All About Jazz Magazine - No1 Winter 2014

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Number 1. Winter 2014



A Record Label for the Digital Age


Memories of Paul Motian from musicians that worked with him during his storied career career

JON COWHERD Ian Patterson finds out that there's more to pianist Jon Cowherd than meets the eye

WHAT DOES JAZZ DO FOR YOU? Interview with Professor Tony Whyton, Director of the Salford Music Research Centre at the University of Salford


Portrait Of A Visionary

Plus the latest news, reviews, columns, and free downloads All About Jazz Magazine 1

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From The Publisher


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Website News

A Record Label for the Digital Age

11 Memories in Motian Impressions Of Motian 17 Wayne Shorter Portrait Of A Visionary 24 Wallace Roney His Mission to Record and Perform Wayne Shorter’s

Long-Lost “Universe”

28 David Weiss In Celebration of Endangered Species 38 Jon Cowherd Mercy, Mercy Me 44 Tony Whyton What Does Jazz Do For You? 57 Free Downloads 60 Being Grateful Defining the Jazz Years Part One - 1973 63 Mr. P.C.’s Guide to Jazz Etiquette Mr. P.C.’s Best of 2013 65 Genius Guide to Jazz How to Listen to Jazz 68 Take Five With - Joseph Daley 70 Take Five With - Fidel Cuellar 73 Behind the Lens With - Richard Conde 79 Album Reviews 98 Jazz Near You


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Paul Naser, Zeno De Rossi, R.J. Deluke, Ian Patterson, Jacob Hobson, Mr Pc, Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius, Richard Conde, Fidel Cuellar, Joseph Daley, John Kelman, John Sharpe, C. Michael Bailey, Phil Barnes, Dan Mcclenaghan, Mark F. Turner, Edward Blanco, Mark Corroto, Nicholas F. Mondello, Jack Bowers, Dan Bilawsky Troy Collins, Mark F. Turner, Bruce Lindsay, Dan Bilawsky, Fiona Ord-Shrimpton


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All About Jazz Magazine 3

From the Publisher

Welcome to the first edition of the All About Jazz Magazine Welcome to the first issue of the All About Jazz Magazine, a collaborative effort between your friends at All About Jazz and the talented folks at MFM Media. This and future issues will pull choice content from the All About Jazz website and present it in a splashy new format using the publishing platform.

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The depth, breadth and sheer volume of content published at All About Jazz is truly remarkable. It’s especially notable when you consider our staff is 100% volunteer. We’ve published 8-10 articles a day for well over a decade, and pulling together some of our finest pieces in the form of a digital magazine sounds like a great next step.

Many of our staff members have been with us since we launched AAJ nearly 20 years ago. They’ve supported the music and have been continually rewarded for their efforts as we’ve grown to become the most read and most influential jazz website in the world.

A brief history for our new readers… I launched nearly 20 years ago. First and foremost a jazz advocacy site, AAJ represents my long-time interest in jazz (as a fan), my experience with web technology, and an indefatigable spirit to expand the jazz listening audience. I was well suited for the web, but the journey from humble beginnings (and you can check the Wayback Machine for proof!) to where we are today required a team of writers, editors, technicians, musicians, industry pros, visual artists, friends, and advocates of the music from around the globe. The world’s largest jazz database wasn’t built overnight, and we add to it every hour of every day. If you’re a first time reader, pay us a visit and explore our website’s rich archive of jazzy goodness, and while you’re at it, join our community, subscribe to the free Jazz Near You newsletter, and download the free Jazz Near You iOS app. If you’re already a member, and haven’t visited us recently, be sure to update your member information so we can send you a local events calendar. Enjoy the first issue, and please let us know what you think by contacting me with your comments or suggestions. Like the website, the magazine will continually improve, and we look forward to sharing the jazz word… however you choose to receive it. Cheers! Michael Ricci Publisher, All About Jazz 4 All About Jazz Magazine

You can become a part of the All About Jazz and Jazz Near You ecosystem by joining a growing corps of volunteers that celebrate jazz music on an international stage every day. Establish your voice as part of the shared mission and take advantage of a great networking opportunity to meet knowledgeable writers, editors, techies, musicians, industry pros, visual artists and active supporters of the music from around the globe.

With reinvention and expansion in mind, we invite you to join us on our journey to support the music, spread the word, and have fun. Our volunteers engage in a variety of work, such as: • Reporting on live events from emerging and iconic venues and festivals; • Interviewing artists; • Reviewing albums, tracks, DVDs, films, and books; • Raising the awareness of Jazz Near You to better serve local jazz communities; • Editing articles; • Mining and validating data; • Vetting and approving various forms of content (audio, video, photos, etc.); • Participating on advisory teams to help shape the future direction of the website. Written material is always appreciated! We greatly appreciate our staff ’s efforts and we work with them to secure music and other promotional materials like books and DVDs, receive press credentials to events, and secure paid writing assignments. In addition, you’ll join an eclectic and talented team of writers and editors, and you’ll gain access to the largest jazz readership on the planet. As writer/contributor Richard Salvucci put it, “My Doug Mettome article would have been read by 16 people at my blog. At AAJ, it was read over 4,000 times in three weeks!” We look forward to hearing from you!

Website News

Help All About Jazz Support Jazz Dear friends, All About Jazz has been a leading advocate for jazz music since 1995. Longtime readers have watched us continuously transform our website over the past 18 years, keeping the spirit of the music firmly in mind along the way. We’ve also done our best to keep pace with technology while finding new and creative ways to report on jazz daily. And we’re proud to provide musicians with a free global platform to publicize themselves (and their activities) to our ever-growing audience.

improvements; A faster, more responsive website; Jazz Near You community development; Jazz Near You event aggregation; Jazz Musicians Community Awards; Cross-platform Jazz Near You app; Streaming concerts; Jazz teachers database. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to sharing our progress with you for years to come! Sincerely, Michael Ricci, Founder, All About Jazz and Jazz Near You

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As a small business (one employee to be exact), I’ve provided the sole source of funding to keep AAJ moving forward and what we have done to date with limited financial resources and a modest staff of volunteers is truly remarkable. But for AAJ (and now Jazz Near You) to fully sustain itself, we will need your support. 2012 saw the most significant advancements as we improved All About Jazz from top to bottom. Last year also marked the launch of Jazz Near You, a network of nearly 250 jazz event websites. In 2013, we built on what we started by launching the free Jazz Near You app and activating communities in each city with the purpose of promoting live jazz. Grand plans take time, effort and support... from everyone. Though we work with a handful of advertising networks to offset our costs, the lack of consistent operating revenue has limited our ability to grow and as a result, has hindered our ability to fully support the music we all know and love. But that can change with your help. You can help us upgrade our infrastructure and improve our service by making a donation: from $5 to $500... whatever you can afford is greatly appreciated. Your contribution will directly fund any of the following projects: Continued All About Jazz and Jazz Near You All About Jazz Magazine 5

ArtistShare A Record Label for the Digital Age By PAUL NASER

In the information age, as technology is transforming the way we share ideas, the creative artist seems to be in a dangerous situation. Peerto-peer file sharing and free-streaming content are direct threats to an artists’ livelihood. Combining this insight with a love for music and an appreciation for artists and the value of their work, Brian Camelio started his company, ArtistShare. After remarkable success with both its innovative model and its extraordinary roster of artists, it is celebrating its 10th anniversary by looking towards the future as it begins a partnership with Blue Note Records.


music lover since childhood, Camelio grew up playing rock and roll and graduated college with a degree in classical composition. Working as a guitarist, he performed classical, jazz and rock music while writing and performing his own music, even working internationally. He took an interest in software programming in the mid-90’s and found that he really liked it, saying of writing code, “I found it to be very similar to composing and I got as excited about it as I did writing music.” Around this time the internet was starting to gain a lot of popularity, and, as Camelio was becoming more involved in programming and working on the web, it occurred to him that the music industry was going to change. “It occurred to me in 1999 or so, that this issue of file sha-

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ring was really going to be a problem for musicians. I could see that thing that we were basically making our money off of, which is selling recordings, was going to go away. Anything that could be digitized I could see as being a real problem. Even though the internet at the time wasn’t mature enough to handle any sort of file size, it was very clear that that would change and it would be very convenient for people to start trading music and videos and whatever could be digitized.” As he was coming to this realization Camelio also was witnessing the mistreatment of some of his close friends by record companies. “Around that time as well, all my good friends in the city, people like Maria Schneider, Jim Hall, Chris Potter and David Binney,

mostly in the jazz community, were having problems with their record labels. At some point I just got very angry about it and decided that it might be a good opportunity to come up with something that would put the power back into the hands of the artist, put the control back in the hands of the artists, because I kept hearing stories about people signing contracts that didn’t realize what they were signing, or the label just flat out refusing to pay the artist; they did all the work and spent the money.”

day, one of my major points of inspiration is, wouldn’t it be great to be standing in the same room when he was creating a song, and what would I like to see as a fan?” All of these things together led to his unique vision of a community of artists and fans connected by their shared love of creativity. “From the very beginning of my obsession with music, which started as a young child, I can always remember wanting to know more and wanting to see how it was done... I’m still fascinated by it, by seeing the creative process in action. So that was my idea; I will create something As these concepts bounced around in his head, Cawhere people can access the creative process, can pay melio thought about where the value really was in an the artist to do something and they can watch it and artist’s work. “Being a composer and musician, I view help create this community of fans and artists.” art and music as a timeline; all the big things that are created, like the greatest CDs, are a snapshot in that ArtistShare’s model is not product- or result-oriented; timeline. It’s just capturing a certain moment in an ar- instead, it focuses on allowing fans to become a part of tist’s career. I started to view the value of what an artist the artist’s process, watching the development of the does as being in the process, not necessarily in the end end result as it goes through all the stages of becoresult or in one of the snapshots of that process.” This ming a completed work of art. It is not the funding realization is the central idea behind ArtistShare and by fans that sets ArtistShare apart from other compais what gives the company its unique approach and nies. Kickstarter, to give one example, has emulated model, to which it owes its great success. “I thought, the ArtistShare model of crowd-sourced funding, but, maybe I can create a model where people pay for the as Camelio notes about such companies...” the focus is process, and they pay to have something done, almost way too much on money. I think the artists can end up

“ At some point I just got very angry about it and decided that it might be a good opportunity to come up with something that would put the power back into the hands of the artist....” like a service, instead of having to rely on this end result which is this recorded music, and trying to sell that after the fact... I thought the idea of being able to watch the process, and to align yourself with the artist as a fan would be infinitely interesting. You can’t copy it either; you can’t steal the creative process from the artist. Present it as a story and get people involved.” Related to this were two other key concepts that influenced ArtistShare’s model.

hurting themselves by going out and saying, ‘Give me money for a project,’ instead of focusing on, ‘Hey, do you want to be part of my community, want to watch the creative process, want to get to know me?’” It is the element of getting to know the artist and being a part of the community that makes ArtistShare what it is. The fan gets to choose their desired level of participation, which

One was an West African dance show that Camelio attended, where some audience members were so moved by the dancers’ performances and solos that they would literally throw money at the dancers. He was really impressed by their honest and direct show of appreciation and playfully says of ArtistShare, “this is my digital solution to chucking dollar bills at the artist.” Alongside this was a friendship that Camelio formed with Brazilian singer-songwriter/guitarist Milton Nascimento. When they first met, he had not really heard Nascimento’s music; after listening to his music, Camelio says, “I was like, this guy is amazing! To this All About Jazz Magazine 7

ArtistShare : Cont can range from simply purchasing a copy of the finished project, in whatever form it takes (such as a CD or MP3 download), to being an executive producer of the project, which in the case of the many musical projects entitles the fan to prominent credit on the album as well as various other benefits which change depending on the artist and project; some of these could include: invitation to the mixing and mastering of the album, a private concert for the participant and their friends, VIP access to concerts for a year, a personalized copy of the finished product as well as access to all the exclusive video, audio and blog updates that document the process of the development of the project. Aside from its groundbreaking model, ArtistShare has been a remarkable musical success since the beginning. One of the first albums the label released, Maria Schneider’s Concert in the Garden, won a Grammy award for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in 2005, only two years after the label began releasing records. In the ten short years since then, five more ArtistShare albums/projects have won Grammys and the label has accumulated 18 Grammy nominations. Part of the secret to their success is the amount of attention that goes into the construction of each project. When asked about the acquisition of new artists, Camelio responded that they don’t really reach out to new artists; in general artists seek them out, and, even then, the roster is intentionally kept limited. “Basically when we get a new artist, I spend a lot of time formulating a project and we spend a lot of time showing them the best practices for documenting their process and relaying it to their fans. It’s a new thing, it’s not necessarily intuitive, the way that we do things... We have more than a decade of experience with this and seeing

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what messages work for what artists and how to really get the best out of [their process].” Consistent with their success and focus is their world-class roster of artists. In the jazz idiom, they include, as mentioned previously, Maria Schneider, Jim Hall, David Binney and Chris Potter, as well as: The Clayton Brothers, which includes John Clayton, Jeff Clayton and John’s son, Gerald Clayton; Alex Skolnick; Sax Summit, which includes Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane; Jon Cowherd, co-founder of the Brian Blade Fellowship; Niels Lan Doky; Robin Eubanks; the late Bob Brookmeyer; Danilo Perez; Julian Lage; Billy Childs; Brian Lynch; Donny McCaslin; Geoffrey Keezer; Alex Sipiagin; Scott Colley; Lindsey Horner; Jon Gordon; and Kevin Hays, among several others. Apart from supporting jazz musicians, ArtistShare is also home to a number of musicians from other genres, including singer-songwriters, composers of Latin and world music, composers such as Alf Clausen and has even helped produce a comedic country album by comedian Rick Moranis. They also fund creative projects by non-musical artists such as author Dan Oulette and his biography of Ron Carter and filmmaker Paul Devlin. This unique mix of genres and projects is evidence of ArtistShare’s vision of creating a community where creative artists and their fans come together and sidestep the middlemen that are usually a central element in the traditional record label model. It is this artist-centric, community based approach that makes ArtistShare unlike any other model available for artist funding. One of Camelio’s main goals was to ensure the livelihood of artists. “In general, what I would like to see is to bring this model into every art form and to improve it as technology improves... to really create a new industry that will help alleviate the pain of an industry that previously had a product that

can now be digitized and freely traded among people and to make sure the artist can still create. My future goal is to ensure that creative artists are able to create and get paid for what they do.” ArtistShare is the first company to rely entirely on internet sales for its products. In fact, this is what made Schneider’s 2005 Grammy win especially significant: hers was the first album in history that had won without ever having been available in record stores. The six wins and 18 Grammy nominations that ArtistShare albums have received are testament to the success of the model, which, given the current state of the music industry is more important than ever. Since ArtistShare was founded several new technologies have further complicated the situation in which creative artists find themselves. Besides illegal sharing of digitized files, the music industry has changed so that artists often voluntarily use services that give them little to no monetary compensation. Companies like Youtube and Spotify and the role they play in promoting artists is the subject of intense debate right now. ArtistShare addressed the problems caused by these technologies before they even existed. Camelio, speaking of this current trend, said: “One school of thought was you need to make yourself available everywhere so people can find you; the other school of thought is you don’t make yourself available and then when people hear about you they seek you out.... We would make it so that literally, if you wanted Jim Hall, you wanted Maria Schneider you had to go to their site or go to ArtistShare. The overexposure of artists, with Youtube and all this stuff, and I saw this coming and I don’t think people fully realize what’s happening, but if you make yourself available on all these other sites, they’re never going to come to you.” Besides not paying artists fairly for their work, Youtube and websites like it have been able to provide advertisers with “an ENORMOUS catalogue of music that they could help advertisers strengthen their brand with.” It is because of developments like this that ArtistShare’s model is more important than ever. Not making yourself too available may seem like a risky proposition to many new artists who are looking to expand their following, but it is an important part of Camelio’s vision of making sure that creative artists get fairly compensated for the work that they do. Often the hope when putting a lot of free content on the internet is that it will result in more website traffic and more new fans in general. To this request for more or new fans, Camelio asks, “ what have you done lately for you current fans?” This question is an important one, and though it seems like a logical one to ask, it sheds light on what makes ArtistShare different as a

record label. Speaking of the importance of keeping their fans connected and happy, Camelio says, “ The real value for new artists is cultivating the fans you already have, to get them to talk to you about other people. That is the piece of wisdom that we try to impart to every artist. If you want to get more fans you need to pay attention to your current fans, even if there are only ten of them. Treat them like royalty. Show them why you deserve their attention.” On October 15 of this year, ArtistShare celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of their first project, Maria Schneider’s Grammy award winning album. As they celebrate the occasion and all the success they have accumulated along the way, they have a lot to be excited about. ArtistShare has signed a partnership with Blue Note Records, marking the formation of their joint label Blue Note/ArtistShare. Their first project is an album by pianist and composer Fabian Almazan who is currently playing in Terence Blanchard’s band. In addition to this, ArtistShare recently released volumes 2-4 of previously unreleased live material from Jim Hall, coming from the same Toronto concert as his Live! album from 1975. They are also looking forward to new releases from Maria Schneider and another Gil Evans centennial celebration album, which will be a live recording of the previously unrecorded music. It seems as if we have a lot to look forward to from ArtistShare in the coming years.

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“We have lost one of the greatest musicians on the planet, one who discovered the secret of playing ‘simply’ pure music.” 10 All About Jazz Magazine

Memories in Motian By ZENO DE ROSSI

Soon after hearing about Paul Motian’s passing (November 22, 2011) I felt the urge to delve (again) into his music. Later on, inspired by a moving writing by Ellery Eskelin (published on his website and reproduced below, by his kind permission), I thought it would have been interesting to collect brief memories from musicians which worked with him during his long career, as well as from those who were deeply influenced by him. I started my research, contacting as many musicians as possible: many replied with enthusiasm, you will read their recollections here. Others declined due to lack of time, others, unfortunately, never replied. The idea which guided the project was very simple: I asked each musician to choose a tune from Motian’s discography and write a few lines about him or his music. The first request aims to sketch a sort of in absentia compilation, which could work as a guide to listening for the curious reader; the second tries to shape a multifaceted vision of the artist using the musicians’ words.

mine for my first (and last) camping holiday.

In other words, All About Paul.

After coming and setting our tent up we went to town for a walk, to find out what was on that evening. Soon after we met some local friends, which told us about a jazz concert in the park. My friend was reluctant, so I decided to go alone, and, sure to stumble upon a band of local musicians, I was amazed to find out that I was going to listen to Geri Allen’s trio with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. I still remember the magic of that music, and the darkness which was surrounding the stage, to prevent the insects from swarming on the musicians.

What is clearly coming to light from these writings is the relevance of Motian’s music in the creative path of more than a generation of musicians: a sort of underground river that contributed to trace new directions in the history of contemporary jazz. I heard Paul Motian playing live for the first time 23 years ago. In the summer of 1990, after my high school final exam, I took off for Orbetello, a beautiful town in Tuscany, with a friend of

That same year I listened to Paul Motian Trio, with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano, for the first time. It was an unforgettable night in an unforgettable club in Verona, “Il Posto.” I remember the musicians coming breathless on stage, severely delayed; the house was already full and eager to listen. They were just able to set up their instruments and do a quick line-check before starting one of those concerts that changed my life forever.

I was lucky enough to listen to Motian many other times, and in various contexts. Each time I was struck by his ability of keeping the music in a perfect balance with a few fundamental gestures. His way of playing was unique, deeply rooted in the tradition, but totally modern and personal; his compositions simple, but profound. He has been a guiding light which led me into fabulous, beautiful places. Regarding his art, there is nothing I can add to what is stated by the memories you will read. It is clear to me that we have lost one of the greatest musicians on the planet, one who discovered the secret of playing simply Pure Music. I would like to thank Francesco Bigoni for the precious translations, my wife Nicoletta for the constant editing and, most of all, the great musicians which replied and made this project happen with their touching and invaluable contributions. Que Viva Paul!

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Impressions Of Motian Ellery Eskelin Paul Motian passed away this morning. One of the great drummers in jazz, he was to me one of the world’s deepest improvisors and one of the most individual musicians I have ever heard on any instrument. I think back to an evening in the mid 80’s when I had the good fortune to play a bit with him. I had just come from an afternoon jam session with some friends. We were playing standards and it was feeling a bit routine. At a certain point during the session I felt the need to break out of the musical web we were spinning and, almost as a joke, I decided to take an entire solo that was completely free rhythmically, while still making the changes in time. As it happened, my little joke actually seemed to invigorate the music. I might have simply treated the experience as a curiosity, had I not decided to head over to the 55 Bar on Christopher Street in the Village. Guitarist Leni Stern was playing her regular Sunday gig and she would always let me sit in. That evening she had hired Paul Motian to play drums with her. I was surprised and excited at the prospect of playing with him for the first

time. With the effect of the afternoon session fresh in my mind, I approached the music in just the same way. The effect of this looser playing had been interesting and unexpected during the afternoon session, but now, with Paul, it was much deeper and richer. When I think back on it over the years, I realized that at that moment in time Paul was probably the most perfect musician on the planet that I could have played with to validate and solidify this approach. His phrasing was so fluid, and yet his internal pulse and feel so strong that I was able to play anything I heard and have it fit the music just the way I wanted it to. I can say with no exaggeration that this was a true musical epiphany. It was as if a door had opened. I walked through and never looked back. Everything I’ve done since then has come out of that one seemingly casual but quite intense (and amazingly fortuitous) experience. Paul and I spoke about playing again, but that never quite came about. I would go to hear him play and come away completely inspired each time. Some of the early music I wrote for my band came directly after hearing a set he did at the Village Vanguard in the mid

90’s. We would cross paths on the road from time to time. In more recent years I began writing him letters, sending him music. Last time I saw him was at the Vanguard almost a year ago. He sounded amazing as usual. And he looked as if he had another twenty or thirty years in him. During the break I had a few moments to speak with him privately and I reminded him of that night, some twenty odd years ago, and told him how much he and his music meant to me. I’m so glad I had the chance to do that in person. The world feels different without Paul Motian in it... This contribution was originally published on Ellery Eskelin’s website on 22 November 2011, It is reproduced by kind permission of Ellery Eskelin

Bill Frisell Thinking about Paul Motian, it is very difficult (impossible) for me to name just one song, one album, one moment that stands out. I’m so lucky (blessed) to have spent so much time with him. His impact on me was (is) huge. Extraordinary. Gigantic. So many memories. Kaleidoscopic. We played together for 30 years. Traveled all over the world. Three decades! But ... I was listening to him long before that. One of the first concerts I went to hear in high school was the Charles Lloyd Quartet. 1968. Paul was in that band. A new world opened up. I never dreamed that a few years later I’d be playing with him. Wow. A lifetime of inspiration. I think about him every day and continue to learn from him. He set the standard. Showed me the possibilities. Still does.

Ben Perowsky The first time I got to hear and see Paul Motian play was at Saalfelden Jazz Festival in 1985 when I was 19 years old. He was playing with Paul 12 All About Jazz Magazine

Bley, Bill Frisell and John Surman. The setting alone was mind blowing for me as I hadn’t experienced live jazz outside of the NYC or Boston audience. This was like being at a huge rock concert except that the audience full of young people who were camping in the field outside the big tent was extremely quiet during the music, then screaming and cheering afterwards.

or punctuation. The way a surrealist painter can imply structure or anatomy without stating it is how I try to understand what Paul does behind the drums. And it is in fact magical. His impact on music will be resonating for decades.

in jazz, this combination of unique voices greatly helped to validate and legitimize for us young players the idea of a band playing traditional (and original) repertoire without the bass—and by extension, helping to proliferate a host of groups comprised of “non-traditional” instrumentations. Michael Sarin I always felt as if I was hearing painGreat performers and creative tings while listening to Motian: reexpressers—musicians, painters, For a young drummer who had writers, actors, dancers—the mas- fined eastern calligraphy; Abstract been exposed to a lot of music and ters, convey to their audience the Expressionism of de Kooning, drummers growing up in NYC, depth of their experience with an Pollock, Rothko and RauschenPaul still completely turned my intent distilled by simple and clear berg; Man Ray ready-mades and head around when I saw and heard gestures. This became clear to Duchamp, droll and provocative. him play that night and every time me during the mid-1980’s via the He showed me how a drummer I saw him afterwards for the follo- drumming of Paul Motian whi- can move the music forward with wing 25 years. I don’t like to use the le listening to recordings of Paul silence; and when notes are playword magic but Paul had this inex- Bley’s Fragments, Keith Jarrett’s ed, they’re with commitment and plicable way of playing the drums Shades of Jazz, Bill Frisell’s Ram- intention. And with Paul, always with the knowledge and attitude bler, and Charlie Haden’s Liberati- spontaneous and in the moment a of a most well seasoned master, si- on Music Orchestra. Upon moving true improvisor. multaneously with that of an infant to New York in 1989, one of the Influential to me was Motian’s creexperiencing the nuances of life first concert experiences I had was ations of rhythmic collages during for the first time. Musical clichés listening to the Paul Motian Trio group improvisations—rhythms are not an option. Time, meter, with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell at and beats of different shapes, temform are so internalized that they the old Knitting Factory. Although pos and timbres played for varying are implied with subtle suggestion certainly not the first such line-up lengths of time. This evoked for me All About Jazz Magazine 13

Impressions Of Motian : Cont a kaleidoscope effect, spurring reaction—oppositional or parallel— from the other players. Also, his use of brushes as agents of color, not just as quiet time keepers reinforced my own natural inclination toward texture from the drum set. And always... his sound and touch on the drums and cymbals, influential on a generation or more of drummers: his snare drum and booming bass drum betrayed his traditional training; his striking of the toms; and his very personal cymbal combination, intact for 30 or more years. Upon hearing a single note on either of his ride cymbals, snare, toms or bass drum, one instantly responds with certainty and joy, “Paul!” Most unfortunately, I never actually met Paul Motian even though many of my closest colleagues worked with him at some time, whether in one of his own bands or on their own projects. I don’t really know what he thought of the many great drummers who have come after him, or if he was acutely or even vaguely aware of his influence on them. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say: we’re here

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and testifying to his contributions walk all around this place, nothing each time we make music from the going on....etc.” Of course we had drum set. Paul will be dearly mis- all missed breakfast. sed by all of us. As a bandleader he was super generous with us, trusting, letting Brad Shepik us figure it out on our own. It was I have many great memories of my an education to play with him, five and a half years playing in Paul’s he didn’t fill things up like other first Electric Bebop Band; going to drummers. His time and feel and Europe for the first time, getting spacing of ideas was indescribable, to see what life outside the US was really only the thing itself. Eventulike, what a tour was like, traveling ally it had a profound effect on the all day every day and playing eve- way I hear music. I return often to ry night. Above all, playing music Paul’s recordings—they remain a and traveling with such a unique, huge inspiration to me. Whether creative force and master musici- playing an original or a song by an as Paul. I’m deeply grateful for another composer, his conception that experience. I smile remembe- of sound is instantly identifiable ring how young we all were and yet and reminds me what a fearless he seemed to be filled with more original he was; a completely unienergy than all of us put together. que composer and drummer and We would drag ourselves from the bandleader. Thank you Paul! hotel where we’d slept 3 or 4 hours onto the early morning trains and immediately flop down to go to sleep. But it was never long before Paul would poke his head into the compartment, parting the curtains and say to everyone, “Hey man! How about that breakfast! great right? I went back three times... been up since 5AM, went for a

All About Jazz Magazine 15

“Play a Story. What do you play after you play ‘Once upon a time?’ What comes next?” —Wayne Shorter 16 All About Jazz Magazine

To speak with Wayne Shorter can feel like an exercise in the mystical. At times, it’s stream of consciousness, ideas flowing that can reach the profound; but the direction can switch suddenly. There are frequent references to films (Shorter is a lifelong movie buff), as well as books whose subject matter run from science to philosophy. The discourse is never delivered in holier-than-thou fashion, nor is it deliberate obfuscation. Its always congenial and conversational. And witty.

WAYNE SHORTER Portrait Of A Visionary By R.J. DELUKE Shorter looks at life with a sparkle in his eye. He’s pretty much completed the special year of his 80th birthday, with celebrations in concerts around the globe, though there may be more before he turns 81 in August. Over all those years, he still has a child-like curiosity. Things that come out of his mouth are without pretense and uttered freely. Shorter, in addition to be a creative artist of the highest order, is just a nice guy.

de references. There can be confusion as well as great unity. They play as in-the-moment as any group, and the joy of their labor is obvious on their faces. They get lost. They discover. Their 2013 release, Without A Net (Blue Note), is a great example of their work and the title is an accurate description of their on-stage adventures. Shorter does not want a well-oiled presentation.

The meaning of the often-debated word “jazz,” to “He’s one of the most creative artists of all time,” says Shorter, is “I dare you.” He exemplifies it. trumpeter Wallace Roney. “Don’t play music lessons, Art Blakey would say,” says “The nicest genius you’ll ever meet, but he’s nevert- Shorter, who then effects a dead-on Blakey voice imheless a genius,” says John Patitucci, the bassist in the personation. “’I don’t wanna hear that. Tell me a story.’ Wayne Shorter Quartet for more than a decade in When I talked with Miles [Davis], we kind of talked an All About Jazz interview a few years back. “He’s a like this, like we’re talking now, and Miles would say musician of the highest level. I’ve learned a lot from a couple of times [in perfect Miles raspy voice:] ‘Why being around him. I feel like I’ve been very blessed don’t you play that.’ In other words: play what you’re to be around him... Wayne is a beautiful person. He’s thinking. Don’t play music. Play a story.’ What do you play after you play ‘Once upon a time?’ What comes very generous, kind, very encouraging.” next?” “He’s one of the great masters,” says the great drummer Jack DeJohnette who first played with the saxop- That outlook makes Shorter’s playing what it is today. honist when Miles Davis was going electric in 1969. Darting. Shifting. Sometimes complex. Not always “He has such imagination on his instrument. And he furious like his days with Davis’ Second Great Quintet, or in long serpentine layers like on his 1960s Blue writes exciting pieces. He’s fantastic.” Note records. It’s not the same style he brandished in Shorter’s quintet—with Patitucci, pianist Danilo Perez his hometown of Newark, N.J., when he was known as and drummer Brian Blade is one of the finest wor“The Jersey Flash” because of his quicksilver runs on king units in jazz and the focus of Shorter’s work for the saxophone. years now, the first time in his blessed career that he has held the same configuration and personnel for so “There’s no real approach anymore,” he says of his long. Their concerts are examples of four people in playing. “The challenge is to be in the moment and conversation. The topics change. There might be insi- the thought of playing or writing what you wish for. All About Jazz Magazine 17

Wayne Shorter : Cont What you wish the world to be like. Or playing what you see. What condition the world is in today. A lot of loose ends. And also playing music that you can’t anticipate. Uncertainty? Play that. We have to learn to deal with uncertainty and dialogue with the unexpected and dialogue with the unknown. Because the unknown can not be rehearsed. How do you rehearse the unknown? It’s something that’s coming out of the human existence that’s making us evolve and grow. On a humanistic level, we’re pulling out of ourselves what we didn’t know was there. That should be telling us a whole lot about eternity. No such thing as beginning or end in life.” He adds, “The mission of an artist, or a human being, is to celebrate the artistry in every human being. There’s a phrase Esperanza [Spalding] wrote: ‘Wake up and dream’ [for the Shorter composition “Gaia.”] As opposed to, “I Wake Up Screaming,” That first movie [1941] with Betty Grable and Carole Landis 1941.” Many musicians study hard, bury themselves in acquiring technique, listen to all the masters, then come as if they’re reading a book—albeit a really good one—but not writing their own stories. Not Shorter. He’s had the benefit of experience and went through growing stages like anyone else. Yet he was always an off-the-path thinker. He skipped school as a youngster, but wasn’t idle. He wasn’t up to mischief. He slipped away to movies houses or caught bands playing matinees. He was learning. He didn’t follow the crowd then, and his career choices, his playing and his composing are the same. As different as the movies to which he’s so attracted. “I say sometimes I’m writing music for movies that will never be made. Or that won’t be made right now,” he says. “Life is the ultimate movie, to me. Life is the ultimate adventure. Why not be curious enough to have fun studying it. Live while you’re studying it. Don’t think that studying is going to put a damper on 18 All About Jazz Magazine

your ideas... That’s a lie.” The study Shorter refers to is one of life and what goes on around people. Technique, he notes, allows musicians to play something that relates to the moment. “Then you don’t have to worry about a final exam.” “The fact that somebody doesn’t want to investigate life, investigate what somebody’s talking about on TV, investigate for themselves, is an indication that they failed the final exam already. They are final. [They are] to be walked on and used and led and anesthetized. So they can’t wake up and dream.” Roney played with Shorter in 1992, after the death of Miles Davis, when his former great band—Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, with Shorter—did a tour and album in tribute to the master. Roney was selected for the trumpet role. He’s been friends ever since with Shorter. A musician par excellence himself, he calls him “one of the greatest tenor /soprano saxophone players—also artist and composer—of all time. Him and John Coltrane are the torch bearers of that creative unity. Of trying to unite the achievement of what an individual was blessed to be able to do, or can evolve to do via art, music, mind, soul, spirit. When John Coltrane died, [Shorter] was left with that. Sonny Rollins was also one of the great ones, but I think Wayne shares that more with John Coltrane in that essence of trying to keep attuned to the evolution of where we are as a people.” “With Wayne’s music, he is able to play the most creative things and found beauty in all the notes that he played,” says Roney. “If you listen, there’s always a lyrical beauty in his playing. It’s a bit like John Coltrane’s but it’s different. Trane’s beauty and lyricism speaks of a oneness seeking a higher... seeking god, or seeking to unite with god. Wayne does that too, but he celebrates the beauty in human beings. The beauty of love, the beauty of day-to-day stuff... Trane’s beauty came from connecting to a love from above. Wayne’s came from a love within.”

He adds, “It’s no accident that Miles’ two greatest partners in his bands were John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. That’s no accident.” “Wayne is one of the greats. He’s an absolute jazz master, one of the greatest composers in jazz and, in my opinion, in modern music,” says Joshua Redman, one of the great saxophonists of his generation, once removed from Shorter. “There’s something about listening to Wayne’s music and his playing... The notes aren’t just the notes. They get to something else. There’s an emotional resonance that’s beyond the sound and the notes themselves. With Wayne’s music, you get that sense. There’s a visual aspect to his music and a poetic aspect that’s omnipresent. Every note, whether it’s a song he’s writing or a phrase he’s playing on the saxophone, every note has a kind of poetic and visual quality to it... there’s something really transcendent and ‘other’ about every note that he plays and every note that he writes. That’s kind of the ultimate in jazz.”

explanation veers from music to people. “It hits us in the head ... those tiny things that husbands and wives put under the rug or just ignore. Like large executive boardroom meetings and big political governments and everything. Like, you knock a penny off the table and rolls way under the desk. You have to get down on your knees to get that penny. Or you forget it and say, ‘Hey, that’s just a penny.’ But to me, when the penny falls off the table... Or a cufflink. If you drop it, it always goes into a place where you have to get a broom [to get it out]. That’s nature’s dialogue talking to us about something. It’s talking with us. If we ignore that, stuff that we have to get down on our knees and get together, we’re not able to handle big stuff. Nature is already training us. The natural order of things. The natural disorder of things.” It calls to mind what Michelle Mercer, author of the biography Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter, means when she says Shorter “talks like he plays, in a kind of improvised cosmic poetry” but with “deep thoughts that lead to occasional bursts of insight.”

Shorter is long considered one of the elite composers in the history of American music. To him, music is ever living. “When people say something is finished, that’s like a consensus. That’s just an opinion,” he says As many of the greats Shorter played with over the in his inimitable fashion. “’That’s the end of that song.’ decades, he’s not a teller of specific stories unless an No. The song’s just sitting there. That’s not a law.” His anecdote jumps in his head, and that can occur at any All About Jazz Magazine 19

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Wayne Shorter : Cont

take off the layers and layers of stuff that we have allowed to smother us, or that we have embraced. We hijack ourselves. You look in the mirror and fool yourself, that kind of thing. Or we just believe what the picture is... Not even believe it, just, ‘Let George do it. I’ll follow what the ratings tell me. The ratings tell me about this and about that. The Republicans and Democrats and all that stuff. Instead of trying to find a source of truth or something. The effort to do it goes much father than actually finding it. Because you’re uncovering something about your own originality. Then self-thought kicks in. When you start researching. Asking questions. And really use the computer. Say, ‘Hey, what you hiding, Google?”

juncture. He has influences, but doesn’t look back chronologically at them, “The influence I get is when you walk on the stage—start. What are you going to do? What do you do? That’s the influence. If you’re going to that thing that’s rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed” he says, voice trailing off indicating he has no use for such things. “The whole world is involved with dialoging with the unexpected. You have to learn how to dialog with, negotiate, with the unknown. The only thing you have to rely on is each other, for the first time. Whether you disagree with each other or not. You have to peel off all the B.S. and look at each other for real... It’s painful sometimes. But the pain is only temporary. There’s a constant we have to pursue. Shorter doesn’t lecture. He points out. Discovery is up Not the temporary.” to the individual. So he’s is quick to lighten the mood, When he takes to the stage with his band, “It’s kno- which can involve a quick segue. wing as much as you can, and finding out as much as “We’ll be getting into stuff here, if we keep talking,” you can about what life is. How life operates. That’s he says gleefully. “We’re getting into some snuff. They a hard word, ‘operate....’ It’s really an adventure doing had snuff in 1776. They had some snuff and stuff. this.” The development of that approach, he says, came [chuckles]. Then there was Stuff Smith. I played with from “not just Miles and Trane. Everybody. Beetho- him, you know. In Norway, 1967. Stuff Smith and Don ven. Painters. Rembrandt. Jackson Pollack. Writers. Byas In Molde, Norway, we played together. I played Inventors. Astrophysicists. Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s with Bud Powell. He’s on the record with us, with the director of the Hayden Planetarium now. We have to Jazz Messengers. I think it’s on the Toshiba label. We talk with each other to find out what your neighbor recorded that in 1959 when I joined the Messengers, is about across the street. That’s what we’ve got to do. after I left the Army. That’s what we’ve got to play. It’s not what we learn from Miles Davis or John Coltrane. That narrows it. He talks of another session—a lost recording—that That’s almost like keeping the whole thing in its place. then leads to another revelation. The session was at Jazz doesn’t have a big paintbrush with the word ‘en- a club with Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham and Max Roach, after the great trumpeter Clifford Brown died titlement.’” in a 1956 car crash. Shorter was on leave from the The path of an artist, is “to uncover themselves. To Army and walked into a club in Newark. “They were playing there. Max Roach saw me walk in the club and he waived for me to come up and play. I went home, changed out of my Army clothes, put a suit on, got my horn. I jumped up on the bandstand and they played, at jet propulsion speed, ‘Cherokee.’ There was a guy standing there. He went to school with my brother. His name was Pete Lonesome. What a name. He had a Nagra tape recorder. These writers and everything, they heard about that and they’d say, ‘Where’s the Nagra? You know where it is?’ I don’t know where it is. This was 1957 or ‘58. The recording never surfaced. “When Pete got that recording, he disappeared. Then Nagra went out of business after a while too. He went to Howard University with my brother. [Alan Shorter, who played trumpet and flugelhorn.] They were the lone wolves. Mavericks. These were the guys,” says Shorter. He flashes, “When you asked about Miles and Trane and all that. It’s not that. It’s the guys you grew up with. My All About Jazz Magazine 21

Wayne Shorter : Cont brother. Pete Lonesome. Guys from Newark. Because guys from Newark, New Jersey, were crazy. Miles used to say, ‘You all guys are crazy.’ I said, ‘Look who’s talking.’ Because Miles was out there. He was like a genius. James Moody lived down the street from me. I was in grammar school with his sister, Vivian Moody. But I didn’t know who James was. Then I saw him on stage playing with Dizzy Gillespie’s band when I was 15. I said, ‘What? That’s Vivian’s brother.’ He lived down the street. Walter Davis Jr.—we used to call him Humphrey—was there with his twin brother. They never went to class, but they’d take examinations and get A’s. Humphrey would play piano when Bud Powell couldn’t make it, when they came to Newark.” “This stuff was going on,” he says of his real education. “They had these street-corner philosophers talking stuff all the time at night. What was hip. What was not. ‘Have you ever heard of Charles Christopher Parker?’ I’m like 15. I was not into music at all. I was an art major. ‘Have you heard Miles Dewey Davis? Have you heard of Thelonious Monk?’ And on the radio, all this stuff was going on ... Then I got records from the library. Listening to Dvorak, Stravinsky, Beethoven and all that. I’d keep the records. [chuckles] I didn’t return them on time. And I would read books in the library until they closed. All kinds of stuff. Letters. Beethoven speaks about it being so difficult to write something, that he was actually in pain. He was suffering. They say, ‘This music came from the masters from above.

