Bridge Over Falling Water. On Friday morning my wife and I took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's one of New York City's little-known free joys—crossing the East River on the boardwalk-wood planks of this 125-year-old masterpiece. You get to watch the river traffic, catch the breeze and take in the Manhattan skyline.
Now through October, there's another reason to make the trek. Four 90-to-120-foot waterfalls have been installed on the river by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. One cascade is under the bridge's Brooklyn-side tower [pictured] and can be seen
on South St. under the East River Drive (the M15 bus will let you off in a perfect spot). The other three falls can be seen from the footpath on the bridge. They do add a sense of whimsy and visual noise to an otherwise static river image.
Perhaps the most fun of all about the crossing was standing in the exact same spot on the span where this guy crooned a love song to John Roebling's masterpiece 61 years ago.
Sonny Rollins. Video documentarian Bret Primack's latest clip for Concord Records is on Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite. Producer Orrin Keepnews tells how the recording session came to be here. Also, here's another beaut from Bret [pictured] on Bob Cranshaw and the touching story behind his upright bass.
Peggy Lee. Michael Palmer, a JazzWax reader from Australia, sent along this comment:
"Just been re-reading your fine posts on Peggy Lee (The Lost Masters and Fever, the DVD). May I put in a plug for one of my favourite CDs? Not strictly jazz, maybe, but Latin ala Lee! and Olé ala Lee! are on an imported EMI recording (here) and features wonderful singing and great sound. Who could ask for anything more?"
John Coltrane. Over at Jazz.com, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano recently wrote about his 12 favorite John Coltrane tracks. It was gratifying to see The Night Has a Thousand Eyes from Coltrane's Sound (Atlantic) and Vigil, from Kulu Se Mama (Impulse) made Joe's cut. You can access his picks here. Also fun was Alan Kurtz's look at Woody Allen's jazz side here, featuring 12 swingers from the Woodman's flicks. [Photo of John Coltrane by Ted Williams]
Al Haig. JazzWax reader Felix Oliver-Tasker sent along the following e-mail from the UK:
He was supported by Brian Spring on drums, and I forget the name of the bass player. However he moaned all night about the piano, a Steinway specially imported for the gig. It sounded great to me and to the rest of the somewhat bewildered audience many of whom didn’t know what was going on and had turned up because it was Art with capital A and the festival had to be supported come what may.
About four years later I bumped into Al Haig in the 24-hour drug store in London's Piccadilly Circus and introduced myself, saying the last time I had heard him was in Grantham at Coles Cranes Club. Quick as a flash he said, ‘That fuckin’ piano.’
Talk about elephants never forgetting!"
Billy Bauer. Following my post on Billy Bauer, JazzWax reader Don Frese reports that Fresh Sound (Spain) has re-reissued Plectrist (1956), Bauer's fabulous sole studio date as a leader, packaged with Let's Have a Session, which sounds similar to a Music Minus One workshop album. The Fresh Sound CD is available here.
How to print out JazzWax. I frequently hear from readers who want to know how to print out individual pages of JazzWax. Here are the steps:
Option #2. Or...if you're looking for a post from the past, go to the JazzWax search bar and type in the name or subject. Once you've clicked on the item you wanted, follow your standard printing procedure.
Jazz Goes Folk. Over the long weekend I had an opportunity to catch Jazz Goes Folk, a fabulous 30-minute podcast by David Brent Johnson, who hosts WFIU-FM's jazz show, Night Lights. David's podcasts are always a pleasure and an education. This time around, his focus was on a range of jazz artists' folk-themed recordings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Selections included Harold Land and Carmell Jones' Jazz Impressions of Folk Music, John Benton Brooks' Folk Jazz USA and Alabama Concerto, Frances Faye's Sings Folk Songs, Clifford Jordan's These Are My Roots and more. Bravo, David! You can hear David's show here.
New releases. Thanks to the extra day this weekend and pouring rain, I had the spare time I needed to listen to a bunch of new CDs. Here are three worth checking out:
Adam Rudolph—Thought Forms. Recorded live, this CD isn't your typical jazz album. For one, there are no set melodies. For another, Adam uses a self-invented orchestral method by which instrumentalists have the freedom to orbit around specific compositional concepts. But don't be put off. The music is truly fascinating. While the music has a spiritual base, the compositions don't fall into the "moody noise" category. Instead, Adam's music has more of a rhythmic, classical feel. It's truly captivating. I caught a performance of Adam's Go: Organic Orchestra down in SoHo in the spring and was swept away by what they were doing. This album is a symphony that should be performed at Carnegie Hall. You can sample it at iTunes. [Pictured above: One of Adam's unusual conductor scores]
Pamela Luss—Magnet. Released earlier in the year, this CD by vocalist Pamela Luss features a yearning mix of 13 standards and one rock classic (Imagine). All of the choices show off Luss' pearly intonation and dramatic vocal chops that at times reminds me of stage actress Bernadette Peters. Luss is joined by Houston Person on tenor sax, and Freddy Cole is added on No, Not Much. The CD's high point for me is Moon River, which has a Simon & Garfunkel, Scarborough Fair-ish arrangement that plays well off the Mancini-Mercer tune. Luss' voice captures the song's child-like innocence and lyrical homage to wanderlust. All of which made me wonder whether a tribute to Laura Nyro might be next. This CD is available at iTunes.
Ed Reed—The Song Is You. I don't know who Peck Allmond is but he plays a lot of instruments and is a pretty sharp arranger. On vocalist Ed Reed's new CD, Allmond plays trumpet, tenor sax, flutes, cornet and clarinet. This is vocalist Reed's second album—at age 79. His sound is both confessional and confidential—and the result is just raw and unpolished enough to intrigue. Reed's Here's to Life is a fascinating rendition from a hard-knocks guy trying to make up for lost time. As for Allmond, he's done his homework. His playing and scoring have smart touches that harken back to the mid-1950s sessions that put Bethlehem Records on the map. This CD is available at iTunes.