Summer Break

fullsizeoutput_dce

Today I’m leaving for an extensive European tour with the Billy Hart quartet with Ben Street featuring Joshua Redman. The full itinerary is at Josh’s site, but this is the quick overview:

Getxo Jazz Festival (Getxo)
Noches del Botanico (Madrid)
Casa da Musica (Porto)
Funchal Jazz Festival (Funchal)
North Sea Jazz Festival (Rotterdam)
Umbria Jazz (Perugia)
Nice Jazz Festival (Nice)
Montalcino Jazz & Wine Festival (Montalcino)
Souillac en Jazz (Souillac)
New Morning (Paris)
Festival Jazz La Spezia (La Spezia)
Langnau Jazz Nights (Langnau)
Dinant Jazz (Dinant)

I’m also playing a solo piano set at Umbria.

If you see me at any of the gigs, say hi!

In the fall, ECM releases Temporary Kings, a duo project with Mark Turner. We will be touring Europe and America. The NYC show is at the Jazz Standard, September 18.

Pepperland with the Mark Morris Dance Group will continue to tour, the next gig is Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA in September. Easy Win with Dance Heginbotham will be in Boston and Philadelphia this coming season.

I am leading special projects at the London Jazz Festival in November and the Umbria Jazz Festival Winter at the end of December.

And: It’s time to unplug, mediate, listen to Billy Hart, and contemplate the mysteries. I am taking a new laptop with me on tour that will lack access to DTM, FB, and Twitter. If all goes well I will keep my social media dark until late August.

Sign up for Floyd Camembert Reports if you must reach me by email. (If you are already a pal, texting is fastest, I am shamelessly planning to let the email pile up a bit.)

As always, sincere thanks for reading. Listen to some hip music!

Yesterday I decided to sift through DTM. Personal favorites:

1. Quick posts

2. Crime Fiction

3. European Classical Music

4. Advice for students

5. Jazz 

6. Interviews

Links to my other stuff outside of DTM:

Writings at the Culture Desk of the New Yorker  (Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi, Vicky Chow, Michael Gordon, Carla Bley)

NewMusicBox: A Conversation with Ethan Iverson and The Syncopated Stylings of Charles Wuorinen

“Artist’s Choice” ECM streaming playlist

The best of reasonably recent press: 

Andre Guess: Jazz and Race with Wynton Marsalis and Ethan Iverson

Shaun Brady: A Decade of Do the Math

John Fordham: The Purity of the Turf review – like a time-travelling Monk trio

Joan Anderman: A jazz pianist’s spot at the corner of history and what’s new

Seth Colter Walls:  American Composers Orchestra brings Jazz to Classical, effortlessly

Mark Swed: Mark Morris mines the Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ for an irresistible ‘Pepperland’

Anthony Tommasini: A Tiny Garage Explodes in Pianistic Madness

Brian Seibert: Dance Heginbotham Shows Off Its Eccentric Style at the Joyce

Best of DTM (6: Interviews)

fullsizeoutput_3c

DTM might be most famous for its musician-to-musician interviews. The models include Notes and Tones by Art Taylor, The Black Composer Speaks by David Baker, Lida Belt Baker and Herman Hudson, and Reflections from the Keyboard by David Dubal.

I met and played with Dewey Redman about a year after moving to New York City. This first experience with a consecrated jazz master proved conclusively that I knew almost nothing about the music.

Dewey’s stories were incredible. Listening to him talk about his experiences was almost as amazing as listening to him play his horn.

A decade later, after the Bad Plus had our surprise success, I looked for ways to share our love of diverse music with our new fan base. Blogging was new. Blogging felt so relevant and hip. (This was in 2005 lol.)

As it went along, I kept thinking about Dewey. As far as I knew no one had ever interviewed him and gotten those stories on tape. Maybe I should try to interview Dewey for the Bad Plus blog…?

Dewey died, and those stories died with him. The next week I took out my tape recorder to Billy Hart’s house.

It would be hard to pick out the best DTM interviews. For this retrospective I have briefly annotated the complete set.

