Category Archives: Shows

Lenny Breau


cropped-Lenny-Breau-06Leonard Harold Breau (1941-1984) was born in Maine to musician parents and spent his early life surrounded by the country/western music that they performed. As a teenager, Lenny’s natural musical ability allowed him to figure out the licks of his favorite guitarists including Chet Atkins and Django Reinhardt, as well as jazz greats of the day like Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, and pianist Bill Evans.

Lenny Breau - Episode 1

Lenny's ability to mix country, jazz, and flamenco styles along with his ability to play the guitar like a piano made him one of the great innovators, yet sadly forgotten today by those outside the music community. On this show we will examine some of his influences as well as his first recordings.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
I've Been Working on the GuitarChet Atkins1950
Mountain MelodyChet Atkins1951
Les Yeux NoirsDjango Reinhardt1947
Mean to MeBarney KesselWith the Poll Winners1957
LoverTal Farlow Quartet1954
Out of NowhereLenny BreauBoy Wonder1957
Blues in ExtensionLenny BreauBoy Wonder1957
Speedy JazzLenny BreauBoy Wonder1957

Lenny Breau - Episode 2

On the podcast we will listen to his first important recording session, sometimes referred to as the Hallmark Sessions (Hallmark Studios, Toronto). This is where Lenny introduced “spanjazz” which is a combination of the flashy and highly technical flamenco style mixed with jazz. Here he displays the assimilation of his many influences into a recognizable and original approach to playing the guitar.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
I'll Remember AprilLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
Oscar's BluesLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
UndecidedLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
SoleaLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
Arabian FantasyLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961

Lenny Breau - Episode 3

In 1968 Lenny made his first commercially successful recording on the RCA record label in Nashville produced by Chet Atkins. The selections reflect a good cross-section of popular music from the mid to late 1960’s mixed with some jazz standards. He spent quite a bit of time in Los Angeles in mid-1969 recording with his trio and performed in a number of famous jazz clubs. These live recordings provide an accurate representation of his guitar playing at this time.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
King of the RoadLenny BreauGuitar Sounds of Lenny Breau1968
TarantaLenny BreauGuitar Sounds of Lenny Breau1968
GeorgiaLenny BreauGuitar Sounds of Lenny Breau1968
There is No Greater LoveLenny BreauThe Velvet Touch: Live at Shelly's Manhole1969
The ClawLenny BreauThe Velvet Touch: Live at Shelly's Manhole1969
Mercy, Mercy, MercyLenny BreauThe Velvet Touch: Live at Shelly's Manhole1969

Mathias Eick


Eick 2Norwegian trumpet player/composer Mathias Eick was born in 1979. He plays primarily in Europe and is not that well known in the U.S. yet. In Europe, Eick has toured and performed with jazz bands like the Erlend Skomsvolls project with Chick Corea, Motif, and the Norwegian electronica group Jaga Jazzist. He has also worked with pop and rock acts like Motorpsycho and Big Bang. His main influences are Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Dave Douglas, and Kenny Wheeler. In addition to being and excellent trumpet player, Eick has the widest tonal palette of any trumpet player I have ever heard. He can make the horn crackle like a hard bop player and also play with the softest whisper and make the trumpet sound like a flute.

Mathias Eick - Episode 1

The recordings on this podcast come from the cooperative group Motif, of which Eick is a member. Motif was founded in 1999 and the members have been working to create their own group sound. In that process, writing their own material has been an important part. One member received the prestigious NOPA (Norwegian Composers Association) prize for composition in 2000. Their music draws from a variety of influences, ranging from Miles Davis to Kim Hiortöy, and is often described as a hybrid between t African-American rhythmic heritage, classical lyricism and northern European folk music. The members all studied music at Trondheim Conservatory, and are currently working as freelance musicians in various bands.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
John DoughMathias Eick/MotifMotif2004
Untitled for the MassesMathias Eick/MotifMotif2004
Soft SongMathias Eick/MotifMotif2004
VupsMathias Eick/MotifMotif2004

