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Veteran of Ahmad Jamal and Wynton Marsalis bands, the 59 year old drummer explores the many influences he absorbed in a music family in New Orleans with a band of musicians in their 20s: saxophonist Godwin Louis, pianist Emmet Cohen and bassist Russell Hall. In the tradition of another great jazz drummer/bandleader, Art Blakey, Riley takes his Afro-Cuban, jazz, and blues experiences and shakes them into a sound that is both new yet familiar. An entic- ing collection of modern New Orleans music; funky jazz for folks who enjoy their musical gumbo on the hot side.
Read the full piece from: Ft. Myers magazine — a survey of the Best Albums of 2016
Curating a list as wide and varied as our effort to catalogue the 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2016 was no easy feat. We all have our blind spots. And while I wouldn’t change the order or the lineup of our ranking one iota, it’s only natural to look back at the process and second guess the omission of a few titles that should have very well cracked that final Top 20.
Here are five such albums equally worthy of your ears from the past 12 months.
5) Alfredo Rodriguez, Tocororo (Mack Avenue)
Following up on 2014’s Invasion Parade, pianist Alfredo Rodriguez continues to pay full homage to his Cuban heritage with an album that could easily be considered his most adventurous to wit.
Named after the national bird of Cuba, Tocororo celebrates his motherland’s newfound freedom by collaborating with an enclave of musicians from around the globe, including France, Spain, Lebanon, Cameroon and India, all under the watchful eye of executive producer Quincy Jones.
The result is an equal parts worldly and otherworldly cousin to Q’s own Walking in Space, a celebratory lifting of the embargo that offers Cuban musicians full reign to explore sonic landscapes beyond the parameters of their island to craft a quintessential sound of creative freedom taking first flight.
4) Aggregate Prime, Dream Deferred (Onyx Music)
Not since it was first published in 1951 have the words of Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” resonated with the state of affairs in our country. “Or does it explode?” the laureate asks in reference to the line with which East Coast renaissance jazzman Ralph Peterson utilizes as the title for this stellar debut of his new quintet Aggregate Prime.
That the roots of Dream Deferred took grip as the trial of three Baltimore cops for the murder of Freddie Gray commenced was no coincidence. Recorded in Maryland as it all happened in real time, Peterson and his all-star combo—Vijay Iyer on piano, guitarist Mark Whitfield, reed man Gary Thomas and bassist Kenny Davis—channel their anger over the injustice into fiery rips of such originals as “Strongest Sword” and the Iyer-penned “Father Spirit,” in addition to a house-quaking cover of Eric Dolphy’s “Iron Man.”
This is Harlem jazz at its finest, tough as nails and sophisticated as hell.
3) Ches Smith, The Bell (ECM)
Percussionist Ches Smith might have gained his piece of the pie playing drums for art-pop auteurs Xiu Xiu. But as it turns out, jazz is his true love. And his efforts working on recordings by such underground greats as Tim Berne and Mary Halvorson have gained him the golden opportunity to record for the esteemed ECM imprint as a leader.
Coming together with pianist Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri on viola, The Bell far exceeded all expectations. A modal meditation that channels both the jazz and classical sensibilities of his new home, it sounds like a long-lost session between Keith Jarrett and Steven Reich.
2) Carlos Niño and Friends, Flutes, Echoes, It’s All Happening! (Leaving Records)
For a hard 20 years, Stones Throw has successfully zoned the interchange connecting jazz and hip-hop on the West Coast. Flutes, Echoes, It’s All Happening! is the sound of that sonic highway reaching its vanishing point.
Build An Ark chieftain Carlos Niño and his Friends, including Madlib, Kamasi Washington, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Iasos, Luis Pérez Ixoneztli, Dexter Story, and others, craft an excursion that imagines Lower California’s distinct blend of bop-hop through the canyons occupied by Joni Mitchell and David Crosby.
This is what the former radio host, producer, composer, percussionist, DJ and arranger calls “Space Collage Hybrid” music. More, please.
1) The Bad Plus, It’s Hard (O’Keh)
Few acts have kept jazz music more relevant on college radio for the last 20 years as The Bad Plus. On their latest album, 2016’s It’s Hard, the ever-inventive NYC band pays homage to some of their favorites left of the dial with stunning reinterpretations of such indie faves as “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On the Radio’s “Staring at the Sun” and Kraftwerk’s “The Robots.”
What’s even more impressive: The trio simultaneously honors the heyday of classic Top 40 with knotty spins on Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and a stunning meditation on “The Beautiful Ones” by Prince laid to tape shortly after his death.
Bonus points for naming the album after The Who’s most underrated LP to boot.
Read the full piece from: Observer
“Welcome to the resistance,” Darcy James Argue said on Friday night to the packed audience at Subculture, a basement club on Bleecker Street. Then the Canadian-born, New York-based composer and bandleader turned to his 18-piece ensemble, Secret Society, and, with deft flicks of his wrists, guided them into the opening of Real Enemies, his cycle of pieces based on the theme of state-sponsored paranoia. A few hours earlier, in another part of New York City, Donald Trump had been forced to listen to the representatives of the CIA and the FBI presenting evidence that Russia’s government and secret services had helped to get him elected as president of the United States.
“Social justice” was the theme of the event in which Argue was participating: the 2017 edition of Winter Jazzfest, the annual showcase featuring a two-day marathon of more than 150 groups at about a dozen venues centred on Greenwich Village. Different bandleaders expressed their attitude to the topic in different ways. The pianist and composer Samora Pinderhughes led his 11 musicians through an extended piece titled The Transformations Suite, a profoundly moving contemporary take on themes no less relevant than when they were explored half a century ago in Max Roach’s We Insist! Freedom Now Suite. The Pakistani-American singer and harmonium player Amirtha Kidambi performed a piece inspired by the death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD officers in 2014; she announced that all proceeds from that night’s sales of the new CD by her quartet, Elder Ones, would go to the fund supporting four members of the NAACP arrested earlier in the week for protesting against Trump’s nomination for attorney general of a man who has campaigned against voting rights. The trumpeter Peter Evans called for the recognition of musicians — he gave Matana Roberts as an example — who have a record of campaigning on these issues.
Others preferred to let the music speak for itself, but there was never any doubt of the continuing role that jazz musicians have to play in exposing issues, raising consciousness, and maintaining morale in difficult times. Their inherent independence of spirit, their understanding of the need to reconcile individual and collective action, their roots in an idiom that came from suffering and exploitation, and their acceptance of the need to fight against the commercial odds make them ideally suited to the task.
To get back to the music, Argue is a young man with an intriguing approach both to personal style (he looks as though he might relax at the weekend by putting on a cravat) and to finding new solutions to the problems inherent in playing jazz with a large ensemble. Throughout the performance of Real Enemies, he used a tablet to trigger sound bites from such people as Oliver North and Dick Cheney. With Ingrid Jensen among the trumpeters and Chris Speed among the reeds, the writing contained echoes of Elmer Bernstein, Bob Graettinger and Gil Evans: lots of drama, lots of complexity, lots of variety (particularly in the instrumental colours: a grouping of piccolo, flute, two clarinets and a bass clarinet, for instance, or a trumpet lead supported by four flugelhorns). It would be an important and pathfinding work at any time, never mind now.
Pinderhughes’ The Transformations Suite did not enjoy the same degree of attention when the recorded version came out last year, but it made a deep impression in the New School’s Glass Box space late on Friday night. There was nothing ironic here: the wounds of 400 years of slavery and its aftermath were allowed to bleed openly in the poems and lyrics delivered by the actor Jeremie Harris (who wrote some of the words), the wonderfully soulful South African-born singer Vuyo Solashe, and most of all by Jules Latimer, a young Juilliard drama student who took the considerable risk of acting out grief and fear without restraint. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” occasionally popped up as a leitmotif, and Pinderhughes’ lean but succulent writing for his five-piece horn section provided a platform for improvisations by his extravagantly talented 21-year-old sister Elena, who might just be on her way to becoming the finest flautist jazz has produced, the tenorist Lucas Pino, and Braxton Cook, who took the roof off the place with a roaring alto solo.
John Beasley’s MONK’estra performed their empathetic, swinging and sometimes hiphop-tinged revisions of Thelonious Monk tunes at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Lincoln Centre on Thursday night, in front of a window with a view of Trump Tower. Luckily the arrangements and the solos — notably by the always creative tenorist Greg Tardy, the trombonists Frank Lacy and Conrad Herwig, and a guest from France, the fine harmonica player Grégoire Maret — were more than enough to divert attention away from the new epicentre of American values. And, as Beasley reminded us, Monk himself had grown up literally only a stone’s throw away, on West 63rd Street.
mary-halvorson-octetAs impressive as anything I heard during three crowded days was the octet led by the guitarist Mary Halvorson, which features not just a bunch of great players (including the trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and the tenorist Ingrid Laubrock) but the leader’s extraordinary interplay with the pedal steel player Susan Alcom, which elevates the music to a whole different realm of texture and emotion. Halvorson’s compositions are fascinating enough in any case: sounding as though they are through-written, they have the impact of great short stories, full of surprising twists of plot and mood, never quite ending where you expect but always resolving brilliantly.
While the festival was taking place, the great jazz critic Nat Hentoff died in New York at the age of 91. Through his liner notes, his pieces for Down Beat, the Jazz Review and the Village Voice, and books such as Hear Me Talkin’ To You (co-authored with Nat Shapiro) and Jazz Is, he helped shaped the view of several generations of listeners. He was also a lifelong fighter for social justice. And in 1960, for his own short-lived label (which released classic albums by Charles Mingus and Booker Little), he produced Cecil Taylor’s sublime trio version of “This Nearly Was Mine”, which alone would earn him a place wherever the good ones go.
John Beasley’s MONK’estra Vol. 1 is on Mack Avenue.
Read the full piece from: thebluemoment.com
SAN JUAN – The preparations for the twenty-seventh edition of the most prestigious Jazz festival of the Caribbean, the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest (PRHJF), have begun with the announcement of next year’s honoree of this spectacular event that will sure please all music fans. From March 23 through March 26, the festival will honor Panamanian jazz pianist, composer and humanitarian, Danilo Pérez. Also, the details for this edition’s contest to select the commemorative poster were revealed.
“Danilo Pérez is the perfect musician to dedicate the twenty-seventh edition of the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest”, expressed Luis Álvarez, Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest’s producer and vice president of the Liquor Division at Méndez & Compañía. “We are very pleased to dedicate this festival to Danilo, a great musician, friend, and above all, an exceptional human being. With this dedication, we recognize his great musical career as a pianist and composer, his humanitarian labor and his commitment with musical education for the youth. It will be an honor and a privilege to have his presence on the next Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest’s stage” finished Álvarez.
Upon receiving the news of his recognition during the next Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest, Danilo Pérez said: “I am very excited with the news. It is a great honor and I take it with great responsibility. My relationship with Puerto Rico is musical and artistic, but it’s also a fraternity. I remember when I first participated in the first Heineken JazzFest back in 1991, so I feel extremely proud that a festival this big and with so much history recognizes me and my career. It’s really wonderful and I take it with a lot of responsibility. As a musician, social activist, educator, mentor and ambassador, I now feel with more energy to continue doing what I am doing.”
Open Call for Poster Design
As it’s been a tradition during past years, the PRHJF team also announced that the contest for the design of the commemorative poster of next year’s edition of the PRHJF is now open. The honoree, Danilo Pérez, will be the central theme. Those interested in participating in the contest must have abilities in graphic arts, as an amateur or professional, and live in Puerto Rico permanently. Each artist will be able to submit one piece in the graphic media of its choice, as it may be reproduced digitally. The submitted piece must measure 20 inches wide and 26 inches tall.
Also, the design submitted by the artist must include graphic references of the artist and it will be responsibility of the creatives to do all the historic research of the artist they find necessary in order to familiarize with his career and the elements that define the honoree’s contribution to the genre. The design must also include a reference to the Heineken brand. The deadline to submit the designed pieces will be on Friday, December 2nd, 2016, before 5:00pm in the main offices of Méndez & Co. Inc., in Guaynabo. The rules for the contest are available at www.facebook.com/puertoricoheinekenjazzfest.
About Danilo Pérez
Since an early stage in life, the talented pianist and composer Danilo Pérez started with passion a successful musical career. At 50, the musician born in Monte Oscuro, Panama City, has conquered the entire world with his dowries as a pianist and composer, and has transcended as a pillar in music through education, as a cultural ambassador, and humanitarian. All these characteristics undoubtedly position him as one of the most influential and dynamic artist of our time.
Graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1988, Pérez had the honor of playing alongside big stars of music when he was still very young. His career as a professional musician vowed quickly after finishing his studies, participating in presentations and recordings with Dizzy Gillespie, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Lacy, Lee Konitz, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Gary Burton, Roy Haynes, and Puerto Rican legend, Tito Puente, amongst others.
Awards & distinctions
Danilo Pérez has multiple discographic productions that have won him nominations for the Grammy and Latin Grammy, like Central Avenue(Best Jazz Album), Motherland (Best Jazz Album and Best Latin Jazz Album), Across The Crystal Sea, and Providencia (Best Instrumental Jazz Album). His work as a composer has also been recognized in important festivals and venues, being commissioned by The Lincoln Center, Chicago Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall (for the Simon Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra in Venezuela), The Banff Centre, amongst others. In 2002 he was nominated to receive the award for Best Pianist of the Year, awarded by the Jazz Journalist Association. In 2005, the Ibero-American Communication Association gave him the Ibero-American Award, and he was named a Good Will Ambassador by the UNICEF. In 2009, the Smithsonian Institute of Washington gave him the Legacy Award for his contribution to arts as a musician and educator. Next year, his home, Panama, recognized him with the Vasco Núñez de Balboa award.
Educator & philanthropist
The Panamanian pianist and composer maintains his country very present as his career continues evolving. Since a very young age, Danilo Pérez channeled the musical values his father taught him, and he used music as a learning tool, improvising music lessons and music programs free of charge for kids and young ones. In the 80s, he helped create the musical program Jamboree Juventud from Panama, and in the next decade he would help create the jazz program for the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. His participation in productions, presentations, classes, and concerts during all those years led him to create the first international jazz festival in Panama in 2003, followed by the creation of the Danilo Pérez Foundation in 2004. Since then, he has celebrated the Festival that allows young musicians to have the opportunity to take master classes from professors of very important musical institutions from around the world, and present themselves in front of thousands of attendees year after year, in different parts of Panama City, following a very similar model to the Berklee in Puerto Rico program, of the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest.
