Month: September 2014

Jazz Videos: Dexter Gordon’s “More Than You Know”

By Sam Griffith

I have long been a fan of Dexter Gordon. In fact, I can say without a doubt that he was one of, possibly my first, musical influences. My parents bought me a ten disc Jazz Masters compilation that featured Dexter playing “Come Rain of Come Shine”. I was immediately hooked and filled out my jazz library with only Dexter and J.J. Johnson albums. It has been a while since I dug into Dexter’s music and at a friends suggestion, recently watched a documentary of his life and career, More Than You Know.

Its very weird.



Jazz In The Mainstream: Boardwalk Empire Season 5 “Cuanto”

By Sam Griffith

Well, last night’s episode offered us very little jazz. VERY little.  (more…)

YOW! – Bob Belden Big Band “Milestones”

Earlier this month we took a look at the Miles Davis composition “Milestones”. I discovered this performance of “Milestones” several years ago, and loved it. There are several GREAT solos by Jeremy Pelt, Joe Lovano and Andre Hayward are all featured (although I’m not sure why Andre isn’t mentioned in the comments….trombone players get no love!). Enjoy!

YOW! (YouTube of the Week!) is our chance to share videos of live jazz performances that have been preserved forever thanks to YouTube. Email us with your favorite videos!

Top 5 Worst Blues Heads

5) Footprints – Yikes. Probably was a cool song at some point but is no longer. When is the last time you’ve heard a memorable version of this song performed (outside of Wayne’s new quartet)? Too many people treat this song like its just a blues.


Bizarre Moments in Jazz: 1959 Grammy Award Winners

By Sam Griffith

The year 1959 holds special significance in the history of recorded jazz. Several significant recordings were made this year, all of which are discussed in a great documentary – 1959 The Year The Changed Jazz. This documentary discusses 4 albums – Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, The Shape of Jazz To Come by Ornette Coleman and Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus. All of these albums would become highly influential towards shaping the performance styles, improvisational concepts, and compositional approaches of future generations.  (more…)

Jazz In The Mainstream: Boardwalk Empire Season 5 “What Jesus Said”

By Sam Griffith

Last nights episode, “What Jesus Said” provided us even more ideas about the role of music in this show, although it did not feature a lot of music. Silence was used a lot, and quite effectively. In addition to silence, we were also introduced to another significant component to early jazz/early popular music – the solo piano. (more…)

Streaming Jazz and the Future of Listening to Music

By Daniel Jonas

Let me begin this post by saying something that a lot of musicians might find distasteful.  I am a Spotify subscriber.  I pay what I consider to be a paltry monthly fee to have access to millions of songs from my computer and phone from almost anywhere.  I willingly and gladly pay this fee – I LOVE Spotify.  And anyone who loves music should love it, too. (more…)

Albums from the past 365: Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden Last Dance

By Grant Larson

Pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden are two stalwarts in the 21st century jazz community. They have been playing and recording for nearly the past 50 years. Although they have not recorded together with much frequency in recent years, Last Dance is a testament to the musical connection that two close friends can produce.

The impetus for choosing this album is twofold:

1) I love listening to Keith Jarrett’s creativity, and

2) this discussion is to serve as a tribute to Charlie Haden, given his recent passing earlier this summer. (more…)

5 Most Annoying Things that Consistently Happen in Jazz For No Apparent Reason

By Dan Jonas

Some things in jazz are so ingrained in the jazz performance culture that they have become jazz canon, or unwritten rules.  Their existence is basically taken for granted, but on a closer review, some of them don’t make a whole lot of sense.  Here’s my list of the top 5 most annoying unwritten jazz rules – feel free to comment below and add your own!

5.  On a medium swing tune, when the soloist plays an extended double time passage, the rhythm section switches to double time in response…and then never changes back.  Why does this happen?  I have never been soloing or heard a solo on medium or up swing tunes and felt like it needs double time from the rest of the rhythm section.  This happens in ballads all the time, and is usually not a terrible thing.  By when the tempo is 96-120, it just ends up distracting from the solo.  And then when the soloist is done, it takes the rhythm section a few bars to react and go back to the original time.  The whole thing sounds disjointed and weird.

4.  We need a bass solo…let’s put it at the beginning of this slow ballad/latin tune, and then let’s fast forward/leave the room/play the hi-hat alone and nothing else.  I dig that bass plays in a register that presents challenges to accompaniment, but it’s time for this era to end.  Let’s have some exciting bass solos.  Let’s get some energy and interaction.  Please let us not always do the exact same thing for every bass solo ever.

3.  Let’s play this tune with a “Latin” groove.  That’s fine and good, except what groove are you talking about?  This gets super weird with groups where everyone in the rhythm section is playing a different groove and none of it makes sense together – the piano player is suddenly playing a montuno, the bassist is play a cha-cha, and the drummer is playing salsa.  To anyone who knows anything about the music, it’s a confusing mess.  So not only are you making bad music, but you’re offending an entire culture.

2.  Time for a trombone solo!  Let’s go to half time/drums lay out/everyone play as soft as possible and allow this moment to develop!  NO.  A thousand times, NO!  Just because a trombone is soloing doesn’t mean music dies.  So many good songs are ruined by the predictable fact that a trombone solo starts and the band does any of these things basically by rote.  Can’t a trombone player come in with screaming high energy if that’s where the song is going?  Why must trombone always be relegated to this sad, lonely sound?  The trombone can be an awesome instrument if it just got a little more jazz love.

1.  That trumpet player just crushed his solo!  Wow!  Wait…where is he going…?  By far the weirdest tradition in jazz is when a group plays together for the melody, the horn soloist takes a thrilling and engaging solo…and then leaves the stage.  I understand wanting to give the audience a chance to see the bassist or drummer while they are soloing, but don’t walk away.  Stick around!  Listen to your fellow musicians!  It seems disrespectful and weird to just…leave.

Jazz In The Mainstream: Boardwalk Empire Season 5 “The Good Listener”

By Sam Griffith

This post is a continuation of a series of posts based on the use of music in Boardwalk Empire’s final season. Empire frequently uses jazz to set moods, provide humor and serve as underscoring. In this episode, we have a little music and a lot of radio. (more…)