Tue, 30 October 2012
It’s Hallowe’en time again, and so its time for our semi-annual Spooky Songs Podcast (you can find past editions here and here). This year we feature some monstrous tunes from both new and established artists you may enjoy.
It seems like the little ghouls and goblins in our neighborhood are going to miss the whole Trick or Treats scene again this year, as Hurricane Sandy seems to be picking up where a freak snow storm that paralyzed our part of the Northeast left off last year. Nancy and I may be sitting by the fireplace with her famous Pumpkin Martinis in hand, rather than greeting our Trick or Treaters and handing out goodies. But in either event, we will be digging tunes like these:
Al Di Meola – “Invention of the Monsters” from The Infinite Desire. Guitar ace DiMeola recorded this electric tune in 1998, backed by Mario Parmisano (keyboards); Ernie Adams (drums); and Tom Kennedy (bass).
Garaj Mahal – “Witch Doctor” from No More Mr. Nice Guy, A lively mixture of fusion, funk and world music, this “jam jazz” group is composed of Kai Eckhardt (bass), Fareed Haque (guitars), Alan Hertz and Sean Rickman (drums) and Eric Levy (keyboards).
Max Roach - “The Glorious Monster” from M’Boom. This was a 1979 release from the noted all-percussion band created by the venerable Mr. Roach. Fellow band members were Roy Brooks, Joe Chambers, Omar Clay, Fred King, Warren Smith, Freddie Watts, Ray Mantilla and Kenyatte Abdur-Rahman.
Naked Truth – “Garden Ghosts” from Ourboros. A blend of progressive rock and avant-garde jazz, Naked Truth is composed of Graham Haynes (cornet), Lorenzo Feliciati (bass), Pat Mastelotto (drums), and Roy Powell (keyboards). Add in the production talents of Bill Laswell, and you’ve got quite a mix. Watch for a Laswell interview and podcast in November.
Jimmy Herring - “Meeting of the Spirits” from Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse (A Fusion Guitar Tribute). A fusion all-star band of Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Kai Eckhardt (bass), Mitchell Forman (keyboards) and Jerry Goodman (violin) pays tribute to John McLaughlin, joined by a collection of the top guitar shredders of the day. This track stars Herring, presently with the band Widespread Panic, but also a former member of Jazz is Dead and the Allman Brothers Band.
Maceo Parker – “Black Widow” from Dial: MACEO. A little hip-hop and funk to balance the fusion is in order, so here comes a Corey Parker tune played by James Brown’s favorite sax player. Band members include Rodney “Skeet” Curtis on bass: Kevin Hupp on drums; Bruno Speight on guitar; Will Boulware on organ; and Audrey Martells, Diann Dorrell and Corey Parker on vocals.
Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland & Asaf Sirkis – “Devilled” from Lighthouse. This bass-less trio setting wed Tim Garland (reeds); Gwilym Simcock (piano) and Asaf Sirkis (drums and percussion) had grown substantially since their 2005 debut. Watch for the young Simcock as an emerging talent in composition (nine songs of this CD) and performance.
Fri, 26 October 2012
What may be the worst storm in 100 years may be putting me in the dark for a while. Hurricane Sandy supposedly will merge with two other fronts to create "Frankenstorm." I have no idea if we'll lose power, but all sign point to another multi-day disaster on the forefront.
So load up your batteries to listen to tunes, all you hearty jazz fans. The song of the day would have to be "Eye of the Hurricane", the Herbie Hancock tune that was recorded in Rudy Van Geleder's studios for Blue Note in 1965 first appeared on his fifth solo album, Maiden Voyage. The album ranks in my all-time top ten recordings, and features a band of Miles Davis alumni - Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and George Coleman - along with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.
This version comes from Hancock's collaboration with Jack DeJohnette on Parallel Realities Live. One of DeJohnette's most accessible groups, the band was Hancock on piano, Dave Holland on bass, Pat Metheny on guitar and DeJohentte on drums. The live album documented their successful 1990 tour.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm EDT
Thu, 25 October 2012
As a kid, I was first exposed to music by listening to records like “Tubby the Tuba”, “Peter and the Wolf” and “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” These were the recordings that introduced me to the joys of sound, and also of collecting records.
I kind of wish Mark Oblinger had been working back in the early Sixties when I could have profited from his work. A former member of rock band Firefall, he has had a long history of award winning work as a songwriter, composer, producer and performer. He created and produced two national award winning Jazz CDs for children, Jungle Jazz Joint Jam and Jazz Joint Jump and has won 5 Heartland Emmy Awards for his work as a composer/producer for the PBS Children’s Show, “The Big Green Rabbit”,
His latest project, JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale, is a delightful mixture of jazz combo, orchestra, singing and a snappy narration. This is a CD adults will actually ENJOY listening to along with their kids.
Oblinger brought together a jazz combo (Christian Teele on drums; Chris Engelman on bass; Bob Rebholz on sax and flute; and partner Steve Barta on piano) as the foundation for the music, and then recruited several certified jazz legends for some of the vocals. Grammy winners like Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau and Hubert Laws were excited to lend their talents to the project. Other horn parts and strings were added to flesh out the sound, and the whole thing was unified by the witty narration of James Murray.
We talked about music education, the fun he has working with and for children, and his great desire to perform the piece live with symphony orchestras across America. Concerts have already taken place with full orchestra and jazz quartet in Colorado and Milwaukee and were met with widespread critical acclaim. More information how these shows can be booked is found on the Jumpin’ Jazz Kids website.
Click here to listen to Podcast 308, featuring musical selections from the CD, including:
Al Jarreau – “Do the Monkey Swing” from JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Steve Barta felt that Jarreau would be perfect for the project, and simply called the singer’s management to see if he might have interest in participating. The result is a pure fun.
Dee Dee Bridgewater - “This Elephant’s Gerald” from JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Oblinger wasooking for a voice that characterized the smart yet sassy style that embodied their “Gerald” character as well as the soul of the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. He and Barta were instantly sold on Ms. Bridgewater after listening to the bass and vocal version of the classic “It’s Your Thing” she contributed to Christian McBride’s Conversations with Christian CD.
Hubert Laws and Al Jarreau – “Hubert Hummingbird” from JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Originally the song was called “Hector Hummingbird”, but when the great flutist got involved in the project, Oblinger and Barta quickly changed the title in homage to his talents. There is a great scat section that was improvised live in the studio.
Tue, 23 October 2012
Sometimes the most dissimilar people make the most fruitful partners. Have you watched "Iconoclasts", the Sundance Channel's fascinating portrayals of creative individuals and their seemingly divergent paths? I loved their Paul Simon/Lorne Michaels epidosde last year.
The new season will kick into gear with Family Guy mastermind, Seth MacFarlane, and the honey-voiced jazz singer, Norah Jones – two of entertainment’s most unlikely yet inspired collaborators. Click here for broadcast information - the premiere is tonight at 8:00 PM EST.
If you can't get enough Norah, she will be profiled on "CBS Sunday Morning" on Sunday October 28. The segment will cover her first ten years in the public eye, from her Grammy sensation Come Away With Me to her latest release, Little Broken Hearts, a collaboration with producer Danger Mouse.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Mon, 22 October 2012
Close your eyes and picture the jazz quintet. A classic arrangement of musicians – saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass, drums.
Now open your eyes and check out Matthew Silberman’s latest quintet. Saxophone, bass, drums – and two guitars? What is this, a bar band in your local rock club?
No, it’s all part of this promising young player’s vision for his band. “I was thinking of using one guitarist as another horn player and the other as a keyboard player,” he said. “One is dealing a more with textures, chords and comping, the other more with playing lines and melodies." Questionable Creatures is Silberman’s debut album as a leader, and its musical inspirations are as much from the rock of Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth or the hip-hop of the Wu-Tang Clan as it is in the straight ahead jazz of one of his former employers, trumpeter Roy Hargrove.
