July 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I typically steer clear of superlatives when I write about musicians. My opinion is no less valid than any listener's opinion. That's one reason why I would never consider myself a critic. Just an advocate, really. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you that Roy Haynes is the greatest living jazz drummer. There. I said it. And I'm not just basing this on his accumulated career - you know, the 50+ years of playing with every major innovator since the late 1940s. Truth be told, Roy Haynes is eternally youthful, and he's still a badass. In July 1987, when Roy was a cool 62 years old (retirement age for the lucky few), he brought his quartet to Riverside Park in New York. WBGO recorded it for posterity, including this lovely jam on "All Blues." Donald Harrison is the saxophonist, Dave Kikoski played piano, Ed Howard is the bassist.
And the leader...Roy...(tap tap tap)...Haynes...
Click here to listen.
© 2008 WBGO
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
April 7, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's a Memphis Monday, courtesy of Harold Mabern. WBGO has recorded pianist Harold Mabern as a member of George Coleman's quartet. We've also recorded Mabern's own quartet at American Museum of Natural History.
Check out this version of Harold Mabern's trio, recorded in 1984 at Citicorp Center in New York. Bassist Jamil Nasser (like Mabern, a Memphis native) and drummer Frank Gant, two veteran trio performers (check out those Ahmad Jamal records!) make the trio. They play "Ray's Idea," a song composed by bassist Ray Brown and Walter "Gil" Fuller during the heyday of Dizzy Gillespie's big band.
© 2008 WBGO