Mon, 30 April 2012
At 8:15 this morning, musicians, students and others (that means me) were asked to perform Herbie hancock's "Watermelon Man" with Hancock via streaming video. Here is my faithful, if a bit clumsy, bass part for the song. Special guest appearances in the video from my dogs Angus and Hamish.
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am EDT
Mon, 30 April 2012
Despite a tremendous body of work, pianist Steve Kuhn remains somewhat an afterthought when the great pianists of the past fifty years are named. From his days backing greats like Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane, and Art Farmer; through his days recording trio and solo albums of almost universal excellence, he has been a player and composer of integrity and style. His tenure living and playing in Scandinavia in the sixties coincided with the development of the European style of jazz, captured so often on ECM records. His work with singer Sheila Jordan is a high-water mark in singer-pianist collaborations, matched only by the likes of Bill Evans’ work with Tony Bennett.
Kuhn releases his latest CD on ECM this week, a trio recording called Wisteria. He plays with two long-time collaborators, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron. Strangely, this is the first time the three have recorded together. I spoke with him as he recovered form some trio dates in Spain, and was gearing up for a run of shows at Birdland to promote the new CD. He’ll perform some solo and trio shows over the summer, and will also return to the University of Massachusetts as a faculty member in the famous “Jazz in July” program established by Dr. Billy Taylor.
Click here to listen to the conversation, including tracks from the new CD and other Kuhn materials, such as:
Steve Kuhn Trio - “Pastorale” from Wisteria. This new album takes a fresh look at several pieces last heard on record in Kuhn’s orchestral Promises Kept collection. Why rerecord these older tunes? Partly, Kuhn says, because he simply hasn’t been writing much new material these days.
Steve Kuhn Trio – “Chalet” from Wisteria. A re-write of “The Real Guitarist (in the House)”, this tune kicks off the CD on a high note.
Steve Kuhn Trio - “The Real Guitarist (in the House)”from Raindrops…Live in New York. And here’s the original tune, performed to a samba beat by Kuhn on piano, George Mraz on bass, Sue Evans on percussion and Bruce Dilman on drums. Recorded in 1972 at Folk City, NY.
Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano – “The Song of Praise” from Mostly Coltrane. Kuhn was John Coltrane’s first piano player, working with the great man prior to McCoy Tyner. He talks glowingly of what he learned from Coltrane, and how he came to finally record some of Trane’s material almost fifty years after their collaborations.
Steve Kuhn Trio - “Today I Am A Man” from Three Waves. The trio format is Kuhn’s favorite way of interpreting music. This 1975 recording featured Swallow on bass and Pete La Roca on drums.
Sun, 29 April 2012
The inaugural International Jazz Day will be celebrated by millions worldwide on Monday, April 30, and will begin with an all-star sunrise concert in New Orleans' Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz and culiminate with a sunset concert at the United Nations. Presented by UNESCO in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, International Jazz Day will encourage and highlight intercultural dialogue and understanding through jazz, America's greatest contribution to the world of music.
Herbie Hancock will be joined in New Orleans by jazz luminaries Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Kermit Ruffins, Treme Brass Band, and Jeff 'Tain' Watts and many more.
We invite students and schools from around the world to join in the celebration of International Jazz Day and play "Watermelon Man" along with Herbie Hancock live from Congo Square, New Orleans at 8:15am EDT on April 30, 2012. Sheet music and an MP3 is available to download on JazzDay.com. Please video your performances of "Watermelon Man" and upload them to youtube.com and title them: International Jazz Day - Watermelon Man. Please include tags: JazzDay, April30, IntlJazzDay, HerbieHancock. Let us know the link and the musicians and where you performed and for how many people on this form. We'll post your videos and your photos on JazzDay.com.
International Jazz Day culminates at the United Nations with an all-star sunset concert. Joining Herbie Hancock are: Tony Bennett, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Robert Cray, Eli Degibri (Israel), Jack DeJohnette, Sheila E., Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Hiromi (Japan), and others. George Duke will serve as Musical Director. Confirmed Co-Hosts include Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.
In addition to viewing the concerts from Paris, New Orleans and New York at JazzDay.com, JazzCorner.com created JazzDay.com as an informational portal for jazz education resources and the site where you too can inform and show the world your jazz events and educational activities on April 30th. There are instructions and forms located on the site. After April 30th, hundreds of videos will be on display on JazzDay.com. To stay up to date: follow on twitter @intljazzday with hash tag #jazzday; Facebook: http://facebook.com/intljazzday.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Fri, 27 April 2012
A live recording of Louis Armstrong playing his trumpet for one of the last times is being released to the public for the first time.
