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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Townsville Bullitin > Parker sax bids top $300,000

Parker sax bids top $300,000
From correspondents in New York

LEGENDARY jazz virtuoso Charlie Parker's alto saxophone has sold for nearly $US262,000 ($331,980) at an auction of jazz memorabilia in New York.

The 430 lots on offer at the sale included instruments, clothing and musical scores from Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, John Coltrane and Stan Getz.
Along with the saxophones, trumpets and drum sets, there was a lot of bidder interest in the hand-written items, including a profanity-laced letter from Armstrong to his agent which sold for $US29,500 ($37,380).
Another highlight was the original musical arrangement for Coltrane's classic song, A Love Supreme, written by the musician himself in pencil and blue ink.
The three sheets of manuscript that made up the lot were the target of some aggressive bidding and finally sold for $US129,500 ($164,000).
"Today is kind of sacred," said T.S. Monk, who attended the auction as the son of jazz great Thelonious Monk and an award-winning musician in his own right.
"They are all so alive," Monk said of the musicians represented at the sale. "They're alive in our hearts, they're alive in our collective souls.
"Sometimes their message was muted by racism, other times by politics and even artistic snobbery.
"But their music has flourished. It's grown and profoundly influenced all those that it has touched."
Unusually for such a high-profile collection, the auction house organising the sale, Guernsey's, had provided no price estimates, and the vast majority of lots had no reserve price attached.
However, a tenor saxophone that belonged to John Coltrane was withdrawn after it failed to make $US500,000 ($633,500).,5942,12321170,00.html

Democrat & Chronicle: Features (Arts) > Jazz legend took the wiggling to heart Jazz

Democrat & Chronicle: Features (Arts)

Jazz legend took the wiggling to heart Jazz

John Pitcher
Staff music critic

(February 20, 2005) — Jazz great Clark Terry is known as a fervent supporter of music education, and given his early musical experiences it's easy to understand why.

Growing up poor as one of 10 children in St. Louis, Terry didn't have the money to go college. So he was forced to seek lessons from older musicians in town, and none of them really wanted to help out a young player who might one day surpass them.

"I was just a kid looking to play, so I went up to this old-timer and asked, 'Hey man, how do I improve my tone?'" Terry recalls. "He says, 'Go home, sit in a straight-back chair, and blow your horn in front of a mirror while wiggling your left ear.' I was stupid enough to believe him, so the next time I gave a concert, I heard these old ladies saying, 'Did you see that boy wiggling his ear?'"

Terry, who is now 84 and one of the world's great trumpeters, says he'll keep his ears still this Friday when he joins the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and its conductor, Bill Dobbins, for a concert at the Eastman Theatre. The event will offer the ensemble's bright young players the chance to study and perform with a master. It also promises to expose them (and the rest of us, for that matter) to one of the most expressive and recognizable sounds in jazz.

Terry has appeared on nearly 900 albums over the past 60 years, and it's hard to think of any 20th-century jazz musician who hasn't benefited from knowing and playing with him.

Born on Dec. 20, 1920, Terry grew up listening to jazz. His older sister was married to a musician in a group called the Musical Ambassadors, and one day the band's trumpet player heard 13-year-old Terry (who had never had a lesson) blowing on his horn. According to Terry, the astonished musician exclaimed, "Boy you're going to be a horn player one day."

"I was stupid enough to believe him," Terry says.

Actually, everyone else who heard him believed it, too. Lionel Hampton loved the Terry sound and hired him in 1945 (that was the trumpeter's first big break).

Terry then played with Count Basie, and in the 1950s joined Duke Ellington's band — he was with Ellington at the now legendary 1956 Newport Jazz Festival concert.

But Terry will likely always be remembered for his stint with The Tonight Show band in the 1960s.

"Those weren't the best days for big bands, but (Johnny) Carson kept the music alive," Terry says. "It was sweet and was the best time of my life."

The New York Times > Arts > Music > Warren Vach� Sr., 90, a Mainstay of Jazz in New Jersey, Is Dead

The New York Times > Arts > Music > Warren Vach Sr., 90, a Mainstay of Jazz in New Jersey, Is Dead: "February 20, 2005
Warren Vach Sr., 90, a Mainstay of Jazz in New Jersey, Is Dead
February 20, 2005
Warren Vaché Sr., 90, a Mainstay of Jazz in New Jersey, Is Dead

Warren Vaché Sr., a bassist, author and historian who was long a mainstay of jazz in New Jersey, died on Feb. 4 in Rahway, N.J. He was 90.

