If you're new to JazzWax, welcome. You now belong to an elite group of thousands worldwide who still make time each day to listen to music. You and the rest of JazzWax readers also are always in hot pursuit of a great unknown album or track. [Pictured above: The Space Shuttle Columbia Lands at Kelly Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, March 1979 by Joel Sternfeld]
This site's focus is on exceptional jazz recordings and artists from the '50s, but I also write about r&b, rock, soul, country, folk, disco and most other forms—whatever moves me the night before. In some cases, daily posts are off-shoots of my interviews and articles for the Wall Street Journal.
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All of my interviews are linked in the right-hand column under "JazzWax Interviews." But many links take you only to Part 1 of a multipart interview. How can you find the other parts? Go to the top of Part 1. Above the red date will be a link to Part 2 and so on. Simply follow along until the series ends. Each link is a separate series.
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Who is Bill Kirchner? I often mention Bill's radio broadcasts, albums and other jazz ventures. The saxophonist, composer, arranger, conductor, writer, editor and educator is a dear friend. This past week, Bill was interviewed at length by musician-writer Ethan Iverson at Ethan's blog Do the Math. To read the in-depth interview, go here.
Thelonious Monk radio. WKCR will present its annual 24-hour Thelonious Monk Birthday Broadcast this coming Wednesday. Monk's birthday bash starts Tuesday night at 11:59 PM. You can listen for free on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
CD discoveries of the week. Joe La Barbera's Silver Streams (Jazz Compass) shows off the drummer's delicate versatility. Joe—who you may recall was pianist Bill Evans' last drummer—leads a superb quintet here. Trumpeter Clay Jenkins and saxophonist Bob Sheppard are backed by bassist Tom Warrington and the magnificently tasteful pianist Bill Cunliffe. Throughout, Joe offers up shimmering cymbal support and taut rhythms. Sample Dado Maroni's Bradley's, 2am?, Scott LaFaro's Jade Visions and Alan James Pasqua's Grace. Proof that great drumming doesn't have to be loud, just commanding and conversational.
One of the most honest country-gospel albums of the year is singer-songwriter Iris DeMent's Sing the Delta (Flariella). Arkansas-born DeMent recorded her first album in 1992. This album features all original material and DeMent's aching voice. There are equal parts church and dirt road here, and DeMent has a way of grabbing you hard with her delivery. Sample The Kingdom Has Already Come, If That Ain't Love and Mornin' Glory. Stripped down country, the way it used to be served up.
Great pianists love listening to themselves play. George Cables has always been in this category—choosing just the right voicings to make a sensitive point or to stir up the listener's emotions. On My Muse (High Note), Cables is backed by Essiet Essiet on bass and Victor Lewis on drums, and the trio swings through gallant standards such as You're My Everything and The Way We Were as well a bunch of his own originals, including Lullaby and Helen's Song. Each track is delicious. Sample But He Knows to hear the essence of this towering artist.
I'm not usually big on child prodigies, since they're often marketed by record companies as technical freaks when in truth they're way too young to know enough to articulate life's passions in music. But Beka Gochiashvili is an exception. On Beka Gochiashvili (Exitus), the 16-year-old pianist demonstrates a romantic sophistication that can only have come through ardent listening. There are plenty of kids who start companies, invent new products and master 10 languages. Gochiashvili just happens to have picked jazz. Sample New York, Passionately In Love and L's Bop. What you're responding to isn't what his parents forced him to do at age 4 but what his heart is telling him to say. This is a perfect jazz album. Special guests include Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci, Gil Goldstein, Victor Bailey and Wallace Roney.
Oddball album cover of the week. The art director of this cover either didn't quite understand the definition of "psychedelic" or had interesting ideas about where a dance party should be held and who should be invited.