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2005 Stories by Francis Davis

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  • New Hope for the Dead

    published December 20, 2005

    In light of a recent book by the British critic Stuart Nicholson that asks whether jazz is dead (and answers yes and no), I almost decided against... More >>

  • Not Bourgie

    published November 22, 2005

    Has it really been 30 years since I first heard David Murray? Flowers for Albert and Low Class Conspiracy are both from '76, and I... More >>

  • Oh Didn't He Ramble

    published November 22, 2005

    Somebody finally got it right. The interviews Alan Lomax recorded with Jelly Roll Morton for the Library of Congress in 1938—the first jazz... More >>

  • Making It Big

    published November 22, 2005

    The first time I put on Marty Ehrlich's News on the Rail, I thought for a moment I was hearing a sleek, forward-looking big band. Turns out... More >>

  • Manna

    published October 25, 2005

    Befitting its historical stature, the first release of two 25-minute sets by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane together at Carnegie Hall on... More >>

  • Art Folk

    published October 25, 2005

    Picturing him as the only white guy on the bandstand in the 1960s after watching him at work in a show band in the Jewish Catskills, I once... More >>

  • Spiral Grooves

    published October 25, 2005

    No current director uses music better than Jim Jarmusch. It's easy to hear what drew him to sides recorded in the 1970s by the Ethiopian vibist,... More >>

  • Hearing the Irony

    published September 27, 2005

    A pop hit that used to make you cringe can be downright pleasurable once you no longer live in fear of it every time you leave the house. That's... More >>

  • Last Best Hope

    published September 27, 2005

    A mainstay of the '80s avant-garde scene who hasn't been heard from much lately, trombonist Craig Harris has re-emerged with Souls Within the... More >>

  • Fascinating Rhythms

    published September 27, 2005

    A trumpeter who dealt in compound time signatures and died of an irregular heartbeat at 44—it sounds like I'm making it up, especially... More >>

  • His Own Worst Critic

    published August 23, 2005

    John Updike still hasn't solicited my advice (start work on Rabbit Has Arisen pronto), but during a phoner in 1992 Sonny Rollins asked if I... More >>

  • Going Places

    published August 23, 2005

    I played John Ellis's One Foot in the Swamp when it was released in January and might never have bothered with it again if I hadn't caught... More >>

  • Father Knows Best

    published August 23, 2005

    I have long thought of Gerry Mulligan as a proficient baritonist, but not as a great baritone soloist," Martin Williams wrote in 1963. "In the... More >>

  • Democracy Now

    published August 2, 2005

    Saying it feels like blasphemy, and I probably wouldn't be doing it if I lived near ground zero or lost a loved one there, but last year's... More >>

  • In Country

    published August 2, 2005

    Though a revelation—simultaneously his most ambitious recording and his most straight-ahead—Billy Bang's Vietnam: The Aftermath... More >>

  • Unsuspected Treasure

    published August 2, 2005

    A CD whose most obvious selling point is its very existence, Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945 gives us Charlie Parker and Dizzy... More >>

  • Avant/Derriere-Garde

    published July 5, 2005

    Randy Sandke's Outside In is a sequel to 2000's Inside Out. Once again the trumpeter brings together perceived avant-garde (saxophonist and... More >>

  • Brainy Drummer John Hollenbeck Breaks the Big Band's Big Habit

    published July 5, 2005

    Due to DNA or sheer habit, big bands remained dance bands by implication long after people stopped dancing to them. Although retaining the classic... More >>

  • Every Box Set Tells Its Own Story, and This One Packs a Few Surprises

    published July 5, 2005

    The story begins in '52, with bebop and singers and r&b ascendant and big bands on the wane, Basie re-forming his only at the insistence of Billy... More >>

  • Shorter Out

    published June 7, 2005

    Wayne Shorter is a Clay Aiken fan. "There's a young guy on American Idol has a good voice," he told me when I interviewed him two years... More >>

  • Leaving Out the Saxophone, a Tone Scientist Resurrects Albert Ayler's Spirit

    published June 7, 2005

    The phone rang shortly after I put on Spiritual Unity's self-titled CD for the first time. And recognizing track two as Albert Ayler's "Spirits"... More >>

  • Rue Britannia: A Bruising Baritone Uncovers a Missing Jazz Chapter

    published June 7, 2005

    You could make a case for John Surman as England's Wayne Shorter, an enigmatic figure who's spent too much time since the late '60s shrouded in... More >>

  • Post-Bop Shopping

    published May 24, 2005

    A friend of mine who took a jazz history course taught by Archie Shepp at SUNY Buffalo in the late '60s recalls one class in particular. After... More >>

  • Beyond the Melting Pot

    published May 10, 2005

    Vijay Iyer's Reimagining ends with and takes its title from—sort of—a solo piano rumination on a John Lennon song I never liked... More >>

  • A 79-Year-Old Chanteuse Ventures Out of Habitat, Beckons Elderly Audience

    published May 10, 2005

    No one should ever be forced to go on after a seven-year-old tap dancer, but since when have rules applied to Blossom Dearie? Who else pushing 80... More >>

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