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…

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.