Tuesday, August 27, 2013

WKCR birthday broadcast for Lester Young and Charlie Parker 89.9 FM in the New York area is doing a birthday broadcast for Lester Young and Charlie Parker now through the night of  August 29 at midnight.  This is to honor two of the greatest influences on music.  Lester Young was born on August 27, 1909 and Charlie Parker was born on August 29, 1920.  WKCR has been doing these broadcasts for many years, so check it out.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Retro 50's: Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan Sing the Best of Irving Berlin

Recorded in 1957, the album features standards like Cheek to Cheek, I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Isn't This A Lovely Day,

Beautiful Sarah Vaughan was an accomplished singer and pianist whose career spanned the 1940's to the 1980's.
Sarah Vaughan and Quincy Jones
A great casual snapshot of Sarah
Billy Eckstine was a vocalist and band leader who also had a long career spanning the 1940's to the 1980's.  He was known as the first romantic black male in popular music.
Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine
Here's a song from the album, Cheek to Cheek
A great album for an evening at home dancing cheek to cheek with your sweetheart.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Louis Armstrong birthday broadcast, August 4


Louis Armstrong celebrated his birthday on July 4, 1900.  However a baptismal document, years after his death, revealed that his true birthday is August 4, 1901.  So WKCR has two 24 hour birthday broadcasts.  See for the celebration!!  Below is an interesting video of Pops on the Johnny Cash show.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

There's nothing like live music

I was thinking about all the live music I've had the opportunity to see over the years.  Moving to central New Jersey from upstate New York got me close enough to New York City.  It's hard to remember complete details, but I believe I started seeing live bands in Madison Square Garden, Giants stadium, and similar venues.  Here is a list, as complete as my memory, and old ticket stubs, program guides, etc. will allow.

1979-80 Stevie Wonder at Madison Square Garden
1979 The Crusaders at Carnegie Hall
1979 Narada Michael Walden, Rufus and Shaka Kahn, the Brothers Johnson at Carnegie Hall
1980 Bob Marley and the Wailers and the Commodores at Madison Square Garden
1980 The Isley Brothers at Madison Square Garden
1980 Cameo, Teddy Pendergrass, The Barkays, Rick James, GQ, Peabo Bryson, Teena Marie, and    others I can't recall at Various Summer fests
1980 Earth Wind & Fire
1982 Superstramp
1982 The Kinks, Foreigner, and several others I can't recall at a summer fest in the Brendan Byrne arena in New Jersey.
1986 Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers in New Brunswick
1987 Dizzie Gillespie and the United World orchestra, featuring James Moody, Jon Faddis, Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Dandoval, and others, and Wynton Marsalis at the Jersey Shore
1988 Prince at the Rutgers auditorium
1988 Tito Puente Bethlehem, Pa
1994 Doc Cheatam at Sweet Basil

It wasn't until the late 90's that I started seeing more jazz.  There was a winter program at the Monmouth County library system, and they brought some impressive musicians, including
Milt Jackson,  Mike LeDonne, Kenny Washington, and others.
1999 The Duke Ellington Orchestra with Paul Mercer Ellington, Duke's grandson leading.
2000 Retumba Perth Amboy, N.J.
2001 Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter New Brunswick
2003 Jackson Browne Fort Myers, Fl.
2003-04 Bob Marley festivals in Miami, Fl
2006 Toots and the Maytals, Little Feat and Twobob Crew at the Orange Peel Asheville, N.C.
2007 Brick Downtown Asheville, N.C.
2007 David Byrne Asheville, N.C.
2007 Eddie Palmieri in Hendersonville, N.C.
2008 Chick Corea Boone, N.C.

I've also seen many other local bands who are great musicians.  If you get a chance go out and see live music, there is nothing like it.  Some of the above named bands are still active, and you may be able to see them in your area.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Louis Armstrong birthday broadcasts, July and August 4

WKCR will be doing two 24 hour broadcasts to honor Louis Armstrong, the one who taught the world to swing.  Louis celebrated his birthday on July 4, 1900, but a baptismal document revealed that his real birthday was August 4, 1901.  So WKCR will do two broadcasts, one on each day.  See

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Eric Dolphy's 84th birthday anniversary

Eric Dolphy was a multi instrumentalist who died much too young, but he left an amazing body of work.  He played the alto saxophone, bass clarinet, piccolo, flute, and baritone saxophone.  Dolphy collaborated with Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Booker Little, Ornette Coleman, Oliver Nelson and many others.  He also had a career as a leader.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's In A Name?

