By 1928, Earl Hines was jazz's most revolutionary pianist, for two good reasons. His right hand played lines in bright, clear octaves that could cut through a band. His left hand had a mind of its own. Hines could play fast stride and boogie bass patterns, but then his southpaw would go rogue — it'd seem to step out of the picture altogether, only to slide back just in time.
The Umbria Festival in Italy turns 40 this summer. Umbria presents jazz indoors and out in two historic cities — Perugia in summer, Orvieto in winter. Marching bands parade; gospel choirs sing. Concerts start at noon, midnight and all the hours in between. (The New Year's Eve show in Orvieto begins at 1 a.m. on New Year's Day.) And the musicians can be delightfully unfamiliar, at least to American ears.
The 12th official Jazz Appreciation Month began when April did. But today, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which founded the JAM campaign, kick started its own celebration with a series of performances, discussions and ceremonies.
Tootie Heath says the drummer's responsibility is to be happy. There's no better believer in the happiness ethic than Matt Wilson — and we're happy, too, grooving first to Heath, then Wilson, in highlights of sets from August and September 2012.
Born in 1935 as the youngest of three brothers headed for great jazz careers, Albert "Tootie" Heath crosses two generations to join this trio with pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Ben Street.
Every year, an all-star assemblage of today's jazz musicians called the SFJAZZ Collective picks a different all-time-great jazz composer to feature. The band then applies its own arrangements to that composer's tunes.
Ibrahim Maalouf plays a four-valve trumpet — most just have three. The extra valve, attached to the button a trumpeter pushes down, allows the Lebanese musician to play quarter-tones — the notes between notes that characterize Arabic "makams."
The narrative of jazz history often credits the music as a powerful, progressive force for racial integration in American culture. But what about gender equality? On that score, jazz in its first few decades would have to be given a less than stellar grade.