Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Benny Carter-Earl Hines Quartet

The Spanish National TV, has generously made online a considerable number of its invaluable jazz programmes, including this treasure from 1976, set in Barcelona, with two giants, Benny Carter and Earl Hines, swinging at ease and delightfully performing classics and standards of the old days.

The majestic Palau de la Música Catalana, designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, perfectly suits the elegance of two maestros on stage and their charming combination of the old and the new.

The rhythm section is composed of Hines' team of 76 with Harley White Jr. on bass and Eddie Graham on drums.

It was in the same year that Carter played along with Ray Bryant, Milt Hinton and Grady Tate at Michael's Pub in New York, where the imminent Whitney Balliett caught him live and mused: "His saxophone solos gave the effect of skywriting: each hung complete in the air before being blown away by the succeeding soloist...he was a handsome man, with intelligent, questing eyes and hundred-watt teeth."

Jacques Derrida Interviews Ornette Coleman

"Repetition [in music] is as natural as the fact that the earth rotates." -- Ornette Coleman

In 1997, Ornette Coleman was in Paris for a concert when French deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida invited him to an interview. They met and tackled on subjects as diverse as language, improvisation, repetition, and Afro-American life. There were even some biographical anecdotes, shared by Coleman, for instance, the one about his ill-fated Town Hall concert whose spate of mishaps seems as extraordinary as the music:

"When I arrived in New York, I was more or less treated like someone from the South who didn't know music, who couldn't read or write, but I never tried to protest that. Then I decided that I was going to try to develop my own conception, without anybody's help. I rented the Town Hall on 21 December 1962, that cost me $600,I hired a rhythm and blues group, a classical group and a trio. The evening of the concert there was a snowstorm, a newspaper strike, a doctors' strike and a subway strike, and the only people who came were those who had to leave their hotel and come to the city hall. I had asked someone to record my concert and he committed suicide, but someone else recorded it, founded his record company with it, and I never saw him again."
Speaking to someone who's intensely into sign processes and making-meaning, Coleman has his semi-semiotic stories to tell:

Friday, March 4, 2016

London Flat, London Sharp: Best of American Jazz Recorded in London

(A detail of ) London Jazz Festival poster, designed by Damien Frost

There are hundreds of live and studio recordings made by visiting or resident American jazz musicians in London. This list, a new installment in the series I started with Paris and jazz, picks those London albums that I've liked most. 

Since 1939, when Fats Waller paid a visit and composed a suite celebrating London's neighborhoods and monuments, most of the jazz greats have appeared in and around the city. The crippling union regulations stopped many musicians from performing in the clubs until the 1960s, and the life expenses and poor weather drove many of them towards the Continent for permanent or semi-permanent stays. Yet, thought the past century, London with its passionate jazz buffs and a good deal of jazz literature remained an unmissable temporary stop for the musicians, as well as musical ideas, travelling from the United States to Europe.

The 15 albums below, obviously emphasising a certain attitude or taste which might not be everybody's, are some personal favourites from the most vital decades of jazz in Britain. Be sure, there are still hundred or more to name. (While picking your favourite albums be aware that there are famous records - Basie in London, for one - which were never recorded in London!)

Here is the list of 15 favourite jazz albums recorded by visiting Americans in London:

details as above