Friday, January 22, 2010

Archive- Nellie McKay at Jazz Alley: Tribute to Doris Day "Normal as Blueberry Pie", October 20 and 21, 2009, Seattle Washington

Nellie McKay at Jazz Alley: Tribute to Doris Day “Normal as Blueberry Pie”

October 20th and 21st, 2009, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington

By E. Joyce Glasgow

Photo Credits/Copyrights: E. Joyce Glasgow

Nellie McKay is a natural to be doing a Doris Day tribute. She has the classic, bright, sunny disposition, optimistic spirit, lovely and expressive voice and beautiful, beaming smile reminiscent of Doris Day and also like Ms. Day, she is a dedicated animal rights advocate.

McKay, in a very appropriate, fashion retro, orange, 1950’s bolero jacket, with faux fur collar and long circle skirt took to the stage at Jazz Alley, on voice, piano and ukulele, with her Aristocrats; Howard Fishman, guitar, Daniel Policar, keyboard, Scott Litroff, violin, flute and clarinet, Ben Bynum, drums and Charles Shiermeyer, sax.

McKay has chosen some of the less familiar songs from Doris Day’s repertoire for her CD dedication and performed such great songs as “Close Your eyes”, (arranged by jazz composer/musician, Bob Dorough), “Crazy Rhythm”, “Dig It” from Day’s film, Second Chorus, with Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith, “ I Want to be Happy”, “Take Me Back to the Black Hills”,” Do Do Do” from Tea for Two, with Gordon MacRae, “Sentimental Journey”, “Meditation” accompanying herself just on ukulele and a song of Ella Fitzgerald’s “A Tisket a Tasket” in honor of the fact that Fitzgerald has been one of Doris Day’s idols.

The best part of McKay’s performance for me however is when she sang her own wonderful, smart, funny, witty songs and interacted with her musicians and talked to the audience about her pets. Nellie McKay is a natural comedienne, with a wry but also childlike sense of humor and imagination. She told the audience about the two cats and three dogs she and her mom have between them and gave them each voices saying funny things. Her cats are Osama and Emerald, who has a snaggle tooth and due to being weaned too soon, regularly suckles on her own paw. She has three dogs. One is a Dingo, Charro, who has a Spanish accent and there are two pit bulls, Bessie and Hank, whose pictures are on her Doris Day Tribute CD cover. Not only is she an animal rights activist but she is also a brilliant political and social satirist and sometimes very tongue in cheek about it. She is a feminist and her song on Feminism, “Mother of Pearl”, performed again with her ukulele, is a scathing comment on the oppression of women. She also performed her lively “The Dog Song” and her funny “Zombie”.

She surprised us by donning plaid flannel shirts with her band and performed an homage to grunge music and Nirvana, making believe she was Courtney Love nagging Kurt Cobain to clean up the house. In another “skit” her band presented her with an award, which was a bag of potato chips, and then, suddenly, her road manager jumped up on stage and re-enacted the Kanye West/ Taylor Swift fiasco from the MTV Awards ceremony earlier this fall. The two of them then proceeded to do a funny rap back and forth. McKay can be wonderfully silly! This was the final night of McKay’s tour with the Aristocrats and they were having an especially all out, fun time together for the occasion.

For more information on Nellie McKay, visit: For more information on up-coming performances at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, visit:

Note added on January 22, 2010- Nellie McKay will appear on the American Songbook series in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, February 18, 2010. She will next appear in Seattle on April 3, 2010 at the Paramount Theater.

Archive- Oregon at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, Seattle Washington, April 14 and 15, 2009

Oregon at Jazz Alley: Beautiful and Intelligent Music Making

Oregon, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington, April 14 and 15, 2009

By E. Joyce Glasgow

Photo Credits/Copyrights: E. Joyce Glasgow

It is not an exaggeration to say that the group, Oregon, makes some of the most beautiful, sophisticated and intelligent music on the planet. Next year will be their fortieth year as a group and their musical interactions combine the best of years of playing together. Their blending of jazz and world music has given them their own unique and individual sound and their openness to creating spontaneous compositions keep their music fluid and fresh. They are both virtuosic as one organic unit while playing composed pieces and highly expansive, exploratory, creative, fearless, playful and completely relaxed with each other in their improvisations, leading in all kinds of wonderful, moody, evocative and unexpected directions.

