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Jazz / Rock Guitarist Hiram Bullock has died

8 Aug

Sad news, Hiram Bullock is dead at age 52, here from the NYTimes:

Hiram Bullock, a soulful and adaptable jazz and rock guitarist who was a member of the original band for “Late Night with David Letterman,” died last Friday in Manhattan. He was 52. Continue reading

Here’s Something Pat Metheny, Eric Clapton or Wes Montgomery Can’t Do

31 Jul

A man with no arms taught himself to play guitar.

Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, Barbara Dennerlein – 3 Nights in Tunisia

9 Jul

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. He was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, the youngest of nine children. Dizzy’s father was a local bandleader, so instruments were made available to Dizzy. He started to play the piano at the age of 4. Together with Charlie Parker, he was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz.

In addition to featuring in these epochal moments in bebop, he was instrumental in founding Afro-Cuban jazz, the modern jazz version of what early-jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton referred to as the “Spanish Tinge”. Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and gifted improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic complexity previously unknown in jazz. In addition to his instrumental skills, Dizzy’s beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop, which was originally regarded as threatening and frightening music by many listeners raised on older styles of jazz. He had an enormous impact on virtually every subsequent trumpeter, both by the example of his playing and as a mentor to younger musicians.  from Wikipedia

There’s sometimes a tendency to underrate Dizzy because, in contrast to the very serious personality of Miles Davis, Dizzy loved to clown around.  As a kid Dizzy used to show up at white dance halls and put on a little dance routine for tips, so he learned early on the usefulness of pleasing a crowd.  And in shifting jazz from a music that people danced to, to something that people would listen to, he also used his skill to keep patrons in the clubs.  I always loved the story of Dizzy saying to the audience, “Now I’d like to introduce the band.  Charlie I’d like you to meet Monk…”  And long before baby-boomers discovered the summer of love in 1967, Dizzy was touring the world for the US State Department and later the UN as an ambassador of peace and understanding using the universal language of music to build bridges.  He even ran for president (before Barack Obama): Continue reading

Tal Wilkenfeld – She puts bass guitar in the spotlight

8 Jul

I first saw Tal Wilkenfeld when she appeared with Jeff Beck at Eric Clapton’s 2007 Crossroads Festival.  She’s one of those remarkable musicians whom you immediately identify as someone with extraordinary talent who will leave a lasting mark on the music world.

Here’s a clip of that 2007 concert (see looks like she’s 15, but she’s actually about 22.)

From her MySpace biography:

Born in Sydney Australia, Tal first picked up guitar at age 14, and switched to the bass guitar 3 years later.

After playing bass for only a few months, Roger Sadowsky heard Tal, and offered her an endorsement with Sadowsky guitars. Very quickly, Tal started performing as a sideman and bandleader, and started working towards the recording of her debut album, “Transformation”, which she recorded at the tender age of 20. As well as playing bass, Tal also composed, arranged, and produced the album, which features Wayne Krantz, Geoffrey Keezer, Keith Carlock and Seamus Blake. That same year, she appeared as a guest with the Allman Brothers Band, and taught a clinic at bass day 06.

When she was 21, Tal accompanied Chick Corea on his tour of Australia, and Jeff Beck on his European Summer Tour. The Beck tour culminated at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival, where Jeff featured Tal with a blistering solo on “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” that many regard as one of the highlights of the show.

Since then, Tal has played with many other greats, including Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock, Joss Stone, Wayne Shorter, the Wayne Krantz Trio, and Corinnie Bailey Ray, and has been voted as “The Years Most Exciting New Player” in Bass Players 2008 Readers Choice Awards.

Derek Trucks in Japan

5 Apr

In late November 2007 the Derek Trucks Band did a tour in Japan. These shows haven’t received the attention they deserve on, so I thought I’d present some of my favorite moments.

