/* Footer ----------------------------------------------- */ #footer { width:660px; clear:both; margin:0 auto; padding-top:15px; line-height: 1.6em; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; text-align: center; } -->

Monday, December 31, 2007

Are You Still Saying Jazz is 'Old People's Music'?

The following URL is for the website of 15-y.o. pianist Matt Savage, who by this time, has already released six records (the latest, entitled Hot Ticket), won three ASCAP Young Composers awards and has 'jammed' with the likes of Clark Terry, Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner.
Not bad for a kid who was born with a brand of autism that left him intolerable of loud sounds, much less music


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

As we come to the end of another year, for me its a time of thanksgiving and anticipation.
Thanks to all who visited and supported this effort, in 2007 and through the years.
I anticipate the full emergence of jazz/improvised music in 2008 and remain a committed activist ( I know that word has negative connotations in the J'can context, but I'm using it anyway) in achieving this.
Those who know me should know that I am not 'anti-anyotherstyle' for putting
jazz First, but as the Duke said, there are only two kinds of music, and I'd
like to hear (and see) much more of the good kind in '08.

Wishing you and yours a year of renewal, discovery and fulfillment.

BTW, I'm behind in my 07 choices. Will make good in my next post.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

So long, Oscar P

Some said he was too much, that his Tatum-derived style was florid. For others, he redefined jazz piano.

Either way, Oscar Peterson was a 'big man' in jazz in several respects. Thank God we still have the music

TORONTO - Oscar Peterson, whose flying fingers, hard-driving swing and melodic improvisations made him one of the world's most famous and influential jazz pianists in a career that spanned seven decades, has died. He was 82.


Peterson died at his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga on Sunday, said Oliver Jones, a family friend and jazz musician. He said Peterson's wife and daughter were with him during his final moments. The cause of death was kidney failure, said Mississauga's mayor, Hazel McCallion.

"He's been going downhill in the last few months," McCallion said, calling Peterson a "very close friend."

During his illustrious career, Peterson played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He is also remembered for the trio he led with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis in the 1950s.

Peterson's impressive collection of awards include all of Canada's highest honors, such as the Order of Canada, as well as seven Grammys and a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1997.

"I've always thought of him as Canada's national treasure. All of Canada mourns for him and his family," said Jones. "He had 60 full years of being considered the top jazz pianist in the world

Monday, December 24, 2007

Towards a J'can jazz (journalists) tree

This is the model that i'm anxious for us to get to here (mind-numbing day job commitments notwithstanding) The emphases are mine.

A Jazz Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by Alexis Cuadrado

It had been too many conversations; after gigs, on the subway, in airplanes, at the park. Always about similar subjects: Our struggles as bandleaders; how we set up a tour and it drained all of our energies; how we would have loved to have advance warning about that lousy club owner in France; how it would be so cool to figure out a way to open more doors for our own creative projects; how we really were going to get together soon and exchange our precious lists of European contacts. The conversations went on for a few years, always in groups of two or three and generally with a couple glasses of wine too many.

In December of 2005, trombonist Alan Ferber and I took action. We made a list of people that we thought would be interested in forming a cooperative of bandleaders. We included artists that shared the same profile: active bandleaders seriously committed to their own music with a minimally established career in the indie jazz world. And regardless of how one might categorize the music they produced, these bandleaders had the drive and determination to get their music out into the world. Our initial goal would be to exchange professional contacts and to create an umbrella organization under which we could support one another with ideas and information. But out goals rapidly expanded after we held a meeting with about 10 bandleaders in January 2006. In February 2006 the Brooklyn Jazz Underground (BJU) was finally born with the following members: Shane ENdsley, Anne Mette Iversen, Sunny Jain, Tanya Kalmanovitch, Banny Lackner, Ted Poor, Dan Pratt, Jerome Sabbagh, Alan and myself. We wrote this mission statement: "The Brooklyn Jazz Underground is an association of independentbandleaders with a shared commitment to improvised music. Through cooperative effort, members of the BJU strive to create greater awareness of their work." This sounded pretty simple, but we needed to organize ourselves in order to ensure that we had a shot at realizing our ever-increasing list of goals.

Following the model of the European Union on a much smaller scale, we have developed a rotation system in which each memner takes turn serving a month-long term as General Manager (and kicks everyone's ass for that period). Our bi-weekly meetings are held at that member's house (since we're all in Brooklyn it's just a few subway stops away) and every meeting has to be attended by a minimum of six members so that there is a real democratic decision power. Sometimes members have attended meetings through speakerphone and I'm sure we'll soon be i-chatting from the road! Additionally, every member manages a specific project and we collaborate on one another's areas. Thus, we now have www.brooklynjazz.org, where you can read the most updated info of the BJU and its members, listen to our music, read and participate in our blog, download our monthly series of podcasts (each featuring one of the BJU mombers; you can also get them for free on iTunes.) We've self-published a promotional sampler CD featuring original compositions from each of our 10 members and we've launched a publicity campaign. We also have www.myspace.com/brooklynjazzunderground, where you can befriend us.

Of course, we've had our highs and lows through all this. We all felt miserable getting up for a 6 am photo shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge. But that morning after everyone arrives ON TIME, shared coffee and bagels and put on their best faces, we all felt that we could really acheive something together.

It's a cliche to say that New York is a cold, hard city. And as it is with all cliches, there's more than a kernel of truth in it. But we always come away from the BJU meetings with a warm feeling of community and possibility. We like the heart and humor everyone brings to the meetings. We value the personal and professional relationships the group is fostering and BJU reflects the diverse and international character of jazz. Half of us were born outside the US (Germany, France, Spain, Canada and Denmark) and have choosen to build lives in New York for the creative opportuneties the city affords us. Many of us lead bands from rather unconventional chairs (among us, a trombonist, two bassists, two drummers and a violist). There are two female bandleaders among us, which at the very least sets up something of a counter-example to the gendered nature of jazz culture.

As a collective, we have worked on group actions that will hopefully help us to accomplish some of our individual goals. And this seems to be a reflection of what actually happens when a band plays, improvises and creates soemthing unique. Ultimately we think that the concept of the cooperative eaches its highest, best expression in the making of music. We can't imagine a better example of collective action functioning so purely to empower the individual's voice, whife at the same time creating something greater than the sum of its parts. We hope that as an organization the Brooklyn Jazz Underground can mirror what music does so well and serve as another example of what it can teach us all, if we know how to listen.

The Sounds of Brooklyn

@ SMALLS - JANUARY 17, 18 & 19
Smalls is located at 183 West 10th Street, at 7th Avenue South

Thursday, January 17
Anne Mette Iversen (bass), John Ellis (saxophones), Danny Grissett (bass), Otis Brown III (drums)

Alan Ferber (trombone), Scott Wendholt (trumpet), Will Vinson (alto sax), Chris Cheek (tenor sax), Douglas Yates (bass clarinet), Nate Radley (guitar), Bryn Roberts (piano), Matt Clohesy (bass), Mark Ferber (drums)

Benny Lackner (piano), Will Bernard (guitar), Andrew Emer (bass), Mark Ferber (drums)

Friday, January 18
Dan Pratt (tenor sax), Alan Ferber (trombone), Jared Gold (bass), Mark Ferber (drums)

Jerome Sabbagh (tenor sax), Ben Monder (guitar), Joe Martin (bass), Ted Poor (drums)

Sunny Jain (drums), Steve Welsh (tenor sax), Marc Cary (piano), Gary Wang (bass)

Saturday, January 19
Alexis Cuadrado (bass), Loren Stillman (alto sax), Brad Shepik (guitar), Mark Ferber (drums)

Ted Poor (drums), Loren Stillman (alto sax), Nate Radley (guitar), Gary Versace (piano/organ)

Tanya Kalmanovitch (viola/violin), Jacob Wick (trumpet), Aryeh Kobrinsky (bass),
Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), Fred Kennedy (drums)

Check out http://www.brooklynjazz.org for bios, mp3s, podcasts, blogs, photos and much more

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Resurrection of Record Mart

Stories like this one warm my heart as a persistent record store supporter

December 19, 2007
Beneath the Roar of Times Square, an Old, Familiar Rhythm Returns

All of a sudden, on his way to Brooklyn one recent evening, Victor Miranda
decided to change trains at 42nd Street, instead of 14th.

As he walked from the No. 1 train toward the R train, along one of the
busiest passages on earth, he glanced at a store. A brand-new place. Then he
stopped short. No, it wasn¹t new at all.

Latin music spilled from loudspeakers; sales posters, shouting in bold type
and exclamation points, lined a row of windows; from the store¹s doorway, a
wedge of light fell into the passageway.

Above it all was a sign: ³Record Mart.²

For a moment, it seemed to Victor Miranda that he had switched decades, not

Record Mart, a stubborn, civilized nook of Latin and jazz music that endured
and thrived in the wilderness of the Times Square subway station,
disappeared eight years ago. The store had opened in 1961. In 1999, the
station was due for renovation, and Record Mart stood in the way. An absence
of eight years in New York can erase any traces of a place.

But here it was again, December 2007.

³You¹re kidding me,² Mr. Miranda said, a smile spreading across his face. ³I
first was in here beginning in the late 1970s. I left a lot of paychecks in

He stepped inside to explore.

Jesse Moskowitz, who opened the store 46 years ago and reopened a few weeks
ago about 75 feet away from the original spot, said people like Mr. Miranda
were walking in all day. ³We always intended to come back,² he said. ³We
even signed a lease before we closed.²

Well, yes, but. In the meantime, artists began to deliver music over the
ganglia of broadband. Not even sprawling franchises like Tower Records
survived when the customers could buy any song in the world by clicking a
few keys.

As a hedge, Mr. Moskowitz ‹ in partnership with his son, Lou, and Morris
Missry ‹ stocked the shop heavily with electronics gear, even as he
persuaded the store¹s renowned buyer, Harry Sepulveda, to return three days
a week.

But it is the Latin music ‹ CDs, LPs, even cassettes ‹ that has been flying
out the door. ³We¹ve had to reorder three times from some of the labels,²
Mr. Moskowitz said.

Commuters streamed past. In the shop, people who, a few minutes earlier, had
been part of that rush now stood in a near-trance, flipping over the albums,
the songs links in a chain that was able to haul memories out of deepest

The old LP records are displayed alongside the new G.P.S. gadgetry, salsa
music cut into vinyl grooves and satellite waves captured from the skies. In
the music bin, many of the customers could hear their youth once more.

Through his early 20s, Mr. Miranda, working as a messenger and a building
porter, had stopped into the old shop. ³I would come for LPs, cassettes, the
eight-track tapes,² he said. ³I had a wide range of taste ‹ the classic
sounds, Frank Sinatra, Tito Puente. One record I remember was ŒJoe Cuba
Presents the Velvet Voice of Jimmy Sabater.¹ He¹s a crooner.²

Now 51, Mr. Miranda had picked up a CD of new age songs. ³It¹s tranquillity
music,² he said.

Not every customer was quite that sentimental. Angel Rodriguez, 52, of Union
City, N.J., first shopped at the Mart in 1989, when he was working as a
hotel chef. ³They had a lot of cassettes you couldn¹t find anywhere else,²
Mr. Rodriguez said. ³Nobody buys cassettes anymore.²

Now, he runs an online music business of his own, and somehow was able to
get onto the Internet with a mobile phone ‹ even undergound and inside
Record Mart ‹ to check demand for some titles.

³People will pay good money for CDs of old stuff,² Mr. Rodriguez said. ³In
Europe, some people will pay $30 for a CD. The euro is very strong now.²

He bought 18 CDs and one cassette from a clearance pile, at $1.99 each. He
clicked on his little gadget. ³Someone will pay $18 for this one,² he said,
holding up an album in a genre quite a distance from salsa: ³Ancient Music
for the Irish Harp,² performed by Derek Bell, the harpist for the

Mr. Moskowitz, 74, shrugged. ³We¹re a work in progress,² he said. ³Right
now, we¹re almost all Spanish music. Next we¹re going to bring in jazz.²

Another old customer called out a greeting. ³You know,² Mr. Moskowitz said,
³I feel this is what it must be like to be resurrected after you¹ve died.²

E-mail: dwyer@nytimes.com

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Driving' undercover

My home compuetr hard drive got wiped out over the weekend (the mantra of back-up, back-up, back-up really hits home here), so I'm down to strealing time from the office system.

The following is of course a highly subjective list, none of the entries I have yet heard, but it's worthwhile even for that reason only.

My list should be out next week - tech problems not withstanding.

The Best Jazz Albums of 2007
Mingus, Hancock, Lovano, Friedlander …
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007, at 2:51 PM ET
It's been a good year for jazz. No single new recording stands out, as Ornette Coleman's Sound Grammar did in 2006, but many albums more than satisfy.

Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy, Cornell 1964 (Blue Note). The clear winner is this live two-disc concert from long-lost tapes of Mingus' most boisterous band in its merriest mood. Regarded as a run-through of the (now-legendary) Town Hall concert a few weeks hence, and the European tour that followed, the session has its wayward moments, but it's jammed with zest and virtuosity. It starts with a head-spinning Jaki Byard piano solo on "ATFW You" (the initials standing for Art Tatum/Fats Waller), segues to Mingus plucking a soulful bass solo on "Sophisticated Lady," then moves into a string of original tunes—Mingus classics ("Faubus Fables," "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk," "So Long, Eric"), some of them played for the first time in public here. Horn solos by Eric Dolphy, Clifford Jordan, and Johnny Coles sizzle throughout. Drummer Danny Richmond plays near his peak, too. The discs aren't as revelatory as Monk and Coltrane's unearthed Carnegie Hall tapes of 1957, which topped this list (and many others) in 2005, but they'll do.

Maria Schneider Orchestra, Sky Blue (ArtistShare). It's remarkable that composer-conductor Maria Schneider's 17-to-20-piece jazz orchestra is still going after 15 years, with most of the original members intact. It's amazing that they keep getting better. Schneider's compositions, once embedded in the Gil Evans school of lush stacked harmonies, have stretched into rich, melodic lines and exotic (usually Latin-tinged) rhythms. The band members, always skilled, have developed into exuberant soloists. Sky Blue is her most ambitious work: a testament to love, loss, memory, friendship, and the joys of birding (she has her quirks). She writes gorgeous ballads and snappy upbeat numbers, without dipping into sentimentalism or pop banality. The band is whip tight. The sound quality, by engineer Joe Ferla, is stunning and lifelike: dynamic, warm, and vivid. (Available only from Schneider's or ArtistShare's Web site.)

Erik Friedlander, Block Ice & Propane (SkipStone Records). Best known as the cellist in John Zorn's various Masada string ensembles, Erik Friedlander is the son of the great photographer Lee Friedlander. When Erik was a kid, the family would spend the summers in a pickup truck with a built-in cabin on top, driving across the country to sites where Lee would take pictures. This CD—subtitled "Taking Trips to America: Compositions and Improvisations for Solo Cello"—is a musical remembrance of the feeling of those voyages: haunting, lulling, adventurous, and disorientingly magical. Friedlander combines a modern classicist's sense of harmony—Copland's open chords, but also Crumb's gnarly grit—with rhythmic nods toward early folk and blues. Is it jazz? I'll leave that to the philosophers. It's great music by a great jazz musician; that should be enough.

