JAZZ STILL JUMPIN´, JIVIN´AND ZOOMIN´
by Norman Warwick
A short article by Matt Micucci in the Jazziz edition of 11th February brought memories flooding back of why I ditched jazz and stuck to the country music that became Americana.
Mr. Micucci reminded me that during the sixties and seventies many rock bands experimented with new sounds and looked to the jazz idiom to develop the psychedelia and raga rock styles. That was fine by me, as I had never got into the psychedelic stuff and at that time I hardly even listened to any ´rock´ bands. I was country-folk pure and simple, playing pretty safe with Ralph McTell and Tom Paxton, and quite liking the guitar led stuff of The Byrds. A lad who was what I still think of as The Fonz of my college once gave me three albums by The Byrds, (who I then knew only from Mr Tambourine Man) and told me I should ´listen and learn´. I listened and I learned about McGuinn and Parsons and Crosby and their frirndships and the fights of a great band who throughout the albums I had been given, and even in my subsequent listening. brought me consistent country offerings.
So Matt Micucci surprised me this morning when I clicked on to Jazziz via feedspot when he said that of all the bans experimenting with new styles in the jazz idiom The Byrds were perhaps the most successful at doing so. Their 1966 album, Fifth Dimension, he said, marked a ´sensational shift in the direction of their music.´ Prior to its release, they had been playing an idiosyncratic fusion of American folk-rock and British Invasion music.
To be honest my awareness and love of The Byrds was for a long time lagging at least a couple of years behind their career, but by the time I played Fifth Dimension I was comfortable with the sound of Byrds. Imagine my horror then when I first heard what Matt Micucci, generations later, praises to the rafters.
He said in today´s piece that ´on Fifth Dimension, The Byrds showcased more free-form structures and impressionistic, psychologically-themed lyrics. Its lead single, Eight Miles High, particularly reveals influences from sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar and jazz saxophone legend John Coltrane, especially in Jim McGuinn’s wild and improvised twelve-string guitar solo. This was also to be one of their final successful singles and was released shortly before the exit of Gene Clark, The Byrds’ main songwriter, from the band.
Matt is perfectly entitled to his opinion and now I am nearly a grown up, being sixty seven, I even find myself in some agreement with it. At the time, however, I dismissed what I thought was a cacophony and almost lost faith in The Byrds, and certainly lost faith with whatever this jazz stuff was.
It would be another half a century before I met Steve Bewick, radio presenter of Hot Biscuits, who introduced me to jazz and myriad fusions. Now I love the genre even whilst still going through the learning curve and the Byrds remain my favourite group. I now love the pace and verve and throbbing bass of Eight Miles High.
Macucci is one of a plethora of great writers on jazz and Jazziz provides a great coverage of, and reliable service to, the genre, and through them my knowledge will grow, and through greater awareness I will develop a stronger tolerance and acceptance of those musicians who dare to improvise, by learning from plenty of magazines and on line services like Jazziz.
Since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic the jazz press has been keen to alert readers of whatever alternatives are being delivered instead of live concerts.
Jazz In Europe magazine, for instance, has highlighted live stream concerts produced by the Rudy van Gelder Studio in New Jersey, and the live series produced by London based vocalist Ola Onabule and many more.
More recently they focussed on a new series from Germany.
Saturday, 13th February brought the Jazz Folk Klassik foundation in Syke (Germany) streaming a live concert featuring the Bergmann-Moritz Quintet presenting material from their latest album Moodswing. The concert was streamed live at 8:00pm (CET) on YouTube on the JFK Syke channel.
Jazz Folk Klassik in Syke is a non-profit concert organization in the small town Syke 25 km south of Bremen. JFK Syke have been presenting a regular concert series supported by the Kreissparkasse Syke in the concert hall for more than 25 years. With the outbreak of the pandemic JFK Syke were forced to cancel all live concerts. However, thanks to the support of their main sponsor, the Kreissparkasse Syke, the organization has been able to equip themselves to produce stream concerts in full HD Quality. This recent concert was one of the organizations first live streaming concerts featuring their jazz programing. Gerd Harthus from the organization stated:
“With all of our activities cancelled we are thrilled about the possibility of streaming a live concert in these hard times for musicians.”