He is currently the Artist for Peace of UNESCO, who recognized his work and commitment to bringing kids and younglings living in poverty in Panama the opportunity to participate in high quality musical programs. Likewise, the UNICEF named him a Good Will Ambassador, he’s the Cultural Ambassador of the Republic of Panama, and serves as the Artistic Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in the prestigious Berklee College of Music, in Boston. This last program is an interdisciplinary one, focused on developing the creativity and talent of its student to their maximum potential, understanding how the power of music can be a tool for the good of society and connecting the creative musical thoughts with nature, using sound, rhythms, and harmonies to incorporate in music, all while the student learns and understands the importance of geological preservation.
Read the full piece from: Curacao Chronicle
As 2016 winds down and we prepare for 2017, the editors at Keyboard magazine have assembled lists of their favorite releases of the year.
These recordings encompass a variety of genres and include numerous gems that had never been commercially released before.
Moreover, we have added a list of the most enjoyable music videos we viewed this year.
Our hope is that the releases below will lead you to artists you haven't heard (or remind you of some you may have missed or forgotten).
Enjoy the sounds and Happy New Year!
Read the full piece from: Keyboard Magazine
A decade ago, leading jazz critic Francis Davis corralled 30 jazz writers to create a list of the finest jazz albums of 2006 for the Village Voice. For the 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, Davis has marshaled more than quadruple the forces — 137 voters — to assess the best of an ever-expanding field.
Davis himself expounds on the Top 10 (you should read his analysis of this year's list here), and then the next 40 are ranked, followed by several intriguing specialty lists. We've got the year's best vocal albums, debuts and Latin jazz. The Reissue/Rara Avis category collects music by the likes of Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Lester Young. And all the critics' ballots, compiled by Tom Hull, may be seen here.
In a list this extensive, there's plenty to discover and debate. Even Davis himself admits he's not as fond of one top album as a colleague is. But that's the beauty of this massive annual project. We've got an unparalleled group of contributors with a dizzying range of enthusiasms — some you may share, others you'll come to love. We listen so you can, too.—Mark Mobley
Read the full piece from: NPR
What Does a Music Director Do?
Music-industry vet John Beasley defines the gig and offers advice
Miles Davis alum John Beasley has stepped into the role of music director for a diverse slate of projects—from tours with Steely Dan and Queen Latifah to the Thelonious Monk Institute gala, International Jazz Day and American Idol—and though the job varies project to project, there are some constants. “We help pick material, show order, musicians, sometimes sound [engineers], and rehearse the band,” Beasley says.
The job is part arranger-conductor, part logistics and all stress. “You’re trying to help management, the artist, the tour manager, the record company,” he explains. “Everybody’s got their say about what should happen and why, so you’re getting a lot of different information from people and you have to make it work.”
Most important, he hires the best band possible. “You have to hire people that have experience; you can’t hire people that are going to be prima donnas on the road,” Beasley says. “So lesson number one in being an MD: Hire people you know who are totally professional and will have your back.”
On American Idol, Beasley rehearsed contestants, advised on repertoire and wrote arrangements for the band. “Our first season, for the first two episodes I actually had to mix the audio, because they hadn’t hired a fulltime music mixer,” Beasley says. “At that point it was still wild and woolly.”
At the 2016 International Jazz Day Global Concert, held in April at the White House, in addition to managing the acoustics of the Blue Room and holding sound check in a tent erected on the South Lawn, Beasley added heightened security to his list of challenges. There were several mandatory evacuations, but at an event of that scale, the interruptions can offer a welcome moment of relaxation to a harried music director. “At one point, I was going back to check the mixes and I got stuck in the hallway. They said, ‘POTUS on the move! You’ve got to evacuate,’ and they threw me in this room,” Beasley says. “I was stuck there for 25 minutes. So I took the opportunity to sort of reflect and sit there and rest a little bit, because those gigs are balls to the wall every waking minute of the day.”
Read the full piece from: JazzTimes
Joey DeFrancesco & The People’s Project Freedom
If you dig organ jazz-fusion, there’s nobody better to make that happen than Joey DeFrancesco. He debuts his first quartet album Project Fre
If you dig organ jazz-fusion, there’s nobody better to make that happen than Joey DeFrancesco. He debuts his first quartet album Project Freedom on Mack Avenue Records March 10, 2017. A longtime Hammond B3 organ magician, DeFrancesco effortlessly fuses rock and jazz together for a slamming good time, every time. He still brings that blissed-out Philly blues to the proceedings. But this Project Freedom means a lot more than his other albums. After 41 years in the game, the organist still tries to punch in something new.
“I’ve exhausted the instrument — it's like breathing to me — I've wanted more from what I've already done musically. I find myself asking, ‘How do I expand?’” He answers this question on “The Unifier,” a tune emboldened by a wah-wah pedal. “It makes the organ sound like a Moog and gives it this rich, weird vibrato,” DeFrancesco, who also plays trumpet, added.
DeFrancesco also changes things up with a great group of musicians, including drummer Jason Brown, guitarist Dan Wilson, and tenor/soprano saxophonist Troy Roberts, who fleshes out fiery tempos in the tunes and grounds them on an earthly, lusty plane.
The songs themselves come straight from the featured artist’s innermost longings for “Peace Bridge,” “Karma,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a cover the organist improvised at the 2003 Detroit Jazz Festival for the encore — all an answer to today’s front-page-news of brutality, violence, and injustice.
“The crowd was perfect, the weather was perfect, the song just came out of me and the next thing you know the crowd is swaying, men took their hats off and women began to cry. Me too. It was a truly sanctified experience where we all became one, transcending music and melody. I wanted to relive that story, that feeling, on Project Freedom.”
Artist quotes from a DL Media release.
(March 10, 2017, Mack Avenue Records)
Cameron Graves’ ‘Planetary Prince’
Pianist Cameron Graves appears on bassist Miles Mosley’s upcoming UPRISING, but has already made waves of his own with his debut, June 10, 2016 EP inspired by the 20th century bible called “Urantia.” Planetary Prince takes the what-if concepts of “Urantia” and builds them into a sonic adventure.
The original music relies on the listener’s infinite patience, applying an oddly paced sort of innovation and a backdoor groove that takes its time getting to the climax. “I don't communicate the ‘Urantia’ ideas to the band. They just know that my song titles are kind of weird, but the music is really cool,” Graves said in a DL Media release. “I like to write a lot in odd rhythms, especially in 7, which takes the music somewhere else and lets the cats build off of that.”
“Adam and Eve” is an example of a classically influenced instrumental that patiently builds and builds on strategic piano and big band majesty until the rest of the rhythm section explodes with a potent funk groove.
The four-song EP expands into an eight-track album Feb. 24, 2017, featuring members of the L.A. West Coast Get Down, including The Epic sax god Kamasi Washington, trombonist Ryan Porter, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, and drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. Trumpeter Philip Dizack and bassist Hadrien Feraud join the group. Formed back in high school band, the WCGD are famous today for shaking up the music scene by embracing jazz along with hip-hop, classical music, and assorted odds and ends from other styles in a natural modern vibe.
(Feb. 24, 2017, Mack Avenue Records)
Read the full piece from: AXA
“Project Freedom” available March 2017; supporting tour dates start in January
By Sean Dennis
Organist Joey DeFrancesco’s upcoming release on Mack Avenue Records, Project Freedom, is his first in a quartet setting and features his stellar work on the Hammond B-3—plus contributions on trumpet and as a vocalist.
Accompanying DeFrancesco on this genre-jumping album are drummer Jason Brown, guitarist Dan Wilson and saxophonist Troy Roberts—collectively billed as the People—who comprise his new touring band for 2017.
Inspired by his experiences playing for audiences around the globe, DeFrancesco explores themes of peace and spirituality on self-penned compositions “Karma,” “The Unifier” and “Peace Bridge,” in addition to covers including “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “So Near, So Far.”
In a press release, DeFrancesco notes, “I always thought that as touring musicians, we were spreading peace. No matter what happens in the world, we keep playing. In a lot of the so-called forbidden places too. When we’re there, through war and conflict, problems melt away through music. We’re playing for these people, hanging out with them, and we all come together and we’re grooving with each other because of the music. That is true freedom. Music is true freedom.”
Project Freedom will be available March 2017. For more information, visit the official websites of Joey DeFrancesco and Mack Avenue Records.
2017 Tour Dates
Jan. 12: Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA
Jan. 13–14: Chris’ Jazz Café, Philadelphia, PA
Jan. 17–21: Birdland, New York City, NY
March 17–18: Catalina Jazz Club, Los Angeles, CA
March 19: The Nash, Phoenix, AZ
March 21–22: DazzleJazz, Denver, CO
March 29: Savannah Music Festival, Savannah, GA
March 30–31: The Velvet Note, Atlanta, GA
April 1: The Tin Pan, Richmond, VA
Read the full piece from: JazzTimes
The release of Kamasi Washington’s The Epic last year heralded the arrival of the West Coast Get Down, the Los Angeles-based consortium of like-minded musicians that would alter the jazz landscape with its cosmic blend of jazz, funk, classical and hip-hop.
Follow-up albums by WCGD-affiliated members such as bassist Miles Mosley and saxophonist Terrace Martin have solidified the group’s placement at the center of the current jazz conversation.
The conversation continues with the release of Planetary Prince, the debut album by pianist, keyboardist, composer and WCGD founding member Cameron Graves. The album will be available Feb. 24 on Mack Avenue Records.
Graves had already compiled a four-track EP called Planetary Prince by the time Mack Avenue approached him for a record deal. Under the label, the keyboardist expanded the project into an eight track full-length album.
Planetary Prince features a number of Graves’ West Coast Get Down compatriots, many of whom have been collaborating with Graves since high school. That crew includes tenor saxophonist Washington, trombonist Ryan Porter, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner and drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. To their ranks are added trumpeter Philip Dizack and bassist Hadrien Feraud, both key members of the current L.A. jazz scene.
In its scope and execution, the album builds upon the hurdling intensity and vast ambition of The Epic and other WCGD-related projects.
“Cameron Graves’ music is vigorous and refreshing. There is an infectious raw energy on Planetary Prince that is coupled with these terrific melodies and blistering solo work, the whole album is energizing,” said Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell, in a press statement.
Washington’s penchant for the interstellar has left a bold imprint on Graves’ work—the title Planetary Prince comes from The Urantia Book, an early 20th-century tome that purports to reveal the truth of humanity through cosmological ideas—and the saxophonist was outspoken in his praise of Graves’ debut.
“Cameron Graves is a musical genius. He has an innovative approach to the piano that is completely unique,” Washington said. “Cameron’s new album Planetary Prince is an amazing and almost unbelievable combination of modal jazz, Romantic-era European classical music and mathematical death metal. A style so cool that it deserves it’s own genre … I’m so glad he’s sharing it with the world!”
Read the full piece from: DownBeat
This year I attended many fine performances given by a variety of musicians and I tried to further embed myself into the thriving, local Atlanta jazz scene, where I now reside. I give a special call out to two young musicians, Darren English and Morgan Guerin, who make Atlanta their home and who both had compelling debut albums this year.These young firebrands give us a glimpse into the future of jazz and from where I stand the future is very bright indeed.
With the avalanche of self-produced cds being released these days, I find my desk overflowing with new material and frankly it’s a daunting task to give each release the careful and thoughtful attention its deserves. That said, this is my very subjective choice for the of best of jazz in 2016. Wherever possible I have linked the albums to a video or audio clip that should be representative of the music on the album. I have been greatly privileged to have heard and enjoyed this music and I hope you too will find some if not all of it enjoyable too. I am happy to report that this music we call jazz is alive, well and moving ahead very nicely. Happy Holidays and happy listening to all of you.
Read the full piece from: Huffington Post
Many music mavens, jazz fans, or otherwise know of American jazz legends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, but a new generation of artists is bringing refreshing new talent to the genre. From the breakout success of artists like Gregory Porter and Esperanza Spalding, to up-and-coming talents like pianist Aaron Diehl, we uncover the best young American jazz musicians.
Hailed by NPR Music as “the next great male jazz singer,” California-born singer and songwriter Gregory Porter’s music career began over 20 years ago, though it wasn’t until he moved to New York City and performed regularly at Harlem’s legendary St. Nick’s Pub that his career really took off. Porter released his debut album, Water, produced by jazz pianist and saxophonist Kamau Kenyatta, in 2010 and his third album, Liquid Spirit, scooped the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2013, solidifying his standing as a future jazz legend.
The Hot Sardines
Formed in Manhattan by New York City native Evan “Bibs” Palazzo and Paris-born chanteuse Miz Elizabeth, The Hot Sardines are a troupe of gifted musicians that take inspiration from early American jazz and count music greats like Thelonious Monk, Django Reinhardt, and Billie Holiday amongst their influences. Lauded by Forbes Magazine as “one of the best jazz bands in NYC today,” The Hot Sardines have played sold out shows at New York’s famed Joe’s Pub and performed at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. In June 2016, the band released their sophomore album, French Fries & Champagne.
Portland, Oregon-born jazz singer, bassist, and cellist Esperanza Spalding displayed prodigious talents from an early age playing violin with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. She burst onto America’s jazz music scene with the release of her debut album Junjo in 2006, receiving favorable reviews from the likes of the New York Times’ critic Ben Ratliff. Since then, Spalding has gone on to win multiple Grammys including Best New Artist of 2010 – the first jazz musician to be awarded this title – and Best Jazz Vocal Album for 2012’s Radio Music Society. Her fifth studio album, Emily’s D+Evolution, is sung through the alter ego of Emily, Esperanza’s middle name, and has received widespread critical acclaim since its release in March 2016.
Jazz pianist and producer Robert Glasper may not be your typical jazz musician, considering his fusion of the genre with styles like R&B and hip hop, yet his deft merging of genres makes Glasper stand out amongst his contemporaries. By his mid-20s, Glasper had already performed with jazz greats including Terence Blanchard and Christian McBride and a succession of acclaimed albums, including the Grammy-nominated Double-Booked (2009) confirmed his rising star. Glasper’s revered 2012 release Black Radio demonstrated his talent for jazz fusion and scooped a Grammy for Best R&B album in 2013. In May 2016, Glasper released his new album, Everything’s Beautiful, which remixes several Miles Davis tracks from the Columbia/Legacy vault and features an A-list of collaborators.
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Born to a French mother and a Haitian father in Miami, Florida, Cécile McLorin Salvant was singing and playing classical piano before she reached the age of 10. A move to France in 2007 saw her study improvisation and vocal repertoire under respected reedist Jean-François Bonnel. Success followed the recording of her debut album, Cécile, in 2009, winning the the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. McLorin Salvant has performed at legendary events including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival, while her third album, For One to Love, won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Though he started out playing drums in the fourth grade growing up in Chicago’s South Side, it was when he took up the trumpet that Marquis Hill really found his niche. Hill has been the recipient of awards including the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition, and has received rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times, which hailed him as “a dauntingly skilled trumpeter.” His 2016 album, The Way We Play, was released on Concord Records.
