On May 11-16, 1976, sax player Stan Getz and singer/guitarist João Gilberto met up to play at a then-new jazz club in San Francisco, Keystone Korner, continuing the brilliant confabulation they’d begun on their seminal Brazilian jazz recording, Getz/Gilberto (Verve). Getz and Gilberto had never worked together in a club before, even though they’d played Carnegie Hall and recorded two popular studio albums. In February of this year, Resonance Records launched the live recording from that week of performances— Getz/Gilberto ’76, a stunning snapshot of several exceptional musicians at the peak of their careers. Besides Getz and Gilberto, the recording features Joanne Brackeen on piano, Clint Houston on bass, and Billy Hart on drums. On the first track, Getz introduces Gilberto, who’d stopped performing for about four years. After lauding the singer, Getz wonders aloud why such a talented musician would hesitate to play out in public. No matter—“he’s here this week,” he concluded. Listeners to this important recording might likewise wonder why these tracks have remained under wraps for so long. But no matter—they’re here now. The liner notes offer absorbing facts about the artists, the club, and the bossa craze of the 1960s, with contributions from the club’s owner Todd Barkan and journalist James Gavin. Just like Getz/Gilberto, the cover art for Getz/Gilberto ’76 is an abstract expressionist illustration by painter Olga Albizu. As confabulations go, this one is pretty fabulous.
On May 31, 1978 Sarah Vaughan played Rosy’s jazz club in New Orleans. Her voice was in fantastic shape, her regular trio was behind her, and NPR was there to record the show. Resonance Records has released a compilation of tracks from this gig as well; Sarah Vaughan: Live at Rosy’s is two discs of standards that show off Vaughn’s impressive versatility as a singer and her naturalness as a performer. The recording includes bits with Vaughan chatting amiably before the audience, ever graceful when someone mistakes her for another singer, and seguing effortlessly from one number to the next, always artful in her use of vibrato, her phrasing, her emotional understanding of a tune. This release also includes Resonance Records’ carefully wrought liner notes, with commentary by jazz journalists James Gavin and Will Friedwald, interviews with Vaughan’s regular drummer Jimmy Cobb and vocalist Helen Merrill, and vintage photos (one is of a set list from the 1970s in Vaughan’s handwriting). Almost forty years on, the thrill is still new.
Singer Alexis Cole, who was a finalist in both the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2012 and the American Traditions Competition this past February, will demonstrate why she is so prize-worthy at several NYC gigs this month: she’s singing at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on May 12 with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, at The Knickerbocker on May 13-14, and at Café Noctambulo on May 28. She’s likely to perform some material from her 2016 release, Dazzling Blue: The Music of Paul Simon (Chesky), an album of jazz interpretations of Paul Simon tunes from the full spectrum of his career, starting in the 1970s through to the current decade. These aren’t the usual Simon tunes, however; the only well-known number on her album is the 1973 song, “Something So Right.” Taken out of their pop context, these songs stand solidly as jazz tunes, a credit to Simon’s songwriting and to Cole’s sensibilities as a jazz musician.
Frank Zappa aficionado and sax player Ed Palermo came of age as a musician and big band arranger in the late 1970s. In the early 1970s, however, he was still in high school and a member of the marching band. On One Child Left Behind (Cuneiform Records), his most recent release, Palermo pays homage to the formative musical training that he received there. The photos (Palermo playing trombone dressed as a box of french fries, for example) give key insights into how marching band helped to form Palermo’s particularly jocular musical identity. Singers Candy Zappa (Frank’s sister), Jenna McSwain, Mike James, and Napolean Murphy Brock keep pace with Palermo’s high-energy, tongue-in-cheek delivery. No easy feat.
In case you missed it: Philly-based singer/drummer Paul Jost gave a stand-out performance at Kitano last month, reprising some selections from his 2014 release Breaking Through (Dot Time). Jost is a singers’ singer—swinging and scatting on tunes like “Singing In The Rain,” breaking hearts on ballads like “Waltz For Debby” or grooving on R&B classics like “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” It’s impressive. You can catch him this month at 55 Bar on May 14.
(Reprinted from the May 2016 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.)