The lines between what would be considered “jazz” and what would be considered “aleatoric” improvisation are becoming increasingly blurred. This might, or might not, be accepted as real jazz playing, but it’s important to remember that the musicians who played the music that was originally called “jazz” rejected the term, sometimes vehemently.
I was thrilled to see and hear the recent release of never previously issued recordings by the seminal guitarist John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery. Until now, there was no audio record of his work available from the six years of his life he spent playing music on a half-mile long stretch of night clubs in Indianapolis that catered to jazz musicians and aficionados known as “The Avenue.”
The voice of San Francisco native Mary Stallings, who came to national prominence with the 1961 recording Cal Tjader Plays, Mary Stallings Sings, is still a marvel of precision and technique that has been presented for the last 24 years, three nights a week, at the downtown San Francisco restaurant Bix.
Drummer Pete “La Roca” Sims, a man who exemplified a philosophy of music that ran counter to the corporate culture that established and disseminated jazz as America’s music, lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 74 on Monday, November 19. Best known as the original drummer in the John Coltrane Quartet, Sims later also played an important role in jazz history as a lawyer, assisting attorney Paul Chevigny in changing New York City’s oppressive cabaret laws in the 1980s.