Grammy-nominated Melody Gardot kick-started her career at an early age playing the bars of her hometown Philadelphia at the age of 16. It wasn’t until a severe car accident in her late teens, however, that she began writing her own songs, which the singer and pianist states aided her in her lengthy recovery. Her 2008 debut album Worrisome Heart, co-produced by acclaimed producer Glenn Barratt, established her trademark edgy, evocative, and intimate style. Today the musician is known for her dramatic, mysterious stage presence. Now four albums deep, Gardot has appeared at events including Brighton’s Love Supreme Jazz Festival.
“NYC’s least predictable improviser” and “a singular talent” are just a few things the press have to say about Boston-born, Brooklyn-based improvisational jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson. After studying under celebrated jazz multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan University, Halvorson began playing in New York City and has collaborated with such talents as Marc Ribot, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Curtis Hasselbring. Halvorson regularly performs in the Mary Halvorson Trio alongside bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith and her 2013 album, Illusionary Sea, with the Mary Halvorson Septet was hailed by NPR Music as her “boldest venture yet.” She has released five albums since then.
Pianist Aaron Diehl is a jazz musician with a mission – he seeks to traverse the generational boundaries of the genre, and with compliments such as the New York Times lauding him as “a smart young pianist with a fastidious grasp of jazz traditions,” he is certainly proving his worth. A graduate of the Juilliard School and winner of the 2013 Jazz Journalist Association’s Up-And-Coming Musician of the Year Award, Diehl has toured with the Wynton Marsalis Septet and his latest release, Space Time Continuum, has received wide critical acclaim for its mixture of historic and contemporary styles of jazz.
A native of Marietta, Georgia, Tivon Pennicott began playing tenor sax in high school, and by his early 20’s had worked with legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell and performed at famous venues like San Francisco’s Yoshi’s Jazz Club. Pennicott has played on Grammy-winning albums including Gregory Porter’s breakout album Liquid Spirit and Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society, and won second place at the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Praised for his tenacity and inventiveness as a saxophonist, Pennicott released his debut album Lover of Nature in late 2014.
Currently a resident of the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans, award-winning drummer Jamison Ross began honing his talents at a young age playing at his grandfather’s church. By his early 20’s Ross was collaborating with the likes of legendary American jazz singer Carmen Lundy, and has since gone on to work with acclaimed contemporaries including Jon Batiste and Cécile McLorin Salvant. With a clear mission in mind to bring a joyful and soulful sound to his music, Ross is signed with Concord Jazz and released his self-titled debut album in 2015.
Growing up in Houston, Texas listening to genres as diverse as gospel, R&B, and classical, Kendrick Scott’s odyssey began at the age of eight when his parents gifted him a drum kit. His dedication and talent saw him awarded a place at his hometown’s prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. His later career has included tours with legends like Herbie Hancock and Terence Blanchard. In 2007, he established his music collective, the Kendrick Scott Oracle, whose ambitious 2007 debut The Source was followed by Conviction in 2013.
Read the full piece from: Culture Trip
Renee Rosnes: "Written in the Rocks" (Smoke Sessions Records): Rosnes long ago earned a reputation as a first-rate pianist, but with "Written in the Rocks" she affirms her gifts as composer with a fertile imagination and a technique to match. Even if you didn't know that "Written in the Rocks" has specific pictorial and programmatic purposes, its stunning array of instrumental colors, exquisitely refined voicings and lush harmonic palette command attention. Rosnes' score benefits greatly from the contributions of vibraphonist Steve Nelson, flutist-saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Bill Stewart, but it's the inventiveness of Rosnes' concept and writing that stand out.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: "The Abyssinian Mass" (Blue Engine Records): The theme of faith has coursed through Marsalis' work for decades, most notably in recordings such as "In This House, On This Morning" (1994), featuring his septet in a gospel service portrayed in jazz; and "All Rise" (2002), an epic that explored struggle and salvation. "The Abyssinian Mass" continues Marsalis' investigations along these lines, the massive forces of the JLCO, the Chorale le Chateau and vocal soloists offering up 23 movements on two discs — a monumental statement brilliantly articulated in jazz, blues and gospel.
Marquis Hill: "The Way We Play" (Concord Jazz): As part of his prize for taking top honors in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition of 2014, trumpeter Hill won a recording contract with Concord Jazz. Expectations were high for his major-label debut, and Hill fulfilled them with a more personal album than one might have thought possible under these circumstances. Though Hill recorded mostly standards, he conjured distinctive arrangements, intensifying his message by featuring social commentary in the form of spoken word from poet Harold Green III. The nimbleness of Hill's technique and the lyrical core of his phrase-making are apparent throughout.
Vijay Iyer/Wadada Leo Smith: "A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke" (ECM Records): The title may sound a bit high-flown, but it reflects the ethereal and hypersensitive character of the music itself (as well as the name of the primary suite on the recording). Pianist/keyboardist Iyer and trumpeter Smith improvise subtly, one gently expressed musical thought responding to the next. You sense the environment in this recording, Smith's streaks of sound and Iyer's richly textured pianism set against plenty of space and silence. Listeners uninterested in traveling into unusual musical terrain may not be pleased, but open-eared audiences will welcome the freshness of the approach, the translucence of the sound and the delicacy of the delivery.
Julian Lage: "Arclight" (Mack Avenue): Fine jazz guitarists are hardly in short supply, but Lage stands out for the clarity of his thought, the sleekness of his sound and the range of his expression. Leading a trio with comparably agile work from drummer Kenny Wollesen and bassist Scott Colley, Lage mixes originals with historical repertoire, the latter giving him ample opportunity for buoyant swing rhythm, the former enabling him to venture into somewhat edgier fare.
Laurin Talese: "Gorgeous Chaos" (Bassic Black Entertainment): The first time I heard Talese, five years ago in Philadelphia, she made a vivid impression via the sumptuousness of her instrument and the creativity of her vocal lines. She sounds still more accomplished on her album "Gorgeous Chaos," Talese bringing heart and spontaneity to standards, obscurities and originals alike. In all of this material, she emerges as an uncommonly persuasive storyteller, accompanied on select tracks by bassist Christian McBride, keyboardist Robert Glasper and other noteworthy instrumentalists who clearly believe in her. "Gorgeous Chaos" should serve as an excellent calling card for a singer very much on the rise.
Melissa Aldana: "Back Home" (Wommusic): Chilean tenor saxophonist Aldana received considerable attention after winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition three years ago, at age 24, and her work ever since has proved she deserved it. "Back Home" crystallizes the appeal of Aldana's music, most notably the austere quality of her sound, the consistently understated manner of her performance and the considerable sophistication of her improvised lines. Bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Jochen Rueckert provide continuous, intriguing counterpoint. This music may seem a bit restrained for some listeners' tastes, but to me it's balm in a very noisy world.
Howard Reich is a Tribune critic.
Read the full piece from: Chicago Tribune
Christmas is starting early for Mack Avenue Records. The independent jazz label has added acclaimed artists Cameron Graves, Joey DeFrancesco and Billy Childs to its roster. All three will release new albums in 2017.
Graves, pianist and founding member of West Coast Get Down, will release his anticipated debut album on Feb. 24. The eight-track Planetary Prince, originally a four-song EP, will feature such longtime collaborators as saxophonist Kamasi Washington, trumpeter Philip Dizack, trombonist Ryan Porter, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, bassist Hadrien Feraud and drummer Ronald Bruner Jr.
Jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco will release Project Freedom, his first-ever quartet album, on March 10. Touring as Joey DeFrancesco & the People in 2017, the musician will be joined by guitarist Dan Wilson, saxophonist Troy Roberts and drummer Jason Brown.
Childs returns to his jazz roots on the aptly titled Rebirth arriving March 24. The four-time Grammy Award-winning pianist plays with saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Eric Harland. Special guests include vocalists Alicia Olatuja and Claudia Acuna, trombonist Ido Meshulam and percussionist Rogerio Boccato. His first album under the Mack Avenue banner also marks the 40th anniversary of Childs’ recording debut with legendary trombonist J.J. Johnson, who died in 2001.
Mack Avenue, which acquired the MAXJAZZ label earlier this year, is headed by president Denny Stilwell.
Read the full piece from: Billboard
For his official debut as a leader on the Mack Avenue imprint, former child prodigy Julian Lage continues to prove why he is the best guitar player in modern jazz with this dazzling tribute to his electric guitar heroes of the early 20th century.
If you are hearing aspects of Chet Atkins and Les Paul throughout the course of Arclight, that’s because Lage and his mind-blowing rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen pay homage to the guys Chester and Lester were influenced by like Merle Travis and George Barnes, crafting a mood that is equally in step and out of time to brilliant effect.
Even better is the recently released digital EP Live in Los Angeles, which adds further weight to the stunning variation of early electric guitar jazz this trio takes in so many different directions across lengthy meditations on Sammy Cain and Irving Kahal’s 1938 standard “I’ll Be Seeing You” and the Arclight highlight “Stop Go Start” cut live at the Los Angeles jazz club The Blue Whale this past June.
Read the full piece from: Observer
This week the jazz pianist and rising star Aaron Diehl is set to make his New York Philharmonic debut in a prominent slot: opening night.
Mr. Diehl will perform the soloist role in George Gershwin’s Concerto in F on Wednesday, as the composer himself did at the work’s world premiere at Carnegie Hall in 1925. The piece is part of a New York-centric program that will launch the orchestra’s 175th anniversary season, its final one with music director Alan Gilbert.
Classically trained, Mr. Diehl fell in love with jazz in his teens and toured with Wynton Marsalis at age 17.
Now 30, the Juilliard School graduate is known for his meticulous touch and for making music that both nods to and expands on foundations laid by past jazz greats.
He has released two albums on Mack Avenue Records and can also be heard playing with the jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, a frequent collaborator.
“He’s got the soul and the spirit of a jazz player, but he’s got the discipline to play with a symphony orchestra,” said Edward Yim, the Philharmonic’s vice president of artistic planning. “He can fit into our world in the way that not all jazz pianists could.”
The Wall Street Journal sat down for a piano-side interview with Mr. Diehl last week at his Harlem apartment to discuss his debut and the musical layers in Gershwin’s concerto.
WSJ: While jazz musicians have played with the Philharmonic before, this is a very high-profile debut. What does it mean for you to play with New York’s hometown orchestra on opening night?
AD: I’m really grateful.
This is basically my first go-round playing with a major orchestra.
I honestly think the Phil is taking an incredible risk. I’m not Herbie Hancock, I’m not Lang Lang or Chick Corea. So the likelihood of them selling out this concert on my name is low.
But I also think Alan [Gilbert] recognized that I was very serious about playing this piece.
‘I’ve focused on this one piece since March, in addition to everything else I’m doing. I wanted to make sure that I had a specific objective for what I wanted to do at this point, and at that point,’ Mr. Diehl said. ENLARGE
‘I’ve focused on this one piece since March, in addition to everything else I’m doing. I wanted to make sure that I had a specific objective for what I wanted to do at this point, and at that point,’ Mr. Diehl said.
Tell me about this composition.
It is a classical concerto. What makes it so unique, though, is Gershwin’s embrace and use of rhythms, syncopations and folk material that are native to America.
He’s got blues in there...The Charleston is all over the place in this piece.
He has hints of what we call Harlem stride, made famous by James P. Johnson, Willie “the Lion” Smith, and Fats Waller, who wrote “Honeysuckle Rose.” [He plays a few bars.]
You have this boom-chick figure in the left hand. It’s almost like ragtime but it’s a more advanced version, if you will. You have the syncopation in the right hand.
In fact, I take it a step further from what Gershwin wrote, and I make it into a full-blown stride sort of style.
What’s your take on Gershwin’s role in American music?
He definitely set a gold standard for American popular songwriting.
“I Got Rhythm,” “S Wonderful,” “Embraceable You.” They’re just great tunes. I mean... [He plays “Embraceable You.”]
There are several arrangements and orchestrations of classical music of his work. Jazz musicians, we use those songs all the time.
All of these tunes are so rife with harmonic complexity and sophistication. We love that. The more chord changes or harmonic progressions there are, the more we can navigate in our improvisation.
How are you preparing for the concert?
I’ve focused on this one piece since March, in addition to everything else I’m doing. I wanted to make sure that I had a specific objective for what I wanted to do at this point, and at that point.
I met with André Previn yesterday, who has a very definitive recording of this piece.
I told him, I can’t play [the last movement] as fast as you. He said, don’t worry about playing it fast. Worry about being rhythmically accurate.
I played it three or four clicks slower, and it was much better.
Is it different from what you do before club dates or jazz festivals?
With classical music, you can basically plan. I know that the orchestra is going to do what they say they’re going to do. It’s not like playing in a trio, or a small jazz ensemble, where you don’t know what’s going to necessarily happen.
[Whether improvising or playing composed music,] you always make the music feel like it’s fresh and it’s real and it’s tangible. It’s not a museum piece.
You said you do plan to improvise in some spots. How is the orchestra going to handle that?
It’s just a solo by myself, so it’s not going to affect them at all.
I was very aware that this was a piece where you have 80 musicians who are used to having it played a certain way. I found places where I knew that this wouldn’t be too much of an issue for them.
I don’t want to make their job even harder, because what they do is hard enough as it is, and they do it so well.
Read the full piece from: Wall Street Journal
GREETINGS FROM NEW YORK!
REACH is mastered! What an awesome experience. Cant wait to share it with you all. CD dropping in April, but get a LIVE sneek-peek next TUESDAY 12/13 at The JAZZ STANDARD NYC - Its going down with the quartet 7:30 and 9:30!
Better see you there! Get tickets while you can and hope to say Hi!
A huge highlight of November at The Blue Note New York.... Such an honor to hang with piano Masters Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock before my late solo set following their night of historic duet. #NoPressure or anything!
Happy 75th Birthday Mr. Corea. What a great hang, thank you!
#RoadLife adventures continue - Got to bring the trio out to sunny CA, played The Loft at UCSD to an amazing crowd! And Spivey Hall Atlanta showed us some GA hospitality. Hope to see you all again really soon!
I know I promised photos from Europe and Azores, but there are toooo many great shots and memories, so go check out the instagram, FB and twitter feeds and let me know what you think!
Dont forget, come by The Jazz Standard next week (Tues 12/1) and hear a little preview of the fresh tracks from REACH - hope to see you there!!!
Read the full piece from: Jazz Standard
If jazz is about creating tension between tradition and innovation, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant is an undeniable voice leading the genre today.
Ever since she stunned judges and took first place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010, the 27-year-old has established a legacy through an extraordinary command of jazz mythology augmented with her own eclectic tastes and surprising interpretations. Revue talked with Salvant about where her art is headed next and the inspiration and motivations that are driving her.
You won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album last February. With that award under your belt, how are you looking to challenge yourself as an artist in the near future?