22 All About Jazz Magazine

It came through them. This was pure genius.’ Beethoven’s like, ‘man, I was struggling.’ He was struggling. “So was Chopin, struggling with playing cafe music. And his teacher said, ‘Hey, Poland’s in trouble, man.’ [chuckles] Let’s get serious. So he played, ‘Dah-dah DAHHHH. [mimics the Chopin phrase.] He said, [to the same phrase] ‘Kiss My ASSSSSSS,” Shorter says, laughing. “But when you write something, it’s not for anyone when you write it. You just hold onto it until somebody wants to record it,” he says, as he did with a piece opera singer Renee Fleming performed, called “Aurora” based on Maya Angelou’s poem, “The Rock Cried Out To Us Today.” “I started it when I was 19, around 1952. Just starting NYU, because I worked for a year before I went to college. I continued it and finished it in 2009, this piece called ‘Aurora.’ She did it with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. You never know. You just do things. There’s no mystery. I figured out how to write music when I was about 16. Little notes. I wrote about 28 arrangements for a dance band. For people to dance to. A lot of them were mambo, Latin stuff. I wanted to have some fun with the rhythm.” He’s been burning ever since those early days in New Jersey. From Art Blakey, his reputation grew. Classic Blue Note recordings, a tenure with Miles Davis and what many call the ultimate in small-group jazz. Founding Weather Report with Joe Zawinul. Working with Santana. Joni Mitchell. Milton Nascimento. pro-

jects with a myriad of greats. Grammys.

was a child, I did childish things...’ and all that stuff. ‘When I was a man, I put away childish things.’ Don’t He adds, “Now it’s time to pull out the stops and do put them all away. Hold on to that jumble marble and those things that were left undone and do all the kinds a couple of those jacks.” of stuff you wanted to do when you were a kid, too. It’s So the band is pushing forward and so, too, is its leanot in a selfish way. It has to happen.” der who has the experience of 80 years, but fondly It has it’s time and its rhythm. Sometimes. art, like lesthinks of himself as having the outlook of a child of 8. sons in life, takes time to unfold. To Shorter, that’s OK. He’s the master who has stood with all the greats. “Like commercial music. Pop songs get too the point. “They’re on stage. There in my thoughts and everyPeople who are raised on pop music—get to the point,” thing. Not just them. Everybody’s in there. Beethoven. he says, that twinkle in his eye. “How about this: In the Mozart. Chopin. Stravinsky. Shostakovitch. Antonio pop or rock world, on stage the artist says to the auCarlos Jobim. Milton Nasciamento. Everybody. It’s dience, ‘Put your hands up in the air. Put your hands endless. They’re all in there. There’s actors in there. over your head. Put your hands together.’ Everybody, John Garfield. When he said, ‘Everybody dies. What automatically, does it. There they are with their hands are you going to do, kill me?’ That movie. Humphrey up. Does anybody see that little possible voice that Bogart, with his ‘My gun is bigger than yours.’ They’they’re missing? The voice that says, after ‘Put your re all in there, man. hands over your People. Paul Robehead...’ the little son. All these peovoice says, ‘Cause ple. And people not this is a stickup.’ even born yet. Put your hands “I don’t like that in the air because word, ‘born.’ People you can’t think for who haven’t emeryourself. You can’t ged. Haven’t emerthink-feel.” ged at this time, but As for his own muthey will emerge. sic, Shorter has My feeling is that toured vigorously everyone emerges for the last couple at the right time for years with his quartet. He has also written music for them to do the mission. Continue the mission. Then strings to go around his quartet. It’s been performed you take a rest. We call that death. Then emerge again with a Czech orchestra now and the BBC orchestra and continue the mission. Or discover it for the first in London. It’s also been played with symphonies in time. What’s the mission? The mission is to eternally Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville and Washington D.C.. unfold. Eternally, as a human being. More, more, and Music has also been recorded with his quartet and the more, unending. the ultimate adventure. The answer Orpheus string quartet. It will be released in 2014. to: What is a human being? It’s eternally. What is life? “They actually play without a conductor. The manager Both one and the same. We can see it, touch it and feel of the orchestra does something very eye-opening,” it. We’re all, life and us, occupying the same space at says Shorter. “There’s a conference once or twice a year the same time. And not the same space and not the where all of the companies and front office people get same time—at the same time.” together. They’re looking at the Orpheus, because they Shorter chuckles at his pondering because sometimes, play without a conductor, they’re looking at them like like music from his horn, it surprises even him and they’re mavericks. They’re trying to find out how they brings delight. Shorter’s artistic stance is reminiscent do what they do without having a general, or the pecof the story attributed to noted California artist Hoking order. Conductor and all that stuff. And not folward Ikemoto who, when asked by his young daughlowing the traditional classical, hoity-toity whatever... ter what he did for a living, responded that he worked Everyone has a voice when they rehearse. Everyone at a college and taught people how to draw. After pauhas suggestions. They’re the new thing. They’re doing sing, she said, “You mean they forget?” new stuff. Not only new stuff. Orpheus they play everything. But it’s their openness. the things you should hold on to when you were a child. They say, ‘When I

“Now it’s time to pull out the stops and do those things that were left undone and do all the kinds of stuff you wanted to do when you were a kid, too. It’s not in a selfish way. It has to happen.”

All About Jazz Magazine 23

Wallace Roney His Mission to Record and Perform Wayne Shorter’s Long-Lost “Universe” By R.J. DELUKE

Wayne Shorter is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest composers in the history of jazz, which is the history of American music. His compositions are played by instrumentalists in cramped and crowded nightclubs wherever on earth jazz music is performed. It’s hard to imagine a jazz festival where at least few of his works don’t cascade upon the ears at some point. Vocalists have added lyrics to some of his songs so they, too, can get involved in their interpretation. “He’s an absolute jazz master, one of the greatest com- Roney. “It’s like the Holy Grail of music that was writposers in jazz and, in my opinion, in modern music,” ten specifically for Miles and that band.” says Joshua Redman, who has made his own mark as But Roney met resistance all throughout 2013 and is one of the finest saxophonists of his generation. still baffled at the situation. His goal in 2014 is to get Shorter is prolific. He writes often and in different the music heard more live, and also get into a studio forms. He has pieces of music written many years ago to document it “because the music demands it. That’s that he occasionally gets back to and brings out in important to be said. The music demands it. Not for some fashion. “Finishes” isn’t really a term he prefers. any other goal except that the music demands to be “When people say something is finished, that’s like a recorded and put out there.” consensus,” he says, proudly. “That’s just an opinion. There are five extended pieces, “Legends,” “Universe,” ‘That’s the end of that song.’ No. the song’s just sitting “Twin Dragon,” “Utopia” and “5/4.” Roney struggled there. That’s not a law.” to get opportunities for the music to be played. He had Lately, there is some special music sitting in Shorter’s some rehearsals, but no one was willing to book a pervault that is finding its way out, albeit slowly, to be fi- formance. But in January of 2013 he finally got a channally heard. It’s being done by the extraordinary trum- ce to play publicly at a club called Drom in New York pet player Wallace Roney, who obtained the music in City. “Nobody got paid, because they weren’t paying 2012 from Shorter, his close friend. Until about a year anything,” says Roney. “It was a showcase. Everybody ago, when Roney formed a band that played it in con- came out and there was a buzz all over the place for a cert, all but one piece had never been performed be- moment. Because the music was that great,” but nofore. thing happened. A few months later, in a May conversation, Roney was still scratching his head. “I can’t get These are extended scores for 23 musicians, written nobody. Let me give you a capital N, capital O, capital around 1968 by Shorter specifically for Miles Davis to B, capital O, capital D, capital Y. NOBODY. They’re inplay with his great quintet of that time, Shorter, piaterested when they first hear. But I’ve gotten resistance nist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drumso much it’s incredible. You’ve got to be kidding me. mer Tony Williams at the core. No one wants to hear this? It’s like when I was with “I’ve got to get it out there so people can hear it,” says VSOP and nobody would book us. It’s the same thing.” 24 All About Jazz Magazine

“It’s like the Holy Grail of music that was written specifically for Miles and that band.” —Wallace Roney All About Jazz Magazine 25

Wallace Roney : Cont Roney says the VSOP band that toured as a tribute to Davis in 1991’ with Roney on trumpet along side Williams, Carter, Hancock and Shorter (“the greatest band I ever played in in my entire life. Period”), had trouble getting booked in the United States. In July, Roney was able to get the music into the Jazz Standard in New York City. Trumpeter David Weiss conducted the orchestra, which contained flutes, French and English horns and bassoon, plus violin, clarinet and two bass clarinets along with standard instrumentation.” Man, it levitated,” he says in December. “It felt like the whole room was levitating. It was amazing. After they let us do it, they were supportive of us. They felt it as well.” Still, he notes “We’ve been having a hard time. People are passing on it. The record companies are passing on it. I haven’t given up. I’ve dedicated [2014] to getting this music out there and performed... We’re trying to get it into art houses and concert places. Even some prestigious clubs would be nice too.”

music. Years later Wayne found it. He called me and he said, ‘Look. I’ve got some music here. We never got a chance to do it. I want you to do it. You’re the only person who can do it.’ I said. ‘Thank you, of course.’ You would think a situation like that, the world would be hyped up on this new music that Wayne wrote. Everyone loves Nefertiti and those things from that era... It was for Miles. On the score it has all the instruments plus Miles’ name. And Herbie and Tony and Ron. Ron is playing between the acoustic bass with the band and playing with the string section. [The score] had him doing double duty.” “What makes the music unique,” notes the trumpeter, “is that when Miles usually does stuff like this with music, he’d usually give it to Gil Evans to orchestrate. But this one, the orchestration and the arrangement came from the mind of Wayne Shorter. That’s what makes it really special.”

Shorter recalls the music and that Davis was fond of it. He says one composition was played live. “It was called ‘Legends.’ We played it at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1967. Gary McFarland conducted it. Ray Brown was playing bass. It had English horn and stuff There is one concert slated so far, January 9 at at the like that. And one Hawaiian guitar.” It was a special Poisson Rouge as part of Winter Jazzfest presents concert that day in which Gil Evans’ group played one SummerStage/Charlie Parker Jazzfest Showcase. of his own pieces, also extended, with large ensemble, Roney explains the music was written around the time and another large ensemble played a piece by Ornette the Davis quintet—often referred to as his Second Coleman, according to Shorter. Great Quintet—dispersed “and then Wayne lost the

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“Miles knew” the value of the music, says Shorter. “When we played the music with Miles, before Miles died, [a 1991 concert in Paris that featured Miles alumni like Shorter, Hancock, Williams, Dave Holland, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Steve Grossman and others], he asked me [in dead-on Miles voice:] ‘Hey Wayne.’ Like that. ‘Hey Wayne, you still got that ‘Legends’? You still got the score?’ I said ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Let’s do it.’ He wanted to do it again. He wanted to record it. He’d only played it in Monterrey. He was to record it and get it done, but he died. He was sick when he talked to me about that, then he passed away weeks after.”

“Whatever they feel about me, that’s not the point. This is music that Wayne wrote that was never heard before,” Roney says. “People should understand that the music created for that quintet, that collection of individuals, was special. It didn’t get recorded only due to circumstance, not because it wasn’t amazing. The band started breaking up. That’s all it was.”

The music, when Roney gets a chance to perform it, has his working quartet at the center and himself on trumpet as the main soloist, as the music dictates. “On one piece, there’s a tenor spot that Wayne wrote that the tenor player would play. There’s a lot of beautiful orchestration and writing to weave in with the solos. Regarding the difficulty Roney has experienced, Shor- There’s a lot of creativity up in this music. It’s like Neter says “You see the real face of business and all that fertiti [Davis’s 1967 recording with the Second Great stuff. I wrote the music. Wallace Roney doesn’t have a Quintet on which Shorter wrote four of the six tunes.] track record of all kinds of marketed stuff for 20 years Nefertiti is almost orchestrated. It’s like that... ‘Univerand all that stuff. It’s pretty much the same now, when se’ is amazing. ‘Legends’ is amazing too. All of them you write something extended... In the United States, are.” you’re going to have to do it yourself, get the money. When Joseph Haydn [an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period] wrote 199 pieces, he had a prince who financed him all his life. So that’s what he did daily. That’s not happening now.”

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.” - Charles Mingus

Creative marketing & promotional solutions for the Jazz World All About Jazz Magazine 27

David Weiss

In Celebration of Endangered Species By FIONA ORD-SHRIMPTON

This interview is dedicated to the memory of bassist and friend Dwayne Burno.

David Weiss and his mini big band of jazz chameleons are a ready example of how to concentrate at OCD levels to perfect musical things of beauty that stand the test of time, repeatedly. Many have focused a hell of a lot more than 10,000 hours to cultivate this sound, and some have overcome myriad adversities to present it. Playing the music of Wayne Shorter, in any way other than that of Wayne Shorter might burn a few eyebrows in the tradition, this band knows what it means to be trailblazers and these arrangements are for BIG sounds to highlight Shorter’s music in the 21st century, all in the best possible taste. Weiss stated in his press release, “I consider Wayne to be one of the most important composers in the history of this music and arguably the greatest living composer we have today in jazz. I also thought a composer of such breadth and scope should have an ensemble devoted to re-examining, expounding and expanding his music.”

I recently had the honor of speaking to David Weiss. For me a potentially daunting, cold-start first interview for All About Jazz was made inviting and warm by a free speaking Weiss, here is what he had to say. All About Jazz: It’s been a couple of years since you had an interview on All About Jazz, what’s been happening to lead to this latest release?

Endangered Species is a brass bold statement of David Weiss: I’ve been leading this band since around presence, clearly cut and refined expression with 2004-2005 with no plans to record it. It’s an ambitious the urgency you’d expect to hear from a sense of project that started with six or seven charts, many of extinction. It packs a delicious punch. 28 All About Jazz Magazine

the players (David Weiss: conductor & trumpet; Tim Green: alto sax; Marcus Strickland: tenor & soprano sax; Ravi Coltrane: tenor sax; Norbert Stachel: baritone sax & bass clarinet; Diego Urcola & Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Joe Fiedler & Steve Davis: trombone; Geri Allen: piano; Dwayne Burno: bass, E.J. Strickland: drums.) have been in my other bands, the sextet and octet, so they’ve been through the wars with me.

or what the “concept” of the recording is, just whether the music is fresh, vital and exciting and oh yeah, really good.

