Philadelphia-born trumpeter, composer Wallace Roney died today of complications from COVID-19. I remember seeing him at d.c. space in the late 70s with his brother Antoine on tenor. He was ferocious even then. That was even before he joined Tony Williams and Art Blakey. And though his sound and concept are often linked to Miles Davis, he carved out his own sound and identity, recording more than 20 sessions as leader and more as collaborator. Here are 10 clips to show Wallace in his glory. Continue reading
1 Kris Davis “Diatom Ribbons” (Pyroclastic)
2 Crosscurrents Trio “Good Hope” (Editions)
3 Chick Corea “Trilogy 2” (Concord)
4 Enrico Rava/Joe Lovano “Roma” (ECM)
5 Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive “Ragmala” (BRM)
6 Bill Frisell “Harmony” (Blue Note)
7 Johnathan Blake “Trion” (Giant Step Arts)
8 Tomeka Reid “Wabash Blues” (Cuneiform)
9 Bria Skonberg “Nothing Never Happens” (Crowd-Funded)
10 Ben Goldberg “Good Day For Cloud Fishing”(Pyroclastic Records)
1 Nat “King” Cole “Hittin’ The Ramp” (Resonance)
2 John Coltrane “Blue World” (Impulse)
3 Art Pepper “Promise Kept: The Complete Artist House Recordings” (Omnivore)
4 Erroll Garner “Octave Remastered Series” Mack Aavenue
5 Johnny Griffin & Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis “OW! Live at the Penthouse (Reel To Real)
I’ve written before about best-of-the-year summaries. And while I haven’t done much writing about music for commercial publications these past 12 months (still mostly focused on health and recovery), I’ve done enough focused listening to document the new releases in jazz that gave me the most pleasure this year. Here they are, in no particular order: Continue reading
More than 10 years ago, my former boss at work, Michael Donaldson (an inveterate 45 collector), brought me a little something he picked up at a thrift store. It was super rare 45 of a New York-based vocal trio named The Three Graces singing a song dedicated to their latest heartthrob, Larry Applebaum. I was startled to see the title of the recording, issued by Golden Crest in 1960, written by Cy Levitan.
It has many of the characteristic pop sounds of the day: jangly guitars, sax solo, vocal harmony and several very catchy hooks. It’s taken me many years to find a clean copy, so I’m grateful to Jeff Krulik, Gary Levine and Lee Michael Demsey for tracking it down for me. I now have my new closing theme for my radio show!
I recently dug up, dusted off and added some photos to this old report on my State Department-sponsored lecture tour to Ukraine back in 2004. Subsequent visits have shown interesting things still happening there, so I offer this post for the sake of context and warm memories.
Benin-born, New York-based guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke returned to DC in late April to play the White House for International Jazz Day. He seemed to enjoy the challenge of this listening session, even taking notes about unfamiliar artists Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sonny Sharrock for follow-up research. The music world was still reeling from the sudden passing of Prince the week before, so we included a track from The Artist in order to learn about his reputation in Africa. Loueke continues to tour internationally behind his recent live trio recording, GAÏA (Blue Note).
“Junior’s Jam” (from Miles Ahead Soundtrack, Columbia/Legacy). Glasper, Keyboard, Keyon Harrold, trumpet, Marcus Strickland, saxophone; Burniss Earl Travis, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums. Recorded in 2015.
I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of curating the new Jazz Singers exhibit at the Library of Congress. I’m grateful to all my colleagues in the Music Division and the Interpretive Programs Office for help and support during the months leading up to our Feb. 11 opening. Special thanks goes to Exhibition Director Betsy Nahum–Miller for keeping us focused and on schedule. Betsy and I are now working on a version of the exhibit we’ll send out to Disney Hall in Los Angeles in the Fall.
I’m pleased to report that we got a nice early boost from the New York Times when they posted a preview, then Milenio, the national newspaper in Mexico, weighed in. I was especially pleased when Will Friedwald, who has written several important books on jazz singers, came to Washington to view the exhibit and and for context spent time delving into more of the jazz treasures in our special collections. Will then returned to New York and wrote this insightful, perceptive review for the Wall Street Journal. Continue reading
Here’s a short piece about it from the New York Times. The exhibit stays up until the 3rd week in July, then it moves out to Disney Hall in Los Angeles. If you’re in or around DC any time during the next 5 months, please stop by and let me know what you think.