JAZZ A LA MODE

Joseph Jarman
Marilyn Yee / The New York Times

Joseph Jarman, who died on Wednesday, January 9, at 81, was a free jazz icon best known for his long association with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in Chicago, Jarman played woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, and clarinet) and was a founding member of both the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the AEC.

Duke Ellington's Azure

Jan 7, 2019
The Mediterranean Off the Coast of Sardinia, December 2018
David Reney

My brother David, who lives in Paris, took this photograph during a trip he made to Sardinia after Christmas. His email subject line read “Azure,” which immediately brought to mind Duke Ellington’s song of that name. Ellington described Azure as “a little dulcet piece which portrays a blue mood.” Blue was Ellington's favorite color. When his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, was published in 1973, its dust jacket was brown. That had been his least favorite since 1935, for he was wearing a brown suit on the day his mother died.

Professor Longhair
Will Howcroft / Will Holcroft Photgraphy

My passion for New Orleans music ramped up to infatuation on July 3, 1973, when I heard Professor Longhair for the first time in Central Park.  The experience still stands as the single greatest unanticipated musical discovery of my life.  I knew nothing about Fess at the time and it’s unlikely I’d heard him on record.  The bulk of the pianist’s recordings had been made two decades earlier and by the early 60’s he’d fallen into obscurity, spending the next decade working odd jobs and gambling.  But his single, “Go to the Mardi Gras,” remained a seasonal favorite in the Crescent City, and in

Nancy Wilson, 1937-2018

Dec 14, 2018
Nancy Wilson in 2007
Wikipedia

The famed vocalist Nancy Wilson died on Thursday at her home near Los Angeles. She was 81. The Chillicothe, Ohio, native was an elegant beauty whom I first knew of through her early 1960s television appearances as both a singer and actress. I remember feeling somewhat mesmerized by her, and as I've reviewed clips of her on YouTube in recent years, I've concluded that it was her stillness and self-possession that initially drew me in; compared with the outsized figures I was accustomed to seeing on TV, she seemed perfectly calm and composed.

Count Basie called Joe Williams his "Number One son." The great singer first worked with Basie's Octet in 1950, and when he re-joined Basie in 1955 the success he'd long sought-- he was 37 by then-- was suddenly his with Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings. The Verve Records album was bookended by distinctly different songs that shared similar titles, "Every Day (I Have the Blues)," and "Ev'ry Day," and everything in between its covers was hard-swinging, deeply expressive, brilliantly arranged and perfectly played.

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