Today is April 1.
Blues singer Alberta Hunter was born this day in 1895 in Memphis. In the 1920s she worked and recorded in New York with Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Sidney Bechet. She wrote the song "Downhearted Blues," which Bessie Smith turned into a classic recording.
Hunter became a nurse in 1954, putting her career on the back burner until 1977 when she started singing full-time again. She sang regularly until the summer of 1984. She died that October, six months shy of her 100th birthday.
Baritone saxophonist Harry Carney was born this day in 1910 in Boston. He was the first important jazz soloist on the baritone horn, and spent an incredible career-long 45 years with the Duke Ellington orchestra.
Bebop pianist Duke Jordan was born this day in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1922. Jordan's big break came in 1946 when Charlie Parker invited him to join a newly formed group with Miles Davis, Max Roach and bassist Tommy Potter. He stayed with Parker for two years. Jordan moved to Denmark in 1978.
On a sad note ... jazz pianist David Azarian was killed Saturday night when he was struck by a vehicle while changing a tire on his family's minivan in the breakdown lane of busy Interstate Route 93 in Stoneham, Mass. Azarian was 51.
State police said his wife and two daughters, ages 4 and 9, witnessed the accident. Azarian died at the scene.
The native of Armenia visited the United States on a 10-day visa in 1989 and never left. Azarian last performed on Tuesday of last week with his Electric Band at the Regattabar in Cambridge, Mass.
In his early 20s Azarian formed a jazz trio that toured Europe and the Soviet Union, and when the opportunity arose to visit the United States, he jumped at the chance. Five concerts in 10 days to benefit victims of recent earthquakes in Armenia and San Francisco turned into a permanent residency.
Azarian's recordings included his best known, "Stairway to Seventh Heaven," and "Living in Jazzland" and "Hope," which were compilations of live performances broadcast by WGBH in Boston.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... the Claudia Acuna quintet Vanguard is at the Jazz Standard this week. The Heath Brothers are at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. Latin singer Albita is at the Blue Note. There's a tribute to Lionel Hampton at Iridium this week featuring the Terry Gibbs quintet with David "Fathead" Newman, Joey DeFrancesco, Gerry Gibbs and Howard Alden. Pianist Eugene Maslov's trio opens the set each night. Bassist Harvie S and Eye Contact present "Jazz on the Latin Side" at The Zinc Bar tonight and Wednesday.
The Manhattan School of Music Concert Jazz Band presents works by Thad Jones, Victor Feldman and Jim McNeely plus Cecil Bridgewater's arrangements of Doug Carn's "Arise and Shine" and Buddy Johnson's "Since I Feel For You" tonight at Borden Auditorium. The concert is free.
There's a book release party at Sweet Rhythm this evening for Sheila Anderson's new work "The Quotable Musician: From Bach to Tupac." It's out from Allworth Press.
Arnold Jay Smith's Jazz Insights spring lecture series on vocalists opens tonight at New School University with guest vocalist Andy Bey joining the discussion.
In and around Boston... the Lello Molinari Project with George Garzone, Jeff Galindo, Frank Carlberg, Mick Goodrick and Bob Gullotti is at The Regattabar in Cambridge tonight. Singer Christy Baron makes her Boston debut at Scullers jazz club tonight.
Pianist Kenny Barron and Canta Brasil are at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, Md., tonight.
In the Chicago area... Bobby Hutcherson is at the Jazz Showcase this week with Willie Pickens, Kelly Sill and Dana Hall. Men of Note are at Andy's tonight. The Vandermark Five is at the Empty Bottle. Ken Cheney is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium. Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan are at Katerina's.
Saxophonist Von Freeman and Friends are at the New Apartment Lounge. The Bobby Broom trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston tonight. Marshall Vente is at Philander's in Oak Park tonight. The Kimberly Gordon quartet is at the Underground Wonder Bar on Tuesdays.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... the Ted Hefko quartet is at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Bob French and Friends are at Donna's. The Steve Yocum trio is at Fritzel's. The Funkin' Horns and Juan Ferdinand are at the Funky Butt. Mark Braud is at Harrah's. The ReBirth Brass Band is at the Maple Leaf. Greg Stafford leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. The Rob Wagner trio is at the Seaport Cafe. Davell Crawford is at Snug Harbor.
In California... trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos is at the Onyx Room in San Diego tonight. Vibes player Stefon Harris's 12-piece Grand Unification Theory band is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Sunday. This is John Pisano's Guitar Night with Gene Bertoncini at Spazio in Sherman Oaks.
The Pete Christlieb quartet is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen tonight. The Ron Kobayashi trio with Debbi Ebert is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton tonight. Mindi Abair is at Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland tonight and Wednesday. Pianist Mike Greensil's trio is at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco tonight.
The Roy Hargrove quintet is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle this week. Jovino Santos Neto's string quartet piece "Marambaia" will be premiered tonight by the Odeon String Quartet at Poncho Concert Hall at Cornish College's Kerry Hall in Seattle.
Soulive is at the Blue Note in Tokyo through Saturday.
On the recording front...
The Sunnyside label is out today with the latest recording by conguero Ray Barretto. The sextet session is a tribute album called "Homage to Art Blakey." Barretto's band includes saxophonist Miguel Zenon, trumpeter John Bailey, pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Vince Cherico.
Sunnyside also has released bassist Rufus Reid's quintet CD "The Gait Keeper" and "Songs and Lullabies" by Fred Hersch and Norma Winstone with special guest Gary Burton.
West Coast singer Mark Winkler is just out with a new CD honoring the songwriting legacy of the late Bobby Troup. "Route 66" is included, of course, but "Mark Winkler sings Bobby Troup" also reminds us how much deeper the Troup songbook is. He also includes "Baby Baby All the Time, which recently was covered by Diana Krall as well; ""Three Little Bears;" "You're Looking at Me;" Walking Shoes;" "A Young Man is Gone;" and, "Hungry Man." Winkler is backed by two fine Los Angeles bands on the CD, guitarist Anthony Wilson's trio and pianist Jon Mayer's group.
The Ropeadope label has released its ambitious session, "The Detroit Experiment." The core band includes Marcus Belgrave, Regina Carter, Geri Allen and Bennie Maupin for this exploration of the roots of the Detroit sound. DJ-producer Carl Craig and Karriem Riggins recorded the band over a period of five days at the White Room Studio in downtown Detroit. The results are spellbinding, mind-blowing and a true testament to the talent in Detroit. It takes you label calls this a "record for those who wonder what would happen if Miles Davis jammed with Radiohead and a Tribe Called Quest."