Bill Frisell – Interview with Tom Reney

Bill Frisell, the musical polymath whose wide-ranging soundscape readily qualifies him for membership in my personal pantheon of artists who are, to borrow Duke Ellington’s encomium, “beyond category,” will be at MASS MoCA later this month for Solid Sound: Wilco’s Music and Arts Festival.

Bob Belden and Gary Smulyan

Bob Belden, who died on May 20 (click here for the New York Times obituary), worked in a wide variety of settings as a saxophonist, arranger, producer, and a&r executive over the course of his 35 year-long career. His orchestral work, Black Dahlia, earned him a Grammy, and as a producer he oversaw the reissue of many of Miles Davis’s recordings of the ’60s and ’70s.

Miles Davis on Steve Allen

No Blues

A week ago I wrote about a pair of concert performances by the Miles Davis Quintet that were filmed during its 1967 tour with the […]

Dave McKenna & Tony Bennett

A Mutual Admiration Society On View at the Copley Plaza in 1982

Dave McKenna was born 85 years ago, May 30, 1930. The Woonsocket, RI, native died on October 18, 2008. The Dave McKenna Appreciation Society recently […]

Miles Davis in Germany and Sweden

See It Now! European Concerts by Miles, Wayne, Herbie, Tony, and Ron

In 2011, Sony released the first volume in its Bootleg Series, Miles Davis, Live in Europe. The four-disc collection documents the trumpeter’s 1967 tour that included concerts in Antwerp, Belgium; Copenhagen; Paris; Karlsruhe, Germany; and Stockholm.

Preston Lauterbach on Memphis and B.B. King

A Conversation With the Author of a Ground-Breaking Work on a Neglected Period of Music History

I spoke this week with Preston Lauterbach, who’s the author of The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock’n’Roll.  The critically-acclaimed book was published by Norton in 2011. The Chitlin’ Circuit combines original reporting and historical research…

B.B. King, R.I.P.

I’ve had little but B.B. King on my mind or home stereo since he entered hospice two weeks ago. The great bluesman has been a constant in my life for the better part of five decades, and while I’ve been profoundly touched by musicians across a wide range of styles, BB’s unique among them, a player who overwhelms me with emotion almost every time I hear him.

Sidney Bechet

The Creator of

We’ve long recognized the leading role jazz played in breaking down racial barriers in the U.S., but credit Sidney Bechet for effecting a rapprochement between the English poet Philip Larkin and the people of France. Bechet made his home in Paris and Juan Les Pins for the last decade of his life, and…

Duke Ellington Welcomes Don Byas and Archie Shepp

A Solo Apiece with Duke in Paris

When I visited the University of Massachusetts in 1975 to look into returning to college, one of the first faculty members I met with was Archie Shepp.  I’d been astonished when my cousin Tara told me earlier that year that Shepp and Max Roach were…

Aurora Nealand and Tom McDermott

A Debut Release From a Seasoned Duo

Aurora Nealand and Tom McDermott are a New Orleans phenomenon who play Buffa’s on Esplanade Avenue every Thursday. They usually begin their opening set improvising over the Buster Keaton silent film masterpiece, “One Week.” Whenever I’m asked to advise on a NOLA itinerary for travelers…