2010 final, and a Spotify playlist (VIII)

(Pica aquí para ir al texto en español.)

Like almost anyone reading this, I'm taking a break for the next few days or weeks. And I am also taking a break for this window to the virtual world for a healthy helping of real world, people in the flesh and, hopefully, nature and the great outdoors. In The Conquest of Happiness Bertrand Russell talks about the unhappiness that is caused by not being close to kindred spirits. The internet has certainly helped introducing people from distant place in a large chunk of the planet who happen to share an interest in these things humans do, like music.


Happy birthday to a hero

(Pica aquí para ir al texto en castellano.)

In my previous post, about Moody, I commented on one or several generations of jazz musicians who went from suffering indifference for their music and abuse because of their skin pigmentation, to general acclaim all over the world. These are musicians whose lives should be taught at school, even beyond musical considerations.

It's all too easy to take those men and women for granted. For one thing, there's a deep-rooted tendency to tell the history of jazz as a mythical epic. Well-intentioned as this may be, it can hinder rather than help our appreciation of some very extraordinary human beings. Explaining Louis Armstrong as a supernatural being will never give anybody a fair assessment of his achievements. Show him as a man, bones and flesh, warts and all and then you'll see how extraordinary he was.

On top of that, these men and women, some well-known, some completely anonymous, tend to be lacking of any self-importance, which can mislead us to think that they are not important. And don't expect any help from them, either - they probably wouldn't recognise themselves as the extraordinary people they are.

One of these extraordinary people is Clark Terry, who turns 90 today. You'll read everywhere that he's a master trumpet and flugelhorn player, a pioneer in the latter instrument in jazz. His sound is pure and soft, his technique immaculate, his ideas, witty and quick, and all of it soaked in blues. He's worked with Count Basie, with Duke Ellington, and many others. He was a mentor to Miles Davis. He was one of the first Afro-American musicians to play in the studios in New York, and also on TV, with Skitch Henderson's orchestra for Johnny Carson. He also had a terrific quintet with his very dear friend Bob Brookmeyer, with which they did three studio albums for Bob Shad's Mainstream label (in the early Seventies, Verve released some live tracks from one of their earliest gigs, in 1961).


Moody speaks

In jazz, there's a generation, or two, of Afro-Americans who had to overcome what would have been unsurmountable difficulties for lesser people. Not only they did, but did it unassumingly, with a smile on their faces, keeping a sense of humour and playing beautiful music, a feat only achieved by taking music, not themselves, seriously. Moody, a partially deaf musician, was one of them.

As you probably know by now, Moody just passed away, a victim to pancreatic cancer. He was 85. I've already posted this before, but it's worth listening to him again.


A Spotify playlist (VII): Charlie Christian

(Pica aquí para ir al texto en castellano.)

(All pictures from Leo Valdés's site)

Charles—rather than Charlie—Christian is normally hailed as the greatest pioneer of the electric guitar. He was not the absolute first to use or record with the instrument, but he's arguably one of the most influential of jazz musicians. Besides the implications for popular and rock music in general, his approach to guitar playing is still current today.


Happy 90th, Mr. Brubeck!

I like the piano because he plays the piano like the guys I told you about at the brickyards in Haverstraw, New York, where the blues was born... He has heavy hands, but hits some beautiful chords... You could put this on at anybody's house, and they'd dance all night.
Willie 'The Lion' Smith's reaction to Brubeck's "St. Louis Blues"
(from Jazz Goes to Junior College)
in a blindfold test.

Today Dave Brubeck celebrates his 90th birthday. His career is one of those treasures that can slip past you if you don't go beyond the musician's image and explore the actual music. Through the years Brubeck's been 'accused' of being cold, intellectual, and commercial, but just a bit of browsing through his many recordings will demonstrate that he can be a perfectly hot and visceral pianist, closer to The Lion's assessment, heavy hands and all. About this, I already told the story on how Brubeck's "presence" was felt (pun intended) in Miles Davis's Kind of Blue.

Dave Brubeck's first recording is a solo from 1942, where he already plays a lot of piano. After that, he worked with an octet formed mainly by students of Darius Milhaud, and in 1949 he did his first discs as a leader, of a piano trio at the time, kickstarting, in fact, the Fantasy label. Since then, I don't know of any instances where Mr. Brubeck has recorded as a sideman, and given his very active career to this day, I think his must be one of the longest careers, possibly the most prolific, as a leader in jazz.


Happy 80th birthday, Jim Hall

Jim Hall is one of the greatest guitar players in jazz history. Today it is his 80th birthday, and to celebrate, I recommend this interview with Library of Congress music man Larry Appelbaum.

"What does my music mean to me...?
What came to mind is that it is me, actually"


A Spotify playlist (VI): Art Farmer & Jim Hall Quartet

Steve Swallow, Art Farmer, Walter Perkins, Jim Hall
Picture from the cover of Live at the Half Note (Atlantic)

After last week's list of the Paul Desmond Quartet featuring Jim Hall, I immediately went to see whether Spotify had anything by the other great pianoless quartet with Hall on guitar, also from the Sixties, but with a different wind instrument at the helm: Art Farmer on flugelhorn (exclusively - no trumpet here). And yes, all the official stuff is there, plus a few extras.


