Monday, May 04, 2009

Notes from the Net: Another Miles Davis book; riding the "A" train with the Ellington Orchestra; plus news, reviews, interviews, and more

Brought to you a day late, courtesy of this spring's proliferation of pollen and the deleterious effects of same on yr. humble editor's sinuses, here's this week's 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:

* We've got several Miles Davis-related items this week, starting with the news that the album Sketches of Spain, one of the trumpeter's classic collaborations with arranger Gil Evans, is getting the deluxe 2-CD reissue treatment from Columbia/Legacy, along with Charles Mingus' Mingus Ah Um and Dave Brubeck's Time Out.

Also:'s Jared Pauley recently attended a symposium at Columbia University on Davis' electric music, and wrote about it in a blog post titled "Reassessing Miles's Bitches Brew" which notes that "academic discourse and electric fusion don't always mix."

Drummer Jimmy Cobb (pictured), the sole survivor of the recording sessions that produced Miles' Kind of Blue, led a 50th anniversary tribute to KoB and Davis this past weekend at the at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

And Kind of Blue also will be the central topic of yet another Davis-related book coming out this summer. The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music was written by the UK newspaper The Guardian’s chief sports writer and former Melody Maker editor Richard Williams, and will be published by Faber and Faber.

(This last item comes to StLJN via Miles Davis Online, a new blog started by Jeffery Hyatt, who also writes the Miles Davis Movie site that we linked to a couple of weeks ago. MDO has a bit of everything Miles-related, from artwork inspired by the trumpeter to a post linking to a video stream of Davis' guest-starring role in an episode of the 1980s TV series Miami Vice. While StLJN no doubt will be linking to MDO in the future, hard-core Miles fans are hereby advised to bookmark it for future reference.)

* In other news of natives of former denizens of the Gateway City, The Jazz Session series of podcasts produced by Jason Crane just did an interview with The Wee Trio, which includes former St. Louisan Dan Loomis on bass along with vibraphonist James Westfall and drummer Jared Schonig.

* The blog Art Decade recently posted a free downloadable .mp3 of guitarist and St. Louis native Grant's Green's verion of "I Can't Stop Loving You," recorded back in 1969.

* Turning to news of coming attractions, singer Tony Bennett, who will be in St. Louis this Thursday to perform at the Fox Theatre, was just in New Orleans, where he donated "dozens of new instruments Thursday to students at a charter school founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, hoping the tubas, trumpets and trombones would be used to carry on New Orleans' vibrant musical tradition." An accomplished visual artist, too, Bennett also recently donated a portrait he painted of Duke Ellington to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

* Speaking of the Duke, last week's celebration of his birthday in New York included an event that saw the present-day Ellington Orchestra riding and performing on the fabled "A" train to Harlem. You can read the New York Times' account of the trip here. The Ellington Orchestra played at the Touhill Performing Arts Center earlier this year.

* Catching up with news of other recent visitors to St. Louis, via Doug Ramsey's blog Rifftides, we learned that "Leonard Lopate of WNYC radio in New York invited Bill Charlap to drop by the studio where Lopate does his Please Explain program and talk about how jazz improvisation works. Seated at the piano, Charlap spoke clearly about the raw materials of music and showed what jazz players do with them in the act of creation." You can check out the archived broadcast here. Charlap was in St. Louis in February, performing with the Blue Note 7 at the Sheldon Concert Hall .

* From, here's a review by Will Nissen of a recent Medeski, Martin and Wood performance at Trocadero's in Minneapolis. MMW were in the STL a couple of weeks ago for the Loyal Earth Festival at the Old Rock House downtown.

* And from, here's a review by Pamela Espeland of a recent performance in the Twin Cities by The Bad Plus and singer Wendy Lewis. The Bad Plus played Jazz at the Bistro back in January..

* From the "general interest" folder, and following up on an item posted here a while back, it seems that business may be improving at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit as the venerable yet financially beleaguered jazz club celebrates 75 years in business. Or, depending on your point of view, maybe not.

* Finally, a recent article from addressed something that's bugged yr. humble editor for a good long while now: "Why should we find modern music so difficult to appreciate - but not modern art? David Stubbs, author of Fear of Music - Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen, points out that the Tate Modern is one of the most popular galleries in Europe - but that an audience presented with the equivalent in music tends to screech." For more on why this is so - Stubbs suggests it's because music is time-based, and therefore harder to escape than a painting you're not enjoying - read the whole article here.

1 comment:

Jason Crane said...

Thanks for the link! I've added your blog in the "Friends of TJS" section at

All the best,

Jason Crane
The Jazz Session