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The Lead Sheet: Top 5 Jazz Stories This Week

Mary Lou Williams.

Mary Lou Williams. Metronome/Archive Photos hide caption

itoggle caption Metronome/Archive Photos

Tweets like these will make more sense in a second:

  • Morbid Top Tens: A bunch of music writers got snarky and upset this week with the publication of "Ten Jazz Albums To Hear Before You Die" this week in the Village Voice, New York's alt-weekly. There's plenty to complain about here: For a jazz survey aimed at a jazz-literate city, there's no music before the LP era, or after the early '70s, and the picks were all obvious canonical choices. The piece itself was simply repurposed from another publication owned by the same media company, and its author wasn't even credited (it's a fellow named Joseph Lapin, by the way). It was published by a media entity that used to run Gary Giddins' column, and Francis Davis essays, and the Jazz Consumers Guide, and the year-end critics poll, and much other current jazz coverage. Underlying all this is the fact that two well-respected music editors, Rob Harvilla and Maura Johnston, have left the Voice in recent years. The paper appeared to backtrack a little in following days, publishing a somewhat more interesting list of 10 more albums by different authors (two ABS contributors, it might be mentioned) and a more probing list of 10 free jazz albums by Elliott Sharp (the music writer, not the guitarist). Still, it seems odd that a publication known for on-the-ground, week-in week-out coverage in jazz's hub city would wind up commissioning "before you die" lists. [Sound Of The City: Ten Jazz Albums To Hear Before You Die]
  • Entries: A guy starts a blog to chronicle the 51 albums which got him into jazz in the first place. Arguably a better list project, from some dude who's just a fan. [The Head-In: Home]
  • How Blue Note Became Big: Why, after 70-plus years, is Blue Note still the biggest name in jazz recording while other great labels — Riverside, Columbia, Verve, etc. — don't have the same cachet? Tons of great records, of course, but establishing and reinventing a "brand" has meant a lot along the way. James Hale writes more in a survey from 1939 to the present day. [CBC: How Blue Note Records became the biggest brand in jazz ]
  • Marian on Mary Lou: Marian McPartland wrote about her fellow piano player Mary Lou Williams in 1964. This was after converting to Catholicism, and after some amount of myth had accumulated about Williams. And this was over a decade before Piano Jazz started. Just read it already. [DownBeat: Mary Lou Williams: Into the Sun]
  • Dave Liebman On Miles Davis: The soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman played with Miles in the '70s. It's one of the subjects in his new memoir. Here's a bit: "Once a night, I saw the Miles Davis that was the great teacher for 30 years of music because of his storytelling ability. The rest was loud and crazy." [JazzTimes: Dave Liebman: When Miles Came Calling]

More Stories:

  • Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire does a blindfold test — er, a "Before and After" — with JazzTimes. He is 10/11 within a few seconds of hearing the track. Dude has listened hard.
  • Four jazz bloggers talk jazz blogging in an online webinar. Panelists include two ABS contributors.
  • Bassist Dave Holland prepares for a rare big band gig in Michigan; here's a compact interview feature. (Saw the large ensemble in Chicago, quite enjoyed it.)
  • Allen Vizzutti, a trumpeter who's better known on the touring and studio circuit than in his native Seattle, is profiled for JazzTimes. Fun fact: He played in Chick Corea's wedding.
  • Glen David Andrews, the New Orleans trombonist and bandleader, has played his first sober gig in 18 years, he says.
  • Lalo Schifrin, the Argentine film composer/jazz pianist, is profiled briefly on the release of a new retrospective 4-CD set. More from author Marc Myers at his own blog.
  • If you're curious about London Jazz Fest happenings, the Guardian music blog and the LondonJazz blog are places to go. Apparently, Jan Garbarek is sounding like Kenny G now.
  • Joe Albany, the bebop pianist whose career was held up significantly by heroin addiction, is the subject of an upcoming biopic/based-on-the-life-of movie.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on jazz. As a kid he used to play pickup with Ron Carter, who is very tall and "wasn't that great." If anybody asks, I'm happy to talk about NBA basketball.
  • Miles Davis improvises over LCD Soundsystem: a YouTube mashup. Works well, though "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" — for all its poignancy — is a two-chord song, and it's moody-modal Miles, so makes some sense in retrospect. I can take the fun out of anything!
  • Destination: Out has posted some electric Ornette Coleman and a track from the Human Arts Ensemble, originally of St. Louis.
  • AllAboutJazz has features with Bob Mintzer and Ramsey Lewis, among others.
  • The Checkout had drummer Ferenc Nemeth's band in the studio.

Elsewhere at NPR Music:

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