Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stan Tracey and "Starless"

In 1965 British pianist Stan Tracey released an album called "Under Milk Wood" based on the Dylan Thomas play. It contained a piece that went on to become the most famous example of British jazz. Here forty years after the fact are Tracey and the saxophonist on the original, Bobby Wellins, playing that piece again, "Starless And Bible Black".

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cool Part 2

Here is the second part of the "Cool" episode of "The Subject Is Jazz" featuring Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh duetting on "Subconcious-Lee".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Drum Orgy

I ran across this video by accident and I'm just amazed this happened, three of the baddest men who ever picked up a pair of drumsticks, Sunny Murray, Elvin Jones and Art Blakey playing together!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Subject Is Cool Jazz

An intelligent and hip program about jazz on a major American television network? It sounds like the stuff of fantasy today but back in the 1950s, it was possible. Case in point: "The Subject Is Jazz", a 13 week show that ran on Sundays on NBC back in 1958. JazzVideoGuy has posted parts of the show on YouTube and they are great fun, critic Gilbert Seldes discussing various subgenres in the music which are then demonstrated by a band that includes Billy Taylor, show's musical director, on piano, Mundell Lowe on guitar, Ed Safranski on bass and Ed Thigpen. This excerpt is the fisrt half od a show on cool jazz with added musical guests Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh and Don Elliott. Even PBS would never do a show like this today. Heck they probably would never rerun this one.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Barron and Mehldau

A romp through "All Blues" by two gifted pianists, Kenny Barron and Brad Mehldau.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Take Five

I don't remember what the first jazz record I ever heard was but Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" had to be one of them. I still love everything about the piece, the circular rhythm, Joe Morello's authoritative break, Paul Desmond's amazing fluting alto and Dave Brubeck's nagging riffs. This is a particular delightful version of the song by the classic Brubeck quartet done in Berlin in 1966 with Brubeck and Desmond in particularly magical form.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Joe Henderson

Some elegant bossa nova from the great Joe Henderson.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sofia Koutsovitis

I hadn't heard of this singer before I ran across this clip but I really like the way she rocks a Brazilian groove. This also features African guitarist Lionel Loueke, a Herbie Hancock discovery.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Magma is one of those bands that creates its own category, a French group around since the 1970's that does a supercharged proggy jazz-rock revolving around a science fiction mythology created by the band's founder, drummer Christian Vander, that even involves the group's vocalists singing in a made-up language, Kobaian. The closest comparison I know would be Sun Ra and his Arkestra. I don't know if the two bands ever played on the same bill but if they had, a large chunk of the planet might have flown off into space.

There are a surprising number of clips of the group on You Tube. This one is the climax to a 2006 concert with old hands like Vander, bassist Jannick Top and vocalist Stella Vander (Christian's wife) still going strong alongside younger musicians.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wadada Leo Smith

Okay, finally back to some music. Here is a bracing bit of wotk from the current version of Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet with Vijay Iyer on keyboards, John Lindberg on bass and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums.