who would also go on to the heights of the NFL coaching profession in Dallas, Tom Landry. Under the direction of assistant coaches Lombardi and Landry the Giants became winners. The Green Bay Packers finished the 1958 season with an all-time losing record of 1-10-1, and Lombardi was hired as head coach for the 1959 season. Immediately he turned the team around with a record of 7-5 during his first season. In 1960, the Packers won the NFL Western Conference Championship. The Packers then won it all in 1961 as NFL champions and would repeat in 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967 (the last two were the first Super Bowl victories). After the January 1968 Super Bowl win Lombardi gave up the head coaching position (replaced by his hand-picked successor Phil Bengston) and stayed on as the Packers general manager. He took over the head coaching duties of the Washington Redskins in 1969 and guided them to a 7-5-2 record. Then he became ill with cancer and was hospitalized during the early summer of 1970 and never returned to the team. His initial success with the Redskins laid the foundation for future coach George Allen who would win consistently in the 1970's and lead his team to the Super Bowl. Lombardi's regular season record as a head coach was 96 wins, 34 losses, and 6 ties. He was 9-1 in post season competition. He never had a losing season. In all, he won five NFL championships and six conference titles in ten seasons as a head coach. Had he not been stricken with cancer he would have continued to win. Lombardi was posthumously enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. The Super Bowl Trophy to the winner was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Lombardi was a tough guy and what you saw was what you got. He was tough on everybody--players, fellow coaches, the press, and his family. He was known for his perfectionism, authoritarian nature, and temper. He did not suffer fools easily, and if you gave less than your best effort you were gone from his team. Yet all of his players greatly respected him and some even loved him. The constants in his life were football, family, and religion (he was a lifelong devout Catholic). Lombardi was reputed to have said: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." That may not be a good credo in life but it certainly applies to the dog-eat-dog nature of the NFL where you must win...or else.
I've got a problem with the name of the Washington NFL franchise. So do a number of my Native American friends in the Rushmore State and those beyond our border. In this more enlightened age of 2015 the name should definitely be changed.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
ORNETTE COLEMAN DIES...
A jazz legend, albeit a controversial one, has died. Alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman passed away earlier today of a heart attack in Manhattan at the age of 85.
Coleman's impact on jazz was huge, and his work today continues to inspire both worship and intense dislike. When Coleman came along in the late 1950's he turned the jazz world on its head. He was the first and most prominent exponent of "free jazz"...an avant garde style based on unorthodox solos, wild improvisation, dissonance, and a perceived lack of any kind of musical structure. He pretty much threw out melody, harmony, and rhythm. Coleman released his debut album in 1958 entitled "Something Else!!" (and it was). He started drawing serious attention at the Five Spot jazz club in New York in the late 50's. His follow-up album in 1959 was called "The Shape of Jazz To Come" and featured a young bassist by the name of Charlie Haden. His fans bestowed him with hero worship. His detractors claimed he was destroying jazz and a good number of them--if they bothered to show up at all for his performances--made it a point to walk out. They did the same thing with John Coltrane in 1966 and 1967 before he died. Coleman's supporters maintained that he was leading the way to the new musical world. His critics said he made squeaking and honking noises and his free jazz sound was musically incoherent. Coleman marched to his own drummer, kept experimenting, performing and recording to almost the very end. He had a strong impact on a number of jazz saxophonists who were his contemporaries-- Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, and younger players. Perhaps more importantly he commanded the respect of a good number of avant garde artists outside of jazz including major figures in rock music (Jerry Garcia, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and Yoko Ono among others). Leonard Bernstein was reportedly impressed by him as well as Lionel Hampton. However, Miles Davis and Roy Eldridge didn't think much of Coleman's music. Miles later came to accept Ornette in the late 60's at about the same time he began his own forays into electronic music. Coleman's impact on jazz was recognized early--he was inducted into the "Down Beat" magazine Jazz Hall of Fame in 1969.
If you listen to my program with any regularity you've probably figured out that in order for a release to get on the air it must have a basic melody, a concept of harmony, and usually some kind of rhythm. I've gotten a couple of requests to play Ornette Coleman over the years but just a couple. I've played Coleman's music exactly once on the air in the more than 14 years I've been hosting JN. But make no mistake about it--Coleman was a serious artist and made an important artistic contribution--even if you don't care for it. He was one of the great revolutionary figures in the history of jazz, a musician who still inspires awe and controversy.
COMING UP TONIGHT ON THE SHOW...
It will be another great night of music on my custom-tailored, effervescent and always illuminating jazz show: Clarinetist Anat Cohen--who has been winning awards and gaining more and more recognition over the last few years--will be my "Artist in the Spotlight" during the third hour. Critics throughout the country are raving over Anat. She's hails from Tel Aviv, Israel, came to the United States after finishing high school to attend the Julliard School of Music in New York, and then spent some time with Sherie Maricle's all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra. She has two musician brothers--trumpeter Avishai, and saxophonist Yuval. Anat has dominated the Jazz Journalists Association poll since 2008, winning as top clarinetist for the last eight consecutive years. She's also topped the polls in the clarinetist category in "Down Beat" magazine. In addition to playing clarinet, Anat also is a gifted tenor sax player.
I'll finish the show with the ageless hipster Bob Dorough, now 91 years young. His most recent release came out last year--"Eulalia." Bob's first album dates back to 1956--"Devil May Care" on Bethlehem Records. I've never heard anything quite like it--mostly well-known jazz tunes and standards but done in an extremely quirky, wry, off-the-cuff, somewhat nerdy and yet very engaging and swinging style. Bob has written a lot of songs over the years--all of them quirky and idiosyncratic--and perhaps his best known one is "Devil May Care." This song has been covered by a number of other singers including Diana Krall. There's nobody around quite like Bob Dorough.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured at the usual time--9:30ish central, 8:30ish mountain daylight swingin' time. We've been in contact with Detroit singer Kathy Kosins to obtain official legal permission to air selections from her concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls back on April 10th (moi served as MC). Of course in these cases it's all up to the artist to give the go-ahead to air their songs recorded from a local venue. All I can tell you is that I've got my team of lawyers from the Vermillion firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe working almost around the clock in getting legal clearance from Kathy. That why I pay them the big bucks. Stay tuned!
REGARDING LAST NIGHT'S MUSIC:
Henry Mancini and Doc Severinsen. Mancini was many things musically. He was probably the greatest film and TV composer of his day. He had a real jazz flair and if his songs weren't actually jazz many of them were nonetheless very jazzy. If you can believe this--Mancini was nominated for an unprecedented 73 Grammy Awards and won 20 of them. No one will duplicate that in the future. He was nominated for 18 Academy Awards and won four. He won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmys. Some of the songs I played last night were definitely in the jazz camp: "Peter Gunn Theme," "Mister Lucky," My Manne Shelly," and "Brothers Go To Mother's." But his most famous movie songs in the 1960's fell into the easy listening category --"Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses," "Charade," "Dear Heart," and "Baby Elephant Walk." Countless singers and orchestra leaders covered the Mancini songbook in the 60's including Mr. Middle-of-the-Road--Andy Williams. If you were in the rock 'n roll camp in the 60's you probably detested Mancini's movie music--it was made for middle America and squaresville. However, I contend Mr. Mancini was the hippest square guy around. Someone please tell Doc Severinsen that I thoroughly enjoy the two albums he recorded with Mancini in the early 70's--"Brass on Ivory" and "Brass, Ivory, and Strings." I think I'm the only disc-jockey in the world still playing these albums. So be it. Thanks Doc!
Chris Connor. She was simply the best! Her 1953 version of "All About Ronnie" with Stan Kenton's band is simply amazing. This is not a guy's record--it's about a woman singing about her love named Ronnie--"We'll drink from dry glasses...the champagne is Ronnie...and Ronnie is mine!" Yet the yearning in this song makes it unforgettable. Chris recorded two versions of "All About Ronnie"...first with Kenton and then a year or so later with a small group. Both are great, but I think I prefer the Kenton version. There is a slight echo in the vocal (I don't know if it was recorded live in concert or not) but somehow the echo gives it more power. "All About Ronnie" may be Chris's most magnificent recording and that's saying a lot because her discography is extremely impressive. Chris left us in 2009, and I continue to miss her a lot.
DR. BOB'S LAST BELLY-UP TO THE BAR...
On June 10, 1935, Dr. Robert Smith took his last drink and along with his friend Bill Wilson founded an organization designed to help people overcome their addiction to booze. Marilyn Mendenhall of Huron, SD correctly guessed during trivia last night that the organization is Alcoholics Anonymous or simply A.A.
