All posts tagged: Jazz

Saturday Soundtrack: Songs for social distancing

I was listening to Oscar Peterson recently when he began the familiar Duke Ellington tune Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. I quipped, “Well, that could be my theme song for sheltering-in-place.” Here we are, still pretty much stuck in our own bubbles for the foreseeable future, and not getting around much at all. While musing on our situation, the thought came to me that it could be fun — or at least distracting — to have a look here on Saturday Music at this testimonial to social distancing. We’ll begin our exploration of this beautiful “I miss you” song with the version that put me on this quest — the Oscar Peterson arrangement, which I believe features Peterson on piano, the incomparable Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums.* Then we’ll turn to Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald — jazz royalty — for their take on the standard. This out-of-focus clip is from the NBC telecast the Ella Fitzgerald Show, from April 1968. According to some online commentators, in the same show they …

Saturday Soundtrack: Eric Skye

Making my way through the most recent issue of the Fretboard Journal (FJ #45*), I came across sixteen splendid pages on fingerstyle guitarist Eric Skye. The photos of a beautiful twelve-fret 00-sized Santa Cruz guitar were sumptuous, and I was soon to learn that this was the company’s signature 00-Skye guitar. Likewise, the writing catches you right from the beginning, with a story — and quip — about using a wedding band as a slide. (“It’s why I got married, man!”) Skye was new to me, but the Portland, Oregon-based acoustic guitarist certainly has a devoted following, and not just from Richard Hoover and the folks at Santa Cruz Guitars. He has a very broad minded approach to music, which he explains came in part from a classical guitar teacher who turned him on to blues and jazz as well. As his website notes, while often billed as an acoustic jazz guitarist, “Skye actually occupies a unique niche between traditional acoustic music, modal jazz, folk, and blues. With a technical approach that is somewhat informed by …

Saturday Soundtrack: Teddy Wilson

For the final Saturday Music post of April, I’m going to recognize Jazz Appreciation Month by highlighting my father’s favorite jazz musician: the elegant pianist Teddy Wilson. Wilson was born in 1912 in Austin, Texas, but moved at age six with his parents to the famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. His father was the head of the English Department while his mother later became the school’s head librarian. Wilson began his musical instruction at Tuskegee, where he studied not only the piano, but also violin, oboe, and clarinet. Around 1930, when playing music in Toledo, Ohio, Wilson met the great Art Tatum and the two played together often during that period. Wilson eventually moved to New York City, with the encouragement of jazz supporter John Hammond, and went on to join Benny Goodman‘s band. It was with Goodman and drummer Gene Krupa that Wilson became the first African American to play in a racially mixed, high profile musical group in the United States. Wilson performed with Goodman, off and on, for many years, including for …

Majestic Kansas City

In Kansas City for work, some colleagues and I went in search of some live jazz last evening.  Our host suggested The Majestic Steakhouse – just two blocks from our hotel. The Majestic is located in the historic Fitzpatrick building (the name is still outlined in tile on the entranceway), a building with a colorful past.  Built in 1911 as a saloon and bordello, it became a popular speakeasy during prohibition – and that basement hideaway is now the home of the jazz club. The Bram Wijnands trio (piano, drums, and sax/flute) was good – and made up of a couple of colorful characters.  For many people, Kansas City is a real surprise in the heartland.  I had been in town before with a group of National Trust supporters and knew we were in for a treat.  We heard last night they are “down” to only 70 barbecue joints and they have about an equal number of jazz venues. The Majestic and Kansas City – recommended! More to come… DJB

Time Out – For More Albums for a Desert Island

This is album #3 that I’d want on my iPod on a desert island (see the earlier two posts below), and it is the only pure jazz album on my list. Growing up, my brother Steve was the jazz fan and my father had always enjoyed Teddy Wilson (one of the two pieces he could play on the piano was “Body and Soul” in the Wilson style.)  I grew up  listening to rock and then gravitated to acoustic folk which led me to bluegrass, Celtic, Americana, blues, and the like.  I wanted to listen to music I could play, and I never stayed with the piano or guitar long enough to be a jazz player.  But I’ve always enjoyed the music and have a healthy sampling on my iPod – everything from a lot of Miles Davis to a lot of Oscar Peterson. Time Out was the first jazz album that really caught my ear, and that’s the reason it is on my top five list.   I was captivated by the changes in time signature and rhythm.  It all …