"I was thinking about your blog post about how kids are not being introduced to jazz. And I wanted to bring up another issue. I don't have any women friends who are into jazz. Not one. All of the people I know who are into jazz are men. So while many lament that the average age of jazz aficionados is escalating along with those who appreciate opera and classical, the last two forms of music actually attract a large percentage of chicks. Jazz? Not so much."
Pam is right, of course. Part of the reason, I suppose, is that a vast majority of jazz players were and are male. As a result, the music has a firmer connection with men for a range of psychological reasons that likely have to do with ego and id. Like sports, jazz has long been an expression of male independence, the struggle for identity, a yearning for success, and a triumph over other males. Or some such.
As for Pam's other point—why classical music and opera have so many female fans while jazz seems to have far fewer—that certainly is baffling. One can only attribute this to the gentle, tranquil, qualities associated with classical music and the way the music makes women feel compared with jazz, which is less about seduction and drama, and more about hunting and gathering. Or some such.
Playing with Ray. As part of Bret Primack's continuing series of video podcasts for Concord Records in support of the label's release of six remastered Ray Charles albums, here's what musicians who played with Charles felt about the experience...
Bill Evans. Today would have been Bill Evans' 80th birthday. To honor the pianist who died in September 1980, Jan Stevens has opened a page at his Bill Evans Web Pages to feature comments by readers on Evans and his contribution to jazz and listeners' hearts.
CD Discovery of the week: If you want to hear some warm, exciting bass playing, dig John Goldsby. Last week John e-mailed me from Cologne, Germany, where he lives, to let me know that his new album, Space for the Bass, is out. I gave a listen to a few samples and downloaded the album immediately.
What's most remarkable about the album is the sound of John's bass, It's full and confident, and John delivers a big, round rubbery snap that appeals to the jazz ear. And John's arco bass playing (bow on strings) is equally captivating. There's a studied precision about John's playing, but unlike many bass players today, John isn't just technically masterful. He's also "well read," meaning he knows his jazz bass history, and you can hear it in everything he plays.
Take Moose the Mooche, for example. The Charlie Parker standard from 1946 is given an unorthodox intro before John swings the group into sharp focus. He uses lines that demonstrate a full understanding what Vic McMillan, the song's original bassist, was up to. Or dig John's unaccompanied bass intro to Eighteen Years. Or his lines on my favorite track, You Stepped Out of a Dream, on which he's accompanied only by drummer Hans Dekker's wispy brushes. Gorgeous stuff.
It's rare that a bass player can dominate an album this definitively and hold your attention throughout. We tend to think of the bass as a back-office timekeeper that every so often is given a solo role out of pity rather than necessity. Here, John transforms the bass into an instrument with as seductive and as worthy a lead jazz voice as the saxophone or trumpet.
John was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He played piano, guitar, and electric bass before taking up the double bass at age 18. Since 1994, has been a member of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Big Band (the Cologne Radio Big Band). Between 1980 and 1994, John lived in New York City and performed at venues ranging from clubs to Carnegie Hall.
John is joined on his new album by Francesco Cafiso (alto sax on Clockwise, Moose the Mooche and Eighteen Years), Karolina Strassmayer [pictured] (alto sax on Blue Dahlia, Pumpkin's Delight, Angelica, Forgotten But Not and Redpost), Martin Sasse (piano on all tracks except You Stepped Out of a Dream), and Hans Dekker (drums on all tracks except Alone Together, Clockwise, Moose the Mooche and Eighteen Years).
Oddball album cover of the week. Vik Records was started in 1953 by RCA Victor. Recorded in 1956, this Vik album was co-led by Joe Newman and Frank Wess, both of whom are on the cover. They were accompanied by Hank Jones, Freddie Green, Barry Galbraith, Eddie Jones and Osie Johnson. The session was arranged by Ernie Wilkins. An inventive and humorous cover but odd just the same. The wee Newman and Wess were lucky Osie didn't drop his sticks.
Favorite video of the week. This weekend marks the anniversary of Woodstock. Go here to view this lovely clip. When the page opens, click the arrow. You'll get redirected. Put up with the ad for a moment. It's worth it. Trust me.