I'm reminded of a time when I worked in a warehouse in Central New Jersey.  A small group of us were discussing the music we were listening to.  This is going back 30 years, but the two bands I remember in the discussion were Chic, who was a black band, and the Allman Brothers band, who were a mixed band (black and white).  A coworker of mine, who was black, was touting Chic.  One of the others in the discussion, who was white, was saying something like, "Chic is a good band, but my favorite band is the Allman Brothers Band." Etc., etc.   At the time I was listening to music by black bands, like Chic, and I didn't know anything about the Allman Brothers, other than what the top 100 a.m. radio stations had played.

As time went by, I learned about what the Allmans had done musically, and looking back on the discussion, it's ironic, because the Allmans had made more authentic "black" music than Chic, who at that time were making dance music, with a catchy beat, with guitar and bass as primary instruments.  Can't say who was a better band.  Certainly Chic was a great band, the co leaders being Nile Rodgers on guitar and Bernard Edwards on Bass.  The Allmans were primarily playing blues, which is the precursor to most of the "popular" music that most of us listen to.  And Duane brought his extensive experience as a session guitarist for folks like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley, Clarence Carter, The Soul Survivors, etc. who were all black recording artists.

Duke Ellington said many years ago, "there are two kinds of music, good music and bad music."  I think the maestro nailed it with one sentance. 

Happy listening!!

Allman Brothers

Duane Allman
Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A musical guide from long ago.

I had a dream about someone I met about 30 years ago, who was a very strong early influence on broadening my musical horizons.  There isn't much to the dream, we were talking about music, but it's very fuzzy. 

The setting was  Newark Airport, in the early 80's. We met while working for an airline in the reservations department.  He was from Ohio, and his name was Jerry Brown, and he was a guitarist, who recorded with his own band.  I remember that he told me to listen to a show called Latin Jazz Sunday which was on a jazz radio station in Newark, N.J.   This was in the early 80's, before I had started listening to jazz, so I had never heard of this station.  Anyway, this Latin Jazz Sunday was hosted by Chico Mendoza, a Cuban composer, arranger, and band leader.  And he played quite a variety of music which would fall under the umbrella of Latin Jazz.  He played Machito, the Fort Apache Band led by Andy and Jerry Gonzalez, Tito Puente, Jorge Dalto, Ruben Blades, the Palmieri brothers, Eddie and Charlie,  to name a few.  He would also feature new unheard of musicians to try to get them much needed publicity.  Entire album featured were another great feature.  He was a kook too, always saying what was on his mind; a fun loving type of guy.   

Getting back to Jerry Brown, he would turn me on to many musicians of all genres and styles.  One band that he introduced me to was Weather Report, during the time when Jaco Pastorius was with the band.  He also talked about what he was doing with himself musically.  One time he made two cassettes, one of him and his band, and another of another musician he knew from Ohio, Lewis Misheff.  Lewis was a rocker at that time.   The other tape of Jerry's band had an improvisational version of My Favorite Things, in the ilk of John Coltrane's version.  I remember that the other tunes were a mixture of funk, ballads and straight jazz, with a lot of improvisation.  One of my regrets is that those tapes didn't last long; they must have been bad tapes. 

I have recently tried to locate Jerry, but not luck.  I did manage to find Lewis Misheff, who does remember him, but hadn't heard from him in over 10 years.  Lewis is still active and he has an account on face book.

It's been many years since then.  I knew Jerry Brown only very briefly, but he left a long lasting impression.  Also Chico Mendoza left only a couple of years after I started listening to his show, but he too left a lasting impression.  I will always remember these people for introducing me to this great art form known as jazz.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I was thinking that this is a good time to talk about the ECM record label.  I first discovered the label through Keith Jarrett lps.  After further research, I decided that I would buy any lp on the label.  I have ECM lps by Jan Garbarek, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, and Path Methany  Below is an excerpt from the ECM website,

Founded by producer Manfred Eicher in 1969, ECM has to date issued more than 1200 albums spanning many idioms. After establishing an early reputation with standard-setting jazz recordings by Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and others, ECM began to include contemporary composition – including Steve Reich’s landmark “Music for 18 Musicians” – in its programme in the late 1970s; Eicher’s own background, as a musician active in both jazz and classical music, provided an unusually broad vantage point from which to survey, and influence, the genres.

ECM New Series was launched in 1984, originally to introduce Arvo Pärt’s “Tabula Rasa”, and has since become a broad platform for a wide variety of composed music from the pre-baroque era to the present day. The New Series continues to issue premiere recordings of Pärt’s works, including the recent “4th Symphony”, with further discs from the Estonian composer in preparation. Other regularly featured contemporary composers include Valentin Silvestrov, Tigran Mansurian, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Heinz Holliger, Giya Kancheli, György Kurtág, Meredith Monk, and Heiner Goebbels. A long line of distinguished interpreters has included Kim Kashkashian, András Schiff, Gidon Kremer, Thomas Demenga, the Hilliard Ensemble, Thomas Zehetmair, Carolin Widmann, Rolf Lislevand, Till Fellner, Herbert Henck, Alexei Lubimov, András Keller, Miklós Perényi, John Holloway, Trio Mediaeval, John Potter’s Dowland Project and the Rosamunde Quartett with Anja Lechner – amongst many others. The New Series is also a platform on which newer names may be encountered, such as label debuts by Swiss clarinettist Reto Bieri and Italy’s Duo Gazzana, as well as a first solo recital by Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon.

The quality of ECM albums at all levels – from musicianship, production and engineering to cover art – has been widely recognised and the label has collected many awards. ECM has been hailed, by UK newspaper The Independent, as “the most important imprint in the world for jazz and new music.” In 2007 ECM won prizes as both classical label of the year and jazz label of the year (from the MIDEM Classical Awards and the Jazz Journalists Association). In 2008, 2009 and 2010 other double-wins saw Eicher voted producer of the year and ECM label of the year in the Down Beat Critics Poll. Also in 2009, ECM New Series was chosen as label of the Year by UK magazine Gramophone.

The label has documented jazz and improvised music from both sides of the Atlantic and brought together many musicians in new and influential combinations, amongst them the Chick Corea/Gary Burton duo, the ‘Belonging’ band with Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen, the ‘Magico’ trio of Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti and Charlie Haden... the list goes on.

ECM’s recordings of jazz from across Europe have served to put many musicians on the map. Scandinavian jazz was highlighted in ECM’s early years as Terje Rypdal, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen were introduced in Garbarek’s “Afric Pepperbird” Quartet in 1970, and Bobo Stenson added to the roster the following year. The label continues to support musicians of the Far North, with Trygve Seim, Christian Wallumrød, Mathias Eick, Tord Gustavsen, Arve Henriksen, and Sinikka Langeland all finding wider international recognition in the last decade.

But the outflung net of ECM production is cast wide, and musicians from most compass points have been drawn to the label. Returning to ECM in 2003 after a long hiatus, Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava brought with him pianist Stefano Bollani, now also recognized as a major player (newest Bollani release, the live “Orvieto”, a programme of duets with Chick Corea). Rava’s own “Tribe” now features the next generation of Italian improvising talent, including trombonist Gianluca Petrella and pianist Giovanni Guidi. Clarinettist/saxophonist Gianluigi Trovesi has been heard in many contexts, freely celebrating Kurt Weill, Jacques Offenbach or Monteverdi in a jazz spirit. Pianist Stefano Battaglia’s projects explore a wide range of artistic reference from literature to film. Battaglia’s “Re: Pasolini”, like French pianist François Couturier’s Tarkovsky Quartet draws inspiration from the world of film.

ECM's interests likewise extend across the arts, and the label has released complete soundtracks of Jean-Luc Godard's “Nouvelle Vague” and “Histoire(s) du Cinéma” and a DVD of Godard’s short films, as well as Eleni Karaindrou's music for film and theatre.

