Sun, 31 January 2010
Ah, the year is slowly slipping away from us, so it’s time once again for me to list some of my favorite releases of the year. It’s been an exceptionally good one for jazz for a number of reasons. A number of new indie labels like John Lee’s Jazz Legacy appeared, bringing out exceptional releases. New artists like Melody Gardot and Eldar continued to appear, and talented but overlooked performers like Jacqui Naylor and Jackie Ryan made more of an impact. Labels like Blue Note and Prestige celebrated anniversaries Lines between jazz and hip-hop were blurred by Robert Glasper, and jazz and rock by the Bad Plus. And the festival circuit, whether the big boys in Saratoga, Detroit, Monterey, and Newport, or up and comers like Portland and Boston, kept bringing the music to us all year long. Having said all that, here’s a few if my favorite things:
Vijay Iyer – Historicity
Joe Lovano – Folk Art
The Bad Plus – For All I Care
Jackie Ryan – Doozy
Robert Glasper – Double-Booked
New Things from Old Friends
James Moody – 4A
Keith Jarrett – Paris/London – Testament
Heath Brothers – Endurance
Ramsey Lewis - Songs from the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey
Allen Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi
New Artists and Those Hitting Their Stride
Sharel Cassity – Relentless
Eldar – Virtue
Sachal Vasandani – We Move
E.J. Strickland – In This Day
Joey Pero – Resonance
Jacqui Naylor – You Don’t Know Jacq
Melody Gardot – My One and Only Thrill
Memorable Reissues, Archival Albums and Compilations
John Coltrane – Side Steps
Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins – The Classic Prestige Sessions 1951-1956
Ella Fitzgerald – Twelve Nights in Hollywood
Freddie Hubbard – Without A Song: Live in Europe 1969
Tony Bennett & Bill Evans – The Complete Tony Bennett & Bill Evans Recordings
Tribute Albums of Note
Marcus Roberts – New Orleans Meets Harlem, Volume One
Babatunde Lea – Umbo Weti - A Tribute to Leon Thomas
Steve Kuhn Trio – Mostly Coltrane
Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge – The Comet’s Tail: Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker
Kurt Elling – Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman
Reunions and Collaborations of Note
Gary Burton Quartet Revisited with Pat Metheny- Quartet Live
Jim Hall & Bill Frisell - Hemispheres
The Monterey Quartet (Dave Holland, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chris Potter, Eric Harland) – Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 2007
The Blue Note 7 (Bill Charlap, Nicholas Payton, Steve Wilson, Ravi Coltrane, Peter Bernstein, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash) – Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records.
Chick Corea and John McLaughlin – 5 Peace Band Live
Click here to listen to the Podcast, which includes the following:
Joe Lovano - "Dibango" from Folk Art. The always in demand sax player put together a unique quintet for this release, calling it Us Five, and featuring James Weidman on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and two drummers, Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III . This track, a tribute to the Cameroonian sax player Manu Dibango (remember "Soul Makossa"?) is highlighted by Lovano's performance on aulochrome, a double soprano sax, supplemented by a keyboard.
James Moody - "Stella by Starlight" from 4A. A shining return from the venerable sax player, as he is driven to new heights by the always brilliant Kenny Barron on piano. The rhythm section is filled out admirably by Todd Coolman on bass and Lewis Nash on drums.
Babatunde Lea - "Prince of Peace" from Umbo Weti - A Tribute to Leon Thomas. Watch for a coming podcast on this great album, with an interview with Babatunde. He anchors the band with his creative percussion, and is joined by Ernie Watts on sax, Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Gary Brown on bass and Dwight Tribe supplying the vocals.
Melody Gardot - "Your Heart is as Black as Night" from My One and Only Thrill. Coming into her own as a singer and songwriter, Melody has moved into the ranks of the best of our jazz-pop singers, joining Madeline Peyroux, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit and Diana Krall. The band is anchored by keyboardist Larry Goldings.
The Monterey Quartet - "Minotaur" from Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 2007. To pay tribute to a legendary festival, a crack quartet of musicians came together for a special performance. Dave Holland on bass, Gonzalo Rubalcaba on piano, Chris Potter on sax, and the rock steady Eric Harland on drums perform at a high level, taking chances and making them work track after track. This Potter tune gives you an idea of just how great their performance was that night.
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:56am EDT
Sat, 30 January 2010
Yes, I once again take out my old Magic Eight Ball and ask it to assist me in predicting the winners of the Jazz categories at the Grammy Awards. Telecast on Sunday night, the show never gives any love to the jazz world, preferring to show the winner of “Best Metal Band” over any jazz category. But we give the unloved plenty of space here.
