Tue, 30 August 2011
JazzCorner.com continues their Great Giveaway of a pair of VIP passes for The Detroit Jazz Festival - September 2nd-5th, 2011 Your VIP passes will include preferred seating at all venues during the Detroit Jazz Festival
The Detroit Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival in North America. Consequently, getting good seats for all the performances is challenging, but JazzCorner.com wants one lucky winner to receive VIP passes for two which gets you upfront seating at all performances from Friday through Monday including "under the tent" for Friday's opening night festivities: "Sing The Truth" w. Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright and 2011 Artist-in-Residence Jeff 'Tain' Watts with "Drum Club" featuring Joe Locke, Susie Ibarra, Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez, Pedro Martinez, Robert Hurst and Nigerian drummer and honored guest, Tony Allen.
Transportation and accommodations are not included. Click here to enter. Entries must be received by August 30th.
For the complete downloadable schedule of the Detroit Jazz Festival visit: http://detroitjazzfest.com/11schedule.html
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27am EDT
Sat, 27 August 2011
We in Western Massachusetts are just not used to this kind of weather. Well, maybe we should be.
On June 1, we get a tornado. Then a series of microbursts and a hellacious thunder storm that did more damage in my neighborhood than the tornado did. Earlier this week, an earthquake. And now it looks like we're right smack dab in the path of Hurricane Irene.
My advise? Hunker down, bring in the lawn furniture, stock up on water, batteries and essentials, and make sure yoru cell phones and iPods are well charged.
In case you want some hurricane themed music for today. check out David "Baby" Cortez performing the Hammond B-3 fueled "Hurricane" from David "Baby" Cortez and His Happy Organ (seriously - that's the title of the album - what were they thinking?).
Stay dry,and stay safe.
Fri, 26 August 2011
Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts was appointed 2011 Detroit Jazz Festival artist in residence earlier this year. The dynamic drummer will be on a number of stages in a number of guises this labor day weekend in the Motor City. He plans to heat things up on opening night with a star-studded "Drum Club" featuring Joe Locke, Susie Ibarra, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez and Pedro Martinez. Throughout the weekend, "Tain" will be seen on several stages - with his own band (featuring Marcus Strickland and Christian McBride), with Michigan State University's Jazz Orchestra, and in the Jazz Talk Tent presented by St. John Providence Health System, telling stories and being in the hot seat for DownBeat's Blindfold Test.
I spoke with “Tain” about being named artist in residence, and how he plans to continue growing his musical diversity and depth. Podcast 227 features that conversation, along with appropriate selections from his discography, including:
Jeff “Tain” Watts – “Mobius” from Family. From sideman for the likes of the Marsalis brothers and Michael Brecker, Jeff Watts has become a bandleader, composer and record impresario. The band for this latest recording was Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums), Jean Toussaint (saxophones), David Kikoski (piano), and James Genus (double bass). In Detroit, the band will feature Marcus Strickland on sax, and Christian McBride on bass.
Jeff “Tain” Watts – “A Wreath for John T. Smith” from Family. A song for a deceased friend that Watts calls his “Pork Pie Hat”, referring to the Mingus elegy for Lester Young.
Danilo Perez – “Bright Mississippi“ from Panamonk. Watts played on this break-through CD from the talented pianist. Personnel on this Thelonious Monk classic are Perez on piano, Watts on drums, and Avishai Cohen on bass.
Laura Kahle – “20-20 Vision” from Circular. Watts produced and played on this CD with his wife, Laura Kahle, which was released on his Dark Key label. The group is Laura Kahle (pocket trumpet), Orlando le Fleming (acoustic bass), and Watts (drums & percussion). Joined by Yosvany Terry (alto sax) and JD Allen(tenor sax). The title refers to the date of the 20th, which is a shared birthday for Watts and Ms. Kahle.
Mingus Big Band – “Bird Calls” from Live at the Jazz Standard. Watts won a Grammy Award in 2010 for being part of this ensemble recording. The band is a who’s who of players, including Randy Brecker, Kenny Rampton and Earl Gardner (Trumpet); Wayne Escoffery and Abraham Burton (Tenor Saxophone); Vincent Herring (Alto Saxophone); Douglas Yates (Alto, Soprano Saxophone and Flute); Lauren Sevian, (Baritone Saxophone); Ku-Umba Frank Lacy and Conrad Herwig (Trombones), Earl McIntyre (Bass Trombone and Tuba), Boris Kozlov (Bass),. Watts on drums, and his favorite piano player, David Kikoski.
Direct download: Podcast_227_-_A_Conversation_with_Jeff_Tain_Watts.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Thu, 25 August 2011
I got to cross an event off my concert "bucket list" earlier this year when my wife Nancy bought me tickets to see Elvis Costello perform at the Wang Center in Boston. It was a spectacularly rocking evening, with Elvis delving deep into his back catalouge and adding all sorts of goodies from his vast array of albums. He even brought out Boston legend Peter Wolf to sing a few numbers with him. Today, Declan McManus aka Elvis Costello, turns 58 years old.
Elvis has his decidedly jazzy side as well. He is married to, and has collaborated muscially with, one of jazz's reignign Queens, Diana Krall. He has written a "new standard" in "Almost Blue", which was inspired by and later recorded by, Chet Baker. He has collaborated with guitarist Bill Frisell, who went on to record and entire album of Elvis tunes.
Click here to listen to an unreleased recording of the Brad Mehldau Trio (Mehldau on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums) playing an extended version of Elvis' "Baby Plays Around."
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EDT
Tue, 23 August 2011
Jerry Leiber, one of the creators of rock 'n' roll as half of the most celebrated songwriting duo of its first golden era, died on August 22, 2011 at the age of 78 in Los Angeles.
Leiber, the lyricist, and his partner, Mike Stoller “had few peers and no equals” Rolling Stone wrote in 1990. Hits of theirs such as “Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Kansas City”, and many others have been sung for decades by artists from Elvis Presley to the Beatles and scores of others since they began writing together in the early 1950s growing up Jewish in Los Angeles.
Leiber and Stoller helped introduce mainstream white America into the broad landscape of urban black culture that fueled the birth of rock 'n' roll. "Their songwriting captured the essence and nuances of black music and language with a melodic invention, narrative ingenuity and cool hilarity that were true to the source while transcending it – heavy-duty R&B with a pop sensibility and lyric universality,” the magazine said.
Leiber told the Baltimore Sun in 1997 that: "The Jewish background is not that far from the black groove. Blacks are downtrodden, Jews are downtrodden; therefore, they have something in common in that affliction. Being downtrodden often makes one more empathetic and sympathetic." He said traditional Jewish music shares many traits with rhythm and blues. "Listen to any cantor, any good hazan, sing and you can hear a little bit of Ray Charles going on.”
Leiber & Stoller have been honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and many other music organizations.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT
Tue, 23 August 2011
I knocked Kyle Eastwood’s CD Metropolitan a few years back, writing that it failed to create a cohesive sound. Eastwood’s latest release, Songs from the Chateau, takes a big step in correcting that error, and stands as perhaps his finest studio work to date.
Maybe it’s that the bassist’s band – drummer Martyn Kaine, trumpeter Graeme Flowers, saxophonist Graeme Blevins and pianist Andrew McCormack - had been on tour for a long stretch, and much of this material and its arrangements were worked out on the road. Maybe it’s that the sound – hard bop with touches of Latin or Caribbean swing – permeates the tracks and makes them leap off the record. Maybe it’s the good vibes from the 15th Century chateau in Ligueux, France, where the recording took place. Or maybe Eastwood is coming into this own.
“Andalucia” allows Flowers to sound like Miles Davis circa Sketches of Spain, and he and Blevins meld beautifully on the impressionistic “Moon Over Couronneau”. The latter tune features a wonderful McCormack solo as well. Whether its Eastwood’s sublime bass on “Aperitif”, or the band’s bounce on “Café Calypso” and “Soul Captain”, this is fun listening.
Listen to streaming tracks from Songs from the Chateau by clicking here.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Mon, 22 August 2011
Although she is never one to rest on her laurels, Dee Dee Bridgewater is releasing a new CD of old material. Midnight Sun, a remastered compilation of love songs from throughout her career, on the DDB Records/Emarcy label this week. The material is organized in a way that it is being is billed as "the ultimate mixed tape, traversing landscapes of melodically mournful tales of love lost, heartrending ballads about forever afters and sultry promises of bliss." For completists, there is a track previously released exclusively as a bonus track in Japan, “L'Hymne à l'Amour"..Count me in for this one.
Among the tracks included is “Good Morning Heartache”, a song written by and closely associated with Billie Holiday. Ms. Bridgewater took on the challenge of singing the well known – and well loved - songs of “Lady Day” from a different perspective than many singers might when she went into the studio last year “I tried to take another look at her and make people understand that she was a full-fledged woman with a lot of emotion and talent, not just a melancholic person surrounded by all the drama and pathos that she has been stereotyped with,” she told me. The resulting CD, Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater, won a 2011 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, her third such award.
I had a delightful conversation with Ms. Bridgewater as she was preparing for the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, where she brought the house down with her Billie Holiday tribute. Podcast 226 is that talk, along with selections from her latest and previous releases, including:
Dee Dee Bridgewater – “All of Me” from In Montreux. This standard is still part of her performances twenty years after her live recording at the famous Casino De Montreux. Her band is Bert Van Den Brink (piano); Hein Van De Geyn (bass); and Andre Ceccarelli (drums).
Dee Dee Bridgewater – “Good Morning Heartache” from Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater, She rightfully received her second Jazz Vocal Grammy Award for her homage to the great jazz singer Billie Holiday. Ms. Bridgewater has a history with Lady Day, having played her on stages in Paris and London in the late 1980’s. She was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award "Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical” for the part.
Dee Dee Bridgewater – “Demissnw (Children Go 'Round)" from Red Earth – A Malian Journey. Elected in 1999 as one of the United Nations' first Ambassadors for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bridgewater was granted the unique opportunity to travel to Africa, visiting villages involved with various FAO programs. She made it to Mali in 2004, and was moved to record this CD. This is an updated Sgou 'Griot' song, and features native group N'goni Ba and son Gabriel Durand featured on guitar.
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Title Track from Midnight Sun. The new CD is her first CD composed completely of ballads and her first compilation as well. It kicks off with this Johnny Mercer gem, which was selected for inclusion by producer/manager/daughter Tulani Bridgwater-Kowalski and re-mastered by Doug Sax and Sangwook “Sunny" Nam of The Mastering Lab, Ojai.
Direct download: Podcast__226_-__A_Conversation_with_Dee_Dee_Bridgewater.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Tue, 16 August 2011
It's summer in New England, so why not some lazy 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.
Click here to download Podcast 225, an uninterrupted 90minute plus mixtape of music to laze away those hot days. I've gone deep into my collection for a variety of types of jazz, many with summer titles or themes, so I hope you enjoy:
Azar Lawrence - "Keep It Hot"
Bob Baldwin - "Hot Fun the the Sun"
Sachal Vasandani – “Summer No School”
Phil Woods Quintet – “Summertime”
Anthony Wilson – “Elyria”
Last Albertson & Nelson Delamotte – “Bird of Paradise”
Joe Pass – “Summer Night”
Michael Franks – “Dragonfly Summer”
Philippe Saisse Acoustique Trio – “Summer Breeze”
Kevin Karn – “Summer Daydreams”
Madeleine Peyroux – “The Summer Wind”
Lonnie Liston Smith – “Summer Days”
Marc Johnson – “Summer Running”
Monty Alexander – “Is This Love?”
Fabrizio Scott – “Amancer”
Duda Lucena Quartet – “Corcovado”
Mace Hibbard – “Always On My Mind”
Soulive – “Golden Lady”
Ramsey Lewis – “Sun Goddess”
Fri, 12 August 2011
Do you know how in the summer you tend to put off things you do IN the house in order to take care of things OUT of the house? Like weeding or sitting on the deck, listening to the water rush in the ponds, and drinking a cold one? Well, I've done my share of that outdoor stuff lately, and I've neglected piles of CDs.
This podcast takes a step to rectify the situation. Here are selections from a bunch of releases from jazz singers that I thought you might like to hear about. Not all are good, and not all are really jazz. But you be the judge, as I play from
Rene Marie – “Drift Away” from Voice of My Beautiful Country. Few singers of either sex produce work with the sweeping grandiosity of Rene Marie. After the 2008 flap where she sang the words to “the black national anthem”, “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing” rather than those of “The Star Spangled Banner”, an artistic response was clearly in the offing. Her latest release attempts to do just that, and is called by her “my love song to America”. It successfully reinterprets and recreates music from the American soul from “O Shenandoah” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and jazz and rock standards. This unique version of the Dobie Gray hit – one of my favorite songs of all time – finds her backed by Kevin Bales on piano, Rodney Jenkins on bass and Quentin Baxter on drums.
