On December 8th, 1957 The Sound of Jazz aired live on CBS. It was an episode in the program The Seven Lively Arts. Producer Robert Herridge convinced Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonius Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Billie Holiday, Henry Allen, Jimmy Giuffre, Roy Eldridge, Dicky Wells, Vic Dickenson, Pee Wee Russell, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Danny Barker, Milt Hinton, and Jo Jones to appear together for an hour long live jazz performance. The Sound of Jazz was one of the first programs featuring jazz made for television and is still considered one of the best.
Up Close & Personal Gift Pick:
It’s undeniable that there is great Jazz in the Pacific Northwest. Concert tickets are a thoughtful gift and help reduce the clutter one may accumulate during the holiday season.
Although they are not immediately deliverable, that’s okay!
Sometimes a little delayed gratification can have just as big a pay-off.
Here are some upcoming concerts in the region with tickets available that you can shower on your loved ones (in chronological order):
- An American in Paris, Olympia, Washington. Thursday, January 16th at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
- The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. Festival dates are February 28th and 29th, 2020. The leap year lineup includes the Lionel Hampton Big Band whose members all personally played with Lionel Hampton at one point in their careers. Jason Marsalis is the featured vibes player. It’s definitely worth the trek if you live out of town!
- The Spokane Jazz Orchestra in Spokane, Washington. A concert featuring George Gershwin will be March 14th, 2020.
- The Mt. Hood Community College Jazz Festival, in Gresham, Oregon. Festival headliners play April 24th and 25th
- The Ballard Jazz Festival in Seattle, Washington. Festival dates are May 27-30th 2020.
Besides giving the gift of a fun night out, concert tickets are small, so you can sneak them in as an unassuming stocking-stuffer. Then when they open it, it’s a nice surprise for them to find it’s not just $1.00 folded into an origami shirt.
After that first surprise, when you attend the concert, you get another pay-off. Seeing them enjoy the music while you enjoy it with them.
Just Listen! Gift Picks:
Harry Connick Jr.’s New Album True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter
Going into the 2020s, 100 years later it might be fun to get the jazz-lover in your life a taste of the roaring 1920s in a modern take. Singing in a classic crooner style, Harry Connick Jr.’s new album focuses on the renowned composer and lyricist. Cole Porter began to gain fame during the 1920s and continues to be a strong influence on jazz musicians today. Take a listen to the NPR story about the album and the interview with Harry Connick Jr. as he describes why he loves to play with Cole Porter like a “set of musical Legos”.
The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra’s New Holiday Album, Underneath The Mistletoe
If you want to give a gift of fun Holiday Jazz music, The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra specializes in the “Vintage Jazz” sound that will be treasured in any music collection. Along with the imaginative cover songs, there are several originals on the album which breath new life into Holiday Jazz music. The album veers away from the somber and sultry arrangements that are often on Jazz Holiday albums. Neither does it foray into the frenetic over-the-top music that is blasted at shopping malls. Underneath The Mistletoe lands squarely in the realm of classic swing music, upbeat, fun, a little silly, but still classy. The song titled “The Krampus” will delight those who enjoy the “darker side” of the Holidays. Definitely a good music gift pick for those with a sense of humor and a love of swing!
Read It And… Don’t Weep:
Lady Sings the Blues: the 50th Anniversary Edition with a Revised Discography
Billie Holiday’s memoir in an updated treatment with revised discography is a great gift for fans of Jazz classics. Who doesn’t want a little bit of Holiday’s voice, either in a song or in a book? It’s available here.
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Exploring the many pathways music takes in our brains and our lives, Oliver Sacks’ book will sure to delight any brainy music-lover on your list. Sacks’ is a physician, an author and a professor of neurology and his unique perspective will make for a special and memorable gift. It is available here.
Watch It! Gift Pick:
Ken Burns’ 10-Part Documentary on Jazz
Though made in 2001 (there’s been some Jazz history happening in the past 18 years!), it is still a good educational documentary for people who love the Jazz classics. Filled with fascinating interviews, clips, history, and music, the Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary is a gift that will take a long time (in a good way) to get through.
Practically Perfect Paraphernalia:
There May Be Treble Ahead…
You could adorn your friend or loved-one with a treble-clef necklace while punning with the lyrics of Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”.
Jazz Classics Christmas Socks
Get something to put inside those dancing shoes!
