Wed, 28 March 2012
"Some people write in their journals . . . I create my journal through music; expressing what I cannot put into words," – Lynne Arriale.
After almost fifteen years of working exclusively within the trio and quartet formats, pianist Lynne Arriale has recorded her first solo CD. A strong player who has recorded both intimately structured originals and bold versions of pop songs, the new CD, simply entitled Solo, gives her a chance to stretch out on her own. The result is a set of tunes that rival many of the more ballyhooed players on today in warmth, technique and emotion.
A pianist since the age of 3, when she received a plastic toy piano as a gift, she tours extensively with her trio – usually Omer Avital on bass, and Anthony Pinciotti on drums – while holding down the position of Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Director of Small Ensembles at The University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Lynne’s song selection has always interested me, as she goes deep into both the Great American Songbook and the pop charts, having recorded versions of the Guess Who’s “American Woman”, the Beatles’ “Come Together” and several Sting originals. I spoke to her recently about how she chooses songs, why the time was right for a solo CD, and the state of music education. Click here to listen to the conversation, punctuated by musical selections from her many CDs, including:
Lynne Arriale – “Evidence” from Solo. Lynne recorded two Thelonious Monk tunes for the CD, taking them at different times and workign through variations on the melody to make something just a bit different.
Lynne Arriale Quartet – “Wrapped Around Your Finger” from Nuance: The Bennett Studio Sessions. A pop classic from The Police becomes a more sinister sounding piece for quartet in the hands of Ms. Arriale on piano, Randy Brecker on trumpet and flugelhorn, George Mraz on bass and Anthony Pinciotti on drums.
Lynne Arriale Trio – “Kum Ba Ya” from Arise. The campfire classic gets a facelift, with Lynne joined by Steve Davis on drums and Jay Anderson on bass.
Lynne Arriale Trio – “Braziliana” from Lynne Arriale Trio Live. This Arriale original was early in the set of this live recording, and really gets things hopping, It’s Arriale-Davis-Anderson performing.
Direct download: Podcast_265_-_A_Conversation_with_Lynne_Arriale.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:30am EDT
Mon, 26 March 2012
I've raved about the must-visit site "Any Major Dude With Half a Heart" (dig that Steely Dan reference) before, and the latest mixtape they have posted is a must-have for jazz-rock fans.
"Any Major Fusion, Vol.1" is a 16 track beauty that runs the gamut musically from the well-known (George Duke and Ramsey Lewis) to lesser-haerd gems (by the likes of Mezzoforte and Oliver Sain). Get it while its hot!
Category:general -- posted at: 12:21pm EDT
Fri, 23 March 2012
Gwen Terry, The Duke Ellington Society, International Women in Jazz, Jazz Foundation of America and Saint Peter’s Church – Jazz Ministry are partnering to produce a fundraiser for Clark Terry on Monday, April 23 at 7 PM at Saint Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street, New York City. Over 30 musicians will perform for their colleague, Clark Terry, to raise funds to help defray Clark’s medical expenses. Clark Terry plans to appear at the event via Skype. Suggested donation is $25 at the door.
Clark Terry’s career in jazz spans more than seventy years. He is a world-class trumpeter, flugelhornist, educator, composer, writer, trumpet/flugelhorn designer, teacher and NEA Jazz Master. He has performed for eight U.S. Presidents, and was a Jazz Ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. More than fifty jazz festivals have featured him at sea and on land in all seven continents. Many have been named in his honor.
His long-awaited book – Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry– is available now, published by University of California Press.
Clark Terry Fundraiser - April 23, 2012, 7 PM - Saint Peter’s Church - 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street - New York, NY - “E” train to Lexington Avenue or “6” to 51st Street - 212 935 2200 - www.saintpeters.org/events. Donations can also be sent to Jazz Foundation of America, 322 W. 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. (212) 245-3999. www.jazzfoundation.org.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Sat, 17 March 2012
We read about artistic prodigies on a regular basis, but the late bloomers get less ink. And yet, for every twelve year old pianist at Carnegie Hall, there is a Grandma Moses who began her successful painting career at age 70.
