Saxophonist Herbie Steward was born this day in 1926 in Los Angeles. He was a member of Woody Herman's Second Herd. He was one of the original Four Brothers saxophone section on Herman's "Four Brothers" recording in 1947.
The other "brothers" were Stan Getz, Serge Chaloff and Zoot Sims. Al Cohn replaced Steward when he left the band in 1948 to work in other big bands, eventually settling into the busy music scene in Las Vegas.
Bass player Michael Formanek was born this day in 1958 in San Francisco. He moved to New York in 1978 and began working with Tom Harrell, Herbie Mann and Chet Baker, and later with Tim Berne and Jane Ira Bloom. He has also been a member of the Mingus Dynasty big band.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
In New York... the Nicholas Payton quintet opens a weeklong run at Iridium tonight. Saxophonist David Sanborn begins a weeklong run tonight at the Blue Note. The Houston Person quartet is at the Jazz Standard. Violinist Gregory Huebner and bassist Harvie S. are at David Gage String Instruments tonight. The revived Duke Ellington Orchestra is at Birdland tonight. through Sunday.
Trombonist Hal Crook's adventurous quartet Um, with guitarist Rick Peckham, bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Bob Gullotti, is at AS220 in Providence, R.I., tonight.
The Joey Calderazzo trio is at the Regattabar in Cambridge, Mass., tonight and Wednesday.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... Ingrid Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Drummer James Alsanders' Jazz Project is at the Funky Butt. Topsy Chapman is at Satchmo's jazz room at Harrah's casino. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Pete Fountain is at his club. Gregg Stafford leads the band at Preservation Hall. The John Mahoney Big Band is at Snug Harbor. Banu Gibson, Chucky C. and Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band are at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
In Chicago... pianist and composer Jim McNeeley is at the Jazz Showcase with the DePaul University Big Band tonight through Thursday. He's with his own trio Friday through Sunday. Saxophonist Von Freeman is at the New Apartment Lounge tonight. Guitarist Bobby Broom's trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Elizabeth Doyle is at Philander's in Oak Park. Pops for Champagne features Yoko Noge with John and Sonny tonight.
On the California jazz scene... Gonzalo Rubalcaba is at the Catalina in North Hollywood tonight through Sunday. Guitarist Russell Malone's quartet is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through the weekend. Ron Kobayashi and Steve Hommel are at Steamer's Jazz Café en Fullerton tonight. Pianist Brad Mehldau's trio is at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight through Sunday. Bill Henderson, Eric Comstock and Dena deRose bring their Hollywood Songbook show to The Plush Room in San Francisco tonight. Drummer Vince Lateano's trio is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco.
Bassist Ray Brown's trio is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle through Sunday with featured guest Regina Carter.
On the recording front...
Blur Note has released "Deep in a Dream," a song collection to accompany James Gavin's new biography of trumpeter and singer Chet Baker that is due out this month. The CD includes two solo vocals being released for the first time. They are "Blue Room" and "Spring is Here" from 1953.
After years of self-produced recordings, pianist Jessica Williams has released a new trio session called "This Side Up" with Ray Drummond and Victor Lewis on the MaxJazz label. It is the third releases in the label's piano series.
The Mingus Big Band is out with a new recording called "Tonight at Noon... Three or Four Shades of Love." The 10-track collection on Dreyfus Jazz includes the first recording of Mingus's "Love's Fury" and an Elvis Costello vocal on "Invisible Lady."
The lounge jazz band Dave's True Story has reissued its 1994 debut recording of quirky songs which has been long out of print. Two of its more wild songs... "Sequined Mermaid Dress" and "Crazy Eyes" are featured in the 2002 film "Kissing Jessica Stein." Neither tune is on the film's official soundtrack recording from Verve... hence the reissue.
Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano is out with a somewhat quirky session of his own today. "Viva Caruso" on Blue Note is an unabashed homage to the other great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso. Byron Olson assembled a 12-piece band for part of the project. Lovano selected favorite Caruso tunes and wrote a couple of his own for his two distinctively different bands. Lovano wrote an ambitious suite called "Il Carnivale Di Pulcinella" however some will prefer his Sonny Rollins-like investigation of "Santa Lucia."
Columbia Legacy jazz has reissued remastered versions of three top jazz film soundtracks. They are "Bird," "'Round Midnight" and the Thelonious Monk documentary "Straight, No Chaser."
Columbia Legacy is also out with "Ralph Ellison: Living With Music," a collection of the late writer's favorite artists, including Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Rushing and Mahalia Jackson. It is a companion to the new Robert O'Meally book "Living With Music: Ralph Ellison's Jazz Writings."
Pianist Satoko Fuji and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura are out with a second duet album called "Clouds." It's on the Libra label. It is a stunning exploration of new sonic textures by the couple.
On the book front...
Backbeat Books has published British author Keith Shadwick's fine new musical biography "Bill Evans: Everything Happens To Me." It offers a fresh look at one of the most important postwar figures in jazz. Shadwick considers Evans in the jazz world of the times in which he played, including his work on the landmark Miles Davis album, "Kind of Blue." Evans died in 1980 at age 50.
Is there anything about Louisiana music that you were afraid to ask? DaCapo Press has just published the Rick Koster book "Louisiana Music: A Journey from R&B to Zydeco, Jazz to Country, Blues to Gospel, Cajun Music to Swamp Pop to Carnival Music and Beyond." It may be insightful and carry one of the longest book titles on record. It was launched last week at Emeril's restaurant in New Orleans between weekends of JazzFest.