Choose Heroin, Choose Life.

The message of the Chet Baker biopic ‘Born to be Blue’ is not perhaps as romantic as his music. It amounts to this. When given the choice between the devoted love of a good woman and a trumpet and a boatload of heroin, go for the latter. This perhaps surprising conclusion is at the very …

Antonio Sanchez. The Unexpected Virtue of Jazz

There have been a series of films over the last couple of years that have had their soundtracks performed live by their composers in New York, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ and ‘There Will be Blood’ to name but two. Birdman is the latest to be given the honor with Anthony Sanchez doing the honors …

Sketches of Spain

Jazz and flamenco? Do they really go together? On the face of it the idea seems vaguely preposterous and the results potentially heinous. But in reality it turns out they’re made for each other. Well certainly if the album ‘Jazz Flamenco’ is anything to go by. Spanish Jazzman Pedro Iturralde is behind the double album, …

Le Pas du Chat Noir

ECM is a label responsible for some of Europe’s finest jazz recordings. Often more reflective and moody than barnstorming, it’s a place I’ve often checked for more mellow introspective sounds. One of my recent discoveries is the Tunisian Oud player Anouar Brahem. His album ‘Le pas du chat noir’ is one of the more haunting …

Gregory Porter at Town Hall, NYC

It’s a long time since I enjoyed a concert as thoroughly as I enjoyed Gregory Porter at Town Hall. His charisma is undeniable and his voice is unsurpassable. He even found time in between blowing the roof off with the power of his voice to allow a fan to propose to his girlfriend. Something neither …

Cool Note

No matter how many times I look at them I’m always left with the feeling that there is nothing cooler than a Blue Note album cover. Even though they are now over 50 years old in many cases, you could still use the same look and style today and come across as totally fresh. With …

Ahmad Jamal

I would be highly pleased if I was still alive at 83 let alone creating innovative Jazz records like pianist Ahmad Jamal. Last year the octogenarian produced ‘Saturday Morning’ an album, which followed 2012’s highly praised ‘Blue Moon’. Described by critic Stanley Crouch as second in importance after Charlie Parker in the development of Jazz …

Taming the Dragon

You know you like something when you’re prepared to brave sub-zero temperatures and snow-covered ground in order to see it. Of course there’s always the risk that you might turn up and find it doesn’t live up to your expectations but in the case of my recent winter night visit to the Highline Ballroom to …

Bill Evans

Is there a more beautiful sound on the planet than Bill Evans on the piano? I find it hard to believe having spent the month listening to a variety of Evans better known recordings from the fifties and early sixties Yet in writing those sentences I realize that for a vast majority of the listening …

mmmm…nice.

Being a jazz fan can be hard. Jazz is one of those musical mediums that many people have no problem saying they hate.  In fact merely utter the word in their presence and they immediately begin hearing a series of squawks and discordant drones that remind them of animals being strangled. But jazz like cricket …