Silberman has brought together likeminded players from his days at the New School in New York and the Brooklyn scene for the group. Ryan Ferreira and Greg Ruggiero are the twin guitar players, joined by bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Tommy Crane. Questionable Creatures is full of original tunes, all with a sweep and style unlike most of the jazz you will hear this year. And that’s a good thing. Oh, and check out that album art – it makes you cry out for a return to vinyl’s cardboard sleeves.
I spoke with Matt fresh from his successful CD release show at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn. We talked about his start in the music world, his goals, and the sources for his creative inspirations. Click here to listen to Podcast 307, including musical selections:
Matthew Silberman – “Mrs. Heimoff” from Questionable Creatures. This tune, written in a short burst of creativity by Silberman, has been described as an attempt to “recreate Silberman's childhood impressions of an old woman's semi-schizophrenic aura, chanting in Hebrew, speaking to herself in Yiddish, and seeming to speak in tongues while davening at the end of the row in his childhood synagogue”. You decide.
Matthew Silberman – “Ghost of the Praire” from Questionable Creatures. The title is a shout out to two of Silberman’s musical sources – Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan and Charlie Parker, both in America’s heartland in Kansas City. Check out Ferreira’s guitar distortion playing down a foundation for the band to build upon.
Matthew Silberman – “The Pharaoh’s Tomb” from Questionable Creatures. Imagine a cross between a Speilbergian film score and a Late John Coltrane composition and you have an idea of where Matthew was headed with this atmospheric piece.
Direct download: Podcast_307_-_A_Conversation_with_Matthew_Silberman.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Thu, 18 October 2012
"Gilson Schachnik is an artist for the 21st century. [He] creates the kind of all-encompassing jazz mix that fans of the music's new world order now demand: entertaining, uncliched and flavored with tastes from around the world." – Bob Young
When you want to talk about the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, it’s best to find a Brazilian musician with whom you have the conversation. And that’s what I did when I spoke with keyboardist Gilson Schachnik, an associate professor at Berklee School of Music and the mainstay of the group Mozik. Along with partner-in-crime drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, he helped create a band he calls “the United Nations” for the varying nationalities of the five members. Three (Schachnik, Zottarelli, guitarist Gustavo Assis-Brasil) are from Brazil, while the band is rounded out by Russian flutist Yulia Musayelyan and Argentine bassist Fernando Huergo.
Mozik will presents a roots, samba and jazz celebration in an all-Jobim show featuring jazz singer Rebecca Parris, on Tuesday, October 30 at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston.. Schachnik calls Ms. Parris “the last great jazz singer”, and he’s not far off, as she continues to follow in the footsteps of greats like Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan, Commonly referred to as “the First Lady of Boston Jazz”, her last CD, You Don't Know Me, featured guest artists Jerry Bergonzi, Gary Burton and Houston Person
Gilson and I talked about the band’s CD, appropriately enough called Mozik, why the music of Jobim was an acquired taste for him, and how it is to work with singers who might not be native Portuguese speakers. Click here for Podcast 306, which includes four tracks from the Mozik CD, including:
Mozik – “Desafinado” from Mozik. One of Jobim’s best known tunes always presents a challenge for musicians who want to find something new and exciting in songs that have been recorded over and over. Here its changes in tempo and a percussive feel that makes the tune their own.
Mozik – “A Felicidade” from Mozik.. This Jobim classic is given a boost by the flute of Yulia Musayelyan, who manages to be alternately percussive and melodic and the group takes the tune up-tempo.
Mozik – “Web’s Samba” from Mozik. Dedicated to the memory of his late friend Webster Roach, Jr., a drummer who died suddenly in 2010. Gilson talked about what makes a samba, a samba in the interview.
