Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Milton Suggs
Milton, I just finished eating your upcoming album "Things to Come". It was hearty and satisfying as a holiday meal, so. I urge people to buy two copies when Skiptone Music releases it on September 28th. I suggest purchasing two because people should have a spare on hand in case they wear out the first, which I guarantee will occur.For now, that's I'll reveal about “Things to Come”. I'll post a full review on the release date. Before I sign off, I'll share some of your background if that's okay with you.
Milton is a Chicagoan. He has been musical since childhood, starting on the alto saxophone. Later on, the lad switched to the piano. He started riffing and wailing as a teenager. As a graduate student at De Paul University, Milton won the Down Beat Magazine Student Music Award. His buddy trumpet great Wynton Marsalis encouraged the vocalist to pursue his singing career. This spring, Milton released his first album “Just like Me: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn". The Chicagoan has worked with Wycliffe Gordon, Phil Woods, and Winard Harper. That should be enough of Milton's background to arouse your interest. Milton is a superb jazz vocalist. Just imagine the kind of vocalist you would get if you mixed Johnny Hartman's and Kevin Mahogany's DNA.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Ellis, you have to be a proud father. You raised talented sons, and they expressed their gratitude and admiration for you on this outstanding arranged and produced live recording "Music Redeems". The album starts with the Charlie Parker ditty "Donna Lee". Jason, puts his spin on the be bop staple, whistling the melody during his drum solo. Jason is a classy drummer never one to showboat, and his net worth is on display throughout the album. On "Monkey Puzzle", he shows he's a competent vibraphonist as well. You take the piano on a leisurely stroll on the ballad "After". You are a sleek improviser. The album's high points were Harry Connick Jr. sassy take on 'Sweet Georgia Brown". On the steamer, "At the House, In Da Pocket", you and Connick Jr. trade measures back and forth like cheat sheets. Brandford, Wynton, and Delfeayo, of course, came with their A-chops, showing a collective work ethic on the final selection "2nd Line". The music on "Music Redeems" is top grade swing, which is the Marsalis family's forte.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Louis ArmstrongMr. Armstrong, I just returned home. I spent the evening at Orchestra Hall here in Detroit, watching "Louis: A Silent Film" directed by Dan Pritzker. The film was accompanied by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and some of the members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The film was supposedly a fictionalized version of your childhood in New Orleans. I appreciated the music Marsalis composed more than the film. I am sure you're familiar with Marsalis' reputation as a fine jazz musician and bandleader. Marsalis has been instrumental in keeping your music alive. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under his leadership musically has risen to the level of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Count Basie Orchestra. Although the evening was about part of your evolution, Marsalis managed to work in bits and pieces of Ellington’s and Basie’s music. Mr. Armstrong, the first chunk of "Louis" was about your infatuation with a comely hooker name Grace, who an unscrupulous politician knocked up. When the politician wasn’t campaigning, he was conspiring to kill his illegitimate offspring. I wondered if the nefarious attempt to kill an innocent infant offended some of the audience. The second half of the silence farce, I mean silence biopic, centered on your futile quest for a trumpet guru to teach you to play the instrument. The film conveyed the impression you’re more interested in protecting the hooker than mastering the trumpet. Mr. Armstrong I'm not sure if you have seen the movie or read any reviews about it. If you have, was any of it true? Or did Pritzker take more creative liberties than necessary? It's unfathomable the folks at the orphanage allowed you to gallivant around the seedy streets of New Orleans unsupervised. Mr. Armstrong, Maybe I'm the only attendee who disliked the film. I gauged the audience throughout, and they got a kick from watching your fictionalized boyhood exploits. When the film ended and the credits rolled, the audience gave a hearty ovation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Hello, Esperanza, I am Charles L. Latimer. I am a writer, and I run this jazz blog. If you have a few minutes to spare, I want to chat with you about "Chamber Music Society". I have mixed feelings about it. I picked it up Monday after