In almost every case, the interview was my idea. I talked to someone I admire, usually with the intent to learn something for my own use at the piano, on the bandstand, or in my own writing. It is not proper journalism. I want to protect these artists because I think they are all great.

Django Bates  David King encouraged my love of Django, I even wrote a small DownBeat article about Mr. Bates. One of the greatest non-American jazz artists.

Tim Berne: Part 1Part 2Birthday wishes I always loved Tim’s music, Fractured Fairy Tales and the rest of the Berne/Joey Baron canon was a key stepping stone to the Bad Plus.

Carla Bley (and the whole Bley Extravaganza) This pairs with the recent New Yorker article. Steve Swallow himself told me this was a good interview with Carla (there’s no higher praise).

Joanne Brackeen I’ve been listening to Joanne forever, the recent “discovered” Keystone issues with Stan Getz really knocked me out.

Gavin Bryars A comparatively new discovery for me, I really had to research going into this interview.

George Cables: Part 1Part 2 A favorite disc is hard to find, Phantom of the City with John Heard and Tony Williams. Going through the whole discography like this might seem absurd but if we had one of these for every jazz player at George’s level we’d know a lot more about this music.

Ron Carter: Phone interviewWord Association The main man. Ron Carter on the bass. Just the greatest.

George Colligan I’ve known George forever, and it was helpful to talk to a peer about jazz education.

Miranda Cuckson Melting the Darkness shocked me, that’s one of the finest new CDs I’ve heard in recent years.

Bob Cranshaw Bob saw and played it all. RIP.

Stanley Crouch So many have misunderstood the great Stanley Crouch.

Benoît Delbecq Benoît is a serious influence on me, I owe him royalties.

Robert Dennis A quick email convo with the composer of a favorite Sesame Street episode (you can really do whatever the hell you want on the internet).

Gerald Early I loved reading all of Early in prep for this interview.

Jed Eisenman Now that Lorraine Gordon is gone, Jed is even more the man of the age.

Bill Frisell The most recent DTM interview covers a lot of ground. Literally everyone loves Bill Frisell.

Robert Glasper I was knocked out by a trio set on the jazz cruise and spontaneously hit up Glasper to talk.

Charlie Haden I will always love Charlie, he’s one of my primary inspirations and influences. RIP.

Marc-André Hamelin I collected all of Hamelin’s records for a decade and then rented a car especially to go hang out.

Tom Harrell The highlight is a list of Tom’s favorite trumpet solos.

Billy Hart The first DTM interview and still one of the best.

Albert “Tootie” Heath The real deal. Getting to know and play with Tootie was a serious blessing.

Fred Hersch My teacher and mentor in a candid talk.

Keith Jarrett This went pretty well!

Geoffrey Keezer We are from the same patch of earth in Wisconsin. This one was for the Hometown Crowd…

Masabumi Kikuchi I grew to adore Masabumi’s playing and ended up writing the liner notes to the posthumous release Black Orpheus. RIP.

Bill Kirchner Bill is a predecessor of mine, a serious player who has also written about the music.

Steve Little One of Duke Ellington’s drummers takes a solo. A life in NYC music.

Wynton Marsalis: Part 1Part 2The “J” Word The part where I play him “Knozz-moe-king” was a fanboy dream come true.

Charles McPherson One of the finest of living masters in real talk about how to play bebop.

Jason Moran A quick convo between sets from a long time ago.

Jim McNeely When I studied at NYU, Jim’s stories were a highlight. This was another one that felt really good to do, a partial payment on an eternal debt.

James Newton I heard Newton’s formal scores comparatively recently and I was scandalized. This was exactly who I was looking for! Why hadn’t I been listening to him sooner?

Mark Padmore A quick email interview about Schubert by one of the great living lieder singers.

Nicholas Payton For a time Payton was controversial on the jazz internet. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with him.

Houston Person Oh, this could have gone on much longer. Still fun.

Ben Ratliff A kind of “exit interview” from a major jazz critic of the New York Times.

