Playlist - Early Jazz Weekend - Saturday

Song, Artist, Album

Come On Baby, Jimmy Smith, Home Cookin'
Milestones, MB3, Jazz Hits Volume 1
Tricky Dick, Ben Allison, Cowboy Justice
Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho, Medeski Martin and Wood, Combustication
Old Funky Gene's, Gene Harris Quartet, Funky Gene's
Express Yourself, Idris Muhammad, Black Rhythm Revolution!
Song For Bad, Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet, Husky
Anthropology, Ari Hoenig, Inversations
On Green Dolphin Street, Eric Dolphy Quintet, Outward Bound
Fingerprints, The Chick Corea New Trio, Past, Present, and Futures
Blue Nile, Alice Coltrane, Translinear Light
Journey in Satchidananda, Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidananda
Offering, John Coltrane, Expression
Love for Sale, Dexter Gordon, Go!
Ernie Banks, McNeely/Sill/Spencer, Boneyard
Newest Blues, McBride/Jackson/Cobb/Walton, New York Time
Mystery Train, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Tin Pan Alley, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, In the Beginning
Evalina, Son Lewis, Snake
Ships on the Ocean, Junior Wells, Hoodoo Man Blues
Heartless, Michael Burks, Make It Rain
Diamonds At Your Feet, Muddy Waters, His Best, 1956-1964 (Chess)
When Your Memory Fades Away, The Twisters, IndieFeed Blues download
Tamp 'Em Up Solid, Ry Cooder, Paradise and Lunch
I'm Single, The Billy Gibson Band, Southern Living
Laundromat Blues, Albert King, The Very Best of. . . (Rhino)
Tighten Up the Springs, Michelle Malone, Sugarfoot


This Week. . .

Superbowl in South Florida? What Superbowl?

Anyway, tomorrow's Passing Notes (Friday @ 7:06 pm on 88.9 FM Serious Jazz) concerns the future of music, so to speak. I like to think it's timely in light of recent activities by the Recording Industry Artists of America and similar organizations. Check a sampling of the following news items:

"The RIAA May Send A SWAT Team To Bust Down Your Door"

"Senators aim to restrict Net, satellite radio recording"

"Music industry threatens ISPs over piracy"

"Ailing music biz set to relax digital restrictions"

On Saturday's Early Jazz Weekend Session, we have the Big Six Blues Set from, of course, 6:00 to 7:00 am. Sometime before I finish the show at 9:00 we'll have a set in tribute to Alice Coltrane.

On Sunday's EJW, we'll have sets to say thank you to some of the birthday boys of the week -- Gene Krupa, Jeff "Tain" Watts, and Cedar Walton.


The House That Trane Built by Ashley Kahn

Broadcast 9/7/2006

The leading jazz label of the 60s and 70s, Impulse Records, receives a fitting -- if slick -- history.

Ashley Kahn has already written two books about jazz: Kind of Blue – The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece and A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album. In his latest disc history, Kahn turns his attention to one of the most famous jazz labels of all time in the excellent The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records.

At the beginning of the 1960s, the entertainment company ABC-Paramount was starting to get into the music business, and jazz, in those days, was still considered as having the commercial potential to be widespread pop music. And so the idea for a new jazz label was cooked up -- featuring a high-end product with carefully chosen artists, well-conceived album ideas, well-financed recording sessions, and slick package design: A black and orange spine, full-color gatefold covers, and a clever trademark: a distinctive i followed by an exclamation point.

The record label was called Impulse, and producer Taylor Creed was its guide during its formative years. Creed made a fine start. In addition to crafting a distinctively sellable package for Impulse, he did very well with his actual recordings.

Impulse’s first half dozen releases featured Kai Winding, JJ Johnson, Ray Charles, and Gil Evans – along with Oliver Nelson’s classic The Blues and The Abstract Truth and John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass –this last album a hint of things to come from the musician who would be the definitive artist of the Impulse label. Although Creed left after a few years, he turned over a strong business to producer Bob Thiele, who developed the label into the high-minded imprint it ultimately became. His method was simple and fairly old school: hire great musicians, put them in the right circumstances, and let them do their thing.

Thiele, originally a fan of swing music, began his jazz re-education largely under the guidance of Coltrane, a musical partnership that led to release of albums by Yusef Lateef, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Chico Hamilton, Gabor Szabo, and Pharoh Sanders.

Thiele also had the good sense to let Coltrane follow his own rapid course of development, most notably in the production of Trane’s A Love Supreme in 1964, a pivotal point in the saxophonist’s creative trajectory. And it is Coltrane’s bold, passionate, and intelligent artistic sensibility which left a most lasting imprint on the label, even after Trane’s death in 1967 and Thiele’s departure. For the most part, even as ABC Records began to pressure Impulse for more profits, its later mainstream, avant-garde, world, and fusion projects still maintained a balance of originality, energy, brains, and even political awareness in the work of Shepp and Sanders, as well as Amhad Jamal, Alice Coltrane, Sun-Ra, John Klemmer, Gato Barbieri, Sam Rivers, Dewey Redman, Marion Brown, and Keith Jarett.