Giacomo Gates fits into this category of successful late bloomers. Although he had played music and sung for his own enjoyment for years, he didn’t sing professional until he was forty, and had passed the age of sixty when had his first number one album last year with the triumphant salute to Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Be Jazz. Gates has been a regular in New England clubs and campuses for years, working out of his native Bridgeport, Connecticut (my birthplace as well).
A spoke with Gates a few weeks ago, and we had a freewheeling conversation on how to choose songs, the nature of “vocalese” and the reasons he felt the Gil Scott-Heron record would be a success. He’s quick to note that The Revolution Will Be Jazz is not a “tribute record” as the project was begun several years ago, and finished months before Gil’s untimely death last May at the age of 62.
Click here to listen to our talk, including musical selections from Gates’ albums, including:
“Show Business” from The Revolution Will Be Jazz. Of all the tunes he chose, Gates may have felt a special kinship to this tune, with its sly message and deep humor.
“Lady Day and John Coltrane” from The Revolution Will Be Jazz. For my money, this is the highlight of the CD, with stunning interplay between the rhythm section of Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Vincent Ector (drums) and John Di Martino on piano.
“Hungry Man” from Luminosity. Giacomo sings a tune of great humor and warmth backed by a band of Di Martino on piano; Ray Drummond on bass; Greg Bandy on drums; Bob Kindred on sax and Tony Lombardozzi on guitar.
“Melodious Funk” from Luminosity. Listen to the interview to hear a great story of how this tune came to be recorded. Priceless.
“Route 66” from Centerpiece. A great rendition of classic song, covered by everyone from Nat “King” Cole to the Rolling Stones. A top band is on hand, with Drummond and Bandy joined by Harold Danko on piano, Vincent Herring on sax and Vic Juris on guitar.
Direct download: Podcast_264_-_A_Conversation_with_Giacomo_Gates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Fri, 16 March 2012
One of the masters of the might Hammond B-3 organ has passed away, with the recent death of Leon Spencer. Best known for his work with guitarist Melvin Sparks, who passed away last year, Spencer never really got his due as one of the founders of "acid jazz".
Two read two wonderful commentaries on Spencer. go to Funky 16 Corners and Sound Insights, both excellent site for learnign about acid jazz. Click here to listen to Spencer tear it up with Sparks on "Thank You", a cover of the Sly Stone classic. The track comes from the 1970 album Sparks! on the Prestige label, and features an amazing group of funketeers - Idris Muhammad on drums, Sparks on guitar, Spencer on the B-3, Houston Person and John Manning on tenor sax and Virgil Jones on trumpet.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:13pm EDT
Wed, 14 March 2012
My favorite jazz DJ is Tom Reney, whose "Jazz a la Mode" show on our local NPR affiliate, WFCR, never fails to satisfy. He also writes a blog that is worth your attention, and in particular a slightly horrifying posting today.
I won't republish the whole thing here, but let you check it out yourself. But here's an eye-opening taste:
I was a guest lecturer on jazz for two music appreciation classes at a private New England liberal arts college yesterday. You might say I had my work cut out for me. None of the 42 students in these classes had ever heard of Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, or Duke Ellington. That's right, DUKE ELLINGTON. I double-checked, tried to enourage even a wink or raised eyebrow from anyone who might have felt shy about acknowledging their sophistication, but it was to no avail. What added to my shock and dismay over this revelation of American cultural illiteracy was learning that a couple of the kids had played in high school jazz ensembles...
Category:general -- posted at: 2:36pm EDT
Tue, 13 March 2012
When I began podcasting and blogging over eight years ago, I never dreamed I would have a wonderful group of listeners who constantly check my pages to see what project I'm up to this time. This week, I'm pleased to announce that I passed one million downloads of podcasts and songs that have been posted on this site.
Thank you to all those who listen, all who agree to talk with me, and those wonderful record companies and publicity people who ensure I have the latest and greatest to hear. Here's to the next million!
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05pm EDT
Mon, 12 March 2012
Are we in the midst of a renaissance in jazz trombone?
Most of us are aware that the trombone was one of the first instruments used by New Orleans jazz greats like Kid Ory. The Swing Era gave monster players like Tommy Dorsey and Jack Teagarden. The top bands always had killer players - the Ellington Band had “Tricky Sam” Nanton; Count Basie had Vic Dickenson; and Woody Herman introduced Kai Winding and Benny Green, who later led their own groups. And let’s not forget the “father of modern trombone”, J.J. Johnson.
Mid-century masters like Roswell Rudd, Curtis Fuller and Slide Hampton are still going strong, and their direct descendants are making a big noise. Among those who lead bands making critically acclaimed recordings are Steve Turre, Wycliffe Gordon, Robin Eubanks, and Bob Brookmeyer. Trombone Shorty mixes New Orleans R&B with his jazz trombone, and headlines festivals all over the world.
And then there’s our guest for this podcast, the inimitable Conrad Herwig. Having cut his teeth in the Clark Terry Big Band, and then with Eddie Palmieri, he has emerged as one of the most consistently interesting trombone players in the business. He records in both the Latin Jazz and Straight Ahead genres, earning three Grammy nominations for his “The Latin Side of…”CDs featuring the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter.
I spoke with Conrad about how these widely praised CDs came to be, as well as bout his new CD, a trio recording with pianist Richie Beirach and drummer Jack DeJohnette entitled The Tip of the Sword. Click here to listen to the conversation, along with musical selections including:
Conrad Herwig – “Blue Train” from The Latin Side of John Coltrane. Nominated for a 1998 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance, the huge cast of top musicians included Herwig on trombone; Ray Vega and Brian Lynch (trumpet); Dave Valentin (flute); Ronnie Cuber and Gary Smulyan (baritone sax); a fearsome foursome of pianists - Danilo Pérez, Eddie Palmieri, Edward Simon , and Richie Beirach; and Adam Cruz (drums).
Conrad Herwig – “Flamenco Sketches” from Another Kind of Blue: The Latin Side of Miles Davis. Many of the same players participated in this Grammy nominated album recorded live at the Blue Note in 2003. New faces included Paquito D'Rivera (alto saxophone, clarinet); Edsel Gomez (piano); and Robby Ameen (drums).
Conrad Herwig – “Thought Precedes Action” from The Tip of the Sword. Moving from large ensemble recordings, this trio session with long-time collaborator Beirach and drummer DeJohnette shows a more straight ahead, contemporary edge to Herwig’s playing.
Joe Henderson – “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leaving Soon” from Porgy & Bess. Herwig had a long and productive association with the late Joe Henderson, including touring as part of his band, and recording sessions on his Big Band and Porgy & Bess albums.
Miles Davis – “Blues for Pablo” from Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux. Here’s another of Conrad’s idols that he got a chance to perform with. Recorded at one of Miles’ last major performances before his death, and conducted by Quincy Jones, Soloists supporting Miles included Wallace Roney on trumpet and Kenny Garrett on sax.
Mingus Big Band – “Wednesday Prayer Meeting” from I Am Three. Herwig is often part of this highly important Big Band, and will tour with them this summer celebrating the 90th anniversary of Mingus’ birth. Among those recording in the band here are bassist Boris Kozlov, fellow trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy, alto sax player Craig Handy, and pianist George Colligan.
Direct download: Podcast_263_-_A_Conversation_with_Conrad_Herwig.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Wed, 7 March 2012
"We don't like the dark side of things, and we want only to entertain people. We like singable songs as opposed to, say, performers' songs. We don't write for someone, we write for everyone." – Robert Sherman
Robert Sherman, who with his brother Richard became the house composers for Disney films and theme parks for decades, has died at the age of 86. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, and winner of two, the Sherman brothers wrote the music for “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Jungle Book” and “Winnie the Pooh”. For Disneyland attractions, the brothers wrote familiar tunes such as "It's a Small World" and "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room."
