Today is March 31.
Vibraphonist Red Norvo was born this day in 1908 in Beardstown, Ill. During the early 1950s, Norvo led an outstanding West Coast jazz trio with guitarist Tal Farlow and bassist Charles Mingus.
Norvo took up the marimba when he was 14, then learned to play xylophone, an instrument better associated with marching bands He permanently shifted to the vibraphone in 1944 when he joined the Benny Goodman band. He played the vibes without vibrato, almost like a xylophone. Norvo died in 1999.
Guitarist Freddie Green, for 50 years a key member of the Count Basie Orchestra's rhythm section, was born this day in 1911 in Charleston, S.C. Green became the glue in the Basie band's all-American rhythm section as he strummed the beat on his acoustic guitar. He wrote the classic Basie band tune "Corner Pocket." Green died in 1987.
On this day in 1937, a leaderless recording was made at the Victor recording studios in New York, the predecessor of RCA Victor. That session, simply called "Jam Session at Victor," featured trombonist Tommy Dorsey, trumpeter Bunny Berigan and pianist Fats Waller. The songs they released included "Honeysuckle Rose."
Looking at today's hip happenings...
Pianist-composer-educator Ran Blake will focus his annual weeklong summer survey course on the music of iconic improviser Ornette Coleman August 13-19 at Boston's New England Conservatory. Like Coleman, Blake studied at the legendary School of Jazz at Music Inn in Lenox, Mass., in the late 1950s.
He has been on faculty at NEC for the past 35 years, serving as chairman of the Third Stream-Contemporary Improvisation Department since 1973. This summer course explores one musical figure in depth for three hours per day.
On the New York jazz scene... the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is at the Village Vanguard. The Bob Mintzer big band is at the Blue Note. Guitarist Les Paul is at Iridium tonight. Toshiko Akiyoshi is at Birdland with her jazz orchestra on Mondays. The Ron Affif trio is at The Zinc Bar tonight.
In and around Chicago... Carmen Stokes is at the Backroom tonight. The William Garcia quartet is at Cafe Bolera. The Patricia Barber quintet is at the Green Mill 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 at the Hotti Biscotti Cafe tonight.
Kelly Brand is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium. The Long Count Quartet is at Joy Blue tonight. The Mike Kocur trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston tonight. Sami Scott is at Philander's in Oak Park tonight.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Bob French and Friends are at Donna's. The Jacques Gauthe trio is 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 Jazz Vipers are at the Spotted Cat.
In California... Gerald Clayton, Miles Mosley and Kevin Kanner are at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles tonight. The Estrada Brothers are at Spazio in Sherman Oaks. Sam Most and Friends are at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight. John Campanella's Slide FX trombone tentet is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton. Cuarteto Sonando is at Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland. The Contemporary Jazz Orchestra directed by Alex Budman is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco tonight.
The Zawinul Syndicate is at the New Morning jazz club in Paris tonight.
On the recording front...
After a string of Blue Note releases, guitarist Charlie Hunter has made his label debut on Ropeadope Records. "Right Now Move" also premieres the new Charlie Hunter quintet with Gregoire Maret, John Ellis, Curtis Fowlkes and Derek Philips.
Jazz singer and composer Nancy Harrow has released " Winter Dreams," her fourth literary song cycle. She wrote all of the songs, conceived of the idea of using the words and life of Scott Fitzgerald as inspiration, and worked with Roland Hanna to arrange the pieces. It was the late pianist's last arranging work. Harrow and Hanna were joined in the studio by saxophonist Frank Wess, drummer Grady Tate and bassist Rufus Reid. It's on John Snyder's rekindled Artists House label.
Mosaic Records is out this month with "The Complete Roulette Jack Teagarden Sessions." The four-CD set is the chronological sequel to the label's collection of Capitol sessions by the trombonist and vocalist. The set contains his four Roulette albums with additional previously unissued music, all remixed and remastered from the original tapes.
From Southwest territory bands in 1920s to tenures with the orchestras of Ben Pollack and Paul Whiteman, and small group work with Frankie Trumbauer and members of the Condon Mob, Teagarden was ubiquitous in the early decades of jazz. He led his own orchestra from 1939 to 1947 before joining Louis Armstrong and his All Stars for five years. When he formed his own sextet in 1951, it was patterned in instrumentation and repertoire after Armstrong's group.
All recordings are available solely through Mosaic Records, 35 Melrose Place, Stamford, CT 06902; (203) 327-7111. Please check its Web site at mosaicrecords.com for more information.