Have you seen the jazz yesterday?
Maybe it is unfair to say “there was a time when more jazz was featured on TV”. I would not really know, because I stopped watching TV a while ago. Of course here in switzerland there is still some jazz on the public TV, late at night at some time.
But in the 1980s there was still some jazz to be seen and witnessed by people who did not expect to be treated with jazz when they turned on the TV. There were some broadcasts on swiss TV which you could say were in some kind of “magazine” format. Maybe some news from different regions, a talkshow guest, a funny report — you get the picture. At the end they always had a short slot for musical artists of every genre that happened to be in Switzerland – just a few minutes to promote their tour.
My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, must have scanned the TV program magazines every week to see if an interesting (interesting to him that is) band or musician would appear – since he managed to tape quite a lot of this jazz, blues and soul bits. I am offering you a little potpourri here of different things you could see – if you were aware when and where to look.
I start with the one that was a big surprise for me, because I did not really know what Chico Hamilton had been doing after his sixties albums for Impulse. Do I hear a lot of Ornette Prime Time influence in his undated (mid-eighties) visit in a swiss TV studio? Does anyone know the band members besides Chico?
I know I should be shot for forgetting the title of the next one, a standard, played here by Lou Donaldson’s band in a very fast tempo in a 1987 clip. Reader Trane tells me it’s “Wee” – and of course it is. Thanks! He also had the band member’s names: Donaldson (as), Herman Foster (p), Clarence Seay (b) and Fukushi Tanaka (dr).
And now some soulful efforts of lip synching by the one and only Solomon Burke. This seems to come from 1985, when Burke’s version of “When a Man Loves a Woman” appeared. I am no expert on Burke, so I do not know the name of the second track Burke is moving his lips to.
Back to Jazz, here is Eddie Harris on tenor sax and piano and his quartet playing “Ambidextrous” in a 1987 clip from swiss TV. It’s a rare instant when titles are mentioned on these occasions. Again: If you know who is playing in this band, please let me know.
Really the worst treatment was what Abdullah Ibrahim got. In this nonetheless beautiful clip from 1987 the name of the beautiful composition is not told, and Ibrahim has just two and a half minutes to present the beauty of his music.
Enjoy – there may be more of this to come!