You can buy records online, or at a local store, or you could try the KCSM Record Swap! KCSM is the College of San Mateo’s 24-7, commercial free jazz FM radio station (91.1) and they might be the last all jazz all the time station in the USA. Saturday they held a record swap on the campus where they broadcast from, which is about 30 minutes south of San Francisco.
This was not a gigantic flea market sized extravaganza. I estimated 19 vendors, each with a table or two, selling mostly jazz vinyl. There were a few selling CDs, another selling old posters. But the emphasis was on j-LPs. Continue reading
Folk 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
It’s a bar in Atlantic City, with some dude striding across the keys, playing a joyful kind of piano music that sounds like it could be from a movie made around the turn of the century. Before he plays the next tune, he explains what he’s doing and why. But he doesn’t recite a laundry list of dull names, dates and places, no sir. He’s reciting the living history of early jazz and he would know. He’s one of its masters.
That’s exactly what jazz pianist Willie Smith does, on The Memoirs of Willie The Lion Smith (RCA LSP 6016, stereo). On this two LP set, Willie does as much talking as playing and it’s a rare chance to hear him glibly talk about what we would now call jazz, before it had a name. Continue reading
Charlie 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
Always cool to find a local venue to hear live jazz and in this case, it was the Kevan Smedt Quartet at Dio Deka restaurant in Los Gatos, California. Right off, this is a straight jazz band playing standards, led by guitarist Smedt. I love this kind of band. The weather was perfect but the band was playing in front of a loudly flowing water fountain, which is not where they are normally located (they’re inside the restaurant). Nonetheless, they were terrific.
I sat with jazz aficionado & friend Darryl Noda, who pointed out that Smedt, left handed, tends to play the top four strings of his Eastman f-hole archtop guitar. Continue reading
Ah, Japan. Being Japanese, I’m a bit prejudiced…but Japan has the best food in the world, in my opinion. What they also have are unique jazz bars. Places where you go to relax, drink and listen to jazz, often from vinyl records.
That’s what I did on a recent visit to Tokyo, specifically the Shibuya area, where I managed to find JBS (Jazz, Blues, Soul) Jazz Bar, operated by the singular Kobayashi-san (no first name will he reveal). Recently written up in Bon Appetit Magazine, JBS is dark, tiny, narrow and somewhat smoky. A freakin’ great place! Continue reading
Ah, the songs of our youth. Well, if you grew up in the sixties, or have come to appreciate the rock and roll comin’ outta Los Angeles back then. The Wrecking Crew movie will dispel any romantic notions you may have of those bands, because the bands themselves often didn’t play their own instruments on their records. Instead, a tight group of unknown Los Angeles studio musicians did. Continue reading