Best of Jazz History Online: Celebrating 10 Years!

Jazz History Online: 10 Years and Counting!

Concert Journal – Autumn 2021

The Sounds of Chicago – concert reviews, September 2021.

The Jazz History Online Hall of Fame:

    After several delays, Mosaic has finally released "The Complete Louis Armstrong Columbia and RCA Victor Studio Sessions". If anything, it is even more fascinating that the live set they released several years ago. As he did with the previous Mosaic Armstrong box, Thomas Cunniffe reviews the new set in depth with detailed information on each session.
    Don't let the Playboy moniker throw you: The album under review does include a gatefold cover, but there are no nude photos inside. "The Playboy Jazz All-Stars, Volume 2" collected tracks by the winners of the magazine's 1958 jazz poll, and aside from a few misogynist remarks in the liner notes, the album is completely family-friendly. In fact, it was one of the first jazz albums that the teenaged Thomas Cunniffe ever heard. In this Retro Review, he recalls this recording, his growing love of the music, and a very special Christmas present.
  • Camille Bertault: The Girl on the Internet
    Since the summer of 2015, when she uploaded her remarkable scat version of John Coltrane's Giant Steps, French jazz vocalist Camille Bertault has been an internet sensation. In this edition of Sidetracks, Bertault tells Thomas Cunniffe about the inspiration for that video, and her unique and varied background. The article includes four embedded videos (and links to several more) plus a review of Bertault's new CD, En Vie.
  • Clarence Gene Shaw in Chicago
    In 1957, trumpeter Clarence Shaw left the music business after a violent argument with his employer, Charles Mingus. By 1962, Shaw was in Chicago and playing again . Now using his middle name, Gene, he recorded three superb LPs for Argo featuring the best of the Windy City's musicians Thomas Cunniffe discusses those rare albums in this Retro Review.
  • Count Basie/Joe Williams: “Memories Ad-Lib” (Roulette LP 52021)
    In 1958, Joe Williams and Count Basie recorded a small group masterpiece called Memories Ad-Lib. While the performances by Williams and Basie are superb, the real treasure of this album are guitar solos by Freddie Green. Thomas Cunniffe tells of this rare treasure and wonders why no one has reissued it on CD.
  • Dave Brubeck’s “Koto Song”
    Of all Dave Brubeck's compositions, none have been as completely transformed as Koto Song. Thomas Cunniffe examines 11 Brubeck recordings of the piece and notes the gradual evolution of this delicate masterwork. All of the pieces can be heard through an embedded audio playlist and a video.
  • Frankie Newton: The Forgotten Trumpeter (part I)
    Despite appearing on some of the greatest jazz records of the 1930s, and possessing one of the most personal sounds in jazz history, trumpeter Frankie Newton is barely remembered today. His biography is filled with contradictory information, and his discography has several mysterious gaps. Thomas Cunniffe sorts out the conflicting details and discusses all of Newton's recordings in this special 2-part Historical Essay.
  • Girl-on-Girl Harmony: A Chat with Duchess
    Duchess is an exciting new vocal trio based in New York City. While Melissa Stylianou, Hilary Gardner and Amy Cervini all have notable careers as solo artists, they clearly love making music together. Shortly before the group celebrated the release of their debut CD, Thomas Cunniffe chatted with the group about their repertoire, inspirations and goals.
  • Gretchen Parlato: Finding The Essence
    Gretchen Parlato is one of the top young jazz singers on the scene today. Thomas Cunniffe profiles this extraordinary musician, and how she rediscovers the essence of jazz every night.
  • JATP at The Opera House
    In 1957, Norman Granz launched the 18th tour of Jazz at the Philharmonic. The concerts yielded 5 separate albums featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and the JATP All-Stars. All of the albums were titled At the Opera House but on four of the five albums, the mono editions were recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles! In this newly revised Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe sorts out the discographical maze and discusses all five of the albums in both their mono and stereo editions.
    Welcome to Jazz History Online's 10th Anniversary issue! To celebrate the occasion, JHO's principal writer tells the history of the site's launch and spotlites his favorite articles from the site.
  • Jo Stafford: “Jo + Jazz” (Corinthian 108)
    Jo Stafford never considered herself a jazz singer, but her 1960 Columbia LP Jo + Jazz shows us what might have been. Arranged and conducted by Johnny Mandel, and featuring an all-star band made up of Ellington veterans and West Coast jazz stalwarts, Stafford performs the most jazz-infused performances of her career. Thomas Cunniffe revisits this vocal jazz classic in this month's Retro Review.
  • Luciana Souza: Passion and Versatility
    Few contemporary vocalists have the stylistic range of Luciana Souza. She is a remarkable improviser and composer who can not only offer passionate interpretations of songs from America and Brazil, but is also a collaborator with contemporary classical composer Osvaldo Golijov. Thomas Cunniffe introduces you to Souza in this JHO profile, which includes audio and video clips of Souza at work.
  • Manhattan Transfer: “Extensions” (Atlantic 19258)
    In their 30-year history, the Manhattan Transfer has recorded several fine albums. However, few were as pivotal as Extensions, the 1979 LP which introduced Cheryl Bentyne as a new member of the group, and solidified the group's commitment to jazz and vocalese. Thomas Cunniffe takes a fresh look at the album in this Retro Review.
  • Meet Anita Wardell
    Anita Wardell may be the greatest singer you've never heard. Well-known in Europe, but barely known in the US, Wardell is one of the best scat singers in jazz today, and she also is a superb interpreter of vocalese, jazz originals and standards. Thomas Cunniffe introduces you to Wardell in this profile which features 5 complete audio selections and a video performance.