Jazz musicians have covered their work for years, from John Coltrane’s version of “Chim Chim Cheree” to the recent Everybody Wants to Be A Cat compilation that featured their work recorded by Espenanza Spalding and Alfredo Rodriguez, among others.
The story goes that Walt Disney was especially fond of "Feed the Birds," which he predicted would replace Brahms' Lullaby and which reportedly caused him to cry every time he heard it. Let’s remember Robert Sherman with this recording of that tune by Kurt Rosenwinkel.
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT
Mon, 5 March 2012
Lost tapes of Wes Montgomery, the highly original and influential guitar player, have been discovered and restored. Resonance Records releases Echoes of Indiana Avenue - the first full album of previously unheard Montgomery music in over 25 years - on March 6, which would have been Montgomery's 88th birthday. Over a year and a half in the making, the release provides a rare, revealing glimpse of a bona fide guitar legend. The tapes are the earliest known recordings of Montgomery as a leader, pre-dating his auspicious 1959 debut on Riverside Records. The album showcases Montgomery in performance from 1957-1958 at nightclubs in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as rare studio recordings. The release is also beautifully packaged, containing previously unseen photographs and insightful essays by noted music writers and musicians alike, including guitarist Pat Martino and Montgomery's brothers Buddy and Monk.
How these long lost tapes from the early stage of Montgomery's solo career finally emerged after being on the shelf for more than 50 years is a tale of intrigue that will enthrall collectors and aficionados. Although the identity of the person who made the original recordings remains unknown, the tapes may have passed through several hands before they were eventually acquired in 1990 by a guitarist and Montgomery fan Jim Greeninger. Due to their fragile condition, he immediately made digital transfers of the original tapes and set out to make a deal with a record company. It wasn't until 2008 that Greeninger contacted Michael Cuscuna, the respected veteran producer who has had a long track record with Blue Note Records and is co-founder of Mosaic Records.
In the summer of 2010, Cuscuna contacted Zev Feldman of Resonance Records, who served as a producer on the project. "We had no idea when we got the tapes what they were exactly," Feldman recalls. "All we knew was that Wes was on them. So between 2010 and 2011, I made three trips to Indianapolis where I interviewed and discussed the recordings with scholars, musicians and friends of Wes. It was a big mystery and we had to act like gumshoes in piecing it all together. It was actually in part because of label founder and president George Klabin's support that we were able to make this project possible."
I spoke with Zev as he was preparing not only for the release of this CD, but also birthday celebration event, which will pay homage to the guitarist in his hometown. The Indy Jazz Guitar Summit, Dr. David Baker, Robert Montgomery (Wes' son), Melvin Rhyne & Mingo Jones (both featured on the album), Duncan Schiedt (jazz photographer), and Feldman will be joined by the honorable Gregory A. Ballard (Mayor of Indianapolis) to celebrate the life and music of this legend.
Click here to listen to my talk with Zev Feldman, as well as music from Resonance Records projects, including:
Wes Montgomery – “Straight No Chaser” from Echoes of Indiana Avenue. Montgomery and his brothers Monk on acoustic bass and Buddy on piano tackle the Thelonious Monk classic with bop-ish authority.
Wes Montgomery – “After Hours Blues” from Echoes of Indiana Avenue. Feldman was particularly excited about discovering this bluesy track, which he thinks finds Wes channeling the likes of Pee Wee Crayton and T-Bone Walker.
Freddie Hubbard – “Blues for Duane” from Pinnacle – Live and Unreleased from Keystone Korner. Resonance transferred a cassette bootleg into a wonderful document of the late trumpet player’s virtuosity, here on a tune dedicated to his son Duane.