The cause was complications of pneumonia and prostate cancer, said his son, the jazz cornetist Warren Vaché Jr.

Mr. Vaché, the father of two jazz musicians (his other son, Allan, plays clarinet), was an accomplished musician himself and an indefatigable advocate of traditional jazz.

Early in his career he was a frequent participant in jam sessions at Nick's, a Greenwich Village nightclub that was home base to the guitarist Eddie Condon, the clarinetist Pee Wee Russell and other traditionalists.

He later worked throughout New Jersey as a sideman, with the trumpet player Doc Cheatham among many others, and as the leader of his own group, the Syncopatin' Seven. He continued to perform until his early 80's.

Never a full-time musician, he serviced jukeboxes and sold electronic appliances, among other jobs, to support his jazz activities, which also included writing about jazz and promoting it.

He was the author or co-author of several books and a frequent contributor to jazz magazines. His last completed book, a biography of the trumpet player Chris Griffin, is scheduled to be published this year by Scarecrow Press.

Mr. Vaché was also a founder of the New Jersey Jazz Society and editor of its magazine, Jersey Jazz, for about a decade.

He is survived by his wife, Madeline, and his two sons.

KRT Wire | 02/19/2005 | Charlie Parker sax to be auctioned

KRT Wire | 02/19/2005 | Charlie Parker sax to be auctioned: "---"

Charlie Parker sax to be auctioned


Knight Ridder Newspapers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (KRT) - For half a century, the two-toned silver and brass saxophone, etched with the serial number 295173, lay mute beneath a bed.

Gone were the glory days when it appeared in magazines and newspapers; when its emergence from the red case meant an audience waited; when it glimmered under spotlights as it gave voice to streams of music never heard before.

Those were the days when the sax, even at rest on a stand and still damp with sweat and spit, could draw oohs and ahhs from younger musicians.

This alto sax, a King Super 20, was made for one musician: Charlie Parker. "Bird." Native of Kansas City. Genius in jazz. Father of bebop. A musician whose recordings and compositions inspire musicians still.

Sunday at Lincoln Center in New York, at least for a few hours, the saxophone's former glory will be restored, although without the hands that once caressed it. Featured on the cover of an auction house catalog, the instrument, along with hundreds of other personal items from jazz greats, will be auctioned.

The sax's beauty still stuns. The sterling silver bell. Starburst etchings. Genuine mother-of-pearl coverings on the keys - keys engineered and advertised as mechanically superior for a faster response and action, allowing its owner to pour out streams of notes.

But this sax had a darker side as well.

Whenever Bird needed money, serious money, to pay for drugs, he hocked his beloved King at a pawnshop. But each time, this sax was rescued and returned to its master's hands. Other saxes weren't so fortunate.

When the famous die and sometimes even before, anything they've touched becomes a thing of value. Chan Parker, Bird's common-law wife, knew that. After his death in 1955, she held onto the King, hiding it under her bed, sliding it out for a peek every now and then whenever a knowledgeable visitor politely asked to see it.

But on her deathbed in 1999, she told her daughter, Kim Parker, to take the horn. It might help her someday, Chan Parker said.

That someday is here.

Sunday someone will buy one used saxophone. One that experts predict may sell for a half-million dollars or more.

After Chan's death, Kim Parker and the alto sax traveled from France to Pennsylvania. But the King was once more hidden away, for another five years. Parker could not bring herself to sell it: The instrument was too precious; the offers too low.

Until weeks ago, when the saxophone entered the auction along with hundreds of other jazz items. Several eager jazz scholars were the first to inspect it, opening the dusty red case with the Charlie Parker nameplate.

Phil Schaap, trumpeter and curator of jazz at Lincoln Center, not only touched the horn, he also twisted the alto's sections together, placed a handy reed on the mouthpiece, tightened the ligatures and blew.

The moment, he said, should have been dramatic: He was playing Bird's horn!

But the moment fell flat.

E flat, to be exact.

A single note gurgled up from the belly of the alto, splattering out in a bleet.

"I got a very, very awkward squawk," he said. Embarrassed, he quickly put down the King.

