The GREAT 78 Project!

Digital. It’s great and it’s awful. This time, it’s great.

It’s the Great 78 Project. And it’s just what it sounds like. The Internet Archive (in San Francisco, California) is a partner in the quest to transfer 78rpm records for anyone to download for free. OK, my site is about vinyl, but at least these digital files start out that way. Continue reading

Found! Wes Montgomery’s One Night In Indy

montgomery-one-night-in-indy-wpIt’s hard to not like just about everything I’ve heard by jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and One Night In Indy (Resonance Records HLP 9018, mono LP) is no exception. This is a 2015 release of a never before heard tape made in 1959 by photojournalist Duncan Schiedt.

I had one reservation about buying this LP new (on sale direct from Resonance)…I didn’t know what it sounded like. Was the original recording done with one crummy mic, too far away from the band? Continue reading

See It! W. Eugene Smith and the Sound of New York Jazz

You don’t know W. Eugene Smith…but he is generally considered to be the greatest American photojournalist. From 1957-1965, he opened his New York city loft to the jazz musicians of the era and shot stills pictures, 40,000 of them!

Plus, he recorded 4000 hours of audio (not all of it is music). It was just released as a documentary movie called The Jazz Loft According To W. Eugene Smith.

Back when I was in photojournalism school in the late 1980s, my instructor at San Jose State University, Jim McNay, had me read a book about Smith.  McNay’s contention was that many of our greatest artists are essentially crazy. Smith could certainly be seen in that light. Continue reading

Found! Stanley Wilson’s “Music From The M Squad”

M Squad-WP2As a fan of 1950s American television, I was intrigued by this record, from a show I had never heard of, M Squad (RCA LPM 2062, mono). The cover told me all I needed to know about it, however. A hard boiled Lee Marvin, with pistol in hand, blasting away at some unseen criminal. Marvin, a terrific actor, could play a role like this easily, so I bought the LP and hoped for the best. The music, like Marvin, was excellent.

It reminded me of a more famous TV show from the same time period, Peter Gunn. Dark, smoky jazz, set in a simpler time. There were criminals, sure, but most of them were small time hoods, looking for a quick buck. Continue reading

Found! Leon Bibb Sings Folk Songs

bibb, leon folk songsFolk music encompasses many a style. If you’re interested in the simple and elegant, Leon Bibb Sings Folk Songs (Vanguard VRS 9041, mono) is a good one. Bibb isn’t a part of the late sixties hippie scene that combined folk with rock. Bibb, guitarist Fred Hellerman and orchestrator Milt Okun provide the deep feelings that folk music is supposed to be about without the backbeat. Continue reading

Read It! Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece by Ashley Kahn

Book-KOB-01-web“It was the last time Miles Davis and Bill Evans would ever record together.”

There are hundreds of pivotal moments in the history of music. But that line, written by author Ashley Kahn on page 145 of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece (2000) is the one line in the book that shocked me. I just didn’t know, didn’t realize the significance of it until Kahn’s words appeared before me…that Davis and Evans never recorded together again, after the making of Kind of Blue. Continue reading

Got The Senor Blues: Jazz Pianist Horace Silver Dies

silver, horace-senor blues LP2I have a general recollection of the first time I heard the piano of Horace Silver. There was an odd (but likeable) funk and his left hand tended to hit somewhat dissonant block chords I wasn’t used to. But mostly, it was his melodies that stood out. I believe that’s why Silver will be remembered long after his death on June 18, 2014. It was Bud Powell’s prowess at the keys that made you stop and listen. With Silver, it’s the melody. Not that all his melodies were happy and bright. His minor mood often came through in memorable ways, too. Continue reading