Jazz at 100 Hour 96: Highlights of Jazz in the Late 1990s

David S. Ware

This is the 96th of 100 programs in the Jazz at 100 series. As we present more recent music, we face the historian’s dilemma – what performances will have lasting value? What players will be remembered for their contributions to advancing the music? What trends will turn into dominant themes? We are following the lead of critic Gary Giddins who wrote an essay entitled “Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap (1945 – 2001)” where he told the story of post-war jazz through a discussion of one musical selection from each year.

In these final few programs, we are exploring recent jazz through a presentation of (generally) one musical selection from each year in the 1990s and 2000s. Jazz in the late 1990s, in this hour of Jazz at 100.

1995. Randy Weston, “Tangier Bay.
Active as a pianist, composer and bandleader since the ‘50s, Randy Weston was a pioneer in American – North African jazz synergy. According to Gary Giddins, in 1995, he “inducted the best working band of his life, called it African Rhythms, and resuscitated his treasured older pieces, some of which had been around since the’50s. His seductive highflier ‘Tangier Bay’ opens with a suspenseful piano tableau by the composer, until a vamp fires the melody, stated by altoist Talib Kibwe with bebopping insouciance and plumy tone. Weston’s two choruses can afford to flaunt his love of Monk, because his reflections soon turn to signature phrases that are pure Weston.” – Gary Giddins

Tangier Bay. Randy Weston African Rhythms
(Benny Powell-tb, Talib Kibwe-as/fl, Billy Harper-ts, Randy Weston-p, Alex Blake-b, Billy Higgins-d, Neil Clarke-per). From Saga. 4/14 – 4/17/1995

1996. Uri Caine, “Symphony No. 1, Third Movement.”
In 1996, illustrating the commonalities between jazz and Eastern European influences, “[Uri] Caine labored over the persistently fashionable Gustav Mahler and reinvented him as a suppressed Jewish klezmer. Mahler’s soulful minor-key melodies, wrested from aggressive major-key opuses, engender a provoking midrash from the downtown elite, including [Don] Byron, clarinet; Dave Douglas, trumpet; Joey Baron, drums; a hand-drumming cantor; and many more.”– Gary Giddins

“Whereas in the past, jazz artists had looked to highbrow role models as ways of uplifting the art form—the Third Stream movement of the 1950s was perhaps the most ambitious program of this nature—the later postmodernists treat the work of “serious” composers as just one more example of cultural bric-a-brac available for manipulation and expropriation.” – Ted Gioia

Symphony No. 1, Third Movement. Uri Caine Ensemble
(Dave Douglas-tp, Josh Roseman-tb, Don Byron-cl, David Binney-ss, Uri Caine-p, Danny Blume-g/elec, Mark Feldman-vln, Larry Gold-cel, Michael Formanek-b, Joey Baron-d, DJ Olive-turntables, Aaron Bensoussan-voc/d, Artor Lindsay-voc). From Urlicht/Primal Light. 6/1996

1997. David S. Ware, “Logistic.”
A model of persistence, David S. Ware was 40 and working as a cab driver before forming his legendary quartet with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Marc Edwards in 1989. For the next 17 years, the trio of Ware, Shipp and Parker with a series of drummers recorded an important body of work.

“If [Ware] often seems like a product of the Coltrane–Pharoah Sanders nexus, he is a phrasemaker of undeniable individuality, an avant-shocker whose control is never in doubt. Nor is the reach of his impulsively interactive quartet, or the freedom with which his bandmates head out for orbits of their own—alternative jazz of the past 20 years is unimaginable without [William] Parker and [Matthew] Shipp.” – Gary Giddins

Logistic. David S. Ware Quartet
(David S Ware-ts, Matthew Shipp-p, William Parker-b, Susie Ibarra-d). From Go See The World. 12/11 – 12/12/1997

1998. Tommy Flanagan, “Let’s.
Tommy Flanagan, who was in the band for Coltrane’s Giant Steps, “had been one of many gifted Bud Powell-influenced pianists in the ’50s. But not until the ’70s, after a decade as Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist, did he create the trio that set him apart. He was now forging standards for group dynamics and discerning repertory. Who else would have revived Thad Jones’s balmy caper? … ‘Let’s’ veers into an old dark house digression with blunt chords and hesitations. In this definitive version, Flanagan bodes the antic hay with a descending phrase that recalls a song from The Court Jester. Then he goes to the races for half a dozen express laps. Bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash cover him like white on rice.” – Gary Giddins

Let’s. Tommy Flanagan Trio
(Tommy Flanagan-p, Peter Washington-b, Lewis Nash-d). From Sunset and the Mocking Bird. 3/16/1997

1999. Keith Jarrett – Gary Peacock – Jack DeJohnette Trio, “What Is This Thing Called Love?
In the early eighties, pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, all veterans of decades of performances in a wide variety of settings, settled into one of the most fundamental ensemble forms in jazz – the piano trio.

“Piano trios were bearish: Barry Harris assumed ever greater subtleties, Roy Haynes created a thrilling context for Danilo Perez, Cyrus Chestnut solidified his following, and relative newcomers—Bill Charlap, Jason Moran, Jacky Terrasson, Brad Mehldau—earned their own. After years of somber and extensive keyboard meditations … Jarrett turned to standards and convened a trio of extrasensory instincts. … [Among their recordings,] ‘What Is This Thing Called Love?’ was by far the longest [Jarrett] improvisation and he never falters. He begins alone, a firm left hand girding lively embellishments played with an oscillating rhythm between baroque and bop. Gary Peacock’s bass knocks twice, followed by a whisper of Jack DeJohnette’s cymbal, and very soon the trio levitates.” – Gary Giddins

What Is This Thing Called Love? Keith Jarrett – Gary Peacock – Jack DeJohnette Trio
(Keith Jarrett-p, Gary Peacock-b, Jack DeJohnette-d). From Whisper Not. 7/5/1999

Days before the recording of this program, Randy Weston passed away at 92, leaving a substantial legacy. The other players presented here are all significant contributors in jazz as it moves into its second century.

In the next hour of Jazz at 100, we will move our exploration of one characteristic jazz performance per year into the new millennium.  Join us for recordings from Andrew Hill, Ted Nash, Dave Holland, The Bad Plus, Dave Douglas, Wayne Shorter and Von Freeman.

Recordings.
Randy Weston African Rhythms. Saga. Verve 314 529 237
Uri Caine. Urlicht/Primal Light. Winter & Winter 910 004
David S. Ware Quartet. Go See The World. Columbia CK 69138
Tommy Flanagan. Sunset And The Mockingbird. Blue Note CDP 7243 4 93155-2
Keith Jarrett – Gary Peacock – Jack DeJohnette Trio. Whisper Not. ECM 1724/25

Resources.
Berendt, Joachim-Ernst. 2009. The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century. Chicago, IL. Chicago Review Press. Kindle Edition.
The Small Bands of Jazz: Since 1990: Stylistic Diversity and the Art of Interaction
Giddins, Gary. 2004. Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century. New York, NY. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 118. Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap (1945 – 2001)
Gioia, Ted. 2011. The History of Jazz. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 9. Traditionalists and Postmodernists

Annotated playlists and streaming links for all the Jazz at 100 broadcasts: Jazz at 100

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