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.
Best of JHO
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.