Mathias Eick - Episode 2

The music on this podcast come from three albums with Eick as the band leader. He draws his influences from a variety of sources including pop, jazz, ECM, Norwegian, and classical which make his music difficult to categorize. Much of it is highly improvisatory and does not swing in the traditional sense. The music often takes time to develop; he is not writing traditional 32 measure song forms. The music on these albums may not fall directly in the jazz vein, but the improvisations are first rate and the sounds are unique. Check out the sound of the three instruments on the Three Wise Men recording---Eick’s trumpet sound blends so beautifully with the middle-eastern instruments. The basic tracks were recorded in Oslo and the ney, trumpet and duduk in The Bulgarian Church of Stephan in Istanbul, October 2009.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
StavangerMathias EickThe Door2007
Cologne BluesMathias EickThe Door2007
WilliamsburgMathias EickThe Door2007
SkalaMathias EickSkala2011
Ave Maria StellaMathias EickTre Vise Menn2009

Hampton Hawes


Hampton_HawesContrary to popular belief there were great bebop musicians performing in Los Angeles in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Wardell Gray, Sonny Criss, Charles Mingus, and Howie McGhee all broke into the music business on the west coast. There were many jazz clubs on Central Avenue in L.A. that presented bop oriented groups. That brings us to the subject of this series of podcasts, the pianist Hampton Hawes (1928-1977).

Hampton Hawes - Episode 1

Hampton was born and raised in Los Angeles and spent much of his professional career there. He was the quintessential bebop pianist and in the 1950’s was one of the best on the jazz scene on either coast. These exceprts on this podcast are some of Hampton’s earliest recordings.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
FanfareHampton Hawes QuartetPiano: East/West1952
The First OneHampton Hawes/Sonny Criss Quartet1949
BuzzyHampton HawesEast West Controversy: Live at the Haig1951
What is This ThingHampton HawesEast West Controversy: Live at the Haig1951
All the Things You AreHampton HawesEast West Controversy: Live at the Haig1951
Terrible T.Hampton Hawes QuartetPiano: East/West1952
Just Squeeze MeHampton Hawes QuartetPiano: East/West1952

Hampton Hawes - Episode 2

CompositionArtist/LeaderAlbumYear
MoveHampton Hawes (Quartet)Piano: East/West1952
Jumpin' JacquesHampton HawesHampton Hawes Trio1952
Thou SwellHampton HawesHampton Hawes Trio1952
All God's Chillin'Hampton HawesLive at the Surf Club1952
PopoHampton Hawes/Shorty RogersModern Sounds1951
Bright BoyHampton Hawes/Wardell GrayLive in Hollywood1952
Suzy the PoodleHampton Hawes/Art PepperEarly/ Late Show1952
Spiked PunchHampton Hawes/Art PepperEarly/ Late Show1952

Hampton Hawes - Episode 3

Hawes served in the armed forces for 1953 to 1955 and consequently did no recording during that period. After leaving the army in 1955 Hawes immediately started recording with his trio that featured bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson. 1955 and 1956 were very productive years for Hawes and he recorded some of best work during this period. The album Bird Songs (1956) is interesting in that he uses two different rhythm sections: “Blue’n’Boogie” features Miles Davis’s bassist Paul Chambers. The All Night Sessions (Volumes 1-3) were recorded in one 8-hour massive session and also featured guitarist Jim Hall.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Groovin' HighHampton HawesAll Night Session! Vol. 11956
I Got RhythmHampton HawesTrio Vol. 11955
Easy LivingHampton HawesTrio Vol. 11955
Blue 'N' BoogieHampton HawesBird Songs (PC/Marable)1956
YesterdaysHampton HawesTrio Vol. 11955
BroadwayHampton HawesAll Night Session! Vol. 11956
Two Bass HitHampton HawesAll Night Session! Vol. 21956

Serge Chaloff


Chaloff #1
I take a look at the work of baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff (1923-1957) starting with his musical influences. Perhaps best known for his work with Woody Herman, Chaloff is considered the first bebop baritone saxophonist and paved the way for other important baritone saxophonists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He played this unwieldy instrument with the grace and fluency of the smaller alto saxophone.

Serge Chaloff - Episode 1

CompositionArtistYear
Sophisticated LadyDuke Ellington Orchestra (with Harry Carney)1956
Doggin' AroundCount Basie Orchestra (featuring Jack Washington)1938
Bird's NestCharlie Parker1947
Blue SergeSerge Chaloff Quintet1946
PumpernickelSerge Chaloff Sextet1947
Serge's UrgeSerge Chaloff Sextet1947
A Bar a SecondSerge Chaloff Sextet1947
Fine and DandyRed Rodney and his Be-Boppers1947

Serge Chaloff - Episode 2

Chaloff’s recording legacy is relatively small with his best work coming from 1948 to 1949 and then later in the mid-1950’s, shortly before his untimely death. The septet and octet recordings from 1949 bear a striking similarity to the work of Tadd Dameron and the Miles Davis Nonet (Birth of the Cool). His later work in some ways foreshadows the combining of jazz with other genres (Fable of Mabel). Known for his beautiful sound and use of the entire range of the instrument, his tone will remain as one of the most unique in all of jazz.
CompositionArtistYear
KipSerge Chaloff Sextet1955
ChickasawSerge Chaloff Octet1949
The Most!Serge Chaloff Octet1949
PatSerge Chaloff Septet1949
Easy StreetSerge Chaloff Quintet1954
Sherry Serge Chaloff Trio1954
The Fable of MabelSerge Chaloff Sextet1954
Body and SoulSerge Chaloff Sextet1955

Joey Defrancesco


Joey_DefrancescoJoey Defrancesco is perhaps the greatest living disciple of the jazz organ. Having released over 30 albums, Joey D has played with legends like Jimmy Smith and Miles Davis. Perhaps the most amazing part of his story is how young he was when he started his journey. In this conversation we learn how he mastered Jimmy Smith’s classic “The Sermon” verbatim at age 4, led a band with Hank Mobley and Sonny Stitt at age 10, and joined Miles Davis’ group before he was old enough to vote.

Blue Mitchell


Mitchell 2Unlike many jazz players, Blue Mitchell was able to move back and forth between jazz field and rhythm and blues during his career. His 1st recording with Cannonball Adderley introduced him to the public and his late 1950’s albums as leader established him as one of the most lyrical of the hard bop trumpet players. His resume includes playing in bands led by Earl Bostic and Horace Silver. He also recorded 100’s of tracks with important hard bop musicians throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

Blue Mitchell - Episode 1

CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Big SixBlue Mitchell Big 61958
A Little TasteCannonball AdderleyPortrait of Cannonball1958
People Will Say We're in LoveCannonball AdderleyPortrait of Cannonball1958
Blues MarchBlue MitchellBig 61958
Blue SoulBlue MitchellBlue Soul1959
Studio BBlue MitchellOut of the Blue1959
Sir JohnBlue MitchellBlue's Moods1960

Blue Mitchell - Episode 2

On this podcast you will hear Blue’s most important recordings as a bandleader from the late 1950’s through the mid 1960’s. He was one of the great interpreters of the blues and the most lyrical hard bop trumpet player of his generation. His solos represent an education in timing and note choice, and the recording of Tones for Jones Bones (with Chick Corea) shows him moving into a more modern approach to improvisation.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Cup BearersBlue MitchellThe Cup Bearers1962
Waverly Street Blue MitchellBlue Soul1959
I'll Close My EyesBlue MitchellBlue's Moods1960
Sweet PumpkinBlue MitchellBlue's Moods1960
CapersBlue MitchellThe Cup Bearers1962
Mona's MoodBlue MitchellThe Thing to Do1964
Tones for Joan's BonesBlue MitchellBoss Horn1966

