Book Review: But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz by Geoff Dyer

Book blurbs often seem the equivalent of movie blurbs. Skepticism seems justified when a publisher puts a blurb smack on the front cover just below the title — especially when it says, “May be the best book ever written about jazz.” Is this honest commentary or gratuitous puffery? With Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful: A Book […]

Midweek Music Moment: Bill Evans

Usually, I try to use album releases and recording sessions as the basis for these features. But something struck we when I realized that September 15 was the anniversary of the death of jazz pianist Bill Evans. When he died in 1980, he was barely 51. That’s what struck me. With my birthday this week, […]

Midweek Music Moment: Bill Chase

You have to be of a certain era for the name Bill Chase to mean much. And it actually could mean something to you in two different contexts. Yet both contexts have an untimely limit. Bill Chase died in a plane crash on August 9, 1974, near Jackson, Minn..

One context is a pure jazz […]

Midweek Music Moment: Newport Jazz Festival

Today’s jazz fan could only dream of a line-up like this: Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Billie Holiday, Oscar Peterson, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz. Yet those are just a few of the artists who performed at the first Newport Jazz Festival July 17-18, 1954.

Newport is the granddaddy of the […]

Midweek Music Moment: Waka/Jawaka, Frank Zappa

With the Fourth of July upon us, it seems an appropriate time to celebrate a unique American music: jazz. So, you wonder, why is this post about Frank Zappa? The vast majority of the uninitiated think Zappa was just a weird rock musician. In point of fact, he was a too often unheralded explorer of […]

Midweek Music Moment: Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

If you hadn’t heard already — and you should have — Kind of Blue is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In fact, it was 50 years ago this week — March 2, 1959 — that the first of the two recording sessions that created the best selling jazz album of all time took place.