I read Dan Ouellette cover story in the current issue of Down Beat magazine. Early this year, I read a profile about you in the New Yorker. I forgot who wrote it. The New Yorker piece was better than Ouellette's cover story. His article read like a long press release. I bought “Chamber Music Society, and I had a few revelations. You are a good singer, a competent jazz bassist, and you are daring. You deserve recognition for being unconventional. Honestly, when I heard your first album, I believed Heads UP Records was trying to market you as the next Norah Jones. I guess that's okay. Your second album was a hit, and you became a sensation. I had a hard time understanding the album. I feel the same way about “Chamber Music Society. After listening to it many times, I realized you are not interested in making conventional jazz records. You take risks, but you made some mistakes. You lumped your musical influences together, so the album feels as if you set out on a journey with no destination in mind. On "Inutil Paisagem”, your humming and scatting reminded me of Bobby McFerrin voicings. There's some noteworthy material on the album. "Winter Sun" was closest you came to a straight ahead jazz track. On "Wild is the Wind", your voice melted over David Eggar's cello. The duet with Milton Nascimento on "Apple Blossom was flat. His singing sounded like Quincy Jones' speaking voice. Esperanza, you deserve brownie points for wanting to be different. So many musicians of your generation are copycats.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Providencia will be released August 31, 2010Cory the barber was sweeping up hair off the living room floor when I entered his two-bedroom apartment. Before I arrived, Cory had just finished giving a customer a hair cut. Cory made his apartment available to a handful of his customers who couldn't make it to the barbershop during regular business hours. For the inconvenience he charges them double, which they gladly pay. In July, he moved from Redford to Detroit’s New Center to be closer to his ten-year-old daughter, Inez, who lived with her mom three blocks over. Cory’s place was neater than a doctor’s waiting room. Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez’s new album "Providencia" played on a wooden antique-like record player that also pIays cds.
Mack Avenue Records will officially release the album next Tuesday, so I wondered how Cory got his hands on an advanced copy. Maybe a customer hooked him up with a bootleg copy. I was on Cory's neck of the woods hanging out with my aunt Ella. We had lunch. She lives in a nursing home near Cory, and twice a month I visit her. Last week, Cory loaned me a box set of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane's Prestige recordings. On the way home, I stopped by Cory's place to return it. He propped the broom and dustpan against the wall. We embraced. Then I handed him the box set, and he examined each disc. I asked if he planned to return my security deposit that he demanded when he agreed to let me borrow the box set. Whenever Cory loans friend an album, he requires a security deposit upfront in case the albums come back damaged.
"You had this box set so long I forgot about it," Cory joked. He placed the set on the coffee table next to a framed photo of Inez posing with saxophonist Tia Fuller at the Detroit jazz fest. I set on Cory’s distressed leather couch while he adjusted the volume on the record player.
“You want a beer." Cory said walking into the kitchen.
“No. I just had lunch with my aunt.” Cory returned with a Red Stripe beer. He took a swig. Then placed it on the current issue of JazzTimes magazine with Miles Davis on the cover.
"Where did you get the Danilo Perez album from"'?
“I know people who know people,” Cory shot back. Cory’s connection was a hustler who sold bootleg DVDs in front of the BP gas station next to the barbershop where Cory works.
"DL Media sent me an advance copy a few months ago," I said.
"I had a chance to hear Danilo at Hill Auditorium It was a great concert. I really like him as a leader.
"I was at that gig".
"I didn't see you there"
"I was sitting up front with all the important people."
"Yeah, right."
"The first time I played ‘Providencia’ I’d mixed feelings about it. I thought it was too sappy.”
"The suite was inspired by his daughter. Maybe that's why 'Daniela Chronicles' came off sentimental. Danilo a heavy thinker and an emotional piano player”.
"Sometimes, the intellectual type jazz musicians make music that only they understand."
"Just because you don't get the music doesn't mean something is wrong with it."
"What's the point of making music that only the musician understands"?
"Danilo sounds a lot like Monk at times. That always seems to be a lot of space between the notes, especially on 'Daniela Chronicles."
