Heard Live! Trumpeter Mark Inouye

WP- Inouye, MarkMark Inouye is the best kept secret in jazz in the San Francisco Bay Area. Heck, maybe the world.

“I only play jazz once a year, and tonight is it!” he said to me. “Tonight” was a concert to raise funds for the Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah. Topaz is the site where Inouye’s father, Takara, was incarcerated during World War II. Long story short is that his efforts to learn more about his father’s journey led him to play before a packed house at the Conservatory of Music in San Francisco on July 10.

The Conservatory of Music…hmm. Doesn’t sound like a jazz club, and that’s because it’s not. It’s where you would hear symphonic music. “Classical music” you might say. But not jazz. Inouye is one of the few musicians who can do both, and both are spectacular. He occupies the first trumpet chair for the San Francisco Symphony and he has been cited as among the world’s best at his craft. Continue reading

Heard Live! The Akira Tana Quintet!

Tana-01Charlie Parker. Dizzy Gillespie. Art Blakey. If you’re a fan of bebop jazz, you know those names. I’m way too young to have heard beboppers play live back in the late 40s and into the 50s, but several nights ago, I came awfully close at the Cafe Stritch in San Jose, California.

That’s exactly what drummer Akira Tana’s quintet did for me. Tana’s band freakin’ bbq’d the joint, practically burning it down to the ground. Reminded me of why I listen to jazz in the first place. Continue reading

Found! Doc Severinsen’s Command Performances

Doc Sev-wordpressI know of Doc Severinsen from his days as the leader of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show band, and always wondered what he really sounded like. Doc’s Command Performances (Command Records RS 904 SD, stereo, 1966) are like his clothing… flashy! If you watched the Tonight Show, Carson would often comment on Doc’s choice of a flamboyant coat or shirt. The man plays the way he dresses.

Command Performances is essentially a greatest hits LP. The tunes are taken from various Command Records LPs made by Severinsen.

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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

Compared! CD vs LP: The Fabulous Fats Navarro

Fats-versus-WEB2Here is what you’ve been waiting for, a ringside seat at the battle of the century! It’s not Ali vs Frazier, it’s oil vs aluminum! Today I compare the same song from a vinyl LP and a CD. Compared! pits Blue Note BLP 1531, The Fabulous Fats Navarro Volume 1 against The Fats Navarro Story Properbox #11 four CD set out of the UK, remastered by Peter Rynston. I’m not using just any release of the LP, but the Toshiba-EMI reissue that is thought to be much better than many of the vinyl reissues made in America. In fact, the London Jazz Collector blog rates the Toshiba-EMIs as the fourth best pressings you can buy, with the original Lexington 47 West 63rds as best, followed by New York Blue Notes, then King Japan/Early division of Liberty 1966 coming in third. Continue reading