Bill Evans, Carolyn Leigh, Charlie Parker, Cy Coleman, Doug Ramsey, Howard Alden, Jim Hall, Joe Lang, Joey Alexander, Ken Peplowski, Los Angeles Jazz Institute, Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Peter Sprague
It’s a lazy Sunday here in JazzCookie’s studio…my best efforts this morning were to walk outside and watch marathoners run up my street. Somebody has to do it, but I’m the kind of person who prefers to chill on Sundays and my guess is you might be, too. I’m not going to play anything from this link but it will take you to a great “chilling out Sunday morning” album, Glad to Be Unhappy, a mellow collaboration between Paul Desmond and Jim Hall. It was recorded in 1964, the heyday (IMHO) of the coolest of the cool, and what’s better for chilling than cool jazz? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFbPKib9Y-A
Doug Ramsey who writes the Rifftides jazz blog (among other things) has a nice story about Paul Desmond today and another beautiful tune. Doug’s blog is a great source for more jazz than I could possibly bring you, so check it out. http://www.artsjournal.com/rifftides/2015/05/paul-desmond-38-years.html We’re all in this together.
I may be the last person interested in jazz to have heard this news, but hear it I did on NPR this week. There’s a young prodigy from Bali, Joey Alexander, who’s wowing the jazz world with his piano chops. Joey’s eleven years old and learned to play listening to his dad’s jazz albums and with a little tutoring from dad who is a pianist himself. In the interview, Joey came across like a great kid with none of the childish arrogance I’ve heard from other prodigies. He just loves to play the piano and says with a generosity beyond his years that he “likes to make people happy.” He made me happy when I heard this one. Joey Alexander on “Giant Steps” from his first and so far only album, My Favorite Things. Larry Grenadier on bass and Ulysses Owens, Jr. on drums.
Joe Lang, a knowledgeable jazz cat and JazzCookie correspondent from New Jersey, flew out to the left coast in late May to hear good music at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute’s “Music for Lighthousekeeping” featuring the original Lighthouse All-Stars music as well as concerts presenting music of famous Lighthouse alumni and a tribute to Howard Rumsey and his Concerts By the Sea. You can catch Joe’s full report at the Yahoo Jazz West Coast Group. He mentioned a number of musicians, and I went looking for something to include here. I sidled up next to Ken Peplowski and bring you now woodwinds man Peplowski with guitarist Howard Alden on Luis Bonfá’s lovely “Menina Flor,” with Ben Aronov on piano, Murray Wall on bass and Tom Melito on drums. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAQof6mmdvo
Serendipity kicked in while I was looking and I ran across this great number on Henry Mancini’s 1960 RCA album, The Blues and the Beat. Mancini wrote and produced, and the personnel include Johnny Williams on piano, Bob Bain on guitar, Pete Candoli on trumpet, Larry Bunker on vibes along with a dozen or so other fine and dandy musicians. Here they are on Erskine Hawkins’ “Tippin’ In.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGcxYpkYLw4
I can’t tell you why I wanted to include “Ornithology” today except that I’ve been using a lot of birds in my mixed-media art lately. One thing leads to another and, of course, I’ve got Charlie Parker – the Bird of all birds – in the line-up…Who knows? The human mind is a great mystery so let’s just leave that to the philosophers and move on to the music. Recorded in 1946, here they are, jazz royalty with “Ornithology.” Bird, Miles, Lucky Thompson, Arvin Garrison, Dodo Marmarosa (great name), Vic McMillan and Roy Porter.
We started with one of the youngest members of the jazz set, Joey Alexander, so it seems fitting to close with one of the masters. Three guesses where this is going…It’s going to a recording session in New York, 1959. The album is Portraits in Jazz with the Bill Evans trio – Evans, LaFaro and Motian – doing justice to one of Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s best, “Witchcraft.” Uhm, hm… “Those fingers in my hair, that sly come hither stare that strips my conscience bare, it’s Witchcraft…” Sunday just got a little warmer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWDh55aUPI4
And that’s it for the last day of May, JazzBabies. June is just around the corner along with summer in the city, on the beaches and in the meadows. I’ll be on my first San Diego jazz outing Friday night to hear guitarist Peter Sprague and will tell you all about it next week. Stay tuned…stay cool. Stay in touch.