Mr. Motian, a drummer, bandleader, and composer of grace and abstraction, was one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last 50 years….
Mr. Motian was a link to groups of the past that informed what jazz sounds like today. He had been in the pianist Bill Evans’s great trio of the late 1950s and early 1960s and in Keith Jarrett’s so-called American quartet during the 1970s. But it was in the second half of his life that Mr. Motian found himself as a composer and bandleader, with work that could be counterintuitive or straightforward, runic or crowd-pleasing.
Stylish and alert — he wore sunglasses in the dark and laughed often and loudly — he worked steadily for decades, and for the last six years or so almost entirely in Manhattan. He had the support of the record producers Stefan Winter and Manfred Eicher, who released his music on the labels Winter & Winter and ECM, and of Lorraine Gordon, the proprietor and presiding spirit of the Village Vanguard, who booked him many times a year, either in his own groups or those of others. (In his 70s he grew tired of traveling, and anyway, he said, he preferred the sound of his drum kit at the Vanguard.)
"Jazz is supposed to be the most unselfish of art forms. In jazz, you give yourself completely to make somebody else play their best. You try to do something to make them, inspire them to do something. So it is a matter of sacrifice." —Dizzy Gillespie, on approaching music with respect
JAZZ is my religion and it alone do I dig the jazz clubs are my houses of worship and sometimes the concert halls but some holy places are too commercial (like churches) so I don’t dig the sermons there I buy jazz sides to dig in solitude Like man/Harlem, Harlem U.S.A. used used to be a jazz heaven where most of the jazz sermons were preached but now-a-days due to chacha cha and rotten rock ‘n’roll alotta good jazzmen have sold their souls but jazz is still my religion because I know and feel the message it brings like reverend Dizzy Gillespie/Brother Bird and Basie/Uncle Armstrong/Minister Monk/ Deacon Miles Davis/ Rector Rollins/ Priest Ellington/ His funkness Horace Silver/ and the great Pope John, John COLTRANE and Cecil Taylor They Preach A Sermon That Always Swings!! Yeah jazz is MY religion Jazz is my story it was my mom’s and pop’s and their moms and pops from the days of Buddy Bolton who swung them blues to Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman’s extension of Bebop Yeah jazz is my religion Jazz is unique musical religion the sermons spread happiness and joy to be able to dig and swing inside what a wonderful feeling jazz is/YEAH BOY!! JAZZ is my religion and dig this: it wasn’t for us to choose because they created it for a damn good reason as a weapon to battle our blues!JAZZ is my religion and its international all the way JAZZ is just an Afroamerican music and like us its here to stay So remember that JAZZ is my religion but it can be your religion too but JAZZ is a truth that is always black and blue Hallelujah I love JAZZ so Hallelujah I dig JAZZ so Yeah JAZZ IS MY RELIGION…….
—Ted Joans reads it as the second of two poems read live in Amsterdam in 1964 as part of the Film “Jazz And Poetry” by Louis van Gasteren.
A truly favorite record. Recorded in 1969 and 1970 the tapes sat in a vault for a quarter century and the album wasn’t released until 1995. Imagine that. AllAboutJazz says of it: “ An album of previously unreleased material taken from two 1969-1970 sessions which capture the immensely talented trumpeter Donald Byrd in a transitional moment of artistic brilliance. The first two tracks, “Kofi” and “Fufu,” were both recorded during the 1969 session, and are the most original and imaginative compositions on the album. Rooted in the hypnotic African-infused rhythms of drummer Mickey Roker , bassist Ron Carter, and percussionists Airto and Dom Um Romao , these two tracks synthesize the modal, electric, hard bop, and funk strains of late 60s jazz. On “Kofi,” Lew Tabackin 's flute swirls freely above the thickly layered grooves and complex horn arrangements.
