Ellington kept his orchestra together in a changing economic landscape, continuing to create memorable music and expanding his compositional horizons.
Richard Twardzik, the rather haunted-looking pianist who was a mainstay of the Boston jazz scene in the early 1950s, recorded only once as a leader before dying at the age of 24 during a European tour with Chet Baker. His quirky, fluid style, influenced by Bud Powell and Art Tatum and sprinkled with touches of dissonance and classical music, has led some to compare him to fellow 1950s iconoclasts Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. Now Bouncin’ With Bartok, a long-awaited study of pianist’s life and recordings written by Jack Chambers…
Three significant jazz masters will be celebrating milestone birthdays in the next several weeks. On August 25, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter turns 75. On September 2, pianist Horace Silver marks 80 years. And on September 4, bandleader Gerald Wilson–perhaps the last great living link to the swing era–sees in his 90th birthday. I have Night Lights programs in store for all three artists, and I’m sure there will be other jazz-radio tributes around the country.
Jazz critic and radio host Neil Tesser has written an account of Sonny Rollins’ mid-1950s sojourn in Chicago, during which the tenor saxophonist overcame his addiction to heroin and eventually rejoined the jazz scene.
WDCB, one of two stations in the Chicago area that continue to broadcast jazz, is airing three Night Lights programs in a row on Labor Day Monday evening, from 7 to 10 p.m. Central Time–Cats Who Swing and Sing: Women Singer-Pianists of the 1940s and 50s, 1959: Jazz’s Vintage Year, and Porgy and Bess: the 1950s Jazz Revival.