Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bright Moments on the Radio









McCoy Tyner, McCoy Tyner Quartet, "Sama Layuca" [3] (12:22)


Patricia Barber, Mythologies, "The Moon" [1] (7:10)


Tomasz Stanko, Bosonosa, "White Ballad" [2] (9:52)


Bobby Few, Lights and Shadows, "Flakes" [2] (4:33)


John Lindberg Quartet, Winter Birds, "Winter Birds" [6] (8:02)


Pierre Dorge's New Jungle Orch., Giraf, "Song for the Swan" [4] (6:33)


Oscar Peterson, Live at the Blue Note, "Kelly's Blues" [2/1] (12:02)


Ben Webster, Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson, "The Touch of Your Lips" [1] (6:17)


Myra Melford & Marty Ehrlich, Yet Can Spring, "The Open Return" [4] (7:25)


Frank Morgan, Love, Lost and Found, "Someday My Prince Will Come" [9] (4:46)


Frank Morgan, Bop!, "Blue Monk" [5] (5:07)


Miguel Zenon, Ceremonial, "Mega" [4] (6:48)


Maria Schneider Orch., Coming About, "El Viento" [1] (11:17)

Ben Ratliff's New Book on Coltrane

I'm just discovering that Word 2007 allows me to compose a blog entry from within it, then publish to Blogger. That's an advancement. I'm not finding all that much progress otherwise, between MS Word 03 and 07. More techno-driven change for the sake of profit.

Jazz content. I have begun reading Ben Ratliff's _Coltrane: The Story of a Sound_. It's most excellent. He's a fine stylist. I see via Google that he's a very prolific reviewer, for jazz and pop, at the NYT. I like the tack of going into the subject of JC via his "sound." It's of a piece with the recent trend to write histories about "night," and "red," and etc.

That and it's hardcover. Got it for Christmas. A brand new book in hardcover. I feel so hip.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Michael Stratton's End of the Year Show

I am gonna do it again: recommend the online live version of Michael's Sunday night show on WLNZ from East Lansing, MI.

As you can see from his words below--this guy keeps himself really well informed, and he really loves the music. On top of that--like our own Michael Eldridge he has a deep baritone voice that's made for radio.

These guys make me crazy. As Vonnegut once characterized his own vocal apparatus --I myself have a voice like a band saw cutting sideways through corrugated steel. I'd die to have jazz radio chops like these two Michaels.

We got 'em here: Friday nights on KHSU, Sunday nights on WLNZ.

Vinyl Side of Midnight 2007

This is the playlist for this week’s Vinyl Side of Midnight, which can be heard on 89.7fm WLNZ in the Greater Lansing area, or you can tune in internationally on the web on - hosted by Mike Stratton, Sunday nights, 9- midnight, Eastern Standard Time

Here is my list of my favorite recordings from 2007. I’ve listed my “Top Ten” in jazz, but also mention a few pop releases that caught my ear that are worth mention.

This week’s playlist:

GET READY – Carl Allen & Rodney Whitaker (Mack Avenue Records)

Desperate Desire

A Heart Enflamed, A Soul Enchanted

Allen & Whitaker create a work that travels from Motown to the church. Highly entertaining.


Find Me

Doin’ (Y)our Thing

Wynton’s deeply felt statement is political and musical.


Moment’s Notice

Round Midnight

String quartet covers jazz.

KIDS (LIVE AT DIZZY’S CLUB COCA-COLA) – Joe Lovano and Hank Jones (Blue Note)



Four In One

Lovano and Jones have made several excellent records in recent years within a quartet format. This is a wonderful musical conversation between masters.

DEAR MILES – Ron Carter (Blue Note)

Seven Steps To Heaven

Someday My Prince Will Come

Understated and beautiful, this is Carter’s homage to Miles Davis.

LAWN CHAIR SOCIETY – Kenny Werner (Blue Note)

The 13th Day

Uncovered Heart

Werner brings in a bundle of great compositions and a team of ringers, including Dave Douglas, Chris Potter and Brian Blade.

PILGRIMAGE – Michael Brecker (Heads Up)

Five Months From Midnight

Michael Brecker knew he was dying and this would be his final statement. He invites old friends, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Pat Metheny amongst others, to help him make it.

SKY BLUE – Maria Schneider Orchestra (Artist Share)

The Pretty Road

Schneider’s recordings just get better and better. This is her masterpiece.

SONG FOR ANYONE – Chris Potter 10

Family Tree

Chief Seattle

This is the year of Potter. After long associations with Dave Douglas and Dave Holland, Chris is ready to do his own thing. Like Wayne Shorter or Thelonious Monk, his organic compositions perfectly suit his improvisational style.

NIGHTMOVES – Kurt Elling


I Like The Sunrise

I got a chance to hear Elling perform at this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival. A terrific performance enhanced my appreciation of his work. This is a great recording.

In between these sets, I’ll play music from the following recordings as a musical ‘bed’; my other favorite CDs of the year:

BACK TO BLACK – Amy Winehouse (Universal Republic)

INFINITO PARTICULAR – Marisa Monte (Metro Blue)

RAISING SAND – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (Rounder)

VERSION – Mark Ronson (Sony)

LA RADIOLINA – Manu Chao (Nacional Records)

KALA – M.I.A. (Interscope Records)

To finish the night I will play a suite of music from some of the artists we lost this year: Joe Zawinul, Alice Coltrane, Frank Morgan, Max Roach, Michael Brecker and Oscar Peterson.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Steve Lehman at All About Jazz

Yeah, Steve Lehman. In another Top Eleven list (I'm into these lists this year) just published today at Allaboutjazz ("including some late November entries") Steven Lehman's very recent "On Meaning" makes the late late cut.

Just in time, because I'm sure it's gonna be good. I haven't heard it yet but I will soon, on Christmas Day to be exact, because that's when my "40 downloads a month" turn over again at Emusic. (You do know about Emusic, don't you?)

I have listened to Steve's earlier CDs at Pandora (which you do know about, right?). I especially like the "outside sax solo" Pandora's committee of real musicians identifies as one of Steve's primary descriptive traits.

Here's a comment I appended to Phil DePietro's review at Allaboutjazz:

This CD is waiting on my "For Later" list at Emusic--till my month turns over on Christmas day.

I saw Steven Lehman at last year's Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium. He was there for the colloquium part. He read a really great paper on his mentored relationship with Jackie McLean, who had recently passed. It was smart and intelligent and moving--what more academic papers should be like.

Steve Lehman is for the watching....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

RJA Top Six

Here's a Top Six. You'll find this list published in Bob Doran's column (The Hum) in this week's Northcoast Journal:

The Redwood Jazz Alliance folks sent a Top 10 jazz albums list that was really 12. Here are five (well, six).

No. 1, a tie: Song for Anyone — Chris Potter 10, and Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village VanguardChris Potter Underground. The former is chamber music-like, with flute, clarinet, bassoon and a string trio. The latter is funk- and rock-influenced postbop with a bass-less quartet. What they have in common is Potter’s brilliant improvisations on tenor and soprano saxes and bass clarinet.

Sky BlueMaria Schneider Orchestra. Her greatness as a composer became apparent a couple of CDs ago. This disc is filled with music that’s lovely at first listen and grows increasingly rich and deep with repeated hearings.

The Words and the DaysEnrico Rava Quartet. One of the giants of post-Miles trumpet playing, Rava has been dubbed “Italy’s gift to jazz.” Lively, gorgeous music from an all-Italian group.

Pilgrimage — Michael Brecker. On his final recording, the late great tenor saxophonist gets some old friends (H. Hancock, B. Mehldau, P. Metheny, J. DeJohnette) to play all-star sidemen for an album of urgent, swinging originals.

Big PictureTrio M (Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, Matt Wilson). These three share much more than an initial. Terrific composers and brilliant players all, their interplay is what really makes this album shine.

This is Not Jazz!

This is not about Jazz music, but it's still interesting, I hope. It's an email received from Bill Baillargeon, one of my oldest pals. Indeed, we go all the way back, and what with that Quebecois family name, "we" probably go back even further than just Bill and me. (My family name was Tessier before Anglicization.)

And that's the theme here. Bill describes perfectly the dawning of his and my and dare I say a goodly portion of an entire generation's serious interest in real good music. That's why I want this posting here. It sums up what it was like to come into awareness of popular music in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We are now the fifty-somethings. We are a major segment of the baby boomer generation (we were thirty something at exactly the same time [in the 1980s] as that insufferable TV show).

So really it is about jazz, as a follow up email from another of our pals will show. The pic is from Christmas night, 1975. The writer, Bill, is seated on the right. That's me with the long hair.


I recently pulled out my turntable after many, many years in the closet. And I still have - I'm pretty sure - just about every LP I ever bought. I couldn't guess the number, 300 at least, probably closer to 400 or 500. I still have what I remember as the first "serious" record I ever bought. It was the Delaney and Bonnie "On Tour" album. I was boasting to Zoe - my 15 year old - that I could still list the personnel on that album.

I did, too, but then I had to pull out the album and prove it. That got me determined to fire up the turntable - remembering some of the treasures buried in that pile of LPs. Pulled it out -tried it - belt disintegrated - the climate here is not kind to rubber and such things. But, a new drive belt later - and while I was it a new cartridge and stylus, as well - I got it running (my kids cracked up seeing the turntable. Zoe was telling friends at school about her ol' man pulling out the antique).

First thing I put on was the Delaney and Bonnie - Zoe wasn't impressed. What got me to that point in the first place was that I was trying to explain to Zoe why I really like Pandora - thanks Bob for turning us on to that. I like it because resembles the way we learned about new music - we listened to the radio, caught stuff we liked, bought the album, read the liner notes, learned the personnel and used that information to pursue new music. Kids now don't much listen to radio that I can see, probably because it mostly sucks - and iTunes doesn't encourage that kind of exploration because the liner notes and personnel listings aren't readily accessible. I mean that D & B album that I bought when I was 14 years old - and which still plays almost completely without flaw - because of the personnel I learned about on that album, influenced the music I listen to even today.

Aside from D & B - I may be the only person on the planet who has all of their albums - that album has Leon Russell which led to to Cocker through the Mad Dogs and Englishmen album, Dave Mason which led to Traffic and to Winwood which led backwards to the Spencer Davis Group, Clapton who led everywhere. You get the idea. That's another reason iTunes and the like suck, they promote buying songs, not albums. For us, we heard a song on the radio, but we had to get the album to hear any more. I think we regarded the album as a body of work to be regarded as a whole. Thats not the case anymore, and thats sad, especially for the artist.

I was reminded, too, that we've bought a pig in a poke. We've bought into a steady decline in fidelity. The first decline in quality was from analog to digital (lp to cd), which takes something continuous and makes it discrete. That, by itself, makes the playback a little flatter - less contoured in my kind of spatial way of visualizing things. Now we've accepted a further decline with the compression of digital (mp3, aac, and other formats). When I put on that Delaney and Bonnie lp after all these years and cranked it up, it was a revelation. It was so much more alive, felt and sounded fuller, more complex. Even my 50+, abused ears can still tell the difference. Which makes my first impulse all the harder to take - I'm going, geez, I wish I could digitize this stuff. I guess it makes sense - easier to access, more convenient - just fake it a bit with some signal processing. I never replaced most of the stuff I bought on lp, so most of it I haven't heard in years.


And here is a follow up posting by John Beck, another of the oldest of old buds. He's not in the picture--away at MSU at the time, I think.

Thanks Bill for the memory rant. Ah Yes, music. Music framed so much of our young lives. I remember sitting in the corner of the cafeteria with some of you and hearing Cocker’s “Cry Me a River” coming over the radio/PA in the room: Bill, JD, and Bob singing “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” at Art Train; Mark O’s band playing James Gangs’s “Walk Away” in the Teamsters basement; hearing “Change Partners” off of Stills 2 at Bill’s house for the first time, and breaking the cellophane on “Aqualung” at my house and laying with my head between the speakers on the old console Magnavox for “Locomotive Breath.”

I was lucky to have all of you for musical life, as well as T. G. (a year ahead of me) and Billy S. T introduced me to a whole new world of music when I met him around freshmen year (Tull, Ten Years After, Pink Floyd, Monk, John Mayall, Johnnie Winter, Muddy Waters and all sorts of other really good stuff). Unfortunately, I get rid of most of my albums long ago. I kept a few that I could not part with (The Band, Blood on the Tracks, Old Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, etc.). A. A. never lost his love of vinyl and probably owns ten thousand records now (he does estate sale and thrift store buying and e-bay selling as a hobby). When A. and I went to Elnora Vader’s funeral, we hit every thrift store and use d book shop from Escanaba all the way back to Lansing.

I am listening right now to my music of choice, South African Jazz (Sipho Gumede’s “New Era”), where you can track some great artists from the liner notes still.

Bright Moments on the Radio

Now doesn't this make you want to tune it? Thanks to DJ Michael for getting it together:

Bright Moments with the Redwood Jazz Alliance | 21 December 2007

· (4:52) Charlie Parker, "White Christmas" (recorded live at the Royal Roost on Xmas 1948; released on Complete Savoy Live Performances (box set) and lots of Savoy xmas albums). Miles Davis, tpt; Al Haig, piano; Curly Russell, bass; Max Roach, drums

· (4:53) Chet Baker, "Winter Wonderland" (featuring Russ Freeman on piano; originally released on Pacific Jazz, 1953; collected on "Christmas Songs" [Fantasy/Milestone, 2000])

· (3:39) Paul Bley Trio, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (with Mingus, bass & Max Roach, drums). Introducing Paul Bley (Debut, 1953)

· (1:39) Don Byron (arr. Louis Singer), "Bounce of the Sugar Plum Fairies." Bug Music (Nonesuch, 1996) (trib. To Raymond Scott, John Kirby, Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orch.) Steve Wilson, alto sax; Charles Lewis, tpt; Kenny Davis, bass; Billy Hart, drums

· (3:22) Duke Ellington, "Overture" to the Nutcracker Suite. Three Suites (Columbia, 1960)

· (3:32) Ella Fitzgerald, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas (Verve, 1960)

· (5:08) Vince Guaraldi Trio, "O Tannenbaum." A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1965)

· (5:26) Jimmy Smith, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Christmas Cookin’ (Verve, 1966) (Smith @ the Hammond, along with Kenny Burrell, guitar; Art Davis, bass; Billy Hart, drums)

· (6:25) Duke Pearson, "Sleigh Ride." Merry Ole Soul (Blue Note, 1969)

· (5:16) Kevin Gibbs Trio, "What Child Is This?" Christmas Presence (Concord Jazz, 1990) (Kevin Gibbs, piano; Paul Delmero, bass; Matthew Gordy, drums)

· (6:59) Ed Calle (tenor sax), Arturo Sandoval (trumpet) & Jim Gasior (piano), "Jingle Bells." VA, Latin Jazz Christmas (Concord Picante, 2001)

· (4:17) Paquito D'Rivera (alto sax) and John Miller (bass), "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." VA, God Rest Ye Merry, Jazzmen (Columbia, 1981)

· (9:12) Wynton Marsalis Quintet, "We Three Kings of Orient Are." VA, God Rest Ye Merry, Jazzmen (Columbia, 1981)

· (8:07) Steve Rudolph Trio, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

· (3:42) Kevin Gibbs Trio, "Deck the Halls." Christmas Presence (Concord Jazz, 1990)

· (5:27) Karrin Allyson, "The Coventry Carol." VA, A Concord Jazz Christmas (Concord Jazz, 1991)

· (3:03) Chris Potter, "O Come All Ye Faithful." VA, A Concord Jazz Christmas 2 (Concord Jazz, 1999)

· (5:46) Steve Rudolph Trio, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Christmas with the Steve Rudolph Trio (The Orchard, 2000) (Steve Rudolph, piano; Paul Langosch, bass; Matt Wilson, drums)

· (7:07) Tom Harrell, "The Christmas Song." VA, Christmas Songs (Milestone, 2000)

· (13:41) John Coltrane, "My Favorite Things." My Favorite Things (Atlantic, 1960)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

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Another Top Ten

This list comes from Michael Stratton, who has the best Sunday night show in the whole kingdom of jazz enthusiasm, "The Vinyl Side of Midnight," on WLNZ, in East Lansing, MI. I catch it on the web from 6:00 to 9:00 pm PST.

10 - GET READY - Carl Allen & Rodney Whitaker
7 - DEAR MILES - Ron Carter
6 - KIDS (LIVE AT DIZZY'S CLUB COCA-COLA) - Joe Lovano & Hank Jones
5 - LAWN CHAIR SOCIETY - Kenny Werner
4 - PILGRIMAGE - Michael Brecker
3 - SKY BLUE - Maria Schneider Orchestra
2 - NIGHTMOVES - Kurt Elling
1 - SONG FOR ANYONE - Chris Potter 10

"The top 5 are really classics, I think," Michael writes, "and I've been trying to give Potter heavy air play. Well, all of them. "

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Top Ten of 2007

I'm soliciting a compiled list from the members of the RJA, but in the meantime, here's mine. If you send me yours--top ten jazz or top ten whatever, I'll post it.

D.E. Stacey’s Top Ten Jazz Albums for 2007

1. Enrico Rava. The Words and the Days. ECM.

2. Trio M. (Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, Matt Wilson). The Big Picture. Cryptogramophon.

3. Kenny Werner. Lawn Chair Society. Blue Note.

4. John Schofield. This Meets That. Universal.

5. Harris Eisenstadt. The All Seeing Eye + Octets. Poo-bah Records.

6. Luciana Souza. The New Bossa Nova. Verve.

7. Carla Bley. The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu. Watt ECM.

8. Abram Wilson. Ride! Ferris Wheel to the Modern Day Delta. Dune Records/The Orchard.

9. Carl Saunders. The Lost Bill Holman Charts. Mama Jazz Foundation/AMG.

10. Marty Erhlich and Myra Melford: Spark! (Palmetto)

Wine Talk Colonizing Jazz Crit

In the November 07 Downbeat, p. 57, John McDonough makes this mention of Luciana Souza's newest CD (one of my own top ten of the year, by the way) "The New Bossa Nova":

"Souza's sound is careful, calm and cool, with a petite, pitch-perfect vibrato and a slim dynamic range with a tactile, furry feel."

I'm all for synaesthesia, really I am, and I can handle dense description of just about anything.

I love, par example, the way Paul Austerlitz analyzes African Kente Cloth as checkered sound (in his book Jazz Consciousness, chapter 2), but the furry feel here is a bit distracting, because, well, it's kinda yucky. Sound--->singing--->mouth--->furry....

It's also pretentious, but then I'm into beer more than wine, so what do I know? The late, great Beer Hunter Michael Jackson was able to work up a fine, fulsome mess of adjectives to describe the taste of ale in the mouth.

Mouth. In the end I guess I'm some kind of old school prude. It's about taste? How pre-postmodern! I like my impressions of sound you-can-see or -feel to stay close to the sense organs they're involved with....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This Guy in Holland Goes to Jazz Shows Nearly Every Night and Takes Amazing Pics

You gotta check out Cees Van de Ven's photos at Flickr. Gregg Moore (who knows, having spent years in the Netherlands) tells me it's pronounced KAYS.

Cees takes terrific pix and he goes to a lot of shows. It must be great to care about jazz and be Dutch.

Plays Monk warms up.

September 27, 2007, the trio calling itself Plays Monk, Scott Amendola, Devon Huff and Ben Goldberg, prepare for the premier concert of our first full season. The show took place in the rotunda at the Graves Museum in Eureka, California. It were great!
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Redwood Jazz Alliance Starts a Blog!

For the inaugural posting of the brand new web log of the Redwoods Jazz Alliance, I'm sending in from Picasa 2 a fuzzy picture of Bill Dixon I took at last year's Guelph Festival. You may imagine the big fat tone coming out of that bell, the humungous cathedralic reverberation that guy gets from his horn.

This blog is meant to accompany the weekly radio show "Bright Moments," on KHSU radio, and the web page of the Redwood Jazz Alliance. Our members Michael Eldridge and/or Michael Quam and/or Thomas Fossier host this fantastic two hours of jazz every Friday night from 8:00 to 10:00. Tune in at 90.5 on your FM dial if you're in the listening area or listen online.

For a detailed introduction to who we are and what we do, please visit our web site.

Here at the blog, we hope to keep the world apprised of our comings and goings especially in the downtime of our season, the dry spells between our shows. My hope is that the members of the Alliance and many others will use this space to talk about the music they love. I hope to be able to facilitate such discussions with mp3 sound and moving image, very soon. We'll have the usual lists of links and a blogroll, and some pics and sound files and even amateur vids from our shows.

We have had four shows so far, each of which has been a total gas. Kenny Werner Trio, ICP Orchestra, Plays Monk, Kenny Werner and Claudia Villela. We have an actual, real, live, formal season of shows up and running, and it's gonna be amazing when the next five concerts come to town between January and May of 2008.

We have a number of really generous sponsors to tell you about, some local musicians to highlight, and some far flung friends to keep in touch with.

We have a whole heck of a lot to be really excited about, and I hope this blog picks up some of that spirit and sends it flying around.
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