To download or stream: 1000 hours of classic jazz, mixed and annotated by a master collector


David W Niven began collecting jazz records in 1925, when he was 10 years old. He continued to collect until 1991, amassing a nearly unparalleled collection of 78s and LPs, whose highlights he eventually transferred to cassette, boiling down 10,000 hours of music to 1,000 hours of tape with his spoken commentary, each cassette meticulously annotated with handwritten liner-notes. Read the rest

Fred Kaz, Live at the Ash Grove

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Few artists in the history of jazz have played piano with the expression and soul of Fred Kaz.

The master spent over 30 years as the musical director for the Second City, and was the most magical improvisational musician you could ever have heard perform. Fred's piano led both the audience, and the ensemble through adventures, tragedies and beautifully mundane moments. Fred made sure all was clear. The piano was his voice.

While his work on stage, as a composer and as a director, is amazing, Fred's jazz touches the heart. Sadly, it has been hard to find recordings of his music, however since Fred's passing in 2014 his wife Helen has been steadily producing his previously unreleased works.

This album was recorded in 1997, at the Ash Grove on the Pier, in Santa Monica, California.

I recently found this poem Fred wrote for me, after he and Helen visited my daughter and I, at our home in Muir Beach.

Where the river feeds the ocean

And the dry land meets the sea

And the hungry, saw-toothed coastline

Chews the gasping, high-tide surf,

I am harbored with my life-mate

By a sharing, gentle man;

And we all imagine futures

In the ever-present tense,

Letting friendship fertilize

each other's souls.

Fred Kaz 6/18/2013

We miss him very much.

Fred Kaz, Live at the Ash Grove Read the rest

Kamasi Washington: free appearance in San Francisco today (2/25)

Kamasi Washington -- the incredible saxophonist and composer who is carrying the spiritual jazz torch pioneered by the likes of John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, and Albert Ayler -- is in San Francisco today (Thursday, 2/25) for the Noise Pop Music Festival. You can see Washington interviewed live, FREE, at 3:30pm today at the Swedish American Hall before his two shows at The Independent. (The Independent shows are sold out but you can still get in by purchasing a Noise Pop badge, which also is your entry into dozens of other killer concerts this week.)

Some years ago, when Kamasi Washington was a teenager, Birdman Records owner David Katznelson heard about his band, The Young Jazz Giants, signed them and took them into the studio. The self-titled debut record came out the following year and the four members of the group still play together today, in fact were featured on THE EPIC. The interview would discuss the founding of the Young Jazz Giants, with focus on Billy Higgins, the recording of that record and the path from there to the Epic.

RSVP to Kamasi Washington Live Interview

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Jazz bagpiper Rufus Harley on "I've Got a Secret" (1996)


I wasn't expecting much from jazz bagpipe, but this is great.

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Miles Davis biopic trailer and interview with director/star Don Cheadle


Don Cheadle directed and stars in Miles Ahead, the film portrait of the jazz legend that opens in theaters April 1. How did Cheadle get the role? Well, he never auditioned or even talked to anyone about it before he was cast. Rather, Miles's nephew Vince Wilburn declared that Cheadle would play his uncle. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Cheadle:

The film jumps around, but the main thread of the plot is set around 1979. Why did you chose to focus on that time period? Just the fact that he wasn’t playing. The fact that he hadn’t played for five years, up to that point, and in a way, was either chomping at the bit to figure out what to say again, if to say again, or he was going down towards death very quickly. He was standing on that knife’s edge at that point, and I don’t think he even know which way it was gonna go. So for us, when we got to the period in all the research about how Miles didn’t play for five years, we were like, “What?” [Laughs] That was the part that was the most interesting from a human being standpoint to me. Musically and what he did with his art form was amazing to me all the time, for the most part. But for me, as a human and an artist and someone who’s a creative person, what happens when you just stop for five years? That’s why we picked that moment to sort of be the departure point: him on the verge of talking again, basically.

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Enjoy some sleazy beatnik jazz


Fleet & Freddy's "Pad" (1958). Can you dig it? I knew that you could. (via Jazzman)

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Watch jazz legend Elvin Jones build a drum beat

Watch legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones, known for his playing with the John Coltrane Quartet and, of course, the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, construct a killer post-bop beat, c. 1979. (Thanks, Jordan Kurland!)

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Comedian Jon Benjamin should have learned to play piano


Famed titular voice of Archer, and Bob of Bob's Burgers, Jon Benjamin has recorded a jazz album. Interestingly, Benjamin can't play piano, and really doesn't like jazz.

Benjamin brought a ton of great jazz musicians into the studio and recorded an album, but he can't play at all. What happens is really pretty cool! NPR has a great interview.

I'm certainly finding the album fun. Jazz daredevil indeed!

