Notable Deaths 2015

Natalie Maria Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015) – American singer

William Franklin Guest (July 2, 1941 – December 24, 2015) – American R&B/soul singer

Sam Dockery (1929 – December 23, 2015) – American jazz pianist (Art Blakey, Roy Haynes)

Isham Russell “Rusty” Jones II (April 13, 1942 – December 9, 2015) – American jazz drummer

Svein “Chrico” Christiansen (6 August 1941 – 25 November 2015) – Norwegian jazz drummer

Albert “Al” Aarons (March 23, 1932 – November 17, 2015) – American jazz trumpeter

Hubert Leroy “Herbie” Goins (February 21, 1939 – October 27, 2015) – American rhythm & blues singer

Lee Shaw (June 25, 1926 – October 25, 2015) – American jazz pianist and composer

Nat Peck (January 13, 1925 – October 24, 2015) – American jazz trombonist

Mark Howe Murphy (March 14, 1932 – October 22, 2015) – American jazz singer

Donald Percy ‘Don’ Rendell (4 March 1926 – 20 October 2015) – English jazz musician and arranger

Larry Rosen (May 25, 1940 – October 9, 2015) – American producer/musician/recording engineer

Otis Ray “Killer” Appleton (August 23, 1941 – October 7, 2015) – American jazz drummer

David Samuel Pike (March 23, 1938 – October 3, 2015) jazz vibraphone and marimba player (MPS Records)

George Coleridge Emerson Goode (29 November 1914 – 2 October 2015) – British Jamaican-born jazz bassist (Indo-Jazz Fusions)

Willie Akins (April 10, 1939 – October 2, 2015) – American jazz musician

Harold Lomax Ousley (January 23, 1929 – August 13, 2015) – American jazz tenor saxophonist and flautist

Russell Audley Ferdinand “Russ” Henderson MBE (7 January 1924 – 18 August 2015) – jazz musician on the piano and the steelpan

Hugo Rasmussen (22 March 1941 – 30 August 2015) Danish bassist

Masabumi Kikuchi (19 October 1939 – 6 July 2015) – Japanese jazz pianist/composer

Howard Rumsey (November 7, 1917 – July 15, 2015) – American jazz double-bassist

John Taylor (25 September 1942 – 17 July 2015) – British jazz pianist

Bruce Edward Washington, Jr. a.k.a. Hussein Fatal (April 3, 1977 – July 10, 2015) American rapper (Outlawz)

Archie Alleyne (January 7, 1933 – June 8, 2015) – Canadian jazz drummer

Paul Bacon (December 25, 1923 – June 8, 2015) – American book and album cover designer and jazz musician.

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015) – American jazz saxophonist/violinist/trumpeter/composer.

John Landry “Buddy” Boudreaux (December 27, 1917 – June 13, 2015) – big band and jazz saxophone/clarinet

Allan Vincent Browne OAM (28 July 1944 – 13 June 2015) – Australian jazz drummer/composer

Harold Raymond Battiste, Jr. (October 28, 1931 – June 19, 2015) – American music composer/arranger/performer/teacher (Sam Cooke)

Gunther Alexander Schuller (November 22, 1925 – June 21, 2015) – American jazz musician/composer/conductor//author/historian

Eddy Louiss (2 May 1941 – 30 June 2015) – French jazz musician

Samuel McClain a.k.a. Mighty Sam McClain (April 15, 1943 – June 15, 2015) – American soul/blues singer/songwriter

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015) – American jazz saxophonist

Jerome Cooper (December 14, 1946 – May 6, 2015) – American free jazz musician

Luz Ercilia Fabery Zenón a.k.a. Lucy Fabery (January 25, 1931 – May 13, 2015) – Puerto Rican jazz singer
Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly (1945 – May 15, 2015) – American R&B and jazz singer

Marcus Batista Belgrave (June 12, 1936 – May 24, 2015) American jazz trumpeter

Raymond Huston “Ray” Kennedy Jr. (1957 – May 28, 2015) – American jazz pianist/composer/arranger

Margo Reed (c. 1942 – April 15, 2015) – American blues singer

Marty Napoleon (June 2, 1921 – April 27, 2015) – American jazz pianist (Louis Armstrong)

Percy Tyrone Sledge (November 25, 1940 – April 14, 2015) was an African American R&B/soul/gospel singer

Benjamin Earl King a.k.a. Ben E. King (September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) – American soul and R&B singer/producer

Orrin Keepnews (March 2, 1923 – March 1, 2015) – American jazz writer/producer (Riverside, Milestone, Fantasy, Landmark Records)

Lewis Michael Soloff (February 20, 1944 – March 8, 2015) – American jazz trumpeter/composer/actor (Machito, Tony Scott, Maynard Ferguson and Tito Puente)

Robert “Bob” Parlocha (April 18, 1938 – March 15, 2015) – American jazz expert/radio host/programmer/saxophone player

Paul Jeffrey (April 8, 1933 – March 20, 2015) – American jazz tenor saxophonist/arranger/educator (Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton and B.B. King)

John Newton “Johnny” Helms (February 10, 1935 – March 27, 2015) – American jazz trumpeter/bandleader/music educator (Woody Herman, Clark Terry and Chris Potter)

Billy Butler (June 7, 1945 – March 31, 2015) – American soul singer/songwriter

Zane Musa (January 1, 1979 – February 2, 2015) Alto/Soprano/Tenor Saxophonist /vocalist

William Thomas McKinley (December 9, 1938 – February 3, 2015) – American composer/jazz pianist

Richie Pratt (March 11, 1943 – February 12, 2015, born Richard Dean Tyree) – American jazz drummer

Keith Copeland (April 18, 1946 – February 14, 2015) – jazz drummer/music educator

Hulon E. Crayton (c. 1956 – February 14, 2015) – American smooth jazz saxophonist

Clark Terry Jr. (December 14, 1920 – February 21, 2015) – American swing and bebop trumpeter/composer/educator

Erik Amundsen (1 February 1937 – 22 February 2015) – Norwegian jazz bassist

George Arthur Probert, Jr. (March 5, 1927 – January 10, 2015) – American jazz clarinetist/soprano saxophonist/bandleader

Cynthia Layne (February 27, 1963 – January 18, 2015) – American contemporary jazz vocalist

Donald James Randolph a.k.a. Don Covay (March 24, 1936 – January 31, 2015) – American R&B/soul singer

Corrie Dick ‘Impossible Things’ (Chaos Collective) 3/5

corrie-dickGlaswegian drummer Corrie Dick studied music at the Glasgow Conservatoire and has travelled to North and West Africa to listen carefully to the manner in which the drum is deployed there. Now resident in London, his debut recording is as much folk influenced as it is by jazz and features various female guest vocalists including Alice Zawadzki, with some world beats bubbling just underneath the surface. As well as being a musician, Dick is co-founder of the indie label and the collective gained useful live experience in November, performing at the Jackdaw Jazz Café in London. Stylistically, the group weave in and out of styles and this is illustrated on the free-form intro to the title track that then morphs into a vocal plus piano number that is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The drummer’s travels are alluded to on ‘Annamarakech’ which has something of a jazz-fusion feel with trumpet solo and layered keyboards, and a rolling drum to propel the number. In a more reflective mood, ‘King William walk’ is a tribute to Dick’s father and, with the use of flute and fiddles, hints at Scottish folk music before fusing into a folk meets jazz piece that takes a little time to get used to. If the whole has yet to gel into a cohesive, individual sound, that will surely come in time with future recordings and greater exposure to how jazz and other beats can effectively blend together.

Tim Stenhouse

Tiffany Austin ‘Nothing But Soul’ (Con Alma) 4/5

tiffany-austinHailing from North California, but for a long time off the radar when she settled in Tokyo and performed pop, gospel and jazz, vocalist Tiffany Austin comes up with an assured debut that is more like an extended EP, weighing in at around forty minutes. She displays a command of the classic American songbook, soaking up the influences of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Dee Dee Bridgewater among others, and has chosen this recording to focus primarily on the compositions of Hoagy Carmichael. The jewel in the crown here is undoubtedly ‘Baltimore Oriole’ that has received a few famous treatments (notably from Lorez Alexandria), but this compares most favourably with any of them and is an uptempo vehicle with the stripped down drum beat of Sly Randolph where Austin engages in some fine ad-libbing to mark her imprint on the standard. This writer warmed to the cohesive mixture of new approaches combined with a respect of the jazz tradition. Austin’s phrasing is impeccable and ideally showcased on quality ballads such as ‘I get along without you very well’ and ‘Stardust’ that opens the set. However, she breathers new life into ‘Skylark’, attempting it at a completely different and more upbeat tempo and a warm tenor saxophone performance from Howard Wiley that works extremely well. In fact Austin and Wiley combine on a co-written original, ‘Tête à Tête’ that augurs well for the future. The album title by the way refers to a song Betty Carter made her own during the 1960s, ‘Jazz ain’t nothing but soul’, but this is not included here. Tiffany Austin is a name to watch out for and any enterprising jazz label would do well to check her out before she is singed up by a major.