Jazz In Europe told us that The Bergmann-Moritz Quintet was founded by the Cologne trumpeter and flugelhorn player Matthias Bergmann and the Oldenburg saxophonist Raimund Moritz. For their current album, Moodswings, the band invited the Hamburg guitarist Sandra Hempel as a special musical guest. Hempel has been a permanent member of the NDR Bigband since January 2018. Bassist Peter Schwebs from Hanover and the Oldenburg drummer Christian Schoenefeldt complete the rhythm section
The CD Moodswing, recorded in March 2019, was released in September last year on Fattoria Musica Records, the label of the studio in Osnabrück, where the recording was made. It contains mostly original compositions composed by the two band leaders. These include the ballad Stray which Bergmann dedicated to the composer Billy Strayhorn or One For Bob, Moritz´ homage to the saxophonist Bob Mintzer. One composition each by trumpeter Bert Joris and saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi complete the album, whose music is modern and contemporary, but always melodic and swinging.
Those who would like to view such concerts in the future can seek further information the JFK Syke website.
photo 5 Todd barkan JazzED magazine, a magazine that advocated the inclusion of jazz, music and the arts on the education curricular also delivered exciting news recently of how Healdsburg Jazz is offering a Zoom Presentation titled ´Steve Turre: From Rahsaan Roland Kirk to McCoy Tyner´, on Sunday, Feb. 28 from 5-7 PM (PST). Healdsburg Jazz’s Artistic Director Marcus Shelby will host this event, which will also feature special guests James Carter and Todd Barkan.
More details from Healdsburg Jazz (www.healdsburgjazz.com)
One of the world’s pre-eminent jazz innovators, Stephen Johnson Turre is an American jazz trombonist and a pioneer of using seashells as instruments, a composer, arranger, and educator at the collegiate-conservatory level. For fifty-seven years, Turre has been active in jazz, rock, and Latin jazz – in live venues, recording studios, television, and cinema production. He has consistently won both the Readers’ and Critics’ polls in Jazz Times, Downbeat, and Jazziz for Best Trombone and for Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist (shells).
Steve will share and comment on rare video footage of performances with legendary artists such as Ray Charles, Woody Shaw, Lester Bowie, and others, and will talk about his own forty and more years as a band member of the long-time running television comedy show Saturday Night Live. Special guests at the event will include world renowned tenor saxophone master James Carter and historic club owner and impresario Todd Barkan of the famed Keystone Korner. The three of them share their personal of the music played.
photo 6 album It was in 1972 that Steve Turre’s long stellar career accelerated when Ray Charles hired him to go on tour. A year later Turre’s mentor Woody Shaw brought him into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After his tenure with Blakey, Turre went on to work with a diverse list of musicians from the jazz, Latin, and pop worlds, including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, J.J. Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Van Morrison, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
It was Kirk who introduced him to the seashell as an instrument. Soon after that, while touring in Mexico City with Woody Shaw, Turre’s relatives informed him that his ancestors had similarly played the shells. Since then, Turre has incorporated seashells into his diverse musical style. Steve spent many years with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and continues to maintain the legacy of his music through annual concert performances called Rahsaan-a-thons. He will discuss his music in detail and play recordings of years touring with Kirk.
It is fantastic that JAZZed, in these strange and trying times for all of us in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, are still seeking and are able find exciting news like this. They certainly understand times are as tough for their readers as they for all such purveyors of jazz news.. They say they have been proud to bring JAZZed for free all these many years and we will continue to provide complimentary subscriptions during the pandemic. However, they would like our consideration in these difficult times to help support their efforts at JAZZed to keep information flowing and to provide jazz fans with a continuous stream of current and vital information when you need it the most. JAZZed sounds absolutely sincere in asking its followers to consider supporting its efforts with a small donation. This could allow staff the ability to keep these interesting and essential stories coming, for and about those moving to a chosen career in jazz. JAZZed wish nothing but the best for their core audience of students, schools, family, co-workers and anyone else in the support system.
Please note the sources for this article Jazz Times, Jazzed, Jazziz and jazz In Europe and the signpost to them all was found at feedpost.
Coming soon in March 2021 is a World premier of Joined Up Jazz. A festival to celebrate jazz music and its musicians in joined up words and notes. Sidetracks & Detours blog editor, Norman Warwick, in association with Hot Biscuits jazz broadcasters Gary Heywood Everett and Steve Bewick and What´s On Lanzarote journalist Susana Forden will be presenting a two week festival of writing on jazz. A fresh posting will take place each day of the festival.
Starting Monday 1st – 12th March 2021 we shall be posting to Normans website, https://aata.dev/ articles on the jazz and blues pioneers Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald, modern jazz men John Coltrane and the post-modernist Gill Evans. Features will also include a personal take on the Israeli jazz scene, the rise and influence of swing jazz across Europe and an eclectic journey down the side tracks and detours of jazz. Many of these pieces will carry links to music to inform, amuse and to bop to. All you have to do is journey on down to our festival site at www.aata/dev no tickets required. This is a free festival to brighten up these Covid times. You can also tune in to hear Hot Biscuits on fc-radio-co.uk