Saturday, February 25, 2012

Edward Simon

Edward Simon
The New York City Jazz Record just published my review of "Danny Boy," pianist Edward Simon's latest album.

Here's the opening half:

Venezuelan pianist Edward Simon writes on the inside flap of Danny Boy that he had never played Irish music before this recording. He explains that the “simplicity and beauty” of the music “resonated deep within” him. With that in mind, it is a shame that only the first and last pieces - the title track and “She Moved Through The Fair” - are Irish songs, because they are some of the loveliest on the album. 

Simon opens the title track playing, slowly and pensively, with bassist Philip Donkin. Until drummer Stephen Keogh enters eight or so bars in and this becomes a straight-up piano trio album, the song brings to mind Hank Jones and Charlie Haden’s wonderful duo recording of hymns and folk songs, Steal Away. Based on that opening snippet, you get the sense that this could have been a different album - a more focused one.

Read the whole thing here.

The next review I'm writing for the paper will be of "Echoes of Indiana Avenue," a recently unearthed Wes Montgomery record. Haven't received it in the mail yet, but I look forward to listening.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jazz Photography

Louis Armstrong, Carnegie Hall, New York, N.Y., ca. Apr. 1947
Over at Business Insider, you'll find a little slide show I put together which showcases the jazz photographs of the great William P. Gottlieb. All 1,600 of his photos are now being featured on Flickr, courtesy of The Library of Congress.

If you haven't done so already, you should check them out. Most of the images that you have in your head of jazz in the late '30s through to the late '40s were probably taken by Gottlieb. As I say in the introduction to the slide show, jazz, and jazz photography, would not be the same without him.

The night before I wrote that introduction, I happened to have started Geoff Dyer's great book, "But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz." In an introductory section to the book, called "A Note on Photographs," Dyer writes, toward the end: "The best jazz photographs are those saturated in the sound of their subject." I loved that quote, even if it's not true.

So much so that I put it into my introduction.