Daily Archives: January 29, 2011

BETTY SMITH (1929-2011)

I learned of the death of British saxophonist, clarinetist, and singer Betty Smith from Jim Denham — whose blog is SHIRAZ SOCIALIST — a good friend although we’ve never met.  Here’s his posting —  http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/betty-smith-6-july-1929-21-jan-2011/ and the obituary written for THE INDEPENDENT by Steve Voce, someone who knew and loved the musicians of that generation all over the world:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/betty-smith-saxophonist-and-singer-hailed-for-her-improvisational-panache-2196497.html.

She was a fine player — although (like Kathy Stobart) not well-known in the larger circles of “jazz scholarship.”  But Bobby Hackett seems to be happy to be on the same stage with her.

“OH, CLICK ME!” SAYS THE LINK.  AND ALL THE MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

MUSIC IN THE CURRICULUM: ALICE and BUTCH

Music is an integral part of the curriculum in all schooling.  Whether it’s the fifth-graders square dancing in the gym, the high school orchestra rehearsing classics, or the university jazz ensemble, they all bring light.

In that spirit, I present two YouTube clips that whimsically illustrate the point.  The first is the imperishable Swedish singer Alice Babs in her Ella-influenced turn in SWING IT, MAGISTERN (Swing It, Teacher) which has every cinematic stereotype of swing imaginable — but Miss Babs is wonderful, isn’t she?  And you don’t have to know Swedish to swing it! 

I had read about this performance a dozen years ago in one of the great Czech writer Josef Skvorecky’s novel-memoirs — he sat through this film over and over to see this sequence.  Considering what was happening in Europe in 1940 and onwards, I understand wholly.  I think that Miss Babs helped win the war.

The second clip is odd — but for those who find it both painful and amusing, it lasts only seventy-five seconds.  JUST FRIENDS is one of the great songs from the early Thirties, with beautiful records by Red McKenzie and, twenty years later, Jack Teagarden. 

But for pure emotional impact, can either of those men equal Tommy “Butch” Bond in THE LITTLE RASCALS belting it out in a 1933 short, MUSH AND MILK?  Not a whimper of false modesty or stage fright here:

Talk about believing in yourself and in your material!

P.S.  In case you might wonder at the banner below (Tommy is past being interested in money, alas, although I am told Miss Babs is alive and well in Sweden) it refers to previous postings concerning the JAZZ LIVES cyber-tip-jar for living musicians.  Information available on request!

ALL MONEY GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!  PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW AND BE GENEROUS!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

COMING SOON: TED BROWN AND BRAD LINDE (Feb. 5, 2011)

Wonderful things can happen at a jazz gig before a note has been played. 

That was the case when the Ted Brown Quartet performed at Sofia’s on Jan. 13, 2011. 

I had gotten there very early (my anxious parents always left the house too far in advance and arrived everywhere too early) and fell into conversation with a bespectacled young man seated at the bar.  We spoke of the musicians and the music, and he extended his hand and introduced himself.  “I’m Brad Linde,” he said. 

I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t have an instantaneous flash of recognition, but as we talked I thought, “He knows his stuff; he’s a real player with a deep awareness of the music.”  And then I said, “Do you have any CDs out?”  He said, “Yes, one, it’s called FEELING THAT WAY NOW.” 

As they say in the United Kingdom, the penny dropped, and I said — right off.  “My God!  I reviewed that CD for CADENCE and I loved it!”  And everything was hilariously in balance: I hadn’t recognized him but I was able to bring him good news: he had not seen the review.  A delightful interchange, wouldn’t you say? 

And it was even more delightful when young Mr. Linde did two things. 

It was his gentle urging that got Lee Konitz to walk in and sit at the bar to hear the music — making me think that we were in the presence of greatness.

And when Brad took out his tenor, I was warmed by the music he and Ted made — a series of heartfelt, friendly, apparently casual conversations.  Not a Hollywood cutting contest, certainly not Young Warrior overpowering Old: more like father and son chatting about things that mean so much.  (Brad has a loving reverence for his Jazz Fathers — performing with Butch Warren and Freddie Redd, for example!) 

