In this weekend's "Review" section of The Wall Street Journal (or go here), I resolve the age-old question: Why does the James Bond Theme make guys feel more guy-ly? What is it about the song—with its sneaky bass line, machine-gun guitar solo, and swinging brass—that makes it catnip for men of all ages?
Route 66. Last week I posted on "Goodnight Sweet Blues," a 1961 episode of TV's Route 66, featuring Ethel Waters, Coleman Hawkins, Jo Jones and Roy Eldridge. A handful of observations:
1. In 1961, to show such natural, loving harmony between blacks and whites on TV must have been a radical concept. One can only imagine the sponsor push-back and audience reaction after the episode aired.
2. Actor George Maharis walks into a club and rudely starts yellling out to Coleman Hawkins while he was playing. A tad odd. Lucky he didn't get a chair broken over his head.
3. Traveling all over the country in just a week to round up jazz musicians in 1961 was indeed costly. The only way to do it was to fly, and jet travel then wasn't cheap. The show must have decided to have the main characters do this rather than locate the players in one city in an effort to attract airline ad dollars.
Curious about the guitarist and trombonist in the episode? Bill Kirchner sent along links to information on Bill Gunn (the actor who played the guitarist) and Juano Hernández (the actor who played the trombonist).
Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson radio. On Sunday, my boy "Symphony" Sid Gribetz presents a five-hour special radio broadcast celebrating saxophonist Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson [pictured above] from 2 to 7p.m. on WKCR in New York. Tune in from anywhere in the world on your computer by going here. Sid's shows are all-reet and complete.
Hal McKusick remembered. On Monday, a memorial will be held for Hal McKusick at 7 p.m. at Saint Peter's Church in New York (619 Lexington Ave. at 54th St.). The saxophonist died in April. There will be performances and speakers.
Happy birthday George Wein! Next Wednesday is Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein's 87th birthday. If you're in New York on October 10, George will be joining Vince Giordano and Catherine Russell at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on 68th St. between Park and Lexington Avenues. The concerts starts at 7:15 p.m.
Other members of the band include Randy Sandke (trumpet), John Allred (trombone), Mark Lopeman (reeds), Ken Salvo (guitar/banjo), Mark Shane (piano) and Arnie Kinsella (drums).
Tickets are $35 ($10 for students). For more informaton, call (212) 772-4448 or go here.
Andy Williams (1927-2012), a Midwestern singer with a honey-coated pitch-perfect voice who was dismissed by many urban music listeners as too square but adored by the rest of the country, died September 25. He was 84.
Dashing and mellow, Williams was perfectly cast for television in the 1960s and '70s, using his warm appeal to host variety shows and Christmas specials. Between 1956 and 1976, he had 47 Billboard Hot 100 hits.
Unknown to many people today, Williams was just one of four brothers who could sing equally well—though the others lacked Andy's charisma and quick wit. Here's my favorite clip of the four Williams brothers harmonizing during one of Andy Williams' many holiday TV specials...
Jose Curbelo (1917-2012), a Cuban pianist, bandleader and manager who specialized in the mambo and cha-cha-cha, died on September 21 in Miami. He was 95. When I was a kid growing up in New York, my introduction to Latin music came when I heard Curbelo's Americanized Cha Cha in Blue pouring out of a Latin record store in the Times Square subway station. Fortunately, this gem was up at YouTube...
Zoot Fest honors Zoot Sims and Al Cohn to benefit the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection and COTA CampJazz. Performing guests include Phil Woods, Bob Dorough, Bill Crow, Harry Allen, Dave Liebman, Joe Cohn, Rick Chamberlain, the COTA Festival Orchestra and others.
And by the way, if you dig Al and Zoot, subscribe to The Note edited by Bob Bush. It's a terrific publication. For more information, go here (and scroll down).
Pauly Cohen. As Examiner.com reports, Bret Primack is hard at work taping and editing his documentary on trumpeter Pauly Cohen [pictured above].
Peters Sellers for TWA. JazzWax reader Glenn Boornazian found this early '70s ad for now-defunct Trans World Airlines. It features English comedian Peter Sellers in character, flying over "Pizza-burgh" to help position the carrier's domestic routes as on par with the sophistication of its European flights...
CD discoveries of the week. Bassist Avery Sharpe's Sojourner Truth pays tribute to the African-American abolitionist and woman's rights advocate who escaped slavery and sued a white plantation owner to recover her son. In the spirit of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Bobby Hutcherson's Components, Sharpe tells Truth's story through earthy and spiritual jazz. The group's heart is in this one, making this one of the finest jazz albums of the year. Sample The Way Home and NYC 1800s. Jazz at its best—with passion. For more on Avery Sharpe, go here.
Music Inspired by Freedmantown is another rich jazz album with a big personal feel. Drummer Reggie Quinerly pays tribute to the area of Houston known as Freedmantown, where African-Americans freed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 pooled their resources to build a strong, unified neighborhood. Quinerly wrote many of the album's tracks, but there are other originals here as well as two standards. Sample #2 Xylent Letters and Live From The Last Row.
Bassist Iris Ornig's last album was released in 2009. Now she's out with No Restrictions (Gema), and it's even better than her last one. What makes Iris exceptional, in addition to her strong command of the upright bass, are her original compositions, which make up all but two of the album's tracks. Iris has a special sensitivity and melodic mellowness that just grabs and hugs you. Her selection of musicians here also gives the music enormous lift: guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, pianist Helen Sung and drummer Marcus Gilmore. For more on Iris, go here.
Fans of Stan Kenton will be happy to know that there is a Stan Kenton Alumni Band and that their most recent CD, Have Band Will Travel—Live (Summit) swings like the band of old. Truly. Directed by trumpeter Mike Vax, the band on the album takes on new arrangements by current players, including baritone saxophonist Joel Kaye (The Shadow of Your Smile) and alto saxophonist Kim Richmond (Invitation). And it also dives into its rich book for charts by Lennie Niehaus (Long Ago and Far Away), Johnny Richards (Tonight), Gerry Mulligan (Swing House) and Bob Florence (Our Garden). Artistry in rhythm on the road. For more on the Kenton Alumni Band, go here.
Tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart and his quartet's The Art of Dreaming (Aztec) is deep, thoughtful and moody. Each song's theme has been carefully plotted-out, and instrumental textures and layers are added judiciously. Best of all, the tracks are group originals. Sample Blues Jonjon and Peyoti.
Torben Waldorff extracts an interesting metallic sound from his electric guitar on Wah-Wah (Artist Share). Which means he's likely been doing some smart listening to John Scofield and other '70s masters. Along with keyboardist Gary Versace, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jon Wikan, Waldorff works through original compositions that have a mystical, fusion feel. Sample Poolside and Evac. Music that takes you back and propels you forward. You'll find it at iTunes.
I love albums that combine fusion elements with Flora Purim-like vocals. Pianist Julian Shore's Filaments (Tone Rogue) does this neatly. Vocalists Alexa Barchini and Shelly Tzarafi dovetail neatly with Shore and guitars played by Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jeff Miles. Sample Made Very Small and Give. Also, nice work by tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger on the patiently slow Venus.
Blues belter Shemekia Copeland is the daughter of the late Texas blues guitarist Johnny "Clyde" Copeland. On her new album, 33 1/3 (Telarc), Copeland is accompanied by wailing blues guitarist and producer Oliver Wood and pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier. Kennedy Center Honoree guitarist Buddy Guy also joins on a track. The rock-blues guitar suits Copeland, giving her bossy delivery authority. Sample Sam Cooke's Ain't That Good News, Bob Dylan's I'll Be Your Baby Tonight and executive producer John Hahn and Wood's Lemon Pie.
The music of trumpeter/flugelhornist Erik Jekabson's Anti-Mass (Jekab's Music) is a bit more abstract than most of my picks this week, but it packs enormous creative punch. There are modern classical elements here fused with jazz reeds and tight brass—think Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay. But it's the independent mingling of strings with brass that makes this album special. The strings operate on their own terms, weaving in and out with arrangements meant to unite the instruments and at other times set them at odds. Sample Interlude 1 and see what I mean. Or The Cello Player. This is truly magnificent music.
Oddball album cover of the week. Red Norvo may hold the title for most number of oddball album covers. Here, on Red Plays the Blues, the vibist is blue not once but twice—in black-and-white and in color. Looks like they couldn't decide which Red was bluer.