Smalls Live

SMALLS LIVE –

If you haven’t already, do sign up with SmallsLive.

The jazz club is vital to the fabric of jazz, decent and passionate owners integral to its survival as a spontaneous art form. Smalls in New York City is a good’n. Smalls was founded in 1994 by Mitchell Borden and has been a breeding ground of many figureheads and talents of modern jazz as Peter Bernstein, Ari Hoenig, Mark Turner, Norah Jones, Brad Meldhau and Chris Potter. Since 2007, the jazz club at 183 W 10th Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, has documented all performances at the club, audio since 2007 and video since 2011. The performances are up for view through live streaming and past gigs can be searched in the archive on the website. Free streaming is available but there are different options for sponsorship as well. SmallsLive is a unique concept that preserves first-class performances for posterity, directly benefits performing artists through royalties and stimulates the contemporary jazz landscape in New York City.

Check the history of Smalls here.

Rein de Graaff - Early Morning Blues

Rein de Graaff with Marius Beets & Eric Ineke Early Morning Blues (Timeless 2019)

NEW RELEASE – REIN DE GRAAFF

Legendary Dutch bop pianist Rein de Graaff combines his forthcoming farewell tour with the release of a brand-new album, Early Morning Blues.

Rein de Graaff - Early Morning Blues

Personnel

Rein de Graaff (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on June 27 & 28, 2018 at De Smederij, Zeist

Released

as TI 487 in 2019

Track listing

Avalon
These Are The Things
Early Morning Blues
Dear Old Stockholm
Don’t Blame Me
Godchild
Little Girl Blue
Fly Me To The Moon
Lover Man
Moonology
If I Had You
Early Morning Blues (alt. take)
Wahoo


Yes, that’s the bad news: De Graaff is retiring as a professional jazz musician. The good news: fifty years after his recording debut, the Groningen-born De Graaff delivers a jazz album that serves as but one example in his discography of the man’s masterly involvement in bebop and straight-ahead jazz. Self-acknowledged part of a small coterie of Last Of The Mohicans, De Graaff is of the opinion that straightforward jazz is hard to come by these days. No doubt, the fruitful, pre-crossover mainstream jazz landscape of the seventies and eighties, including countless playing venues and American legends carrying the flame, is by and large a thing of the past. Yet, considering the crowds that De Graaff has still drawn post-00, perhaps mostly consisting of elderly fans but also of a fair amount of youngsters, evidently the bop master has still inspired jazz aficionados and passed the peas to aspiring musicians one way or another. I was present at a rare jazz café appearance of De Graaff recently in The Hague – the 77-year old pianist usually appears strictly in jazz clubs and theatres – and noticed more than a few young lions eager to soak in everything De Graaff conjured up from the upright piano. To be sure, De Graaff has always made it his business to feature exceptional young talents on his tour schedules.

At said café Pavlov, De Graaff’s playing was remarkably fresh and energetic. Few human beings are as composed and level-headed as Rein de Graaff, who during a remarkable career as a leader and accompanist of countless legends like Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Mobley and Johnny Griffin also was the owner of an electro ware wholesale company. His straightforward personality is reflected in logical phrases and musical stories. However, the blues and a certain edge are consistently present. Most likely, De Graaff has always reserved the fiery and sleazy side of the soul for his horn-like piano style, which was inspired so long ago by the work of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Hampton Hawes, among others.

Plenty of fire in the set of Early Morning Blues, which typically consists of standards and a couple of originals and contrafacts that are tailor-made for the tasteful, long-lined stories of De Graaff. It ranges from evergreens as Dear Old Stockholm, Avalon, Fly Me To The Moon and the unaccompanied Little Girl Blue, ballads that were transformed into bop anthems by Charlie Parker like Don’t Blame Me and Lover Man, bebop compositions as George Wallington’s Godchild and Benny Harris’s Wahoo and, finally, the De Graaff compositions These Are The Things, Early Morning Blues (The album features two takes of the down-home, supple slow blues) and Moonology.

