Friday, May 25, 2007



DL BIG BAND TOUR: There’s nothing like hitting every night and for a big band, with all the diverse ingredients, it is even more true. We had a chance to do three in a row and as it is said “what a difference a day makes!” Time spent is everything-you have to do it to become it. I could finally hear what the band could be like if and when we get the chance to play on some kind of regular schedule. My appreciation to the guys for making it work.

DIFFERENT BUT THE SAME EUROPEAN TOUR: Of course with a small group (Ellery Eskelin-sax; Jim Black-drums; Tony Marino-bass), the same is true about being able to hit regularly. The difference is that with good musicians something ALWAYS happens musically that is special, more so if you have an incredible talent like Jim Black playing with you. I really enjoy the music we make in this group, which we are going to record in the next month.

MCCOY AND MIKE NOCK: What a great week in Australia (helluva of a trip-35 hours door to door!!). Playing with McCoy’s Trio(Eric Gravatt-drums; Gerald Cannon-bass) is an honor and privilege. After all, I grew up at McCoy’s feet with Trane, Elvin and Jimmy and sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am playing with him. As well, the great Mike Nock who is of course an institution in Australia/New Zealand having spent many years in the States playing with everyone. One of the best composers in jazz and a passionate, lyrical pianist, it is always a pleasure to play with him. Also, I saw Pharaoh Sanders perform at this same Melbourne Festival and was knocked out by the sheer power and beauty of his tenor sound. By the way, the change in these two cities of Brisbane and Melbourne from when I was there decades ago is astounding, architecturally, foodwise and as far as cultural diversity is concerned.

We Played opposite Pharoah Saunders one night in Melbourne and it was fantastic to hear him. What sound that man gets!!


WATERS ASHORE-Last summer in Louisville, KY, I had the pleasure to spend an afternoon in the company of some true free jazz players. The violinist is La Donna Smith and the guitarist, Misha Fegin-who have played together for years. I had heard some of Misha’s music ( I actually do eventually listen to most CDs given to me taking note of things I like) and told him that it would be nice to play together. On LaDonna’s label, the recording is called “Waters Ashore”-a completely spontaneous afternoon playing in a language all its own.



TRANEUMENTARY-a great series on Trane with interviews by many people including Joe Lovano, Sonny Rollins, Joshua Redman and myself constituting an ongoing, weekly series. Also recently on You Tube, a short version of “Vigil” featuring a great duo with Trane and Elvin from the best filmed performance of Trane from Belgium.

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA: One thing about a long flight (Australia) is that you can catch up on movies, assuming there is something worthwhile to check out. Clint Eastwood’s film concerning the Japanese viewpoint of the battle for Iwo Jima is incredibly touching and emotion packed. When I see films like this, (Private Ryan, Platoon, etc). I just walk away thinking how dumb and wasteful war is. What can justify the slaughter of 20 year olds?


ANDREW HILL:Talk about an true individualist, a man who followed his own star and
never relented. On that alone Andrew Hill would be required listening, but the complexity, sophistication and passion of his music, both in the 60s and in the past several years stands as a monument to what great music is about.

TONY SCOTT:An incredible clarinetist who could play from the beginning of jazz through the present and as well one of the first to travel and musically mix with other cultures, Tony was something else. When he would come to see you in Rome where he lived for years, he would be sure to get on the piano and play “Lush Life” in all 12 keys. A remarkable personality.


DON ALIAS/ ALICE COLTRANE:I guess it is getting older, but it seems like there have been too many of these recently. A small and very private affair at a New York club for my old friend, Don Alias was touching. And for the first time at any of the recent musician memorials that I have attended, Don’s mother was there to speak which really put his loss into perspective. Surviving past your child has to be one of the worst of all things to go through as a parent. Don’s mom and family were truly inspiring. Alice Coltrane’s memorial at a large church in Manhattan was very fitting commemorating her life and works. There was equitable representation of both sides of her life-the music and the spiritual. With performances and talks by Charlie Haden, Jack DeJonette, Ravi Coltrane of course and others, the service was a true monument to a woman who went past category, time and place. Alice lived an inspirational life, something completely clear from the memorial service.


THE LEGACY OF WORLD WAR II:A rare recording of the Israeli anthem "Hatikva " from 61 years ago. It was recorded by a British reporter in May 1945 in Bergen-Belsen when the British army liberated the few thousand survivors in that concentration camp, half of which were Jewish, with most of them at the extremes of their strength. The British priest organized prayers for Shabbat for the Jews which was the first time after six years of war and more than ten years of persecution. With a lot of effort the Jews organized themselves and sang “Hatikva.” As you can hear they sang the original version exactly as it was written by Naftali Imber.

INFLATED VALUE?:On E bay, my first recording done in 1967 under the leadership of Lars Werner in Sweden was selling for $700. What’s going on here?

THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE-CHINA : (from the NY TIMES) “With stunning swiftness China’s surging ranks of classical musicians have found a home in Western concert halls, conservatories and opera houses, jolting a musical tradition born in the courts and churches of Europe.-With the same energy, drive and sheer population weight that has made it an economic power, China has become a considerable force in Western classical music. Conservatories are bulging. Provincial cities demand orchestras and concert halls. Pianos and violins made in China fill shipping containers leaving its ports.The Chinese enthusiasm suggests the potential for a growing market for recorded music and live performances just as an aging fan base and declining record sales worry many professionals in Europe and the United States. Sales for a top-selling classical recording in the West number merely in the thousands instead of the tens of thousands 25 years ago. Large solo fees, plush orchestra jobs, an established audience and the presence of teachers steeped in the tradition have lured them to American and European cities. The phenomenon, which has been building for at least a decade, has gathered steam in the last few years, injecting new vitality into the American classical music scene after historic influxes of Italians, Germans and Russian Jews, and more recently Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans. “I honestly think that in some real sense the future of classical music depends on developments in China in the next 20 years,” said Robert Sirota, the president of the Manhattan School of Music. “They represent a vast new audience as well as a classical-music-performing population that is much larger than anything we’ve had so far. You’re looking at a time when, maybe 20 to 40 years from now, Shanghai and Beijing are really going to be considered centers of world art music.”

Will this be true in jazz?

ANOTHER WAVE OF THE FUTURE!! (again from the NY Times)-This is about a musician I met at the bar of the hotel we were staying at in Toledo, Ohio. He described what he was dong on the road and then this article appeared: Skip to next paragraph "Theater's Alive With the Sound of Laptops" by JESSE GREEN concerning a touring company doing “Wonderful Town. (excerpted) This article speaks for itself!!
“The orchestra is down to 12 traditional instrumentalists, including four reeds and three horns, with only a lonely violin and cello to sweeten the mix. So why does it seem as dense as it did on Broadway? Why is the string sound so big, if not exactly Bernstein-y? That would be the work of musician No. 13, sitting behind the reed with a Qwerty keyboard attached to an ordinary PC running a software program called Notion and wired into the sound system. This copy of Notion has been loaded with all the string parts for "Wonderful Town," broken down in individual instrumental lines that can be muted or played at will, all triggered by a finger tapping the rhythm on any key in the A-S-D-F row.
Notion comes on CDs that sell for about $600.These products are also cheaper and more compact than human musicians. They do not get sick or have bad nights. And after years of gradual improvements, their sound is now good enough to fool many nonexperts, especially since they are almost always used, as recommended, alongside traditional instruments. Their processing capacities are large enough so that details of articulation and attack, vibrato and decay, can be reasonably approximated, if not gorgeously rendered. (Brass and bass drum, I mean you.) And the notes themselves are no longer digitally created but are based on thousands of samples from real instrumentalists. Notion's main sample source is the London Symphony Orchestra. Why London? No American ensemble would cooperate. Whether jobs are being lost as a result is a matter of interpretation. Yes, "Wonderful Town" has 11 fewer musicians now than it did when it opened on Broadway, but the show probably wouldn't have toured at all had it been required to maintain the full complement. Keith Levenson, the production's music supervisor and a paid adviser to Notion, said he is in that sense saving jobs, not cutting them. (He pointed out that Notion too is played by a live musician.) But union representatives call such arguments naive; what if the producers of the next "Wonderful Town," having heard how this one sounds with Notion, decide they can only afford nine musicians, or five? Some see the slippery slope as most precarious not at the uppermost
levels of production but at the lowest. "Technology is always a threat to live music," said Bruce Pomahac, director of music at Rodgers & Hammerstein. "When the pianoforte
replaced the harpsichord, every harpsichordist was out of a job. And we all
fall in love with the art we grew up with. But this is not about putting musicians out of work. They're already out of work. This is about trying to get back, in some new form, something that's lost. "That may end up being the best the musicians union can hope for too. Sinfonia doesn't just mimic cymbals and saxophones. It can be programmed to control scenery too.”