Jazz History Online’s Concert Journal continues to cover the finest jazz concerts from the Eastern US. Thomas Cunniffe is your guide to the wide variety of jazz performed from Boston to DC.
For his debut recording, “Longing”, Korean vocalist Hyeonseon Baek has combined his love for contemporary pop and progressive jazz to create arresting versions of jazz standards and original compositions. While the timbre of his voice is eerily reminiscent of Chet Baker, Baek’s interpretations reveal far more flexibility than the late trumpeter ever imagined. Working with
Previously reissued as “The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever”, the 1953 concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Max Roach actually lives up to most of the hype. With a new Craft reissue of the complete concert tapes (including the bass parts Mingus overdubbed later), Thomas Cunniffe discusses the legendary stories and remarkable music from that memorable night.
The unissued live recordings discussed in this special Retro Review were released during the 2023 holiday season. Thomas Cunniffe offers his reactions to newly released concerts from Dave Brubeck, Wes Montgomery, Les McCann and Ahmad Jamal.
Jack Teagarden said that “St. James Infirmary” was the oldest blues he ever heard. No one knows who composed the original song, but from 1925-1931, several pretenders claimed copyright and publishing rights. In the third edition of his book “I Went Down to St. James Infirmary”, Robert W. Harwood examines the history of the classic song through intricate studies of each variant. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the book, noting that the copyright arguments will become moot in 2 years, when the song will revert to the public domain.
It’s a little late this year, but here is Jazz History Online’s Summation of 2023. Not too many changes in my little corner of the jazz world this year, except for one issue that I will discuss presently. Excuse me, as I step up on my soap box… The Compact Disc’s demise continued its slow
The songs of the United States, France, Belgium, Mexico, and Brazil are featured in the discs covered in this issue’s CD Reviews. Stacey Kent’s latest disc focus on songs she has performed live, but had not yet recorded; Vanessa Perea mixes rare and familiar standards on her newest disc; Audrey Silver re-examines the score from “Oklahoma”; and Luciana Souza teams with Trio Corrente for an inspired sampling of the Brazilian songbook.b Thomas Cunniffe offers his reactions.
Mary Lou Williams’ “Zodiac Suite” was originally written for piano trio in 1945. Later that year, a version for trio, jazz soloists and chamber orchestra was premiered at New York’s Town Hall. While the trio version of “Zodiac” has been recorded on serveral occasions, two new CDs featuring the original orchestrations were just released–and within 6 weeks of each other! Thomas Cunniffe presents a side-by-side, and track-by-track comparison of the new versions by the Umlaut Chamber Orchestra, and Aaron Diehl with The Knights, using Williams’ Town Hall recording as the standard.
Ann Hampton Callaway, Nicky Schrire and Nicole Zuraitis all have a way with the pen. In addition to their other roles, they are all established composers, In this month’s Vocal CD Reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines the latest releases from these very talented ladies.
Jazz did not exist during the lifetime of French poet Charles Baudelaire, and it is doubtful that Arnold Schoenberg or Anton Webern had heard any form of jazz before writing their early vocal works. Yet the contemporary jazz composers Annie Booth and Jeff Lederer have drawn from the earlier artist’s work to create new suites. Thomas Cunniffe reviews new CDs of “Flowers of Evil” (Booth’s Baudelaire song-cycle) and “Schoenberg on the Beach” (Lederer’s settings of Schoenberg and Webern’s early vocal works).
The appearance of an extended documentary on Wayne Shorter on a major streaming service is a cause for celebration. Dorsay Alavi’s film “Zero Gravity” speads over three hours, with a distinctive tone for each of its three “portals”. In his review, Thomas Cunniffe recommends the film as a whole, but notes that the final portal is weaker than its predecessors because it does not offer a suitable discussion of Shorter’s late-period music.