Random notes about the London Jazz Festival 2010

Lo que sigue es mi balance del Festival de Londres de este año. Las crónicas en castellano se pueden leer aquí, y todavía se pueden escuchar conciertos a través de internet en BBC-Radio 3.


This year's London Jazz Festival has been something else, even though my Festival has been different to others'. I missed triumphant vocalist Gretchen Parlato, who was the talk of the town after the vocalists' show, as well as missed Herbie Hancock, Hugh Masekela, Brad Mehldau, Cedar Walton, Bojan Z, William Parker & Hamid Drake, Paco de Lucía... and, yet, it was an amazing festival.


A Spotify playlist (V): Paul Desmond & Jim Hall Quartet

Yesterday Paul Desmond would have celebrated his 86th birthday. Alas, he barely made it to 50. Doug Ramsey wrote about this anniversary in his blog. For those who don't know it, Ramsey was a personal friend of Desmond's, and he's written Take Five: the public and private lives of Paul Desmond, a thorough and loving biography of his pal, which must be the best-edited jazz bio ever: Large size, hardback, good paper, great picture reproduction... and the text itself is the right mix of gigantic and meticulous research - Desmond was a notoriously private man -, and excellent prose. (If you find it expensive, keep in mind that it is a huge and heavy book).


A Spotify playlist (IV): The complete Sonny Rollins

(Sonny Rollins in Barcelona on November 3. Source: SonnyRollins.com)

With no time to spare this week because of the London Jazz Festival, and Sonny Rollins' sold out gig tomorrow night at Barbican, the natural thing to do is to re-link my "complete" Rollins playlist in Spotify. Of course it's not complete, but with 540 tracks (about two days of straight listening), it's nearly there, from his debut on record with Babs Gonzales in 1949 to his live trio recordings with Christian McBride and Roy Haynes at Carnegie Hall in 2007, through all of his many peaks.


Sin apenas tiempo para nada esta semana, por el Festival de Jazz de Londres, y teniendo en cuenta que mañana es el concierto, con todo el papel vendido, de Sonny Rollins en el Barbican, lo propio es volver a colgar el enlace a las grabaciones "completas" de Rollins en Spotify. Obviamente no son todas sus grabaciones, pero con 540 temas (un par de días enteros de escucha ininterrumpida), no anda demasiado lejos, desde su debut en disco con Babs Gonzales en 1949 hasta sus grabaciones de 2007 a trío con Christian McBride y Roy Haynes en el Carnegie Hall, pasando por todas las cimas de su fructífera carrera.

Que lo disfruten.


London Jazz Festival (I)

La primera parte de mis crónicas sobre el Festival de Jazz de Londres acaba de salir en Cuadernos de Jazz. Se puede leer aquí.

El balance hasta ahora es muy positivo. En la BBC se pueden oír extractos de conciertos y otros programas sobre el Festival.

También estoy subiendo comentarios sobre la marcha en Twitter.


The first installment of my London Jazz Festival 2010 chronicles is already up at Cuadernos de Jazz. It can be read, in Spanish, here.

Although I'm covering a tiny part of this massive event, my balance so far is particularly good. Most of the gigs I've been to have been exciting to say the least. From the three gigs I've reviewed so far, Chris Potter's Underground gets kudos for being a ridiculously tight band (Craig Taborn's left hand on the Rhodes could easily leave many bass players without a job), Gwilym Simcock for his solo piano work, and the Peter King-Art Themen-Alex Riel band at the Bull's Head for their frontliners' solos - King and Themen are two very exciting septuagenarians, and the venue for its warm and 'this-is-the-real-thing' atmosphere.

There's still plenty going on, and much of it worth checking out. For music and other programmes related to the Festival, check out the BBC.

And you can also follow me on Twitter


A Spotify playlist... & the London Jazz Festival 2010

Today marks the start of the London Jazz Festival. This year's programme is, as usual, an overload of interesting, fascinating, surprising, exciting music, which is great, but it has its problems, like having to chose, on a given day, between Cedar Walton, Stan Tracey, John Scofield, Hamid Drake & William Parker, and Bojan Z! Fantastic problem to have, I know, but it still itches a bit. You can check the listings here for a bit of drooling.

The one gig I'm really looking forward is Darcy James Argue's at Café Oto. I'm not so sure about the venue (because of its size, the atmosphere is perfect), but we'll see. In any case, bringing these guys over from the US speaks tons about the organizers of the Festival. They really are serious.

I'll be reviewing the festival for Cuadernos de Jazz. Our plan is to do a short review every two days, so the first one will probably come out on Monday. That'll be in Spanish.


Today's Spotify playlist goes to George Russell (incidentally, an artist who had strong links with Serious in the last part of his career). I've published this list before, but there have been a few additions since, namely It's About Time by the Living Time Orchestra (Enja), the Live at Bremen and Paris, 1964, and the Sextet at the Five Spot. For this list I've used Duncan Heining's recent bio of Russell, where it says that Russell was involved in the recording of Sheila Jordan's Portrait of Sheila, that's why it's here.


Hoy comienza el Festival de Jazz de Londres. El programa de este año es, como de costumbre, un alud de música interesante, fascinante, sorprendente, excitante... que está muy bien, pero tiene sus inconvenientes, como el de tener que elegir, en un día dado, entre Cedar Walton, Stan Tracey, John Scofield, Hamid Drake & William Parker y Bojan Z! Ya sé que da gusto tener problemas así, pero no deja de picar un poco. Aquí está la programación completa, por si les apetece babear un poco.

Personalmente, el concierto al que le tengo verdaderas ganas es al de Darcy James Argue en el Café Oto. No tengo claro que sea el sitio ideal (por sus dimensiones, el ambiente es perfecto), ya veremos cómo sale. En todo caso, traerse a esta big band desde EE UU dice mucho de la organización del Festival. No por nada se llaman Serious.

Si les interesa leer qué se cuece por aquí, voy a reseñar lo que vea para Cuadernos de Jazz. El plan es sacar una crónica cada dos días, así que supongo que la primera saldrá el lunes que viene. Además, voy a probar a utilizar Twitter para ir haciendo comentarios sobre la marcha. Las entradas se pueden ver en la columna de la derecha. A ver qué tal sale...


La lista de Spotify de hoy se la lleva George Russell (artista que, casualmente, mantuvo una estrecha relación con la promotora Serious en la recta final de su carrera). Esta lista ya la había publicado antes, pero ha habido unas pocas adiciones desde entonces, a saber, It's About Time de la Living Time Orchestra (Enja), Live at Bremen and Paris, 1964 y Sextet at the Five Spot. Para elaborar la lista me he apoyado en la reciente biografía de Russell, en la que cuenta que estuvo implicado de alguna forma en la grabación del Portrait of Sheila de Sheila Jordan, por eso he incluido este disco.

¡Que lo disfruten!


Other quotes (I) ~ Otras citas (I): Philip Larkin

"Home is where the records are."

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica (Faber, 2010)


"El hogar está donde están los discos."

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica (Faber, 2010)


Sunday update: Moody / Cifu

MOODY: See this note on Doug Ramsey's blog. If you want to send a message to Moody, you'd better do it through his Facebook profile.

CIFU: A grateful man, he's written a thank you note for the support he got for the Ondas award.


MOODY: Cuenta Doug Ramsey en su blog que los Moody, James y Linda, están teniendo problemas informáticos por la cantidad de e-mails que están recibiendo. Para mandarle un mensaje, mejor a través de su perfil en Facebook.

CIFU: Ha escrito una nota de agradecimiento por la campaña para que le dieran el Ondas (picar en la imagen para verla ampliada).


A Spotify playlist (II): The Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker Quartet

Picture: Ray Avery

Sudden fame, being photogenic, and justified anger from Miles Davis and possibly other Afro-American musicians, have somewhat obscured the fact that the original Gerry Mulligan pianoless quartet with Chet Baker was quite a concept: a combo without piano, with an awkward front line of baritone sax and trumpet, who could and did play counterpoint, a counterpoint that at least sometimes sounded completely improvised. Bear in mind, too, that Mulligan was 25 (and Baker a mere 22) at the time and had already contributed half the arrangements to the studio recordings of Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool.


¡El Ondas para el Cifu!

Yesterday was a pretty intense day. A few hours after we got the news about James Moody, the 2010 Ondas awards were announced. This is the most important recognition radio people can get in Spain. The news is that veteran jazz broadcaster Juan Claudio Cifuentes, 'Cifu', has been granted the Special Jury Award.

I've already spoken about Cifu and how he's been the education in jazz for many of us in Spain, mainly through his weekly programme on Spanish public TV from 1984 to 1991, but also through his 40 years, and counting, on radio. Jazz is a minority music, even more so in Spain than in our European neighbours, so, besides the recognition to his work, this is, in some way, a small acknowledgement of jazz in Spain, of the people who play it, the people who help make it better known, and the small, but faithful and, hopefully, growing audiences.


Moody's Mood for Love

Just a quick note to share the news that James Moody is ill with cancer. See this article; if you want to send him a message, you can do so through his Facebook profile.

Moody is a treasure. I saw him live at the Barbican six years ago, with a Dizzy Alumni band. To be honest, he's a soloist I took for granted, friendly, and cuddly as he looks, but he truly shocked me as the most adventurous soloist of the night.

Below there's a video where Moody speaks about how his "I'm in the Mood for Love" came about. To my ears, there's quite a bit of Bird in his solo; for instance, the bit that goes "oh, baby, you make me feel so good..." is typical Parker (it appears in "Moose the Mooche", 0:54 here), and "am I insane or do I really see heaven in your eyes?" is sung to the melody of "Country Gardens", an English(!) song that Bird used regularly as a coda.

Given the many times his solo has been sung and recorded (by Amy Winehouse, among others), Moody's solo may have been the main vehicle for Charlie Parker's music, albeit second- or third-hand, to have reached the cultural mainstream.

