Fri, 4 April 2014
"A freethinking, gifted pianist on the scene, (Kris) Davis lives in each note that she plays. Her range is impeccable; she tackles prepared piano, minimalism and jazz standards, all under one umbrella. I consider her an honorary descendant of Cecil Taylor and a welcome addition to the fold." – Jason Moran.
When we talk about today’s hardest working jazz musicians, the name of Kris Davis has to pop up near the top. 2013 was an especially fruitful year for Davis, finding her quintet record, Capricorn Climber, her solo recording, Massive Threads, her appearance on Eric Revis's trio record City of Asylum with Andrew Cyrille, and the CD from LARK, the quartet she plays in with Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey, and Ralph Alessi; all on the top records of the year lists in the New York Times, Jazz Times, and The Village Voice among others. She received a Jazz Gallery commissioning residency, as well as a grant from the Shifting Foundation to compose and record a large-ensemble project. And all this happened while she was touring Europe and preparing to give birth to her first child.
This year promises her no rest. Not only will she have her son to deal with, but she has already been part of Rainey’s CD Obbligato with Laubrock, Alessi, Drew Gress, and Rainey; and her own trio recording Waiting for You to Grow.
The music for this project, composed during the Jazz Gallery commission, is a deeply personal recording for her, as it was composed and recorded when Davis was pregnant with her first child. Her band mates, seasoned drummer Tom Rainey and bassist John Hebert, were along side the seven month pregnant Davis as they toured Europe, developing and shaping the music before returning to New York to record. The result is a highly interactive and energetic effort from this long-standing trio.
I had the pleasure of talking with Ms. Davis in the midst of her residency at the Cornelia Street Café in New York City. It began with the Davis-Rainey-Hebert trio last month and continues on April 5th with a different trio, with guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock. The three women perform together often in Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House, and are each known for their unique approach to their instruments. This will be the first time they perform together as a trio.
The third concert on May 3rd will feature long time collaborator Tony Malaby and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Davis has performed with Malaby since 2001, in her quartet and then as pianist and arranger in Malaby's large ensemble Novela. This will be the first time Davis performs with Gerald Cleaver.
Podcast 419 is our conversation, including musical selections from her many works and collaborations including:
Kris Davis Trio - "Twice Escaped" and the Title Track from Waiting for You to Grow
Tom Rainey - "Prelude to a Kiss" from Obbligato
Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House - Untitled from an unreleased recording from the Jazz Em Agosto Jazz Festival in Lisbon, Portugal on August 6, 2011.
Eric Revis – "Question" from City of Asylum
Tue, 25 June 2013
Jason Miles was coming of age in New York during the late 1960’s, and he and his friends haunted the concert halls and clubs of the day to catch now-legendary performers. One magic evening he recalled was the night they caught Sly & the Family Stone opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I checked his memory to make sure – May 10, 1968 at the Fillmore East. Not a bad bill! Miles was mesmerized by the funk pioneers, who hit the stage with a mix of performers who were both white and black, and male and female. Their mix of rock and soul music, featuring tunes from the two week old album Dance to the Music, brought the house down.
Forty-five years and over one hundred recordings later – including the synthesizer programming for Miles Davis’ ‘80s masterpieces Tutu, Music From Siesta and Amandla – Jason revisits those sounds with his band Global Noize on Sly Reimagined – The Music of Sly & the Family Stone on the Zoho Roots labe. Miles and Global Noize may be the perfect collection of musicians to tackle the Family Stone repertoire, as they carry on the wonderful concept of mixing race, sex, style, age and genre in one sound that is difficult to pigeonhole. Global Noize will celebrate the CD release with a show at Joe’s Pub in New York on June 26.
Miles has made it his specialty to “reimagine” the classic music of artists as diverse as Ivan Lins, Weather Report, Marvin Gaye and Grover Washington. Sly Reimagined takes this process one step further, as Global Noize lays the foundation for guests like Roberta Flack and Nona Hendryx,to vocalize. Adding further authenticity to the project is the appearance of Greg Errico, the original Family Stone drummer on three tracks.
We talked about the CD and Miles’ views of music and the music and the music business in Podcast 358. Click here to download the podcast, which features musical selections fromt eh album, including:
Global Noize – “It’s a Family Affair – Groove Vibe Version” from Sly Reimagined. It was this song playing on Jason’s iPhone that inspired the whole project. Miles says he heard Roberta Flack singing the song in his mind, so he went out and got her.
Global Noize – “In Time” from Sly Reimagined. Original Sly drummer Greg Errico guests on three tracks on the CD, including this one, which has Nona Hendryx (Labelle, Material) on lead vocals. Nona will join Global Noize on their June 26th gig at Joe’s Pub.
Global Noize – “You Can Make It If You Try” from Sly Imagined. Among the Jazz heavyweights who perform on the CD is trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, a long-time Miles collaborator who lends her horn to two tracks, including this one alongside tenor sax man Jay Rodriguez.
Sun, 23 June 2013
If we are closing in on the last weekend in June, then it’s time for Summer Jazz Festivals to kick into gear. Podcast 356 is a preview of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York, held this year on June 29-30th. A following podcast will focus on the Montreal Jazz Festival, which starts on June 27 and runs through the beginning of July.
The Main Stage Line-up for Saturday is: Arturo Sandoval; David Sanborn & Bob James featuring Steve Gadd; Gregory Porter; McCoy Tyner Quartet plus special guest John Scofield; The Cookers featuring Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, David Weiss, Craig Handy, George Cables, Cecil McBee & Billy Hart; and Rudresh Mahanthappa's Gamak with David "Fuze" Fiuczynski, Dan Weiss & Rich Brown
The more intimate Gazebo Stage features the Gary Smulyan Quartet with Mike LeDonne, Peter Bernstein & Kenny Washington; Carmen Souza; Mahanthappa's Gamak; Ben Williams & Sound Effect; and the Gilad Hekselman Trio featuring Rick Rosato & Jeff Ballard.
The Main Stage Line-up for Sunday is: Buddy Guy; Tony Bennett; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Kevin Eubanks with Bill Pierce, Rene Camacho & Nate Smith; and the Donny McCaslin Group with Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre & Mark Guiliana. The Gazebo Stage on Sunday features: Chris Bergson Band; Brianna Thomas; McCaslin; Ingrid Jensen Quartet with Gary Versace, Matt Clohesy & John Wikan and the Fabian Almazan Trio with an all-star trio featuring Linda Oh on bass and Rudy Royston on drums.
Danny Melnick, the producer of the two day event, talked with me about this year’s lineup, giving us a little taste of why he books certain artists, and which players he is particularly high on. Download the Podcast here, and listen to our conversation, including musical interludes by:
Rudresh Mahanthappa's Gamak – “Ballad for Troubled Times” from Gamak.
The Cookers – “Croquet Ballet” from Cast the First Stone
Gregory Porter - “On My Way to Harlem” from Be Good.
Bob James & David Sanborn – “Montezuma” from Quartette Humaine.
Gilad Hekselman – “March of the Sad Ones” from This Just In.
Donny McCaslin – Title Track from Casting for Gravity.
Buddy Guy – “Mannish Boy” from Live at Legends.
Direct download: Podcast_357_-_Previewing_the_Freihofers_Saratoga_Jazz_Festival.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:00am EDT
Thu, 4 October 2012
On the 42nd Anniversary of All Nite Soul, the Jazz Ministry of Saint Peter’s Church — the Jazz Church — is thrilled to announce that Jerry Dodgion (alto saxophone), Jon Faddis (trumpet), Rufus Reid (bass), and Kenny Werner (piano) will be featured with the 16-piece Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in two sets at the 7 PM concert on Sunday, October 7, 2012. The concert will be preceded by Jazz Vespers at 5 PM with Fabian Almazan with Strings Group and the 15-member BerlinVokal choir.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Wed, 9 November 2011
On June 28, 1965, John Coltrane convened a recording session that marked his move from straight-ahead jazz titan to avant-garde explorer. He described the sound as a “big band thing”, and in fact it was a very big band that met in Rudy Van Gelder’s New Jersey studio that day. Along with Coltrane’s long-time running mates Jimmy Garrison (bass), McCoy Tyner (piano) and Elvin Jones (drums), were pairs of trumpeters (Freddie Hubbard and Dewey Johnson), tenor saxophonists (Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders), alto saxophonists (Marion Brown and John Tchicai) and bassist Art Davis.
