June 30, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.
Day Three Saturday June 28th
Rainy but not raining, what Michele says folks in the Northwest call "spitting." Were it not wet I might've enjoyed the first group to be judged, a generic quartet fronted by saxist Jerrold Dubyk. All of these groups are good enough to be up for the prize, but only a few have that unique "thing" (tunes, grooves, presence, a character or sound) that elevates them into a winner. Dubyk's group was more or less the same as about half the groups in the competition -- except for the electric bass player's solo, which was only notes up and down the scale. "I don't want to be prejudicial," I said to some of the other judges, "but that was the worst bass solo I've ever heard." And they expressed consensus.
Group #5 is a contender: WAZA, a trio with electric keys, electric bass, and an electrifying drummer. They played solid and quite compositional grooves, especially from the drummer. They were fun to listen to, as if listening to really hip toys. After a thunderstorm of funk from the bassist, Nancy, one of the judges, said "Now that was a bass solo!"
Hank Jones was joined for duets by Brad Mehldau, and the interplay was wonderful. Hank played melodies or only changes elegantly while Brad danced around and through -- danced like Barishnykov.
"Night in Tunisia" they played at first fragmented, but then Dizzy's tune blossomed. Hank's solo of "The Very Thought of You" was so deeply beautiful that Brad mostly listened, enraptured. Hank was again whimsically witty about which song they'd play next, or which piano they'd play. "Just One of Those Things" was a joyful finale, and I could hear the lyric: "it was great fun!"
© 2008 WBGO
June 30, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
In 1998, Branford Marsalis was the host of JazzSet. He was also the leader of an amazing jazz quartet. In August of that year, they played a concert at Washington Square Park in New York. WBGO was there to capture the performance.
I remember seeing this band at the Chicago Jazz Festival, just a few weeks after this recording. Branford, along with bassist Eric Revis, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, and the late pianist Kenny Kirkland had the unique ability to pin you to your seat for more than an hour. The music was relentless, whether it was some burnout tune or a ballad. Kenny Kirkland's "Mr. J.C." is a great example of the former. Enjoy the blistering solos from Kenny and Branford. Click here to listen.
© 2008 WBGO
May 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Sad news to report. On May 15th, vibraphonist Walt Dickerson died of cardiac arrest at his home in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. He was 80. Walt made a string of amazing records in the 1960s for Prestige that rarely receive much notice beyond the realm of the hardcore jazz fan. I highly recommend them - This is Walt Dickerson, A Sense of Direction, Relativity, and my favorite, To My Queen - a quartet date with bassist George Tucker, drummer Andrew Cyrille and pianist Andrew Hill. Walt also cut some stuff for SteepleChase Records, and he collaborated with Sun Ra. They made a few intriguing records together, including Impressions of a Patch of Blue, based on Jerry Goldsmith's music for the Academy Award winning film starring Sidney Poitier and Shelley Winters (you MUST watch this movie). Walt's music is not so easy to find, but very much worth the effort. He will be missed.
© 2008 WBGO