Thomas Cunniffe

TUBBY HAYES: “THE COMPLETE FONTANA ALBUMS” (Fontana 7743915—13 CDs)

While most of Tubby Hayes’ recordings have been reissued in recent years, his important recordings for the Fontana label have been in and out of print since their original issues. With the success of the recently rediscovered “Grits, Beans and Greens” sessions, Universal Music has finally reissued all of Hayes’ Fontana albums as deluxe CD and LP box sets. Thomas Cunniffe offers a detailed summation of the 13-CD set in this extended Retro Review.

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JAZZ IN THE 21ST CENTURY

As we enter the 20th year of the 21st century, two new books focus on jazz in the new millennium. In this Book Review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that neither Bill Beuttler’s “Make it New” nor Abby Mendelson’s “Spirit to Spirit” are perfect books, but they may well become valuable resources for further scholars.

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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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Music for a Cool Yule 2019

Happy Holidays from Jazz History Online! For our annual feature, Music for a Cool Yule, Thomas Cunniffe and Marti Mendenhall offer capsule reviews of the best in holiday jazz, both new and classic. We have received far less holiday discs for review this year, so we hope that you will look through the entire list to find a new holiday favorite, regardless of whether it is a new release, or one from years past.

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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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