Grant Stewart at Smoke. Last night I caught tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart at Smoke on New York's Upper West Side. During the first set, the Grant Stewart Quintet played six tunes, three from his new album, Young at Heart (full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes but receive no royalties.) Grant was joined by Ryan Kisor on trumpet, David Hazeltine on piano, Joel Forbes on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums.
The group opened with a spirited Young at Heart, followed by Peter Bernstein's cooker Jet Stream. Two gorgeous standards followed—I'm Glad There is You (on which Grant shrewdly tagged Thelonious Monk's Friday the Thirteenth) and I Had the Craziest Dream, both taken at a medium tempo. Grant's Shades of Jackie Mac, which is built on Sweet Georgia Brown but feels like Dig and Giant Steps, included a stunning solo by drummer Joe Farnsworth, who seems to grow stronger each time I see him. The group wrapped up with a spirited blues.
Grant continues to amaze, working the bottom of his horn fearlessly while remaining crisply lyrical and reverential to the tenor giants he adores. Grant confidently knows his history, and it shows. David Hazeltine's [pictured] bedrock technique on the keyboard and his tension-release style of playing is perfect for Grant (hopefully we'll see an album soon pairing the two). David's rich lock-chord attacks aren't to be missed.
Joe Farnsworth [pictured] is a high-intensity drummer, and last night he threw out dozens of figures, always keeping the group and audience on edge. Ryan Kisor has a pensive, Kenny Dorham feel—round, precise and with a knowing sensitivity. Joel's bass was rock solid and could be heard through it all.
Dan Morgenstern. In response to my Friday post on five little-known jazz CDs that celebrated major Broadway shows and movie musicals, the great Dan Morgenstern of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University sent along the following e-mail:
"Great selections, but my favorite in this genre is another Barney Kessel item: Some Like It Hot (Contemporary), with the seriously underrated Joe Gordon on trumpet; the wonderful Jimmy Rowles on piano; and Art Pepper, who, of course, is great on alto but a standout on clarinet. I should note that this is not a stage/screen score like the others, but a collection of vintage standards heard in that five-star film!"
Ira Gitler. During the week I heard from the marvelous jazz writer Ira Gitler, who pointed out that Teddy Edwards wasn't the first to record a bebop solo on the tenor sax, as I had posted. That distinction, he notes, belongs to Dexter Gordon, who took bop solos while recording in Billy Eckstine's band in September 1944 for the De Luxe label and while recording with Dizzy Gillespie on Groovin' High and Blue 'n' Boogie in February 1945 for Guild. My original post on Teddy Edwards (May 7, 2008) has been updated to reflect this new information.
Speaking of Teddy Edwards. Bret Primack sent along a link to a YouTube clip of the Gerald Wilson Orchestra that features tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards [pictured]. See for yourself here why this tenor saxophonist was so special.
Bags Meets Wes clip. The sensational Bret Primack also has just completed the edit of his video podcast for Concord Records' release of Bags Meets Wes. The album is available remastered as part of the label's Keepnews Collection series, and the sound is sterling. Bret's conversation with producer Orrin Keepnews is, as always, filled with little-known facts about the making of this strong session. Go here.
Showtime at the Apollo. A reminder: The Jazz Foundation of America's A Great Night in Harlem gala concert at the Apollo Theater on May 29th will feature Bill Cosby, Danny Glover, Randy Weston, Frank Foster, Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, Frank Wess, Hank Jones, Dave Brubeck and many, many others. Proceeds from ticket sales will enable the Jazz Foundation to continue helping jazz musicians in need. Tickets: (212) 245-3999, ext. 28. Seats: $50. Time: 8 pm.
Les Brown riddle solved. Hans Dorrscheidt, a supersharp jazz fan and JazzWax reader in Germany, has solved the "Riddle of the Honey Bun Arranger." On Friday, in my post on five favorite jazz interpretations of stage and screen, I noted that the first track of Les Brown's Dancing to South Pacific appeared to be written by "J. Hiff." Or at least that's how it appears on my CD when I squint at the reproduction of the back cover.
"The arranger you're wondering about is most likely Jay Hill, who played trombone with Les Brown and wrote many a chart for him, too."
Four Rich Brothers—for free! Back on April 29, 2008, I featured 10 favorite Jimmy Giuffre [pictured] arrangements and recordings. One of them was Four Rich Brothers, recorded by Buddy Rich's band of 1948. I find it to be slightly more spirited than the Woody Herman classic recorded months earlier, and it features Giuffre playing (Herman's does not). Thanks to Bruno Leicht of Germany, you can go here and dig the entire track for free. By the way, Bruno hosts a fabulous blog here that's loaded with jazz insights and free music clips.