Archive for April, 2009

April 27th 2009
The Jazz Session #55: The Wee Trio

Posted under Podcast


Jason Crane interviews vibraphonist James Westfall, bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Jared Schonig, known collectively as The Wee Trio. Their first record, Capitol Diner Vol. 1 (Bionic Records, 2008) features original music, jazz standards … and Nirvana. The trio explores the music they love through the lens of collective improvisation, and the results are fresh, fun and worth repeated listening. Find out more at


April 20th 2009
The Jazz Session #54: Barbara Dennerlein

Posted under Organists & Podcast


Jason Crane interviews organist Barbara Dennerlein about her pipe organ recording Spiritual Movement No. 2 (Bebab Records, 2008). The album was recorded at one of Germany’s most famous churches in front of a very appreciative audience. In this interview, recorded before a concert in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Dennerlein discusses jazz on the pipe organ; why organists should use their feet; and how she adapts to the challenge of seldom having her own instrument on stage.


April 15th 2009
The Jazz Session #53: Fly

Posted under Podcast


Jason Crane interviews the members of the trio Fly: bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Jeff Ballard and saxophonist Mark Turner. Fly is very much a collective effort — the group operates with a leaderless philosophy in which everyone contributes equally. As a result, the trio has come up with some fresh and exciting sounds as they try new combinations and new ways to balance their respective instruments. All three musicians are very much in demand as sidemen, too. A full transcript of this interview is available at


April 14th 2009
Giveaway: Tony Bennett and Bill Evans 2-CD set!

Posted under Contest

UPDATE: These CDs were all given away within 90 seconds. What an amazing response! Thanks — and keep listening for more chances to win great music!

Hello fans of The Jazz Session: Do you like good pairings? Peanut butter and chocolate? Abbot and Costello? How about Tony Bennett and Bill Evans?


In the 1970s, Bennett and Evans recorded two albums together — just the two of them, voice and piano. Now those two albums (plus tons of bonus tracks) have been released on two CDs as The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings. I’ve got three copies of this 2-CD set to give away.

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST: Send an email message to with TONYANDBILL as the subject line. The first three people to e-mail me will win. Good luck!

Here’s more information on the collection, from the Concord Music Group site:

Few listeners realized that Tony Bennett was as much of a jazz singer as almost anybody; he had already made a handful of albums in a small jazz combo format, but these were far lesser known than his big chart hits. Then, in 1975, he made what would be his supreme statement in the jazz field, the first of two albums with the remarkable pianist Bill Evans. Evans (1929-1980) was the jazz piano superstar of the ‘60s, who had already inspired a whole generation of younger players and disciples with his sensitive touch, unending lyricism, and rich harmonic palette. Bill Evans was one of those extremely rare players whose work defines an entire era. But for all of his love for The Great American Songbook, Evans had hardly ever worked with a singer. The only notable, full-length collaboration he had done as such was an LP with the Swedish Monica Zetterlund, a project that was barely known outside of Scandanavia.

Bennett and Evans had first met in 1962, when both were performing (though not yet together) in a special jazz event on The White House lawn (during the Kennedy years).

In 1968, Evans offered a written testimonial to Bennett in a special issue of Billboard magazine celebrating the singer’s 20th Anniversary in show biz. It was the jazz and theater singer Annie Ross, who had known both men for many years by the early ‘70s, who supposedly came up with the idea that Bennett and Evans should do an album together.

In June, 1975, Tony Bennett and Bill Evans finally got together at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley; not only were there no bassist or drummer present, but practically no one else was there either. As Tony later related: “I said to Bill, ‘Listen, it will just be the two of us – you don’t bring your cronies and I won’t bring mine!’” Apparently, the only people in the studio were the two principals plus engineer Don Cody and Evans’s manager, Helen Keane. While Ms. Keane was nominally credited as producer, it’s clear that it was Bennett and Evans who selected the tunes, worked out the arrangements semi-spontaneously, and picked the final takes to be used. The result of this session was The Tony Bennett Bill Evans album; Together Again followed a year later.

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April 14th 2009
More Art Pepper from the vaults

Posted under Jazz News

Saxophonist and clarinetist Art Pepper is one of my musical heroes. In 2007, I interviewed Art’s widow, Laurie, about his life and music. Laurie recently sent along this clip of some previously unreleased music by Art, part of her ongoing series of music from the Pepper vaults.

Download the whole tune (free!) at Tune is previously unreleased track from forthcoming album. Recorded in 1964. Clips are from “Straight Life: The Stories of Art Pepper” a (work in progress) movie based on the book, “Straight Life” by Art & Laurie Pepper. Most of the photography & all effects by Laurie Pepper. The actors: James Intveld, Art; Lisa Joffrey, Diane; Tracy Middendorf, Laurie. The musicians: Art Pepper, alto sax; Frank Strazzeri, piano; Hersh Hamel, bass; Bill Goodwin, drums.

You can listen to my 2007 interview with Laurie Pepper on The Jazz Session #34.

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April 10th 2009
Kilgore, Sheridan reviving the sounds of the ’30s and ’40s

Posted under Jazz Writing

My latest article for The Island Packet newspaper on Hilton Head Island, SC, is about singer Rebecca Kilgore and pianist John Sheridan. Read the article.

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April 9th 2009
The Jazz Session #52: Marilyn Crispell

Posted under Pianists & Podcast


Jason Crane interviews pianist Marilyn Crispell about her album of solo piano pieces, Vignettes (ECM, 2008). Crispell made an early name for herself with Anthony Braxton, and she’s since amassed an impressive list of recordings that include composed and freely improvised pieces. In this interview, Crispell talks about the nature of improvisation, the particular challenges of solo playing, and the joys of Woodstock, NY.