Nevertheless, by 1977, the original Impulse Records stopped releasing new material and essentially became a back-catalogue label, with Coltrane’s classics leading the way. But what a run it was, and Kahn’s detailed and carefully-paced book tells the story exceptionally well, with generous helpings of interviews and photographs. And, better yet, the book is interspersed with fascinating mini-profiles of the production of almost 40 of the most famous albums ever released by Impulse.

At its best, Impulse Records was a thought, an idea: Give jazz and jazz artists the respect and support the music deserves, and recognition will follow, as well as profits, however modest.

Kahn puts it best in his closing chapter, a tribute the musician who stood for that idea as much as the label did.

He writes, “John Coltrane claimed on the cover of A Love Supreme that ‘one thought can produce millions of vibrations.’ Time has proven him correct: his own ideas and recordings have vibrated in that very quality. The House That Trane Built – as a record label, a musical approach, and a more inclusive way of hearing the world—continues to stand.”


Gators Attack! (And Other Monstrosities)

Broadcast 7/21/2006

Posted here in consideration of MLK Day.

In one of Aesop’s fables, a scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream. The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, suddenly, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but he has just enough time to gasp to the scorpion "Why did you sting me?" “Hey,” replies the scorpion: "I’m a scorpion. It’s my nature.”

You might remember one of the regional media’s recent wrongheaded endeavors, the alligator attack stories of few months ago. While, sadly, a number of people were killed in encounters with alligators, there was very little good reporting done on the set of stories, most of which instead seemed to vaguely suggest that the gators were attacking because they were monsters or were evil or had suddenly acquired a taste for human flesh.

No, few reporters – especially the usual local TV Bubbleheads – bothered to venture too far from the safety of the news van to do any real reporting. A reporter asks questions beyond the reach of, “Are you upset that your sister was just eaten by an alligator?” But a Bubblehead drops that bomb into the front yard of the grieving relative and lets the cameras roll. We needed real questions, such as: Was it mating season for the alligators? Did the unusually dry winter have anything to do with gators being so far afield? Could suburban encroachment on gator habitat be putting more people in harm’s way? These obvious questions were usually ignored for the sake of the sexy and terrifying tale of -- GATORS ATTACK! Lock up the kids and pass the ammo, Martha!

Such is the state of the news – especially local television news and 24-hour cable news – increasingly soaked in sensationalism and sentimentality and lacking the patience, courage, and wit to know an important story when it sees one.

Take, for instance – and far less trivially -- the death of 9 year old Sherdavia Jenkins, killed by a stray bullet while playing outside her home in Liberty City on July 1. Or 14 year old Markese Wiggan or 18 month old Zykarious Cadillion, two other South Florida children killed in the last three months in apparently random shootings. For too many people, these stories simply go in one ear and out the other, or the eyes glaze over. Sadly, because of the neighborhoods these children belong to, their deaths don’t count as much as does the violence done to children living in other places. Worse yet, the long-standing and specific problems that create something as shocking as a deadly stray bullet are not the problems that count as much in other South Florida communities – especially in most of the local news media. A stray bullet, after all, is a journalistic cliche for a bullet about which most people don’t care to know the circumstances of its particular velocity or vector.

Oh yes, the moment of violence is sensationalized and the day of grieving is sentimentalized by the Bubbleheads, but at the end of the broadcast day the cameras are turned off and most reporters are on to the next story. Few will stick around and ask more questions, the first being: What sort of factors produce a neighborhood where stray bullets can kill children? Not to point out the obvious here, but further investigation is in order about police presence, about playgrounds and activity centers, about overcrowding and affordable housing, about the displacement caused by gentrification, about guns and violence, about community expectations, and about Miami’s reverse-NIMBYism. Reverse-NIMBYism is that attitude of, “If it’s not it my back yard, it’s not my problem.”

But it is your problem – it is Miami’s problem. If we as a citywide community do not care enough about the killings of children like Sherdavia Jenkins by stray bullets, then what kind of place are we, really? Miami becomes then not the Magic City but the City of Scorpions, stinging and hard, certain to let others go down to doom in the depths that would take us as well.

Let us not be subject to our baser instincts – selfish, narrow, and cold. Let us come back to the painful story of Sherdavia Jenkins and ask the questions that properly address the complicated circumstances of her sad death. Let us, for once, not change the channel or turn the page and move on. Let us stay for more than a moment and be human -- as is our better nature.


