Last week, my forthcoming book, Why Jazz Happened (University of California Press), received a glowing review at All About Jazz by Ian Patterson, a jazz writer who is based in Southeast Asia. Here's the opener of his review...
"Jazz's timeline and the iconic figures of each of its successive stylistic movements are well known to aficionados. Less well understood, however, are the underlying conditions that created these changes. Advances in recording technologies, social trends, radio, the incursion of pop and rock, and socio-political factors all played major roles in shaping the evolution of jazz, says music journalist and jazz blogger Marc Myers. Whilst these arguments aren't entirely new, Myers brings them all together in cogent manner and gives compelling evidence for the many non-musical reasons that influenced jazz's evolution in the 30-year period from the 1940s to the 1970s."
Giacomo Gates, live. If you're in New York on Tuesday night, November 6, and grow tired of watching election returns, head over to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Cedar-rich baritone vocalist Giacomo Gates [pictured above] will be appearing with John diMartino (piano), Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Tony Lombardozzi (guitar) and Vincent Ector (drums).
David Amram. David Amram: The First 80 Years, a documentary film directed by Lawrence Kraman, will have its premiere at New York's Symphony Space on Friday, November 9. David—who is one of the great optimists and jazz/World spirits—will be performing along with guests, including Pete Seeger, Paquito D'Rivera, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary), Tom Paxton, John Sebastian, Josh White, Jr. and George Wein.
CD discoveries of the week. Tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims took a job in Benny Goodman's band when Goodman left for concerts in Germany and the Brussels Worlds Fair
in May 1958. In June, Sims broke off and returned to Germany, playing a concert with saxophonist Hans Koller. The result is now available on CD—Lost Tapes: Zoot Sims, Baden-Baden, June 23, 1958 (JazzHaus). Sims is in classic swinging form on Allen's Alley, All the Things You Are, Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets, Open Door and Tangerine. Remaining five tracks feature other German saxophonists.
Native Mind is a quartet comprised of drummer Steve Johns, pianist Noah Haidu, saxophonist Peter Brainin and bassist Marcus McLaurine. On One Mind (ASM), the tightly knit group deftly executes track after track of exquisite jazz from originals like The Gathering to standards like It's You Or No One. What's remarkable here is how seamlessly these four operate, feeding off of each other's ideas as though passing a baton in a relay race. What's more, each musician contributes a distinct inventiveness during solos and when playing in tandem with the others.
Back in June 2010, the New England Jazz Ensemble recorded It's a Grand Night for Swinging, a live date captured at the Polish National Home in Hartford, Conn., a restaurant, club and social center housed in a 1929 Art Deco building. The NEJE is actually a top-notch big band with a TV studio orchestra sound. Guest artists on this album include flutist Ali Ryerson, vocalist Giacomo Gates and guitarist John Abercrombie. The album's tasteful arrangements are by John Mastroianni, Walt Gwardyak and Jeff Holmes. Dig The Summer Knows, My One and Only Love, Invitation, Lady Be Good and Hazel's Hips.
If you're unfamiliar with Danny Green, you're in for a huge treat. On A Thousand Ways Home (Tapestry), the pianist composed and arranged all of the album's tracks, and the results are sensational. For example, on the bossa Unwind, his piano's notes are mirrored by Eva Scow on mandolin. On Quintal da Solidão, Claudia Villela joins with a Portuguese vocal. On Back to Work, another bossa, Tripp Sprague is featured on soprano saxophone. A love letter to Brazilian music written with jazz ink.
Nenette Evans—Bill Evans' widow—hipped me to drummer Chris Wabich's Jade Vision: The Music of Bill Evans (SBJ), which was recorded in 2004. Wabich is joined by Larry Koonse on guitar and Darek Oles on bass. Even though there is no piano here, the trio captures the feeling and playfulness of the two Evans-Jim Hall duet albums. This is a soft and gentle hat-tip to the piano great and rich with tender drum nuances, solid bass work and ringing guitar lines. Sample Comrade Conrad, Time Remembered and Peri's Scope. Every track here is poetic and in line with Evans' own pensive and swinging vision.
Tommy Bolin is one of rock's great unsung guitar heroes. Bolin, who died in 1976 of a drug overdose, began his career as a jazz-fusion musician with Billy Cobham, appearing on Cobham's Spectrum. Bolin also played with the James Gang and Deep Purple. For anyone who doubts Bolin's extraordinary ability as a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, his 1975 solo album has been remastered as The Ultimate Teaser (Samson). It should ice his historical place as one of the greats. What you notice immediately is Bolin's clean, natural hard-rock feel and blues depth that all but begs you to turn up the volume.
Oddball album cover of the week. Stereo systems may have gone the way of square ice cubes, but there's still something about the adjustable cone speakers pictured above that's a tiny bit appealing. I'm just not sure what the tiny glowing eyes or headlights in the background mean.