On March 10-11, 1960, trumpeter Miles Davis and the Gil Evans Orchestra went into the studio to finish the "Sketches of Spain" recording they began four months earlier with the hallmark piece "Concierto de Aranjuez." On these final two days they added "The Pan Piper," "Solea," "Will o' the Wisp'" and "Saeta." Davis was hooked on Spanish music and used its motif throughout his career. As Davis once explained, "Flamenco music is the blues -- only in Spanish."
Pianist Don Abney was born this day in 1923. As an accompanist, he toured and recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and Pearl Bailey during various periods from the 1950s into the 1970s and also worked with Benny Carter, Louie Bellson and Stan Kenton.
Cornetist Bix Beiderbecke was born this day in 1903 in Davenport, Iowa. Strongly influenced by Louis Armstrong and another riverboat trumpeter named Emmett Henry, Beiderbecke was a star soloist with The Wolverines by the time he was 20. Bix was one of the first great lyrical horn players in jazz who made his mark in the bands of Jean Goldkette, Paul Whiteman and Glenn Gray. He was 28 when he died of pneumonia after years of ill health caused by alcoholism.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Jazz at Lincoln Center has announced the 15 finalist bands for its 8th annual Essentially Ellington high school jazz band competition and festival this May 17-19 in New York City. The bands will compete for more than $11,000 in cash awards at the competition finals. This year, six newly transcribed Ellington scores and educational materials were sent to 1,221 high school jazz bands, of which 133 entered the competition by submitting a recording of three Ellington songs.
The 15 finalists for Essentially Ellington 2003 are:
-- River East Collegiate, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
-- Calabasas High School, Calabasas, Calif.
-- Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles.
-- The SF Jazz All-Star High School Ensemble, San Francisco.
-- Guilford High School, Guilford, Conn.
-- Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Conn.
-- New World School of the Arts, Miami.
-- St. Charles East High School, St. Charles, Ill.
-- Foxboro High School, Foxboro, Mass.
-- Lexington High School, Lexington, Mass.
-- Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Mich.
-- The 315 All-Stars, Greater Syracuse, N.Y.
-- Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra, Rochester, N.Y.
-- Edmonds-Woodway High School, Edmonds, Wash.
-- Garfield High School, Seattle, Wash.
This year's judges are composer, conductor and Ellington authority David Berger, bassist Rufus Reid, saxophonist and bandleader Loren Schoenberg and trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis. The top three bands will perform alone and with Marsalis as soloist, followed by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performing an all-Ellington set. There will be a jam session on the first night of the festival, during which students will have an opportunity to play with members of the LCJO.
On the New York club scene... guitarist Les Paul's trio is at Iridium tonight. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is at the Village Vanguard. Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra is at Birdland. Singer Chris McNulty is at Smoke tonight.
In Chicago... the William Garcia quartet is at Cafe Bolera. Kelly Brand is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium tonight. The Patricia Barber quintet is at the Green Mill. The Long Count Quartet is at Joy Blue. The Mike Kocur trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Sami Scott is at Philander's in Oak Park tonight.
Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman are at Pops for Champagne. Carmen Stokes is at the Backroom tonight. Yoko Noge's Jazz Me Blues are at HotHouse. There's an avant-garde jazz jam session with David Boykin, Karl E. H. Seigfried and Mike Reed on Mondays at the Hotti Biscotti Cafe.
In New Orleans tonight... Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Bob French and Friends are at Donna's. The Jacques Gauthe trio is at Fritzel's. The Evan Howard Band is at the Funky Butt. Reginald Koeller leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. Charmaine Neville is at Snug Harbor. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers are at the Spotted Cat. The Rob Wagner trio is at d.b.a.
In California... pianist Kevin Hays' trio with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Thursday. Sam Most and Friends are at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight. The Louie Cruz Beltran Latin jazz band is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks. Big Band 2000 with Luretta McCray is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton.
The Contemporary Jazz Orchestra directed by Alex Budman and featuring vocalist Duane Lawrence is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco. Bireli Lagrene is at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Jack West and Curvature are at Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland.
On the recording front...
Vibes player-composer Laura Friedman, also known by the singular name Lalo, is just out with her debut recording, also called "Lalo." It's on Kadooga Music, and features bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer/percussionist Todd Isler.
Bassist Christian McBride is out with his latest CD on Warner Bros. It's called "Vertical Vision" and teams McBride with saxophonist Ron Blake, pianist Geoff Keezer, drummer Terreon Gully, guitarist Danny Gilmore and percussionist Danny Sadownick.