28/11/2010

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.

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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.

26/11/2010

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).

19/11/2010

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.

Enjoy!


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.

18/11/2010

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.

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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

12/11/2010

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.

Enjoy!



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...

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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!


10/11/2010

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


"Home is where the records are."

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica (Faber, 2010)

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"El hogar está donde están los discos."

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica (Faber, 2010)

07/11/2010

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.

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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).

05/11/2010

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.

04/11/2010

¡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.

03/11/2010

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)

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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"