Today is Dec. 10.
Trumpeter and jazz violinist Ray Nance was born this day in 1913. He spent 23 years of his long career with the Duke Ellington band.
One of the finest clarinetists to emerge during the Swing Era also was born this day in 1913 in New Orleans. He was born Irving Henry Prestopnik, but the jazz world knew him as Irving Fazola.
Bandleader Louis Prima gave him the nom-de-plume Fazola (as in "do-re-mi-FAH-SO-LAH-tee-do"), a reference to Prestopnik's classical training. Fazola played with Prima, Glenn Miller, Bob Crosby and Claude Thornhill. He died in 1949.
Bandleader, composer and trombonist Don Sebesky was born this day in 1937 in Perth Amboy, N.J.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... the Oscar Peterson quartet is at the Blue Note this week. The Chris Potter quartet is at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. Denmark's Mads Baerentzen trio makes its U.S. debut at Jazz Standard tonight. The Ron Carter quartet is at Iridium through Sunday. John Stubblefield and Quiet Fire are at the Zinc Bar tonight and Wednesday.
The Jim Robitaille quintet is at Ryles in Cambridge, Mass., tonight.
In the Chicago area... the Joey DeFrancesco trio is at the Jazz Showcase through Sunday. Men of Note are at Andy's tonight. Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms are at the Green Mill. Ken Cheney is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan are at Katerina's. Von Freeman and Friends are at the New Apartment Lounge on Tuesdays. Marshall Vente is at Philander's in Oak Park. Warren Beck is at Pops of Highwood.
In New Orleans tonight... the Ted Hefko Quartet and the Frank Zappatistas are at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown's trio is at Cafe Sbisa. Ingrid Lucia is at the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Chi-Town Maurice Brown is at the Funky Butt. Louis Ford is at Satchmo's jazz room in Harrah's. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Greg Stafford leads the band tonight at Preservation Hall. The Jason Marsalis quintet is at Snug Harbor. Linnzi Zaorski and Delta Royale and Son del Pantano are at the Spotted Cat. The Rob Wagner trio is at the Seaport Cafe.
On the California jazz scene... Denny Zeitlin's trio is at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. This is John Pisano's Guitar Night at Spazio in Sherman Oaks. The Mort Weiss quartet with Ron Eschete on guitar, Joe Bagg On Hammond B-3 and Ramon Banda on drums is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton. Saxophonist Don Menza is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight. Jing Chi featuring Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip and Vinny Colaiuta is at Yoshi's in Oakland through Sunday.
George Duke is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight through Sunday.
On the recording front...
Sathima Bea Benjamin doesn't record or perform often... but that only adds to the charming purity of her South Africa-born talents. She is just out with her newest recording, made earlier this year in Cape Town. It's called "Musical Echoes" and has been released on her own Ekapa label.
Benjamin has been fortunate to work with fine pianists through the years, including her husband, Abdullah Ibrahim; Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn; Kenny Barron, Larry Willis, and now, Stephen Scott, who has been a Sonny Rollins sideman for the past few years. For many years, Benjamin was an exile from South Africa because of the country's longstanding apartheid policy. With apartheid gone, she now divides her time between New York City and Cape Town.
Benjamin and Scott are joined on this fine session by South Africans Basil Moses on bass and Lulu Gotsana on drums. There's a precise, melodic clarity to her singing, often combined with a natural, yet daring, sense of rhythm. Several pieces, including Ellington's "Caravan" are buoyed by a wonderful ostinato counterpoint that teases, intrigues and adds a sense of exoticism to the project. Like everything that Benjamin's fans have come to expect, it's done well.