More importantly, Moody has brought joy and good music to the world consistently for over sixty years. Let us celebrate him, and let him know it.

(See this Spotify playlist for music related to this post)


Como se relata en este artículo, el saxofonista James Moody tiene cáncer de páncreas y ha renunciado a la quimio y la radio (su mujer, Linda, invita a los fans a escribirle a través de su perfil en Facebook). Por mucho que sea ley de vida, este tipo de noticias no dejan de ser menos impactantes, aun más en el caso de Moody. La única vez que le he visto en directo, en Londres hace seis años, con una big band de ex subalternos de Dizzy Gillespie. Moody debía de ser de los más veteranos de la banda. Lejos de su imagen afable y simpaticona, cada vez que se llevo el saxo a la boca fue, de lejos, el solista más sorprendente de la noche.

Aunque no se le incluya entre los "grandes", este saxofonista y flautista parcialmente sordo(!), cuya carrera está indeleblemente unida a la de Dizzy Gillespie desde en 1946 (que se dice pronto). En 1949, ¡en Suecia!, grabó una versión de "I'm in the Mood For Love" que no sólo ha pasado a la historia, sino que es un curioso artefacto cultural: con letra de Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure grabó (con Annie Ross) el solo de Moody nota por nota y lo convirtió en piedra de toque del estilo vocalese.

En su solo, Moody apenas se apoya en la melodía original y tira bastante de la fraseología de Charlie Parker. Dos ejemplos, donde la letra de Jefferson dice "oh, baby, you make me feel so good..." (2:06 en el vídeo), la música es una frase recurrente de Charlie Parker que aparece en su "Moose the Mooche" (0:54, aquí); donde dice "am I insane or do I really see heaven in your eyes?" (0:39 en el vídeo), la melodía es una frase aún más recurrente: se trata de "Country Gardens", una canción tradicional ¡inglesa! que Bird solía usar como coda.

Lo de artefacto cultural lo decía porque, teniendo en cuenta la cantidad de versiones que hay de este tema, incluida la de Amy Winehouse, no deja de tener su gracia que sea, probablemente, el medio por el que más gente ha escuchado algo de Charlie Parker, aunque sea de tercera mano.

En el vídeo del fondo, Moody relata la historia de la grabación, como estaba en París y le invitaron a grabar doce temas en Suecia (país que ya en 1949 había disfrutado del bebop de primera mano con Chubby Jackson y Dizzy Gillespie). Como suele pasar -lo mismo ocurrió con el "Body and Soul" de Coleman Hawkins- "Mood for Love" fue el último tema de la sesión, grabado sin arreglos y con Moody estrenandose con un saxo alto. Él mismo explica en el vídeo que su instrumento habitual era el tenor, y que las primeras frases suenan como suenan porque estaba tanteando para encontrar las notas que quería.

Lo que realmente importa es que Moody no ha fallado en llevar alegría y buena música al mundo durante más de sesenta años. Celebremos su existencia y su obra, y que él lo sepa.

(En esta lista de Spotify hay música relacionada con esta entrada)

Moody tells the story of "Moody's Mood for Love"


A Spotify playlist (I): The Nat King Cole Mosaic set

For the last few years, Spotify has become a useful tool for music enjoyment, tasting, and even research. In spite of it being available only in six countries (Britain, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and France), it has so much potential that for the next few Fridays I'll be posting some of my own playlists and other discoveries.


Oscar Hammerstein II celebrates... ?

When the musical Oklahoma! ("Oh, What a Beautiful Morning", "Surrey with the Fringe on Top", "People Will Say We're in Love") opened to rave reviews in 1943, its lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein II, celebrated in a special way, taking an ad on Variety.

Hammerstein put words to more than 800 songs, including "Ol' Man River", "It Might As Well Be Spring", "Indian Love Call", "Some Enchanted Evening", "The Last Time I Saw Paris", "The Sound of Music", "Climb Every Mountain"...

In the 'celebratory' ad he listed his recent turkeys and adviced everyone as follows:


Ken Vandermark in Dalston

My combined review of Ken Vandermark's KV5 and Peter Brötzmann's Full Blast featuring Vandermark back in September in Dalston, in two of the most vibrant clubs in London, the Vortex and Café Oto, can be read (in Spanish) here.

For reviews (in English) of the Vortex gig see the The Guardian, Financial Times, London Jazz, The Jazz Mann and All About Jazz.

For the Café Oto gig, see London Jazz, and All About Jazz.


Mi reseña de los conciertos del KV5 de Ken Vandermark y del Full Blast de Peter Brötzmann con Vandermark de invitado, ambos en Dalston el pasado septiembre, en el Vortex y el Café Oto, dos de los locales más potentes de la ciudad, se puede leer aquí.


Duke Ellington... en TVE (y II)

Segunda parte del especial de Jazz entre amigos dedicado a Duke Ellington. En este caso, el programa lo componen películas grabadas entre 1929 y 1941. El índice, más abajo (no se pierdan a una jovencísima Billie Holiday en Symphony...).

¡El Ondas para Cifu!


Second part of the Ellington special done by Spanish TV programme Jazz entre amigos, comprising several soundies filmed between 1929 and 1941. Note a very young Billie Holiday in Symphony...


Duke Ellington... en TVE (I)

Primera parte del monográfico de Jazz Entre Amigos dedicado a Duke Ellington. Emitido hace 25 años, el 11 de septiembre de 1985. Aunque incluye metraje de diversa procedencia (como el funeral de Ellington, con Ella Fitzgerald cantando con Billy Taylor al piano), el programa se apoya principalmente en el documental On the Road with Duke Ellington, grabado a lo largo de 1967 y estrenado en la NBC el 13 de octubre de aquel año. El programa no tiene desperdicio, pero si hay que destacar un momento, quizás sea el encuentro de Ellington con Louis Armstrong (20:11-21:15), por suerte no doblado, sino subtitulado.


Musicians' quotes / Citas de músicos (VIII)

I know of no reason why jazz [...] should sit down in a little corner and behave itself, and never venture out in any direction, and never be 'bad,' and never be 'annoying,' and 'Mind your manners!' Jazz should not, it never has, it never will, nor should it ever.


Easy does it... en el aire ~ on the air

(Última hora: el programa se puede escuchar aquí, al menos de aquí a una semana)

Esto no es algo que ocurra habitualmente, o sea que más vale que los lectores de este blog no se lo pierdan (o se pongan a cubierto, a su discreción queda). El miércoles 6, estaré de 20:00 a 22:00 en Radio Círculo poniendo a prueba la capacidad de resistencia del señero Jazz Session de Álex Cifuentes y Fernando Bezos.


Ry Cooder and the amateur spirit

Ry Cooder on the music he likes and why. Taken from a radio interview about his album I, Flathead in WNYC's Studio 360 (you can hear the whole thing there.)


Jazz in Chile, today: Tempo / Gonzalo Palma Trio

This is the last post (for now) of this "Jazz in Chile, today" series. Before we go on to today's video, be advised that the 11-episode Tempo documentary will be launched tonight at 21:30 local time (same as US Eastern Time, that's UTC/GMT-4) on Canal 13 Cable, which can be watched on line (go to http://cable.canal13.cl/ and click on "véanos en vivo"). A new episode will be broadcast every Sunday, with repeats during the week (Tuesdays at 20:00, Wednesdays at midnight, 3:00 and 14:30, and Saturdays at 14:30, all local time, same as US ET). You can click here for a detailed schedule, or visit Tempo's slick website for more information, videos and pictures.


A boxed set bonanza ~ Avalancha de cajas

(Edited to include info provided by Tomajazz's Pachi Tapiz - thanks!)

As we say in Spain, "troubled waters, fishermen's gain." The music industry is going through a lot of changes and cuts and whatnot, and one of the consequences for us poor consumers is the release of budget boxed sets without any luxuries such as new liner notes or even a booklet with texts in readable typesize.


It's been so long...

Stevie Ray Vaughan, 20 years on August 27


Bill Evans, 30 years on September 15


Jimi Hendrix, 40 years today, September 18


Jazz in Chile, today: Martin Joseph & Pacific Ensamble

More from Tempo:

Martin Joseph and the Pacific Ensamble:

Martin Joseph: piano and leader,
Pablo Menares: double bass,
Andy Baeza: drums,
Sebastián Jordán: trumpet,
Edén Carrasco: alto sax,
Claudio Rubio: tenor sax, and
Jorge Prieto: trombone,

recorded in June 2008 at the Musicámara hall in Universidad de Valparaíso.


Jazz in Chile, today: Ensamble Quintessence

More from Tempo:

Ensamble Quintessence:

Sebastián Jordán: trumpet,
Jaime Navarrete: trumpet,
Marcelo Maldonado: trombone,
Cristian Gallardo: flute, alto sax,
Claudio Rubio: soprano sax,
Andrés Pérez: tenor sax,
Agustín Moya: tenor sax,
Diego Manuschevich: bass clarinet,
Lautaro Quevedo: piano,
Roberto Dañobeitía, Federico Dannemann: guitar,
Rodrigo Galarce: bass,
Félix Lecaros: drums,
Francisco Nuñez: conductor,

plus guest Mario Lecaros: piano,

on Tempo, Episode 5, filmed in June 2008 at the Musicámara Hall in Universidad de Valparaíso.


Sobre la relevancia

Short note about cultural relevance. While others have used more solemn texts as the basis to play jazz, guitarist Dani Pérez (Argentina, 1967) has used a joke by the very idiosincratic and popular Chiquito de la Calzada (below).

Uno de los problemas fundamentales de la renovación del jazz es su relevancia cultural. En pleno siglo XXI, y fuera de Estados Unidos, cabe preguntarse qué sentido tiene tocar standards.


Happy 80th birthday, Sonny Rollins!

"The Bridge" (1962)

(Jim Hall, guitar; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Ben Riley, drums)


"Weaver of Dreams" (1959)

(Henry Grimes, bass; Pete La Roca, drums)


(Kenny Drew, piano; NHØP, bass; Albert 'Tootie' Heath, drums)


* The Complete Sonny Rollins on Spotify (1949-2007)

This list has 540 tracks - about two days' worth of music - everything that's available in Spotify, as a sideman (starting with Babs Gonzales) and as a leader (including his complete Prestige, Riverside, Blue Note, and RCA recordings, and most of his massive Milestone output), both in the studio and live... and two tunes by the Stones.


Esta lista contiene 540 temas -un par de días seguidos de música-, todo el material disponible en Spotify, como sideman (desde su debut con Babs Gonzales) y como líder (incluyendo sus grabaciones completas para Prestige, Blue Note, Riverside y RCA, así como la mayor parte de su mastondóntica producción para Milestones), tanto en estudio como en vivo... y dos temas con los Rolling Stones.

* SonnyRollins.com
* Ira Gitler entrevista a Sonny Rollins (en español).


I don't understand ~ No entiendo

If I got a penny each time I heard a friend say "I don't understand it" when jazz comes up in conversation... Not that I think that "understanding" is really necessary to enjoy music, but veteran record executive Jac Holzman (b. 1931), founder of the Elektra (1950) and Nonesuch (1964) labels, explains, in an interview for the LA Times (where he makes other important points about music and technology), his very simple solution when he's confronted with music he doesn't understand:


Jazz in Chile, today: Nicolás Vera Quinteto

More from Tempo:

Nicolás Vera Quinteto:

Nicolás Vera: guitar,
Claudio Rubio: tenor sax,
Lautaro Quevedo: piano,
Pablo Menares: double bass, and
Félix Lecaros: drums,

recorded in June 2008 at the Musicámara hall in Universidad de Valparaíso.

Extra: "Bellavista"


Changes ~ Cambios

As you can see, I've been fiddling with the appearance of Easy Does It. I've made some changes in the distribution, have enlarged the typeface for posts (and shrinked it for the other departments.) I spend most of my waking hours in front of a screen, and I think the dark background will help readers, but any feedback will be most welcome. At the end of the day, the main point is for the blog to be readable.


Bird cumple 90

Tal día como hoy nació en Kansas City (Missouri) Charlie Parker. El texto que sigue a continuación salió en su día en la revista mexicana La Tempestad y en Tomajazz.


Jazz in Chile, today: Cristian Cuturrufo

More from Tempo:

Cristian Cuturrufo Quinteto:

Cristian Cuturrufo: trumpet;
Jimmy Coll: tenor sax;
Dani Lencina: guitar;
Cristian Monreal: double bass; and
Carlos Cortés: drums,

play in June 2008 at the Musicámara hall in Universidad de Valparaíso.

Note the "Blues March" tag on "Coleguita Swing".

"Coleguita swing"


"Habanera para Pirisón"



New kid on the blog: Caye López

Una de las características del jazz como afición es que somos tan pocos que no se tarda demasiado en empezar a reconocer caras en festivales y clubes.


Jazz in Chile, today: Christian Gálvez

More from Tempo:

Christian Gálvez Quartet:

Andrés Pérez: tenor sax;
Christian Gálvez: six-string electric bass;
Eduardo Peña: double bass; and
Félix Lecaros: drums,

play "Imaginario" (Gálvez, 2007), recorded in June 2008 at the Musicámara hall in Universidad de Valparaíso.


PS: Herman Leonard (1923-2010)

Leonard talks (in December 2008) about how he got started, his dealings with club owners, lightning, Norman Granz, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis (his "best photographic subject ever"), his philosophy of life, digital v. film..., and photoshop(!)


Herman Leonard (1923-2010)

Herman Leonard in January 2008 (photo by Philip DeFalco)

Jazz is a true 20th century phenomenon. Although it is music, it has an extremely powerful visual component. It might even be argued that for many jazz is easier to identify with certain images than with sounds.


Jazz in Chile, today: Jorge Díaz Trío

More from Tempo. Patricio Muñoz, director of the series, tells me that it'll be broadcast starting on Sunday September 26th, at 21:30 (Chilean and US East Coast time), on Canal 13 Cable, in Chile (which apparently can be watched live on line, go here on the date and click on "véanos en vivo"), and from then on every Sunday till December 5th. A DVD of the series will be launched in November.


Jazz in Chile, today: Los Ogros del Swing

Back in March I linked some videos as a taster of the history of jazz in Chile. The same producers of that series, dereojo, are about to release (first in Chile's Canal 13, then on DVD) Tempo a new series entirely devoted to the current scene, comprising eleven episodes devoted to eleven bands plus four guest soloists.

In the coming days I'll be posting some of those videos, which are quite a showcase for these bands.


Cuadernos cumple 20 años

Cuadernos y yo

Mi primer contacto con Cuadernos de Jazz debió de ocurrir hacia 1993. Yo andaba muy metido en el blues (era suscriptor de Solo Blues) y conocía alguna cosilla de jazz, pero muy poco. Un día descubrí la revista en la biblioteca municipal de mi pueblo. La ojeé y me pareció abrumadora, porque apenas conocía ninguno de los nombres que en ella se mencionaban. A pesar de esa primera impresión, terminé por convertirme en lector asiduo.


