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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jazz great Oscar Brown dead at 78 - Yahoo! News

Jazz great Oscar Brown dead at 78 - Yahoo! NewsYahoo!
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Oscar Brown Jr., alegendary rhythm & blues and jazz singer,
died on Sunday at age 78 following a two-month illness, his son said on Monday.
The songwriter and playwright had been hospitalized in April and again in
mid-May complaining of pain and paralysis in his legs. He had emergency surgery
on May 16 to address an abscess on his lower spine, Napoleon Brown said.
Brown was known for such compositions "The Snake," "Signifyin' Monkey" and
lyrics for Miles Davis' "All Blues."
The son of a prosperous attorney and real estate broker, he began performing on
radio as a teenager. His first album, Sin and Soul, came out in 1960. He
appeared with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Cannonball
Brown wrote more than a dozen plays and musicals. He was also active in the
civil rights movement in the 1960s, running unsuccessfully twice for political
office -- first for the Illinois legislature and later for the U.S. Congress.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The New Yorker: Online Only: Content

The New Yorker: Online Only: Contenthe Jazz Giant
Issue of 2005-05-09
Posted 2005-05-02

This week in the magazine, Stanley Crouch writes about the jazz tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who, at seventy-four, is in the sixth decade of his remarkable career. Here, Crouch discusses Rollins, jazz, and improvisation with Ben Greenman.

BEN GREENMAN: Where does Sonny Rollins rank in the jazz pantheon?

STANLEY CROUCH: No. 1, along with Roy Haynes and Hank Jones.

You open your article by saying that a Sonny Rollins concert is a drastically hit-or-miss proposition. Is it hard for him to approach each show as an entirely new experience?

Improvisation is about a new experience, a new way of hearing something, a different perspective, a reimagining. That’s how the music works. And Sonny Rollins is almost always remarkable, which makes him a phenomenon. His is the sort of talent that we have almost no ability to address in this time, because musical performance and musical skill have dropped to such a low level. Rollins is a vital artist of this moment, but he is also a summation of all of the victories of American performance in the twentieth century. Like Armstrong, he is jazz, and jazz added a new level of performance sophistication to Western music. That addition is about all of the ways of creating order within, almost always, a harmonic structure, which is what separates it from so-called “world music,” which is never about harmony of any substance or swing. That is a Western invention and addition to music. Swing is an addition to the rhythm of the world.

In his less focussed performances, Rollins sometimes switches into calypso mode. Caribbean rhythms have always been important to his music; are there other jazz players who put lots of island music into their playing?

No, but there has always been a tendency to make use of what Jelly Roll Morton called “the Spanish tinge”—music from the islands, or South America, or the Iberian Peninsula, transformed to fit the Western Hemisphere.

At one point, Freddie Hubbard says that one of the main differences between John Coltrane and Rollins was that Coltrane took a very analytical approach to harmony, whereas Rollins was more spontaneous. Rollins and Coltrane recorded together only once, on “Tenor Madness,” in the mid-fifties. Did their approaches mesh in an interesting and exciting way?

It was O.K. I was never that impressed by “Tenor Madness.” It’s too bad they didn’t get together and do an entire album, maybe with Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones. That would have put something on all of us.

How hard has it been for Rollins to outlive most of the other jazz luminaries of the fifties and sixties?

Well, Sonny Rollins is one of the brightest lights in the history of the music; his talent is up there next to that of Armstrong, Young, and Parker. He is a true natural and a great synthesizer. In improvising, he does the same thing that Ellington did when composing: he reinvents the entire tradition, because he understands all of the differences and all of the connections.

Are there younger players who have the same kind of power as Rollins, or has jazz changed in ways that make this unlikely?

I think that Branford Marsalis has the talent to expand upon Rollins and become a master of intimidating quality.

Much of your article discusses the mercurial nature of Rollins’s live performances, and the problem of capturing him on a studio recording. Is this problem less acute for other jazz artists?

Perhaps, yes. Sonny seems less confident about recordings than other musicians are. He more or less slid into the problem. But he seems more capable of living with a memory of a great performance than he does with the artifact of a recording.

Has Rollins ever been a big commercial success? Has most of his earnings come from live performance?

I think his 1966 recording of “Alfie” was a jazz hit, which means it sold a lot for a jazz record but might not have done much to shake up his record label. When Rollins was a master at full strength, as a man in his middle thirties, there was not much big money to be made in jazz, unless one was lucky, the way John Coltrane was with “My Favorite Things,” or had the power of a big label behind him, the way Miles Davis did at Columbia. He now says that there was not a lot of work to be had in the sixties; I saw him often and he seemed to be doing well enough, although we didn’t talk about his finances.

Most jazz novices own “Saxophone Colossus” and “Way Out West.” What other records are essential for understanding and enjoying Rollins?

“The Bridge,” “Our Man in Jazz,” “The Standard Sonny Rollins,” “Alfie,” and “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” which contains the masterpiece “Silver City” and his mostly solo version of “Autumn Nocturne,” which many writers like.

Rollins has retreated from studio recording and live performance a few times in his career. How has this affected his work?

He always returned to the scene a better player. I think Sonny Rollins is a contemplative man, and he sometimes needed to get out of the rat race of touring, the smoke-filled rooms, the temptations of drug abuse, and all of the elements that made working in those little clubs as abominable as the intimate setting could be beautiful on a good night. As a health-conscious man, Sonny Rollins also was able to recharge, work out, do his yoga, and come back in championship form.

If, as you say, an artist like Rollins “has realized his talent almost exclusively on the bandstand,” does this mean that most of his performances will be lost to history?

Not at all. The collector Carl Smith has more than three hundred bootleg performances, stretching back to Rollins playing an alto in a music store in 1949. Someday they will all be out. Hopefully, Sonny himself will benefit as much as possible.

You mention that Milestone Records is releasing one of the recordings that Smith has collected. With the way the record industry is changing—decreased sales for all genres, and an increase in online downloadable music—will there come a day when there’s a huge online archive of Rollins’s recordings available for posterity?

Why not? We know what will happen. If it all appears online, the writers will go through them and, eventually, there will be the hundred best, followed by the fifty best, followed by the twenty-five best, followed by the ten best. You know how the public is. With so many choices, it wants someone to tell it which are the best, so that time and money can be saved. At some point, the relationship of quality to money becomes the issue. Perhaps, in some utopian time, the availability of quality will be the central issue. But, then, no one can imagine that. It sounds too much like heaven.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bebop pioneer Stan Levey dies at 79

Bebop pioneer Stan Levey dies at 79Wednesday 18th May, 2005

Bebop pioneer Stan Levey dies at 79
Big News Monday 16th May, 2005 (UPI)

Jazz drummer and bebop pioneer Stan Levey, who gave up music for photography in his later years, has died at age 79 in Van Nuys, Calif.

Levey grabbed public attention for the bebop sound he created in the mid-1940s with jazz greats Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

The self-taught Philadelphia native gained greater financial rewards in the Big Band era playing with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton.

Levey was a studio musician for hundreds of movies and TV shows, and wrote the music for five Walt Disney Co. documentaries.

In his 70s, however, Levey gave up music for commercial photography. His wife told the New York Times many friends never knew of his music career.

The Sherman Oaks, Calif., resident died April 19 two weeks after undergoing jaw cancer surgery, his wife said.

A documentary about his career, Stan Levey: The Original Original, has been released on DVD.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Colossal Sonny Rollins (mp3s)

The Colossal Sonny Rollins (mp3s)

Sonny Rollins

From "The Colossus," a Profile of Sonny Rollins by Stanley Crouch in the May 9th New Yorker:

When [Sonny] Rollins was a boy, Harlem suffered--as parts of it still do--from terrible poverty. Yet there was in intellectual and artistic renaissance. Ralph Ellison described Harlem in the nineteen-thirties as "an outpost of American optimism" and "our homegrown version of Paris." Rollins recalls the period as a happy time. "I remember us kids playing in the lobbies of the old theatres," he said...

