This Sunday at 5 p.m. (EST) I'll be on the radio with Bob Craig, legendary host of Voices in Jazz on WRTI in Philadelphia. He'll be spinning his favorite '50s vocalist tracks, and we'll talking about the recordings and how my new book, Why Jazz Happened, relates to the rise of the singer during that decade. You can listen from anywhere in the world on your computer by going here and clicking the "Listen Live Jazz" link at the top.
And then...at 11 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, I will be the on-air guest of Dennis Owsley, who has produced Jazz Unlimited for KWMU in St. Louis since 1983. Dennis will be spinning tracks to illustrate the different chapters and turning points in my book. To listen to Dennis's show on your computer from anywhere in the world, go here. To listen at your convenience after Sunday, go here.
Reviews. This past week, Why Jazz Happened was reviewed by three online and print publications:
"It is not only the perceptive acumen of Myers that sets this volume apart, but also his ability to communicate his information and conclusions in a highly readable manner that makes it hard to put the book down once you commence reading it. This volume was written to be read, not just as a vehicle to put forth some theories about a cultural phenomenon."
To subscribe to Jersey Jazz, which is filled with musician photos, commentary and Q&A interviews with jazz artists, go here.
Over at Popmatters.com (go here), Washington, D.C. writer and teacher Will Layman penned an 1,800-word review, calling Why Jazz Happened...
"...a different take on jazz history—a refreshing look at the music that argues forcefully that a series of key turns in the music were the result of social factors that had less to do with the artistic vision of 'great men' (or women) than with how connected jazz was to the culture—in business, technology, and otherwise. Like a good journalist, Myers focuses on a clear story, backed up by copious interviews with sources that certainly know what really happened."
And at JazzWeekly.com (go here), George Harris writes...
"Fascinating vignettes of musicians, bands, orchestras and songs abound in this epic feeling work that will keep you thumbing through old recordings to see the logical progression of the sounds of America’s classical music."
Kickerstarter for Chapin. For Stephanie Castillo, the documentary she plans about Thomas Chapin is personal. Chapin—a saxophonist-composer who studied with Jackie McLean and died in 1998 of leukemia at age 40—was her brother-in-law and friend. Stephanie has launched a Kickstarter drive to raise sufficient funds to complete the film. Go here to learn more about Chapin's music and watch Stephanie's video pitch. There are gifts for you at different pledge levels. Remember, with all Kickstarter drives, whatever you pledge will be charged to your card only if the financial target is met by the established deadline. Good luck Stephanie!
Jimmy Van Heusen radio. This Sunday, "Symphony Sid" Gribetz of New York's WKCR will be hosting a five-hour tribute to songwriter and Frank Sinatra sidekick Jimmy Van Heusen from 2 to 7 p.m. (EST). To listen from anywhere in the world on your computer, go here.
Free Art Pepper. Laurie Pepper has generously made yet another previously unreleased track available as a free download. Go here. [Pictured above: Art and Laurie Pepper]
Mark Lopeman. Following my post on saxophonist Mark Lopeman, Philip Andrews in Britain sent along this clip of Lopeman with Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks. Tough setting but swinging sounds...
CD discoveries of the week. Back in 1982, Sweden's Bernt Rosengren recorded an album in Stockholm with his big band and guest artists pianist Horace Parlan and guitarist Doug Raney. Now, Bernt Rosengren Big Band (Caprice) has been remastered for digital release. Sweden, of course, has always been at the forefront of jazz from the 1930s onward. On this album, you'll hear a dance band/rehearsal band hard at work, and the sax-centric results are as studied as East and West coast bands in the States. Rosengren's arrangements are well-crafted all the way through, particularly on How Deep Is the Ocean. Sample The Humming Bees, Naima and Sad Waltz. Flutist and saxophonist Rosengren had and has a shrewd touch. But be sure to listen for Parlan's extraordinary piano here.
The Relatives were a psychedelic gospel-funk band from Dallas in the '70s that had some local recording success on 45-rpm. They disbanded in the early '80s, and that would have been it for the Relatives had Heavy Light Records not recently issued a CD compilation of the group's obscure singles. The newly found fame reunited the group, and they recently recorded their first album, The Electric World (Yep Roc). Sample Trouble in My Way, Your Love Is Real and the Sly Stone-influenced Let Your Light Shine. In the music business, there are indeed second and even third chances.
Vocalist Emy Tseng has devoted her first CD to the music of Brazilian jazz. On Sonho, rhythms are lightly shaken and stirred in places with the sound of an electric piano, acoustic guitar and soprano sax. Tseng's voice is as delicate as the breeze. Bossa standards are here in force, joining California Dreaming, I Thought About You and Close Your Eyes. But sample Berimbau, Coração Vagabundo and Se Dependesse De Mim. Brazil over easy.
Ian Carey plays a seductive trumpet and flugelhorn. On Roads & Codes (Kabocha), the sextet records mostly Carey originals, which are solid, artful and always smartly paced, enabling you to hear and feel their lyricism. Dig 6th Ave. Local, Count Up and Andante, for example. Neil Young's theme to Dead Man is a fabulous wild card, since the film is one of my favorite Westerns. Proof that the trumpet and flugelhorn don't have to be overheated blowtorches to be effective.
On Permission (Rinny Zin), singer Molly Holm takes on Charles Mingus's Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Mongo Santamaria and Oscar Brown Jr.'s Afro Blue and Thelonious Monk's Straight No Chaser as well as a bunch of originals. Holm has a lilting voice and drills deep on each track, leaning hard in all the right places. Each song is given a caring treatment, which pulls you in. Sample Goodbye Pork Pie Hat and her own Secret Words. Lovely unfolding of new and familiar material.
DVD discoveries of the week. Singer-songwriter and decadent camp-rock performer Freddie Mercury of Queen was among the first openly gay arena rockers. On Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender (Eagle Vision), the documentary takes you through Mercury's various television interviews and stage performances (including rock-opera with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé), providing a fascinating and up-close look at the uninhibited star and flamboyant frontman of arguably the most popular global rock band of the 1980s. Mercury died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991.
Ike & Tina: On the Road 1971-72 (MVD Visual) offers rare home-movies of the lusty-testy duo and members of the road band and singers. Though the concert footage is at times too distant, the DVD provides a tag-along view at home and at airports and on planes interspersed with performances of key songs. There's no narrative, so this is really for curious fans. Tina Turner's transformation in the film from fish-cooking mom to possessed vixen is startling. Filmed in black-and-white and mono by photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya.
Oddball album cover of the week.
Introduced to the public in April 1964 at the New York World's Fair, the Ford Mustang came in two models—the square-ish four-seater (with bench seat in back) and a fastback two-seater. Interestingly, the latter version (in the cover photo) was manufactured in August '64—the same month that this country-jazz album by Kai Winding was recorded. The days of fast cars for adults, sultry suburbs and a trombonist hanging out near his wheels are long gone.