No false modesty for Jaco / Jaco, sin falsas modestias

It's funny. I started to play the bass guitar because it was an easy instrument. Then I went and made it hard for myself... I'm the first cat that can really play the instrument. It's as simple as that.
Jaco Pastorius quoted by Mike Zwerin in
Close Enough for Jazz
(Quartet Books, 1983.)

Tiene gracia. Empecé a tocar el bajo eléctrico porque era un instrumento fácil, y acabé haciéndolo más complicado... Soy el primero que puede tocar de verdad el instrumento. Así de sencillo.
Jaco Pastorius, citado por Mike Zwerin en su
Close Enough for Jazz (Quartet Books, 1983).


In London - Habichuela & Holland: Hands

(Clink on the image to listen on Spotify)

As much as they're hailed in many corners of the world, any recording or event with the words "jazz" and "flamenco" on the same line makes some of us weary (especially in Spain, I'd say.) It's not that we don't like fusions and mixtures of music. But, perhaps because we're surrounded by the "real" thing, it seems that we're less inclined to enjoy certain things that other, foreign, listeners embrace.


Musicians' quotes / Citas de músicos (VI): Louis on Bix

[Y]ou run into Louis Armstrong, who tells you of the first time he heard a white boy - a very pasty-faced boy from Davenport, Iowa - play the cornet. And Armstrong broke into tears. 'Man!' he said, 'might as well lay you down and die, nigger.'

Alistair Cooke, "Joe Louis" (Letter from America of March 20, 1949)

Te encuentras con Louis Armstrong, que te cuenta la primera vez que oyó a un blanco -un chaval blanco, con cara de pan, de Davenport, Iowa- tocar la corneta. Armstrong se echó a llorar: "macho," dijo, "más valdría que abandonases y te dejases morir, negro".

Alistair Cooke, "Joe Louis" (Carta de América, del 20 de marzo de 1949)

(Beiderbecke solo from 1:31)


Musicians' quotes / Citas de músicos (V)

For most musicians, playing music is our crutch. If you have nothing else happening in your life, at least you can play music. If things are bad, for whatever reason; your wife left you, you're not making any money, you can't pay the mortgage, you can always pick your horn and play and boy, it gives you something that you can't buy.

Terry Gibbs, in his autobiography Good Vibes - A life in jazz
(Scarecrow Press, 2003)


Para la mayoría de los músicos, tocar es lo que nos mantiene en pie. Si en el resto de las facetas de tu vida las cosas no está sucediendo gran cosa, al menos puedes tocar. Si las cosas no van bien, por la razón que sea –te dejó tu mujer, no estás ganando nada de dinero, no alcanzas a pagar la hipoteca...–, siempre puedes agarrar tu instrumento y tocar. Eso te da una sensación que no tiene precio.

Terry Gibbs, en su autobiografía Good Vibes - A life in jazz
(Scarecrow Press, 2003)


Musicians' quotes / Citas de músicos (IV)

(Comedian Chevy Chase and pianist Bill Evans knew each other. Chase actually plays piano and is a jazz fan.)

CHEVY CHASE: God, I'd give anything to play the piano like you.

BILL EVANS: It's easy, Chev.


BILL EVANS: Yeah, eight hours a day.

(Source: Jazz Times)


(El cómico Chevy Chase y el pianista Bill Evans se conocían. De hecho, Chase toca el piano y es un aficionado al jazz.)

CHEVY CHASE: Macho, daría lo que fuera por tocar el piano como tú.

BILL EVANS: Es fácil, Chev.

CHEVY CHASE: ¿De verdad?

BILL EVANS: Sí... Ocho horas al día.

(Fuente: Jazz Times)


Two swingin' years... / Dos años con swing

The very minute this is uploaded, it'll be two years since my first post. To express my gratitude to my 8,504 unique readers – because you are all truly unique (read with a mock Dizzy Gillespie accent) – I've embedded the player below to reveal the secret of swing. Yes, someone has finally uncovered that intangible aspect so intrinsic to the nature of jazz, which has kept grown men with beards, turtlenecks and smoking pipes, mulling and musing for the best part of a century...

If it isn't exactly that, at least it's quite funny, and still pretty accurate, I find.


Bill Dixon: early influences / influencias tempranas

Bill Dixon (b. 1925) is one, if not the, foremost avant-garde jazz trumpet player. Given the common perception of the different factions in jazz, the following may come as a surprise for some... Bill Dixon:

The first person I ever heard play the trumpet, and this should be interesting, was Louis Armstrong.

When I was a teenager, the first trumpeter I heard as a trumpet player who had a remarkable affect on my thinking about the instrument from a technical point of view, and this may shock you, was Harry James (right). "Carnival of Venice," "Flight of the Bumblebee," pieces like that, I love those pieces.

