I largely stopped doing music reviews on this site for two reasons -- one, I find that the process of reviewing an album takes a lot of the joy out of just listening to it, and reviewing music doesn't quite fit in with the shifting focus of this site. I make an exception for that today because I got a wonderful surprise and I want to share it with you. You may remember the heady days of the late '90s Swing Revival, when mainstream music became fun once again (even if just for a few years). You may also remember one of the acts from that revival that rose to prominence during the time -- Eugene, Oregon's own Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Their 1997 album Zoot Suit Riot was not only a surprise hit that year, but became one of my favorite releases of the genre. The Daddies strayed from th
I offered up a selection of four tracks for a Halloween jazz playlist last year, and I'm back for more this year. These tunes are perfect for setting a spooky, fun mood -- whether you're setting out for trick or treat or holding a classy (and classic) retro Halloween party of your own! Each of these selections has a YouTube video that's up for now, and I've also embedded a Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post. Speaking of which... (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.) Kay Starr -- "The Headless Horseman" Artie Shaw -- "Nightmare" The Casa Loma Orchestra -- "The House Is Haunted" The Boswell Sisters -- "Heebie Jeebies" Henry Hall and his Orchestra (vocals by Val Rosing) -
The historic Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concert series started by Verve impresario Norman Granz debuted at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on July 2, 1944. It was a star-studded affair, featuring legends such as Buddy Rich, Lester Young, Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, Les Paul, J.J. Johnson, and others. The fascinating thing about the recordings from this show is they serve as an excellent document of the bridge period between the late Swing era and the dawn of Bebop. I've updated by Spotify Sunday Jazz playlist with some choice cuts from the excellent compilation album The Complete Jazz at the Philharmonic on Verve, 1944-1949. Additionally I'd like to share some photos of that first JATP show, taken by Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili.
I knew nothing about Adam Dorn, aka Mocean Worker (pronounced Motion Worker) before last week, but one glance at the cover for his latest album -- Candygram for Mowo! -- was enough to make me want to check him out. It's been a long time since I decided to listen to an album just because of its cover, but this did the trick. Luckily for me, Candygram for Mowo! is actually a good album. Some of the songs evoke the Big Band/Swing era nicely, just like the repurposed photo on the cover. Witness the outstanding lead track, "Shooby Shooby Do Yah!" (linked below) and "Hoot and Hollah." "Shooby Shooby Do Yah!" | MOCEAN WORKER by Calabro Music Media
Years ago I picked up a budget jazz CD set called Jazz Master Files. I figured I'd find three of four songs I liked on it -- instead it turned out to be a treasure trove of excellent jazz covering most of the genre's golden years. One of the tracks on it is a sizzling live performance of "St. Louis Blues" by Louis Armstrong and his band. I had never heard the song before, but instantly fell in love with it thanks to this version (sadly, the CD contained no information on the performance itself so I can't place a date or venue). Published in 1914 by W.C. Handy, "St. Louis Blues" remains one of the most popular and enduring songs in jazz history for good reason. It's energetic and simple, yet has melody that just won't quit. The most famous take of the song is probably the 1925 rendition ...