By February 14, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Individuality: a case for Erroll Garner, part 1.

As we’ve lamented here ad nauseum, individuality has become a lost art in jazz and other improvisational music. We talked earlier about tenor sax and trumpet players in that narrow temporal window between the demise of Swing and the birth of modern jazz, and how an immediately recognizable, unique style seemed to be an essential […]

Posted in: Iconoclasts, Jazz, Videos
By February 12, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Sid Caesar checks out.

Sid Caesar–who was NOT in our dead pool–left us today for that Borscht Belt in the sky. Sid’s “Your Show of Shows” on NBC in the early 1950’s was fairly edgy for its time, and the writers for that show–Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Mel Brooks and others—are all icons. Sid, in addition to using his […]

Posted in: Iconoclasts, Jazz, Videos
By February 7, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Merv Griffin “auditions” Jim Hall.

In 1965, even with Johnny Carson already entrenched as the king of late night television, other networks kept trying to establish their own bedtime talk shows. One that had relative success was that of Merv Griffin. After a brief run on NBC, Griffin’s syndicated show began in May of 1965. Like all talk shows of […]

Posted in: Jazz, Odds & Ends, Videos
By January 17, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Fiddle me this: jazz on the violin (part 1).

The video here features Stuff Smith’s extroverted violin with Kenny Drew’s trio, filmed at the Club Montmarte in Copenhagen in 1965. Hearing Smith in typically fine form here reminded us of the rarity of great jazz fiddlers. Not only have they worked the peripheries of jazz since its inception, they almost exist in spite of […]

Bud Powell, during his “decline”.

Bud Powell, the pianist most identified with bebop, and a musician who deserves much of the credit for setting modern jazz’s high technical standards, was generally considered to be in steady decline after several mental health crises in the late 1940’s and early ’50’s. Powell had burst on the jazz scene as a 16 year-old […]

Posted in: Jazz, Videos
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
By March 11, 2013 1 Comments Read More →

Hendrix and other dead things, like jazz.

(above) Audio file of Jimi Hendrix playing on the the 1965 Isley Brothers recording “Testify”. Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell and Angels collection has been out for a week now, and with the dust from that event settled, one can make a couple of observations. It’s a mostly-unremarkable set of studio odds and ends from the […]

Good music as bad advertising.

Good music as bad advertising.

Every time we hear Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion on National Public Radio, we get a giggle out of his longtime “sponsor”, Powdermilk Biscuits. Utilizing a Powdermilk jingle that changes a bit every week, and which often contains all manner of musical quotes, inside jokes and oddball references, Keillor’s fine on-air band and guests […]

Alvin Lee dead, like jazz, at 68.

Alvin Lee of the British blues-rock band Ten Years After has died at the age of 68. While his place in baby-boomer posterity was assured by his long solo on the tune “I’m Going Home” in the movie “Woodstock”. Lee was much more than that to musicians growing up in this era. Like most young […]

Posted in: Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll, Videos

Coltrane. Dolphy. You don’t really need to know anything else.

YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion are full of great—if often grainy—videos of jazz. This one looks pretty bad, but trust us: it’s one of the greatest things you’ll ever hear, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the state of jazz as it sat on the cusp of free improvisation in the early 1960’s. This is John Coltrane’s […]

Posted in: Jazz, Videos