The name of Donald Byrd means different things to different generations of music listeners. For those who prize the mainstream jazz of the 1950s and 1960s, he was a gifted trumpeter and one of the best practitioners of "hard-bop". But he reached a far wider audience in the 1970s, by aligning himself with the soul and funk music of the day, achieving huge sales, especially with the album Black Byrd. He was also possessed of a huge intellectual energy, and pursued an academic career in parallel with his musical one, taking lecturing jobs from the 1960s on.
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Saturday 07 July 2012
'Mitch Mitchell wasn't the most accurate drummer ever, but he had that swing...'
Tuesday 24 April 2012
It's the human factor in Homeland that makes it thrilling
Friday 27 May 2011
This engrossing series of 22 variations, études and deconstructions of Thelonious Monk's most famous piece was commissioned by pianist Emanuele Arciuli from various American composers with whom he had previously worked.
Thursday 28 October 2010
Seb Rochford is a British drummer and member of the experimental jazz band Polar Bear. He has also drummed for the likes of Pete Doherty, David Byrne, Brian Eno and Herbie Hancock. Here he tells Music Magazine about some of his favourites.
Thursday 15 July 2010
Wednesday 23 June 2010
Given the crippling costs of keeping 15 musicians in gainful employ, big bands are largely a thing of the past. But this sumptuous performance by Wynton Marsalis's stellar unit was a reminder that an orchestra remains a vital resource to any jazz musician. It offers both power and precision. Since the early 80s the New Orleans trumpeter has been exploring and extending the heritage of acoustic jazz, using 30s swing, 40s bebop and 50s post-bop as templates for his own creations and this final night of a five-day residency at various venues in London presented a panorama of those vocabularies. There were arrangements of legends like Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson and Jackie McLean and there were also original pieces by JALCO members such as saxophonist Ted Nash. His Dali suite, set in the tripwire time signature of 13/8, was a highlight for the intoxicating swirl of the horns, which culminated in Nash's alto becoming a dramatic echo to a stabbing improvisation by trumpeter Marcus Printup.
However, the presence of British guest musicians also raised the bar. Vibraphonist Jim Hart, tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint and pianist Julian Joseph all took hard swinging solos and vocalist Cleveland Watkiss was imperious on an express train rendition of McLean's "Appointment in Ghana", in which his scat choruses revealed a timbral richness and phrasal trickery that had the horn players nodding in approval. In a delicious passage of his solo, Watkiss quoted the first part of the theme of Thelonious Monk's "Green Chimneys" at lightning speed before twisting its harmony in an entirely new direction. Yet what became apparent throughout the evening was the relevance of big band music to other genres, simply because of its enormous sonic range.
On slow passages the ornate, rippling textures evoked ambient music, on faster numbers, as the brass plunged deep into the low register, there was funk aplenty, and when the whole ensemble was in full flow, there was a soundtrack in search of a movie. Decked out in sharp suits and seated in three rows under the Hackney Empire's proscenium arch, Marsalis's orchestra indeed offered a big-screen spectacle for eyes and ears alike.
Sunday 13 June 2010
You can read the jazz recession into Terrasson's slight slip down the rankings in recent years, and the trying-too-hard-to-please-ness of this partial recovery with an augmented trio.
Friday 09 April 2010
So rarely does Martha Argerich perform solo that hearing these previously unreleased recordings of various Chopin pieces is akin to getting a glimpse of an unseen Old Master.
Sunday 22 November 2009
Thursday 09 July 2009
Friday 12 June 2009
The bass guitarist and composer Hugh Hopper was a pivotal member of Soft Machine, the Canterbury group which went through many incarnations and shifts in musical identity and proved more successful in continental Europe than the UK in the late Sixties and early Seventies. A friend and schoolmate of the founder-member, drummer and vocalist Robert Wyatt, Hopper contributed to the group's psychedelic debut in 1968 and was their road manager before replacing bassist Kevin Ayers on the jazzier Volume Two album the following year. Hopper was a mainstay of the Softs until May 1973, his trademark fuzz Fender Precision bass riffs and experiments with tape loops as important to the group's ever-evolving sound as Mike Ratledge's Lowrey electric organ through five albums, including the best-selling Third (1970) and Fourth (1971).
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