Gene Krupa. If you're around your computer today (Sunday), you're in for a treat. Radio disc jockey Sid Gribetz is presenting a five-hour radio retrospective of drummer Gene Krupa on New York's WKCR from 2 to 7 pm (EST). Again—that's five hours of Krupa! All you have to do is go here and listen live. [Photo of Krupa in 1937 by Rex Hardy Jr. for Life]
Shelly Manne. Following my Friday post on Shelly Manne & His Men at the Black Hawk, comments from readers and Manne fans poured in. It's gratifying to know that the drummer is still appreciated and has such a large following.
From Charles Landy:
From Bruce Armstrong:
"You were right to recommend Vol. 1 as the starter. Over the years, whenever a fellow musician would tell me that West Coast jazz could not compare to East Coast hard bop, I would play a couple of cuts off Vol. 1, like Our Delight or Poinciana, my personal favorite. They were usually converted immediately.
"On several occasions I had the opportunity to talk with Shelly while I was at the Manne-Hole. I was just a college student then and totally unknown to Shelly. But he had the very nice manner of always treating me and my friends as equals, as though we were fellow “A- list studio players that he saw every day. There was never any talking down to us. A great guy, as well as one of the most musical drummers who ever lived. The day I received the news that he had died it felt like I had lost a member of my family.
"Thanks again for a great tribute to a great group of musicians!"
From Brian Sheridan:
From James Wardrop:
"Boy, you really hit me in the heart today with this one. I have been collecting recordings since the late 1950s. To this day, Vol. 1 is probably the one record I have played most over the years. I never heard Manne in person. Fortunately he was blessed with great engineering during his recording career, and your comment on his brushes was on the money."
From Dave James in Portland, Ore.:
"Without question, this is among the finest, if not the finest example of live recorded jazz extant. No one drives a band like Shelly Manne, and, as you point out, he does so very subtly. No drum solos, no bombast, no look at me; he manages to be in the background and the foreground all at the same time.
"I've long thought that Victor Feldman [pictured] is what makes this set so special. Russ Freeman was no slouch, but there's something about the way Feldman comps and solos that really makes it tick. His approach to piano was so percussive (after all did get his start on the drums) that with his preference for locked hand chording, it almost feels at times like there are two drummers on board, not one.
"Whatever is behind what this group brings to the table, it's pure magic. We just need to thank our lucky stars that Manne had the presence of mind to recognize that what was occurring at the Black Hawk that weekend was special and that it needed to be heard.
From Bill Forbes in Manchester, England:
"I'm pleased to report that these great albums are not 'largely forgotten and vastly under-appreciated,' at least not with members of the Organissimo jazz discussion forum! They get frequent mentions and always very positive ones. For me, the greatest highlights are Victor Feldman's piano solos. I'm not normally given to national pride, but I regard Victor as one of Britain's greatest exports!
"I read somewhere that Cannonball Adderley [pictured], before hiring Feldman, played Victor's Black Hawk piano work to members of his quintet, before asking if they would play with him. Only after receiving a very definite "yes" did he reveal the pianist's identity and unexpected background! I saw Victor play once—on vibes at Ronnie Scott's Club in London during a return home for Christmas in 1959. Deservedly, he was treated like a returning hero!"
When Shorty split Kenton. In my Shelly Manne post, I mentioned that Shorty Rogers left Kenton in 1953 along with a substantial number of Kenton bandmembers to record as Shorty's Giants. [Photo of Rogers and Manne at Manne's California ranch in 1954 by Loomis Dean for Life]
Trumpeter Jeff Helgesen, host of several trumpeter tribute pages, sent along this account from a Rogers box set with notes by Joop Visser (who cites Ted Gioia's West Coast Jazz and Robert Gordon's Jazz West Coast as his references):
"Cool and Crazy was to be a big band session, and Shorty remembered the gestation like this: 'I got the chance to do this album and I wanted to do it with a big band. And although it's been done many times since ... at that time it either hadn't been done or had been done only a few times ... for a band that wasn't an established traveling band to go in and cut a big band album.
"So I got a chance to do the gig and the majority of players I wanted to use were in Kenton's band. So I called Stan and said I wanted to come over ... and I said 'I have this chance to do this album, and I want to use this guy and that guy,' and about 70 or 80 percent of them were in his band, and I told Stan, I didn't want to be raiding his band, and I said, 'Stan, how do you feel about it?'
"' 'Go for it,' he said, 'Whatever I can do to help, you have my blessings.' And it was just that kind of wonderful attitude, a giving attitude, that he had helped me and made me feel right about using those guys."
Tragic passing. JazzWax reader John Herr informed me on Friday that guitarist Coleman Mellet (husband of singer Jeanie Bryson) and saxophonist Gerry Niewood [pictured] were both killed in Thursday's plane crash in Buffalo, N.Y. Once again we're reminded just how random and fleeting life is, and why we have to value each day. JazzWax and its readers extend deepest sympathies to Jeanie and her family, and the Niewood family. [Photo by John Herr]
Jason Crane of The Jazz Session, a superb blog that features podcast interviews with jazz artists, sent along the following:
"I'm very saddened by the loss of one of my favorites, Gerry Niewood. I've got a small remembrance of him up at The Jazz Session. I interviewed his son Adam last year. Adam talks about Gerry quite a bit in the interview."
