Legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd has died, says nephew

The Guardian reports that legendary trumpeter Donald Byrd has died, according to the nephew of Byrd.

According to the article, the nephew says that he died on Monday in Delaware, where Byrd lived. Here is more from the article:

The influential jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd died on Monday at the age of 80, his nephew has said.

Alex Bugnon, a jazz pianist, reported his uncle’s death on Thursday, though it has yet to be confirmed.

Bugnon wrote on his own Facebook page: “Donald passed away Monday in Delaware, where he lived. His funeral will be held in Detroit sometime next week. I have no more patience for this unnecessary shroud of secrecy placed over his death by certain members of his immediate family.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN

50 Greatest Jazz Vocals of All Time

50 Great Jazz Vocals is a crowdsourced list of the 50 most popular jazz vocal recordings of all time, as determined by the listeners of NPR Music, Jazz24.org and KPLU in Seattle. We asked jazz lovers all over the world to vote for their favorites. When the results were in, the thousands of votes were tabulated, and this list is the result. You can take a look at the list below or, better yet, dive into the webstream, kick back and listen to all 50 Great Jazz Vocals. According to our listeners, it doesn’t get any better than this.

I had the opportunity to speak with KPLU’s Kirsten Kendrick about this list. You can listen to our discussion here.

Here are the winners:

50 Great Jazz Vocals: The List

1. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
2. Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane, “Lush Life”
3. Billie Holiday, “God Bless the Child”
4. Ella Fitzgerald, “How High the Moon”
5. Ella Fitzgerald, “Mack the Knife”
6. Etta James, “At Last”
7. Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World”
8. Chet Baker, “My Funny Valentine”
9. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto, “Girl From Ipanema”
10. Peggy Lee, “Fever”
11. Sarah Vaughan, “Lullaby of Birdland”
12. Ella Fitzgerald, “Summertime”
13. The Manhattan Transfer, “Birdland”
14. Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane, “My One and Only Love”
15. Nina Simone, “I Loves You, Porgy”
16. Ella Fitzgerald, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”
17. Joe Williams with Count Basie & His Orchestra, “Everyday I Have the Blues”
18. Billie Holiday, “Autumn in New York”
19. Sarah Vaughan, “Misty”
20. Ella Fitzgerald, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”
21. Nina Simone, “Feeling Good”
22. Billie Holiday, “Fine and Mellow”
23. Nina Simone, “My Baby Just Cares for Me”
24. Nat King Cole, “Route 66”
25. Frank Sinatra, “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)”
26. Ella Fitzgerald, “Blue Skies”
27. June Christy, “Something Cool”
28. Ray Charles, “Georgia on My Mind”
29. Frank Sinatra, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
30. Anita O’Day, “Sweet Georgia Brown”
31. Billie Holiday, “All of Me”
32. Louis Armstrong, “Black and Blue”
33. Susannah McCorkle, “The Waters of March”
34. Frank Sinatra, “Fly Me to the Moon”
35. Billie Holiday, “Good Morning Heartache”
36. Louis Armstrong & Oscar Peterson, “You Go to My Head”
37. Clark Terry, “Mumbles”
38. Billie Holiday, “My Man”
39. Diana Krall, “Peel Me a Grape”
40. Nat King Cole, “Unforgettable”
41. Nat King Cole, “Stardust”
42. Chet Baker, “Let’s Get Lost”
43. Billie Holiday, “Lover Man”
44. Ella Fitzgerald, “Someone to Watch Over Me”
45. Eva Cassidy, “Autumn Leaves”
46. Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane, “They Say It’s Wonderful”
47. Les McCann & Eddie Harris, “Compared To What”
48. Julie London, “Cry Me a River”
49. Cab Calloway, “Minnie the Moocher”
50. Nat King Cole, “Nature Boy”

Related Posts:

The Jazz 100 (Part 1 – The List)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (941-950)

Here is another 10 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Here, in no particular order, are albums 941 through 950.

941. Live at Bourbon St. – Lenny Breau (Guitararchives, 1996) CLICK HERE TO BUY

942. Most Much – Jimmy Forrest (Original Jazz Classics, 1961) CLICK HERE TO BUY

943. More Party Time – Arnett Cobb (Original Jazz Classics, 1960) CLICK HERE TO BUY

944. This Here is Bobby Timmons – Bobby Timmons (Original Jazz Classics, 1960) CLICK HERE TO BUY

945. Booker Little and Friend – Booker Little (Rhino, 1961) CLICK HERE TO BUY

946. Harold in the Land of Jazz – Harold Land (Original Jazz Classics, 1958) CLICK HERE TO BUY

947. The Leading Man – Harold Mabern (Indies Japan/Zoom, 1995) CLICK HERE TO BUY

948. Up & Down – Horace Parlan (Blue Note/EMI, 1961) CLICK HERE TO BUY

949. J.R. Monterose – J.R. Monterose (Blue Note, 1956) CLICK HERE TO BUY

950. Here is Phineas – Phineas Newborn, Jr. (Koch Jazz, 1958) CLICK HERE TO BUY

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (931-940)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (921-930)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (911-920)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (901-910)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – The First 750

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – The First 500

Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs dies

Associated Press

Claude Nobs, the founder and general manager of the Montreux Jazz Festival, whose passion for music and artistry introduced generations of legendary musicians to international audiences on the Swiss stage, has died. He was 76.

