Where we're quickly exhausting decent (or even recognizable) Blue Note-styled epithets to pun off of.
—Lester Young's Tenor Sax: Doug Ramsey of Rifftides just reprinted this little nugget of a story, which ran last fall in the British magazine Jazz Review. He tells the story of Lester Young's saxophone, which oxidized over the course of 50-plus years in his brother Lee Young's basement. Enter Dave Pell, a longtime studio saxophonist who, like many on the West Coast of the '50s, idolized Pres. He had the saxophone restored last year, and at age 83, has just recorded a new album with it. As an aside, you can see Lester Young's other tenor sax on display at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark (a place staffed by wonderful human beings), along with plenty of other historic instruments (Ben Webster's horn, Miles Davis' green trumpet, etc).
—Riverwalk Jazz At 20: We here at A Blog Supreme cast ourselves adrift on the Intertubes, but we're gratefully (and necessarily) tethered to public terrestrial radio. So it warms our hearts to see fellow jazz broadcasters Riverwalk Jazz turning 20, as profiled in this article. Riverwalk, of course, encompasses a syndicated PRI radio broadcast, a Web archive, and a live band, all dedicated to pre-World War II jazz styles. Jazz before bebop suffers from an unfortunate perception as a sort of medicine taken in music-school jazz history courses and listened to only by AARP members. It strikes this editor that much of the pre-modern is as freshly inventive and fascinating as the post-modern, and Riverwalk has quietly been proving it for some time now.
—Morgan Freeman As Duke Ellington: The Jazz24 blog brings news (or at least Hollywood-style rumblings) of two possible jazz films. The post starts with the news that Josh Hartnett has pulled out of a possible Chet Baker biopic, and segues to a project that's news to me: a Duke Ellington historical conspiracy thriller (really!). Apparently, on Duke's 1963 State Department tour of the Middle East (which inspired the sublime Far East Suite, if I have my facts straight), the CIA may have planted spies in the Ellington entourage — which may have unwittingly planted the foundation for Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. Unfortunately, the project is slated for 2011, which I take to mean Never. But Morgan Freeman as Duke, potentially with "Isfahan" in the soundtrack? I'd line up for a midnight showing.
—Italian Jazz: Gianluigi Trovesi: The newest edition of Web-zine Perfect Sound Forever is out, and it features this extended discussion of Gianluigi Trovesi's 2007 album Vaghissimo Ritratto (out on ECM, should that mean anything to you). The writer takes pains to establish that Trovesi, whose training is not in the blues-and-bebop tradition, draws primarily from the history of Italian music, from the Renaissance to contemporary free improvisation. Basically, it's conceivable one could call this music "Italian jazz." Now, the reviewer isn't exactly a professional (citing Wikipedia, referring to Josquin des Prez as "Prez"), but she's hit upon a good question: how exactly is cultural identity expressed through improvised music? And if it's not American culture, is it still worth calling "jazz"?
—Hugh Hefner On Jazz: In previewing the Playboy Jazz Festival, here's a brief chat with the, uh, publishing mogul. Nice to know that he believes jazz to be the "music of my youth and America's true art form," even if all the acts slated this year aren't exactly jazz. But these aren't just old-person platitudes, mind you. In the June 1957 edition of Playboy, Hefner had himself written up as follows: "Brubeck, Kenton or Sinatra is usually on the turntable when Hefner is working ... He likes jazz, foreign films, Ivy League clothes, gin and tonic and pretty girls — the same sort of things that Playboy readers like ..." Um, don't ask me why I know that.