One of my favorite jazz musicians has died: Jim Hall, one of the great jazz guitarists. To get a sense of his sound, click here to listen to Intermodulation, Hall’s magnificent 1966 duet album with pianist Bill Evans. I also recommend this recent compilation of some of his early albums. Wonderful music. Finally, for a 1-hour documentary about Hall, click here. [...]
The jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd has died at the age of 80. Byrd was a major figure during a very vibrant period, and he led or joined lots of now-classic recordings. I’ll confess I think of Byrd as being somewhat overshadowed by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard in his prime. Also, Byrd mostly lost me after Blackbyrd in 1973. But his output from the period of his quintet with Pepper Adams in the late 1950s through his Blue Notes throughout the 1960s was always decent and sometimes excellent. A few favorites:
I recently noticed that some U.S.-based merchants, such as Amazon, are selling imported collections of U.S. jazz recordings from the 1950s and early 1960s at extremely cheap prices: Typically, sets of 8 different albums put on 4 CDs are being offered at $15 for the entire set. For example, there’s “Hank Mobley: Eight Classic Albums,” featuring 8 of Mobley’s Blue Note albums, on sale for $15.72; or, if you prefer, “Cannonball Adderly: Eight Classic Albums,” featuring 8 of Adderley’s albums, for $14.14. This seems to be a new development. The compilations mostly were released in the last few months, from labels with names like “Real Gone Jazz” and “101 Distribution.”
My question is, are these recordings lawful to purchase in the United States? I realize I’m old-fashioned in caring about complying with copyright law. To the hipsters, it seems, “buying music lawfully” is like wearing pleated pants. But my sense is that these recordings are not licensed by the copyright owners in the United States, where the works are still under copyright. Rather, my guess is that they are taking advantage of the fact that copyright in the EU has used a 50 year term, which is about to increase to 70 years. So recordings from the 1950s through 1961 are now in the public domain in Europe, as I understand it, and Europeans can therefore copy CDs, package lots of public-domain recordings together, and then sell them at very low cost to those in the U.S. through sites like Amazon.
So my first question is, am I right that this is what is happening? And second, if I’m right, does U.S. law prohibit purchasing recordings made where the items are in the public domain, albeit purchased from where they are still copyrighted, and [...]
I’m always on the look-out for new jazz musicians, and one discovery I’ve made in the last two years has been a relatively obscure Chicago-based tenor player, Geof Bradfield. He reminds me a bit of Chris Potter, but he’s even more fluid and quick than Potter and has lots of ideas. He’s a real joy to hear. I first heard him on Collage, a 2007 recording, which is just marvelous; then I tried his own 2008 release, Urban Nomad, which is good but not quite as strong as Collage. I recently purchased Bradfield’s latest recording, African Flowers, and it’s terrific. You can hear some of his tracks here, and I would probably start with Collage if you want to hear more. [...]
We have a lot of readers in the DC area, so I thought I would flag a particularly good line-up at the annual Rosslyn Jazz Festival on Saturday. As always, the Jazz Festival is free, and with lovely weather expected for Saturday the event should be a real treat. The location is Gateway Park, the park across the Key Bridge from Georgetown that is just two blocks from the Rossyln Metro station (at N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway). Here’s the line-up, with blurbs from the festival’s promotional materials:
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Afro Bop Alliance – ’08 Latin Grammy winning Latin Jazz
2:30 – 3:40 p.m. Jason Moran & the Bandwagon – Triple Downbeat ‘Rising Star’ winner
4:05 – 5:15 p.m. The Bad Plus – Explosive indie-rock & Jazz fusion band
5:45 – 7:00 p.m. Tierney Sutton Band — 2-time Grammy nominated vocalist & ensemble
Great stuff: I’m particularly excited to hear Jason Moran again. I have a few Bad Plus CDs that I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve heard the musicians in the group individually; I look forward to hearing them live as a group. On the other hand, if you’re a jazz neophyte, the most accessible music will be Tierney Sutton; the Afro-Bop Alliance should be pretty accessible, too. [...]
It’s been ages since I blogged a link to a jazz video on YouTube. I did it for a while, but I stopped when it began to feel more like work than just a fun thing to share. In any event, here’s a video I’ve enjoyed enough that I thought it was worth sharing: The Modern Jazz Quartet with classical guitarist Laurindo Almeida playing Jobim’s “One Note Samba”.
If you like the clip, the album to buy is Collaboration by the Modern Jazz Quartet with Laurindo Almeida, which includes a pretty similar performance of One Note Samba. If you want more general recommendations of work by the MJQ, I recommend starting with The 1960 European Concert, which is wonderful. But really, pretty much all of MJQ’s stuff is good: Milt Jackson was an endlessly inventive blues player on vibes, and John Lewis was always interesting and thoughtful on piano. [...]
I recently discovered the “Night Lights” Classic Jazz Radio Program, an hour-long weekly jazz program produced by Indiana University’s public radio station. It’s marvelous, and there are five years’ worth of archives available on the web that you can listen to at any time.
Each program focuses on a particular artist, particular period, and/or particular style, combining some context and discussion with a selection of some of the best recordings. I just finished listening to the January 2007 broadcast on the excellent but obscure tenor saxophonist J.R. Monterose, as well as the August 2009 broadcast on the Claude Thornhill Band. Both were excellent. If you’re interested in learning more about jazz, or you want to hear more about a particular jazz musician or style, the program is well worth checking out. [...]