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
Tue, 18 October 2011
It may be hard for those who discovered jazz in the late 1970's and early 1980's to wrap their heads around it, but trumepter Wynton Marsalis turns 50 years old today. Despite his position as one of jazz's most revered voices and organizers, I always saw him as the new kid on the block.
Clearly that's no longer the case. A look at his discography (jazz, classical, soundtracks, etc) reveals more than 70 releases, an average of more than 2.5 releases a year since his debut in 1982. That's a staggering output, and much of it is fine music. And yet, for all his output, and all his awards - nine Grammy awards and a Pulitzer Prize among them - he is also a lightning rod for controversy. Here's an excerpt from his Wikipedia entry - footnotes and all - that spells out the issue:
Marsalis has been criticized by some jazz musicians and writers as a limited trumpeter who pontificates on jazz, as he did in his 1988 opinion piece in the New York Times "What Jazz Is - and Isn't".
Jazz critic Scott Yanow acknowledged Marsalis's talent but criticized his "selective knowledge of jazz history" and his regard for "post-1965 avant-garde playing to be outside of jazz and 1970s fusion to be barren" as the unfortunate result of the "somewhat eccentric beliefs of Stanley Crouch. Trumpeter Lester Bowie said of Marsalis, "If you retread what's gone before, even if it sounds like jazz, it could be anathema to the spirit of jazz." In his 1997 book Blue: The Murder of Jazz, Eric Nisenson argues that Marsalis's focus on a narrow portion of jazz's past stifled growth and innovation. In 1997, pianist Keith Jarrett criticized Marsalis saying "I've never heard anything Wynton played sound like it meant anything at all. Wynton has no voice and no presence. His music sounds like a talented high-school trumpet player to me." Pierre Sprey, president of jazz record company Mapleshade Records, said in 2001 that "When Marsalis was nineteen, he was a fine jazz trumpeter...But he was getting his tail beat off every night in Art Blakey's band. I don't think he could keep up. And finally he retreated to safe waters. He's a good classical trumpeter and thus he sees jazz as being a classical music. He has no clue what's going on now." Bassist Stanley Clarke said "All the guys that are criticizing—like Wynton Marsalis and those guys—I would hate to be around to hear those guys playing on top of a groove!" In his autobiography, Miles Davis – who Marsalis said had left jazz and "went into rock" – hedged his praise of Marsalis by suggesting that he was unoriginal. He also found him too competitive, saying "Wynton thinks playing music is about blowing people up on stage." In 1986, in Vancouver, Davis stopped his band to eject an uninvited Marsalis from the stage. Davis said "Wynton can't play the kind of shit we were playing", and twice told Marsalis "Get the fuck off."
Some critical exchanges have included insults. Besides insinuating that Davis had pandered to audiences, Marsalis said Davis dressed like a "buffoon." Trumpeter Lester Bowie called Marsalis "brain dead", "mentally-ill" and "trapped in some opinions that he had at age 21... because he's been paid to." Marsalis in reply said Bowie was "another guy who never really could play."
Marsalis was criticized for pressing his neo-classicist opinions of jazz as producer and on-screen commentator in the Ken Burns documentary Jazz (2001). The documentary focused primarily on Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong among others, while ignoring other jazz artists. David Adler said that "Wynton's coronation in the film is not merely biased. It is not just aesthetically grating. It is unethical, given his integral role in the making of the very film that is praising him to the heavens."
If his playing is a bit staid, and his desire to record - if not recycle - jazz classics on a number of his releases a but redundant, his contribution as a composer, as the director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and in particular his live playing make him a formidable talent. And that's enough for me.
Tue, 18 October 2011
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38am EDT