It really doesn’t…

…get any better than this.

A full-length performance of Kesarbai Kerkar singing Raga Malkauns.


It’s Agra Gharana Time!

Latafat Hussain Khan sings a drut khayal in Patdeepki:

Charlie Haden Sounds Like A Rain Forest

It was my fifteenth birthday, and my parents knew I was a budding jazz fan. They got me a wondrous thing: a six-lp set billed as The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. And it was great. I started at the beginning and worked my way through Scott Joplin and Robert Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Billie Holiday…it was incredible.

And after taking a breath I listened to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk (one entire lp side!), Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor…

And the last side had three pieces by Ornette Coleman and one by John Coltrane.

I put it on the player. Here’s what I heard:

Ornette Coleman’s Quartet plays “Lonely Woman”

It started with a melancholic strumming, a giant bass sitar, cushioned in cymbal shimmer. What the hell?

I’d never heard anything so lovely.

And that, dear ones, was my introduction to Charlie Haden’s bass playing.

The early Ornette Coleman Quartet, circa 1961.


The first few paragraphs of Charlie Haden’s bio, from his website:

Time Magazine has hailed jazz legend Charlie Haden as “one of the most restless, gifted, and intrepid players in all of jazz.” Haden’s career which has spanned more than fifty years has encompassed such genres as free jazz, Portuguese fado and vintage country such as his recent cd Rambling Boy (Decca) not to mention a consistently revolving roster of sidemen and bandleaders that reads like a list from some imaginary jazz hall of fame.

As an original member of the ground-breaking Ornette Coleman Quartet that turned the jazz world on its head the late 1950’s, Haden revolutionized the harmonic concept of bass playing in jazz. “His ability to create serendipitous harmonies by improvising melodic responses to Coleman’s free-form solos (rather than sticking to predetermined harmonies) was both radical and mesmerizing. His virtuosity lies…in an incredible ability to make the double bass ‘sound out’. Haden cultivates the instrument’s gravity as no one else in jazz. He is a master of simplicity which is one of the most difficult things to achieve.” (Author Joachim Berendt in The Jazz Book) Haden played a vital role in this revolutionary new approach, evolving a way of playing that sometimes complemented the soloist and sometimes moved independently. In this respect, as did bassists Jimmy Blanton and Charles Mingus, Haden helped liberate the bassist from a strictly accompanying role to becoming a more direct participant in group improvisation.

And just as important as his historic role in the evolution of jazz bass playing is his sound. No bass player anywhere has as big a sound as Charlie Haden, and his presence on a recording is always unmistakable (and a guarantee of quality — the man has, as far as I can tell, never played on a bad record).

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Mogubai Kurdikar

One of the greatest singers of the 20th century. A disciple of Ustad Alladiya Khan, she represented the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. Her daughter, Kishori Amonkar, is perhaps the best-known female khyal singer of today.

Raga Bageshri Bahar

Flutes Against Climate Change: Steve Gorn’s Set

At long last, we can begin to upload the music from May 19th’s Playing For The Planet concert.

Here is Steve Gorn’s set, with Akshay Navaladi on tabla and me playing tamboura. He began with a lovely Kaunsi Kanada:

Followed by this Bhatiyali dhun:

Finally concluding the concert with a ravishing Bhairavi:

Ornette Coleman…

…has a few things for us to hear:


When I turned fifteen, I was living in my grandmother’s apartment in Lincoln, Massachusetts. My brother and parents were in Toronto for the year.

On that birthday, knowing of my burgeoning interest in jazz, my parents gave me the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz — a 6-lp box set with a lot of wonderful music.

And the last side of the last disc had three pieces by Ornette. And I was well and truly hooked.

Strings Of Genius…

Ralph Stanley with “The Angel Band”:

The Beauty of Shakuhachi

Elizabeth Reian Bennett plays Tsuki No Kyoku (“Song Of The Moon”). What an exquisite music!

She will be performing at Playing For The Planet: World Flutes Against Climate Change. Don’t miss it!

Doesn’t Get Much Better…

…than Johnny Hodges and Strayhorn’s beautiful composition “Isfahan.”

I have recently been watching a lot of concert videos while transplanting seedlings in my office. Last night was a lot of Duke Ellington. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours: playing in the dirt while watching Duke out of the corner of my eye.

Speaking of which, just for giggles, here’s Duke on “What’s My Line?”

Strings Against Climate Change: Eliot Fisk & Zaira Meneses

Eliot and Zaira delivered a marvelous set. What a pleasure to hear these great players!

Fandango of Joaguin Rodrigo

Violin Duets of Luciano Berio

Zaira Meneses performed two solo pieces:

Queca Chilena of Antonio Lauro

Cuban Landscape With Bells — Leo Brouwer

Eliot Fisk performed a set of solo pieces by Agustin Barrios:

The duo concluded with a set of Chopin Waltzes:


This music was performed to benefit Please consider donating some money to them if you have enjoyed listening. Just click on the photo.