Trans-cultural collaboration has been a theme at ECM for decades, with the Codona trio of Don Cherry, Collin Walcott and Nana Vasconcelos amongst the trailblazers (their recordings of the 1970s and 80s have been reissued in the Old & New Masters boxed set series). The music of Anouar Brahem, mirroring the Tunisian oud master’s life and experiences draws upon Arab, North African and European sources. Iranian kamanche player Kayhan Kalhor has been exploring East-meets-East hybrids, in the group Ghazal with Indian sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan and more recently in projects with Turkish baglama virtuoso Erdal Erzincan. Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui came to ECM as the lead singer of Jon Balke’s spirit-of-Al-Andalus celebration “Siwan”. Her own “Arco Iris” transcribes a poetic geography of the Iberian peninsular and touches on fado and flamenco music as well as the Garnati tradition that is at the core of Alaoui’s work.

From the other side of the world, Argentinean bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi has continued to make a personal music outside the style categories and beyond the tango. In a current trio he works with saxophonist brother Felix Saluzzi and cellist Anja Lechner, telling stories with yearning melodies and textures redolent of both chamber music and Andean folk song.

Charles Lloyd builds a bridge to Greek music on “Athens Concert” and Maria Farantouri crosses it to sing with Lloyd’s outstanding jazz quartet. Jazz, itself a melting pot of musical influences, remains of crucial importance for ECM and while the label has waved a banner for idiosyncratic European improvisers from John Surman to Louis Sclavis and Miroslav Vitous, it has also kept the US jazz tradition firmly in view. Keith Jarrett’s “Standards” trio with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock has asserted the primacy of the Great American Songbook for the best part of 30 years. Standards, freely played, also provide the basis for the meeting of minds on “Live at Birdland” by Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

For 40 years Jarrett’s improvised solo piano concerts have established a tradition of their own, documented on recordings from “The Köln Concert” to “Rio”, and in turn influencing successive generations of players.

Acoustic music, painstakingly recorded, has provided the focus of much work on ECM. A second stream, with music incorporating electronics, has also been present almost from the beginning of the label’s history. In the Music Improvisation Company and, later, his own Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, Evan Parker blurred distinctions between new music composition and post-free improvising. John Potter and composer Ambrose Field have applied electronic processing to renaissance music and the Kurtágonals trio, with György Kurtág jr. on synthesizers, propose new collage techniques. Nils Petter Molvaer, with the influential “Khmer”, kept one ear cocked to landscapes of dub, hiphop and drum’n’bass. And one of the most talked-about releases of 2011 was “Re: ECM”, an album of sound structures, electronically transforming original ECM recordings. Here, Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer shaped music spanning several worlds, including ECM’s world of space-conscious improvisation and composition and the worlds of ambient electronics and minimal techno.

An account of ECM’s activities through four decades is encompassed in the book “Horizons Touched” (Granta Books, London, 2007). ECM’s cover art was the subject of “Sleeves of Desire” (Lars Müller Publishers, Badem, 1996); a second volume of ECM covers, “Windfall Light”/Der Wind, das Licht” was published by Lars Müller in November 2009. A Festschrift, “Der Blaue Klang” based upon a symposium at Mannheim University in the framework of ECM’s 40th anniversary events, was published in 2010. Documentation of ECM also continues in other media. Swiss filmmakers Norbert Wiedmer and Peter Guyer for five years followed Manfred Eicher to sessions around the world. Their documentary, “Sounds and Silence” received its first screenings in autumn 2009; a DVD edition and a soundtrack album were issued in 2011.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Musical discoveries in unlikely places

There are several items that I've found on the internet that I would like to share.  Most of these discoveries were totally by accident.  The first is a website that has free music videos of several artists such as Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Cream, Deeple Purple, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Below is the link.

I've also found all the early Pink Floyd albums, in their entirety.  Syd Barrett was there for most of these.  Piper At The Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummugumma, etc.  It's really interesting music, music which you never hear on the "classic" rock stations.

I always like to see unlikely or uncommon unions between musicians.  I discovered recently that Carlos Santana did an album with Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane's wife, in 1974.  Also Jerry Garcia worked with Ruben Blades, the band leader from Panama.


