Jazz in Elsewhere

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Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project (Sony)

11 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

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


10 Jul 2010  |  6 min read  |  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  |  2 min read

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 INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

28 Jun 2010  |  12 min read

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

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

28 Jun 2010  |  1 min read

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

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

27 Jun 2010  |  9 min read

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  |  4 min read  |  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  |  3 min read  |  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


1 Jun 2010  |  9 min read

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

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

24 May 2010  |  1 min read  |  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

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

24 May 2010  |  4 min read

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  |  10 min read

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

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

22 May 2010  |  3 min read

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  |  5 min read

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  |  5 min read

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

CHARLES LLOYD INTERVIEWED (2010): A forest flower in full bloom

3 May 2010  |  8 min read  |  3

For exceptional people, we make an exception. And saxophonist Charles Lloyd is certainly exceptional. Not just because he enjoyed that rarity in jazz, a hit album (Forest Flower in 66 which anticipated the free spirit of the hippie era), or because he played bills with Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane. And not because he moved in literary circles with Beat writers Jack... > Read more

Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain, Eric Harland: Little Peacerom Lift Every Voice, 2002)

RAY BROWN, SUPERBASS (1926-2002): A talent beyond words

3 May 2010  |  4 min read

Ray Brown great practical joker. Once, in Japan, Brown --- bassist in pianist Oscar Peterson’s famous drummerless group, the most highly paid trio in the jazz world in the 1950s -- went to a pachinko hall, one of those gambling parlours where you are blinded by blazing neon and deafened by the incessant roll of small steel balls. He won and, instead of cashing in his ballbearings,... > Read more

Brown, Alexander, Malone: One for Hamp (2002)

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

26 Apr 2010  |  <1 min read

This transplanted jazz musician from Ethiopia (vibes/keyboards) has been one of the major (re)discoveries of the past few years. His ascent continues on this album which drifts to life on the airy, almost ambient opener where muted trumpet pokes over long and languid horn lines to create a post-Kind of Blue dreamscape. Then it springs up a step or two with Green Africa with oddly repetitive... > Read more

Mulatu Astatke: Green Africa

CHRIS BOWDEN (2002): His slightly askew career

26 Apr 2010  |  3 min read

Sometimes reviewers find words lifted from their articles as a banner for promotion. Film companies seem the main offenders in this: l’ve sometimes written unfavourable reviews of a movie only to see a few judiciously selected words like “an emotional rollercoaster ride” lifted out of a sentence which in full read, “a dreary emotional rollercoaster ride you... > Read more

BILL EVANS' 1963 ALBUM MOON BEAMS: Art from the heart place

24 Apr 2010  |  2 min read

By the merest shift of the prism Moon Beams, the album by the jazz trio lead by pianist Bill Evans, could easily be under Essential Elsewhere. But that of course would deny the genius of his recordings with bassist Scott LaFaro in late Fifites (and drummer Paul Motian) with whom he developed an intuitive understanding. But 10 days after sessions in  June '61 which became the Waltz for... > Read more

Bill Evans Trio: Very Early