James on Jazz
Looking for summer reading material? A new book entitled “A Daughter’s Love” about Eartha Kitt that was authored by her daughter Kitt Shapiro, along with Patricia Weiss Levy, might hit the spot. Shapiro was Kitt’s closest confidante and tells the story of their relationship.
On the music front, tenor saxophonist JD Allen has just released a first-time solo album “Queen City” from HighNote/Savant Records. In the liner notes, he writes, “Every musician starts out playing alone at the beginning, with hopes of one day being able to adapt to situations presented by your bandmates or being part of a collective story that’s being told through music in real-time.”
Also, on HighNote Records is the new release from pianist George Cables. The recording is “To Close for Comfort” featuring bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Victor Lewis.
Some of the tracks include familiar tunes such as “For All We Know,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” plus originals songs like “Klimo,” and “A Valentine for You,” which is a solo piano piece written for the keeper of Cables’ heart, Margarita. This recording also features the Bobby Hutcherson song, “Roses and Poses” that was written for his wife Rosemary.
Former President Barack Obama has released yet another summer playlist. Legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong is represented on that playlist with “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” The playlist is a mix of old and new, household names, and emerging artists, and everything in between. It’s always good to see his jazz-related picks.
A July birthday celebration is in order. Happy birthday to trumpeter Lee Morgan who was born in July in 1938. He recorded 25 albums for Blue Note between 1956-1971. Some of Lee’s timeless classics included “The Sidewinder” and he also appeared on John Coltrane’s “Blue Train,” among other noteworthy albums.
The month of July also marks the 110th birthday of trumpet master Cootie Williams. He was a star in Duke Ellington’s orchestra. His defining sound on the plunger mute stood out during the 1930s.
In jazz radio news, during the crate digging series on a recent episode of “Jazz Night,” the late great pianist Mulgrew Miller and his stellar quintet Wingspan was featured by host and bassist Christian McBride.
The set included the sounds of longtime collaborator and vibraphonist Steve Nelson at Dizzy’s Club back in 2007. My favorites played included “The Sequel,” “Go East Young Man,” and “Wingspan.”
Follow “Jazz Night” on Twitter @jazznight for on-stage performances and backstage stories from @nprmusic, @wbgo, and @jazzdotorg.
Every weekday, in the 1 am (ET) hour, “Jazz After Hours” host Greg Bryant features live tracks. Recently, Bryant featured guitarist Kenny Burrell’s “Well You Needn’t” Live at the Village Vanguard. Check out “Jazz After Hours” am to 6 am (ET) on WBGO 88.3FM and WBGO.org.
On Twitter, @Guerseys1975 announced its auctioning off some of pianist Chick Corea’s iconic instruments, including an electric piano, grand piano, and more. What a way to keep Corea’s musical legacy alive and at the same time give these precious instruments a new home!
As live, in-person jazz returns this summer, many jazz musicians and their bands and other musicians, in general, are touring and reuniting with audiences in the U.S. and overseas. Returning to the stage are vocalist Jose James, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, guitarist John Scofield, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, pianist Taylor Eigsti, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, among others. Check them out on the road if you can.
The return of live music is happening here in the Twin Cities as well. Everyone’s favorite St. Paul end-of-the-summer festival is back—The Selby Avenue Jazz Festival will happen as it has for 20 years on the second Saturday of September.
This year’s event is set for September 11 from 11 am to 7:30 pm. The festival attracts several hundred people from all over. There will be a variety of vendors and kid-friendly activities. Nachito Herrera and his Cuban All-Stars will headline this year. He is a COVID-19 survivor and fits right in with the theme for this year, which is “A Celebration of Life.” For full-line up details, go to selbyavejazzfest.com.