This is just a sample of the stuff that you can find on the internet that is out of the ordinary.  I'm sure there is much more than what I've seen.  If you have any other stuff of interest, post it on the comments.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Worldwide touring schedule

Many artists are out there touring this year in every corner of the globe.   Check locally in bars, restaurants, libraries, cafes, colleges, and other small venues.  There may be some excellent musicians in your neighborhood.  If you want to ad someone of any genre who were missed, post a comment.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Some thoughts on Max Roach, jazz drummer and composer

I was introduced to Max Roach's music over 20 years ago while living in central New Jersey.  In the mid to late 80's I started listening to WKCR, Columbia's University's radio station.  I listened to one show in particular, entitled Bird Flight, hosted by Phil Schaap.  This is a show that is dedicated to Charlie Parker's musical legacy.  Often times Phil would have Max Roach on the show, to talk about Bird and many other things.  Max had a lot to say about Bird, bebop, and anything else that was happening in jazz in the 40's and 50's.  Max was a member of Parker's band, and was on many of Parker's recordings   Roach had a long and rich career, and was always an active and vibrant member of the jazz community.  He continued to be active into the 90's and early 2000's.  But he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's which slowed him down.  Eventually he died in 2007.

 It's been almost 6 years since the death of Max Roach, the great drummer, composer, band leader, educator, activist, etc., etc.  As usual WKCR, did a memorial broadcast.  I discovered that they weren't the only ones who paid tribute.  On August 27, 2007, Democracy Now said good by to Roach.  Phil Schaap, jazz historian and 40 year veteran at WKCR, and Amiri Baraka, author, music historian and activist, appeared on Democracy Now with host Amy Goodman.  They covered large parts of the funeral, held at the Riverside church in New York City.  Some of Roach's closest friends, such as Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, and Bill Cosby, spoke at the funeral.  Below is the link to the Democracy Now segment, where you can watch the original broadcast and read the script.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington Birthday Broadcasts

April is a big month for jazz birthdays, and WKCR, New York City radio, will be celebrating in style, with 3 24 hour birthday broadcasts.

Billie Holiday, born April 7, 1915, in Baltimore, Md. had a distinctive style, and revolutionized jazz vocals.  She was given the name of Lady Day by her close friend and musical partner Lester Young, whom she met during her time with Count Basie.  Holiday's trademark was the emotion that came through the interpretations of the songs, many of which were popular standards.

Charles Mingus, born April 22, 1922 in Nogales, Az. was a bassist, pianist, band leader and composer.  Mingus said that his music comes from the black church, Duke Ellington, and Art Tatum.  He used many talented musicians to interpret his compositions, including, John Handy, Eric Dolphy, Clarence Eugene Shaw, Roland Kirk, Jimmy Knepper, and his long term drummer, Danny Richmand.

Edward Kennedy Ellington, born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. was America's greatest composer.  His legendary career spanned over 70 years.  The maestro has said that his music comes from the blues, and that his orchestra is his instrument.  He is the author of thousands of compositions, many of which were classical.  Some of Duke's influential works were the extended suites, such as Black, Brown and Beige, Sophisticated Lady, and Jump For Joy. 

These music legends will be honored on their birthdays at

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New musical discoveries in Gettysburg, Pa

Today we saw the Buzz Jones band.  Mr. Jones is the leader and a music teacher at Gettysburg College.  This band consists of people he has played with for many years, plus current student musicians.  They were a joy to see as they ran through a varied set which consisted of Now's The Time, St. Louis Blues, St. James Infirmary, When It's Sleepy Time Down South, among others.  The price was right at no charge.  I encourage everyone to seek out venues like this.  There are many great musicians out there, possibly near you.  Across the street from the theatre, there was a record store where I found some great lps.  Brand X, a jazz fusion band with Phil Collins on drums, The World Saxophone Quartet lp Dances and Ballads, a Mississippi John Hurt compilation lp, and an L.T.D. lp with Jeffrey Osborne.  This was a fine day of music filled with little surprises.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Debut blog from Armstrong to Zappa

I can't think of a better day to debut this blog than celebrating the 84th birthday of Cecil Taylor. is doing a birthday broadcast as we speak.  Cecil Taylor was born on March 25, 1929 in New York City.  Classically trained, he is one of the pioneers of free jazz.  He has a percussive approach to the piano, producing extremely improvised music, frequently involving tone clusters and polyrhythms.  Taylor has had a long and varied career as a solo performer and leader of many aggregations.  I would suggest visiting youtube for a sample of his performances and search the web for tour dates.