Playlist - 88 Jazz Place - Monday

I don't want people to get the idea that all I do here on the PN blog is post playlists. It's just that this weekend I had a very busy time musically -- four out of five days I was on the air, and on Saturday we started with Straight, No Chaser. There will be more reviews and interviews, as well as podcasts, available here in the weeks and months to come. I've only just now gotten started on what the blog is supposed to be -- a place to find cool sounds and words first.

On another note, it certainly was fine to be playing jazz and blues on MLK Day. I felt just a little more connected to the issues and history of what Dr. King stood, fought, and died for -- civil rights, peace, equality, and social justice. I did my best to play a few songs here and there that recognize the tradition of struggle. Have a peaceful day, everyone. Me, I'm spending time with my family.

Song, Album, Artist
The Impaler, Michael Brecker, Two Blocks from the Edge
Early Autumn, Miami Saxophone Quartet, Midnight Rhumba
High Clouds and a Good Chance of Wayne, Wayne Bergeron, Plays Well With Others
Lotus Blossum, Various Artists, Lush Life: Story of Billy Strayhorn
52nd Street Theme, Dizzy Gillespie, The Very Best of. . . (Legacy)
How Many More Years, Howlin' Wolf, His Best (Chess)
How Happy I Am, Rev. Gary Davis, Heroes of the Blues (Shout)
Counting My Tears, Charles Brown, Trouble Blues
Leaving Trunk, Taj Mahal, The Best of. . . (Columbia/Legacy)
Don't Cry Baby, Etta James, Her Best (Chess)
Basehead, Corey Harris, Greens from the Garden
Blues for Miles (Hip-Hop Bop), Freddy Hubbard, Blues for Miles
Slings and Arrows, Michael Brecker, Tales from the Hudson
The Dark Keys, Branford Marsalis, The Dark Keys
To Be Young Gifted and Black, Nina Simone, The Essential Nina Simone
Park Palace Parade, Sonny Rollins, Sonny, Please
City Beat, Wynton Marsalis Septet, Citi Movement
Thandiwa, Steve Turre, Keep Searchin'
Rhythm-A-Ning, Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet, Memories of T
Psychedelic Sally, Horace Silver, Serenade to a Soul Sister
God Bless the Child, Billie Holiday, Lady Day: The Best of. . .(Columbia)
Sunset and the Mockingbird, Tommy Flanagan, The Brithday Concert
Lighthearted Intelligence, Cyrus Chestnut, You Are My Sunshine
Impressions, John Coltrane, The House That Trane Built
Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Nat King Cole Trio, Transcriptions
New Rhumba, Miles Davis, Miles Ahead
A Child is Born, Jones/McBride/Cobb, West of 5th
La Ronde Suite, Modern Jazz Quartet, Django
Mama Too Tight, Archie Shepp, Mama Too Tight
Fables of Faubus, Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
Someone to Watch Over Me, Ben Webster, See You At The Fair
Stars Fell on Alabama, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong: An American Icon
Bourbon Street Parade, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Songs of New Orleans
Amazing Grace, Cyrus Chestnut, Blessed Quietness
Portrait of Wellman Braud, Stephon Harris, African Tarantella


Playlist - Early Jazz Weekend - Sunday

Song, Album, Artist

Song for Bilbao, Michael Brecker, Tales from the Hudson
The Morning of This Night, Michael Brecker, Time is Of the Essence
Ezz-thetic, George Russell, Ezz-thetics
Calypso Blues, Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Sextet, Calypso Blues
Four, Conte Candoli, Powerhouse Trumpet
Honeysuckle Rose, Benny Carter, Further Definitions
Stop and Go, Wynton Marsalis Septet, Citi Movement
Four Brothers, Terry Gibbs, Findin' the Groove
The Rich and the Poor, Keith Jarrett, Treasure Island
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To, Royce Campbell, Trioing
Lookear, Craig Buhler, Capistrano Sessions
Fi Fi Goes To Heaven, Joanne Brackeen, Fi Fi Goes To Heaven
He Who Hops Around, Marc Cary, Cary On
Alternate Route, Ron Carter, New York Slick
Come Together, Lynne Arriale Trio, Live
T 'n' A Blues, McCoy Tyner, The House That Trane Built
Black Coffee, Vanessa Rubin, Vanessa Rubin Sings
Alligator Strut, Anton Schwartz, Radiant Blue
Montono Blues, Kenny Burrell with Coleman Hawkins, Bluesy Burrell
I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl, Nina Simone, Nina Sings the Blues
Came So Far, Guitar Gabriel, Deep in the South
Roller Coaster, Little Walter, His Best (Chess)
Back To New Orleans, Lightning Hopkins, The Best Of. . . (Bluesville/Prestige)
Vertigo Blues, Sue Foley, Where The Action Is
Black Water, Charlie Musselwhite, Delta Hardware