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Monday, February 23, 2009

Reggae from Sweden, pop form Nigeria and India- as herself



MONDAY: !SPICE IT UP!. The best of master Cuban musician, Paquito D’ Riviera, a nine-time Grammy winner, who is celebrated for his artistry in Latin jazz, but also as a classical composer.

TUESDAY: TWO VOICES: ASA(Asha). Her album” NAÏVE”, is the most impressive debut in recent memory. A Nigerian singer/songwriter, whose many influences, include Bob Marley. INDIA ARIE’S, Latest, Testimony: Vol 2 “Love and Politics”, finds the sister getting to the core of her being.

WEDNESDAY: Bobby Thomas, the one time heat in Weather Report’s kitchen, has a new album “Beyond The Grid”, and goes back to back with what Weather Report became-Joe Zawinul’s, The Zawinul Syndicate.

THURSDAY: The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, delivers pure Salsa fire in “Unidos Con Swing”, “United We Swing”. Singer Issac Delgado, brings the new Cuban rhythm, Timba.

FRIDAY: ‘THE PEACEMAKER’S CHAUFFER”: A return to Jason Wilson’s episodic album which takes reggae down a different road. Daweh Congo’s “ Ghetto Skyline”, produced in Sweden, is a fresh reggae sound from Europe.

Bigger is Better @ Jazz in the Gardens

Not that we’re carrying a brief for the folks at the National Housing Trust (there was, after all, that statue, but that’s another debate), but they’ve made some fairly astute and beneficial choices in the way of culture.

One such was Emancipation Park, which revitalized the former ‘dust bowl inking the two major midtown thoroughfares (Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard). The other was commissioning composer-arranger-musician Peter Ashbourne to put together a large ensemble to play a Christmas concert in the aforementioned Emancipation Park, shortened, for practical purposes, to E-Park.

The band thus dubbed the E-Park Band, has proved itself to be nothing short of an absolute musical gift to the Jmaaican people (and other nationalities who may hear it), and Ashbourne & Co again vindicated themselves at Sunday evening’s Jazz in the Gardens, the first in the bi-monthly live series for 2009, at its familiar home in the Gardens of the Pegasus, a stone’s throw from the Park of the Band’s its conception.

That the programme was essentially a reprise of that performed in the Second City during the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival last month made it in no way less enjoyable. The high level of musicianship and –more importantly – the sheer joy amongst the 13-member ensemble and the instant rapport with the audience fuelled a great hopefulness for a return to the days when such bands were commonplace. This in spite of Ashbourne’s typically deadpan admission that “this is not an economic proposition; it’s a labour of love.”

the loving laboured and romped (yes, we’ll use that word) through a varied repertoire encompassing pop, reggae, the Great American Songbook, and a “dancehall instrumental piece, incorporating the sampled voice of a lady begging on the street among other things.

They were preceded by a group of which one hopes the market will also make room for, and which might be thought of as their successors, even at this relatively early stage. The Edna Manley Ensemble, comprising recent graduates –and one teacher – at the former Cultural Training Centre offered a similarly diverse repertoire delivered with no small measure of verve.

They started with a competent, if somewhat tentative “Autumn Leaves”. Violin soloist Rafiq Williams was hampered by indifferent sound levels (thankfully, the overall sound was much improved from previous Jazz in the gardens outings), with only bassist Alves Dean showing any noticeable assurance on his instrument.

