Pramlatta's Hips, redux. Last week I heard back from trombonist Hal Crook [pictured] on the meaning behind the odd title of his composition Pramlatta's Hips. Hal arranged the song for Herb Pomeroy's band in 1980, when it was recorded live for an album of the same name—and the subject of an earlier post:
"If I recall, back in the mid 1970's, I was reading a book written by a yogi and there was a story in it about this beautiful Indian women named Pramlatta who seduced men and drove them mad with her hips. This suggested to me the sound of the music I had just written for Herb's band. So I called the song Pramlatta's Hips.
"I think the drawing on the cover may be of Betty [Loftin], a jazz singer from Georgia and Herb's wife at the time. She's the Betty from Benny Golson's tune Along Came Betty. When Pramlatta's Hips came out, everyone was very surprised by the cover. It was totally unexpected. Some loved it, some hated it. Sadly, Betty later died, and I remember everyone was shaken by her passing."
What's Hal up to now?
"I'm still having a ball playing and teaching jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. I'm also still writing books for musicians. My last one, Beyond Time and Changes, is a guide to free jazz, and there's a course at Berklee now based on my book.
"In addition, my students are some of the best improvisers in the world, and teaching them keeps me in the woodshed, since they are monsters in the making. Future major voices in jazz include pianists Christian Li and Sharik Hasan, saxophonists Mario Castro and Daniel Rotem, drummers Roberto Giaquinto and Oscar Suchanek , trombonist Ido Meshulam, trumpeter Josh Shpak, bassists Jared Henderson and Young Hoo Kim, guitarists Mike Bono and Alex Baboian.
For more on Hal, go here.
Clifford Brown radio. Right now, at this very moment, WKCR in New York is presenting its annual Clifford Brown Birthday Broadcast. The New York station is playing the music of the trumpeter until midnight tonight. You can tune in on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
Russ Garcia. To celebrate his 95th birthday, Russ Garcia had planned a three-concert U.S. tour in November with vocalists Shaynee Rainbolt and Terese Benecco. But Russ' doctors wouldn't hear of it, and the famed West Coast composer, arranger and conductor decided to remain at home in New Zealand. But the show must go on, as they say. So Shaynee and Terese will host a tribute to Russ at Yoshi’s Oakland on Tuesday (Nov. 1) and at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club on Nov. 6. The New York bash will feature Grammy-winning pianist Billy Stritch.
Anne Phillips. In the wake of my interview with singer Anne Phillips, many readers wrote in asking what she is doing now. Anne is still busy. Her show, Bending Towards the Light…A Jazz Nativity, the Christmas story told through jazz, will celebrate its 26th year at New York's B.B. King Blues Club on Dec. 22. Anne composed, arranged and produced the music. You'll find more here. Anne also sings regularly with her husband, tenor saxophonist Bob Kindred, at Café Loup's Sunday brunch in Greenwich Village in New York. For more information, go here.
Hal Blaine, the famed Wrecking Crew drummer sent along another day-lightener...
CD discoveries of the week. Even if you don't have young kids, Brian Wilson's new CD tribute to Disney movies, In the Key of Disney (Disney Pearl), will hit you like a warm glass of milk. On tracks like Baby Mine, Kiss the Girl, Colors of the Wind, We Belong Together, Stay Awake and When You Wish Upon a Star, Brian gives these songs a good Beach Boys scrubbing, complete with tight harmonies and early '60s touches (dig those Phil Spector castanets, for example, on Kiss the Girl). Most important, Brian's voice has never been better, and his intimate production feel for the material is pure talcum. Baby surf's up! You'll find this one at iTunes or here.
Thomas Dolby arrived from the U.K. in the early '80s at the forefront of the British synth-pop invasion, bringing with him an advanced passion for electronica, technology and originality. His 1982 album The Golden Age of Wireless, which included the hit She Blinded Me With Science, remains a shoulder-pad classic. Now, Dolby picks up where he left off with A Map of the Floating City, a synthesizer collage that reaches back to complete unfinished business and forward to show how the future of music sounds.
Pianist Michael Cain is all by himself on Solo (Native Drum). Or is he? In addition to playing piano, he dubs in electronics and synth beats, and the result is absolutely fascinating. His piano is plenty tasteful. But by adding modern synthesized strings, drums and a range of other processed sounds (including something that sounds like a reel of thick rubber tape being rewound ), the result is an audio winner. He even overdubs himself playing piano for a layered acoustic effect. This is a must own. You'll find this one here. More on Michael Cain here.
You know Jan Stevens who runs the Bill Evans Web Pages? It turns out he plays piano. No, I mean he really plays piano. And arranges and produces. All of these talents are on full display on vocalist Carol Vasquez's I Have Dreamed (CVM). Here, the singer takes on a range of standards, including Bill Evans' Remembering the Rain. Throughout, Jan's chord voicings are smart, framing Vasquez perfectly. Considering how much time Jan spent with Evans in the '70s in New Jersey, a thoughtful approach as an accompanist was bound to rub off. You'll find this one here.
There's hope for jazz, especially as more young musicians like pianist Emmet Cohen come up. On In the Element (BadaBeep), Cohen, with Jeff Sanders on bass and Rodney Green on drums, works through a bunch of ho-hum standards. The real treats, however, are Cohen's originals—Resentment (Without Reason), The Swarm, Just Deserts and In the Element. All push forward with a lyrical aggression, allowing a glimpse into the souls of all three accomplished musicians. You'll find this one here. More on Emmet Cohen here.
Oddball album cover of the week. Red Norvo probably takes the cake for more oddball album covers than any other jazz artist. Here, in advance of Halloween, Red checks to see if his horns are showing before grabbing his crimson cape, pitchfork and mallets.