Thomas Cunniffe

Timme Rosenkrantz and the Town Hall Concert (June 9, 1945)

The June 9, 1945 Town Hall concert produced by Timme Rosenkrantz was ostensibly a celebration of small group swing, featuring Red Norvo, Gene Krupa, Bill Coleman, Teddy Wilson, Don Byas and Stuff Smith. However, there were elements of the newly emerging bebop style for anyone who was listening. Thomas Cunniffe discusses the music and tells of the concert’s fascinating back story in this month’s Sidetracks.

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Wes Montgomery: “In the Beginning” (Resonance 2014)

While Wes Montgomery was not well-known in the jazz world before 1960, he had been a semi-professional musician in his home town of Indianapolis since 1944. Following on their acclaimed album Echoes of Indiana Avenue, Resonance Records has issued a new collection called In the Beginning which traces Montgomery’s playing back to 1949. Thomas Cunniffe offers his thoughts on the set in this Retro Review.

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Manhattan Transfer/Take 6 Vocal Summit in Boulder (November 11, 2016)

Back in 2011, the Manhattan Transfer and the New York Voices joined forces for a pair of concerts. The vocal summit concept was so successful (artistically and commercially) that several of today’s best vocal groups have staged these performances all over the world. One of these concerts, featuring the Manhattan Transfer and Take 6, finally came to Colorado, and Thomas Cunniffe was there. He details their combined performance at Macky Auditorium in Boulder.

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The Zen of Bennett (Sony Music/RPM/Netflix)

There have been plenty of documentaries made about Tony Bennett, but the latest film on the singer, The Zen of Bennett, assumes that the viewers know his biography, and focuses instead on the philosophy that makes him such a compelling artist. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the DVD version.

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Tubby Hayes: “A Man in a Hurry” (Mono Media/Treatment/Proper)

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Tubby Hayes’ birth, there’s been several new CD reissues, a long-awaited full-length biography and now a documentary on the British tenor sax giant. Hayes lived a fast and full life before his passing at the age of 38, which makes the documentary’s title, A Man in a Hurry all the more appropriate. Thomas Cunniffe offers his thoughts on the film in this month’s DVD review.

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Voices of Experience

The three veteran singers spotlighted in this month’s vocal CD reviews bring their wealth of personal and professional experiences to the music. Freddy Cole eclipses the shadow of his famous older brother Nat on the tribute album He Was the King; Barb Jungr offers a salve for the world with Shelter from the Storm, and the late Mark Murphy performs a stunning collection of Miles Davis standards on Live in Athens, Greece. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the discs.

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Vocal Potpourri

Vocalists from all over the globe highlight this month’s vocal CD reviews. Swiss vocalist Beat Kaestli offers a wide range of songs on his disc Live in Europe, Australian vocalist and pianist Sarah McKenzie draws from a rich set of vocal and instrumental influences on We Could Be Lovers and from here in the US, Kurt Elling joins Branford Marsalis for a brilliant collaboration on Upward Spiral. Thomas Cunniffe notes the highlights in his reviews.

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Tribute Albums with a Difference

In their celebrations of George Gershwin and Bill Evans, pianist Ted Rosenthal and bassist Martin Wind offer tribute albums that present the music in new and surprising ways. According to reviewer Thomas Cunniffe, the surprises start with the instrumentation and get better from there.

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