"But whatever it did for Bird," he says, "it could do for someone else. I hope it does get played."

Only one professional, besides Bird, has ever played the instrument on a gig: Phil Woods.

Woods is a famous jazz musician in his own right. Influenced by Parker (he transcribed and memorized all his solos), among others, the alto saxophonist developed a sound of his own. Leader of the hard bop jazz style, he's also a composer, leader of bands and clinics, and a five-time Grammy winner. (In late April, he will perform in Lawrence.)

Woods, who married Chan a few years after Parker's death, also became a father to the Parker children, Kim and Baird, and he and Chan later had their own children.

But all the hype, the romance about the instrument, the mutterings from fans that Bird's soul still emanates from the horn - they annoy Woods. There's no magic in that horn, he said.

"If the man is not around, it's just a piece of metal. Without Bird, the horn doesn't mean very much. ... The pads are falling off!"

Woods played the horn long ago during the early days of his marriage with Chan. The story has been told often, but he shared it once more.

"I had no money, so I hocked my Selmar to buy groceries," he remembered. But as he walked into their apartment, his arms laden with food, the phone rang. It was the manager of the Five Spot and he wanted Woods for a gig. "I told Chan, `I'm gonna have to play the King.' I didn't have my horn!

"... So there I am, playing, when wouldn't you know it, Charlie Mingus walks in. He recognized the horn right away. He looked at me, gave me a look of disdain. Oh man! It was like `Who do you think you are?'

"I told him, `Look man, I'm just trying to feed the family.'"

Woods doesn't have any financial claim to the horn, nor does he plan on attending the auction. But his stepdaughter, Kim Parker, might. He's hoping that the saxophone will sell at a high price. Based on a previous sale of another Bird horn, it should.

In 1994, Woods was surprised when Kansas City paid $144,000 for the white Grafton saxophone that Chan brought to an auction in London. The instrument, now on display at the American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine, was "a plastic piece of " junk, Woods added, and then joked that he could find a few more lying around if people wanted them. But Parker had played a Grafton a few times, which made the saxophone desirable.

But that doesn't impress Woods.

"Look, Charlie Parker could play a tomato can, but I wouldn't buy it for $140,000. I wouldn't pay $14 for it. ... His is not the great American success story.

"... I wish people were more concerned with the people than the instrument."

Over the years, many people have touched the King, including Kansas Citian Dooley Weilert. He repaired Parker's horns whenever the musician was in town visiting family or playing gigs.

Parker stopped to see Weilert first at McLean's Band Shop, 211 E. 13th St., and a few years later at 112 E. 14th St., where Weilert opened his own shop in 1949. Saxophonists who stopped in Kansas City would usually come into his shop for a tuneup, Weilert said.

For a musician, a trusted repairman is as highly esteemed as a gifted physician.

"We called him `The Bird,'" said Weilert, now 91. His eyes still light up when he speaks about Parker's visits.

"Charlie had a low voice. He didn't talk a great deal. ... We talked about food," he said. Weilert would repad Parker's horns, taking off everything and then putting it back together. He would add new corks, too.

Weilert made sure everything worked as Parker stood by. And when the saxophone was finished, Weilert would hand it over for a test drive.

"Oh, he wouldn't play scales; he played jazz," said Weilert. "He'd say to me, `When you get through fixing them, they play just as good as anybody in New York would do.' That made me proud."

Over the years, historians and fans have searched for alto saxophones Parker played. There were many bought and pawned, but definitive Parker ownership cannot be proved.

But with the King there is no doubt: A photo in the book Celebrating Bird shows Parker playing the King in 1949.

"He was a spokesperson for King," said Chuck Haddix, a jazz scholar who is director of the Marrs Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His book on Kansas City jazz, "Kansas City: From Ragtime to Bebop," is due next month from Oxford University Press.

After years of researching articles on Kansas City musicians, and reading so much about Parker's addictions and financial woes, Haddix said, "It's a miracle the horn survived considering how many horns he hocked."

At the auction Sunday, the King alto will be one of the favorite items for sale, said jazz scholar Barry Kernfeld, editor of the Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Kernfeld, who wrote the descriptions in the Guernsey catalog, has viewed everything on sale.

"The coolest thing about this sax is there are so many photos of him playing this horn," Kernfeld said. He speculated that the King is the most photographed jazz instrument in the world.

The last page of the book "Bird's Diary" shows a pawnshop ticket for the King, he said, from Edelstein Brothers Licensed Pawn Brokers, 233 E. 14th St., near Second Avenue, New York. The date was Jan. 24, 1955.

Seven weeks later, Parker was dead.

The price on the ticket to buy back the King was $100, he said.

"I think it'll go for a little more than that."


Monday, February 14, 2005

ABC 4 :: NEWS > Utah > Jazz Grammys

ABC 4 :: NEWS: "Jazz

Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Unspeakable - Bill Frisell

Best Jazz Vocal Album
R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) - Nancy Wilson

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
Speak Like A Child - Herbie Hancock, soloist

Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group
Illuminations - McCoy Tyner With Gary Bartz, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride & Lewis Nash

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
Concert In The Garden - Maria Schneider Orchestra

Best Latin Jazz Album
Land Of The Sun - Charlie Haden"

Friday, February 11, 2005

San Diego Union Tribune > Jazz Organist Jimmy Smith dies at 79

San Diego Union Tribune

Jazz organist Jimmy Smith dies at 79


5:11 p.m. February 9, 2005

Associated Press
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jimmy Smith, an award-winning jazz organist who was considered a pioneer with the instrument, has died of natural causes at his home. He was 79.

Smith's death Tuesday in Scottsdale was announced by officials at Concord Records.

"Jimmy Smith transformed the organ into a jazz instrument. Jazz has lost a pioneering talent, not to mention a one-of-a-kind personality," National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia said Wednesday.

Born in Norristown, Pa., in 1925, Smith ruled the Hammond B-3 organ in the 1950s and 1960s, fusing R&B, blues, and gospel influences with bebop references.

Smith's sessions with record label Blue Note from 1956 to 1963 included collaborations with Kenny Burrell, Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, Ike Quebec and Stanley Turrentine. He started playing the Hammond organ in 1951.

"Jimmy was one of the greatest and most innovative musicians of our time," said fellow Hammond B-3 artist Joey DeFrancesco.

The two recently recorded an album together called Legacy, which is scheduled to be released next week.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My MP3.TV - News > Branford Marsalis Trades Stardom for Tradition

My MP3.TV - News > Branford Marsalis Trades Stardom for Tradition

2005-02-02 ::
Branford Marsalis Trades Stardom for Tradition

View other " Blues / Jazz " articles!

Jazz musician Branford Marsalis has no regrets when it comes to his professional decisions. He left his famed post as bandleader-sidekick on The Tonight Show, quickly left his position as musical director of Sting's post-Police band, and turned down a contract with a major record label.

"I learned a lot about American pop culture and the entertainment business," Marsalis said in a recent interview with the Associated Press (AP), describing his Tonight Show experience from 1992 to '95. "What makes entertainment work for everybody is a certain embracing of the blatant superficiality of it, and that's just something that I wasn't able to do. ... It was the revelation I needed to realize that I'm not an entertainer, I'm an artist."

The 44-year-old musician currently lives his life by defining his own success. He started his own record label, Marsalis Music in 2002. Around the same time he moved his family from New York City to the suburbs of Durham, N.C., allowing him to purchase a home that was large enough to accommodate a basement recording studio. Originally from New Orleans himself, Marsalis told AP he preferred returning to his Southern roots to raise his family.

Although he has taken the road less travelled in his industry, Marsalis still performs live, these days it’s with his quartet at jazz clubs, festivals and college campuses. His current quartet, which includes pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts has enjoyed nearly six years together. The quartet has links with Marsalis dating back to the late '70s at Boston's Berklee College of Music.

The quartet is currently nominated for a Grammy in the best jazz instrumental album category for their all-ballads album, “Eternal”. The saxophonist has been previously awarded with three Grammys in both the jazz and pop categories.

Marsalis is the first one to admit hat his musical path was unclear until he took the gig as The Tonight Show bandleader's post and felt something was missing.

"My crisis of conscience has always been in, like, leaving jazz to go do other things, because I wasn't really sure about wanting to play jazz," Marsalis said. "Once I decided that jazz was what I wanted to do ... I realized that this is what I was meant to do and I just set about the task of doing it."

Our Thoughts

Branford Marsalis is a true artist, using his talent to produce beautiful music rather than make millions.