Anat Cohen, Poetica (Anzic). Anat Cohen—still in her 20s, Israeli born-and-bred, Berklee-trained, Manhattan-honed—is a fresh breeze on the jazz scene, a clarinetist who plays with high spirits, a silky tone, and a hard-polished edge. Her music reflects her multiple influences: folk, klezmer, Brazilian choro, a whiff of Dixie, as well as modern jazz. Poetica, put out on her own label (a real commercial venture, not a home-brewed knockoff), features spirited originals, a Jacques Brel tune, and a cover of Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" (with string quartet) that's as stirring as any out there.

Carla Bley, The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu (ECM). Pianist-composer Carla Bley's small-group sessions have an eccentric charm, but there's something deeper going on here. The tunes, all written by Bley, are near-minimalist progressions—a scale inversion, a few chords, a bass line, a melody. Yet she arranges these strands in some magical equipoise, like a Calder mobile. The album features her quartet, called the Lost Chords, joined by Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu (hence the oddball title), whose plangent tone is reminiscent of Miles Davis' early balladeering. The disc is at once taut and rambling, bittersweet and lyrical.

Paul Bley, Solo in Mondsee (ECM). Carla Bley's ex-husband and, much more than that, a jazz pianist's pianist for the past half-century, Paul Bley plays with a stark romanticism—rhapsodic flourishes and heavy use of the sustain pedal, but tempered by staggered rhythms and slightly dissonant harmonies. These 10 numbers, improvised etudes, were recorded in a nicely resonant studio in Mondsee, Austria. At first, they're catchy; on repeated listening, each one opens new doors and takes you in more deeply.

Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters (Verve). I've often wondered why more jazz musicians don't riff on Joni Mitchell songs. They're rhythmically complex and harmonically open—plenty of room for improvisation. Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter played backup on her jazz-cadenced albums of the late '70s (Mingus, Hejira). Now they lead a tribute album, featuring some of her best tunes, joined on six of the 10 tracks by various singers—including Norah Jones, Tina Turner (both surprisingly apt), and Joni herself, who saunters through "Tea Leaf Prophecy" with the cool aplomb of a "real" jazz crooner. Hancock coaxes aptly moody tone clusters from the piano; Shorter wails simpatico; and Dave Holland fills in the spaces on bass. A rare album that truly fuses pop and jazz without pandering to either.

Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano, Time and Time Again (ECM). This is an irresistibly odd trio—Motian slapping his brushes on snare and hi-hat, seemingly out of rhythm but in fact closing in on it with precision; Frisell picking Twin Peaks intervals with the slightest wah-wah; Lovano blowing the blues on tenor just a little bit out of the bar—yet it works, it delights, it sometimes rivets. The album is not quite as mesmerizing as last year's trio disc with Motian, Frisell, and bassist Ron Carter, but it's vital stuff, and there's nothing else like it.

Joe Lovano & Hank Jones, Kids: Live at Dizzy's Coca-Cola (Blue Note). Here's Lovano in a more cruising-bop mode, playing duets with Hank Jones, who was 88 years old when these sessions were set down and who still navigates the piano with dexterity, grace, and hard rhythm. They play mainly standards; they always delight and sometimes startle.

Kendra Shank, A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook (Challenge). Abbey Lincoln's songs are tough nuts for any singer; they move through uneven intervals, abruptly change keys, and sport lyrics that border on the banal unless they're sung with real conviction. Kendra Shank sings 11 of her songs with nearly as much soulful wisdom as the composer does—and in better tune and rhythm. Her rhythm section, especially pianist Frank Kimbraugh (a longtime accompanist who also plays in Maria Schneider's orchestra), provides just enough support. It's an enchanting collection.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another great jazz saxman silenced

Just logged in and this is the first thing in my inbox. Another tough blow, and another reason why the music must be aired frequently and consistently

R.I.P Frank Morgan 1933-2007

We've just been notified that Frank Morgan passed away peacefully from
kidney failure this morning, near his family and friends in his hometown
of Minneapolis. He had just completed a successful European tour, even
though he was worried about his health. A memorial gathering is planned
in his longtime home town of Taos, New Mexico, on what would have been
his 74th, birthday, December 23.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jazz Juvenile - update on Nikki Yanofsky

Well, we checked, and here's what we've got on Miss Yanofsky:

Born in Montreal in 1994 - yes that makes her 13 going on 14
She's signed to A440 Entertainment

sings with not inconsiderable power but we're figuring that nuance
and shading will come over time
An interesting novelty choice on the part of the organisers - we're not expecting a rash of Jamaican junior jazz singers asa result of her appearance (but some interest would be welcome.)
should win some hearts in Mobay

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yerba Buena, Spyro Gyra & more for 'Art of Music'08

Post #300 ofcusses o nthe Air J Jazz lineup.
Still shying away from straightahead, but with csome interesting angles

Thurs: Cuban-American group Yerba Buena who rocked on their debut (in Kingston) last year and who, fro mthe looks of the website photo, have added drummer Terreon Gully (Stefon Harris' Blackout, Russell Gunn's Ethnomusicology, other bands)to their ranks. walk ride, drive, or any combination of the three to see this group, they are classic Latin-funk combo

modern chanteuse Anita Baker, who had been on verge of slipping into obscurity since signing with Blue Note Recorda a few years ago. gave a stirrin performance at Barbados Jazz 07 in January - should be the mainstream draw of the year here.

Smooth jazz vets, SPyro Gyra, whose Morning Dance ironically heralded the late great Neville Willoughby's classic Evening People Show on RJR. Thirty-odd years and over 10mil units -they must be doing something right.

The inimitable lead voice of Kool & the Gang (Cherish, Misled) JT Taylor, comes to J'ca as a solo act.

plus: Marjorie Whylie (recently returned from London jazzfest), Aj Brown, violin prodigy Jessica Yap and more.

Another famous lead singer as a solo - Lou Gramm, whose gritty tenor made tracks like Urgent, Waiting For A Girl Like You and I Wanna Know What Love Is, modern radio classics

South African jazz ambassador Hugh Masakela,

R&B empress and recently single Jill Scott,

upcoming reggae empress Etana,

crooner Ryan Shaw

and Saturday:

Mizz Ross - as in Diana, first lady of Motown's heyday with the Supremes, to playing Billie Holiday in Lady Sings The Blues to Sweet Love Hangover, Muscles and all the rest

Hugh Masakela pulls a double,

Mr 'Caribbean Queen' Billy Ocean

Gospel makes a return via 'sista act' Mary Mary

Blues & Americana maestro Taj Mahal (he does a mean version of Rain From The Sky -Delroy Wilson style) makes a long overdue return,

and Nikke Yanofsky, of whom we admittedly know nothing at present (rest assured, we'll check.

Visit jazz first on Wednesday for pics from the 'launch jazz brunch' at the UWI Mona Vistors' Lodge

Friday, December 07, 2007

Univ gets massive jazz gift

December 4, 2007

It's billed as the largest privately held jazz record collection in America,
and it's heading out of Chicago.

More than 100,000 jazz recordings tracing the history of the art form --
from swing to the avant-garde -- will be donated to Oberlin Conservatory of
Music, in Oberlin, Ohio, by Chicagoans James and Susan Neumann.

James Neumann, who graduated from Oberlin College in 1958 as a liberal arts
major, began acquiring inexpensive jazz albums as a teenager, long before
the LPs became collectors' items. He eventually amassed a collection of the
complete recordings of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie,
Charlie Parker and more, he says.