"I wasn't feeling the first half of the album. It was so overwrought. The rest of the album I was totally into. A lot of jazz fans believe Kenny Garrett is the king of the alto sax. I disagree. Rudresh Mahanthappa is a better saxophonist. Just listen to how he riffs with Danilo on 'The Maze: The Beginning'. That's my favorite track. Rudresh is outstanding no matter who he plays with."
"I can't argue with that. On that track, I thought Danilo showed what a crafty improviser he is. He was eating the changes like cashews," Cory said.
"All the musicians on the album played their butts off, especially Danilo,” Cory said. He glanced at his wristwatch, and took another swig.
"The album probably won't make my best jazz album of 2010 list”. I confessed. “There's some stiff competition this year, but I would recommend it.
Cory finished the beer, and took the empty bottle in the kitchen. He grabbed his car keys off the end table.
"I have to pick up Inez from her friends. You want to ride with me? We can finish this discussion on the way," Cory said.
"No, I have a few more stops to make, but you can give me back that security deposit."
"You forfeited the deposit by not returning the box set on time," Cory said as we left his apartment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


"Man you're wishy-washy. A while back, I recall you dogging Kem. Now you're praising him," Cory the barber said placing a hot slice of pizza on his plate. We set across from each other at Mama Rosa's, a pizzeria on Mack Ave. Every so often, Cory the barber and I have dinner together. He suggested this small family restaurant that's walking distance from his apartment. The pizzeria is cozy. The servers wear chino shorts and their hair styled in a ponytail. Above the cash register hangs a framed photo of a middle-aged Italian man. The sign above the framed reads: We miss you Tony. I assumed Tony used to own the place. I liked the restuarant because it feels homey.
Before the waitress served the pizza, Cory and I had just polished off a plate of breaded zucchini. I lost a bet I had with Cory, so I had to pay for dinner. Cory chose the restaurant. I figured he was going to stick it to me by picking a swanky a restaurant such as the Dirty Dog, the Whitney, or Opus One. He picked Mama Rosa's, a cozy pizzeria known for good affordable Italian food and ribs. While waiting for a table, the couple behind us said they eat at the restaurant all the time. They suggested I try the ribs. I wanted to tell them I’m a vegetarian, but I thought doing so would be rude, so I thanked them for the suggestion.
Tuesday the hometown R&B crooner Kem new album "Intimacy Album III" hit the streets. Cory raved about it. He knows I am not a big fan. Kem's first album, "Kemistry" was okay. It sold over 500,000 copies, which by today's music industry expectations is a big deal. Cory urged me to buy "Intimacy Album III". He bet me dinner I would take to it right away. I am against any sort of gambling, but I figured this was a sure thing, so I bought the album. Cory was right. I loved it right away.
Cory took a small bite of the pizza, then quickly dropped it on his place. He fanned his mouth with his hand. The hot cheese burned the roof of his mouth. I shared my feeling about 'Intimacy Album III". He knew I would really dig the album, but it surprised him when I announced it was a great album.
"I figured you would love it, but calling it one of the best albums of the year is a stretch, given how hard you were on his first two albums". Cory said.
"You think I should support him just because he's from Detroit. I refused to jump on your bandwagon. I thought his first two albums were flawed," I said. I folded a slice of pizza into half. Then I took a significant bite. By now, the pizza was warm enough to eat. Cory makes it a plus to support local musicians. Kem is his favorite. He met Kem once before the singer made it big.
The singer worked at a coffee shop on Lafayette. Cory forgot the name of the shop, but he remembered it was near John King's bookstore and the Greyhound bus station. He recalled Kem singing while serving the customers. Cory believes music critics who compared Kem to Al Jarreau were wrong. Cory never heard the similarities. From the beginning, Kem had his own thing, and music journalists and critics found it difficult to categorize his style. Was it smooth jazz? Was it Neo-soul? Was it his take on R&B?
Cory give the now lukewarm slice of pizza another shot. "Most of the Neo-soul crooners you can't tell them apart. When you hear Kem you know that’s him right away".
