Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Notes from the Net: A Miles Davis mega-set; Jimmy Forrest remembered; plus news, reviews, interviews, and more

Here's the latest compilation of assorted news briefs and links related to jazz, improvisation, and creative music in St. Louis, including news of musicians originally from the Gateway City, recent visitors, and coming attractions, plus assorted other items of interest.

What with the time demands of the recent site re-design, keeping up with breaking news, and doing some actual paying work in there somewhere, it's been nearly three weeks since our last installment of NftN, and in that time a bunch of Miles Davis-related links have piled up, so let's start there:

* The 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue continues to inspire all sorts of essays, retrospectives and critical assessments. Recent examples include this essay on how KoB shaped 50 years of music, written by John Fordham of the UK newspaper the Guardian; and The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music, a new book written by Richard Williams and published by Faber & Faber, reviewed here by Sholto Byrnes for the New Statesman. Byrnes' bottom line: "Williams makes an elegant and expansive argument for an album that I, for one, could not bear to be parted from and have returned to frequently in the 20 or so years since I first heard it. Make way on the shelf; this latest book on jazz's great "Prince of Darkness" has earned its place."

In other Davis-related news, the Seattle Jazz Composers Ensemble did a tribute to Davis' Birth of the Cool last month at Lucid Lounge; The Bad Plus' Ethan Iverson examined the influence of saxophonist Lester Young on Davis as part of a 10-part series of posts on the band's blog marking the 100th anniversary of Young's birth; and has another review - this one penned by a writer identified only as "The Other Chad" - of the recent reissue of Davis' 1950s sessions with Sonny Rollins.

And while we're on the subject of Miles Davis reissues: Sony is releasing a gigantic boxed set of CDs of all the music the trumpeter recorded for his longtime label Columbia Records. The 71-disc(!) set is called Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection and will be released on November 10. It includes all 52 albums Davis recorded for Columbia, which fill a total of 70 CDs, plus a DVD called Live in Europe that is being released for the first time. The CDs will come packaged in miniature reproductions of LP sleeves, and the set includes a 250-page book about Davis. The price: $369.68, or about $5 a disc, and available exclusively available through

And speaking of Columbia Records, Rolling Stone has photos of Davis along with shots of the label's various rock stars in a spread commemorating the work of longtime Columbia Records photographer Don Hunstein.

Lastly from the Davis files: Kind of Bloop, the recent tribute to Kind of Blue done in the "8-bit" style of electronic music, has apparently found its way into the mainstream, as indicated by this short piece from that perennial bastion of conventional thinking, Time magazine.

* Turning to news of other former St. Louisans, the late saxophonist Julius Hemphill was featured in a recent post on NPR's A Blog Supreme.

* Pianist and St. Louisan-turned-New Orleans resident Tom McDermott, who was touring out west this summer, was featured in the local paper before a show in Casper, Wyoming.

* Arranger Roy Phillipe told JazzWax's Marc Myers a story about saxophonist Jimmy Forrest (pictured) - St. Louis native, big band veteran and composer of "Night Train" - and his tenure with the great bandleader and pianist Count Basie.

* Here's a review of The Crucible, the new CD from saxophonist John Zorn's ensemble Moonchild, written for by Mark Corroto.

* Turning to news of coming attractions, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who will be in St. Louis next Saturday for a concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, turns 79 today, and is duly celebrated by Rifftides' Doug Ramsey.

* Here's a long feature about bassist John Patitucci's new CD Remembrance, written for by R.J. DeLuke. Patitucci was here last fall for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's Guitar Festival, and will be back in St. Louis next April to play at Jazz at the Bistro.

*And here's a review of saxophonist James Carter's new CD Heaven on Earth, written by the prolific Tim Niland for his blog Jazz and Blues Reviews. Carter's new disc is an electrified set, with guests including John Medeski on organ and Christian McBride on bass. Both McBride and Carter will play the Bistro this season - the former in November, the latter in May.

* While we're on the subject of the Bistro, a recording of one of guitarist Charlie Hunter's sets there in January has made its way to in high-quality FLAC format.

* Finally, by way of following up on a couple of stories covered before in this space, Broadway producer Rocco Landesman - nephew of Fran and Jay Landesman, who ran the famed Crystal Palace nightclub in St. Louis' Gaslight Square district - has taken over as the new head of the National Endowment for the Arts. The extroverted and sometimes controversial Landesman promises to push for more funding for the NEA, and wants to restore the agency's program of grants for individual artists, which was shut down in the early 1990s after censorious types raised alarms over NEA funding of certain artists and institutions who presented works containing sexual, political and/or religious themes and imagery.

* The latest iteration of the "Can jazz be saved?" debate (covered previously here, here, and here) continues, with some interesting comments from listeners of public radio station WNYC here; a thoughtful manifesto from trumpeter Dave Douglas here, and an update from journalist Howard Mandel on the #jazzlives Twitter campaign here.

(Edited 9/11/09 to replace linked photo with one stored on Blogger.)

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