The Girl From Ipanema - Still Turning (Jazz) Heads at 50

Categories: Jazz

David Drew Zingg/UME
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, and Joao Gilberto at A&R Recording Studio, March 1963, during the recording of "Getz/Gilberto."

She may still be tall and tan and lovely, but the seductive figure strolling on the beach in "The Girl from Ipanema" is no longer young. In fact, she turns 50 this year. Or at least her recorded incarnation on Getz/Gilberto.

The hugely influential and groundbreaking record was perhaps the most successful melding of American jazz (with saxophonist Stan Getz) and the Brazilian samba and bossa nova sounds of South America (via singer/guitarist Joao Gilberto and pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim). The band was rounded out by bassist Sebastiao Neto and drummer Milton Banana.

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New Miles Davis Live Box Set Captures the Dawn of Jazz Rock Fusion

Categories: Jazz

Amalie R. Rothschild/Columbia Legacy
Miles Davis grooves at the Fillmore East in the summer of 1970.

By the late 1960's, Miles Davis already knew that he was a legend of jazz, a sonic innovator, and one of the genre's most popular and challenging performers hands down.

But damn, what he really, really wanted to be was a rock and roll star. He saw all those white teens and young adults lining up to spend their money on tickets and records by those long-haired ofays who clanged guitars at ear-splitting volumes. What did they know about artistry, melody, and mood-shifting?

Miles Davis wanted that kind of commercial success, for himself, and for his music. Influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and James Brown, he felt was time to plug in, flip the switch, and spearhead the fusion of jazz and rock.

That phase of his live career is chronicled in the somewhat unwieldy-titled Miles at the Fillmore - Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy), in which the vaults have spewed forth the complete live sets from Davis and his band's June 17-20 stint at the Fillmore East.

A few bonus tracks include tunes from his April 11 gig that year at the same venue including a frenetic "Paraphernalia" and "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down."

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Helen Sung Headed Back to Houston to Sing at Cezanne Jazz Club This Weekend

Categories: Jazz

Classically trained Houstonian Helen Sung, who's on her way back to Houston to sing at Cezanne Jazz this weekend, was bitten by the jazz bug early on in her musical career - an event that dramatically changed her vision on music.

"I thought I wanted to be a concert pianist and was finishing my undergraduate degree in classical piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin when a friend invited me to a Harry Connick, Jr. concert," she explained via e-mail.

"He was appearing in Austin with his big band, which was entertaining, but in the middle of the concert he sat down and played some solo piano pieces. I remember wanting to jump out of my skin - here was a guy playing the piano in a way I had been taught all my life not to do, playing music that was so alive, so vivid and thrilling - it was a visceral experience. After that, I immediately enrolled in an Intro to Jazz Piano class with some friends, and then it was no looking back: I listened to whatever I could get my hands on, read whatever books I could find, begged the UT jazz piano professor for lessons, enrolled in jazz courses...I really wanted to understand everything about jazz and be a part of it."

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New Standards: My Houston Must-See Jazz Acts

Categories: Jazz, Music

Photo by Sergio Santos, courtesy of The Victor
The Victor
The first jazz band I ever heard live was Robert "Doc" Morgan's small jazz ensemble at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. I was a sophomore at HSPVA and a friend invited me to a show at the old Holman campus.

We had some jazz records at home - John Klemmer's Touch and The Crusaders' Those Southern Knights come to mind - but I'd never sat in an audience and witnessed the music unfold before me. It was a revelation.

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Jazz Masters of Houston: Hubert Laws

Above: Hubert Laws exhibiting his incredible facility at classical music with a jazz touch

While Houston is loaded with talented musicians, flautist Hubert Laws is probably the only one who performs annually at Carnegie Hall. A child prodigy born into a family of musicians in the Studewood area, Laws has gone on to be considered, along with Herbie Mann, the modern master of the instrument.

Courtesy of the Defender
The young Crusaders in Los Angeles circa 1959.
After proving his knack for flute at 13 when he filled the flute chair in the high school orchestra, Laws was already well on his way in his performing career when, in 1960 at age 20, he came to a crucial fork in his road. Laws' decision: Whether to continue playing jazz with the up-and-coming -- and eventually historic -- Jazz Crusaders or to attend Juilliard.

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Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: A Look at the Texas Landscape, Mr. Barbecue comes to Town, Peter Pan Soars Again and More

The Source of the Brazos by WIlliam Young
We'd expect to find images of cactus, rugged landscapes and ranch hands in an art exhibit called "The Texas Aesthetic VI: Lone Star Heritage in Contemporary Texas Painting," our pick for Friday. Currently on display at Williams Reaves Fine Art gallery, "Texas Aesthetic" has plenty of those. It also has a few surprises. There's William Montgomery's No Place to Hide II (Surveillance Blimp), showing a silver blimp floating above a river that winds through craggy mountains and vast barren desert. Except for the hovering blimp, it's a scene that could have been painted 100 years ago. With the surveillance craft in place, Montgomery pulls it firmly into the present. There's also William Young surrealist piece The Source of the Brazos, which shows three birds sitting on a tree branch floating in the air. A teapot hangs from the unanchored branch, pouring water out on to the red dirt below which forms a stream that becomes the Brazos River. Some 16 regional artists participate in "Texas Aesthetic," the gallery's sixth annual exhibit focusing on contemporary artists.

Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, by appointment Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Through July 13. 2313 Brun St. For information, call 713-521-7500 or visit the gallery's website. Free.

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Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Dance Salad 2013, the Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, Misha Penton: Selkie, a sea tale, Dave Attell and Anime Matsuri

In-Transit3 275.jpg
In Transit by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's curated version of In Transit by the Compañía Nacional de Danza/National Ballet of Spain is just one of a slew of premieres seen at Dance Salad Festival 2013, which runs Friday and Saturday. The piece was inspired by Ochoa's frequent stops in airports. Ochoa has a second piece on the program, L'Effleure, a solo she created for dancer Rubi Pronk, who performs it here. Pronk also appears in Kurt Weill by Krzysztof Pastor, artistic director of the Polish National Ballet. (The group is back in the United States for the first time since 1980.) Mauro Astolfi's Dangerous Liaisons is performed by Rome-based Spellbound Contemporary Ballet.

Nancy Henderek, the festival's artistic director, travels around the globe in search of new and exciting work to bring to the event every year. One of her most notable finds this year was an evening-length work called PUZ/ZLE by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. After seeing it per-formed in a rock quarry in France, Henderek worked with the choreographer to bring a section of it to Dance Festival. "This is the first time that PUZ/ZLE has been to the United States in any form and we're getting a [version] that hasn't been seen anywhere else in the world. That's very exciting, to be able to work with this world-renowned choreographer on something special just for us," Henderek says. Musicians from Lebanon, Japan and Poland provide live musical accompaniment for PUZ/ZLE. "They're even going to create some new music for Houston."

See Dance Salad Festival 2013 at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the Dance Salad Festival website or call 877-772-5425. $20 to $50.

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See Roscoe Mitchell Play a Saxophone for 10 Minutes Straight, Without Breathing, During His Houston Residency

Categories: Concerts, Jazz

Roscoe Mitchell: An inventor of free jazz skronk.
If you're going to make a career out of playing a not-always-well-received genre of music, one must link with like-minded musicians, says avant-garde woodwind player and Art Ensemble of Chicago member Roscoe Mitchell, who continues to experience financial and artistic success by playing and composing creative, original music.

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Oliver Lake Talks About the Black Artists' Group, His Upcoming TRIO 3 Concert Presented by Nameless Sound

Categories: Concerts, Jazz

Photo by Richard Conde
TRIO 3: Andrew Cyrile, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman
Before saxophonist Oliver Lake co-founded the overlooked-until-lately Black Artists' Group (BAG), before he appeared on records with Anthony Braxton and Michael Gregory Jackson and helped establish the World Saxophone Quartet, the heavy-hitting jazz musician dealt with the rigors of being a developing unknown, playing informal jam sessions in St. Louis nearly every day with fellow musicians, dancers and filmmakers.

It was worth it, says Lake, and some of the best times in his successful career.

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New box sets revisit the legacies of Duke Ellington, Charlie Christian

Categories: Jazz

Duke Ellington

Perhaps no musical genre has benefited more from reissues of older material and CD technology than jazz. Artists both famous and obscure and LPs long, long out of print have found new life in recent years.

The vast vaults at Columbia Records have in particular yielded much, including the recent box sets Duke Ellington: The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958 (9 CDs) and Charlie Christian: The Genius of the Electric Guitar (4 CDs).

Michael Brooks and Michael Cuscana produced both sets, the latest in a series which has also given new life to the works of Charles Mingus, Stanley Clarke, Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.

Brooks tells Art Attack about the Ellington and Christian sets, his experiences working under legendary producer John Hammond and what Christian might have done had he not died tragically young at the age of 25.


Art Attack: First, I know you got into the business working for Hammond. What was he like?
John Hammond hired me in 1971. He was, at times, infuriating to work for. Vague, capricious and often arrogant. He was also kind, generous and very supportive in a totally anonymous way. There wasn't a month went by when some musician, down on his luck, would drop by to see John, and they never went away empty-handed. After I stopped working for him, people like Jerry Wexler and Nat Hentoff would call me up, saying how John had sung my praises.

But John was a victim of his own sheltered upbringing. He was generally disliked at Columbia, because he didn't know how to play the corporate game. If someone questioned his artistic judgment, he simply went over their heads, even going as high as William Paley himself, whom he had known since the early 1930s.

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