YouTube Pick (#25) – Joey Alexander

Normally, for a number of reasons,  I have an a distaste for child performers. At best they are circus performers verging on the freakish. At worst I think they are possibly children who have been deprived of their childhood by driven parents, care takers and teachers. It also pops into my mind; How is it even possible for a youthful performer to be able to develop the strength, stamina, muscle memory and mature musicality and  perform at an adult level? Then there is the other question of intimidation. If a child can do it why can’t I? So when I saw a positive review of a recording by the pianist Joey Alexander I was intrigued. At first glance I thought here is another new (adult) pianist on the scene who had escaped my attention. Then in the review I noticed he was only 13 years old. Is that possible? I was intrigued. I decided to check out YouTube for his performances. I was immediately gob smacked astounded and completely blown away. This was not some circus performance. It was the work of a mature musician  with a bucket load of technique and musicality. Joey Alexander, is an Indonesian  jazz pianist who  learned about jazz by listening to classic albums his father gave him. By age six, he had taught himself to play piano using a miniature, electric keyboard his father brought home for him, learning by ear compositions such as Thelonous Monk’s Well You Needn’t and other songs from his father’s jazz collection. Here is his version of Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage and Duke Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood – both are classics in the Jazz repertoire. Note the length of his fingers.

Of course Chris Potter is no novice. His work here on Soprano Sax and Bass clarinet are just hints of the high standard of his many of his performances. I get a kick out of Chris’ expressions on In a Sentimental Mood when he steps aside to check out Joey’s playing. Here is Joey with performances of My Favourite Things  and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps.

While it is unusual for some one of his age to be able to perform at this level Jazz has always been blessed with a number of young performers, usually in their late teens, who have won international acclaim and gone onto long and fruitful adult careers. Some musicians in that category that come to mind are the vibes player Garry Burton, trumpeter Lee Morgan, guitarist Pat Methney, pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Christian McBride. I’m sure there are many others. For the final video clip here is Joey at age 7 performing Caravan.

It just isn’t right, fair or even natural but there it is.

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Cecil Taylor, Pianist Who Defied Jazz Orthodoxy, Is Dead at 89

 

At a concert during the the last European tour of the Miles Davis / John Coltrane Quintet in 1960 a lady in one audience stood up during a John Coltrane solo and pleaded “please make him stop”. I am sure that would be the reaction of most audiences to the music of Cecil Taylor. Even in Jazz circles Cecil Percival Taylor (March 25, 1929 – April 5, 2018) is not exactly a household name. He was a classically trained American pianist and poet and is generally acknowledged as one of the pioneers of the Free Jazz movement. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, resulting in complex improvised sounds that frequently involve tone clusters and polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion – referring to the number of keys on a standard piano as “eighty eight tuned drums”. He has also been described as like “Art Tatum with contemporary classical leaning”. The Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould has been reported as saying “Cecil Taylor is the future of piano music”. It is an interesting comment from a musician who is famous for his precise interpretations of the music of Bach. Taylor is from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Gould’s interpretations are architectual musical masterpieces while Taylor’s musical musings are more like splashes of molten lava.

Taylor is outside the orderly progression of jazz piano styles of the past century. The normal historical flow of American piano music goes back to the almost classical formalism of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and then onto the improvisational styles of James P. Johnson, Earl Hines, “Fats” Waller, Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Nat ‘King” Cole and then the moderns – Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett etc. Taylor stands way outside that tradition. The only pianist that might claim some connection is the Thelonious Monk and he is better known and appreciated as a composer. Like Monk Taylor’s public appearances were performances in the true meaning of the word – music, poetry, dance. At the center of his art was the dazzling physicality and the percussiveness of his playing — his deep, serene, Ellingtonian chords and hummingbird attacks above middle C — which held true well into his 80s. Classically trained, he valued European music for what he called its qualities of “construction” — form, timbre, tone color — and incorporated them into his own aesthetic. “I am not afraid of European influences,” he told the critic Nat Hentoff. “The point is to use them, as Ellington did, as part of my life as an American Negro.”  In a long assessment of Mr. Taylor’s work — one of the first — from “Four Lives in the Bebop Business,” a collection of essays on jazz musicians published in 1966, the poet and critic A. B. Spellman wrote: “There is only one musician who has, by general agreement even among those who have disliked his music, been able to incorporate all that he wants to take from classical and modern Western composition into his own distinctly individual kind of blues without in the least compromising those blues, and that is Cecil Taylor, a kind of Bartok in reverse.” Because his fully formed work was not folkish or pop-oriented, did not swing consistently (often it did not swing at all) and never entered the consensual jazz repertoire, Mr. Taylor could be understood to occupy an isolated place. Even after he was rewarded and lionized  his music has not been easy to quantify. If improvisation means using intuition and risk in the present moment, there have been few musicians who took that challenge more seriously than Mr. Taylor. If one of his phrases seemed of paramount importance, another such phrase generally arrived right behind it. The range of expression in his keyboard touch encompassed caresses, rumbles and crashes.   –     (excepts from Wikipedia).

Taylor may not have had a big following but he was not without honors during his lifetime. Even after he was rewarded and lionized — he was given a Guggenheim fellowship in 1973, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award in 1990, a MacArthur fellowship in 1991 and the Kyoto Prize in 2014 — his music was not easy to quantify nor did it have a great following. There was no academy for what Cecil Taylor did, and partly for that reason he became one himself, teaching for stretches in the 1970s at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and at Antioch College in Ohio. (He was given an honorary doctorate by the New England Conservatory in 1977.) Not until the mid-1970s, Mr. Lyons told the writer John Litweiler, did The Cecil Taylor Unit have enough work so that member musicians could make a living from it — mostly in Europe. Although classically trained his comment on written music bears repeating  –  “When you think about musicians who are reading music,” he said in “All the Notes,” a 1993 documentary directed by Chris Felver, “my contention has always been: The energy that you’re using deciphering what the symbol is, is taking away from the maximum creative energy that you might have had if you understood that it’s but a symbol.” (excepts from Wikipedia). I agree with the comment but most of us mere mortals have to start somewhere and once the music is under your belt then perhaps the written symbols should be discarded.

In some ways he reminds me of Frank Zappa. Frank was a “rock” musician who was very distinctly outside the traditions of Rock and Roll. Just try and jam along with a Frank Zappa recording and I think you will get my meaning.

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Stage 64 (Kimberley) Winter Jazz and Blues Concert Series – Melody Diachun

STAGE 64 WINTER JAZZ AND BLUES CONCERT SERIES  : Melody Diachun and her Quartet.  Saturday October 28, 2017, 8pm  

Black Orpheus (Portuguese: Orfeu Negro) is a 1959 film made in Brazil by French director  Marcel Camus and starring Marpessa Dawn and  Breno Mello. It is based on the play  Orfeu da Conceicao by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice , set in the modern context of a  favela in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval. The film was an international co-production among    companies in Brazil, France and Italy. The film is particularly noted for the musical soundtrack by two Brazilian composers:  Antonio Carlos Jobim , whose song “A Felicidade” opens the film; and  Luiz Bonfa, whose  Manha de Carnaval  and Samba de Orfeu  have become bossa nova classics. ….. Wikipedia.

In the early 1960’s that Brazillian film made its mark on me and the world of cinema and music. On it’s release it won an Oscar for the best foreign film of the year and the sound track introduced the world to the wonders of Brazilian music. I remember the film well. After all, I saw it on the big screen about seven times in the first year of it’s release, and over the years I wore out a VHS copy and I still have a DVD version on my shelf at home. For Jazz players the music was a revelation. Here was a form of music that used jazz harmonic language and improvisational techniques along with new sophisticated melodies and rhythms. The words may have been in Portuguese but the musical language was challenging, sensual and, in some ways, the antithesis of the Hard Bop jazz style of the day. Brazilian classical guitarist Laurindo Almeida and Californian saxophonist Bud Shank had explored and recorded Bossa Nova as early as 1953 but it was the album Jazz Samba by the jazz tenor sax player  Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd, along with the hit single  Desafinado,  that was the start of Bossa Nova as it is now generally understood. Stan Getz gained the benefit of Charlie Byrd’s 1961 serendipitous tour of Brazil. Byrd had fallen in love with the music while on tour there and when he returned to the USA he sought out Stan Getz, played him the discs he’d brought back from Brazil, and suggested they get together and record their own album in a Brazilian style. The rest is history. The  Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd collaborations were monumentally successful and Jazz musicians adopted the style with a vengeance. They were the first of many musicians to do so and to this day Bossa Nova still continues to hold a grip on the imagination of jazz musicians. It may have been a craze at the time but it is one I knew would last.

On, the other hand, around that same time “The Fab Four” (aka The Beatles) launched their own musical craziness on the pop world. At the time I didn’t think the music would survive the teeny-bopper hysteria that almost drowned it out. Another case of music so loud you can’t actually hear it.  I couldn’t see the hysteria or the music lasting. I guess I was wrong. The hysteria faded away and the music did survive the craziness and in this day and age their songs are standards that rate right up there with the tunes in the  “The American Song Book”.

That brings us to the Melody Diachun concert on Saturday night at Stage 64 in Kimberley. Her premise for the evening was to bring together the music of the Bossa Nova era (mostly the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim) and the music of the Beatles into a night of pulsing rhythms, beautiful melodies and great lyrics delivered with artful arrangements and solo improvisations by a group of stellar musicians from the Nelson area. The drummer Steven Parish and bass player Mark Spielman anchored the band for the rhythmic, melodic  and harmonic  adventures of Melody Diachun on vocals and shakers, Clinton Swanson  on tenor sax and flute  and Doug Stephenson  on nylon and steel string guitars. Most of the Bossa Nova material was from the pen of Antonio Carlos Jobim and included Quiet Nights (Corcovada), If You Never Come to Me, The Girl from Ipanema, Samba do Aviao, One Note Samba, Dindi,  and a nice mish/mash of  Insensitive with the Beatles tune Yesterdays. Most of the songs were sung in English with the occasional foray into Portuguese. Although not exactly a Bossa Nova song, but never-the-less appropriate for the evening, the group performed Horace Silver’s jazz classic  Song for my Father. Horace’s father came from the Cape Verde Islands that, coincidently, has a rich Portuguese based musical heritage similar to Brazil. Interspersed among Jobim’s songs there were the following Beatles songs Hard Days Night , Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird, Let It Be,  All you need is Love and John Lennon’s Imagine. The only song that was really outside the box was Cole Porter’s Night and Day and that was still a good fit for the evening. Melody’s vocals were in top form and the soloists were a joy to hear. Doug Stephenson’s nylon string and steel guitar work was a revelation as, in previous Kimberley concerts, he had been  masquerading as a bass player. Because he looks like he is having way too much fun to be legal I do worry about Doug. Clinton Swanson has performed in Kimberley a number of times and his full bodied tenor sax solos, as always, were spot on. Melody’s introductions to the songs were delightful and entertaining.

Here are some images from a magical evening of music.

      

   

The band and the audience would like to thank Keith, the organizing committee, the volunteers, Ray on sound and lights, the Burrito Grill, A B&B at 228 and the Stem Winder for the support that made this concert series possible. On a final note a comment from my buddy Bill St. Amand summing up the evening  …….

IT DOESN’T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS”.

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YouTube Pick (#15) – Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern

The best and the worst thing that has ever happened to guitar music has been  “the invention of electricity”. On the plus side, before guitarists could plug in the guitar was, and still is, a very quiet instrument with very limited dynamic range  and sustain. On an acoustic guitar, a note struck does not travel far and does not last long and in a group setting it is quickly overpowered by other instruments. In the days before amplification acoustic guitarists were forced to play very hard and as a result the sound coming from the instrument suffered. Even today Blue Grass flat pickers who prefer to play  hard and fast without plugging in run the risk of not being heard or ending up with a crappy sound. Electricity changed all of that. From the get go an amplified guitar could now hold its own even in the big bands of the forties. Case in point listen to the recordings of Charlie Christian and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. As instruments and amplification systems improved the guitar came into its own with more volume, more sustain, more dynamic possibilities and with effect pedals more sonic possibilities. The sky was the limit and unfortunately that led to the false conclusion that more volume became equated as more, not necessarily good,  music.  The possibilities of increased  sustain and sonic effects are very useful tools that have often become completely obliterated by the shear power and volume of the modern electric guitar. That has become the down side. The temptation to continually crank up the volume has become hard to resist  and it has affected every body. Drummers, bass players, keyboards are now all capable of immense volume and the result, often, is that musicality and nuance have gone out the door. If every body plays super loud there is no musical room to move.  Having said all that there are still examples out there of loud electric guitar music well worth listening to. This YouTube of Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern at the Tokyo Blue Note is right up there with great interplay between the two guitarists and with the great supporting musicians in Freeway Jam Band. The band features Simon Phillips on drums (that must be the biggest drum kit on the planet), John Beasley on a mass of keyboards and Melvin Dasin on a gigantic seven string  electric bass. This is a long video, over an hour, so grab a beer and kick back for some great “electric” music. Now is it Jazz or is it rock? who cares?