For some people, receiving socks or underwear for Christmas is like the modern-day equivalent of coal. For others, though, it’s a godsend at the end of the year, replacing the worn toes of socks from Christmas yesteryear.
If you know someone who could use a little sock drawer sprucing-up, you could give them the gift of happy feet in the form of socks à la Jazz. There’s a variety of jazz themed socks on Etsy.
Whichever gift you choose, be sure to share the joy of music and jazz with everyone you know!
Disclaimer: This gift guide does not contain affiliate links. We choose our gift ideas completely blind and selected gifts due to gifting fit (with an emphasis on the Northwest, and, of course, jazz).
Jaco Pastorius was an influential bass guitarist who was born December 1st, 1951 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He is best known for his work with Weather Report, Pat Metheny, and Joni Mitchell. Pastorius died in 1987.
Bessie Smith made her last recording session on November 24th, 1933. She recorded “Gimme A Pigfoot”, “Do Your Duty”, and “Down In the Dumps”. Among the musicians backing her for these numbers are Jack Teagarden, Chu Berry, Frankie Newton, and Benny Goodman.
Scott Joplin was born November 24th, 1868. He was a composer and pianist who popularized the ragtime genre through his music. Two of his best known compositions are “The Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer”. Joplin was raised in Texarkana, Texas. He played his music at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, setting off a national ragtime craze. While Joplin’s ragtime compositions made him famous he also wanted to be recognized as a classical composer. He wrote a ballet and two operas which combined his knowledge of classical music and his innovative usage of syncopated rhythm. Joplin spent the last years of his life attempting to get his second opera Treemonisha performed publicly. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1916 and had to be institutionalized. He died in 1917. Scott’s work regained widespread popularity in the 1970’s after the release of the film “The Sting” which used his ragtime compositions as the basis for the film’s score.
Hoagy Carmichael was born November 22nd, 1899 in Bloomington, Indiana. He was a pianist, actor, and composer best known for writing the jazz standards Stardust, written in 1927, and Georgia on My Mind, written in 1930. Carmichael moved to Los Angeles in 1936 and began composing for films and acting in supporting roles. He won an Oscar in 1951 in the Best Song category for In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening. Carmichael died in 1981.
John Coltrane recorded “Alabama” in 1963 in response to Birmingham Church bombing. On September 15th, 1963 members of the Ku Klux Klan placed sticks of dynamite under the front steps of the church. The dynamite ignited during the church service, killing four young women and injuring many members of the congregation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said the eulogy for the victims at their funeral later that week. Coltrane composed “Alabama” as his response to the bombing, and he patterned the music on the speech inflections in King’s eulogy. The piece was released on the album Live In Birdland in 1964.
Diana Krall was born November 16th, 1964 in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She is a jazz pianist and vocalist. Some of her better known albums include All For You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio (1996) and Live in Paris (2002). Her most recent album is Love is Here to Stay (2018), with Tony Bennett. Krall has won three Grammy awards. She is married to British musician Elvis Costello and has two children.
Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records A Night At The Village Vanguard in 1957 with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Wilbur Ware
Pianist Oscar Peterson records” If You Could See Me Now” with guitarist Joe Pass, 1983.
Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five record their first piece,” My Heart”, 1925.
Charlie Parker records “Koko” at his first session as a leader, 1945
In 1940 Duke Ellington and His Orchestra played at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, North Dakota. Jack Towers and Dick Burris were two local radio broadcasters for the U.S. Department of Agriculture who were also huge Ellington fans. They asked if they could record the performance and were granted permission provided they did not use it for commercial purposes. The recording was unusual for a number of reasons. At the time, live recordings were almost always made in concert halls or night clubs. It is rare to have a recording of a musical ensemble playing dance music live. Further, live jazz recordings at the time were rarer still. Towers and Burris brought a portable Presto-S disc cutter which they set up next to Ellington’s piano. The disc cutter could record fifteen minutes a side on sixteen inch discs. Most records at the time could only play three minutes a side, but Towers and Burris had access to the Presto because the UDSA used it to create lectures that could be played in farm colleges and extension services. The recording is significant because it captures Ellington’s Orchestra in its prime with the natural flow of the performance by not forcing the musicians to stop playing due to recording time constraints. The discs sat in Towers’ basement until the 1970s when Towers retired and took up record restoration as a hobby. He remastered the discs and got permission to release them commercially. The remastered album , Duke Elligton At Fargo Live, 1940, won the Grammy Award For Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 1980.