Waxing & musings. I don't slavishly follow rankings or care one way or the other about charts and standings. I write JazzWax each day because I love the music and history, and want to share both with you. But I was pleased to learn that JazzWax has jumped into the No. 2 position on Invesp's "Jazz Blogs: Ultimate Ranking." Anyone who spends time creating something hopes for an eager audience. And it sure is fun to know that what we all enjoy most about jazz is shared by so many readers worldwide. Now that we have that out of the way, on to our usual round up of jazz bits and pieces.
Carol Sloane. Carol's new CD, We'll Meet Again (Arbors), will be officially released in January. But it is available now at the Arbors Records e-store here. Full disclosure: I wrote the CD's liner notes. But I don't make a dime off sales. I just love Carol's voice. It's warm and knowing, with a no-nonsense, savvy intimacy. The album is a collection of timeless love songs, each of which has special meaning for Carol. Carol is joined by Ken Peplowski on clarinet and tenor sax, Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, Steve LaSpina on bass, with added guests violinist Aaron Weinstein and guitarist Howard Alden. Be sure to catch my interview with Carol here, and you can read her SloaneView blog, here.
Jimmy Cobb and Barbra Streisand. Who backed Barbra Streisand in 1961 when she auditioned at the Village Vanguard? For years, most people assumed that Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams had been on the stage with her that night, largely due to Miles Davis' quote on the topic in his autobiography. To resolve the issue, I reached out to drummer Jimmy Cobb [pictured] by e-mail. Songwriter and lyricist Eleana Cobb, Jimmy's wife, responded:
Al Stewart and Louis Armstrong. During my five-part interview series last week with trumpet great Al Stewart, Ricky Riccardi sent along an e-mail with a fabulous audio clip. Ricky hosts The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong, a Pops tribute blog. Ricky wrote to say that he has posted the recording of When the Saints Go Marching In that Louis and Gene Krupa played together during the Armstrong-Goodman All Stars tour in 1953. You'll find Ricky's blog and free clip here.
Ben Webster. Jazz videomeister Bret Primack interviewed Sonny Rollins, Billy Taylor and others on tenor saxophonist Ben Webster in support of Concord's Centennial Celebration CD series. Dig Sonny on Ben's tone...
Small's, Live. Everyone who hangs out on the web knows this, but for those who don't, Small's, one of New York's coziest and most affordable jazz clubs, streams its gigs live here. Which means if you're in Toronto or Rio or Paris or Stockholm, you can catch the jazz groups playing at Small's live on your computer.
CD Discoveries of the Week. Last week Bob Brookmeyer sent along a copy of Efrat Alony's Dismantling Dreams. Alony is an Israeli singer who resides in Germany. Her voice is a lusty cross between Joni Mitchell's folk wisdom and Amy Winehouse's rolling purr. Alony's voice is highly trained, but what's most fascinating is her original music and lyrics. The style isn't quite jazz but something new and cutting edge, sort of an atonal folk-electronica mash. While I confess you may need to recalibrate your sensibility a bit to fully appreciate what Alony is doing, the journey is well worth it. If you appreciate avant-garde music, her sound grows on you fast. You can learn more about Alony here, listen to clips here and see her latest video here. Dismantling Dreams is available at iTunes and Amazon.
Singer Pamela Luss is out with her fourth CD, Sweet and Saxy. This time she's joined by tenor-sax legend Houston Person. The marriage is a happy one. Luss' voice has a sincere sheen and coy innocence that's stroked strongly by Person's soulful obligatos and phrasing. Luss works through a range of American Songbook standards, ranging from You Better Go Now to Nice 'n' Easy. But she makes the strongest connection on Carole King's It's Too Late. Luss and Person are joined by John di Martino on piano, James Chirillo on guitar, Ray Drummond on bass and Willie Jones III on drums. Sweet and Saxy is available at iTunes and Amazon.
Oddball album cover of the week. Knowing how litigious Artie Shaw was, one can only assume that the art director who designed this cover in 1957 rotted in debtor's prison after the LP came out. Clearly, our dejected hairless chap on the cover isn't Shaw, but Artie's hairline was receding at the time. As for the ephemeral female in a housecoat behind him, I'm not sure whether she's a guest or a ghost. Also unclear is whether our male milquetoast is drinking to remember or forget. Points, though, for marketing to a new demographic: meek males who understood their place and preferred to listen to Artie Shaw and imagine a knockout than ask out a real one.