Thomas Cunniffe

Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

This month’s vocal CD reviews spotlight four remarkable singers–two who have been reviewed here before (Sara Serpa and Elisabeth Lohninger), and two others who are new to our pages (Alyssa Allgood and Maggie Herron). Reviewer Thomas Cunniffe is eager to note that the adjectives in the review title are not intended as descriptions of each disc in turn, but a collection of qualities shared throughout the group.

More

Standards, Old and New

Many of today’s jazz vocalists strive to find unique repertoire. This month’s Vocal CD Reviews spotlights three singers with their own solutions to the problem. Catherine Russell and Ann Hampton Callaway both explore classic songs written before 1950, with notably different results, while Cyrille Aimée transforms the music of Stephen Sondheim. Thomas Cunniffe notes the strengths of each album.

More

Notes from the Editor 4-19

Welcome to the new and improved Jazz History Online! Consider this a “soft” opening. We planned to launch this new version in mid-May, but a technical issue occurred, which made it impossible for me to edit articles on the old site. Bear with us! We have 7 new articles to share right now in the […]

More

Keyboard Heritage

The twin concepts of personal and stylistic heritage is examined and celebrated in this month’s Instrumental CD Reviews. Ehud Asherie performs music from several different jazz eras on “Wild Man Blues”, Benny Green celebrates his mentors on “Then and Now”, Stu Mindeman explores the indigenous music of Chile on “Woven Threads” and Kenny Werner adds his artistry to the long tradition of solo pianists on “The Space”. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the four CDs.

More

Remembering Amy Duncan

Former Jazz History Online contributor Amy Duncan passed away in June 2018. With the exception of a single Facebook post by jazz critic Chip Deffaa, no obituaries or memorials have appeared in print or online since Amy’s passing. In this special edition of Sidetracks, Thomas Cunniffe curates a tribute to our friend and colleague, Amy Hildreth Duncan.

More

Still Progressive

Eric Dolphy, Ran Blake and Jeanne Lee were all considered avant-garde jazz musicians when they first appeared in the 1950s and 1960s. In this expanded Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe reviews new releases by each, and notes that all three still sound progressive today.

More

Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts

Duke Ellington considered his three Sacred Concerts to be his most important works. Many critics disagreed, but as Thomas Cunniffe argues in this Historical Essay, Ellington was trying to spread his personal view of religion to a wide swath of listeners, and as a result, his music moved from the lofty to the commonplace with stunning frequency.

More

The Swingles
at Lakewood Cultural Center
(March 16, 2019)

The loss of a voice can be traumatic to a chamber vocal group. The Swingles arrived for their concert in Lakewood, Colorado, minus one pivotal member, lead soprano Federica Basile, who was unable to travel due to a delayed US artist visa. The group members did some crafty editing of their arrangements, and performed 6-voice versions, with everyone in the group helping to cover the missing soprano notes. Thomas Cunniffe, a longtime fan of the group, reviewed the concert, and reports that the program was still entertaining and that there were no obvious gaps in the harmony.

More

THE HISTORY OF EUROPEAN JAZZ (edited by Francesco Martinelli)

Jazz was born in the United States, but its influence spread across the world shortly after it was first recorded. Europe embraced the music, producing their own famous soloists. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the massive reference volume, “The History of European Jazz” (Equinox) and notes that its series of essays on each country’s jazz history makes the book seem more like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle than a comprehensive narrative.

More

Adoration of the Lyric

Lyrics are a central focus of the singers featured in this month’s vocal reviews. Drawing on an extensive legacy of singers like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee and Ray Charles, these singers interpret songs in ways that emphasize important words in the song. Thomas Cunniffe reviews new CDs from Michelle Lordi, Hilary Gardner, Stacey Kent and Cheryl Bentyne, which cover a wide range of lyric complexity.

More