Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Metropole Orchestra "in Blue"

You don't hear much bass trumpet in Jazz. 

After listening to Bart van Lier's beautiful playing on the instrument on the following video featuring Rob Pronk's arrangement of Horace Silver's Peace, one wonders why it isn't played more often. 

Our thanks to a very special friend for making many of the images used in the video montage available to the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and to the production facilities at SudioCerra for putting the music and the slides together. [Click on the "X" to close out of the ads when they appear.]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Larry Goldings – “Caminhos Cruzados”

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“With a decade [now, more two decades] of playing together under their belts, Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart must form one of the most long-lived organ trios in Jazz history.

Each member has amassed an imposing individual resume, during this period, yet their collective work has signified something more – a reaffirmation, not of the organ trio as a unit capable of satisfying a temporary fashion for things, but as an instrumentation as perfectly balanced in its way as the threesomes of piano, bass and drums or, in another realm, the string quartet.”
- Bob Blumenthal, 1999

The music and the musicians on Hammond B-3 organist Larry Goldings’ Caminhos Cruzados [loosely translated from the Portuguese as “crossings paths”] have always been among my favorites.

Recorded in 1993, the compact disc seemed to come out of nowhere because its Brazilian bossa nova tunes hadn’t been in vogue for many years.

Here’s Larry description of how the recording came about.

“A few years ago, I made an interesting discovery about my early childhood. I had gone home to Massachusetts to visit my parents and brought with me a recording of the Brazilian singer João Gilberto. I had recently been introduced to his music by Jon Hendricks, with whom I was working, and instantly became somewhat of a fanatic.

At some point that weekend, I decided to play the CD for my mother, who isn't normally interested in the music I listen to, but I had an in­stinctual feeling that she would like it. After his opening guitar introduction, João started singing, and almost immediately my mother's face lit up and she said, ‘Oh, I remember this !’ I was sur­prised by her reaction and asked, ‘You mean you used to own this record?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I used to play it for you when you were a baby. It would always calm you down.’

This startling piece of information was quite a revelation to me. Could this, I thought, ex­plain why I am so moved by João Gilbert's voice? Could it be, that upon listening to him now I experience the same feelings of innocence and security that I felt as an infant, 25 years ago?

Well, Sigmund Freud might have been better equipped to answer these questions, but all I know is that the music of Brazil is very close to my heart, and it was a pleasure to prepare and re­cord this CD. It was also a special challenge because the Hammond organ is not often heard in Bra­zilian music, although interestingly one of the early pioneers of the bossa nova was in fact an organ­ist named Walter Wanderley.

On this CD, the focus is not so much on the organ itself, but on the jazz organ trio - that is, organ, guitar and drums. The other members comprising the trio are Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart, who are two of the most creative musicians playing today and have recorded with me on two other occasions. The group is augmented by the exceptional Brazilian per­cussionist Guilherme Franco, who, during the making of this CD had many insightful comments and suggestions that helped shape the music. Finally, listeners will be enchanted by the thoughtful play­ing of Joshua Redman.

While researching the material for this CD, I realized that there are many beautiful songs that have not been given the recognition they deserve. I discovered four such song among my João Gilberto records:  So Danco Samba, Ho-ha-la-la,  Avarandado, and the title track, Caminhos Cruzados. The latter, written by the prolific Antonio Carlos Jobim is perhaps my favorite on the CD. The composition is one of Jobim's most lyrical and is harmonically lush and unpredictable. Listen to Peter Bernstein's sublime statement of the melody, and the percussion accompaniment of Guilherme Franco, who, like Peter, is a master of taste. Among the other tracks are the obscure Menina-Moca. whose harmonic movement has a particularly "classical" sound, and the familiar Once I Loved, which is treated in a much slower, moodier manner than usual.

There are three selections that are not Brazilian songs at all, but naturally lend themselves to the bossa nova feeling. They are: Where or When, Una Mas, and Serenata, on which the band could not resist the urge to swing the solos. One of the two sambas on the CD, Manine, is my own composition. Featured here is the exciting interplay between Guilherme (on the cuica) and Bill Stewart. Words is also my composition, and was inspired by a Chopin mazurka. It is a perfect vehicle for Joshua Redman, who displays his ability to interpret a ballad with finesse and a hint of the blues.

I must admit that I have never visited Brazil. I feel, however, as if I have, because as I recently discovered, the first musical sounds I ever heard were those of Brazil. Although I doubt that I was actually "listening" to my mother's João Gilberto record, (as I was only 1 or 2 years old), his voice, and the harmonies and rhythms of his guitar, were seeping into my subconscious, planting the seeds that would later become my love of music.

- written by Larry Goldings”

To give you some idea of the wonderful music on offer on Caminhos Cruzados, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles in conjunction with the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz and the production facilities of StudioCerra have developed the following video and audio tracks for you to sample.

We hope that you will enjoy this in-depth presentation of classic Brazilian bossa nova by some of today’s most accomplished Jazz musicians.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman - A Review

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“This is really a history of Jazz, especially in the second half of the 20th century when so many of the original masters were still active.”
-         Dave Liebman, Jazz saxophonist and composer

Each explanation that Eric gives is like he plays: lucid, to the point and very precise.
And swinging, of course!”
-         Wouter Turkenburg, Head of the Jazz Department, Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, The Netherlands

“Another of our favorite drummers playing in the style of Philly Joe Jones is Eric Ineke.

Eric is based in Holland and we first heard his work on a 1981 Criss Cross recording by the late Jazz guitarist, Jimmy Raney, and subsequently on recordings by Dutch Jazz pianist Rein de Graaff, alto saxophonist Herb Geller, who has been based in Germany for many years, and soprano saxophonist David Liebman.

Eric keeps time in a manner that is best described as Philly Joe Jones-lite.

Like Philly, his time-keeping is very insistent, but his accents, background figures and fills are more spaced-out.

He’s not as busy as Philly which serves to make his time-keeping sound even more firm and resolute.

Since 2006, Eric has been leading his own quintet, The JazzXpress, in which his driving time-keeping can be heard in support of some of Holland’s finest, young Jazz musicians: Rik Mol on trumpet and flugelhorn, Sjoerd Dijkhuizen on tenor saxophone, Rob van Bavel on piano and bassist and bass guitarist, Marius Betts.”
-         The editorial staff of JazzProfiles, 2/22/2011

Just to be clear, Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman is the name of a book.

It is also an apt description of Eric Ineke, a Dutch drummer who, since 1968, has performed with many legendary Jazz musicians.

The format of the book is based around Eric’s recollection of his experiences with these Jazz masters as told to the American saxophonist and composer, Dave Liebman.

Dave adds his own commentary in places, but the book is essentially Eric’s story as told to Dave because as Liebman notes: “Eric’s memory is flawless and seemingly photographic.  His detailed recounting of time and place are incredible.”

Jazz horn players [in the broadest sense], whose orientation to the music is based on melody and harmony, can have a difficult time working with drummers, because although drummers can be “melodic” [think Shelly Manne], their involvement is primarily with rhythm.

Therein lays the rub.

The melody and harmony guys are often of the opinion that Jazz drummers are not aware of what they have to deal with to make the music happen.

If a drummer is too forceful, too loud, too busy; they can become distracting to horn players [including pianists, guitarists and vibraphonists] and make it difficult for them to concentrate on their improvisations or their ability to play the arrangements.

Sometimes drummers rush or drop [lag] the beat or even override it to push the music in a direction the soloist doesn’t want to go.

They may use cymbals that are not “harmonic;” the overtones don’t blend in well with the other instruments.

There are some drummers who absolutely aver the use of brushes [mainly because they don’t know how to play them] while preferring instead the use of drum sticks at all times: nothing like a few “bombs” going off in the middle of a quiet, bossa nova.

Some drummers are in love with their techniques. I mean, after all those hours of practicing those drum rudiments, you gotta show people what you got, right?

Or then there is the drummer who shows up to a trio gig with a veritable arsenal of cymbals and drums all set up in such a way so that they can cut through big band volume levels. Talk about overplaying!

Because they can be disproportionately domineering, when it all goes wrong for a drummer, they can really irritate other Jazz musicians.

And then there are drummers like Eric Ineke who always seem to fit in, whatever the musical context: hence the terms of respect and endearment – “The Ultimate Sideman” – being accorded to him by many of his fellow Jazz musicians.

For a drummer, being considered in this manner doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it and earn such praise.

Such an appellation is based on merit.

As a drummer, Eric is always listening, always trying to find ways to unobtrusively swing.  He plays what the music calls for. His first choices are always based on enhancing the expression of the music by working closely with the other musicians in the band.

Eric has “chops” [technique], but doesn’t choose to show them off. He knows he can get around the instrument, but he’s not trying to impress anyone with flashiness.

Eric is the prototypical “engine house;” his drums set things in motion. When you listen to the sound of his drums, it’s like listening to the smooth blend of a quietly humming motor. The engine just purrs along and so does the music when Eric’s in the drum chair.

When called for, he can also “gun the engine,” what he refers to as “… kicking the soloist in the a**,” or throttle back on the engine, which he does to help things settle into a groove.

He’s always thinking back there, always aware of how things need to sound for different tenor saxophonist like Joe Henderson, or Dexter Gordon, or Hank Mobley, or how best to have a “conversation” with an instrumentalist while trading “fours” and “eights” with them, or even what bad habits or tendencies in the playing of others he might need to disregard in order to keep the music honest and swinging.

What comes across throughout this book is how constantly aware Eric is of what he is doing in the drum chair and how articulate he is in explaining it.

The book is a document of oral history, but doesn’t read like one. Each chapter is in two parts with Eric laying the groundwork by sharing his reminiscences and observations about the Jazz musicians he’s worked with over the years which are grouped around the Tenor, Alto and Baritone Saxes; the Clarinetists, the Trumpet Players and Trombonists; the Guitarists, Vibraphonists, Pianists and Bassists; The Singers; The Composer-Arranger-Conductors.

The second part of each chapter consists of Dave Liebman interviewing Eric with questions drawn for Ineke’s comments about certain of the Jazz musicians mentioned in each of the instrumental categories.

The opening Preface is written by Wouter Turkenburg who hired Eric to chair the Jazz Drums and Percussion Department, of the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, in The Netherlands when he took over as Head of Jazz Studies at the school in the mid-1980’s.

Wouter sets the tone for the entire book when he writes: “Eric has an immense knowledge and understanding of music. Moreover, he is a great teacher and he can demonstrate it all on his drum set. When Eric talks about music, you hear the music and you’re in it. Eric connects the presents to the past and to the future.”

The book has two Introductions, each of which is a brief testimonial to Eric’s greatness as a Jazz musician.

The first is by Dave Liebman who authored the work and the second is by Eric’s long-time musical companion on the Dutch and European Jazz scene – pianist, Rein de Graaff.

Dave sets the context for the book when he explains in his opening remarks that –

“Of all the rhythm section instruments, the drums are the most difficult to learn from books and even records. With drums, you have TO BE THERE … one has to see and feel the music, more so than for other instruments whose techniques could more easily be assimilated by studying available recordings which was the customary method for European musicians learning the music.

After all, this was pre-Jazz Education time in Europe. To put it succinctly: finding a drummer who could ‘swing’ could be problematic. …

Jazz is not an automatic pilot art form … the personality and the music is the same. Eric Ineke fills the bill perfectly. To put it succinctly, he was and is THE UTLIMATE SIDEMAN.

If there is one comment that musicians like myself use to describe Eric it is that he SWINGS … HARD!!

