Back in July, I posted about Illinois Jacquet and his sessions for Apollo Records released on CD by Delmark. Last week, Carol Scherick, the late saxophonist's companion, wrote me a lovely note:
"You did a fine job defining Illinois and his early work. Illinois told me that the way he was able to play like his 'buddies' (a list that extended way beyond Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins) was to simply think of how much he loved them. By doing so, he said, he could play like them. Illinois wanted to make a recording to demonstrate this connection between love and music. Unfortunately, the album never came to fruition.
"Today, I use this deep concept as a teaching tool for the saxophonists who have the responsibility of playing Illinois' solos at 'Jacquet's Night,' which closes Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing tribute to Illinois. I also use it at other concert venues honoring Illinois. To alleviate musicians' fear and apprehension, I point out that the task will simply take care of itself, provided they learn the solos and merely concentrate on their love for Illinois and his music.
"A young student from Haiti at Harvard University recently gave an absolutely sensational performance of Flying Home by using this approach."The Illinois Jacquet Performance Space based in a historic chapel next to York College in Queens, N.Y., keeps Illinois' spirit alive with the students. They, too, benefit from the connection Illinois made between the all-powerful force of love and jazz, which I feel is one of the greatest aspect of his legacy.
"Thanks for the great work you do in offering the timeless history of jazz as nourishment for the soul."
Want more JazzWax? To get your August issue of the JazzWax Insider e-newsletter next week, subscribe now for free. Look in the right-hand column toward the top. Simply provide your email address in the box and the issue will arrive by email when sent out next week.
The JazzWax Insider features additional jazz insights, album favorites, movie picks and more. Best of all, it's colorful, short and the type size is nice and big. Did I mention it's free?
Carmen McRae. Back in the 1980s, pianist Billy Taylor was a correspondent for CBS' Sunday Morning. Go here to view a video of Billy interviewing and celebrating Carmen McRae.
Newport police officers honored. For those who caught my Wall Street Journal article on the Newport riot of 1960 as well as my subsequent posts here and here, you'll enjoy this photo of
the four police officers I tracked down for my article. George Wein honored them at the CareFusion Jazz Festival in Newport for helping to restore order and protecting festival-goers 50 years ago. From my perspective, it's great to have a hand in ensuring that all's well that end's well. Pictured, from left, Jack Taylor, William "Cub" Costello, Bob Murphy and Charlie Oxx. [Photo: Jacqueline Marque for the Newport Daily News]
Elmo Hope. This afternoon, Sid Gribetz presents a five-hour radio broadcast celebrating the career of pianist Elmo Hope from 2 to 7 p.m. (EDT). To listen, tune in on your computer from anywhere in the world here.
More sax section. Last week I posted on Bud Shank and the Sax Section and how albums with the words "sax section" in their titles are all superb. Reader Kurt Kolstad reminded me of the Four Freshmen and Five Saxes. And Jeff Darrohn wrote to tell me that the Bud Shank album was actually his inspiration for T Bird '60, which features six saxophones. Jeff actually plays them all and overdubbed the efforts. I reviewed his album here.
CD discoveries of the week: Just released is a terrific concept album by trombonist Conrad Herwig. It's The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock, and the result is a natural interlocking of Hancock compositions and Latin rhythms. Though recorded live at New York's Blue Note, the producer wisely kept ambient noise to a minimum, and the CD sounds as though it had been recorded in a studio.
Each track has been given a smart Latin feel and high-fives Hancock's early Mongo Santamaria roots. Best of all, the tracks are exactly the ones you'd want to hear: Oliloqui Valley, One Finger Snap, Butterfly, The Sorcerer, Maiden Voyage, Cantaloupe Island and Watermelon Man. Herwig and pianist Bill O'Connell share the arranging duties.
Listen for Craig Handy's nifty bass clarinet work on Butterfly and his flute on Maiden Voyage. Or Eddie Palmieri's piano on Cantaloupe Island. Or dig the energy of Watermelon Man.
You'll find The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock (Half Note) at iTunes or here.
If you like bouncy New Orleans honky tonk, take a listen to boogie-woogie pianist Mitch Woods' Gumbo Blues. It hops hard from the first track's opening measures and holds up all the way through, complete with rousing horns and a baseball-bat drumbeat. Ideal for grilling ribs and for sparking outdoor patio dancing over the Labor Day weekend.
You'll find Gumbo Blues (Club 88) at iTunes or here.
Oddball album cover of the week. If you thought the making of lousy records began in the 1960s, you'd be wrong. When Leona Anderson stepped to the microphone in 1957, she was known as "the world's most horrible singer." And she lived up (or down) to her title. Positioned as a novelty, Anderson turned in complete garbage, including Yo Ho the Crow and Rats in My Room. Think aging failed opera singer who refuses to believe the critics and finally gets a shot from a label (Unique) willing to let her warble ditties for a hand-biting laugh and you get the picture. I'm not sure whether the fractured cover image captures the work of an irate consumer or the shrill sound of Anderson's falsetto.