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Jeff Healey, an extraordinary guitarist, dies at age 41

3 Mar

Very sad news today, the Canadian blues/rock guitarist Jeff Healey lost his battle with cancer. Continue reading

The Youngest Musician @ Woodstock

22 Nov

(Daily Motion has a brief ad before the video)

Drummer MICHAEL SHRIEVE had just turned 19 when Santana, a relatively unknown band, performed at Woodstock in 1969. Here is the speech Michael gave at his induction into the Roll & Roll Hall of Fame:

When I was 16 years old, I called up about a dozen of my musician friends and asked if they wanted to drive up to the Fillmore with me and see if we could sit in. Michael Bloomfield, Steven Stills and Al Kooper were playing together, billed as Continue reading

Derek Trucks at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival – Oct. 25th, 2007

31 Oct


I caught five concerts during the Derek Trucks Band’s 2005 European tour. Continue reading

Paul Harvey interviews Derek Trucks & Barbara Dennerlein

5 Oct


Paul Harvey & Derek Trucks

NOTE: March 1, 2009 – this is not the late Paul Harvey of American radio.

Paul Harvey of NPS Radio 6 in the Netherlands knows music. In 2003 he interviewed Derek Trucks by telephone – Derek’s first radio interview in Europe. Paul was quick to recognize Derek’s extraordinary talent and set about organizing a highly creative series of concerts featuring the Derek Trucks Band along with several special guests. Under the interview is an introduction to the event that took place in October of 2005 written by Paul :

This is the portion of the 2005 interview that aired on Dutch radio: Continue reading

R.I.P. Joe Zawinul

11 Sep

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Joe Zawinul, who soared to fame as one of the creators of jazz fusion and performed and recorded with Miles Davis, died early Tuesday, a hospital official said. He was 75.

Zawinul had been hospitalized since last month. A spokeswoman for Vienna’s Wilhelmina Clinic confirmed his death without giving details. His manager, Risa Zincke, said Zawinul suffered from a rare form of skin cancer, according to the Austria Press Agency.

Zawinul won widespread acclaim for his keyboard work on chart-topping Davis albums such as “In A Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew,” and was a leading force behind the so-called “Electric Jazz” movement.

In 1970, Zawinul founded the band Weather Report and produced a series of albums including “Heavy Weather,” “Black Market” and “I Sing the Body Electric.” After that band’s breakup, he founded the Zawinul Syndicate in 1987. to the article

Hammond B3 Hall of Fame

11 Sep

UPDATE Dec. 23, 2013  Watch the video above to learn about the freshman class of the Hammond Hall of Fame, just announced by the Hammond Organ Company USA. I put together this playlist for you guys so you can see the freshman class in action (unfortunately there isn’t video of a few of the early players, but thankfully  you can watch clips of most of the inductees.)

The post below is now almost 7 years old, and is focused primarily on jazz B3 players.  The official Hammond Hall of Fame represents many different musical genres.  Special congratulations to Gregg Allman and Barbara Dennerlein who have been supporters of

In Glen Nelson’s history of the Hammond Organ he writes:

“To get a B-3 to a gig, you would probably need a truck or a van to transport it, a dolly or three to four guys to carry it, and then a prayer that you didn’t have to carry it up too many flights of stairs. Why, you must be wondering, would any sane musician want to take this piece of furniture with them out to a gig? If you have ever heard a good B-3, you would understand. A Hammond B-3 can all at once sound like a carnival, a big band, a horn section, a small jazz combo, a funk group, a percussion section, a flute, and/or countless other things. How does one instrument manage to do all this? “

To find out the answer, read his very thorough yet concise article.

The history of organ jazz begins with Fats Waller, the son of a Baptist minister, who played church organ before playing piano. During the silent film era he was a theatre organist in New York. Fats also taught Count Basie how to play the organ and he probably had the first recording featuring an electric Hammond organ.

Fats also played and recorded on pipe organ. In fact, in Paris he played the organ at Notre Dame and in London at the Abbey Road Studio he recorded spirituals on the Compton Theatre organ.