“It’s obvious he labored over every song. A lot of contemporary singer's albums are so all over the place. No one can say that about 'Intimacy Album III'," I said, sprinkling some cheese on my slice.
"Kem sounds like he's love struck."
"You'd have to be to write love songs so convincingly and so passionately. That's what makes this album so damn good. He's really a songsmith. Plus, he knows how to deliver a love song. Songs like 'Love Never Fails', 'Share My Life' and 'You're On My Mind" would give the devil goose bumps and make his old-lady blush. The other night, the wife and I went for a long drive. We listened to the album. It was so sensual. I felt like I did when I met my wife for the first time," I confessed.
"Just last month you're talking about getting a divorce. You mean to say, the album was that good it save your marriage."
"Don't be a smart-ass. You know what I mean. His music hit certain senses and emotions," I said. The waitress stopped at our table to ask how the pizzas tasted. I gave her thumbs up. She refilled our water glasses.
"I'm kidding, man. Chill out! I know what you are getting at. I feel the save way when I listen to cats like Smokey Robinson and Musiq Soulchild. Did you like the cut with Jill Scott?"
"Yeah. She's not the greatest singer in the world, not even close. But she can write her ass off. She's a real poet in my book. Her writing is what I like most about her records," I said.
We were stuffed. We had polished off half the pizza. The pizzeria started to fill up. I beckoned our waitress. I asked her for a doggy bag and the bill. Five minutes later, she reappeared with a pizza boxed. She boxed the remaining slices, and she slid the bill toward Cory.
"Are you a Kem fan now," Cory asked pushing the bill toward me.
"I'll always buy his music. That's the only way to tell if it's worthwhile. He really nailed it this time around."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Jazz Critic Nate ChinenI read your column "Why JazzTimes Matters" in the September issue. I agree with certain parts of your opinion. JazzTimes is still an important monthly magazine. Other aspects of your opinion bothered me, particularly your statements about how some jazz bloggers commentaries lack depth. You boasted about JazzTimes' pristine reputation. The magazine has high standards, and respected jazz writers such as Nat Hentoff and Gary Giddins are contributors. However, you neglected to point out JazzTimes also has a few blemishes. Last year, in the business section of the New York Times, I read JazzTimes' editors knowing the magazine was bankrupt continued to assign cover stories, columns and album reviews to freelancers, who they never paid. That was unscrupulous, and for awhile I stopped buying the magazine. To the readers who rely on jazz journalists such as you for recommendations JazzTimes is still relevant. However, thanks to a multitude of jazz bloggers, jazz enthusiasts have more than a select group of jazz writers to give them insight on the state of the music and any future development. Most of the jazz bloggers I know are just as knowledgeable about the music as jazz critics who contribute to JazzTimes. Nate, you were hard on jazz bloggers, saying their perspectives and commentaries lack depth. Nate, you acknowledged there are some competent writers, for example, Doug Ramsey and David R. Alder, who are journeymen jazz authorities. Other lesser known jazz bloggers matter. Their perspectives and insights about the music should be trusted and respected. In my book, an individual that owns hundreds of jazz recordings, attends jazz concerts regularly, reads books by jazz writers such as Martin Williams, Whitney Balliett, Valerie Wilmer, Amiri Baraka, Ben Ratliff, Garry Giddins, and Nat Hentoff are qualified to comment on jazz. JazzTimes is still worthwhile, and so are jazz bloggers.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Inez, Cory the barber's 10-year-old daughter, answered his cell phone on the third ring. Sheryl Crows new album "100 Miles from Memphis” blared in the background. Crow was doing an impressive rendition of the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back". Inez recognized my voice. She always refers to me as Mr. Charles even though I gave her permission to call me by my first name. She refused, explaining her parents forbid her from calling her elders by their first name. Inez is smart. Whenever, we talk I feel like I'm conversing with an adult. Mystics would say Inez has an old soul. Inez asked me to wait while she fetched her dad, who was in the basement doing laundry. Cory told Inez to turn the music down.
"Is everything okay," Cory asked. He seemed surprised.
"Things are fine."
"You've had my number for a year now. This is the first time you used it, so I figured something must be wrong."
"I'm not crazy about talking on the phone," I said. "I've had many lady-friends dump me because I never called them enough."
"I forgot you have an asocial streak," Cory said.
"I picked up this new record by Eric Reed and Cyrus Chestnut called 'Plenty Swing, Plenty Soul'.
"I have that record. I didn’t care for it."
"It's the first good recording Cyrus has made in a long time," I said.
"Back in the day, you loved the ground Cyrus walked on. In your eyes, he wasn't capable of making a bad record," Cory said.
"Everybody has a bad day or two on the job. I'm still a big Cyrus Chestnut fan. What didn't you like about the album?
"Eric and Cyrus styles are too much alike. I thought the session would be more of an old fashion cutting contest".
“You're wrong. Their styles are different. I’m glad there wasn't a lot of horsing around. They kept the session respectable. I could tell one from the other when they soloed. Cyrus is more percussive and soulful than Eric. You can hear it in everything Cyrus plays. Eric, on the other hand, is a straight up swinger. He never stops swinging. I bet he even swings when he’s sleeping. Naming the album 'Plenty Swing, Plenty Soul', I bet was a play on their styles."
"The album would’ve been more interesting if Eric made it with Jason Moran. Eric is a traditionalist and Moran is an experimentalist," Cory said.
"I don't see how that duo would've worked," I said.
"I watched a performance on You tube once called the Drum Workshop. Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, and Sunny Murray shared the bandstand. They were improvising like crazy. They had different styles. The concert was wonderful."
"I saw the video. It took place in Europe. They should've called it the Showboating Workshop because that’s all the drummers were doing”.
"There you go being sarcastic”.
"Most of the time I agree with you, but this time, you're way off base. I think something is going wrong with your ears. How could you not like how Eric and Cyrus played on 'I'll Remember April," and "Two Bass Hit"? When Eric soloed on 'Prayer', I wanted to confess all my sins, and I'm not even Catholic."
"You can talk until you're blue in the face. You won’t change my mind,”" Cory said. He was right. Trying to convince him the album is worthwhile was futile, so I changed the subject. I overheard Inez tell him the drier stopped.
"Not to change the subject," I said. "What are you doing listening to Sheryl Crow"?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My jazz friends will tease me because I really like your new album "Heart and Soul". At heart, my buddies are jazz purists. I used to be one, but my musical taste has grown. I'm more open to smooth jazz and other forms of contemporary music. Frankly, Kenny, my jazz friends despise smooth jazz, and they accuse you of being a phony.Have you ever professed to be a jazz musician? If so, I want to read the articles and listen to the interviews where you made that claim.

I bet you could play be bop, hard bop and free jazz if you wanted, but you chose to play the kind of music a broad audience can enjoy. You've sold millions of albums. That should count for something. On "Heart and Soul," you play melodic instrumental music. In my book, that's okay, and you do it better than any other smooth jazz player. Your collaboration with the R&B carooners Robin Thicke and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds are the best tracks.

Kenny, your laid-back style blends perfectly with Thicke's falsetto. "Letters from Home" and "One Breath" are enticing slow jams. You never deviate from your mellow and uncomplicated style. My jazz purist pals will never understand that.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Cory the barber telephone number flashed on the display screen of my cell phone. My wife was out running her Saturday errands. I had the house to myself, and I had a few hours of alone time, so I ordered "Brooklyn's Finest on HBO on Demand. I was reluctant to answer my cell phone. Cory the barber is talkative, especially when the subject at hand is music. I decided to answer the call anyway because it may have been an emergency, but I was almost certain he was to talk about some great album he recently purchased.
"Did I get you at a bad time," Cory asked.
"I was just about to watch 'Brooklyn's Finest'," I said. I turned down the volume on the television in the family room so I could hear him.