The addition of two sparkling female vocalists changed that for the better. First Some Thomas who did a creditable job covering “Love Me Forever” by the late great Cynthia Schloss before taking things up a notch with vintage Jimmy Cliff – “The Lion Say.” Immediately following her, Abby Gaye Dallas confirmed that her fine showing at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Talent Stage was no fluke, putting her sultry vocals – and a neatly restrained sensuality – to good effect on “St Louis Blues” and “Night In Tunisia” (the latter employing lyrics improvised by Chaka Khan to fit the Dizzy Gillespie original). Courtney Fadlin, no stranger to the Pegasus faithful blew sweet and mellow on the smooth jazz classic, Grover Washington’s “Just The Two Of Us”

In an era when even established players are being made subservient to technology and even the art of selecting records for play has been steadily dehumanized, the sight - and sound - of a six-man horn section, complemented by guitar, bass, drums and two keyboards is truly a refreshing change, not to mention the truly exemplary vocal stylings of Karen Smith, Michael Sean Harris and the aforementioned EMC grads.

Sunday’s jazz in the Gardens offered, amid economic downturn and potential political upheaval, a genuine sign of hope. Let’s see where it leads.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blues & more @ Hope Gardens

“Blues on the Green”
U.S. Embassy hosts annual free concert

Feel the power of Blues on the Green on Friday, February 27, during the United States Embassy’s free concert featuring American blues singer and guitarist Deborah Coleman at Hope Gardens in Kingston.

The concert comes courtesy of the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section and many distinguished sponsors in celebration of African American History Month.

Deborah Coleman has been described by USA Today as “one of blues music’s most exciting young talents.” Along with a discography that spans a decade, she gives knockout live performances that have made her one of the hottest acts on the contemporary blues scene. Meticulous and focused in the studio and highly charismatic onstage, Coleman has developed a guitar style that reflects the influences of Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert Collins and Larry Carlton. Her vocal inspirations are as often found in the singing of Chrissie Hynde and Patti Smith as in the recordings of Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin, Memphis Minnie and Alberta Hunter.

The free concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. and include The Maurice Gordon Group, headed by talented Jamaican guitarist Maurice Gordon, and local jazz and blues singer Myrna Hague.

Parking will be provided at both the Jamaica College parking lot and Gibson Avenue, Hope Pastures entrance to Hope Gardens. Starting at 5:30 p.m., shuttle buses will transport patrons from both parking lots to the concert venue. Patrons are encouraged to carpool to avoid inconvenienc

New from Italy...Viva Roberto!!

My good friend, the acclaimed Italian pianist Roberto Magris, has not one , but two exciting new recordings - check back soon for the reviews:


...featuring the last recording session by jazz icon ART DAVIS (the legendary bassist for John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Max Roach as well as other notables). A great trio performance, a rare collector's item !!!

From the liner notes by James Hale:...Peterson, Tyner, Cowell, Hill, Monk, Ellington… the roll call of great pianists present in spirit in Kansas City on these two days continues with one other who Davis felt Magris conjured the first time they met: "the Legendary Hassan." (Hassan Ibn Ali). "You play like Hassan", Dr. Art told Magris "Your sound and concept remind me of him"... Art Davis’ words carried authority, just like the man himself carried authority. His stand against discrimination at the New York Philharmonic shone a light on the continuing racism in U.S. symphonies, and his application of cello fingering to the double bass helped revolutionize the way the instrument was played. A giant figure, Davis died just three weeks after this, his last recording session. (James Hale is a regular contributor to DownBeat and Signal To Noise, and the co-author of The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues)


... the best of Magris' compositions and arrangements from his 25-years long international career performed by a 43-piece super big band

From the liner notes by Ed Blanco:...The classic big band performance captured on this disc is reminiscent of the kind of music you hear from today’s contemporary large orchestras like the renowned 50-piece Netherland’s Metropole Orchestra or the sounds once produced by such big bands like Woody Herman’s Thundering Herds or the legendary Stan Kenton Orchestra’s of the past. BBRS Director Marco Pasetto has done a magnificent job in developing a relatively young musical organization into a mature jazz oriented ensemble that can hang with the best orchestras in the world. Pianist Roberto Magris demonstrates once again why he is considered among the elite jazz artists of our time. He plays the piano with intensity, feeling and heart-felt passion leaving his all on the keys and his soul in the music. His compositions are creative and his arrangements are fresh and dynamic—all coming together to help deliver a restless and resounding big band musical experience you will not soon forget.

