kenny burrell

Rhonda Hamilton Interviews Guitarist Russell Malone

Rhonda Hamilton and Russell Malone

Rhonda Hamilton interviewed guitarist Russell Malone yesterday.
Fortunately, Russell didn't share any of his really colorful jokes with our audience. If he did, the FCC would level some hefty fines.
He did, however, talk at length about his experience with Jimmy Smith. When Russell met the organist in Atlanta, he asked to sit in with the band. Russell played everything he knew, trying to impress Jimmy. The audience went wild. Then, Smith called a ballad, "Laura," and Russell did not know the song. That humbling experience led to an all-night lesson in music in Jimmy Smith's hotel room. Smith had played with some great guitarists, notably Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery. He taught Russell Malone a valuable lesson - to put himself into the music, rather than trying to emulate those guys. Listen to the interview.
-Josh

Ed Thigpen at 77

Ed Thigpen

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.

Ed Thigpen