"I thought you saw that already."
"I want to watch it again," I said.
"I was at Borders last night and I bought this sweet ass album 'Silence' by Mal Waldron and David Murray. You need to get it if you don't already have it."
"Is there a photo of a boy on the cover with a red bow tie and a rose attached to the lapel of his suit jacket"?
"Yeah that's the one. The duets are sweet I didn't know that David could play ballads so tenderly. I listened to the album on my laptop, and the speakers cried when he soloed on ‘All to Soon’ and ‘Soul Eyes’".
"Dave is a virtuoso. I’m not surprised that your laptop speakers were weeping.” "
"I always associated him and Mal with the avant-garde," Cory said.
"Mal was a virtuoso, too. He could do it all. Even when he performed with free jazz cats like Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean, Mal was un-rambunctious," I said.
“Is that a real word”?
“Yes. I just made it up.”
“You like making up your own words”?
“That’s my way of improvising. If jazz musicians can make up new notes, tones, and sounds, I can make up my own words.”
“Whatever, man. Anyway, normally, I hate the sound of the bass clarinet. It’s an ugly looking instrument. It looks like an over sized smoking pipe, but I really liked listening to Dave play it on "Free for C.T.' and 'Soul Eye's".
"I dug the way David improvised throughout. Some jazz critics past and present contend Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane are the greatest jazz improvisers. In my book, David is just as good," I said.
I heard my wife Honda Civic pull up.
"I don't know about that.We can debate about that some other time," Cory said.
"What did you dislike about the album’?
"The title cut 'Silence' was an eyesore".
“‘Silence’ and 'Hurray for Herbie' showed what a virtuoso improviser David is, and what a gifted accompanist Mal was," I said. I heard my wife pull up to the garage. I asked Cory to hold on. I peeked through the blinds. The wife popped the trunk, which was stuffed with bags from Targets and Kroger.
"Cory, my wife just pulled up. I want to give her a hand with the grocery bags."
"I'll call you back later."
"Okay, peace."

Friday, August 6, 2010


"Tim Warfield has never put out a bad album," Cory the barber proclaimed. Cory set in the empty barber chair next to KB's workstation. KB owns 100% barbershop. Cory struck up a conversation about saxophonist Tim Warfield's latest album "A Sentimental Journey" after we teased KB about his outfit. He's stylish, so we nicknamed him the "dapper barber". KB cuts hair in expensive clothes. Today he wore a pair of classic Gucci Loafers. We ribbed KB when he pointed out how sharply Tim Warfield was dressed on the album cover.
"For once I agree with you," I told Cory as KB turned on the hair clippers, and trimmed down my hair. "Tim is definitely consistent.
"He's underrated in my book."
"He reminds me of some of the greats like Tina Brooks, and Ike Quebec," I said as KB turned the barber chair facing the mirror on the wall.
"Where's Tim from"?
"I thought you're a fan."
"I am, but I don't know everything about him."
"I true fan would know what time Tim brushes his teeth in the morning and where he gets his suits dry cleaned."
"You're getting carried away."
KB stepped in. He joked arguing is prohibited. Then he changed the blade on the clippers, and resumed cutting my hair.
"Tim was born in Philly..."
"Coltrane's hometown".
"That's right.
"I wonder if Trane influenced Tim"
"Organist Shirley Scott took him under her wing."
"The organ player is one of the things I like about Sentimental Journey.," Cory said.
"Pat Bianchi isn't a heavy-handed organist. He never gets in Tim's way.” That comes across on Crazy Rhythm,"
KB turned me away from the wall mirror,
Cory said: “This album is good from top to bottom, especially My Man and the title cut In Sentimental Mood".
"Tim has a light touch on the soprano sax, and he knows how to work a ballad.
"Has Tim ever played in Detroit"?
"A decade ago, he played with Christian McBride at the Blues, Roots, Honks, and Moans concert in Ann Arbor.
"Do you have a favorite tune on the album"?
“I like each equally. I could listen to this album everyday," I said.
