Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman continues to enjoy many honors. It's all well deserved and overdue, especially considering all the scorn he suffered during the early years of his career. Who would have thought the he would have recieved a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys?
A friend of ours, Leroy Downs (aka The Jazz Cat), was able to hang out with Ornette at his New York loft and conduct an interview. When he told me about his afternoon with Ornette Coleman, I became extremely envious....

March 9th is Ornette's 77th birthday. WGBH 89.7 FM's Jazz from Studio Four host Steve Schwartz will pay tribute to jazz visionary Ornette Coleman. Ornette-ology, a career retrospective of the legendary alto-saxophonist, will air Friday, March 9th at 8pm in New England on WGBH 89.7 and will stream worldwide at Listen!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Soundies, a new PBS special

I didn't get a chance to post a notice about the Billy Strayhorn special before it aired, so I hope all those interested in Ellingtonia got a chance to see it. It was nice to see anything about jazz on television. My complaint, (and it's one I always seem to have to state ) is that Strayhorn is always built up at the expense of Ellington. Somehow, it doesn't matter that Ellington was able to build and lead a group into international prominence and that this organization existed a dozen years before Strayhorn joined.

But here's an advance notice of another PBS special that will be of interest to us: a fun documentary called Soundies: A Musical History. Before MTV and YouTube, there were Soundies. They were short (3-5 minute) music videos that were viewed on video-jukeboxes called "Panoram" (see picture of Nat "King" Cole).

It's airing here in Los Angeles in the evening on Saturday, March 3rd. As they say, check your local listings or go to

And, just like today, they featured dancers to add to the experience.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Black History Month

Meanwhile, back at Metropolis Books, we decided to salute Black History month with a little bit of jazz. (Gee, what a stretch!)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tenor Madness!

“Tenor Madness” is the name of the only recording Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane made together. I thought I’d link them again because they’re both the subject of this entry and music service offerings.

Sonny Rollins (see to subscribe to his newsletter entitled “Newk’s Time”) is the subject of a new interview on MTV’s Urge network. In it, he discusses his new record label Doxy and colleagues like Miles Davis and Don Cherry. Click here to access.

John Coltrane is the subject of a weekly series of podcasts entitled “The Traneumentary.” There are some audio interviews from him, past collaborators like Jimmy Cobb and McCoy Tyner and people he’s influenced (Terrence Blanchard, Joe Lovano, amongst others). There’s also an associated blog; see for information.

All of this is free, so enjoy!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ella Fitzgerald

A couple of months ago, I wrote an entry that said it was time for some more jazz-themed stamps. Well, I guess there was one in the pipeline while I was writing that. A stamp featuring the great Ella Fitzgerald debuted a couple of weeks ago. When I went to the post office shortly after they were released to pick up a couple of sheets, they told me they had quickly sold out them! A tribute to the continuing popularity of the First Lady of Song….

Speaking of tributes, there is a new Verve CD featuring music associated with Ella Fitzgerald. The cast of singers is pretty diverse. But rather than list them, see the video and find out for yourself.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

New Music !

One of the great things about the Internet is the ease it allows for finding new information. This is especially cool when it comes to finding out about new releases or reissues. My favorite record company (Mosaic Records – announced a new set of Prestige CDs in their latest newsletter.

They’re part of the Rudy Van Gelder series of recordings remastered by the man himself. It’s amazing to think that the earliest of these recordings date from 1956 and RVG is still active. Although the sound was never bad on these, the new series sounds great.

The titles – "Traneing In" (John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio), "4, 5 and 6" (Jackie McLean), "Cookin’" (Miles Davis Quintet), "El Hombre" (Pat Martino), and "Plus Four" (Sonny Rollins). Quite a lineup; great music by great musicians!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Alice Coltrane

A lot has been going in the last few months. Work (reviews!) and the new book store have kept me really busy. Hence, the lack of a post since December 4th.

Unfortunately, since I last posted, we lost Alice Coltrane. I had planned to use this poster from a 1982 concert some time ago, but it fell victim to the hiatus.

This concert featured the three sons of John and Alice Coltrane - John, Jr. on bass and Ravi and Oran on saxes. They were all just teenagers at the time, so their playing wasn't quite mature yet. John, Jr. stole the show (maybe because he was the eldest). Tragically, just one week after this concert, he was killed in an automobile accident. He was two weeks shy of his 18th birthday. Oran and especially Ravi have since gone on to great heights in music.

Alice Coltrane, another giant of music, gone from the scene but represented by a great legacy.