Mon, 30 September 2013
Oscar Castro-Neves, the celebrated Brazilian guitarist, arranger, and composer, died from complications of gastric cancer on Friday, September 27 in Los Angeles, California. He was 73-years-old.
Six decades of accomplishment and musical acclaim have demonstrated an inherent musical genius that has made Castro-Neves one of the world's most complete musicians of his generation. His native country, Brazil, honored him with title of "Officer of the Order of Rio Branco" in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the dissemination of Brazilian culture and music around the world. The guitarist (born on May 15, 1940 in Rio de Janeiro) emerged in the early 1960s alongside Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and a handful of other young composers, as one of the founding figures of the musical movement that became known worldwide as bossa nova. At the age of 16, Castro-Neves' first recorded song, "Chora Tua Tristeza," became a national hit in Brazil, and generated over fifty recordings by various artists. In 1962, a year before "The Girl From Ipanema" became a Top 10 hit, 22-year-old Castro-Neves' spearheaded the bossa nova invasion in the U.S., playing a central role as a performer at the historic debut bossa bova concert at Carnegie Hall.
Castro-Neves' quartet then toured in the company of the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, the Stan Getz Quartet, and the Lalo Schifrin Trio, and in 1971 joined Sergio Mendes' Brazil '66 group as the featured guitarist, musical director and vocal coach. When he left the group in 1981, he had recorded more than 15 albums with Mendes, several of which he co-produced.
Castro-Neves performed as a guitarist on countless jazz and pop albums, including records from Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, and Quincy Jones. His greatest commercial success came as a producer, with credits including: Grammy® winning cross-over album Soul of the Tango by Yo-Yo Ma; Color and Light: Jazz Sketches on Sondheim, a Top Jazz Album of the Year by Billboard Magazine and among the 10 Best Albums of the Year by Time Magazine; Joe Henderson's Grammy® nominated Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim; Harry Belafonte's platinum-selling album The Tradition of Christmas; as well as records by Toots Thielemans, Stan Getz and Paul Winter.
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT
Thu, 26 September 2013
With the help of pianist Pascal Le Boeuf and bassist Linda Oh, the Jazz Gallery will be hosting a concert this Saturday, September 28, to raise funds to assist with Dayna Stephens' kidney related medical expenses. In addition to Stephens, many jazz luminaries such as Joe Lovano, Donny McCaslin, Mark Turner, Becca Stevens and others will be contributing performances.
Dayna also has a rare kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) which affects 20 out of every million people and is waiting on an urgently needed kidney transplant. He faces costly anti-rejection medications at a monthly rate of over $4,000 a month for an indefinite time period.
100% of all proceeds raised will go directly to Dayna Stephens. If you are unable to attend you can still donate through www.helpdaynastephens.org Please come out for a deeply meaningful evening of music from a community of musicians who want to make a difference.
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT
Wed, 25 September 2013
Noah Preminger was just a teenager when word of his saxophone skills was making the rounds in Southern New England. Then he was another in a line of wunderkind musicians from the West Hartford, Connecticut Hall High School Jazz Band, alumni of which include Brad Mehldau, Richie Barshay and Joel Frahm.
Now Preminger is an experienced player, bandleader, and songwriter, and he has released his third CD as a leader, Haymaker to great reviews. Leading a band that includes top guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer Colin Stranahan, Preminger creates music that fits squarely in the jazz tradition, yet has a modern edge. There is a great deal of tension and resolution in this music, yet always with a melodic touch. In short, this is a great step forward for Noah, and hopefully, a sign of great things to come.
I spoke with Noah as he and the quartet prepared to visit his alma mater, the New England Conservatory, for a performance and talk, as well as my alma mater, Clark University, for an outside gig. We talked about how he chooses his musical partners, his side project playing afrobeat-infused music with Kindred Spirits, and what students should really learn while at music school. Podcast 380 contains our conversation, plus musical selections including:
Noah Preminger – Title Track and “Don’t Drink the Water” from Haymaker. The adventurous Preminger took up boxing as a way to quit smoking, and hence the title of the new CD. His early love of jam band music led to his cover of this Dave Matthews Band tune.
Rob Garcia 4 – “The Return” from The Drop and the Ocean. Drummer Garcia is one of Noah’s favorite musical collaborators, and Preminger was part of this 2012 release, featuring Garcia on drums, Preminger on sax, Dan Tepfer on piano and John Hébert on bass.
Direct download: Podcast_380_-_A_Conversation_with_Noah_Preminger.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Tue, 24 September 2013
Ah, autumn in New England. This coming weekend it’s time to eschew the country and leaf peeing and head into the city for the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 28, from noon to 6 p.m. on Columbus Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Burke Street in Boston’s South End. The outdoor performances are open to the public and free of charge and will include the likes of Meshell Ndegeocello; Will Calhoun Trio, which includes pianist Marc Carey; and Robin McKelle & the Flytones. More info can be found at http://www.beantownjazz.org/.
This year, the festival celebrates the theme Jazz: The Next Generation, with performances by some of the genre’s most acclaimed up-and-coming alumni artists, including Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott; Mike Tucker Trio featuring vibraphonist Warren Wolf; and the Matt Savage Quartet featuring sax great Bobby Watson.
Scott, one of the leading lights of jazz’ “stretch music” genre that integrates hip-hop, ambient sounds, electronica and straight-ahead jazz, is an inspired choice for the festival. New Orleans-raised, Berklee-educated, and now Manhattan-based, Scott releases some of the most exciting music around, and is an electrifying performer.
Podcast 379 is my conversation with Christian, as he recalls fondly his days at Berklee, his excitement at his new band, and his sessions with Prince. He also gives current Berklee students a key piece of advice – ah, but you will have to listen to hear it. Musical selections for the podcast include:
Christian Scott – “Litany against Fear” from Anthem. As the reviewer said: The track takes on the characteristics of a Sunday sermon, starting off with penetratingly introspective blue notes, rising to rebellious anger, and then ending with a moment of peaceful resolution. The percussive playing of pianist Aaron Parks, the muscular sound of drummer Marcus Gilmore, the resonant bass lines of Esperanza Spaulding, and the explosive riffs of guitarist Matt Stevens blend masterfully with Scott's brooding lyricism.
Christian Scott – “James Crow, Jr, Esq.” from Live at Newport. This 2008 release shows the excitement that a Scott performance can bring to the stage. The band is Scott on trumpet; Matthew Stevens on guitar; Walter Smith III on tenor saxophone; Aaron Parks on piano; Joe Sanders on bass; and Jamire Williams on drums.
Christian Scott – “Vs. The Kleptocratic Union (Mrs. McDowell's Crime)” from aTunde Adjuah. 2012 saw the release of this double CD of explosive music, most with a political slant or consciousness; this tune is about the problem of the homeless. The band is Scott on trumpet; Stevens on guitar; Lawrence Fields on piano; Kris Funn on bass; Williams on drums; Louis Fouche on alto saxophone; Kenneth Whalum on tenor saxophone; and Corey King on trombone.
Direct download: Podcast_379_-_A_Conversation_with_Christian_Scott_abou_the_Berklee_Beantown_Jazz_Festival.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Thu, 19 September 2013
Trumpeter Ralph Alessi seems to be everywhere these days.
Over the summer, there was his collaboration with long-time bassist Drew Gess on Gress' CD The Sky Inside as well as his duo recording with pianist Fred Hersch, Only Many. September has seen two releases - one on ECM, the quartet CD called Baida; and another from the wildly improvisational collaborative called LARK. Add to that concert appearances with - among others - Christian Finger, Dafnis Prieto, Orrin Evans, and Michael Attlas' Spuntree, and you've got one busy guy. The Baida Quartet will be at the Jazz Standard in New York on September 24-25.
Alessi found time to chat with me recently, and Podcast 378 is our conversation, touching on the nature of writing and recording the Baida album, why he enjoys playing with the likes of Hersch, Jason Moran and Gress; and how an electric bass player from a classical music family learned to love the trumpet. Musical selections include:
Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra - "DownHome" from Live at the Jazz Standard 2009. A track from one of several Hersch collaborations to which Alessi has contributed. The Pocket Orchestra includes Hersch on piano, Alessi on trumpet, Richie Barshay on percussion and Jo Lawry on vocals.
Drew Gress "In Streamline" from The Sky Inside. Recorded a few years back but just released this summer, bassist Gress gets to step out in front, leading a band that includes Gress on bass and electronics, Alessi on trumpet, Tim Berne on alto sax, Creig Taborn on piano and Tom Rainey on drums.
Ralph Alessi - "Throwing Like a Girl" from Baida. The quartet - Alessi on trumpet, Jason Moran on piano, Drew Gress on bass and Nasheet Watts on drums - has released a dreamy yet melodic album of Alessi compositions. And the title? Listen to the podcast to find out where it comes from....
