Billy Taylor’s Way

I squired my sister Sue around Harlem a couple of Sundays ago after visiting her art studio on 118th Street. We stopped at Sylvia’s for brunch; bought fruit at an open air stand at the fork between St. Nicholas Avenue and St. Nicholas Way; went by Coleman Hawkins’ apartment building on Edgecombe Avenue; and toured Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Horace Silver’s Song for My Father

I’ll begin my memorial tribute to Horace Silver tonight with “Song for My Father.”  With the pianist’s death yesterday at age 85, the tune suddenly has more of an elegiac quality, and not only in regard to its composer and its dedicatee, but to an era of jazz…

Ehud Asherie Redux

From stride to bop, the pianist keeps it fresh

I enthused over Ehud Asherie two years ago on this blog, and my appreciation for the pianist only grows. I’ve seen him twice since then, and two or three new recordings have appeared as well, so the Israeli-born New Yorker remains in view.

Jim Hall in Varying Degrees

Dempsey-Ferguson at Smalls

Jim Hall was featured on the premiere recording of John Lewis’s “Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West” in 1956. The tune, an enchanting blues, alludes to the birthplaces of the five participants on the session…

Monty Alexander

Kingston-Harlem Grooves

Today is Monty Alexander’s 70th birthday.  The pianist was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and while he’s an outstanding exponent of mainstream grooves, his career began with r&b bands in Kingston and his repertoire has long included blues classics…

Ellington Forever

Some Carp, But 40 Years After His Death, Duke's Legacy Endures

Duke Ellington died forty years ago on May 24, 1974. He’d turned 75 a month earlier. I was twenty, I’d seen him six times, and I felt like I’d lost my guiding light. He was a shepherd to countless thousands over three generations…