Keeping the GAS (Great American Songbook) Flame Alive: “It Had To Be You”

By Roger Crane the Song Scout When I meet jazz performers, composers and fellow music fans I often inquire as to their favorite songs. I recall that the masterful jazz pianist Dave McKenna chose “I’ll Be Around,” giving particular praise to Alec Wilders’s bridge (where his lyrics state “Goodbye again.”). Another jazz pianist, Gerry Wiggins,… Read More Keeping the GAS (Great American Songbook) Flame Alive: “It Had To Be You”

Book Review: “Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music” by Patty Farmer (Beaufort Books)

By Devon Wendell Patty Farmer’s insightful book, Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music, tells the story of how Hugh Hefner changed the way jazz and American music were perceived and accepted by an ever changing culture. The intellectual male “jet setters” were Hefner’s initial target audience but “Hef” attracted… Read More Book Review: “Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music” by Patty Farmer (Beaufort Books)

Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Dixieland Jazz: “Wild Bill Davison & The Jazz Giants” ( Sackville/Delmark)

By Devon Wendell Wild Bill Davison was a truly unique and brilliant cornet player. He was one of the bright stars from Eddie Condon’s band since the 1920s. His thick exaggerated vibrato and dynamic attack created a truly distinct sound. He could play soft and gentle one moment, and in the next one of his… Read More Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Dixieland Jazz: “Wild Bill Davison & The Jazz Giants” ( Sackville/Delmark)

Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Fat Girl: Fats Navarro Memorial No. 2: Nostalgia (Savoy)

By Devon Wendell For many occasional jazz listeners there are only 3 great trumpeters that come across their minds and lips, and they are of course Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and occasionally Louis Armstrong. For those of us obsessed with the music’s many genres and glorious history (like myself) the list is much longer and… Read More Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Fat Girl: Fats Navarro Memorial No. 2: Nostalgia (Savoy)

Live Jazz: Dr. John, Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Arturo Sandoval, Marcus Belgrave and Wendell Brunious Celebrate the Life and Music of Louis Armstrong at the Hollywood Bowl

By Don Heckman The first cold night of the summer at the Hollywood Bowl made for a chilly celebration last Wednesday of the life and music of Louis Armstrong.  Fortunately, with Dr. John, Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Blind Boys From Alabama and an all-star line-up of jazz trumpeters there was plenty of heat on stage,… Read More Live Jazz: Dr. John, Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Arturo Sandoval, Marcus Belgrave and Wendell Brunious Celebrate the Life and Music of Louis Armstrong at the Hollywood Bowl

Live Jazz: A Brief History Of The World (Piano Division) with Alan Pasqua and Tom Schnabel

By Michael Katz Jazz on the Westside found a cozy nook to curl up in Monday night, as radio station KCRW presented an Up Close event with pianist Alan Pasqua and music host Tom Schnabel at the New Roads School in Santa Monica. The goal of the evening, a one hour tour of the history… Read More Live Jazz: A Brief History Of The World (Piano Division) with Alan Pasqua and Tom Schnabel

CD Review: George Benson “Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole”

Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole (Concord Records) By Brian Arsenault Two versions of “Mona Lisa,” perhaps Nat King Cole’s most famous song, frame Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole. The first, opening the album, was recorded by “Lil” George Benson in 1951 after he won a singing contest at the age of… Read More CD Review: George Benson “Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole”

Live Music: Michael Feinstein at the Valley Performing Arts Center

By Don Heckman Northridge, CA. One of the first times (and there were many) that I reviewed a Michael Feinstein performance was in 1991 for the Los Angeles Times. I described him then as a “reincarnation of a classic movie juvenile lead. Slicked-back Dick Powell hair, flashing Russ Columbo eyes, a smile that would charm… Read More Live Music: Michael Feinstein at the Valley Performing Arts Center