Mitch Winehouse – “Rush of Love to the Heart” from Rush of Love. Lost in the death of singer Amy Winehouse is the release of her father’s debut CD as a big-band singer, Rush of Love. He comes across as an old style crooner, with fine production and song contribution from long-time Winehouse buddy (and prolific songwriter) Tony Hiller. If his voice is a bit thin, the band is not, and the combination makes for a fun set.
Lea Salonga – “The Sing Medley: Sing a Song / Tomorrow / Matchmaker, Matchmaker” from The Journey So Far. Broadway and film star Lea Salonga recorded this CD live at the Café Carlyle in New York, backed by four piece band (Larry Yurman, piano; Jack Cavari, guitar; John Miller, bass; and Dave Ratajczach, drums) in an attempt to broaden her already considerable musical base. As a cabaret show, it’s quite enjoyable, but as a serious jazz performance it comes up a bit short. The arrangements simply aren’t up to snuff, and Ms. Salonga – who has personality galore – has yet to show she has the pipes for this kind of music.
Andrea Wood – “I Only Have Eyes For You” from Dhyana. This CD is a real treat for fans of vocalists looking to do something different with familiar material. Ms. Wood is an ace in turning phrases, playing with time changes, and re-arranging standards (she wrote the arrangements). Check out this reggae-tinged cover of the Harry Warren-Al Dubin chestnut, made even more authentic given her vocal work in Kingston with The Fab Five of Jamaica a few years back. The CD also features surprising takes on “My Favorite Things” and “Someday My Prince Will Come”. She juggles studio musicians throughout the CD, but guitarist John Lee shines on this track. I look forward to more from this up and coming performer.
Jocelyn Medina – “April 4th” from We Are Water. Possessed with a voice that recalls Flora Purim, Ms. Medina fuses Brazilian, Spanish, African and Indian sounds with a jazz heart. The CD is all original material, all of which is strong, and she is ably backed by Rodrigo Ursais on tenor sax and flutes, Kritjan Randalu on piano, Aidan Carroll on bass and Rodeck Janke on drums and percussion. This wordless number is an eye-opener.
Oleg Frish and the Patrick Williams Big Band – “A Lot of Living To Do” from Bring Me Sunshine. In Russia, Frish is a household name as the host of “Time Out”, the Entertainment Tonight” of Russian television. For his debut as a singer, he enlists Patrick Williams, a former arranger-conductor for the likes of Frank Sinatra to cut a CD of selections from the Great American Songbook, including a few rarely recorded (“I’m In Love”, the title track). The charts and the band are top notch, but as can be heard on this Charles Strouse classic, the singer leaves a lot to be desired.
Steve Lipman – “Come Fly With Me” from There’s A Song In My Heart. A singing dentist? Yes, that’s what we have here. Nothing new or memorable here. But no pain in the molar either.
Amy London – “Here’s To Life” from Let’s Fly. This is an exception collection of songs, from Brazilian standards (“This Happy Madness”) to lesser performed jazz classics (“Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love”) and the ubiquitous Joni Mitchell cover (“All I Want”). What makes the CD worth repeated listenings is the way Ms. London can wring emotion from a tune, either with new phrasings or impeccable timing. This tune, a Sondheim-esque winner with a memorable delivery by Ms. London, is made all the better by a complimentary solo by guitarist Roni Ben-Hur.
Tue, 9 August 2011
Today is Jerry Garcia’s birthday, and the ol’ grey beard would have been 69 years old. Something of a new tradition for marking the day is taking place in San Francisco tonight, where the defending world-champion Giants are planning another Grateful Dead Tribute night at the ballpark. They’re giving out this nifty limited edition Dancing Bears statue, the National Anthem will be performed by Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, and the 7th Inning Stretch version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will be led by Dead drummer Mickey Hart and NBA Hall Of Famer – and major Deadhead - Bill Walton. Sounds like fun if you’re in the area.
Jerry had a love of jazz, and while the Dead themselves did not dip into the jazz canon all that often, Jerry’s side projects gave him a chance to show his jazz chops. Click here to listen to a recording of Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove” from the 1998 release So What from Garcia and mandolin player David Grisman. Other members of the band were Joe Craven on percussion, Matt Eakle on flute and Jim Kerwin on bass.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT