The past year was a home-going for a few great musicians, but the jazz side of heaven got a top notch revival when both Joe Sample and Wayne Henderson entered the gates.
As two of the four original Houstonians who created the Jazz Crusaders, the two moved to California together, played together and, coincidentally, died together in the same year.
Along with fellow Houston musicians Wilton Felder on sax and Stix Hooper on drums, they made marvelous music together until 1976 when Wayne Henderson decided to branch out to become a producer. Yet, the trombonist in him made him come back to the group in 1995. He taught at the California College of Music in Pasadena in 2007. Henderson died on April 4, 2014, at the age of 74 from heart failure.
Unfortunately, the beautiful hippie piano player is no longer out on the corner. Joe Sample walked away from the curb on September 12, 2014. Joe had remained a part of the Crusaders, through all its incarnations until the final album in 1991. We got to enjoy his solo career that started in the 1980s when he played with Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, George Benson, B.B. King, the Supremes and many others. Sample died back in Houston from lung cancer at the age of 75.
Iola Whitlock Brubeck, daughter of a California forest ranger, was the hidden, often unsung fifth member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. For seventy years, she was wife, collaborator and manager. She and Dave met at what is now the University of the Pacific in 1941. Dave proposed that very night in the concert hall and they were married a year later. Iola finished her degree in 1945 while Dave was in the Army.
After the war, he struggled to get his career going. They even lived in a one room corrugated tin shack in the early years. She suggested that he and the quartet play colleges and, to that end, she wrote, offering their service to each one within driving distance of their home in San Francisco. Her efforts worked. In 1950, she helped him teach a one of the first Jazz appreciation courses in the nation and by 1953, the album Live at Oberlin was recorded at that college in Ohio. The series of albums from the campus concerts moved him into prominence.
A 1958 State Department-sponsored tour of Eastern Europe made the Brubecks semiofficial emissaries behind the Iron Curtain. As a result of that trip, the quintessential Brubeck song, "Take Five," was born. Paul Desmond, the alto sax man of the group composed the music and Iola and Dave wrote the lyrics. She wrote lyrics for many of his songs and choral works. Her battle with cancer ended on March 12, 2014, almost two years after Dave's death. She is survived by five of her six children, ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Horace Silver played with some of the biggest names in jazz during his early career in the 1950s. A prolific composer and marvelous pianist, he was called the originator of hard bop, a style which incorporates bebop, blues and gospel with a driving fast and tight rhythm.
Horace Silver and his Quintet did the album Song for My Father in 1965 for the Blue Note label after a trip to Brazil. The cover artwork features a photograph of Silver's father, John Tavares Silva, to whom the title song was dedicated. In the liner notes Horace says "My mother was of Irish and Negro descent, my father of Portuguese origin, He was born on the island of Maio, one of the Cape Verde Islands."
That title song is so good that parts of it has been incorporated into several other songs that went on to be big hits in several genres. Steely Dan used the beginning bars to build "Ricki Don’t Lose That Number." Stevie Wonder used the it in his hit "Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing" and Earth Wind and Fire used the opening bass note for their song "Clover."David Benoit played it whole on his cover album called Heroes.
Although, Dee Dee Bridgewater does a wonderful version of the song, she does not use the original lyrics written by Silver. It’s a simple poem that you’ll not hear on the album version of the song either. It goes as follows:
If there was ever a man, Who was generous, gracious and good, That was my dad, The man,
A human being so true, He could live like a king, 'Cause he knew, The real pleasure in life,
To be devoted to and always stand by me, So I’d be unafraid and free
His death was announced by Blue Note Records, the company for which he recorded from 1952 to 1979. He was 85 when he died at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y., June 18, 2014.
Ronny Jordan's guitar was silenced when, at age 51, he died of unknown causes on January 13, 2014. The self-taught acid jazz pioneer, who started with a ukulele and didn't pick up the guitar until he was twenty, mixed hip hop and funk into Miles Davis' So What, making it a dance floor hit in the 1990s.
This success brought him to the attention of Dave Brubeck and George Benson. In 2000, MOBO, the UK’s award platform for urban music, gave him nod as the best jazz act. He was also nominated for a Grammy for his album Brighter Day which was a top 10 Billboard hit that year. His song The Jackal was lip-synched by the actor Allison Janney in her role of CJ Cregg for the hit TV drama The West Wing. In 2001 the Gibson Company made him its Guitarist of the Year. Jordan kept touring to the very end, doing his last set on concerts in Italy.
If you want a wonderful Sunday morning, tune into the Sunday Brunch on WDCB or stream it live while you go about your day. If you want to have a marvelous Sunday, get dressed and go to the Sunday Brunch at Waterleaf Restaurant. Absolutely grand location, inside and out. The view is glorious. Floor to ceiling glass all around brings you as close to glorious landscape as possible. The décor is modern, yet warm and comforting. The wait staff is friendly and accommodating. The food is fabulous. We were treated to the music of the Bryan Lubeck Trio, a guitarist extraordinaire, while feasting.
It’s easy to find the other Smooth Jazzers seated around you. They’re the ones listening intently, keeping time with the music or chair dancing, all the others are ordinary patrons. I was seated next to Yvonne, a lady I know well from the Chat Box. She recognized me by my finger tapping I think. It was wonderful to put a face to the messages. When I thought it couldn't get any better, our host, Rick O’Dell, showed us to a large table populated with many of my other chat box friends! I sat next to ArtB. I was close enough to talk with Kelikamea and blow air kisses to CynC, CoraP, nikki, MargieM, and AngieS, but I missed out on meeting Retta and Cynthia. It was the like attending Bill Cochran’s Dinner Party on a Sunday afternoon.
My advice, the next time you see a Sunday Brunch date, make your reservation fast. It’s an amazing experience.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of Christmas songs. There are covers of Christmas songs in all genres, which explodes the hundreds into thousands of songs. But, for Thanksgiving, you have to stretch to get a song. You have to play on the theme of thanks. You have to explore the subject of food. You need to wander in the garden of blessings. You have to find a song about going home or gathering the harvest. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is a hard word to rhyme.
The only song I could remember off the top that has Thanksgiving in the lyric is "Over The River and Through The Woods" originally called a "New England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day." Over the river, and through the wood, to Grandfather's house away! We would not stop for doll or top, for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
Some of you might think I have lost a marble or two because in this song Christmas Day has often replaced Thanksgiving Day, making it an all-purpose holiday tune.
My investigation took me to an English group, Steeleye Span (not Steely Dan) who does a version of Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, which talks about harvest in the lyrics, but because it is an English hymn, it doesn’t mention Thanksgiving directly. Come, ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest home! All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin . . .
Doesn’t that sound like good advice for Chicagoans?
Speaking of Steely Dan, if you stretch for a thanksgiving song, you can add "Deacon Blues" to the playlist because of their reference to college football and the Crimson Tide. So, while we’re stretching, let’s go old school into traditional jazz with Thelonious Monk’s "Stuffy Turkey." This is a pour-a-cocktail-and-relax-with-your-guests track. It will make you think you are back in the days of Mad Men and Playboy After Dark. To keep that feeling going, follow up with Kenny Burrell and Stanley Turrentine’s "Wavy Gravy."
When the oven bell rings to say that the dinner is ready and you want your guest to move to the dining room, pull out Mongo Santamaria’s "Sweet Tater Pie." The upbeat bongos and horns will have them dancing to the table. Settle everyone in their places with Vince Guaraldi’s "Thanksgiving" from the Peanuts' special of the same name, the only smooth jazz song I could find in my Thanksgiving jazz scavenger hunt.
While you’re eating, it’s hard to choose between Lee Morgan’s "Cornbread" (with Herbie Hancock on the keyboards) and Booker T and the MG’s "Soul Dressing," so play them both! And to round out the meal, throw in Booker’s "Green Onions," too. As a matter of fact, just do both albums.
If you see any jealousy on any of the faces gathered round the table, you play Cab Calloway’s "Everybody Eats When They Come To My House" and then give them a low volume dose of Patti Austin’s "I Can Cook Too!"
Lastly, to get your guests out the door and on their way, Manhattan Transfer’s "Soul Food To Go" is perfect for fixing take-home plates and finding coats.
After the dishes are done and the food put away, if the overload of turkey didn’t make you sleepy, play Dave Brubek’s "Thank You." This melodically tender solo piano composition that sounds like a lullaby. Dave explains that he wrote it after visiting Chopin’s home in Poland as a thank you for inspiring so many musicians. The beginning is classically inspired, the middle has a soft honky tonk flavor and the ending is a blend of snippets of Chopin melodies.
Next day, to understand what the food coma called Thanksgiving is doing to your body, listen to Eddie Harris sing "That’s Why You’re Overweight," a bluesy monologue of what people have eaten all in one day. Wickedly funny and best reserved for the day after any feast. And while you are casting shame, play Anthony David’s blues version of John Lennon’s "Cold Turkey."
Then sit down and begin to enjoy all the Christmas music!
(Note from Rick O'Dell: Please join me in welcoming Lydia Barnes to SmoothJazzChicago as our primary columnist/blogger. Lydia's passion for the music dates back to the early '90s, and we're pleased to be able to present her unique view of happenings--not just music-related!--in our world. You'll find the rest of her writings at her site.)
Before flying east for the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, the Joey DeFrancesco Trio will honor us with a touch down on Friday, August 1st. Playing Evanston S.P.A.C.E. with drummer and Chicago native George Fludas, guitarist Jeff Parker and his trusty Hammond B3, Joey is sure to deliver a sweet treat for jazz lovers. If you’re a fan of the rich tones the B3, this is the show for you. Whether they’re slowing down Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" to making her extra jazzy, transforming Bobby Hebb’s "Sunny" from a 1960s pop icon into a new millennium jazz diva, or making the theme to the Godfather into audio honey, Joey will makes his B3 a killer B!
