• This Week in JazzSet History: Jaco, Bill Henderson, Teri Thornton, Jane Bunnett, and Daniela Schächter!

    June 4, 2012. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    "This Week in JazzSet History," this blog series, has come to and end; this is the final post. I have had an incredible time combing through 20 years of JazzSet. This series could easily extend into 2013, but for now, we must turn the page and look forward to new JazzSet episodes, like this one.

    Cover of Pastorius' "The Word is Out"
    Cover of Pastorius' "The Word is Out"

    First, I’ve selected a rare 1982 tape of Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth Big Band, from NYC. The concert was recorded at the Kool Jazz Festival for NPR’s Jazz Alive! The tune “Liberty City,”  featuring Toots Thielemans, was recently featured on A Blog Supreme. I chose to feature the big band's opening number. The band is led by Pastorius on bass, with Bob Mintzer, Mario Rivera, Randy Emerick, Aaron Levin, and Frank Wess on woodwinds; Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis, and Ron Tooley in the trumpet section; Peter Gordon and John Clarke on French horn; Wayne Andre, Bill Reichenbach, David Taylor in the trombone section; Othello Molineux, steel drums; Peter Erskine, drums; and Don Alias, percussion. Pastorius pioneered the melding of genres (blues, funk and large composition) with non-traditional sounds; Randy Brecker used effects pedals throughout his tenure with Pastorius. Above all, I love Molineux's ability to push the limit of steel drums on “The Chicken." It's scary funky.

    Here are two vocalists who capture ultimate, relaxed, swing. The first voice messenger you’ll hear is Bill Henderson, live at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in November of 2004. His supporting trio is Ed Vodicka, piano; Mark Z Stevens, drums; Chris Conner, bass. Henderson later released this concert on a record entitled Live at the Kennedy Center. The first clip you’ll hear is Bill Henderson and his trio performing “I Thought About You,” then you will hear a fade into the voice of Teri Thornton (1934-2000).


    Thornton’s 1998 performance from the Jazz Times Festival in NYC was joyous and jubilant. It was the 64-year old vocalist's first performance after winning the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition. Mike Joyce of The Washington Post called her “exquisitely aged,” and Thornton told The New York Times: “the stage is my great love, and I like to entertain, and it’s good to feel that the love is reciprocated.” Judges that year included Dianne Reeves, Joe Williams, Diana Krall, Nnenna Freelon, and JazzSet’s Dee Dee Bridgewater! Sadly, Thornton lost her battle to cancer in 2000, at the age of 65.


    Believe it or not, I’m still on a Cuban kick from last week’s smorgasbord! That led me to Jane Bunnett, a Canadian saxophonist who fuses folkloric Cuban, American and Japanese music. She recently recently performed at the 17th Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival in Washington D.C. Here is Bunnett’s take on a Japanese folksong, “Red Dragonfly,” from the 2005 Vancouver Jazz Festival in British Columbia. In 2004, when the album Red Dragonfly was released, it was declared “the most ambitious expression yet of her very personal Cuban-Jazz fusion.” Here is Jane Bunnett on soprano saxophone; Larry Cramer, trumpet; David Virelles, piano; Kieran Overs, bass; Mark McLean, drums; Jerzy Kaplanek, violin; Jeremy Bell, viola; Christine Vlajk, viola; Simon Fraser, cello.

    Photo courtesy of the artist
    Daniela Schächter, photo courtesy of the artist

    I conclude this week, and this series with a special re-post, by request by the artist. I posted a clip back in April of Daniela Schächter’s group performing “Stella by Starlight.” Here is an excerpt of a piece she composed entitled “Quore.” I love the harmony of this tune, and the long-phrased melody reminds me of mid-60s Miles Davis. She doubles the main line, singing along with trumpeter Alex Sipiagin.

    From 1992 to 2012 (and counting), JazzSet has brought music from the stage to the living room. The wide spectrum of jazz and its worldly intersections have all been captured and presented by Becca Pulliam, Duke Markos, Branford Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the rest of the JazzSet team. I hope that you continue to enjoy new music, and explore WBGO’s rich website.

    If you'd like to continue reading my work, or explore other projects that I'm involved in, please visit my blog, Hardbop Jazz Journal. Happy summer!

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