The recording is being played Friday at the National Press Club in Washington where it was created in January 1971. Armstrong was a featured performer celebrating the inauguration of fellow Louisiana native Vernon Louviere as president of the club.
The performance was a comeback of sorts. Armstrong had been in poor health and didn't play for much of 1970. But he felt strong enough to play in Washington and surprised the crowd with tunes like "Hello Dolly."
Armstrong died later that year.
Smithsonian Folkway Recordings is releasing Armstrong's music on CD and digital download after collaborating with the press club and the Louis Armstrong Foundation.
Go here to listen to "Hello Dolly."
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34am EDT
Thu, 26 April 2012
Today is Yom Ha'atzmaut (Hebrew for "Independence Day") and commemorates Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948. It was preceded yesterday by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.
Yom Ha'atzmaut centres around the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel by The Jewish Leadership led by future Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, just 8 hours before the end of the British Mandate of Palestine.The operative paragraph of the Declaration of the Establishment of State of Israel expresses the declaration to be “by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.” The operative paragraph concludes with the words of Ben-Gurion, where he thereby declares “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”
Regardless of your politics, the establishment of Israel, and its survival these past 64 years is something of a modern miracle, given the ear total destruction of European Jewry just a few years before. I have had the pleasure of visiting twice, and have always left with a pronounced sense of wonder at the mixture of modern and ancient, or multiple religions, and cultures.
Israel has produced an amazing number of top jazz musicians over the past two decades, many of whom are now fixtures on the New York scene. A wonderful posting in NPR’s A Blog Supreme points out that:
Twenty-five years ago, the Israeli jazz scene was barely on the cultural map. But enough American musicians moved there, and enough foreign-trained Israelis moved back — and they started teaching. There's long been an infrastructure for classical music in Israel, and jazz latched onto that model. U.S. jazz schools have since established relationships with Israeli ones, owing in part to long-standing political relations.
So let’s celebrate the day with this podcast of Israeli-made jazz, including selections from:
Third World Love – “Im Ninalu” from Songs and Portraits. One of the leaders of this ensemble, Avishai Cohen, is one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the business. When not recording as a band leader or with this group, he is part of the SF Jazz Collective, Traveni, and with his siblings Anat and Yuval, the 3 Cohens. This quartet from their brand new CD features Israeli members Cohen, Omar Avital (bass), and Yonatan Avishai (piano). Drummer Daniel Freedman is American, but has a strong world music background, having been a part of Angelique Kidjo’s band.
Gilad Hekselman – “The Bucket Kicker” from Hearts Wide Open. Hekselman arrived in the US in 2004, and has been a key part of the New York jazz scene since then. This track from the fluid guitar player’s latest CD features Mark Turner (sax), Joe Martin (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums).
Anat Fort Trio – “Lanesboro” from And If. Pianist Fort arrived in the U.S. about 20 years ago, before a lot of other Israeli musicians were coming en masse. She's emerged with an idiosyncratic style: a European classical flourish here or there, with a marked interest in dissonant, occasionally free improvising. Her long-running trio (with Gary Wang and Roland Schneider) is the unit on this track from her second disc for ECM Records, named after a Minnesota town where she spent a residency developing her music.
Anat Cohen & the Anzic Orchestra – “Do It” from Noir. Cohen is at or near the top of every critic’s poll for her clarinet playing, but also can kill them on sax and other reed instruments. Her record label Anzic, is home to many of the musicians featured in this podcast, but aggressively seeks other talent as well. “Anzic” is a contraction of “ANat [Cohen] and muZIC [i.e."music" spelled subject to artistic license]. The backing band is an all-star ensemble comprising three woodwinds, three trumpets, two trombones, three cellos, and a guitar-bass-drums-percussion rhythm section and features performances by Ted Nash, Ali Jackson, Scott Robinson and others
Gilad Atzmon & the Oriental House Ensemble – “My Refuge” from Live Frankfurt 2008. One of the most political of the Israeli musicians, saxophonist Atzmon named his band after the PLO headquarters in East Jerusalem. Band members here are Frank Harrison on piano, Yaron Stavi on bass and Asaf Sirkis on drums.
Avishai Cohen – “Yad Anuga” from Sensitive Hours. Not the trumpet player, this is the bass player with the same name. A founding member of Chick Corea’s band Origin, he also records as a bandleader. This CD was released only in his home of Israel, under the Hebrew name of Sha'ot Regishot.