The trio interaction is marvelous. European master drummer Eric Ineke has been De Graaff’s partner-in-swing for nearly fifty years, bassist Marius Beets is a versatile modern jazz man whose pocket and immaculate choice of notes reveal a passion for Ray Brown and has been with De Graaff since 1999. Multiple examples of the group’s striking flexibility are available, Avalon and Dear Old Stockholm being particularly enchanting. Nowadays one would be hard-pressed to find the kind of cocksure and authoritative introduction of a tune like the trio’s uptempo version of Avalon. The concise combination of drum rolls, bass patterns and quicksilver piano lines is like a shot of classic jazz, like hearing for instance, filtered through their distinct personalities, bits of Sonny Clark’s Trio LP with Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. De Graaff’s sophisticated harmony and Ineke’s flexible approach of the beat considerably refreshes Dear Old Stockholm. It allows De Graaff the kind of freedom within a fixed set of changes that the pianist has always been comfortable with.

In this respect, De Graaff’s daring variations on the melody of Lover Man speak volumes. Right until the very end, the Rein de Graaff Trio is seriously takin’ care of business.

Rein de Graaff

Find Early Morning Blues at your local music store and De Graaff concerts. Liner notes by Steven A. Cerra.

Check out the schedule of Rein de Graaff’s Farewell Tour below. His regular trio of Marius Beets and Eric Ineke will be augmented with saxophonists Benjamin Herman, Maarten Hoogenhuis, Marco Kegel and Tineke Postma. Special guest: baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber.

Fri March 1: De Tor, Enschede
Sat March 2: Mahogany Hall, Edam
Sun March 3: Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht 16:00 (feat. Ronnie Cuber)
Wed March 6: Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen
Fri March 8: De Harmonie, Leeuwarden
Sat March 10:Theater van Beresteyn, Veendam 15:00
Fri March 15:Bimhuis, Amsterdam (feat. Ronnie Cuber)

Brother Bennett

LOU BENNETT ON YOUTUBE –

Organist Lou Bennett’s popularity in Europe has always been much bigger than in the United States. Bennett was born in Philadelphia in 1926, a pianist who took up the organ after seeing Jimmy Smith in 1956. Before he was able to gain a foothold in the USA, Bennett migrated to Europe in 1960. His first album, Amen!, a cooperation with fellow expat and drummer Kenny Clarke, got him off to a good start. Bennett gained a large following in France, recording and performing regularly. He lived in Paris and Spain and passed away in 1997 in the little town of Le Chesnay just outside Paris, France.

Bennett smoothly mixed a thorough bebop proficiency with his gospel roots. He is also recognized as one of the greatest players of the bass pedals and of the inventor of the Bennett Machine, a pioneering hybrid of electronic devices and the Hammond organ’s construction.

During one of those half hours in between surfing on YouTube that all fans of music are familiar with, I stumbled upon interesting footage of Lou Bennett on YouTube.

Hear Bennett in Paris with guitarist Elek Bacsik and drummer Franco Manchetti, performing Brother Daniel.

With drummer Kenny Clarke performing Tadd Dameron’s Lady Bird.

And performing Zonky, Satin Doll and Broadway with Kenny Clarke, guitarist Jimmy Gourley and the incomparable Brew Moore at the Blue Note Club in Paris, France in 1961 here.

More on Bennett coming up this month in Flophouse Magazine. Stay tuned!

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali

RECOMMENDATION – JORIS TEEPE

Bassist Joris Teepe has been living and working simultaneously in New York and Amsterdam since the 90s. As the only Dutch jazz musician of his generation, Teepe has enjoyed a fruitful career on the American scene. He has performed and recorded with, among others, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Charles McPherson, Harold Mabern, Billy Hart, Eric Alexander, Tom Harrell, Peter Bernstein, Mulgrew Miller and Randy Brecker. More and more, Teepe leaned to avant-garde jazz, particularly under the influence of drummer Rashied Ali. Rashied Ali was one of the big free jazz drummers. He is perhaps best known for his cooperation with John Coltrane on Interstellar Space. Teepe was part of Ali’s group from 2001 till 2009, when Ali passed away. His robust yet silken tone and fluid style keeps Teepe in high demand.

Now the bassist and composer has released the booklet and album In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali, a dedication to his mentor that also features saxophone players Wayne Escoffery, Johannes Enders and Michael Moore, guitarist Freddie Bryant and drummer John Betsch. The thoroughly instructive and well-designed booklet is written by John Weijers.

(Clockwise from left to right: Joris Teepe – In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali; Benny Golson & Joris Teepe; Rashied Ali & John Coltrane)

Teepe says: “You could say for me there is the period before Rashied and the period after Rashied.”

One rather cruel anecdote from Patricia Ali during her interview with Teepe and drummer George Schuller about the period during which Ali ran a club in New York City speaks volumes about the maverick spirit of the late avant-garde drummer (and Patricia!), who refused to be dictated by the whims of corporate labels:

“Rashied was into doing his own thing. He had his own recording company called Survival Records. He had his own publishing company, Ali Music. And then he wanted a club because there was no place for this type of music to be played at the time. You know, the Village Vanguard wasn’t really presenting that. So there was a lot of jazz, but no place for the Avant Garde. Rashied actually got a liquor license and so there was food and liquor. His partner Benny Wilson was wonderful. He did double-duty as Rashied’s bassist and part-time cook in the club.”
George: “And the club was exactly where the studio was?”
Patricia: “No…the club was on the first floor. There was the front door and then there was a ticket window, and that’s where the recording booth was. And then you went through another door, you couldn’t actually get into the club until you paid.”
George: “So the storefront, with the fashion boutique, is where the club was?”
Patricia: “Yes…that whole space. And in the back was the kitchen and also an area for musicians to hang out.”
George: “What came first, the club or the studio?”
Patricia: “The club, the studio wasn’t built until the 1980’s.”
Joris: “First, he was renting, right?”
Patricia: “Well, he rented both floors.”
Joris: “And then he wanted to buy the place, he got tired of the Mafia coming around…”
Patricia: “See, the Mafia kept track of local businesses by cigarette machines and by garbage collection.”
This was the common practice of a kind of neighborhood extortion by the Ma a in New York City at the time.
“So Rashied refused to have a cigarette machine in the place, and then he would take his own garbage to wherever you take garbage. And they did not like that. They broke his jaw at one point and they rammed his fingers, but luckily, he could still play. Then one day he sent me over there with one of the kids. I wanted them to see that we were a family. We had to pay $50 to someone over there. I went down there, looking very pathetic of course, because $50 was a lot for us at that time. So, we bought an ad in the local ‘neighborhood’ newspaper. And that seemed to settle the problems with the Mafia for us, because they could tell there wasn’t a huge amount of business going on here. They wanted their payment based on things like garbage and cigarette machines.”

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali is released by Jazz Tribes. It is available on Amazon.

Check out the website of Joris Teepe here.

Bruut! V (Dox 2018)

NEW RELEASE – BRUUT!

Just when you think how in the hell are the guys from Bruut! going to keep it fresh after all these years, they turn in V. Their fifth album, and their grittiest.

Bruut!

Personnel

Maarten Hogenhuis (alto & tenor saxophone), Folkert Oosterbeek (Hammond, Farfisa, Korg, Vox, Mellotron, piano, harmonium), Thomas Rolff (bass), Felix Schlarmann (drums)

Recorded

on June 1-3, 2018 at Moon Music Studio, Maasbracht, The Netherlands

Released

as Dox 372 in 2018

Track listing

Lopez
Maestro
Phteven
Bud
Watkins
Vox
Klets
Les
Hemiola
Peewee


These guys may not look like a couple of greasy workers diggin’ potatoes. Instead, they are some of the sharpest dressers on the scene. But if not dirty on first sight, saxophonist Maarten Hogenhuis, organist Folkert Oosterbeek, bassist Thomas Rolff and drummer Felix Schlarmann got soul of a strangely twisted kind. In their universe, marriages are celebrated between boogaloo and power pop, post-punk and mood music, perhaps even Link Wray and P.J. Harvey. If a pop band would try its hand on this kind of crossover music, it would most likely be unconvincing. But Bruut! consists of accomplished jazz musicians and each member adds his particular talent and vibe to the palette of entertaining NU-soul jazz.

The wedding party likely takes place in one of those seedy East Hollywood strip clubs frequented by a dozen or so Tom Waits impersonators and the lady that makes a rather charming impression despite the blue bags under her eyes, Botox breasts and stale perfume dating back to the era during which E.T. was in the pre-production phase. Or it might be held at one of the trashy jetset places one always reads about in the tabloids and is never able to attend.

Whatever spot it might be, the fat, resonant bottom of drums and double bass is perfect foil for Hogenhuis and Oosterbeek. The alto and tenor sax of Hogenhuis sounds raw, like a distorted Varitone sax, and Hogenhuis regularly hams it up like a disgruntled hooligan on ketamine. His timing is immaculate and he allows himself a number of solo spots and ad-libs that demonstrate an apparent admiration for Eddie Harris. Oosterbeek provides crunch and edge with all kinds of keyboards like the Hammond, Korg, Vox, even Harmonium. Angular hooks that are groovy and jazzy but also part Queens Of The Stone Age part Pogues part B52’s are enlivened with frivolous bridges and underscored by varying, hefty beats from Schlarmann. As a breather, Hogenhuis contributes his customary mood pieces that showcase his liquid silver tone and melodious lines.

As usual, Bruut!’s song titles consist of only one word. Lopez. Bud. Maestro. Klets. Peewee. Part of the group’s identity that is crystal clear and hasn’t worn.

Find the album here.
And check out their new single Lopez here

Persson To Persson

Jan Persson (1943-2018) –

Danish photographer Jan Persson passed away on November 15. He worked for Downbeat, Melody Maker and various Danish papers since 1962. His work mainly centered around visiting jazz musicians in Copenhagen, one of the most jazz-minded cities in Europe where numerous legendary American artists came to perform or live. Persson photographed pretty much everyone from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Dexter Gordon to Chet Baker, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove. In the late sixties, Persson also focused on visiting rock artists and groups like Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Cream.

Persson’s photos are collected on the website of the Center For Danish Jazz History. Persson’s photos, instead of the more stylish pictures of Francis Wolff, have a kind of rugged quality, catching the artists in performance but also in ordinary, off-stage situations. Find the website here. It’s fantastic to browse through the collection.

See a couple of pictures below:

Clockwise from left to right: Oscar Peterson; Hank Mobley; Bill Evans

Clockwise from left to right: Charles Mingus & Ben Webster; Elvin Jones Trio with Joe Farrell & Jimmy Garrison; Don Cherry

Mister Ben’s Tempo

BEN DIXON (1934-2018) –

Drummer Ben Dixon sadly passed away on November 8. Flophouse reached out to Pete “Doodlin’ Lounge’ Fallico, who posted a RIP on Facebook. Through the grapevine, Fallico heard about someone who attended the funeral: ‘Apparently muslims bury or cremate a body the next day after death. Ben was a quiet person who did not have a web presence, hence the lack of information.’

Dixon was one of the great organ jazz specialists. He was born in Gaffney, South Carolina and grew up in Washington D.C. and Buffalo, NY. Early in his career, Dixon played with Buck Hill, Shirley Horn and Webster Young. During Dixon’s three-year stint with the popular r&b singer Lloyd Price, Dixon met John Patton, whom he persuaded to take up the Hammond. Introduced by Lou Donaldson to Blue Note’s Alfred Lion, Dixon and Patton (plus guitarist Grant Green) went on to form a prolific tandem on many of the label’s now-classic soul jazz albums of the early and mid-sixties. He quit the music business in 1967 but resurfaced in 1997 with The Real Jazz Quartet. His only album as a leader, Say Yes To Your Best including organist Adam Scone was released in 2000. Dixon’s discography as a sideman includes a series of albums with Lou Donaldson, Grant Green and John Patton, George Braith’s Laughing Soul, Ray Draper’s Tuba Sounds, Stanley Turrentine’s A Chip Off The Old Block and Baby Face Willette’s Face To Face.

The work of Ben Dixon is textbook material for aspiring soul jazz drummers. Playing in an organ group requires some adjustments and a whole lotta groove. Ben Dixon’s meaty hi-hat on the 2 and 4 constituted a tight pocket. His bass and ride cymbal locked tight with the organist’s bass lines. He accented changes, turnarounds, bridges and shout choruses with press rolls, but not excessively, so as not to disturb the flow and uses lively snare and tom figures to inspire the soloists. This way his accompaniment is an arc of tension, more tension, heat, release… Throughout, Dixon swings, grooves, makes sure those toes keep-a-tappin’. His shuffle was rock-solid. Dixon also wrote a number of catchy tunes like Cantaloupe Woman, Pig Foot and Fat Judy.

Check out Ben Dixon’s style on Brother Jack McDuff’s Whap!, Grant Green’s Miss Ann’s Tempo and Lou Donaldson’s Funky Mama.

Harold Vick’s Our Miss Brooks and John Patton’s Fat Judy. Picture of Ben Dixon.

Ben Dixon was 84 years old.

(Thanks Pete Fallico of The Doodlin’ Lounge and Jazz Organ Fellowship)