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And Now For Something Totally Different: June 24, 2008

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Andean Jazz Harpist Edmar CasteƱeda:

Keep your ears peeled for Marshall Gilkes’ trombone feature, he’s got an impressive lip!

With Dave Silliman on percussion.

Remembering A Giant October 11, 2007

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Few people have the honor of being recognized as Giants in their field, and the list shrinks further if we look only at people whose genius was both recognized during their lifetime and enduring beyond the lifetimes of their own generation.

In the field of jazz, Thelonius Monk makes that short list.

Monk, a New Yorker who typically didn’t give a shit what his peers thought, fathered Be-Bop, along with a handful of other innovators of his day. And far from being a dead-beat dad, he nurtured his quirky, irreverent spawn, took it to school, so to speak, and polished it into… a quirky, irreverent musical form. Some musicians liked it, some didn’t, but everyone recognized the seed of genius which would change the face of jazz forever.

The ‘Lonius was at turns playful and macabre, insinuating into our Western twelve-tone scale the quarter-tones of Eastern musical forms, often by playing adjacent half-tones simultaneously, much to the chagrin of classically-trained purists, but most often to the startled amusement of his audiences.

Monk would have turned 90 today. And though he’s gone on to The Next New Thing, his gift to us will live as long as Music itself.

Here’s a clip of him from the early 70s, vamping in free-solo-dom on The Duke’s Caravan, playfully infusing it with the hesitations, long lingering lines and irresistible darkness which became his musical calling card.

Thanks Man, and Happy Birthday.

The Venerable Sheila Jordan… August 11, 2007

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…And the brilliant and emotive Jay Clayton swapping vocals at the Vermont Jazz Center workshop in Putney, Vermont.

sheila-jordan-small.jpg

The penultimate event of this week-long workshop was a faculty concert, wherein this fine group of musicians performed in a tiny, intimate hall. Excellent!

BTW, the woman on drums is Claire Aurenius, who could kill you with a paradiddle or thrill you with a brush. Harvey Diamond on piano, Jamie McDonald on upright bass, and a host of others coming and going for a fine night of jazz, from challenging horn compositions to straight-ahead swing.

I dug it.