A.A. is now a household name and there's no question that it has helped many people overcome alcoholism over the decades. Some studies have cast doubt on A.A.'s effectiveness in comparison with other alcohol treatment programs. But many others who have battled the alcohol demon live by the doctrine of A.A. and fervently believe in it. Organizations combating alcoholism in the United States go back to the 19th century with the forming of various temperance movements. The constitutional Prohibition Act of 1919 outlawing the sale of alcohol was designed primarily to combat alcoholism among U.S. citizens (it was repealed in 1933). Even today the general consensus is that alcoholism is a much greater problem than drug abuse in the United States. It affects all socio-economic groups and all races-- the poor, middle class, and rich people.
Bill Wilson published a book in 1939 which outlined a 12-step program to help alcoholics overcome their addiction. These 12 steps are still utilized today. The 12 steps provide a number of rules or precepts. The first one is that A.A. members must admit they are powerless over alcohol and need help from a higher power--that is, assistance from God or some other spiritual power. They must take a moral inventory of their lives, strive to remove character defects, make amends to the people they have harmed, as well as pray, meditate, and try to help other alcoholics recover. A.A. chapters exist in just about every large and medium-sized city in the United States and in small towns too. Weekly meetings are held--closed meetings exclusively for alcoholics who have just entered the A.A. program and those who are still struggling on a daily basis--and open meetings which non-alcoholics can attend, as well as friends and family members of alcoholics.
Bill Wilson called Robert Smith (known as "Dr. Bob") the "Prince of Twelfth Steppers" and said he personally helped more than five thousand alcoholics battle their addiction. After giving up alcohol on June 10, 1935, Dr. Bob stayed sober until the end of his life. He died of colon cancer in 1950 at the age of 71.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Tonight on South Dakota's legendary and most closely listened to radio jazz show where there are beautiful sounds aplenty: Music from one of the great film composers of all time--one with a decided jazz flair--Henry Mancini. I'll also be including songs from two albums he recorded with trumpeter Doc Severinsen in the early 1970's--"Brass and Ivory" and "Brass and Ivory with Strings." Both came out on the RCA label. "Brass and Ivory with Strings" was recorded in "quadrophonic sound" which was the rage for about a year. If you remember "quadrophonic sound" (the ability of a vinyl album to be heard on four speakers), you also remember 8-track tapes, Dick Nixon in the White House, 35 cent a gallon gas, Flip Wilson, long sideburns on men (not women), thick wide ties with gaudy wild colors, and the 1969 Miracle Mets. During this period Henry ("Hank") was cool and dressed conservatively. Doc was making a fashion statement each night on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show."
Also, I'll be bringing back one of my all-time favorite singers, Chris Connor.
There will be more music tonight from a super new release by the Jazz Professors (of the University of Central Florida in Orlando) called "En Plein Air" (French for "open air"): sounds inspired by the French impressionist painter Claude Monet. Last night I started the show with three selections from this new recording--songs not associated with Monet but well-known jazz tunes--"In the Still of the Night" (Cole Porter), "Black Velvet" (Illinois Jacquet and Jimmy Mundy), and "The Shining Sea" (Johnny Mandel and Peggy Lee). There are other songs on "En Plein Air" named after Monet paintings and I'll be featuring one of them tonight and more in coming nights.
REGARDING LAST NIGHT'S MUSIC:
Mulgrew Miller. He was one of the finest pianists of his generation and is sorely missed. See my remarks on Mulgrew below. I'll be featuring him again in the near future.
Billy Eckstine. THAT'S singing, boys and girls!!!
Les Paul. Yesterday would have been his 100th birthday (Les passed in August of 2009 at the age of 94). His life encompassed huge changes in music from the pre-swing dance band era to heavy metal rock 'n roll and hip hop/rap music. Along with Charlie Christian, Les revolutionized jazz guitar with electric amplification. Paul was a gifted jazz player and a technical wizard in the recording studio. He is credited with single-handedly creating the solid body electric guitar in 1940, later to be massed produced by the Gibson Company. The Les Paul solid body guitar led directly to the birth of rock 'n roll in the mid-1950's, a sound which took over popular music by the early 1960's and heralded the coming of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and all other rock bands. However, it's extremely important to add that if Les Paul hadn't developed his electric guitar, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessell, Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, and all of the great modern jazz guitarists probably wouldn't have come to prominence. And it's hard to imagine B.B. King and all of the other great blues players doing much on an acoustic instrument. I've always wondered how Les actually felt about rock 'n roll and in particular heavy metal. I've never come upon a quote from Les Paul on the subject. He probably hated it. I don't think Les ever spent time sitting around listening to Led Zeppelin, snake charmer Ozzie Osbourne, AC/DC, or the three chord genius "musicians" from KISS.
IT'S TWO POINTS, BABY!!! THE IRREPRESSIBLE "DICKIE VEE"...DICK VITALE...
Yesterday was college and pro basketball color analyst Dick Vitale's 76th birthday. Tom Blain of Hermosa, SD correctly guessed during trivia last night that Vitale coached only one NBA team in his career, the lowly Detroit Pistons in the late 1970's.
Vitale is known for his irrepressible enthusiasm in describing college and pro games on ESPN and also ABC-TV. He began as a coach at the lowest level--at an elementary school in Garfield, New Jersey in 1959 at the age of 20. He rose to become a successful high school coach, then became an assistant coach at Rutgers University in 1971. In 1973, he was hired by the University of Detroit to head a basketball program that had no profile in the Motor City. More success came his way and he led his squad to the 32-team NCAA tournament in 1977. His University of Detroit team became the talk of the town and he finished his career at U of D with a record of 79 wins and 29 losses. He was hired as coach of the Detroit Pistons in 1978 but lasted only a little more than one season. His 1978-79 team finished with a dismal record of 30-52. After a 4-8 record at the start of the 79-80 season, he was unceremoniously dumped by Pistons owner Bill Davidson on November 8, 1979. Vitale attended the televised press conference with Davidson and seemed to have something close to a nervous breakdown as he sobbed over his inability to turn the Pistons into winners. Vitale is a passionate and emotional man, and this is not a good quality to have in coaching a losing NBA team. The NBA big time requires keeping a cool head under great pressure to win. Vitale obviously had trouble coping with unaccustomed losing.
Great things were expected of Vitale when he took over the Pistons in 1978. The team had a consistent losing record since its inception in the 1950's. It had no strong following outside of Detroit and was pretty much met with indifference in out-state Michigan. I interviewed Vitale (or tried to) when he became to Saginaw, Michigan in the spring of 1979. I was working as the afternoon man at WRDD-AM, Big Red Country Radio, the powerhouse 1440 on the dial in nearby Bay City. Vitale appeared at a sporting goods store in Saginaw and drew a big crowd including many kids. In the WRDD remote broadcast trailer next to the store Vitale dropped by and spoke to me for about 15 minutes. It was not an interview but an extended monologue. I asked him one question and then let Dick roll. So much for my Larry King interviewing skills. I then interviewed Dick's assistant coach, Richie Abudato. Richie would go on to become head coach of a couple of NBA teams and had a much longer run and more success than Dick did. Richie actually allowed me to ask a few questions and was a nice guy to boot.
Actually, Dick is a nice guy too. After being canned by the Pistons he went immediately to ESPN, which had just commenced operations, and did color commentary for its first college basketball game ever on December 5, 1979 when DePaul defeated the University of Wisconsin, 90-77. And he's been there ever since. He's also done pro games on ABC-TV. Vitale is now a college basketball broadcasting institution. In the type of sports broadcasting Vitale is involved with there is no real pressure--he does the game and goes home. He has no stake in who wins or loses. Vitale is obviously much more suited to be a color man than a head coach in the pressure cooker of the NBA. In 2008, Vitale was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts as a contributor to the sport. He lives near Bradenton, Florida because he obviously got tired of the New Jersey and Michigan winters.
The lesson here? You can go on to great things after being fired from a job. I've tried to keep this in mind over the past many years. Ha-ha.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Tonight on Jim's Summertime Funtime Goodtime Jazz Show: Music from the late great pianist Mulgrew Miller, who left us suddenly and prematurely a little more than two years ago on May 29, 2013 at age 57. I'll finish the show with the man that all male jazz singers who followed him have tried to emulate in some way: Mr. B...the great Billy Eckstine.