Well, I Should Have...* by Jon Benjamin via Amazon Read the rest

Get hammered with jazz great Charles Mingus's Egg Nog recipe


Jazz pioneer Charles Mingus (1922-1979) had a secret recipe for eggnog that by all accounts was delicious, and incredibly potent. He shared the recipe with biographer Janet Coleman who published it in her book Mingus/Mingus: Two Memoirs. Here's the brew below, followed by Mingus's "Moanin'."

Charles Mingus's Egg Nog

* Separate one egg for one person. Each person gets an egg. * Two sugars for each egg, each person. * One shot of rum, one shot of brandy per person. * Put all the yolks into one big pan, with some milk. * That’s where the 151 proof rum goes. Put it in gradually or it’ll burn the eggs, * OK. The whites are separate and the cream is separate. * In another pot- depending on how many people- put in one shot of each, rum and brandy. (This is after you whip your whites and your cream.) * Pour it over the top of the milk and yolks. * One teaspoon of sugar. Brandy and rum. * Actually you mix it all together. * Yes, a lot of nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg. And stir it up. * You don’t need ice cream unless you’ve got people coming and you need to keep it cold. Vanilla ice cream. You can use eggnog. I use vanilla ice cream. * Right, taste for flavor. Bourbon? I use Jamaica Rum in there. Jamaican Rums. Or I’ll put rye in it. Scotch. It depends.

See, it depends on how drunk I get while I’m tasting it.

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Kamasi Washington and The Mountain Goats to play 2016 Noise Pop Music Festival in SF


Kamasi Washington, 34, is a saxophonist and composer who is carrying the spiritual jazz torch pioneered by the likes of John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Albert Ayler, and Stanley Cowell. But his sound is not a retro trip. Washington, who has also played with Flying Lotus, Snoop Dogg, Herbie Hancock, and Kendrick Lamar, recently released his three hour album, aptly titled Epic. It's an immersive, post-post-bop modal groove that is utterly and entirely contemporary. Dig the performance above, recorded this summer for NPR's Jazz Night in America.

I was thrilled when our friends at San Francisco's Noise Pop Music Festival announced that Washington will be part of this year's killer lineup for the musical extravaganza taking place February 19-28 at clubs around the city. So far, the schedule also includes performances by The Mountain Goats, Parquet Courts, Vince Staples, The Cave Singers, Caucus, The Thermals, Film School, Diane Coffee, Wild Ones, Beacon, Astronauts, Etc., Palehound, and Heartwatch.

More details: Noise Pop Music Festival

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Groove to the deepest, most beautiful jazz you've probably never heard


Strata-East Records was a pioneering record label founded in 1971 that went deep down the post-bop, spiritual jazz path most famously explored by John Coltrane on his iconic 1964 work "A Love Supreme." Strata-East was a radical label, featuring radical sounds by the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, label founders Charles Tolliver and Stanley Cowell, Clifford Jordan, Pharaoh Sanders, Cecil McBee, Sonny Fortune, Shirley Scott, and other greats.

I'm just beginning to check out the history, edges, and intersections of the jazz genre(s), and I had never heard of Strata-East until I visited San Francisco's legendary Groove Merchant record store several weeks ago. I told proprietor Chris Veltri that I love "A Love Supreme," Alice Coltrane, and Pharaoh Sanders, and asked where I should go next. Without missing a beat, he answered Strata-East. And now I can't get enough. My primers are Andy Thomas's excellent article "A Guide to Strata East," the killer compilation Soul Jazz Loves Strata East (from top-shelf reissue label Soul Jazz), and DJ Gilles Peterson's incredible Strata East Mix, celebrating a Strata-East Live event that took place in London earlier this year. Listen to Peterson's mix below:

(illustration above from Peterson's event poster) Read the rest

When Miles Davis named his album Bitches Brew

Miles Just Called

"Please advise."

A letter sent to Columbia Records art director John Berg and others by Teo Macero, producer of Miles's revolutionary 1970 jazz fusion album. Below, a live performance of the title track "Bitches Brew."

(Thanks, Jordan Kurland!)

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Listen: Movits! Swedish dancehall/swing/hiphop jazz


Sweden's MOVITS! (presently touring the USA) plays music they call Äppelknyckarjazz ("Apple swiper jazz") that combines big-band swing with hip-hop that's infused with dancehall reggae-style rapping and declaiming (in Swedish). Read the rest

Listen to some fresh avant-jazz from Brian Ellis Group!


Dig this far out avant-jazz/electronic madness from San Diego's Brian Ellis Group that the record label, El Paraiso, rightly says should be filed in the same crate as "Miles Davis, Tortoise, Marion Brown, Joe Henderson, Can, and Donald Byrd." Read the rest

"The Lick," it is everywhere


Doo ba dih bee dWee doo daah. Read the rest

Ska is the mother of reggae


Public Radio International aired this short audio piece on ska, the musical form that took off in the early 1960s, blending Jamaican jazz with American soul and rhythm and blues, and influenced numerous excellent bands, from The Clash and The Specials to No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Read the rest

Rad jazz cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"


The Sunji Lee Quintet plays Nirvana. Far out! Read the rest

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