The Interstellar Style of Sun Ra

Pitchfork has a great piece on Sun Ra and his legacy. It’s worth reading if you’re a fan, even more so if you know nothing about him. But what Sun Ra had done, and done best, was reminding earthlings everywhere that he wasn’t mortal. He was a signifier of a life beyond the reality of this one. He was a visual reassurance of the presence of another world. He brought the cosmos to the streets, and, most importantly, he was a reminder that one does not have to subscribe to the status quo—musically, stylistically, politically, ideologically....

April 25, 2023

A stunning visualization of John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps' solo

Open Culture shared a “jaw-dropping visualization of John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ solo.” Indeed, it is stunning, beautiful and valuable. A visualization like this makes music much more accessible. Quoting Open Culture: Coltrane’s complexity is daunting for the most accomplished musicians. How much more so for non-musicians? It can seem like “you need a doctorate of music to go anywhere near his recordings,” Nicholson writes. But “nothing could be further from the truth....

August 30, 2022

Chet Baker, born to be cool

A great piece of writing on jazz has recently been posted on The Smart Set. In Born to be cool, Matthew Duffus writes about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, reporting about his troubled life, musical prowess, influence, and legacy. Some facts are well known, like the reception and then the competition with trumpet legends such as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie; other tidbits are less known (to me at least). On Baker legacy:...

November 29, 2021

A Beginner's Guide to Miles Davis

Sam Enright assembled a friendly Beginner’s Guide to Miles Davis. If you’ve always been curious about jazz but never really managed to get into it, then this resource might serve as a good starting point. I cannot say I’m one hundred per cent aligned with his choices, but we’re close. One remarkable statement I concur with is this one: Jazz is so interesting to me because of its fusion of intricate underlying structure with improvisation and spontaneity....

June 27, 2021

The Real Book (of Jazz)

What a fascinating read. It sits right at the intersection of two of my (too many) vicious interests: Jazz music and books. Since the mid-1970s, almost every jazz musician has owned a copy of the same book. It has a peach-colored cover, a chunky, 1970s-style logo, and a black plastic binding. It’s delightfully homemade-looking—like it was printed by a bunch of teenagers at a Kinkos. And inside is the sheet music for hundreds of common jazz tunes—also known as jazz “standards”—all meticulously notated by hand....

April 8, 2021