CD Review: ‘This and That,’ Rebecca Kilgore and Bernd Lhotzky

Rebecca Kilgore and Bernd Lhotzky:
This and That
Arbors Records: ARCD 19455
Recorded April 25-27, 2016
Munich, Germany

kilgoreHere’s a professionally performed CD—just vocal and piano with 15 tunes by Gershwin, Ellington, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and others. What makes it special is the pairing of Rebecca Kilgore with German pianist Bernd Lhotzky. Many readers will, no doubt, be familiar with Becky Kilgore as she’s a regular on the recording and jazz party circuit. In fact, Pensacola fans will remember her appearance at Pensacola JazzFest in 1999 when she came with a group that included drummer Hal Smith.

Lhotzky, age 46, is famous in US as well as in Europe. He has performed at the Jazz in July Festival in New York and at the Arbors Records Jazz Party in Clearwater. He has recorded with jazz pianist Dick Hyman on the highly acclaimed album Stridin’ the Classics. He also performs with Echoes of Swing group in Germany and performs with Chris Hopkins in piano duo.

I’m a fan of both, having heard each of them perform on several occasions. Becky is not only a vocalist but an excellent guitarist who knows how to deliver a tune. But she only vocalizes on this recording.

When is the last time you heard Hoagy Carmichael’s Baltimore Oriole? If not lately, this is your chance.

I’ll name a few others I loved, in order to intrigue you! Strayhorn’s: Lotus Blossom and A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Ellington/Strayhorn’s Grievin’ and Star Crossed Lovers and the Gershwin brothers’ Do-do-do.

This CD will be in the Jazz Room at downtown West Florida Public Library for check-out. Highly recommended.

Book Review: ‘Pressed for All Time’ by Michael Jarrett

PRESSED FOR ALL TIME:
Producing the Great Jazz Albums From Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday To Miles Davis and Diana Krall
©Michael Jarrett, 2016
University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill
pp. 303 with index

pressedforalltimeMichael Jarrett is a published author and jazz authority as well as an English professor at Pennsylvania State University at York, Pa. He looks at the way certain jazz recordings were made through interviews with their producers. He writes about his conversations about these recordings with some of the giants in the business—George Avakian, Milt Gabler, Orrin Keepnews, Michael Cuscana and Neshui Ertrgun, for example, and also many with which most are unfamiliar.

Jarrett recounts his conversation with Gabler about how Billie Holiday wanted to record “Strange Fruit,” which was popular with her multi-racial audience at NYC’s Café Society. She was under contract with Columbia which would not record it for fear of offending a portion of their customers. Gabler was able to get an exception from Columbia and recorded it on his own Commodore label. Ironically, it was pressed by Vocalion, which was owned by CBS, which also owned Columbia. The book covers recordings current to 2013. Some examples of recordings in the 2000s include Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Abbey Lincoln and Gregory Porter in 2013.

When recording tape came available, producers were then able to edit and splice, thereby saving time in the recording studio. One producer reported that he learned to edit by watching Rudy Van Gelder do it.

The format of the book is necessarily conversational. A subject heading might be the title of a recording and then conversation with one or more producers about that recording. There is usually a small photograph of the album cover. So that the reader of this review may conceptualize the format of this book, the titles of the four chapters are as follows:
Cutting Sides: Producing 78 RPM Discs, 1936-1949
Rolling Tape: Producing Jazz LPs, 1950-1966
Laying Down Tracks: Producing Multitrack Recordings, 1967-1990
Recording to Hard Drive: Producing Digitally, 1991-2013

There are also brief biographical sketches of the interviewee/ commentators since some may not generally be known by the average reader.

Mr. Jarrett kindly allowed me a telephone interview. Although he covered this in his book, he has interviewed record producers for jazz publications including Jazziz and Pulse, published by Tower Records. I asked how he reconstructed those interviews. He explained that he taped all the interviews then transcribed them. Hence, it was then just a matter of searching to find the ones desired.

This book is a valuable contribution to our greater appreciation of the artists themselves. If not for the producers the music would be only ephemeral. If one wishes to verify, the Jarrett’s interview recordings are on file at the library at University of North Carolina.

Book Review: ‘King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue’

KING OF JAZZ:
Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue
By James Layton and David Pierce
Media History Press
1725 Grand View Ave.
Severn, MD 21144
©2016, pp. 303
whitemanbook

This elegant book, 8 ¾ x 11”, comes at a time when the 1930 early Technicolor movie about Paul Whiteman and his band is undergoing a revival. The authors have documented the making of this movie in painstaking detail. There are elegant photographs, many in color. The index is complete so that one can find his/her favorite musician easily in the text or photographs.

Whiteman’s band comprising 20+ musicians was at its peak about the time of the making of this movie. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue had been commissioned for performance at Whiteman’s 1924 concert at Aeolian Hall in NYC.

Many of the outstanding jazz musicians of the time were associated at one time or another with the Whiteman band. Bing Crosby got his big break with Whiteman. Both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey played with Whiteman. Some of the others included Bix Beiderbecke, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Frank Trumbauer and, of course, arranger Ferde Grofé.

Interestingly, even though the elegant movie featured America’s most famous band at the time, it was not a commercial success because the timing of the release couldn’t have been worse because of the severe economic depression.

The movie has been restored using the most modern techniques and is currently being shown in a few cities at art museums and other similar locations. In contact with Mr. David Pierce, one of the authors, I learn that the movie will not be available for release in movie theatres or on DVD in the near future. Mr. Pierce indicates that the book is for sale through their company, address above, with signed and numbered copies. It is also available commercially through Amazon and other outlets, but not signed and numbered.

This book will be will be available for reading at the Jazz Room of the West Florida Public Library.

Readers are encouraged to view the two volume biography of Whiteman written by Don Rayno, which is also available in the Jazz Room.

Southeast Tourism Society Selects JazzFest as a Top 20 Event

ehsjazzThe Southeast Tourism Society has named JazzFest one of the STS Top 20 Event in the Southeast for April of 2017.

This year’s JazzFest is April 1-2. The STS Top 20 Festival and Event Awards have highlighted programs around the Southeast since 1985.

top20winner2017print_webTravel industry experts select 20 events per month, and STS publicizes them throughout the United States. The complete list is published on two websites: EscapeToTheSoutheast.com and Travel Media Press Room.

Pensacola JazzFest is a FREE all-jazz festival held in historic Seville Square in downtown Pensacola. Jazz Pensacola produces the event with assistance from a variety of corporate sponsors, community organizations and donations. The two-day festival celebrates America’s unique musical art form—jazz. Jazz Pensacola volunteers work yearlong to present the festival as their annual gift to the community.

“The Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Festival and Event list is an excellent guide for the Southeast’s visitors, residents and travel writers. The events selected represent the best, and often most unique, activities in our region,” said Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society.

Events considered for the STS Top 20 recognition must be at least three years old and have attendance of at least 1,000. Nomination forms and deadlines are available at SoutheastTourism.org or by calling 770-542-1523.

STS, founded in 1983 and headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting tourism to and within 12 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Book Review: ‘Travels with Louis’ by Mick Carlon

Travels with Louis
By Mick Carlon
Leapfrog Press LLC © 2012
pp.245, paperback, 5”X7½”

lifewithlouisThis is the second book of its kind by author Mick Carlon. His previous book, Riding on Duke’s Train was about a young African-American boy who is befriended by Duke Ellington and is invited on tour.

This book has a similar format. Young Fred lives with his family in the New York neighborhood of Corona Queens. He is introduced to Louis Armstrong by his father, Fred senior. Through a series of adventures, young Fred has opportunity to play his own trumpet with the encouragement of Mr. Armstrong. Within the story-line, little Fred encounters, and overcomes, some racial prejudice and meets some famous musicians such as Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie and poet Langston Hughes and Civil Rights leader John Lewis.

Throughout the book, various famous songs are mentioned as well. This book is suitable for juveniles ages 8-14.

In the foreword, the author expresses appreciation, among others, to Jack Bradley who was a longtime assistant and photographer for Louis Armstrong. Bradley’s Armstrong collection is now on display at the Armstrong House and Museum in Queens, NY. This book is autographed by Mick Carlon.

Vickers and Jazz Pensacola thank Jack Bradley for donation of this book which will be placed in the Jazz Room of downtown West Florida Public Library for circulation. Two copies of Riding on Duke’s Train are available in the library system as well.

Book Review: ‘Love for Sale: Pop Music in America’ by David Hajdu

LOVE FOR SALE: Pop Music in America
David Hajdu
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux ©2016
pp. 307 with end notes and index

loveforsaleAuthor of this book, David Hajdu, is a professor of journalism at Columbia University. He’s music critic for The Nation as well as a songwriter and librettist. His biography of Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life (1996) is the definitive work, so far, on this jazz composer/pianist and Ellington alter ego.

The current book approaches American pop music from a unique perspective. He begins with popular music presented primarily as sheet music and live performance. From there he covers the music as presented on radio and on recordings. There are numerous examples and anecdotes including Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and others.

The author also weaves in technological advances and their influence on the direction of the music—records 78 rpm to LPs to CDs to streaming audio and video. Interestingly, he weaves in some of his personal history, too. His mother worked in a fast-food place in New Jersey. She would bring home the discarded 45 rpm discs from the jukebox. He recounts also musical anecdotes related to his vocalist-wife and his son.

So, in my opinion, the book is successful on several levels. It tells a good story and at the same time gives an excellent overview of how popular music evolved over the last century. Having been a Hajdu admirer since reading Lush Life, I eagerly await his next work.

This book will be available for readers in the Jazz Room of the downtown West Florida Public Library, Pensacola.