It was Coleman Hawkins, the father of the jazz tenor saxophone, who most impressed him. Around the time the family moved to Sugar Hill, Hawkins's version of "Body and Soul (mp3)" was on jukeboxes across the country. "When I was a kid, even though I didn't really know what it was, you could hear Coleman playing that song all over Harlem," Rollins said. "It was coming out of all these windows like it was sort of a theme song."...

Coleman Hawkins

Though the dictates of show business meant that Negro musicians had to tolerate minstrelsy and all the other commonplace denigrations, most jazz musicians of the era formed an avant-garde of suave, well-spoken men in lovely suits and ties, with their shoes shining and their pomaded hair glittering under the lights, artists ranging in color from bone and beige to brown and black. Their very sophistication was a form of rebellion: these musicians made a liar of every bigot who sought to limit what black people could and could not do, could and could not feel...

In December of 1951, Rollins made a surprisingly mature recording, "Time on My Hands (mp3)." His tone is big and sensual, as delicate as it is forceful. Already, at twenty-one, he had the ability to express as much tenderness as pacing, tone, feeling, and melodic development, "Time on My Hands" is Rollins's first great piece...

One of the great small-group recordings, it [Saxophone Colossus (mp3)] showcased Rollins's improvisational powers. In 1957, he made the equally extroardinary "Way Out West (mp3)," his first recording using only bass and drums...The following year, he recorded his most adventurous composition, "Freedom Suite (mp3)," a twenty-minute trio piece for tenor, bass, and drums...[it] has a stoic quality, a heroic attitude, and a grand lyricism without being stiff or cold or pretentious. It is a timeless achievement.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

CBC Arts - CBC Arts: IN BRIEF: Jazz trumpeter Benny Bailey dies; Van Cliburn webcast planned; Chamberlan resigns

CBC Arts - CBC Arts:

C B C . C A A r t s - F u l l S t o r y :
IN BRIEF: Jazz trumpeter Benny Bailey dies; Van Cliburn webcast planned; Chamberlan resigns
Last Updated Tue, 03 May 2005 16:24:49 EDT
CBC Arts

AMSTERDAM - Jazz trumpeter Benny Bailey dies

Jazz musician Benny Bailey, a fixture of Europe's jazz scene who played with Dizzy Gillespie, has died at the age of 79.

City officials announced Friday that the trumpeter, who lived alone, had died in mid-April of unknown causes. A funeral was originally scheduled for Tuesday but delayed for another week to allow family members to travel to Europe.

Born Ernest Harold Bailey in Cleveland in 1925, the musician studied at the city's Conservatory of Music. In 1947, he joined Gillespie and played five years with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, leaving the troupe in 1953 during a European tour. He decided to stay in Europe rather than return home.

After recording with Stan Getz and Quincy Jones in the late 1950s, Bailey returned home briefly in 1960. However, he eventually returned to Europe and worked in radio and recording studios across the continent. He was still touring at the time of his death, Dutch jazz bassist Rene van Beeck told the Associated Press.

"I had a gig scheduled with him in two weeks," he said. "He was still in great condition."

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - Acclaimed piano competition gets webcast

Classical music fans worldwide will be able to tune into the upcoming Van Cliburn International Piano Competition via the Internet, as this year's contest will be streamed online for the first time.

Organizers are offering video and audio streams of the 12th edition, which runs May 20 to June 5 in Fort Worth. Aside from watching or listening to the performances, fans can check out more information about the competitors, read commentary from two bloggers attending the event and view artwork and educational material.

There has also been a new award established, with the web audience asked to vote for their favourite finalist.

U.S. pianist Van Cliburn shot to fame in 1958 when he won the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition – he remains the only U.S. musician to do so. A group of music teachers and citizens in Van Cliburn's hometown of Forth Worth founded the piano competition in his name in 1962. It is held once every four years.

MONTREAL - Abrupt departure by founder of Montreal's nouveau cinéma festival

After winning a battle against a larger, newer event, the founder of a longtime Montreal film festival has unexpectedly resigned his post.

Festival du nouveau cinéma director Claude Chamberlan, who founded the event 33 years ago, announced his resignation last week.

"[Chamberlan] quits today his functions within the organization," festival organizers said in a statement Thursday. "For more than three decades, Claude Chamberlan has contributed with success to the recognition of a high quality and unique cinema. He leaves a distinguished track record in Quebec's cultural scene and his tremendous legacy will continue inspiring people."

In April, organizers of Festival International de Films de Montréal (FIFM) – the city's newest film festival – acquiesced to pressure from the community and changed the date of its inaugural edition, which had originally coincided with Chamberlan's event.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Posted by: editoron Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 05:31 PM

When the bubble burst, and the great Swing Era ended, bandleaders looked for new ways to present themselves to a public less inclined to leap to their feet and more interested in listening.

For Woody Herman, that meant fusing swing's aesthetics with the new dynamism of bebop. Stan Kenton started concentrating on more compositional work, as colors drawn from classical music began augmenting his jazz palette.

And Count Basie? Well, when he reformed his big band in the 1950s - the period covered by a brand-new Mosaic reissue set - he managed to become entirely new by sticking with what had made him great from the start. And in the process, Basie achieved some of the most extraordinary success of his career.

Other bands' writers in the heyday of swing focused their composing and arranging talents on creating sometimes intricate charts tailored to the leaders' styles, for band members to interpret. From his beginnings in the 1930s, Basie was doing something different. His band had always been about how the arrangements forced you to listen to the improvising: to the playing. With a new breed of players in the 1950s, and the period's most accomplished arrangers doing the writing, Basie re-invented himself. True, his 1950s arrangers were more conscious of building a book that could withstand personnel changes, but listeners familiar with Basie's riff-and-solo formula weren't disappointed. The sound was modern and relevant because the players were young, with ideas still blooming. But the feel was comfortable to swing devotees because the style was unmistakably Basie, all the way.

Kansas City Here I Come

In his twenties, William Basie, a Red Bank, New Jersey native, was working as an accompanist to a touring act when, in 1927, he found himself stranded in Kansas City. For a musician interested in jazz, that was a pretty good place to wind up. He had a regular gig playing behind silent films in movie halls. And he got exposure to a style of big band playing that was kind of a Kansas City signature, where the rhythm section was the hub of the band. Against a steady four-beat drum cadence and a walking bass, brass and reeds played off each other, setting the stage for the soloists with their lighthearted ensemble banter.

Basie got experience with other bandleaders, then formed his own group where the best of Kansas City's contribution to jazz got even better. Over time, he assembled a group that included Lester Young, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Buck Clayton, Dicky Wells, Jimmy Rushing and others. His unparalleled rhythm section, which rehearsed for hours and hours alone to get it just right, included Freddie Green, Walter Page, and Jo Jones. The band was widely viewed as the swingingest of swing bands.

Success the Second Time Around

Financial problems forced Basie to disband the group, but by 1952 he was ready to give it another go. By now, top arrangers knew how to write to accentuate the most distinctive elements of the Basie sound - brevity, call and response, and lilting melodies that balanced on the precipice of syncopation. Basie loved the crowd-pleasing effect of dramatic dynamics, so his writers used it liberally, though you never felt you were being walloped just for the effect. And Basie's minimal playing was just the thing to anchor the band and take the edge off the power.

He employed the era's best composers and arrangers, and they left their mark not only on the orchestra but on musical history as well. They included Ralph Burns, Wild Bill Davis, Frank Foster, Freddie Green, Thad Jones, Johnny Mandel, Frank Wess, Ernie Wilkins and the amazing Neal Hefti.

A new breed of soloists became stand-outs in what was known as "The New Testament" band. Names such as Joe Newman, Benny Powell, Marshal Royal, Wilkins, Paul Quinichette, Gus Johnson, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Joe Wilder, Henderson Chambers, Wess, Foster, Thad Jones, and Sonny Payne became known during their tenure with Basie. The rhythm section over time included bassists Jimmy Lewis, Eddie Jones, Gene Ramey and Ray Brown, drummer Gus Johnson, and the ever-present Freddie Green on guitar. Guest stars included Al Hibbler, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Rich, and Oscar Peterson.

. . . And starring Joe Williams

Another name that became a household word thanks to his association with Count Basie is the inimitable Joe Williams. "Everyday I Have the Blues," "All Right, Okay, You Win," and "Smack Dab in the Middle" weren't just jazz sensations, they were huge hits on the radio and in jukeboxes across the country. Instrumental hits included "Shiny Stockings" and "April in Paris," featuring Basie's familiar "one more time" and "one more once" reprises.

The original reel to reel tapes were the source for most of this release which contains 146 tracks on eight CDs, including seven previously-unreleased recordings and three alternates not in the vaults at Universal Music.

Chris Albertson's liner notes take the reader through each and every recording, in addition to laying out what was happening to the band outside the booth; details that suggest he's had access to everyone's date book from the period. The complete discography clears up many inaccuracies and inconsistencies that have bedeviled the release of this material for a half-a-century.

For many listeners, this band and these recordings constituted a first exposure to swing music. This exhaustive collection shows why they'll always be associated with good times and why the Basie Orchestra lasted longer than any in jazz.

mosaic records

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Eddie Henderson & Tony Adamo Record Milestones :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Eddie Henderson & Tony Adamo Record Milestones :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily: Eddie Henderson & Tony Adamo Record Milestones
Posted by: Anonymouson Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 07:29 AM
Recording Musician For Immediate Release
Eddie Henderson & Tony Adamo Record Milestones
Roc Armani – UrbanZone Productions

The much traveled Eddie Henderson recently swung into San Francisco with the Mingus Big Band. It happened that Eddie had an open date when the Mingus Big Band took a break from the road, while preparing for their Herbst Theater gig. Bay Area soul jazz singer/songwriter, Tony Adamo and his producer, Jerry Stucker had been on the one for over a year in trying to nail Henderson to a recording date. It was a long year of waiting and talking to many top flight jazz trumpet artists, but Eddie was the one destined to play on “Milestones,” written in 1958 by Eddie’s friend and mentor, Miles Davis. Eddie’s performance was an impeccable tour de force from a man who’s as comfortable with his horn and he is with himself. Eddie’s horn style is often imitated but never duplicated.

Producer, Jerry Stucker asked Eddie to play one chorus only, but amazingly he proceeded to give a clinic on jazz trumpet virtuosity presenting five different takes. All of them were in the groove and completely uniquely brilliant. Eddie would have stayed there all day and night playing as many takes as he had in his jazz bag.

While still in the studio that day, producer Jerry Stucker played “Passport,” a song written by Adamo/Stucker. Eddie heard it and was hooked. He laid down incredible riffs over the top on this funk to the bone tune. “Passport” is not as edgy as Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, but songwriters Adamo and Stucker have developed a smooth funk groove that’s irresistible. Legendary funk drummer, Mike Clark (Headhunters) had already recorded the drum tracks on “Passport.” Paul Jackson’s (Headhunters) unmistakable and influential bass playing will be added at a later date.

Eddie Henderson will continue to tour with the Mingus Big Band. Paul Jackson’s, new CD, FUNK ON A STICK (Backdoor Records) is being distributed through and can be bought now at For more info on Paul Jackson go to Watch for Adamo’s new CD to be released in August 2005. For more info on Adamo go to