Cory's customer walked into the barbershop. He cut the conversation, stuffed "A Sentimental Journey" cd case into the pocket of his black smock, and greeted his customer. KB handed me a mirror to inspect my haircut. Then he said: "Cory is gonna be on his deathbed talking about music."

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Saxophonist Ken VendermarkListening to your Powerhouse Sound quartet last night at Alvin's Bar in Detroit, I kept thinking about a scene in the new Thelonious Monk biography. Monk hired drummer Frankie Dunlop. Dunlop was a loud drummer at the time. He had a tough time playing some of Monk's tricky tunes. Monk liked to switch tempos without warning. Monk chastised the drummer, explaining Dunlop needed to be more flexible, and  learn to swing at various tempos. I wondered how a musician could swing on a slow tempo number. Ken, last night I understood what Monk was talking about listening to Powerhouse Sound. The quartet played intricate music with many tempos changes. During both set, I was awed at how you the band swung on every level. It was creative how you stitched together four or five compositions, making it appear the band played one long composition. I never witness a drummer who played recklessly and beautifully as John Herndon did. He wailed on the drums like a maniac, throwing his cymbals around like a Frisbee. Midway through the first selection, his t-shirt was drench. He was playing that hard. Highlights of the both sets were the collective improvisation even when guitarists Nate McBride and Jeff Parker produced those eerie sound effects. The only criticism I have is you should have written more parts for yourself. When it was your turn to shine, your powerful soloing could have shattered the windshields of the cars parked outside Alvin's Bar. Powerhouse Sound is a fitting name for a powerful band.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Seated cross-legged in a club chair at Border's Books and Music reading the new Thelonious Monk biography, I felt a tap on my right shoulder. I turned around. Cory the barber stood behind me holding his daughter's, Inez, hand. Inez held two Wimpy Kid novels. I was surprised to see Cory in Gross Pointe. He lives and works in Redford. He explained Inez's mom lives near the bookstore. He took Inez to dinner. They stopped at the bookstore because Inez wanted the last two novels in the Wimpy Kid series. Cory flopped down in the chair next to me. Inez gave her dad the novels, and she asked for money to buy a smoothie. Cory pulled a crumbled ten dollar bill from the pocket of his cargo shorts. He told Inez to get him a triple chocolate chip cookie. Before she left, he reminded her to bring back all his change.
"You have a great life. All you do is read books and listen to music all day. I want your life."
"I keep my life simple," I said.
"Have you heard any good albums lately," Cory asked.
“On the drive over here, I listened to the new album by Marcus Printup."
"I heard a lot of good stuff about that album "Ballads all Night".
"Marcus is a solid trumpet player.
I've heard him on a bunch of records as a sideman. He played on one of pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s best albums "Soul Food".
"Was that the album with Lewis Nash, Stefon Harris, Christian McBride...?”
"James Carter, and Wycliffe Gordon."
"That was a great album. Cyrus hired the top cats from his generation."
"What did you like about "Ballads all Nights"? The concept sounds dated," Cory said.
"It’s the kind of album that most good jazz trumpet players make at some point in their career. Marcus is a romantic.
"Like Miles."
"That is a knee-jerk comparison. Marcus tone and phrasing is a lot softer like trumpeter Johnnie Coles."
"Is that the cat who used to play with Mingus"?
"Yeah. After listening to Marcus play, ballads my heart was melted in my lap. I kept replaying 'Miles Away,' "Memory Box' and 'Nearness of You'. Marcus composed most of the songs on the album.
"Will the album make your top ten favorite jazz albums of 2010," Cory wanted to know.
"Probably not, but it's a good album. I recommend you buy it," I said.
Inez returned with her smoothie and her dad's triple chocolate chip cookie. Cory and I embraced. He had to leave. Inez’s mom was expecting her home by 9:00pm. Cory the barber paid for the two Wimpy Kid novels, and I resumed reading the chapter in the Thelonious Monk biography where Monk's manager suspected the folks at River Side Records cheated the pianist.