I’m working on a partly live album right now with my trio: Aaron Diehl on piano, Lawrence Leathers on drums and Paul Sikivie on bass. We already recorded it and now we’re adding the final touches. I’m also excited to be working in different configurations coming up next year — as a duo with a pianist, and across Europe with a band of all female jazz musicians that includes Terri Lyne Carrington, Renée Rosnes, Nat Collins, Melissa Aldana, Linda Oh and Ingrid Jensen. I’m also writing more and exploring other aspects of art that I’m interested in, and how I can incorporate that into what I do musically with jazz.
You’re known for your malleable onstage persona. Any characters you’ve been experimenting with recently?
I’ve been thinking about all the different ways I could pursue that. I’ve never taken an acting class, so even participating in acting in a way that’s separate than music would be interesting. It could also mean auditioning, or bringing more theatrical elements into a show. It would be interesting to see how far outside myself and my experience I can go as a performer.
You do a lot of research to find some of your material. Have you always had a curiosity to uncover things that have been forgotten with time?
I think I’ve always had a fascination with things that are precious and not well known. To me, it’s fun to spend a day listening to albums and finding connections between them. It’s such a wonderful feeling when you discover that one song that only one person has ever recorded, and it’s a great song. It just excites me and I want to share what I’m discovering in my performances.
You got your start in classical and baroque voice when you studied in France. What was difficult or easy about making the switch to jazz?
What was hard was the improvisation. I never wanted to get off the song on the page, so that was something I really had to work at. It was also a question of getting the vocabulary. Jazz isn’t just about being free — it’s about being free with the right tools. On the easy side, I think classical singing helped me with diction and understanding the characters and their arc within the greater context of the work. I always put myself into my performances, since I tend to choose songs that I connect with at a deep level, but it was helpful to have that background.
Your last album seemed more personal. Are you continuing along that route or looking to explore different stories through your writing?
The compositions I’m working on now are less personal in a way. I mean, it’s always personal when you write, but now it’s less about my own little world. My last album was really like a diary, where the songs that I wrote were about specific events and people. Now all of the things I’m writing are personal in the sense that I’m writing them, but are more universal thoughts about life, people and how they interact.
Jazz can seem intimidating for some. What advice do you have for people who want to get into the genre?
I think the first thing to realize is that jazz is such a huge genre with so many different sounds and dimensions. It’s important to not be stuck on one thing if you don’t like it, or you think it’s too difficult or too corny. But I think it’s one of the more enriching types of music because of the dialogue that you have with other musicians. Once you experience that interaction with others, it’s a huge motivation to keep going.
Read the full piece from: Revue
You can hear Harold Lopez-Nussa's training when he plays. The 33-year-old pianist is reluctant to admit the classical influence on his jazz playing, but he's quick to acknowledge that he, like many other great Cuban pianists, was classically trained. "This is the school that we have to learn music in Cuba; it's classical," he says. "I did all my stuff there from 8 years old to 25."
Ned Sublette, author of the book Cuba and Its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo, says the education Lopez-Nussa received in Cuban conservatories was unique. "He had a level of training that it's really hard to get anywhere else," he says.
Sublette explains that the Cuban Revolution in 1959 led to more investment in music education. "The new revolutionary government made culture a priority," he says. He also points out that this robust system of conservatories is still operating. "You will meet Cuban musicians who have been trained from childhood to be competitive professional musicians — and most of them have a conservatory background," he says.
But music school isn't the only part of a musician's education. Sublette, quoting British musicologist Geoff Baker, says Cuban musicians have four main streams of influence: "family, conservatory, street and religion."
Harold Lopez-Nussa certainly draws on the first two. His grandparents were musicians, his father is a respected drummer and music educator and his mother was a piano teacher. "I have the music in my body and my blood," Lopez-Nussa says. "Eighty percent of what I'm doing today and why I'm a musician is because of my family."
As for as the last two streams of influence, Lopez-Nussa is not particularly religious, but he's certainly aware of the sounds of the street — and Cuba's long tradition of popular music.
Lopez-Nussa started listening to jazz as a teenager with his friends at the conservatory, and he says he's following in the footsteps of great Cuban pianists like Ernesto Lecuona, Frank Emilio Flynn and Chucho Valdés. He remembers seeing Valdés up close at the age of 10, when he came to play for the students at Lopez-Nussa's school. "I was so impressed by his playing the piano, this kind of freedom that he has with the keyboard," he says. "I'm always thinking of this experience." It's no surprise, then, that a tune Valdés made popular with his band Irakere, "Bacalao con Pan," turns up on López-Nussa's new album, El Viaje.
Lopez-Nussa recently signed with an American label, Mack Avenue. He says improved relations between Cuba and the U.S. — ushered in by the Obama administration — have opened new opportunities that he hopes will continue under the new administration in Washington. He wants more Cuban musicians to play in the U.S., and he'd also like more American musicians to start performing in Cuba. "I have a lot of hope about this approach," he says. "It will be better for all of us."
Read the full piece from: NPR
But even though McBride’s career path had him zeroed in on jazz, he hastened to add that he was a kid of funk pop music. He loved Larry Graham, the original bassist for Sly & the Family Stone, who launched into his own funkelicious solo career, and he was hip to all that was deep-grooved as he told me this fall when I played him a Thundercat track at the live Monterey Jazz Festival Blindfold Test I curate for DownBeat magazine. After listening to the tune “Oh Sheit It’s X” from the electronic bassist’s 2013 album Apocalypse, McBride said, “In the first couple of seconds I was thinking, oh, my, this was something from middle school, but I don’t remember this tune. I was thinking this is right down to 1984 and an MTV classic. It should be something I know, but I don’t. Then after listening to the lyrics, I thought, no, not 1984.” He ended up figuring out it was Thundercat and praised him: “I like that stuff. It’s so funky. Anything with a strong groove, I like. I don’t care what you do on top, as long as the foundation is strong, I’m there.”
Dial back to the Strings interview. Funk was one thing but the soul and strut of James Brown was quite another. He was tops on McBride’s list of pop heroes. McBride has said that JB made him feel “strong, bold, almost immortal” and labeled him as “that rare type of artist that created an impenetrable force around the listener.”
So imagine his pleasant surprise when Brown tuned into his 1995 debut album Gettin’ to It and liked what he heard and invited the youngster to meet him. McBride said that in first talking with JB, the soul god said he was surprised that jazz musicians loved his music. McBride’s response: “Guess what, Mr. Brown? All jazz musicians enjoy your music—at least the ones who like rhythm!”
The friendly JB soon turned ornery and even abusive over the years, obviously souring their relationship—as it turns out not an anomaly given the testimony of former band members who endured abuse from the leader when they were in his employ. McBride kept his distance, only keeping up his communication with his hero through his manager, Charles Bobbit.
Within ten years, McBride’s career soared to the point where he was named the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association’s Creative Chair for Jazz. Part of his job: creatively curate shows. His immediate impulse was to contact JB through Bobbitt in hopes to get the dynamic singer to revisit his 1970 jazz album Soul on Top at the Hollywood Bowl with a full orchestral cast. After a long period of back-and-force communications, Bobbit finally signaled McBride that Brown had green-lighted the event. Much to his delight, Brown performed the work on September 6, 2006 (just a few months before he passed away on Christmas Day 2006). It was a thrill of McBride’s life who not only conducted the band but also played bass.
Now ten years later, McBride has taken another giant step, becoming not only the top go-to bassist in jazz, but also the idiom’s foremost statesman. This has included his artistic director roles—at the Newport Jazz Festival, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and Jazz House Kids—and his radio shows: NPR’s Jazz Night in America and SiriusXM’s The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian. On the music front he’s a MACK Avenue recording star and a sideman in just about all the major jazz projects going. At the Monterey Jazz Festival this fall, he served as the musical director for the opening night orchestral tribute to Quincy Jones, “The A&M Years,” and was recently announced as the winner of the Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award to be presented by the Jazz Connect Conference in January.
As part of his role at NJPAC, he decided to pay tribute to his old hero and sometimes-friend James Brown with the “Get On Up” all-star celebration of JB’s music as one of the concerts of the James Moody Jazz Festival in the center’s Prudential Hall. Special guests include Sharon Jones—oftentimes called the female JB...but can she do the splits like he did?—Bettye LaVette and the James Brown Alumni Band featuring such former JB sidemen saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis and trombonist Fred Wesley. To top the evening off, Apollo Theater’s DJ Jess will spin JB music for a funk dance afterparty.
McBride has said that in the Hollywood Bowl event “I lived my dream. I shared the stage with the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown.” At NJPAC he’ll no doubt be remembering that experience which will make this show all the more special.
Read the full piece from: Huffington Post
“It was legendary,” said Junius Williams, a Newark author and educator who also saw Dizzy Gillespie at Sparky J’s back in the day.
Five of the best young female jazz musicians
It was also kind of prescient. In 2016, Newark is one nonstop, ongoing, jazz parade: Wynton Marsalis, the Robert Glasper Experiment, Dianne Reeves, Phil Perry, David Sanborn and Anjelique Kidjo have been in and out town for shows. Dorthaan Kirk, the widow of Rahsaan who goes by the nickname “Newark’s first lady of jazz”, has hosted longtime greats including Freddy Cole, Jon Faddis and Rufus Reid at a pair of local series she organizes (both of them running through 2017, one of them free). And by the end of the year, a new, intimate club called Clement’s Place connected to the city’s renowned Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark will have attracted the TS Monk Sextet and the soul-threaded and Eubie Blake Award-winning Houston Person Quartet.
Behind all the action is a celebration of the city’s birthday – 2016 marks Newark’s 350th year – that, together with the TD James Moody jazz festival, an annual celebration of jazz running through the end of November, has revived its reputation as a serious jazz town.
The Grammy-winning bassist and bandleader Christian McBride, who is performing at Moody Fest on 18 November alongside Sharon Jones, Bettye LaVette and the James Brown Alumni Band at the city’s most thriving jazz venue, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, saw it coming.
“Newark’s place in jazz history includes Sarah Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, James Moody, Woody Shaw and Larry Young, among others. That coupled with its modern-day vibrancy makes Newark one of the greatest jazz cities in the world,” McBride said in early November from Europe, where he was touring.
He is especially qualified to say so. McBride first played in Newark as a young performer 26 years ago and, since 2012, has been NJPAC’s jazz adviser; he also hosts the NPR show Jazz Night in America, a co-production with Lincoln Center and WBGO-FM, the only full-time jazz format station broadcast in New York and New Jersey. On 20 November he will be among the judges of what John Schreiber, founder of the Moody festival and NJPAC’s president and CEO, called one of the centerpieces of a monthlong event: the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition.
“Jazz singing is bred in the bone. And Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald were kind of No 1 and No 2 in terms of the great individual voices of jazz singing,” Schreiber said. “Sarah Vaughan was an authentic Newark girl – she went to high school here and lived a lot of her life here. And so I said, ‘OK, what can we do to honor Sarah?’”
That was five years ago, when Schreiber signed on with NJPAC after decades of producing and curating festivals including Newport Jazz and JVC Jazz.
Read the full piece from: The Guardian
The popular and informative OWN series, “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” continues at 10 p.m. Saturday with an episode featuring Kevin Eubanks, one of Philadelphia’s favorite sons, and the former band leader of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The show also features updates on money expert Suze Orman, “Ferris Bueller’s” hypochondriac best friend and actor Alan Ruck, TV pitchman Paul Marcarelli and former child star Karolyn Grimes.
In a particularly timely testimony, Eubanks, who was inducted onto the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s prestigious Walk of Fame in 2010, observes that the short walk across the stage before a nationally televised interview on a late-night talk show can be a borderline out-of-body experience, even for someone with years of experience appearing before the public.
According to the network, Eubanks, who left the “Tonight Show” on May 28, 2010, recalls an appearance by Hillary Clinton, who recently was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. For one of Clinton’s appearances, Eubanks tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” she requested a particular song to be played while she walked on stage, which was standard procedure on “The Tonight Show.” There was just one problem, Eubanks says. She didn’t recognize the song when the band played it.
The band leader says he was shocked, and maintains that the band had played the correct song.
“What happens when people come out, you know, and they’re not used to being on the show sometimes, even somebody as steeped in politics as Hillary Clinton, when you’re on an entertainment show, variety show or something like that, nobody hears anything. From the time they come out and walk across the stage and sit down, it’s like a blank moment. The applause is going crazy. The lights are flickering. The band is playing.”
Ultimately, Eubanks says, someone from Clinton’s team called to apologize after watching the appearance on tape. For Kevin, it just illustrates how surreal such moments can be for people. “That moment when you come out and then you sit down — that’s like a blank 15 seconds.”
Read the full piece from: The Philadelphia Tribune
Serious Bay Area fans braved heavily snarled traffic on this rainy dark Thursday night for the second set of renowned South African guitarist Jonathan Butler. Now living in warm Southern California, Butler and his potent band flew in the same day for a two night stand at Yoshis in Oakland. Butler's steadfast band consisted of bassist Dan Lutz, drummer Chaun Horton and keyboardist Arlington Jones.
During his introduction, Butler was greeted with appreciative hoots and vocal support from his eager audience. The nightcap gig consisted of "African Moon, Let There Be Light," "Song for E," "Living My Dream," "Sarah Sarah," "Even The Pain," "Lies," "Free JB."
Butler and company opened the set with blistering instrumental rhythms along with his energized vocalese style. The receptive house quickly got into the funky robust groove with jubilant head nodding. Butler performed a song co-written with imminent bassist Marcus Miller to celebrate late bassist (and retired NBA player) Wayman Tisdale. He talked about how early in his career when he met the band members of the Yellowjackets, a group that was a major influence for him. Over his long career, he loved playing Yoshis and considered it a second home.
Butler planned to perform the title track from his CD Free (Mack Avenue, 2015) but after thoughtful consideration, the Cape Town guitarist decided on an inspirational version of Bob Marley's immortal "No Woman No Cry." The entire venue was mesmerized by his soulful and moving delivery. His performance was an uplifting experience and put Freeinto context. Like an old friend and confidant, Butler said we are all "tested" addressing everyone in the room. He talked eloquently and directly about his faith in God and the extreme times he and his family endured including the devastating house fire. As he scooped up his "screaming grand daughter" from the bathtub in his pajamas and with steely focus for his family's safety, he did not notice he was on fire. After receiving medical attention for his burns, he calmly stated the, "The show must go on," and prepared for a photo shoot for the album cover of Free. The long sleeve shirt he wore hid the bandages. During the subsequent tour, he changed his wrappings nightly, "on the road alone." Recounting the last five years, Butler gave additional testimony to these nearly overwhelming trials he faced which also included a second suicide attempt by his son in San Diego.
Audience members stood up and testified. At one point it felt like you were in an intimate neighborhood church celebrating the Creator. Butler turned the Yoshi's stage into an impromptu pulpit, filling the house with words of strength and optimism. As he thanked everyone at the set's conclusion, Butler had ignited a joyous standing ovation from the sanctified attendees.
Jonathan Butler presented an evening of vibrant music and extraordinary personal faith and strength. His resolute spirit informed his music giving it a soulful, undeniable power and depth. The music gave the listeners exuberance and confirmation. Every heart and the heavens were listening tonight.
Read the full piece from: All About Jazz
‘This is one great night to remember!’ exclaimed Joe, an Afro soul enthusiast. Another enthusiast, Philip, a regular Island nightclub crooner felt the same way, “Real live music comes alive.’ Indeed, that’s how best to describe the night show that rekindled the appetite of both old and young jazz lovers who thronged the Balmore’s Dome, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, last weekend, to watch a jazz music legend, Jonathan Butler, perform some of his evergreen songs before them.
It was not the first time, Jonathan Butler performed in Nigeria. But last weekend’s performance was something out of the ordinary. The jazz fusion guitarist and Grammy nominee took the audience to another realm, performing hit songs after hit. It was a night of oldies and jazz music at its best. The soulful jazz crooner who hit the stage at about 10 pm put his powerful talent on display to the admiration of the audience. For more than one and half hours, the legend performed non-stop on stage. And despite the heavy-downpour that almost marred the show, people were not in a hurry to leave the venue. They were busy dancing and singing along with the jazz maestro as he went on and on reeling out his old songs.
Dressed in a majestic way, the jazz fusion guitarist stirred the already charged audience with Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”song with a blend of Soweto fusion. His energetic performance tells less of his age, just as his high pitched vocal prowess kept even the night’s rainfall down. He later sang his “Grace and Mercy”which rose to the top of the Billboard contemporary jazz chart and peaked with singles “Don’t Walk Away” and “I Stand on Your Word” among others. While his performance lasted, people were having swell time, jumping up and down. Butler confessed while on stage that the audience inspired his unimaginable performance just as he claimed it never happened in his previous performance in the country. Butler stepped on stage shortly after Mi Casa’s performance. The South Africans thrilled too with inspiring love songs that won the hearts of many. Speaking backstage after his performance, Jonathan Butler could not hide his excitement. According to him ‘I had an awesome time in Lagos at Smooth 98.1FM’s ‘A Night at The Kazbah’. It was amazing, I can’t wait for another opportunity to come back and do it all over again’. Butler, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, began his career nearly four decades ago, signing his first record deal when he was just a teenager. Since then Butler has seen success in the jazz and RnB arenas, with a particular focus on gospel music. His latest release, Grace and Mercy, rose to the top of the Billboard contemporary jazz chart and peaked with singles “Don’t Walk Away” and “I Stand on Your Word.”
Read the full piece from: Vanguard
Acclaimed Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa brings his Afro-Cuban Latin jazz — and view of the world — to our studio. Havana, Cuba, is the hometown of jazz pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa. But his music goes very wide — global — with an African flavor, of course. It’s at the heart of so much Cuban music. But then all over: Latin America, France, the America of Thelonious Monk. And into Cuba’s own rich musical history. It’s beautiful. It’s irresistible. This hour On Point, the Afro-Cuban-Latin-and-more jazz of Harold López-Nussa. — Tom Ashbrook
Read the full piece from: On Point
The first musician to be recognized with the honor, multiple Grammy® Award-winner McBride has distinguished himself both on the bandstand and off, but according to JazzTimes publisher Lee Mergner, one of the organizers of the conference, it's for the latter achievements that he was selected for the award. "Christian is truly a force of nature and not just as a player," said Mergner. "For the last few decades, he's been a tireless advocate and spokesman for the music, with a unique knowledge and respect for its past, present and future. And as an educator he's been a mentor and inspiration to several generations of young musicians."
Perhaps McBride's first experience as an educator and advocate came in 1997 when he spoke on former President Bill Clinton's town hall meeting "Racism in the Performing Arts." He has since been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005). In 1998 he combined roles, composing "The Movement, Revisited," a four-movement suite dedicated to four of the major figures of the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece was commissioned by the Portland (ME) Arts Society and the National Endowment for the Arts, and performed throughout New England in the fall of 1998 with McBride's quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir.
Currently he hosts and produces "The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian" on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio's "Jazz Night in America," a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country. With his staggering body of work, McBride is the ideal host, drawing on history, experience, and a gift for storytelling to bridge the gap between artist, music, and audience. He brings that same breadth of experience to bear as Artistic Advisor for Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and most recently for the Newport Jazz Festival. Completing the circle is his work with Jazz House Kids, the nationally recognized community arts organization founded by his wife, vocalist Melissa Walker.
"I'm very humbled and honored to receive an award that bears the name of one of the most respected and loved visionaries we have ever known, Bruce Lundvall," said McBride. "I wish I could have worked with him more often in my career, but the few times we spent together, I always learned a lot. Mostly I learned just what a great person he was. Just being a great person is always the most important thing."
The 2017 Jazz Connect Conference--co-presented by JazzTimes and Jazz Forward Coalition--brings together the jazz community for a series of panels, workshops and special events, and will be held at Saint Peter's Church at 54th Street & Lexington Avenue in New York City. With a theme of "The Family of Jazz," the conference leads into both the APAP conference and Winter Jazzfest. This past year's conference was attended by over 800 industry professionals and artists and featured a keynote address by Dee Dee Bridgewater, recently named a NEA Jazz Master. The Grammy® Award-winning bandleader/composer/arranger Maria Schneider will give the keynote address at the 2017 Jazz Connect Conference.
Read the full piece from: Bass Player
“Oh yes, the transition from classical studies to playing jazz was very hard for me. I was scared of improvising, scared of not having the written music of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart right in front of me. I had always been playing classical music, which was pretty much all that I did until I was 18,” Lopez-Nussa said by phone from Paris, a stop on his international promotional tour that includes an encore appearance at Old Lyme’s nationally acclaimed Side Door Jazz Club.
“One day my older brother said to me, ‘What are you afraid of, Harold? Just sit down and play,’” the pianist recalled of his older brother’s pragmatic prescription for conquering his fear of improvising without the safety net of having the written music of the masters right there to read from.
“But today,” he added, “I love that challenge. I love the idea that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s very exciting,” he said of creating music in the moment. Especially, his robust brand of jazz rooted in Cuba’s rich musical traditions, grooving high and free on Afro-Cuban rhythms, an array of various genres and, of course, his own originality and resourcefulness as a performer and composer.
Read the full piece from: WNPR
"It's important to keep music education alive at any age," said Butler. "Music has the power to transcend hardships and generations. It allows the voiceless to create their own song, their own narrative, and it provides a source of solace and inspiration all in one. D'Angelico Guitars are generous in partnering with us to give their incredible instruments to musicians across the country that are committed to music education and preservation."
Recipients of the guitars include the Gospel Music Association's GMA Academy, W.O. Smith Music School, Praise Charts, HBCU school students, and church musicians. The dream guitars will be presented to recipients in October, including at events hosted by Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards on Oct. 11 and the W.O. Smith Music School in Nashville, Tennessee, where Butler is speaking to students.
"Music Education is extremely close to our hearts," says Brenden Cohen, CEO of D'Angelico Guitars. "We are honored to be a part of philanthropic opportunities such as these. Schools that uphold the importance of music education and inspire the youth deserve access to the best resources, and we are proud to provide our instruments."
With a genuine and immense philanthropic heart, Butler actively supports causes he is passionate about including the Still Hope Foundation which equips single mothers with parenting tools that will enable them to become self-sufficient leaders of their households, The Grammy Foundation which cultivates the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture, and initiatives that encourage and equip musicians committed to excellence in their craft.
As a youth growing up in South Africa that followed his dreams and became a worldwide musical success, Butler stands as a beacon of hope of just what can be achieved if you put your mind to it.
Hands-on wherever he happens to be in the world, Butler is as passionate and committed to encouraging musicians to be persistent their craft as he is about his own music. In partnership with D'Angelico Guitars, he will recognize and honor musicians and students across the country that are committed to this same ambition and goal.
Read the full piece from: BreatheCast
Jazz legend Thelonious Monk was one of a kind – witty, offbeat, dissonant, totally unpredictable. Musicians and singers have been attempting to re-create the singular Monk magic for years to little avail. Enter the fearless and talented pianist/arranger John Beasley, who not only takes on Monk’s challenging but rewarding music by doubling up on the quirk, wit, and unpredictability, but orchestrates a 15-piece big band of Los Angeles’s finest jazz musicians to pull it off. MONK’estra, Vol. 1 is, as the man himself might say, a gas.
Read the full piece from: News Hub
Alan Gilbert began his tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic in September 2009 by turning the traditional season-opening gala concert into a strong statement of artistic purpose. Conductors at orchestras everywhere are under institutional pressure to make these gala programs, which also function as fund-raisers for patrons, light and festive. Mr. Gilbert’s inaugural challenged this notion.
He began with something festive in mood, but musically feisty: the premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s “EXPO,” a spiky 10-minute score. Then Renée Fleming was the soloist in an early Messiaen work, “Poèmes Pour Mi,” a rapturous 30-minute cycle of love songs. The evening ended with Mr. Gilbert conducting a blazing account of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.”
On Wednesday night at David Geffen Hall, however, Mr. Gilbert, who will step down as the Philharmonic’s music director in the spring, began his valedictory season with a gala program that was less ambitious and certainly not challenging. Still, the performances were excellent.
To start, he led the New York premiere of John Corigliano’s “STOMP,” a breathless, colorful seven-minute piece. The composer adapted this score in 2014 from a solo violin work he wrote as a piece for the Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia. In this bright, fidgety orchestral version the music hovers somewhere between a perpetual-motion toccata and country-fiddle hoedown, though a pensive middle section alters the mood for a while. True to its title, the orchestra players sometimes had to buttress rhythms in the music by stomping their feet.
Then the acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Aaron Diehl played an animated and uncommonly sensitive account of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. The New York Symphony Society, which merged with the Philharmonic in 1928, gave the premiere of this concerto in 1925 with Gershwin at the piano, so, officially the orchestra can claim premiership.
Read the full piece from: New York Times
MONTEREY, Calif. — Quincy Jones, who grew up in Seattle in the 1940s, was honored this past weekend at the 59th edition of the Monterey Jazz Festival with a crisp re-creation of a bundle of tunes he recorded on three A&M Records albums in the late ’60s and early ’70s — “Walking in Space,” “Gula Matari” and “Smackwater Jack.”
A brass-fortified big band hand-picked by festival artistic director Tim Jackson and the project’s musical director, Christian McBride, brought to life such classics as “Gula Matari,” “Walkin’” and “Walking in Space,” melding jazz, rock, funk and electronics. Jones conducted the infectious last tune, “Killer Joe,” which brought the crowd to its feet as a full moon, shining through misty evening cloud cover, visually echoed the silvery mystery of the music.
Read the full piece from: Seattle Times
For some reason, her publicist passed by my name in sending out review copies of her albums, though that's no excuse: I do pay cash money for new records now and then. I might not have gone to the trouble this time because I tend to be dismissive, or skeptical, of jazz singers. My reasoning: you don't have to sound like Charlie Parker or John Coltrane to be a great saxophone player; but if you want to sing standards, there's only so much you can do without inviting comparison with the great ones—Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, June Christy, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn—and few measure up.
Well, I went to see Cecile McLorin Salvant Thursday night at the Village Vanguard, and let me tell you, she more than measures up. She stands with the best of them. She does it all: her blues are bluesy, her swing swings, she spans every octave (from silky highs to growly lows to everything, every shade in between), with the full range of emotion—joy, rage, wit, whimsy, frothy romance, heavy passion—and she does it naturally, without a trace of show-off. She does it with Gershwin, Berlin, Bessie Smith, and—in the set's jaw-drop closer—Kurt Weill & Langston Hughes' "Somehow I Could Never Believe," from their little-known opera, Street Scene, on which she displayed a vast and subtle range of character and mood, suggesting she could hit it big on Broadway (or at City Opera), if she chose. She's a master storyteller as well as a master singer.
Oh, and she's 28 years old.
She was born in Miami, her father a Haitian doctor, her mother the founder of a French immersion school. She took lessons in classical piano from age five, sang in a local choir at eight. At 18, she moved to Aix-en-Provence to study classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory (she also made time to study law), then took lessons in improvisation and the songbook repertory. Only at this point, in 2009, at the age of 20, did she try her hand at jazz singing; she drew rave reviews for a gig at Ronnie Scott's in London and kept going.
Her band is also top-notch. Pianist Aaron Diehl has a supple touch and inventive chops comparable to the great accompanists to jazz singers—say, Tommy Flanagan to Ella or Mal Waldron to Billie. Paul Sikivie plucks a warm insistence on bass. Lawrence Leathers spreads sticks and brushes on the drums with supreme tastiness.
If you can nab one of the small number of seats for sale this weekend (she and her trio play through Sunday, September 11), rush to do so. If not, catch her the next time she's in your city. Meanwhile, I'm going to check out her albums. I'll let you know.
Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/cecile-mclorin-salvant#BcuXKwwb3jmMDUFE.99
Read the full piece from: Stereophile
He lived in a traditional courtyard house in a hutong (alley) for three weeks and walked for hours every day to explore the city where he found there was no jazz.
"But I am pretty sure if I had played jazz then for my neighbors in the hutong they would have understood because the emotions, especially the struggle, expressed in the music is universal," says Garrett, recounting his first trip to Beijing.
The experience inspired him to produce a CD called Beyond the Wall, which earned him a Grammy nomination in 2006.
During the past 10 years, Garrett has returned to China often to perform at music festivals and teach at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
But he didn't expect that jazz - a genre that originated in African-American communities of New Orleans in the late 19th century - to take root and develop in China quite so quickly.
This summer, he returned to the capital and was excited to perform with his quintet at the opening of Blue Note Beijing, the first Chinese branch of the Blue Note Jazz Club, the famous New York establishment, on Thursday.
"We travel around the world and present music to people. So, for me, opening up for Beijing is special. I like Beijing and I want to give back.
"I am excited to be the first one here to introduce jazz, my version of jazz, to Beijing audiences," he says.
The Blue Note was founded in 1981 by Danny Bensusan in New York's Greenwich Village.
Many legendary jazz musicians, including Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock, have performed on the Blue Note stage.
Bensusan is credited with revitalizing jazz in New York.
Read the full piece from: China.org
PLACES LIKE NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES AND NASHVILLE GET THE REPUTATIONS FOR BEING CENTERS OF MUSIC, BUT THE FACT IS THAT MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL CITIES FOR AMERICAN MUSIC, RANKING MAYBE ONLY SECOND TO NYC TO IT’S BREADTH AND WIDTH.
CARE TO DISAGREE? HOW ABOUT IT BEING THE BIRTHPLACE OF WC HANDY? THEN THERE’S THE STORIES OF BEALE STREET THAT ARE LEGENDARY. AS FAR AS ARTISTS, MEMPHIS HAS DELIVERED MORE THAN IT’S SHARE: BB KING, BOBBY ‘BLUE’ BLAND, HANK CRAWFORD, GEORGE COLEMAN, AL GREEN, HOWLIN’ WOLF, ISAAC HAYES, ARETHA FRANKLIN, CHARLES LLOYD, JIMMIE LUNCEFORD AND MEMPHIS SLIM ARE JUST A HANDFUL THAT FIRST COME TO MIND.
NOT TO MENTION, THE LEGENDARY LABEL, STAX RECORDS, WAS FOUNDED HERE AND WAS THE HOME OF ARTISTS THAT CHANGED THE DIRECTION OF MUSIC, BEING ONE OF THE VERY FIRST LABELS TO HAVE INTEGRATED ROCK GROUPS. WITH THE BACKING OF BOOKER T JONES AND THE BAR-KEYS, THE LABEL STARTED THE CAREERS OF SAM & DAVE, EDDIE FLOYD AND A GUY BY THE NAME OF OTIS REDDING.
THEN, YOU’VE GOT SUN RECORDS, WHICH WAS THE FIRST HOME FOR JOHNNY CASH, SAM PERKINS, ELVIS PRESLEY AND JERRY LEE LEWIS. DRY RUB BBQ WAS INVENTED HERE, WITH ‘THE RENDEVOUS’ STILL OPEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. THROW IN ELVIS’ HOME OF GRACELAND, AND AL GREEN’S CHURCH WHERE HE HOLDS THE PULPIT, AND YOU’VE GOT JUST ABOUT EVERY SIDE OF LIFE COVERED.
KEEPING AND CONTINUING THE TRADITION, KIRK WHALUM STILL LIVES IN THE CITY WHERE HE WAS BORN. HAVING TOURED AND MAKING FAME WITH WHITNEY HOUSTON DURING HER “I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” DAYS, HE NOW LIVES THE LIFE OF MIXING SOULFUL JAZZ AND ‘JAZZING UP’ CHURCH SONGS. HIS COLLECTION OF ALBUMS ENTITLED ‘THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAZZ’ HAS SHOWN WHERE THE SOUL OF JAZZ ACTUALLY BEGAN, WHICH IS THE CHURCH.
HE’S ALSO PARTNERED WITH FRIENDS NORMAN BROWN AND RICK BRAUN FOR A TRIO OF SWINGING ALBUMS. TOGETHER, THEY’VE RECORDED SOUL HITS AND MICHAEL JACKSON MATERIAL THAT FITS THEIR GROOVE. THEIR LATEST ALBUM, ‘BWB’ INCLUDES ORIGINALS THAT ARE TOE TAPPING PIECES OF JOY.
WE RECENTLY CAUGHT UP WITH THE SWINGIN’ REV, AND ASKED HIM TO LET US CATCH UP ON HIS LIFE, AND WHAT THE MEMPHIS LIFE MEANS TO HIM PERSONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.
HOW ARE THINGS WITH YOU RIGHT NOW?
Read the full piece from: JAZZ WEEKLY
While his contemporaries chased the past glories of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet, Beasley was playing piano in the short-lived band Thelonious, the Los Angeles Monk repertory outfit co-led by veteran bassist Buell Neidlinger and emerging tenor sax master Marty Krystall. But unlike the jacket-and-tie-clad bebop revivalistis, Beasley wasn’t learning Monk’s greatest hits from his father’s Blue Note albums. The Thelonious band vibrantly dug into deeper titles in the Monk canon with contemporary zeal.
At 18 and 19, Beasley also worked with Monk’s 1960s bassist Larry Gales, who made his home in L.A. Gales passed along an appropriately opaque bit of Monkian wisdom to the young pianist: “Kid, ya gotta learn how to breathe when ya play.”
You couldn’t mistake the Thelonious version of “Little Rootie Tootie,” with Peter Erskine’s peppery eighth-note drum propulsion and Krystall’s upper register multiphonics, for the dusty museum pieces routinely rendered on jazz festival stages. And Beasley has carried that spirit with him all these years.
“With Buell,” the 55-year old Beasley recalls, “I had to learn a bunch of Monk tunes all at once. And they were all hard to play.”
Though most of the Monk numbers had been composed in the ‘40s and ‘50s, their idiosyncrasies made them avant-garde to Beasley. "I was listening to Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter’s modal stuff,” he recalls, “but this was pre-modal jazz. The challenges were not only harmonic, but rhythmic too.”
Read the full piece from: LA Weekly
Read the full piece from: Trumpet Magazine
Hundreds of jazz fans gathered at Stanbic Bank Piazza to witness the headline act Jonathan Butler in action alongside local stars. Prior to the event, so much had been said about the U.S based South African singer-songwriter and guitarist but it was time for the words to turn into action.
The first act on the day was a back up and instrumental fusion band called Elect from Zambia. The Afro Jazz group was able to fuse different sounds.
Elect is one of the hottest young bands in their country.
Re Batswana Music Ensemble, which is made up of Nnunu Ramogotsi, Lister Boleseng, Ndingo Johwa, Banjo Mosele and Lekofi Sejeso, soon took over the stage and the result was amazing.
They performed Lister Boleseng’s song entitled Ke swa hela from his latest offering Moratiso.
The only lady in the ensemble, Nnunu enhanced everything when she took over the mic from Lister Boleseng.
Read the full piece from: The Monitor
The paucity of jazz vibraphonists may be due in part to the complexity of mastering an instrument that's like a hybrid of drums, percussion and piano. Notwithstanding, one of the instrument's brightest stars is 36 year old Baltimore native Warren Wolf, a rising virtuoso whose form and technical abilities continue the lineage of great vibe players such as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson and Stefon Harris.
Convergence is outstanding and features Wolf's superb trio with longtime mentor bassist Christian McBride and the dynamic drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts in a diverse mix up-tempo, ballad, and swing compositions. The icing on the cake comes in the guest appearance of jazz luminaries guitarist John Scofield on the funky boogaloo "Soul Sisters" and pianist Brad Mehldau's spacious delivery in the tone poem "Four Stars from Heaven" both which are two of the recordings many highlights.
The cover of late Bobby Hutcherson's "Montara" may be album's most memorable track with a chilled theme that recalls yet another pioneer vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Its motif is simple perfection: a threaded ostinato where Wolf lays down a soulful soliloquy on marimba while McBride and Watts go deep into the rhythmic pocket. It's a fitting ode to the great legacy of Hutcherson who passed on August 15, 2016.
Wolf's appreciation of the history, his suave control, sensitive touch and fierce percussive skills are not the only qualities which resonate. He's also serving up new memories of timeless gem in poignant covers of Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet" and "Stardust / The Minute Waltz" which uniquely combines Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust" with Chopin's "The Minute Waltz." Wolf does it all brilliantly.
Track Listing: Soul Sisters; Four Stars From Heaven; King Of Two Fives; New Beginning; Cell Phone; Montara; Havoc; Tergiversation; Knocks Me Off My Feet; A Prayer For The Christian Man; Stardust / The Minute Waltz.
Personnel: Warren Wolf: vibes, marimba (5, 6, 9, 10, 11), Fender Rhodes (2, 9), piano (9); Christian McBride: bass (1-3, 5-10); Brad Mehldau: piano (1, 2, 4, 5, 7); John Scofield (1, 7); Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums (1, 2, 5-10).
Read the full piece from: All About Jazz
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Raul Midón is one of music's most distinctive and searching voices. He is "a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus," according to The New York Times. With eight studio albums under his belt, Raul has just wrapped another studio project, slated for a March 2017 release on Mack Avenue Records. In the meantime, Raul has announced a U.S. tour for September that takes him from coast to coast. We can’t wait to hear his new music!
Read the full piece from: SoulTracks
“I never really wanted to play the piano — I was not an enthusiastic student! — but my mother kept me at it for 13 years. She’s a very strong woman and I’m afraid of her, slightly!” Salvant said backstage shortly after accepting her 2016 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for “For One to Love” (Mack Avenue Records), a 13-song aural gem that shines throughout.
Read the full piece from: San Diego Union-Tribune
Read the full piece from: Bonnie Johnson "Colors of Jazz" WICN.org
Short Stories, Dominick Farinacci (Mack Avenue), finds the 30-something trumpeter fashioning often sophisticated, elaborate versions of tunes culled from the worlds of pop, folk and jazz into distinctive, highly suggestive narrative arcs. The producer is famed pop music auteur Tommy LiPuma who, like the trumpeter, is a native of Cleveland. The production is sleek and lush, recalling the pristine sounds and urbane tastes of mid-20th Century albums from the labels of Creed Taylor, whose CTI brand signaled jazz sophistication.
The rhythm section features not only pianist Larry Goldings, often doubling on organ, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Steve Gadd, but often adds legendary session guitarist Dean Parks and percussionist Jamey Haddad, with Gil Goldstein playing accordion on four of the ten tracks. Six tunes also add a string and woodwind sextet, while two others feature vocals and electronic instruments from Jacob Collier.
A New Orleans R&B vibe infuses the opener, the Gypsy Kings’ “Bamboleo,” Dominick paying tribute to his Louis Armstrong roots, especially in the stop-time breaks, surrounded by churning rhythm and full ensemble sections and echoed by Mark Mauldin’s trombone (in its only appearance). Percussive shakes and rattles add to the south of the border flavor of Horace Silver’s “Senor Blues,” with multi-vocals from Jacob Collier, and the leader’s “Afternoon in Puebla” as well as Dianne Reeves’ “Tango.” Arabic scales and the muezzin-like vocals of Lebanese singer Mike Massy highlight Dominick’s “Doha Blues,” inspired by his time in Qatar.
The most lyrical period of Miles Davis and Gil Evans inspires a lush version of Tom Waits’ “Soldier’s Things,” trumpet caressed by the strings and woodwinds. Another outstanding ballad track is the standard “Black Coffee,” featuring Dominick’s one foray into plunger and muted trumpet. Two songs are appropriated from the pop charts: Cream’s early rock hit, “Sunshine of Your Love,” riding on the original bass riff jazzily swung; and the 2013 Grammy Record of the Year, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” given an electronic treatment and Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies by Jacob. Larry contributes the sly, tongue-in-cheek finale, “Parlour Song.”
Read the full piece from: Hot House Jazz
BY ED ENRIGHT
John Beasley, Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1 (Mack Avenue)
The first time I listened to this album in my car, I nearly missed my exit on the expressway. There is so much hep stuff happening in these new big band arrangements of tunes by Thelonious Monk that I was transported to another realm, one where the car seems capable of driving itself. Then it struck me: That’s precisely what’s happening with these charts and this ensemble of L.A.’s finest musicians and special guests, all under the direction of pianist/conductor/arranger John Beasley. Everything on Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1 feels so natural and inevitable, it’s almost as if the material plays itself. And if you enjoy Monk—whether for his undeniable logic, quirky song architecture or innate sense of swing—Beasley’s band will leave you rapt. Beasley has been writing big band charts since he was a teenager, and he has long been fascinated by Monk’s music (this debut recording by the MONK’estra is actually Beasley’s third album of material by the High Priest of Bebop). Beasley’s MONK’estra has performed live since 2013, and he has served as musical director for the Monk Institute’s Jazz Day gala concerts since 2011 and for International Jazz Day events since 2012. (He has done plenty of commercial work as well, most notably as the lead arranger for TV’s American Idol from 2005 to 2016.) Beasley knows his Monk inside and out, and he knows his way around a chart. But, most importantly, this onetime member of groups led by Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis knows how to give his bandmembers—including guest stars Gary Burton on vibes (“Epistrophy”) and Grégoire Maret on harmonica (“Ask Me Now”)—sufficient freedom to stylize the written passages and improvise with abandon. In applying all of his acquired skills and personal passions to Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1, Beasley brings Monk to life once again for modern-minded listeners.
Read the full piece from: Downbeat
It's classic Cole on "Turn It Up" and "She's The One." His signature sax harmonies and up-beat melodies take over and has just the right snap and sauciness to have you craving more.
"Reverence" slows it down a bit (or one may think). If you listen really carefully you'll hear every note from every instrument; from the acoustical guitar peeping through, to the soft beats and percussion. Then there's Steve coming in strong on sax. One of the things I like about Steve, he can make it sound as soft and sexy as you want (remember "Stay Awhile" from his 1998 debut CD) or he can go strong and blow you away. That takes talent, and talent he has!
Read the full piece from: Smooth Jazz Magazine
There was a period back in the 1970s or so, when rock supergroups were all the rage with the likes of Cream, Traffic, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young among others. Jazz never quite went in that direction apart from the unintended exception of The Quintet ( which came together for one performance only at Massey Hall, Toronto in 1953, and the historic recording that followed) and perhaps VSOP. One never quite thought of the classic Bill Evans Trio or Oscar Peterson Trio or the original Miles Davis Quintet along those lines although it would have been possible to do so. The Warren Wolf release Convergence has combined star power and individuality, and thus has all the attributes of a supergroup. Thankfully no such promotional efforts have detracted from the breadth and scope of the originality of the music coming from this band.
With a judicious mix of original material and covers of popular music, Wolf and his cohorts bring their ‘A’ game to the recording studio under the practiced ear of producer Christian McBride. “Soul Sister” is a perfect opener with its Latin/funky groove, that serves as a feature for Scofield’s wickedly bluesy guitar, followed by Wolf’s sonorous vibes, as Watts pushes the band forward with his pulsating beat.
Read the full piece from: Audiophile Audition
Asa performing artist, I’m fortunate to travel all over the globe. Through the years, music has gone from something that was just fun to do to as much a part of my life as breathing. It’s become increasingly clear to me that it has the power to bring people of different walks of life together, to help foster a deeper understanding of each other, to bring comfort to those going through a difficult time, and to shine a light on an important topic. These experiences are the culmination of a new series called Short Stories — bringing together music and real life stories to encourage dialogue around an important message in our society.
Read the full piece from: medium.com - Dominick Farinacci
I have a confession to make: Kenny Garrett is the first musician that has ever made me cry during a live performance. I’ll never forget it. Kenny has a way of speaking through his saxophone in such a way that it does something to your spirit…..and you find your soul talking back. And yes, dancing is something I’ve also done to Kenny’s music, and something I found myself doing to this new album from the very start.
Read the full piece from: WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM
A jazz musician who listens — that’s trumpeter, composer, and humanitarian Dominick Farinacci, 33. His debut album on Mack Avenue Records employs an all-star, all-you-desire global cast all over short stories in lovely, empathic musical snippets, with and without vocals. Designed to uplift the human race through shared emotional upheavals and walks in someone else’s shoes, Farinacci’s Short Stories succeeds where other recordings fail.
With Farinacci’s singular trumpet action woven throughout glimpses into the lives of the familiar and the exotic, Short Stories drips with human emotion, whether it’s the feeling you get when love ripples through like a thunder storm, or a visit to a foreign place of the ancient and the modern (Qatar).
Unlike most jazz recordings, Farinacci pinpoints feelings of pure ecstasy, wonder, and immaculate inception over love, spirituality, the despair of war with eerie accuracy, and immense empathy.
The musicians on Farinacci’s album of empirical empathy are the best ones for the job of fleshing out the wounds and banners of the indomitable, surprising human spirit. They include Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride, Modern Drummer Hall of Fame inductee Steve Gadd, prolific keyboard composer Larry Goldings, Lebanese hand drummer Jamey Haddad, London hip mixologist Jacob Collier, and multi-Grammy-winning producer Tommy LiPuma (Paul McCartney, Miles Davis, Barbra Streisand, Diana Krall, George Benson, Natalie Cole).
This isn’t just a one-off recording, either. Farinacci’s understanding of human suffering and the art of redemption goes much, much deeper into effective activism. Together with LiPuma, 79, he’s built substantial solutions to the problem of lack in this world. They helped conceive and build the Cuyahoga Community College’s Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts in Cleveland, Ohio, where both artists are from. They and the recording band conducted workshop sessions for the students and filmed the entire process with GoPro cameras.
Read the full piece from: AXS.com
He’s celebrating the release of “Short Stories,” an album whose personnel includes the pianist Larry Goldings, the bassist Christian McBride and the drummer Steve Gadd. (His band won’t have quite the same star power here.) At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th Street and Broadway, 212-258-9595, jazz.org. (Chinen)
Read the full piece from: NY Times
The chemistry between McBride and Marsalis, who first met when McBride was still in high school and Marsalis, in his 20s, was already a rising star. Marsalis recognized McBride’s talent, saying how he knew when he saw McBride play that he was going to be amazing talent because no one else was playing bass like McBride. The mutual respect and admiration the two had was poignant as was Marsalis’ sharing of his own musical journey, including experiences growing up and some of the obstacles he encountered (as well as some funny anecdotes about Marsalis’ mother).
Marsalis shared what it was like growing up in New Orleans and how he decided to leave to attend Juilliard. “I didn’t like all the racism,” says Marsalis of coming up in New Orleans. “I grew up in segregation and I didn’t like to be messed with or disrespected on any level. The disrespect was too much.”
Read the full piece from: Baristanet.com
Grammy-winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant is gaining renown in Europe and the US for her interpretations of classic jazz standards. Radio France describes her voice as "disarmingly musical” with “the class of Sarah Vaughn, the instinct of Betty Carter and the dark lows of Carmen McCrae.” In 2010, she won the Thelonious Monk Competition in Washington, DC. At this year’s Spoleto Festival, she’ll perform original songs from her 2015 album, For One to Love. Cecile McLorin Salvant performs Friday, June 3rd at 9pm at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard.
Read the full piece from: South Carolina Public Radio
The first actually involves Bromberg's back. Full Circle marks Bromberg's return to recording and full-on playing since suffering a debilitating spinal injury several years ago. Always a chops-meister, Bromberg truly projects the sheer joy of music-making throughout. Cutting loose seems like a great thing to do, as Bromberg could barely hold his instruments, let alone play them, even after months of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Now returned to his former strength, Full Circle is also Bromberg's first "true jazz" album. There is obviously some risk involved in such a move, as Bromberg has been, first and foremost, a high-energy jazz-rock fusion artist. Though fans of Bromberg's previous albums may find Full Circle to be a little... um... disorienting, they will certainly be pleased by the virtuosic super-tight playing throughout, guest shots by high-profile artists such as Arturo Sandoval, Kirk Whalum, Mitchel Forman, and Bob Sheppard, and the album's ultra-high-gloss production values.
Backstories two and three are Bromberg's return to drumming after forty-odd years, and the dedication of Full Circle to his dad, Howard Bromberg. It turns out that Brian Bromberg's first instrument was the drum set, on which he modeled himself after his father. Bromberg père was an aspiring bebop drummer who was on the brink of a jazz career when military service took him to Tucson, AZ where he married and started a family. Howard kept his sticks at the ready, playing frequently on the local scene. He taught his sons how to play the drums, as well. Brian, however, fell in love with the bass and the rest—as they say—is history. The album is bookended by two recordings Howard Bromberg made with his Tucson-based band about 65 years ago. Using 21st Century technology Brian was able to isolate his father's drum track, along with the trumpet and trombone of Jimmy Saunders and Phil Washburn, and accompany the trio—via overdubbing—on two classic Dixieland pieces. These tracks stand as a sweet and heartfelt tribute, and they are quite enjoyable.
Read the full piece from: All About Jazz
Not that the Havana native has abandoned his roots: the Tocororo is the national bird of Cuba, and the album opens with a deft exploration of Compay Segundo’s Chan Chan, which also opens the all-conquering Buena Vista Social Club album.
His collaborations with Indian vocalist Ganavaya Doraiswamy, French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf and, especially, the great Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona, take the Cuban virtues of rhythmic precision and heart-on-the-sleeve romanticism in new and unorthodox directions.
Read the full piece from: Irish Times
Brian Bromberg is one of those consummate bass players around. A highly respected studio stud, he’s released some amazing albums ranging from “smooth” jazz to Hendrix tributes. Here, he picks, plucks strums and even hits just about everything, as he’s on acoustic bass, electic bass, piccolo bass and even drums along with a mix and match team and attitude with Randy Waldman/p and a horn section that changes partners like Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti.
The jazz styles actually do run as the title of the album suggests, with a full circle of swing, starting and ending with some fantastic jive on “Jazz Me Blues” and “Washington and Lee Swing” that could be mistaken for a broadcast from the Roseland Ballroom as Phil Washburn/tb and Jimmy Saunders wail for the Lindy Hoppers. In other instances, you might feel like you’re sitting in on a Wes Montgomery Riverside studio session in Hackensack NJ, as Mitch Forman’s B3 grooves out to Bromberg’s guitar like bass on “Sneaky Pete” and some tight sounds sizzle on trio work with Doug Webb’s beefy sax on “Boomerang” and “Bernie’s Bop.” You even get some sweaty salsa as Arturo Sandoval smokes like a Romeo & Juliet on “Havana Nights” and even better is the Crescent City two stepping on “Naw’lins” with Kirk Whalum preaching from the pulpit.
Some day, people are going to look back on Bromberg’s catalogue and wonder why they didn’t appreciate him back ‘in the day.’ This is the day to start!
Read the full piece from: JazzWeekly.com
Cyrillic Aimée (Let’s Get Lost): Actually, I love having my personal moment to put on makeup before the show. It relaxes me and concentrates me. Plus, I get to have a moment without the boys, and sometimes, while I put on my makeup, I listen to a podcast (RadioLab), or to some comedy (Louis CK). I really enjoy putting it on more than I enjoy wearing it!
I used to never wear makeup, on- or off-stage, and one summer, I went on tour with a very popular electro-swing band called Caravan Palace, and we were playing in front of huge audiences of thousands of people, and when I would see the photos of the concert, I couldn't see my eyes in any of them! I realized that onstage is not like in real life. You have to wear makeup, because of the spotlights and the fact that the audience can be far away. So I bought some makeup and started learning and realized I liked doing it.
Read the full piece from: AXS.com
The Caribbean island of Cuba has been in the news a lot lately, mostly in conjunction with the “thawing” of relationships between the nation and the United States, something that will allow for a greater cultural exchange between the two countries. Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez left the island quite some time ago and is now enjoying a life in the US where he works with vaunted musician and producer Quincy Jones. The most recent fruit of their combined labors is Rodriguez’s new album, Tocororo. Rodriguez is currently on tour in the US and he’ll also be appearing with Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in July.
We had a chance to speak by email with Rodriguez, who talked about working with Jones and why the album is called Tocororo while also speaking candidly about making the difficult decision to leave Cuba. His insights below are given exclusively to AXS.com.
Read the full piece from: AXS.com
All of this comes as he settles into his new role as Newport’s artistic director, succeeding the festival’s legendary cofounder, George Wein.
McBride was already juggling assorted off-stage roles — most prominently hosting National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America” — when Wein announced in March that he was handing over the artistic director gig, and promoting Danny Melnick to producer. But McBride knew all along he would remain an active musician.
Read the full piece from: Boston Globe
Russell Ferrante and Bob Mintzer are still around, with Dane Alderson/b and William Kennedy/dr-synth being the newest members since Haslip and Bailey have moved on. The team still sounds together, comfortable in the mix of acoustic and electric on this latest album.
The band can still churn out exciting new material, such as “Golden State” which sounds like the hustle and bustle of LA traffic with Ferrante’s hectic piano and Mintzer’s lane changing tenor. Newer members Kennedy’s ride cymbal pushes the jagged edges and mysterious piano on “Guarded Optimism” and Alderson’s bass work around Ferrante’s fingers on “Anticipation” is warm and deft.
The quartet also does some respectful tributes to tenor players of the past; Eddie Harris is felt on the soulful and funky “Eddie’s in the House” with an irresistible soul groove, and John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” is reworked with some draping strings, reharmonization and countermelody to give it a more cerebral celebration. Hints of Weather Report are delivered on the playful “Fran’s Dance” while the traditional American tune “Shanendoah” spotlights Mintzer’s glowing tenor.
Read the full piece from: JazzWeekly.com
The record is beautiful and Aimée’s voice is light and limpid, though not without metal. Her roles as the character in these narratives are almost soubrette-ish. Her diction is truly exceptional throughout and impressive in both English and French – and it would seem nearly as good in Spanish too. And there is evidence of real imagination behind her programmes and her interpretations.
This is a bright and chirpy album. Both her last two albums are just so. Her singing is deeply expressive, yet she is far too intelligent a musician ever to be for a moment self-indulgent or self-conscious.
Read the full piece from: LatinJazzNet.com
Salvant has a unique way of turning a song from a simple melody with rhythm into a audible painting, creating intricate textures not unlike a Monet as she goes from a swinging bop feel on “Nothing Like You” but yet twist and turn it into a taffy pull. Her talent for dynamics made her throw out lyrics like a slingshot on “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” whereas the pop 60s hit “Wives and Lovers” mixed prismatic harmonics with kinetic undercurrents by the rhythm team, with the opposing tensions creating an agonizingly glorious contrast.
Read the full piece from: JazzWeekly.com
Prior to recording the album, the band had road-tested the new tunes during a European tour, including an extended run in London.
For the 11 p.m. set, attendance was strong, particularly for a Tuesday night. With the band’s current lineup—Bob Mintzer on saxophones and EWI, Russell Ferrante on keyboards, Will Kennedy on drums and Australian Dane Alderson, a new addition, on bass (replacing Felix Pastorius)—a more straightahead character is evident, with a lesser degree of fusion bite.
The opening number, “Spirit Of The West” (from 1998’s Club Nocturne), held a guileless cheerfulness, romping with pan-piping synth sounds and warbly bass. Even less than a decade ago, this band had a harder sound, which now seems diluted to a pastoral lightness.
Read the full piece from: DownBeat.com
“As a toddler, my uncles [saxophonist] David Lastie, [trumpeter] Melvin Lastie and [drummer] Walter Lastie had a band, the Lastie Brothers Combo. They would rehearse at my grandparents’ house and with me being there, I got to hear the music. I heard ‘Moanin’’ and ‘Sister Sadie.’ So music was always a part of me.”
Riley’s uncles and grandfather, who played drums in the church, were his first influences in his upward-spiraling career of over 40 years. At 59, Riley is considered one of the finest and most unique jazz drummers in the world and stands strongly in New Orleans’ impressive drum lineage, one that includes Ed Blackwell, James Black, Earl Palmer, Smokey Johnson, Idris Muhammad and more. Those legends too were influential in his development.
Read the full piece from: OffBeat Magazine
With great spirit and animation he travels the African diaspora from Congo Square to his Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, to New York and beyond. Riley celebrates his strikingly good album New Direction with the guys who joined him in its making – pianist Emmet Cohen, bassist Russell Hall, trumpeter Bruce Harris and saxophonist Godwin Louis. You want the best, you got the best.
Read the full piece from: Louisiana Weekly
Julian Lage, Arclight (March 11, Mack Avenue Records)
The album starts with a slightly modified rock beat (“Fortune Teller”), and digs in from there -- an emphasis on melody and a lack of politeness set help Lage set himself apart from jazz guitar’s often florid tradition. Notes of prog stay “jazzy” with the sparse ensemble, while Lage’s lyric gift leaves the listener with melodies likely to endure even after just one listen. Even “Nocturne,” though gentle, won’t necessarily lull you to sleep (though it’s not out of the question the song could end up alongside Ed Sheeran on some tactical Spotify playlist). Lage’s inventive arrangements will engage even the most intimidated of jazz listeners, and his omnivorous, memorable flights will keep them on the hook.
Read the full piece from: Billboard.com
Barack Obama and wife Michelle have announced plans to hold a concert next month, featuring a string of musical legends including Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Sting and Herbie Hancock.
Other performers on the day will include Joey Alexander, Terence Blanchard, Kris Bowers, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Till Brönner, Terri Lyne Carrington, Chick Corea, Jamie Cullum, Kurt Elling, Robert Glasper, Buddy Guy, Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Diana Krall, Lionel Loueke, Hugh Masekela, Christian McBride, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Marcus Miller, James Morrison, Danilo Pérez, Rebirth Brass Band, Dianne Reeves, Lee Ritenour, David Sánchez, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Trombone Shorty, Chucho Valdés, Bobby Watson and Ben Williams. John Beasley is overall musical director.
Read the full piece from: The Guardian
Ever since he returned to perform in his war-torn homeland in the 1980s, he's seen the potential for jazz to be a vehicle for social change, and spent much of his time offstage seeding this vision in the form of youth music education programs. The Panama Jazz Festival he founded, for instance, doesn't just feature major international acts — it brings students from all sorts of backgrounds to share the stage, and funnels profits back to them.
Read the full piece from: NPR.org
In this release New Direction, he heads a band of young whipper-snappers, who dive into a set list of mostly Herlin Riley originals that run the gamut of styles, but are still jazz-oriented.
The title track “New Direction” kicks things off in exemplary fashion with Riley laying down a rhythmic direction that signifies his inventiveness, with pianist Cohen offering an inspired solo, and guitarist Mark Whitfield demonstrating why he was included in this session. “Spring Fantasy” is a Latin infused number with a bluesy feel, that has some stellar alto work by Godwin Louis. Pianist Cohen also shows some smart single-note playing.
