The Jazz Digest, September 2011

Choice snips from Jazz Journal, September 2011

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JJ September 2011The ed's 1500-mile motorcycle trip to the Ystad, Sweden festival
There was one challenge: how to avoid a sore rear. It was done with considerable success by the simple expedient, gleaned from Internet motorcycle forums, of interposing half a £20 sheepskin rug between seat and backside, obtained from none other than the Purley branch of that renowned retailer, IKEA of Sweden. Where else prevails in both jazz and inadvertent motorcycle accessories?

The editor on BBC R3 jazz moving nightwards
There is no diminution in jazz coverage, but also no refuge for those who, like the editor having spent the day assailed by jazz noises, like to tune into some edifying classical sounds before bed. The timetabling may, however, be fitting since jazz is, apparently, played in night clubs until the early hours.

Dave Foxall on Guy Barker
He’s been so busy writing over the past few years or so - the Jazz Voice concerts for the London Jazz Festival, a guitar concerto for Martin Taylor, arrangements for Paloma Faith plus 42-piece band, an arrangement for Sting with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra - that he describes his trumpet as “sitting in the corner whimpering at me like a dog that wants to be taken for a walk.”

Gordon Jack on Joan Viskant
Her second CD, Sure Thing, was nominated as an Observer album of the week. It was recorded with John Altman, who said at the time “Making the big band album with Joan Viskant was one of the highlights of my recording career.”

Simon Spillett on Alan Skidmore
Skidmore discovered that his solo on John Mayall’s Have You Heard (in company of the young Eric Clapton) had inspired a teenaged Michael Brecker to take up the saxophone. The lineage of Coltrane through Brecker, with himself as the link man, is something Skidmore remains very proud of. “When Brecker told me, I didn’t know what to say. I was gobsmacked, but it’s true.”

Bob Weir sees Rollins at Vienne
Best of all and easily the peak of the festival was an amazing three-hour concert by octogenarian Sonny Rollins. Looking frail and bowed, he summoned up incredible creative energy to shed the years and play as wonderfully as ever. Undoubtedly one of the great Vienne nights.

The editor sees Jan Lundgren and LaGaylia Frazier at Ystad
Jan Lundgren brought his light touch, quicksilver technique and consistently creative phrasing to two concerts at the festival, most notably on Friday night in a knockout meeting with Florida-born now Swedish resident singer LaGaylia Frazier and her father Hal, who was invited specially from the US. The result was some of the most flawlessly musical, exciting and moving music of the weekend, not only from the powerfully soulful voices but in Lundgren’s delicate, always fresh interpretations, exemplified by his riveting reinvention of ’Round Midnight.

Simon Adams sees Tea For 3 at North Sea Jazz Festival
Tea For 3 consisted of three trumpeters - Dave Douglas, Avishai Cohen and Enrico Rava - supported by pianist Uri Caine and the phenomenal East Asian bassist Linda Oh. Douglas was the showman, Cohen the more subdued explorer, Rava the melodist. Caine was always imaginative, while Linda Oh should be seen when ever possible, for she is a wonderfully mobile and inventive musician. This was the perfect festival set, an engaging hour and more of music that ended with a glorious avant-Dixieland treatment of Tea For Two, and a reminder, if one is needed, that, along with Wadada Leo Smith, Douglas is by a mile the finest jazz trumpeter at work today.

Barry McRae sees Marsalis at Nice
Top of the bill was Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, interestingly including Joe Temperley, formally with Humphrey Lyttelton. Their programme was a jazz treasure with a selection of favourite jazz composers including Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Marsalis played a massive part in the entire performance and he closed with a jam-session encore in quartet form which brought the festival to a successful and exciting close.

Jim Burns on overlooked 40s arranger Eddie Finckel
What really got him noticed was his writing for the Boyd Raeburn orchestra. George Handy is often seen as the arranger most associated with Raeburn’s ventures into modern sounds but it was probably Finckel who first inclined him to be more adventurous. It would be going too far to suggest that Finckel’s March Of The Boyds and Little Boyd Blue were revolutionary but both were trying to break out of the conventional framework of big band arrangements. .

Steve Voce on Johnny Parker, Peggy Phango and Champion Jack Dupree

In the 70s Johnny Parker met and married Peggy Phango, an African singer and actress whom he met whilst she was on tour here with a troupe from South Africa. Wally Fawkes remembers playing at a jazz club gig with Champion Jack Dupree. Johnny had had an operation on his back that had gone wrong. Not a big man, he had to be carried everywhere. Peggy Phango came into the club and as she carried Johnny across the dance floor towards the bandstand, Champion Jack grabbed the microphone. “There you are!” he shouted. “That’s what happens to you if you mess with black women!”

Dave Gelly on Joe Mudele's meeting with Parker and Roach
One night, at the Club St. Germain, Charlie Parker and Max Roach turned up. Joe played Cherokee and Out Of Nowhere with them. “That Max Roach – the bass nearly took off with him beside me! And Parker, what can you say? I actually cried when I heard him in person for the first time.” Bird still plays a big part in Joe’s musical world. He particularly loves the 1947 recording of Embraceable You (“like a beautiful painting”)

Bruce Crowther on the late Frank Foster
Due in part to poor contracts, for the last 10 years of his life this master musician and his wife lived on a pension, social security benefits and only a small income from his hundreds of compositions and arrangements. In 2010, with the help of the Rutgers School of Law - Newark Community Law Clinic he regained the rights to some of his work, including Shiny Stockings.

Eddie Sammons on the late Eric Delaney
As a person, he was enigmatic. The fans adored him, particularly the females. He could be outrageous, funny, both mean and generous, and he spoke his mind. He was very critical of himself and his performance. Despite health problems he could still be a bit of a hell-raiser even in his 80s. He often responded to applause for an exhausting drum solo with “The drummer’s knackered!” That is now finally true. Many will miss his cheeky grin, amusing gait and boundless energy and talent.

Bruce Crowther on Fran Landesman
Her unusual skill with words appealed to singers, especially the dry, acerbic lyrics to Wolf’s music, including The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men and Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most. It was, however, the Landesmans’ open and uninhibited sex life that attracted journalists.

Richard Palmer on Gillespiana, the 1960 Schifrin-Gillespie orchestral suite
The Evans-Davis masterworks - Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess and Sketches Of Spain - are all wonderful, almost endlessly rewarding, and for over 50 years have occupied a canonical position in modern orchestral jazz. Rightly so; what is not right is that Schifrin-Gillespie’s comparably majestic and seminal work has never got near to such unanimous praise and demi-deification.

Alan Luff on jazz record shops, late of these London boroughs
So there I was, patiently obeying a red light in Ashford . . . A flash Audi, with trophy blonde, screeches to a halt alongside. The volume from his sound-system was fierce enough to supply the whole of Kent. The sort of guy who had some 5000 tracks downloaded on his system, yet had probably never been in a record shop. He tore away and as I drove into his exhaust there appeared ghostly visions of some of those old shops. Where have they all gone? WH Smith, Tesco’s? You won’t find much Muggsy, Pee Wee or Terry Gibbs there. “Excuse me, have you anything by Terry Gibbs?” “Yeah, toothpaste – over there love, by the soaps.”


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