How do I match that? I’m still going to do what I do and do it the best I can. Looking at the scene, well the industry I guess, is just taking notice of the world I live in. It A number of things led to this release. Wayne Shorter had a doesn’t effect how I approach my music. concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center and they thought it would be I’m still going to just keep plugging away nice to complement Wayne’s appearance in their concert hall doing what I do. with some sort of band doing his music in the club Dizzy’s Club AAJ: There’s quite a spread of ages from Coca-Cola. They were aware of my project and fortunately, they Point of Departure to The Cookers, what’s wanted me to bring it into the club in conjunction with Wayne’s it like working with such an age range of appearance in the concert hall. Sirius/XM radio always does a live bands? broadcast from the club and records the band and if you like it, they will make the recording available to you if you care to mix it DW: I work across the generations. The and release it. Motema Music, the label I record for, had already Cookers are mostly in their 70’s and we released a few CD’s recorded live from Dizzy’s so they were aware generally play for older audiences but they of the process and was are great audiences willing to give this because they have “Theoretically I don’t think he project a shot. We both been fans for years thought it would be nice and heard these guys (Wayne Shorter) would like this to pay tribute to this back in the day when important composer sort of project and philosophically, they were with Lee and release something Morgan or Max Roach it’s just not where I think he’s in conjunction with his or Art Blakey or Dexter 80th Birthday. Gordon. The Cookers coming from.” are consummate AAJ: Playing devil’s professionals and know advocate—people are how to deliver. They bring it at a very high still rushing off to find hit makers from Israel and Cuba, and that’s level every night and still have the power cool so how do you match that pool? and verve of people half their age. Actually DW: Jazz certainly reaches out to all corners of the world and we people half their age for the most part have musicians from all over the world endeavoring to play this never played at the intensity level these great music now. I think that is a beautiful thing and as a result, a guys played at and still play at now actually. lot of great music with a lot of different perspectives is being heard. It’s been quite an experience for me to try What frustrates me a bit is that this has become an overwhelming to keep up with these guys. marketing tool and now it seems to get any attention out here, The musicians in Point of Departure are in your music has to encompass all these worldly influences or it’s their 20’s and I enjoy their youthful energy. not considered “of the moment.” I know we live in an era where Though the music I play in this group is everything is about publicity and marketing and to get attention, quite different then what I do with The you need a “story” or some sort of narrative to get attention and Cookers, I do want to get to that same one of the easiest ways these days is to be from somewhere else intensity level. The band kind of rocks out and have your music infused with the music of your homeland or a little more and is more groove orientated do music that has a worldly tinge to it. and I think I found the right young guys To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the music itself. I just to go on this journey with me. Point of think music needs to be judged on it’s own merits. Everything Departure is my concept and I’m trying to is about context and not content, and in that world the music get these young guys to do things a certain suffers. Everything needs to be judged on its own merits and if it way but also leave things open enough is excellent music, it’s excellent music. It’s as simple as that. The for them to find their own way and make coverage of this music needs to be all encompassing I think. In their voices heard though this landscape the end, it’s about the music, not where the musicians are from I’m trying to create for them. With The All About Jazz Magazine 29

The Ringers 2014 TOUR


Sunshine Music Festival, Boca Raton Sunshine Music Festival, St. Petersburg Mercy Lounge, Nashville Terminal West, Atlanta Georgia Theatre, Athens WorkPlay Soundstage, Birmingham The Music Farm, Charleston The Fillmore, Charlotte The Grey Eagle, Asheville

30 All About Jazz Magazine

1 4 5 6 7 8 9

The Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh World Cafe Live, Philadelphia The Howard Theatre, Washington BB King’s, New York The Capitol Theatre, Portchester, NY StageOne, Fairfield, CT Str River Street Jazz Cafe, Plains, PA

David Weiss : Cont

impetus but you have to be someone really special to make important music Cookers, the group was my idea but the music has always been without coming to grips with at least some about them, their compositions, their voices as they are some of aspects of what came before. I think there the most important musicians out here now and I just wanted to is some interesting music being made but find a way to make those voices heard in the best possible context. it perhaps lacks the depth of truly great I see a big difference in the personalities of the old greats and the music because to me something is missing. new generations that can be difficult for me to come to terms with It’s an interesting quandary but that’s the sometimes. The older generation is quite humble. I think part of fun part, solve the puzzle.... that comes from “the music will always be bigger then you are” AAJ: To the uninitiated, talk us through edict. They have worked hard to perfect their craft and they are how/what makes Endangered Species: The still working on it, always looking for ways to improve and push Music of Wayne Shorter a new spin on a the music forward. They were around the greatest musicians this grand design? music has ever seen so the bar was raised quite high when they were coming up and they still approach this music as if that bar DW: I never looked at it as a new spin per was still in the stratosphere. They have confidence in their abilities se. I’ve never been a fan of doing someone’s of course but they were around so many amazing musicians that music but by trying so hard to put one’s I think they were never in the habit of wearing that confidence on stamp on it, it becomes more about you their sleeve as it were as there was always someone to knock them and less about the artist you are paying down a peg if they got too cocky. I think they have a stronger homage to. I first got in touch with my sense of self-realization then this generation and that ability to style of arranging music this way when I look at themselves honestly is part of what motivates them to arranged Freddie Hubbard’s music for the octet. always strive to be better. With the New Jazz Composers Octet, I am with my peers and they have worked with me for years and I’ve grown to know what to expect from them. We all came up around the same time listening to the same music for the most part and were influenced by many of the same things. We all had important learning experiences playing in the bands of legendary elders and could bring that experience to the table. As for the younger generation, well, we live in different times it seems and the younger musicians were raised in these times. They have a lot of confidence, which can be a good thing I guess, but they perhaps lack some of that self-realization/self reflection that might help them on their journey a little. Most, of course, also think they know everything even though they have no real experience so you have to be, let’s say, more creative about how you get them to do what you need them to do to play in your band and play your music the way you want it.

First off, Freddie was playing with us and it was his music so my goal was more about enhancement, what could I do to bring out the beauty of this harmony more, how can I embellish this great melody etc etc. If I wrote new sections in the arrangement, they were written with the original melody in mind. I approached this project the same way.

Wayne Shorter is one of the most important composers this music has even seen. My goal was to use these extra horns to bring out the beauty of harmony more and enhance things, and to use this format to help everyone further appreciate the magnitude of Wayne. “Endangered Species” is the first track on the Atlantis There are exceptions of course and that’s why I have rehearsals album, and I think it’s a fitting name to try people out, see how open and flexible they are, how much because there aren’t many left like Wayne knowledge they have and see if they have great capacity for growth. Shorter. There are some young musicians who really want to learn and have an incredible skill set and then there are others who are sure I tried to present a well-rounded program they know what they are doing and are making their own CD’s that shows the diverse aspects of Wayne’s and some don’t even seem to have any interest in doing anything writing career including his time with Art else. It’s a different world out here now than the one I came up in. Blakey, (“Mr.Jin”), Miles Davis (“Fall”) and Weather Report and from his own albums Jazz has quite a history and sometimes that history can choke a including The All Seeing Eye from his Blue musician to death and I see a lot of these young guys trying to Note period and later albums like Alegria divorce themselves from that history entirely in order to come and High Life. Not all of these tunes made up with something new or fresh. I understand that impulse/ it onto the CD, there is only so much All About Jazz Magazine 31

David Weiss : Cont space, but the live presentation includes music from every period of his glorious career. I included one of my tunes in the program (“The Turning Gate”) because a snippet of a melody Wayne wrote (just 6 notes actually) was a jumping off point for me to write this tune.

AAJ: What are your memories of Freddie Hubbard on the bandstand?

DW: Freddie Hubbard was one of the all time greats of this music. Any time you get to spend time with such an important figure who did so much for the music is a blessing. He raised the bar and when you were on stage with him you were quite aware of that and it could be a bit scary being up there with him. In this instance, fear is not a bad thing because it motivates you to get your shit together. You didn’t want to sound bad or unprepared AAJ: Has Wayne Shorter heard you around Freddie Hubbard. He was very serious about this music perform Endangered Species? What would and of course loved it deeply. he say about the album? When I was with him, his chops weren’t what they were and it DW: I don’t think so. I know Wayne is of course frustrated the hell out of him but he loved the music aware of the group and is perhaps flattered and wanted to still be out there playing it. He liked the idea of by the endeavor but Wayne doesn’t look the octet writing arrangements of his music and performing it back, so he might wonder why someone with him. He felt it was a good way for him to still be out here would want to do something like this. on some sort of significant level and I think he appreciated our Then again, he does go back and re- efforts to make that format work for him. It was very intimidating examine and rework some of his earlier to play Freddie’s melodies in front of him and challenging to try compositions but he doesn’t look at it as to play them as musically as he played them and with the same looking back, he looks at his compositions ease. It certainly made me a better trumpeter and musician and as never being finished so there is always he was very supportive, which meant a lot to me. I think he was room to readdress them. So perhaps he very appreciative of what I was able to do for him so he might is open to his tunes being re-examined have tempered his feedback to me about my playing. He could be but perhaps doesn’t think that’s a journey rough at times and that was fine as I knew he could have been a others would/should take with his music. lot rougher. Theoretically I don’t think he would like this sort of project and philosophically, AAJ: In a previous AAJ interview with you there is a Miles Davis it’s just not where I think he’s coming like quote of yours, “You can’t get to a higher place than you’ve from. Hopefully if he heard it, he would been without trying all the time. You can’t really change the world appreciate the musicianship at the very if you’re happy and content ... You have to go for it.” Have you found your optimum level of discomfort to make good music? least. What does that entail? AAJ: If a person had never heard a Wayne Shorter Track, which would you suggest DW: I still agree with the quote, Miles had a point about not they listen to so they can get a deeper getting too comfortable; some of his bands (I’m mostly talking understanding of where you’re coming about the band with Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams here) were so great you can’t really hear when from on this album? they’re fucking up unless you are very familiar with the music and DW: Wayne’s work as a sideman with Art their cueing systems. They were always open to trying new things, Blakey and Miles Davis was trailblazing; always working it out in the moment. Their 90% is still better his sound came out of a certain style, than almost every other bands 100% and that 90% is because they it had a uniqueness to it with a strong tried some things and on that particular night they missed a few melodic sense and a harmonic progression times. But on most nights, taking those risks is what raised that that sounded in the idiom, but always bandstand to some of the highest peaks this music has ever seen. had a twist to it that was challenging and different. My favorite record of his and You have to take risks and not be afraid to fall on your face every what I think is actually one of the best now and again. It’s how to grow as an artist. I think that quote small group records of all time is Speak also might have had something to do with how I look at the No Evil. The All Seeing Eye was also a world today and the people in it including, of course, musicians. very important record to me as was The I think sometimes that people might be just a little too happy Soothsayer. Both these records influenced with themselves and as a result might not push themselves as my own writing for sextet and septet. Of hard as you really have to push yourself if you are going to make a difference as a musician. There is a lot of talent out there but I his later recordings, Atlantis is a favorite. 32 All About Jazz Magazine

All About Jazz Magazine 33

David Weiss : Cont think I also see a lot of contentment and in the long term that can be an issue. I’m glad people are happy and content. I’m glad that’s true for that particular person but I also can’t help but think if someone is really that happy and content that they also might be a bit delusional but that’s just the cynic in me perhaps...

integrate Freddie into this mix in the best way possible to put him in the best possible light. AAJ: How do you go about choosing band personnel? How do you shape the band?

DW: A lot goes into choosing band members especially if your goal is to really have a band and not just have a group of guys accompany you while you do your own thing. The first thing is that person has to be on your wavelength. They have to approach the music the same way you do. You only find this out by playing AAJ: Your ‘as producer’ list is impressive, with them a bit. For all my bands, I have had a few people in mind what was it like producing for Freddie at the beginning (sometimes they were the reason I was putting the band together in the first place) and then I just have rehearsals Hubbard? And Robert Glasper? and invite different people down until I find a combination that DW: The producing thing kind of grew works. out of the transcribing and arranging thing. I was just in the studio a lot and This is not as easy as it used to be as younger musicians think they learned my way around it. I’m always should only do a rehearsal if a gig is involved or something. They curious about these sorts of things and the don’t really know what it takes to be part of a real band or let’s just process involved, so I paid attention when say most of them don’t. I hope that changes because that sort of I was in the room. When you write all the environment is not conducive to changing the world musically. arrangements for a date, you already have That thought process does make it easy for me to eliminate people something to do with the direction of the though because if they are not willing to put the work in, they are album so producing is just the next natural useless to me. step. I think I have a vision about how this music is supposed to go I started producing in earnest when I was recording for Fresh Sound Records and he thought I had good taste in choosing the members of my octet and wanted suggestions as to who else to record. I suggested Jeremy Pelt, Marcus Strickland and Robert Glasper and was also asked to produce the dates. All three of them came into the studio with a clear idea about their music and how it should sound and their conceptions were all very strong. I was just there to help them realize their vision. All three as you know are excellent musicians having wonderful careers and I’m happy/ proud of each of them. I was glad to help in my small way to get them started. That’s how we approached recording for that label. It was to get their feet wet with the recording process and making their first CD and have it be their calling card for their next step. It worked out for all of them.

and each of my projects is a unique vision to me and they all take time to grow into what they are going to grow into. It’s an organic process and it’s what it takes for me to get to what I’m trying to get to. If you don’t hear it or don’t think this is the way to go about it, fine, I’ll get different musicians. When you find the right guys, things just click and you just go on that journey. Of course I think I have good taste but I think the fact that most of these guys have gone on to have significant careers might bear me out a little.

Producing Freddie was just another aspect of what I was already doing with him. He was playing with my band and playing my (and Dwayne Burno’s) arrangements of his music so I knew the music and knew how to make it sound right and how to

AAJ: What about the background of the horns and rhythm section and how they all sit with each other on so many of your projects?

34 All About Jazz Magazine

Dwayne Burno was the penultimate of what I’m talking about here. He was a very creative and supportive musician. On top of that he was well studied and knew pretty much everything about this music so he knew all your reference points and that of course helped him make well informed choices about where to take the music. He could hear where you were coming from in your writing, in your group conception, in everything basically and find a way to make it all better because he had this deep understanding of the music. Musicians like him are invaluable to this music and like most of his ilk, they are usually unsung and under-appreciated. He will be sorely missed by me as he was one of my closet collaborators and a good friend on top of that and losing someone that close to you at such an early age makes the loss all the more profound and painful.

DW: As I said earlier, each band has it’s own personality and it’s own reason for existing. My first band, The New Jazz Composers Octet was more of a collaborative effort. I had done some

word) then the stuff I wrote for the octet and the soloing was more about a theme and variations kind of thing (as a lot of the melodies were in the bass and left hand of the piano and the soloists soloed over said melodies) then a head/solo/head kind of thing but this still had to be combined with a looseness and openness and this was only achieved by having these great musicians interpret the music. We played it enough where the freedom within the structures developed organically and really grew into something, to me at least. I’m really proud of our 2nd CD, The Mirror. After about a ten year hiatus from recording, I just recorded with this band again last month and it was great working with these guys again. I wrote a bunch of new material over the past year or two and it was written specifically for sextet. I toyed with the idea of starting the band anew with just retaining the Strickland’s to see what would develop from having some fresh blood but that idea got no traction and I went with the tried and true.

arranging for octet and I like the possibilities of the 5 horn front line compositionally. I thought this was enough horns to really go someplace compositionally but also small enough where it still had a small group conception and feel. The idea of this group was to give these young writers (Myron Walden, Xavier Davis, Greg Tardy and Dwayne Burno) I believe in so much a vehicle to explore their compositional notions....a chance for them to flex that muscle and have a band (that also included Nasheet Waits and Jimmy Greene) that would make it sound great. They all came through with some amazing music and I still think that was a great band and a great idea. This band started in 1996 and I think we did our last gig in 2009.

Point of Departure came about because frankly as a trumpet player, I didn’t really like soloing over my own tunes. While I liked the tunes I wrote, I found soloing over them a bit too constricting and wanted to form a band that was more a vehicle for my playing and would be a lot more open and experimental while still retaining a certain harmonic sophistication and a band that had a groove. I drew on the music of the late ‘60’s as it was music that had this openness and freshness and I thought it would be a good jumping off point. As with my other bands, I started having rehearsals and trying out guys and after a while, settled on a bunch of promising young players (JD Allen, Nir Felder, Matt Clohesy or Luques Curtis and Jamire Williams) and we began a 6 month residency (in 2006) and developed the material and got a real group sound. We still play at least once a month but the personnel has changed over the last couple of years. I got some new young guys who are great. This band is a lot of fun and I wish it had taken off a bit as I’d love to tour with this group.

The sextet came around for a couple of reasons. First off I was writing a lot because of the octet but I began writing music that didn’t really fit the conception of the octet and was really more suited for three horns, not five. I had also met the Strickland twins (Marcus and E.J.) and heard them play and was very impressed and they also seemed to have a dedication and hunger to play this music. I put the band around them and recruited some of the octet guys and started rehearsing (I think we started in 1999). This music might have been more formal (for want of a better The Cookers are just a dream band to

All About Jazz Magazine 35

36 All About Jazz Magazine

David Weiss : Cont me. I put this band together for different reasons but the approach to finding the right personnel was the same. This band had a few different incarnations before we settled on the personnel we have today. Simply put, Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart are some of the most important jazz musicians alive and it’s just a joy to be on the bandstand with them. It’s also one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had in my life as well and this group has a lot to do with me coming into my own (if I have indeed come into my own) as a musician. Sharing the stage with these guys shows me how high the bar can be raised and has me striving to reach for that peak myself. This is of course an invaluable experience for me. I thought putting all these guys in one band and showcasing their music and really making it a band would help show the world how great these guys are, how important I think they are, and of course just having them play all this great music. These are true giants and my goal in this band was to give them another vehicle to show what masters they were and also to showcase their great compositions in the best possible light.

Strickland. Also The Cookers have some gigs coming up and we are preparing material for our next release. We will record in the next month or two and I believe that CD will be released in September. I’m also working on another amazing Wayne Shorter project with Wallace Roney. Wayne gave Wallace some large ensemble scores for some music he wrote for Miles Davis that were never recorded and with one exception never performed either. These are

amazing large scale works that need to be heard. I helped get the music together and I’m conducting the orchestra. One of my main goals in 2014 is to get this music fully realized and recorded as it is simply one of the heaviest projects I’ve ever been involved with. Unearthing these scores is a major discovery and should be setting the jazz world afire but for some reason, that hasn’t happened yet. I’m fully confident it will soon enough though, it has to.

AAJ: What do you have in the pipeline after this project? DW: As I mentioned earlier, I just recorded a new sextet CD that will be released in May on Motema Music. The band on that recording was Myron Walden, Marcus Strickland, Xavier Davis, Dwayne Burno and E.J. All About Jazz Magazine 37

Artist Interview

Jon Cowherd Mercy, Mercy Me By IAN PATTERSON Photography TODD CHALFANT & CAROLINE RUTLAND There’s more to pianist Jon Cowherd than meets the eye. Best known for his fifteen-year tenure in the Brian Blade Fellowship, with whom he has recorded four outstanding albums, Cowherd has also played and recorded with singers such as Rosanne Cash, Cassandra Wilson, Iggy Pop and Joni Mitchell. Though he’s led his own small groups in New York for years he’s only now stepping out with his recorded debut as leader. The music on Mercy (Self Produced, 2013) was recorded three years ago, but it’s fair to say that the period of gestation was even longer. In fact, in 2001 Cowherd took up classical piano studies that lasted eight years to sharpen his technique with an eye to recording his own material. He knew that he’d be ready when the music presented itself. Mercy is a highly impressive debut, hardly surprising given the company Cowherd keeps on the recording: drummer Brian Blade, double bassist John Patitucci and guitarist Bill Frisell bring all their considerable resources to the table and play as if it was there was no tomorrow. 38 All About Jazz Magazine

All About Jazz:It’s taken a long time for you to step out as a recording leader in your own right; when did you first think this was a direction you wanted to take? Jon Cowherd: This record was recorded three years ago. Maybe five years ago I gathered a few tunes that the Fellowship didn’t play but that I played with my own groups around New York. I started to get the itch to do it and started trying to put together a band of guys I’d love to play with. Of course, I’d been playing with Brian [Blade] for many years and I’d been playing with John Patitucci for a few years too, and I’d always wanted to play with Bill Frisell. It took a while to get times when everybody was available. I really waited. I started classical piano lessons about ten years ago because I really wanted to get more technique and control of the piano before I did a solo record. As far as making a record as a leader goes I wanted to be a little more prepared as a player. After I’d taken lessons for a few years I felt more confident to really give it a shot

AAJ: Had the four of you ever had at the composition stage or JC: That actually came from sessiplayed together before the recor- did it just evolve once you were in ons that we did with the Fellowship ding? the studio? for the record Season of Changes (Verve Music Group, 2008) and on JC: We never had. Everyone had JC: Pretty much from the compothe day we were loading out I starplayed with each other in different sition stage. I love that sound of a ted messing around with it. It was situations but never as a group. piano and guitar in unison and a kind of in bad condition so we didlot of the things I wrote were for us n’t try to use it but I thought what AAJ: There are obvious advan- to play together. the heck? Let’s see what it sounds tages in having such jazz heavylike. I started playing and Brian weights on your debut album but AAJ: There’s one odd track, odd had a digital recorder and he came was there ever a temptation to in the context of the album as a running in and held it up. The mics work with less known and less dis- whole, which is the very Frisellian had already been taken down in tinctive musicians, if that makes tune “Seconds”; what was the idea the room. sense? with including this track? JC: It makes sense but it was never the case. I’ve been blessed to know Brian [Blade] since 1988. Even before we had a band if I had a new composition I’d play it for him and we’d play it together, so he was always the drummer I would call. John [Patitucci] and I got to be really good friends and he was always supportive in trying to encourage me to make a record so he was an obvious choice. And because of his years playing alongside Brian with [saxophonist] Wayne Shorter I knew it would be a perfect fit. I never really considered anyone else. AAJ: What was it like working with Frisell in the studio? JC: It was great. He’s so creative and so quick to dial things in. He was intuitive. He knew what I wanted and I think he knew what was best for the music right away. He understood the music. He was so easy to work with. He’s a great guy and so humble. A piano and guitar, two chordal instruments can clash sometimes but his ears are so attuned. He’s so sensitive as a musician. I felt like we played together really well. AAJ: From the first notes of “Columns” and throughout the album you and Frisell are in very close unison on the heads and melodic motifs; was this an idea that you All About Jazz Magazine 39

Jon Cowherd : Cont He and Tucker Martin, who was the engineer on that session and a really creative genius in his own right, they took those mellotron recordings and made these little loops. Brian sent me a CD of it and said here’s some stuff you might want to use. There were more of them but that one seemed like the best one.

AAJ: You were musical director, along with Brian Blade for the Joni Mitchell tribute concert—”Joni: A Portrait in Song”—in Massey Hall,Toronto, which seemed like an amazing event; can you tell us

AAJ: Was there a time when you thought about making Mercy more experimental along the lines of “Seconds”? JC: Yeah, I was thinking of making it more of a mix, with some experimental electronic things. In the end I decided not to use more of the mellotron stuff. AAJ: You’ve played with a quite diverse range of singers, like country singer Rosanne Cash, jazz singer Cassandra Wilson and even rocker Iggy Pop; were you tempted at all to have a singer on Mercy? JC: Not this record. I’d love to make another record with a singer or maybe a line-up of singers. I’ve been really fortunate to work with some great singers and I would love to do a record of originals—maybe get together with four or five singers and co-write songs. I’m not a real lyricist but I love songwriting so I need someone to collaborate with to write the words. AAJ: What singers could you envisage singing to your music? JC: I have a few in mind but I’d have to speak to them.

about that project and that evening in particular? JC: It was an amazing week. We had done a tribute to her, or rather a tribute to a period of hers where she used a lot of jazz musicians on her records. We had done this in L.A. but she wasn’t able to make that as her father was turning 100 the same week. The excitement was that she was going to turn up to the one in Toronto so we expanded it to included music from her earlier records. She was involved in the rehearsals a little bit. She hung out a bit and she was going to do one poem that she had written. She was going to recite it with some jazz improv. We’d just do some free improv behind her. Well, one of the singers got laryngitis and had to drop out the day before the show. We said, Joni, we have four arrangements of yours that we have no singer for; do you want to try it? She said, yeah, let’s try it. She ended up singing three extra

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songs each night. That was a dream come true for me. I’d met her before and she’d sung on a Fellowship record [Perceptual (Blue Note Records, 2000)] and hung out but I’d never played her music with her so that was an amazing time. The audience at the Luminato Festival was just shocked and so excited when she started singing. They didn’t know that was going to happen so it was just a great night. There was electricity in the room; it was just amazing. AAJ: There’s a short clip on Youtube, which somebody recorded on a camera for a couple of minutes of “Furry Sings the Blues” before being clobbered by the security but it shows that Mitchell at 70 still has it. She sounds great. JC: Yeah, she does. She was concentrating on painting for a long time and not singing and I think she was putting her toe in the water a little bit those nights. She really enjoyed it and I’m hoping we’re going to do it some more. AAJ: Working so closely with Joni’s music that week, did you learn anything new about her music? JC: I did. Transcribing some of the tunes and writing out the arrangements I got a little more insight into the marriage of her music and lyrics and how thoughtful it is. The tones kind of paint with the words. AAJ: You’ve worked with Cassandra Wilson for a couple of years and it’s always struck me that there’s a little bit of Joni Mitchell in her singing; do you sense that?

JC: Yeah, I do. She has that same ability to really deliver a lyric with emotion. You really get a sense of the song. With Joni, I think she’s almost like a jazz singer. Joni has a freedom in her singing that’s like jazz. AAJ: Coming back to your own CD, Mercy, the three-part “Mercy Suite” is particularly striking, yet there’s a great continuity to the music as a whole on the CD, with the exception of “Seconds”; did you think about doing a longer suite?

suite-like. I wanted the music to to graft to make it make sense. Maybe it’s 50-50. sound like it’s a story. AAJ: The melodies on Mercy Wind are very strong and it’s always surprising to think that nobody has ever thought of that melody before; is the creative process a mystery to you or is it 90% hard graft and 10% inspiration?

JC: it’s more of a mystery in a way. Some of those things were kind of improvised. The melody at the end of “Mercy Wind” was totally improvised and I wrote the tune JC: No, not really. I wasn’t even around that. I tend to write tunes planning to write that suite but I from the back to the front. I often had a piece of music called “Mercy write things that sound like the Wind’ and I thought it didn’t feel end of something or the last secticomplete. It felt like part of someon and then I try to write a melody thing. I started writing some other that’s related and that would come things and realized how connected before. they were to “Mercy Wind. That I know that sounds really odd but gave me the idea to write a suite. that’s what happened on the third I like a record to have continuity movement of the suite. It is a myslike that. People have said of Pertery in that ideas tend to drop out ceptual that the whole record is of the sky sometimes. Then I have

AAJ: Brian Blade, as always, plays beautifully throughout, especially on “Baltica” and “Newsong.” You probably know him as well as anybody; what does he bring to any musical setting? JC: Firstly, he brings an immediacy, an in-the-moment feeling like this might be the last time we ever play and I’m going to give it all. He’s been that way ever since I’ve known him. He’s very respectful of people’s compositional ideas. He’s really a team player as a drummer, and a leader. Drummers have a lot of control in terms of the dynamics and he’s so intuitive in that sense. He knows what a song should be. He’s not someone who just plays a groove through the whole song. He really makes a composition sparkle. [guitarist] Peter Bernstein once said that playing with Brian is like Christmas every time—he just keeps giving you gifts.

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Jon Cowherd : Cont AAJ: Live with the Mercy Project you usually play with Blade, Patitucci and [guitarist] Steve Cardenas but I saw on your gig list that you played the Mercy Project with guitarist Mike Moreno, trumpeter Matt Penman and drummer Rudy Royston at Dizzy’s Club in the Lincoln Centre; was that a one-off line-up? JC: It kind of was. WGBO, the local radio station approached me. They’ve been doing these monthly shows where they feature someone who’s putting out a record and they said “We know you have Mercy coming out and we’d like to give you this night.” It was a great chance to get some exposure and play. Brian, John and Steve are really busy doing other things so I knew it was important to have another band. I’ve been playing with Mike [Moreno] a lot. I hadn’t played with Matt [Penman] in a while but I love his playing. I’d been playing with Rudy [Royston] in different situations. They did a live broadcast on the Jazz at Lincoln Centre website and WGBO streamed the concert for a week to give people a chance to

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check it out. I’m hoping to get out JC: Some of it is music we’ve been there and play more, not mattering playing for a couple of years. Most who the sidemen are necessarily. of it is Brian’s compositions. A lot of the songs are personal to BriAAJ: A singer you work a lot with is an. We do a cover of “ShenandoRosanne Cash; some would describe ah,” the folk song. We captured her as a country singer; how do you some really great moments with see her? the band and that’s hard to do in JC: It’s definitely not just country. the studio. We recorded it down in She knows so much music and Brian’s brother’s new studio down really loves punk music and rock in Shreveport and I guess because music, R&B and soul. I can hear we weren’t in a New York studio it that in her singing and her writing. felt very relaxed. The tunes are reShe’s inspired by so many things. ally strong and I’m excited about it. Her husband John Leventhal is AAJ: Neither in the Fellowship nor also a well known pop producer. with your own bands do you play They’re really into roots music, the jazz standards; do you think that blues and early rock ‘n’ roll. John maybe they’re beginning to sound can imitate the sound of all these their age? guitar players. He knows all the musicians on all the records. He’s JC: I like to arrange standards for like an encyclopedia and it’s been singers but if I’m going to create a great to be around him. I’ve lear- statement as a player then I want ned a lot and heard a lot of great to write my own music. I have nostories. They’re great musicians thing against standards, as long and good people. as it’s played sincerely. And they can be played in any style. I like it AAJ: There’s a new Fellowship alwhen people play a standard and bum coming out next year; can you it sounds as if they’ve checked out tell us a little about the music we the lyrics. can expect to hear?

It’s rare that I play standards but I did a gig the other night where we were just calling tunes and it felt really refreshing. In a jam the other day someone requested a really old song called “I Don’t Want to set the World on Fire,” which is an amazing tune. In a lot of ways they don’t write them like they used to and I love that about standards. AAJ: There seems to be an ever-growing number of musicians from all nationalities going to New York and to Boston to play and to study; do you think New York is becoming more open to jazz musicians from other countries? JC: That’s an interesting question. It definitely is open. I don’t know if that’s a new thing. Maybe jazz is becoming more popular in other countries. I know a lot of musicians from all over the place and they’re down at Smalls [Jazz Club] I think musicians are always open to other musicians if they can play and it doesn’t really matter where they’re from.

jazz from Europe, Australia or South Korea?

JC: I would love to make another record but I’ve been sort of putting off writing. I’ve been traveling a lot, JC: Yeah, I think so. I’m learning so I haven’t had a lot of time. I’m more and more about other bands going to take some time off around and musicians. There are more Euthe holidays to go to my parents’ ropean labels now than there used house in Kentucky. They’re both to be. I think it’s grown a lot. musicians and they have a nice Yamaha Grand Piano and I get inspiAAJ: Is the old distinction between red when I play it. I’ll spend a few American jazz and European jazz days there just to try to write. for example as strong as always or do you see a change in the way peo- I also want to tour a lot with one of the Mercy bands. I also want to ple view the music? write some new things for the FelJC: I think the lines are blurring lowship. We’ve got a week at the with the younger players, for sure. The Village Vanguard coming up It’s definitely becoming more like and I vowed I would write somea One World sort of music. I love thing new to bring in so I’ve got to hearing all these cultural influendo that in the next few weeks. Theces. But I think that study of the re’s a lot going on and I’m pretty tradition is important. I hear piaexcited about it all. no players from Israel and they’ve really checked out bebop and [stride pianist] James P. Johnson and [composer Bela] Bartok and [singer/pianist] {{Ray Charles}] and all of that is important, even if you bring your own identity and your culture to it too.

AAJ: Is there a growing awareness AAJ: What are your up-and-coming in America about contemporary plans?

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Tony Whyton What Does Jazz Do For You? The first installment of interviews with leading jazz academics as part of All About Jazz’s new Rethinking Jazz Cultures series begins with Professor Tony Whyton, Director of the Salford Music Research Centre at the University of Salford.



herever you stand on what constitutes jazz music, jazz history and its great historical figures/landmark recordings, Tony Whyton invites you to think again. Whatever your views on jazz criticism, literature and photography, Whyton might just make you see things in a new light.

Since 2010 he has worked as Project Leader for the HERA-funded research project Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities, whose mission has been to rethink notions of jazz identities and jazz’s various social roles. The Rhythm Changes: Rethinking Jazz Cultures conference in Salford, Manchester in April 2013 brought together more than 100 jazz academics from around the world who presented papers on a diverse range of jazz-related topics. These papers set out to challenge ideas about jazz that have perhaps become set in stone, and to shed light into corners of jazz histories that have long been overlooked, or whose importance has been downplayed.

If you think jazz academia is bunk Whyton would like to engage with you, because it’s The Rhythm Changes body led by Whyton invite precisely the rethinking of jazz cultures that us to reject binary ways of thinking American jazz versus the European model, jazz as poplar music or motivates Whyton. jazz as an art form, improvised or composed music Whyton is the author of Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths and think about jazz in new, broader minded and And The Jazz Tradition (Cambridge University Press, more enquiring ways. For Whyton, the way we think 2010) and Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane about jazz should be just as colorful, provocative and And The Legacy Of An Album (Oxford University paradoxical as the music itself. Press, 2013) two of the most thought-provoking books on jazz to have been published in recent times. He also co-edits the Jazz Research Journal. 44 All About Jazz Magazine

All About Jazz: What was the genesis of the Rhythm Changes project? Tony Whyton: In 2009, a call was sent out by the Humanities in European Research Area (HERA) for applications to look at issues of cultural dynamics in Europe. It was under a theme entitled “Cultural Dynamics: Inheritance and Identity” and it was really asking questions about how Europe has transformed and developed over time and about people’s relationship to place and nation. I thought, hey, this is perfect for jazz; jazz is an ideal music through which to think about identity, the exchange and the movement of culture, the flow of ideas and relationship between music and nationhood.

TW: There are thirteen people now. Five countries are represented and each country has a leader—or Principal Investigator—who has assembled additional researchers. It was a two-stage process; we put in an outline proposal which laid out some initial ideas and partners and, following feedback from the HERA Board we thought we could strengthen this team by going to additional researchers in different institutions. We had five institutions to begin with and then we brought in an additional researcher from Birmingham City University, Andrew Dubber, who’s a new media specialist, and then Nick Geb-

sidering how jazz works and how it has developed in different national settings and also how it works across national boundaries. Basically, the project looks at issues of inheritance and identity and the way jazz relates to nation and how it transcends nation, and moves across borders.

Beyond this general outline, it’s difficult to sum up because it was divided up into four distinct work-packages, though they are all related to each other. The first work-package examined the canonicity of jazz, how jazz is valued in each of the five countries, how it’s developed over time and what cultural status it has. The second strand was about how jazz can be used as a sort of trans-national language—how it moves across borders and how it challenges traditional conceptions of high art or popular music and so on. It was really about communities in flux and how the boundaries of jazz shift in different settings. The third work-package was jazz and its relation to nationhood, so specifically we were looking at conceptions of Dutch jazz, or the Nordic sound understanding how jazz plays a part in national mythologies or the hardt up at Lancaster. The thirteen construction of nation. includes three PHD students who The final strand was about sociare part of the team. al ambience; how jazz contributes AAJ: I know it’s not easy, but could to particular scenes but also how you try, in a nutshell, to outline it might be used for cultural touthe aims of the three-year Rhythm rism or as a marker of civic pride. Why do European towns and cities Changes project? have jazz festivals? What does it TW: Rhythm Changes looks at the say about a particular place? How cultural practices of jazz in diffedoes jazz make people reflect on rent European settings and looks their own place and think about it at a number of questions about differently? the music and its relationship to European cultural life. We’re con- So, the four work packages are in-

“I think we’ve struck upon a key moment in the development in jazz, where almost every single country has a national jazz agency. A lot of people are interested in writing their own histories of jazz in their particular nation” - Tony Whyton

A lot of questions in the call were about how culture relates to specific issues of national identity and how it moves beyond borders. That was the thrust of it. The call was open to all the humanities and I thought jazz was the perfect vehicle to explore some of these questions. So that was the genesis really, though it goes further back than that with the work I’d been doing on my Jazz Icons... book, which was very much about thinking in new ways about jazz. Rather than telling the history of jazz in a very restricted sense, I was thinking about how jazz has infiltrated different scenes and flowed into different countries and in different contexts.

AAJ: We’ll be exploring a lot of the salient themes but can I first ask how big is the Rhythm Changes team?

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Tony Whyton : What Does Jazz Do For You? - Cont ter-related but very distinct. As the project has progressed, the work-packages have become more and more blurred so we’ll tend to talk about national identity within festival settings, or describe the background of the music as a way of thinking about trans-national jazz, and so on. It was sensible to do that at the start [divide into four parts] but as it’s gone on the view

falling into the age-old distinctions between America versus Europe, or the idea that there is such a thing as British jazz, without acknowledging the fact that jazz works across borders. It’s not about America and it’s not about Europe, it’s about sidestepping these issues and trying to talk about jazz in a different way. AAJ: Jazz music has evolved conti-

thinking that jazz criticism has probably been suited to the development of the music at each particular stage. It’s an interesting field of research in itself, to think how, historically, critics have commented on music and perceived jazz at a particular time. You might think about French writers who would talk about New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz and really fetishize black American musicians, and so on, and how criticism is very much a reflection of the values that are held at the time. I think jazz criticism is a fascinating area of study in its own right. What I was trying to do with Jazz Icons... was to think about agendas and to illustrate the fact that there’s always an agenda with everything we write. I have an agenda and you have an agenda and it’s more about how we make those things explicit, and identify that. This is why, when you look back at the development of jazz criticism over the last one hundred years, it’s fascinating to see how agendas have changed, or how there are common threads and similar attitudes being promoted but, at the same time, the language changes or the methods have changed. It’s about getting beneath the surface to see what’s motivating people to write about jazz in these ways.

has become much more holistic. Essentially, in a more overarching sense, I would suggest that Rhythm Changes has been about thinking about jazz in a different way. How can we approach jazz without 46 All About Jazz Magazine

nuously over the course of its 100 + years; would you say that jazz criticism has failed to develop to the same degree? TW: Oh man, that’s a good question [laughs]. There’s part of me

Since the 1990s, we talk about the new jazz studies—people don’t like the term now because it’s not new anymore. It’s 25 years ago [laughs]. But you could say that that’s one of the things new jazz studies is about is trying to make the agendas more explicit, or to identify them in writings about jazz. It’s difficult, thinking about whether it’s developed the degree of complexity and sophistication that the music has. I suppose the musicians would always say no. I always think

back to [John] Coltrane and writers like Frank Kofsky and [Amiri] Baraka saying that the white critics of Downbeat misunderstood the music and that they were always two or three steps behind. I think a lot of those criticisms were about having different agendas—white critics who don’t understand black music, and so on.

events. I think we’ve struck upon a key moment in the development in jazz, where almost every single country has a national jazz agency. A lot of people are interested in writing their own histories of jazz in their particular nation. There has been so much research just in the last 10 or 15 years, even at postgraduate level. The conference in Amsterdam was about jazz and national identity and it just seemed incredibly timely. We were inundated with applications for it and we had to limit our numbers because we only had a certain number of rooms available.

AAJ: It’s certainly a subject worth thinking about. Tony, the first Rhythm Changes conference was in Amsterdam in 2011 and the last one in Salford, Manchester in April 2013; have you observed much growth in the level of interest in the project’s work since its I think we had 70 presentations inception in 2010? from more than twenty countries. When we organized the Salford TW: Oh, absolutely. That’s been conference this year there was not one of the most rewarding featuonly that body of interest and conres of the project. I think one of tacts from Amsterdam but a whole the worries at the beginning was charge of new researchers interethat we had this massive European sted in attending. We had Rethingrant between seven institutions in king Jazz Cultures as the theme, five countries and but we wanted to which was perhaps more fluid and broaden the scope and make sure open. There were about 100 preeverybody benefited from it and sentations or panelists, again from felt they could play a part. We had about 22 countries. a year of field work but also advocacy, going to different conferen- I used to run the international jazz ces and drumming up interest and conference when I was at the Leeds then followed this up with our own College of Music. It was an annual

conference and we used to claim that it was one of the largest and you’d really only get between 30 to fifty papers at that time. Whereas in Salford it was three or four times that amount. And it’s not just about the conference; it’s also about getting a sense of how much work is going on in jazz, not only in terms of scholarship but also in terms of interest in research amongst professionals. For me, that was the key for me of the Salford conference— the amount of musicians who were present and interested in research or active in research, as well as promoters and record companies. Rethinking Jazz Cultures was not just an academic concern, it was suddenly about only rethinking traditional relationships; not only about America and Europe and so on, but also about rethinking the relationship between academic and professional life. The conference encouraged us to ask whether these old distinctions were still viable, and we certainly came away feeling that we have an opportunity to challenge age old ways of working and to rewrite our understanding of research. We put in a proposal to Routledge,

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Tony Whyton : What Does Jazz Do For You? - Cont the internationally renowned publisher, to develop a new series that’s based around the project and the ideas coming out of the conferences—so basically trans-national studies in jazz—and they came back and said yes. For me, this is a sign that the field has developed and grown on the back of the project these last three years and, through the growth in events and publications, there’s an understanding of this. The project has been cited elsewhere at public conferences, and so on. For example, I heard that the acclaimed popular music scholar Simon Frith, noted the development and growth in work on jazz studies at the recent International Association for the

do you think the visual representation of jazz icons helps to perpetuate stereotypes, and for you what are the dominant stereotypes? TW: Well, we’re kidding ourselves if we think that jazz exists purely as a sonic form. All music exists within culture and there is an explicit relationship between the sounds we hear and the writings about jazz, the visual imagery, and so on. As we found with Rhythm Changes too in the study of European jazz there’s all sorts of language that people use; the way people present images of landscapes or whatever it might be, they are encouraging a relationship between what we see and what we read and

the book together, I had a conversation with a few photographers and we talked about this where quite often they might say ‘I go to gigs and all I do is document what I see. I’m a documentary photographer and that’s it. You’re getting an accurate representation of what I saw.’ And I’ll say, ‘Well, why are you printing in black and white? We don’t see the world in black and white. You are framing things.’ Photography, as with music, is offering a frame, and in that sense it is a construct. You are creating an idealized view of something. Whether that is good or bad is up for discussion but I think that when we talk about jazz we have to realize that it

“Well, we’re kidding ourselves if we think that jazz exists purely as a sonic form. All music exists within culture and there is an explicit relationship between the sounds we hear and the writings about jazz, the visual imagery, and so on.” Study of Popular Music Conference in Spain. I’m not taking the credit for this; I just think it’s symptomatic of the times we’re in. Rhythm Changes is significant; it’s the largest project that has ever been funded in Europe for jazz research so with that in mind I’m pleased that it’s helped encourage more people to write about jazz and think about it critically.

what we hear. From a stereotypical point of view this might be everything from thinking about jazz as a vehicle for reaching spiritual heights or a means of escape. Think about those reflective shots of [John] Coltrane or you think of the stained glass windows of the iconic Church of John Coltrane, or ECM and its album covers, showing photographs of the fjords, and so on, they encourage an identification that goes beyond the purely sonic. At the end of the day this happens with all music, it’s not just with jazz. However, jazz works particularly well visually. In my book, I drew reference to Blue Note covers from the 1950s, which were particularly beautiful, well constructed and stylized.

does feed into all these other areas; the language we use to describe it, the visual imagery.