The person who had a profound thing in terms of how he played, and the sound he took out of Horn, was Rex Stewart... I heard [him] at the dances we went to as a teenager because the Ellington band, the Lunceford band, all of those, they played for our dances, I heard them live.

When I started to play the horn... the person who was absolutely terrifying on the horn at the time was Dizzy... When I first heard the records of he and Bird, hey, I wept... Dizzy, it was impossible to escape the force that Dizzy had on that horn.

No one knows why ultimately [Miles Davis] took the stance on the instrument that he did... We don't know if it was accident, if he sat down and decided after so many years, we don't know what he did... And he brought to the instrument, to my ear, one of the most beautiful sounds I have heard come out of the trumpet... I listened very, very carefully that he did... And one time I could play note for note every solo that he had.

Bill Dixon interviewed by Robert D. Rusch in Jazz Talk - The Cadence Interviews (Lyle Stuart, 1984)


Bill Dixon (n. 1925) es uno de los principales trompetistas de la vanguardia del jazz, si no el más importante. Dada la percepción que habitualmente tenemos de las diversas facciones del jazz, lo que viene a continuación puede ser una sorpresa para algunos... Bill Dixon:

La primera persona que oí tocar la trompeta en mi vida, y esto debería ser interesante, fue Louis Armstrong (a la izquierda).

Cuando era adolescente, el primer trompetista que oí como trompetista y que me afectó notablemente en mi forma de pensar sobre el instrumento desde un punto de vista técnico, y puede que esto te sorprenda, fue Harry James. "El carnaval de Venecia", "El vuelo del moscardón", este tipo de piezas, me encantaban.

La persona que poseía algo profundo en lo que respecta a su forma de tocar, y el sonido que le sacaba al instrumento, fue Rex Stewart (a la derecha)... Le oí en los bailes a los que iba cuando era un adolescente, porque en esos bailes tocaba la banda de Ellington, la de Jimmie Lunceford, y yo les oí en directo.

Cuando empecé a tocar la trompeta... la persona que era absolutamente aterradora con el instrumento en aquel momento era Dizzy... La primera vez que oí los discos que hizo con Charlie Parker, lloré... Dizzy... era imposible escapar de la fuerza que ejercía Dizzy sobre el instrumento.

Nadie sabe cómo en última instancia [Miles Davis] adoptó el enfoque que adoptó con el instrumento... No sabemos si fue por accidente, si se sentó y lo decidió al cabo de los años, no sabemos qué hizo... Y para mis oídos, aportó al instrumento uno de los sonidos más hermosos que jamás he oído salir de una trompeta... Escuché muy, muy atentamente lo que hacía... Y hubo un tiempo en el que podía tocar cada uno de sus solos nota por nota.
Bill Dixon entrevistado por Robert D. Rusch en Jazz Talk - The Cadence Interviews (Lyle Stuart, 1984)


So long, Mr. Jones

(La versión en español de este texto está en Cuadernos de Jazz.)

© Mark Sheldon. Used by permission.

Hank Jones left us last Sunday and it's safe to say that we have lost a piece of living jazz history. Some other musicians were certainly more vital in steering the course – the courses, rather – of this music, but no one has permeated and defined the main stream of what we know as jazz like he has.


Musicians' quotes / Citas de músicos (III)

Maynard [Ferguson] was a leader, a front man in every sense of the word. He wanted to be on top and bottom at the same time. (In the middle too for that matter.) He could hit a double high C and then without missing a beat drop down to a low G with a fat symphony sound. He had learned circular breathing. He could read fly shit. He could switch between trumpet and valve trombone without a hitch. He was a virtuoso, the complete instrumentalist; even his improvising was not bad for a bandleader. Why then has he left me with so little to remember?

Trombonist, writer, and bon vivant Mike Zwerin, who played in Ferguson's band, in Close Enough for Jazz (Quartet Books, 1983.)


Maynard [Ferguson] era un jefe, un líder de banda en todos los sentidos de la palabra. Quería ocupar a la vez el registro alto y el bajo. (Y el medio también, ya puestos). Podía tocar un do sobreagudo y, sin perder el compás, descender hasta un sol bajo con un sonido gordo, sinfónico. Aprendió a usar la respiración circular. Podía leer hasta caquitas de mosca en un pentagrama. Era capaz de pasar de la trompeta al trombón de pistones sin pestañear. Era un virtuoso, el instrumentista completo. Incluso sus improvisaciones no estaban mal del todo, para ser un director de orquesta. Pero entonces, ¿por qué me dejó tan pocos recuerdos memorables?

Mike Zwerin (1930-2010), trombonista, periodista, y bon vivant, miembro en su día de la orquesta de Ferguson, en Close Enough for Jazz (Quartet Books, 1983).


"Rhythm-A-Ning": A detour / Un desvío (II)

Some time ago I posted about the alternative life of the melody that would become "Rhythm-A-Ning" and forever associated with Thelonious Monk. Last week I was listening to some classic Bud Powell, "Hallelujah!" came up, and lo and behold, come 1:57 and there it was (right before he quotes "Go In and Out the Window", a nursery rhyme, of all things).