(L-R) A.J. Smith, Toots Thielemans, Paquito D’Rivera
(Photo of by Norm Harris)
I hate the overuse of the word “genius,” but in GUNTHER SCHULLER‘s case it was a natural fit. We lost him in 2015. Herewith some highlights of our time together.
The dailies, television, radio, all got it right. The music communities, classicists, jazz, conductor, french horn, composer, mentor, sire of two musicians, drummer George and bassist Edward are all here to testify as to his greatness, that other overused encomium.
Schuller and John Lewis coined the phrase “Third Stream” to define the combining of jazz and classical music. No matter what they called it, it didn’t work. It was neither fish nor foul.
For those of you who eschew the existence of the genre of Latin Jazz –more on that short list later– your blogster visited a tribute to Tito Puente and Machito by the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra arranged and conducted by their bassist Carlos Henriquez. Conspicuous by his absence even in the back of the trumpet section was JALC music director Wynton Marsalis.
UNHEARD NEVER RELEASED RECORDINGS BY A LEGENDARY GROUP
There they were lying in Chief Engineer’s, the late PETER BOULD’s, possession. Professionally recorded tapes of a quintet led by the legendary John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie: Gillespie, trumpet and vocals; Mike Longo, piano, Al Gafa, guitar, Earl May, bass, Mickey Roker, drums
Recorded at London’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in 1973 they lain fallow until Bould’s wife contacted DAVE USHER, producer and a partner in the Gillespie led short-lived DeeGee Records, about the possibility of issuing them.
Jazz is battling to stay alive. So wot’s nu? In the first half of 2015 we have lost and celebrated the contributions of artists and other progenitors of our art. To wit (not in any particular order): record company exec BRUCE LUNDVALL, multiple trumpeters CLARK TERRY & LEW SOLOFF, saxophonist and arranger BOB BELDEN, vocalist, guitarist, educator and poet JIM BARTOW, and innovative colossus, Pulitzer Prize awardee and MacArthur Fellow ORNETTE COLEMAN.
Along the way a special sidebar bow and shout-out to the family of MARGARET JUNTWAIT, the voice of WNYC’s Saturday afternoon opera broadcasts, a jazz devotee and daughter-in-law of our own Dick Katz.
FRANK SINATRA II : SINATRA IN HOLLYWOOD + GUESTS
What do Jane Russell and Eleanor Roosevelt have in common? Read on.
FRANK SINATRA turns 100 on Dec. 15, 2015. To commemorate the event UNLV has already presented the first of two lec-dems in April of some videos of him from Las Vegas and events around the world compiled by Prof. Arnold Jay Smith.
The first lecture in April 2015 was filled with videos reflecting his time with and love for the Big Bands of Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Don Costa. This time we make one stop only, from the Chairman of the Board’s Hollywood movie and television career.
“CAFE SOCETY SWING” is the name of a revue-type show wrapped around a bio at 59E59 in Manhattan. It stars, in reverse alphabetical order, Charenee Wade, Allan Harris and Cyrille Aimée, vocals –Harris doubles on guitar– in front of a talent-laden jazz octet. It’s center is one BARNEY JOSEPHSON and his clubs CAFE SOCIETY. (That is not a typo; there were two, uptown and down.) And there, dear readers, ends any similarity to this review and that which appeared in the New York Times. In short, the Times got it wrong!
Every major stop on the jazz trail had its instrument. New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong and his cornet and trumpet. Chicago, Bud Freeman and the tenor sax; Kansas City, Jo Jones and the hi hat and brushes. Then came the Swing Era. The voice was Benny Goodman’s clarinet. Soon every bandleader played one or featured sidemen who did. Woody Herman had successful hits as he mastered the alto sax but switched to the clarinet. Ditto Jimmy Dorsey. Too simplistic? Perhaps, but you get my point.