Fri, 26 April 2013
"It has been my dream that one day every year, jazz would be celebrated, studied, and performed around the world for 24 hours straight. A collaboration among jazz icons, scholars, composers, musicians, dancers, writers, poets, and thinkers who would embrace the beauty, spirit, and principles of jazz, all of them freely sharing experiences and performances in our big cities and in our small towns, all across our seven continents..." UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Chairman, Herbie Hancock
A Global Concert from Istanbul will be streamed live at International Jazz Day, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and on International Jazz Day's YouTube channel beginning at 9pm/Istanbul, 7pm/London 2pm/NewYork and 4am (May 1) Sydney. If you miss it live, it will be aired again a few hours later.
A truly global cast of musical stars will appear, led by Herbie Hancock and his guests Wayne Shorter; Robert Glasper, Branford Marsalis, John McLaughlin, Anat Cohen; Terence Blanchard; Joss Stone; George Duke; Ramsey Lewis, Hugh Masakela; Ruben Blades; Marcus Miller; Zakir Hussain; Lee Ritenour and Esperanza Spalding. And that's just the ones I could name off the top of my head!
If you are among the hundreds of people who have organized or are participating in an event, and plan to upload a video from JazzDay to your channel at YouTube (the video must be from April 30 ONLY), please name your video with your event title and location including country, and use the following tags so we can find your videos easily and display after April 30 on JazzDay.com:
As someone who was lucky enough to attend the JazzDay concert in New York last year, let me state unequivocally that it is a must see and hear; the music, the fellowship, and the love are nto to be missed.
For more information about International Jazz Day, please visit www.jazzday.com
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT
Tue, 23 April 2013
ECM is making an early run at “Label of the Year” for jazz releases. In the first four months of 2013, Manfred Eicher and company have given us outstanding new CDs like Chris Potter’s The Sirens; the Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet’s Wislawa; and Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran’s teaming on Hagar’s Song; plus two fabulous reissues as box sets from Lloyd and from Paul Motian.
Adding to this embarrassment of riches is the latest release from pianist Craig Taborn, a trio session entitled Chants. Taborn (who was one of two pianists on The Sirens) teams with Stanko’s rhythm section of Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaver for an album of innovative music. It’s a thoroughly modern take on that staple of the jazz scene, the piano trio. However, rather than concentrate on chamber structure or counterpoint, the group is more concerned with sound texture, color and mood.
The results are always interesting, and sometimes dazzling. Taborn, who is as comfortable with electric music as he is with acoustic, has found kindred spirits in Morgan and Cleaver, who play in and around Taborn, creating layers of sound with wonderful complexity. The trio is on the road now and well worth checking out when they come to your town.
I spoke with Craig and length about his process of writing and recording, and go his comments on being part of Chris Potter’s groups, and what lessons he learned from his time with James Carter during what he called the “last feeding frenzy” of jazz signings by major labels in the Nineties. Click here to listen to Podcast 345, featuring musical selections including:
Craig Taborn Trio - “Hot Blood” and “Silver Ghosts” from Chants. The trio of Taborn, Thomas Morgan (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) creates shifting moods and textures on these Taborn originals.
Chris Potter – “Dawn (With Her Rosy Fingers)” from The Sirens. Click here to listen to Potter talk about the CD, and the ensemble of Potter (soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet); Taborn (piano); David Virelles (prepared piano, celeste, harmonium); Larry Granadier (double bass) and Eric Harland (drums).
James Carter – “Oleo” from Jurassic Classics, Almost 20 years ago, Taborn worked with James Carter (soprano, alto & tenor saxophones) on a series of major label releases. This Sonny Rollins-penned tune shows how the “Young Lions” made jazz standards their own. The quartet is Carter; Craig Taborn (piano); Jaribu Shahid (bass); and Tani Tabbal (drums).
Direct download: Podcast_345_-_A_Conversation_wtih_Craig_Taborn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Tue, 23 April 2013
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 449 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 Sweet 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: 1:00am EDT
Sat, 20 April 2013
The artistic muse strikes when it will. Personal tragedy or pain can be the catalyst for the creation of art just as often as joy, or the experience of beauty. The artist takes what comes, and if they are successful in their chosen medium, the resulting work gives the world a sense of what Susanne K. Langer called “felt life”.
For Bill Horvitz, the tragedy was the sudden death of his younger brother Philip from heart failure in 2005, at the age of 44. Horvitz, who as a composer and guitar player had stretched the boundaries of jazz, classical, folk and rock music for three decades, the process of making sense of his loss sent him to work.
In the years that followed Philip’s death, Horvitz wrote and arranged a long-form piece of music for a large ensemble, which has become The Long Walk, a tribute to his brother. The piece has grown in length, and the ensemble, which began at a dozen, has grown to seventeen, including brass, woodwinds and strings backing a core jazz band. The Bill Horvitz Expanded Band, as it is known, recently performed the work on the West Coast (where Horvitz and his wife reside), and the CD studio recording has just been released on Big Door Prize Records. An East Coast version of the Expanded Band will perform The Long Walk at Roulette in Brooklyn on June 30th at 6:00 pm, six years after the piece was last performed there.
While the catalyst for The Long Walk may have been tragedy, the CD is a life-affirming tribute to a man who spent his life in dance, theatre and movement. While there are notes of sadness in the title track and “As If”, they are outweighed by the joy in “Funk Side Story”, the wit of “Where Did the Monkey Go” and the exuberance of “Do You Want to Dance?” The ensemble directed by Omid Zoufonoun, and features strong ensemble playing as well as solos from artists including Horvitz on guitar, his brother Wayne on piano, and Corey Wright on tenor sax.
I spoke with Bill about the creative process that resulted in The Long Walk, and how he composed and arranged for a large ensemble. Click here to listen to our conversation on Podcast 344, along with musical selections, including:
Bill Horvitz Expanded Band – “Do You Want to Dance?” from The Long Walk. Philip Horvitz spent his creative life in the world of dance, and Bill knew that any tribute to Philip would have to include a dance number. This track fits the bill, showcasing solos by Darren Johnston (trumpet), Cory Wright (tenor sax) and Vijay Anderson (drums).
Bill Horvitz Expanded Band – “Child Star” from The Long Walk. Horvitz tells a delightful story about his brother’s love of putting on shows for the family at a very early age. Spurred by this memory, he composed this wistful piece, which features solos by Kyle Bruckman (oboe), Sarah Jo Zararka (violin), Ned Haran (trombone) and Shirley Hunt (cello).
Bill Horvitz Expanded Band – “Funk Side Story” from The Long Walk. For me, this is the most fun piece on the CD. A piece of jazz-funk that resonates with the feel of a “West Side Story” number, it features some driving solos from Steve Adams (alto sax and flute), Johnston, Haran, Aram Shelton (clarinet) and Bill Horvitz (guitar).
Tone Bent – Title track from Angels in the Kitchen. Not all of Horvitz’ work is on such a large scale. He enjoys playing guitar and banjo and singing with his wife Robin Eschner in this two person group. This track, is from a 2011 release, which is being re-released in a new edition lter this year. Bill relayed the story behind the track:
In Paris France there is a bakery that has been going strong since the early 1930's when it was started up by Pierre Poilane. Pierre baked individually hand-crafted traditional French sourdough loaves in wood-fired ovens.
In 1970 Pierre's son - Lionel - was handed ownership of the bakery. Lionel was very charismatic and a seeker who believed that bread was intimately linked with history, politics, arts and language. Salvador Dali was included in his circle of friends and it was Dali who requested that Lionel build among other projects - a bird cage out of bread, and an entire bedroom set. I don't know if this was to scale.
Eight years ago this story took a very sad turn when Lionel and his wife Irena died in a helicopter crash on a foggy night over the English Channel. Their two daughters, Apollonia and Athena, were 18 and 16 at the time and the oldest daughter; Apollonia decided that she would take over the family business. She had grown up in the bakery and knew what was required. She attended Harvard and graduated and today - she's indeed running the family bakery, continuing the traditions of her Father and grandfather. Today the pain Poilane remains one of the most desired and respected breads in the world and is still baked in wood-fired ovens. This song is for Apollonia and her sister Athena.
note: We had a CD release party and Robin had been in touch with Apollonia about the song. Apollonia offered to Fed Ex Poilane bread for the occasion, which she did: 10 very large loaves (2.5 lbs) and then it got strange as someone in customs didn't think it was ok or something and we got a call at 5 in the morning saying that customs was holding our package because the twist ties were not declared on the forms....so then we had to call Paris and explain that to them, which was not easy....anyway we got the bread and it was delicious .... so nice of her to do that!
Direct download: Podcast_344_-_A_Conversation_with_Bill_Horvitz.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:30am EDT
Thu, 18 April 2013
Jane Monheit has been a creative whirlwind since the birth of her son almost five years ago. She and her band are almost always touring the major jazz halls of the world; she has recorded and released three albums under her name, as well as a charity holiday single with Sara Gazarek; begun teaching master classes; and honed her skills as a singer-songwriter.
Her latest release, The Heart of the Matter, may be her foremost artistic statement. Always an expressive singer, she has developed skills at writing, and shows the continued ability to choose the right song and the right musicians to compliment her sound. Her core band has never been tighter, and guest appearances by Gil Goldstein (who produced) and guitarist Romero Lubambo are frosting on a delectable confection.
Over the past few records, Ms. Monheit has moved beyond the core Great American Songbook, looking for less recorded, but always top-notch material. As a result, The Heart of The Matter features songs written by Hoagy Carmichael and Mel Torme right alongside those of Randy Newman, Lennon & McCartney and Joe Raposo.