For most of the listening public and despite many albums, awards and studio session both of these musicians are somewhat under the radar. Lee Ritenour was born January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles. At 16, he played on his first recording session, with  the Mamas and the Papas, and was given the nickname Captain Fingers for his dexterity. He was a a studio musician in the 1970s, winning Guitar Player magazine’s Best Studio Guitarist award twice. Throughout his career, Ritenour has experimented with different styles of music, incorporating funk, pop, rock, blues, Brazilian , classical and jazz . He has 41 solo albums to his credit and has played as a sideman on many, many hit records including Pink Floyd’s THE WALL. He was also a key member of the groups Fourplay and L.A. Workshop. In 2004 he brought together some of the key musicians of his career for the two disc DVD Overtime. For anybody who takes music seriously this DVD is a must view. Strictly speaking Lee is not specifically a jazz player. He exists in that commercial arena that straddles rock / pop / and studio work. He is a musical chameleon who manages to slip effortlessly into what ever role is required. It is probably the reason he doesn’t figure highly in the DownBeat Jazz Critics and Readers polls. He is probably not a pure enough Jazz player to be considered. It is a bit of a shame really because he has an unbelievably high skill level. Just to demonstrate his Jazz chops check the the two clips below of him in two groups playing Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece Stolen Moments. His 1990 solo album of the same name is one of my all time favorite Jazz Guitar recordings.

On the other hand Mike Stern (born January 10, 1953) has impeccable jazz credentials. Because he has a very non-jazz sound I find the the situation a little ironic and yet despite this he is a six-time Grammy-nominated American jazz guitarist. After playing with Blood Sweat and Tears he landed a gig with drummer  Billy Cobham, then with trumpeter Miles Davis from 1981 to 1983 and again in 1985. I guess it takes a Miles Davis imprimatur to be taken seriously as a jazz player. Following that, he launched a solo career, releasing more than a dozen albums. Stern was hailed as the Best Jazz Guitarist of 1993 by  Guitar Player Magazine. At the  Festival International de Jazz de Montreal in June 2007, Stern was honored with the Miles Davis Award, which was created to recognize internationally acclaimed jazz artists whose work has contributed significantly to the renewal of the genre. In 2009 Stern was listed as one of the 75 best jazz guitarist of all time. He was presented with Guitar Player magazine’s Certified Legend Award on January 21, 2012. He has 16 solo albums to his credit.

I tend not to find solid body electric guitars visually pleasing. To me one Telecaster electric guitar looks much the same as another. However, Mike plays a signature Yamaha Pacifica – Mike Stern Model. Years ago, because he really liked Telecasters so much he had Yamaha make him one to his specifications. It is one beautiful looking guitar.

This is loud music but with lots of good stuff there to hold one’s interests. Of course at the end of the performance the question remains. Is it Rock or is it Jazz?  ….. Enjoy

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TWO MORE JAZZ LEGENDS PASS AWAY

VIBRAPHONE  PLAYER BOBBY HUTCHINSON AND CHROMATIC HARMONICA PLAYER “TOOTS” THIELMANS

 In jazz, history counts for a lot. Every current performer of note stands on the shoulders of all those who came before. In the case of vibraphone players the early jazz giant on the instrument was Lionel Hampton. Lionel first popularized the instrument while playing with Benny Goodman during the swing era. He was a two mallet player (one in each hand) with a rapid aggressive splashy style suited to the music of the day. He never really modernized his style when the likes of Charlie Parker invented Be-bop. That was left to the next generation of performers who immersed themselves in the new style. Milt Jackson, while still a two mallet player, had a style strongly influenced by the blues and Be-bop. He was not a show man in the Hampton tradition but rather made his name as a band member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. The MJQ had a career that spanned over forty years and Jackson was an integral component in their reflective style of jazz.  bobby-hutcherson-image-2Bobby Hutchinson and Gary Burton careers’ both somewhat overlapped Jackson’s and they both rose to fame in the 60’s and 70’s. They were the new generation who favored the use of four mallets (two in each hand) that allowed for a more complex pianistic style of performance. Although somewhat now retired Gary Burton is still around and is probably still performing in a semi-professional capacity. Bobby Hutchinson passed away on August 15, 2016 surrounded by his family in the living room of his long time home in Montara, California. He was 75 years old.

Jean-Baptiste Frederic Isidore Thielemans was born in Belgium and began studying the harmonica at age 3, and by age 17 he was also proficient on guitar. He became Jean 'Toots' Thielemansknown as “Toots”. The Chromatic Harmonica does not have the same historical traditions of other jazz instruments so he is literally the first of his kind. Although he has played with all the great jazz soloists, including Charlie Parker, he is best known for his composition Bluesette. He died in Brussels on August 22, 2016. He was 94 years old.

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STUDIO 64 JAZZ AND BLUES SERIES – LAURA LANDSBERG

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Saturday, October 15, 2016 – Laura Landsberg with her Trio at Studio 64, Kimberley

What can I say? Once again the Kimberley Arts Council has hit the jackpot. And once again I am astounded at the technical proficiency and musicality of the musicians coming out of the West Kootenays. Laura Landsberg (Vocals) and her Trio, Paul Landsberg (Guitar), Tony Ferraro (Drums) and Doug Stephenson (Acoustic Bass) all hail from the Nelson area.

Although Laura is currently from Nelson she does “come from away” . She has an honest musical pedigree. She is the daughter of world-renowned trombonist and composer Ian McDougall. She  was born in London and grew up listening to her father’s jazz trombone. Her father played in Johnny Dankworth’s top British Jazz Orchestra. Undoubtedly at some time in her youth she was exposed to the jazz sounds of that orchestra plus the incredible British Jazz vocalist Cleo Laine who performed from time to time with the Dankworth organisation.  Laura was raised in Vancouver, BC,  received her formal education at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. In numerous vocal workshops she went onto to develop her skills as a performer and teacher. She has studied with Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon, David Worm, Axel Thiemer (Voice Care Network), Dee Daniels, Kiran Ahluwalia, Joey Blake and many other inspiring teachers. She has been teaching music since 1985 and joined the Selkirk  College Music faculty in the fall of 2004. Laura is a certified voice care teacher and a member of the “Voice Care Network”. There you have it, a pretty impressive  resume.

612-laura-landsberg Her musical co-conspirators are no less impressive. As any good vocalist will tell you a good 239-paul-landsbergaccompanist  is hard to find so when you find one you hang onto him and there is no better way than to marry him. Paul Landsberg is that accompanist. The two other members of the trio should be named “The Dynamic Duo”. The drummer Tony Ferraro is a full spectrum performer who can drive a big band into the stratosphere (The Chicago Tribute Band), or dig into funky Latin Grooves with the Gabriel Palatchi Trio or, as in this performance, play whisper soft brushes behind a vocalist. Tony has performed many time in this area. Doug Stephenson is adept on funky electric bass in the context of the Gabriel Palatchi Trio or adding his beautiful bass lines to any acoustic performance.

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Laura and her trio kicked off the evening with Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Dindi. Although described as a Bossa Nova classic it is entirely new to me so it was a welcome introduction. They followed that up with two jazz standards All or Nothing at All, How Deep is the Ocean and a bluesy Please Send Me Some One to Love. Other songs in the set included more jazz standards and the Elton John hit Your Song. Tony Ferraro’s brushes were the sweet support for Laura’s vocals. Paul Landsberg’s Wes Montgomery inspired guitar playing on Exactly Like Your was also perfect. The song Time After Time  had a nice little rhythmic twist. I am seldom right on these things but was that tune in 5/4? It was just one of the many musical twists and nuances in the evenings performance. These little things make a difference.

200a-laura-landsberg   212-laura-landsberg312-tony-ferraro100-keith-nichols    228-tony-ferraro240-paul-landsberg257-doug-stephenson272-tony-ferraro     302-laura-landsberg268-laura-landsberg330-tony-ferraro312-laura-landsberg314-laura-landsberg   336-laura-landsberg320-paul-landsberg380-paul-landsberg    274-paul-landsberg340-laura-landsberg352-laura-landsberg   354a-landsberg350-doug-stephenson372-laura-landsberg  356-laura-landsberg386-doug-stephenson370-laura-landsberg

All in all it was another nice evening of top flight Jazz and one I hope will repeated with a return concert at some future date. As always the evening was made possible by the efforts of the many volunteers and community support of the sponsors.

(PS. Paul Landsberg plays a 1961 Gibson ES335)

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STUDIO 64 JAZZ AND BLUES SERIES – THE ANDREA PETRITY TRIO

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JAZZ BLUES & STUDIO 64: THE ANDREA PETRITY TRIO, September 24, 2016, 8pm at Studio 64 (Centre 64) Kimberley BC 292-andrea-petrity

Some musicians have an epiphany. They may be wandering along in a sonic fog and out of the blue they hear a performer or a recording that becomes an “aha” moment. It becomes lodged in their brain and the thought train becomes  – “So that is what it is all about. I want to do that”. What follows is a commitment to a musical performance philosophy that may take them in a completely different direction, one that they may have never considered prior to the “aha moment”. That didn’t happen for the Calgary jazz pianist Andrea Petrity. The metamorphosis was much more gradual than that. Like so many other youth she took piano lessons and worked her way though the standard classical piano curriculum and repertoire. After leaving school and wondering what to do with her life she came to a conclusion that she already had a possibly useful skill set and perhaps, if she applied herself, it may lead some where.  That is what she started doing and, eventually, she applied for admission to a Jazz Performance Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Now, years later she is a fully fledged Jazz Pianist with a great love for the music of Bill Evans, Brad Mehldau, Thelonious Monk and that whole other world of Jazz Piano. Her favourite is the long deceased musical genius Bill Evans but she freely admits that there are so many talented musicians out there it is impossible to know them all, hear them all, or give credit where credit is due.

When asked the crass question “And what is your real day job?” the unequivocal response from Andrea, her bass player Stefano Valdo and drummer Robin Tufts is that they are full time professional musicians. That they possess a degree of professionalism is more than self evident in their on stage demeanour and commitment to technical and musical excellence.

On Saturday night at Studio 64 in Kimberley the Andrea Petrity Trio gave the admittedly small audience (very unusual for this extremely popular annual series) a substantial serving of straight ahead, no holds barred piano trio jazz. They kicked off the evening with their interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s Bird on the Wire. I normally approach listening to drummers with a certain amount of scepticism. Kit drummers tend 216-robin-tuftsto play too loud and dare I say it, often sound unmusical. Andrea promised a tasty treat with Robin Tufts accompaniments and we were not disappointed in his adroit handling of brushes and his simpatico accents. The bassist Stefano Valdo is no stranger to Studio 64 audiences. The last time he was here he played a huge electric bass guitar but this time around he had switched to upright bass. One of his musical heroes is the late great Scott LaFaro of Bill Evans Trio fame. The influences, at least to my ears, were very evident 238-stefano-valdoin his free wheeling accompanying and solo style. One of the sonic pleasures of recent years is the return of the upright acoustic bass. Nothing quiet matches the big fat bottom depths  of the acoustic upright bass. The first “standard” tune of the evening done in a very original style was Harlem Nocturne. The rest of the program was filled with a number of Andrea’s originals that included You Took Love With You, a nod to Thelonious Monk in Monkey Around  (I am sure Thelonious was smiling), and a cute interpretation  of a Hungarian Folk tune with some nice hand percussion from Robin. The name of the tune was loosely translated as an ode to a Brown eyed or gypsy girl. It was a neat 4/4 tune with a triplet feel, kind of 6/8, but not really. After the intermission they kicked off with a Latin feel in Andrea’s original Marianna, followed by an achingly slow (Andrea’s direction to the trio) version of the standard The Very Thought of You. This was followed by I Found a New Baby. Then more original tunes  including a new untitled work simply called Untitled and the final piece of the evening PMS. A title that doesn’t mean what you think. It is a nod to three modern Jazz master musicians, the bassist John Patitucci the guitarists Pat Metheny and John Scofield – PMS.