Then came the next major figure, Wild Bill Davis, who may have had the first jazz organ trio, and was known for his “fat” chords.

And then came Jimmy Smith whose magic right hand and approach to soloing changed everything. He was a great showman and soloist with superior musical instincts, and his contribution to organ jazz can hardly be overemphasized.

Continue reading

New DVD series featuring Coltrane, Brubeck,, Wes Montgomery a.m.m.

4 Sep

Eight DVD set for $120 featuring

· Three incredible John Coltrane concerts (filmed in 1960, 1961 and 1965) featuring over 90 minutes of music and including sideman appearances by several other jazz legends – Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner, Eric Dolphy, and Elvin Jones. The 1960 concert, recorded in Germany with Miles Davis’ band (sans Miles), features recently discovered performance footage that had been lost for over 45 years.

· Three Wes Montgomery concerts from 1965 (a guitar-lovers dream) filmed in Holland, Belgium and England with liner notes by Pat Metheny and an afterword by Carlos Santana. Continue reading

Great News for Ray Charles Fans

18 Aug

During a tour of Germany in the ’70’s someone put a mircophone on Ray Charles and captured some fantastic vocals, but unfortunately the band was not properly recorded and they are merely a muffled sound in the background of Ray’s vocal. Thanks to modern technology the vocals were extracted and new arrangements done in the style of Count Basie (Ray’s favorite big band) – were recorded (including Joey DeFrancesco a great B3 player .) You can read about it here.

Here’s a video about the project: Continue reading

Jazz Legend Max Raoch passes on

16 Aug

From the NY Times

As a young man, Mr. Roach, a percussion virtuoso capable of playing at the most brutal tempos with subtlety as well as power, was among a small circle of adventurous musicians who brought about wholesale changes in jazz. He remained adventurous to the end.

Over the years he challenged both his audiences and himself by working not just with standard jazz instrumentation, and not just in traditional jazz venues, but in a wide variety of contexts, some of them well beyond the confines of jazz as that word is generally understood.

read more

Derek Trucks – Guitarist Extraordinaire

3 Aug

With regard to the slide guitar, Duane Allman was such a commanding figure that any discussion of the instrument always comes back to him. Indeed, it’s rare to find an article about slide guitar that doesn’t mention Duane Allman. For decades it seemed like his unrivaled supremacy on the slide guitar would never be questioned. Then came Derek Trucks.

In the case of Derek Trucks, there are valid reasons to mention Duane Allman. First there are family ties. Derek’s uncle, Butch Trucks, was a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Derek’s parents named him in honor of the great LP “Layla” which resulted from the legendary recording sessions in Miami, Florida involving Eric Clapton and Duane Allman under the name of “Derek and the Dominoes.” The comparisons naturally increased when Derek Trucks took over Duane Allman’s slide duties when he joined the Allman Brothers Band. Finally, the buzz reached the world in 2006/07 when Derek recreated the original magic of the Derek and the Dominoes legacy by performing much of that recording on stage with Eric Clapton.

Despite all this, Derek is finally emerging from behind the giant shadow cast by Duane Allman and is being recognized as an extremely gifted player who has his own sound, style and artistic vision.

trucks_young When Derek Trucks looked like this, he sounded like this. By the age of eleven he was already performing professionally. Wade Tatangelo of the McClatchy Newspapers chain interviewed Derek in January of 2007:

Most twentysomething guitarists would be petrified at the thought of sharing a stage with Clapton. But Trucks has been blowing audiences away for more than a decade. His first brush with a genuine rock legend occurred in Clearwater, Fla., in 1992. Trucks, 12, was the opening act for Bob Dylan. Continue reading

Charlie Mariano’s, Bangalore

2 Aug

Charlie Mariano is one of the sax greats from the Bebop era. He has lived and toured primarily in Europe and Asia in recent decades and now resides in Cologne, Germany. In the 50’s he played with Dizzy Gillespie and Erroll Garner among others, but he is thoroughly open to all streams of music: he guested on a Steely Dan recording and even worked with the German pop singer Nena (99 Red Ballons), and he’s recorded with a philharmonic orchestra to mention just a few examples.

