Dexter Gordon: Daddy Plays the Horn

Dexter Gordon should have owned the Fifties.  As the tenor playing counterpart to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and as a player revealed on concert air checks of the late forties as one who could sustain long, thematically cohesive solos…

Joe Henderson’s Musings for Miles

Joe Henderson raised the standard of tribute albums from homage to art with the sessions he devoted to Billy Strayhorn and Miles Davis in the early nineties. They also marked a veritable rebirth of Henderson as a major figure in music.

Count Basie Small Groups

Notwithstanding his bold efforts on behalf of integration and civil rights, Norman Granz’s name was often uttered in derisive tones when I began listening to jazz in the late sixties. As the man who’d founded Jazz at the Philharmonic in 1943 and established Clef/Norgran/Verve Records a few years later, he’d made a lot of money.

Web for Webster

Ben Webster plays Chelsea Bridge

You say Web, I think Webster. But what Peter Chilton means is the website he manages for New England Public Radio. Pete launched a new one today, and in honor of his efforts, I’m dedicating my first post on the site to Ben Webster playing Billy Strayhorn’s renowned work of jazz impressionism, “Chelsea Bridge.”

Miles Davis at Philharmonic Hall

NPR Music reported this month on the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’s concert at Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. The concert took place on Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 1964, and was a benefit for voter registration efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Wardell Gray

Today is Wardell Gray’s 93rd birthday anniversary. The saxophonist was an iconic figure of modern jazz in the 1940′s, but his death in 1955, most likely from a drug overdose, brought to a sudden end what was already a career in precipitous decline.

Walter Page: Big ‘Un of the Bass

Count Basie begins his autobiography, Good Morning Blues, with the story of how he was pleasantly roused from a sleep-it-off hangover by Walter Page’s Blue Devils playing outside the rooming house where he was staying in Oklahoma City in 1925.

Gillespie & Stitt in Concert

Is there a little tension between Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt at the beginning of this concert? Does Dizzy tell Stitt to back off during his solo on the opener, “Blues After Dark”?

A Sense of Wonder: Ricky Jay, The Magic Arts and Jazz

As I watched Ricky Jay’s amazing sleight-of-hand in the new documentary Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, I thought about Charlie Parker’s reputed ability to roll a cigarette with one hand.  Bird’s dexterity lent itself to the title of one of his tunes and continues to inspire awe in virtually everyone who hears his music.