Daniel Zamir – “You are My G-d” from I Believe. A John Zorn disciple who immigrated to the US and then returned to Israel after discovering a deeper sense of his religion, Zamir is a saxophone player of great range and sensitivity, as witnessed by this solo track.
Rafi Malkiel – “Aguanile Mai” from Water. Trombonist Malkiel built this entire album around sounds and treatments of water. Released as part of the "Radical Jewish Culture" series on John Zorn’s Tzadik record label, this song finds him backed by Anat Cohen (clarinet); Avishai Cohen (trumpet); Chris Karlic (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Itai Kriss (flute); Gili Sharett (bassoon); Jack Glottman (piano); Dave Hertzberg (bass); Daniel Freedman (drum set); and Benny Koonyevsky, Nestor Gómez, Shane Shanahan; Mauricio Herrera; and Anthony Carrillo (percussion, timbales, congas, bongo, clave).
Eli Degibri – Title Track from Israeli Song. If you go through saxophonist Degibri's biography, you learn he largely represents the trend of Israeli jazz musicians. He studied with some of the folks who came to Israel to teach jazz; and at a popular Tel Aviv arts magnet high school; he spent time at The Rimon School, which has a connection with Boston's famous Berklee College of Music. After time in a prestigious master's program, he finally made it to New York, where he ended up playing with some of his heroes on this record - Brad Mehldau (Piano), Ron Carter (Bass) and Al Foster (Drums).
3 Cohens –“Rhapsody in Blake” from Family. And so we end where we begin, with the Cohen family – Anat (Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet), Yuval (Soprano Saxophone), and Avishai (Trumpet), backed by a crack rhythm section of Aaron Goldberg (Piano), Matt Penman (Bass), and Gregory Hutchinson (Drums). The tune, written by Yuval, shows off their tight interplay as well as their ability to solo with panache.
Tue, 24 April 2012
New Orleans Saxophone legend Charles Neville brings his big sound to The Northampton Center for the Arts on Friday April 27th from 6-9 PM for an intimate evening of Jazz, storytelling, and fine food. This Grammy Award winning artist will take the audience on sonic journey while Spoleto will round out the evening with the type of culinary delights that have made them a Valley favorite for so many years.
While there audience members can check out the salon area whereProvisions will be featuring some of the best fine wines and specialty foods in the Valley. Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased at www.northamptonjazzfestival.org. Sponsored by The 2012 Northampton Jazz Festival, Spoleto, and Abba Motors.
Charles Neville, the second oldest Neville brother, has the most diverse musical background. His experience on saxophone has included rhythm & blues, funk, jazz, be-bop, popular and even American Indian music. He cites as influences Louis Jordan, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Professor Longhair. He is also the only brother that has lived away from New Orleans for long periods of time, making places like New York, Memphis, Oregon and now Massachusetts his home.
The 2012 Northampton Jazz Festival will take place in early September 2012.
An Evening with Charles Neville Friday, April 27, 6-9PM Northampton Center for the ArtsTickets for the event are $25 dollars and can be purchased at www.northamptonjazzfestival.org
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10am EDT
Mon, 23 April 2012
As an English major at Clark University (Class of '77) I spent many a fond moment with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Virginia Vaughan discussing the Immortal Bard, William Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare's birthdate is inknown, it is traditionally celebrated on April 23, St. George's Day. He was born 448 years ago today.
And whither, you might ask, does this great writer intersect with Jazz? Look no further than the 1964 album by Cleo Laine, Shakespeare and All That Jazz, arranged and written for her by her husband, Sir John Dankworth. Dankworth adapted sonnets and portions of the plays to create an artistically satisfying work. Many of the tunes are written by Dankworth, but he also picks from the Ellington-Strayhorn canon for "My Love is as a Fever (Sonnet 147) a portion of the suite they composed entitled Such Seeet Thunder. Of particular interest are the tracks which feature Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, including this adaption from "Twelfth Night", "If Music Be the Food of Love".
For those interested in an updated take on this album, check out Christina Drapkin's version.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Fri, 20 April 2012
Verve released Jazz Samba, a collaboration between saxophonsit Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd fifty years ago today. Jazz Samba was the first major bossa-nova album on the American jazz scene, and the real start of the bossa-nova excitement in America, which peaked in the mid-1960s.
They were joined by two bassists (Keter Betts and Charlie's brother, Gene (Joe) Byrd), and two drummers (Buddy Deppenschmidt and Bill Reichenbach) for the recording, which took place at All Souls Church (Unitarian) in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1962, Getz won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for the track "Desafinado", and went on to make many other bossa-nova recordings, most notably with João Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto, and most famously of course, the standard "The Girl From Ipanema".
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT
Thu, 19 April 2012
I had tickets to see Levon Helm and his band at a local theatre tomorrow night. I'll never get the chance to see him.
Helm, one of the core members of The Band, passed away today from cancer. He was 71. As Jon Pareles put it in his New York Times obituary:
In Mr. Helm’s drumming, muscle, swing, economy and finesse were inseparably merged. His voice held the bluesy, weathered and resilient essence of his Arkansas upbringing in the Mississippi Delta...Mr. Helm gave his drums a muffled, bottom-heavy sound that placed them in the foundation of the arrangements, and his tom-toms were tuned so that their pitch would bend downward as the tone faded. But his playing didn’t call attention to himself. Three bass-drum thumps at the beginning of one of the Band’s anthems, “The Weight,“ were all that he needed to establish the song’s gravity. His playing served the song. In “The Shape I’m In," he juxtaposed Memphis soul, New Orleans rumba and military tattoo. But though it was tersely responsive to the music, the drumming also had an improvisational feel.
Whether he was backing Ronnie Hawkins, and later Bob Dylan, or serving as the musical core of the highly influential The Band with Robbie Robertson, Helms was a major musician, and a figure who will be missed. It's his world weary voice that is the center of such classic tunes as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Ophelia” and “Rag Mama Rag”.
Cassandra Wilson recorded a stunning version of "The Weight", another Band classic. Let's give Levon a moment of silence, and then let it play - loud, true and free.
Category:general -- posted at: 8:16pm EDT
Tue, 17 April 2012
The highlight of the 11th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, (and indeed, the entire New England jazz season) happens on Saturday, April 28, 2012 .Vibraphonist Jay Hoggard will be performing with pianist and organist James Weidman and drummer Yoron Israel, joined by special guests, including Wesleyan Professor of Music and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, percussionist Kwaku Kwaakye Martin Obeng, bassist Santi Debriano, woodwind player Marty Erlich, and harpist Brandee Younger, to perform Mr. Hoggard's compositions. This concert will feature the world premiere of Mr. Hoggard's multi-part suite Sonic Hieroglyphs from Wood, Metal, and Skin, dedicated to the inspiration of Wangari Maathai, the late Nobel Peace Prize recipient from Kenya. It’s rare to have four acknowledged virtuosos – Hoggard, Braxton, Erlich and Younger – on the same stage, much less performing a new piece of performance music.
Hoggard has been an important vibes/marimba player and educator for more than twenty-five years, recording most often with a quartet that has been built around Weidman and Israel. I spoke to him earlier this month about this exciting new piece of music, how he came to take up the vibes, and the state of jazz education today. Click here to listen to the conversation, which includes musical interludes from past Hoggard recordings, including:
Jay Hoggard – “Guataca” from The Right Place. There is always a strong rhythmic element in Hoggard’s recordings, and this CD draws on African and Caribbean sounds. Hoggard plays vibes and marimba, and is joined by Dwight Andrews on sax, Belden Bullock on bass, and a solid percussion section of Pheeron Aklaff, Kwaku Kwaakye Martin Obeng and Asher DeLarme.
Jay Hoggard – “Flying Home” from Swing ‘Em Gates. One of Hoggard’s major influences (after his parents, who were exceptional musicians) was the great Lionel “Gates” Hampton. Hoggard once had the great honor of filling in for the legend with the Hampton band, no doubt wowing the crowd with this classic piece of the Gates repertoire.
Jay Hoggard and James Weidman – “The Lord’s Prayer” from Songs of Spiritual Love. Like so many other African-Americans, Hoggard comes from a church going background, and this simple duet from an album of mostly gospel songs is a moving example of the ethereal facet of the vibes sound.
Jay Hoggard – “The Gold Ashanti” from Solo from Two Sides. Inspired by albums like Bill Evans’ Conversations with Myself, Hoggard double tracked himself with great results on this “solo” CD.
Jay Hoggard – “Convergence of the Niles” from Soular Power. Perhaps the best studio recording of Hoggard’s quartet sound, this Hoggard composition gives plenty of room for Wediman, Belden and Israel to stand out, as well as work in a tight tandem.
11th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend Friday, April 27 & Saturday, April 28, 2012 Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Concert Friday, April 27, 2012 at 8pm Crowell Concert Hall FREE! The Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra, directed by Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard, and the Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman, performs an exciting program of classic jazz compositions. Jay Hoggard Quartet Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 8pm Crowell Concert Hall Tickets: $15 A, $12 B, $6 C Buy tickets online.