New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain was born this day in the Crescent City in 1930. He came to prominence in the late 1950s when he teamed up with bandleader Lawrence Welk for live appearances, recordings and a network television series. Fountain performs three nights a week at his club in the New Orleans Hilton.
Composer and bandleader Jerry Gray was born this day in 1915 in Boston. His distinctive arranging was key to the sound of several top big bands. He arranged "A String of Pearls" and "Pennsylvania 6-5000" for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and "Begin the Beguine" for Artie Shaw.
Trumpeter Johnny Coles was born this day in 1926 in Trenton, N.J. He worked side by side with John Coltrane and Red Garland in Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's band in the 1940s, then worked with Philly Joe Jones, James Moody, Gil Evans and Charles Mingus before settling for a time in the Count Basie Orchestra.
On this day in 1941, Johnny Hodges recorded "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" with other Duke Ellington sidemen.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Wednesday night's Montreal International Jazz Festival features include Marianne Faithfull, Esbjorn Svensson's trio EST, Kool and the Gang, Avishai Cohen and the International Vamp Band, Daniel Lanois, Philip Catherine and Anne Ducrois. Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes opens his four-night segment of the festival's acclaimed Invitation series at the Monument Nationale in a two-piano concert with Kenny Barron.
On the New York jazz scene ... guitarist Mark Whitfield's organ trio is at Iridium this week. The Count Basie Orchestra is at the Blue Note through Sunday. The Gary Bartz quintet with pianist Barney McCall, guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist James King and drummer Greg Bandy is at the Village Vanguard this week. Bassist Santi Debriano and Circle Chant are at the Zinc Bar Wednesday night.
The Jazz Standard presents a "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" Birthday Tribute to Louis Armstrong and the U.S.A. through Sunday. Wednesday night's lineup features trumpeter Terrell Stafford's quintet. Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing series presents Los Pleneros de la 21. The Knitting lineup features JJ Player's Paradise Club, Jacob Varmus, Stuart Davis and the Evan Wilson Quartet.
On the Chicago jazz scene ... tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday with Harold Mabern, Dennis Carroll and George Fludas. Mike Finnerty and the Jazz Hippies are at Cafe Ennui. The Bill Porter Orchestra with Rich Fudoli is at Green Dolphin Street. Ken Saydak is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. Andrew Blenderman is at Philander's in Oak Park. The Ryan Cohan trio is at Pops for Champagne.
In New Orleans ... New Orleans Streetbeat is at the Crescent City Brewhouse Wednesday night. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at El Matador. Ingrid Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. The Samir Zarif sextet is at the Funky Butt. Trombonist Brian O'Neill's band is at Satchmo's jazz room in Harrah's casino. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Le Bon Temps Roule tonight. Pianist Ron Jones is at Le Meridien.
James Westfall and Larry Sieberth are at Le Salon at Windsor Court. Johnny Vidacovich and George Porter Jr. are at the Old Point with a special guest. John Brunious leads Wednesday night's band at Preservation Hall. Betty Shirley and the Chuck Chaplin trio are at Snug Harbor. Dr. Guitar and the Franklin Avenue Overpass and Loren Pickford and the New Orleans Gamuk are at the Spotted Cat.
In California ... saxophonist Lou Donaldson and organist Lonnie Smith are at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles Wednesday night. The Pico Rivera big band is at Steamers Jazz Café in Fullerton. The Susie Hansen Latin Band is at the Civic Center Park in San Dimas. Eric Wiley and Vickie Lynn Guillory are at Main Street Station in Guerneville. The group Mingus Amungus is at Yoshi's in Oakland and Bryce Rohde is at the Bix Restaurant and Supper Club in San Francisco.
The Pat Metheny Group headlines the Jazz a Vienne festival in Vienne, France, Wednesday night.
Berkeley Hills Books has just published "Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce." It is the first biography of alto saxophonist and composer Gryce, who died in 1983. The book was written by Noal Cohen and Michael Fitzgerald, and contains a foreword by Gryce's friend and colleague Benny Golson. The book takes its title from Gryce's composition "The Rat Race Blues," which appears on his 1960 Prestige album of the same name.
On the recording front ...
The Telarc label has released a two-compact disc compilation in honor of its first 25 years in business. Featured artists from its current roster list and archives include Andre Previn, Ray Brown and Joe Pass, the Gerry Mulligan quartet, Dave Brubeck, Mel Torme, McCoy Tyner, Tierney Sutton, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson and Benny Green. It's called "Telarc Celebrating 25 Years: The Jazz Collection."
Telarc also has released the latest installment in bassist Ray Brown's "Friends" series of recordings. This one is called "Some of My Best Friends Are Guitarists." Brown and his trio are joined on various tracks by John Pizzarelli, Herb Ellis, Russell Malone, Kenny Burrell, Bruce Forman and Ulf Wakenius.
Tenor saxophonist Bruce Abbott and the North Star Jazz Ensemble have just released "Moonlight and Sax: Passionate Saxophone and Soulful Strings." This CD of sultry romance tunes is on the North Star label. The Woodvale String Quartet teams up with the jazz quartet this time out.