Thursday, January 21, 2010

This 'n That 'n Thigpen

I don’t usually post a compilation of short takes on two consecutive weeks, but with a few timely notes on my desk, today I offer a brief exception of additional briefs.


Drummer Ed Thigpen died last week, on January 13th. His web site is here.

Ed Thigpen was best known for his years drumming with the Oscar Peterson Trio, with Ella Fitzgerald, with Billy Taylor. And he has a Kansas City connection.

His father, Ben Thigpen, was the drummer for Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy from 1930 to 1947.

Andy wrote in his autobiography: “…We played waltzes, too…. Ben Thigpen never could get that Viennese beat - da-rrrmp, da, da - though he was a fine drummer, with me 17 years. His son, Ed, traveled with us before he was born."

Those would have been years that legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams swung the band. No wonder Ed Thigpen knew swing…he heard it at its best while still in the womb.


Count Basie’s hat is about to go on tour, courtesy of UMKC.

The Smithsonian is putting together an exhibition on Basie and has borrowed the captain’s hat that Count Basie wore from UMKC’s LaBudde Special Collections. It’s to be sent off for display in Washington, DC at the end of the month. The exhibit later travels to New York. When the hat returns, the university says, it will be “available for anyone to stop by to take a peek.”

The complete UMKC release is here.

(I never knew UMKC had Basie’s hat.)


Jazz and metal?

New York Times music writer Ben Ratliff finds more similarities than dissimilarities in the current state of each of those music types. He writes, “Both have become increasingly local and international at the same time; they depend on the scenes of certain communities...but their audiences are everywhere. As of the late ’00s both have been the subject of serious academic conferences. And aside from a few tanklike, old-favorite examples…if you want to keep up with either, you have to listen to cuts on MySpace pages and go to gigs.”

I know little enough about metal to recognize if the comparison rings true. But his comments on the state of national jazz recognition certainly do: “Currently, making it in jazz means playing a circuit of sit-down supper clubs and comfortable midsize theaters booked by nonprofit arts presenters, and, in summer, at European festivals.”

The complete commentary is here.

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