ECM CD-A-Day Giveaway this week!

I’m giving away five copies of ECM’s new compilation CD Anniversary Waltz. To enter, just send an email to contest@thejazzsession.com with “ECM” as the subject line (no quotation marks). I’ll draw one winner at random each day, Monday-Friday. Good luck!

Winners thus far:

  • James from Boise, ID
  • Robert from Silver Spring, MD
  • David from Oakland, CA
  • Carlos from Stockholm, Sweden
  • Mark from Homer Glen, IL

Winners!

I’m happy to announce a big gang o’ winners from various contests. Congrats to all!

Meet The Stricklands

Ken from Albany won the Meet The Stricklands package for his donation to my Livestrong Challenge Ride. The package includes tickets to the double-CD release party this Friday featuring Marcus and E.J. Strickland, two autographed CDs, and a meet-and-greet after the show. (Because Ken can’t make the show, his fellow jazzhead Scott will attend. Ken, though, will be enjoying the signed CDs.)

Gary Burton “Past and Present”

The following folks won a copy of Gary Burton’s new CD, Quartet Live, along with a copy of the recently reissued ECM recording, Dreams So Real:

  • Brian in Albany, NY
  • Foluwaso in Lagos, Nigeria
  • Devon in Denver, CO
  • Dano in Boulder, CO
  • Scott in Newington, CT

Tony Bennett/Bill Evans CD giveaway

The following folks won a copy of The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Reordings:

  • Marisa in Glen Mills, PA
  • John in Syracuse, NY
  • Eddie in Cudahy, WI
  • Eric in Charenton-le-Pont, France
  • Rick in State College, PA

Stay tuned for more free music!

Jazz gets a boost in Pittsfield, MA

I was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, as were my mother and grandfather and many of my other relatives. I call Lenox, MA, home, but Pittsfield is close to my heart, too. That’s why I was happy to see this story in the Berkshire Eagle:

Fostering city jazz
By Benning W. De La Mater, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Friday, May 15

PITTSFIELD — The local jazz scene just got a boost from its friends.

The people behind the Pittsfield City Jazz Festival have formed a new, nonprofit organization with the goal of growing jazz education and offering more live jazz performances.

Berkshires Jazz, Inc., will kick off its founding on July 2 with a concert at the First United Methodist Church featuring the American Jazz Repertory Orchestra.

Edward Bride, president of the organization, said the goal is to give birth to a new generation of jazz fans.

“Jazz is America’s only indigenous art form, and we don’t want it to disappear,” he said. “It allows for freedom of expression, group thinking and collaboration. It gives students a foundation of music that appreciates improvisation.”

You can read the rest of the article at the Berkshire Eagle site.

I recorded my interview with Barbara Dennerlein at last year’s Pittsfield CityJazz Festival. This year the festival features guitarist Frank Vignola and some pianist named Brubeck*. With any luck, they’ll be on future episodes of The Jazz Session. Congrats to the folks at Berkshires Jazz in Pittsfield for supporting this great music!

*Yes, I know who Dave Brubeck is.

Giveaway: Tony Bennett and Bill Evans 2-CD set!

UPDATE: These CDs were all given away within 90 seconds. What an amazing response! Thanks — and keep listening for more chances to win great music!

Hello fans of The Jazz Session: Do you like good pairings? Peanut butter and chocolate? Abbot and Costello? How about Tony Bennett and Bill Evans?

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In the 1970s, Bennett and Evans recorded two albums together — just the two of them, voice and piano. Now those two albums (plus tons of bonus tracks) have been released on two CDs as The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings. I’ve got three copies of this 2-CD set to give away.

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST: Send an email message to contest@thejazzsession.com with TONYANDBILL as the subject line. The first three people to e-mail me will win. Good luck!

Here’s more information on the collection, from the Concord Music Group site:

Few listeners realized that Tony Bennett was as much of a jazz singer as almost anybody; he had already made a handful of albums in a small jazz combo format, but these were far lesser known than his big chart hits. Then, in 1975, he made what would be his supreme statement in the jazz field, the first of two albums with the remarkable pianist Bill Evans. Evans (1929-1980) was the jazz piano superstar of the ‘60s, who had already inspired a whole generation of younger players and disciples with his sensitive touch, unending lyricism, and rich harmonic palette. Bill Evans was one of those extremely rare players whose work defines an entire era. But for all of his love for The Great American Songbook, Evans had hardly ever worked with a singer. The only notable, full-length collaboration he had done as such was an LP with the Swedish Monica Zetterlund, a project that was barely known outside of Scandanavia.

Bennett and Evans had first met in 1962, when both were performing (though not yet together) in a special jazz event on The White House lawn (during the Kennedy years).

In 1968, Evans offered a written testimonial to Bennett in a special issue of Billboard magazine celebrating the singer’s 20th Anniversary in show biz. It was the jazz and theater singer Annie Ross, who had known both men for many years by the early ‘70s, who supposedly came up with the idea that Bennett and Evans should do an album together.

In June, 1975, Tony Bennett and Bill Evans finally got together at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley; not only were there no bassist or drummer present, but practically no one else was there either. As Tony later related: “I said to Bill, ‘Listen, it will just be the two of us – you don’t bring your cronies and I won’t bring mine!’” Apparently, the only people in the studio were the two principals plus engineer Don Cody and Evans’s manager, Helen Keane. While Ms. Keane was nominally credited as producer, it’s clear that it was Bennett and Evans who selected the tunes, worked out the arrangements semi-spontaneously, and picked the final takes to be used. The result of this session was The Tony Bennett Bill Evans album; Together Again followed a year later.

RIP, Gerry Niewood

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Saxophonist and flutist Gerry Niewood died in the plane crash in Buffalo last night. He was a wonderful player whose saxophone was heard most famously with Chuck Mangione and on the Concert In Central Park album by Simon & Garfunkel.

Niewood was one of the first horn players I ever knew by name because Paul Simon yells out his name after a solo on that live album. I’ve always been a huge Chuck Mangione fan, too, and own all the LPs that Chuck and Gerry made together, many of them recorded in their native Rochester.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gerry Niewood in 2004 at Jazz90.1. He was very gracious, humble and funny. I interviewed his son Adam in the fall of last year. He’s also a very talented saxophonist, and he talked quite a bit about Gerry during the interview.

LISTEN to the interview with Adam Niewood. He starts talking about his dad halfway through.

My condolences go out to Adam and the entire Niewood family. What a sad, sad day.

UPDATE: Here are some of the many press stories about Gerry’s passing: