JazzWax improvements! As you may have noticed, several new convenient features have been added to this blog in response to readers' requests. Let me explain what's new and how each one can enhance your JazzWax experience:
1. Search: Wondering whether I've written about a specific album or artist? Recall reading a post over the past year but aren't sure when it ran? Now just type the words into the search bar at the top of the right-hand column and hit the "return" button." Up will come what you're looking for. A special thanks to Christine, who suggested this feature.
To sign up for the handy "feed reader," click the first button under "Subscribe for free" in the right-hand margin. Then just follow the instructions. Linked headlines will appear each day on your search engine's home page.
3. Recent posts: I've added a list of links to the most recent posts. This way, if you miss a day or more, you instantly can see the last series of posts, in order. Just click on the headline to view.
4. Comment alerts: For those who post comments, you'll love this one. Now you will be alerted by email when another reader posts a comment in response. You activate this feature by subscribing to the "comment feed" inside the comment zone. For example, if you click on "comment" under a post, you'll see text that says: "You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post." Just click on the blue link to sign up for an alert.
5. JazzWax Interviews: All of the interviews that I have conducted with jazz legends and personalities are listed in the right-hand margin. Simply click on the name, and you'll be at the first page. To see the next page in a mulit-part interview, go to the top of the post and click on the "Part 2" link, etc.
6. Favicon: In a day or so, you will notice a new icon at the start of the JazzWax URL. A favicon is a tiny image next to a URL in your browser that personalizes the site. I added a favicon because many people bookmark this blog (meaning, they drag it into the bookmark column on the left-hand side of their browser for easy, one-click access). A favicon makes it easier for you to spot the JazzWax link in your bookmarks.
That's it for now. More coming. As always, if anything at the blog is frustrating or you have ideas to make the information easier to access, send along an email and I'll address them.
A big thanks to Chris, Jen and the entire team at SixApart for implementing these changes. By the way, if you're interested in starting a blog or want to learn more about the company that hosts my blog, go here. SixApart is the web's leading provider of blog tools and services, and the folks who work there are superb.
"Your Sarah Vaughan column reminded me of a funny thing that happened at a rehearsal with her in the mid-1980s. I was one of five saxophonists hired by the North Carolina Symphony to play on some symphonic-type charts behind her. The gig was a fundraiser and donor-appreciation type of event for the Symphony—a plush affair at a hotel in Chapel Hill.
The saxes were seated up front, with the Symphony in a semi-circle behind us, and Miss Vaughan's rhythm section in front of us. When I looked up from my music stand, there was Andy Simpkins on bass right in front of me and Harold Jones on drums to his right. It was the best seat in the house.
At the rehearsal, we were playing Misty, I think, and there was an abrupt key change at the end of a chorus—no modulation. Miss Vaughan sailed right through it in the original key and immediately broke out in laughter. No big deal. The conductor simply had everyone back up a few bars and start again. This time she nailed it. A most professional attitude and recovery.
But don't think I'm the kind of saxophone player who routinely hangs out in her kind of company. I just got lucky. All the other cats were busy, so I got the call."
"Robbins' Nest actually was written by Sir Charles Thompson with help from Joe Newman. Illinois Jacquet and his combo made the song famous. Milestones (1947) was a gift to Miles from John Lewis [pictured], who played piano on the date. I had heard that John really wrote it (vibraphonist Teddy Charles may have been the one who first hunched me to that), and the tune certainly sounded like something John would have written. In later years, I asked John directly, and he confirmed it. But I think Miles really did write Sippin' at Bell's, one of his few.
As for the pronunciation of Ike Quebec's last name, I believe it was Kwuh-bec or, as some people used to say it, Kwee-bec. Long story short, it's pronounced like the Canadian city."
I have updated the posts so that they now incorporate Ira's points. For more on Robbins' Nest and to read dozens of fabulous oral histories with jazz legends, pick up Ira's book, Swing to Bop here.
"To show how versatile a musician BB was in his recording days, listen to the Bobby Hackett and Jack Teagarden Jazz Ultimate (very aptly named as it is a wonderful recording) and also the Rex Stewart and Cootie Williams album, The Big Challenge."
New guitar e-zine. Modern Acoustic, a new, free online magazine written by Boston-based Rich Kassirer is up and running. You can download a copy here.
Jo Stafford swings Broadway. One of my all-time favorite vocal albums is Jo Stafford's Swinging Down Broadway (1958). It seems the album is someone else's favorite as well. Two tracks from the album, Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe and How High the Moon, have been posted at YouTube.
Listen to Jo mimic the trombones on the beginning of Happiness. And listen carefully to what she does on Moon, bending notes and changing keys, especially at the end with the bongos running behind her. This is Paul Weston at his 12-cylinder best, with Jo completely in the groove.
Art Van Damme. While listening to Jo Stafford, another YouTube clip caught my eye. To my amazement, there was Art Van Damme, one of my favorite jazz accordionists. Michigan-born Van Damme recorded extensively in the 1940s and in the 1950s as cocktail music—or what we now call "lounge." But Van Damme always could swing, as evidenced by his working over of Gone With the Wind here at a concert not long ago in Paris, perhaps. I've added this clip to the "Videos" section on the right for handy access in the future.