Mulgrew Miller's death of a stroke two years ago was a huge blow to the jazz world. He was greatly admired by his fellow musicians and was an inspiration to the younger players. He was known as the "Gentle Giant" for his unassuming personality, modesty, and thoughtfulness to others. He was born and raised in Greenwood, Mississippi. The story is that he saw Oscar Peterson on " The Joey Bishop Show" when he was 14 years old and that's when he decided to become a jazz pianist. He studied music at Memphis State University, then went Boston for private lessons with a noted tutor, Madame Margaret Chaloff, and then on to LA. The big break came when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by Mercer Ellington in 1976, first as a substitute pianist and then in a permanent role. He stayed for almost three years. An early mentor was trumpeter Woody Shaw and he eventually played in Woody's band. In the early days he backed vocalists Betty Carter and Carmen Lundy. In 1983, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and stayed three years. Then he joined drummer Tony Williams' group and was part of that band for seven years. In 1987 he formed his first group--"Wingspan" (inspired by "Bird"--Charlie Parker). His first recording as a leader was in 1985 with a release called "Keys to the City." He played with many of the greats of his era--including Donald Byrd, Benny Golson, Frank Morgan, Wallace Roney--and backed vocalists Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson. He toured throughout the United States and overseas. In all, Miller recorded 15 albums as a leader but appeared on over 400 recordings as a sideman. Starting around 1995 he pulled back on recording dates as a sideman and began focusing more on composition. One of his last collaborations in 2012 was with fellow pianist Kenny Barron, flutist Yusef Lateef, and saxophonist Archie Shepp. Miller was also heavily involved in jazz education and served as Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey and Artist in Residence at Lafayette College (which awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in 2010). A couple of jazz critics said that Miller was hard to peg as a pianist because he played various styles so well and was clearly influenced by Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner, and others. When Miller died two years ago, bassist Christian McBride said simply: "I sincerely hope every self-respecting jazz musician takes this day to reflect on all the music Mulgrew left us."
LES PAUL BIRTHDAY...
Today would have been Les Paul's 100th birthday. About all he did was invent the modern electric guitar. Anyone who has played an electric guitar and has earned a living from one owes a debt of gratitude to Les. If it hadn't been for Les Paul rock 'n roll might not exist--all the youngsters would still be listening to the Kingston Trio. Paul was known as one of the finest guitarists in jazz in a career which spanned 70 years. He had a number of hits in the 1950's with his wife, vocalist Mary Ford. I'll be playing some music from Les Paul's trio tonight at the halfway point of the show, about 9:30 central/8:30 mountain time.
REGARDING LAST NIGHT'S MUSIC: The combination of Paul Desmond and The Modern Jazz Quartet was an inspired one. Hope you enjoyed the selections from a live performance at Town Hall in New York City on the evening of December 25, 1971. Paul and all the members of MJQ are gone now--John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Percy Heath, and Connie Kay. MJQ played classy and looked classy. I couldn't think of a better way to spend Christmas evening than attending a concert featuring Paul with John, Milt, Percy, and Connie in the band. Wish I coulda been there!
Like Billy Eckstine and his influence on male jazz singers, Anita O'Day--the original hip chick singer--has influenced countless other female jazz vocalists. Anita's hip singing style and stage persona are something for young female singers to emulate; Anita's lifestyle isn''t. A heroin addict for many years, she almost died of a LSD overdose in the late 60's and everything almost came to a crashing and inglorious end. Somehow she survived and kept on working until the first decade of the 2000's. Anita wrote a book about it all and her brush with death was a huge wakeup call. In the 40's Anita defied convention and wore a band suit on stage instead of a dress. She was no delicate wall flower--she was one of the boys in the band. Her duet with Roy Eldridge while in Gene Krupa's band in 1941--"Let Me Off Uptown" remains a timeless jazz vocal classic.
GEORGE ORWELL'S "NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR"...
Dave Kleinberg of Lake City, SD correctly guessed during trivia last night that English author George Orwell wrote the futuristic novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (the title is spelled in writing and not the numerals "1984"). The book was published on June 8, 1949 and has become a literary classic and a cautionary tale. In our present day the book has particular relevance.
The novel is set in "Airstrip One" (formerly Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania. The country is in a state of perpetual war, with omnipresent government surveillance, and its citizens are constantly manipulated by government propaganda. The political system of Oceania is controlled by a privileged elite or oligarchy that persecutes independent thinking and deprives everyone of personal freedom. All political opposition is wiped out. The tyranny is epitomized by Big Brother, a charismatic leader who may or may not actually exist. The political "party" in control exists for one reason and one reason only--acquiring total political power and the complete submission of the people. The protagonist of the novel is Winston Smith (the first name is obviously based on Winston Churchill). He works for the Ministry of Truth and is a skilled propagandist for the political regime. However, he secretly hates the party and then starts rebelling against Big Brother. Needless to say, he does not succeed and has a bad end.
Orwell was obviously thinking of Stalin communism or Hitler fascism when he wrote the novel but the tale applies to any political dictatorship in any era--the imminent takeover in China by Mao, Castro in Cuba, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Hussein in Iraq, Khomeni in Iran, Isis in Iraq and Syria today, and what is going on presently in North Korea. The book casts a suspicious glance at all governments and this does not exclude western democracies. It hardly matters if the regime is right wing or left wing. In "Nineteen Eighty-Four" there is no real government ideology--it's all about ruthless political power. Many of the novel's terms have been in common usage for decades--"Big Brother," "Thought Police," "Thought Crime," "Double Think," "Double Speak" and a number of other catch phrases. The term "Orwellian" is widely understood to stand for official government deception , secret surveillance of all types, manipulation of recorded history and official revisionism, and anything to do with a totalitarian or authoritarian state. Orwell wrote the book in 1948 and in searching for a title decided simply to switch the numerals around-- it was his vision of the future in the then far-off world of 1984. That year has come and gone and now where are we?
"Nineteen Eighty-Four" is not an easy book to read and is not pleasure reading. However, it has withstood the test of time and frequently turns up on book lists in college literature courses. Another Orwell book, "Animal Farm"--an allegory of class, privilege, those who possess ability and intelligence and those who don't, abuse of power and violence...all involving farm animals--is often assigned reading on the high school level.
Does "Nineteen Eighty-Four" have anything to say about the American system of government in 2015? It sure does. Orwell died in 1950 at the dawn of the computer era. He did not live to see the modern cyber world in all of its danger and complexity. Today it has been well established that government and corporate computer surveillance permeates American society and the world in general. This has led to increasing alarm that personal privacy and individual freedoms are being severely threatened. The complexity of modern computer technology--in which ALL information EVERYWHERE is stored in a computer--makes cyber terrorism a very real and dangerous threat. Recent revelations that the federal government's National Security Agency has for years been secretly monitoring and storing global internet traffic including the emails and phone call data of countless Americans have raised alarms among civil libertarians and people of all political persuasions. The release of highly classified NSA information by Edward Snowden two years ago brought the issue to the fore. When the NSA surveillance was exposed in 2013, sales of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" reportedly increased by up to seven times its usual number. Surveillance of the personal information and buying habits of Americans by corporations has also been well established. Government surveillance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks--in trying to prevent another catastrophe from happening-- is now a major issue in American politics and will be so during the next presidential election campaign. What would George Orwell think of all of this if he were around today? Without question he would be appalled. Surveillance--whatever form it comes in and whoever does it for nefarious purposes--has the effect of destroying personal privacy, individual autonomy and freedom. These are the essential themes in Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Is the cyber world and advanced computer technology compatible with personal autonomy, freedom, and the right to be left alone? A good number of people think not.
I'm going home now to give my computer a rest. Rest assured that I'm not checking up on any of you.
Monday, June 8, 2015
Good Day Happy Jazz Campers. Hope all of you had a pleasurable weekend that went beyond your expectations. Lovely weather we're having, eh? I think summer is finally here.
Tonight on The Big Broadcast I'll be featuring The Modern Jazz Quartet during the third hour. I'll be playing selections from an album I've never aired on the program before--a Christmas Day 1971 live performance at Town Hall in New York City that also included the great alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. This was an inspired pairing to say the least.
I'll finish the show with the great vocalist Anita O'Day, including selections from a 1961 album on Norman Grantz's Verve Records--"Waiter, Make Mine Blues." The album was recorded over the summer and fall of 1960 in Los Angeles. Russ Garcia is the arranger and Barney Kessel is featured on guitar with Bud Shank on sax and flute.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will again be featured at the halfway point of the show and as always I'll be playing the best of the new releases.
Many new releases continue to arrive. On my desk this afternoon: "The Bob Mintzer Big Band--"Get Up!" (MCG Jazz), a live performance at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild Hall in Pittsburgh on October 11th and 12th of last year. Pretty funky. Also, The Flying Horse Big Band (out of the University of Central Florida in Orlando)--"Into the Mystic" (the title cut a memorable song by Van Morrison). This one looks interesting. And pianist Michael Kocour--"Wherever You Go, There You Are" (OA2 Records). You can't argue with that logic. Kocour is featured on solo piano and Fender Rhodes and most of the songs are well known jazz tunes or standards. Finally, a Cincinnati guitarist by the name of Brad Myers called "Prime Numbers." He composed all the songs on the release except two. Great straight-ahead guitar playing with a fine vibes player by the name of Chris Barrick. I've spent my entire life trying to remember how to spell "Cincinnati." Two n's or three? Two t's or one? This is the most difficult spelling of any city in the United States, and I still can't remember it.
Saturday, June 5, 2015
Every Friday night at exactly 8:02 p.m. Central Time/7:02 p.m. Mountain Daylight Swingin' Time, the weekend begins by my Official Decree. So there! The weekend officially started many hours ago...so all of you have an exceedingly good one. I'll be back Monday night doing whatever it is I do at the usual time.