He’s also one of the few Westerners to master the Nagaswaram, one of the most popular classical instruments of south India and the world’s loudest non-brass acoustic instrument. While in India the idea for this CD developed.

 I consider it a true treasure, some of the melodies are addictive, it is very rare for me to play the same CD more than twice in a week. The first week I had this CD I must have listened to it five times, it is just so emotive and original. This is a great CD to add to your collection.

Here is a 55 second YouTube clip of a live performance of Bangalore at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1998.

Barbara Dennerlein to play America’s Largest Pipe Organ

13 Jul

On Wednesday August 1st at 7 pm Barbara Dennerlein will be at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center playing America’s Largest Concert Hall Organ! It ranks as the largest concert hall organ in the United States. With its nearly 7,000 pipes, four blowers, 300 levels of memory, 111 stops, pipe sizes ranging from about the size of a drinking straw up to two feet square by 32 feet high, this is truly the King of Instruments!

Having a jazz Hammond B3 player will be quite a shift from the musicians who preceded her, including a former Organist and Director of Cathedral Concerts at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It is going to be a real challenge given her limited time for preparation – this is a very complex instrument, but she has a great deal of experience on pipe organs and performs regular tours here in Europe, and also has a CD done on a pipe organ.

You can get tickets here

The next night she will be in New York at the elegant Joe’s Pub for a jazz gig.

Toots – Jazz 101

10 Jul

Baron Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor “Toots” Thielemans (born Brussels, April 29, 1922) is a Belgian jazz artist well known for his guitar, harmonica playing, and also for his highly accomplished professional whistling. He is often credited by jazz aficionados and jazz critics as being among the greatest jazz hamonica players of the century.

Thielemans started his career as a guitar player. In 1949 he joined a jam session in Paris with Sidney Bechet, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Max Roach and others. In 1951 he went on tour with Bobbejaan Schoepen.

He moved to the US in 1952 where he was a member of Charlie Parker’s All-Stars. He played and recorded with names like Ella Fitzgerald, The George Shearing Quintet, Quincy Jones, Bill Evans, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Astrud Gilberto, Elis Regina and others.

A jazz standard by Toots Thielemans is “Bluesette” where he used whistling and guitar in unison. Bluesette became a major 1962 world-wide hit for him and this still much beloved and requested piece has been re-recorded by him and commercially released on records/CDs many times over both in various studio versions and live on-stage performances performed in several different countries. Wikipedia

My personal favorites from Toots are The Brasil Project (1992) & The Brasil Project vol 2. (1993)

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Jazz classic with blisteringly fast solos – Dennis Chambers, Barbara Dennerlein, Mitch Watkins

4 Jul


In In the following 10 minute video you will see Dennis Chambers and Barbara Dennerlein – arguably two of the most gifted jazz players around today.

Chambers began playing drums at age four and was doing nightclub gigs at age six. Although he is completely devoid of formal training, he is considered one of the greatest drummers of his generation.

Dennerlein began playing organ at age eleven and had 18 months of lessons, apart from the basics, she was essentially self taught. At fifteen she was already headlining in Munich’s jazz clubs. It’s not easy for a European to make it in the jazz world, female instrumentalist are also rare, and a left handed keyboard players has a natural disadvantage – but Dennerlein, a five time Downbeat Critics Poll winner is the exception.

Carlos Santana, a master of powerful rhythm sections, made the wise decision to hire Dennis for his 2006 tour. Dennerlein has praised Santana in interviews, imagine Dennis Chambers, Barbara Dennerlein and Carlos Santana together 🙂 Continue reading

Cooler than Miles?

20 Jun

Okay, Miles Davis was a cool trend setting figure. But cool in the sense of “suave” or “debonair”: having a sophisticated charm – that’s Nat King Cole, he was before my time, but even looking back fifty years he still comes across as the embodiment of cool.

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