Gary Burton vibraphone Mick Goodrick guitar Abraham Laboriel bass Harry Blazer drums Recorded March 5/6, 1973 at Aengus Studios, Fayville, Massachusetts
One needs only to catch the first few licks of “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly” to know this album represents an era that can never be recaptured. Burton does wonders with the Chick Corea tune, lifting its upbeat soul to the greatest heights of creative pleasure. One can almost taste the freshness of his sound, the sheer newness of vision and synergy of musicianship ingrained into every moment of this phenomenal record.
James Moody died Thursday of pancreatic cancer, as The New York Times reports. Born partly deaf and with a lisp made for an unlikely jazz musician. Born In Savannah, Georgia and reared in Newark, New Jersey, he played in an all-black band for the Army Air Forces during WWII, and failed his first audition to join Dizzy Gillespie’s band.
His best known tune was “Moody’s Mood For Love” which was the result of an improvised solo around the original 1935 composition. Moody instrumentation later inspired a set of lyrics to match written by Eddie Jefferson, and later covered by numerous artists, notably King Pleasure, but the list was as varied as George Benson, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, and Amy Winehouse.
He struggled with alocholism, and in 1958 checked himself into the Overbrook psychiatric hospital in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Having stayed for several months, he composed “Last Train From Overbrook” which became a widely-known favorite.
Here we have Brubeck with longtime right-hand man Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello on drums at the 1964 Newport Jazz Festival. The quartet has just returned from a 10-day tour of Japan, during which Brubeck was inspired to write some new material, including “Osaka Blues.”
Time for something on the heavy side. Last week I caught Jason Moran at Jazz Standard. What a show it was. Moran, who has earned a reputation as the Jazz pianist of his generation was flanked by the guitarist Mary Halvorson and the trumpeter Ron Miles through some deeply mature and complex material. As he does on his new album “Ten" with some Jimmy Hendrix licks, Moran has taken to playing recorded samples on stage. The track above was the final one of the night, and relies heavily upon a sample recording. Its only title, as you’ll hear him describe it is "You Ain’t Got But One Life To Live, You Better Take Your Time." The sampled recording that you’ll hear recurring throughout appears to be a 1940s vintage folk recording held by the Library of Congress of a woman named Seabell Kennedy of Gee’s Bend, Alabama singing an old gospel chant which has, despite its long title, only three words for lyrics: “Life, live, time,” repeated in various combination in a sort of Zen-like chant. Simply put, Moran needs to put this on his next album. I think you’ll agree.
Dennis Hopper died yesterday at the age of 74. As the director of the forgettable 1990 attempt at film noir “The Hot Spot” he managed to do something musically, kinda cool. He put Jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis in the studio with Blues great John Lee Hooker. The result, is, if nothing else interesting, and the album is surprisingly catchy.
First the trailer to the film. Dig Don Johnson’s shirt.
And now, the music. Personnel in addition to Davis and Hooker, include another Blues great, Taj Mahal, slide guitarist Roy Rogers and the drummer Earl Palmer. Say what you will about the film, the musical experiment it spawned sounds, as NPR’s Tom Moon put it “…like we’re witnessing the birth of a new genre: blues that swings hard but is more delicately shaded than anything in Hooker’s sizeable discography.” I’ve assembled most of the tracks from the album below. Judge for yourself if the experiment was a success. Still Hopper deserves some credit for doing what a bar full of jazz and blues fans might have done only in some fantasy team-up. I can see it now: Someone asks “What would a jam session pairing Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker sound like?” Maybe Hopper had just such a question in mind. The result is the tunes below.
It’s official: My favorite jazz record of 2009 is Allen Toussaint’s “The Bright Mississippi” on Nonesuch Records. I don’t think you’ll have much difficulty understanding why when you hear the two sample tunes below.
Van Dyke Parks has called Toussaint “the best pianist alive, only no one knows it.” On this record, Toussaint re-imagines Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong, and does it so convincingly you sort of feel like you’ve been transported back to the early days in New Orleans and Jazz was new and not recorded, but at the same time like you’re listening to something entirely new, which you are.
This record is up for a Grammy this year and I hope it wins.