Bass player Jimmy Blanton was born this day in 1921 in St. Louis, Mo. During his brief stint in the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1939 to 1941, Blanton revolutionized the role of the bass in jazz. He set the standard for modern bass technique with his rounded tone, his solos, and his melodic sense. Blanton was just 21 when he died of congenital tuberculosis.
Saxophonist James Moody was born this day in 1925 in Savannah, Ga. He had a popular hit recording in 1949 when he recorded an instrumental version of "I'm In The Mood For Love." Eddie Jefferson later wrote lyrics to match Moody's solo. King Pleasure's vocal version of that song. "Moody's Mood for Love" was a hit in 1952.
Drummer Donald Bailey was born this day in Philadelphia in 1934. This smooth drummer with a keen sense of time was heavily influenced by Max Roach, Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones. Bailey made his move onto the national jazz scene during eight years with organ player Jimmy Smith. His drumming is featured on recordings by Smith, Hampton Hawes, Mundell Lowe and Jimmy Rowles. On a 1969 recording by Bobby Bryant called "Earth Dance," Bailey played harmonica.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner's quartet is at the Village Vanguard tonight through Sunday. Albita is at the Blue Note this week with her band in week four of the club's Latin jazz festival. Guitarist John Abercrombie's quartet is at the Jazz Standard tonight through Sunday. The Heath Brothers are at Iridium this week. The Quizamba Brazilian jazz quartet is at the Zinc Bar tonight and Wednesday.
In and around Boston, the Javon Jackson-Mark Whitfield quartet with Lonnie Smith and Lennie White is at the Regattabar in Cambridge tonight. Mercedes Sosa is at the Berklee Performance Center tonight.
Victor North's jazz jam takes place tonight at Chris's Jazz Café in Philadelphia.
On the Chicago jazz scene, Men of Note are at Andy's tonight. Triage featuring Dave Rempis, Jason Ajemian and Tim Daisy is at the Empty Bottle tonight. Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms are at the Green Mill. Saxophonist Charles McPherson is at the Jazz Showcase tonight through Sunday. Ken Cheney is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium on the Navy Pier tonight. Windy City tenor sax titan Von Freeman is at the New Apartment Lounge. Guitarist Bobby Broom's trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse tonight. Elizabeth Doyle is at Philander's in Oak Park. Ken Saydak is at Pops for Champagne. The Donny Nichilo duo is at Pops of Highwood.
In New Orleans tonight, the Jazz Vipers are at El Matador. Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos touch down at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Drummer James Alsanders' Jazz Project is at the Funky Butt. Norah Jones and John Mayer are at the House of Blues. Pianist Paul Longstreth is at Le Meridien.
The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Clarinetist Pete Fountain is in the spotlight at his club in the New Orleans Hilton. Trumpeter Gregg Stafford leads the band tonight at Preservation Hall. The John Mahoney Big Band is at Snug Harbor. Carl LeBlanc is at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
On the California jazz scene, clarinetist Eddie Daniels and pianist Fred Hersch team up tonight through Sunday at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, where plans are in the works for a live duo recording. Saxophonist Kenny Garrett's quartet is at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood this week.
The Brent Jensen-David Sills quartet presents a tribute to Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz tonight at Steamer's Jazz Café in Fullerton. Bassist Buster Williams and his band, Something More, are at Yoshi's in Oakland this week. Pianist Benny Barth's jazz trio is at Main Street Station in Guerneville tonight. The Terry Becker band is at Café Caracas, in Berkeley tonight.
In San Francisco, the Symphony Players jam at the Beach Chalet. The Hot Club of San Francisco trad band is at Enrico's tonight. Richard Nelson Hall is at Butterfly. Drummer Vince Lateano's trio is at Jazz at Pearl's in North Beach. Alan Steger is at the Bix Restaurant and Supper Club.
In Seattle tonight, singer Diane Schuur opens a weeklong run at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley. The Richard Boukas-Jovino Santos Neto duo is at the Steel Sky Bistro.
Singer Tania Maria is at the New Morning jazz club in Paris tonight and Wednesday.
Ellery Eskelin, Andrea Parkins and Jim Black team up tonight at the spring jazz festival in Nimes, France.
On the recording front...
-- The Verve label is out today with singer Claudia Acuna's second recording project "Rhythm of Life." It teamed her with pianist and producer Billy Childs, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jeff Watts and special guests Jason Lindner, trombonist Avi Leibovich, guitarist Romero Lubambo and percussionist Luisito Quintero.
-- Verve has also released Jeff Golub's "Do It Again" on its GRP imprint and a boxed set compilation of guitarist John McLaughlin's Shakti project.
-- Pianist Michel Camilo's new trio recording, "Triangulo" with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez is out today on Telarc Jazz.
-- Guitarist Mark Elf is out with his seventh self-produced CD, "Dream Steppin," on his Jen Bay label. It's a trio session with bassist Neal Miner and drummer Lewis Nash. Elf's six prior releases topped the Gavin Jazz Charts.
-- Saxophonist Michael Brecker and trumpeter Ray Vega are special guests on bassist Harvie S.'s latest recording by his Latin jazz band, Eye Contact. The bandleader recently changed his name from Harvie Swartz, because he found many people had trouble pronouncing it and/or spelling it. Eye Contact includes guitarist Bruce Arnold, pianist Daniel Kelly, drummer Adam Weber and percussionist Renato Thoms.
-- Nashville-based pianist Beegee Adair is out with her latest jazz album, a trio plus orchestra session called "I'll Take Romance." Her trio includes bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown. The Jeff Steinberg Orchestra provided the string-woodwind-horn section.
-- Swiss saxophonist David Klein is out with an unusual concept recording on the Enja label called "My Marilyn." It features songs that were in films featuring actress Marilyn Monroe. Klein's quintet includes pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Ira Coleman, drummer Marcello Pellitteri and singer Miriam Klein. The music include "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," "Some Like It Hot," "I'm Through With Love," "Let's Make Love," "You'd Be Surprised" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]