Yesterday was the hottest day of the year in New York, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Writer and musician friends emailed to complain about being locked inside apartments with the windows closed and coping with ambitious air conditioners that made their spaces feel polar.
I did manage to get out to grab an Italian sandwich (my latest Friday afternoon obsession—to find the best one in the city). That's Vincent pictured above. I'll provide a Top 5 as soon as I've completed my "research." My journey downtown came after spending much of the morning and afternoon writing—and listening to Miles Davis' Miles Ahead + 19 from 1957. About as pretty as jazz gets, especially on a white-heat day when everything outside is blurry with sweltering confusion.
New York, the Dynamic City. Speaking of New York, I found this film promoting tourism on YouTube. It was released in 1967 but filmed most likely in 1965 or the spring of '66. How do I know this? A little deductive reasoning. Shea Stadium—the original home of baseball's Mets—opened to fans in '64 and was already up and running in the film. The World Trade Center, which broke ground in August '66, wasn't captured in any of the Wall Street footage. And the biggest tell of all is that the film's cabs were all different. New York City cabs all turned yellow in 1967, when the city moved to make them more recognizable.
The Beat Generation (1959). Bret Primack, the Jazz Video Guy, found this one and sent it along. Poor Louis...
Peter Appleyard (1928-2013), a Canadian vibraphonist who was born in Britain and was a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet starting in the early 1970s, died on July 18. He was 84. Here he is in action—and dig that swing!...
Under the lamppost. Street harmony groups of the '50s always sound better in the summer. The most knowledgeable guy I know in this space is Marv Goldberg [above], who produces a terrific radio show each week. Marv posts a new Yesterday's Memories Rhythm & Blues Party podcast each Sunday around 8 a.m. The show can then be heard for the next seven days before it's moved to the site's archive. To listen, go here.
Jason returns! Jason Crane [above] is host of The Jazz Session, which features audio interviews with jazz legends past and present. Months ago, Jason put the blog on hold while he took a hiatus to travel the country and work out his wanderlust. Now he's back and trying to get The Jazz Session up and running again. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of a series of interviews, and he's 41% funded. He just needs a total of $6,000. Let's see if we can get him over the top. Go here.
Mary Ann McCall radio. Speaking of comebacks, Bill Kirchner has returned to spinning and educating at WBGO in New York. This Sunday at 11 p.m. (EDT), he will be devoting his Jazz From The Archives show to Mary Ann McCall, who sang with Woody Herman's Second Herd, recorded four obscure albums and spent the rest of her career in Los Angeles bartending and occasionally singing in airport lounges. You can access Bill's show at 11 p.m. on Sunday (EDT) from anywhere in the world by going here.
A Cuban Song in My Heart. Author and filmmaker Ivan Acosta [pictured] is hoping to raise sufficient funds to self-publish A Cuban Song in My Heart—a book featuring covers from his vast collection of rare Latin-jazz albums along with his memories of Cuba and the music he loves so dearly. To see his Kickstarter video, go here...
CD discoveries of the week. Mongo Santamaria is often overlooked when talk turns to Latin-jazz. We hear plenty about Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez, but it's Santamaria who helped build the bridge from cha-cha-cha in the late '50s to salsa in the early '70s. You can hear this evolution in his boogaloo recordings and continuing with his many Latin-soul albums for Columbia. José Rizo's Mongorama keeps the torch burning for the Cuban-born percussionist with Baila Que Baila (Saungu). Mongorama is a tentet that sets fire to every song it takes on. Dig the slow burn of Soavecito and Puro Teatro with Destani Wolf on vocal or the searing groove of Son Wambari. Guitarist Kenny Burrell and percussionist Poncho Sanchez are special guests? This one will have you playing desk-top drums with your index fingers.
Pianist Chucho Valdés is the pre-eminent Cuban jazz pianist on the scene today. The five-time Grammy winner and three-time winner of a Latin Grammy has enormous power and speed at the keyboard, not to mention heart and soul. (His father, Bebo Valdés, a superior pianist, died earlier this year in March. Check out Bebo Rides Again from 1995.) On Border-Free (Jazz Village), Chucho Valdés, with the Afro-Cuban Messengers, takes the leash off his impossibly ferocious Latin-jazz keyboard style and the results are jaw-dropping. Dig Congadanza and Santa Cruz. And when Valdés mellows—as he does on Tabú, with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and on Caridad Amaro—you can feel the ache. Too often we think of Latin-jazz as a rhythmic genre puncuated by fiery solos. Valdés proves otherwise.
The Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet's Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin (Patois) features a wide array of rhythmic styles—from Cuban songo to Puerto Rican bomba and a Dominican merengue with an Afro-Cuban 12/8 twist on Giant Steps. Gorgeous playing dominates along with highly inventive arrangements. Wallace's trombone shifts easily from a seductive, warm ballad style to powerful statements on uptempo tunes. Every track offers a surprise and plenty of chops to back them up.
A Latin-jazz album with heat is Brian Andres and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel's San Francisco (CD Baby). This one has quite a bit of salsa stirred in. Drummer Andres leads a band of Bay Area Latin-jazz players who are tightly rehearsed. There are thundering punches and big grooves, with an emphasis on intricate rhythms and solid horn work. Dig Higashi Nakano, with its Asian-funk swagger. Or the raw energy of Como Mi Ritmo No Hay Dos or the solo bongo statement by Carlos Caro on Bongo Reyoyo. You can smell the onions, garlic and racao sizzling throughout.
Oddball album cover of the week.
I never quite understood this album cover. I get that our model just had a fling with him—the towel sort of gives that away. But what does the image have to do with getting a "boot"—and why she's even in the shower? And then there's the small matter of why her height exceeds the shower door.