Why didn't the Neumanns donate the treasures to a Chicago institution?

"I tried to," says James Neumann, "but I was rejected. ... A lot of
organizations didn't have room for it."

Because Oberlin Conservatory plans to open the $22 million Phyllis Litoff
Building for jazz studies in 2009, the school could accommodate the
Neumanns' trove (which also includes posters, autographs and other jazz

James Neumann places the value of the collection "in the neighborhood of
$500,000"; its complete recorded contents will be transferred to digital

Monk Institute winners

The Tribeca Performing Arts Center
Borough of Manhattan Community College

Jazz In Progress/Monk In Motion - The Next Face Of Jazz
Presenting, In Concert, The Top Three Finalists
In The 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition:

Jean Caze (2nd place) - November 26
Ambrose Akinmusire (winner) - One week from today - December 10 @ 7:00 PM
Michael Rodriguez (3rd place) - December 17

(Fall/Winter, 2007) The Tribeca Performing Arts Center, in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute, proudly presents Jazz In Progress/Monk In Motion: The Next Face Of Jazz, featuring in concert the top three finalists, Ambrose Akinmusire (pronounced ah-KIN-moo-SEE-ray) (Oakland, CA), Jean Caze (Haiti) and Michael Rodriguez (Queens, NY), of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, now celebrating its 21st anniversary. This year the competition will feature jazz trumpeters, with the semi-finalists performing before a legendary panel of judges including Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, Terence Blanchard, Hugh Masekela, Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove at Schoenberg Hall on the University of California, Los Angeles Campus from 1:00-5:00 PM PST on October 27, 2007.

Each of the three concerts of the Jazz In Progress-Monk In Motion Series will feature one finalist leading their ensemble, demonstrating the perpetually diverse nature of jazz, and showcasing three of the plethora of exciting, young trumpeters making jazz their life's work. Tickets are $25 General Admission, $15 Students & Seniors. To order tickets and for additional information click on www.tribecapac.org or call the box office at 212 220 1460. The Tribeca Performing Arts Center is located at 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007.

Press inquiries should be directed to Jason Paul Harman Byrne at Red Cat Publicity, tel 347 578 7601, email Redcatpublicity@aol.com.

Jazz In Progress-Monk In Motion Concert Schedule:

Monday, November 26 at 7:00 PM - Jean Caze
Monday, December 10 at 7:00 PM - Ambrose Akinmusire
Monday, December 17 at 7:00 PM - Michael Rodriguez

Monday, December 10 at 7:00 PM - Ambrose Akinmusire with Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone), Chris Dingman (vibes), Aaron Parks (piano), Joe Sanders (bass), Justin Brown (drums)
Ambrose's conceptual extension into a new musical language is never to the exclusion of beauty. As one who listens intently, he values the fertility of a pause, of communication, of tension. He draws inspiration from such musicians as Bjork and Chopin. Ambrose's music restructures accepted notions of jazz in a way that reflects his ability to recognize nuances, multiplicities, and patterns.

Akinmusire, raised in Oakland, CA, first started playing piano at the age of three, becoming familiar with music began long before putting his mouth to a trumpet. He is relentlessly opposed to stagnation, seeking movement in both his music and his life. Before he was eighteen, Ambrose had already performed with such famed musicians as Joe Henderson, Joshua Redman, Steve Coleman, and Billy Higgins. After graduating Berkeley High School, he moved to New York to begin a full scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Vincent Pinzerella from the New York Philharmonic, Dick Oatts, Lew Soloff, and Laurie Frink. Throughout his studies, Ambrose continued to tether audiences to his concepts and his sound, performing publicly with Lonnie Plaxico, Stefon Harris, Josh Roseman, Vijay Iyer, Charlie Persip, the Mingus Big Band, and the San Francisco Jazz Collective, to name only a few.

Currently in a Masters program at USC, and a recent graduate of the Monk Institute, Ambrose's instructors have included Terence Blanchard, Billy Childs and Gary Grant. In the past year, he has worked with such artists as Jimmy Heath, Jason Moran, Hal Crook, Bob Hurst, Terri Lynne Carrington, Ron Carter, and Wallace Roney, and performed in Vietnam with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

As for a conclusion, there is none. Ambrose's musical trajectory continues to grow in more than one direction, drawing from the most unconventional sources and unraveling the most comfortable conceptions of limitation, persistently aspiring to evolution and beauty.

Monday, December 17 at 7:00 PM - Michael Rodriguez with Robert Rodriguez (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Clarence Penn (drums)
Trumpeter/composer, Michael Rodriguez was born on July 14, 1979 in Queens, New York. Like his brother Robert, Michael was inspired to pursue music as a career by his father, who is the drummer, Roberto Rodriguez. Rodriguez studied at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, and continued his studies at the University of Miami, transfering to the New School in New York after two years. He has performed and toured with Eric Reed, Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano, Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra, Pop Icon Jessica Simpson, Chico O'Farill Orchestra, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and is a member of Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. The trumpeter has also performed and traveled with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Carla Bley, Harry Conick Jr., Bob Mintzer, Eddie Palmieri Septet and The Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra. In December of 2003 Michael recorded on Charlie Haden's Grammy award winning recording album featuring Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Joe Lovano entitled ¨Land of the Sun,¨ and Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra's latest album entitled "Not in Our Name." Rodriguez is currently a member of Gonzalo Rubalcaba's new quintet and has toured and recorded on his new album on the Blue Note label, due out this fall.

Michael and his brother, pianist Robert Rodriguez, have recorded two albums together "Introducing the Rodriguez Brothers" and their most recent album on the Savant label, "Conversations." He also performs workshops and clinics around the country and is involved with Jazz at Lincoln Center's Education Department.

The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition is the most prestigious jazz competition in the world. Each year the institute attracts the brightest young jazz talent in the world to compete for a series of scholarships. The semi-final round (on October 27) is FREE and open to the public. On Sunday night, the top three finalists will have one more opportunity to perform before the judges and compete for the chance to become the winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and a $20,000 scholarship. The second place winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and the third place winner will receive a scholarship for $5,000. An all-star tribute to Herbie Hancock will immediately follow.

Since 1987, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz has presented the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the most prestigious jazz competition in the world. Each year, more than $60,000 in scholarships and prizes are awarded to talented young musicians and composers. The scholarships help pay tuition for college-level jazz education studies and provide funds for private, specialized instruction. The competition focuses on a different instrument every year and features an outstanding all-star judging panel. Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, and Diana Krall have all served as judges at past competitions.

The Institute has presented competitions for piano, bass, drums, hand drums, saxophone, trumpet, guitar, vocals and trombone. In September 2006, the competition once again showcased piano, in celebration of the Institute's 20th Anniversary, with the semifinals taking place at the Smithsonian Institution's Baird Auditorium and the finals at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater.

R.I.P. Darren Khan

Got news this morning which stopped me in my tracks.
Darren Khan, whom I had recruited (on the recommendation of Analisa Chapman and above the stern reservations of Exec Editor Vernon Davidson) as a freelance

features writer/reviewer at the Observer, was founded burned to death in Surbiton Road apartment on Thursday

Darren had issues as well as do, but during his tenure at the Observer I saw the beginnings of a maturation process that was showing first in his writing and less so but still noticeable in his overall demeanour.
I'm very saddened by his death, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to his mother, other family and friends.

"It may be easy to choose to live without Christ, but to die without Him is hell"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Rifle Road & more



MON: BIG VOICES: Three male singers, who fit the profile. Andy Bey, Bill Henderson, and a more recent discovery, Everette Greeene. All three are blessed with impressive voices, which they use artfully and stylishly.

