News + Jazz Darmstadt

Robert Glasper calls Ahmad Jamal “the grandfather of hip-hop”. Ja-mal’s music is sampled by many, writes Charles J. Gans, but not every-body pays him for it (San Francisco Chronicle). The 80-year old pianist was an influence on many other musicians, from Miles Davis to McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, yet his contributions to the music are often overlooked: “He wasn’t mentioned in either of the recent films chronicling the rise of Chess Records”, even though he was a central figure when the label started. Jamal regularly records new albums, but recently Mosaic released a nine-CD box containing “The Complete Ahmad Jamal Argo Sessions 1959-62” containing 23 previously unre-leased tracks.
John Fordham talked to the Canadian-born trumpeter and flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler who has lived in Britain since 1952 and who at the age of 80 still plays with a “uniquely pure and melodically startling flugel-horn sound, and still composes profusely” (The Guardian). Norma Winstone says about her long-time musical partner, “He doesn’t say much, but he makes what he does say count. It’s like his tunes.” Wheeler talks about his musical start in Johnny Dankworth’s band in 1959 for whom he also composed his first extended work in 1968. He studied composition with Richard Rodney Bennett and drew inspiration from Paul Hindemith, Fordham writes, because “he had a mournful sound I liked, and the harmonies sounded jazzy”. Wheeler always had a close association with the Royal Academy of Music whose head ex-plains, “Kenny uses intervals in his writing that he’s learned as an im-proviser.” Wheeler, whom Fordham characterizes as a “self-doubting individual”, never quite got over his phobias about playing, but, as the trumpeter explains, “it’s getting a bit late now. I guess I’ll just have to live with them.”
Peter Kemper reviewed the new John Coltrane release “The Unissued German Concerts and was impressed by “how radical and democratic Coltrane’s band really sounded at the time”. In the last years of his life, Coltrane was no longer interested in the core material of swing. Kemper says Dolphy takes Coltrane’s “blazing” tenor sound and trans-forms it into a “flame cutter”, how in “My Favorite Things” all senti-mentality is expelled from the innocent musical melody without mercy. He talks of “graceful terror”, of ecstatic sounds that carry the listener away “into a strange world in which catharsis and inspiration are more important than soothing symmetry and comforting order”.