Mozik – “Eye of the Hurricane” from Mozik. A jazz classic from Herbie Hancock, the group brings an international flavor to the modal masterpiece from 1965.
Direct download: Podcast_306_-_A_Conversation_with_Gilson_Scachnik.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Mon, 15 October 2012
Bob Belden says of his latest release, Transparent Heart, “This record is not a jazz record, it's about my life in Manhattan“, and you know something is up.
The Grammy-winning saxophone player has been acclaimed as an arranger, composer, bandleader and producer. He has been intimately involved in the award-winning reissue project of the Miles Davis catalogue, writing illuminating liner notes. He even had a short stint as head of A&R for Blue Note Records (listen to the interview to hear his opinion of that job). Transparent Heart is the latest CD from Belden’s group Animation, which has been together with shifting personnel for a few decades now. So how is it not a “jazz record”?
Transparent Heart has been called by Belden “a musical tool to get people to think about social issues." Music must be returned to its place as a social engineer; provoking thought amongst society. This record is not about tunes, solos, and arrangements, it's a way of telling a story that has something to do with my life, OUR lives, and for anyone who has ever landed with excitement, wonder, fear, and hope on this tiny island off of the coast of the United States. It's not being a musician, but rather a citizen." It owes as much to electronica, the musical collages of Brian Eno, and the dense sounds of “Krautrock”, as it does to “jazz”. This is spooky, moving stuff.
I truly enjoyed our conversation, which covered an amazing amount of ground in a short period of time. Belden can often be harsh in his criticism of “the music business” and artists who allow themselves to be seduced by the promises of big labels. He is also a passionate advocate for artists’ rights and for the role technology will has in our present, and will continue to have in the future.
Click here to listen to Podcast 305, which includes the following musical selections:
Animation – “Vanishment” from Transparent Heart. Belden enlisted a young band for this project, musicians who might be more familiar with the sound he was seeking than veterans of the jazz scene. To back Belden’s soprano sax and flute, he brought in Pete Clagett (trumpet and effects); Jacob Smith (bass); Roberto Verastegui (keyboards and samplers) and Matt Young (drums).
Animation – “Terra Incognitot” from Transparent Heart. The title refers to a term used by Belden’s fellow New York residents to describe Central Park above 96th street. He seeks inspiration there at all hours of the evening, listening to the sounds of the city filtered through the park.
Animation – “Seven Towers” (edit) from Transparent Heart. Belden watched the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center from Chambers Street in lower Manhattan. This is his attempt to incorporate found sounds with musical memory – the track starts with the NORAD radio broadcast finding out a plane hit the North Tower; followed by the NYPD and NYFD responding.
Louiz Banks, Gary Bartz, Ron Carter, Ravi Chary, Jimmy Cobb, Rudresh Mahanthappa & Vikku Vinayakram – “All Blues” From Miles from India: A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis. Released in April 2008, this CD sought to link Miles’ music with musicians from across the world, mostly from Asia. Here three veterans from Miles’ bands (Bartz, Carter, Cobb) team with sax star Rudresh Mahanthappa for a fascinating reworking of a classic tune.
Fri, 12 October 2012
In March of this year, I had a conversation with Conrad Herwig, and we talked about the state of the trombone today. We agreed that there may be a renaissance of sorts happening for the instrument, with any number of top ‘bone players getting to lead bands and release recordings as frontmen.
Further proof for this thesis can be found with the release of Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut, which puts together a quartet composed of three – count ‘em, three – trombone players and a tuba to create a fascinating take on the jazz quartet, and on the musical possibilities of the trombone as a jazz instrument. Fiedler is joined by friends Josh Roseman and Ryan Keberle on trombones, with tuba player extraordinaire Marcus Rojas becoming a one man rhythm section. The CD is a lively mix of covers and Fiedler originals, some of which have been re-arranged from prior recordings with his trio.
