Thu, 21 January 2016
Since winning the “Triple Crown” of Jazz Vocal Competitions – Montreux Jazz Festival, Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition and Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition – Cyrille Aimee has been working hard at carving out a special place for her talents in the music world. While she plays and has recorded with her traditional jazz backing group, the Surreal Band, her recordings for Detroit’s Mack Avenue label have eschewed the piano/horn sound of most singers.
Instead, she has drawn on her life experiences, growing up the daughter of a Dominican mother and French father in the town of Samois-sux-Seine in France, the home of the annual Django Reinhardt Festival. The result is a multi-guitar approach to jazz sound with a wink at gypsy jazz, an approach that suits her sometimes chirpy vocal style to a T.
Let’s Get Lost is her second album for Mack Avenue (after 2014’s It’s a Good Day), and again it mixes originals with her versions of lesser known standards and international sounds. Her band – Adrien Maignard and Michael Valeanu on guitars, Sam Anning on bass and Rajiv Jayaweera on drums – is a tight, well-executed ensemble, and they lift the songs in every way.
Her version of the title song, best known as a slightly-up-tempo ballad from Chet Baker, is a good insight into the Aimee approach. Rather than give us yet another cover version of a great song, we get a version that brings to mind flappers and bootleg gin, the tune taken a Charleston-like speed.
Podcast 518 is my conversation with Cyrille, where we discuss her musical origins, how she chooses material, and the nature of her sound. Musical selections include a top-notch cover of Stephen Sondheim’s “Live Alone and Like It”, the title track, "Each Day" and her creative collaboration with Valeanu on “Nine More Minutes”.
Direct download: Podcast_518_-_A_Conversation_with_Cyrille_Aimee.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
Wed, 20 January 2016
Multi-instrumentalists are not unusual on the bandstand or in the studio these days. Reed players switch off from clarinet to saxophone, string players move between multi-stringed instruments from around the world. What IS unusual is Mark Weinstein’s multi-instrumental tale. By the age of 14, when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he also tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time.
A few years later, along with Barry Rogers, Weinstein formed Eddie Palmieri’s first trombone section, changing the sound of salsa forever. With his heart in jazz, Weinstein was a major contributor to the development of the salsa trombone playing and arranging. He extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands. His arrangements broadened the harmonic base of salsa while introducing folkloric elements for authenticity and depth. Mark continued to record with Eddie Palmieri, with Cal Tjader and with Tito Puente. He toured with Herbie Mann for years, played with Maynard Ferguson, and the big bands of Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Jones and Lewis, Lionel Hampton, Duke Pearson and Kenny Dorham. In 1967 he wrote and recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz album, Cuban Roots for the legendary salsa producer Al Santiago. Called by many the “Holy Grail of Latin Jazz” due to its rarity today, the album revolutionized Latin jazz; combining authentic folkloric drum ensembles with harmonically complex extended jazz solos and arrangements. Chick Corea was on piano and the rhythm section included the finest and most knowledgeable Latin drummers: Julito Collazo, Tommy Lopez Sr. and Papaito (timbalero with La Sonora Matancera) .
And then, a change of heart, a change of lifestyle and a change of career found Mark Weinstein putting away the trombone forever.
It took almost ten years before he returned to the music scene. He earned a Ph.D in Philosophy with a specialization in mathematical logic. He became a college professor (and remains so until this day). When he returned to the music scene in 1978 playing the flute, he wrote produced and recorded the Orisha Suites. Slowly her returned to the jazz world, and now has released more than 25 albums of jazz flute, touching on Brazlia, Latin Jazz, Straight Ahead and now, Jewish Themes on his new CD In Jerusalem.
Taking classic Hasidic melodies that occurred in liturgy known as “nigun” – wordless melody to sing in preparation of or participation in prayer – he has assembled a group to bring a jazz treatment to ancient music. Joining Mark on the CD are guitarist Steve Peskoff, bassist Gilad Abro, drummer Haim Peskoff (Steve’s son) and percussionist Gilad Dobrecky.
