Will Friedwald


Another Velvet Fog Summer

By Will Friedwald

Another Velvet Fog Summer
Mel Tormé (1925–1999) was the Art Tatum of singers: a daredevil improviser with equally flawless chops and remarkable harmonic smarts, he would take a tune and break it down into 1,000 glistening arpeggios, then put it back together in a way that often improved on the original. Like Tatum, he could do all this without losing the thread of the melody, and with the added dimension of using his musicality to bring out the meaning of the words. Frequently compared to Ella Fitzgerald — which he considered a tremendous compliment — if Tormé wasn’t the greatest male pure jazz singer of all time (after Louis Armstrong), it’s hard to imagine who was.Read More


Anything You Can Do

By Will Friedwald

Anything You Can Do
In jazz terminology, it’s known as “call and response”: The trumpet section plays a few notes, which are answered immediately by the saxophones. Or, a soloist will give out with a four-bar phrase and then hear it echoed back at him by the full ensemble. Call and response is as essential to big band swing as the idea of “theme and variations” is to classical music.Read More


On the Fourth Night, Tunes, Jokes and Shoe-Throwing

By Will Friedwald

How better to celebrate the fourth night of Hanukkah than by throwing a shoe at Bernard Madoff? On December 24, nightlife impresario Michael Dorf, who gave the world the Knitting Factory, opened his new space, City Winery, with a variety show that served as the fourth evening of New York’s fourth annual Sephardic Music Festival.Read More



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