Elements of Zen/\Jazz Synchronicity

Evans/LaFaro/Matthiessen/Jarrett

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…

Byard and Brew

Jaki Byard Symposium; Brew Moore's 90th

It was nice being greeted by news of Worcester native Jaki Byard this morning. First, Alan Pasqua mentioned him in a news story about concerts he’s playing in Santa Fe and Albuquerque this week. “The Grammy-nominated Pasqua knows for sure of one composition that will be played in the concerts,” reports the Albuquerque Journal.

Steve Kuhn Interview

An hour with the jazz piano great

I spoke with Steve Kuhn in 2004.  The pianist had just released  Promises Kept, which fulfilled Kuhn’s goal of recording a program of original compositions with a string ensemble.  The record was a posthumous tribute to his parents Stella and Carl Kuhn.

Rex Stewart and Django Reinhardt

I wrote about Django Reinhardt’s 1946 U.S. tour with Duke Ellington earlier, but that wasn’t the guitarist’s first encounter with Ellingtonia. The Ellington Orchestra arrived in Paris on April 1, 1939 to begin a 34-day, 28-concert tour of Europe.

Benny Carter

Benny, Ben, and Earl

I’ve switched gears this year in terms of the album feature that’s been a part of Jazz a la Mode on Tuesday nights for the past decade.  Rather than focus on a chronological survey of recordings made 50 years ago, I’ll be featuring a different album each week from random points in time. 

Ruby Braff

Today is Ruby Braff’s birthday anniversary.  The cornetist was born in Boston in 1927.  Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Lester Young were his heroes. By most accounts Ruby was a prickly personality, but on all accounts he was a player dedicated to beauty.

Roy Haynes

Still Snap! Crackle! at 88

Back in the day, a magazine article highlighting the longevity of an esteemed group of Boston Brahmins asked one of the octogenarians, it may have been Samuel Eliot Morison, how it was that they managed to live such long and productive lives. 

Bill Charlap

For the Record

The Bill Charlap Trio will be at the Regatta Bar in Cambridge on March 21-22 and the Iron Horse in Northampton on the 23rd. This is mildly reassuring, but how is it that this genius of jazz piano hasn’t made a trio record in the U.S. since 2006?

Charles Cajori, R.I.P.

The jazz inspiration of a New York painter

Charles Cajori, who died on December 1 at the age of 92, was one of the last of what constituted the 2nd generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. Born in Palo Alto in 1921, grandson of the renowned mathematician Florian Cajori, Charles grew up in Philadelphia

Professor Longhair

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

My interest in New Orleans music ramped up to infatuation on July 3, 1973, when I heard Professor Longhair for the first time in Central Park.  The event still stands as the single greatest unanticipated musical discovery of my life.