TUES: Virtuoso bassist, Rohan Reid, came from a troubled Rifle Road, off Mountain View Avenue in the 70’s, but it never retarded his drive for excellence, and a brilliant debut album. Rohan Reid is a special guest for two nights on “Riffin”

WED: Sisaundra Lewis, a one time vocal coach and back up singer for Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, delivers a dazzling set of songs, with music and production by Rohan Reid.

THURS:MORE VOICES: Singers, who use the instrument in the art of interpretation, that makes them unique. Ray Charles, Shirley Horn, Michael Buble, Freddy Cole, Diana Krall, Luciana Souza, Cassandra Wilson, Linda Rondstat, Kurt Elling and Jackie Allen.

FRID: Regarded as one of the world’s greatest singers, Youssou N’ Dour takes us to northern Senegal for a new sound that’s a lot like reggae. Richard Bona, from the Cameroon, Lokua Kanza, from the Congo, and Gerald Toto, a Caribbean from Paris, meet in an African musical summit,.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Las' lick (for 2K7) on the Verandah

"when music hits, you feel no pain" an audience member intoned, invoking Bob Marley, and Sunday last proved a delightful 'las lick' for Friends of Jazz of 2007, being the last of the first Sunday gatehrings at the bistro which fronts Kingsley Cooper's Pulse complex on Trafalgar.
The sizaeble audience on hand (several generations) were treated to a diverse array of players - the keyboardist chair alone changed at least 3times, with trumpeter/founder Sonny Bradshaw popping in and out of the line as was his wont.
The Friends members were als ogifted with Cds and offered copies of the 17-year Ocho Rios Jazz souvenir publication.
It was especially refreashing to see - and hear - drummer Carl Mcleod, who has long been absent from a performance stage.
The atmosphere, the good turnout, the spirited performances - all augur well for the music heading into 2008.

Back 2 the Round

The School of Music at The Edna Manley College present " JAZZ IN THE ROUND 2K7 " , a end of semester concert on Sunday December 9th, 2007 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Round at the School of Music. The featured performers will be the second year Certificate and Diploma JAZZ IMPROVISATION STUDENTS of guitarist and lecturer Maurice Gordon.

This is a concert to showcase and examine the talent and efforts of all students involved in the study of jazz and improvisation at The School of Music/ Edna Manley College. This concert will feature several groups performing in Piano Trios or Quartets with the addition of singers and other instruments. Students will be evaluated by lecturer Maurice Gordon and a panel. They will be graded on their ability to swing, spontaneously create music, and to perform with some authenticity in the idioms studied.

Jazz Improvisation as taught by jazz guitarist and lecturer Maurice Gordon at School of Music, involves the study of improvising over a variety of jazz styles and related music which is performed in the context of jazz. The students study the technique of improvisation and learn a common repertoire to help prepare them for the working world. Gordon uses various musical styles as a vehicle for improvisation, these include, mento, reggae, blues, Jamaican Popular music and various jazz styles.

The public is being invited to come out and enjoy some good " food for the ear" for a small contribution which will be used towards the purchasing of equipment and books for the Jazz department.

The public is being encouraged to dress casual and bring something to sit on the beautiful, comfortable and well manicured lawn of the Round of School of Music.

The Edna Manley College is the centre of excellence in the arts and provides a physical and academic environment that epitomizes the spirit of the arts.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Coltrane church

Coltrane church
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
the sax strapped around his neck tells it all. an intersting story from The NY Times (see below)

Live from the 'Church of Trane'

The following, from the New York Times (via allaboutjazz.com), proved irresistible.

Sunday Religion, Inspired by Saturday Nights


Beside the altar of the storefront church on Fillmore Street stand an electric piano, two basses, a drum kit and three microphones. The hymnal, such as it is, consists of a music book, open to a piece titled “Blues For Bechet.” And on the side wall hangs an icon of the congregation’s patron saint, a golden corona circling his head, as he holds a tenor saxophone with flames in its bell.

This being a house of jazz as well as of God, the Sunday morning service starts on Sunday afternoon, early rising for any musician who played three sets on Saturday night. As the worshipers trickle in, whether regulars from the neighborhood or pilgrims from abroad, a call comes from behind the rear wall: “Let the procession be formed.”

Then the ministers and deacons and acolytes stride into view, led by a rangy man with a tenor sax dangling from a strap around his clerical collar. He is Archbishop Franzo Wayne King, founder and pastor of this faith community, the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church.

For the next three hours, the service proceeds with an aesthetic that is half jam session and half revival meeting. A traditional Christian liturgy — including the Lord’s Prayer and readings from a Gospel and an Epistle — takes places amid a series of intense, almost incantatory performances of Coltrane compositions.

“The kind of music you listen to is the person you become,” Mr. King says in his sermon. “When you listen to John Coltrane, you become a disciple of the anointed of God.”

In the third row, Mikkel Holst understands. He has traveled from Copenhagen to San Francisco in no small part for this church.

“It must be one of the best jazz experiences of my life,” Mr. Holst says after the service. “The funniest thing about it is, I’m not religious. But when I put on John Coltrane, a chill goes down my spine. I was thinking, if I lived here, I could see myself belonging.”

So the Coltrane church is not a gimmick or a forced alloy of nightclub music and ethereal faith. Its message of deliverance through divine sound is actually quite consistent with Coltrane’s own experience and message.

During a fervently creative life of just 41 years, Coltrane produced a body of performances and compositions that have remained deeply influential among jazz musicians and listeners, as well as devotees of improvisational rock. By now, 40 years after his death, he rests firmly in the canon of American music.

In both implicit and explicit ways, Coltrane also functioned as a religious figure. Addicted to heroin in the 1950s, he quit cold turkey, and later explained that he had heard the voice of God during his anguishing withdrawal. In 1964, he recorded “A Love Supreme,” an album of original praise music in a free-jazz mode. Studying Eastern religions as well as Christianity, he went on to release more avant-garde devotional music on “Ascension,” “Om” and “Meditations.”

In 1966, an interviewer in Japan asked Coltrane what he hoped to be in five years, and Coltrane replied, “A saint.”

Franzo Wayne King, then, was simply the person who took Coltrane at his word. Growing up in Los Angeles, the son of a Pentecostal minister, he knew firsthand the importance of music in African-American Christianity. His own tastes, however, ran more to James Brown than jazz.

That started changing the day in the early 1960s when Mr. King’s older brother, Charles, played him the Coltrane recording of “My Favorite Things.” Mr. King began to explore and appreciate Coltrane’s earlier work with Miles Davis. Even so, when a friend showed him the album “A Love Supreme,” Mr. King read the very religious liner notes and decided the music could not be for him.

“I didn’t want to get on a God trip,” he recalled. “If I wanted that, I’d go to church. Because in my upbringing there was an erect divide between jazz and blues and the church. You had to choose one.”

Or so he believed until 1966, when he took his girlfriend, Marina, on her birthday to hear Coltrane at a San Francisco club, the Jazz Workshop. A buddy who was the doorman seated them up front, and there Coltrane’s trademark “sheets of sound” washed over them, almost literally.

“It was my sound baptism,” Mr. King recalled.

In the wake of Coltrane’s death and newly married to Marina, Mr. King created a small congregation called Yardbird Temple in reference to the nickname of another jazz great, Charlie Parker. At that point, the followers worshiped Coltrane as an earthly incarnation of God, while considering Parker a kind of John the Baptist equivalent.

Such a theology, of course, put Mr. King and his flock outside the boundaries of Christianity. He moved back inside them in the early 1980s, when he met George Duncan Hinkson, an archbishop in the African Orthodox Church. The denomination, founded in the late 19th century in South Africa, took root in America largely through Marcus Garvey’s back-to-Africa movement. Its adherents worship a black Christ.

Ordained by Archbishop Hinkson, Mr. King made the necessary concession to become a member congregation. “We demoted Coltrane from being God,” he put it. “But the agreement was that he could come into sainthood and be the patron of our church.”

As such, the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane Church has operated for a quarter-century. Mr. King’s wife and several of their children participate in the services as “ministers of sound” and have played at several European jazz festivals. The visitors over the years have included Coltrane’s widow, Alice Coltrane, and the jazz-influenced rock guitarist Carlos Santana.

The church combines its unique hagiography and soundtrack with staples of black Christianity, from personal “witnessing” to various forms of social action. In its previous location, the congregation ran a vegetarian soup kitchen; its current place, which lacks a full kitchen, distributes clothing and nonperishable foods.

Mr. King’s daughter, Wanika King-Stephens, is the host of a weekly radio show of Coltrane music, “Uplift,” on a local station, KPOO-FM.

Francis Davis, an author who attended the church while researching a coming Coltrane biography, “Sheets of Sound,” said, “I kind of went there expecting, I don’t know, snake handlers or something crazy.”

Mr. Davis continued: “But it wasn’t like that at all. These are good people They’re doing what churches do. Which is feed the hungry, minister to people’s emotional and spiritual needs. And if you’re looking for free-jazz solos on a Sunday morning, this is the place.”

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Joe Farnsworth

Joe Farnsworth
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Stop the press :-)

Joe's Time

I had the pleasure of seeing, hearing and meeting drummer Joe Farnsworth at the Ocho Rios Jazz festival in 2005, where he performed in a customary role as drummer for a combo led by his friend and old schoolmate, saxophonist Eric Alexander. In addition to his talent nad skill on the kit, he impressed with his quick-fire, self-deprecating and even sardonic wit. Following areexcerpts from an interview about his new album as a leader, Its Prime Time, featuring Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson, Harold Mabern, Ron Carter and, of course, Alexander

Which drummer influenced your playing? Who are your favorite drummers?
The biggest influence on my playing came from two teachers I studied with. One was Alan Dawson from Boston. He taught me around ’84/’85. These were formal lessons. We followed a strict regimen working on 1-2 rudiments per week. The second teacher was Art Taylor, whom I studied under in New York from ’91 to ’92. They taught me how to create the different sounds. They showed me certain drumming styles and shared with me a lot of stories. As far as favorite drummers are concerned, they include Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Kenny Clarke, Philly Joe Jones, Billy Higgins, and Art Blakey. Billy Higgins had the biggest influence on me because I saw him perform many times.

Tell us about your experiences recording “It’s Prime Time”:
We were playing at Smalls when producer Yasohachi “88” Ito came to see me perform. I thought he was looking at doing an album by One for All, but he wanted to do a record with me as the leader. It was a great chance for me to give back, so I called Curtis Fuller, who is a great friend & mentor. I used to listen to Curtis, Jackie McLean and Billy Higgins play together all the time. Curtis playing “Old Folks” was definitely a highlight. I found out that Benny Golson was playing at Sweet Basil/Rhythm, so I asked him to play on my album. It turns out that he was going to be in New York for two days and he was available on the day of the session. Playing with Ron Carter and Benny Golson was very nerve racking for me, especially on “Five Spot After Dark,” which Benny wrote. Ron Carter helped me out a lot. I was really intimidated playing with Ron, but he was extremely supportive during the session.

Was there anything unique about the specific performances of each song selected for the album? Is there a favorite track of yours on the album?Definitely “Old Folks” featuring Curtis.
“Five Spot After Dark” was special as well. Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller have played for years and years together. They played strong but much quieter. Harold Mabern is amazing. He is constantly whistling tunes in his head. That’s how he came up with “Sweet Poppa.” There were no rehearsals. Some of us never played together before. The whole album was recorded in 5 hours. It was really exciting to see us - Eric, Jim and I - playing with Ron Carter on a tune Ron wrote (“The Third Plane”). We were trying to be like Ron and we were in the same room with him playing together! It was great seeing the older guys integrating with younger guys, e.g. Curtis with Eric. The cross-generational mix we had was quite an experience.

What are the key things you try to do or express in your drumming?
The main thing for me is keeping time with the ride cymbal. A great example of this is Kenny Clarke playing on Miles Davis’ Walkin’. George Coleman and Harold Mabern call this “EMIT.” “EMIT” is time spelled backwards. I actually try not to have too much drums when I play. There are a lot of people who play drums but not many people can really swing. You can really tell who the drummer is by listening to the ride cymbal. When I’m walking into The Village Vanguard, I can listen to the cymbal beat and know who’s playing.

What do you do to unwind or relax besides music?
I jog every day. It clears the mind and is a great way to see the area on the road. It is something I can do alone to keep in shape. To play drums, it is important to stay in shape and to have a clear mind because you need to think very quickly.

Finally, do you have any advice to jazz musicians who are starting their careers?
Whatever instrument you are playing, you should study the history of the instrument from the very beginning. Many drummers think jazz drumming started with Elvin Jones and Jeff Watts. You have to find out where theses people learned from and go upstream from there. You can’t put student before the teacher. You have to start at the origin. Listen to Roy Haynes with Lester Young and Bud Powell. Listen to Art Taylor comp with his left hand like Bud Powell. You also have to listen to different tunes and arrangements by Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Monk.

Robyn's Rockin' again - and Kathy's back too

Having wowed the Chrsitopher's audience just over 2 weeks ago with her
well-conceived and fluid mix of blues, pop and jazz, Negril-based, Canada-born
singer-songwriter Robyn Banks returns to the Tuesday night showcase at Christopher's Jazz Cafe on Dec 11

But, before that......

Dr Kathy Brown, no stranger to Christopher's, marks her first appearance since the release of her debut full-length CD, Mission this Tuesday Decemebr 4. In addition to being featured on Dermot hussey's Riffin' programme on News Talk 93. Brown has been getting several media notices here and overseas on the strength of the album (check the archives of this blog for our feature on Kathy)

Showtime for both dates : 7:30 pm

'Forever' Again

Ever-forthright bassist Stanley Clarke tells Downbeat magazine that a reunion of the fusion supergroup Return To Forever (which joined Clarke with piano keyboard legend Chick Corea, guitarist Al di Meola and drummer Lenny White) is all buta done deal. Clarke shared some trenchant insights about the business of music and the value of paying dues.
Clarke's latest CD is The Toys of Men

Stanley Clarke wants to end the suspense about a possible Return to Forever reunion.

"In a couple of interviews, I said that it probably would never happen," the bassist said in October. "But we're close to reuniting next year."

Just how close?

"We're going to reunite," Clarke clarified. "We're talking pretty heavy. Each day it gets closer. As of this day, it looks like we're going to do it next June, July and August."

Return to Forever fans, you can stand up and cheer. One of the great fusion groups of all time will hit the tour circuit next summer, breaking out the sound of the '70s for what will be the most anticipated jazz tour of 2008.

"Chick and I are getting together tomorrow to talk further," Clarke said, indicating that he, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Lenny White will focus on the group's classic repertoire. "We decided we wanted to do the old music first."

The reunion will reconvene a true band in an era that does not nurture the collective identity of a group as much as it does the status of the individual.

"Why don't we have groups like Return to Forever, Weather Report and the Modern Jazz Quartet today?" Clarke asked rhetorically. "I blame it on the lawyers, agents and managers. The business is set up for what I call the 'my guy' phenomenon. You have a lawyer who says, 'I manage Joe Blow.' For Joe Blow to play with Gene Smith, that will mean less money for his artist. If you made a list of all the jazz guys and you're sharp with music, you'd say, 'I can make this group with these guys, and these guys could be in that group.' You'd have a much better musical environment, synergy would be in full effect and the music would be better. I remember when we got record deals because of the groups in which we played.
"But you see guys come up now, and they're instant bandleaders," he continued. "Some of these guys shouldn't even be making CDs. They're not ready to be leaders of men. Just taking out a band and paying a guy $1,000 a week to play drums is not the tradition of our music. The tradition of black jazz, of instrumental music, is that you come out and pay your dues, and you learn from the guy whose name is on the billboard. When you come out of that, hopefully you have your own band."

Clarke is trying to do his part to extend that tradition with his new band, which he convened to record The Toys Of Men (Heads Up/Roxboro Entertainment). Clarke's current band of choice is either the trio with drums and keys, or the quartet with guitar. However, for The Toys Of Men, he expanded his usual configuration by adding, among others, Mads Tolling on violin, Esperanza Spalding on vocals and keyboardist Phil Davis to the core unit of Ruslan Sirota on piano and keyboards, Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums and guitarist Jef Lee Johnson. Clarke developed the music for the album with the band in mind, conjuring up a group sound.

Russell Gunn for blog

Russell Gunn for blog
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Atlanta-based Trumpeter Russell Gunn is among the exciting acs featured on Riffin' (www.newstalk.com.jm) this week. Hear tracks form his latest project, 'Plays Miles Davis' on monday night, starting at 8:35pm



MON: Catchy melodies and strong grooves, from organist Radam Schwartz, with sparkling players. Trumpeter, Russell Gunn, plays Miles Davis.

TUES: Jamerican virtuoso, Phillip Martin, and Jamaican virtuoso, Rohan Reid, play on each others recording. Guadelopian saxophonist, Jacques-Schwartz –Bart’s music, involves the Gwoka rhythm from Guadelope. Swiss drummer, Daniel Spahni, and several European musicians, preserve the best of Jamaican music and innovation, with Spahni’s Dub Dancers.

WED; Legendary drummer, and bandleader, Chico Hamilton, seems inexhaustible at the age of 83, and his music has an even sunnier outlook.

THURS: Sly And The Family Stone: Family Affair, a documentary about their music, and the turbulent history of a pop icon, Sly Stone

FRID: “Wild Soul”, an album by female pianist , Sunnie Paxson, features the co-producing, arranging and playing skills of Jamaican bassist Rohan Reid, who is featured next week Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Coming from Telarc

The 2008 release schedule from Telarc/Heads Up Records offers some very interesting discs (notably no Monty Alexander album in '08). Check it:

Telarc/Heads Up 2008 release schedule



HUCD 3133 (053361313326) / HUSA 9133 (053361913366)
Shaka Zulu was an early 19th century African warrior who united his own Zulu tribe and various neighboring groups into a single powerful force. Today, he is considered one of the greatest leaders in African history, with a combination of warrior discipline, visionary leadership, innate creativity, and unshakable belief in a united nation. He is revered as the single figure who gave birth to the indomitable fighting spirit of the Zulus – the same spirit that enabled South Africans to persevere amid the European domination of their homeland for nearly two centuries of apartheid. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the GRAMMY® Award winning vocal group from South Africa that has conquered nations in its own way with a joyous and spiritually charged brand of vocal music and native choreography, pays tribute to this historical icon with their new Heads Up International release, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu. Released in both CD and SACD formats, Ilembe (which translates to “the greatest warrior”) celebrates not only Shaka Zulu but the sense of perseverance, creativity and pride that he has inspired in generations of descendants. Either directly or indirectly, each of the tracks speaks to Shaka’s rare combination of attributes and how they resonate in contemporary society – not just for South Africans, but for the entire world. (Mike Wilpizeski)



CD 83658 (089408365829)
For several years, L.A.-born songwriter/vocalist/musician Raya Yarbrough has been captivating West Coast audiences with a mesmerizing blend of jazz, pop, rhythm and blues, Latin and much more. On the strength of compelling live performances that reveal shades of Joni Mitchell, Duke Ellington, and a variety of other diverse influences, she has captured the attention of critics as an up-and-coming star. The Los Angeles Times called her voice “a pliable, versatile instrument, an effective vehicle for a musical expression that ranges freely from pop-style ballad to surprisingly effective scat singing.” Yarbrough makes her self-titled debut on Telarc, an album that embraces the broad sweep of her musical influences and the insightful songcraft that has become her trademark. Produced by guitarist-composer Steve Bartek (formerly of Oingo Boingo), the album represents a personal triumph for Yarbrough, whose initial attempt at a debut recording a few years ago was thwarted when her earlier label went bankrupt and her work in progress remained unfinished and unreleased. (Amanda Sweet)

CD 83667 (089408366727)
The banjo is an instrument whose historical roots dig much deeper than its commonly held associations with American folk and bluegrass traditions. The instrument ultimately originated in Africa, and made its way to America with the African slaves who were brought to the fledgling colonies as early as the 1700s. Otis Taylor, who shatters the illusions of the status quo time and again via his uniquely haunting songcraft and compelling musicianship, sheds new light on this centuries-old instrument with his new Telarc recording, Recapturing the Banjo. The album includes riveting performances by Taylor along with some of the most accomplished African-American banjo players on the current roots music scene: Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Keb’ Mo’ and Don Vappie. “Freed from racial stereotypes and ignorance, the banjo offers opportunities for black musicians to recapture their heritage,” says musician and music historian Dick Weissman in the album’s liner notes. “This recording is a step in that direction, from a group of artists who have already made their mark as black blues revivalists.” (Amanda Sweet)

HUCD 3134 (053361313425) All Americas and Asia except Japan
ROOTS AND GROOVES / MACEO PARKER (Specially priced 2 CD set)
Acclaimed soul/funk saxophonist and former James Brown session man and stage foil Maceo Parker steps into the spotlight for his 2-disc Heads Up debut, Roots & Grooves, an album that features a rock-solid rhythm section and no less than fourteen horn players behind and alongside this brilliant and innovative sax legend. Disc 1 is a tribute to Ray Charles, with well-known classics like “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” “Busted,” “Hit the Road Jack,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “What’d I Say?” Disc 2 consists almost entirely of original Parker material, loaded with the same punchy, high energy stuff that cemented his and Brown’s collective reputation as the co-architects of the original soul sound more than four decades ago. (Mike Wilpizeski)

CCD 30614 US Release
HUCD 3138 (053361313821) International Release
For more than two decades, vocalist Dianne Schuur has blended jazz with shades of pop, soul, R&B and various other styles that make up a unique signature sound. Friends For Schuur, her 2000 debut on Concord, garnered critical acclaim due in large part to Schuur’s confidence and poise in vocal duets with bigger-than-life figures like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Subsequent Concord releases, Swingin’ For Schuur (2001) and Midnight (2003), were both met with equally high praise. Some Other Time is another multifaceted yet cohesive set from this captivating vocalist. (Mike Wilpizeski)



HUCD 3137 (053361313722)
Led by vibraphonist Dave Samuels, the Caribbean Jazz Project has been crafting brilliant Afro-Caribbean sounds since the mid -1990s. More than a decade after recording their earliest albums on Heads Up International, Samuels and company return to the label and unite with the Maryland-based Afro-Bop Alliance Big Band, the seven-piece Latin jazz collective that has garnered high praise from critics since Encarnación, their 2004 debut recording. Produced by Samuels with arrangements by Afro Bop Alliance trombonist Dan Drew, The Caribbean Jazz Project Afro-Bop Alliance showcases material from CJP’s seven previous recordings spanning 15-years, yet recasts each tune via innovative and full-bodied arrangements. Catch this musical match made in heaven and hear the Caribbean Jazz Project like you’ve never heard them before. (Mike Wilpizeski)

CD 83675 (089408367526)
Dirty Linen has called guitarist-songwriter Eric Bibb “a strong guitar player, confident performer, and gifted songwriter who is blessed with an expressive voice.” Following up on the success of Diamond Days, his highly acclaimed 2007 release on Telarc, Get Onboard is the latest excursion in Bibb’s ongoing quest to uncover the unique nuggets of profound wisdom and enlightenment hidden just below the surface of the everyday human experience. (Amanda Sweet)

HUCD 3130 (053361313029)
Contemporary jazz bassist Gerald Veasley sees music as a pursuit that involves a combination of strategy, quick thinking and even a bit of blind faith, not unlike the game of chess. “There’s a multiplicity of decision making in the game of chess, and there are consequences to every action,” says Veasley. “In a lot of ways, making music is like that too. There are so many choices, especially in jazz, where the situation is never the same twice. That’s always exciting to me. You’re creating new scenarios at every turn…That’s what drew me to this kind of music in the first place – the idea that it was always fresh, there was always an opportunity and a new challenge.” That same combination of challenges and opportunities is at the heart of Veasley’s Your Move, the latest – and perhaps most innovative and audacious – maneuver in the game that he’s been playing since his early days in his native Philadelphia. But any good game involves more than one player, and Veasley has a couple collaborators on hand that make Your Move an intriguing gambit. Guitarist Chuck Loeb steps in as a formidable session player/producer and author or co-author of several tracks. Saxophonist and longtime Veasley band member Chris Farr also shares a few song credits. (Mike Wilpizeski)



CD 83681 (089408368127)
Founding member of Galactic and a mainstay of the rich New Orleans music scene, Stanton Moore follows up on his 2006 Telarc debut (III) with another eclectic set that showcases his versatility and virtuosity as a drummer and percussionist. (Amanda Sweet)

CD 83674 (089408367427) / DVD 73674 (089408367496)
Guitarist Tab Benoit’s 2007 Telarc release, Power of the Pontchartrain – along with the acclaimed IMAX film, Hurricane on the Bayou, a documentary of life in post-Katrina Louisiana – have cemented the Louisiana native’s reputation as a tireless environmental activist as well as a seasoned blues musician. Blues Revue called Pontchartrain “a three-alarm blaze,” while Billboard hailed it as “…the best album of his career…” Armed with rock-solid guitar chops and a voice like bayou lightning, the self-described “new kid from the old school” follows Pontchartrain with another satisfying set that merges the best elements of his musical roots, electric blues, cajun, vintage R&B and soul. (Mike Wilpizeski)

HUCD 3135 (053361313524)
Electric bass virtuoso Victor Wooten is a GRAMMY nominee and the only three-time winner of Bass Player magazine’s Bass Player of the Year award. The legendary solo artist and longtime Bela Fleck collaborator makes his Heads Up debut with this mesmerizing 12-song set – a recording that boasts a long list of special guests including Richard Bona, Mike Stern, Alvin Lee and Keb’ Mo’. (Mike Wilpizeski)



HUCD 3139 (053361313920)
The Yellowjackets, two-time GRAMMY winners and cutting-edge purveyors of innovative and eclectic jazz for more than 25 years, and Mike Stern, the four-time GRAMMY nominee who has established himself as the premier jazz and jazz-fusion guitarist of his generation, are headed for the studio in January 2008 for a joint project that could potentially redefine the parameters of 21st century jazz. The studio project was inspired by Yellowjackets’ appearance as guest musicians during Stern’s performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival in the summer of 2007, and will showcase all five musicians’ individual and collective virtuosity as instrumentalists and songwriters. Stern and the Yellowjackets are both still riding on the wave of critical and commercial success generated by their most recent Heads Up releases. JazzTimes said Stern’s Who Let the Cats Out is “his most eclectic effort yet—and just may be his best as well.” In response to the Jackets’ 25 – an aptly titled celebration of their 25th anniversary as a recording and touring unit – DownBeat called the quartet “one of the few bands from the early ‘80s to retain its punch today.”

HUCD 3141 (053361314125)
AllMusic calls him “one of the most prominent figures in the late 20th century blues,” but singer and multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal is still very much a force to be reckoned with as the 21st century gets under way. He makes his Heads Up International debut with Taj Around the World, a celebration of four decades of rich and vibrant music that reaches far beyond the blues to embrace folk, reggae, rhythm and blues, soul, gospel, world and beyond. The guest list for this anniversary bash includes Los Lobos, Angelique Kidjo, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and many more.

CD 83673 (089408367328)
In 2004, Telarc released Gathering of Spirits, a collaboration by the aptly named Sax Summit – a trio of the finest living saxophone talents in the jazz universe: Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano. While the passing of Brecker in 2007 makes that initial recording a singular moment that can never be completely recreated, Seraphic Light - Sax Summit II offers that same spirit of exploration and adventure that has always been a hallmark of great jazz. Liebman and Lovano return, while Ravi Coltrane (son of titan John Coltrane) does a notable job of filling the empty space left by Brecker. The threesome are backed by the same rhythm section as found on Gathering of Spirits – pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart. Trumpeter Randy Brecker steps in on two tunes, and also contributes the poignant original, “Message To Mike,” penned for his late brother. (Amanda Sweet)

CD 83686 (089408368622)
After three highly acclaimed solo releases on Telarc – Another Mind (2003), Brain (2004), Spiral (2006) – Hiromi upped the ante by assembling a new band, Sonicbloom, for her fourth Telarc recording, Time Control, released in 2007. Guitarist Dave Fiuczynski, bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora helped make Time Control one of the best recordings to date from the “ferociously talented” Hiromi (Los Angeles Times). This same lineup is back on Hiromi’s fifth CD, which promises to be an edgy and progressive mix of piano- and guitar-driven jazz laced with unmistakable shades of pop, rock and even avant garde – the trademark hybrid of this brilliant artist whose star continues to rise over the jazz landscape. (Mike Wilpizeski)

HUCD 3140 (053361314026)
This 23-year-old upright jazz bassist is not only an accomplished jazz artist but also a fluent vocalist in three languages – English, Spanish and Portuguese. She makes her Heads Up International debut with a recording that showcases a brilliant mastery of her instrument and a voice brimming with emotion and subtle confidence.



CD 83680 (089408368028)
Who better to record an album of delta blues classics than one of the music’s most influential figures? Mississippi-born pianist/vocalist Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins is joined by a small army of blues luminaries – Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Willie Kent and many others – in a recording that includes reverent and rollicking covers of some of the most memorable tunes in the blues tradition. The set includes “Got My Mojo Working,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Look On Yonders Wall,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and more. The releases just two weeks before Perkins’ 95th birthday.

HUCD 3142 (053361314224)
With its roots in gospel, doo-wop, and the sophisticated jazz-influenced singing groups of mid-century America like the Hi-Los, the a cappella vocal group Take 6 – assembled in Alabama in the 1980s – is on one hand the direct descendent of an earlier brand of American vocal music and at the same time a precursor for a number of black male pop groups of the 1990s. the group makes its debut on Heads Up with a recording whose guest list includes Aaron Neville, Brian McKnight and many others.

HUCD 3143 (053361314323)
Although rooted in the jazz of the 1960s, pianist/keyboardist George Duke made numerous subsequent forays into pop, R&B and most notably funk. This diverse odyssey has made for a complex and richly layered sound in everything Duke sets his hand to. Funk is the keyword on his Heads Up International debut, as he explores the sound and sensibility whose ascendance he witnessed first hand in the ‘70s. Three decades later, he proves that the funk groove is still very much alive in the 21st century.