Waxing & musings. Many jazz legends do not know how to use a computer. A good number don't even own one. That's not a big shocker, but it is a shame. As jazz artists from the 1950s age, many are completely unaware that their fan base has expanded worldwide and that they have tens of thousands of acolytes online. What's more, many jazz legends probably are unaware of studies that show that computer-use forces the brain to think and actually keeps the mind active and slows the onset of dementia.
As you can see from the links under "JazzWax Interviews" in the right-hand column of this site, my total number of conversations with jazz artists now exceeds 100. About 20% of these artists do not own a Mac or a PC. Hence, I often must read my interview posts to them (which I'm not complaining about, since it's a lot of fun to do so given their appreciation). Or I print out a copy and send it along by snail mail. My goal in both cases is a courtesy and to ensure that these interviews are 100% accurate.
Many jazz artists of the 1950s never made the leap to computer technology in the 1990s. Early on, learning to use a computer was too time consuming and even more frustrating when calls were necessary to fix problems. All of which was too stressful and detracted from their playing and composing time. But today, a new Mac makes the Internet and e-mails as easy as the microwave oven.
So who should break the news to aging jazz artists? Their sons, daughters and grandchildren. By bringing these jazz legends up to speed on computers, they will be able to experience the adulation that's out there and remain vital and vibrant during their downtime. It certainly beats hours in front of the television.
JazzWax on Mercer. The last time Bret Primack was in New York, we sat down and talked on-camera about Johnny Mercer for Bret's latest podcast on behalf of Concord Records' Centennial Celebration release of a Mercer collection. Here's the result (and it's also now embedded in the right-hand column under "JazzWax Mentions")...
Scaling a staircase. There is no greater challenge than to make what's hard fun and more inviting. Especially if you can add a Spring Is Here to your step. Singer Carol Sloane (whose blog SloaneView is a must-read) sent along the following riotous clip...
Morris Nanton (1929-2009), a soul-jazz pianist who performed steadily in New Jersey and whose style could be deceptively simple until he began building lyrical idea clusters, died November 15th. He was 80.
I was unaware of Nanton until JazzWax reader Grange Rutan (the former Mrs. Al Haig) sent along an e-mail last week alerting me of his death. For more on Nanton, go here. Meanwhile, I'll let Nanton's playing tell the rest of his story...
Newk Meets Hawk. Another fabulous video interview by Bret Primack on Sonny Rollins' impressions of Coleman Hawkins, the importance of the tenor saxophonist, and recollections of playing with him on the 1963 album, Sonny Meets Hawk! There also is exceptional archival footage here...
Jay Corre. Tonight (Sunday) at 11 p.m. (EST), Jazz From the Archives host Bill Kirchner will showcase tenor saxophonist Jay Corre. In the mid-1960s Corre was the most frequently featured soloist in drummer Buddy Rich's big band. Bill will feature Corre on several albums with the Rich band, and on a recent trio recording. Go here at the appropriate time to listen anywhere in the world.
CD discoveries of the week. One of the most peaceful and enriching albums I've heard so far this pre-holiday season is Ike Sturm's JazzMass. Bassist Sturm composed and arranged a suite for voices, strings and a jazz ensemble that is sweeping and uplifting.
Sturm, of course, is the music director for the Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter's Church in New York. I don't usually go for jazz albums with religious themes, since in many cases they tend to be less about jazz and more on adulation. But here, Sturm artfully finds a balance by using the pure joy and spirit of religion as a platform to present some very exciting jazz. I'm going to dig this one especially when the snow starts to fall outside my window.
JazzMass is available at iTunes as a download or on CD here. Sample it at iTunes and see what you think.
Another album with religious overtones that made me sit up and take notice this week is Tommy T's The Prester John Sessions. Prester John was a character in a series of stories told between the 12th and 17th centuries involving a king and lost nation. Go here for more.
Bassist Tommy T. Gobena pulls together the funky rhythms and riffs of contemporary Ethiopian music, creating an enormously exciting, electrifying result. To the uninitiated ear, the music has a Jamaican ska and reggae flavor. Which makes complete sense given the connection between the two countries through the Rastafari movement.
Here, Gobena artfully bring together the electric bass, Hammond B-3 organ, electric guitar and riffing horns, all with a potent beat. This is one seriously exciting album for those interested in hearing how global influences are shaping the music made here.
Tommy T.'s The Prester John Sessions can be found as a download at iTunes and on CD here.
Oddball album cover of the week. First, this is indeed cellist Fred Katz of Chico Hamilton Quintet fame. What's more, this 1958 album for Decca features jazz greats Don Fagerquist on trumpet and Leroy Vinnegar on bass. Tracks include Feeling the Blues, To Blow Is to Know, Imagination, Old Folks, Vintage Fifty-Seven and Ruby My Dear. I have not heard the album, but given Katz's studious downward gaze, the notes must have been scrawled on the lined sleeve of his pa-"jammers."