On Monday's show during the third hour I'll be bringing back the Modern Jazz Quartet--John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Percy Heath, and Connie Kay. I'll finish the festivities with the original hip chick singer, Anita O'Day. Do I dare describe a female jazz singer as a "chick"? Did I violate politically correct language? I guess I did.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured at the usual time--about 9:30ish central/8:30ish mountain.
REGARDING LAST NIGHT'S MUSIC: GLENN MILLER
I always enjoy bringing back the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The modern day Miller band keeps going and will be appearing in Sioux Falls and Rapid City in a few days (see the information below). What still attracts people to the Glenn Miller sound are the catchy and memorable songs, plain and simple. Most music critics feel that the Glenn Miller Orchestra was far from being the best music group of the big band era of the 1930's and 1940's. The complaint is that it wasn't innovative enough and was too commercial. But the Miller band had a unique sound that no other big band had. After much thought and experimentation Miller finally found his sound, which consisted of a clarinet section playing a melodic line with a tenor saxophonist holding the same note while three other saxophones harmonized within a single octave. That was " The Miller Sound." Millions and millions of people were devoted Miller fans during those years. You can't beat success. Among the detractors of the Miller band was rival Artie Shaw, who was quoted after Miller's passing in 1944: " I can only say that Glenn should have lived and 'Chattanooga Choo-Choo' should have died." However, among the Miller band's fans were Louis Armstrong (he loved the Miller melodies), Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme (who met Glenn in 1942 when he was 17 years old), and bebop clarinetist Buddy DeFranco (who later led the Miller orchestra in the 1960's). I think "Moonlight Serenade" may be the most romantic instrumental ever recorded. The Chesterfield radio show broadcasts that I featured last night are particularly interesting ("Sit back, relax, and enjoy a Chesterfield!"). The Chesterfield cigarette company sponsored a 15-minute Miller show on the CBS Radio network from December 27, 1939 to September 24, 1942 and everybody listened to it. The Miller band became famous nationally as a result of these broadcasts and this resulted in huge record sales. These Chesterfield sponsored shows aired live on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at 7:15 p.m. eastern time. I played a selection from a February 15, 1940 broadcast featuring Miller and the Andrews Sisters. It was broadcast on WABC-AM in New York and the announcer was Ed Herlihy (later known as the voice of TV's "Kraft Music Hall" in the 1950's and 1960's). I find the WABC broadcast curious because that was apparently the ABC radio network flagship station and the show was broadcast nationally on the CBS network . In the late 1930's and early 1940's the two powerhouse bands in the country were Glenn Miller's and Tommy Dorsey's. There were many other great big bands during the late 30's and early 1940's-- led by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Jimmy Lunceford, Artie Shaw, Harry James, Les Brown, and Stan Kenton in California was just getting started. But Miller and Dorsey dominated the hit parade. What would have happened if Glenn Miller had not died at age 40 when his plane disappeared over the English Channel on December 15, 1944? He and his collaborators would have written more music, and his band would have continued to score more hits and not turned into a ghost or nostalgia band playing the same old songs, at least not right away. Glenn Miller died in service to his country and his passing created a huge void in the music world.
Many people today were not around when tobacco companies sponsored radio shows as well as the endless ads for cigarettes that appeared on radio and TV until the 1970's. Those days are long gone. When Glenn Miller was hosting the "Chesterfield Show" nobody seemed to realize that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer. Hopefully we're a little smarter now.
I also hope you enjoyed the selections to close the show last night from a Concord Records anthology release from a number of years ago: "An Era Remembered: From Pearl Harbor to VJ Day" with famous World War II songs recorded in the 70's and 80's by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Mel Torme with George Shearing. The last selection, "I'll Be Seeing You (In All The Old Familar Places)," was sung by James Darren. He was a noted film and TV female heartthrob actor in the 1960's but not many people realize that in recent years he's become a fine ballad and big band singer.
REMEMBERING BOBBY KENNEDY...
On June 5, 1968, New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, was shot by gunman Sirhan Sirhan. He died the following day at the age of 42. Rod Lefholz of Rapid City correctly answered during trivia last night at Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. He had just finished giving a victory speech in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel. After concluding his remarks he was making his way out of the hotel through the pantry way of the kitchen. He stopped to shake hands with kitchen staff and then was confronted by Sirhan. Kennedy was shot three times--once in the head and twice in the back with a fourth bullet passing through his jacket. Five other people in the group were also shot but all survived. In the chaos that followed a number of onlookers grabbed the revolver from Sirhan and subdued him including the huge former pro football player Roosevelt Grier.
Sirhan shortly thereafter confessed to the crime while in police custody. He later recanted his confession saying he couldn't remember what happened and then still later agreed to plead guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1969 and there he remains in California. Sirhan was 24 years old at the time he killed Kennedy; he is now 71 years old. Repeated requests over the years by Sirhan for parole have been denied.
Sirhan was born into a Palestinian family in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1944 and was a Jordanian citizen. He moved with his family to the United States in 1956 at age 12 but never obtained U.S. citizenship. It is clear that Sirhan's killing of RFK was politically motivated--in effect, a terrorist act. He has stated publicly that he was extremely upset over Kennedy's support of Israel during the six day Arab-Israeli war in June 1967 and Kennedy's promise to send 50 fighter jets to Israel if elected president. A notebook that Sirhan kept was found shortly after the assassination and indicated his clear intention to kill Kennedy. Sirhan's other comments in the notebook voiced his rage at Israel and the Zionist movement. However, it is also clear that Sirhan acted alone and was not part of any Palestinian terrorist plot or organization. He was simply deranged, the stereotypical "troubled loner."
The assassination of Robert Kennedy was the culmination of a decade of violence in the United States during the 1960's. It began with the violence targeted at the Freedom Riders in the South in 1961. It continued with the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in 1963, then the brutality shown by police during the Birmingham, Alabama civil rights demonstrations that year followed by the bombing of the Birmingham Baptist Church by members of the KKK which killed four black girls in September 1963. Then came the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963. More violence followed--the assassination of Malcolm X in February 1965 and then the police violence against civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama in March of that year. The first big race riot of the 60's took place in Watts section of Los Angeles in the summer of 1965. More race riots followed in the summer of 1967 in Newark and Detroit. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968 and then many American cities burned. Robert Kennedy's death followed two months later. The concluding incident of mayhem and violence took place in August 1968 at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago as police brutally targeted Vietnam War protesters, some of whom provoked policemen. Hanging over the decade of the 60's was the specter of the Vietnam War, a war that America could not win, one that eventually took the lives of 58,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, a war many found senseless and immoral. Crime statistics in America skyrocketed in the 1960's. On the positive side black Americans achieved significant gains in securing their civil rights during the decade, particularly the right to vote. It seemed that the only other positive American moment of the 60's took place when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in July of 1969.
If Kennedy had lived it is problematic whether he would have won the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination. Despite his primary victory in California he was considerably behind in the delegate count to Hubert Humphrey, who was the choice of the power brokers of the Democratic party. However, had Kennedy lived--and even if he had not become the Democratic presidential nominee--it is quite unlikely that the full-scale violence at the Democratic convention would have taken place. Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago--the one who instructed the police to lash out at protesters and keep public order--was a friend of Robert Kennedy and secretly supported him for the nomination based on the fact Kennedy stood the best chance of defeating Republican Richard Nixon in November. Had Kennedy won the nomination he probably would have defeated Nixon handily...since Humphrey--with all of his political problems because of his support of the war and Lyndon Johnson--came so close to winning.
Friday, June 5, 2015
My sincere thanks to pianist Mary Louise Knutson in Minneapolis for joining me on the air last night. It is my hope that Mary Louise--a terrific jazz musician--will perform somewhere in the state very soon. Hey, Minneapolis is not that far from Sioux Falls and we're next door neighbors! By the way, Mary Louise's lovely photograph is posted on the SDPB main Facebook page at sdpb.org. Just go to the main menu, click "Engage" and then "Facebook" and it's there. Mary Louise's two CDs--"Call Me When You Get There" and "In the Bubble" (both on Meridian Jazz) can be ordered via Amazon.com or by going to her website-- marylouiseknutson.com.
Tonight I'll finish the week with the big band everyone remembers from the late 1930's and World War II era--The Glenn Miller Orchestra. Miller died in a plane crash in Europe in 1944 but the band went on and after more than 70 years it's still out on the road performing.
HEY GLENN MILLER FANS: The Miller Band will be performing in South Dakota in coming days. The Glenn Miller Orchestra under the direction of Nick Hilscher will perform at a concert and dance at the El Riad Temple at 510 South Phillips Avenue in Sioux Falls on Monday, June 15th at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30.00. A reserved table for four costs $150.00. To make reservations call the El Riad Temple at (605)-336-1117. Meanwhile, the Miller band will return to Main Street Square in Rapid City on Thursday, June 18th at 6 p.m. This is a free concert and part of the Thursday night concert series at Main Street Square this summer. The Miller band appeared at Main Street Square in Rapid City almost exactly one year ago. The Miller is on the road constantly--this is no exaggeration--with over 300 performances a year. During the month of June and July the Glenn Miller Orchestra will be doing one-nighters across the country almost every day with no let-up. Incredible! This tells me that there is definitely an audience for this band. Scrowl down below for more information about jazz events in our fair state.
ALSO COMING UP TONIGHT...
Selections from an anthology CD on Concord Records--"An Era Remembered--From Pearl Harbor to VJ Day"--with vocals by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Mel Torme.
REGARDING LAST NIGHT'S MUSIC...
Lionel Hampton played vibes with joyful abandon throughout his career which spanned more than 70 years. All of the great jazz vibraphonists who followed him--anyone who plays jazz vibes today--owes him a great debt of gratitude. Hamp simply invented the jazz vibraphone.
The young people of today need to know who Lena Horne was and her important contribution to music and American society in general. In addition to being the most beautiful woman of her time, she was an incredible singer and entertainer. She should have become a film superstar in the 1940's but racism prevented it. Lena was actively involved in the civil rights movement in the 1950's and 60's. She was a feminist before the start of modern feminism. But most of all, Lena was total class.
WALKIN' THE LINE WITH THE MAN IN BLACK...
During trivia last night I played a rollicking roadhouse version of "I Walk the Line"from a new release by singer Tiffany Austin called "Nothing But Soul" (most of the selections are jazzy interpretations of Hoagy Carmichael tunes). Eleven year old Dorian Swanson of Rapid City (maybe with a little help from mom and dad) correctly guessed that the original artist of "I Walk the Line" was Johnny Cash.
Cash, "The Man in Black," recorded the song in April 1956 at Sam Phillips' Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee. It was released on May 1, 1956 and went to #1 on the Billboard country chart and #17 on the Billboard pop chart. The single remained on the Billboard country chart for almost a year and sold over two million copies. Cash was signed to Sun Records in 1955 and after three so-so singles, "I Walk the Line" became his first hit. About this time Johnny was introduced to three young men at the Sun Records studio who would have a major impact on the future of rock music--Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Cash did not make the transition to rock 'n roll star--he stayed country but in the end transcended country music and in the process became a legend.
Cash's private life was often turbulent--he had a problem with pills and booze-- and his career had ups and downs. However, many big hits followed in the decades to come: "Ring of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Get Rhythm," "Jackson" (with his wife June Carter Cash), "A Boy Named Sue," and "One Piece at a Time." As a fan of trains, I especially enjoy Johnny's albums of train songs with his backup group-- The Tennessee Two--including "Hey Porter" and "Rock Island Line."
Cash's sound embraced rock-a-billy, blues, folk, and gospel in addition to country. His crossover appeal made it possible for Cash to be inducted separately into the Country, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Hall of Fame. That probably will never be duplicated by any performer again. Johnny Cash passed away on September 13, 2003 at the age of 71, a few months after the death of his wife, June Carter Cash.
Uh, there's not a lot of Johnny Cash jazz out there...and his songs obviously don't lend themselves to jazz interpretations. But I did play something from his good friend Willie Nelson, part-time resident of Luckenbach, Texas, and another fella from Astoria, Queens, New York--Tony Bennett. The song was a big band version of "On the Sunny Side of the Street" from Tony's "Duets II" CD. That'll work!
Thursday, June 4, 2015
PIANIST MARY LOUISE KNUTSON TO BE INTERVIEWED ON JN TONIGHT...
Tonight during the first hour of "Jazz Nightly" I'll be talking to a lady I've wanted to interview for a long time--Minneapolis-based pianist Mary Louise Knutson. She's a terrific piano player and I'll be playing selections from two of her CDs--"In The Bubble," and "Call Me When You Get There" (both on the Meridian Jazz label). Mary Louise has been a mainstay on the Minneapolis jazz scene for quite a few years. She's known for her long association with two Minneapolis singers--Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan. Mary Louise backed Connie when they performed at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux Falls about ten years ago. Mary Louise has also performed with a lot of major jazz performers passing through the Twin Cities including Dizzy Gillespie, Dianne Reeves, Kevin Mahogany, Randy Brecker, Bobby Shew, Terrell Stafford and many more important musicians. In 2012 and 2013 she toured with the great "Tonight Show" bandleader Doc Severinsen. She's also accompanied singers and musicians outside of jazz including a number of comedians including the great Phyllis Diller. Gotta ask her about Phyllis! I hope all of the South Dakota Knutsons (and there are many of them) will be tuning in tonight.
My interview with Mary Louise will get underway tonight at about 8:30 central/7:30 mountain time.
Here are some of the other amazing people Mary Louise has worked with: Ernie Watts; Ed Shaughnessy (drummer for the "Tonight Show" band led by Doc); Nicholas Payton; Richie Cole; Von Freeman; Slide Hampton; Peter Erskine; Billy Hart; and Richard Davis. Outside of jazz she's worked with country stars Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood; the great Smoky Robinson; Michael Bolton; and Donny Osmond and the Osmond Brothers. Here's a significant item on her resume: In 2005, she was a finalist in the Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams "Women in Jazz" International Pianist Competition. She's also performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Jazz Minnesota Orchestra, and the jazz-classical world music double quartet called One World Consort.
Trivia will take place during the second hour tonight. There's a new jazzy vocal version of a big non-jazz hit from the 1950's. I'll ask you to name the original artist.
My South Dakota Jazz Stars will again be featured at about 9:30 central/8:30 mountain. I'll be playing more music from the Lewis/Masis Quartet from its performance at the Icon Lounge in Sioux Falls back on April 16th.
And during the third hour of the show tonight...the two H's...vibes master Lionel Hampton and Lena Horne, not only the most beautiful woman in the world but a legendary singer, actress and entertainer.
Last night I debuted a track from the new CD by the Maria Schneider Orchestra called "The Thompson Fields" (Artist Share). I'll be featuring more of it in coming nights. This new release is a pastoral reflection on her hometown of Windom, Minnesota in the southwest part of the state, not far from the South Dakota border. The Thompson fields refer to farmland near Windom. Maria has lived in New York for many years but in a sense never left her native state. A protege of Gil Evans, Maria has released many critically well received recordings over the years with her orchestra. Maria's orchestra is not a swing band but explores a palette of many musical colors, like Gil Evans did and Duke Ellington as well.
WELL, THE ACTING THING DIDN'T PAN OUT BUT GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY...
Last night I played "Try To Remember" by pianist Kenny Werner from his new CD, "The Melody." "Try To Remember" is the most famous song from the musical "The Fantastiks," which debuted in 1960 and is the longest running stage musical in history. It's been performed on Broadway, off Broadway, and everywhere else including Timbuktu. It has been a staple stage production in high schools for decades: "Try to Remember the kind of September when life was mellow and you were a callow fellow, etc." The tune has been done by a number of pop singers over the decades but has not been covered much by jazz musicians and vocalists. The Werner jazz version is the first I've come across.
As I mentioned last night, I too am a veteran of "The Fantastiks"...having performed as the lead male character in the off, off, off, off, off Broadway production at Fia Iloa School in American Samoa in 1968 at age 13. I did not sing "Try To Remember" and can remember nothing about the plot of the play which was presented in front of about 12 people (I vaguely remember my parents being there). My leading lady was a very pretty girl by the name of Susan Sullivan (there is a TV actress by the name of Susan Sullivan but this was a different Susan and quite frankly my Susan was much better looking). With Susan I had my first (and last) stage kiss. I did not go "all the way." I kissed her on the nose. Why I kissed her on the nose instead of the cheek I have absolutely no idea. Ah, stupid young love! I don't recall ingesting a breath mint before the performance, and I'm sure this irritated Susan to a considerable degree. Susan...if you're out there in cyberland and reading this...all I can say is that I'm terribly, terribly sorry for putting you through the Jimmo treatment. I've been feeling bad about this for the past 47 years.
Actor James Arness died on June 3, 2011 at the age of 88. Although a veteran actor in many films, he is known basically for one role. Neal Arneson of Brandon, SD correctly answered during trivia last night that Arness starred as Marshal Matt Dillon in the long-running CBS-TV show "Gunsmoke."