Here’s a sample of what Ted and Brad created on YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM:

I’m writing this post not only to celebrate the cheerful, humble, expert Mr. Linde and his many endeavors — but to let New Yorkers know that more of this splendid music is coming our way in one week. 

On Saturday, February 5, 2011, a quartet of Brad, Ted Brown, bassist Joe Solomon, and drummer Taro Okamoto will be playing from 9:30 PM to 1 AM at Tomi Jazz — that’s 239 East 53rd Street (lower level), between Second and Third Avenues.  646-497-1254 or http://www.tomijazz.com/. for more information.  I have it on good authority that the delightfully gifted tenor saxophonist Lena Bloch, who played so beautifully at Sofia’s, will be there, too.  Perhaps Mr. Konitz will come in and oversee everything as he did, as well. . . .  You come, too!

ALL MONEY GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!  PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK AND BE GENEROUS!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

COMING SOON: PETE MALINVERNI’S “INVISIBLE CITIES” Smalls, Feb. 4/5, 2011

Pete Malinverni is an inventive pianist and composer — someone I have had the good fortunte to hear and meet recently.  (My jubilation was initially mixed with sadness that I hadn’t had the pleasure twenty years earlier, but such things are beyond our powers to change.) 

Pete is hardly overexposed at New York City gigs, so I encourage my readers who can to visit Smalls on Friday, February 4, and/or Saturday, February 5, 2011 — both nights at around 10 PM and 11:30 PM — to see Pete and a quartet of high-level improvisers create paths to and through his “Invisible Cities.”

The “Invisible Cities” project showcases new arrangements of familiar compositions about cities — such as I LOVE PARIS and CHICAGO — as well as Pete’s own compositions.  His friends on the bandstand will be Scott Wendholt, trumpet; Rich Perry, tenor saxophone; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Eliot Zigmund, drums.  Smalls is located at 138 West Tenth Street in New York City, just off Seventh Avenue South (a minute away from the subway stop for Christopher Street / Sheridan Square on the #1): it costs twenty dollars at the door to enter and stay for hours.  There’s a well-stocked and well-staffed bar, and (if you’re lucky) a beautiful Maine Coon cat, Minnow, will wander in and around.

REMEMBER: ALL MONEY GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!  PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

FEEL THE WARMTH: TED BROWN AND FRIENDS AT SOFIA’S (Part Two: Jan. 13, 2011)

In reading about tenor saxophonist Ted Brown and his connections to Lennie Tristano and what is characterized as “the Tristano school,” I kept finding the words abstract, intellectual, cool. 

It intrigues me to see those terms used as faint praise, as if anyone who ever had contact with Tristano was suddenly transformed into a snow creature.  I didn’t hear that in Ted’s playing. 

And even though I come from the world of HOTTER THAN THAT and STEAMIN’ AND BEAMIN’ (you could look those up), I heard the music that Ted and friends played on that snowy night as lyrical, song-based, not a series of chilly mathematical puzzles.

The participants that night at Sofia’s (221 West 46th Street, New York City) for these performances were Ted on tenor; Lena Bloch, tenor; Bob Arthurs, trumpet; Michael Kanan and / or Sacha Perry, piano; Murray Wall or Stephanie Greig, bass; Taro Okamoto, Hyland Harris, or Mark Wadsworth, drums. 

Listen and observe for yourself!

Here’s SUBCONSCIOUS-LEE, an improvisation on WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?  — with its eminent creator, Lee Konitz, sitting at the bar, sipping his beer, listening closely to what his friends (Ted, Bob, Michael, Murray, and Taro) were creating.  (Perhaps some of my more “tradition-minded” readers will find the opening chorus a little startling.  Have faith: this music won’t bite you!):

DIG IT!  — now there’s a title to conjure with.  Ted, Michael, Murray, and Taro ride the lovely up-and-down contours of this loping line with grace and wit:

Another apt title — THE THINGS I LOVE — is a sweet saunter through romance and romanticism worthy of late-period Lester Young and his friends Jimmy Rowles, Ray Bown, and  Jo Jones.  These players certainly have heartfelt stories to share with us.  And I thought again of Pete Malinverni’s assertion, “It’s melody, man!”  Yes, it is!:

For I REMEMBER YOU, some new friends came to play: Lena on tenor (two tenors doesn’t have to mean JATP); Stephanie on bass, and Hyland on drums.  Thanks for this memory!:

And the closing music honored Bird — in the same melodic, lazily intense way.  First, YARDBIRD SUITE, with Ted, Lena, Stephanie, Hyland (swinging that hi-hat and brushes in the noble manner), and Sacha:

And, to close off this rewarding evening, SCRAPPLE FROM THE APPLE, featuring Ted, Murray, Michael and Sacha, and Mark.  That personnel listing might seem a mistake, but watch closely.  Sacha is a wondrous pianist (as is Michael) and he had played on YARDBIRD — but you can see him politely hoping that another chance to play might happen before the evening came to an end.  In the most gracious way, the two pianists switch seats slightly more than halfway through the performance — true gentlemen as well as swinging improvisers!:

Abstract, intellectual, cool?  Hardly! 

And I hope to be watching Ted, Brad Linde, Joe Solomon, bass, and Taro create more of the same delicious music on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 from 9:30 to 1 AM at Tomi Jazz in New York City: 239 East 53rd Street (lower level) between Second and Third Avenues.  Their phone is 646-497-1254; their website is http://www.tomijazz.com.

REMEMBER: ALL MONEY GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!  PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

TRANSPARENCY

Several readers and friends have expressed concerns about my idea of rewarding the musicians whose video performances I post on JAZZ LIVES.  And in the interest of what Andreas Kagedal calls “transparency,” here are a few clarifications.

They are not idly stated or chosen.  I understand that — even in the best economic times — asking people to part with any money is something serious.  And JAZZ LIVES is in the odd / intriguing position of public radio or television: I will keep doing what I’ve been doing even if the plan to recompense the musicians is not a success (in ways I can’t yet predict).

So here goes.

1.  I am not taking a cent of the money I collect — not for “administrative expenses,” not for a salary.  I am not asking readers to pay me for what I do.

2.  Rather than being a reward for the most popular band or “the best band on JAZZ LIVES,” which seems fraught with hurtful possibilities, I propose that my model is a profit-sharing scheme.  At the end of the year, I will tally up the videos I have posted of outstanding jazz performances — videos I have created myself (not YouTube clips from other sources).  I will divide the proceeds according to the frequency with which each musician appears.  (I believe that for this to be reasonably workable a player will have appeared with some regularity.)  A player who has been featured in twenty clips will get a larger percentage of the monies collected than a player who has appeared in one.  And although the math is potentially annoying, I think this system rewards the musicians rather than “bands,” which sometimes have fluctuating personnels.

3.  What does this mean in practice?  Let us assume that you have been moved by the videos I have been posting.  And let us also assume that if you were on the spot you would reach into your pocket and put some money in the tip jar.  The PayPal DONATE button is the way to send some tangible love to these gifted men and women even if you are far away.  It doesn’t have the same immediacy — but how many of us are willing to find out a musician’s home address and send her / him a check for the pleasure we have received?  Many of us would like to but find the lack of immediacy a drag . . . . I am trying to use cyberspace to accomplish what is (on one level) physically impossible — that you could BE THERE, watching and enjoying the sounds and the scene.  My hope is that the same machinery — mysterious and wonderful — that makes it possible for you to watch TIGER RAG or BODY AND SOUL even when time and space seem to make it unreal, will make it possible for viewers to give something back.

4.  Here’s the button!  Try it out . . . .

ALL THE MONEY GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!  PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

For the musicians, JAZZ LIVES thanks each of you in advance.

And tomorrow I would like to post some videos rather than discussing them!

Late-breaking news: it seems that the button above does not work when the blog comes through email . . . but it does work if you look for this entry or the preceding ones by visiting http://www.jazzlives.wordpress.com