Saturday, December 20, 2014

Amanhã é Carnaval -Jussanam and her Icelandic Band

Video recorded and edited by Jaqueline Luquez and Jussanam with a non profesional camera in Cannes-France.

Jussanam - Voice
Asgeir Asgeirsson - Guita
Birgir Bragason - Double-Bass
Mathias Hemstock - Drums
Cheick Bangoura - Percussion

Amanhã é Carnaval - Music by Ingvi Thor Kormarksson / Lyrics by Jussanam
Images from Cannes and from the Carnaval in Nice - France

Whispering - Dick Hyman 1992

Recorded at The Hotel Macklowe (Millennium Broadway Hotel New York)

I Can't Get Started - Ruby Braff, Pee Wee Russell

Artist Biography by Scott Yanow

One of the great swing/Dixieland cornetists, Ruby Braff went through long periods of his career unable to find work because his music was considered out-of-fashion, but his fortunes improved by the 1970s. A very expressive player who in later years liked to build his solos up to a low note, Braff's playing was instantly recognizable within seconds. 
Braff mostly worked around Boston in the late '40s. He teamed up with Pee Wee Russell when the clarinetist was making a comeback (they recorded live for Savoy), and after moving to New York in 1953, he fit easily into a variety of Dixieland and mainstream settings. Braff recorded for Vanguard as a leader, and with Vic DickensonBuck Clayton, and Urbie Green. He was one of the stars of Buck Clayton's Columbia jam sessions, and in the mid-'50s worked with Benny Goodman. But, despite good reviews and occasional recordings, work was hard for Braff to come by at times. In the 1960s, he was able to get jobs by being with George Wein's Newport All-Stars and at jazz festivals, but it was not until the cornetist formed a quartet with guitarist George Barnes, in 1973, that he became more secure. Afterward, Braff was heard in many small-group settings, including duets with Dick Hyman and Ellis Larkins (he had first met up with the latter in the 1950s), quintets with Scott Hamilton, and matching wits with Howard Alden. He remained one of the greats of mainstream jazz until his death in 2003.
read more:

"St. Louis Blues", the film

In 1929, Kenneth W. Adams and W.C. Handy wrote a short film treatment based on Handy's famous song "St. Louis Blues" and convinced the film studio RCA Phototone of the idea of making a short film. Phototone hired Dudley Murphy (director of the 1924 French avante garde classic Le Ballet Mechanique!) to direct a two-reel short to be shown before the featured attraction, much the same way newsreels and cartoons where throw in as an added attraction before films in those days. At W.C. Handy's 
Click link below to see video
St. Louis Blues

Windows Media clip (79 MB)
suggestion, Bessie Smith was picked to be the star of the film. Bessiehad scored a huge hit in 1925 with her recording of "St. Louis Blues", which had featured Louis Armstrong on cornet.

The film was shot in June of 1929 in Astoria, Long Island and was shown between the years 1929 to 1932. It was Bessie Smith's only film appearence. The film features a top notch Jazz band that includes, James P. Johnsonon piano, Thomas Morris and Joe Smith on cornet, as well as the Hall Johnson Choir. The film had an all African American cast. The co-stars were dancer/actor Jimmy Mordecai as Bessie's good for nothing boyfriend and Isabel Washington Powell as the other woman.

read more:

Epitaph - Whitney Balliett on Miles Ahead: Miles Davis + 19

Steven A. Cerra
The editorial staff at JazzProfiles has been looking for a context to post more about the late Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis [1926-1991] and the late, esteemed writer on Jazz Whitney Balliett [1926-2007] on these pages and we found a setting that includes them both in the following essay by Whitney

Whitney’s piece takes as its point of departure the end of the big band era and what he sees as its relationship to the 1957 release of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans Miles Ahead: Miles Davis +19 Columbia LP.

You’ll find the music from Sides A & B of this LP featured in the videos that conclude this piece.

"THE FINAL COLLAPSE of the big-band era in the late forties left a permanent hole in jazz. The best of the big bands provided not only floating finishing schools for young musicians but the sort of roaring, imperious excitement that the small jazz group, for sheer want of volume, rarely matches. There were at least three distinct types of big band—the milky, unabashed dance band (Guy Lombardo, Charlie Spivak), the semi-jazz dance band (Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw), and the out-and-out jazz band (Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson). The demise of this small but lively industry was due largely to economics; it is also true that the big jazz band had just about run dry. It ended as it had begun—as a plump, highly regimented expansion of the traditional New Orleans instrumentation of cornet, clarinet, trombone, and rhythm section. 

There was not really much difference, for example, between the Goodman band of 1936 and the Woody Herman band of a decade later. Goodman had fourteen pieces and a mechanized, tank-like style, and Herman had four or five more sidemen and a loose, flag-waving approach, but both groups depended on the same basic practices-elementary harmonies, short solos framed by opening and closing ensembles, brass and saxophone sections that stated (sometimes in mild counterpoint) simple riffs, often written to be played in unison, and a clocklike four-four beat. Indeed, the riff became the identifying badge of the big band. 

The exception was Duke Ellington, whose music of the period still sounds almost avant-garde. Ellington, in fact, had begun replacing conventional big-band devices in the mid-thirties with new harmonies, his own brilliant melodies, and little concerto-type structures usually built around one soloist. These departures gave his band the sound of a unified instrument, rather than that of several determined platoons marching in the same general direction. Some of his inventions rubbed off in the mid-forties on such quixotic, short-lived organizations as those of Boyd Raeburn, Elliot Lawrence, Raymond Scott, and Billy Eckstine, while Stan Kenton was testing various independent approaches. Today, however, there are just four or five big jazz bands — Kenton, Gillespie, Basie, Ellington, and Herman — and they are, in the main, only heavier, more pompous versions of their earlier selves.

In the face of this melancholy situation, Columbia has released a new big-band record, Miles Ahead: Miles Davis + 19, that is the most adventurous effort of its kind in a decade. All the ten selections, by a variety of hands, have been shaped by the gifted arranger Gil Evans into small concertos centered on Miles Davis, who plays the flugelhorn instead of the trumpet. Evans came into prominence in the early forties, when he wrote for the Claude Thornhill band a number of gliding, richly textured pieces that made use of such unorthodox instruments as the French horn. He reappeared as a collaborator with Davis and Gerry Mulligan in some of the suave, contrapuntal small-band recordings [Birth of the Cool] made for Capitol in 1949 and 1950. For "Miles Ahead," Evans’ choice of instrumentation — five trumpets, three trombones, bass trombone, two French horns, tuba, alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, bass, and drums — is an expansion of the ensemble involved in most of the Davis-Mulligan records.

read more: 

Videos: Frank Sinatra, 1943

Reprinted from
On September 3, 1942, Frank Sinatra left the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra after nearly three years as its star vocalist. On his own as a solo act, Sinatra signed with Columbia. The problem was, however, that the American Federation of Musicians' ban was still on, forcing Sinatra to record a cappella with backup singers for the label. Singers weren't in the musicians' union.
To keep his reputation in tact and his popularity at boil, Sinatra performed around New York and Los Angeles (much to the delight of teenage bobby-soxers), and he began starring in a number of feature Hollywood films and shorts. [Above, Sinatra at the Hollywood Bowl in 1943]
Here are four clips I found yesterday at YouTube documenting Sinatra's emergence as a conversational solo singer but not yet recorded in the studio backed by an orchestra. That wouldn't begin in earnest for Columbia until the following year, when the ban ended for the label and RCA. 
Here's Sinatra singing Night and Day from Reveille With Beverly...
Here's Sinatra in 1943 singing Stardust...
Here's Sinatra at the Walton High School auditorium in the Bronx...
And here's Sinatra in Higher and Higher...
Used with permission by Marc Myers

NPR Music ....


The 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

We had 140 jazz journalists weigh in on their favorite releases of the year. Here are their top overall picks, with top finishers in Latin jazz, vocal, debut and historical categories.