FrontPage

NOTES FROM THE EDITOR 05-20

Hello everyone— We have entered a strange time over the last few months. Who could have expected that a virus would so affect our lives and our livelihoods? As we try to pull ourselves out of quarantine and back into our daily routines, let us not forget the lessons of COVID-19 by appreciating all of […]

More

JAZZ IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 (May 2020)

The COVID-19 has shut down the world’s economy in short order. For many jazz artists, recorded music is their only source of income. The albums reviewed here are all current releases; most of them were released during the period of nationwide lockdown. These reviews by Thomas Cunniffe will be a continuing feature on Jazz History Online as long as the crisis continues. The current set was adapted from what was to be a standard collection of vocal and piano reviews; the reviews in future issues will encompass all types of instrumental and vocal jazz. JHO has always encouraged its readers to support the musicians by purchasing their CDs. The message could not be more urgent now. If you can afford to help, please do.

More

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Since the early 1900s, French classical composers and jazz musicians have influenced and inspired one another. Two new recordings examine this unique cross-relationship. “Impressions of Debussy” offers straight performances of Debussy’s Preludes by pianist Lori Sims, followed by jazz interpretations by soprano saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and pianist Jeremy Siskind. “The Melodic Line”, the sophomore release by Reverso–co-led by trombonist Ryan Keberle and pianist Frank Woeste–presents new works inspired by the composers of the French collective Les Six. Thomas Cunniffe reviews both albums in this special CD Review.

More

LENNIE TRISTANO & LEE KONITZ: DUETS (but not with each other)

Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz were constantly grouped together because of their decades-long association: first as teacher and pupil, then as leader and sideman. It may seem surprising that they never made a duet recording together, but soon after their last gig together, both men started an album of duets…with other musicians. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe discusses the classic “Lee Konitz Duets” and the new Tristano release “Duo Sessions”.

More

“DAVE BRUBECK: A LIFE IN TIME” (by Philip Clark)

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of Dave Brubeck’s birth. British journalist Philip Clark has written a new biography–written in a non-linear style–which corrects old misconceptions and adds new perspectives to the life and work of this American jazz icon. Thomas Cunniffe offers his reactions in this month’s Book Review.

More

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.

More

VERONICA SWIFT: “HER INFINITE VARIETY”

In “Antony and Cleopatra”, Shakespeare wrote, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale, her infinite variety”. The words were originally a tribute to the Egyptian queen, but they have special significance in the career of jazz vocalist Veronica Swift. Thomas Cunniffe explores the music and life of this multi-talented young lady in this JHO Profile.

More

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Such Sweet Thunder”

Newly revised to include the premiere performance in Stratford! In 1956, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn spent a week at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Inspired by the performances of the Bard’s plays, Ellington promised that he and Strayhorn would write a new Shakespeare-inspired suite for the next year’s festival. The result was Such Sweet Thunder, one of the most highly acclaimed albums in the Ellington discography. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the suite in depth, offering historical and musical background for this important recording. A rare aircheck of the Ellington orchestra performing portions of the suite is also included in this extended article.

More