I spoke with Joe about the genesis of the band – and the band and CD’s name – as well as the difficulties and fun of making music with three of the same instruments. Plus, you get t find out what a sackbut is. Click here to listen to Podcast 304, which includes musical selections:
Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut – “Don Pullen” from Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut. Perhaps my favorite tune on the CD, Joe dedicated the composition to his “hero of heroes”, the great jazz pianist and organist who passed away at the untimely age of 54.
Joe Fiedler Trio – Title Track from The Crab. Joe reexamined this track from the 2009 release for Big Sackbut, using Rojas’ tuba for John Hebert’s bass and everyone for Michael Sarin’s drums.
Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut – “Ging Gon” from Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut. Originally part of the critically acclaimed Sacred Chrome Orb CD by the Fiedler Trio, Fiedler gave the song a key change and allowed much of the percussion that inspired the song to be implied by the band.
Thu, 11 October 2012
Last year Herbie Hancock had a piece of the planet Mars in his jacket pocket during the 25th Anniversary Kennedy Center Gala of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. As you might imagine, this piece of Mars had the best night out that Mars ever had—and it can now be yours! It will go to the highest bidder at the largest ever auction of meteorites this Sunday, October 14th in New York.
Accompanied by a scientific abstract as well as a note from Herbie, there are only 300 pounds of Mars on Earth, which makes Mars among the rarest naturally occurring substances on Earth---and given its earthly provenance, this bit of Mars is far more rare still!
100% of all proceeds going to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Click here for information.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Tue, 9 October 2012
Rio Sakairi is a major figure in the New York City jazz scene today. As the Director of Programming at The Jazz Gallery, she has created an internationally recognized breeding ground for blossoming musical talent, helping to launch the careers of dozens of today’s finest young players. When a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, spawning devastating tsunamis and a subsequent nuclear crisis, Ms. Sakairi, who was born and raised in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki (just two hundred miles from the severely ravaged Sendai area) was inspired immediately into action.
She called upon an esteemed roster of friends and colleagues, and they came together to create a gift to those who suffered such incredible loss. HOME - Gift of Music is an eight-song note of support from some of today's most innovative musicians in jazz and beyond, including Gretchen Parlato, Doug Wamble, Becca Stevens, Alan Hampton, John Ellis and Claudia Acuña. The artists donated their time and talents, penning personal songs specifically for this project. All proceeds from HOME - Gift of Music will go to Habitat for Humanity Japan, where volunteers are working tirelessly to rebuild homes for those affected. Studio time, engineering, artwork, graphic design, distribution, marketing and PR services were also generously donated.
I spoke with Rio about the project, and she expressed her gratitude to all. The word “family” is used most often by her to describe this group of musicians, who have stepped forward with assistance. The Jazz Gallery is undergoing dramatic changes, as it lost its lease due to rezoning and will move to a new location (as yet undetermined) in December. She plans a series of retrospective concerts to honor the space and its history, most notably a benefit concert on Wednesday October 24 at Rockwood Hall, featuring Steve Coleman, Larry Grenadier, Miguel Zenon, Johnathan Blake, and other artists who she promised would top all of these notables in star power.
Click here to listen to out conversation on Podcast 303, featuring musical selections from the CD including:
John Ellis – “Home” from HOME - Gift of Music. Ellis is a long-time associate of Rio’s, commissioned three times for The Jazz Gallery's notable commissioning program. When called upon to write the title track for the album, he did not hesitate, even when she asked him to make his recorded singing debut.
Doug Wamble – “Fear Not the Fall” from HOME - Gift of Music. A sparse, almost hymn-like song, Rio told me it was recorded in one take, just Wamble and his guitar.
Sachal Vasandani - "Doves" from HOME - Gift of Music. The album ends with a large group effort, featuring pianist Taylor Eigsti, , guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Johnathan Blake. They ably back Vasandani and guest singers Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens in a song that begs for interpretation
Direct download: Podcast_303_-_A_Conversation_with__Rio_Sakairi.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT