Thu, 18 September 2014
One would be hard pressed to find a more intrepid musician on the scene today than drummer, composer, bandleader and educator Mark Guiliana. I first came across Mark as a key member of Donny McCaslin’s band, as the fiery sax plyer, keyboardist Jason Lindner and bassist Tim Lefebvre joined him to make music that stretched the boundaries of jazz. Casting for Gravity was one of my favorite CDs of 2012, and their live performances were truly magical, mixing jazz, electronica and rock sounds to create something wonderful.
But Guiliana is more than an innovative jazz drummer. He’s worked with and recorded with Meshell Ndegeocello, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai Cohen, Matisyahu, Lionel Loueke, Jason Lindner's Now vs. Now, Dhafer Youssef and most notably, pianist Brad Mehldai, with whom he released one of this year’s most intriguing albums, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon.
This month, Guiliana dives head first into another creative endeavor, the launch of his new record label, Beat Music Productions. The label will be flying out of the gate with two new recordings, My Life Starts Now, and Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations. These CDs are excitingly different - one completely improvised and one composed, representing two sides of this artist's striking arsenal.
On My Life Starts Now, the band, featuring Guiliana on drums and electronics, along with Stu Brooks on electric bass, Yuki Hirano on keyboards, Michael Severson on guitar, the voices of Jeff Taylor and Gretchen Parlato, and spoken word from Meshell Ndegeocello, uses fourteen original compositions to explore electronic textures married with, and carried by, provoking beats and rhythmic assertions, often augmented with emotive spoken-word performances.
On August 19, 2013 Guiliana and three of his favorite musicians set up in a small studio in Los Angeles and improvised for the entire day. The results are Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations. All of the music was performed in real time by four distinct musical personalities creating one "voice", in the moment, with no overdubs. This specific configuration, with Tim Lefebvre on electric bass, Jeff Babko on keyboards, and Troy Zeigler on electronics, makes exciting and genre-defying music.
Podcast 445 is my long overdue conversation with Guiliana, featuring discussions of his approaches on these new ventures. Musical selections include :
"The Result of a Ring" and "Strive" From My Life Starts Now
"That DeeJay Chick Works at the Bank Now" and "Bobby Moons Goes to Jail" From Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations
Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana – “You Can't Go Back Now “ from Mehliana: Taming the Dragon
Direct download: Podcast_445_-_A_Conversation_with_Mark_Guiliana.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 2:00 PM
Thu, 18 September 2014
It’s a cold, foggy morning here in New England, and I needed a little hot jazz to warm up. Luckily, I recently got my hands on the latest CD from saxophonist Dan Moretti and his new band, The Hammond Boys. Recorded Live at Chan’s in Rhode Island, it’s one of those CDs that perfectly captures the sizzle of a blues-soaked performance by the Boston based saxophone and flute player.
As the liner notes indicate, fans of the music of Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, and Kenny Burrell will find this collection a spot-on tribute to their brand of music. The Hammond Boys are led by veteran blues guitarist Duke Robillard (Roomful of Blues), ably supported by Jesse Williams on bass, Lorne Entress on drums and a great turn by Dave Limina on the Hammond B-3 organ.
From the opening “Moanin’” through covers of tunes by Gene Ammons, Roland Kirk and Grant Green, this is jazz that makes you want to move your feet and shake your rump. I particularly liked their version of King Curtis’ “Da Du Dah”, which is lifted by Moretti’s twisting and turning solos. This CD is a welcome blast from the past.
Category:general -- posted at: 1:45 PM
Wed, 17 September 2014
I’ve wanted to interview Jane Bunnett for a number of years, and it was a pleasure to finally get the chance to talk with her about her love of Cuban music. You might not expect a Canadian flutist and saxophonist to be one of the most innovative performers of Latin Jazz, but with album after album, she finds new and glorious ways to make the music her own. In addition, her trips to the island have brought listeners the first chance to hear artists like Dafnis Prieto, Yosvany Terry, Pedrito Martínez, and David Virelles,
Her new sextet, Maqueque, allows her to continue those traditions by introducing the world to some of Cuba's most promising female musicians, injecting her own music with an invigorating dose of youthful energy in the process. The new CD, appropriately enough entitled Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, features Bunnett and the music of vocalist Daymé Arocena, pianist Danae Olano, bassist Cecilia Jimenez, drummer Yissy García, and percussionist Magdelys Savigne.
The band's name was provided by Arocena's grandmother, a practitioner of the Afro-Cuban Yorùbá religion. It translates to "the spirit of a young girl," which perfectly captures the vibe of the group and the song that shares its name. "I imagine that's what I was like as a ten-year-old girl," Bunnett says. "I was very energetic, I could be sweet and I could be feisty. That's Maqueque."
Podcast 44 features my conversation with Ms. Bunnett, including selections from the new CD like "Tprmenta" and "De La Habana a Canada" and previous Bunnett releases, including "La Luna Ariba"
Direct download: Podcast_444_-_A_Conversation_with_Jane_Bunnett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00 PM
Mon, 15 September 2014
The William Way LGBT Community Center, with generous support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, is proud to launch the official website for OutBeat: America's First Queer Jazz Festival. Tickets for the festival, which is set to take place from Thursday, September 18 to Sunday, September 21, are now available for purchase at OutBeatJazzFest.com, including VIP Weekend Passes, Standard Weekend Passes, and Individual Tickets. Check out the website for an updated schedule with exciting new headliners.
The Jazz world has notoriously lagged behind other musical communities in welcoming LGBT artists. Whether it was the machismo of male instrumental soloists or the femme fatale persona adopted by so many female singers, there seemed little room for the gay man or woman in jazz.
Things changed slowly. To quote from a particularly on-point article from JazzTimes in 2001:
Political correctness may keep most educated liberals from calling anyone a “faggot” anymore, but how much have attitudes really changed? Some attention was drawn to the question in the ’90s, when three outstanding jazz musicians—pianist Fred Hersch, vibraphonist Gary Burton and singer-pianist Andy Bey—all came out publicly as gay men. Patricia Barber, a much-heralded singer-pianist and an open lesbian, showed her nerve by recording Paul Anka’s love song “She’s a Lady” on her 1998 album Modern Cool. Two years earlier came Lush Life, David Hajdu’s biography of arranger-composer Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), one of the very few openly gay jazzmen of his (or any) time. Duke Ellington, his creative partner, called Strayhorn “my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine.”
More than a dozen years later, there is a full-fledged weekend festival celebrating LGBT performers, and the event looks like a doozy. Kicking off the festival on Thursday, renowned pianist Fred Hersch will be interviewed by New York Times music critic Nate Chinen, followed by a special kickoff reception and fundraiser, all taking place in the centrally located William Way Center in Philadelphia's Gayborhood. On Friday, the Fred Hersch Trio will perform as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's popular "Art After Five" series. The evening will conclude with "Lush Life: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn," a showcase of Philadelphia's finest musicians, vocalists, and poets celebrating the life of Duke Ellington's longtime collaborator, pianist, composer, and arranger, Billy Strayhorn.
Saturday will begin with a pre-concert discussion with singer/pianist Patricia Barber and drummer Bill Stewart, moderated by JazzTimes' critic John Murph. Stewart's quartet will perform following the discussion at The Painted Bride Art Center. Also performing that evening is Grammy® Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington at Chris' Jazz Café with material from her Money Jungle project.
The first of its kind festival will culminate on Sunday with a marathon event at Philadelphia's Union Transfer. Performers will include Carrington, Barber, Andy Bey performing solo, Jennifer Leitham Trio, Dena DeRose Trio, the music of Drew Paralic, David Coss Quartet, Ben Flint and more.
OutBeat would once again like to thank the William Way LGBT Community Center and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and would also like to welcome our new sponsors and partners: JazzTimes, Philadelphia Gay News, Coors Light, Brooklyn Brewery, Union Transfer, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Painted Bride Art Center, Alexander Inn, and Sonesta Hotel. “Philadelphia has enjoyed a legacy of being a great music city. We’re also a city that affirms the lives of LGBT people,” says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Hosting the first LGBT jazz festival in North America provides an opportunity to showcase the rich and vibrant culture of our city. We’ll be celebrating all of this for 4 days in September with OutBeat. I hope to see you there!”
Category:general -- posted at: 1:44 PM
Sun, 14 September 2014
British singer Polly Gibbons descends from a grand tradition of jazz and blues women whose singing exudes strength, defiance, and sassy wit. At the age of thirty, she has moved form an R&B/Pop flavoring in her recordings to a solid set of jazz tunes. Polly has a raspy, lived-in tone, a walloping sense of swing, and a dramatic flair that brings the listener inside her songs.
Recorded for Resonance Records, Many of Faces of Love is something of a song cycle, with Polly singing about different facets of love. She has a band most singers would kill for assisting her, most notably violinist Christian Howes and guitarist Anthony Wilson, who knows a thing or two about singers, having been a mainstay of Diana Krall’s band for years.
Polly wisely avoids singing the standards that so many singers repeat again and again. Instead, she reaches for tunes like the blue standard “Please Send Me Someone to Love”, or songs well-sung by other female singers from Betty Carter (“Make It Last”) to “Sarah Vaughan (“After Hours”) to Rickie Lee Jones (“Company”).
She’s touring America now, and will be in New York and Cambridge, MA this week. She’s picking up musicians as she goes, and the Cambridge band will include Boston stalwarts like drummer Bob Gullotti, bassist Marco Panascia, and pianist John di Martino. We spoke while she was packing up for the transatlantic trip, and Podcast 44_ is our conversation. Musical selections form the CD Many of Faces of Love is included, such as “After Hours”, “Company” and “Love Comes and Goes”.
Direct download: Podcast_443_-__A_Conversation_wtih_Polly_Gibbons.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 6:48 PM
Wed, 10 September 2014
Gerald Wilson, conductor, bandleader, composer, educator, and multi-instrumentalist, passed away in his Los Angeles home on Monday, September 8, 2014 after being diagnosed with pneumonia two weeks earlier. He was 96-years-old. Wilson is survived by his wife Josefina; son Anthony; two daughters, Jeri and Nancy Jo; and four grandchildren. Funeral arrangements and a memorial service are pending.
"Gerald Wilson, who I considered a good friend, was one of the most versatile of men," says Gretchen Valade, owner of Mack Avenue Records (Wilson's label since 2007). "He was a composer, had a wonderful band and still remained humble and gentle. The Mack Avenue family will miss him dearly."
Wilson's accomplishments and contributions to the current state of jazz are countless, however several awards support such a bold claim. Most notably, Wilson was an NEA Jazz Master (1990); recipient of a NARAS President's Merit Award; winner of multiple DownBeats's Critics Polls and Jazz Journalists Assocation Awards; a NAACP Image Award nominee; and an eight time Grammy® Award nominee. After a 30-year career in music education at UCLA, he was awarded a Teacher of the Year award in 2008 for his mentoring of countless young musicians. Washington's Smithsonian Institute also houses an archive of his life's work.
Despite earning such accolades throughout his career, Wilson's road to success wasn't always easy. He struggled through more than nine decades of opposition to contribute to the fight for civil rights and to share his passion for music with the world. Born in 1918 into a hotbed of racial tension in Shelby, Mississippi, Wilson was sent by his mother to live with family in Detroit where his musical talents afforded him the rare opportunity to attend the performing arts school, Cass Tech High School -- a high school that was second only to Julliard at the time. As Wilson would tell you, this is where his musical career truly began. After serving time in the Navy during World War II, reaching commercial success in the late 40's and marrying his soulmate, Wilson's passion for cultural immersion came to life both emotionally and creatively.
Having been one of the first musicians to pioneer the use of eight-part harmonies in compositions, Wilson has contributed both compositions and arrangements to musical icons including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, and many more. Wilson was also honored to receive an invitation from Zubin Mehta to compose a number for the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra. This would be followed later in life by additional commissioned works from both the Monterey and Chicago Jazz Festivals.
Wilson's passion to incorporate his art into his selfless crusade for civil rights was paramount in his life and has touched the lives in countless cultures and countries around the world and yet when you asked this humble legend about his great successes, Wilson would respond with sincere humility, "I just try to be a person worthy of being a part of this great art form."
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00 AM
Fri, 29 August 2014
I received this email from the band Afro-Semitic Experience, and watned to share their words and music with you all:
The Afro-Semitic Experience is saddened by the events in Ferguson, Missouri. We mourn the killing of Michael Brown and we are troubled by the violence that has been inflicted upon the community. We are reminded once again that the Civil Rights movement is far from over and that this nation is in need of an ongoing dialogue on race, bigotry and unity in the community. As musicians there is only so much we can do. But do it we shall. We are healers.
And so we share this link to a piece dedicated to healing. Healing in Ferguson. Healing in the United States of America. Healing wherever there is strife of any kind. Plea for Peace.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30 PM
Thu, 21 August 2014
Fifty years ago today, Anthony Williams recorded his debut album as a bandleader. However, he was no rookie.
Williams began playing professionally at the age of 13 with saxophonist Sam Rivers in Boston, Massachusetts, and Jackie McLean hired Williams when he was 16. At 17 Williams became the core of Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet.
Williams, now a veteran at the age of 18, led two sessions at Rudy Van Gelder's Studio for Blue Note on August 21 and 24. On the 21st, he brough old friend Rivers in to play sax, and bassists Richard Davis and Gary Peacock to play bass. Herbie Hancock (piano), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) and Ron Carter (bass) would replace them on the 24th.
The results was music that was far removed from anything he had played before. I would hesitate to call it "free jazz", but clearly the influence of Peacock's boss Albert Ayler was in the room that day. "Tomorrow Afternoon", with the pulse of two basses and Williams' polyrhythms, was a peak at where jazz was headed, and headed soon.
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00 PM
Sat, 16 August 2014
It's summer in New England, so why not some summer themed music for these lazy, hot days? Today is August 16th, the feast day of Saint Roch, the patron saint of Dogs, so why not celebrate the "Dog Days"?
The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.
The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to procession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog (Sorry Angus and Hamish, my two miniature dachshunds)) at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
Podcast 442 features the following uninterrupted music:
Marc Johnson - "Summer Running" from The Sound of Summer Runnning
Bob Curnow's LA Big Band - "Every Summer Night" from Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays
Sarah Vaughan - "Summertime" from Sings George Gershwin.
Sonny Stitt - "Summer Special" from My Mother's Eyes
The Rippingtons featuring Russell Freeman - "Summer Lovers" from Topaz
Quincy Jones - "Summer in the City" from You've Got It Bad, Girl
Michael Franks - "You Were Meant for Me" from Dragonfly Summer
Bob Baldwin - "Summer Breeze" from Cool Breeze
Phil Woods, Antonio Hart and Vincent Herring - "The Summer Knows (Theme from 'Summer of '42')" from Alto Summit.
Steve Reid -"Warm Summer Rain" from Water Sign
Amy Cervini - "Once Upon a Summertime" from Digging Me, Digging You
Hiromi - "Summer Rain" from Another Mind
Wed, 13 August 2014
“Swinging, grooving, clean and tricky playing. This is the group that, once you’ve heard them, you’ll realize they always needed to exist. Unique, original, exciting. And simply killing in the best sense.”- Dave Douglas on The Westerlies.
The Westerlies are a New York based brass quartet comprised of four friends from Seattle, Washington. Avid explorers of cross-genre territory, Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Zubin Hensler (trumpet), Andy Clausen (trombone) and Willem de Koch (trombone) are a collectively run ensemble dedicated to the cultivation of a new brass quartet repertoire that exists in the ever-narrowing gap between American folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock.
After three years of getting prestigious gigs at the Shapeshifter Lab and Earshot Jazz Festival, the Westerlies were invited to perform the music of Wayne Horvitz at The Stone in May 2013. The project was later recorded during the The Westerlies annual residency on Lopez Island, WA and has been released to critical praise as their debut album Wish The Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz (Songlines Recordings).
I spoke with Andy Clausen as he returned to New York City prior to the band’s August tour of the West Coast. An avid explorer of cross-genre territory, drawing inspiration from folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock, Clausen has performed with new music mavericks Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz, pop sensation Feist and the avant-jazz saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo. Hailing from Seattle, Clausen relocated to NYC in 2010 to begin his studies at the Juilliard School under the guidance of master trombonists Conrad Herwig and Steve Turre. Podcast 441 features our conversation along with four tracks from the new CD, and a bonus - a track from Neil Welch, who Andy identifies as a Seattle talent to watch.