Louis Armstrong, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Cobb: 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.


Imagine Documentaries to Produce Definitive Louis Armstrong Documentary: Imagine Documentaries has reached an exclusive deal with the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation to produce the definitive documentary on jazz legend Louis Armstrong. The deal comes with access to hundreds of hours of audio recordings, film footage, photographs, personal diaries and a life’s worth of ephemera for exclusive use in the first significant documentary dedicated entirely to his life. “I find it difficult to imagine a voice more globally recognized than that of Louis Armstrong,” said Imagine Documentaries’ President, Justin Wilkes via a press release. “And yet, the story behind the voice; of the music, the man, and the impact he had on our world have never been fully recognized on film. As the song goes, we’re honored to bring him ‘back to where he belongs.’” Production is scheduled to commence this fall.

First-Ever Full-Length Jazz Tribute Dedicated to Patsy Cline Out August 23: Vocalist Staci Griesbach is set to release her debut album, My Patsy Cline Songbook, on August 23. The album features musical performances by Tamir Hendleman, Bob Sheppard, Stuart Duncan and Bruce Forman, among others, and it is billed as the first-ever full-length jazz tribute dedicated to Patsy Cline, one of country music’s original female trailblazers. It is also a celebration of the compositions of such great Nashville Songbook writers as Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson and more. For more information on My Patsy Cline Songbook, watch the video via the player below.

Jazz Legend Jim Cullum Dies: Legendary jazz cornetist Jim Cullum, Jr. died peacefully at home his San Antonio home on Sunday, August 11. He was 77 years old. Throughout his career, Cullum played alongside such greats as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Earl Hines, Lionel Hampton and hundreds of other brilliant musicians. Aside from leading his own acclaimed ensembles and various other projects, Cullum was also a historian and preservationist at heart, and a relentless advocate for the preservation of historic San Antonio. He once wrote: “Why is jazz important at all? Well, it is the great 20th-century music, the form that documents with greater eloquence than any other the speed of ideas, the brevity of time, the intensity of longing, the romance of night, the striving for greatness, the sheer fascination of sound itself.”

Quincy Jones Honored in New Giant Mural in Chicago: Argentinian street artist Cobre has honored Quincy Jones with a 30ft mural on a wall at Logan Square in Chicago, the birthplace of the jazz and funk legend. Cobre was apparently inspired to depict Jones after watching Quincy, the 2018 award-winning documentary about the musician’s life. “I know he is one of the most important cultural icons of this century,” Cobre said. “He is amazing. People he worked with all of a sudden became important music and culture-wise.”

Chris Barber Retires: Legendary British bandleader/trombonist Chris Barber has announced his retirement from music at the age of 89. Barber formed his first Barber New Orleans Band in 1949. Since then, he collaborated with countless great artists, was awarded with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1991 and led many great ensembles, including the Chris Barber Band, which will now be led by fellow trombonist Bob Hunt and keep promoting his legacy by continuing to tour under that name.


The Festival Circuit

ELLNORA Guitar Festival to Take Place on September 5-7: ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival presented by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will take place on September 5-7. This year’s edition of the internationally recognized will features artists from across the globe, including Stephane Wrembel, Fabi Reyna and Across the Sea – the trio made up of Jeff Peterson, Greg Sardinha and Tsun-Hui Hung – among others. Aside from performances, ELLNORA will also include engaging free educational programming with lectures, workshops and panel discussions for patrons to enjoy.

New Release Cheat Sheet

Jimmy Cobb, This I Dig of You (Smoke Sessions)

Being 90-years-old and not showing it. Drum legend Jimmy Cobb shows no sign of slowing down on his new album, This I Dig of You, out via Smoke Sessions. The new LP features him with a band of his longtime collaborators, including pianist Harold Mabern, guitarist Peter Bernstein and bassist John Webber. Together, they perform new versions of songs from the repertoire of Cobb’s first working band, Cobb’s Mob, including the title track by Hank Mobley. Other songs on This I Dig of You include Dexter Gordon’s “Cheese Cake,” the heartfelt ballad “My Old Flame” and the evergreen standard “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (that he recorded with Earl Bostic in 1951), among others.

Taylor McFerrin, Love’s Last Chance (AWAL)

Love’s Last Chance is Taylor McFerrin’s follow-up to his 2014 debut Early Riser, and it marks a turning point in his music. Having already showcased his talents as a musician, composer and producer on his previous LP, here he explores a different approach – one he discovered while working with supergroup R+R=NOW – which aims to capture the feelings of the moment instead of opting for a more meticulous search for perfection. In addition, Love’s Last Chance is his first album to feature him on lead vocals. “Over the years, I’d learned how to convey myself well through my instrumentals,” says McFerrin, the son of legendary vocalist Bobby McFerrin, via a statement. “But singing brings me closer than ever to being able to share everything that’s going on inside of me.”

Matt Ulery, Delicate Charms (Woolgathering)

Delicate Charms is bassist/composer Matt Ulery’s ninth release as a leader, released via his own label, Woolgathering – and it follows his trio release Wonderment, which we featured on our July list of ten albums you need to know. The new album perfectly captures the energy and dynamic interplay of his quintet’s members, made up of Greg Ward on alto sax, Zach Brock on violin, Rob Clearfield on piano, Quin Kirchner on drums and Ulery himself playing double bass on all tracks. The Ulery-penned songs on the record explore the fresh opportunities opened up by the unusual but spellbinding pairing up of saxophone and violin with a traditional rhythm section.

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