Eric has studied the drum language handed down from Klook [Kenny Clarke] to Max to Roy to Elvin and Tony.

Adding his own personality and musicianship to this encyclopedic knowledge translate to what I describe as a feeling of buoyancy when Eric plays, even beyond mere swinging.

His musical personality along with a positive and uplifting persona puts anyone playing with him at ease.

Plus he WILL show up at the airport and get you to the hotel or gig or recording, etc. Eric is a sweet man who can really play … what more could you ask for?!!”

As for Rein de Graaff, Eric’s long-time running mate, he puts things very succinctly in his part of the book’s Introduction when he declares:

“Playing with Eric never has a dull moment and he is always giving his utmost. There are moments when I can really play everything that’s in my head thanks to him. Sometimes I feel like jumpin’ off a cliff but knowing that he’s always there to catch me. He inspires me constantly with his rhythmical inventions.

The best moments are when we start to play freely ‘around the beat.’ Then it is really happening. It is like flying!

In this world of fake Jazz, it’s good to have people like him; always telling the truth on his instrument; always playing the real thing.”

Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman was recently published in April/2012 in a paperback folio edition by Pincio Uitgeverij of The Netherlands and you can obtain information on purchasing it from Eric at, or Dave at or by writing to

Among the musicians that Eric discusses in this book are Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, George Coleman, Al Cohn, Eric Alexander, Pete Christlieb, Bob Cooper, Lucky Thompson, Clifford Jordan, Teddy Edward, Frank Foster, Joe Henderson, Scott Hamilton, David Liebman, Harry Sokal, Alan Skidmore, Ferdinand Povel, Sjoerd Dijkhuizen, and Simon Rigter – and that’s just the tenor saxophone players!

Others include alto saxophonists, Lee Konitz, Bud Shank, Herb Geller and Benjamin Herman; baritone saxophonists Pepper Adams, Ronnie Cuber and Nick Brignola; clarinetists Buddy DeFranco, Eddie Daniels, and John Ruocco; trumpet players Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Jarmo Hoogendijk and Conte Candoli; trombonists Urbie Green, Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller and Bart van Lier; guitarists Jimmy Raney, Wim Overgaauw, Jesse van Ruller, and Martijn Iterson; pianists Barry Harris, Don Friedman, Tete Monteliu, and, of course, Rein de Graaff; bassists John Clayton, Marius Beets, Ruud Jacob and Jacques Schols; vibraphonists Dave Pike, Red Norvo and Frits Landesbergen; singers Anita O’Day, Deborah Brown and Shirley Horn.

Many of the descriptions by Eric and Dave offer an inside-the music perspective that make you think differently about what goes into the making of Jazz.

Here are some anecdotal excerpts from Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman.

Dave Pike:

“‘David Samuel Pike, the Master of the Vibes,’ as Rein de Graaff would announce him … is a super swinging and a real great bebop player. He is a very emotional player and he sometimes has a tendency to rush, so we try to take care of this in a very unobtrusive way.”

Buddy De Franco

“As soon as we got on stage you felt immediately that you were dealing with a great artist. There was that beautiful round almost wooden sound and that flawless, perfect technical command, great articulation, swing and super-fluent bebop lines.

Although his time was in front of the beat, I could deal with it easily, because it was so smooth and relaxed.

It always surprises me that the person you know from hearing on records feels more or less the same when you are playing with them on stage.”

Eric Alexander

“His influences were clearly Dexter Gordon and George Coleman and Trane [John Coltrane], so knowing the first two, I was on familiar ground.

His sound and phrasing are super clear, great chops, energy and [always] swinging.

There is no doubt that if he keeps developing he will become on of the real great tenor players. …

He has that special ‘New York vibe:’ no bullsh**, just hit it from beat one.

That’s what I miss in most European players. It takes them almost a whole set to get on that same level.”

Scott Hamilton

“His style of playing comes right out of Lester Young and Al Cohn. Since I played with Al it was the same kind of looseness only even more relaxed. …

And, of course, his ballad playing is exquisite with that beautiful sound like Ben Webster.

He has a choice of the best standards and he knows so many tunes. The audience loves him. As a person he is also a real gentleman; a good conversationalist; so easy to travel with. He is American, but he could as well have been British.”

Bud Shank

“West Coast wailer, but the way he played he could be from New York, beyond category so to speak. Bud was special to me. I liked his no nonsense straight forward attitude.

He was not the type of person you could make easy contact with, but it always felt o.k.

He was a very melodic swinger, always looking for interplay. We sometime did drums and alto duets and he was always listening to the drums; he liked the melodic way I played with him. He said to me ‘you are something else.’”

Benjamin Herman

“Not to mention Benjamin Herman is totally unthinkable. He is from the younger generation and I think one of the best alto players around. … A real no nonsense Jazz player who is able to work in all kinds of funky situations. … He is also a smart businessman and always impeccably dressed. …

He knows how to play the blues … his phrasing is a little behind the beat, and sometimes even a lot, like Dexter’s [Gordon], which makes it all the more swinging.

He always plays on a high level, but when you kick his a** firmly he starts flying and really plays some sh**.”

There is no other book like Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman.

Its point-of-view is singular; no one has ever seen the Jazz world like this and no one will ever see it like this again.

In addition to the pleasure of its stories and recollections, reading Eric Ineke: The Ultimate Sideman also provides a basis for a fuller appreciation and understanding of how The Act of Jazz Creation comes into existence.

Our thanks to Eric and David for creating such a wonderful reading experience.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Jazz Makers

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Columbia Records released The Jazz Makers in 1957 as a vinyl LP [CL 1036] in conjunction with a book of the same title which was edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff. I don’t think the music on the album was ever issued in a digital format,

With the exception of vocalist Bessie Smith, bandleader, composer-arranger, Fletcher Henderson and guitarist Charlie Christian, all of the twenty-one seminal figures represented on this tandem Jazz retrospective were still actively performing in 1957.

