Friday, October 30, 2009

New Jimmy Smith DVD Captures Organ Legend at Park

Among the latest in the Jazz Icons® series of DVDs (Naxos/Reelin’ in the Years) is the great organist Jimmy Smith from a French television broadcast of a 1969 performance at the fabled Salle Pleyel “Live in ‘69.” While one might find incredulous Bob Porter’s claim (in his foreword to the accompanying booklet for this CD) that it should be blasphemy to suggest that Smith was not one of the four or five greatest jazz musicians of the past fifty years, there can be no denying the greatness that Smith brought to jazz and really took the organ in jazz to new heights and was one of the jazz greats of the last half century.

He is seen with his trio of guitarist Eddie McFadden, who was on some of Smith’s Blue Note dates, and drummer Charles Crosby, best known for stints with B.B. King and Roland Kirk. The Paris concert opens with a blistering “Sonnymoon For Two,” followed by a lovely “Days of Wine and Roses,” with lovely single note playing by McFadden, as Smith adding some choice voicings before his own solo. Then the trio kicks off on a twenty minute plus rendition of “The Sermon,” with McFadden’s fleet bluesy solo as Smith’s fills, comps and otherwise pushes the guitarist’s playing as the camera catches Smith’s smiles of approval, before Smith launches his solo, with perhaps the most inspired playing from this evening which is saying much. Church organ sounds open up “Alfie,” as the trio takes the tempo down before concluding the first set with an upbeat “Satin Doll,” with Smith sounding like a full big band. The second set opens with a hot swinging rendition of “Organ Grinder’s Swing,” followed by some deep blues jazz organ as he rocks “Got My Mojo Working,” with a very able vocal and see Crosby’s sticks superimposed on Smith’s hands on the B-3. Smith opens “See See Rider” with some moody chords before stating the melody and getting down in the alley with McFadden playing some gritty blues . Another blues follows with a boogaloo groove before “My Romance” changes the mood, followed by a slightly slower rendition of “Satin Doll,” that leads into the credits ending a truly superb video. Ashley Kahn provides a full appreciation of Smith as well as places this performance in its context and the Reelin’ in the Years Production folk have done a terrific job in transferring the original French TV broadcast to digital video and the sound is first-rate. Which is fitting because Smith and his trio is inspired throughout on an evening of great music (nearly 85 minutes).

Pursuant to recent FTC regulations, I disclose that this DVD was received from the firm handling publicity for the Jazz Icons® release.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Revives DC Area Tradition

A heads up for those in the Mid-Atlantic Region

For years Jazz was prominent in the Washington DC area during the middle of February. The East Coast Jazz Festival became an important event in the DC area musical calendar. With the passing of Ronnie Wells, The East Coast Jazz Festival’s founder, the festival which benefited jazz education, unfortunately ended. Now friends of the late jazz diva are reigniting the tradition with the First Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. The festival will take place the weekend of February 19-21, 2010, at the Hilton Executive Meeting Center in Rockville, MD (formerly the Doubletree Hotel), for three days of good vibes, great socializing, and opportunities to hear the music.

The Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival will be the flavor and style of that ECJF, and in honor of ECJF founder Ronnie Wells. It will share the strong commitment to jazz education and the exceptional artistry of DC metro region musicians and build upon the legacy of ECJF in presenting jazz to the region by perpetuating, nurturing and sustaining the jazz art form, engaging and teaching young musicians, and presenting top flight musicians.

There will be 8 programs over the course of the weekend and performers including the Jazz Academy Orchestra, The Paul Carr Quintet (with Terell Stafford, Mulgrew Miller, Michael Bowie, and Lewis Nash); a tribute to Ronnie Wells with Janine Carter, Bonnie Harris, Felicia Carter, and Delores King-Williams; The Andersen Twins; a saxophone summit with Bobby Watson, Bruce Williams, and Fred Foss; jazz video screenings by Bret Primack; and more. The Mid-Atlantic Jazz Feestival is presented by the Jazz Academy of Music. For more information check out the Festival web-site,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

RIP Abu Talib fka Freddy Robinson

Modesto Bee carried the obituary.

It reads in part:

He recorded with Little Walter and Ray Charles and died Thursday, October 8, at the age of 70 from cancer.

A bit more can be found from an AP obituary.

According to that he also played with Howlin' Wolf and Monk Higgins and "recorded and wrote several songs including "Black Fox," "At the Drive-In," "Bluesology" and the blues instrumental, "After Hours."" With Little Walter he played on "My Baby's Sweeter," "Crazy Mixed Up World," "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," and others with Luther Tucker being also on those sessions.

He also played with John Mayall in the Jazz Blues Fusion Band that included Blue Mitchell and Clifford Solomon. Funny how this great guitarist is never mentioned when folks talk about Mayall's guitarists, nor is this band which was one of Mayall's more interesting ones. He was also on Louis Myers "I'm a Southern Man" album and sessions with Jimmy McCracklin (Minit) and others.

Check out his illustrated discography from the web.

Finally a