Podcast 516 is my conversation with Mark Weinstein about his career, his transition from Trombone to Flute and the new CD. Musical selections from In Jerusalem include: “Reporzaras”, “Mizmor L’David”, “Meir’s Nigun” and a waltz dedicated to his parents “Yaakov U’ Malka.”
Direct download: Podcast_516_-_A_Conversation_with_Mark_Weinstein.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
Mon, 18 January 2016
To honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King on the anniversary of his birth, here is the Official Straight No Chaser song of the holiday - “Martin was a Man, a Real Man” as recorded by Oliver Nelson in 1969. The band for the recording included Nelson, Pearl Kaufmann and Roger Kellaway (piano); Chuck Domanico (bass); John Guerin and Roy Haynes (drums); Frank Stroizer and John Gross (sax) and Bob Bryant (trumpet). Perhaps no time in recent memory is it more necessary for all Americans to consider Dr. King's legacy, and state of race relations in the United States than today.
For a previous podcast tribute to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, click here. For a 2008 podcast of tunes from Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, Grant Green, Cecil Payne, Horace Silver, and the Blind Boys of Alabama that are appropriate for the day, click here., and for a 2014 Podcast, click here.
Mon, 18 January 2016
To honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King on the anniversary of his birth, here is the Official Straight No Chaser song of the holiday - “Martin was a Man, a Real Man” as recorded by Oliver Nelson in 1969. The band for the recording included Nelson, Pearl Kaufmann and Roger Kellaway (piano); Chuck Domanico (bass); John Guerin and Roy Haynes (drums); Frank Stroizer and John Gross (sax) and Bob Bryant (trumpet).
For a previous podcast tribute to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, click here. For a 2008 podcast of tunes from Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, Grant Green, Cecil Payne, Horace Silver, and the Blind Boys of Alabama that are appropriate for the day, click here.
Sat, 16 January 2016
For those of you who are fans of seminal fusion groups like Weather Report and Steps Ahead, the drumming of Peter Erskine is well ingrained in your musical memory. Erskine moved away from that louder, more frenetic music years ago, becoming a more accomplished jazz drummer, and then beginning a career in film scores, education and musical application development as his interests in music in general grew.
For those who needed a prescription for his old music, let me declare firmly - the doctor will see you now.
Dr.Um (read it slowly and you'll get the wordplay) is his latest CD, a plugged-in delight that is sitting on top of the Amazon.com Jazz CD charts as I write this posting. Why did Peter return to his fusion background after all this time? Maybe it was all the time he spent immersed in Weather Report lore and music in 2015, having worked on the Jaco Pastorius documentary and the Weather Report box set The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981. Regardless of the reason, the CD is a joy, satisfying both the nostalgia of older fans with the sense of exploration and discovery a new generation of music fans should feel with each listen.
Erskine's discography is approaching 700 albums at this point, so he has nothing to prove. Yet there is a spirit of joy that permeates Dr. Um, of an artist shining a light on music he wants to share, not afraid to not take himself too seriously, and work with old and new musical friends on a project.
Podcast 517 is my conversation with Peter Erskine, as he discusses the new CD, spins tales of Weather Report, and talks about the rise of music apps. Musical selections include three tracks from Dr. Um, Joe Zawinul's "Bourges Buenos Aires", Erskine's "Hawaiian Bathing Suit" and a radically re-arranged version of Vince Mendoza's "Sprite"; plus Weather Report's "Fast City" from The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981.
Direct download: Podcast_517_-_A_Conversation_with_Peter_Erskine.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT
Fri, 8 January 2016
Four years ago I posted a review of The Wee Trio’s Ashes to Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective, and had these comments:
Rock Star/actor David Bowie turned 65 earlier this week. One of the great musical chameleons of our time – perhaps only Miles Davis tried more musical styles and guises during his career – he’s unfortunately something of a recluse these days, producing little new work. He’s left a body of recorded projects that dominate my iPod – I go nowhere without Ziggy Stardust, Station to Station, Low and ‘Heroes’.
How things can change! Bowie turns 69 years old today, and rather than resuming to the musical hiatus that ended in 2014, he has released one of his most interesting and talked-about albums since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
Blackstar is also Bowie’s attempt to bring jazz into his music in a bigger way. A saxophone player from way back, Bowie has had jazz flourishes in many tunes, and has hired the likes of Lester Bowie to play trumpet and David Sanborn to play sax for him. However, his 2014 collaboration with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, “Sue (or a Season in Crime)” marked an outright jazz approach to the textures and structures of his longer musical pieces.
A key soloist for Ms. Schneider is SNC favorite Donny McCaslin, and working with Bowie on that track (click here for my interview with Donny and his comments on the session) clearly made an impression, since Blackstar features the Donny McCaslin Group as Bowie’s backup band. McCaslin on saxophones, Jason Lindner on keyboards, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass and Mark Guiliana on drums make for formidable foils on the new material. In fact, much of the sound is similar to the past two McCaslin Group albums, Casting for Gravity and Fast Future, which successfully stretched the boundaries of jazz and electronica, putting texture, beats and effects ahead of chord changes as the center of the listener's experience. Click here for a thorough New York Times article about the collaboration.
That said, Blackstar is not a jazz album.
Not that that’s a bad thing. In these days a handful of our best, and most adventurous artists are looking to stretch their music beyond genre or type. I think of Robert Glasper, or Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah in jazz; Kendrick Lamar in hip-hop, and any number of electronica artists, an area that drummer Guiliana approached successfully in his Mehliana and Beat Music releases.
So Blackstar can be enjoyed for Bowie’s grafting of 21st century jazz sound onto his rock sensibilities. He wisely lets Jason Linder take a big part in the overall sound and Lefebvre’s throbbing bass clearly has been honed to crossover perfection during his tenure with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. McCaslin lets loose with a number of great solos (check out “’Tis a Pity She’s a Whore”, with Bowie audibly registering his wonder), and guest Ben Monder has a winner of a guitar solo on “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” I look forward to repeated listening revealing more musical excitement.
Podcast 515 discusses and shares some of the music from Blackstar, as well as features a number of jazz artists performing Bowie’s music. Happy 69th, David, and keep it up. Musical selections in the podcast include:
David Bowie (with the Maria Schneider Orchestra) – “Sue (Or in the Season of Crime)” from Nothing Has Changed.
David Bowie – “Tis a Pity She was a Whore” from Blackstar
Bad Plus – “Life on Mars?” from Prog
Robert Glasper Experiment (featuring Bilal) – “Letter to Hermione” from Black Radio
The Wee Trio - “Ashes to Ashes” from Ashes to Ashes: A David Bowie Intraspective
Dylan Howe – “Warzsawa” from Subterranean: New Designs on Bowie’s Berlin
Wed, 6 January 2016
Yesterday I posted a brief obituary of pianist Paul Bley, who passed away on January 3, 2016. For a musician, a written memorial seems empty. Therefore, here is Podcast 514, nearly an hour of the music of Bley, in varying combos, including a number of solo performances.
A first listen to these selections, which admittedly are chosen and programmed somewhat at random, might lead a listener to think Bley a bit cold or analytic. But listen again, particularly in his great trio recordings with Gary Peacock (bass) and Paul Motian (drums) to hear the varying ideas, approaches and heart that permeates his playing.
Musical selections include:
Paul Bley with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey – “Spontaneous Combustion” from Introducing…
Paul Bley – “Once Around the Park” from Fragments
Paul Bley – “Seven” from Homage to Carla
Paul Bley & Gary Peacock – “Sunrise Sunlight” from Mindset
Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, Tony Oxley & John Surman – “Spe-cu-lay-ting” from In the Evening Out There
Paul Bley – “Compassion” from Notes On Ornette
Paul Bley – “Late Night Blue” from Blues for Red
Paul Bley, Gary Peacock & Paul Motian – “Don’t You Know” from Not Two, Not One
Paul Bley – “Mondsee Variations X” from Solo in Mondsee
Paul Bley Trio – “Goodbye” from My Standard
Tue, 5 January 2016
Sad news from the family of the great Paul Bley:
Paul Bley, renowned jazz pianist, died January 3, 2016 at home with his family. Born November 10, 1932 in Montreal, QC, he began music studies at the age of five. At 13, he formed the “Buzzy Bley Band.” At 17, he took over for Oscar Peterson at the Alberta Lounge, invited Charlie Parker to play at the Montreal Jazz Workshop (which he co-founded) made a film with Stan Kenton and then headed to NYC to attend Julliard.
