Waxing & musings. Twitter is so yesterday. The latest online network blogging site is Tumblr.com. Signing up is fast and free. It takes about 10 seconds. Once you're logged in, you can post immediately to your page. You can write. Or you can re-post anything you've read, seen or heard on the web or at Tumblr with just a few clicks. The more interesting your posts, the more you're likely you'll be "followed" or read or re-posted by other Tumblr users.
For the past two weeks, thanks to Fred Seibert, I've been fooling around on Tumblr (you'll find me at jazzwax.tumblr.com). I'm not cheating on you. What I'm doing is simply posting lots of images—jazz album covers, bossa nova album covers, Latin-jazz album covers, photos of pop and jazz stars and anything else I find that's graphically interesting to share with you.
Best of all, I post these images in spurts all day long. Think of it as a JazzWax corkboard on which I tack up images that I think you'll find fun to look at. Or a continuously updated JazzWax slide show. Either way, it's the wordless, visual version of JazzWax. See for yourself! It's very cool.
You a jazz musician? Want to tour with the State Department? Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC ) and The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs are collaborating for the fifth year on The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad. JALC is now accepting band applications for the 2009-2010 program. The application deadline is August 10, 2009. You can download an application here. For more information: Call 212-258-9899. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
Jimmy Rowles. In response to last week's post featuring lyricist Cheryl Ernst Wells' memories of her collaboration with pianist Jimmy Rowles on Looking Back, Stephanie Rowles, one of Jimmy's daughters, sent along the following comment:
Ray Charles. Jazz Video Guy Bret Primack has posted another in a series of video documentaries in support of Concord's reissue of Ray Charles' albums, this time Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music...
Gerry Niewood. When I had lunch with jazz musician and writer Bill Kirchner last week, I asked Bill what he played during his one-hour radio show in tribute to saxophonist Gerry Niewood [pictured], who died in an air crash back in February. [Photo by John Herr]
Bill sent along the play list. Here's some of what Bill played:
Floating—on The Chuck Mangione Quartet (1972)
St. Thomas—on Chuck Mangione's Alive! (1972)
Anyo—on Gerry Niewood and Timepiece (1976)
Joy—on Gerry Niewood and Timepiece (1976)
Manhattan Bittersweet/Snow—on Gerry Niewood and Timepiece (1976)
Sea Change—on Randy Sandke's Awakening (1988)
Jack Nimitz (1930-2009). Last week, Jack Nimitz died. The big band baritone saxophonist was 79. Doug Ramsey wrote a superb and touching obit and tribute here.
Charlie Mariano (1924-2009). Alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano, who in the 1950s seemed to get all of the West Coast recording dates Art Pepper couldn't make, died on Tuesday. For obits and tributes, go here.
Bill Evans. Are you a 1960s Bill Evans fan or a 1970s acolyte? There are two camps, and they're often at odds over which period is more moving. I for one find myself squarely in the former. Ted Gioia of Jazz.com is of the same mind. Last week, he posted on the two periods:
"The later works are jittery and aloof, at times almost savage in their undermining of any vestiges of sentimentality. One might even conclude that Bill Evans no longer liked playing ballads in 1980. Time and time again, he pushes at the tempo, and can’t wait to double up the pulse."
That's some fine writin'. Go here to read the full post. And speaking of late-period Evans, Turn Out the Stars: The Final Village Vanguard Recordings, June 1980 box, which was out of print for a while, is back, this time from Nonesuch Records here. Like Ted, I was never a big fan of the set. Evans' anger and stormy frustration is way too evident and disconcerting. But there are a handful of tender moments.
Rare CDs. If you're looking for rare out-of-print CDs, a new site offers an impressive mix. I can't vouch for the prices at Tommy's Jazz vs. those offered by Amazon's independent sellers, but it's worth a look here.
CD Discovery of the Week. Assemble a clutch of seasoned pros and eight tasteful tunes, and you wind up with a CD bristling with smart twists and turns. On Mutual Admiration Society 2, vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist David Hazeltine are joined by bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Billy Drummond, and the result is a solid reunion of sorts. The last time this ensemble recorded together was in 1998. Since then, of course, all of the artists here have flourished separately. On this album, Locke and Hazeltine evoke Blue Note's late 1960s pre-fusion acoustic period, and the modal mood works beautifully.
I especially enjoyed Hazeltine's One for Reedy Ree, written for the late jazz drummer Tony Reedus, and Locke's Convocation. There's an elevated intelligence and simmering seduction to the combination of Locke's [pictured] ice-cool vibes and Hazeltine's warmth on the keyboard. Both Locke and Hazeltine [pictured below] are pinpoint listeners, so they wind up stalking each other's ideas, producing a groove that gently embraces intensity without overdoing it.
The two standards also were smart choices: I can't recall the last time I heard Jimmy Rowles' The Peacocks played so hauntingly. The other offbeat standard is Stevie Wonder's If It's Magic, which twists and turns throughout, lifting the tune out of its pop idiom.
Another great package from producer Marc Edelman. You'll find Mutual Admiration Society 2 (Sharp Nine) as a download at iTunes and Amazon, or here as a CD.
Oddball Album Cover of the Week. This Art Tatum album for Norman Granz's Clef Records was recorded in April 1954. The cover design pre-dates DayGlo paints and makes Tatum look seasick or covered in the stuff they used to coat Timex watch dials to make them visible in the dark. The art direction certainly holds your attention, like a car accident, even if the depiction of Tatum is less than flattering.