Charlie Parker, Aretha Franklin, Vince Guaraldi: The Week in Jazz

The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top.


New Verve/UMe Charlie Parker Centennial Box Set Out Soon: Verve/UMe plan to celebrate Charlie Parker’s centennial by releasing Charlie Parker: The Clef 10″ Albums Collection on August 28. This is a vinyl box set of Parker’s complete Clef albums featuring David Stone Martin’s iconic illustrated covers. All five albums – Bird and Diz, Charlie Parker, Charlie Parker Plays South Of The Border, Charlie Parker With Strings and Charlie Parker With Strings (Vol. 2) – will feature newly remastered audio from the original analog tapes and will include faithful reproductions of the classic artwork and packaging. In addition, Verve/UMe will kick off the centennial celebrations with the limited edition vinyl release of the rare LP, The Magnificent Charlie Parker, out today for Record Store Day Black Friday.

New Video of Aretha Franklin’s Version of “O Tannenbaum” with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: The famed Jazz at Lincoln Center shared a video of a version of the holiday classic “O Tannenbaum” by the Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring the late, legendary Aretha Franklin on vocals and piano. The song is featured on Big Band Holidays II, a new collection of versions of classic holiday songs performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and special guests. The album is out now via Blue Engine Records.

Whit Dickey Launches New Free Jazz Label: Drummer/improviser/composer Whit Dickey has launched a new recording label devoted to contemporary free jazz. The label is named Tao Forms, and he will be serving as both its creative director and executive producer. Tao Forms will officially be launched in Spring 2020 with the release of two new albums. One is a new solo recording by pianist Matthew Schipp. The other is Dickey’s new trio album with saxophonist Rob Brown and bassist Brandon Lopez. “Cecil Taylor said about free jazz that ‘each is their own academy,'” writes Dickey via an official statement. “I want this label to represent a diversity of ‘academies’ in the free jazz community.”

Brian Evans to Release New Autobiography Next Year: Crooner Brian Evans has released that he will be releasing his new, non-fiction autobiography in 2020. The book is titled The Opening Act and will detail his experiences as opening for some of the biggest names in show business, including Dionne Warwick, Jay Leno, Mick Fleetwood and many more. “There’s really nobody that can give you more insight on a headliner than the person who is the opening the act. I’m the guy who stood backstage and saw some very interesting things, things I believe the general public will really get a kick out of,” says Evans via a press release.

Special Edition Vinyls Out Today for Record Store Day Black Friday: Several limited edition vinyl records are out today for Record Store Day Black Friday. Releases include exclusives from such artists as Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Herbie Hancock and many more. Click here to find out which of this year’s Record Store Day Black Friday releases we highlighted as the ones you need to know.

The Gig: Live Music & More

David Crosby Announces Spring 2020 Tour Dates: Legendary singer/songwriter David Crosby has announced dates for his spring 2020 tour with his Sky Trails Band, during which he will also be performing songs from throughout his career as well as tunes from a forthcoming album that is currently being recorded. The tour is scheduled to kick off in Santa Barbara, California on May 14. In addition, a documentary on Crosby’s remarkable life, David Crosby: Remember My Name, received a GRAMMY nomination last week in the “Best Music Film” category. The film is directed by AJ Eaton and produced by Cameron Crowe.

The Festival Guide

Birdland Announces Charlie Parker-Themed Festival for August 2020: Famed New York City jazz club Birdland has announced that it will be celebrating Charlie Parker’s centennial by curating a month-long jazz festival in August 2020. Each week of the festival will feature a different headliner, beginning with “Bird With Strings,” with renowned clarinetist Ken Peplowski serving as the event’s musical director. Also scheduled for the festival, Birdland’s 10th annual “Bird-thday Celebration” featuring an all-star ensemble performing Parker’s compositions, and Joe Lovano and the Joe Lovano Us Five reprising Bird Songs, their Bird-themed album released on Blue Note in 2011.

New Release Cheat Sheet

Bobby Watson, Vincent Herring, Gary Bartz, Bird at 100 (Smoke Sessions)

August 29, 2020, marks the 100th celebration of the birth of one of jazz’s most iconic and deeply influential figures: Charlie Parker. Vincent Herring, Bobby Watson and Gary Bartz – three of today’s most celebrated altoists, each representing a different generation of modern jazz musicians – start the celebrations early by releasing a new album celebrating the legacy of the bebop innovator. Bird at 100 offers a buoyant mix of classic Parker tunes, familiar standards once recorded by Bird and new compositions written in honor of the master saxophonist. The music was recorded live on the stake of Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, with Watson, Herring and Bartz ably backed by a stellar rhythm section made up of pianist David Kikoski, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Carl Allen.

Various Artists, If You’re Going to the City: A Tribute to Mose Allison (Fat Possum)

Over the course of his celebrated career, the much-missed musician/songwriter Mose Allison bridged the gap between jazz and blues with his acclaimed compositions and over 30 album-discography. Fat Possum celebrates his legacy with the release of a new, star-studded tribute album titled If You’re Going to the City. The LP features a cast of diverse artists – including Chrissie Hynde, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, Taj Mahal and many more – interpreting some of Allison’s most acclaimed songs. A portion of the proceeds from If You’re Going to the City will be going towards Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a nonprofit that provides assistance to career musicians struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability or age-related problems.

Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Craft)

Craft Recordings released the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s beloved jazz album A Charlie Brown Christmas as a 3″ vinyl as a Record Store Day Black Friday exclusive. This release is part of a new collaboration featuring a variety of 2″ vinyl releases based on classic animations that span several generations and are to be played on the RSD3 mini-turntable. The RSD3 A Charlie Brown Christmas 3” Blind Box Series comes in an outer box that reproduces the original 12” album art (picture below) and includes one of four possible songs: “Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal),” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Linus and Lucy” and “Skating.” Each track comes with its own unique pull-out poster.

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