Jazz

Our Jazz Appreciation Month celebration continues this week as we present our favorite live jazz recordings. Tune in during the week of April 13th at 7 pm, 9:30 pm, 12:30 am and 5:30 am to hear top live jazz picks from Bob Perkins, Jeff Duperon, Zivit, J. Michael Harrison, Bob Craig, and Maureen Malloy.

Listen to our hosts discuss their favorite live recordings below.

1.  Zivit - Bill Evans - "My Man's Gone Now" - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Art Blakey was to the small band what Duke Ellington was to the big band, meaning that over the years Blakey’s small groups—like Ellington’s big bands—produced a great number of jazz artists, many of whom became jazz legends.

Vocalist Justine Keeys, aka Miss Justine, is one of Philadelphia’s jazz gems. Starting in the early '80s, she enthralled audiences at clubs and private venues across the Philadelphia area with the late pianist Gerald Price. Their long collaboration taught her the importance of finding the right musical fit. Miss Justine fills in WRTI's Meridee Duddleston about her life in music.
 

Very often with famous entertainers, only the first name is sufficient for identification. This happens particularly in the genres of jazz and standard/popular music. When a hip person wants to say something about a well-known artist, they may refer to that artist as Sarah, Billie, Ella, or Carmen. The latter of course is a reference to Carmen McRae, dubbed by jazz critics, writers and fans, "The Singer’s Singer."  

A musician’s understanding of his artistry often deepens over time. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston gets a perspective from a jazz man who’s performed for over a half century. Guitarist and vocalist Jimi Odell has been called one of Philadelphia’s best-kept secrets. And even though he wasn’t born here, local jazz buffs proudly claim him as their own. Now in his '80s, Odell bought himself a guitar and an instruction book when he was 19. Looking back he says it’s not an easy instrument to master.

He stood five feet, two inches tall, and his musical colleagues dubbed him “Swee’ Pea,” after the little character in the Popeye cartoons. But Billy Strayhorn ranked with the giants that composed enduring standard popular music. He was also nobody’s cartoon character. The handle was a reverent tease, applied by Strayhorn’s musical associates in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

One night recently, as I was home struggling to convince my toddler that the floor is not where leftover food lives, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” came on the radio. Suddenly, I found myself paying a bit more attention to the music than the drama at hand. Why? Because I knew what was coming....that specific moment in the song that always gets to me. There's a total mood shift as the timing completely changes and you start to notice the drums more and more. And then you start to wonder if the drums were even there at all during the beginning of the tune.

Duke Ellington was a fascinating figure—so much so that quite a number of books and shorter profiles of the man came to be during his time, and well after his passing. Writers were always peering over his shoulder, trying to get a fix on how he operated his band and made it so successful; they even attempted to poke into his personal life, which the Duke managed to keep fairly secret.

Marriages: the successful workings of two business partners; two athletes involved in a sporting event, and other instances in which two individuals are teamed and work successfully, are often described as unions made in heaven.

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