• The Best Selling Bootleg in Jazz

    By Alec Hillyer

         The shadows would have been getting long in Carmel, California, as the evening approached and the mid-September air finally began to cool. Audience members had filled an assembly hall at the Sunset School, anxious to witness the popular pianist Erroll Garner perform. The vivacious Garner, along with bassist Eddie Calhoun, and drummer Denzil Best, took the stage near dusk and played an intoxicating yet intimate set for the audience as the sun set over the Monterey Pacific coast. The event was promoted by radio personality Jimmy Lyons as part of his “Sunset Series” summer concert events, an early predecessor to the Monterey Jazz Festival. What transpired that night was captured on tape, and sold as an Erroll Garner live recording titled “The Concert by the Sea.” Lyons executively produced the recording, which was ultimately released by Columbia Records, but none of these parties initially intended for it to exist in any recorded form at all. Now after sixty years, this jazz recording gets a long overdue reissue, one that sheds light on much of what was presumed lost from the performance that evening.

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  • The Understated Stylings of Rotem Sivan

    By Alec Hillyer

          “A New Dance” (Fresh Sound Records) is the latest release from the Rotem Sivan Trio. Referred to by guitarist Peter Bernstein as “the next guitarist of our times,” Sivan is known to pack his improvisations, swelling the space of the song with notes. However, Sivan refuses to force his way onto the listener, preferring to play in an often refined and quiet manner. Accompanied by Haggai Cohen-Milo on upright bass and Colin Stranahan on drums, Sivan works out on seven of his original compositions and 3 standards, all reinforcing Sivan’s strengths as a pioneer in the modern New York City jazz scene. This release quickly follows last year’s “For Emotional Use Only,” an intimate and stripped-down live recording of the trio performing in New York City. Sivan seems to have something to prove on this record, exploring new territories of distortion, dubbing, and contemporary musical textures not present on previous releases. 

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  • Views: 403 Jazz Spectrum - Best of 2009

    BEST OF 2009

    Fritz Byers selects 50 new jazz recordings from 2009 that stood out for their innovation, virtuosity, and beauty.

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  • Views: 785 The Alchemy of Scott Lafaro, by Kim Kleinman

    The bassist Scott Lafaro's voice -- fresh, vibrant, and melodic -- transformed the instrument and its role in jazz.  Working with artists as diverse as Bill Evans and Ornette Coleman, created pure gold in a form of artistic alchemy. Kim Kleinman considers Lafaro's achievement.

  • Views: 802 Honoring Blue Mitchell, by Fritz Byers

    The trumpeter Blue Mitchell created a substantial body of tasteful, expressive, and affecting music, including a series of recordings in the 50s and 60s for Riverside and Blue Note that document a sensibility of consistent excellence and appealing reserve.  Fritz Byers honors Mitchell's memory.

  • Views: 631 Jim Hall - An Appreciation, by Fritz Byers

    For fifty years, Jim Hall has been making jazz.  His accumulated body of work is rich, fluid, and marked by sustained excellence.  It also reflects Hall's relentless inventiveness.  Fritz Byers considers Hall's career.

  • Views: 3040 On Dexter Gordon, by Kim Kleinman

    Kim Kleinman considers the achievement of Dexter Gordon, reflecting on having first encountered Gordon's grand sound on the live recordings of Gordon's mid-70s return to the United States, the pleasures of seeing him perform, and his enduring influence.

    To read Kim Kleinman's article, click here.

  • Views: 184 2008 Grammy Award for Latin Jazz

    The Recording Academy will announce the 2008 Grammys Sunday, February 8, 2009.  The contenders for Best Latin Jazz album are the Caribbean Jazz Project, "Afro Bop Alliance"; Conrad Herwig, "The Latin Side of Wayne Shorter"; Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, "Song for Chico"; Nestor Torres, "Nouveau Latino"; and Pap Vazquez & The Mighty Pirates, "Marooned/Aislado".  Fritz Byers surveys the field.

  • Views: 174 Best Jazz Releases - 2008

    Fritz Byers selects forty jazz releases from 2008 that made a deep impression, selected from among the hundreds of worthy discs that he listened to during the year.

  • Views: 197 2007 Grammy Award for Latin Jazz

    The contenders for the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz reflect the breadthy, vitality, and brilliance of the current Latin-jazz scene -- equal parts revered veterans and stunning newcomers.  Fritz Byers argues that who wins doesn't matter; listen to all five of these terrific recordings.

  • Views: 200 Best of Latin Jazz 2007

    A steady stream of stirring releases made 2007 a rich year for Latin Jazz artists: the Simon brothers, Mark Weinstein, John Santos, Paquito D'Rivera, Bobby Sanabria, and Roswell Rudd in collaboration with Yomo Toro.  Fritz Byers surveys the year.