JazzWax in Malaysia. I'm constantly reminded how small the world is on the Internet—and how much we jazz lovers have in common, from country to country. Last week I received a lovely note from Lee Chong Chee, the house bassist at the G Spot Lounge (not what you think) in the trendy G Hotel [pictured] in Penang, Malaysia. Chong Chee says he reads JazzWax daily: "Your interviews are very valuable because they're living history!"
Chong Chee joins JazzWax's ever-growing community of global readers in Canada, England, Brazil, Japan, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and so many other countries. No matter how far apart we are, JazzWax readers are united by great taste and a passion for the art form and the legends who made and make this music possible.
Protect your iTunes (Pt. 2). Following my post on Thursday on how to protect your iTunes music library, I heard from many readers who were facing the same overload problem.
I also received a note of praise from jazz critic Will Friedwald, who reminded me I had left out two valuable tips.
To maximize space on an Apple computer (PC folks, call your computer company), first make sure the music ripped from your CDs is imported in the compressed AAC format, not AIFF. Then convert your existing AIFF files to the AAC format to make more room on your internal or external hard drive.
Of course, before you do anything, it's important to call AppleCare or stop in at an Apple Store to confirm all advice relayed by me.
In short, AAC is a much smaller file and takes up a lot less space on your hard drive. Think envelope v. steamer trunk. Rather than bore you with what these formats mean, let me just tell you how to do both on an Apple computer:
To ensure future CD imports ("rips") are in the AAC format...
1. Open iTunes.
2. Under "iTunes" in the menu bar, go to preferences.
3. Under the "General" tab (the first one), click on the "Import Settings..." button (it's toward the bottom, to the right of "When you insert a CD").
4. Change the "Import Using" drop-down menu to "AAC Encoder." Then adjust your "Setting" drop-down menu. I have mine set to "High Quality."
5. Click the "OK" button, and the second one on the Preferences box.
To convert your existing AIFF music files to AAC...
1. Go to your master iTunes library list. That's the top choice ("Music") under "Library" in the left-hand column of the iTunes application panel.
2. See the tabs across the gray strip at the top of your music library? (For example, "Name," "Time," "Artist," etc.) Place your cursor on any one of the tabs (the "Albums by Artist" tab, for example).
3. On a Mac, Hold down the control key ("ctrl" on your keyboard, three to the left of the space bar). Click once.
4. A pop-up menu should appear. Slide your cursor down to "Kind" and let go. This will expose what kind of format your songs are in.
5. A new column to the right will appear labeled "Kind." Look down the list, and you'll see the different formats for each song.
6. Look for an AIFF file.
7. When you've located one, highlight the entire row by clicking once.
8. Go up to the menu at the top of the screen. Under "Advanced," select "Create AAC Version." The conversion process will begin. This will create a duplicate of the file you selected in the AAC format.
9. After the AAC version has been created, double click to be sure it plays. Then send the older AIFF version to the trash.
10. You will have to re-populate your artist folder with the AAC track. That's because when you trash tracks in your master library, they also are removed from the folders you created.
11. Repeat the process above for your AIFF files.
Again, be sure to call AppleCare to see what you might be giving up by making changes. Personally, I cannot notice a difference on my system in audio quality from one iTunes format to the next. But be sure you're fully schooled before you swing.
Also, a caveat from reader Oran Kelley:
"On trashing those AIFFs: your readers might want to consider getting an external HD and keeping them. AIFF is a lossless format and can be converted to any other lossy format later. In other words, it's like having the CD on the drive.
HD space is cheap these days, and while you probably don't want these hogging up your bootdrive space, they may end up being a good backup.
Another option would be to convert the AIFFs to Apple Lossless, which takes up half the space and is still an exact copy of the music on the CD. AAC is a fine format for everyday use, but fanatics may want the reassurance of a lossless backup."
Gary Bartz on Miles Davis. The Jazz Video Guy Bret Primack has posted another revealing legend interview, this time with saxophonist Gary Bartz, who reflects on Miles Davis.
Reader John Cooper was inspired to reach back to Gil and Miles' earlier collaboration, the "Birth of the Cool" sessions, and share insights into the origins of Moon Dreams:
CD discovery of the week. Take a listen to Saltman Knowles' new album, Return of the Composer. I wasn't familiar with this Washington, D.C. group—formed by bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles. And as readers know, I don't tend to go for too many current releases, mainly because so much sounds the same today, and passion and emotion seem to be in short supply.
But this CD is different. There's a special depth and poetry here, especially with the penetrating voice and vocalese of Lori Williams Chisholm [pictured]. Think Jean Carne, Flora Purim and Miriam Makeba. Chisholm's wordless vocals manage to be carefree and urgent. Throughout the album, Chisholm uses her voice like a clarinet and flute, surfing the tricky melodies written by Saltman and Knowles, delivering a rich, soulful energy.
There's a fusion feel to this album, but with samba overtones, which is probably why I like it so much. And the other musicians—Alvin Trask (trumpet), Rob Landham (alto sax) and Jimmy Junebug Jackson (drums)—are solid. Every note has meaning.
I actually came upon the album by accident and fell in love with it—and Chisholm's voice—immediately. Listen to tracks here and learn more about Chisholm here. I see that Return of the Composer is now available as a download at iTunes.
Torrie Zito. Following my recent interview series with Helen Merrill, reader Kurt Kolstad sent along a terrific clip of Helen's husband, pianist and arranger Torrie Zito, performing with Tony Bennett. Dig it here.