Tag: lester young

From Spirituals to Swing.

From Spirituals to Swing.

in 1938, producer John Hammond decided to present an ambitious concert documenting the history of “American Negro music, from spirituals to Swing.” Hence the name, and hence the historic night at New York’s Carnegie Hall that December. Intended as a tribute to Bessie Smith, who had died the previous year, the concert ended up being […]

Posted in: Jazz
By March 28, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Jazz humor?

Above is a video of comedian Pete Barbutti telling one of his signature jazz stories on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, from some time in the 1980’s. At least conversant on several instruments, Barbutti has functioned for years in the same role Victor Borge did for classical music. Barbutti is essentially the jazz version […]

Posted in: Jazz, Odds & Ends, Videos
Jazz archaeology.

Jazz archaeology.

From left to right (above): Sidney Bechet’s soprano sax, Louis Armstrong’s first cornet, Lester Young’s tenor, Roy Eldridge’s trumpet Aficionados of practically anything enjoy the arcane, the ephemeral, the trivial, the obscure and even the bizarre about whatever it is that captures their devotion. Students of “serious” history are no exception. And they certainly don’t […]

Posted in: Jazz

In praise of weirdos.

One thing that strikes us about the current state of American audio culture is the conspicuous lack of weirdos. We’re not talking about people who simply dress weird, or those who act weird due to mental impairments or disease. And we aren’t talking about “weird” when it becomes some sort of mainstream thing, like “alternative” […]

A case of art imitating art.
By February 27, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

A case of art imitating art.

We love movies. Hell, we love movies almost as much as we love music. But unlike creative American forms such as jazz, rock and country, movies are no more dead or alive today than they’ve ever been, which bodes well for cinema’s future. Or sounds its death knell. Whatever. We love ’em regardless. Combining these […]

Random Thursday musings
By February 14, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Random Thursday musings

Yesterday would have been Wardell Gray’s 92nd birthday. Why does that matter, and who the hell was he, you might ask? When I first started playing tenor saxophone back in the early 1970’s, I was oddly lucky to be turned on to Lester Young before almost any other saxophone players. Especially odd considering Young had […]

Posted in: Jazz, Odds & Ends
By February 8, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Let’s watch a movie! About jazz!

In 1944, the then-young jazz impresario Norman Granz was asked by Warner Bros. to put together some musicians for a short subject film about jazz. Granz had been recommended by photographer Gjon Mili, an Albanian-born engineer and technical photographer who had recently become famous by using his freeze-motion photographic technique on a series for Life […]

Posted in: Jazz, Videos
Individuality: a first listen
By February 6, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Individuality: a first listen

In our last few posts, we’ve begun a lament about the demise of individuality and easily recognized styles among musicians. Here’s a suggested playlist to support what we’ve discussed thus far. As usual, hit the song titles, which are Amazon links, to listen to a sample, and to purchase the songs individually. We mentioned Count […]

Individuality: a lost art, part 2
By February 5, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Individuality: a lost art, part 2

We mentioned in our last post that individual style, wherein a musician’s general sound is so unique and recognizable as to be unmistakably his alone, is a dead commodity in modern American music. We went on to say that one of the most fruitful periods and environments for this sort of individuality was that transitional […]

Posted in: Jazz, Rants
By February 4, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Individuality: a lost art

To an attentive jazz listener, and one who’s into arcane and archaic music, the tenor saxophone playing of Ben Webster is immediately recognizable, and sounds nothing like that of Lester Young. Or Sonny Rollins. Or even like a less-ambitious player such as King Curtis. Similarly, none of the these players sound like any of the […]


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