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Cedar Walton

August 24, 2013 Leave a comment

cedar walton This week two great jazzpianists died; Cedar Walton and Marian McPartland. Let’s continue with Cedar.

Cedar Walton, a pianist who distinguished himself as both an accompanist and a soloist, and who wrote some of the most enduring compositions in modern jazz while a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the early 1960s, died on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 79. His death followed a brief illness, his manager, Jean-Pierre Leduc, said. (NYTimes, 8-20-13)
“Walton grew up in Dallas, Texas. His mother was an aspiring concert pianist, and was Walton’s initial teacher. She also took him to jazz performances around Dallas. Walton cited Nat King Cole, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum as his major influences on piano.

Walton was tempted by the promise of New York City through his associations with the likes of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Richie Powell, whom he met at various after-hours sessions around the city of Denver, Colorado. In 1955, he decided to leave school and drove with a friend to New York City. He quickly got recognition from Johnny Garry, who ran Birdland at that time.

Walton was drafted into the U.S. Army, and stationed in Germany, cutting short his rising status in the after-hours scene. While in the Army, he played with musicians Leo Wright, Don Ellis, and Eddie Harris. Upon his discharge after two years, Walton picked up where he left off, playing as a sideman with Kenny Dorham and J. J. Johnson, and with Gigi Gryce.[2] Joining the Jazztet, led by Benny Golson and Art Farmer, Walton played with this group from 1958 to 1961. In April 1959, he recorded an alternate take of “Giant Steps” with John Coltrane, though he did not solo.

In the early 1960s, Walton joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as a pianist-arranger for three years (on the same day as Freddie Hubbard), where he played with Wayne Shorter and Hubbard. In this group, he demonstrated a keen sense of arranging in originals such as “Ugetsu” and “Mosaic”. He left the Messengers in 1964 and by the late 1960s was part of the house rhythm section at Prestige Records, where in addition to releasing his own recordings, he recorded with Sonny Criss, Pat Martino, Eric Kloss, and Charles McPherson. For a year, he served as Abbey Lincoln’s accompanist, and recorded with Lee Morgan from 1966 to 1968. During the mid-1970s, he led the funk group Mobius.

Many of his compositions have been adopted as jazz standards, including “Firm Roots”, “Bolivia” and “Cedar’s Blues”. “Bolivia” is perhaps Walton’s best known composition, while one of his oldest is “Fantasy in D”, recorded under the title “Ugetsu” by Art Blakey in 1963.Cedar Walton 7 28 13

In January 2010, he was inducted as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters.” (wikipedia)

In february this year he played in jazzclub Bimhuis in Amsterdam, in the same week Curtis Fuller gave a concert at the same place. I only visited the Fuller concert. It’s a pity. Happily there was a visitor who recorded (a part of) the concert.

Read further at:

http://www.jazzwax.com/2013/08/cedar-walton-on-giant-steps.html (Jazzwax)

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/arts/music/cedar-walton-pianist-and-composer-dies-at-79.html?_r=0 (NYTimes, 8-20-13)

and

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/2013/08/19/213571089/jazz-piano-giant-cedar-walton-dies-at-79 (NPR Blog)

 

Cedar Walton at the Bimhuis, 2-14-2013:

Marian McPartland

August 24, 2013 1 comment

marian mcpartlandThis week two great jazzpianists died; Cedar Walton and Marian McPartland. Let’s start with Marian.

Marian McPartland, a storied jazz pianist and host of a quarter-century old music show on National Public Radio, has died at age 95. The musician and radio show host died Tuesday of natural causes in her home in Port Washington, Long Island.

She joined a jazz-combo.that toured throughout Europe, entertaining the Allied troops during World War II. On tour, she met her husband, After her marriage to the cornetplayer Jimmy McPartland (Chicago), she moved to the USA in 1953 where McPartland began playing at clubs like the Hickory House in the jazz center of 52nd Street.

McPArtland recorded over 50 records and in 2000 was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. In 2004 she was given a GrammyAward for lifetime achievement.

marian mcpartland 2

Read more:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/mcpartland-jazz-pianist-npr-host-dead-95-article1.1432824#ixzz2ctk3ReCP (NYDaily, 8-22-2013)

and

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/08/marian-mcpartland-jazz-piano-master-dead-95/68577/ (The Atlantic Wire)

and

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23792381 (BBC)

Please hear Marian McParland in the Piano Jazz series: http://www.npr.org/series/15773266/marian-mcpartland-s-piano-jazz

 

Marian McPartland plays Moonlight in Vermont:

 

Interview with Peter Ind

August 12, 2013 1 comment
To me the greatness in jazz lies in improvisation and from improvisation there developed the musical language that we recognize as jazz.
A few weeks ago I asked bassist Peter Ind my questions about his work, his music, his thoughts. He sent me a beautiful letter. I am proud to publish it at interjazzblog.
Who is Peter Ind? A short biography:

images (1)Peter  (born 1928) was just 21 when he began travelling to New York playing jazz double bass  on the Queen Mary. He settled in New York in 1951 and America became his home for the next 15 years. He studied with Lennie Tristano, played with  many great names in Jazz – Lee Konitz, Buddy Rich, Coleman Hawkins, Billie  Holiday. While there he set up a recording studio and launched the Wave   jazz label. Revived in 1977, it still exists today.

Returning to the UK in 1966, he often performed in duos and trios – most notably  with Martin Taylor. In the 1980s and 90s he ran the very successful Bass Clef and Tenor Clef Jazz Clubs in London. He now concentrates more on recordings and playing internationally.

He is  a jazz musician and sound engineer, and also a skilful painter in the post modern idiom, and a collector and restorer of blue and white Chinese  porcelain. (read further at http://www.peterind.com).

Dear Robin
Firstly I feel I should point out that often people contact me, either asking me to fill them in on past jazz events, or to help them with their problems. I am not saying that you fall into that category, but if I seem somewhat hesitant, it is only a reflection on some past experiences. When my book Jazz Visions was released someone from the BBC contacted me asking to record for BBC radio. I recorded an hour’s worth of material, only to discover that when the “interview” was broadcast, about two minutes of my voice was included and the main part of the broadcast was of someone who had no direct knowledge of those times in New York (being far too young) but quoted from my book as though it was his own insight, with no reference to what I had actually written. Quite frequently, my words are used without acknowledgement and seldom get a mention as being the originator. Having said this, I am willing to answer you questions as fully as I can – and trust that you will not do like many others have done in the past.
naamloos
Perhaps my views about the way jazz has evolved are tinged with regret, as I feel that many of the greatest and inspired musicians have failed to receive the recognition they deserved. I am leaving myself apart from that (it is for others to judge).  However one of the unfortunate effects on the recent evolution of jazz, is often a lack of real awareness of who created – and this has had a “dumbing down” effect on younger players, who sometimes do not even know about players who by rights should be in the forefront of their studies.
You ask how has jazz evolved since I began? I started playing piano in London in 1942. In those days I did not distinguish between dance music and jazz. Firstly having left school at fourteen years of age, I found I could earn almost as much money in one night, playing the piano with a danced band that working in an office for five days a week. Of course playing the piano was just fun and to get paid for it was fantastic. Though I could read music, I learned the tunes by listening to the radio. (Of course there was no television in those days.) It was simply dance music and during those days of World War Two, there were dances every day of the week, and as most professional musicians were in the armed forces I was always on call. I didn’t really become aware of “jazz” until later in my teens, though I was aware of the concept of improvising through the experience of playing at dances.  My parents encouraged me somewhat. I think they were surprised that I could earn money that way. I felt the need to get trained classically and for a while I studied part time at London’s Trinity College of Music, paying for the lessons myself. In Britain in those days it was customary to play a second instrument and the sound of the bass always fascinated me. In 1944 I bought a double bass and began to take gigs playing it. It was not until later around 1947 that I joined a professional band working at a “Palais de Dance” in London that I became a full time bass player. In 1944 I had heard the Glenn Miller band of the American Expeditionary Force, playing live on a BBC Broadcast. It was a revelation, so spirited and unlike the British dance bands of the time, who sounded so reserved and polite.  It was the first time I understood the difference between US jazz and British jazz.  It was not until five years later (in July 1949) that I visited New York as a musician on board the Queen Mary, and had the opportunity to experience that music at source. I stayed working on the Queen Mary until March 1951  I obtained a US Immigration visa and in April 1951 New York became my new home.  It was while I was still working on the Queen Mary, that I met and got to know many American jazz musicians and began studying with Lennie Tristano. In December 1949, after taking a lesson with Lennie at his home n Flushing, Long Island Lennie asked me what I was doing that evening. I coming to hear you at Birdland I said. He then asked me if I would play the first set with his band. After that experience I knew that I would make New York my home. In fact playing with his band at Birdland signified the start of a great change in my life.naamloos (2)
Looking back to those days of the late nineteen forties and early fifties, I recall them as being the most democratic years of jazz. That was when black musicians were beginning to get the recognition they deserved and often played alongside white musicians on an equal footing.  Much later on, the relationship between black and white musicians became more difficult and racial issues surfaced once again. The social issues began to improve for blacks and by the late nineteen fifties, American apartheid began to give way to more on an equal society. Nevertheless there is still a long way to go before racial tension in the US gives way to a more just kind of society.  Amongst the musicians I worked with in the US some became very good friends. Of course I include Lennie in this, but also one especially the Trumpet player Roy Eldridge, whom I miss very much. I can still hear the sound of his voice in my head, as though he’s still around. I became good friends also with Mingus and we used to meet socially as well as musically. Oscar Pettiford and I used to play at the Café Bohemia and play duos together, this was when Oscar was playing ‘cello. I used to play a lot with Paul Bley, mostly at a place in Long Island – a black venue – known as “The Pub Club”.  They served great ribs and there was some irony in the fact that we were a white group (Al Levitt was the drummer) and they all loved our music.  We really felt at home there. The blacks were so open and welcoming to us. This was around the time that Paul’s LP was recorded. Percy Heath was his choice of bass player. However after recording two sessions with Percy, Paul wanted to record more as he was not satisfied with some of the tracks, and I was invited to record another session. As it turned out the record company refused to pay for any more than one additional session, and two thirds of the album contained tracks that I had played on. I was disappointed not only in only getting paid for half of what I had contributed, but a further irony was that many the tracks I played on were given rave reviews, but attributed to Percy’s playing.  I had no beef with Percy – we were good friends and in fact he studied with me for a while. I then began to realise that my skills as a jazz musician did not necessarily equate with getting the recognition I felt I deserved.
naamloos (3)Though I remained faithful to my conviction about jazz, it began to be apparent that jazz criticism often lacked musical objectivity. I began to be aware of a kind of dumbing down as jazz became more commercially oriented.  To me the greatness in jazz lies in improvisation and from improvisation there developed the musical language that we recognize as jazz. This is not in any way to dismiss or demean jazz composition¸ whether big band or small band, but true improvisation gave jazz it’s language and as this ability declined to become mere riffs or fill ins, so in my opinion has jazz declined both in quality and in popularity.  One final point – in striving to become cleverer than the next player, many jazzy musicians have lost their following – simply by becoming too clever.
You ask about my activities as a recording engineer. Even while still living in New York I realised that a lot of jazz was played that deserved to be recorded. I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase state of the art equipment and setting my East Side loft as a recording studio I began to be hired by recording companies for their various artists. I also recorded a lot of jazz that I have not been able to release for various reasons. I live in hopes that one day some of this music can be released. I have always been concerned that much great improvisation passed us by. Recording a little of this I believed to be especially worthwhile.images
Returning to the UK in 1966 after having spent three years in Big Sur California, I had to start again. I established a teaching practice, and then several years later bought some new recording equipment, and soon found my services in demand again. In 1981 I moved my recording activities to Hoxton Square. London and three years later began building the Bass Clef Club. This lasted for almost ten years and was very successful. I finally lost it – a bitter disappointment. However a few good recordings were made there – sometimes recorded live at the Bass Clef, and I have written a book about it which we are planning to release later this year.
You ask what is my secret? If I have one it is simply enthusiasm  (from the Greek EN THEOS) and a belief in life energy  –   I am currently writing another book about the Cosmos and where I believe we are all headed.
Please stay in touch,
Best wishes
Peter Ind
copyright Peter Ind and Robin Arends

