New CDs. Over the past week I finally had a chance to preview a stack of new CDs. Here are three that wound up getting five or more plays on my CD player:
- Nat King Cole. In 1955, Capitol Records released Nat King Cole: 10th Anniversary. The early 12-inch LP not only was a hat-tipper to the King Cole Trio's decade-long relationship with the label but also celebrated the start of Cole's lush solo singing career. After the album's initial release, it was never re-issued—until a few weeks ago, when EMI Music unveiled a gorgeous remastering. The album's first half features King Cole Trio gems (1945-1949). The second half is orchestral (1951-1953) and includes the touching Story of My Wife (1951) arranged by Les Baxter, Nelson Riddle's predecessor. If you're a Nat King Cole fan, you're in for a big surprise. You can buy it here.
- Marian McPartland. Radio host, educator and impeccable jazz pianist, Miss McPartland has just released Twilight World (Concord), featuring a clutch of lovely originals and eight jazz classics. Considering that Miss McPartland's first U.S. recording was in 1948 (with cornetist and then-husband Jimmy McPartland), Twilight World is quite an accomplishment. Miss McPartland's playing has never been more vibrant and tender, and her splendid song choices include Johnny Mandel's Close Enough for Love, Ornette Coleman's Turn Around, Burt Bacharach's Alfie and John Lewis' Afternoon in Paris. Gary Mazzaroppi joins her on bass, and Glenn Davis is on drums. The album is so soft and gentle that I've been starting and ending my days with it. Twilight World shimmers and is available here.
- Chris Greene. Talk about a beautiful sound—Chris Greene's Soul and Science, Volume One (Single Malt) features the Chicago saxophonist on soprano, alto and tenor. His phrasing is rich, and his ideas constantly engage. Chris' tone, especially on soprano, manages to hit your ear and makes you feel great. Greene is joined by Damian Espinosa on piano, Marc Piane on bass and Tyrone Blair on drums. The three songs that knocked me out are Chris' own composition 4.23, Tommy Turrentine's Bonnie and Sting's King of Pain. You can sample and download the album at iTunes, or the CD is here. To listen to Chris' soprano sound on the Latin-tinged 4.23, go here.
Lord Buckley. Director Michael Monteleone is putting the finishing touches on his fascinating new documentary on the controversial comedian Lord Buckley. In the 1950s, Buckley's hipster lingo, stream-of-consciousness riffs and distinguished con-man persona helped make him the comic prototype for Lenny Bruce, the Beatles and all the leg-pullers who followed. The fearless Buckley, who thoroughly embraced the jazz culture as part of his act, died under shady circumstances in 1960. To see a sneak peak of Too Hip for the Room: The Righteous Reign of Lord Buckley (produced by Nancy Bacon and Roger Mexico), go here and click on "play the teaser." Michael hopes to have the documentary edited by summer's end, at which point it is likely film-festival bound.
Video clips. Here are two jazz video clips sent my way this week by jazz friends and colleagues:
- Sonny Rollins. The Viscount of Video Bret Primack has posted a terrific and candid interview with Sonny Rollins' sister. Go here.
- Sal Mosca. A clip of James Lester's documenatry of Sal Mosca, the Tristano-school pianist who died in July 2007 can be found here. To read my JazzWax posts on Mosca, go here and here.
Ahmad Jamal. David Brent Johnson, host of WFIU's Night Lights jazz radio show, reported last week on Mosaic Records' plans to release a box of Ahmad Jamal's Argo recordings later this year. Go here to learn more.
Bill Evans. Jan Stevens, host of the Bill Evans Webpages, reviews Pascal Wetzel's new The Mastery of Bill Evans book of piano transcriptions here. In addition to being one of the web's most knowledgeable Bill Evans' experts and advocates, Jan is a professional pianist. So the review has the authority of a devotee and someone who can expertly play the transcriptions.
I'm looking forward to seeing the book myself, having spent years playing the transcriptions of Bill Evans' Who Can I Turn To, Turn Out the Stars and Alfie. The experience, of course, spoiled me on the piano. Playing a Bill Evans transcription not only puts you intimately in touch with the pianist's thinking but also makes you ask yourself whether there's anything more you will ever say on the keyboard that's more beautiful than what you're sight reading. Nevertheless, playing a Bill Evans transcription remains the single best way to fully understand the gentle genius. If you dare, Pascal Wetzel's book is here.