JazzWax with Marc Myers. Tonight, at 10 pm (EDT), I'll be on the air again with the last of my three radio shows on Jazz.FM91, Canada's leading jazz radio station. What to do: Simply return here at 10 p.m. tonight and click the square "Listen Live" button in the right-hand column. If that doesn't work, go to www.Jazz.fm and click on "listen live" at the top of the station's home page. Try to stay up even for a small piece of it. The show is going to be hot and rare.
Carol Sloane. Thank you readers for all of your lovely e-mails regarding my interview series last week with singer Carol Sloane. The beauty of Carol, in addition to her warm, honey-roasted voice, is her blunt honesty. Ever-graceful, Carol was completely open with me during our conversations, touching on subjects that many of us would have papered over. So thank you, Carol, for being so candid and for sharing all sides of your career, both the ups and the downs.
Honesty allows readers and listeners to fully understand jazz artists and the struggles they endure to create the music we love so much. Artists are by definition enigmas. Only through such conversations can we gain an inkling of what makes them tick. When I thanked Carol last week for her openness, she said in typical Carol Sloane fashion, "Of course. That's me. I don't know any other way." I, for one, am wildly grateful.
CD discovery of the week. Released late last year, Restless Spirits is a highly addictive big band recording featuring the music of Roberto Magris. The album was recorded by the Big Band Ritmo Sinfonica Citta di Verona under the direction of Marco Pasetto.
What makes Restless Spirits so exciting are the Pasetto arrangements that frame the soloists rather than compete with them. The distinctly European orchestral sound on this CD works beautifully behind the cool tenderness of Roberto on Fender Rhodes electric piano and fire of solo trumpeter Massimo Greco.
This isn't your typical contemporary big band album. The orchestra has a sultry marching band sound in places, which keeps your foot moving. Best of all, the score never stops working to catch your attention, gently shaking your shoulder rather than poking you in the chest or cracking you across the face.
Restless Sprits' tracks flow effortlessly from one to the next. You put on the CD and you listen from start to finish. Each composition has a different mood, and each has its own rhythmic hook. Roberto Magris [pictured] is a strong writer and player from Trieste, Italy. His robust compositions transfer neatly to a supersized canvas and never lose their personality. His attack on the electric piano is both collaborative and lone wolf as he weaves in and out of these standout orchestrations.
For more on the Big Band Ritmo-Sinfonica Città di Verona, go here. You'll find Restless Spirits on CD here at a European site. (I'm not sure why it's unavailable at Amazon or other major U.S. retailers.) To read my interview with Roberto last year, go here.
Oddball album cover of the week. I have not heard Here Comes Carole Creveling, which is available on CD only from Japan. The LP was recorded in Los Angeles in 1956 and featured vocalist Creveling on her sole album release backed by the Bill Baker Quartet. I'm not quite sure how the record company landed on this design, but as you can see, there must have been a team of five or more frantic art directors. And the exchanges among them must have gone something like this: "Have her walk along the beach. No, too static—have her stroll on the boardwalk. No, no—put her in the surf. Good, good, in the surf. Perfect. But wait—make it look like she just walked in from the deep, so it works with the title. Wait—the record buyer won't be able to see her face with the blue tint we're using. Don't worry, just create a white circle around her head, like a spotlight. That should do it."