Saturday, April 28, 2012

Liner Notes for Dexterritory Album

Sweet tenor lifting/All American sorrows/Raises mouthpiece to mouth/And blows to finger” – Jack Kerouac

My first encounter with "Dexterritory" was in the cellar of Oliver’s, a tiny and atmospheric music club in Greenwich, London. There, I was introduced to a quartet which was entirely dedicated to performing the music of Dexter Gordon (1923-1990).

The leader and tenor player, a stubborn Irish musician, is Kevin McMahon who plays his hot and cool music on this record. This set is the first documented stop on their long journey to rediscover Dexter Gordon, not only as a giant tenorman, and surely a gentle one, but as a composer. Dexter’s pen, as well as his playing, reflects a powerful swinging and highly rhythmic mind that in spite of its speed and robust attack, remains tender and even divine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Unheard Masterpieces of The Band [for Levon Helm]

[update April 19, 2010, 20:27 GMT] Levon left us.

"Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul."

Bad news travels fast. Yesterday Levon Helm's family broke the news I was afraid to hear in a while:

Dear Friends, Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

Friday, April 13, 2012

John Coltrane Interviews, Part I: 1961-62

Michiel de Ruyter Interviews John Coltrane on November 19, 1961, and later, December 1, 1962. Parts of his comments and his introduction is in Dutch.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Swan Song of Pops

I've confessed this for many times. Most recently, I told it to an interviewer from Q show of the CBC radio: how like so many other jazz lovers around the world, I owe my interest in jazz and my life in jazz to the charisma and mastery of  Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong.

Nothing has changed about Satchmo. Having heard anything from King Oliver to Anthony Braxton, still Pops is Socrates of jazz for me. Every time you hear him, you're unreservedly moved. It was in here that I wrote how even playing his more "popular" tunes can be a revelation.

I mentioned these insignificant incidents in my life, just to remind myself how Satchmo, beyond the musical heritage, had been also a guiding light in my life. Therefore, anything related to him, naturally comes to there center of my attention, no matter what is the output; a new recording, a note, or just a smile. So release of a new album by Louis Armstrong, definitely can not be missed:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Charlie Parker's Dorsian Touch?

Recently attended a screening of Vincente Minnelli's I Dood It (1942) at National Film Theatre, I was amazed by its dedication to jazz music of the early 1940s. One of the subtexts of the film is the transition from popular big band music to a more personal, wilder and challenging jazz which is soon  about to happen in Minton's club. Though there is no reference to revolutionary bop music in I Dood It, the sharp contrast between early scenes in Jimmy Dorsey's MGM style club with its white sets, and overdecorated space with the last numbers played by Hazel Scott and Lena Horne alludes a change in life-style and art in which main characters with their social differences can reunite.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jazz for Dickens

"Dickens is one of those writers who are well worth stealing. Even the burial of his body in Westminster Abbey was a species of theft, if you come to think of it." [all quotations from George Orwell]

200 years after the birth of Dickens, and more than 100 years after the first recorded jazz, let's celebrate the crossing point which took place 50 years ago in London, when John Dankworth and his orchestra including some of the top-notch jazz musicians in the island recorded a LP of Dickens inspired songs and named it What The Dickens! As its title suggests, it is a suite based on characters and themes associated with Dickens's world, and what a world!

In a sense, jazz musicians of the early days were Dickensian characters: ambitious young men, living in poverty and grimness of the big cities. Most of them were redeemed by characters as colorful and tough as Magwitch. Louis Armstrong was the young Pip and Joe Oliver was Magwitch. The class struggles, chance and accident, mistakes and victories, and the highly moral frame of mind remained the same, though the setting was changed from London to New Orleans.