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Jazz, Surfing And Poetry On A Summer’s Day

Wed 20 Jun 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Film,Historic Images,Jazz — Christian
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Today is the first day of summer. You probably don’t need a calendar to tell you that, as the entire United States is getting scorched with its first nationwide heat wave.

But summer’s aren’t endless, so make hay — or whatever else you like to do from June to August — while the sun shines.

For about five years while living in Los Angeles, my favorite summer activity was surfing. Swimming in a natural body of water — ocean, lake, river — is one of life’s great simple pleasures. Likewise, sitting on a longboard near Santa Monica pier, with the ferris wheel in the background and dolphins zipping by while you wait for the next set to come in, was one of Southern California’s great pleasures. For six weeks of the year I could get by without any wet suit (some wear them year-round), and the alternating feeling on your torso of the sun beating down and the bracing salt water upped the experience tenfold.

Released in 1966, “Endless Summer” is still considered the greatest surf film ever made. It’s a documentary that never fails to inspire a zest for life, no matter how landlocked or water-phobic you are. Check it out if you haven’t.

Though hardly Ivy League, the film does have some cool patches of midcentury style, with suntans and Wayfarers and relaxed sportswear. You’ll see surfer Mike Hynson in penny loafers and white socks and Robert August in a salmon-colored short sleeve buttondown with third button.

But even more radical than the changes that have come to surfing since 1966, with the graceful, harmonious riding of the waves on longboards replaced by the frantic slashing against the ocean that is shortboarding, is what the young Californians behind “Endless Summer” wore on their trip around the world: suits and ties. Below are August and Hynson — who appear at several points in the film in their navy and charcoal suits — and filmmaker Bruce Brown, with sneakers and cigarette: (Continue)

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Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!

Mon 4 Jun 2012 - Filed under: 1990-present,Jazz — Christian
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Charlie Davidson, the legendary 86-year-old proprietor of The Andover Shop, doesn’t often condescend to pose for the camera, but he acquiesced last week for my long-gestating profile in The Rake. Consider the shot above a sneak peek and expect the story sometime this summer.

The headline, for those of you who don’t listen to music written before your time, is a reference to the 1925 popular song “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charley,” which was also a 1961 album by Ella Fitzgerald.

When Charlie finds out you dig jazz, conversation gets pulled magnetically to the topic. So when I visited Charlie in Cambridge, Ella Fitzgerald came up somehow. I remember telling him that she was the first jazz vocalist I discovered at age 18, and I had half a dozen of her records, but that I’d long since lost the taste for her, and these days she frankly annoys me. Not in a Julia Roberts way (for reasons I can’t explain, if I were trapped on a desert island with her for the rest of my life, I think I’d rather have sex with coconuts), but I’d certainly prefer to listen to, say, Anita O’Day.

When Charlie asked who my all-time favorite female vocalist was, I told him it was Ms. Anderson, whose first name, appropriately, was Ivie.

At the mention of Ellington’s famed Blanton-Webster band of ’40-’42, Charlie smiled enthusiastically.

Rather like in the photo above. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop is photographed by Tasha Bleu.

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Miles Away: An Update On Cheadle’s Davis Biopic

Tue 1 May 2012 - Filed under: Film,Jazz — Christian
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Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis film project is apparently climbing slowly but surely through the rings of development hell, though the light of day may be miles away.

According to reports, the music rights have been secured and there’s a script that focuses on one 36-hour period of the jazz great’s life. Perhaps befitting a small budget (which it has yet to secure), the project is not a conventional biopic with an A to B narrative arc.

You can find the latest updates on the state of the project on this Miles Davis website.

Davis and Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop, who dressed Miles briefly around 1954, were my inspiration for starting Ivy-Style.com. — CC

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Black History Month: Hampton Hawes

Mon 27 Feb 2012 - Filed under: Jazz — Christian
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In 1977 Hampton Hawes, a woefully underrated pianist, composer and writer, died at the age of 48 from a brain hemorrhage. Known only to the most astute jazz musician and aficionados, Hawes had accomplished a great deal to be considered a bonafide jazz legend. His brief time here included performances with Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards (another criminally underrated black artist) and Howard Mcgee in a band that also counted Charlie Parker among its members. After military service, Hawes toured extensively during the mid ’50s and was recognized by Downbeat Magazine as a “New Star of the Year.”

Beset by an all-too-common heroin addiction, Hawes was arrested in a sting operation and sentenced to twice the mandatory minimum sentence for opiate possession. In 1961, while serving time, he wrote a letter to President Kennedy, the result of which was that he was the second-to-last person granted executive clemency by JFK before his assassination.

During the ’70s Hawes wrote an autobigraphy called “Raise Up Off Me” that was heralded by critics as one of the greatest ever literary contributions by a musician. And in 2004 his posthumous reputation continued to grow, as Los Angeles declared November 13th “Hampton Hawes Day” in honor of his birthday.

With lapped shoulder seam, Hawes is pictured above on his 1964 album “The Green Leaves of Summer,” and can be heard below performing “All The Things You Are.” — JASON MARSHALL (Continue)

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Black History Month: Stanley Turrentine

Sun 12 Feb 2012 - Filed under: Jazz — Christian
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Stanley Turrentine, the Pittsburgh-born tenor saxophonist known for a big soulful sound, lyrical delivery and erudite harmonic sense, was one of the few jazz instrumentalists to have crossover success as a popular artist.

Known to play his black-lacquered Selmer tenor saxophone while his R&B star was in the ascendant, Turrentine’s sartorial presentation was always elegant while being very much of the times. He’s seen above in that quintessential Ivy staple the pink buttondown, complete with proper old-school collar roll, showing himself at once traditional and current, relaxed and proper.”

Turrentine’s recordings span from leader on the Blue Note imprint to sessions as a sideman with organist and one-time wife, Shirley Scott. Those new to Stanley Turrentine would do well to start with the recordings “Live at Minton’s” and “Joyride,” but with whatever you choose it’s hard to go wrong with Mr. T.

Below he can be heard doing the wistful “Willow Weep For Me.” — JASON MARSHALL (Continue)

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Season’s Greetings From Chet

Sat 17 Dec 2011 - Filed under: Jazz — Christian
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To make sure you’re in the proper Christmas spirit, here’s Chet Baker and the Lighthouse All Stars doing “Winter Wonderland” from 1953.

Chet cut one Christmas album, “Silent Nights,” in 1986. He declined to include, however, the Christmas tune that would have best suited him: “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” — CC

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