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Jazz, Rage and the Rampage

Jazz, Rage and the Rampage

Here's a shocker: Alleged Arizona gunman Jared Loughner Images-2 played saxophone in two jazz bands while in high school and dug Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. According to yesterday's New York Times, Loughner, 22, was so passionate about jazz and dedicated to practicing that a career in music was once considered.

JazzWax List: Lou's Organists

JazzWax List: Lou's OrganistsLou Donaldson was one of the first alto saxophonists to Lou Donaldson Torso Shot perform and record consistently with a Hammond B3 behind him. He used the sound extensively on the road in the '50s while touring across the country and developed a new jazz-funk approach in the '60s. Here's a list of the groovy organists who have recorded with him over the years. Dates signify their first recording session:

Tony Bennett, San Francisco and Me

JazzWaxA week before Christmas I was in San Screen shot 2011-01-11 at 4.40.28 PM Francisco to interview Orrin Keepnews for the Wall Street Journal. While I was there, I stayed overnight at the Fairmont, which has to be the city's most stately and grand hotel. Perched high atop Nob Hill overlooking the city and bay, the Fairmont opened in 1907 and has been restored to its original grandeur. Of all the hotels I've checked into in the U.S., the Fairmont ranks at the very top in terms of service, attention to detail, concierge smarts and panoramic views. But for music fans, the hotel is famous for another reason.

Alvino Rey: Studio Band, 1946

JazzWaxIt's tough to get a fix on Alvino Rey. Many people Rey-studio-shot-of-Alvino-Rey-520 who are remotely familiar with the big bands of the 1940s think of the steel-guitar playing Rey as a novelty act. He wasn't. Given the enormous size of his orchestras, many assume Rey led a Mickey Mouse band. He didn't. His name wasn't even Alvino Rey—it was Al McBurney. He had changed it in 1929 to catch the rumba craze. He even disliked Hawaiian music—despite his steel guitar's "Island" sound.

Hal McKusick in 1956


ImageSaxophonist Hal McKusick is on some of the finest New York recording sessions of the '50s. His reputation for reading music perfectly the first time, no matter how complex, spread quickly among fellow musicians and those in charge of assembling them for recordings. Hal could always be counted on to swing, lead a big-band reed section and deliver smooth solos. It also helped that Hal was a supremely confident player, a virtuoso on virtually every reed and woodwind instrument, and as easy-going as a June breeze.

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