(Ed Blanco is a member of Jazz Jounalist Association and a regular contributor for eJazznews, Jazzreview and All About Jazz, and hosts several jazz radio programs at WDNA 88.9 FM "Serious Jazz" radio station in Miami)

Thanks also to Paul Collins Management

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Bellson's No More

Louis Bellson, the world famous jazz drummer who helped establish the footprint for jazz music in America, has died at the age of 84 in Los Angeles.

The jazz musician, composer, arranger, bandleader, and educator is credited with pioneering the use of two bass drums.

Louis Bellson (he reportedly preferred Louie) won the 1940 Slingerland National Gene Krupa drum contest at the age of 17, beating out 40,000 drummers and launching a career that began with the Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Harry James big bands.

He became internationally known during the early ’50s for work with Duke Ellington, gaining attention for both his performances and his compositions, which included Skin Deep and the Hawk Talks. He left Ellington’s band to work as musical director for singer Pearl Bailey, whom he wed in 1953. The marriage lasted until Bailey’s death in 1990.

Bellson has performed and/or recorded an estimated 200 albums as a leader, co-leader or sideman with renowned jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, and film composer John Williams, among the many. Bellson’s Telarc debut recording, Louie Bellson And His Big Band: Live From New York, was released in June 1994.

The prolific writer produced numerous jazz compositions and arrangements as well as orchestral suites, symphonic works and a ballet. Bellson is also a published author, having written more than a dozen books on drums and percussion.

A highly regarded educator, throughout his career Bellson conducted drum and band clinics at high schools, colleges and music stores.

A six-time Grammy Award nominee, among his many honours Louis Bellson received his Doctor of Humane Letters in 1985 at Northern Illinois University, and was voted into the Halls of Fame for both Modern Drummer magazine and the Percussive Arts Society. Yale University named him a Duke Ellington Fellow in 1977, and he received an honorary Doctorate from Northern Illinois University in 1985. In January 1994, Bellson received the prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts (1994).

undated file photo of Louis Bellson (rght) with Duke Ellington

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ravi Coltrane Rolls On..& more this Riffin'



MONDAY: THE GRAMMY WINNERS: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, for Best Traditional World Music Album, “Ilembe Honoring Shaka Zulu”. Burning Spear, “Jah Is Real” for Best reggae Album.

TUESDAY: MEMORIES OF YOU: Singer, Maxine Sullivan, creates a memory of herself, with the songs of leading African American composer, Andy Razaf. Denise Perrier’s , “ Second Time Around”, a live album, is an exultation.

WEDNESDAY: BLENDING TIMES: Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice Coltrane, continues to grow into the light of his father and mother.

THURSDAY: YESTERDAYS: Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, are in the moment, and it’s a “live” one in Tokyo.

FRIDAY: RE-GENERATIONS: Nat King Cole, is remixed again, this time in a very contemporary way. A Filial, an edgy hip hop riff from Brazil.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jazz on the Green moves to a new lawn

For several years now, the Rotary of Spanish Town-orgnaized Jazz on the Green showcase has drawn live music loves to the middle of Cherry Gardens (in the St Andrew foothills) on a spacious residential lawn. There, music has been pleasantly mingled with amenities (a variety of meals; other booths, even auto displays) whilst the performance standards have remained high.
This year, it seems theevent has outgrown its suburban origins and has moved a little closer to midtown - although still somewhat secluded on the lawns of Kings house - thsi time on March 15
Looks like the traditional 'Ides of March' will be a good season - rather than a time to beware - for jazz fans, anda good lead-in to St patrcick's Day as well. more on this year's line-up in future posts.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sound Vision, African reggae and more on Riffin'



MONDAY: “La Espada De la Noche”, is multi instrumentalist, Ted Nash’s appreciation of the diversity and beauty of the world’s music cultures-especially Latin music.

TUESDAY: Singer Nnenna Freelon, lights up a live performance with superb delivery.

WEDNESDAY: “ ROOTS PROPAGANDA”. A Powerful statement of roots music by the Paul Carlon Octet. An organized dissemination of a roots sound.

THURSDAY: Moncef Genoud, a blind-from-birth pianist, combines beautiful melodies with dazzling playing.

FRIDAY: AFRICAN REGGAE: Putumayo’s collection of Roots Reggae by African artists in homage to Bob Marley’s 64th birthday. Roots reggae is alive and well in Africa.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

'Bammie' & Co. @ Christopher's

Saxophonist Michael 'Bammie' Rose returns to Christopher's jazz Cafe, this Thursday, February 12, as aprt of the revived Live music series presented by Mo Muzyk Promotions in association with Christopher's

Rose, who previously performed in 2008, will be supported by the Maurice Gordon Band.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Riddims Lost & Found in NYC

Herbie Miller's at it again (Thank God)

In Search of the Lost Riddim: Jamaican Jazz Fusion featuring Cedric Brooks (saxophone), Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Orville Hammond (piano), Wayne Batchelor (string bass), Desmond Jones (drums), Cecil Sonny Bradshaw (trumpet & piano), Larry McDonald (conga), and Douglas Ewart (reeds & percussion)
Thursday, February 26, 2009 Conversation at 6:00 pm Concert at 7:30pm Harlem Stage @ Aaron Davis Hall West 135th Street and Convent Avenue, NYC Admission: $15 For tickets please call the box office 212-281-9240 ext. 19or visit www.harlemstage.org

Renowned Caribbean cultural historian Herbie Millercurates a once-in-a-lifetime eveningcelebrating the interconnectionbetween Jamaican and American jazz culture. The evening features nine renowned jazz musiciansperforming together for the first time, includingrenowned Jamaican guitar ace Ernest Ranglin,multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart, and tenor saxophonistCedric Brooks. The evening will begin with a discussion amongthese musicians, moderated by Herbie Miller. Presented through the Columbia/Harlem Jazz ProjectandHarlem Stage’s Harlem Stride series and Harlem Stage Partners Program For more information about the Center for Jazz Studies please visitwww.jazz.columbia.edu or call 212-851-1633

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monty plays his heart for Tony Bennett..... and farewell to Hank Crawford



MONDAY: The colour blue, and its innumerable musical shades, by arranger, composer and orchestrator, Vince Mendoza.

TUESDAY: ‘AUREA’, Pianist, Geoffrey Keezer’s special tribute to Afro-Peruvian music.

WEDNESDAY: Monty Alexander, salutes the songs of Tony Bennett, in “The Good Life”

THURSDAY: Gabriel Alegria, the Peruvian trumpeter and composer, delivers some of the most exciting music today in his album, “Nueva Mundo”.

FRIDAY: “ Pushing the Reggae Envelope”. Scottsman, Jason Wilson, based in Canada, is one of a few musicians, pushing the envelope with his “The Peacemaker’s Chauffer, with Brinsley Forde, Fab Five, Willi Williams, and Jackie Mittoo.

Sad Note: We lost another sax great recently.....Hank Crawford. full obit tomorrow

Exquisite songs...and best wishes for recovery

Caught some of Marie Claire's [www.myspace.com/marieclairegiraud] performance at Red Bones on Saturday Nite. Her voice seemed to just lack that little bit of richenss that I had been used to in her previous outings, but then she announced that she had been in an auto accident coming over form Montego bay, and I understood.

Nevertheless, the music, led by kathy Brown on keys, supported by Akil 'Red Bull' karram on drums and Shurwayne Thompson on bass, was great and the songs were exquisite - especially "Tenderly" (hadn't heard vocal of that one for a while...breathtaking)

Here's hoping for a quick and total recovery for Marie Claire and many more exquisite musical moments