Here are more images from the evening.

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As always in the Studio 64 Jazz and Blues Concert series the music in this concert was a joy to experience. There is something about the interplay and shifting textures of live jazz that cannot be beaten.

The musicians in the trio would like to thank the Studio 64 Organizing Committee, Volunteers, the audience and A B&B AT 228 for their hospitality. They would also like to thank Elaine Rudser fo her astonishing art work on the walls of the performance space.

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RECORDING ENGINEER RUDY VAN GELDER DIES AT THE AGE OF 92.

Rudy van Gelder- in 1988

Only a non-jazz fan would ask “Rudy who?”. Rudy was a renowned recording engineer and the principle sonic architect of the “Blue Note Sound”. A specific sound that is associated with the classic recordings of the golden jazz era of the last 50 years. He worked with many recording companies but is best known for his work with Alfred Lyon’s Blue Note Recording company. He recorded  all the jazz greats, including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and just about every other major jazz artist of the past 50 years.

He wasn’t always a sound engineer. He trained as an optometrist and that was his “day job”. He went off to work in the morning to his optometry practice to earn his “daily bread” and after hours he spent his time recording jazz. At first in his parent’s living room, then in the iconic studio he designed and built at Engelwood Cliffs in Hackensack, New Jersey. He eventually ditched his day job and became a full time recording engineer.

Here is a Wikipedia quote: “When I first started, I was interested in improving the quality of the playback equipment I had,” Van Gelder commented in 2005; “I never was really happy with what I heard. I always assumed the records made by the big companies sounded better than what I could reproduce. So that’s how I got interested in the process. I acquired everything I could to play back audio: speakers, turntables, amplifiers”. One of Van Gelder’s friends, the baritone saxophonist Gil Melle introduced him to Alfred Lyon, a producer for Blue Note Records, in 1953. Within a few years Van Gelder was in demand by many other independent labels based around New York,  such as Prestige Records, Impulse and Savoy. Bob Weinstock, owner of Prestige, recalled in 1999, “Rudy was very much an asset. His rates were fair and he didn’t waste time. When you arrived at his studio he was prepared. His equipment was always ahead of its time and he was a genius when it came to recording”. According to a JazzTimes  article in August 2016, “jazz lore has formed the brands into a yin and yang of sorts: The Blue Note albums involved more original music, with rehearsal and the stringent, consistent oversight of Alfred Lion; Weinstock was more nonchalant, organizing what were essentially blowing sessions for some of the best musicians in jazz history”. Van Gelder said in 2012, “Alfred was rigid about how he wanted Blue Note records to sound. But Bob Weinstock of Prestige was more easygoing, so I’d experiment on his dates and use what I learned on the Blue Note sessions”. He also worked for Savoy Records in this period, among others. “To accommodate everyone, I assigned different days of the week to different labels”. Rudy was also a  pioneer in the development of live “on site” jazz recordings. In the 1950s Van Gelder also performed engineering and mastering for the classical label Vox Records. Thelonious Monk composed and recorded a tribute to Van Gelder entitled “Hackensack”.

Here is quote that I am  sure will raise the ire of fans of vinyl recordings. From 1999 on, he re-mastered the analog Blue Note recordings, that he had made several decades earlier, into 24-bit digital recordings for the Blue Note’s RVG Edition series and also a similar series of re-masters for the current owners, Concord Records, of some of the Prestige albums he had previously recorded.  He was positive about the switch from analog to digital technology. He told Audio magazine in 1995: “The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I’ve made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I’m glad to see the LP go. As far as I’m concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don’t like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That’s why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I’m not denying that they do, but don’t blame the medium.”

Van Gelder resided in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey where he died at his home on August 25, 2016.

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SummerSounds: The Little Jazz Orchestra

SummerSounds presents: The Little Jazz Orchestra, August 13, 7:30 pm, Rotary Park, Cranbrook.

It isn’t Newport, Rhode Island and the year is not 1958 but it could be the next best thing. The documentary film Jazz on a Summer’s Day was set at the penultimate jazz festival of the day and here in Cranbrook  a half century later we have SummerSounds and The Little Jazz Orchestra (LJO). In both instances the weather was wonderful, the music superb and the setting magical. Sure the crowd wasn’t as big and the number of performers was restricted to just the one band of superb musicians. But to be able to kick back an enjoy the music on this wonderful summer evening, what more could one want? The band line up sported a couple of changes; Dave Ward (Trumpet, Fluegelhorn), Janice Nicili  (Bass), Evan Bueckert,,(Keyboard)  and Graham Barnes (Guitar) were the long time members joined by special guest Rick Lingard (Alto Sax) and Julian Bueckert substituting for Sven Heyde on drums. The band delivered up a set of their funkified version of jazz stands and their own original compositions. Here are images from the evening:

012. Janice and Graham

202. Janice Nicli   206. Rick Lingard208. Graham Barnes  210. Graham Barnes102.   100.208a. Graham Barnes214. Janice Nicli  216. Evan Bueckert220. Julian Bueckert  222. Rick Lingard236. Dave Ward218. Evan Bueckert246. Janice Nicli  244. Janice Nicli238. Dave Ward256. Julian Bueckert258. Evan Bueckert

Dave looking for his muse

278. Graham Barnes270. Shelagh Redecopp280. Janice Nicli   282. Janice Nicli288. Evan Bueckert

And a spectacular end to the evening600a. Fire604. Flames

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LJO on the Small Stage at the Key City Theatre

The Little Jazz Orchestra at the Key City Theatre, Saturday June 11, 2016, 7:30 pm

100. On stage

The Little Jazz Orchestra (LJO) with their straight ahead Jazz concept has been a fixture on the local music scene for a number of years. The original membership of the band consisted of Dave Ward (Trumpet and Fluegelhorn), Janice Nicili (Acoustic Bass), Jim Cameron (Guitar) and Graham Knipfell (Drums). From time to time they featured other local guest artists. Dave and Janice remain on board with the latest edition of the band while Jim and Graham have moved onto other endeavors.  Sven Heyde has taken over the drum chair, Graham Barnes is now on guitar and Evan Bueckert has joined the band on Keyboards. The LJO is now a quintet. In keeping with their newer slightly more funky approach Janice Nicili has switched to Electric Bass

Normally they have a regular gig on the first Thursday of every month at the HeidOut Restaurant in Cranbrook. While that venue bristles with ambience it is a fairly noisy environment and to hear the band in this concert setting was a very welcome opportunity to really hear their music. It was an evening for the band to plunder the archives and come up with a solid batch of Dave Wade’s original tunes. The tunes go all the way back to the local band Wham go the Ducks (I never did find out about that name) when Dave was barely out of High School. From that era  of “Heaven and Hell” tunes (Dave’s description)  they extracted  Beelzebub and Heavenly Bodies. As witnessed by his tribute to his mum and dad in the tune Me and My Old Man and My Old Man’s Lady  Dave is never at a lost for whimsical titles. It was also evident in his nod to two long time fans Les and Vera-Lynn in Les is More. The lyrics were hardly ground breaking poetry but the sentiment and the riffs were heart felt . Sean Heyde added some tasty low keyed drum riffs on the tune Where to,  a tune written specifically for one of Janice Nicli’s bass lines. According to Dave, Make it So, was reaching for a Star Trek ambience. As a tribute to Graham Barnes and his occupation as a chef Janice named the whimsical tune It’s Chefie Pants. Sprinkled though out the sets were a couple of ballads that included the tune Nectar . One of the definite pluses of the evening was the opportunity for Evan Bueckert to show case his talents on the Hammond B3 Organ. This magnificent beast doesn’t get to see the light of day very often so it was real treat to hear one of Jazz’s unique sounds. The last time I heard the “B3”  in the Key City Theatre it was when Dr. Lonnie Johnson came to town with Cory Weed and his jazz outfit. That was a night not to be forgotten. This LJO event was also another memorable night with a choice mix of original tunes and tasty solos in a very choice intimate environment. Hope fully there will be more of the same in the future. Here are so images from the evening.

218. Dave Ward300. Sven Heyde and Janice Nicili  400. Janice and Graham  530. Evan Bueckert614. Janice Nicili304. Sven Heyde414. Graham Barnes  412. Graham Barnes416. Graham Barnes012. LJO Header200. Dave Ward512. Evan Bueckert224. Dave Ward206. Dave Ward220c. Dave Ward

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