Pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was born this day in 1899 in Washington, D.C. During his long and distinguished career, and right up until his death in 1974, Ellington was a leading figure in orchestral jazz. He remains its most significant composer. Long overdue ratification of that came in 1999, when he was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Price special citation for his contributions to art and culture.
Bass player Andy Simpkins was born this day in 1932 in Richmond, Ind. He toured extensively with George Shearing and Sarah Vaughan.
Bandleader and conga player Ray Barretto was born this day in New York in 1929.
On this day in 1954, the Miles Davis Sextet recorded its celebrated blues improvisation "Walkin'" for the Prestige label.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... the Kenny Werner trio with Johannes Weidenmuller and Ari Hoenig is at the Blue Note, where it will record a live album for Half Note Records tonight and Wednesday. The Bill Mays trio is at the Jazz Standard tonight. Hank Jones is at Iridium through Sunday.
The Tom Harrell quintet is at the Village Vanguard this week. Dianne Nalini is at Sweet Rhythm tonight. The Duke Ellington Orchestra, co-led by Paul Ellington and Jack Jeffers, is at Birdland tonight. There's a Ray Barretto 74th birthday celebration tonight at SWING46. Mozayik brings Afro-Haitian jazz to Ashford and Simpson's Sugar Bar tonight.
In the Boston area... Tre Corda with Tim Ray, Greg Hopkins and Eugene Friesen is at The Regattabar in Cambridge tonight. The Tim Miller Group is at Ryles in Cambridge.
In Philadelphia tonight... the Brian Woesterhoff trio is at Chris's Jazz Café. Giga Shane is at North by Northwest.
Pianist Roberta Piket and her band Alternating Current are at Dowe's On Ninth in Pittsburgh tonight.
Guitarist Scott McGill, bassist Michael Manring and drummer Vic Stevens are at Nighttown in Cleveland tonight.
In the Chicago area... Eric Alexander's One For All quintet is at the Jazz Showcase this week. Men of Note are at Andy's tonight. The Deep Blue Organ Trio is at the Green Mill tonight. Ken Cheney is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium tonight. Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan are at Katerina's. Von Freeman and Friends are at the New Apartment Lounge.
The Marc Pompe trio is at the 100 South Chop House tonight. The Ron Perrillo trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston tonight. Marshall Vente is at Philander's in Oak Park tonight. The Alison Ruble trio is at Pops for Champagne tonight. The Taku Akiyama quartet is at Smoke Daddy. The Kimberly Gordon quartet is at the Underground Wonder Bar.
Bassist Dave Holland's quintet is at The Dakota in St. Paul, Minn., tonight.
In New Orleans... the Ted Hefko quartet and Trombone Shorty and James Andrews are at the Blue Nile tonight. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Bob French and Friends are at Donna's. The Funkin' Horns and Juan Ferdinand are at the Funky Butt tonight. Melvin Sparks, Johnny Vidacovich and James Singleton are at Howlin' Wolf tonight.
Skerik, Mike Dillon, Brian Seeger, Brian Coogan, and Simon Lott plus Jessica Lurie's Living Room and Global Funk Council are at Jimmy's Music Club. Masters of Groove plus Brotherhood of Groove are at Mama's Blues. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. The Charlie Hunter trio and DJ Logic are at the Mermaid Lounge tonight.
The Sun Ra Arkestra is at Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl. Sam Butera is at the Palm Court. Greg Stafford leads the band at Preservation Hall. Rob Wagner's trio is at the Seaport Café. Los Hombres Calientes are at Snug Harbor. Porter, Batiste and Stoltz plus Bonerama, Russo Benevento and DJ Motion Potion are at Tipitina's. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is at TwiRoPa.
On the California jazz scene... trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos is at the Onyx Room in San Diego tonight. Drummer Babatunde Lea's quintet with Hilton Ruiz, Frank Lacy and Ernie Watts is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles tonight and Wednesday. The Benn Clatworthy quartet is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight.
The Elliot Caine quintet is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton. This is John Pisano's Guitar Night with Pat Kelley at Spazio in Sherman Oaks. Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and the Afro-Cuban All Stars are at the Van Duzer Theater at Humbolt State University's Art Center in Arcata. The Cyrus Chestnut trio is at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight and Wednesday.
On the recording front...
Drummer Bobby Previte and his band Bump are out today with "Counterclockwise" on Palmetto Records. His group, originally called "Bump the Renaissance," was formed in 1985 and released two recordings. It reunited in 1995 after a 10-year hiatus. He's joined by bassist Steve Swallow, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, and original members Marty Ehrlich on saxophone and Wayne Horvitz on piano. Previte calls the band's current approach "a dance of a tight, rhythmic bottom and a loose, almost freeblowing top."
Pianist John Stetch is out with "Standards," the second CD in his solo piano cycle on Justin Time Records. It's his eighth recording as a leader. He says the freedom of solo piano is "an exhilarating experience" and pushes his musicianship to the limit.
Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura leads an aggressive electric quartet on his newest recording, "Hada Hada, which is out today on Libra Records. Tamura is a veteran of jazz groups in the United States and Japan, including the quartets and big bands of his wife, pianist Satoko Fujii. On this session, Fujii records for the first time on synthesizer.
Saxophonist Richard Elliot is out today with "Ricochet," his second release on GRP Records. The former Tower of Power member explores his R&B roots with the help of guitarist Tony Malden, percussionist Lenny Castro, guitarist Robbie Nevil and keyboardist Jeff Lorber. Eliot wrote all of the tunes except for an instrumental version of The Stylistics' 1974 hit "You Make Me Feel Brand New."
Columbia/Legacy Jazz today released three chronologically sequenced CDs of Louis Armstrong's "The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings." These 1925-1928 Chicago recordings were first collected as part of a deluxe boxed-set three years ago. The material compiled in these volumes were Armstrong's first Okeh recordings as a leader.