Jazz

Marcus Roberts – As Serenity Approaches (1992)

NICK DERISO: Before going out on his own, pianist Marcus Roberts learned an important thing from former bandleader Wynton Marsalis: This ability to use standards to create a context for original compositions. Marsalis had, at this point, moved away from all-original content into a tight embrace of the repertoire — and this album by Roberts, featuring solo and duet pieces,Read More

George Gershwin – Gershwin Performs Gershwin: Rare Recordings (1931-35)

NICK DERISO: Dug up from some old dusty box in brother Ira’s attic, this scratchy, other-worldly epiphany issued by BMG is remarkable for its ethereal emotion, ageless grace and surprising reliance on (gasp!) commercialism to push art. The first 12 tracks are acetates from “Music by Gershwin,” 15-minute radio programs recorded in 1934 to help underwrite George Gershwin’s signature folkRead More

Forgotten series: Sir Charles Thompson – Takin’ Off (1947)

The hard-punching Charles Thompson is best known, if he’s known at all now, as a deep-background member of the Coleman Hawkins/Howard McGhee band from this period. On “Takin’ Off,” however, Thompson’s frisky rhythm and round-house experimentation are a constant reminder of just how underappreciated he remains. Thompson wasn’t simply a link between the swing era and bebop, having first playedRead More

Something Else! Interview: Vocalist Heidi McCurdy

A little more than a month ago I covered a self-released album by a Vancouver, British Columbia-based jazz-pop vocalist by the name of Heidi McCurdy. Heidi’s music is a prime example of the great singing and composing talent out there still unsigned and undiscovered by a record company. Fickle Mind is a fine document of such talent, a document thatRead More

Gimme Five: Say what?!? Jazz’s most surprising albums

“Jazz is the sound of surprise”–jazz critic Whitney Balliett, 1926-2007 Sometimes you think you know a musician and his tendencies, or that he’s always played the kind of music you’ve known him to play. Over the course of pursuing my curiosity about certain artists, I’ve stumbled upon some rather peculiar recordings that went totally against my preconceptions of the artistRead More

Forgotten series: Bill Evans – The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings (1961)

by Nick DeRiso The pianist, of course, got all the press. But Scott Lafaro, this tragic genius in a unique counter-melodic style, is the one who so often gets forgotten. If you care anything about bass (rock, jazz or blues) you will find his recordings with Bill Evans at New York City’s Village Vanguard … and you will study them.Read More

Miles Davis and John Coltrane – Green Dolphin Street (1960)

by Nick DeRiso The last time Miles Davis and John Coltrane played together, as best I can tell. Recorded in Holland in April 1960, the stirring song cycle was later issued stateside by the little-known Natasha Imports. One version, from the 9th, had just So What, ‘Round Midnight, On Green Dolphin Street (obviously), Walkin and The Theme. Later copies, IRead More

Jesus "Chucho" Valdez – El Jazz Cubano/Solo Piano (1992)

by Nick DeRiso Capitol Records — under its Blue Note and World Pacific imprints — put out a much-needed overview of Cuban jazz a while back. From them emerged a new star: Showcased on both “El Jazz Cubano” (WP) and “Solo Piano” (BN) is the swinging magic of pianist Jesus “Chucho” Valdez. He’s featured both by himself and as theRead More

Deep Cuts: Herbie Hancock, "Elegy" (1994)

by Nick DeRiso “Elegy” begins with a trill from Herbie Hancock, then a persistent, oh-so distinctive tapping that could only be drummer Tony Williams. Next, a nimble, casually funky bass line from Ron Carter. Like a dream made real, Miles Davis’ second great group — with Wallace Roney stepping in for the fallen trumpeter — steps out of the shadowsRead More

Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay (1970)

Whenever the topic of discussion is a major work of early jazz fusion led by a trumpeter who’s already of renown in the straight jazz arena, most anybody would immediately think of the Prince Of Darkness. But Miles wasn’t the only cat on the horn making the successful transition from acoustic to electric jazz without loss of integrity. Before hisRead More

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