Anacostia Delta: The Legacy of DC’s TeleMasters

The documentary Anacostia Delta: The Legacy of DC’s TeleMasters will be released this coming Friday.   If you love the electric guitar, get this movie.  If you want to see electric guitar played as good as it can be played, get this movie.

Anacostia Delta will clue you in to the careers of the late Danny Gatton, one of his major influences, the late Roy Buchanan, and DC’s rich guitar scene that extends to this very day.

Read my 2013 post on Gatton to see some of his virtuosity.   The best there ever was.  And enjoy this solo jam pulled from the 1971 documentary Introducing Roy Buchanan, a movie that helped take his career to the next level.

In addition to historical clips, Anacostia Delta is anchored in footage from a 2015 concert at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia (I was there).   Here’s a bootleg of a full line up of DC guitar legends playing the jazz standard, “How High the Moon.

If you want to kick back for awhile and hear more incredible guitar playing, check out this 1993 show featuring Gatton, Albert Lee and Vince Gill.   Lee and Gill are two more of the best guitarists ever to walk the planet.

Young Jazz Stars from Russia and India

In December 2019 the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz held its International Guitar Competition in Washington D.C.   The Institute, named for Thelonious Monk until this past year, has held competitions going back to 1987 honoring young singers and musicians.   This year’s winner was 30-year old Russian phenom Evgeny Pobozhiy.

A few years ago Evgeny recorded this performance of his composition “the Aether”.  Joining him were two fellow Russian jazz artists and Italian bassist Federico Malaman.

In this more recent recording of his composition “Calumet”, Evgeny starts to show off his chops at about 2:00.  Later in the track you’ll hear a sax solo by Brandon Fields, a session man who’s played with dozens of stars from Ray Charles to Stanley Clarke to Earth Wind and Fire.

In this video we add another young jazz powerhouse, 24-year old bassist Mohini Dey from Mumbai   Oh my goodness.   Rolling Stone wrote Mohini up as an artist to watch in 2012 when she was 15.

And check out this amazing duet with the aforementioned Federico Malaman.

Netflix and Cool

My personal style of Netflix binging is working my way through its catalog of music documentaries.  Recently I watched 2019’s “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”.   It’s an interesting trip through the entire arc of his career, and I highly recommend it.

I’m among those who consider Davis’ 1959 Kind of Blue one of the greatest albums ever (Rolling Stone slots it in at #12, two ticks above Abbey Road).  Its consistent sales over many decades have also made it the best selling jazz album of all time.   In addition to being a defining work for Miles, the group that recorded it included sax players John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, drummer Jimmy Cobb, and bassist Paul Chambers.  Davis and Coltrane were the gray hair in the group at age 33.

Here’s the second track from Kind of Blue, and please listen to the rest of the album when you have some time.

A few weeks after the sessions for Kind of Blue ended in April 1959, John Coltrane began to record his masterpiece Giant Steps, drawing on Cobb, Chambers and Kelly to help out.   While most of the album features the up tempo compositions Coltrane became known for, “Naima” was a dreamy departure that became a jazz standard.

Just after Cannonball Adderley walked out of the Kind of Blue sessions, he began recording Them Dirty Blues, which featured “Jeannine”.

Catching Up With My Favorites

Over the past few years I’ve come across a few artists that have taken places among my favorites.  So this week I’m checking out what’s new with Lake Street Dive, Snarky Puppy and Chris Thile.

In an amazing convergence, Chris Thile performed with Snarky Puppy at a recent live show.  Chris jumps in to play jazz mandolin at about 2:30. You’ll hear Snarky Puppy’s band leader Michael League say, “We got six minutes, Chris Thile you got four-and-a-half!”. Suitable homage from one supremely talented musician to another.

Chris also dropped by the Steven Colbert show where he played his Punch Brothers song “My Oh My” with Jon Batiste & Stay Human. You don’t often get to see Stay Human play a full song, so check out their work including Batiste’s fantastic piano accompaniment. You’ll see why Thile exclaims “This band!”.

Lake Street Dive’s members seem to have taken time over the winter for some side projects.  Listen to Rachel Price tap into her jazz roots with a 1930’s Gershwin Brothers tune, in a duet with Brooklyn-based guitarist/singer Vilray.

And LSD’s base player, song writer, backing singer and all around super talented Bridget Kearney put out her own album “Won’t Let You Down” a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the video from “Wash Up”.

Vibes Master Gary Burton Calls It A Career

A few weeks ago jazz vibes player Gary Burton announced he was staging the final tour of his 50-plus-year career, and this past Friday he played his last show at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis.  Not many artists have devoted themselves to this unusual instrument, and I wonder if anyone will ever again play it with Burton’s virtuosity.

According to a feature by NPR, the first use of the instrument in a jazz recording was by Lionel Hampton in 1930 on “Memories of You” by Louis Armstrong.  Legend has it that shortly before this recording, jazz drummer Hampton had come across the instrument at NBC studios, where it was sometimes used to play the network’s distinctive 3-tone identifier chime.

Thirty years after Hampton introduced the instrument, a 17-year-old Burton began his career recording with guitar virtuoso Hank Garland.  Here’s a track from that era with Burton right up front.  The drummer on this track is Joe Morello, Dave Brubeck’s longtime collaborator.

Here are some pure shots of Burton from 1966 and 2010.  Jaw dropping.

And here’s a duet with frequent collaborator Makoto Ozone from 1995. Burton chose Ozone to accompany him on his farewell tour. And if you haven’t had enough, here’s a link to a post from a couple of years ago featuring Burton and  another frequent collaborator, Chick Corea.