Today is March 19.
Pianist and composer Lennie Tristano was born in Chicago this day in 1919. As a conceptualist and a player, he had a major influence on the development of modern jazz piano. Tristano was the first musician to overdub a second piano part on top of his first when he recorded "Turkish Mambo" and "Requiem" for Atlantic in 1955. He spent most of his final 25 years teaching piano at his Long Island home. Lennie Tristano died in 1978.
Jazz explorer Ornette Coleman was born this day in 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas. He stepped into the big league jazz scene in 1958 as a radical new talent whose "free jazz" concept shunned the use of harmonics. There are no chords, no harmonic sequences and no chord structures to his many of his compositions.
Singer Bill Henderson was born this day in 1930 in Chicago.
Pianist Eliane Elias was born this day in 1960 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She joined the American fusion band Steps Ahead in 1983 and formed her own band in 1986.
On this day in 1950, Sarah Vaughan recorded her hit song "Mean To Me" for Columbia.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, the Jazz Standard reopens tonight after a lengthy closure for renovations. The first week features the Jazz Composers Collective Festival, with eight different bands performing over six nights. The lineup tonight is bassist Ben Allison's Seven Hours band and the Herbie Nichols Project.
Singer Carol Sloane opens a weeklong run tonight at the Village Vanguard with pianist Norman Simmons, bassist Paul West, drummer Winard Harper and guitarist Paul Bollenback. Pianist McCoy Tyner's trio is joined by special guest Bobby Hutcherson on vibes tonight through Sunday at Iridium. Gato Barbieri's band is at the Blue Note this week. Trombonist Chris Washburne's SYOTOS Latin jazz band is at Void tonight.
Tonight's Knitting Factory schedule includes the Avram Fefer trio and Change of Time, featuring Adam Kolker, Russ Lossing and John Hebert. Drummer Cecil Brooks III brings his CB3 band into the Zinc Bar tonight and Wednesday. Paul Ellington leads the Duke Ellington Orchestra at Birdland tonight. Bassist Ron Jenkins' band is at the Sugar Bar tonight. AfroMantra is at the Arka Lounge tonight.
Arturo O'Farrill's Latin jazz quintet performs at Rumson Fair Haven High School in New Jersey today as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's seventh annual Jazz in the Schools series. There's also an evening concert at Public School 180 in Manhattan.
In and around Boston, blues harmonic ace Jerry Portnoy's band is at Scullers jazz club with special guest Duke Robillard. The John Payne Saxophone Choir is at the Regattabar in Cambridge tonight.
Victor North leads the jazz jam tonight at Chris's Jazz Café in Philadelphia.
Singer-pianist Diana Krall's quartet is at the Palace Theater in Cleveland tonight.
On the Chicago jazz scene, pianist Cyrus Chestnut's trio is at the Jazz Showcase tonight through Sunday. Men of Note are at Andy's tonight. The Bobby Lewis quartet is at the Backroom. Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms are at the Green Mill tonight. Ken Cheney is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium. Von Freeman is at the New Apartment Lounge. Mississippi Heat is at Pops for Champagne tonight. Guitarist Bobby Broom's trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston tonight. Elizabeth Doyle is at Philander's in Oak Park.
In New Orleans, the Jazz Vipers are at El Matador tonight. Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos swing into the Ritz Carlton's French Quarter Bar. Drummer James Alsanders' Jazz Project and the Pearl Harbor Jazz Ensemble are at the Funky Butt. Pianist Paul Longstreth is at Le Meridien. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Pete Fountain dusts off his clarinet at his club in the New Orleans Hilton. Trumpeter Gregg Stafford leads the band at Preservation Hall. The John Mahoney Big Band is at Snug Harbor. Singer John Boutte is in the spotlight at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
Trumpeter Terence Blanchard's band is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight through Sunday.
San Francisco's SFJazz initiative opens its third season of spring events tonight, with the focus on Jazz Women for its first series. The five-day program opens tonight with a panel discussion on women in jazz, featuring Maria Schneider, Sherrie Tucker, Mary Watkins and Susie Ibarra. Angela Davis chairs the event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.
Concerts in the week ahead will feature the Marilyn Crispell trio, the Maria Schneider Orchestra featuring trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, Cassandra Wilson, Jane Bunnett and Spirits of Havana, Jane Ira Bloom and a look at the history of jazz women on film.
Elsewhere on the California jazz scene, guitarist Stanley Jordan is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles tonight through Sunday. Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner team up at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood through Sunday. The Gina Saputo quartet is at Steamer's Jazz Café in Fullerton tonight.
Guitarist John Scofield's band is at Yoshi's in Oakland through Sunday. The Terry Becker band is at Café Caracas in Berkeley tonight. Pianist Benny Barth's trio is at Main Street Station in Guerneville.
In San Francisco tonight, the SF Symphony Players jazz jam takes place at the Beach Chalet. Mitch Marcus is at Bruno's. Drummer Vince Lateano's trio is at Jazz at Pearl's. The Hot Club of San Francisco trad band is at Enrico's. Alan Steger is at the Bix Restaurant and Supper Club.
The Ray Vega Latin jazz quintet brings its first European tour to Marian's Jazz Room in Bern, Switzerland, tonight through Saturday.
Steven Bernstein's Sex Mob band and the Don Byron group perform tonight at the Vaulx Jazz Festival's Charlie Chaplin Cultural Center in Vaulx-en-Velin, France.
On the recording front...
The True Life Entertainment label is out today with an important all-star project called "Secret Ellington." It's a collection of 12 previously unrecorded Duke Ellington songs. They were written in 1958 for the never-produced Broadway show "Saturday Laughter." Herb Martin wrote the lyrics to 22 songs by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The show -- set in South Africa and featuring an all-black cast -- was never produced on the big stage and the songs languished in obscurity for more than 40 years. They were first performed in August 2000 at a Duke Ellington Society concert at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan.
Producer Todd Barkan brought together a revolving ensemble featuring singers Freddie Cole, Jeffrey Smith, Judi Silvano, Ian Shaw and Karen Oberlin, saxophonists Joe Lovano, Eric Alexander, Grover Washington Jr., and Bob Kindred, flute player Lou Marini, vibes player Joe Locke, pianists Arturo O'Farrill and James Pearson, guitarist Joe Beck, bassists George Mraz, Chip Jackson and Michael Pope, and drummers Steve Berrios, Mark Fletcher and Keith Carlock. Grover Washington accompanied Freddie Cole on the tune "They Say" on what turned out to be the saxophonist's final recording session.
Herb Martin and playwright Henry Miller are reviving "Saturday Laughter" as a new play called "Renaissance Man," transporting the action from 1950s South Africa to 1920s Harlem.