Today is May 8th.
Cornet player Red Nichols was born this day in 1905 in Ogden, Utah. As a teenager, he idolized the Original Dixieland Jass Band, Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines and Phil Napoleon. As an adult he was a top bandleader in the traditional jazz vein.
Jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams was born this day in 1910 in Atlanta. During her 56-year career, she absorbed and synthesized the history of jazz piano into her own style. As a composer and arranger, this jazz explorer was an important contributor to the bands of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Andy Kirk. She died in 1981.
Pianist Keith Jarrett was born this day in 1945 in Allentown, Pa. In his work with Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Charles Lloyd and more so in playing solo, Jarrett solidified his reputation as one of the finest improvisers in jazz.
On this night in 1979, jazz singer Eddie Jefferson was shot to death in front of a Detroit jazz club after a performance. He pioneered the technique of vocalese, which involves creating and singing lyrics that fit classic recorded improvised instrumental jazz solos.
On this day in 2001, the Verve label released bassist Charlie Haden's Latin jazz Grammy-winning recording, "Nocturne," which explores his longstanding interest in Latin music and culture. Collaborators included Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Pat Metheny, David Sanchez, Ignacio Berroa, Joe Lovano and violinist Frederico Britos Ruiz.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
In New York... the Nicholas Payton quintet is at Iridium tonight. Saxophonist David Sanborn is at the Blue Note. The Houston Person quartet is at the Jazz Standard this week. Pianist Cedar Walton's band is at the Village Vanguard this week. Percussionist Memo Acevedo brings his new band to the Arka Lounge tonight. The Yellowjackets are at the Bottom Line tonight and Thursday. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is at The Bowery Ballroom tonight. The Jazz Passengers with Deborah Harry, Grandfather Ridiculous, Mission on Mars, Little Ricky's House of Chanklettas and the Travis Laplante quartet are at the Knitting Factory. The Arturo O'Farrill band is at Birdland tonight. The Howard Fishman Quartet is at The Fez tonight.
There's a "Russian jazz summit" featuring trumpeter Valery Ponomarev with guitarist Al Krasel's trio at Nighttown in Cleveland tonight.
In and around Chicago... the John Mose duo is at Bistro America in Batavia, Ill., tonight. Jim McNeeley is featured with the DePaul University Big Band at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago again tonight. Mike Finnerty and the Jazz Hippies are at Cafe Ennui tonight. The Bill Porter Orchestra with Rich Fudoli is at Green Dolphin Street. Ken Saydak is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. The Frank Catalano trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Andrew Blenderman is at Philander's in Oak Park tonight.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... Bill Solley is at Cobalt tonight. Leigh 'Little Queenie' Harris is at Dos Jefes. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at El Matador. Ingrid Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Evan Howard is at the Funky Butt. Topsy Chapman is at Satchmo's jazz room at Harrah's casino.
The Joe Krown Organ Combo holds a CD release party at the House of Blues. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Le Bon Temps Roule. Darell Lavigne and Victor Atkins are at Le Salon at Windsor Court. Johnny Vidacovich, George Porter Jr. and John Ellis are at the Old Point.
John Brunious leads the band at Preservation Hall. Fredy Omar and his Salsa band are at the Red Room tonight. The Roland Guerin quartet is at Snug Harbor. Sharon Martin, Chucky C. and Banu Gibson lead the sets at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
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. The Pico Rivera Big Band is 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 plus special guest Regina Carter are at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle through Sunday.
On the recording front...
"Trio Sud" is out from French guitarist Sylvain Luc. He is accompanied by the rhythm team of Jean-Marc Jafet on bass and André Ceccarelli on drums.
Claudia Acuna's new recording, "Rhythm of Life" on Verve is one of the year's finest vocal projects to date. Her jazz and montuno version of "Nature Boy" is the clear standout among many fine tracks.
Trumpeter Tom Harrell's newest project is out this week. His latest RCA/Bluebird recording was recorded live last November in New York by his quintet and is called "Live at the Village Vanguard." Harrell is one of the strongest writers in jazz today... and wrote or in one case co-wrote... seven of the eight selections. The band includes tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Quincy Davis.
RCA's Private Music imprint is out with rhythm and blues singer Etta James live album, "Burnin' Down The House," which she and her band recorded last December at the House of Blues in Hollywood.