Jazz in Elsewhere

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Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence (HideInside/Southbound)

1 Aug 2010    1

British jazz pianist Cowley and his trio seem to blow hot and cold: their '06 album Displaced was terrific (see here), but on their Loud Louder Stop of last year (here) they resorted to repetitive rock-like riffery as if to distance themselves from the "jazz" world. There is more hard hammering riffery on parts of this new album but here at least Cowley stretches out to show those... > Read more

Neil Cowley Trio: Vice Skating

Scott LaFaro: Pieces of Jade (Resonance)

26 Jul 2010

The great jazz bassist Scott LaFaro didn't have a long time -- he was killed in a car accident in 1961 at age 25 -- but his impact on acoustic jazz was, and remains, significant for his work in the classic Fifties trio with pianist Bill Evans and drummer Paul Motian. His gentle, often high, singing tone allowed for great emotional dexterity and depth -- and appended to this short collection... > Read more

LaFaro, Friedman, LaRoca: Woody'n You

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

19 Jul 2010

This rhythm-driven four-piece from Wellington is one part early Talking Heads (or the Feelies as a jazz ensemble), a slug of Sun Ra if he'd come from South East Asia and not Saturn, some seriously brain-bending guitar work (with one ear on mad Afro-juju as much as bent country jiggery and scattergun free playing), theremin, tape machines, chanty sections and Lord knows what else. It is an... > Read more

Orchestra of Spheres: Isness

SUN RA IN THE SEVENTIES (2010): Back from space

12 Jul 2010

In the late Eighties and early Nineties, Sun Ra was the hip name to drop into rock conversations: I think Sonic Youth and Henry Rollins started it, but frequently rock musicians who had paid scant attention to jazz of any kind were mentioning the great Sun Ra alongside Led Zeppelin as an influence. As with Tony Bennett being cool with the grunge generation, I kinda doubted it. Sun... > Read more

Sun Ra: Tenderly

Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project (Sony)

11 Jul 2010

Regardless of what you think of John Lennon's song Imagine -- and opinion ranges from drippy sentimentality to inspirational -- most would agree the song succeeds with many people for its understated delivery. Lennon sang it without aching obviously through whatever emotion he might be bringing to it, which allowed the listener to fill in the gap. Wish we could say the same for the many... > Read more

Herbie Hancock: Tomorrow Never Knows

JOE HENDERSON INTERVIEWED (1994): A star to guide them

11 Jul 2010

Joe Henderson is sitting at a press conference in Carnegie Hall, New York, patiently answering another dumb leading question. Someone among the contingent of journalists has just asked this legendary tenor saxophonist -- who turned 57 this week -- why it has taken so long for him to be recognised. Henderson smiles wanly and with the humility that has been his hallmark says maybe it was... > Read more

Joe Henderson: Lotus Blossom (from Lush Life, 1992)

THELONIOUS MONK; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

10 Jul 2010    1

In late November 1963, a 5000 word profile of Thelonious Monk was scheduled to appear in Time magazine. Monk was to be the cover. An interviewer and jazz aficionado Barry Farrell from Time had spent months with Monk watching him at work and relaxing at home with his family, and the Russian painter Boris Chaliapin had been commissioned to paint Monk's portrait. (Chaliapan complained that... > Read more

Thelonious Monk: Introspection (1947, with bassist Gene Ramey, drummer Art Blakey)

BESSIE SMITH: The Empress of the Blues -- and jazz? (1991)

7 Jul 2010

It wasn’t just because he discovered Bessie Smith that Columbia executive John Hammond sank money into recording her in 1933 when her money was all gone. Columbia was all but bankrupt and Hammond scuffling for bucks himself. But to the end of his life Hammond simply believed Bessie Smith to be “the greatest artist American jazz ever produced.” A "jazz" artist,... > Read more

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

28 Jun 2010

From the opening bars - a slightly discordant guitar and unsettling drums and knocks -- this album announces itself as something delivering the unexpected by a young jazz trumpeter out of New Orleans. Scott, 27, and his smart young band here probe the edges of the avant-garde and free playing but always remain thoroughly grounded in the long tradition that reaches from Louis Armstrong and... > Read more

Christian Scott: American't

CHRISTIAN SCOTT INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

28 Jun 2010

Trumpeter Christian Scott out of New Orleans is a hot property in jazz these days. He has received considerable critical acclaim for his unique tone (he plays a specially made trumpet) and the intensity of his playing. He learned from grandfather Big Chief Donald Harrison Snr and uncle Donald Harrison Jnr who had played in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, won a scholarship to Berklee, was... > Read more