Mickey Roker Ah dammit. I just had an hour. Well, it’s better than nothing. RIP.

Cécile McLorin Salvant The first person I interviewed decidedly younger than me was Cécile. I haven’t done enough about singers on DTM really, but this talk is at least a partial attempt to redress the balance. I love her artistry very much.

David Sanborn (on Phillip Wilson) An intense look at a crucial St. Louis scene.

Gunther Schuller: Part 1Part 2 I have a mixed relationship with Schuller’s jazz criticism but think he is one of the great American composers. RIP.

Alvin Singleton It only makes sense for jazz people to investigate the Afro-American classical composers. I worked hard getting ready for the Singleton interview, which has many mp3 examples of his wonderful music.

Wayne Shorter I knew damn well that Wayne was a tricky interview, so I brought him a pile of sci-fi books to start with.

Ken Slone We’ve all played out of the Charlie Parker Omnibook, what about the transcriber?

Terry Teachout Terry is one of the few who really sees jazz as part of the larger American cultural puzzle. Musicians can be too self-involved and only interested in the most esoteric aspects of our art. In my view it is important to keep Terry’s perspective in mind.

Henry Threadgill: Part 1Part 2Part 3Four Hits and the Ultramodern Blues Threadgill has given many great interviews.  However the audio of his Vietnam experiences is a special document.

George Walker: InterviewThree ScarecrowsDispatches from Detroit (by Mark Stryker) Done by email, this one is rough around the edges. Still, we should all be more aware of Walker, a truly important figure and great composer.

Cedar Walton: InterviewInterview with David WilliamsInterview with David HazeltineCedar’s Blues This went pretty well. I wish I could have done an interview like this with Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Hampton Hawes, Jimmy Rowles, Roland Hanna…there’s a long list. Geri Allen was supposed to do one but she died suddenly. At least I got Cedar talk a little bit about how he learned to play. RIP.

Patrick Zimmerli A key influence in my life. Thanks Pat!

The possible “to do” list includes Barbara Hannigan, Victor Lewis, Al Foster, Buster Williams, Michael Cuscuna, John Luther Adams, Mark Morris, Lera Auerbach, Thomas Adès. However, I don’t think there will be all that many more DTM interviews that aren’t pegged to a specific larger event or article. We’ll see what happens.

I’m very grateful to those that agreed to be part of this site.

Best of DTM (5: Jazz)

fullsizeoutput_36b

It’s all there under Rhythm and Blues, and it’s a lot. Pianists reign supreme at DTM, but drummers are also notably featured, for example Paul Motian, Ben Riley, and Donald Bailey.

Three of the deepest dives were easy because I barely needed to research, the topics were so dear to my heart:

Thelonious Monk Centennial   He’s been my lodestar since I got interested in the music, and finally I wrote about the entire canon.

The Breakthrough of Geri Allen We all loved her. It was heartbreaking when she died so young, just two weeks after this 60th birthday celebration.

Ornette 1: Forms and Sounds A lot of written criticism about Ornette Coleman has been worthless blather. Part one offers my opinion about Harmolodics. Part two, This Is Our Mystic, has extensive audio samples.

Three of the essays were about respecting race. Looking at them now I feel they all could use a proper update. I look forward to revisiting them with greater wisdom in print.

Reverential Gesture (Duke Ellington) Really I’m just at the beginning of my Duke studies, but this post helped clarify my thinking.

The Drum Thing, or, A Brief History of Whiplash, or, “I’m Generalizing Here” A hit movie, ugh.

All in the Mix (Lennie Tristano) L.T. is one of my great influences, and I really “practiced in public” when I laid this one out there. Lee Konitz read it and didn’t object, which meant the world to me.

Four of the deep dives were practical. I wanted to sound more like these artists and needed to school myself. Unlike the quick Monk, Geri, and Ornette pieces, these took months of research.

Red’s Bells (Red Garland) Now I steal from Red every time I play a jazz gig.

