So the other day I’m sitting home working and I get a forwarded email from The Lovely Mrs. JC about a John Coltrane Festival taking place in New York between October 18 and November 3 and on that very night there will be something called a “listening party” with the saxophonist Gary Bartz and it is free and it is three subway stops away at Jazz At Lincoln Center at Columbus Circle. So I do a quick search on the Internet and it turns out that Bartz has a new album out called “Coltrane Rules: Tales of a Music Warrior,” and at this listening party he will discuss the album and play some tracks. Now I am a big fan of Gary Bartz, ever since I saw him three nights running at Bradley’s down on University Place at least 20 years ago and was blow away by his sensitive, passionate and inventive playing, the closest thing on alto to Sonny Rollins. So, I went down to Jazz at Lincoln Center and I went to the listening party and it was terrific. There were maybe 30 people in the place, a small studio with folding chairs, and at the front there were Bartz sitting on a chair with Read more
CeeDee mentions the impending shutdown of Colony Records in Reader Forum: Music Shop Recognizes Somber Tune: It’s Final Coda. Other than the requisite sadness of the closing of an institution affiliated with the music of our era, I will shed no tears for the closing of Colony. In my 40 years of jazz record collecting I don’t think I ever purchased a single record there. The prices were always way out of reach, the condition of the records spotty, and the attitude of the store personnel was marginal, at best. In the past few years what little vinyl they actually sold was not on display and you had to basically make an appointment to see a bunch of overpriced records in the basement.
Just received a note announcing the Annual Jazz Record Collector’s Bash in New Jersey. It will be June 29 and 30 in Iselin, NJ, wherever that is. I’m hoping to attend this year, but it’s my normal time to be in The Berkshires so that may not be possible. This is the 38th annual event and I haven’t been in probably at least a dozen years, although I do have good memories of attending in the past, particularly the one year I was able to score some original Prestige and Swingville records for $5 each. Plus a nice Sonny Criss 10-inch on Clef. Its’ funny how we remember where we scored our records, down to the details of which record, where, when and how much. It’s part of what makes collecting fun, right? Here’s the link for the Jazz Record Collector’s Bash in case you’d like to attend.
Sorry I haven’t posted all week. I have moved, once again, this time in the city and I’ve been quite busy, as you can imagine, packing and unpacking records. We have moved from one small place into another small place and decided to keep just one record cabinet with room for about 1,500 records. You can see it in the picture, and perhaps make out a record or two — I see Jackie McLean, Lights Out and also the Cecil Payne on Signal. Anyway, I had to go through the process of weeding out and deciding which records to keep in the apartment, and which to move to other locales. I decided to keep the collection in the city focused primarily on original pressings from the 1955 to 1970 era, and to weed out some of the vocals to make this portion of the collection more bop/hard-bop specific. I also had to remove some of the traditional artists, such as Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, in order to have enough room for the records I wanted to keep here. I also nixed the idea of organizing the records by label and continue to have them alphabetically by artist. This way I’m less compelled to keep around records and artists in which I have less interest, either musically or as collectibles. Anyway, I don’t want to get into all of that, just wanted to explain why I’ve been absent from my post and my posting at Jazz Collector. But I’m back now, ready to once again explore, unearth and expound upon the hidden and not-so-hidden treasures of the Jazz Collector world.
Interesting article in The Wall Street Journal on Rudy Van Gelder, New Jersey Jazz Revolution. Here’s an interesting quote about Alfred Lion that kind of summarizes why Blue Note tends to be the more collectible label versus Prestige: “Alfred was rigid about how he wanted Blue Note records to sound. But Bob Weinstock of Prestige was more easygoing, so I’d experiment on his dates and use what I learned on the Blue Note sessions.”
Have you seen the latest controversy? Musician Nicholas Payton is leading a movement to get rid of the word “jazz.” His argument is that the term “jazz” is racist and that deeply embedded societal oppression of black Americans necessitates a reclassification of the music. Check out this article: A Controversial Proposal Would Redefine Jazz. At one point in his blog or in a tweet Payton states: “The j-word is dead. It died in 1959. Those who celebrate it are worshipping a zombie.” Not exactly sure why Payton chose 1959. That was the year of Kind of Blue. Coltrane hadn’t even recorded any of his masterpieces on Impulse. Think of all the Blue Note records we all love and enjoy post-1959. Anyway. Payton advocates that the music we know of as “jazz” be reclassified as Black American Music. He uses the acronym BAM. Does this mean I have to change my site to BAM Collector? And sell my Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Tal Farlow records? Something about that doesn’t seem quite right. I’m sure this audience will have some opinions on the topic, no?
Now that Sonny Rollins has been honored by the Kennedy Center as one of the leading performing artists of our time, who would be the next jazz musician in line for the honor? One of the obvious ones, not based on his music as much as his contribution to reviving jazz commercially, would be Wynton Marsalis. He’ll get his eventually, but he’s a relatively young guy and should have to wait. Among musicians here are a few names to ponder: Horace Silver, Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter. To me, those are the most viable candidates. I would imagine Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea would also get consideration. None of them, in my eyes, is in the same category as Sonny Rollins but, to be fair, a few years ago the honor went to Benny Carter and I didn’t think he was worthy either. What do you think?
Did you watch the Kennedy Center Honors last night? It was great to see Sonny Rollins being recognized on national television and in front of the President and the world’s artistic community as one of the most important and influential artists of the past half -century. It was certainly moving and well deserved and, knowing how humble Sonny is, it must have been a tribute that he felt deeply. As I fan, I know I did. I had goose bumps just seeing Sonny up there.
Having said that, I found both the biographical tribute and the musical tribute to be really uninspired and disappointing. This was the one opportunity to explain to the country why, among all of the thousands of jazz musicians in the world, it was Sonny Rollins who was being honored on that stage. Even in just a couple of minutes with the opportunity Bill Cosby had in his introduction and in the video tribute, there was so much that could have been said that wasn’t. Here are some of the things I would have said:
One more reminder for our readers in the U.S.: The Kennedy Center Honors featuring the tribute to Sonny Rollins will be broadcast on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 9 p.m. I’ll probably do one more reminder on the day of the broadcast. At one of the events, Sonny was toasted by Bill Clinton. I always figured that Sonny would have been honored while Clinton was President since he was a sax player would and have obviously known about Sonny’s importance in the history of jazz. But I don’t think the President actually has that much influence in who gets selected. In any case, Clinton clearly does know the music, as can been seen in the toast below:
If you’re in the New York metro area this week I can recommend a very interesting jazz-themed play for you to see called Central Avenue Breakdown. The play is a musical and it is affiliated with the New York Musical Theatre Festival 2011 and is only playing through Sunday at the Signature Theater on West 42nd Street. The story is centered on two jazz-playing brothers in Los Angeles in the mid-1940s, around the time of the birth of bebop. The older brother is a swing-oriented player, on tenor, and the younger brother plays alto and is influenced by the new music. The story touches on many themes and the jazz backdrop and the very strong playing by the band will make it a natural for the Jazz Collector audience. The music is all original by Kevin Ray, who is clearly quite talented, and, to my extreme pleasure, the depiction of the bebop sound was spot-on. They could have used real bop numbers such as Groovin’ High or Hot House but instead chose to use original music that accurately captured the sound. A special tip of the hat to the alto player, Mike Migliore, who was quite Bird-like while also being quite original within the bop medium. Most of the music is not bop, but is a cross section of sounds, from R+B to bop to scat to straight-ahead blues, with a couple of nice ballads thrown in as well. But when it bops, it really bops.