Christian Scott: KKPD

THE YOUNG LIONS OF JAZZ (1994): Tomorrow is the question

27 Jun 2010

If rock is the culture which eats its young -- or at least allows Kurt Cobain to leave a suicide note which says “I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child” -- then jazz is the music which barely allows youth to exist at all. The contract of jazz almost demands its young artists leap fully grown into the world not only as inheritors... > Read more

Joshua Redman: Soul Dance (with Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins, 1994)

FREE JAZZ OF THE SEVENTIES: Missing in action . . . and in-action

14 Jun 2010    1

Without wishing to sound the complete High Fidelity, but I was moving some albums around the other night ... As with many people I have an embarrassment of riches on vinyl, and a rich amount of embarrassing vinyl too.  I’d certainly be at a loss to explain how I acquired that three album set of The History of Flo and Eddy and the Turtles, the "classic" Peanut... > Read more

CHET BAKER REMEMBERED: The long journey into night

8 Jun 2010    1

Trumpeter Chet Baker's death in 1988 was tragic -- but, at 59, he was lucky to have lived so long. A brilliant stylist whose work in Gerry Mulligan's piano-less quartet in the early Fifties -- and whose recordings in Paris shortly afterwards -- are worth serious investigation, Baker modelled himself on Miles Davis at his most ineffably cool. Although his trumpet playing rarely explored... > Read more

Chet Baker: The Thrill is Gone

BRANFORD MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (1988): Family matters

1 Jun 2010

Alright, here’s one for old folks. Don’t you wonder what ever happened to Chris Jagger? Yes, Mick’s brother - you must remember him, he launched his own recording career somewhere back there in the late 60s. It was around the time Fred Lennon (yep, John’s dad) released his first - and only -- single. OK, that’s cruel, but you have to sympathise with these... > Read more

DIXIELAND DISCOVERY: Louis, Pete, Al and me down South

24 May 2010

Duke Ellington famously observed there’s only two kinds of music, good and bad. He may well be right. But there's also hey-nonny-nonny folk music, most of which frankly I don't consider music at all. It’s a mistake. Most of my life I’ve managed to avoid folk - except for one year when I was asked to judge the category for our annual Music Awards. This was such a... > Read more

Louis Armstrong: Dear Old Southland (1957)

MANFRED EICHER OF ECM RECORDS, INTERVIEWED (1992): Art for the artists' sake

24 May 2010

As much as a disembodied voice down a phone line can, Manfred Eicher confirms the impression he made on English journalist Richard Cook when he visited London in late ’89: “He is a slim, rather careworn-looking man, whose great energy and dedication don’t always break through a cautious temperament,” wrote Cook, describing this founder of the German record label ECM... > Read more

Keith Jarrett: Shenandoah

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden: Jasmine (ECM/Ode)

24 May 2010    1

Here is a rare one: this is Elsewhere regular, Keith Jarrett's first recording outside of his trio in . . . well, it almost seems like forever. And his choice of companion is the great bassist Charlie Haden with whom he hadn't played in over three deacdes. If you want a piano-bass duet album, why not have the best? And these two are the best. These eight, carefully measured pieces find... > Read more

Keith Jarret, Charlie Haden: One Day I'll Fly Away

AMIRI BARAKA/LE ROI JONES: A black critic in the black arts

22 May 2010

Nobody talks about Amiri Baraka these days, despite the fact he’s still alive*, still writing and still irritating the hell out of people. That’s called doing God’s work. The last time he was sighted in the public domain was in that Warren Beatty movie, Bulworth. He had a bit-part playing a street bum-cum-guardian angel to Beatty’s flipping-out senator. It was good... > Read more

THE FATE OF THE NU: Something old, new, borrowed and Blue Note

17 May 2010

Pity any movement that describes itself as “New . . .” or, worse, “the future”. By definition i is fated to an inevitable and humiliatingly early grave when the next “new” movement, or something else promising to be “the future”, arrives. Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, new movements, promising to be the future of jazz,... > Read more

Come Together (DJ Kingsize remix, with Dianne Reeves, Bob Belden Project, Cassandra Wilson)

SEB ROCHFORD OF POLAR BEAR INTERVIEWED (2010): Always give a job to a busy man

10 May 2010

For a man who can make a big noise and very often, drummer Seb Rochford of the innovative UK jazz quartet Polar Bear (and many other side-projects) is very quietly spoken. It is 10.30am and even fortified by a coffee he speaks slowly and at times almost inaudibly, yet throughout some dry self-effacing humour creeps in. Rochford -- the composer for Polar Bear -- comes from a large family... > Read more

Polar Bear: Happy For You