There's been plenty written about how great Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar's album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city is. So much that I'm left with feeling like I have little of value to add to any conversation about it. But the video for "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe," came out today and it inspired in me a thought(!) First of all, it's really good. Watch it. Secondly, jumping back and forth in tone as it does, it makes a nice point about how complex everything is—death, religion, fashion, mourning, partying, solitude, unity, nature, all this stuff. All sorts of paradox. Which starts to come as close to truth, I think, [...]
Few musicians move so fluidly between genres as drummer and producer Karriem Riggins. As a jazz sideman, Riggins has played with jazz artists like Diana Krall, Milt Jackson and Oscar Peterson while simultaneously contributing beats and productions to records by Common, J Dilla, the Roots, Erykah Badu and others. 2012 has been a particularly fruitful year for Riggins. It began with his appearance on Paul McCartney’s most recent record, Kisses on the Bottom, in which the former Beatle covered and channeled the prewar pop songwriters that he listened to as a child. And in October, Riggins released his first solo LP, a kaleidoscopic instrumental hip-hop album called Alone Together, on [...]
Things to do: The folks behind the great free jazz blog Destination: OUT are launching a new monthly concert series at Salt Space in Manhattan, aimed at recreating "the feel and excitement of the great jazz lofts of the 1970s. It'll be a lab where adventurous musicians can try out new ideas, configurations, and compositions." The first show, a celebration of Steve Lacy featuring Joe Giardullo and Harvey Sorgen, is this Friday. More details here.
Dear visiting music professor who taught History of Jazz at Connecticut College spring semester 1990:
I'm sorry for comparing Miles Davis' Kind of Blue to Bob Seger's "Turn the Page."
The great Detroit-born trumpeter Donald Byrd died Monday in Delaware, where he was artist in residence at Delaware State University. Starting in the 1950s as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers before leading his own band for Blue Note Records, he recorded over 50 albums—ranging in style from hard-bop to afro-pop to the experimental hip-hop/jazz fusion he helped Gangstarr MC Guru pioneer on the Jazzmatazz albums in the early '90s. He was 80.
Awl pal Seth Colter Walls talks to the executive director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, whose recent purchase of a series of radio broadcasts from the '30s, many never heard since, caused so much excitement here. There are also some new audio excerpts, including performances from Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton. Do check it out.
So according to Rashied Ali's website, the legendary free-jazz drummer is dead. He was 74. There are no details regarding the cause just yet, but a French-language site seems to date Ali's death as occurring on Wednesday, July 12. (Either that, or the 12th is when they learned about it.) His passing will probably only rate a footnote-at most-in this, our star-studded Summer Of Death, but you know what? Ali was a titan. And at least one album that features his skittering, complex drumming will prove to be immortal: John Coltrane's Interstellar Space. You can listen to "Venus," from that record, on the YouTubes. The Amazon mp3 download [...]
How "Baby It's Cold Outside" Became America's Secular Christmas Anthem, Despite People Claiming It's About Date Rape
Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, reversing roles in the song's 1948 Hollywood premiere.
This Christmastime, last Christmastime and for many holiday seasons past, writers and commenters of the Internet have gathered to argue over the holiday classic "Baby It's Cold Outside." The conversations and accusations are rarely about the song's merits as a Tin Pan Alley jazz-pop composition. Instead, we wonder if the playful exchange of the man and woman is actually the loaded conversation before a sinister date rape. Or is the whole song just a harmless relic of a bygone time when "The answer is No" meant not "No," but "maybe just a half a drink more," [...]
"Then Ornette Coleman walked out on stage. The place went, if I may use a technical term, batshit crazy. Everybody on their feet, yelling, screaming. Ornette soloed, then he and Sonny traded, which pushed Sonny into a more free place than at any other time during the show. It was wonderful. At that point, the band was Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes and Christian McBride. More than 240 years living up there on stage." -Sonny Rollins' 80th birthday concert sounds like it turned out to be one hell of a show.
The Times has a piece this morning about the "Savory collection"-a series of radio broadcasts from the '30s, many never heard since, recorded by engineer William Savory and including performances from Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Bunny Berigan, among others. The collection has been acquired by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, which is now digitizing the performances. This is the kind of thing that makes jazz fans moisten their undergarments, and for good reason: Take a listen to the four minute blues improvisation by Armstrong, Fats Waller and Jack Teagarden available here and imagine what else this 1000-disc [...]