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January 2, 2019

Sonny Clark died of a probable heroin overdose in New York City in 1963 when he was only thirty two years old. In the ten years since he made his recording debut with The Teddy Charles West Coasters in 1953 he had participated in over fifty recording dates, most of the...

July 13, 2018

Donald Fagen released Morph The Cat in 2006. It was the third part of his 'Nightfly' trilogy which followed Kamakiriad in 1993 and the Nightfly in 1982. Fagen himself described the way the trilogy idea developed, as well as some of the thematic connections between the...

February 25, 2018

Recently, whilst searching for clips of pianist Jimmy Rowles on Youtube I came across the album "Songs and Conversations" by Billie Holiday. Sometime in 1955 Billie Holiday rehearsed some songs with Rowles and bass player Artie Shapiro in Shapiro's living room for an u...

July 12, 2017

On Monday 27th July 1959 Thelonious Monk went into a New York city recording studio to record the music for the film 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' by the French director Marcel Romano. He had with him his band at the time, Art Taylor, Sam Jones and Charlie Rouse, and also...

March 30, 2017

It's a well known piece of jazz folklore that Billy Strayhorn wrote Lush Life when he was only sixteen years old. Friends of his recall hearing versions of it as early as 1933, however he completed it over a number of years, gradually adding to it and refining it. At f...

February 20, 2016

Thelonious Monk's music presents jazz performers with a unique challenge. In my opinion, any convincing performance of a Monk piece should be informed to some extent by the particular harmonic language and voicing system which Monk developed. In a Monk composition melo...

April 13, 2015

I recently went through one of my regular phases of listening to loads of Billie Holiday, basically just trying to figure out how on earth she does it. How does she take a trite, corny song and using just a limilted range and very simple musical vocablary transform it...

April 8, 2015

I’ve recently been looking into the the axis system, particularly at ways of applying it to improvisation and composition.

The system was developed by the music theorist Erno Lendvai in his study of the music of Bela Bartok, the basic idea being that chords and ton...

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