Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008). Starting tomorrow, I will post a two-day tribute to the late saxophonist, clarinetist and arranger—including interviews with jazz legends who played with him and knew him best.
Vinyl vitriol. In a pointed post last week at Jazz.com, writer Alan Kurtz ridiculed holdouts who continue to lament the record store's decline and yearn for a vinyl revival. Alan also chastised critics of digital downloading, arguing that the medium's virtues start and end with efficiency and convenience.
During his clubbing of LP lovers, Alan took a swing at me for calling downloading a "pretty sexless act and medium" and for questioning whether downloading can ever deliver the same
satisfaction as LP and CD collecting. Alan also explained why he detests brick & mortar record stores, confessing that he hadn't been in one in years: "The littler stores, typically with black-lighted satanic decor, always had small bins so crammed with overpriced merchandise that I could neither browse nor find anything."
All of this notwithstanding, Alan's column is quite funny, well argued and worth the read here. To be fair, used-record stores are notoriously irksome, most often staffed by humorless bearded guys who wear socks with sandals and smell like old coffee.
Just to set the record (pun intended) straight, my post focused
on the sensory connection between touch and hearing, and why hunting, holding and acquiring LPs and CDs seems to deliver much more excitement and satisfaction than the sterile experience of clicking, downloading, dragging and filing. Not to mention the flat fidelity of most downloads compared with remastered CDs.
I suppose this disc-click debate will rattle on until high-end integrated receivers come equipped with hard drives, and downloads play as crisply as remastered CDs. When that day comes, though, I'll miss shopping for music I can hold. I'll also miss the old humorless bearded guy in my local used-record store who always growls at customers and insists that scratches on albums can't be heard when played.
Terry Teachout I. Terry sent along an e-mail this week alerting me to two bits of great news. First, Terry says he just finished writing Rhythm Man: A Life of Louis Armstrong, which clocks in at 175,000 words. Terry's Pops biography will be published next spring. Second, Terry reports that Paul Moravec is composing the final scene of The Letter, an opera for which Terry wrote the libretto. This is on top of Terry's weekly theater reviews for the Wall Street Journal, his monthly Commentary columns, his Washington Post essays, his blog, and other writing engagements. Bravo, Terry! (P.S. It was Terry who badgered me to start JazzWax last summer.)
Terry Teachout II. Terry's column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal was on Aaron Copland's movie scores. When I shot Terry an email yesterday afternoon asking if any of the works he wrote about were available on CD or as downloads, Terry noted that a CD of Copland's film music can be found here. He also said the CD is available as a download at iTunes.
Video clip I. Critic Will Friedwald sent along a link to a fabulous YouTube clip of Johnny Hartman singing It Never Entered My Mind. The clip opens with Sammy Davis, Jr. playing a very hip vibes (who knew!). View the clip here.
Video clip 2. Bret Primack just completed a terrific video podcast for the Concord Records reissue of Blue Mitchell's Blue Soul. As always, Bret has produced brilliant work that fills in the historical blanks and advances the story of jazz. View the clip here.
Cal Massey. WFIU's Night Lights host David Brent Johnson just posted a podcast of his half-hour radio show on the music of jazz composer Cal Massey. It's a highly informed and comprehensive look at one of the least-known writers of jazz's best-loved songs. Go here and click the big blue "Listen Now" button.
Michael Steinman, host of the influential Jazz Lives blog, had kind words to say this week about my liner notes for Grant Stewart's new CD, Young at Heart. For the record, I receive no royalties from the CD's sales. The only reason I wrote the notes is I'm a huge fan of Grant's and strongly believe he's a tenor saxophonist more people should know about. His album is available as a CD at Amazon or as a download at iTunes. Hear for yourself.