For most of us 2020 is a year we’d very much like to forget happened even though there’s still just a little less than half of it to go. Specifics to support this are likely not necessary. But in the midst of all the mayhem, tragedy and uncertainty, there are many who believe, are examples and have operated from the position that this time will birth new opportunity if you’re paying attention, are not afraid to explore and to act. Case in point, Kreshonna Keane.
If you’re a jazz fan to really any degree, from knowledgeable and ardent to casual or novice you know the work of legendary recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder. There really is no way you can’t. Actually, if you’re an aficionado of the hip hop game, that also holds true. Considered by many to be the greatest engineer in the history of jazz, the list of recordings he helmed for legendary, trailblazing labels like Savoy, Bluenote, Riverside, Prestige, and Impulse from, in particular, the 50’s and 60’s is staggering and represent many of the most groundbreaking, influential gems, from music’s most iconic musicians and artists – Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Donald Byrd, Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins – just simply every amazing jazz musician of the time. His treasured, guarded and masterful techniques perfectly captured and help define the sound of modern jazz recordings and the genre itself.
In this rare, on air interview from a 1994 episode of SIMPLY JAZZ shot on location at this historic studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Van Gelder, who passed away in 2016, shares some time and insights about his beginnings as an engineer and his love of doing it. bc
For a list of the many recordings engineered by Rudy Van Gelder click here
Photo. Francis Wolff
In 1993, SIMPLY JAZZ, a half-hour program created to present Jazz in a contemporary format unlike most programming presented up to that time, was born. The acclaimed program, that ran for three years, was shot on location at acclaimed jazz clubs throughout NYC, and included produced segments as well as rare interviews with venerated figures and then burgeoning stars in the world of jazz. Now through the retrospective SIMPLY JAZZ on I SPY SOUL, a look back is provided at some of these interviews.
Legendary jazz drummer, bandleader, and pioneer Chico Hamilton not only blazed trails on the jazz scene, but his music stretched beyond it into film, the worlds of rock, hip-hop, and the dance music scene with hits like, “Conquistadors” and “Strut” as well as through samples and remixes. Over the course of his illustrious career, the LA native and a bedrock of the West Coast jazz scene of the ’50’s and 60’s, laid down the pulse for jazz luminaries such as Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan and Lena Horne to name a few. He also raised eyebrows and gained wide-spread attention, shocking the jazz world with his own innovative crew that featured cello and flute. The heralded “Chamber Jazz” sound was featured in the acclaimed films, The Sweet Smell of Success and Jazz on A Summer Day. Proving a keen ear for talent, his bands throughout the years became the launching pad for eventual legends in their own right such as Jim Hall, Eric Dolphy, Charles Lloyd, Ron Carter, Gabor Szabo and a host of other stars helping to carve out new musical lanes and pushing the jazz envelope all the way up to his passing in 2013 at the age of 92. I SPY SOUL is pleased to take a look back at legend, Chico Hamiltion on SIMPLY JAZZ
bc Photo: Todd Boebel
For more information on Chico Hamilton click here
It really is fair to say that all artists are storytellers. No matter the medium they are sharing what’s on their minds. Sharing things they’ve seen or felt; things that have had an impact on them and maybe even you. Sometime those stories are emotionally charged and tragic. And sometimes they’re light-hearted and flat-out funny. Like life itself, sometimes they are all of that.
When you speak with filmmaker Patrick House you quickly home in on the fact that he’s influenced by those full life stories and interested in telling them with authentic portrayals of the real life cast of characters that play them out. Artists, of course, often spin those stories to create some interesting, clever, thought- provoking, whimsical and, yes, flat-out funny scenarios as well. House’s latest film, Blue Diamonds, is indeed an enjoyable and well executed example of all of that.
The award – winning, Blue Diamonds is a full production, film short currently showing in notable film festivals around the country, garnering rave reviews and critical acclaim. In the entertaining film House, who now calls NYC home, calls upon the tales and characters of growing up in his native Chicago to craft an entwined, two prong plot – perfectly cast, scripted and enacted – boasting a soulful, retro-vibe a la 70’s Blaxploitation film classics with a cool comedic lean. Blue Diamonds also comes complete with a felicitous, soul – slathered soundtrack to match – a high priority for filmmaker House – splendidly provided by ace guitarist, producer and an I SPY SOUL featured artist, Marcus Machado.
We caught up with the talented Patrick House to learn more about the impetus for Blue Diamonds, the influence of his Emmy-winning dad, his approach to making films and the portrayal of African- Americans in film. Check out this video interview and all others on the I SPY SOUL Youtube Channel.
Keep an eye out for screenings of Blue Diamonds at a film festival near you. To contact filmmaker Patrick House for further information or interest in the film go to Patrickhousefilms.com
Rini weaves newness into the sounds of home
Vocalist, composer and violinist, Harini S Raghavan or Rini as she is now most known, is an artist unabashedly proud of her heritage and its rich soundtrack. It is the bedrock of her compelling sound. But she’s also discovered that wonderful things can happen when you thirst for, explore, and are open to incorporating new ideas beyond the “tried and true” traditional ones at hand. The gifted artist, born and bred in the Indian city of Chennai, but who now calls NYC home, adroitly weaves Carnatic, the classical music of her home, with western strands of Jazz, Rock, Pop and Electronica to create a vibrant and beautiful musical tapestry. It’s a sound that boast top-notch musicality with moments reminiscent of mid-seventies fusion a la Mahavishnu Orchestra or Jean Luc Ponty – punctuated by her deftly played violin and adorned by vocals with an angelic tone, delivered with the indigenous, mesmeric lilt of her musical upbringing. Continue reading “Video Interview: Vocalist and violinist Rini”