Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 11:13 am
When the spirit of Nirvana surfaces in a song, the artist paying tribute almost always shares style points with that treasured band. The hair is shaggy, the clothes a little ragged; the lineage unfolds, relatively neatly, from punk to the present.
He is somewhat an unsung hero of swing era band management and songwriting. This weekend on Big Band Saturday Night...Irving Mills. Not to be confused with The Mills Brothers, he helped establish and manage the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He co-wrote songs for The Duke, Cab Calloway, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitsgerald and many more. Join me on BBSN at 8 o'clock on 89.5. Where hearing is learning and remembering!
After a seven-year hiatus, the folk-pop trio Nickel Creek is back with a new album, A Dotted Line. Chris Thile and siblings Sean and Sara Watkins were just children when they started playing together in Carlsbad, Calif., in 1989. Known for bringing bluegrass to younger generations, the band released six albums before parting ways in 2007.
Though New York City-based Gabriel Kahane wasn't raised there, The Ambassador feels like a musical tour of Los Angeles. The album makes 10 stops in the city where the composer and singer-songwriter was born and only came to appreciate later in life, each with a specific address used as the song title.
Miles Davis would have turned 88 on Memorial Day (Monday the 26th); he died at 65 in the early 1990s. His influence on this music --- on these musics --- that we label "jazz" is obvious and enormous and arguably, in this age of omnipresent, genre-blurring crossover projects and increasingly sophisticated recording techniques and technologies, greater than ever before. (And have you heard, by the way, that Don Cheadle is planning to direct and star in a film about Miles?
Blue Note Records has been many things over the course of its 75 years: a label responsible for blinding jazz innovations, a home for the titans of hard bop and soul jazz, a place for smart, sly, jazz-inflected pop creations.
One constant running throughout its history is improvisation. Its records have showcased jazz soloing in every possible mood and temperament. Its artists, both the jazz legends and those journeymen who are little regarded today, have helped shape the ever-evolving notion of what a solo is and what it can be.
Blue Note Records is the kind of record label that people like to call "storied" — so celebrated and impactful that no one narrative can capture its essence. From swing to bebop and hard bop, through fusion and the avant-garde, Blue Note has been telling the story of jazz in the grooves of its records since 1939 — and for its 75th anniversary, it's releasing remastered vinyl editions of some gems from its catalog. But the real legacy of the label is too big to capture on disc.
During the 1960s, Wayne Shorter came to the fore not just for his talent on saxophone, but also for the compositions he created. Whether with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers or with Miles Davis' quintet, or on his own string of solo albums, Shorter's harmonic conception, sense of space and bending of music-theory rules destined many of his tunes to become jazz standards.