Phil Woods, R.I.P.

Word has arrived of the passing of Phil Woods. The great saxophonist wrote earlier this year that “my improv powers are declining along with my […]

Les McCann & Eddie Harris

Swiss Movement Live at Montreux

I remember just where I was when I first heard Swiss Movement, the concert album by Les McCann and Eddie Harris recorded at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival. I was with a group of friends, mostly high school classmates, and we were skipping school.

Joe Albany

Joe Albany wasn’t the first seeker to find his true voice in jazz, but he was among the more forthright about what the music meant to him.  In the 1980 documentary, Joe Albany: A Jazz Life, he puts it in both spiritual and psychological terms. 

Son House

Delta Blues in Rochester

I remember the exact moment during my junior year in high school when I first heard Muddy Waters, but I’ve forgotten just when I got my first taste of Muddy’s main man, Son House. Muddy’s great band with Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers floored me right away.

Sonny Rollins’s 85th!

Happy Birthday to the Tenor Titan

In 2002, I was given the plum assignment of selecting the material and writing the liner notes for a Sonny Rollins anthology of RCA Victor recordings called Tenor Titan. I was limited to an hour’s worth of music, but even if I’d been granted the full 75-minute capacity of a CD, the task would have been daunting.

Art Pepper

Working Through John Coltrane's Influence

Art Pepper was born 90 years ago today. The saxophonist’s life was scarred by violence, ravaged by drug addiction, confined by prisons, and restricted by parole requirements that prevented him from leaving California for decades. Pepper came to prominence in the early fifties, but he didn’t play New York as a leader until 1977.

Jack Teagarden

Steady Rockin' with Satchmo

My favorite version of the Louis Armstrong-Jack Teagarden staple “Rockin’ Chair” is from a 1957 television special seen below. Armstrong had first recorded this homespun lament by Hoagy Carmichael on December 13, 1929, with the composer in the voice of the aging father and Armstrong as the dutiful son.

Evan Christopher at Satchmo Fest

Harrison, Neville, and Butler in Springfield

I’m still buzzing from the double dose of New Orleans-in-New England that highlighted Saturday’s Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival. Performances by Donald Harrison and Henry Butler brought the one-day, twelve-hour festival to a rousing conclusion at Court Square, where an estimated 5000 people from every walk of life gathered downtown for the second annual festival.

Louis Armstrong

Hailed in Copenhagen and Celebrated in New Orleans

“If you don’t love him, I don’t think you really know how to love.” Mahalia Jackson on Louis Armstrong I assume the Danes who filmed […]

Paul Butterfield Plugs In and Dylan Follows Suit

Phenomena at Newport: the White Blues Hero and the Folk Rock Anti-Hero

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival. The milestone is being widely commemorated, and it follows the sale two years ago of the Fender Stratocaster he played that Sunday night, July 25, 1965.