"Gunsmoke" aired weekly for twenty years, from 1955 to 1975--in TV terms a staggering record where a successful show usually lasts five years. Along with "Bonanza" (which aired from 1959 to 1973), "Gunsmoke" is still regarded as the classic and archetypal TV western. Of course, the TV western has long disappeared from the small screen and its heyday was in the 1950's and the first half of the 1960's. "Gunsmoke" started as a network radio show (1952-1961) starring veteran actor William Conrad in the Dillon role (Conrad would later become famous on TV's "Cannon" and then "Jake and the Fat Man"). The "Gunsmoke" stories took place in and around Dodge City, Kansas during the settlement of the American West in the latter half of the 1800's. "Gunsmoke" stands as the longest running prime time live action American TV drama with 635 episodes. In 2010, "Law and Order" tied "Gunsmoke" for most seasons as a live action drama with 20 years. However, "Law and Order" finished 179 episodes short of Gunsmoke's final show total. Arness played Marshal Dillon for all twenty years of the series. Another character, Milburn Stone as Doc, also stayed during the entire run of the series. The other major characters included Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty, the owner of the local saloon; Dennis Weaver as Chester; Ken Curtis as Festus; and Buck Taylor as Buck. At one point Burt Reynolds was in the cast. From 1962 to 1964 he portrayed Quint, the "half breed" blacksmith. There were many guest stars on the series who later became prominent. Curtis was actually a big band singer before landing the role of Festus--he sang with Tommy Dorsey's band and that of Shep Fields as well as the western group, Sons of Pioneers (which at one time included Roy Rogers). Festus was a crusty homespun character with a pronounced hayseed drawl. He needed a shave. But he was loyal as a rock to his friend Marshal Dillon. He called him "Math-yew."
"Gunsmoke" was a half hour series from 1955 to 1961. It went to one hour in the 1961-62 season and stayed there until the end. The program went to color in 1966. From 1955 to 1967 the show aired on Saturday night at 10 p.m. Starting in the 1967-68 season it went to Mondays and was featured earlier in the evening. "Gunsmoke" was in the Top 10 Nielsen rankings from 1956 to 1963, then dipped in the ratings for next few years but became a top 10 show again from 1967 to 1972. It finished the 1974-75 season #28 in the ratings. The program had an extremely devoted following for decades, mainly an older audience. In September 1975 CBS suddenly canceled the show despite decent ratings with Arness and the rest of the cast expecting to come back for another season. As a result there was no series finale after twenty years. After "Gunsmoke" concluded there were five more "Gunsmoke" TV movies made from 1987 to 1993 and Arness was in all of them. Arness was a featured actor in 32 movies from 1947 to 1959. His brother was actor Peter Graves, who became famous in another 1960's and 1970's CBS-TV series, "Mission Impossible." If you remember Peter Graves starring on TV's "Fury" in the late 50's and early 60's you go way back.
Arness suffered great personal tragedy in his life. His first wife died of a drug overdose. A son preceded him in death. A daughter committed suicide at the age of 25 in 1975. Arness as Matt Dillon projected stoicism and was a rather grim, stiff, and humorless character on the series. His personal honesty and integrity were impeccable. The viewer was made to feel that the burden of responsibility weighed heavily on Matt Dillon's shoulders as he tried to maintain law and order in Dodge City. Yet it was reported that Arness actually possessed a great sense of humor and laughed constantly on the "Gunsmoke" set.
WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT YOU GET...
I mentioned above that actor James Arness's persona as Marshal Dillon on "Gunsmoke" was solemn and rather grim. Dillon seemed to be a man without a great sense of humor, weighed down by the responsibilities of maintaining law and order in a Wild West town. In fact, Arness reportedly possessed a great sense of humor off-screen. An opposite case in point might be Andy Griffith. Of course, Griffith starred in the classic "Andy Griffith Show" which ran from 1960 to 1968. Griffith portrayed Sheriff Andy Taylor, a study in easygoing and laid back behavior. This became his screen persona during his entire career--in films before his TV show went on the air and later on the TV series "Matlock." Andy Taylor's deputy was Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), a nervous, edgy, high-strung figure, albeit a comic one. Reportedly it was Griffith who was the nervous and high-strung one on the set while Knotts was cool, calm, and collected. Griffith's high-strung behavior is understandable in that he was the executive producer and had responsibility for the entire show, a man constantly under pressure and on deadline. Griffith and Knotts met in 1955 in the stage play "No Time For Sergeants" (later made into a film) and became lifelong friends. Griffith's real personality was more complex and may have been more of a reflection of a role he played in a 1957 movie, "A Face in the Crowd." In that film he portrayed a country boy but one who was manipulative and power hungry. Andy Griffith was liked by just about everybody and all considered him a very decent man. I mentioned on the air the other night that Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe were born on the same day and year--June 1, 1926. Their lives completely diverged and they appeared to have nothing in common. I wonder if Andy ever met Marilyn during his years in California? The answer is probably not. Griffith outlived Monroe by almost exactly 50 years--he died on July 3, 2012 at the age of 86. Had she lived Marilyn Monroe would now be 89 years old.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Tonight at the Usual Jazz Place at the Usual Time: The great LA saxophonist Teddy Edwards, who dominated the Central Avenue scene during the glory days of the 1940's and thereafter and played with some of the most important musicians of his era--Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Benny Goodman, Benny Carter, Milt Jackson, Charlie Parker, Shelly Manne, Houston Person, Ernie Andrews, Nat King Cole, and many others. Teddy kept recording and putting out great albums until almost the very end. He passed away on April 20, 2003 at the age of 78.
I'll finish the show with singer Vanessa Rubin, including selections from her last release in 2013 with saxophonist Don Braden, "Full Circle." I interviewed Vanessa in February 2014 and that interview is still available for you to listen to. Just search below the nightly playlist on the main JN page and it's there.
WUNNERFUL...WUNNERFUL...HELLO FROM TV "LANT"!!!
We had a wunnerful trivia winner last night because I had a wunnerful trivia question. Fred Cozad of Martin, SD correctly guessed that Lawrence Welk was born and raised in Strasburg, North Dakota, just over the South Dakota border from Campbell County in the north central section of the Rushmore State. The Welk family farm homestead near Strasburg is now a tourist attraction. Welk was almost but not quite a South Dakota boy. But he was no stranger to the state.
Welk was born in the German-speaking community of Strasburg in 1903. As a youth he persuaded his father to buy him an accordion for $400, a huge amount of money at that time. Welk stayed on the farm until his 21st birthday and then left to pursue a career in music. He led bands in North Dakota during the 1920's and toured extensively in South Dakota. The first Welk group was called the Hotsy Totsy Boys and later-- incredibly-- the Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra. By 1928 he was a regular performer on WNAX-AM in Yankton. Welk's musical unit was a prominent "territory" band throughout the northern plains in the late 1920's and 1930's and eventually toured throughout the entire country, particularly in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas--both cities had significant German ancestry populations. In the early 1940's his band began a 10-year stint at the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago and drew big crowds. His band also frequently performed at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. He made the move to Los Angeles in 1951 and started appearing at the Aragon Ballroom in Venice Beach. That same year a Los Angeles TV station, KTLA, began broadcasting "The Lawrence Welk Show" from the Aragon Ballroom. The show became a local hit and was picked up by ABC-TV in June of 1955, first as a summer replacement show and shortly afterward as a weekly Saturday night show on the permanent schedule. The Welk show went to color in 1965. It was never a big hit show but always got decent ratings. The Saturday night Welk show on ABC ran until 1971. It was canceled that year along with other prominent TV shows (Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton, "The Hollywood Palace", "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Hee-Haw", "Green Acres," "The Johnny Cash Show," and others) mostly because of demographics and because the networks were ridding themselves of rural themed programs. Network TV executives felt that the Welk show appealed to an older audience whose numbers could not grow, and they were after a much younger audience. So Welk started his own production company and the show went into national syndication--placed on most local TV stations in the same Saturday night time slot--and continued on the air for another 11 years until 1982. Welk's national TV run lasted 27 years. Ed Sullivan's Sunday night show on CBS lasted only 23 years (from 1948 to 1971). Only "The Tonight Show" with its various hosts has had a longer run as a variety program (it went national in 1954 with Steve Allen as the original host, followed by Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, briefly Conan O'Brien, then back to Leno, and now Jimmy Fallon).