  • Mel, Marty & the Dek-tette
    The recorded collaborations between vocalist Mel Tormé and arranger Marty Paich were arguably the highlights of each man's career. The albums they recorded with a 10-piece studio ensemble, the Marty Paich Dek-tette are some of the finest vocal LPs ever made. Thomas Cunniffe's study of this music was originally part of his Master's Thesis, and has been published on several websites over the past two decades. This newly-revised edition of the article marks its first appearance on Jazz History Online.
  • Paul Desmond and the Canadians
    In the last decade of his life, Paul Desmond only performed occasionally. But when he hired three exceptional Canadian musicians, (Ed Bickert, Don Thompson and Jerry Fuller) to back him for a club date, the music inspired Desmond to some of his finest performances. After years of legal entanglements, Mosaic Records has issued a 7-CD box which includes over 5 hours of unissued recordings by this outstanding ensemble. In this newly revised Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the musical legacy of Desmond's Canadian Quartet.
  • Remembering Amy Duncan
    Former Jazz History Online contributor Amy Duncan passed away in June 2018. With the exception of a single Facebook post by jazz critic Chip Deffaa, no obituaries or memorials have appeared in print or online since Amy’s passing. In this special edition of Sidetracks, Thomas Cunniffe curates a tribute to our friend and colleague, Amy Hildreth Duncan. (Cover photo by Robert Serbinenko.)
  • Remembering Susannah
    Few singers could discover the inner meaning of a lyric like Susannah McCorkle. A self-described hopeless romantic, she thoroughly researched the songs she performed, and sometimes added long-forgotten lyrics to her arrangements. McCorkle committed suicide in 2001, but her memory lives on through a newly-released live recording from Berlin. Thomas Cunniffe, who once interviewed McCorkle, discusses her life and artistry in this Sidetracks article.
  • The 1968 Bill Evans Trio with Eddie Gomez & Jack DeJohnette
    For about 6 months in the middle of 1968, pianist Bill Evans led a remarkable trio featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Up until now, the only recordings that existed of this group were the Grammy-winning LP Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival and a handful of bootleg recordings. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe discusses the group's recordings (including a newly released--and previously unknown studio session) as well as a rare TV broadcast.
  • The Art Farmer Quartet featuring Jim Hall
    While they were only together for a little over a year, the Art Farmer Quartet with Jim Hall created a remarkable legacy of music. In this extended historical essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the audio and video recordings of this remarkable group.
  • The Earliest Recordings of “Body and Soul”
    Before it was interpolated into the Broadway revue, Three's A Crowd, Johnny Green's Body and Soul had been a hit in England. As the show went through tryouts, the lyrics of the song underwent a complete rewrite before its Broadway premiere. In this interactive Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe examines 17 recordings of B&S recorded between February and October 1930.
  • The Enigma of Jeri Southern
    One of the most revered vocalists of the 1950s, Jeri Southern created a series of acclaimed LPs and then abruptly stopped performing and recording. Thomas Cunniffe explores her minimalist style and her recorded legacy in this month's edition of Sidetracks.
  • The Jazz Art Song
    The art song has been a staple of European and American classical music for two centuries. It's possible that jazz has found its equivalent in two new albums led by Renee Rosnes and Helen Sung. On each album, the pianist/composers have collaborated with a living, jazz-influenced poet to create song cycles with potent messages and room for improvisation. Thomas Cunniffe compares these stunning new releases in this special CD review.
  • The Sound of Jazz: An Interactive Essay
    Long considered the greatest presentation of jazz on television, Robert Herridge's "The Sound of Jazz" succeeded by just letting the musicians be themselves, and allowing them to develop their music on their own terms. This newly revised interactive essay includes the complete show and a running commentary by Thomas Cunniffe.
  • The Swingle Singers: Making the Music Dance
    As they approach their 50th anniversary, the Swingle Singers are at the top of the a cappella world. Thomas Cunniffe offers this interactive history of the group with embedded video and audio performances and a gallery of group photos.
  • The Unedited Paul Desmond
    Paul Desmond's blazing improvisation on The Way You Look Tonight (from the Dave Brubeck Quartet's album Jazz at Oberlin) has long been considered one of the saxophonist's greatest solos. An alert JHO reader discovered that the solo was edited when transferred from 10 LP to EP and 12 LP. In this Sidetracks feature, Thomas Cunniffe notes that the edit completely changes the feel of the solo. Both versions are embedded in this article.
  • Those Marching Saints
    When the Saints Go Marchin' In is one of the oldest standards in the jazz repertory, and its origins are shrouded in mystery. In this month's Sidetracks column, Thomas Cunniffe notes a startling resemblance between the Saints and a crucial part of the Catholic Requiem Mass.
  • 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.
  • Tony Bennett/Bill Charlap: “The Silver Lining” (RPM/Columbia 14574)
    While he hasn't always taken the best care of his voice, at 89, Tony Bennett is still at the top of his game. His remarkable new Jerome Kern tribute disc, The Silver Lining (co-led with pianist Bill Charlap) is a virtual master class of fine interpretation and vocal finesse. In this feature review, Thomas Cunniffe describes the many wonders located on this disc.