Thu, 19 February 2015
One of the last authentic practitioners of bebop saxophone, Charles McPhersonremains at the top of his game. On his new album The Journey, McPhersondemonstrates all the vigor, inventiveness, technical dexterity and expressive warmth that drew attention to this brilliant alto stylist during his formative associations with Charles Mingus, Barry Harris, Pat Martino and Art Farmer. The vitality, wit and sheer power of his playing on The Journey belie the fact that McPherson has been in the public eye since the early 1960s. His lyrical and virile improvising throughout the recording asserts that the career upswing that began for McPherson when he added passionate alto statements to the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s 1998 Charlie Parker bio-pic, Bird, followed by the excellent all-star albums that came in the film’s wake, remains in motion. Working with a Denver-based contingent of estimable musicians including saxophonist Keith Oxman, pianist Chip Stephens, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid, McPherson demonstrates his laudable command of the bebop idiom, transforming original tunes, songbook standards and bop classics into fresh, invigorating fare.
The origins ofThe Journey can be traced to a fortuitous meeting that occurred at a musical clinic, featuring McPherson among others, at the Denver, Colorado jazz club Dazzle. There he met the saxophonist and high school instructor, Keith Oxman. Musical encounters with Oxman and local musicians Stephens, Walker and Reid, were so successful that the veteran saxophonist encouraged a recording to document the obvious connection that the five musicians had so quickly established. The April and May 2014 sessions produced a strikingly comfortable blend of standards (“Spring Is Here,” “I Should Care”), McPherson originals (“Manhattan Nocturne,” “The Journey,” “Bud Like”), work from both Oxman and Stephens, and a shout out to McPherson’s deepest influence, Charlie Parker (“Au Privave”).
McPherson is not stopping with the new CD and supporting live shows, which will take him to Europe. He recently wrote a bebop/Afro-Latin score for the San Diego Ballet entitled “Sweet Synergy Suite”, which will premiere this month. And in what has to be one of the ultimate compliments, Donnie Norton, a doctoral candidate to the Universithy of Northern Colorado is writing his dissertation on McPherson’s career and musical style.
Charles spoke to me from his home in San Diego, and we talked not only about The Journey, but his memories of working with legends like Mingus, Farmer, and the late Mulgrew Miller. Podcast 466 is out conversation, supplemented with musical selections from the new CD (“Manhattan Nocturne,” “The Journey”) as well as his work as a sideman with Mingus (“Reincarnation Of A Lovebird No 2”).
Direct download: Podcast_466_-_A_Conversation_with_Charles_McPherson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:10am EST
Wed, 18 February 2015
Dubbed “an unsung hero in modern jazz” by the All Music Guide, the baritone saxophonist Glenn Wilson has been cherished by discerning listeners who recognize a visionary improviser and inspired bandleader when they hear one. On his new live album Timely, on Cadence Jazz Records, Wilson is joined by a treasured compatriot, the trumpeter John D’Earth. Along with the pianist John Toomey, the bassist Jimmy Masters and the drummer Tony Martucci, the quintet recorded over two nights at the Havana Nights Jazz Club in Virginia Beach, resulting in an inspired mixture of new, improvised tunes (“Inner Life” and the title track) and both reworked and new tunes from the likes of Pepper Adams (“Dylan’s Delight”), Wayne Shorter (“Sightseeing”) and Bob Belden (“Fat Beat”).
In a career that spans five decades, Glenn Wilson has been featured with such iconic jazz and Latin music leaders as Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Machito, Tito Puente and the Bob Belden Ensemble; he has also appeared with rock hit-maker, Bruce Hornsby. Wilson has seven solo albums and has appeared on dozens of jazz recordings as a sideman. Currently based in central Illinois, Wilson performs with his two groups, The Jazzmaniacs and TromBari, featuring trombonist Jim Pugh. He currently is a member of Doc Severinson’s touring band, and is on the jazz faculty at the University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana, where he teaches Jazz Pedagogy and Music Business, as well as saxophone studio and combos/ensembles.
Podcast 465 is my conversation with Glenn, as he shares stories about his time with Pepper Adams and Bob Belden; he the Timely record finally came to be released; and how he came to record with Bruce Hornsby. Music accompaniments include three tracks from the new CD - “Dylan’s Delight,” “Inner Life,” and “Fat Beat”; the title track from Belden’s tribute to the music of Sting, “Straight to My Heart”, and Hornsby’s jazz-infused “Rainbow’s Cadillac” from Harbor Lights, which featured Wilson on bari, D'earth on trumpet and Branford Marsalis on sax.
Direct download: Podcast_465_-_A_Conversation_with_Glenn_Wilson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST
Thu, 12 February 2015
This year Nancy and I will literally be at sea on Valentine’s Day, returning to the Port of New Orleans from a week long cruise of the Western Caribbean. For those of you not so fortunate, here’s a set of tunes to serenade your Valentine at home, a Sweet Sixteen for the Sweet Fourteenth of February. Podcast 464 includes both jazz vocals and instrumentals, mostly standards new and old including:
Sarah Vaughn – “’S Wonderful”
Delfeayo Marsalis – “My Romance”
Karen Souza – “Wicked Game”
Lennie Tristano – “I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me Variations”
Alicia Olatuja – “Human Nature”
Donald Byrd – That’s All There is To Love”
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”
Seamus Blake & Chris Cheek – “I Surrender Dear”
Jason Moran – “Two Sleepy People”
Frank Kimbrough Quartet – “It Never Entered My Mind”
Ryan Keberle & Catharsis – “Easy to Love”
Adam Birnbaum – “Ooh What You Do To Me”
Helen Merrill & Clifford Brown – “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”
Helen Sung – “Never Let Me Go”
Jimmy Scott – “Someone to Watch Over Me”
Jim Hall featuring Bill Evans – “My Funny Valentine”
Mon, 2 February 2015
It was almost three years ago when I spoke with Joel Harrison about the Alternative Guitar Festival he was organizing. In the time that has passed, the event has grown to multiple days of performances and master classes, attracting six-string devotees from around the country.
The 2015 event will take place in various locations around New York City. Shapeshifter Lab (February 4), and Rockwood Music Hall (February 6-8) will host performances, and master classes will take place at Spectrum. This festival of daring, inventive guitarists, who emphasize new and unusual approaches to the instrument, will once again celebrate the guitar’s enormous range, beyond style or genre. The 2015 AGS will feature as performers and instructors the likes of Harrison, Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth fame), Liberty Ellman, David Gilmore, Miles Okazaki, Kenny Wessel, Doug Wamble, Adam Levy, Sheryl Bailey, Michael Gregory Jackson, Anders Nilsson, Marco Cappelli, Gyan Riley, David Fiuczynski, Prasanna, Ava Mendoza, Adam Rudolph, and others.\
Harrison made a point of making each day a thematic event; for example, February 6th has guitarists blending jazz improvisation and composition with techniques and sounds from India and the Middle East. February 7th features Adam Rudolph's Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra, and February 8th will focus on improvisers debuting singer/songwriter projects. Ticket information is available at the various venues websites, as well as Harrison’s website.
If you have any interest in the guitar as a developing art form, this is for you, and our conversation will whet your appetite for the sights and sounds of the Festival. Musical selections that accompany our talk include Ava Mendoza (“Mandible Moonwalk”), David Fiuczynski’s Planet MicroJam (“Madoka Blue”),
Direct download: Podcast_463_-_A_Conversation_with_Joel_Harrison_about_the_Alternative_Guitar_Summit.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EST