Summertime jazz opportunities

James on Jazz

Yeah, summer is here, and with it comes chances for some good record-listening, jazz book-reading, and jazz concert-going recommendations. 

From Blue Note Records, the classic vinyl edition of Sonny Clark’s “Dial ‘S’ for Sonny” will be released on July 29. The pianist’s 1957 Blue Note debut features an A-class sextet with Curtis Fuller, Art Farmer, Wilbur Ware, Hank Mobley and Louis Hayes. 

On July 5, Blue Note artist Derrick Hodge celebrated a birthday. Check out the composer’s 2020 album, “Color of Noize.” 

The late Blue Note artist and Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith was born on July 3, 1942. His final album for Blue Note was titled “Breathe.” 

Speaking of Blue Note Records, now you can watch the great saxophonist Charles Lloyd discuss his “Trio of Trios” project with Blue Note President Don Was. His latest episode of the Blue Note interview series “First Look”: “Trio: Chapel,” featuring Lloyd with bassist Thomas Morgan and guitarist Bill Frisell, is out now on Blue Note Records. 

It’s summertime and a great time for some good reading. Here’s a quick list of jazz books to check out next time you head to the beach or anywhere else where you like to read. 

  1. Herbie Hancock, “Possibilities” with Lisa Dickey (Penguin Random House)
  2. “Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century” by Nate Chinen (Vintage; Reprint edition, July 23, 2019)
  3. “The History of Jazz” by Ted Gioia (Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, March 1, 2021) 
  4. “Jazz: A History of America’s Music” by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Knopf; 1st edition November 7, 2000) 
  5. “What to Listen for in Jazz” by Barry Kernfeld (Yale University Press, Dec 1, 1997)
  6. “Listening to Jazz” by Benjamin Bierman (Oxford University Press; 1st edition February 16, 2015)

Looking ahead, new music from Miles Davis (well, sort of) is coming from Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series. This 3-CD Boxed set, “Miles Davis—That’s What Happened 1982-1985,” The Bootleg Series Vol.7, is due out on Sept 16. 

Courtesy of Brainfeeder Records Kamasi Washington is set to perform at Dakota on Aug 26-27.

Recently Gio Russonello and Nate Chinen joined Jon Caramanica on The New York Times Popcast to talk about where jazz lives now, as well as highlights of Meghan Stabile, a jazz promoter who passed away this month at 39. 

During that Popcast they played a little music, too. That’s when I learned of pianist, drummer and producer Julius Rodriguez, who I’m not sure how I missed. They played new music from his new album “Let Sound Tell All.” 

To be exact, they played Rodriguez’s version of Stevie Wonder’s song “All I Do.” It blew me away! He’s definitely someone to watch. Rodriguez recently signed with Verve Records, who put out the new album that was released in June. 

July also marks the birthday of singer Johnny Hartman, who was born on July 3, 1923. Why not take Impulse Records “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman” to the beach for some soulful easy listening? Album personnel includes Hartman on vocals, Coltrane on tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on double bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. 

While you’re at it, take JazzTimes Magazine’s lead and check out one of their 10 classic Hard Bop albums. Here’s one: “Clifford Brown and Max Roach: At Basin Street” (EmArcy, 1956). The quintet’s lineup includes the great saxophonist Sonny Rollins. A favorite tune of mine here is “Gertrude’s Bounce.” 

Looking further ahead, at the Dakota, saxophonist Kamasi Washington is set to perform on Aug 26-27. This is indeed exciting news! To gear up for this date, check out his 2015 release “The Epic.” Washington is not to be missed. Visit