Considering Coltrane’s previous album contained “Nature Boy” and “Chim Chim Cheree”, it must have been shocking even to the season listeners at Impulse Records to hear Ascension, a long, often difficult piece that abandoned chords almost entirely for progressive modes and on the spot improvisation. Coltrane never returned to “structured jazz” again.
In a reprise of Jazz Standard’s hugely successful Impulse! Records 50th Anniversary celebration earlier this year, an all–star nonet will assume the weighty mantle of reinterpreting Ascension. Saxophonists Donny McCaslin, Sabir Mateen, and Vincent Herring will have the responsibility of carrying the torch lit by Coltrane, Shepp and Sanders that day. Joe Lovano will help prepare the arrangements for the band, which includes Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Josh Roseman on trombone, James Weidman on piano, Ben Allison on bass, and Billy Drummond and Matt Wilson on drums.
I spoke with McCaslin, who at 45, has finally come into his own, about this awesome responsibility, his latest recent recording projects, both with Dave Douglas and as a band leader, and his plans for the future. Click here to listen to the conversation, along with musical selections, including:
Donny McCaslin – “LZCM” from Perpetual Motion. Donny’s latest CD gives a nod to fusion by employing electric and amplified instruments. The band is McCaslin on tenor saxophone; Adam Benjamin on Fender Rhodes; Tim Lefebvre on electric bass; and Mark Guiliana on drums.
Danilo Perez - "Vera Cruz" from ...Till Then. The Panamanian pianist is one of McCaslin's oldest friends, collaborators, and musical influences. This track, written by BRazilian legend Milton Nasciemento, comes from Perez's 2003 release on Verve Records, with a top band, including John Patitucci on bass, Brian Blade on drums, and McCaslin on soprano saxophone.
Maria Schneider Orchestra - "Buleria, Solea y Rumba" from Concert in the Garden. McCaslin earned a Grammy Award for being part of the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Recording, taking a long solo on a composition described by Ms. Schneider as “the most ambitious work on this recording”. The usual all-star selection of players peppers the Orchestra, including Tim Ries on alto sax, McCaslin on tenor sax, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Frank Kimbrough on piano, Jeff Ballard and Conazlo Grau on cajon And ouinto cajon, and Luciana Souza on vocals.
Dave Douglas – “Culture Wars” from Meaning and Mystery. McCaslin is a long-time sideman for trumpeter Douglas, and currently records for Douglas’s independent record label, Greenleaf Music. This hot track is from Douglas’ 2006 album, which included Douglas on trumpet, McCaslin on tenor sax, Uri Caine on Fender Rhodes; James Genus: on bass; and Clarence Penn on drums. It’s worth reprinting a portion of the CD review from All About Jazz:
(McCaslin’s) solo on "Culture Wars is stunning. But then, so is the tune. Built around a simple horn phrase and eschewing Douglas' trademark mixed-meter predilections in favor of a more straightforward groove—seldom has Douglas done so much with so little—it's the best jazz performance this year. Douglas' trumpet intro, which carries on two minutes into the piece before the theme is even stated, seems to investigate and limn the possibilities of what's to come and is, like all his playing on this album, deft, sly and full of his trademark crispness and wit. Caine bravely follows McCaslin's solo with one of his own that, without resorting to grandiosity, somehow builds even more momentum as it negotiates the song's simple but elegant harmonic landscape. It's a fantastic song.
Direct download: Podcast_242_-_A_Conversation_with_Donny_McCaslin.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Tue, 18 October 2011
The 9th Annual Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) series will be held at the Jazz Standard in New York from Thursday, October 20, through Sunday, October 23 This year, the FONT series celebrates Kenny Wheeler, one of the most creative and iconic of progressive trumpeters. Wheeler (pictured above), a Canadian residing in the UK since 1952, celebrated his 81st birthday this year. He will make a rare New York appearance in this series devoted to his music and vision.
The Festival also presents a cadre of progressive New York trumpeters, among them Ingrid Jensen, Shane Endsley, Nate Wooley, Jonathan Finlayson, Tony Kadleck, and Jon Owens. As part of this celebration, Kenny Wheeler will be featured with Ingrid Jensen + Brass, will play his music alongside John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, and will also convene a New York Quintet, featuring Jon Irabagon, Craig Taborn, Rudy Royston, and special guest Dave Holland. A complete lineup can be found here.
The Festival of New Trumpet Music, a nonprofit founded in 2003 by Dave Douglas and Roy Campbell, Jr. was designed to encourage creative brass music. Wheeler will be presented its Award of Recognition during the week’s run. Previous recipients include Wadada Leo Smith and Bobby Bradford.
I spoke to Dave Douglas about FONT, the music of Kenny Wheeler, and his recent musical projects, which include a summer appearance at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival and the readying of a 3 CD set of new recordings. Click here to listen to our conversaion, including musical interludes by:
Kenny Wheeler – “Smatter” from Gnu High. A seminal ECM release from 1975 features the all-star lineup of Wheeler on flugelhorn, Keith Jarrett on piano, Dave Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums.
Kenny Wheeler – “Don the Dreamer” from Windmill Tilter. Recorded in London in 1968, this amazing recording has finally been released on CD. The large ensemble included, among others, Dave Holland on bass, John Spooner on drums, John McLaughlin on guitar, John Dankworth on sax and Dick Hart on tuba.
Christine Jensen – “Dropoff” from Treelines. I spoke well of this CD earlier this year, and Christine’s sister Igrid will lead a band with Kenny Wheeler to start off the celebration. Personnel for this track, which features an Ingrid flugelhorn solo include Christine Jensen on saxophone and an 18-piece jazz orchestra, featuring Martin Auguste (drums), Chet Doxas, Joel Miller, Eric Hove (saxophones), Jean-Nicolas Trottier, David Grott (trombones). Steve Amirault (piano), and Fraser Hollins (bass).
Kenny Wheeler Quintet – “We Salute the Night” from Flutter By, Butterfly. Since the celebration ends with a Wheeler-led quintet, here’s a session from 1987 that has Holland on bass, a spot he will hold down in the new quintet. Others on the recording are Bill Elgart on bass, John Taylor on piano, and Stan Sulzmann on saxophones and flute.
Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstacy – “United Front” from United Front: Brass Ecstasy at Newport. One of Douglas’ prime projects of late, this updated brass band has a more accessible sound than some of Douglas’ more creative recordings. The band is Dave Douglas on trumpet; Luis Bonilla on trombone; Vincent Chancey on French horn; Marcus Rojas on tuba; and Nasheet Waits on drums.
Dave Douglas – “Lush Life” from Greenleaf Portable Series, Vol. 1 – Rare Metals. A reworking of the Billy Strayhorn standard by Brass Ecstasy from a CD released earlier this year. The personnel is the same as on “United Front”.
Direct download: Podcast_237_-_A_Conversation_with_Dave_Douglas_about_FONT.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:00pm EDT
Wed, 9 March 2011
Canadian Christine Jensen usually works with her quartet, playing soprano saxophone. On her latest release, Treelines (Justin Time Records) she plumbs new depths of her creativity working with an 18 piece orchestra. Many of Canada's finest jazz musicians are on board for the recording.
Written as an ode to Canada's environment and natural resources, Treelines has echoes of the jazzy touchs Aaron Copland and Ferde Grofe gave to their orchestral works in the Thirties. Songs like "Western Yew" and especially "Vernal Suite" are positively cinematic in their scope, bringing the listener to places they might never see without her arrangments and scoring. Comparisons to her mentor, Maria Schneider, are wholly justified.
Not all is symphony hall stuff. "Dark and Stormy Blues" features memorable solos by alto saxophonist Erik Hove and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen (Christine's sister) that make the group sound closer to an Ellington Big Band than an Orchestra. "Dropoff" has a sweeping feel to the band's playing, with Ingrid's flugelhorn solo fluid and engaging.
If Orchestras mean European Art Music by dead white men to you, and Jazz Orchestras seem to only play arrangements from the Big Band canon in your mind, this is surely a CD to widen your musical horizons.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT