2019 SUMMATION

Jazz History Online’s annual recap of the year in jazz. Includes listings of the year’s best books, concerts, and CDs, and a memorial for those jazz musicians and supporters who died in the past year.

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THE SWINGLES AT POPEJOY HALL, ALBUQUERQUE, NM (December 19, 2019)

In a holiday-themed concert at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, The Swingles proved once again that they are without equals among vocal groups. While the group was able to overcome the temporary loss of one member when they sang in Lakewood Colorado last March, their concert in Albuquerque found the entire group present and in splendid voice. In this concert review, Thomas Cunniffe reports that while The Swingles are still in transition, they are at the top of their game performing a wide variety of arrangements (including some dating back to the group’s early years)

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THE PROPER COMBINATION

In discovering a unique repertoire, jazz musicians (both instrumentalists and vocalists) must search to find their own proper combination of standard and original material. If the two are not balanced, a musician can be unfairly labeled as either a cover artist or too esoteric. In this month’s Vocal CD Reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines four self-released discs by artists who are searching for that elusive formula.

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SOLO PIANO!

Artists of all kinds strive for a direct connection with their audiences (basically, where thoughts move from their mind to yours)_. Until the day when telepathic communication becomes the norm, solo performances are the closest equivalents, with only an instrument, a communication method and our comprehension. In this month’s Instrumental CD Reviews, Thomas Cunniffe discusses three new solo piano recordings where the artist’s emotions and motivations are clearly expressed in their music.

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“A ROMANTIC EVENING WITH JACKIE ALLEN” (AvantBass Blu-Ray & CD)

Of all popular music genres, the love song may be the most venerable. A new Blu-Ray/CD concert recording, “A Romantic Evening with Jackie Allen” displays how the brilliant Midwestern songstress brings deeper meaning and great expression to a wide variety of love songs written between the 1930s and the 1980s. In his review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that the concert video is currently playing in a shortened version on PBS, but that the 2-disc set is a worthy purchase for its additional music and insights.

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NAT KING COLE: “HITTIN’ THE RAMP” (Resonance 2042)

In addition to being one of the world’s greatest popular vocalists, Nat King Cole was also an important jazz pianist in the years between swing and bebop. Many of Cole’s earliest recordings were made for radio transcription companies rather than commercial labels, but that didn’t stop Cole from leaving a group of recordings that showed his development as both an instrumentalist and a vocalist. A new set from Resonance collects 183 tracks recorded between 1936 and 1943, and reviewer Thomas Cunniffe notes that modern listeners will be able to hear stylistic developments and artistic breakthroughs that the original audiences probably missed.

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DAVE BRUBECK’S “TIME OUT” (by Stephen A. Crist)

Dave Brubeck frequently related the story that the businessmen at Columbia Records fought against the release of “Time Out”, feeling it would be a commercial flop. Fortunately, Brubeck had an important supporter in Columbia’s president, Goddard Lieberson. When the album was released and sales went through the roof, Brubeck was accused of going commercial! A new monograph by Stephen A. Crist examines the history and legacy of Brubeck’s signature album. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the book.

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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR 12-19a

Hello everyone– I hope that you are all having a happy holiday season. It has been a busy time  here at the JHO offices, and as a result, we will have two issues this month! The second will appear on December 31 with the publication of our 2019 summation, along with several new reviews. “Music […]

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VERONICA SWIFT: “HER INFINITE VARIETY”

In “Antony and Cleopatra”, Shakespeare wrote, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale, her infinite variety”. The words were originally a tribute to the Egyptian queen, but they have special significance in the career of jazz vocalist Veronica Swift. Thomas Cunniffe explores the music and life of this multi-talented young lady in this JHO Profile.

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