Book news. For some time, I've felt like the proverbial husband enduring an in-law's grilling about the arrival of grandkids. Repeatedly over the past year, readers have sent along loving emails asking, "So? When can we expect a book?"
Well, I'm pleased to announce that I've signed with the University of California Press for a book on jazz history between 1942 and 1972. The manuscript is due in September, a crushingly tight deadline for a 120,000-word book, but I assure you I'm hard at work.
UCAL Press, as the imprint is fondly known, is the country's finest university press. UCAL published Nat Hentoff's At the Jazz Band Ball (June 2010), Horace Silver's Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty, Clora Bryant's Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles and Scott DeVeaux's The Birth of Bebop, easily the finest book on the subject.
I'll keep you posted. Two chapters are completed. I'm now hard at work on Chapter 3.
Nasser can be heard on John Coltrane's Interplay, Phineas Newborn's While My Lady Sleeps, Herbie Mann's Just Wailin' and Lester Young in Paris as well as many other small-group recordings.
Nasser changed his name from George Joyner in the late 1950s following his conversion to Islam. In interviews, Nasser had said that his playing style evolved as a result of his period with Lester Young and Jo Jones in the late 1950s. Nasser was responsible for helping an ill Young return to the U.S. from France just before the saxophonist's death in 1959. For a fine obit of Nasser, go to All About Jazz here.
Here's a clip of Nasser (Joyner) with Lou Donaldson...
Hanna caught the big bands at the tail end of their popularity, adding a controlled flare to bands with complex, hard-driving arrangements. He's the drummer on Maynard Ferguson's Message From Newport (1958), perhaps the trumpeter's most dynamic release for Roulette Records. Hanna also recorded intermittently with Woody Herman in the early 1960s and toured with the band. Hanna's cool heat landed him in the West Coast studios and Merv Griffin's TV orchestra in the 1960s and as a member of Supersax in the 1970s.
Here's a clip of Hanna sent along by reader Peter Sokolowski...
Van Damme's many recordings in the 1950s and 1960s for the Capitol and Columbia labels were big jazz sellers. Many of these recordings became the cornerstone of the "lounge" movement of the 1990s, which revived commercial easy-swing recordings of earlier decades. These albums originally were marketed as soundtracks for fireplace makeout sessions, mixed-drink consumption, and dreaming about larger homes, cars and paychecks. Cocktail Capers and Martini Time are just two LPs by Van Damme from this period.
For a more complete obit, go here to Accordion Weekly News.
Here's my favorite clip of Van Damme in action...
Jimmy Giuffre. Paul Tatara, former film critic for CNN.com and now movie essayist for TCM, has launched a new blog that touches on film, jazz and the arts. His piece on Jimmy Giuffre is here. Dig that snapshot of Giuffre!
Newport '60. Want to hear Gerry Mulligan, Lambert Hendricks and Ross, Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, Dizzy Gillespie and others in 1960 at the Newport Jazz Festival? Have a listen at Wolfgang's Vault here.
Videoclip search. Tired of rummaging around YouTube or DailyMotion trying to find great video clips of favorite artists? Jazz on the Tube is a handy search engine that brings up links to clips after you enter artists' names. Give it a try here.
CD discoveries of the week. I dig Ian Carey. He's a trumpeter with a clean, clear sound who understands that there are listeners at the other end of recordings. On his new album, Contextualizin', you hear Ian's tender sound on the horn and his passion for harmony. Deep down, Ian's a romantic traditionalist, and his reverence for velvet simplicity and heart-touching tones is evident. When the music on this album hits your ear, you want to hear more. It's a strange sensation.
All of the songs on the CD except one (Just Friends) were composed by Ian, and all clearly were were carefully thought through to maximize warmth and gentle urgency. Fortunately, Ian's quintet is of the same mind—Evan Francis (alto sax and flute), Adam Shulman (piano and Fender Rhodes), Fred Randolph (bass) and Jon Arkin (drums).
Sample Tom/Tom or the Ian's ballad Leap Year. Or hear how he wisely turns Just Friends inside out without ever once playing the standard's melody line. I can't take stop playing this CD. Ian's site is here.
You'll find Ian Carey's Contextualizin' (Kabocha) at iTunes or here.
The Trio: Live at Charlie O's is an unusual album. At first blush, you're not certain what you have in your hands. But from the album's first track, Put Your Little Foot Right Out, you realize instantly that you're listening to seasoned pros. And in fact, you are. "The Trio" is made up of veteran West Coast studio musicians, all of whom have major league resumes. Drummer Peter Erskine was with Stan Kenton in the 1970s. Bassist Chuck Berghofer was with Shelly Manne in the late 1950s and 1960s. And pianist Terry Trotter was with Les Brown in the late 1950s and 1960s.
As a result, Live at Charlie O's features confident, vivid statements and spot-on improvisation. Not to mention superb taste. Tracks include Afternoon in Paris, Blood Count and Lament, and solos never exceed their stay or back-pedal to fill space. In fact, The Trio's Lament is one of the prettiest versions of J.J. Johnson's standard that I've heard in some time.
You'll find The Trio: Live at Charlie O's (Fuzzy Music) here.
Oddball album cover of the week. Back in 1958, when this LP was recorded in Los Angeles, the future was viewed as a plucky place of ease and mirth. In the imagined future, jazz musicians would be able to soar freely to heights of weightlessness, even with the heaviest of instruments. And they wouldn't need to bear the burden of oxygen-filled bubble helmets. Amazingly, record company photographers would be able to do all of these things, too.