Teo Macero (1925-2008). With the sad news this week that legendary Columbia Records producer Teo Macero [right, with Miles Davis] died, I pulled out three of my favorite Teo-directed albums—Dave Brubeck's Time Out, Miles Davis' In a Silent Way and Thelonious Monk's Monk, which includes the tribute tune Teo. If you're a fan of the Teo-produced Bitches Brew, go here to see an excellent video-doc podcast by Bret Primack.
Gene Kelly. I had dinner on Thursday with Raymond De Felitta, director of the masterful documentary Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris. Raymond told me that the DVD will be available for sale this summer. I'll keep you posted as its release nears.
In addition to being a superb director and screenplay writer (his films include Cafe Society, Two Family House and The Thing About My Folks), Raymond blogs regularly on classic films and Hollywood musicals. Last week Raymond wrote about the musical It's Always Fair Weather (1955). In the post, Raymond includes a fabulous video clip of Gene Kelly singing I Like Myself and tap dancing through "city streets" in roller skates. It has to be Kelly's most ambitious—and most leg-threatening—on-screen dance number. Go here to read Raymond's blog, and scroll down to see this uplifting clip.
Bill Evans. As many readers of this blog know by now, Jan Stevens and I have been conducting a long-running email discussion about Bill Evans and the parameters of his prime period. From time to time, our chats surface here.
I'm of the belief that Bill's most concentrated poetic period runs from December 1959 (Portrait in Jazz) to February 1965 (Bill Evans: Paris 1965). Jan, host of the always essential Bill Evans Webpages, feels this is too restrictive.
On Friday, to further prove his point, Jan sent along an e-mail with an audio clip attached—and easily won the latest round. Attached was Evans' Reflections in D from Evans' New Conversations (1978). Despite my continued belief that much of Bill's post-1965 recordings are marred by angry, rushed and agitated executions, Reflections in D in all fairness clearly demonstrates Bill's beauty just two years before his tragic death. Chalk one up for Jan!
Sonny Stitt. My daughter IM'd me Friday night asking about Paul Desmond's Bossa Antigua album. She's a deejay at college with terrific, eclectic taste. I suggested she check out my favorite track on the album, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Then, as I rummaged through YouTube for a link to the Bobby Vee hit so she could compare, I stumbled across this gem from Sonny Stitt.
Jazz goes Disney. In response to my musings last weekend on jazz's puzzling abandonment of melody-rich Disney and Broadway tunes, WFIU's David Brent Johnson alerted me that he had re-posted a show he had recorded in 2006—Jazz Goes
Disney. To hear David's terrific half-hour radio podcast devoted to jazz interpretations of Disney melodies (including Sun Ra's Elephants on Parade), go here and click the big blue "Listen Now" button. As always, David's show is a delight.
Bill Evans expert Jan Stevens also dropped a line to share this insight:
"The great commercial success of Shelly Manne's My Fair Lady (1956) caused many jazz producers to try their luck in a similar vein with other artists and other shows. In 1962, Verve Records rushed an advance copy to Bill Evans of the score to the yet-to-open Broadway show Mr. President. The label hoped to capitalize on a what was thought to be a new Irving Berlin hit show.
Bill said he worked on the music almost 24 hours straight. But word was that the show was a bomb. Sure enough Mr. President got lousy reviews, was a commercial failure for Berlin, and the project was scrapped. (Evans did manage to 'save' two tunes from it for the Empathy album he did for Verve in 1962 with Shelly Manne."
Sam Goody. In a recent post on Machito's Kenya, I reflected on a blissful summer in the early 1970s working at the main Sam Goody record store in New York as a clerk with the legendary Keynote producer and retiree Harry Lim. Reader Don Frese subsequently wrote to say he remembered an equally knowledgeable English staffer there as well.
In response, reader and pianist George Ziskind wrote in to say that the Englishman in question was Jeff Atterton (whose name I should have recalled, since he worked in the store at the same time I did). George noted that Jeff now lives up in Riverdale, New York.