Sunday Jazz

Each week on Sunday Jazz at The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit we shine the spotlight on a jazz-related topic, from artists to events to songs and albums. Sunday Jazz is a great way to end the weekend, so make sure to come back every Sunday morning for a new entry.

Sunday Jazz: Mulatu Astatke, “Yegelle Tezela”

Sunday Jazz: Mulatu Astatke, “Yegelle Tezela”

Music, Sunday Jazz
I recently finished listening to the upcoming studio release from Dengue Fever, Cannibal Courtship. As I was writing my review for Popdose, one of the things I mentioned as an ingredient to their unique sound was Ethiopian jazz (or Ethio-jazz). But it occurred to me that I had never actually heard Ethiopian jazz, so I did a little digging. Wow, good stuff! Sadly, this clever and fun hybrid of jazz and traditional Ethiopian music (which utilizes the pentatonic scale, hence its exotic sound) was largely silenced following that country's Derg junta of 1974. Since the 1990s, however, people outside Ethiopia have had the chance to hear those excellent, grooving sounds largely courtesy of the sprawling, comprehensive Éthiopiques CD series. Here's one of the first tracks I stumbled upon, fr
Sunday Jazz: Brand X, “Running on Three”

Sunday Jazz: Brand X, “Running on Three”

Music, Sunday Jazz
A lot of jazz fans cringe at the mere mention of the term "jazz fusion," and I can understand why. What started out in the late 1960s as an exciting blend of jazz's looser structure and penchant for improvisation with rock's raw power turned to utter crap by the end of the '70s. But there's a lot of great fusion out there, waiting to be discovered. And so today I present one of my favorite fusion groups -- Brand X. The talent in Brand X was staggering. The core group of John Goodsall (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (keyboards), and Phil Collins (drums, of course) released some fantastic music in the mid to late '70s. Their debut record, Unorthodox Behaviour, is quite simply one of the best examples of jazz fusion at its peak. So fusion lovers and fusion haters alike, feast...
Sunday Jazz: The Bill Evans Trio, “Waltz for Debby” (1965)

Sunday Jazz: The Bill Evans Trio, “Waltz for Debby” (1965)

Music, Sunday Jazz
More than 30 years after pianist Bill Evans' death, his legacy still towers over the jazz landscape. I can't imagine a pianist worth their salt who hasn't had their playing informed by his style in one way or another, even if subconsciously. Ample evidence of this exists, in particular the double whammy of classic 1961 live albums, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby. Evans led a number of fantastic trios over the years, and this is one of the better ones. It features Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums. This clip is from a March 19, 1965 performance in London, broadcast on the legendary BBC program Jazz 625. It's the Bill Evans Trio performing the Miles Davis composition "Nardis." Related articles Music Diary Notes: A Golden Anniversary of Jazz Trium...
Sunday Jazz: Happy birthday to Sarah Vaughan

Sunday Jazz: Happy birthday to Sarah Vaughan

Music, Sunday Jazz
Today would have been the 87th birthday of legendary jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan, born on this day in 1924 in Newark, New Jersey. Known alternately as Sailor, Sassy, and The Divine One, Vaughan got her start in music by playing piano and singing in her church choir. She dropped out of high school in her junior year to concentrate on her musical career, and in 1942/43 she won first prize during an Amateur Night performance at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater. Sarah Vaughan's career remained active, if not always commercially successful, throughout most of her life. Even when she was not recording she was touring extensively. She won the Grammy for Best Female Jazz Vocal Performance in 1983. In 1989 she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and she died on April 3, 1990, a week after her 66th ...
Sunday Jazz: The Jazz Crusaders on Frankly Jazz

Sunday Jazz: The Jazz Crusaders on Frankly Jazz

Music, Sunday Jazz
Welcome to a new feature here at The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit called Sunday Jazz. Check back every Sunday for a sample of some of the best jazz around. Some installments will feature YouTube videos, others .mp3 links. If you have a request let me know and I'll see what I can do for you! To kick things off right I'm sharing this clip of one of my all-time favorite artists, the Jazz Crusaders, on a TV from the '60s called Frankly Jazz. It was hosted by jazz DJ Frank Evans and was inspired by his KRHM-FM radio show of the same name. This episode of Frankly Jazz features the Jazz Crusaders performing "The Young Rabbits" and "Weather Beat." The first number is one of the group's signature songs and is elevated by Joe Sample's excellent piano work and brilliant drumming from Stix Hoope...