Check out his website. To hear all the cuts mentioned above, click the media tab and choose video. He has full length songs posted. His latest release is called Enjoy the View and with him at the keyboard, I’m sure we will.
No babysitter that night, no problem. The S.P.A.C.E. is open to fans of all ages! Don’t miss it, because he heads back to his hive until December 7 when he ventures out again. But not to Chicago, the closest he will come will be Columbus, Missouri.
Terrestrial radio. Over-the-air radio. Standard radio. Traditional radio. Conventional radio. Whatever you choose to call it, it's the radio we all grew up listening to. No special equipment required. And . . .
I am thrilled to announce that our favorite music returns to this type of radio this weekend! On 90.9 FM WDCB. Beginning this Sunday, February 9, I will be hosting The Sunday Jazz Brunch on WDCB each weekend from 11:00am to 2:00pm.
What can you expect from the new Sunday Jazz Brunch? For starters, you'll hear quite a few artists who've made Sunday mornings a special place for us over the years on our other Sunday Brunch shows: Ramsey Lewis, George Benson, David Sanborn and Grover Washington Jr., just to name several. We'll also feature a special "Chicago Music" segment each hour, showcasing artists from Chicago or based in Chicago.
Since WDCB is primarily a jazz station, the new Sunday Jazz Brunch will favor that particular genre in both the instrumental and vocal content of the show. As always, however, I'll be choosing music based on how well it fits that uniquely intimate Sunday mood.
I invite you to give the new show a try and let me know what you think. Address your comments, suggestions and requests to me at WDCBSundayJazzBrunch@gmail.com.
(By the way, if you've gotten used to listening to radio through your computer or HD Radio, The Sunday Jazz Brunch is also available on WDCB 90.9 HD-1 and streaming on www.WDCB.org. And the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch will continue to air on www.SmoothJazzChicago.net from 6am to 6pm Central each weekend.)
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Ramsey Lewis will officially launch The Sunday Jazz Brunch with this tune.
I know it's hard to imagine with the winterscape outside the window right now, but the time will come when you're going to want to get in the car and go for a nice, long drive. Mother's Day Weekend 2014 holds the promise of another fantastic lineup of live music at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
As in past years, the Osthoff's 12th annual "Jazz on the Vine" festival is brimming with smooth sounds and incredible talent. Here's the lineup:
Friday, May 9
Darren Rahn (5:15pm) (Darren's also the host of the event)
RnR (Richard Elliot & Rick Braun) 9:15pm
Saturday, May 10
Urban Jazz Coalition (1:45pm)
Steve Cole (3:45pm)
Global Noize - Sly Reimagined (with Nona Hendryx and Andy Snitzer) (6:00pm)
Chieli Minucci & Special EFX (8:30pm)
Sunday, May 11
Jazz Brunch featuring Marcell Guyton (10:00am-3:00pm)
Throughout the weekend, guests will also have the opportunity to sample over 100 wines from international and domestic vineyards. Dining at the Osthoff is also a memorable experience, with eclectic and sophisticated cuisine created by their award-winning chefs.
Dozens of Chicagoans make the two-and-a-half-hour drive to beautiful Elkhart Lake each year for "Jazz on the Vine." Ask anyone who's been there before. It's well worth the trip!
For more information, click here or call (877) 496-4113. Weekend packages sell out quickly, so it's always a good idea to make reservations as soon as you can.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Steve Cole, always a treat to catch live for the music and the one-liners!
Chris Botti has delivered many a magical performance in front of a Chicagoland audience over the years. This past Saturday at the Star Plaza Theatre was another one, according to one of our longtime loyal listeners:
I want to thank you one
more time for the tickets to the Chris Botti concert. It was incredible.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was the best concert I've
ever attended. From the first moment to the last, everything was
fabulous. This was my first time at the Star Plaza. The
theater was nice and there was plenty of free parking.
Chris Botti was such a warm and funny person. He was very engaging
and related well with the crowd. He even invited a couple of
enthusiastic fans in the mezzanine to come down to the main floor. Chris
is the type of talented person I enjoy seeing - someone who is so
secure in his ability to entertain the crowd that he freely shares the
stage with others equally as gifted as he is. His special guests were
fabulous. The violinist was top notch and made her instrument sing. The
female vocalist had a terrific voice and lit the stage with her
presence. The male vocalist had the unenviable task of singing parts in
"Italia" and "Time To Say Goodbye" made famous by Andrea Bocelli. He
did quite nicely.
The back-up band was out of this world. I hesitate to call them
back-up because they were outstanding in their own right. The pianist
was fabulous, the guitarist and bass player were electric, the
keyboardist was wonderful, and the drummer was dynamic. I could have
listened to them play all night.
After the concert ended, Chris stuck around to sign CDs. By the
time I got to the counter selling CDs, they were almost out. The line to
see him was so long that we didn't stick around. Maybe next time.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: Chris' stunning interpretation of "Emmanuel," which was described by another listener who attended the show as "now my all-time favorite Chris Botti tune."