Monday, July 25, 2011

Ah, Jazz as it Should Be!

I just listened to side one of jazz guitarist Pat Martino's 1972 recording, "Footprints," on vinyl and through a tube amplifier and courtesy of my old, steady, ready 1973 Pioneer turntable. Some high-level, noise-cancelling headphones gave me a more modern assist. The back cover was a long essay by the gifted jazz writer Gary Giddens on the life and art of Martino, plus his comments on each number on the album. I read as I listened. I purchased this recording for only $3.00 at a used record store in Denver.

The sound quality was superb: only one small pop, an immaculately clean and present acoustic bass, perfectly mixed drums, and two guitars. The music was jazz at its best: fine melodies, individual improvisation within a structure, and interplay between musicians.

There is a time--for me, call it today--simply to sit and listen to artistically excellent and acoustically brilliant jazz; and to thank the Giver of every good and perfect gift for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monk's Patron

David Kastin has written a new book on jazz pianist Thelonious Monk's exotic patron, Nica Koenigswarter, or "the jazz baroness." It is called Nica's Dream. I have yet to give a full review of a jazz book here, but I will try. The book should be fascinating. Monk's son, T.S. Monk endorses the book as a "must-read" and notable jazz writers such as Robin D. G. Kelley and Ashley Kahn hail it as well. I doubt we will find Nica a saint (she left her family to come to America and support Monk), but jazz personalites often paint a rich, if flawed, picture of humanity.

Lil Greenwood

Lil Greenwood, a singer for Duke Ellington's band, has died at age 86. A good friend described her as “a woman who loved God ... She never drifted from it.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

James Farm

National Public Radio, which is superb in covering jazz, has a short piece on the new jazz group, James Farm, which includes one of our best contemporary saxophonists, Joshua Redman. I have not yet heard the recording, but do not doubt its excellence.