Click here to listen to Podcast 343, where Ms. Monheit and I talk about the new CD, and how her personal life influences her artistic choices. The podcast includes tunes from her recordings, including:
Jane Monheit – “Night Night Stars” from The Heart of the Matter. Written for her son Jack, Jane had shrugged the song off as too weak for the album, but Gil Goldstein wisely thought otherwise.
Jane Monheit – “Dependes De Nos” from The Heart of the Matter. Jane has wisely continued working her way through the Ivan Lins songbook, here including shimmering takes on “A Gente Merece Ser Feliz “ and this sensual tune.
Jane Monheit – “Golden Slumbers/The Long and Winding Road” from The Heart of the Matter. A winning medley of two later Lennon & McCartney gems, with the band’s sound colored wonderfully by the cellos of David Eggar and Richard Locker, with Goldstein adding flourishes on electric piano.
Jane Monheit – “Embraceable You” from Taking a Chance on Love. Listeners to these podcasts know of my admiration for the musical contributions Romero Lubambo brings to recordings, and Ms. Monheit is also a fan. Here she sings an uncluttered version of the Gershwin standard with the Brazilian guitarist, who features prominently on the new CD.
Direct download: Podcast_343_-_A_Conversation_with_Jane_Monheit.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Wed, 17 April 2013
If it can be said that anyone has music in her D.N.A., that person would be Lisa Kirchner. The daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning classical composer Leon Kirchner and coloratura soprano Gertrude Schoenberg, Lisa was raised in a home that appreciated Bach as much as Jimi Hendrix, Duke Ellington as much as Mozart. Ms. Kirchner made the most of that eclectic musical upbringing, successfully working on the New York stage, performing as a dancer, harmonizing with singers like Judy Collins, and leading her own jazz group.
With the release of Umbrellas in Mint, she also puts her songwriting skills to the forefront. An album of all original material, Umbrellas in Mint is full of story-songs that might be taken from a progressive Broadway show, the melodies strong and the lyrics full of emotion. Ms. Kirchner sings in a way that draws the listener in, making us hang on her phrasing to see where the story – or the musical composition – will go next. While so many jazz singers are content to recycle the Great American Song Book, she is staking out new ground.
Lisa has wisely surrounded herself with a solid jazz band. Pianist Xavier Davis has recorded with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Christian McBride, Stefon Harris and Jimmy Greene, and most recently toured with Jeremy Pelt. His touch is in tune with Ms. Kirchner’s vocal approach, and he leads the band without overplaying or stepping on some of the subtleties provided by sax player Sherman Irby, guitarist Ron Jackson, bassist Vincente Archer, accordianist Bill Schimmel and drummer Willie Jones III.
I spoke with Lisa as she finishing off the new CD’s promotional campaign, and we talked about her childhood, how she came to be a singer, and the back-stories on a number of her songs. Click here to listen to Podcast 342, which features her original songs including:
Lisa Kirchner – Title Track from Charleston for You. Recorded in the living room of keyboard player Marc Berman in the 1990's, Lisa overdubbed and polished the tune for release last year. Not one to let her art be, she has re-recorded it as “Southern Starlight (Charleston for You)” on the new CD.
Lisa Kirchner – “Tim” and Title Track from Umbrellas in Mint. Two strong story-songs that show not only her craft as a composer but as a singer as well. She characterizes the first song as a sort of a “theatrical ‘Mr. Bojangles’, while the latter has the feel of overheard conversations in a Paris café.
Direct download: Podcast_342_-_A_Conversation_wit_Lisa_Kirchner.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Tue, 16 April 2013
Fifty years ago today, Miles Davis began the recording sessions that would mark another major change – and triumph – in his career. Coming off a year plagued by ill health, aborted recording sessions and outright band mutiny, Davis faced the challenge of creating a working group of musicians that would enable him to work on a steady basis.
The April 16th sessions in Los Angeles found Davis breaking in a new bass player. Paul Chambers had left in 1962 with the rest of “The Rhythm Section”, and Davis’ new man behind the double bass was Ron Carter. Carter would hold that post through the start of Davis’ Electric period six years later. George Coleman on sax, session ace Victor Feldman on piano and Frank Butler on drums. Among the tracks recorded that day was the Tony Crombie-Benny Green composition “So Near, So Far”. That track didn’t make the album that was released in October 1963, but is available on re-issues and Davis compilations.
Davis recorded the next day as well in Los Angeles, but was displeased with the up-tempo numbers that were laid down. He booked time in New York for May, when he, Coleman and Carter would be joined by two players who would round out perhaps the greatest rhythm section in modern jazz history – Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Mon, 1 April 2013
April is Jazz Appreciation Month, leading up to UNESCO's International Jazz Day, held this year in Istanbul, Turkey. How can you spread the good word about the joys of jazzs? The Smithsonian has 112 Ways to Celebrate Jazz on its website, and whether you are a musician, educator, record collector, museum, student or parent, there are dozens of ways to have a good time.
I'll be posting off and on this month on the many different events that mark Jazz Appreciation Month. If you or your organization, group or community has an event to promote, let me know and I'll make an extra effort to give you some space.
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT