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    Bird: Complete Savoy & Dial

    JazzWax

    ImagesWhat better time than Thanksgiving week to rave about Bird and a feast. Bird, of course, is alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, and the feast is Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings, an eight-CD set that was released in 2000. I finally grabbed a copy after years spent listening to the master takes in one form or another and was blown away by the package. Like you, I used to think that alternate takes of Parker's Savoy and Dial dates were for neurotics and fussy completists. Not so. If you don't already own this box, do yourself a favor and consider treating yourself to an early holiday gift. It's a miraculous set.

    Interview: David Amram at 80

    Screen shot 2010-11-17 at 7.28.33 PM

    Image

    David Amram turned 80 yesterday. If you know David, you know that hitting that age is almost a ridiculous concept. The musician and composer has the metabolism and mind of a 25-year old, and he's constantly traveling the country like jazz's Johnny Appleseed, performing and motivating all who cross his path. One grows winded just listening to his schedule.

    Interview: Albert Maysles (Part 2)

    JazzWax

    Watching Gimme Shelter with director Albert Maysles was one Images-1 of my crazier long-shot ideas. But Albert immediately saw the value and agreed to do it. As we settled in several weeks ago and the film began to roll, I couldn't help but feel this electric surge. As with Sonny Rollins agreeing to take a drive uptown with me to his old neighborhood in Harlem, or Jerry Lee Lewis showing me how he runs his hands up and down the piano keys, or Fats Domino tapping out rock's earliest beat on my hand, Albert chatting about his classic movie as it flickered away on the screen was another one of those pinch-me moments.

    Interview: Albert Maysles (Part 1)

    JazzWax

    Forty years ago on December 5, Albert Maysles' Gimme Screen shot 2010-11-15 at 8.58.46 PM Shelter was released. The searing documentary about the last leg of the Rolling Stones 1969 tour culminated with the group's concert appearance at the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco. Today, in my Wall Street Journal article here, Albert, 83, talks with me about the film that accidentally captured the Love Generation's dark side, gave the Stones their bad-boy image and set new artistic standards for the rock-umentary. [Pictured from left: David and Albert Maysles in the 1970s]

    Helen Merrill: Dream of You

    JazzWax

    One of the finest jazz vocal albums of the 1950s is Helen Images Merrill's Dream of You. Recorded over the course of three days in July 1956 for EmArcy, the session paired Helen with arranger Gil Evans nearly a year before his first majestic session with trumpeter Miles Davis. Helen's Dream of You isn't a typical jazz-vocal recording of the period, where a singer belts out a set of American Songbook tunes backed by a bouncy band. Instead, what you have here is a true artistic duet—with Helen delivering deeply passionate readings of offbeat songs as Evans' jagged orchestrations lap at the lyrics and at times wash right over them.

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