Tim Stenhouse

Ella Fitzgerald and Various ‘Christmas with Ella and Friends’ 2CD (Decca/Universal) 4/5

ella-fitzgeraldChristmas tribute albums may be in vogue for one month of the year, but seldom do they last throughout the decades and most are readily forgotten and quickly fall into obscurity. One towering exception to that rule is Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Ella wishes you a swinging Christmas’, originally released on Verve from 1959, that has remained an evergreen, and this forms the template for this new compilation that brings together jazz singers crooners and more easy listening artists who occasionally dipped into jazzy waters. From Ella’s epic release no less than eleven songs are selected and they are all more or less gems, ranging from the anthemic, ”Have yourself a merry little Christmas’ to the swinging, ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ and changing mood and tempo to the reflective, ‘Baby it’s cold outside’. Nobody has ever bettered Fitzgerald’s vocal interpretations and most likely no one will ever reach this level of competence. Quite simply, they are definitive treatments. However, some of her contemporaries do feature from the frolic antics of Louis Armstrong on ‘Zat you Santa Claus?’ to Billie Holiday and an intimate reading of, ‘I’ve got my love to keep me warm’.
Mel Tormé offers up an excellent take on ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire)’ that Nat Cole immortalised and is also included that makes for a terrific comparison. For some gospel hues mixed in with the blues, a left-field offering of ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ by the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe is a joyous listening pleasure while in the fun stakes, the big band swing of Louis Prima’s ‘Shake hands with Santa Claus’ adds some much needed laughter to proceedings. Humour is the order of the day from the Nat King Cole trio (and Nat was a mighty fine pianist, something often ignored) on perennial request, ‘All I want for Christmas (is my two front teeth)’ while Nancy Wilson holds sway with a more affirmative, ‘That’s what I want for Christmas’.

Some of the easy listening material from Andy Williams and Perry Como is a tad jazz-lite, but on the other hand Bing Crosby, Julie London the Platters were all capable of fine musical moments. Ideally, one would have liked a little more variety with some classic jazz instrumentals and the back catalogue is sufficiently wide to include examples of say Count Basie’s ‘A very swinging Basie Christmas’ and various others into the bargain. That said, for fans of vocal jazz who wish to celebrate the festive season, this is a fine way to sample some of the all-time great singers.

Tim Stenhouse

Barbara Dennerlein ‘Christmas Soul’ LP/CD (MPS/Edel) 4/5

barbara-dennerleinChristmas as depicted from a jazz perspective can be something of a hit and miss affair. Interestingly, one of the most accomplished was an all instrumental outing from the mid-1960s by Hammond organ maestro Jimmy Smith and German Hammond player Barbara Dennerlein has followed suit, updating slightly , but retaining that earthy, blues-inflected feel that Smith perfected. An all-star band includes multi-reedist Marcus Lindgren who alternates between tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet, while the overall production is in the extremely competent hands of Italian DJ and musician Nicola Conte and that means a subtle Latin undercurrent to the album as a whole. Factor in vocalist Zara McFarlane and you have a Christmas recording that departs from the norm and can be enjoyed in its own right as a quality listening experience. A genuine highlight is the modal flavoured ‘Chim Chim Cherie’ that John Coltrane radically transformed in the 1960s. Here the Mary Poppins tune becomes a soul-jazz vehicle with wailing tenor and punchy Latin percussion. The flute was an instrument that Roland Kirk excelled on and one of his favourite covers was ‘We three kings’. Dennerlein sounds very much like Larry Young on this brooding interpretation and Lindgren reverts to flute. thus evoking Rahsaan Kirk’s masterful version. This new one compares most favourably. Miles Davis and Bob Dorough came up with a yuletide favourite in ‘Blue Xmas’ and a new reworking gives the song an eerie, atmospheric intro before developing into a swinging number that remains faithful to the original. Of course, being German, Barbara Dennerlein is well versed in some of the classic German language songs that are associated with Christmas and no less than three are on offer here. ‘Little drummer boy’ is treated to a funky 1970s makeover with flute and Latin percussion making this virtually unrecognisable from the original while ‘Oh Tannenbaum’ starts off in a more traditional mode before taking off in a soul-blues direction. Only ‘Silent Night (original German title, ‘Stille Nacht’) is left as a conventional ballad. Elsewhere ‘Sleigh Ride’ receives a gritty Stax sounding makeover while an Ella Fitzgerald perennial, ‘Let it snow’, becomes a swinging mid-tempo groove-;aden song. In general, the arrangements are both tasteful and thought-provoking and enable the collective to stamp their own distinctive imprint on the Christmas classics. Likely to remain a popular Christmas release for many years to come.

Tim Stenhouse