And the winners will be (in italics):
Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Urbanus - Stefon Harris & Blackout [Concord Jazz]
Sounding Point - Julian Lage [Emarcy/Decca].
At World's Edge - Philippe Saisse [E1 Music].
Big Neighborhood - Mike Stern [Heads Up International].
75 - Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate [Heads Up International].
Best Jazz Vocal Album
No Regrets - Randy Crawford (& Joe Sample) [PRA Records].
Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman -
Kurt Elling [Concord Jazz].
So In Love - Roberta Gambarini [Groovin' High/Emarcy].
Tide - Luciana Souza [Verve].
Desire - Tierney Sutton (Band) [Telarc Jazz].
Best Improvised Jazz Solo
“Dancin' 4 Chicken” - Terence Blanchard, soloist
Track from: Watts (Jeff "Tain" Watts) [Dark Key Music]
“All Of You” Gerald Clayton, soloist
Track from: Two-Shade [ArtistShare].
“Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey” - Roy Hargrove, soloist
Track from: Emergence [Groovin' High/Emarcy].
“On Green Dolphin Street” - Martial Solal, soloist
Track from: Live At The Village Vanguard [CamJazz].
“Villa Palmeras” - Miguel Zenón, soloist
Track from: Esta Plena [Marsalis Music]
Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual Or Group
Quartet Live - Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow & Antonio Sanchez
Brother To Brother - Clayton Brothers [ArtistShare].
Five Peace Band – Live - Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band
Remembrance - John Patitucci Trio [Concord Jazz].
The Bright Mississippi - Allen Toussaint [Nonesuch]
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
Legendary - Bob Florence Limited Edition [MAMA Records].
Eternal Interlude - John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble [Sunnyside].
Fun Time - Sammy Nestico And The SWR Big Band [Hänssler Classic].
Book One - New Orleans Jazz Orchestra [World Village].
Lab 2009 - University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band
[North Texas Jazz]
Best Latin Jazz Album
Things I Wanted To Do - Chembo Corniel [Chemboro Records].
Áurea - Geoffrey Keezer [ArtistShare].
Brazilliance X 4 - Claudio Roditi [Resonance Records].
Juntos Para Siempre - Bebo Valdés And Chucho Valdés [Sony Music/Calle 54].
Esta Plena - Miguel Zenon [Marsalis Music]
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26am EDT
Thu, 21 January 2010
Born in 1975, Jason Moran has become one of the finest pianists and band leaders in modern jazz. Now age 35, we can only hope he will continue to push the envelope with his compostions and performance,s both as a leader and sideman.
A student of Andrew Hill and Muhal Richard Abrams, Moran came to public attention playing with Greg Osby's band. Since then, he and his band The Bandwagon have made some of the best albums of the last decade. In choosing the 50 most important recordings of the last decade, NPR Music Critic Patrick Jarenwattananon chose only two jazz albums, one of which was Moran's Black Stars. He wrote:
Jazz has spent its last 50 years dealing with both the promise and difficulties posed by free improvisation. On his third album, a 26-year-old Jason Moran embraced its potential for dazzling brilliance by couching it in an inclusive, even schizoid take on jazz history. He embraces post-bop as readily as he reconfigures the music of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and early stride piano masters.
Click here to listen to "Foot Under Foot" from that stunning CD, featuring Moran on piano, Tarus Mateen on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums, and the mightySam Rivers on tenor sax.
Moran's current projects have spilled over into other genres as well. He performs the World Premiere of a Piano Concerto by Ohad Talmor with the Porto National Symphonic Orchestra & Orquestra Jazz Matosinhos in Lisbon, Portugal in February 2010.
Category:general -- posted at: 5:12am EDT
Tue, 19 January 2010
I felt a real loss today with the news that crime novelist Robert B. Parker died Monday at age 77, sitting at his desk, working on his next novel. The prolific Parker published 37 Spenser mysteries, nine more featuring North Shore police chief Jesse Stone, six with Hub private investigator Sunny Randall and an additional 13 books that ranged from westerns to young adult fiction to two novels starring Raymond Chandler’s famed detective Philip Marlowe.
But it will be Spenser, the larger-than-life private eye with an equally large heart - a private eye committed to righting wrongs whatever that may take - who will be Parker’s most enduring literary legacy. He lived and worked on the streats of Boston for years, solving crimes, working on his relationship with Cambridge psychologist Susan Silverman and his longterm friendship with his second gun, the implacable and ferocious Hawk. Other memorable characters came and went - policeman Belson and Quirk, the flirtatios attorney Rita Fiore, the psychopathic kid shooter Ty-Bop. But in the end, it was always about Spenser.
For more than thirty years I've devoured each of his novels as soon as they hit the shelves (it pays to be married to a librarian). The television series called "Spense: For Hire" barely scratched the surface of this complicated sleuth, and several television movies did just a bit better. Click here to listen to smooth jazz artist George Howard play the theme song to the television series.
Despite the death of his creator, for me Spenser will always be alive, watching over his clients and friends, and serving as a thorn in the side of those who were not. For those who are as enthralled as I am, visit the Spenser fan site Bullets and Beer for more details than you could ever imagine were located in one place. For as the detective himself would say, "We'd be fools not too".
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15am EDT
Sat, 16 January 2010
One of the turning points in the history of American popular music happened 72 years ago today, when Benny Goodman took the stage at New York's Carnegie Hall. Many hold that the performancemarks the acceptance of jazz as a legitimate art form by the opinion makers for mainstream American society.
Legend holds that the idea to present the Goodman band in concert at Carnegie Hall began as a publicity stunt by Goodman's publicist. Goodman was initially hesitant about the concert, fearing that his brand of jazz would fall flat before audiences accustomed to classical music. His fame had come from making crowds dance in the aisles at movie theatres, not in a staid concert setting.
The program that night was an all-encompassing overview of jazz past and present. Goodman included several songs that his band had made famous like "Blue Skies" and the inimitable "Sing, Sing, Sing"along with some new songs he had not yet released on record. Fletcher Henderson was commissioned to prepare brand new arrangements of "Blue Room" and "Make Believe" (although the latter was not finished in time) and a mdley called "Twenty Years of Jazz" hit the high points in the history of hot music.
Finally, he tried to introduce the "highbrow" audience to the excitement of an authentic jam session that would feature some of the stars of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands along with his own. The jam was based on "Honeysuckle Rose" featuring stars from the Goodman band as well as Buck Clayton, Harry Carney, Freddy Green, Lester Young and Johnny Hodges.
The concert has been available on record in a number of different versions, with the best being Live at Carnegie Hall - 1938 Complete. Click here to listen to the thrilling version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" that stopped the show and made Gene Krupa a household name. The band that night included Goodman on clarinet, Harry Carney on trumpet, Bobby Hackett on cornet, Freddie Green on guitar, Lionel Hampton on vibes, Teddy Wilson on piano, Walter Page on bass and Krupa on drums.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:33am EDT
Fri, 15 January 2010
On January 16, Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing will perform as part of the Kennedy Center's 102nd anniversary of the birth of violinist Stephane Grappelli. The concert will close with a rousing finale featuring O'Connor's Hot Swing with his powerhouse duo of guitarists Frank Vignola and Julian Lage, along with French guitarist Dorado Schmitt of the Django Reinhardt Festival. Together, the groups will recreate the 1930's heyday of Reinhardt and Grappelli's Quintet of the Hot Club of France.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46am EDT
Thu, 14 January 2010
The man who launched a thousand torrid love affairs, R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass died Wednesday evening, January 13, at the age of 59. Pendergrass, known for smash love ballads such as "Turn Off the Lights" and "Love TKO," died after a long illness, according to Lisa Barbaris, who described herself as a close friend and his last publicist. His family did not reveal details about his illness, but said it was related to complications from a 1982 car accident.
The crooner, who many affectionately knew as just "Teddy," started in music with a group called the Cadillacs in the late 1960s and was still with the group when it merged with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. He started as a drummer, but soon began to sing lead after the group heard his powerful voice. By 1972, Pendergrass's baritone could be heard on the classic Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes song "If You Don't Know Me by Now."\
After going solo, Pendergrass received several Grammy nominations, Billboard's 1977 Pop Album New Artist Award and an American Music Award for best R&B performer of 1978.
In 1982, Pendergrass was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed. But Pendergrass returned to the studio in 1984 in his wheelchair to record an album and eventually appeared on stage again. Before his death, Pendergrass was working on a musical documenting his life, called "I Am Who I Am."
I’ll miss Teddy, one of the kings of “bedroom soul”. Click here to listen to guitarist Jeff Golub perform “Turn Off the Lights”, from his album Do It Again.
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EDT
Thu, 14 January 2010
On Saturday, January 16, Symphony Space presents "Celebrating Chick Corea." Chick Corea is one of the most prodigious performers and prolific composers of our time. The concert features performances of many of his greatest "hits" as well as lesser-known treasures by a number of long-time Corea collaborators. The all-star cast assembled specially for this tribute in consultation with Corea, who will be in the house for the celebration, includes Gary Burton, Geoffrey Keezer, Hans Glawischnig, Antonio Sanchez, Marcus Gilmore, the evening's musical director Tim Garland, Steve Davis, Diane Monroe, Jeremiah Campbell and The Harlem String Quartet. The event is presented in collaboration with Chamber Music America, which will honor Corea during its national conference "Big Ideas for Presenting Small Ensembles" January 14-17.
Serving as the evening's musical director is saxophonist Tim Garland; hailed as "a stunning virtuoso" by the "Daily Telegraph," he was named Musician of the Year in 2006 by the Cross-Parliamentary Jazz Society. Vibraphonist Gary Burton is well known for his lengthy collaboration with Chick Corea: the duo has won five Grammy Awards, most recently in 2009 for "The New Crystal Silence." Bassist Hans Glawischnig has emerged as an up-and-coming talent in the international jazz scene, performing with Stefon Harris, Paquito D'Riviera, Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau and Ray Barretto. Violinist Diane Monroe has performed with a wide array of artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Max Roach, establishing herself as a premiere crossover artist.
Here's a little Chick to brighten your day - click here and listen to "Fickle Funk", a number from his 1978 album Secret Agent, featuring a core band of Corea on any number of keyboards, Joe Farrell on flute and sax, Bunny Brunell on bass, Airto on percussion and Tom Brechtlein on drums. Wife Gayle Moran contributed various vocals across the album.
Tickets for Celebrating Chick Corea are available in person: 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York, NY 10023 - Tuesday-Sunday, 1:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M., by telephone: (212) 864-5400, Tuesday-Sunday, 1:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. , or online: symphonyspace.org
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38am EDT
Wed, 13 January 2010
Carlos Santana has appeared on this blog before for his jazz collaborations with the likes of John McLaughlin and Leon Thomas. Here's a more recent excursion into jazz from the great guitarist, courtesy of the blog Infinite Foolishness.
In 1988, Santana teamed up with Wayne Shorter for a 26-concert tour throughout the U.S. and Europe, which began at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Their concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival later that year has been available on CD and DVD. However, you can go to the Infinite Fool's blog and get a great soundboard recording from that initial show. Quite a band that night - Santana on guitar, Shorter on saxophone, Chester Thompson and Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Alphonso Johnson (ex-Weather Report, as was Shorter) on bass, Ngdu Chancler on drums and percussionists Armando Peraza and Jose "Chepito" Areas. Check it out.
Category:general -- posted at: 2:35pm EDT
Sat, 2 January 2010
I am an avid user of LinkedIn, a national social network for professionals to use as a means of sharing information and ideas. There are a number of groups you can join to share your professional expertise of hobbies. I am a proud member of the “I Love Jazz” group.
When I began determining what to put on my 160 gig iPod, I decided it would be fun to throw open the idea to the group members. I got some wonderful ideas – a full copy of the postings is attached here. A brief list of the music they viewed as indispensable includes:
Charlie Haden "Rambling Boy", (my own projects), Dianne Reeves "A little Moonlight", Terry Gibs " The Dream Band", Harry Connick Jr, "Red Light Blue Light", Jacky Terrasson " Smile", Josh Redman " Elastic" and "Spirit of the Moment", Keith Jarret "Up for it" and his new one " Yesterdays", Kurt Elling "Flirting with Twilight", McCoy Tyner " Today and Tomorrow", Oscar Peterson... ANYTHING... Phineas Newborn Jr " A World of Piano",.. Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Gerald Wilson, Don Sebesky, Oliver Nelson, Claus Ogerman, Terrence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Lee Ritenour, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Burrell, Pancho Sanchez (Spicy), Tito Puente, Jon Lucien, Donald Byrd, Bobby McFerrin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Andy Bey, Joe Williams, Lou Rawls, Gato Barbieri, Heath Brothers, Brecker Brothers, MJQ, Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, Tierney Sutton, Kenny Garrett, Jane Monheit, Marilyn Scott, Venessa Ruben, Astrud Gilberto, Les McCann, Phil Upchurch, Dave Grusin, Don Grusin and all the
WOW! And so my Jazz New Year’s resolution – along with finally getting all my CDs in order – is to get ripping and follow this amazing advice!
Any thoughts for additions? Leave me a comment!
Category:general -- posted at: 3:20am EDT