Ralph J. Gleason was a pioneer in music criticism. He published his first reviews in 1934, when he was a student at Columbia University, and by 1950, he was the first full-time jazz critic working for a major newspaper. Gleason's interests extended beyond jazz into comedy, folk, rock and politics. Thomas Cunniffe reviews two new collections of Gleason's work which cover the late journalist's astounding range and perception.
New in Retro Reviews:
ERROLL GARNER: "READY, TAKE ONE"/ SHIRLEY HORN: "LIVE AT THE FOUR QUEENS" The names Erroll Garner and Shirley Horn do not usually appear side-by-side in jazz histories. Yet in a vintage interview, Horn said that Garner was her first jazz influence. Both Garner and Horn created unique styles that were difficult for others to copy, specifically Garner's idiosyncratic approach to rhythm and Horn's intimate way with ballads. Thomas Cunniffe reviews newly released recordings by Garner and Horn in this month's Retro Review.
New in Historical Essays:
MEL, MARTY & THE DEK-TETTE The recorded collaborations between vocalist Mel Tormé and arranger Marty Paich were arguably the highlights of each man's career. The albums they recorded with a 10-piece studio ensemble, the Marty Paich Dek-tette are some of the finest vocal LPs ever made. Thomas Cunniffe's study of this music was originally part of his Master's Thesis, and has been published on several websites over the past two decades. This newly-revised edition of the article (with three embedded videos) now marks its first appearance on Jazz History Online.
Few contemporary vocalists have the stylistic range of Luciana Souza. She is a remarkable improviser and composer who can not only offer passionate interpretations of songs from America and Brazil, but is also a collaborator with contemporary classical composer Osvaldo Golijov. Thomas Cunniffe introduces you to Souza in this JHO profile, which includes audio and video clips of Souza at work
This month's vocal CD reviews spotlight four remarkable singers--two who have been reviewed here before (Sara Serpa and Elisabeth Lohninger), and two others who are new to our pages (Alyssa Allgood and Maggie Herron). Reviewer Thomas Cunniffe is eager to note that the adjectives in the review title are not intended as descriptions of each disc in turn, but a collection of qualities shared throughout the group.
With a historically divisive presidential campaign now in its final weeks, politics seeps into everything, even big band jazz. Thomas Cunniffe discusses three new recordings with roots in politics and world events (and not necessarily Trump vs. Clinton). In his review, Cunniffe predicts that the musical qualities present in these recordings by Delfeayo Marsalis, Ted Nash and Darcy James Argue will survive long past the current political cycle.
Don Cheadle's long-awaited Miles Davis film, "Miles Ahead" is far from a typical biopic. It requires its audience to come in with prior knowledge of Davis' life. However, it is a remarkable film, especially for a first-time director like Cheadle. In this DVD review, Thomas Cunniffe marvels at the way Cheadle juxtaposes various time frames from Davis' career into the same scenes.
Since the summer of 2015, when she uploaded her remarkable scat version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", French jazz vocalist Camille Bertault has been an internet sensation. In this edition of Sidetracks, Bertault tells Thomas Cunniffe about the inspiration for that video, and her unique and varied background. The article includes four embedded videos (and links to several more) plus a review of Bertault's new CD, "En Vie".
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