Here’s some background on the evolution of this concept from the liner notes to the LP. 

“Early in 1957, nine of America's best-known writers on jazz met in peaceful conclave (an ac­complishment in itself) to discuss the putting together of a new book about the makers of America's most vital native music. The easy part of the meeting had to do with conjuring up a title. Charles Edward Smith, co-editor of "Jazzmen," suggested "The Jazz Makers" and that, succinctly, was that.

The tough part was agreeing upon just twenty-one of the hundreds of musicians who had contributed most to the de­velopment of jazz. The idea was to pool the extensive knowledge and critical experience of the group in an attempt to produce fresh bio­graphical appraisals of the most important jazz figures of our time, utilizing all of the new ma­terial that has come to light about jazzmen and jazz history in these recent, fertile years of research, scholarship and analysis.

After much discussion (and some liquid refresh­ment), during which studies of several deserving musicians (because of space limitations) had to be omitted, the final group was decided upon, writers assigned, and a book—and this record— were born.

"The Jazz Makers," which is being published by Rinehart and Company simultaneously with the issuing of this recording, is edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff whose "oral history of jazz," Hear Me Talkin' to Ya, has achieved the status of a minor classic on the subject. The con­tributors, aside from the two Nats, also include such notable odd-balls and experts as George Avakian, Leonard Feather, John S. Wilson, Orrin Keepnews, Charles Edward Smith, George Hoefer, and Bill Simon. The twenty-one musi­cians chosen by this august critics' circle were Jelly Roll Morton, Baby Dodds, Louis Arm­strong, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Duke El­lington, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Bix Beiderbecke, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Jack Teagarden, Pee Wee Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller and Earl Hines.

Since most, if not all, of these great men and women of jazz have at some time been represented in the vast Columbia catalog, the occasion of the publication of this new and important book seemed an excellent opportunity to dig into our treasure-trove of musical riches for recorded examples of many of these musicians' representa­tive performances. Presented here are twelve selections long cherished by record collectors and available on long-playing records for the first time. …

These are several of the jazz makers. They are men and women for whom jazz became a natural way of self-fulfillment, self-expression, and a totally engaged way of life. In turn, in the impact of their own originality, they became part of the jazz language itself, a form of immortality vouch­safed to very, very few.”

The audio track of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie performing I Can’t Get Started on the following video tribute to The Jazz Makers provides a sampling of the music on the recording about which the liner notes observe:

“In the early days of modern jazz, the guerrilla warfare period, it was not always noted by even the appreciators of Dizzy Gillespie that he pos­sessed a serious lyrical temperament as well as the more familiar fiery daring and quixotic wit. A record which surprised and delighted supporters and quondam Gillespie detractors was this Gillespie interpretation of I Can't Get Started, recorded in 1945 with Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet); Trummy Young (trombone); Don Byas (tenor sax); Clyde Hart (piano); Oscar Pettiford (bass); and Shelley Manne (drums).”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barney, Ray and Shelly

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne helped me to come of age in Jazz.

Initially through the series of “Poll Winner” recordings they made under the auspices of Les Koenig at Contemporary Records and later through professional associations and personal friendships, Barney, Ray and Shelly made endearing and enduring impressions on me and on my life.

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles thought it might be fun to revisit their work, so along with the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and the production facilities of StudioCerra, it put together the following video tribute featuring Barney, Ray and Shelly working out on Duke Jordan’s Jordu.

Here are some thoughts about what made Barney, Ray and Shelly such special players and people as excerpted from Nat Hentoff’s insert notes to The Poll Winners [Contemporary S-7535; OJCCD-156-2].

© -Nat Hentoff, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

The reason for the alfresco exuberance of the Maypole wielders on the cover of this album is that all three won all three of the major American jazz popularity polls for 1956 — Down Beat, Metronome and Playboy.

While the election to these non-posthumous Valhalla’s is evidently quite gratifying, I expect that these three musicians are also deeply heartened by the sure knowledge that this re­spect and appreciation for their skills and souls is shared by the most exacting of all jazz audiences, their fellow jazzmen. Barney, Shelly and Ray cut through the lines of style, age and temperament. They are dug by jazzmen of all persuasions, because they in turn have not limited themselves to any one county of jazz. They're in place almost anywhere in the whole pleasure dome. …

Barney's strength, blues-blood, and sensitivity to others' musical needs as well as his own. Shelly's command of the drum as a thorough instrument, not just as a time-keeping device; his presence when needed as a third voice and the unobtrusiveness of his presence when that quality too is required. Ray for the fullness, firmness and tightness of his voice; his power, which propels when it's only suggested; and the flame, like his colleagues', of the perennial ‘amateur de jazz.’

The music in this set is primarily conversational, and it is conversation between three spirits with much in common in terms of life-view and way of living as well as music.

It is a conversation between experts whose knowledge has gone so far that they can never now regard themselves as experts, knowing not what they'll discover next time they talk.

And it's a conversation essentially for kicks, the kicks that come best and most frequently when you talk with your peers and are thereby in no need to worry whether your quick allusion will be picked up or whether you'll goof a spiral reference. It's not often that we amateurs, literally as well as French-figuratively, have a chance to hear this much of this kind of talk.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Victor and Tom "Love Lucy"

Hold onto your hat when this one hits 0:58 minutes. Victor Feldman on piano and Tom Scott on tenor saxophone are joined by Chuck Domanico on bass and Johnny Guerin on drums. Recorded live at "Donte's" in the mid-1970s.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Meet The Itchy Fingers Saxophone Quartet

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

You won’t believe your ears!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Peter Bernstein/Larry Goldings/Bill Stewart- "Dragonfly"

The Beautiful Sound of Buddy Childers

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Lead players, those who perform the principal line/melody in a big band, rarely get much notice or attention from the broader Jazz audience.

There is usually one in each section of a big band – trumpets, reeds and trombones – and “in addition to playing the high part, the lead player decides matters of phrasing and articulation for the section as a whole. Lead playing is a specialty requiring particular skills, and lead players are frequently not as adept at improvisation as others in their sections.” [Robert Witmer, The New Grove Encyclopedia of Jazz].

There are of course exceptions to this last point , but even in Randy Sandke’s excellent essay on The Trumpet in Jazz in Bill Kirchner, ed., The Oxford Companion to Jazz,, lead players such as Maynard Ferguson, Cat Anderson, and Ernie Royal are mentioned more because of their prowess as section leaders and their ability to hit stratospheric high notes, rather than as soloists who have contributed as one of the instrument’s stylists.

Thanks to a friend in southern Oregon, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles doesn’t miss much in the way of what’s going on in the world of Jazz trumpet.

As a result, and with special thanks to him, we learned that trumpeter and flugelhorn player, Buddy Childers, became a triple threat over the years: lead player, soloist and, ultimately, big band leader where his skills were on display in both capacities.

Interestingly, as Harvey Siders explains in the following segment from his insert notes to Just Buddy’s CD [Trend/Discovery[TRCD-539], Buddy’s first big band under his own leadership didn’t happen until he had been in the business almost 30 years.

“You can take a trumpet player out of a big band, but you can't take the big band out of the trumpet player. Case in point, Buddy Childers, whose trumpet and flugelhorn skills have graced or goosed many a big band: Count Baste, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, Benny Carter, Char­lie Barnet, Georgie Auld, Clare Fischer, Bob Florence, Frank DeVol, Les Brown, and above all, Stan Kenton.

How many musicians can boast of beginning a career by breezing through an audition with Stan Kenton? Childers can.

He left high school in Chicago at age 16 and latched on to the father image of Stan the Man. This was dur­ing World War II, when Uncle Sam was depleting the ranks of the big bands. Buddy claimed there was one thing in his favor when he passed the audition so easily: ‘They knew I couldn't be drafted for a couple of years. The army couldn't touch me.’

Misplaced modesty. Even then there were few trumpeters who could touch him, how else could he explain accumulating eleven years with the Kenton band whose complicated, demanding charts separated the men from the boys - and often separated the men from their chops!

What separated Childers from his life-long ambition to form his own big band was a series of activities that tend to rob the talented of their most pre­cious commodity: time. In Childers' case, they included playing with many bands and combos, writing for so many of them, becoming involved with photography as a full-time occupation, and his obsession with flying. (Childers has been a licensed pilot for nearly 40 years.)

All those time-stealing detours also kept Buddy from issuing his first album as a band leader. (He did front quartet and quintet albums in the 50s.) He had to leave Los Angeles -- his adopted home since 1943 - to do that.  In 1983, Childers moved back to Chicago, formed a band of dedicated, like-minded swingers, played at a dub every Monday night for over a year, in the process gathering material for what is now in this jacket.”

Buddy eventually moved back to Los Angeles where he led his own big band until his passing in 2007.

Along the way, hhe made a beautiful recording with composer-arranger Russ Garcia that really showcased his talents as a soloist.

The recording is entitled Buddy Childers with the Russ Garcia Strings and on it Buddy displays the fluid facility that is a characteristic found in the work of many of the more widely recognized Jazz trumpet soloists.

What isn’t often heard in the solo work of others is the beautiful, “legit” sound that Buddy gets on the horn, his precise execution of the technical aspects of playing the instrument, and the complete command of breath control that allows him to play long phrases and embellishments with ease.

If you will forgive the play on words, Buddy was certainly The Man when it came to The Horn, whether it was the lead or the solo chair.

After listening to Buddy’s beautiful sound it’s no wonder that the clarion call of the angels was Gabriel’s “trumpet.”

Here’s a video tribute to Buddy that features him performing Matt Dennis’ Angel Eyes from the Buddy Childers with the Russ Garcia Strings CD.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

VeeJay Records – A Tribute

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“There’s still nothing to beat the special thrill you get when you hear somebody who is absolutely new to you, of whom you have never heard before and who just simply knocks you out.

This shock of recognition is one of the greatest kicks in jazz. Just as those rare moments when everything goes right, the whole thing falls into place and everybody is together, is what keeps the musicians going through the bad times, so the now and then discovery of a beautiful, exciting new voice in jazz is what keeps the listener plowing through all those LPs.

When I first played this LP, I recognized no one on it. After I looked at the personnel, I knew I had heard some of the men before and heard of some of the others. But what shattered me, racked me up and made me play it over and over was the work of a man I had never heard of, of whose existence I hadn't dreamt but whose music hit me with exceptional force.

His name is Frank Strozier and he plays the alto saxophone. Predictions are chance-y things at best, but I'll chance one right here. We've all been waiting for something past Bird to happen to the alto. Ornette Coleman is taking it in one direction and it is welcome news. Frank Strozier, it seems to me, is taking it in a parallel direction bowing, not to Bird directly, but to John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins and possibly to Ornette, as well. He rips into his solos with the agonized wail that Coltrane has made a specialty of; he packs each long line, breath-taking in its searing irregularity, with high-voltage emotion. To come through on record as he does, he must be something else in person. Hearing him, as I did, for the first time in the context of this LP, was an exciting and thrilling experience. I am sure we will all be hearing a lot more from this Memphis-born youngster.”
- Ralph J. Gleason, Jazz author/critic

VeeJay Records was founded in Gary, Indiana in 1953 by Vivian Carter and James Braden, a husband and wife team whose first initials gave the label its name.

The company’s Jazz recordings were a small portion of its releases as it was primarily a rock ‘n roll label.

