Tag: Weatherbird

  • Flee as a Bird

    As Groucho Marx used to sing, “Hello, I must be going.” It’s time to move on when you begin to calculate a job’s duration the way children identify their ages. Whereas I used to think in round numbers, lately I found myself muttering, “29 and a half years,” “30 years and two months,” “30 years, […]

  • Midlife Bloom

    Of the 70-plus tunes attributed to Thelonious Monk, the ballads occupy a singular plateau, none more so than “Reflections,” which he introduced at a magnificent 1952 Prestige trio session alongside “Trinkle Tinkle,” “Bemsha Swing,” and a riotously swinging “These Foolish Things” that begins with a condign borrowing of Johnny Ray’s “Please Mr. Sun.” Though acclaimed […]

  • All Duke’s Chillun Got Melody

    At long last, Gerry Mulligan’s five Concert Jazz Band albums, recorded for Verve between 1960 and 1962, have been collected, though not by Verve. Mosaic (35 Melrose Place, Stamford, CT 06902, 203-327-7111, info@mosaicrecords.com) has done a consummate job with The Complete Verve Gerry Mulligan Concert Band Sessions. These much loved but long-unavailable records have never […]

  • Overview and Meditation

    Nearly four years ago, Lester Bowie blew his last blat and took with him a sensibility that is as much missed as his trumpet playing. With no worthy heir to his white lab coat, jazz suffered a profound loss in theatrical wit, surgical cuts, massed brasses, pangeneric repertory, and nostalgic caprice. The Art Ensemble of […]

  • King of Jazz Benny Is Dead, Long Live King of Jazz Sonny

    If jazz must have a king, the present ruler is Sonny Rollins. In case anyone doubted his eminence, the rainy season abated for his August 9 concert in the Central Park SummerStage series. He appeared without a pianist, not that he needed one. He was on such a tear that he may not have needed […]

  • Benny Carter, 1907-2003

    Ten years ago, a woman from the Kennedy Center Honors called to pick my brain. The committee, she said, had decided that a jazz artist should be among the next group of honorees. At that time those awards for lifetime achievement in the performing arts had only recently become the sick joke they remain today. […]

  • Ornette and Others

    And it must follow, as the night the day, that whenever JVC is as false to its calling as it was last summer, it will direct its next installment toward the true light. Look it up: The JVC Jazz Festival never scrapes bottom in consecutive years. With the return of Ornette Coleman (imperial), Wayne Shorter […]

  • Give the Drummers Some

    At 78, Roy Haynes is only a year younger than Max Roach, but jazz history pigeonholes them as first- and second-generation bebop drummers. Each was a wunderkind who initially made his reputation with swing titans—Roach with Benny Carter, Haynes with Lester Young. But Roach was the first to assimilate Charlie Parker’s radical redesign—”Ko Ko” was […]

  • Deep Easy Listening

    Call it a taste for opposites, but in taking note of the nearly simultaneous appearances by Jim Hall at the Village Vanguard and Cyrus Chestnut at Jazz Standard, it occurred to me that they might sound wonderful together—the former’s tight asymmetrical phrases and careful timbres coursing through the latter’s buoyant chords and gospel preachments. They […]

  • Savooooy Be Gooood

    Bill Milkowski’s entertaining encyclopedia of jive, Swing It!, attempts various explanations of the word, but when push comes to shove settles for a definition that seems inclusive enough to silence debate: “Coded speech of the jitterbug scene.” Yet Milkowski defines a jitterbug as “a swing fan,” while many of his jivesters are devoted to bop […]

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