The Jazz Festival said Nobs, a native of Montreux, died Thursday after sustaining injuries from a fall while cross-country skiing in nearby Caux-sur-Montreux on Christmas Eve. He was taken to the hospital and fell into a coma from which he never recovered.

Nobs worked his way from being a chef and director of Montreux’s tourism office, where he organized charity concerts, to overseeing one of the most iconic music festivals in the world.

On its website, the festival said Nobs’ death came by “surprise as if to remind us once more, that in life as in music, each great performance could be the last one even if the show must go on.”

A visit to the New York offices of Atlantic Records led to the first festival in his home city in June 1967, featuring musicians such as Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette.

The festival was an overnight success, building over the decades on Nobs’ passion for jazz, as much as his gumption and contacts abroad.

Resolutions for jazz in the new year

As we head into the new year, I decided to take a look back at some of the things I saw dominate discussion as it relates to jazz over the last year, and I must say, I have no issue with many of them never being discussed again.

I know that the topic of finding a way to revitalize the commercial success and popularity of jazz is certainly nothing new. However in 2012, it seemed that many found it necessary to anoint two musicians as saviors for jazz in the mainstream. Bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding beat out pop child Justin Bieber for the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist (much to the chagrin of 9 year old girls everywhere), and keyboardist Robert Glasper made a musical appearance on David Letterman. Following this, jazz bloggers and writers seemed to suggest that these two young musicians could attract the attention of more than just hardcore jazzheads, and in turn it would/could result in an increase in record sales, concert attendance, and overall acclaim for the jazz industry.

There are so many different things I want to say about this that I hardly even know where to start, but I will try my best.

For starters, I vaguely remember the same sort of suggestions being made when Norah Jones exploded on to the scene with her mega-hit Blue Note album Come Away With Me. I also remember the Herbie Hancock album River: The Joni Letters  winning the 2008 Grammy for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to receive that honor, and writers suggesting that this would launch jazz back into the mainstream.

The recognition that Norah Jones and Herbie Hancock received benefited two musicians: Norah Jones and Herbie Hancock. I have yet to see any evidence that those who ended up purchasing their albums or hearing their music all of a sudden made a huge genre switch in their listening patterns, or sought out other musicians from the jazz genre. In fact (and I have no evidence to support this, only a very strong gut feeling), I would be willing to bet that if you took a poll of 100 jazz musicians, 99 of them would say, without hesitation, that the attention Norah and Herbie received did literally nothing to increase the work or sales for the rest of the musicians in the jazz industry.

Now, somehow, Spalding and Glasper are the fresh faces, and once again, writers are holding them up on high. These two musicians appealed to the mainstream because they produced music with crossover appeal (not to mention that they are young, attractive, and hip). Many jazz musicians (in fact, I would say the majority), either have no interest in producing “crossover” music that appeals to those that might not particularly be attracted to mainstream jazz, or have struggled for years to find out exactly how to create that appealing crossover sound.

What we need to do is be honest. People that have listened to rap, rock and country don’t just wake up one day and decide that today is the day they start listening to jazz. And there isn’t a young, attractive crossover musician that can appear on a late night talk show that will make them do that. While I share the concern with others about jazz radio stations disappearing, record labels dropping their jazz musicians, and jazz musicians in general struggling to get work, trying to attract people through Esperanza and Glasper is not the way to go.

There is no magic bean to make jazz commercially successful again. Those who are going to enjoy it will enjoy it, and those who wont enjoy it wont. But if that is your concern, bloggers, writers, and critics, then there are a few things you can always do to help.

For starters, try taking a friend (or six) to a show. And then another show, and then another show. These shows can be cheap, yet you kill two birds with one stone. You are still financially supporting these musicians with your cover charge, and you are exposing others to their music. Try purchasing albums (especially by jazz musicians who are still living) rather than having your jazz collection be made up entirely of records sent to you for free by labels for review or airplay.

Regardless, I would love this year for writers to be more focused on good, quality music rather than discussions on what pretty face is going to save jazz this year.

On a different note…

I was more or less over reading the writings and Twitter posts of Nicholas Payton, but I was way more over reading the thoughts and responses to Nicholas Payton by everybody else. I may not care for or agree with all of the stuff Payton wrote over the last year, but it is crazy how much people tried to analyze it dissect it. The worst part about it was people deciding on their own exactly why he was writing it. Who cares? Maybe his is mad, maybe he isn’t. But with all the crap that people write on the internet, why does a trumpeter get so much attention and is so scrutinized for it? Politicians and professional athletes barely have their “controversial” public thoughts and comments gone over with such a fine tooth comb.

I will say that one of the best things that Payton wrote this last year was An Open Letter to Branford Marsalis. I didn’t just like this post because he took Branford to task, but because he supported his ideas academically. His arguments were well thought out, his tone was calm, and he used great quotes to support his opinion. Whether you agree with a person or not, this is a great example of how someone should present their side in an argument. Just like in any real life debate, people respond much better to logic and facts rather than anger and yelling.

There are plenty of other things for me to rant about (like how I am convinced that one major jazz blogger is insistent on creating a “best of” list at the end of each year, this year no exception, filled with albums based on how obscure they are rather than if he really enjoys them). Instead, rather than focusing even more on the things I didn’t like about the jazz world from last year, I’m going to open up a new CD and focus on enjoying the jazz world more this year. Hopefully this year we can all focus less on the politics of the music, and focus more on the music itself.