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.
I can hear you from here going, "Huh? What does that mean?" A long time ago (in blog years, rather similar to dog years) I wrote a column highlighting lesser known classical composers and I asked Norma, the Assistant Musicologist what I should call it. She suggested "Classical Gas" ('coz that's the way her brain works).
Since then I've continued that series with that name in various permutations. I decided that I liked the idea and decided to do a series on lesser known jazz performers.
Independently, the A.M. and I came up with the same name for the column (we have a similar warped sense of humor). So, here are some jazz performers whose names you might not recognize, but play really well. Based on the experience of the classical columns there will probably be more of them.
DONALD EDWARDS leads his group from behind the drum kit.
He's been a much in demand drummer, but has only recently formed his own band. There are some fine players along for the ride, in particular Walter Smith III on tenor sax and Orrin Evans on piano.
They perform the Thelonious Monk tune Skippy. This has nothing to do with the televisual kangaroo as it was written years before that marsupial made his debut.
SARA GAZAREK is a young jazz singer who has recorded half a dozen or so albums, the last of which is a duet record with JOSH NELSON.
That album's called "Dream in the Blue", and Josh plays the piano (and Sara sings, of course). From that they perform the classic Mood Indigo, written by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard with words by Irving Mills.
BILL CHARLAP is yet another classically trained pianist who turned to playing jazz.
He has musical heritage: his mother, Sandy Stewart, is a singer who regularly appeared on Perry Como's TV program (and she was also the first person to record the song My Coloring Book – before Barbra) and his father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer.
Bill has played with many jazz musicians but most especially with Tony Bennett. The Bill Charlap Trio perform Not a Care in the World.
Jazz singers and performers have a history of taking the current pop songs and putting their own spin on them. Today's performers do the same but instead of Gershwin and Porter, today it's Dylan and Cohen. A prime example of this is BARB JUNGR.
Barb has a fairly recent album where she performs songs by those two as well as David Bowie, Joni Mitchell and others. The song I like from that is called Shelter from the Storm, also the name of the album. This is one of Bob's.
When he started out, JIM ROTONDI was hailed as the next big thing in trumpet playing.
That's proved pretty much to be correct, although his name isn't really a household word. He's released a dozen or so of his own albums and scores of others on which he performed. For the last ten years or so he's been professor of music at a university in Austria.
From his most recent album is the title track, Dark Blue.
CAMILLA GEORGE has recently recorded her first album with her quartet called "Isang" (that's the album's name, not the quartet's).
Camilla is resident in London but she was born and bred in Nigeria. She and her pianist Sarah Tandy work really well together and I can hear influences of Coltrane in her music. I'm looking forward to hearing more from her.
The Quartet's tune today is The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. This isn't the old Bobby Vee pop song.
KITTY WHITE was not just a jazz singer, she also sang gospel and pop music as well.
Outside the jazz world, she's probably best remembered for singing Crawfish with Elvis in the film "King Creole". However, today we're interested in what she did in the jazz vein.
One of the things she did was If You Were Mine, a song written by Johnny Mercer and Matty Malneck. Gerald Wiggins played piano on this track, and the sax player was Georgie Auld.
MORT WEISS is a clarinet player mostly – he has played other instruments as well.
Mort started out playing Dixieland jazz but after hearing Charlie Parker he became a devotee of bebop. He's also played rhythm and blues and all sorts of music – whatever he can do to make a living, I imagine.
Here he takes the old pop song I Remember You and puts his own spin on it. Playing along with him is the Don Friedman Trio.
A lot of good jazz these days is happening outside its traditional home country. Another example of this (there are several today) is CYRILLE AIMEE, who is from France.
Cyrille performs Each Day with the help of her one-time band mate Matt Simons. Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeneau play some really nice guitar on this track.
You might think that KYLE EASTWOOD's surname sounds familiar and you'd be correct.
Kyle is Clint's son, and Clint is a well-known lover of jazz and I guess he passed that along. Kyle is a bass player, both the double bass and the electric instrument, and these days heads his own group.
From his recent album "Timepieces" we have Prosecco Smile, featuring Quentin Collins playing trumpet.