It would be hard Lester Young being anything except a jazz musician. His music was so emotionally transparent that it was easy to tell his mood just by the sound of his improvisations. Dave Gelly's biography "Being Prez" is the first book to discuss Young's life and music side by side. As Thomas Cunniffe notes in his book review, the lack of new revelations about Young are balanced by Gelly's insightful connections between Young's life and music.
New in Retro Reviews:
(RE) DISCOVERING TUBBY HAYES Tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes has been nearly forgotten in the United States, but in the United Kingdom, he is revered as one of the greatest jazz musicians Britain ever produced. Hayes died over 40 years ago, but his legacy has been kept alive through an avalanche of live and unissued Hayes recordings issued in the past decade. In this expanded Retro Review. Thomas Cunniffe examines the wide-ranging music of this sometimes neglected giant.
AT THE OPERA HOUSE REVISED AND UPDATED! In 1957, Norman Granz launched the 18th tour of Jazz at the Philharmonic. The concerts yielded 5 separate albums featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and the JATP All-Stars. All of the albums were titled "At the Opera House" but on four of the five albums, the mono editions were recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles! In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe sorts out the discographical maze and discusses all five of the albums in both their mono and stereo editions.
Anita Wardell may be the greatest singer you've never heard. Well-known in Europe, but barely known in the US, Wardell is one of the best scat singers in jazz today, and she also is a superb interpreter of vocalese, jazz originals and standards. Thomas Cunniffe introduces you to Wardell in this profile which features 5 complete audio selections and a video performance.
Duchess is an exciting new vocal trio based in New York City. While Melissa Stylianou, Hilary Gardner and Amy Cervini all have notable careers as solo artists, they clearly love making music together. Shortly before the group celebrated the release of their debut CD, Thomas Cunniffe chatted with the group about their repertoire, inspirations and goals.
The two vocal CDs reviewed this month memorialize a great musician (and his wife), and an honored son. Karla Harris celebrates the rarely-heard vocal music of Dave & Iola Brubeck, while Chris McNulty offers a heartfelt memorial to her late son, Sam (aka the hip-hop performer Chap One). Thomas Cunniffe gives his reactions to these intensely personal albums.
Not all of the giants in New York play at the Meadowlands. Indeed, most of the giants heard in this month's instrumental CD reviews are most likely to be found at Manhattan's many nightspots. The range of the music, including Anat Cohen's Brazilian ensemble, Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project, and the straight-ahead groups led by Steve Turre and Ben Wolfe display some of the styles played in the Big Apple. Thomas Cunniffe reviews these four remarkable new albums.
The number of bassist/vocalists in jazz history is rather small, and the number gets smaller when factoring in how many are women. In this edition of Sidetracks, Thomas Cunniffe introduces us to Los Angeles-based Katie Thiroux, whose abundant talents as singer, composer, arranger, bassist and bandleader are displayed in her newly-released debut CD.
Like most people, Fred Hersch doesn't remember his dreams. But the dreams he envisioned while in a medically-induced coma were so vivid, he described them in detail after he regained consciousness. Those dreams, and the story of his illness, are part a of a hybrid jazz/theatre work called "My Coma Dreams". Thomas Cunniffe reviews the newly released DVD of a performance at Columbia University.
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