Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Jazz’ Category

“Idle Moments”

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Guitar: Grant Green
Tenor Saxophone: Joe Henderson
Vibraphone: Bobby Hutcherson
Piano: Duke Pearson
Bass (vocal): Bob Cranshaw

Producer: Alfred Lion
Recording Engineer, Mastering Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder [a genius sound engineer – LG]
Composer Lyricist: Duke Pearson

Paul Jobin commented on YouTube:

On the back cover of the original Blue Note LP, there was a long comment by Duke Pearson, the pianist who composed the tune. He explained the exceptional conditions that made these 15 minutes of their recording session an “ideal moment” for ever, as much as an “idle moment”. Here is an extract of that text:

“Idle Moments. What does a person usually think of during his idle moments? Does he sit in recollection of past pleasures or disappointment? Or does he seat and daydream of an accomplishment, desire, or goal he wishes someday to finally achieve?  

I wonder while listening to this recording, just what the people involved were thinking of while idling away (so to speak). The dreamlike mood that prevails gave me the idea of naming this tune Idle Moments.  

It was well past midnight when we came to this tune. Since this was the last number of the session, it was to run for no longer than seven minutes. It was my duty to assign the solo order, and designate the number of ad-lib choruses each of the musicians were to play. I figured that the melody should be played at once, then Green for two choruses, and each of the others for one apiece. This I calculated, should run from six-and-a-half, to seven minutes.  

The ‘take’ number was announced, and we started recording. The sixteen bar melody that was to be played once, was repeated for thirty-two bars. As Green was finishing his second sixteen-bar chorus, I was getting ready to make my entrance, but he kept playing. I waited for him again at the end of his third sixteen, and took up his pattern, but he repeated once again. Then it dawned on me that since the melody was played twice, thirty-two bars were being considered one full chorus. So when it came my turn to improvise, I too placed thirty-two bars, and gave the “high sign” to Joe Henderson.  

Henderson took two steps closer in the microphone, closed his eyes, and warm, beautifully passionate sounds began pouring from his horn.  

I was watching Alfred Lion thru the glass that separates the recording room from the control room, and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the proceedings. Then he looked at his stopwatch, frowned, looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and continued listening to Joe. But Booby Hutcherson was yet to follow, and I knew that he was going to play at least thirty-two bars…”

It’s an amazing piece. Full album here, but the remastered track below sounds better than the audio at that link.

Written by Leisureguy

14 May 2022 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Jazz

There’s life in big bands yet: Skylar Tang

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Elizabeth Blair reports on NPR:

Some 300 young musicians from around the country are in New York for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival. They’re attending workshops and jam sessions, meeting professional musicians and competing.

Skylar Tang, 16, has already won her award. The San Francisco Bay Area trumpet player is the winner of the Dr. J. Douglas White Composition and Arranging Contest, an honor bestowed on an original composition written and arranged for big bands by a high school student.

Tang said the vibe of her winning piece, Kaleidoscope, is kind of “frantic,” a bit like her life right now. “There’s a lot of stress in the tune. I go to school. I have assessments and tests. Maybe that has something to do with it,” she said.

It took her about seven months to create her work.  . . 

Continue reading.

You can find Skylar Tang’s work on YouTube. I liked this one, for example:

Written by Leisureguy

6 May 2022 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Education, Jazz, Video

It’s Dave Brubeck Day!

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Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2022 at 8:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)

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Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2022 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

“Alone Together” — Bill Evans, Chet Baker

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Chet Baker & Bill Evans – Alone Together
Photos by © Rodney Smith

First track from “Alone Together” recorded on December 30, 1958 and on January 19, 1959 in New York City. Label – Original Jazz Classics

Chet Baker – trumpet
Pepper Adams – baritone sax
Herbie Mann – flute
Kenny Burrell – guitar
Bill Evans – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Connie Kay, Philly Joe Jones – drums

Written by Leisureguy

11 April 2022 at 6:39 am

Posted in Jazz

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers / Moanin’ (1988)

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2022 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

Doris Day – “The Very Thought Of You” from Young Man With A Horn (1950)

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A great scene. That’s Hoagy Carmichael on piano. And that is Harry James you hear on trumpet. Harry James was a great trumpeter IMO. And it’s a great movie except for tacked on happy ending, which I imagine the studio insisted on. (The studio seems very like the bandleader in this scene.)

Written by Leisureguy

4 April 2022 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Jazz, Movies & TV

A palate cleanser for the previous post: “Misty,” with Stan Getz

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2022 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

Jazz improvisation on Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 (“Pathétique”)

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Hiromi with The Trio Project at Estival Jazz Lugano, Switzerland, 2011.

Hiromi Uehara – piano
Anthony Jackson – bass
Steve Smith – drums

Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2022 at 7:36 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Miles Davis and John Coltrane – “So What” – The Robert Herridge Theater, New York – April 2, 1959

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Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2022 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

The Case for Super Vinyl

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Regular vinyl. The idea is to make Super Vinyl better.

Ted Gioia has an interesting idea.

I.

I have often made enthusiastic comments about the opportunity to revitalize the music business with Super Vinyl.

But what exactly is Super Vinyl? Am I just blowing smoke? And what kind of smoke, exactly?

I haven’t given a precise definition, because it’s more a dream than an actual product. But it’s a realistic dream. Millions of music fans have embraced old vinyl, creating the fastest-growing segment of the recording industry. So why can’t you make something like vinyl, only better?

Let me remind you that the vinyl long-playing album was invented in 1948. Surely we can do something better nowadays, with all our advanced technology. I share more details below, but the basic concept is a physical object that retains all of the advantages of the old albums we love and cherish, but with improvements and enhancements.

The upside is enormous. If music companies could shift the basis of competition back to a physical medium, the high tech streaming platforms are at a huge disadvantage, and power returns to musicians and record labels. They would have an edge that Silicon Valley technocrats couldn’t match.

Fans would benefit too. They deserve something better than a world in which songs are treated as ‘content’ for a phone app. It’s clear that Google, Apple and other tech titans have different priorities than enriching the listening experience of music lovers. We have already waited too long for them to meet our needs, and just look at how little they’ve done. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why old vinyl is a hot product again.

If a Super Vinyl product were compelling enough, large numbers of music fans might willingly pay $10 or $20 for a new album, perhaps much more. This would create revenue and profit growth that the music business hasn’t enjoyed since the compact disc boom of the 1980s.

Let’s do the math.

Assume that an exciting new music platform could attract 10% of US consumers, and each was willing to purchase one album per month at a price of $15. And let’s make a conservative guess that demand outside the US is t least equal to this.

How much revenue does this generate? Here’s my back-of-the-envelope calculation. . . 

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2022 at 4:07 pm

Wynton Marsalis: How the Rhythm Section Swings

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Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2022 at 10:35 am

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

Dream Awhile, Scheme Awhile: The Love Theme in “Bringing Up Baby”

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Bringing Up Baby is my favorite screwball comedy, and Lesley Chow has an interesting article on it for the Criterion Collection. The article begins:

The comic climax of Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby (1938) comes when Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn join forces to foil an escaping leopard. While driving the animal to an estate, heiress Susan (Hepburn) and scientist David (Grant) collide with a poultry van. Their car narrowly avoids crashing, but the leopard gets excited by all the tasty birds on offer. At that point, Susan and David do the only thing they can: they break into a rendition of the beast’s favorite song, “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby.” The two muster up a shaky version of the tune, their voices shivering with the terror and excitement of holding on to the big cat’s tail.

This is one of several abortive attempts to perform Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh’s ’20s jazz hit. With the ingenuity of the best screwballs, Bringing Up Baby devises one unbelievable situation after another that demands the frantic singing of this tune. From David and Susan’s discovery that singing calms the beast to a scene in which they conduct an argument to the melody of the chorus, the film uses the song to express the shifting nature of their relationship. No matter how fantastic the context is, each repetition of the song is emotionally precise: they sing it grudgingly, distractedly, then imploringly.

Their panicked singing in the car sets the pace for the many frenzied pursuits and accelerating chases that follow. This is a film that emphasizes stress and suspense in the quest for romance. Bringing Up Baby is driven by a whirling-dervish mania: the race to keep wildness and darkness at bay through feverish banter and the sky-high spirits of Hepburn’s heroine.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 March 2022 at 12:26 pm

Posted in History, Jazz, Movies & TV

The Masses, Not the Classes – Irving Berlin

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TinyLetter.com has what I believe is an extract from Bob Stanley’s upcoming book Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop. It begins:

When he was 24 years-old, Irving Berlin went from writing lyrics on napkins, and spilling soup onto people’s laps, to being tagged a revolutionary almost overnight. A singing waiter and an amateur songwriter, he found his own sound in 1912 with Alexander’s Ragtime Band. Some said it wasn’t ragtime at all, that it lacked the classic syncopation, and they were absolutely right. What Berlin did was to dip in and out of ragtime norms, throw in some Vaudeville, have fun with his songwriting, and create a definite New York sound. It was a song about ragtime, rather than ragtime itself; this difference would go on to provide fertile ground for academics and sociologists ever after, but no one outside of purists in St Louis and Sedalia gave two hoots at the time.

“Naturalness”, Berlin found, came to him as long as he followed his own basic lyrical rule – “Easy to sing, easy to say, easy to remember and applicable to everyday events.” More than seven decades later, Bill Drummond would write The Manual on how to make a number one record, but the first edition was Berlin’s. And as Drummond did with Doctorin’ The Tardis, a UK number one in 1987, Berlin added already familiar musical quotes to Alexander’s Ragtime Band, with a bugle call and a smidgen of Way Down Upon The Swanee River. He wrote songs the way a good cook can work with whatever is hanging around in the fridge. No one had done this before.

Alexander’s Ragtime Band was a hybrid pop song. It had a great hook, a memorable title, and it was easy to sing. It also melded a slight melancholy, that Berlin reckoned he learned from “Slavonic and Semitic folk tunes,” with the vogueish ragtime style which is what gave it a subtle, urban edge (he later wrote an essay called Song And Sorrow Are Playmates). It became so ubiquitous a hit that it lent itself to multiple soundalikes and follow-ups, not least from Berlin himself: He’s A Rag Picker in 1914 was based on the charge that he had stolen the tune for Alexander’s Ragtime Band from Scott Joplin.

Why was it so big? It was the first major hit to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 February 2022 at 4:30 pm

Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” by Khatia Buniatishvili and the Orchestre National de Lyon, conducted by Leonard Slatkin

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Written by Leisureguy

13 February 2022 at 12:01 am

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

Musical break: Everytime We Say Goodbye – Laufey

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I do like Laufey.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2022 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

A Tribute to Terry Teachout (1956-2022)

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Terry Teachout, whose writing I admire a lot, was a student at St. John’s College (Annapolis MD) for just one semester. He was a musician at the time, and he said that the curriculum just did not allow him enough time to practice. I was director of admissions there, and I recall that he wrote a brilliant application for admission. (The admissions applicatioin form, beyond the usual name and address information, consisted of questions to which essay-type answers were required.) He was also an exceptional student, and I wish he could have stayed because I think he would have contributed a lot in the discussions through which classes and seminars were taught.

He did in fact contribute much to all of us over the course of his life. Ted Gioia writes:

I’d like to tell you how I first met Terry Teachout—who left us yesterday at age 65. He was one of our finest and most erudite critics, and also a successful dramatist, but Terry was much more than that. He touched many people’s lives, and in ways that were often hidden from view.

Let me share my story.

Not long after I left grad school, I began hatching plans for my dream vocation as a jazz writer. But I had no idea how to do this.

I was living in the thick of Silicon Valley, far away from any literary community—I didn’t even know a single jazz writer. My entire output as a music critic consisted of reviews for my college newspaper, supplemented by a few contributions to local periodicals.

At that juncture in my life, most of my time was consumed with a range of demanding projects for the Boston Consulting Group, then located on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. In my few spare hours, I was working on a secret project, my jazz book—but it was a very strange book.

I had started writing it the day after I’d finished my philosophy exams at Oxford, scribbling furiously while seated in the Bodleian Library, my brain still on overdrive from two years of immersion in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. As a result, the manuscript was teeming with the most bizarre ingredients. Everything from Wittgenstein to Fellini showed up in its pages—I was searching for large life-changing meanings in the music, even what you might call wisdom. But as I read through my various drafts, I knew I had violated almost every rule of music writing.

That was soon confirmed for me, when my roommate decided to show a chapter of my manuscript to his old fraternity buddy from Dartmouth, now working at Knopf. My mind reeled at the very name Knopf—they had just published Toni Morrison’s Beloved, for heaven’s sake. And their litany of authors included some of the greatest authors of the century. With some trepidation, I handed my roommate a typewritten chapter of the book that eventually became The Imperfect Art: Reflections on Jazz and Modern Culture.

It took a while before the verdict came back from New York. The old fraternity buddy had passed my chapter around the office, and had some people who knew about jazz take a look at it. His response was sharp and unforgiving, but only two sentences long. “We looked at this, but it isn’t real jazz writing. Your roommate should learn from what the other music writers are doing.”

I was crestfallen, but I can’t say I was surprised. I already knew that I was an odd duck. I had no illusions I was following in the path of other jazz journalists. Even so, I had been hoping for some words of encouragement.

That’s when I encountered Terry Teachout.

I had never met him. I didn’t even know his name. But on a lark, I sent a chapter of my crazy book—unsolicited and wrapped in a plain brown envelope—to the general office of Harper’s Magazine, one of the oldest of the old school smart journals, making pronouncements on society and culture since 1850.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t really think that my article would be accepted, or that I’d even get a response—at this point, I was just willing to play the lottery of cold submissions to unknown editors. Many of you know the drill.

But in this instance, I got a lovely letter back, filled with words of encouragement. It came from a man named Terry Teachout, who was doing editorial work at Harper’s at the time. Mr. Teachout told me that the strange essay I submitted was absolutely unsuitable for the magazine, but he was very impressed by the quality of my ideas and writing. He wanted to commission me to write a feature article for Harper’s Magazine—because he knew I had the talent to do something special.

I was blown away. A New York editor had taken notice of me. This had never happened before. And he wanted to commission me to write an article, just based on my potential?

Terry also wanted to speak with me on the phone. I’ll admit, I was nervous talking to a New York editor. But the call was inspiring, almost as much a pep talk as anything else.

I can’t emphasize how much this came from Terry’s generosity of spirit—I was a nobody, who would never have any occasion to return the favor or help him in any manner. He simply wanted to reach out to me, because he believed in me, and wanted to play a role in nurturing my development.

As it turned out, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2022 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Jazz, Music

Tagged with ,

Prince in rehearsal

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Open Culture has a very good post on Prince. The video above comes from the post, but read the whole othing.

Written by Leisureguy

5 January 2022 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

Jessica Williams – Blue Tuesday

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I immediately wondered whether each day of the week has a good jazz piece. Certainly this one takes care of Tuesday.

Levon Levonyan notes i the description to the video:

Due to her being based in northern California, Jessica Williams is a bit underrated, but (on evidence of her sets for Jazz Focus and Hep) she is one of the top jazz pianists of today. Williams is a powerful virtuoso whose complete control of the keyboard, wit, solid sense of swing, and the influence of Thelonious Monk have combined to make her a particularly notable player.

 

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2021 at 11:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

The value of defining your self and following your interests

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Kurt Vonnegut:

When was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”

And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”

And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2021 at 9:00 am

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