George Duke

August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

imagesGeorge Duke, who began his career as a jazz pianist in the 1960s but made his name by crossing musical boundaries, died last Monday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 67. The name of the instrument with which Mr. Duke is perhaps most closely associated also describes his approach to music: synthesizer. “While he remained a respected figure in the jazz world, over the years he also played keyboards with Frank Zappa and Michael Jackson, sang lead on a Top 20 single and produced pop and rhythm-and-blues hits for others. His work has been sampled by hip-hop and electronic artists, including Daft Punk. ” (New York Times, 8-7)

“Mr. Duke was born on Jan. 12, 1946, in San Rafael, Calif, near San Francisco. He grew up listening to gospel music in the Baptist church his family attended. He graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1967.

Beginning in 1967 Duke experimented further with jazz fusion, playing and recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, as well as performing with the Don Ellis Orchestra, and Cannonball Adderley’s band, while he acquainted himself with the avant-garde musician Frank Zappa. Duke appeared on a number of Frank Zappa’s albums through the 1970s.

Duke served as a record producer and composer on two instrumental tracks on Miles Davis albums: “Backyard Ritual” (from Tutu, 1986) and “Cobra” (from Amandla, 1989). He has also worked with a number of notable Brazilian musicians, including singer Milton Nascimento, percussionist Airto Moreira and singer Flora Purim.” (wikipedia.org)

Critics  said that Duke’s music was not challenging enough, and that he was too eager to court a broad audience. He disagreed.

“I really think it’s possible (and still do) to make good music and be commercial at the same time,” Mr. Duke wrote. “I believe it is the artist’s responsibility to take the music to the people. Art for art’s sake is nice; but if art doesn’t communicate, then its worth is negated. It has not fulfilled its destiny.” (NYTimes)

For further information, look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Duke, and a recent George Duke interview: http://youtu.be/_SMBgh9n6aA.

 

George Duke Trio with Jean-Luc Ponty (1969):

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