Big Joe’s Proteges: Bob Dylan and Mike Bloomfield

Two Degrees of Separation

I blogged about Mike Bloomfield and Bob Dylan in December, writing here about their first encounter in Chicago in 1963, the crucial role that Bloomfield played backing Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival, the beautiful licks he laid down on Highway 61 Revisited…

Duke Ellington’s Boston

Boston was second only to New York as an important location for Ellington in his early years as a bandleader, and it remained a favored destination till the end.

Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass

Hand in Glove Duets

How’s this for perfect pitch?  Jim Hall said he tuned his guitar to Ella Fitzgerald’s voice. “If it was a choice between her and the piano, I would go for her!” Hall’s tenure with Ella was fairly brief, but it included the European tour that yielded one of her most celebrated concert recordings, Ella in Berlin.

Dr. Herb Wong, R.I.P.

Bay Area Jazz Advocate

The jazz world lost another of its important stewards this weekend.  Dr. Herb Wong, a stalwart of the Bay Area jazz scene for over 65 […]

Emerson, Ellison, Ellington: Rude American Bridges

Harold Bloom's Emersonian reading of jazz

But while Emerson later supported John Brown and abolitionism, he failed to observe the presence or validity of what his spiritual descendant Ralph Waldo Ellison called the “specifically American cultural idioms,” that slaves and their descendants were creating in his midst.

New Orleans Brass

Tradition Is A Temple

A new documentary on the brass band tradition and its vital influence on jazz in New Orleans.

Alice Babs: The Rare Delight of You

The voice of Ellington's Second Sacred Concert

As if her singing weren’t enough, could one wish for a better listener than Alice Babs? Watch how this Swedish nightingale, after singing Duke Ellington’s “Heaven,” makes way for a solo by Johnny Hodges and takes it all in with a look that inspired Paul Gonsalves to say, “She’s as pretty inside as out.”

Scott LaFaro

One of the most substantial biographies I’ve read in recent years is the 2009 publication that Helene LaFaro-Fernandez devoted to her brother Scott.  The great […]

Elements of Zen/\Jazz Synchronicity


I’ve been working on a Scott LaFaro blog, and yesterday read of how he got turned on to Zen meditation through Bill Evans. In a letter written in 1960 in which he wondered if his dedication to jazz was worthwhile, Scotty took heart in this Zen epigram: “If you seek the fruits…