Barbra Streisand. Ross Porter, CEO of JAZZ.FM91 (Toronto), was lucky to be among the 97 people to hear Barbra Streisand's one-night-only jazz performance at New York's Village Vanguard last night. Ross just sent me the following report from his iPhone:
"I have to say, Streisand is one of the great song stylists of all time. Phrasing, intonation, song selection. A true return to her club roots, and material that has transcended generations. In the Wee Small Hours was breathtaking. If she had decided jazz singing was the direction she wanted to pursue, Streisand could have been one of the greats.
"Also in attendance were all three Clintons (with Secret Service), Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb. Jimmy is the last surviving member of the trio that backed her during her infamous audition in 1961 (Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers were the other two)."
Ross also reports that five official video cameras were in place, leaving one to assume that a DVD or TV special is in the works. Streisand's jazz album, Love Is the Answer, will be released on Tuesday. To read Miles Davis' quote on Streisand, go here.
PhotoStory. I started this feature several months ago. Itshowcases my favorite jazz photos and the stories behind the images by the very photographers who took them and were kind enough to share their recollections. Again, just click on the link to reach each PhotoStory.
Eyewitness. From time to time I invite friends to relate a story about the jazz legends they met or historic concerts they attended (or a celebrated singer they kissed). This list is organized by the artist at the heart of the friend's story.
Obits. This list locates in one place all of my salutes to late artists I knew or appreciated.
Mentions. Here's a list of media organizations that have interviewed me or have mentioned JazzWax.
Liner Notes. This is a list of albums for which I have written the liner notes. I do not receive royalty payments from the sales of these albums. I'm just showcasing the albums so readers are aware of what JazzWax is up to.
Featured. I have updated my long list of favored albums that I've written about recently.
Videos. These classics have been updated as well, with a few new ones added.
John Klemmer. Tonight, jazz musician, educator, writer and disc jockey Bill Kirchner will be playing the music of tenor saxophonist John Klemmer. The show will focus on Klemmer's recordings for Cadet and Impulse as well as his work with the Don Ellis band in 1970. The hour-long show airs at 11 p.m. (EDT). You can hear it anywhere in the world here.
The Lighthouse. I just viewed a superb documentary by director Kenneth Koenig on the Lighthouse Cafe, the maternity ward of West Coast jazz in the early 1950s. Interviews with Howard Rumsey, Curtis Counce and many others who talk informatively about the club's rise and significance. You can download the trailer here and purchase the DVD here.
Bill Evans. For years the tape of Bill Evans and his trio performing at the 1971 Grammy Awards was nowhere to be found. Finally, the clip has surfaced. You'll find it at Jan Stevens' Bill Evans Web Pages here. A bit of an off night for Evans, but ya gotta love those pink tuxedo shirts.
Lionel Hampton. Documentarian and keeper of the jazz-video flame Bret Primack interviews author Ashley Kahn, pianist Billy Taylor and others on vibraphonist and bandleader Lionel Hampton in support of Concord Records' Centennial Celebration Hampton release...
Mary Travers. Following my comments last Sunday on the TV media's rather tepid coverage of Mary Travers' death, I received the following e-mail from reader Joel Lewis:
"Nice take on Travers. It's worth noting how disliked Peter, Paul and Mary were by the folk community in the 1960s because they were a put-together group formed by [entrepreneurial folk manager] Albert Grossman. The fact that Peter, Paul and Mary played together for over 45 years (save for the break in the 1970s) says something about the friendship they forged.
"When I recorded a profile on them for a New Jersey Performing Arts Center show, I couldn’t get Sing Out editor Irwin Silber to say anything nice about the group. Despite that, I notice that people (especially women) of a certain age smile when they recall seeing the group.
"Peter, Paul and Mary kept to high standards in their choice of material and never played down to their audiences. It is worth noting that in the movie, A Mighty Wind, which lampoons the commercial side of the folk boom, it is Ian & Sylvia, the Christy Minstrel Singers and the Kingston Trio that are lampooned, not Peter, Paul and Mary.
"The Peter, Paul and Mary box set, Carry It On, which came out a few years back, shows how well the group's music has held up. The tracks hardly sound commercial to 21st century ears. Also amazing is that the group had its biggest hit, Leaving on a Jet Plane, in 1969—a full five years after the Beatles' arrival in the U.S. ended folk’s commercial era."
Al Haig. Grange Rutan, author of Death of a Bebop Wife, an authoritative oral history of her former husband, pianist Al Haig, wrote to let me know that she has copies for sale if they can't be found online. She writes that a check made out in the amount of $34.75 ($28 plus $6.75 for priority mail and tracking) will get U.S. buyers an autographed copy. For more, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CD Discovery of the Week. I dig the baritone saxophone but the instrument can be a tricky listen. Unlike the alto and tenor saxophones, the baritone has a grunting, walrus-y sound that can grow tiresome fast if in the wrong hands. Jazz's best players of the bari horn knew this and took steps to keep their execution energetic and lyrical. Roger Rosenberg's new album, Baritonality, explores the instrument's many personalities with polish and introspection.
Produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Baritonality features mostly originals by Rosenberg, including The 8th Day, a superb cooker. There are two excellent standards here as well, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most and Someone to Watch Over Me. Rosenberg is joined by Mark Soskin on piano, Chip Jackson on bass and Jeff Brillinger on drums, and Rosenberg plays soprano sax and bass clarinet on tracks.
Guitarist Peter Bernstein was added on Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, providing a tender high-end counterpoint to the baritone's submarine lines.
Baritonality is available at iTunes and at Amazon here.
Oddball Album Cover of the Week. The Red Norvo Trio wasn't made up of triplets (though they played them). Nor were they delivered by a stork. In truth, the group featured Norvo on vibes, Tal Farlow on guitar and Charles Mingus on bass. (I guess no one bothered to tell the artist that Mingus was black—or perhaps that was intentional.) Recorded in 1950, this album featured transcriptions of radio performances by the group. I have no idea why the newborn motif was chosen or why the stork looks so put out. At least the trio of tikes is happy.