Each member is an adept composer as well as an accomplished musician. Former Seattle resident, Ralph Towner, who now lives in Rome with his wife, an Italian actress, is a prolific composer and many of the performed pieces are his. They are lyrical, poetic and have lovely and uplifting melodies. Towner plays acoustic guitar, piano, keyboard synthesizer and a frame guitar synthesizer. He also plays French horn, though I haven’t seen him traveling with one in a long time. Paul McCandless is like no other oboist I’ve ever heard and has the facility to tackle difficult musical melodies with fluidity and grace, taking flight like a bird soaring through space. He contributing a great deal to the “chamber” sound of this jazz group, playing not only oboe, but also English Horn, bass clarinet, soprano and sopranino saxes, and a variety of penny whistles. Glen Moore plays acoustic double bass with assertiveness and humor. His wonderful, old bass, built in the 1700’s, with a lion’s head carving on top of the neck, has a rich, rare, full, seasoned sound, belying its age. Moore really explores the sounds and capabilities of the bass in his strong musical contributions. Mark Walker, the newest member of the group, now working with the other three for over ten years, offers colors, moods and a dynamic rhythm foundation on percussion and drums.

On their two evenings at Jazz Alley, they played many of their pieces from their latest CD, (dedicated to the memory of their thirty year long European tour manager), “1000 Kilometers”, including the haunting and evocative title piece, for which McCandless was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and some older compositions, including the lovely, poetic and reflective “Green and Golden” and “Distant Hills” by Towner and a new piece, “In Stride”. Moore and Walker performed Moore’s bass/drums duet “Hoedown”. McCandless and Towner performed a new duet, “From a Dream” by Towner, which was literally heard in a dream that Towner had. The quartet totally improvised a piece each night, as is their custom, with satisfying musical results. One of these sounded to me like an epic journey from the peaks of the Andes to the heights of the Himalayas. Other pieces performed were the rhythmically complex, dramatic, “Deep Six” by Walker, which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Instrumental Composition, “Yet to Be”, “Redial”, “Toledo” and one of my up-beat favorites, “The Glide”.

In celebration of their fortieth anniversary together in 2010, Oregon will record their twenty-sixth album together. Congratulations!

To learn more about Oregon, visit their website at: and hear some of their compositions at their My Space page at:

For a schedule of upcoming events at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley visit:

Note Added January 22, 2010- Oregon will be performing at Birdland, in New York City, February 2 through 6, 2010. Visit for more information.

Archive- Steely Dan, Paramount Theater, Seattle, Washington, October 12 and 13, 2009

Steely Dan Thrills Paramount Audiences With Non-Stop Hits

Steely Dan, October 12,2009 “Aja”, October 13, 2009, “The Royal Scam”,

Paramount Theater, Seattle

By E. Joyce Glasgow

Photo credit/copyright: E. Joyce Glasgow

Steely Dan swept into Seattle, in a large, thirteen piece configuration, with a four part horn section and three back-up singers, for two eagerly awaited concerts this past week at the Paramount, featuring complete tracks from two different albums, Aja and The Royal Scam and then rounded out the second part of each show with some of their greatest hits from other albums. Fans were thrilled by songs they have been listening to and loving for as long sometimes as thirty-five years or more. It was mind-boggling as every single song that they played has been a major popular hit and my companion and I marveled at hearing one hit after another.

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s music remains timeless, defying classification into any time period or style. Their musicianship, compositions and arrangements are super-sophisticated, utilizing complex jazz chords and harmonies, hybridizing influences of jazz, rock, rhythm and blues, soul, funk and pop into their own, one of a kind sound. They are not afraid of using dissidence, adding to their uniqueness and unpredictability. They’ve always incorporated some of the best musicians around in their recordings, including Wayne Shorter, Michael McDonald, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Tom Scott, Lee Ritenour, Steve Gadd, Patti Austin, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Victor Feldman, Ernie Watts and a host of many more, bringing even more excitement to their compositions.

The rhythms are powerful and infectious and it was almost impossible for me to contain myself in my seat at the two concerts. I wanted to get up and sing and dance joyfully along with the band!

Their lyrics are also intriguing and can be cynical and sardonic comments on society, culture, and human shortcomings; sometimes wild and cryptic and nonsequetorial, kind of like the musical world’s answer to Salvador Dali’s Surrealist painting: the meanings and images may not be clear, but when you put all the words together they make sense on a conscious or sub-conscious level. These dark, ironic, satirical, societal observations are juxtaposed with lively, adventurous melodies. I love singing their songs and sing their wild lyrics, as do others, full out, as if the themes of the songs have deep, significant personal meaning to me as an individual, no matter how cryptic. I think that this is particularly amusing.

Both nights at the Paramount were exciting and fun but I think that the first night, when the album “Aja” (1977) was played in its entirety, was the better of the two nights. I think that the “Aja” album is Steely Dan’s crowning glory. It won a Grammy Award, went Platinum and has sold over 5 million copies and was the band’s best selling album. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine placed it at 145 of the 500 greatest albums of all time. I love every single song on the album, there is a lot of variety and more subtlety in the combination of songs. The songs on this album are probably familiar to people across the generations and are; “Black Cow”, “Aja”, “Deacon Blues”, “Peg”, “Home at Last”, “I Got the News” and “Josie”.

“The Royal Scam” (1976) performance featured the entire album, including; “Kid Charlemagne”, “The Caves of Altamira”, “Don’t Take Me Alive”, “Sign in Stranger”, “The Fez”, “Green Earrings”, “Haitian Divorce”, “Everything You Did” and “The Royal Scam”.

On both nights the three back-up vocalists swayed sensually and hypnotically, throughout the evening, in time with the music. The first night they wore festive and wonderfully glittery, sequined, black, cocktail mini-dresses. On the second night they went for a more demure look with simple black dresses. Their singing was beautiful and their women’s touch added a lot to the mix.

The band rounded out each evening with other popular hits from their long and illustrious career including some of my favorite tunes from the “Katy Lied” (1975) album; the economically prophetic, “Black Friday”, “Doctor Wu” and “Daddy Don’t Live in that New York City No More”, songs from the album, “Gaucho” (1980) including; “Babylon Sisters”, “Hey Nineteen”, “Gaucho” and “Time Out of Mind”, songs from “Countdown to Ecstasy” (1973); “Bodhisattva” and their concert finale number, the ever popular “My Old School” and numbers from their first album, “Can’t Buy a Thrill” (1972); “Dirty Work” and their encore piece both nights, “Reelin’ in the Years”.

The stage lighting was detailed and complex with lots of dramatic changes. I found the sound mix a little disappointing; a bit muddled and “soupy”, especially considering the kind of perfectionist fidelity and clarity on Steely Dan’s albums, all made before the advent of 21st century technology. I didn’t know whether to attribute it to the Paramount’s acoustics or the sound mixing. The instruments could have been more separated, especially the horns, which could have been more clear, forward and bright in their sound. However, the sound overall was fine enough to still enjoy this terrific and talented band of performers on these two memorable evenings.

Personnel on the “Rent Party ‘09” tour included: Donald Fagen, musical director, composer, vocals, keyboard, melodica and “gourmet chef”; Walter Becker, composer, electric guitar, vocals; Keith Carlock, drums; Freddie Washington, electric bass; Jon Herington, electric guitars; Michael Leonhart, trumpet; Jim Pugh, trombone; Roger Rosenberg, saxophone; Walt Weiskopf, saxophone; Jim Beard, piano/keyboards, Tawatha Agee, back-up vocals; Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery, back-up vocals and Janice Pendarvis, back-up vocals.

Opening for Steely Dan with short sets each evening was Sam Yahel and his “Power Trio” of organ, electric bass and drums. I was thrilled and surprised to see Yahel as the opener. He is one of the great young organists and has performed and recorded with Joshua Redman and other jazz greats, internationally.

For more information about Steely Dan visit: For more information on up-coming events at the Paramount visit:

One up-coming theatrical event at the Paramount that I highly recommend that no one miss, is the Pulitzer Prize winning play and multiple Tony Award winner, “August: Osage County”, performed by the brilliant, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, of Chicago, playing October 27th through November 1st. It is one of the best plays I have ever seen in my life. To learn more visit:

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Maria Schneider Orchestra, Birdland Jazz Club, New York City, January 11th, 2010

Maria Schneider Orchestra at Birdland

Birdland Jazz Club, New York City, January 11th, 2010

By E. Joyce Glasgow

All photo credits/copyrights: E. Joyce Glasgow

Photo identifications top to bottom:

Maria Schneider, composer/conductor, holding a variety of birdcalls used earlier in the evening during the Birdland performance of her 2008 Grammy Award winning instrumental composition, "Cerulean Skies".

The Maria Schneider Orchestra in performance at Birdland, January 11th, 2010

Scott Robinson, saxophonist, takes a solo.

Maria Schneider, talking to the audience at Birdland.

Saxophonist, Donny McCaslin

Saxophonist/Flutist, Steve Wilson

Accordionist/pianist, Gary Versace

Saxophonist, Scott Robinson

Trumpeter, Ingrid Jensen, with her husband, drummer, Jon Wikan

Jazz impresario and NEA Jazz Master, George Wein, came out to hear the Maria Schneider Orchestra at Birdland. Wein founded the Newport Jazz Festival, the Newport Folk Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival amongst others.

International jazz vocalist and co-owner of Birdland, Hilary Kole

Birdland owner, Johnny Valenti (L.) with Lowell Pickett, owner of the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Birdland celebrated its 60th Anniversary in December, 2009.

Maria Schneider brought her large orchestra to the intimate, jazz club, Birdland, for a special showcase performance during the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference, on January 11th. The two time Grammy Award winning composer and conductor is known for her lovely, sensuous and thoughtful compositions, rich, full sounding, dynamic ensembles, musical sophistication and for reveling in the changing nuances and sensitivities brought to her pieces by the individual personalities of the musicians performing in collaboration with her. Schneider encourages the musicians to freely contribute to the interpretations of her written music with their own unique musical sensibilities and self- expressive improvisations, making each performance fresh, exciting and different and making her popular to work with by musicians.

Schneider incorporates some of the finest jazz musicians in New York into her orchestra, some of whom are; saxophonist/flutist, Steve Wilson, saxophonist, Donny Mc Caslin, trumpeter, Ingrid Jensen, drummer, Jon Wikan, accordionist/pianist, Gary Versace, saxophonist, Scott Robinson and pianist, Frank Kimbrough and her performances are always eagerly awaited by jazz fans. Birdland was completely packed for this one, with a waiting line outside the doors.

Schneider is an avid birder and one of the highlights of the band’s performance was the final piece of the evening, the charming and sweet “Cerulean Skies”, winner of a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, which utilized a numerous variety of birdcalls and was evocative of being in a natural woodland of birds. Gary Versace played a gentle and subtle solo on accordion, reminiscent of bird conversation, that was so entrancing and calming that you could hear a pin drop in the crowded club.

Whether you are a die hard jazz fan or a jazz novice, the Maria Schneider Orchestra has a lot to offer, both for being very pleasing and accessible to listen to and for the stimulation and musical education of hearing great musicians performing and improvising wonderful material together.

For more information about Maria Schneider and her orchestra visit

For more information about up coming performances at Birdland visit

I highly recommend this week at Birdland -a rare and only second ever collaboration appearance by M’Boom (percussion ensemble) with the World Saxophone Quartet, January 19th-23rd, 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

NEA Jazz Masters 2010 Awards Ceremony and Concert, Jazz at Lincoln Center, N.Y.C., January 12th, 2010

All photo credits/copyrights: E. Joyce Glasgow (with the exception of my photo documentation of NEA Jazz Masters archival photos on display in the lobby, by Tom Pich and others for the NEA.)

The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed its annual NEA Jazz Masters Awards at a ceremony and concert at the lovely Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, in New York City, on January 12th, 2010. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra played throughout.

The NEA Jazz Masters 2010 are George Avakian
(Producer/Manager/Critic/ Jazz Historian/Educator), Muhal Richard Abrams (Pianist/ Composer/Educator), Kenny Barron (Pianist/Composer/Educator), Bill Holman (Composer/Arranger/Saxophonist), Bobby Hutcherson (Vibraphonist/Marimba Player/Composer), Yusef Lateef (Saxophonist/Flutist/Oboist/Composer/Educator), Annie Ross (Vocalist/Lyricist) and Cedar Walton (Pianist/Composer).
Photos are over the course of the concert and post-concert reception and include portraits of the 2010 recipients, past NEA Jazz Master recipients and other fantastic jazz musicians and friends. NEA Jazz Masters pictured here are Randy Weston, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Heath, Gerald Wilson, Lee Konitz, Jimmy Cobb, David Baker, Dr. Billy Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, George Avakian, Yusef Lateef, Annie Ross, Bill Holman, Bobby Hutcherson and Cedar Walton. Musical colleagues pictured include vocalist, Cynthia Scott, pianist George Cables, percussionist, Adam Rudolph, saxophonist, Javon Jackson and musical advocate, Maxine Gordon, wife of the late NEA Jazz Master, Dexter Gordon.
For more information on the NEA Jazz Masters visit For more information on Jazz at Lincoln Center visit