Bud Powell Anthology Bud is the greatest bebop pianist, and this survey includes dozens of transcriptions.

Lester Young Centennial I still sing and practice my Pres solos.

In Search of James P. Johnson My main man. I’ve got a band arrangement of “Carolina Shout” coming down the pike…

The Bad Plus is over for me and Lorraine Gordon died.

The heavy technical analysis on DTM was partially a counterweight to being in a band celebrated for the appropriation of indie rock.

Going forward I’m interested in opening up and writing for the general congregation, as evinced in my Lorraine obit and the articles at the New Yorker Culture Desk.

(If I would still do some heavy tech on DTM the topics are obvious: McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane. Yeah. Well, I need a clone, obviously, but ya never know. I’ll try to get to them too.)

Best of DTM (4: advice for students)

fullsizeoutput_35c.jpeg

Probably most of DTM is for jazz students anyway, but I got a bit more direct about how one might practice after taking a job at NEC. Consult the Manual has the relevant material.

A lot of what’s in the NEC stuff is what any competent teacher would tell a jazz class. However, three essays were especially fun to write:

Judge Not. Lest Ye Be Not Judged (the preliminary round of the Monk Competition)

Theory and European Classical Music (includes performances of Miriam Gideon and Vivian Fine)

Air de Ballet (advice for dance class pianists)

Looking ahead, I have at least two or three more NEC missives to do, about source material for harmony, how to use the computer for practice, and about the magical “feet in three.”

Best of DTM (3: European Classical Music)

fullsizeoutput_41

Some of my history with the fully-notated side of the tracks is found at the NewMusicBox discussion with Pat Zimmerli. Zimmerli himself was very important to my development, as were Gregg Smith and especially Sophia Rosoff and Mark Morris.  I couldn’t have played The Rite of Spring with the Bad Plus if I hadn’t worked with Mark first.

At Sonatas and Études one can find the longer DTM pieces about formal composition. It’s kind of a mixed bag. Probably these essays aren’t as deep as the jazz essays. All of DTM is a kind of “practicing in public,” sharing my haphazard and decidedly non-academic researches into source material, and that amateurism is most evident in Sonatas and Études, possibly because I’ve spent so much less time arguing in bars about classical music than jazz.

Five of my favorites:

Endellion Idyll  is a photo blog of Mark Padmore’s amazing festival in Cornwall.

Mixed Meter Mysterium (on Stravinsky) is less distinctive than most of DTM simply because there is so much Stravinsky reception already. However, as far as I know, this is the only look at the issue of Stravinskian “feel.”

Peter Lieberson on Record This overview took a year of listening to write. Looking at it now I want to take another year to listen again…

Glenn Gould plays Byrd and Gibbons (and Sweelinck) Why not find the scores for the famous record?

The Gate Is Open (on Charles Rosen, with Matthew Guerrieri) Rosen is a godfather to DTM, and I’m influenced by Guerrieri as well.

I certainly could write about Ligeti, although he’s reasonably covered (perhaps not with fellow jazzers though). Schnittke is another big one, although in his case there is so much to hear that I don’t know yet. On the other hand, not knowing everything about Wuorinen didn’t stop me from weighing in for Charles’s 80th birthday at NewMusicBox.

Lera Auerbach and Thomas Adès are two of my favorites from roughly my own age group; if the opportunity arose I’d certainly love to interview them.

What’s more likely is further writing about pianists and 20th century piano music. This is my deepest bench. Well, we will see what the future brings…

Best of DTM (2: Crime Fiction)

fullsizeoutput_2e.jpeg

Under Newgate Callendar there are long essays about books.

In my twenties, I discovered the wildly prolific Donald E. Westlake and his pen name Richard Stark. When on tour in those years, going to a used bookshop in a new town in the hopes of finding a missing Westlake or Stark was a reason to live. With the advent of online shopping, I quickly completed the canon. (I still kind of regret paying $100 for Up Your Banners, one of the weaker entries.) My future wife told me to write Westlake a fan letter: After all, there couldn’t be that many people who had read every single Westlake novel. I took a missive to Mysterious Books, and they gave me an address. Not long after, Don and Abby came to the Village Vanguard to see the Bad Plus and we struck up a friendship.

