School is almost out for the summer for a lot of kids in the U.S., but they can still learn! And what better topic to learn about than jazz? That's what Julian "Cannonball" Adderley must've thought, as he narrated a 1961 album called A Child's Introduction to Jazz. It was released on Riverside Records (RLP 1435) as part of their "Wonderland" series, designed to teach kids about a variety of topics in an entertaining way. Throughout, Adderley narrates the history of jazz and talks about the genre's roots in work songs, blues, and ragtime, and brings the listener through Dixieland, Swing, and Bebop. He also explains the instrumental makeup and musical structure of jazz. Numerous songs and clips back up his lessons, which makes the whole experience rather rich and informative. Some of t
OK, so I'm cheating a bit on this one. I can't think of very many jazz numbers written specifically about the Thanksgiving holiday, so it pretty much all comes down to the titles. Still, I think you'll agree that this is a decent feast of music. (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.) Dave Brubeck, "Thank You" Thelonious Monk, "Stuffy Turkey" Kenny Burrell, "Wavy Gravy" Vince Guaraldi, "Thanksgiving Theme" Mongo Santamaria, "Sweet 'Tater Pie" Ella Fitzgerald, "Flying Home" Related articles Sunday Jazz: Halloween jazz! (grayflannelsuit.net) Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (Review) (popmatters.com)
Had he never recorded a note for any of Charles Schulz's Peanuts specials, Vincent Anthony Guaraldi's legacy as a brilliant composer and pianist would still be secure. His joyful and supremely melodic style is as immediately recognizable as any in music, and more than thirty years after his death his admirers encompass a wide range of musicians and music lovers; from casual jazz fans to purists, and even to outright jazz haters who proclaim, "I don't really like jazz, but I love his stuff." For this primer of Guaraldi's recorded output, I've categorized his music into three main areas rather than go with a strictly chronological approach. These categories are not meant to be rigidly applied, but for the novice I think it makes more sense this way. There's great music to be found
Although I knew this day would come, it doesn't make it any easier to handle. Hank Jones, the man most responsible for sparking my love of jazz, has died at age 91. Jones' always tasteful and elegant brand of swing may not have blazed any musical trails, but it always made for good listening. The music was a reflection of the man - gentle, thoughtful with a touch of humor, and never self-important. Jones was the last surviving member of an immensely gifted trio of brothers - Thad (1923-1986) made a name for himself as much for his trumpeting acumen as for his compositional skills, and Elvin (1927-2004) was one of the most respected drummers in the genre. Hank's understated style made him the least flashy or famous of his brothers, but he was always my favorite. You can find an
Man, I take a short break from updating the site and, just like that, I'm buried under a pile of new music releases. Not to mention, of course, the Beatles remasters. So with no big preamble, let's get right into it... Ace Frehley - Anomaly (Brooklyn Born Records) Peter Criss couldn't do it, Paul Stanley almost did it, and who the hell knows what Gene Simmons was trying to do. I'm speaking, of course, about original Kiss members putting out a solo album this decade that even approached their best work from previous decades. So how does the Spaceman fare on his first release since George Bush Sr. was president? Pretty decently, by and large. Sure the album art is...well, it sucks. It's just bad. But who even notices such things anymore? The music's the thing, and Ace acqu
While he doesn't get the widespread acclaim of jazz pianists like Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, or Dave Brubeck, Hank Jones has nonetheless been producing music of a high caliber for decades. 1978's Tiptoe Tapdance, originally released on the Galaxy Records imprint (a subsidiary of the more well-known Fantasy label) came out when Hank was 60 years old, and as of this writing he's been playing pretty consistently for the 30 years since its release. Alas, the best image I could find (meaning the largest image that was also in decent shape) was from a used record site. For those under 30, those light circles on the cover are not part of the image; they're what's known in the business as ring wear. Admittedly, the clumsy cropping job at the wrist indicates that Galaxy probably didn't
Thelonious Monk isn't the first name you think of when conjuring up images of the French Resistance movement during World War II (it isn't even the 100th name, in fact), yet it was precisely that motif that was used for his under-appreciated 1968 album, Underground. And that motif turned out to be so good that it took the Grammy for Best Album Cover in 1969. Even more notable than this evocative image (featuring a tied-up Nazi, no less) is the fact that Underground was one of the first Monk albums in years to contain so much new material, and was also one of the last he recorded in the studio before largely disappearing from public view throughout the 1970s.
Listening to Robert Glasper's albums is a good way to appreciate the Brooklyn-based pianist's incredible talent for performing and composing. An even better way is to catch one of his live performances, such as Friday night's concert at the 360-seat Berlind Theatre, located on the campus of Princeton University. Glasper's trio (with bassist Vicente Archer and new drummer Chris Dave) performed as a single organism, deftly playing off each other over the course of their set. While Archer is a solid (although not spectacular) bassist, the stars of the show were Glasper and Dave, whose instrumental prowess cannot be doubted. Glasper, who split the set fairly evenly between his two Blue Note albums (2005's Canvas and this year's In My Element), showcased both his calm, meditative side and...