Welk employed fine musicians on his weekly program but his band did not swing much if at all. It did not swing because Welk didn't want it to swing. In all the decades of the Welk band's existence it had only one chart hit--a peppy little number with harpsichord with the incongruous title of "Calcutta," released in 1961. The Welk program was first and foremost a family oriented show that everybody could watch--good, clean, wholesome, inoffensive whitebread entertainment. And critics said that was the problem--it had no edge. But then it was Lawrence Welk--it couldn't have an edge. From the very beginning Welk's program appealed almost exclusively to middle aged adults and senior citizens and not to young people. In the 50's the kids were listening to Elvis on their transistor radios and out having fun on Saturday night...same thing in the the 60's with the Beatles. Although the Welk show was based in Los Angeles during its entire run, the program always reflected the cultural values of the plains and Midwest--the white middle class. It was neither high brow or low brow entertainment--it was intentionally middle brow. The Welk band played what was described as "champagne music," in other words, "sweet" dance music. The Welk band continued in the tradition of "sweet" music that was first made popular in the 1920's by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Other prominent "sweet" bands of the 20's, 30's, and 40's were led by Sammy Kaye, Kay Kaiser, Freddy Martin, Lester Lanin, Hal Kemp, Shep Fields, Blue Baron, and a few others. Some of these bands were also called "Mickey Mouse" bands because of their schmaltzy novelty numbers. The Welk family of performers was and continues to be extremely loyal to their boss. Among the Welk stars over the years who have had their own followings were Myron Floren, Norma Zimmer, The Lennon Sisters, Bobby Burgess, Joe Feeney, Dick Dale, Larry Hooper, Bob Ralston, Mary Lou Metzger, Joanne Castle, Guy Hovis and Ralna English, Jack Imel, Arthur Duncan, Ken Delo, Henry Cuesta, and Pete Fountain. Fountain, the legendary New Orleans clarinetist, received his first national exposure on the Welk show. He left after a disagreement regarding a jazzed up Christmas carol that he played on the program. Mr. Welk wanted it played straight. Fountain later said something to the effect that their disagreement had to do with Welk being a milk drinker and that he liked bourbon. The bourbon didn't seem to hurt Pete because he's still around. After leaving Welk Fountain later received more national exposure from numerous appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." Although Welk's last program aired 33 years ago, the color broadcasts and some segments in black and white are featured during the weekend on public television stations across the country. Reminiscences by cast members are interspersed among the program segments. Despite a demographic that is now decidedly very old, the Welk alumni performers seem to retain a following and periodic Welk reunions continue to draw audiences. South Dakota Public Television airs the Welk show both on Saturday and Sunday nights. Lawrence Welk died on May 17, 1992 at the age of 89. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, a long, long way from Strasburg, North Dakota.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Tonight on America's Favorite and Funniest Home Videos (wait, check that...the show is officially called "Jazz Nightly"): Legendary guitarist Tal Farlow. Farlow is considered to be one of the most influential players of electric jazz guitar. As a youth his inspiration was Charlie Christian. Farlow achieved fame in the jazz world by the mid-1950's and worked with such performers as vibes player Red Norvo and bassist Charles Mingus. He released his first album as a leader in 1954. Farlow was known as "The Octopus" because of his huge hands. Yet by the end of the 50's he gave up full-time performing, settled in New Jersey, and became a sign painter. A long period of inactivity as a recording artist followed, but Farlow reemerged in 1976 and did a number of well-received albums for Concord Records. He kept recording for the next eight years before retiring again. As early as 1962 the Gibson Guitar Company produced the Tal Farlow guitar model. A new book about Farlow's life has just been published. Written by French writer Jean-Luc Katchoura, it's entitled "Tal Farlow: A Life in Jazz Guitar." A thumbs-up review of the book appeared in the June issue of "Down Beat" magazine. Tal Farlow died on July 25, 1998 at the age of 77.
I'll finish the show tonight with vocalist Kurt Elling, including selections from his just released CD, "Passion World" (Concord Jazz). This is one of Kurt's most ambitious recordings with a "world music" theme...songs from composers in Scotland, France, Brazil, Italy, Germany. There's a Pat Metheny song and also a classical piece by Brahms. Kurt is obviously aiming for the bleacher seats on this new one.
LOOKING FORWARD TO LATER IN THE WEEK: On Thursday night I'll be interviewing pianist Mary Louise Knutson, based for many years in Minneapolis. Mary Louise is known for her long association with singer Connie Evingson and in recent years has released two fine recordings as a leader, "In The Bubble," and "Call Me When You Get There" (both on the Meridian Jazz label). My interview with Mary Louise will get underway Thursday night at about 8:30 central/7:30 mountain time.
IT WAS 48 YEARS AGO TODAY...SGT. PEPPER TAUGHT THE BAND TO PLAY...
On June 1, 1967, The Beatles released the seminal "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album on Capitol Records in the United States, EMI in Britain. To this day it is considered by many to be the most important and influential rock album ever released. "Sgt. Pepper" went immediately to # 1 on the Billboard album chart in America and England, spending 15 weeks atop the American chart and 27 weeks at #1 in England. I've listened to this album only a couple of million times. Local guitarist Jesse Christen of Sioux Falls correctly guessed during trivia last night that the Beatles' famed studio producer was George Martin. He produced all of the Beatles' albums from start to finish, from 1962 until the band officially broke up in the spring of 1970.
The Beatles finished touring for good in August of 1966 and then took a three month break. It was Paul McCartney who had the original idea for the "Pepper" album and the first track, "When I'm 64," was laid down in November of 1966. Two other songs were recorded shortly thereafter--"Strawberry Fields Forever," and "Penny Lane." Both were released as a Double-A side single in March of 1967, both became hits and signaled the Beatles as heading in a totally new "psychedelic" musical direction. However, "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" did not make it onto the "Pepper" album (they were featured on the next Beatles' album, "Magical Mystery Tour"). It was at this point all four Beatles starting growing mustaches, long sideburns and John Lennon began to wear rimless spectacles. All four started to wear loud colorful clothing. A new fashion trend had started. A short music film of "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" (perhaps the first music video) was released and it was bizarre. McCartney's original concept for "Pepper" was to create a Beatles alter-ego group based on an Edwardian-era military band in period costumes led by a fictional Sgt. Pepper. The idea blossomed from there. The alter-ego persona allowed the group to free itself from being typecast as Beatles and to experiment musically. In fact, the Pepper band represented the anti-Beatles. The "Pepper" album is indeed total musical experimentation which features diverse musical influences ranging from vaudeville to circus music, British music hall style songs, the avant-garde, western classical symphony music, Indian sitar music, bizarre psychedelia, numerous zany sound effects (including a rooster crowing), and a couple of not too subtle drug references-- "I get high with a little help from my friends," and "I'd love to turn you on." All of the songs have retained their power and brilliance throughout the decades--among them "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "A Day in the Life," "Good Morning Good Morning," "A Little Help From My Friends," "Lovely Rita," "She's Leaving Home," and all the rest. "A Day in the Life" (said to be an aural recreation of a LSD trip) ends the album with a massive orchestra crescendo with the last note reputedly said to be heard only by dogs. Many of the songs on "Pepper" blend into each other, a totally novel concept at the time. And then there was the wild album cover which the world had never seen the likes of before and would be a template for future rock album cover art--the alter-ego "Pepper" band posing in garish uniforms looking solemn in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, most of them dead. "Sgt. Pepper" is generally considered to be the Beatles' greatest artistic achievement although some Beatles fans do not consider it their favorite album because of its highly experimental nature. If you were young and into rock music in the summer of 1967, "Pepper" was the album that you were listening to. It took the world counterculture generation by storm. "Pepper" is considered to be the first important art rock album, the forerunner of progressive rock, and is credited with marking the beginning of the album era in rock music. "Rolling Stone" magazine named "Pepper" #1 of the 500 greatest rock albums of all time.
George Martin is now 89 years old. He was 36 years old when he met the Beatles for the first time. His importance as the Beatles' studio producer has been debated throughout the years but the general consensus is that he was hugely important to the group's development and sound and contributed greatly to the Beatles' creative sophistication and musical maturation. Martin became known in the early and mid-1950's as the producer of comedy and novelty albums featuring Peter Sellers as well as Spike Milligan and his famous "Goons" (a hugely popular BBC Radio comedy show). While the Beatles were still a group Martin produced records for a number of other British acts including Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and middle-of-the-road singer Matt Monro. He produced Shirley Bassey's 1964 hit, "Goldfinger," from the James Bond movie. Martin produced a Stan Getz album in the late 60's and in the early 70's the Paul Winter Consort. Later in the 70's he produced solo albums by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. He also produced a series of highly successful albums by the soft rock group "America." Others produced by Martin included Jimmy Webb, Neil Sedaka, Cheap Trick, and Celine Dion. Martin was also involved in the reissue of obscure and long-shelved Beatles recordings in the 1990's and 2000's. Martin has won a total of 6 Grammy Awards including one for being the producer of "Sgt. Pepper." He was inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
Hope you enjoyed the jazz versions of Beatles' tunes I played last night: guitarist Lee Ritenour's "A Day in the Life"; pianist McCoy Tyner's moving rendition of "She's Leaving Home"; and George Benson's vocal on "The Long and Winding Road." Three jazz CDs are on the way to Jesse Christen, who has listened to his share of Beatles' recordings and George Harrison guitar solos.
Monday, June 1, 2015
It's June 1st--start of summer, right? Right?
Tonight during the third hour of JN I'll be featuring the trumpets of Bobby Shew, Vincent DiMartino, and Allen Vizzutti. Allen, a veteran performer and jazz educator, will be the clinician for the "Jazz Fest" jazz camp band at "Jazz Fest" in Sioux Falls next month.
I'll finish the show with one of my all-time favorite singers--jazz's "Girl Next Door"--the Misty Miss Christy--June Christy.
As usual, my South Dakota Jazz Stars will be featured at the halfway point of the show, and I'll be playing the rest of the new releases.
It's summer, right???
LOOKING BACK IN TIME...THE FINAL TRIVIA WINNER TALLY FOR 2014:
West River 80, East River 59, Iowa 5, Nebraska 4, North Dakota 2, Missouri 1, Texas 1, Illinois 1, Michigan 1 .
WE LOST IN 2014:
Iola Brubeck, March 14 (age 90, wife of Dave for 70 years and his occasional musical collaborator, mother of Chris, Dan, and Darius).
Joe Wilder, May 9 (age 92, noted trumpeter, bandleader, and composer who played in many bands as a sideman including Count Basie).
Herb Jeffries, May 25 (age 100, Duke Ellington's great singer in the early 40's who later had a successful solo career, formerly a black western film star).
Jimmy Scott, June 12 (age 88, Chicago singer who scored a hit in the early 1950's with "Everybody's Somebody's Fool." Had a career resurgence in the 1980's; influenced a number of jazz singers including Nancy Wilson).
Horace Silver, June 18 (age 85, the great hard-bop and soul jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, and arranger who influenced a generation of young jazz musicians who followed).
Paul Horn, June 29 (age 84, noted clarinetist and saxophonist who started in jazz and later branched out into what can best be described as New Age music).
Charlie Haden, July 11 (age 76, generally considered to be one of the greatest bassists in the history of jazz, a modern player who transformed how fellow bassists and just about everybody else regarded the instrument).
Gerald Wilson, September 8 (age 96, one of the greatest modern jazz orchestra leaders as well as a highly gifted composer and arranger. His 1960's jazz orchestra was probably the greatest of that decade).
Joe Sample, September 12 (age 75, jazz pianist who moved effortlessly between mainstream and straight ahead jazz and smooth jazz. Founder in the early 1960's of a highly influential group, The Jazz Crusaders, which attracted many new fans to jazz).
Jackie Cain, September 15 (age 86, partnered with husband Roy Kral for more than 50 years in the duo Jackie and Roy; a very hip singing couple that did everything from Alec Wilder and Stephen Sondheim songs to bebop).
Kenny Wheeler, September 18 (age 84, Canadian trumpeter, flugelhorn player, and composer).
Tim Hauser, October 16 (age 72, founder of the Manhattan Transfer singing group, which achieved wide popularity in the mid-1970's and continuing thereafter. The Transfer sang everything from jazz to big band songs to pop to soul to doo-wop. The Transfer's jazz vocalese recordings with complex vocal parts and arrangements are masterful).
Buddy DeFranco, December 24 (age 91, the great swing and bebop clarinetist whose career began in the early 1940's and continued into the 2000's. DeFranco performed and recorded with many of the legends of the last seventy years. He led the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1966 to 1974. DeFranco was one of the few jazz clarinetists who successfully made the transition from swing to bebop in the 1940's and who embraced the bebop medium enthusiastically.
THE TOP 40 JAZZ RELEASES OF 2014 AS DETERMINED BY YOUR DOTING AND DEVOTED JAZZ UNCLE (WITH TWO MORE THROWN IN FOR GOOD MEASURE).
As I stated previously, I'm wary of "year end best of" lists because they are always subjective. I don't particularly like lists, jazz charts, or jazz polls because they're not much more than popularity contests and don't reflect the true measure or worth of a recording or artist. And anyway, how do you rank jazz releases? It's like comparing apples and oranges because each one is so different from the other.
With that said, here's my list. I honestly don't know if these actually were the best releases of 2014 but these are my favorites and the ones I devoted a lot of airplay to. These are in no particular order. However, if you have funds to buy only two CDs, get the Jimmy Greene and Sonny Rollins releases.
Jimmy Greene--"Beautiful Life" Mack Avenue Records/Greene Music Works
This is a wonderful recording by tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene with a number of other excellent instrumentalists and singers. I featured it in its entirety last week. This is a recording where one has to understand the background and context. "Beautiful Life" is dedicated to and inspired by Greene's daughter Ana, one of the twenty children and six adults murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. Ana Grace Marquez Greene was six years, eight months, and ten days old when she died. And like the rest of the children, she was thinking of Santa Claus on the day she died. "Beautiful Life" does not dwell on this senseless tragedy but instead is a life-affirming statement, a celebration of Ana's brief life and the joy she gave to her parents and everyone else she came into contact with. What happened at Sandy Hook must never be forgotten and a way must be found to prevent massacres like this from happening again. Among those who gave their time and talents to this album: pianists Rene Rosnes, Kenny Barron, and Cyrus Chestnut; guitarist Pat Matheny; bassist Christian McBride; drummer Lewis Nash; and vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon, and Latanya Farrell. Actress Anika Noni Rose gives a moving spoken word tribute to Ana and all children in "Little Voices." "Beautiful Life" celebrates Ana's beautiful life and those of all the other children in this country who are victims of gun violence. This recording moves you on an emotional level and makes you think. It is a message of hope. I consider "Beautiful Life" a masterpiece.
Sonny Rollins--"Road Shows, Volume 3" Okeh
Sonny is now the venerated elder statesman of jazz and this is the third installment of live performances which took place in France, Japan, and the United States between 2001 and 2012. What can you say about Sonny? As a tenor saxophonist he dwarfs players half his age. What you come away from this recording is being in awe of his lung power. Sonny just blows and blows and blows. In terms of endurance and longevity Sonny may be the greatest jazz saxophonist who ever lived. I had the great fortune of introducing Sonny at a concert in New Hampshire in 1989. Then I went out and sat in the front row. I don't remember the songs he performed but I do remember that he just blowed and blowed and blowed. For at least two hours without stop. He's an amazing man and an amazing musician.
Dave Stryker--"Eight Track" Strikezone Records
Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio (with Kenny Barron and Ron Carter)--"We're Back" Whaling City Sound
Bruce Barth--"Daybreak" Savant
Kate Ross--"People Make the World Go Round" Kim Court Productions
Joe Beck--"Get Me Joe Beck" Whaling City Sound
Mike LeDonne--"I Love Music" Savant
Steve Kaldestad with the Mike LeDonne Trio--"Straight Up" Cellar Live Records
Doc Stewart's Big Band Resuscitation--"Code Blue!" Cannonball Jazz
Caterina Zapponi--"Romantica" Motema Jazz
Alan Broadbent and the NDR Big Band--"America the Beautiful" Jan Matthies Records
J.C. Styles--"Blakey Grease" American Showplace Music
Charlie Apicella and Iron City--"Big Boss" Zoho Music
Tim Hegarty--"Tribute" Miles High Records
David Hazeltine--"For All We Know" Smoke Sessions Records
Cyrus Chestnut--"Midnight Melodies" Smoke Sessions Records
The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra with Bill Watrous, Pete Christlieb, and Carl Saunders--"A Beautiful Friendship" Summit Records
Connie Evingson and the John Jorgensen Quintet--"All The Cats Join In" Minnehaha Music
Dena DeRose--"We Won't Forget You...An Homage to Shirley Horn" HighNote Records
Peter Hand Big Band--"Out of Hand" Savant
John Webber Quartet--"Down For The Count" Cellar Live Records
Freddy Cole--"Singing the Blues" HighNote Records
Eric Alexander--"Chicago Fire" HighNote Records
Barbara Morrison--"I Love You, Yes I Do" HighNote Records
Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet with Richie Cole--"Vocal Madness" HouseKat Records
Tony Monaco--"Furry Slippers" Chicken Coup Records
Lisa Ferraro--"Serenading the Moon" Lisa Ferraro Music
Diane Schuur--"I Remember You--With Love to Stan and Frank" Jazzheads
Nancy Kelly--"B That Way" Bluebay Records
Akiko Tsuruga--"Commencement" Akiko Jazz
Mark Elf--"Mark Elf Returns 2014" Jen Bay Jazz
Joe Gransden--"Songs of Sinatra and Friends" Cafe 290
Ann Hampton Callaway--"From Sassy to Divine: The Sarah Vaughn Project" Shanachie
Wayne Coniglio and Scott Whitfield--"Fast Friends" Summit Records
The Craig Scott Quintet--"Introducing the Craig Scott Quintet" Cellar Live Records
The Mike Longo Trio--"The Mike Longo Trio Celebrates Oscar Peterson Live" Consolidated Artists Productions
Tom Lagana Group featuring George Garzone--"Vol. 1" Harvest Time Holdings
Sherie Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra (with Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw)--"A Swingin' Life" MCG Jazz
Houston Person--"The Melody Lingers On" HighNote Records
Jimmy Cobb--"The Original Mob" Smoke Sessions Records
Tierney Sutton--"After Blue" BFM Jazz
ABBA DEE ABBA DAH...THAT'S ALL FOLKS!!!