12/10/2010 1:00 PM
He was always known as Moody, and his signature tune Moody’s Mood for Love was part of the jazz canon for six decades.
Saxophonist James Moody died Thursday in San Diego of cancer at 85.
Moody’s Mood for Love (which begins with the memorable lyric "There I go, there I go, there I go, there I go ...") became a jazz and pop standard, recorded by the likes of Aretha Franklin and George Benson, and a staple of Moody’s performances.
The song had a memorable name and an unusual history. Based on the harmonic structure of I’m in the Mood for Love, it began life as an instrumental in 1949, but took on a new life after singer Eddie Jefferson wrote lyrics and singer King Pleasure recorded it as Moody’s Mood for Love.
There was much more to Moody and his music, of course, but he and that song will forever be linked in jazz fans’ minds.
10/25/2010 1:01 PM
It all leads back to the blues, doesn’t it.
For Heiða Forsyth and Amber Epp, the blues, specifically a raucous Evil Gal Blues, capped a nearly three-hour shared concert Sunday, Oct. 24, in which each of the young jazz singers swung, scatted and sang their way through some of their favourite standards or own compositions.
The set list ran from Sting to Cole Porter, from Joni Mitchell to Kurt Elling, to Epp’s own Keep Walking, but the common denominator at the Park Theatre was a couple of good singers putting on a concert so they could sing the jazz they love so much. The vagaries of working as freelance musicians, playing a variety of music, means the singers don’t always get to prove their jazz chops. As Forsyth told the full house, "I haven’t sung jazz in a long time, It’s great to stretch my wings."
Epp and Forsyth are, obviously, a new generation of singers who, while they still appreciate and perform the American Songbook standards, are including their own tastes in the canon.
Epp performed Until, by Sting and Amelia and Coyote, by Joni Mitchell. Forsyth, whose background includes a love of country music, performed a terrific version of Wichita Lineman, the Jimmy Webb song popularized by Glenn Campbell. The key, of course, is reworking them with a jazz sensibility
Epp has returned to her piano studies and played on a few tunes, but it was her teacher George Colligan, who teaches in the jazz studies department of the U of M faculty of music, who shone at the keyboard.
It was Colligan who drove the rollicking Evil Gal Blues and soloed beautifully during Forsyth’s set. Guitarist Larry Roy performed the same function during Epp’s set, with great solos and comping.
Bassist Julian Bradford and drummer Curtis Nowosad were a rock-steady rhythm pairing, having performed with the two singers for a half-dozen years or so, since they were all students hanging out the Osborne Freehouse hoping to get in on the Monday night jam session.
08/4/2010 4:52 PM
Jazz has long had a history of experienced musicians mentoring younger players, and in the days before formal music education it was an effective way to learn the craft, along with countless hours of playing whatever gig you could get, of course.
Even today, with so many public school band programs and university music faculty jazz programs, learning from a pro is still a great way to hone musical skills.
And then, at a certain point, jazz fans get to enjoy the youngsters and their elders onstage performing as equals.
On Tuesday, at Mardi Jazz, 24-year-old trombonist Christopher Butcher led a quartet that included drummer Curt Nowosad, his contemporary in age and experience, and two men of a certain age: pianist Ron Paley and bassist Steve Kirby.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Butcher and Nowosad were literally just kids hanging out at the weekly jazz session at the now defunct Osborne Freehouse — a session started by Kirby, director of jazz studies at the University of Manitoba music faculty.
As well as mentors like Paley and Kirby onstage, the audience included a mix of musicians, from trumpeter Darren Ritchie (Butcher’s former band teacher), guitarist Larry Roy and trombonist Jay Harrison to contemporaries such as pianist Will Bonness and singer Amber Epp.
And Butcher, back in town from Toronto where he has finished school and is working as a musician, did his former teachers proud on an array of standards from Wayne Shorter’s Blues On The Corner to Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood.
If you closed your eyes, you could ignore the fact it was a cross-generational lineup, and just listen to a good jazz band, which, of course, is the whole purpose behind the tradition of passing on the secrets of jazz from one generation to another.
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Jazz on Wheels, the flatbed truck carrying a nine-piece band is on the road for its fifth season. Sponsored by Jazz Winnipeg and organized by Steve Kirby, it will be at the following community events:
Saturday, Aug. 7
Qu’appelle Avenue at Carlton Street
The River Barge Festival
Sunday, Aug. 29
Rossbrook House Summer Games
Wednesday, Sept. 1
Ross Avenue at Sherbrook Street
Sherbrook Street Festival
Saturday, Sept. 11
Sherbrook Street at Wolseley Avenue
07/7/2010 11:57 AM
I know there are a lot of musicians in a jazz orchestra, but that shouldn't stop me from naming the right soloist.
In my review of the June 30 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival performance by New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, I wrongly named the flutist performing on the theme from Taxi Driver. It was Neil Watson, who performed to his usual high standard on alto sax and flute throughout the concert.
Here is the concert review, with Neil in his rightful place.
Call the genre jazz noir, if you will, for the dark images it often supports on the big screen.
But the film music performed by New Orleans trumpeter and film scorer Terence Blanchard and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra was more uplifting than fear-inducing.
A jazz musician first and foremost, Blanchard has scored more than 40 films and is perhaps best known for his work with Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues).
It was fitting he would start the Jazz in Film concert with a nod to his hometown with an instrumental called A Streetcar Named Desire. The trumpeter soared during his solo, backed by the orchestra, including alto saxophonist Greg Gatien, who impressed when it was turn in the spotlight. Blanchard has just been hired to score a Broadway production of Streetcar.
Blanchard was particularly lovely and evocative on Taxi Driver, a piece that included a great duo spot for pianist Will Bonness and flutist Neil Watson.
On the theme to Chinatown, Blanchard proved what a great jazz player he is in a solo spot backed only by the rhythm section of Bonness, Gilles Fournier on bass and Rob Siwik on drums rather than being strait-jacketed by full orchestrations of film scores.
Blanchard soothed the audience with his warm tone on The Subterranians and let loose on Man With the Golden Arm.
Unfortunately, the nature of the concert left the audience wanting far more Blanchard. What he played, he played very well, of course, but with the emphasis on the film score arrangements the trumpeter's playing time was too limited.
Blanchard did some of his best playing on a couple of compositions not from films.
Wayne Shorter's classic Footprints was a joy with Blanchard on fire, with the whole band aflame, including a nice baritone sax solo by Ken Gold.
And the trumpeter was simply superb on his encore, an unaccompanied Amazing Grace, which highlighted the previous shortage of wide open playing by Blanchard.
It's difficult to perform a big band/film jazz concert without reference to the great bandleader and composer Duke Ellington, who was represented by Degas Racing World and Anatomy of a Murder.
Anatomy is the better-known, perhaps only known, of the two and Blanchard played wonderfully on the piece, maybe his best of the night.
The Degas piece was composed for a movie that was never finished when its makers ran out of money, Blanchard said, but the music was released and is understandably hard to find.
It is a beautiful Ellington composition, which included a great duo of trumpet and bass.
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