His international career has spanned seven decades. During that time, he released over 100 albums, toured widely, and collaborated with jazz greats including Lester Young, Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Jimmy Giuffre, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorious and many others. He is considered a master of the trio, but as exemplified by his solo piano albums, Paul Bley is preeminently a pianists' pianist.
He always thought in terms larger than himself, helping to form the influential Jazz Composers Guild in New York City in 1964, a a co-operative organization which brought together the likes of Roswell Rudd, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, his ex-wife Carla Bley and Sun Ra, among other figures who would define the jazz avant-garde. He created what might well be considered the first music video with the multi-media initiative Improvising Artists in the early 1970's, working with videographer Carol Goss to record and preserve live recordings. Before jazz-fusion took place, Paul had investigated the musical possibilities of the Moog synthesizer, releasing albums and performing in halls with the equipment in the late 60's.
He is survived by his wife of forty three years, Carol Goss, their daughters, Vanessa Bley and Angelica Palmer, grandchildren Felix and Zoletta Palmer, as well as daughter, Solo Peacock. Private memorial services will be held in Stuart, FL, Cherry Valley, NY and wherever you play a Paul Bley record. My podcast tribute to his music will appear tomorrow.
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33am EDT
Mon, 4 January 2016
Fifty years ago today, a bright new voice on the tenor saxophone began recording his first solo album, in a San Francisco studio. Dewey Redman’s quartet of Redman on tenor sax; Jim Young on piano, Donald Garrett on bass and clarinet, and Eddie Moore on drums recorded five original tunes that day. That session would originally be released on the Fontana label out of the Netherlands, and re-released in the US almost ten years later.
Looking for the Black Star was, as might be expected now, a somewhat avant-garde album, full of the pent-up yearning that the 35 year old Redman had collected over the previous years, working as a music teacher and studying Industrial Arts in college. Towards the end of 1959, Redman had moved to San Francisco, a musical choice resulting in an early collaboration with clarinetist Garrett.
Redman was well known around music circles for his collaborations with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, with whom he performed in his Fort Worth high school marching band. He later performed with Coleman from 1968 to1972; appearing on the recording New York Is Now! among others. He also played in pianist Keith Jarrett's “American Quartet” from 1971 to 1976, recording 12 highly influential albums, and winning Jazz Album of the Year by Melody Maker in 1978 for The Survivors' Suite.
In the mid-70s Redman formed the Quartet Old and New Dreams together with fellow Coleman-alumni Don Cherry Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. They recorded four albums in the period over ten years. Redman also performed and recorded as an accompanying musician with jazz musicians who performed in varying styles within the post-1950s jazz idiom, including drummer Paul Motian and especially guitarist Pat Metheny (80/81 in 1980).
Redman passed away in 2006 of liver failure. He is the father of Joshua Redman, the best-selling and critically acclaimed saxophone player who follows in his father’s footsteps. He was also survived by his other son Tariq, and by his wife, Lidija Pedevska-Redman.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
Fri, 1 January 2016
New Year's Day - a day of hangovers, resolution writing, college football games, and general recovery. Nancy and I are off to her Cousin Jimmy's open house for an afternoon of family, cut-throat board games, football games on TV, and polite grazing of potluck.
A happy new year to one and all - let's toast 2014 with a verse or two of "Let's Start the New Year Right" by Irving Berlin, sung here by that great crooner (and underrated influence on all jazz singers), Bing Crosby:
One minute to midnight, one minute to go