Read the full piece from: Audiophile Audition
A scaled-down quintet version of the ensemble appears in Seattle next week, with bassist Christian McBride at the helm, plus two saxophonists: Kirk Whalum, playing tenor in a muscular, straight-ahead style that might surprise his smooth-jazz fans, and husky-toned altoist Tia Fuller, who has burning bebop chops. The group, which writes its own tunes and arrangements, is rounded out by Carl Allen (drums) and McBride’s regular trio pianist, Christian Sands.
Read the full piece from: Seattle Times
Not just any electric guitar, mind you, but a Fender Telecaster, which brings out a welcome country twang in Lage’s formerly suave, sophisticated melodic imagination. The mood veers from tender to raucous, with echoes of Bill Frisell and particularly Jim Hall, whose erstwhile colleagues, bass player Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollensen, make up the sensitive, ever-responsive rhythm section.
Read the full piece from: The Irish Times
Like the Arclight of the title, this is jazz that glows with a simple intensity that throws light on what’s possible with six strings and an unlimited imagination. Released on 11 March, Arclight is Lage’s first release with the Mack Avenue label and also his debut electric guitar album. However, unlike Dylan’s decision to go electric, Lage’s selection of electric guitar - specifically, a Fender Telecaster, “the most refined embodiment of the modern guitar” as Lage puts its - seems a sensible choice for a guitarist looking for the next step in his development as an artist.
Read the full piece from: LondonJazz News
Tocororo is equal parts sophistication and sincerity. It's the sound of a prodigiously talented Cuban embracing the wider world of music. Best of all, the album resonates with the possibility of all the other new music we'll discover as Cuba itself opens up to the world.
Read the full piece from: NPR All Things Considered
The end result is a brisk but bracing affair, with few cuts lasting over four minutes. Lage and company spin minor variations on each of the catchy numbers' melodic, harmonic and rhythmic foundations without undue extrapolation—an approach suggested by producer and singer-songwriter Jesse Harris, who wisely encouraged the trio to stick with first takes, capturing the spontaneous energy of their initial renditions.
Read the full piece from: All About Jazz
Pianist Alfredo Rodriguez is living up to the promise that producer/discoverer Quincy Jones initially saw in the Cuban exile a number of years ago. Each album has had its own personality and has shown growth in terms of style and composing skills...Each song has a lyrical simplicity, yet with enough richness in delivery and tecnnique to make you come back for more. Bravo.
Read the full piece from: Jazz Weekly
On stage and in the studio, Ray did it all -- jazz, R&B, rock and roll, pop. He even helped bring the country music he loved to a broader audience. But whatever genre of music he was playing, there was no mistaking his singular sound –- that virtuoso piano playing that matched that one-of-a-kind voice. Even as a young man, he had the rich, raw honey tone of an old soul. No matter the feeling -– whether it was love, longing, or loss -– Ray Charles had the rare ability to collapse our weightiest emotions into a single note. And from the tiny clubs in which he started out to the arenas that he eventually filled, Ray was an electrifying performer. He couldn’t see us, but we couldn’t take our eyes off of him.
Read the full piece from: The White House
It’s kind of a continuation of my last album, It’s A Good Day. It’s the same band, and if It’s A Good Day was the sun, Let’s Get Lost is the moon. The band was created in the studio for the last album, and I had the band in my head before that, and the idea of having these two completely different sounding guitars come together on it. I had no idea how it was going to sound, and Michael, the electric guitar player, lives in Brooklyn and we worked on arranging and he had a great guitar view of the arrangements in a way where one wouldn’t stomp on the other’s toes.
Read the full piece from: New York Observer
Mr. Riley, who just turned 59, has been a shining exemplar of New Orleans rhythm — as a cultural study, a living language and a model of hybridity — since emerging on the national scene in the 1980s. Working first with the pianist Ahmad Jamal, and then the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, he established a reputation for his commanding yet ebullient groove. That irresistible force provides the foundation for “New Direction,” but not as an end unto itself.
Read the full piece from: New York Times
Bassist Christian McBride (also) won the Grammy Award for best improvised solo for his work on "Cherokee" from his trio album "Live at the Village Vanguard," which bested work from Alexander as well as Joshua Redman, John Scofield and saxophonist Donny McCaslin.
Read the full piece from: the LA Times
Aimée showcased her linguistic and musical range by covering a rarely performed Edith Piaf ballad, “T’es Beau Tu Sais,” then singing “Estrellitas Y Duendes,” written by the Dominican pop star Juan Luis Guerra. The combination reflected the musical influences of her French father and her mother’s Dominican heritage. Valeanu and Danor added a bolero feel to the Piaf tune, and Moignard and Valeanu seamlessly traded bright guitar riffs on the Guerra song.
Read the full piece from: DownBeat
The bulk of the set consisted of a composition apiece by each musician. Fuller’s challenging “Decisive Steps,” she said, is a distillation of what she always advises students about “moving forward in faith and not fear,” and she practiced what she preaches on her roaring alto solo. McBride’s “Paint Brushes” came next, Burton supplying an intro and the bassist wrapping up the soloing with one of his own. Jones’s “Gretchen” was written as Christmas approached, for Mack Avenue founder Gretchen Valade, and he joked that “Contrary to popular belief, trumpet players can write pretty songs” — his lovely waltz proving the point, greatly aided by his own gorgeous flugelhorn solo.
Read the full piece from: Boston Globe
The familiarity returns once this ensemble begins to play because whether the SuperBand reinterprets standards, contemporary pop and gospel tunes or plays their own originals, the virtues that distinguish previous Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival albums are manifestly present on this effort. Jazz, perhaps more than all other genres, is best appreciated when heard live because that’s when the notes on those charts become three dimensional, as the musicians engage in instrumental conversation and use the notes written on the page as a runway for creative flight.
Read the full piece from: SoulTracks
This iteration of the “Superband” fulfils all the promise that the names attached to the project impart. With the exception of “Test Of Time” by Makoto Ozone, the remaining numbers were all composed by members of the band, starting with “Preach Hank!” by tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum. In a nod to the great R&B saxophonist Hank Crawford, the band gives soulful reading of the number, with the composer Whalum rocking out his solo and trumpeter Freddie Hendrix filling the air with his high notes. All of the band members take a piece of the action with exuberance.
Read the full piece from: - Audiophile Audition
Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene is a double Grammy nominee for an album that pays tribute to his daughter. Two years after Ana was killed in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the musician released "Beautiful Life" -- his first album since the tragedy, reports "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King. Greene described music as "the language that kicks in when words don't suffice."
Read the full piece from: CBS News
The 12-track gem includes guitarists Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeanu, bassist Sam Anning, and Raj Jayaweera on the kit — the same ensemble that was featured at the helm on It’s A Good Day. In preparation for Let’s Get Lost‘s January 22nd release, we are excited to premiere Aimée’s fun up-tempo rendition of Harry Ruby’s classic standard, “Three Little Words.” Opening at a blistering tempo, you can’t help but admire Jayaweera’s impressive brush work underneath Moignard and Valeanu’s light yet assertive guitar comping.
Read the full piece from: Revive-Music
For her unblinking cover of “Wives and Lovers” — a curdled artifact from the early 1960s, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David — the jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant devised an ingeniously simple visual concept. This clip has a blank backdrop, a blood-red filter (also as in red flag, red light, flashing sirens) and just two human figures: Ms. Salvant and Storyboard P, the brilliant flex dancer, who turns the song’s distressingly sexist message nearly inside out.
Read the full piece from: the New York Times
Cécile McLorin Salvant Jazz Standard, Aug. 25: It’s not just deep mastery of a historical tradition that sets Ms. Salvant apart as a jazz singer. As she showed in this coolly intoxicating set, she’s also working with a rare set of critical tools, and the ability to make a roomful of listeners feel like sly accomplices.
Read the full piece from: the New York Times
Beyond consensus, however, these groups include a significant spectrum of women — nearly half of the total — in both traditional and transgressive roles. Not just Adele, now in a class by herself, but new stars Kacey Musgraves (country), Courtney Barnett (indie rock), Cecile McLorin Salvant (jazz), Elle King (rock ’n’ soul) and Rhiannon Giddens (neo-folk roots)...
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you from all of us at Mack Avenue!
On the guitar + singing front, Chris Eldridge and I were thrilled to finally come out to the west coast this fall to perform, finishing our year at the Fretboard Summit alongside our fellow guitar lovers. Chris and I have entered the proverbial “bat cave” with an eye on a project we are very excited to share when the time is right!
2015 also saw the beginning of a new collaboration with John Zorn, in the form of performing his Bagatelles with one of my favorite guitarists, Gyan Riley. This is music that (for the time being) only exists in the live format: either at The Stone or on the road, so we hope to see you at one of our shows soon!
Finally, this year represented the beginning of my newly formed trio, featuring Scott Colley and Kenny Wollesen, a project I have been fantasizing about ever since I was very young. We have some exciting news to share in the new year. in the meantime, I want to thank you all so dearly for coming out, your support and amazing energy! I cannot wait to see on the road you soon!
Nels Cline + Julian Lage European Tour:
16 Feb - Ljubljana, SI - Cankarjev Dom Ticket Info TBD
17 Feb - Warsaw, PL - Pardon To TuTicket Info TBD19 Feb - Wels, AT - Alter Schlachtof Wels
20 Feb - Ferrara, IT - Jazz Club Ferrara
21 Feb - Muri, CH - Pflegidach - Pflegi MuriTicket Info TBD23 Feb - Bremen, DE - MOMENTS
24 Feb - Milano, IT - Blue Note MilanoTicket Info TBD26 Feb - Groningen, NL - Grand Theatre GroningenTickets
29 Feb - Bozen, IT - Bozar
2 Mar - Brussels, BE - TBDTicket Info TBD3 Mar - Amsterdam, NL - BimhuisTicket Info TBD
Julian Lage (Trio Configuration):
3/ 6 - Cambridge, MA - Club Passim (Two Shows)
Early Show: Tickets
Late Show: Tickets
3/8 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
3/10 - New York, NY - Rockwood #2
4/6 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Music Festival
4/23 - Morrow, GA - Spivey Hall
4/24 - Chattanooga, TN - Jazzanooga Festival
4/25 - Athens, GA - The Foundry
4/30 - Madison, WI - The Frequency
5/1 - Evanston, IL - SPACE
5/2 - Ann Arbor, MI - The Ark
Tickets *on sale 12/19
5/5 - Vienna, VA - Barns at Wolftrap
5/6 - Fairfield, CT - StageOne
5/7 - Northampton, MA - Parlor Room
5/8 - Portland, ME - One Longfellow Square
5/ 9 - Burlington, VT - Signal Kitchen
On Sale TBD
5/11 - Brooklyn, NY - The Hall at MP
Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge:3/22 - Johnson City, TN - Downhome
3/23 - Richmond, VA - Modlin Center
3/24 - Roanoke, VA - Jefferson Center
3/25 - Danville, KY - Norton Center
4/3 - San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theatre
4/21 - Denver, CO - Gates Concert Hall
When Tyner closed his mini-set with "Blues on the Corner," from his album "The Real McCoy," he achieved his most dynamic playing of the evening, even if its opening passages proved a bit messy. The pianist quickly regained his footing, however, generating excitement with crisply delivered repeated notes and achieving a blues-swing sensibility with his trio.
Read the full piece from: Chicago Tribune
“Jazz is not seen as an alternative music, it’s seen as a dusty, old thing,” says McLorin Salvant. “There are so many instances of people saying, ‘Jazz is dead.’” Yet for her, it is full of life. “I think most of those songs have this timeless quality to them; there is no real reference to time,” she says. Now it is up to the audience to embrace the new voices and faces of jazz as they revive and reinvent that golden age, because if we’re going to bring back jazz, it’s going to take someone like McLorin Salvant to make it happen.
Read the full piece from: The Last Magazine
Cécile McLorin Salvant, 26, brings much of her touring set list to the Grammy-nominated jazz vocal album, For One To Love on Mack Avenue Records, released on September 4, 2015. Nothing about the songs on this album, or this young artist, says meek, mild, or clean — unless it’s the efficient way Salvant cuts through the crap down to the meat of the bare bone of the covers and originals she takes on.
Read the full piece from: Examiner.com
...the pianist and composer shares music from his own recording Space Time Continuum (Mack Avenue) and music featuring rising star singer Cecile McLorin Salvant.
Read the full piece from: WBGO: The Checkout
I always wanted to have kind of a certain natural quality to my voice, and I wish it were more rough than it is, but I would listen to a lot of blues singers and sort of try to go more towards that. I had a hole in my voice. I still do...But I realized that in jazz, I could take advantage of that.
Read the full piece from: NPR Fresh Air
Salvant's aesthetic idiosyncrasies immediately mark her apart, even within the space of "jazz singing." She's long had a predilection for finding rowdy songs from the dawn of the music to grow into — not exactly common for a twentysomething jazz musician — and that continues here...
Read the full piece from: NPR First Listen
A lot of jazz groups tend to lose themselves in the thematic structures and far-out concepts of the artistic leader of the album. Not this group. Ever since they got together, pianist Pérez, bassist Patitucci, and drummer Blade knew they spoke the same cinematic language...“For us, it was like writing the soundtracks of our own lives. It was about using music to paint a scene, using the sounds to tell a story,” Pérez added.
Read the full piece from: AXS
“When you look at this particular lineup, there are a wide range of styles represented: from the Django-influenced guitar approach of Evan Perri to the soulful/gospel leanings of tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and when you consider the other players, you can find just about everything in between.”
Read the full piece from: DownBeat Magazine
Mr. Diehl has taken a winding road to jazz. As a child, he played mostly classical music and learned a few jazz standards from his grandfather, who plays trombone and piano and introduced Mr. Diehl to the virtuoso pianist Art Tatum. Mr. Diehl was obsessed with aviation—his father, a funeral director, owned a plane—and he wanted to become an airline pilot. He took his first flying lesson at age 13 and recently flew a single-propeller plane from Columbus, where his parents still live, to gigs in Michigan.
Read the full piece from: Wall Street Journal
The trio is featured on “Santa Maria”, a commissioned work beginning with bowed bass singing over rhapsodic piano and sprawling malleted tom toms and cymbals before moving into a Spanish-tinged interlude that introduces a brightly swinging melody. The trio ratchets things up several notches on Diehl’s “Broadway Boogie Woogie”, a fiercely bebopping tour de force taken at a demonic tempo. (Page 31)
Read the full piece from: The New York City Jazz Record
The DVD captures the Chapter IV concert at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York. Live performance segments are interspersed with conversations with Whalum on a variety of subjects, from being a musician to the spirit of improvisation.
Read the full piece from: Journal of Gospel Music
The Gospel According To Jazz: Chapter IV - by Kirk Whalum on Rendezvous/Mackavenue closes the week at number one on the Billboard Jazz Chart.
Read the full piece from: Mack Avenue Twitter Feed!