Teddy Charles at the Vanguard. When Teddy Charles walked
on stage at New York's Village Vanguard Thursday night, he didn't take off his cap. Dressed in a gray sports jacket and white
polo shirt, Teddy went right to work warming up. He pulled four felt-tipped mallets out of a canvas bag and worked them softly over the vibraphone's keys. Then he held two mallets in each hand and gave them a run as well. Teddy has played with virtually every jazz legend, and his albums from the 1950s broke new ground by making the vibes an equal voice in bop, cool and third stream ensembles. He also produced an amazing string of albums for Prestige in the early 1950s.
Teddy's group at the Vanguard consisted of Chris Byars on tenor sax and flute, John Mosca on trombone, Sacha Perry on piano, Ari Roland on bass and Stephen Schatz on drums. The group played four tunes during the first set—Scrapple from the Apple, Walkin', What Is This Thing Called Love and Gigi Gryce's Sans Souci. On the last number, Chris' father James Byars, an oboist with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, joined the group. At first, the addition seemed like an unhip experiment about to go horribly wrong. But Chris on flute, James on oboe and Mosca on trombone offered a warm, breezy backdrop to Teddy's ice-cool vibes. Teddy's still going strong. His playing and ideas were a throwback to an age of jazz craftsmanship and risk-taking. Eventually Teddy did remove his cap. It gets hot under those Vanguard lights.
To read my three-part interview with Teddy from last November, click on Teddy's name under "JazzWax Interviews" in the right-hand column.
Karrin Allyson's Imagina. Last week a friend sent along Karrin Allyson's new bossa nova album, Imagina (Concord). To my delight, Karrin's approach here is both jazzy and authentically Brazilian. Not only does Karrin smartly sing many of the songs in Portuguese and English, but she also has done her homework. Unlike many jazz singers who take a shot at Brazilian love songs, Karrin clearly understands the genre and the level of passion required to deliver the words with credibility.
What's more, Karrin [pictured] has channeled the phrasing of many great Brazilian singers. For example, on one of my favorite tracks from the album, Medo de Amar (Surrender the Soul), Karrin captures the sound of the magnificent Maria Creuza, whose yearning and heartbreak are unmistakable. On Estrada Branca (This Happy Madness), you hear traces of Elis Regina.
To pull off a superb Brazilian album, a singer needs razor sharp intonation to navigate the complex melodies and a natural blase, resigned feel that lets the listener relax. Karrin executes both perfectly and brings a fresh playfulness and charm to these poetic Brazilian masterpieces. It doesn't hurt that the musicians on the date, the production quality and the arrangements—many by Karrin—are impeccable. Brava, Karrin! Imagina is available here and at iTunes.
Sonny Rollins at Carnegie Hall. I have received many emails from readers expressing disappointment about Sonny Rollins' decision not to release a recording of his concert last fall at Carnegie Hall. The concert was a 50-year anniversary tribute to Sonny's original Carnegie Hall debut, when he played three songs—Moritat, Sonnymoon for Two and Some Enchanted Evening.
While readers of this blog seem to be coming to grips with Sonny's decision not to release the album over what he believes is sub-par playing, many continue to ask why the original 1957 recording hasn't been issued.
According to Sonny's representatives, a recording exists from the Library of Congress—the same recording that produced the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall CD (Blue Note). Monk and Coltrane appeared at the same concert. Sonny owns the rights to his recording, and it cannot be released without his permission. Sonny only agreed to release it as a companion to the 2007 recording. But since last year's concert isn't being released, Sonny has decided not to release the 1957 recording either. At least for now, though there has been talk of individual tracks being issued for sale as downloads or packaged as part of the new double CD of live material coming later this year. When I know more, you'll be the first to hear about it in this space.
Miles Davis in Paris. Back in November 2007, I wrote here about "The Rarest Miles," two CDs that I believe represent the best recordings of the first Miles Davis Quintet.
Recorded at the Paris Olympia Theater in March 1960, these discs have always been hard to find and often sell for upward of $50 each. They are spectacular because you hear John Coltrane pulling away from the group musically, leaving Miles somewhat baffled creatively as the audience roars with each tenor sax solo.
Last week, reader David Langner sent along some great news. The recordings are available on one CD from England at Amazon/UK here for what appears to be around $20, if I've done my sterling-to-dollars conversion correctly. Or here for less from third-part vendors.
Roberto Magris. The Italian jazz pianist has a lovely CD out called Il Bello del Jazz here. For a sense of Roberto's rich style, dig his recording of Marian McParland's In the Days of Our Love and other tracks here.
Cannonball Adderley. Video documentarian Bret Primack sent along a link to the TV show The Subject Is Jazz, which in this installment focused on bop and featured Cannonball Adderley. Go here to watch all 26 minutes of this amazing show.
Bret also emailed a link to his latest video podcast for the CD The Cannonball Adderley Sextet in New York, which has just been remastered by Concord as part of its Keepnews Collection. Go here to see the clip.
I'm proud to say that Orrin Keepnews, in his updated liner notes for the CD, used with my permission a quote from my interview with David Amram last fall.
If you love Latin-jazz, check out The Latin Jazz Corner, a hugely informative and indispensable site written and edited by Chip Boaz, a San Francisco-based bass player. I have not seen another blog on Latin-jazz that's this thorough and authoritative.
Bill Evans. Jan Stevens of the BillEvansWebpages wrote last week to let me know that a recent National Public Radio Jazz Profiles on Bill Evans hosted by Nancy Wilson was among the best radio retrospectives on the pianist he's ever heard. That's quite an endorsement from the e-keeper of the Bill Evans flame. You can download the Bill Evans broadcast for free here—along with a host of NPR Jazz Profiles shows on other jazz artists.
Patti Bown. Doug Ramsey, critic and writer extraordinaire, posted an insightful and moving tribute to the late Patti Bown at Rifftides last week. Bown, who died earlier in the month, was little known to many jazz listeners, save for her recordings on piano with Quincy Jones' big band between 1959 and 1961. As always, Doug paints the full portrait in his complete tribute.
Emily Remler. WFIU's Night Lights host David Brent Johnson recently featured a half-hour program on Emily Remler, the petite jazz guitarist with the big Wes Montgomery sound. Remler died of heart failure at age 32 in 1990 following years of heroin addiction. I remember seeing Remler perform at New York's West End in the mid-1980s and interviewing her in between sets. I recall a painfully shy and passionate musician who was antsy but totally committed to her guitar. Wow, could she play. One of my favorite Remler albums is East to Wes, which can be found at iTunes. To hear David's show, go here and click the big blue "Listen Now" button.
Buddy Rich goes ballistic. Many of you probably have already heard this taped recording of Buddy Rich chewing out his band on the bus for playing "clams"—jazz talk for out-of-key notes. Makes you realize just how good you had to be to play in Buddy's band—and how thick your skin had to be to stay on. Also amazing is how Buddy's ticker survived such tirades.