Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jazz Goes to the Movies in Ankara

Jazz Goes to the Movies, a programme curated by Jonathan Rosenbaum and I for Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato will be playing in Ankara and two other Turkish cities from next week.

Another jazz/film-related event would be an exhibitions of the comic illustrations about jazz films by me (as writer) and Naiel Ibarrola (as illustrator). After our first exhibition at Tehran's Aun Gallery, the Allye Berger exhibition hall in Ankara will host our work from November 26 to December 2, 2015.

Back to the screenings, the films that will be played on November 29, are free admission. These are the titles and their order of screening, starting from 14:15

Black and Tan Fantasy (1929)
Cab Calloway’s hi-de-ho (1934)
Jammin’ the Blues (1944)
Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)
Begone Dull Care (1949)
Big Ben: Ben Webster in Europe (1967)
When It Rains (1995)
Too Late Blues (1961)

Each film will be introduced either by me or Jonathan.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Best Of American Jazz In Paris (Studio Recordings)

Image courtesy of Vogue Records.

25 Greatest Jazz Records by Americans in Paris
For the people of Paris. November 2015

The Infinity of Lists, by Umberto Eco, is among the titles on my to-read list, though even before opening the book, and judging from the cover, I can catch the point and apply it to this list of my favorite studio recording of American jazz musicians in Paris.

The relationship between Paris and musicians has been mostly a love affair, started from the early years of jazz and continued to this day, with the post war years as the peak of interest, visits and involvement in Parisian scene. The curiosity about jazz, similar to that of African artwork revival in the early 20th century Paris, was expanding in various directions in the years between early 1950s and late 1960s. Jazz appeared in or influenced French literature and cinema, while I'm sure, the connection between this American art and France goes beyond these two primary examples.

With a profound history of hosting American jazz musicians and giving them the opportunity to play and record, the Paris-recorded albums are too important to remain unlisted and unnoticed. This is one attempt to pay a closer attention to the Parisian jazz records.

These are recordings I have listened to and mostly loved during the years, but I'm sure there are still hundreds of recordings there, waiting to be discovered. Probably you will notice the absence of more contemporary albums on the list, but that can be explained in regard to the current international status of jazz and the blurred concepts of nationality and borders in the 21th century jazz scene. Now, appearing in a Parisian studio or a concert hall is a common stage of activity for any internationally recognized artist. But I guess, back in the 1950s, it must have been a very unique experience being and recording in Paris for someone like Gerald Wiggins. This uniqueness is derived, among many other things, from the status of Afro-Americans in France and the fact that they have been cherished as artists and seen as heroes of the Existentialist and Anti-colonial movements of the post war period.

This list was initiated as a part of my short-lived jazz program, targeted for Iranian listeners, which ran between 2011 and early 2012. The episodes 22 to 24 were titled Jazz In Paris, and during three sessions I played many tracks from the albums I've listed here. If some Farsi speaking and commentary in between the tracks don't bother you, they are available here, here and here as podcast.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet at the Subway

Like many of you, I first heard this band as the nucleus of Charlie Mingus's 70s groups, at least those involving George Adams and Don Pullen. Dannie Richmond, of course, had a much longer history of owning the drum chair in Mingus's establishment.

Yet, it was with post-Mingus recordings that I fell in love with the music they were making, a music which, according to Richmond, must have influenced even Mr. Mingus himself.

Hand to Hand, featuring Richmond and Adams was one of the most played records in my "early advanced" years of listening to jazz. Since then, I haven't lost my interest in this marvelous unit whose key members sadly died too soon.

The quartet, adding Cameron Brown, started as a one-off live band, but miraculously lasted for nearly a decade, and it was recorded regularly in Europe. This video tape from Cologne, Federal Republic of Germany, is one of them.

The band is full of fire and fierce energy. This makes Lee Jeske to compare them with a Lamborghini:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rudy Can't Fail

"Red" Rudy Williams

Who's playing the alto saxophone on this one?

Did I hear Charlie Parker? Well, no, it ain't Bird. Yet there is some Parkerian connection, in the style of the player, and also in real life.

The musician playing alto on the 1948 track you heard which was recorded under Tadd Dameron's name is "Red" Rudy Williams, a musician  Charlie Parker used to dig intensely, almost religiously, during his first visit to New York City.

Member of a hard swinging band, Al Cooper's Savoy Sultan, he was usually featured on radio broadcasts some ten years before the above recording was waxed. (Other musicians featured on the piece you heard are Fats Navarro, Allen Eager, Curly Russell, and Kenny Clarke.)

In 1939, Williams was enjoying the success of this hit song, Little Sally Water, in which his name is called by Savoy Sultan's before he moves to front for a solo:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Berlin Existential

Either because of its pure rhythmic functions or the carefree, even primitive feeling of playing it, bongo has been associated with the beat movement on film, literature, and also in life. The story of Toby Fichelscher (pic: above), a Berliner beatnik, is alsohas its bongos, jazz, and free love.

Toby Fichelscher (1927-92) was a jazz singer, bongo and piano player in post-war Germany who also tackled on the blues and rock 'n roll. (There is a Tutti Frutti single, recorded by him in 1956, a year after Little Richard made it a hit.)

Released on the compilation album, Busting the Bongos, this is a rare chance to listen to the "lost sounds of a jazz phantom", one of so many forgotten European musicians of the post war period.

Interesting enough, the recordings presented on this album are the soundtracks of three films (Tobby, Max Knaack, and Schatten), all directed by Hansjürgen Pohland.

I've been interested in Pohland since watching his short masterpiece Schatten [Shadows], an experimental film in which the jazz soundtrack is providing the rhythm for a series of shots form shadows and silhouettes on the walls and the grounds and it features a West Coast-sounding soundtrack, probably the best of this compilation.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bill Coleman Meets The New Ragtime Band

Bill Coleman

I have no solid information on this Bill Coleman video, except that it's been filmed in Switzerland in 1969 and transmitted on March 20 of the same year.

From the bass drumhead, one can see that Coleman is accompanied by The New Ragtime Band whose members could be identical to the following line up: Jacky Milliet (clarinet), Pierre Descoeudres (trombone), Vino Montavon (piano), Bernard Moritz (guitar), Hans Schläpfer (bass), and either Marco Steiner or Rolf Sydler on drums.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in Born to Be Blue, an upcoming Canadian film directed by Robert Budreau.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

John Scofield Trio, 1987

John Scofield must mean something special to Germans. He had numerous appearances on various German TV networks, both before and after the fall of the Berlin wall.

As for this particular posted broadcast, known as Jazzbühne, I learned from German Wikipedia that two years after the concert was filmed, at some point towards the unification, the program came to an end. But guess who appeared on its very last broadcast? Mr. Scofield, again. (I even ran into him in Berlin's Kantstrasse last May, where he was signing CDs outside A-Trane club.)

I'm not sure if I have the tape of the very last Jazzbühne broadcast in my VHS collection, but here there is this one from 1987 when Mr. Scofield is accompanied by John Riley (drums) and Anthony Cox (bass). They go through these compositions:

Turn Around 00:00 -- 7:19
Science and Religion 07:50 -- 14:11
Flower Power 14:30 -- 19:20 [incomplete]

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bud Powell: Two French Interviews

This post presents a transcribed interview (along with the original audio clip) of Bud Powell, conducted in France where he was recuperating from tuberculosis at the Boullemont Sanatorium.

I heard it the first time as the last track from an exceptional CD, Inner Fires, which featured Bud’s trio with Charlie Mingus and Roy Haynes at Club Kavakos, Washington D. C from April 5, 1953.

Interestingly, the album came out as a part Bill Potts collection, a Washingtonian pianist who accompanied Lester Young in his legendary Washington concerts, released in five volumes.

Although Bud Powell was very sick at the time, his comments lend insight into his not so accessible musical universe.

First Interview: January 15, 1963

You may already know that Bud is suffering from tuberculosis and is now recuperating in a sanatorium near Paris. We went to see him there and tried to interview him. I say 'tried' because Bud is extremely weak now, and it was necessary to ask him the same question several times before he was able to respond. It was also technically difficult to conduct this interview, but I think that despite all this we were able to assemble enough good material for you to hear.

Q: Bud, you told me that you’ve written a new tune since your arrival at the hospital. Would you please tell me its name and give me an idea of how it goes?

A: I wrote In the Mood for a Classic. [Bud sings]

Q: Bud, for whom did you compose this piece?

A: I composed it for France in general.

Q: Who are your favorite players?

Monday, July 27, 2015

John McLaughlin Trio in Hambourg

Recently digitized from my VHS archives, this footage captures the John McLaughlin Trio in Hambourg, Germany in 1990. Typical of a McLaughlin concert, there is lots of interplay going on between McLaughlin on acoustic guitar with Kai Eckhardt on electric bass and Trilok Gurtu on percussion.

Apologies in advance for the abrupt ending of the footage which leaves the last song incomplete. The tape has run out.