Happy birthday today to pianist Michel Camilo.
WBGO recorded Michel's trio at Iridium on April 24, 1997.
Michel Camilo, Bassist Lincoln Goines and drummer Cliff Almond had a killer piano trio sound. Listen to "A Night in Tunisia" from the WBGO Archives.
And do you know what inspired Michel Camilo to play jazz? Hearing Art Tatum play "Tea for Two." When Camilo was 14, he heard that jazz record in his native Dominican Republic. Since you cannot see Art Tatum magic on a record, and you can no longer see him play, you'll have to check out this re-performance of "Tea For Two."
I'm in the mood for Moody, simply because it's his birthday. Jazz legend James Moody, one of Newark, New Jersey's finest, turned 83 yesterday. Last year, WBGO celebrated Moody's contribution to music at our annual gala. Daniel Karcher and I created a video vignette for the award presentation. Here it is:
So next time you see Moody, wish him a happy birthday. Give him a hug, and you can wear his cologne for the rest of the day. I like to think that wearing Moody's cologne is like that line from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself - "A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt."
On a more serious note, you can see Moody and lots of his music playing friends on Monday night, March 31st at BB Kings. The concert is a benefit for the James Moody Scholarship Fund at Purchase College. Information about the fund and the fundraiser here.
Happy birthday today to Wes Montgomery. Any guitarist worth his or her salt has at least ONE album from Wes Montgomery, the master non-plectrist. No, I didn't invent that word, plectrist. It's actually derived from plectrum, which is what guitar nerds and speakers of dead languages call a pick. [Incidentally, another great guitarist, Billy Bauer, made a record in the 1950s called Plectrist. But I'm getting even more off topic here.]
Wes Montgomery, however, was a non-plectrist. He didn't use an external tool to pick the strings. He used his thumb. That's what makes Wes Montgomery's sound so identifiable - warm, casual, and about as 'natural' as an amplified electric instrument can sound without using algorithms or superhero powers.
Check out this video of Wes playing Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight." About two minutes in, you'll see the closeup on his hand. Not plectacular, but spectacular. - Josh
PS - Anyone have a favorite Wes Montgomery album, song, or solo?
This is another up-and-coming artist that I'm really excited about. Jaleel Shaw is one of the most talented and interesting young players that has come along in the latest wave of young lions. I first met Jaleel around 2002 - he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition that year as well. I was completely blown away by this cat. This year, he is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, along with another great young talent, Kendrick Scott.
Oh, and Happy Birthday too!
Drummer Ed Thigpen has lived in Denmark since the early 70s, but we haven't forgotten him stateside. Especially given the recent death of Oscar Peterson. Thigpen recorded more than 50 records as a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio, but not very many as a leader.
In 1966, though, he made a record for Verve called OUT OF THE STORM. Not a lot of music here, and Thigpen doesn't solo much, but it's still worth checking out. At the time, Thigpen had recently left the Oscar Peterson trio. Trumpeter Clark Terry adds some mouthpiece-only solos for an nice effect. Thigpen plays tuned drums that sound like tympani at times. Kenny Burrell, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter round out the date. Give it a listen.
The last time I saw Ed Thigpen, he was teaching kids at a percussion clinic in New Orleans. As you can imagine, there were a symphony of drummers in attendance (which, in retrospect, is pretty easy for a rhythm town like NOLA). It was just around the time that he won a Humanitarian Award at the International Association for Jazz Education conference.
That seems fitting. He's a beautiful cat, and a tremendous educator. And for the record, he's a hell of a wire brush player.
Happy Birthday, Ed Thigpen.