This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Today we have a few lesser known jazz artists. Well, they’re lesser known to me, they may be household names in your abode.
Their degree of known-ness is irrelevant, however, as these are all really fine musicians and have something interesting to say (and play).
Jazz these days is a minority sport. Even the big names seem to be doing other things. The Marsalis brothers spend as much time playing classical music as jazz, Harry Connick Jnr seems to be playing New Orleans funk and Sarah Jones has veered into country music.
Diana Krall keeps the flag flying although she often plays with pop and rock musicians. Nothing wrong with that. Anyway, here’s what I have for you today.
CATHERINE RUSSELL seemed to be destined to be a jazz performer.
Her father played piano for Louis Armstrong and later led his own band. Her mother is a bass player, guitarist and singer. Catherine spent a long time as a backup singer but now she’s stepped out on her own.
She can wail like the best (or worst) of them and sigh like a lover. Here she is more in the latter mode. I Haven't Changed a Thing.
Helen Keane was a revered figure in the music business. She was an A&R person for a couple of record companies and she’s probably best known for guiding Bill Evans’s career from the time he was with Miles Davis until his death.
She recorded and guided many other jazz musicians and advised them on various aspects of their playing. One of those is ROGER DAVIDSON.
Helen’s support led to his first recording 20 years ago. Now, with his trio, he pays tribute to her with an album called “We Remember Helen.” Here is the title track.
By the look of the album cover, it appears to me that DOMINICK FARINACCI would rather liked to have been born a lot earlier, so that he could have participated in the jazz scene of the fifties.
Dom’s a trumpeter and flugelhorn player and is yet another graduate from Juilliard. He’s open to all influences and recently opened for rock guitarist Jeff Beck. Quincy Jones has lauded him as one of the up and coming young jazz players.
This is I Concentrate on You.
His new album finds ORRIN EVANS return to the classic piano trio mode.
Orrin was born in New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia. He returned to his home state to attend Rutgers University where he studied with the jazz pianist Kenny Barron. He later worked as a sideman in several bands before forming his own group.
Here is a really swinging (and short) version of A Brand New Day, a soul tune created by Luther Vandross.
SUSIE ARIOLI hails from Canada - Montreal to be specific.
It was there she met guitarist Jordan Officer and the two of them are the backbone of a band they formed together. They also produce and arrange Susie’s albums.
Her singing style springs from such performers as Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker but she’s made it her own. Here she sings Here's That Rainy Day. Besides Jordan on guitar, this track features some nice work by vibes player François Stevenson.
It’s not unusual for jazz musicians to play the pop music of their day. That’s always been a staple of the genre. JACKY TERRASSON does the same, only his day is now and the pop songs he plays are by such singers as Justin Bieber and Amy Winehouse. He also plays John Lennon and Sonny Rollins.
I led you somewhat astray as the track I’ve chosen, Jacky wrote himself. Jacky is almost a definition of cosmopolitan. He was born in Berlin of a French father and American mother. He grew up in Paris where he studied classical music, he later studied jazz at the Berklee College of music and these days on the rare times he’s not touring, he calls New York home. Or Paris. Or somewhere.
This is Try to Catch Me, a singularly appropriate title for a tune about him.
I’ve decided to play two by Jacky Terrasson because the styles are so different you’d hardly know it was the same performer. Here he is joined by singer CÉCILE SALVANT.
Cécile was born in Florida of a French mother and Haitian father. Like Jacky, she studied classical piano and also had voice training. Realising she didn’t have enough to do in her life she went to France to study law and also baroque vocal music at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory.
There’s a lot more to learn about her but she makes me feel inadequate so I’ll skip it. Here she is with Jacky’s band and Je te veux.
Someone who is quite well known to me is DUKE ROBILLARD. I’ve always thought of him as a blues guitarist who sometimes dabbled in rock. However, he’s a really fine jazz guitarist as well.
On the album “Wobble Walkin’,” he brings along his bass player Brad Hallen and drummer Mark Teixeira from his blues band. Like Duke, they turn out to be fine jazz musicians as well and he lets them shine on this track, the old George and Ira Gershwin standard, They Can't Take That Away From Me.
VINCE JONES is quite well known here in Australia but I imagine that he’s not familiar to most readers of this column, unless you have a very good memory indeed.
Vince is a trumpet and flugelhorn player and a singer in the Chet Baker mode. He lives on the edge of a national park and is a serious conservationist. He also teaches at the Australian National University as well as performing and recording.
Here he plays one of his own compositions, I Watch Myself.