An appearance in Hollywood for a first-rate jazz vocalist was not necessarily an opportunity to broadcast your visage and pander to everyone from Tacoma to Tallahassee. It could also include a date at the Crescendo, the Sunset Strip's best chance to find premier jazz. Gene Norman's nightclub hosted dozens of jazz legends (and a comic or two), and produced more than its share of excellent LPs recorded on location. Better even than Mel Tormé's 1954 classic, the Ella Fitzgerald LP that resulted from her May 1961 appearances generated one of the best (and certainly most underrated) live records in her discography – and almost 50 years later, it became a four-CD set compiling ten days' worth of performances.
In conjunction with Jollett’s memoir, The Airborne Toxic Event has completed an album by the same name, a twelve song concept record which draws from scenes and themes in the book. Incorporating real audio from his family, gospel singers, and orchestral flourishes from violins to timpani to horns, the record is Jollett’s attempt to capture the high hopes of his parents, the dash dreams and difficult times which followed, the confusion of an adult life spent nursing the wounds of childhood, and the ultimate redemption which came from looking inward and finding an acceptance of self and love of family. The record was produced by Mark Needham (The Killers, Fleetwood Mac) at east/west Studios in Hollywood.
“On this record, I want us to bop, dance, laugh and cry together, unified as one people, while we also remember our black ancestral heroes and wield the superpowers they left us with,” Jon Batiste says of his forthcoming solo album, Hollywood Africans. The acclaimed bandleader, pianist and vocalist is the latest signee to Verve Records, who will release his major label debut on September 28.