Blue Mitchell - Episode 3

I examine Blue Mitchell’s important collaboration with Horace Silver in the late 1950’s through the early 1960’s. These recordings are some of the best Blue Records from this period and certainly some of Horace Silver’s most memorable. Together with Junior Cook on tenor, bassist Gene Taylor, and drummer Roy Brooks, the Horace Silver Quintet was one of the most exciting bands in jazz from this period. Also included is a track from Jackie McLean’s album Jackie’s Bag and one track from a collaboration with Red Garland. These recordings clearly define why Blue was one of the most often recorded trumpet players from this period.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
The GringoHorace SilverFinger Poppin’ 1959
Finger Poppin’Horace Silver Finger Poppin'1959
Baghdad Blues Horace SilverBlowin' the Blues Away1959
PeaceHorace SilverBlowin' the Blues Away1959
Nica's DreamHorace SilverHorace Scope1960
Appointment in GhanaJackie McLeanJackie's Bag1960
Falling in Love with LoveRed GarlandRed's Good Groove1962

Buster Smith


7-buster-smith copyThis podcast is devoted to a relatively unknown alto saxophonist active in Kansas City in the 1930s. Although not as well-remembered as the more famous alto men like Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, or Willie Smith from the swing era, Buster left a huge musical legacy for jazz saxophone playing. Together with Lester Young he was a primary influence on the young Charlie Parker when Parker was coming of age in Kansas City in the 1930s. Charlie Parker copied Buster’s sound and vibrato to such a degree that it was difficult to tell the difference between them when they were both playing with the Jay McShann Orchestra in the early 1940s. Buster’s last years were spent in relative obscurity living in Texas while Charlie Parker went on to become one of the greatest performers and innovators in jazz.

Buster Smith

CompositionArtistYear
SwingmatismCharlie Parker with Jay McShann Orchestra1941
I Got It BadJohnny Hodges with Duke Ellington1940
Jeep's BluesJohnny Hodges with Duke Ellington1940
Krazy CapersBenny Carter with Chocolate Dandies1933
There's Squabblin'Buster Smith with Walter Page Blue Devils1929
Blue Devil BluesBuster Smith with Walter Page Blue Devils1929
Baby, Look at YouBuster Smith with Pete Johnson1939
Cherry RedBuster Smith with Pete Johnson1939
Moten SwingBuster Smith with the Eddie Durham Orchestra1940
Moten SwingCharlie Parker with Jay McShann Orchestra1940

Wardell Gray


Gray 3Carl Wardell Gray was born in 1921 in Oklahoma City and his family moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1929. Gray attended Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit, which is noted for having Donald Byrd, Lucky Thompson, Howard McGhee, and Gerald Wilson as alumni. He started on the clarinet, but later switched to the tenor saxophone. His main influence on tenor was Lester Young. Through an acquaintance Wardell was recommended to band leader Earl Hines and was hired in 1943. The Earl Hines Orchestra had nurtured the careers of a number of emerging bebop musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Unlike many of his early contemporaries, Hines was sympathetic to the new developments in jazz that were underway. Wardell spent approximately three years with Hines, and became a featured soloist.

Wardell Gray - Episode 1

Gray left the Hines band in July of 1946 and resettled in Los Angeles and became a fixture in the Central Avenue jazz scene. He recorded his 1st session under his own name in 1946. This was a quartet date, known as "One for Prez," for Sunset Records. The other players included Dodo Marmarosa (piano), Red Callender (bass) and Chuck Thompson (drums). Wardell was also a member of Gene Norman's All Stars and successfully toured up and down the West Coast with them in a manner reminiscent of Norman Granz’ JATP concerts. The highlight of most of the concerts was a battle between two leading players, and in the case of the Gene Norman concerts it was usually Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray.
CompositionArtistYear
Groovin' HighWardell Gray/Howard McGhee Sextet1947
Straight LifeWardell Gray/Earl Hines & His Orchestra1946
Let's Get StartedWardell Gray/Earl Hines & His Orchestra1946
BambyWardell Gray/Earl Hines & His Orchestra1946
Dell's BellsWardell Gray Quartet1946
One for PrezWardell Gray Quartet1946
Easy SwingWardell Gray Quartet1946
Blue LouWardell Gray/Errol Garner GNP1947
BebopWardell and Friends/Howard McGhee Sextet1947

Wardell Gray - Episode 2

The successful pairing of the two tenor players led to the recording of "The Chase" on Dial Records in June, 1947. This was released as a "battle of the tenors" affair over the two sides of a 78 rpm record and received much attention among jazz fans at the time. They both exhibited great technical prowess on their instruments, but were stylistically quite different with Gray's lighter touch complementing Gordon's more forceful attack. In 1948 Wardell relocated to New York and became a regular at the Royal Roost on Broadway. The Roost was home to the Tadd Dameron/Fats Navarro group, the Miles Davis Nonet, and for a period, the Count Basie Orchestra. While Gray was with the Benny Goodman Septet in 1948, he still had opportunities to participate in his own recording sessions and to appear with other groups including Tadd Dameron.
CompositionArtistYear
The ChaseWardell Gray/Dexter Gordon1947
Light GrayWardell Gray Quartet1948
Cookin' On UpBenny Goodman Septet1948
Bye Bye Blues BopBenny Goodman Septet1948
Stealin' ApplesBenny Goodman Septet1948
SymphonetteTadd Dameron Sextet1948
ShawnWardell Gray Quintet1948

Wardell Gray - Episode 3

And after leaving Benny Goodman in late September of 1949, he was based mainly in the mid-west, especially Chicago, appearing with a variety of artists including Billie Holiday. One of Wardell’s recording sessions produced the medium tempo blues "Twisted." A few years later vocalist Annie Ross put some very clever words to his solo and recorded a best-selling vocalese version of "Twisted." Count Basie was not immune to the pressures that Goodman faced and was forced to disband his full orchestra. In August of 1950 he decided to form a smaller group with Clark Terry (trumpet), Buddy DeFranco (clarinet) and Gray (tenor sax) as the front horn line. Gray soon established himself as the lead solo tenor player, thus assuming the role as one of Lester Young's successors with the Basie orchestra. He can be heard on "Little Pony" and "Every Tub" where he is prominently featured. In 1952 Wardell moved back to Los Angeles and would never return to the east coast. Gray participated in a number of memorable sessions in 1952 including work with Art Famer and drummer Louis Bellson.
CompositionArtistYear
Sugar Hill BopWardell Gray Quartet1949
In A PinchWardell Gray Quartet1949
TwistedWardell Gray Quartet1949
TwistedLambert, Hendricks and Ross1959
Little PonyCount Basie & His Orchestra1951
Farmer's MarketWardell Gray w/Art Farmer1952
The Jeep is Jumpin'Louis Bellson and The Just Jazz All Stars1952
Punkin'Louis Bellson and The Just Jazz All Stars1952

Gordon Vernick’s Destination


71T8EokifyL__SL1425_On this podcast I discuss the process of making my latest CD, Destination: what goes into selecting material, composing new works, sidemen, and other intangibles. Everything has to be in place before the recording takes place and the ambient mood has to be right. Playing in a recording studio is much different than live performance. Often you can’t even see the other musicians–only hear them through headphones. It can be a sterile, unnerving experience, but with good preparation and rehearsal it can be made easier. Given this experience it helps one to appreciate all the live in-studio jazz recordings made prior to the digital age.

Gordon Vernick - Destination

CompositionArtistAlbumYear
JunkaGordon VernickDestination2012
Freudian SlipGordon VernickDestination2012
Almost ThereGordon VernickDestination2012
Sweet and LovelyGordon VernickDestination2012
Giggle Me ThisGordon VernickDestination2012
DestinationGordon VernickDestination2012

Guy Barker – The Amadeus Project



Guy_Barker 2Guy Barker is a British trumpet player and composer/arranger. He is probably best known for his score and trumpet playing from the soundtrack to the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley. The music from the Amadeus Project was recording in 2007 by a big band in Europe—I don’t think there are any U.S. born musicians performing on the project. Contrary to popular belief big bands have not disappeared, they have just re-invented themselves. The modern music written for these groups sounds quite different from the traditional music of 1940’s and 1950’s big bands. In many ways the new music is an extension of the groundwork laid down by Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Gil Evans. There are a number of talented composer/arrangers writing for large ensemble today in the U.S. and Europe; that is what drew me to Guy Barker and this suite of recordings. The performers are outstanding and the compositions, while very modern, are accessible and there is an underlying theme throughout the work.