Archive for April 18th, 2012
It’s with a heavy heart that we pass on the news of the death earlier today of Dick Clark, 82, the legendary entertainment impresario, one-time disk jockey and eternal host of American Bandstand whose place in the annals of music history can’t be denied. The report was initially published by TMZ but later confirmed by sources including ABC News. Our memories of the great man’s appearances on game shows like The $10,000 Pyramid and programs like New Year’s Rockin’ Eve are too many to recount, but we’d like to take a moment now to remember the great spirit and tenacity of America’s Oldest Teenager. Rest in peace, Dick Clark. Let’s go hoppin’ today, to where things are poppin’, the Philadelphia way. Let’s drop in on the Bandstand…American Bandstand. Feel free to share your memories of Dick Clark below!
Louis Armstrong isn’t the only late jazz great being remembered with a new posthumous release. Following its acclaimed discovery of early Wes Montgomery performances, the Resonance Records label is turning its attention to pioneering pianist Bill Evans. Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate will arrive from Resonance on June 12 in both compact disc and vinyl editions, preserving Evans’ performance at New York City’s Village Gate on October 23, 1968.
One of the most influential jazz pianists of all time, the native of Plainfield, New Jersey developed an introverted style of playing and broke ground in the field of modal jazz, i.e. the solos build from the key, not (as is traditional) from chord changes only. He made his debut album in 1956 with New Jazz Conceptions which introduced the future standard penned by Evans, “Waltz for Debby.” In 1958, he began a brief but important tenure in Miles Davis’ band, and although he had left the group proper by then, he returned at Davis’ behest to play a prominent role on 1959’s Kind of Blue, one of the most notable jazz albums of all time. As the year drew to a close, Evans had formed his own trio with Scott LaFaro (bass) and Paul Motian (drums), and with those incredibly sympathetic collaborators, he further explored slow ballad tempi and playing at a quiet, inward volume in this post-bop era.
LaFaro’s death in a car accident in 1961 devastated Evans, but he continued to record with bassist Chuck Israels and then in a variety of settings, winning a Grammy Award for 1963’s Conversations with Myself on which he overdubbed multiple piano parts himself. Eddie Gomez joined the trio on bass in 1966 during Evans’ tenure at Verve, by which time Motian had already departed the group. (Both Motian, who died in November 2011, and Gomez remembered their time with Evans on a successful new recording with Chick Corea, Further Explorations. It was released earlier this year.)
The Evans/Gomez/Marty Morell iteration of the Trio was long-lasting, and after Morell left in 1975, Evans and Gomez recorded a couple of well-regarded duo albums. During the 1970s, Evans also recorded two highly acclaimed piano/vocal albums with Tony Bennett before succumbing in 1980 to the drug addictions that had plagued him throughout most of his personal life. He left behind a catalogue on various labels of over fifty albums as a leader and countless more as a sideman.
Yet those demons won’t be readily in evidence on Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate. Hit the jump for the full scoop including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »
One dictionary defines “pearl” as an object both “hard” and “lustrous,” synonymous with “gem” or “jewel.” Couldn’t all of those words also describe Janis Joplin? Pearl was, of course, the name bestowed upon the singer by her final group, The Kozmic Blues Band, and the title of her final, posthumously released album from 1971. Pearl has arrived on CD once more from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings under the title The Pearl Sessions (88697 84224 2), expanding the original 10-track album with a clutch of mono singles, two live tracks, and nearly a disc’s worth of alternate takes and studio banter. (A vinyl Sessions highlights album and a 180-gram pressing of the original LP will also be available on Record Store Day.) So is this the last word on Pearl?
The answer would have to be “yes” and “no,” which is altogether appropriate for an artist of many contradictions. Joplin was both larger-than-life and shy, supremely confident but pained. She was a songwriter of no small talent but best known for her interpretation of others’ songs. Pearl captured all of these contradictions, and more, better than any of the artist’s albums before it. Some of the most forceful repertoire of her all-too-short career can be found on the album, produced by Paul Rothchild, best known for his work with The Doors. Joplin pleads, wails, shrieks, and otherwise gives herself in to the music with abandon and fervor. A sense of drama permeates the original album which wasn’t always apparent in her earlier, more free-form recordings; indeed, this is as tight a group of songs as she ever recorded. Only “Me and Bobby McGee” exceeds the four-minute mark. Sessions is the second 2-CD set devoted to the album. The first (2005’s Legacy Edition on Columbia/Legacy C2K 90282) supplemented it with a live performance from 1970’s Festival Express tour. Sessions drops those tracks and replaces them with a behind-the-scenes look. Both approaches are valid but neither could be called “definitive.” However, Sessions confirms there’s still much, much more to explore when it comes to Janis Joplin.
We’ll meet you after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »