Friday was awfully busy. But I find myself in the office today. So why not throw out some recommended weekend browsing while I'm here?
—A Long Diana Krall Interview: I'll confess that I'm a recovering Diana Krall doubter. But it's hard for me to argue with enthusiasm such as that which is displayed in the comment section of Steve Inskeep's Morning Edition interview with Krall. (She plays and sings a fair amount too, and the Web page, which I built myself, has an exclusive concert recording and several extended interview clips.) I mean, any jazz musician who can make listeners who have never heard of her stand up and buy her music in only seven minutes is doing something right. Even my old man, who doesn't regularly listen to any sort of music, once raved to me about a Diana Krall special on PBS. And after this, you can't say that she doesn't think about and refine what she attempts on stage. She is, dare I say it, good at interpreting others' music gracefully.
Ok, so because this is a jazz blog, I'm sure there are readers out there will who maintain their objections. There are plenty, and in the course of my jazz fandom, I think I've come to many of them myself. But think about this: from the days of Paul Whiteman on, the stars of "jazz" have always been those who managed to cross over to a wide audience. They're the ones who carried the burden of making jazz a thing that the general public thought was worth supporting, or even thinking about. So wouldn't it be more productive if we who liked this jazz stuff at large instead say, "If you like Diana Krall, check out ___ too?" What do you think? And who are those fill-in-the-blanks?
—Tyshawn Sorey Featured: If Diana Krall isn't challenging enough for you, Sorey's music surely will be. You may know him as a legitimately astounding drummer in many contexts, from the straight-ahead to the far-out. (My first jazz show in D.C. featured him swinging like mad behind the kit. It also featured a fight between the saxophonist, whose gig it was, and an unruly member of the audience. News at 11.) As a composer, though, he's a heavy thinker whose music confounds notions of what it means to be a young, black jazz drummer, or really an improviser period. With a new album dropping soon, Destination: Out has a preview of two tracks. (Note: it's different.) And Time Out New York profiles Sorey as he's set to curate August at John Zorn's venue The Stone, and then break ground on an advanced degree under Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan.
—Albert Ayler's Mystery Trombonist: While cruising Destination: Out, I came across a link to some historical detective work. George Stell was a physics professor and trombonist who heard Albert Ayler's music on the radio one day in the mid-'60s. He asked Ayler if he could sit in for a few gigs, and ended up being recorded (as heard on Impulse's Live In Greenwich Village set). Stell is now an emeritus physics professor at Stony Brook University, and answered a few e-mail questions for The Jessamine Vine. As with many things Ayler-related, Ben Young at my alma mater WKCR is to thank for setting the record straight in the first place. Audio clips of Stell's WKCR interview are there too.
—Jazz Aspen Snowmass: I'd just like to point out that an organization with jazz in its title is sponsoring a Labor Day music festival with literally no jazz in it. That's all.
—Billy Taylor At 88: Finally, the pianist, jazz ambassador and former NPR host turned 88 on Friday. At billytaylorjazz.com, you'll thus find 88 YouTube clips of Taylor performing with Duke Ellington, Max Roach, Tommy Flanagan, a whole bunch of other legends and his trio. (Lovingly curated by the JazzVideoGuy, I might add.) Having briefly met a gracious Dr. Taylor (he has too many honorary degrees to count) at A Jazz Piano Christmas in 2007, I can say that if anyone deserves to be recognized for his efforts to put jazz on the map, it's him. (Related: Billy Taylor on the very first episode of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, c. 1978.)