It was shocking and sad when Don suddenly died, and I wrote a survey of his complete work in a single day. Later on I expanded the overview on two occasions. Just now I went through and buffed up a few sentences and transitions:

Donald E. Westlake: A Storyteller Who Got the Details Right

I felt something “click” when I first completed the tribute to Don. It’s much easier to make a written critique of words than of sound. I have learned a lot about how to be a critic when taking on non-musical topics.

Thinking about crime fiction is also a practical investigation for my work as a composer and performer. Genre is genre no matter what the art form at hand.

Classic bebop is a frame. Those that love bebop enjoy the way varied instrumentalists fill that container with blues, swing, and a certain kind of abstract and discontinuous logic. You play the head, blow, and play the head again to take it out.

In crime fiction, you know there are going to be tensions and puzzles with guns. In the end, the answers are going to be revealed, and someone is going to pay for their sins.

I suppose I have read Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Rex Stout, and Raymond Chandler the most. This is the baseline, this is Bird and Bud.

The author who might have done the most to upend the expectations of that baseline was Charles Willeford. In my view, he is misunderstood by casual crime fiction fans at large. I have done my best to set the record straight in a massive overview:

I Was Looking for Charles WillefordNothing Is Inchoate, or, “When Did You Get Interested in Abused Children, Helen?” plus two interviews,  Don Herron and Ray Banks.

Ross Thomas and Eric Ambler have long been two of my favorite thriller writers for their wonderful prose and dour politics.

Ah, Treachery! (Ross Thomas)

Come Out of the Darkness Into the Light of Day (Eric Ambler)

I could see myself writing overviews of K.C. Constantine and Patricia Highsmith, and if someone actually assigned me those projects I might do them. I know Rex Stout so well but what could I write that hasn’t been already said? The same but even more so goes for Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett. They all have sufficient coverage in our culture.

However, I did write an essay on the scores for the cinematic adaptations of Raymond Chandler:

Marlowe’s Music 

Best of DTM (1: quick posts)

fullsizeoutput_3e.jpeg

When I counted last week, I found there were 1.1 million words on DTM.

Infinite Jest is 543,709 words, or half as long. My beloved cycle A Dance to the Music of Time (12 short novels) is “only” a million. (Wikipedia: List of Longest Novels.) I’m going to stop assuming everyone has read all of this darn blog.

Most of the best things are in the table of contents. But here is a selection of stand alone posts that are personal favorites. Many of them were written quickly and deserve better editing.

Institutional Racism Redux (Ginger Baker)

Notes on Albert Murray Memorial

Meet me at 20th and Federal (Tootie Heath and Sam Reed)

Romanticism (Dashiell Hammett’s apartment and favorite crime films)

Choruses/Chori (McCoy Tyner and Thomas Adés)

Crowd Control (modern police armament)

The Name is Bond (note date)

When in Doubt, Read a Book (Herman Hesse, Clifford Jordan, Mark Leibovich)

Official Endorsement (of John Bloomfield and Dorothy Taubman)

David Baker’s Bebop to Bartók

Albert Ayler at 80

Modern Composition (Guillermo Klein, Tim Berne, Marc Ducret, Jason Moran)

Steinway, Sweeney, Paulson, and Trump

The Last Gig (Barry Harris at the Vanguard)

It was the 50s (the black magazine Duke and the Jazz Review)

Pops Slept Here (Louis Armstrong House)

The Story of the Wind (Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou)

Pop Musicology

Adès, Braxton, Barry, Beethoven

Visiting Monk’s birthplace Rocky Mount with David Graham

Thanksgiving for Sophia Rosoff

West Coast Piano (Hampton Hawes and Jimmy Rowles)

Happy Birthday Joseph Haydn

Frederic Rzewski is 80

Dance to the Music of Time (personal updates)