Gratefully, however, and as you will no doubt observe from the cover art in the video tribute, it provided a number of then fledgling Jazz artists an opportunity to display their talent to a broader audience through its LP’s.

Not surprisingly, given the fact that Gary is 26 miles SE of Chicago, many of VeeJay’s Jazz recordings favored musicians who were or had been primarily based in The Windy City such as pianist Eddie Higgins, tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris and the MJT +3, although it also featured early albums by trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Wynton Kelly.

Chicagoans, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Walter Perkins, dubbed themselves the Modern Jazz Two [“MJT”] and the “3” is made up of Willie Thomas on trumpet, also of Chicago, and Harold Mabern on piano and Frank Strozier on alto saxophone, both born and bred in Memphis, TN.

The tune on the audio track is Ray Bryant’s Sleepy which is based on an AABA structure but the “B” bridge or release is 12-bars while each of the “A’s” is 8-bars.

The tempo is doubled during the second 6-bars of the bridge and played with a triplet feeling in 6/8 time.

Walter Perkins announces the exit from the bridge with a thunderous backbeat that he plays simultaneously with the left hand on the snare drum, the right hand on the floor tom tom and the right foot using the bass drum beater ball.

Does anyone play Jazz at this tempo anymore?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Brussels Jazz Orchestra: [More] Meeting Colours

More from guitarist Philip Catherine's "meeting" with The Brussels Jazz Orchestra on their Meeting Colours recording this time featuring trumpeter Bert Joris who takes an exquisite solo on Philip's tune Happy Tears beginning at 2:55 minutes [checkout drummer Martijn Vink's "Chinese/Turkish" trash cymbal sound behind him - Dizzy Gillespie loved the sound of that cymbal when he soloed]. Bert also did the arrangement. Click on the "X" to close out of the ads, should they appear. The visuals are meant to be a complement to the music, not an end in themselves. Just another way to help represent it. 

Ivan Lins, Leonardo Amuedo and Stefano di Battista

The sound track for the following video is from an Ivan Lins performance with the Metropole Orchestra that took place on May 14, 2006 at the Philharmonia, in Haarlem, The Netherlands. The full orchestra sits this one out leaving matters to Ivan, who performs the vocals and keyboard accompaniment, guitarist, Leonardo Amuedo and alto/soprano saxophonist, Stefano di Battista. The tune is Lins' Dinorah, Dinorah.  Ivan's music is not purely Bossa Nova, nor Jazz, in the traditional sense of those terms [whatever that means], but it swings like mad, thanks in no small part to the cookin' rhythm section of Aram Kersbergen on bass and Martijn Vink on drums. The solos by Leonardo and Stefano are quite accomplished and Ivan uses his voice like another percussion instrument at times to add even more movement to the piece. The audience literally roars its approval at the end. When it's happening, there's nothing quite like the sound of music captured in-performance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ted Gioia – The Jazz Standards – A Review

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“THE JAZZ STANDARDS will be indispensable for any fan who wants to know more about a jazz song heard at the club, or on the radio. Musicians who play these songs night after night will now have a handy tome, outlining their history and significance which tells how pieces have been performed by different generations of jazz artists. And students learning about jazz standards now have a reference work to these cornerstones of the jazz repertoire.”
- Christian Purdy, The Oxford University Press

“In his latest book - The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire Ted Gioia talks about Jazz from the singular perspective of the music and not from the more accustomed standpoint of the musicians who made it.”
- the editorial staff at JazzProfiles

“lf you look up just one title in The Jazz Standards, before you realize it you will have spent an intriguing hour or two learning fascinating and new things about old songs that you have known most of your life."
Dave Brubeck

I look forward to Ted Gioia’s next book about Jazz with the same excitement and anticipation that greets the arrival of the next recording by one of my favorite Jazz artists.

The guy can flat-out write, he’s a magnificent story-teller and he has a depth and a breath of knowledge about Jazz which rivals that of any writer on the subject.

I know his next book is always going to be good so I grudgingly allow him the necessary time to research it and write it because I can’t wait to read it.

In this regard, Ted’s The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire - forthcoming from Oxford University Press in July/2012 – doesn’t disappoint.

In his writing, Ted has a “conversation” with the reader.

His style is never polemical or didactic like those academic treatises that only twelve other people on the planet can read, let alone, understand.

Be it specifically about Jazz on the West Coast from 1945–1960 or more generally about the entire history of Jazz, Ted’s writing is personal and he teaches you stuff about Jazz.

His approach is reminiscent of your favorite high school teachers; you really wanted to learn from them because they knew what they were talking about and they made the subject fun and interesting.

This is no less the case with Ted’s latest book - The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire – in which he talks about Jazz from the singular perspective of the music and not from the more accustomed standpoint of the musicians who made it.

If you’ve ever wished for a “road map” through recorded Jazz tunes, this book is it.  It offers “… an illuminating look at more than 250 seminal Jazz compositions …, “recommendations for more than 2,000 recordings with a list of suggested tracks for each song, [each accompanied by] “… colorful and expert commentary.”

The reasons for how and why this book came together are clearly explained by Ted in the following excerpts from his Introduction.

“When I was learning how to play jazz during my teenage years, I kept encountering songs that the older mu­sicians expected me to know. I eventu­ally realized that there were around 200 or 300 of these compositions, and that they served as the cornerstone of the jazz repertoire. A jazz performer needed to learn these songs the same way a classical musician studied the works of Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart.

In fact, I soon learned that knowledge of the repertoire was even more important to a jazz musician than to a clas­sical artist. The classical performer at least knows what com­positions will be played before the concert begins. This is not always the case with jazz. I recall the lament of a friend who was enlisted to back up a poll-winning horn player at a jazz festival—only to discover that he wouldn't be told what songs would be played until the musicians were already on stage in front of 6,000 people.

Such instances are not unusual in the jazz world, a quirk of a subculture that prizes both sponta­neity and macho bravado. Another buddy, a quite talented pi­anist, encountered an even more uncooperative bandleader—a famous saxophonist who wouldn't identify the names of the songs even after the musicians were on the bandstand. The leader would simply play a short introduction on the tenor, than stamp off the beat with his foot... and my friend was expected to figure out the song and key from those meager clues. For better or worse, such is our art form.

I had my own embarrassing situations with unfamiliar standards during my youth—but fortunately never with thousands of people on hand to watch. I soon realized what countless other jazz musicians have no doubt also learned: in-depth study of the jazz repertoire is hardly a quaint his­torical sideline, but essential for survival. Not learning these songs puts a jazz player on a quick path to unemployment.

But no one gave you a list. Nor would a typical youngster of my (or a later) generation encounter many of these songs outside the jazz world—most of them had been composed before I was born, and even the more recent entries in the repertoire weren't part of the fare you typically heard on TV or main­stream radio. Some of these tunes came from Broadway, but not always from the hit productions—many first appeared in obscure or failed shows, or revues by relatively unknown songwriters. Others made their debut in movies, or came from big bands, or were introduced by pop singers from outside the jazz world. A few—such as "Autumn Leaves" or "Desafinado"—originated far away from jazz's land of origin. And, of course, many were written by jazz musicians themselves, serving as part of the legacy of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and other seminal artists.

My own education in this music was happenstance and hard earned. Even­tually "fake books" appeared on the scene to clear up some of the mystery, but I never saw one of these (usually illegal) compilations until I was almost 20 years old. When I first encountered The Real Book—the underground collection of jazz lead sheets that began circulating in the 19705—even the table of contents served as a revelation to me. And, I'm sure, to others as well. Aspiring musicians today can hardly imagine how opaque the art form was just a few decades ago—no school I attended had a jazz program or even offered a single course on jazz. Most of the method books were worthless, and the peculiar culture of the art form tended to foster an aura of secrecy and competitiveness. Just knowing the names of the songs one needed to learn represented a major step forward; getting a lead sheet was an unwonted luxury.

A few years later, when I started teaching jazz piano students, I put together a brief guide to the repertoire, listing the songs my pupils needed to learn and the keys in which they were normally played—a rudimentary forerunner to the work you now have in your hands. Still later, as I began writing about jazz, I continued to study these same songs, but from a different perspective. I now tried to unravel the evolution of these compositions over time, understand how different jazz artists had played them, and what changes had taken place in performance practices.

Over the years, I often wished I had a handbook to this body of music, a single volume that would guide me through the jazz repertoire and point me in the direction of the classic recordings. A few books were helpful in my early education into the nuances of this body of music, especially Alec Wilder's Amer­ican Popular Song (1972), but even the best of these books invariably focused on only a small part of the repertoire—mainly Broadway and Tin Pan Alley songs— and dealt very little with this music as it related to jazz. The book I needed didn't exist when I was coming up, and still doesn't. I wanted to delve into these songs as sources of inspiration for great jazz performances—a perspective that often took one far a field from what the composer might have originally intended. I wanted a guide to these works as building blocks of the jazz art form, as a springboard to improvisation, as an invitation to creative reinterpretation.

This book aims to be that type of survey, the kind of overview of the standard repertoire that I wished someone had given me back in the day—a guide that would have helped me as a musician, as a critic, as a historian, and simply as a fan and lover of the jazz idiom. To some degree, this work represents the fru­ition of all my experiences with these great songs over a period of decades. The compositions that were once mysterious and even foreboding have now become familiar friends, the companions of countless hours, and I have relished the opportunity to write about these songs and discuss my favorite recordings. Cer­tainly those readers familiar with my other books will note a more personal tone here, a more informal approach—one that felt natural to me as I delved into a body of work that has become, by now, such a vital part of my life….”

The Jazz Standards is a resource guide and a browser's companion to more than 250 of the most popular Jazz songs and includes a listening guide to more than 2 000 recordings. For each of these tunes, Ted “… explains their role in the art form, compares different performance practices, and serves as a tour guide to the historic recordings that define how these works are played today.”

To give you the “flavor” of the book’s contents, here are three examples drawn from Ted’s annotations about songs reviewed in The Jazz Standards that have always been among my favorite to play on.

Airegin [Sonny Rollins, composer]:

“The song first came to prominence via the 1954 Miles Davis project Bags' Groove, an album that is far less well known than the trumpeter's work from later in the decade. The album presented several songs destined to become standards, including three of Rollins's best compositions: "Airegin," "Doxy," and "Oleo."

"Airegin" offers the most interesting conception of the batch, with an opening that hints at a minor blues at the outset, then morphs into a lop­sided 36-bar form—an oddity, with 20 bars elapsing before the repeat, but then running only 16 bars before coming back to the top of the form—all packed with plenty of harmonic movement to keep things interesting for the soloists.

The opening chords look back to "Opus V," a piece by J. J. Johnson that Rollins had recorded back in 1949, while the second eight bars are remi­niscent of the bridge to Billy Strayhorn's "Day Dream." But the whole as con­structed by Rollins is distinctive and the work ranks among the most intricate of the saxophonist's better known pieces. Certainly "Airegin" showed that in an era when other jazz players were expanding their audience by moving toward either a cool melodicism or an earthy funkiness, Rollins was intent on writing songs that would appeal to other horn players rather than patrons at the jukebox.

"Airegin" did just that. Two years later, Davis resurrected the song for another Prestige session, and this time featured John Coltrane, Rollins's leading rival as reigning tenor titan of modern jazz. Davis made a surprising choice to substitute an 8-bar vamp over an F minor chord for Rollins's orig­inal chord changes during the second A theme; by doing so, he anticipated the modal approach that would come to the fore in his music later in the decade. The tempo is faster here, and the mood much more aggressive, with Trane serving notice that he could play this composition just as well as the composer.

