JO JONES IS BACK…ON DVD!
After six months of living in the relative paradise of Naples, FL, adjustment to being in big city Philadelphia has been rather difficult. The good news is that just as I have almost adjusted to Philadelphia, Joy Adams and I will be returning to Naples on July 15th. No, we won’t be there for six months, but will be taking advantage of the inexpensive air fares from Philadelphia to Fort Myers, and spending, perhaps, a month here and a month there. If playing opportunities existed for me in Philadelphia, my attitude might have been different. However, there are no playing opportunities for me in Philadelphia and there are several in Naples, FL. Don’t ask me why.
Some seasons back, we were asked to remove one of our most popular and important CD titles from the JazzLegends.com catalog. This was and is called “The Drums by Jo Jones.” For those of you who did not obtain it, this historic document was actually a two-LP set cut in Europe in the mid-1970s. Papa Jo spoke of the drumming legends he knew, demonstrated percussion styles, tributes, rudiments, how to use the drum set’s components, and much more.
After a few months of offering this for sale—and by the way, the original LP was given to me as a gift by the great organist/pianist/arranger Milt Buckner—we started receiving calls from various record labels, manufacturers and distributors from France and England who claimed they owned the rights to this project and that they were looking for a proper and wide distribution deal in the states. We almost had a distribution deal with Hudson Music in New York, but the people supposedly in charge of the Jones project were asking for far too much money (that we wish we had). The deal fell through, and shortly after, we were sent a cease and desist letter, saying that if we didn’t remove “The Drums by Jo Jones” from our catalog, there would be legal ramifications.
Despite the fact that other outfits were selling this, we removed it. We’re in the music education business here, not the legal ramifications business. The saddest thing of all is that, even though “The Drums by Jo Jones” is supposedly available in a deluxe, CD edition via the French people who first produced it, the project is almost impossible to find anywhere. That’s sad, as all we ever wanted to do was make this available.
The good news is that we have acquired a series of ultra-rare and quite unbelievable European footage of the one and only “Papa” Jo Jones, in mini-concerts with Illinois Jacquet and Milt Bucker. “Jo Jones in Europe,” which we offer on DVD (and VHS for those who want it that way) is top-quality audio and color film from the early 1970s that features almost an hour of Jo Jones as the superb soloist and accompanist he was. Footage of Jo, as you’re aware, is very, very rare, so this is a must have. Bonus footage on this DVD is a mini-concert, featuring another great drummer (and this may be the only film footage that exists of him) by the name of J.C. Heard. J.C. backs a great little band that features Doc Cheatham and Sammy Price, among others.
When “The World of Gene Krupa” book was first published some 17 years ago, most of the other jazz books on the market were, mainly, the same titles that had been on the library shelves under “jazz” for the past 20 years. Things have thankfully changed since then and these days, it seems that almost every jazz player of note has an autobiography on the market, to say nothing of histories, compendiums of a writers’ works (Dan Morgenstern, Stanley Crouch, Andre Hodier, Gary Giddins, and Frances Davis among them) and works on vintage instruments. Most are well worth reading, and some of the newer titles include bios of Wayne Shorter, Al Haig, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Paul Desmond, Lennie Tristano, Tommy Dorsey, and a bunch of titles on Miles Davis (pass by the one written by his son); a big band history from Hal Leonard Publishing written by Dr. William F. Lee; a history, believe it or not, of the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks; a book on vintage metal/engraved snare drums also published by Leonard, histories of Impulse Records and The Village Vanguard; photo books from Lee Tanner and others; and auto bios by Horace Silver , Arturo Sandoval, and George Shearing. The list is by no means all-inclusive. What the jazz book market needs, in one opinion, is an unbiased, detailed history of the life and music of Buddy Rich. The book written by Mel Torme’, rest his soul, was more of a personal remembrance as was the odd duck of a work called “The Torment of Buddy Rich.” Doug Meriwether has no equal as a Buddy discographer, but a discography is only a small part of the Buddy Rich story. Steve Peck has dozens of one-of-a-kind Buddy photos, and dozens of those who new and loved BR are still around. I will say it here and on the record that if Cathy Rich and family will allow me to bury the hatchet where Buddy is concerned, I will do everything in my power to help get a book off the ground.
We recently told you about the wonderful the new drum magazine, “Traps.” There is another jazz magazine that’s hit the stores recently, and it’s a good one. “Jazzed,” published six times per year, is devoted to the large, and most significant area of jazz education. To our knowledge, only the IAJE Journal has been solely devoted to the education area. “Jazzed” is most welcome, and for subscription information, log onto www.jazzedmagazine.com
Our Krupa “The Great Concert” CD, recorded in 1966, is one of the best we’ve heard in terms of music and sound quality. In addition to being available on JazzLegends.com, it is also out there on CDBaby.com It’s so good, we want everyone to know about it.
Michael Berkowitz and the New Gene Krupa Orchestra have a new CD coming out shortly. This is the best Krupa tribute band (and one of the best big bands, period) that we’ve heard. Watch this space for more news.
We’ve had many, many requests and queries about the status of the new Krupa model drum stick. We do have, after long months of negotiations and waiting, an agreement from the Estate, but we are just waiting on the acceptance of a few modifications of said agreement. Believe us, this is going to happen.
You may recall that I was pretty knocked out by the performance of Steve March Torme’, Mel’s son, at The Philharmonic in Naples, FL, earlier this year. Steve’s management has posted my review on the home page of his web site. For those who missed it, check it out, especially those who are booking theatres and arts centers around the country. Steve gives one of the best performances of any kind…and he sells out.