In today's Review section of the Wall Street Journal (go here or please buy the newspaper), I interview George Wein [pictured above] about the song that moved him most during his career. George's choice was Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams and he talks about why he sang it so often at his Storyville club during intermissions and the inspiration for his phrasing. [Photo of George Wein above by Catherine Welch/NPR]
Jazz meets TV. Bret Primack, the Jazz Video Guy, sent along a YouTube link to an episode of M Squad from 1959 about a saxophonist with a murderous attack...
Sonny's flower arrangement. Philip Andrews of the U.K. sent along a link to Sonny Rollins playing To a Wild Rose in 1974 in Copenhagen. Gorgeous...
Boston jazz clubs. When I posted about Lester Young and Boston's Hi-Hat Club recently, I received a sizable number of emails from fans of the Boston jazz scene. So I wanted to alert you about The Boston Jazz Chronicles: Faces, Places and Nightlife 1937-1962 (Troy Street) by Richard Vacca—a superb book on the history of the city's clubs. The book just received the 2013 Certificate of Merit by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in Jazz (they may want to start calling it "the Certie"—just a thought). Richard also has compiled an impressive jazz history database here.
DJs for junior's judgment. My Wall Street Journal colleague Jim Fusilli, the paper's rock and pop critic, wrote last week about a fascinating study claiming that parents' music shapes the way kids think. Apparently, the years between 1980 and 1984 hold the greatest sway. My guess is MTV and visualization had a lot to do with it. Go here.
Blog makeover. Jerry Jazz Musician is a highly literary blog that has been around for some time and features brilliant author interviews by publisher Joe Maita. The site has been redesigned. Go here.
Saxes galore. If you're in the New York City area on Saturday October 5, the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in Ramapo, N.J. is featuring Marlene VerPlanck [pictured above] with Harry Allen and the Saxes. Sounds good already, right? But there's more. The Four Brothers-like reed arrangements are by the great Billy VerPlanck—Marlene's late husband. Showtime is at 8 p.m. For more information and directions, go here or call (201) 684-7844. Want a taste of what Marlene sounds like with reeds? Dig Marlene with France's Saxomania in 1993...
Saving the Coltrane house. John Coltrane's A Love Supreme was written in the Dix Hills home he shared with his wife Alice. Now a group is calling for the home to be opened as a historical house-museum followed later with the construction of an education center, library and digital archive with listening stations. Their campaign includes an event on October 6 in Manhattan (go here) as well as a fund-raising effort with a video outlining their goals (go here).
CD discoveries of the week. In today's folk-roots-saturated market, it's easy to forget how original and important Bob Dylan's voice, lyrics and music were. Which makes it tough to put on Bob Dylan: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)—volume 10 of Sony's Bootleg Series—and not let it sit a spell. Songs like Country Pie, Only a Hobo and Railroad Bill give you a sense of this period. There are 35 rarities and previously unreleased tracks as well as the complete 1969 Isle of Wight Festival Performance.
If you're unfamiliar with Berta Rojas, you're going to thank me after reading this and checking out samples. On Salsa Roja (On Music), the Paraguayan classical guitarist shares her passion for Latin America on 12 delicious tracks. Backed on several songs by percussion and strings, Rojas plays poetically without ever slipping into nostalgia or cliche. Her technique and phrasing display years of training and a burning love for South American folk music. An album that instantly becomes a best friend.
Ayako Shirasaki on Some Other Time (Jan Matthies) shows yet again that she is a dynamo of delicate energy and taste. Whether playing an original or a familiar standard, Ayako's whisking attack infuses the piano with an emotional, organic quality. In her hands, we hear the instrument sigh, pant, rant and rave―with notes becoming a bouquet of exotic flowers. Sample April in Paris and her own Sunrise and Peace of Mind. I'm betting that we'll soon know Ayako for her songwriting gifts as well as her playing. Her originals here are so melodic and seductive.
You probably know Harry Nilsson best from his recording of Everybody's Talkin' —which was used at the close of Midnight Cowboy in 1969. Nilsson didn't write that one—Fred Neil did—but he wrote a gang of other songs, including Without You and One. All of it is on the new 17-CD box Nilsson: The RCA Albums Collection (Sony). In the late 1960s and '70s, the singer-songwriter was way ahead of his time. When folk-rock and hard-rock dominated, Nilsson's dark but gentle drinking-song writing style was adapted and amped-up by Elton John and given a working class spin by Billy Joel. Pals with the Beatles, particularly John Lennon, Nilsson was admired for his freewheeling rock music-hall melodies and lyrics. He also was the first rock-era artist to record a songbook album with strings—A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973). In 1994, at age 52, he died of a heart attack. A monumental box of music that not only foreshadowed the '70s but showed the way.
Bunny Berigan may not have led the hippest or most swinging band in the late 1930s, but it still had rhythm. It also had Berigan's taut, piercing trumpet. Berigan's pre-war band is featured live on Bunny Berigan: Swingin' & Jumpin', Broadcasts 1937-39 (Hep). These aren't studio recordings, so they aren't super vivid, but they are clean and give you a feel for the country's apprehensive mood leading up to World War II. Songs like Trees and the title track show off the Berigan band's loping fox-trot groove (the former) and whip-cracking jitterbug execution (the latter).
Oddball album cover of the week.
What's odder—that the returning husband looks resigned not enraged or that the cheating couple doesn't seem too shocked or fearful that he's at the door? The guy seated seems about to ask him for more ice or to change the station on the TV.