Other prominent soloists followed suit. Phil Woods recorded "Airegin" on his 1957 session with Gene Quill, and periodically returned to the song in var­ious settings over the years. Art Pepper tackled it on his Art Pepper Plus Eleven….

The song has kept its place in the standard repertoire …. For two invigorating [and more recent examples], check out the treatments by Chris Potter and Michael Brecker, both from 1993.”

Love for Sale [Cole Porter, composer and lyricist]:

“Many songs have overcome nonmusical obstacles in gaining acceptance and popularity, but few tunes faced a stiffer challenge than "Love for Sale." For decades, radio stations refused to allow its lyrics on the air. The song, which made its debut in the 1930 Broadway musical The New Yorkers, is sung from the perspective of a Prohibition-era prostitute, and composer Cole Porter did not mince his words in presenting "appetizing young love for sale." Charles Darnton, the reviewer for the Evening World, accused the song of being "in the worst possible taste." The Herald Tribune called it "filthy."

Porter, perhaps in a mood of defensiveness, claimed that it was his favorite among the songs he had composed. "I can't understand it," he griped. "You can write a novel about a harlot, paint a picture of a harlot, but you can't write a song about a harlot." Perhaps most revealing: audience outrage subsided after the Broadway production shifted the setting of the song to Harlem, in front of the Cotton Club, and assigned the number to African-American vocalist Elizabeth Welch instead of Kathryn Crawford, a white singer.

“… jazz artists seldom turned to "Love for Sale" until the late 1940s and early 1950s. Billie Holiday recorded a definitive version, and her persona as a troubled diva who, by her own account, was working as a prosti­tute when this song first came out, gave her a kind of credibility that few singers would want to match. Despite her advocacy, singers long avoided this song. During this period a jazz fan was more likely to encounter the Porter tune in instrumental arrangements by Erroll Garner, Sidney Bechet, Art Tatum, or even Charlie Parker, who recorded it as part of a Cole Porter tribute project for the Verve label shortly before his death. …

Cannonball Adderley recorded a well-known version for his 1958 project Somethin' Else—a rare date that found Miles Davis working as a sideman. …

By the 1960s, the taboo associated with "Love for Sale" had faded, and it became entrenched in the repertoires of jazz players. And for good reason. The opening theme is suitable for vamps of all stamps, from Latin to funky, and the release offers effective contrast both rhythmically and harmonically. A tension in tonality is evident from the outset: this song in a minor key nonetheless starts on a major chord, and seems ready to go in either direction during the course of Porter's extended form. A composition of this sort presents many possibilities, and can work either as a loose jam or bear the weight of elaborate arrangement.”

Poinciana [Nat Simon, composer, Buddy Bernier, lyricist]

“In the jazz world, “Poinciana” is inextricably linked with Ahmad Jamal, whose successful reading of the composition from 1958 helped keep his album Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing: But Not for Me on the Billboard chart for more than two years. But the song long predates Jamal's interpretation, and was composed back in 1936. Glenn Miller performed it in the late 1930s, Benny Carter enjoyed a modest hit with "Poinciana" in February 1944, and Bing Crosby did the same the following month. Carter's version is especially interesting, with its strange groove, half Latin and half-R&B—a stark contrast to the pop-oriented approach Miller had adopted in his treatment.

Around this time, a number of name bandleaders embraced "Poinciana" and it shows up on live broadcasts by Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, and other jazz stars of the era. … Other recordings that predate Jamal's success include versions by Erroll Garner, Lennie Niehaus, Red Callender, and George Shearing.

But Jamal eclipsed these precedents with a vamp-based arrangement that superimposed the pianist's unhurried phrasing over an insistent, appealing beat—so appealing that his "Poinciana" earned repeated jukebox plays and dance-floor loyalty at a time when modern jazz had largely abandoned these public platforms for crossover success.

Even after Jamal redefined "Poinciana," the song enjoyed a surprisingly varied career. It has been popular with vocal groups, as demonstrated in recordings by the Four Freshman and the Manhattan Transfer. It has appeared on albums de­voted to musical exotica, getting the full Les Baxter "bring-the-Third-World-to-your-bachelor-pad" treatment, and has also been adapted for big bands, Afro-Cuban ensembles, and easy listening orchestras. But I am still under Jamal's sway, and feel "Poinciana" is best served by small combo versions that avoid the mood music baggage and let the song swing. For three striking examples, check out Shelly Manne's fast romp in straight 4/4 walking time from his 1959 performance at the Black Hawk, Sonny Rollins's hot work on soprano sax backed by George Cables's electric piano from 1972, and Keith Jarrett’ s convivial trio rendition from 1999.”

Aside from just devouring the book from cover-to-cover, as I did, you can approach The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire in any number of ways.

You can select one tune, read what Ted has to say about it and then immerse yourself in the example recordings the he lists in the accompanying discography.

You can take Ted annotations for one or more of the Jazz standards and add your own thoughts and list of favorites versions to it.

Or you can create playlists from Ted’s track suggestions and upload them to you favorite media player

Perhaps you might wish to get together with some of your Jazz buddies at a Jazz standards party in which you read and discuss Ted’s take on a tune and play your preferred versions.

I doubt that you will ever come across a book on Jazz that will give you more pleasurable reading while, at the same time, affording you an such interactive platform in which to experience its contents.

However, you approach it, The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire is sure to become a constant companion to your Jazz listening.

Ted has his own website and you can find out more about him by visiting it via this link.

The nice folks at The Oxford University Press who are responsible for publishing the book can be reached here.

For those of you who may have missed it’s first posting of the JazzProfiles editorial staff’s Conversation with Ted Gioia About Jazz, we have brought it up again in the blog’s sidebar [left-hand or columnar side of the blog].