Ralph Alessi - Title track from Baida. More accurately it is the OPENING title track, since the composition bookends the album with two differing takes of a track that has been called "delicate but dark and ever-so-angular".
Jason Moran - "RAIN" from Artist-in-Residence. Moran holds down the piano chair in the Baida Quartet, and Alessi has returned the favor by helping out with Jason's projects. This track is from the 2006 release, a composition inspired by an African Slavery "Ring Shout" features Moran on piano, Alessi on trumpet, Abdou Mboup and Joan Jonas on percussion, Marvin Sewell on guitar, and Watts on drums.
Direct download: Podcast_378_-_A_Conversation_with_Ralph_Alessi.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:30am EDT
Tue, 17 September 2013
Is there a musical world that David Krakauer has not yet conquered? The ace clarinetist easily moves between the worlds of classical music, the jazz avant-garde, klezmer music, and dozens of other genres including funk and hip-hop. A leading light of the Radical Jewish Music movement of the Downtown New York scene, Krakauer must today be seen as one of a handful of musicians of the late 20th century who dared to create something new and exciting out of music that others had dismissed as passé, if not dead.
Krakauer will take a rare opportunity to look back at his career when he begins a week-long residency at The Stone in New York’s East Village. From September 24-29, he will join with other musicians to present five distinctly different performances, ranging from acoustic klezmer to a John Zorn birthday tribute to an evening of due and trio improvisations.
Podcast 377 is my conversation with Mr. Krakauer, who shares his thoughts on his partnership with John Zorn, his upcoming project called “The Big Picture” and the joys and freedom that comes with a musical residency at a listening room like The Stone. Musical selections include:
David Krakauer – “Funky Dave” from Klezmer Madness! Although the label now has 400 different releases to its credit, in 1995 John Zorn tapped David to record the first Tzadik release. This mix of funk, klezmer and the avant-garde featured Krakauer on clarinet and bass clarinet, Michael Alpert on accordion, violin and guitar and David Licht on percussion.
David Krakauer – “Rumania, Rumania” featuring Socalled from Bubbemeises - Lies My Gramma Told Me. Krakauer joins with Canadian hip-hop artist Socalled to create a new take on an old Yiddish classic.
David Krakauer – “ Ebubuel” from Pruflas – The Book of Angels Volume 18. Krakauer is a key component in the “Zorn at 60” concerts that have played around the world this year. He recorded one of the many Zorn-written “Book of Angels” projects last year with a band composed of Krakauer (Clarinet and Bass Clarinet); Sheryl Bailey (Guitar); Jerome Harris (Bass, Voice); Michael Sarin (Drums) and Keepalive (Laptop).
Direct download: Podcast_377_-_A_Conversation_with_David_Krakauer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:30am EDT
Sun, 15 September 2013
One of the most enjoyable parts of these blogs and podcast is the opportunity to introduce music fans to an artist they may have overlooked or not yet appreciated. Podcast 376, my conversation with trumpeter Carol Morgan fits that bill. Although she has released five CDs as a leader, she was just recently tabbed a “Rising Star” from Downbeat magazine.
Her latest CD, Retroactive, on the Blue Bamboo label, deftly shuffles two different recording sessions. The first, recorded in New York, allowed Ms. Morgan the chance to live out a musical fantasy and record with guitarist Mike Stern. The second session hails from Houston, where Carol joins forces with producer Chris Cortez on guitar, Keith Vivens on bass, and Jeff Sipe on drums.
Our conversation was lively as Ms. Morgan pulled no punches in dealing with issues from how she became inspired to play jazz to sexism on the bandstand to the recent controversy involving the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
Musical selections from Ms. Morgan’s new CD Retroactive include her originals “Stern Language” and “Melody’s Milieu”, and cover of “Tea for Two”.
Direct download: Podcast_376_-_A_Conversation_with_Carol_Morgan.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:23pm EDT
Fri, 13 September 2013
The short list of great music schools available for jazz students these days clearly must include the New England Conservatory. Their internationally renowned Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation Departments not only educate in the classroom, but provide students a chance to interact with working musicians in residency programs and guest visits.
The 2013-14 is particularly stellar, bringing residencies by John Zorn, Fred Hersch, Luciana Souza, and Dave Holland as well as a public talk by songwriter Elvis Costello after a morning working with NEC student-songwriters. A number of large scale free concerts are also on tap, most interestingly a Sun Ra Centennial event, “Jazz and the Struggle for Freedom and Equality” featuring some of the landmark compositions created to combat racism and bigotry; and Ran Blake’s annual Film Noir Concert, this year featuring music inspired by Otto Preminger’s Laura. All concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, log on to: http://necmusic.edu/jazz or call 617-585-1260
I spoke with Ken Schaphorst and Hankus Netsky, the heads of the Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation Departments, respectively, as the new season was about to begin. Podcast 375 features our insightful conversation, including musical interludes by:
Gunther Schuller – “Transformation” from The Birth of the Third Stream. NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. It was the brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967. Schuller may be best remembered among jazz historians as one of the leading lights of the “Third Stream” movement of the 1950’s. Schuller defined “Third Stream” as "a new genre of music located about halfway between jazz and classical music" and he contributed this track to the two LPs that featured representative music from the likes of Miles Davis, George Russell and John Lewis.
John Zorn – “Larkspur” from Alhambra Love Songs. The reclusive downtown jazz icon will have a spring residency at NEC, which will end with a retrospective concert curated by his pal Anthony Coleman. This music comes from a 2009 release, and is performed by a trio of Rob Burger (piano), Greg Cohen (bass) and Ben Perowsky (drums).
Elvis Costello and the Roots – “Sugar Won’t Work” from Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs. On October 25, Costello will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from NEC. Costello, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, is the fourth Hall of Famer—following Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Quincy Jones—to receive an honorary degree from NEC.
Sarah Jarosz – “Fuel the Fire” from Build Me Up From Bones. Ken Schaphorst and Hankus Netsky hold out this up and coming singer-songwriter as a perfect example of how a student can complete her studies while beginning a promising music career. Ms. Jarosz graduated from NEC at the age of 22, and still managed to tour and while recording original music and carving out her own sound.
Eden MacAdam-Somer – “Lullaby” from an unreleased live recording. Schaphorst and Netsky also rave about Ms. MacAdam-Somer, who has been hailed by the New York Times as reflecting "astonishing virtuosity and raw expression." She opened the 2013-14 season with a concert on September 12. This recording comes from a performance last winter.
Mon, 2 September 2013
For thirty years, Mosaic Records has been reissuing, rereleasing and discovering jazz treasures. Even before that, co-founder (with Charlie Lourie) Michael Cuscuna had become a legend as a producer of jazz recordings for Atlantic and Blue Note, working on many of the legendary sessions that made those labels famous.
The latest Mosaic release of note is The Complete Sun Ship Session, which includes newly discovered and previously unissued alternate takes from one came at the culmination of a year in which Coltrane arguably reached his creative peak, a year rich in masterworks. The Sun Ship album, though, was not issued until 1971, one of several Coltrane albums issued by Impulse Records after his death.
I spoke with Michael about these sessions, the historic importance of the release of complete sessions and what Mosaic looks for in their many projects. Podcast 374 is our conversation, featuring musical selections that include:
John Coltrane Quartet – “Nature Boy” from The John Coltrane Quartet Plays. 1965 was the final year for the original Coltrane Quartet, and this standard, recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, on February 18, 1965 showed the band adding players as Trane pursued a new sound. The quartet is John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) McCoy Tyner (piano) Art Davis and Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums).
John Coltrane Quartet – “Ascent (Take 7, Complete Insert 4)”; “Dearly Beloved (Takes 1 & 2, False Start and Alternate Version)” and “Studio Conversation” from The Complete Sun Ship Session. One of the great joys of listening to these final recordings of the Coltrane Quartet is that Cuscuna has put together the August 26, 1965 in their entirety, including studio banter and false starts. The result is a rare glimpse into the creative process of four great jazz musicians.
Thelonious Monk – “Four In One (Alternate Take)” from The Complete Blue Note Recordings Of Thelonious Monk. The first Mosaic collection were the first sessions Monk made as a bandleader between 1947 and 1952, and released on Blue Note records as a series of 78 RPM singles. The band is Monk on piano, Art Blakey on drums, Sahib Shihab on alto sax, Milt Jackson on vibes and Al McKibbon on bass.
You can use this purchase link to obtain the John Coltrane Quartet: The Complete Sun Ship Session.
Direct download: Podcast_374_-_A_Conversation_with_Michael_Cuscuna_about_Sun_Ship.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:20pm EDT