Frank Sinatra. When author, jazz musician and blogger Ted Gioia of Jazz.com asked me to write reviews of my 12 favorite jazz-influenced Sinatra tracks, I cavalierly said, "Sure, no problem." Then I pulled out my three large Sinatra box sets and 33 individual CDs and gulped. Boiling "The Voice" down to a jazz dozen was going to require some serious listening and careful parsing. Four hours later, I had my 12 bell-ringers—including one that has been missed by even the most comprehensive Sinatra discographies. You can read my 12 Sinatra Tracks for Jazz Lovers at Jazz.com— starting on the blog's action-packed home page.
Teddy Charles. Call a jazz legend and you never know what you're going to get. Last Tuesday evening, I buzzed vibraphonist Teddy Charles. He answered late, on the eighth or ninth ring:
"Teddy, hey, it's Marc."
"Hey, how you doin'?"
"Good. I was listening to New Directions and thought I'd call to say hi."
"Great. Hey, we're in the middle of rehearsal. Want to hear something?"
Teddy put down the phone, and the band kicked off I'll Remember April followed by Bye, Bye Blackbird. Thirty minutes of music featuring the great Teddy Charles, who sounds, by the way, like a million bucks! When Blackbird ended, Teddy got back on the phone:
"How'd you like that?"
"Absolute killer! Real gone!"
[Laughing] "Good, good."
"Seriously, Teddy, you sound incredible. Who was playing piano? He was great."
"Yeah? You liked him?"
"It was me!"
Teddy will be at the famed Village Vanguard with a quintet the week of March 25th. If you want to hear what the 1950s were all about, here's your chance.
Thad and Mel. Master blogger Doug Ramsey had a terrific post this week at Rifftides on the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. Go here to read it and see a clip of the roaring band in the mid-1970s playing Cherry Juice. (William Claxton took the photo of Doug, right)
Sonny Stitt. Doug Ramsey also posted a side-splitting video clip of Bill Cosby on the Dick Cavett Show explaining why he gave up a career as a jazz drummer—and the role that Sonny Stitt and Max Roach played in his towel-toss. I promise you'll burst out laughing by the end of this one. Go here.
John Handy. David Brent Johnson, host of WFIU's Night Lights jazz radio show, interviewed alto saxophonist John Handy, who played on four Charles Mingus studio recordings in 1959—Mingus in Wonderland, Blues & Roots, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty. David captured lots of great insights in his four-part conversation with Handy. Go here to read Part 1.
Raymond De Felitta. Film director and writer Raymond De Felitta ('Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris) blogs on classic movies and Old Hollywood at Movies Til Dawn. It's a delightful place to linger if you appreciate old
movies and want an insider's view of what makes iconic films and actors special. Raymond's current post examines a sleeper called Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956). Raymond unearthed a color video clip of a vampy Cyd Charisse jazz dancing in a sultry Hermes Pan-choreographed Frankie and Johnny. Off-camera, Sammy Davis, Jr. sings/narrates the song's tarty tale of betrayal, murderous rage and upward mobility. If you want to see Raymond's touching pre-'Tis Autumn films, rent Two Family House (2000) and The Thing About My Folks (2005) with Paul Reiser and Peter Falk.
Josh Myers Quintet. First, full disclosure: Jazz bassist Josh Myers is my cousin. Well, he's not technically my cousin. He's my cousin's son. But I have no idea what that is exactly (something "removed"). So I just call him my cousin. Fresh out of NYU's jazz program, Josh and his group work tirelessly almost nightly around Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Josh just released his debut CD—Walls Red—featuring mostly his original compositions. Josh's quintet is made up of Josh on bass, Brian Scherman on alto, Heath Walton on tenor, Jonathan Anderson on piano and Jordan Perlson on drums. I downloaded the album this week and gave it a listen. The executions are tender envelope-pushers that combine a high level of musicianship with intricate melody lines and sensitive modal improvisation. And unlike many new CDs from up-and-coming jazz artists these days, the musicians here actually are listening to each other and feeding off the vibe rather than just blowing like there's no tomorrow. Take a listen here (click on the "audio" tab at the top to sample full tracks). It's also a pleasure to hear original works from a musician who is trying to blaze a new jazz path. You did good, cuz.