I actually think we’re doing jazz a disservice, if we just think about it as a purely sonic form. My latest book, Beyond A Love Supreme: John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album builds on a lot on the Jazz Icons... material actually, but I talk specifically about the legacy of Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) and beyond. Part of the AAJ: That’s great news on the pudiscussion is about how an album blishing side, so congratulations. can mean so much more to people We’ll look forward to see what than just the sound they hear and emerges. Coming to your own how recording can play a part in book, Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths changing people’s view of the worand the Jazz Tradition you look ld. Maybe even change their view at jazz’s iconic figures through a of history itself. If people say ‘oh, number of different prisms, one we just need to focus on the muof which is the visual representaI think quite often about this and sic’ then we’re doing the music a tion through album covers, photographs and films; to what degree again it’s about agendas. In putting disservice in terms of what value it 48 All About Jazz Magazine

also contemporary, so maybe there’s something in it about standing the test of time; it also creates an other-worldly feeling.

Floyd Blake, a non-jazz photographer taking jazz-related photographs; what was the aim behind that exhibition?

I remember an interesting article about the artist Madonna and her use of sepia photography when adopting a child from African orphanage. The study explored how black and white and sepia TW: I think that iconic jazz pho- imagery encourages warmth and tography has had a profound in- affection, a degree of endearment, fluence on the representation of and invites us to trust the image. music. There’s also something in So, when related to jazz, we can black and white photography that understand that there are a whomaybe mirrors the changing cul- le host of different visual markers tural status of jazz too. For exam- and value systems underpinning ple, black and white photography a lot of these things that makes us is typically linked to more artistic think about the music in certain pursuits, rather than the amateur ways. Or at least they can encouraphotographer or the everyday pho- ge us to think in certain ways. tographer, so it takes photography into the art realm, doesn’t it? There AAJ: The opening night of the Rhyare other things going on; it sort of thm Changes Conference in Manmakes jazz feel timeless. Black and chester in April at the Cube gallewhite can seem historical but it’s ry featured the exhibition of Paul

TW: That was part of the response to the idea about rethinking jazz because we felt that the visual imagery of jazz had become so stylized. We wanted to commission a photographer with a national reputation who could look at jazz through a different lens. I had seen Floyd Blake’s work before; Paul had won the National Portrait Photography Prize a few years ago, I think it was for his photo of an aspiring Paralympic athlete, and he is also renowned for his portraiture and studies of place. Paul’s work concerns issues to do with identity but there’s maybe also a slightly subversive aspect to it that takes a non-conventional view of things.

actually has for people. AAJ: Picking up your point about photography, it seems that much jazz photography shot in black and white wants to imitate the iconic photos of Herman Leonard? Do you think such photographers are bound by the same straightjacket as the linear jazz historians?

We thought it would be really refreshing to see what someone like this would do in a jazz setting. All About Jazz Magazine 49

Tony Whyton : What Does Jazz Do For You? - Cont It was a big challenge for him to think ‘how do I go against this history of the great jazz photography? How am I going to respond to that in a creative way?’ There’s always that feeling of the weight of tradition and we had a number of early conversations where I encouraged Paul to develop his own approach. In many ways it’s similar to the ways musicians feel, who have the weight of these tremendous jazz icons on their shoulders. As musicians know, it’s sometimes difficult to perform creatively against that weight of history.

tion together but we were limited in our budget and had to send him to three festivals where he had a couple of days at each festival— therefore, there was a limited window to get these images. It was a challenge for him but I thought the results were absolutely stunning. Out of a collection of thirty there were at least six images that were truly remarkable.

It was an ambitious project. Paul said that normally he would be developing material over a year or two in order to put an exhibi-

AAJ: You touched upon the weight of history that jazz musicians feel and in Coltrane the deification of jazz icons. I know you were discus-

As a whole, the exhibition did make you think about jazz in a different way; everything from the contained nature of the North Sea Jazz Festival with images of This is one of the things we talked bouncers and a receptionist to the about, trying to resist the stereoty- Copenhagen Jazz Festival, where pes having no black and white. We music is happening absolutely evedidn’t necessarily want any shots rywhere—the exhibition included of musicians or smoky rooms. We a shot of a musician turning up on wanted to think about the role jazz a bike with a tuba as well as people has in particular places, so rather dancing in the street. It was a good than focus on the individual we exercise to think about jazz visually think about settings and the idea and about how jazz moves beyond of social ambience. What does jazz just the stage or just the recording mean in particular settings? How and infiltrates everyday life. Those does it feel? were really the aims behind it.

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sing the themes of reverence and homage with Django Bates and Beloved in West Yorkshire recently; what was his take on this? TW: That was fascinating. I was really privileged to have that opportunity and Django was really great and pleased to have a discussion, which made me wonder just how often musicians get the chance to talk about these issues because they’re usually so busy playing. I thought there was a genuine enjoyment on both sides that we could have this kind of conversation. Django’s initial feeling was that there’s a difference between loving artists and revering them, and I think that’s a really good point. For me, Coltrane was the one figure who really got me into jazz so if I write a book about Coltrane that talks about underlying agendas it doesn’t mean I love Coltrane any less, it’s actually the contrary. I write about things I’m passionate about. I finished the Jazz Icons... book with a chapter on jazz education and part of the theory was that we don’t ignore the great figures of the past but that we have to find ways of drawing on their material critically and creatively. I talk about a discursive approach, so jazz education is not a one-shoefits-all and avoids promoting a prescribed way of playing repertoire. Maybe, instead of agreeing on the great works of the past, we can look at the problematic areas of the careers of jazz icons—where people have disagreed—and draw on these examples for inspiration. For me, the talk with Django and his subsequent performance was a fantastic example of that the idea of taking on board [Charlie] Parker’s music but not dealing with in a typical way by playing bebop changes, head solo or trading fours, or

whatever it might well be. Django just picks up on aspects of Parker’s music but almost reignites it with a sense of risk and danger. One of my questions to Django was about how we often talk about cultural influence as a one-way channel, the idea that one artist influences the next generation and so forth. But actually, culture isn’t that straightforward. Actually, what happens today can make us reflect back and change history and the way we think about the past. I said to Django, how can your music be used to rethink Parker and his legacy? How would people have heard Parker in the 1940s? There’s an element of risk and danger, parody, his references to popular music, but there’s also sophistication to it. There are so many parallels between a figure like Django Bates and Charlie Parker. That’s why it’s such a perfect fit in a way, but it’s not dealt with in such reverential terms that he can’t play with the music and joke with it or add his own voice to it. There’s a subtle line between the end of reverence and the beginning of creativity. AAJ: Another theme that appears in your book Jazz Icons... is that the influence of jazz icons actually appears to be growing; can you expand on this idea, please? TW: This is the danger, that jazz becomes historicized. Trying to create an official history, or canon, to rival classical music in a way, is inevitable I suppose. In order for jazz to be seen as this historicized

art form we need great figures of the past to hang our history on. On the one hand that works, in terms of jazz securing arts funding and/ or justifying its status culturally. But on the other hand this has its dangers, because you see the complexities of the history and the collaborations being entered into and any sense of contradiction is often downplayed or ignored. I can understand this because, on the one hand, we have the growth of national jazz agencies where jazz is celebrated as part of the tradition of ‘high culture.’ But the more historicized it becomes the more

important it is for different constituencies to say, okay, we can agree on a common history and, therefore, a dominant narrative emerges. It’s the same with Coltrane. He has become a kind of symbol for a specific way of thinking about the world, a figure of African-American renewal, of liberation and so on. And that’s fine, but there are also other ways that icons of the past operated, and there might be values that they stood for that we’re not always identifying, celebrating

or exploring, and that might be something like a positive relationship to popular music, for example. It comes as a shock when I see ageold binaries still being perpetuated in jazz, like the music is not commercial it’s art music, it’s not about selling out. Those kinds of distinctions don’t really occur. We talked about Charlie Parker; Brian Priestley has written a lot about the influence of popular music and popular culture on Charlie Parker and the same thing goes for figures like Coltrane or [Duke] Ellington, and several other major jazz figures. Quite often, however, the influence of popular culture is either downplayed or ridiculed. If you think about Miles [Davis]’ music from the 1970s onwards— it’s seen as different. Why is that? Stylistically it changes because it’s opening out and trying to reach a larger audience. AAJ: Do you think that the propagation of the jazz canon through jazz programs such as trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’s Essentially Ellington schools project, and increasing numbers of jazz colleges is a reaction to the diversification of jazz, the weakening of its once readily identifiable traits? Is it nostalgia for a bygone era, or belief in a Golden Age? TW: I think it’s all of those things. In institutional or educational settings I think it’s a question almost of an adoption of tried and tested systems. Music has a long-established history in universities and there’s a certain way of doing things, so All About Jazz Magazine 51

Tony Whyton : What Does Jazz Do For You? - Cont it’s going to be much more difficult for jazz if it wants to get a foothold in those institutions to say, oh, this music is different, it’s much more complicated because it straddles all of these different things. It’s much more straightforward to say jazz is the equivalent of classical music. We have our great figures of the past, we have our repertoire that we can study and our books

and our canon of great works, and so on. I think that’s about the cultural aspirations of jazz and the people that champion it and try to give the music a foothold in society. This is perhaps the most straightforward means of doing it, or maybe the only means of doing 52 All About Jazz Magazine

it justifying the music through this ready-agreed infrastructure for justifying cultural activities.

narratives of 20th century jazz; could you explain the link as you see it, please?

So, it’s almost inevitable that a jazz canon would emerge within these sorts of settings, but now that it has established itself I think we have to take it upon ourselves to interrogate and question it and, as I say, identify underlying agendas and be aware of them. I don’t think there’s any avoiding canonization, it’s just about how we react to it and how we use the canon.

TW:Enter the album name here It was thinking about the sort of language that people use, the paradigms that we buy into and the mythologies that shape the discussion of music this could be as simple as writers talking about jazz musicians as gunslingers. I always think of that Sonny Rollins cover on Way Out West (Contemporary, 1957)

I don’t have a problem with celebrating great figures of the past [laughs] or celebrating masterworks because there is a lot of fantastic music and lots of inspirational characters. But our interpretation has become limited. This is where I have a problem with narratives that are controlled, or where we don’t hear the whole story. But it’s really about how jazz feeds into larger discourses around everything from masculinity to the idea about American expansion, freedom and progress. AAJ: Another of the themes in Jazz Icons... is the comparison you draw between narratives of the 19th century American West and

I was talking about the rhetoric that people use to describe the musicians themselves and the idea of frontier, pushing the boundaries, and how the narratives get us back onto the ways in which the story of jazz has unfolded. I talk about everything from discussions of musicians blowing each other off the stage or the cutting contests which are set up almost as a sort of cowboy duel. It’s interesting to take a step back from the subject that you’re looking at and think about how it feeds into bigger cultural mythologies, or how it might be promoting certain values. This could range from the promotion of the individual to the celebration of masculinity through the rhetoric being employed. A lot of jazz history is about affirming these kinds of things, but equally, what about the collective aspects of jazz? Or the feminine? And so on. Again, what things are pushed to the fore and how are these narratives of jazz drawing on other narratives that promote similar things, whether it’s the autocratic high art composer who works in isolation and emerges with his masterwork, which is one trope or narrative, or the ideology of the West and frontierism? These were the kinds of things that I wanted to highlight. I was trying to get people to think

when they read stuff or heard people talking about jazz anecdotally about what baggage or rhetorical devices were being drawn on and how they fit into over-arching mythologies. AAJ: You alluded there to the masculine narrative and the question of women in jazz; why do you think women are generally marginalized in the dominant historical narrative of jazz and in the discussion of its iconic figures, with a few exceptions? As a second part to that question do you think there’s a growing interest in the subject of gender and jazz in academia? TW: We can talk about the barriers to women’s participation in jazz and there have obviously been social barriers. But there are also examples of where the contribution of women to jazz has either not been acknowledged or else has been written out of jazz history. The scholar Sherrie Tucker wrote a book called “Swing Shift: All Girl Bands of the 1940s” (Duke University Press, 2000) which demonstrated that women played a much more integral part in the development of jazz history. More often than not, it’s more about the agenda of historians or archivists. So, there were physical barriers at the time but also agendas about pro-

heterosexuality has become naturalized. We just assume that that’s Is there a growth of interest in it? the way jazz is talked about and Absolutely. The new jazz studies understood. has basically opened the door to think about issues like race, gender Quite often one of the strategies I and class, geography and national like to adopt is to say, what if we identity, and so on, in a much more invert this, turn it completely on its focused sense. I think the music is head and argue it from a compleall the better for it, really, in encou- tely opposite direction then how raging us to think about our own ridiculous does that sound? It can place and our own roles that we make you think about what you’re doing so it’s a sort of rhetorical play. strategy in a way, and I’m quite With regard to masculinity and open about that. My discussion of sexuality perhaps one of the conEllington wasn’t to lay claims to retroversial aspects of the book [Jazz writing some sort of history; it’s just Icons... is where I talk about the to pose the question why would we Ellington/[Billy] Strayhorn relatihave a problem with this? And if onship. I wasn’t setting out to say we do, what does it say about our that Ellington was bisexual, but just own kind of values and about what wanted to ask why it should cause jazz means? us problems if one of the great figures of the past was gay or bisexual? AAJ: The book certainly succeeds in poking the reader repeatedly A lot of people might come back and inviting reflection. The preand say why are you even talking sentation of jazz music and jazz about this? You should just focus icons in the book is seemingly one on the music. The music is all that full of contradictions; high art vermatters. But when you look at biosus folk or popular music, innate graphies and documentaries such geniuses versus ‘wood shedders’ as [director] Ken Burns’ Jazz, the who ‘pay their dues’ etc; you have first comments about Duke Ellingjust written a book on Coltrane ton are often not about his music and I was wondering whether duor affirming that he was a great ring your research you came upon composer, but instead, that he was any of these contradictions with such a ladies’ man. So, in many caregards to one of the greatest of ses sexuality is foregrounded and jazz icons? the music is secondary. However, moting jazz as a masculine ideal.

All About Jazz Magazine 53

Tony Whyton : What Does Jazz Do For You? - Cont TW: Well, yeah. The commercial aspects are quite interesting. The first thing is the way writers would describe Coltrane’s relationship to [record label] Impulse! Within the period of 18 months to two years when he produced the ballads album, the Duke Ellington collaboration, the Johny Hartman album and then A Love Supreme, it’s interesting to see how the narrative radically shifts. The ballads covers album, for example, is often portrayed as the big bad record company’s attempt to force Coltrane to create an album for the broader marketplace—it’s commercially oriented. So, you have one set of descriptions that basically portray Coltrane as having his arm twisted to produce this music. Yet within a year you have descriptions of A Love Supreme being produced so-

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lely from Coltrane’s own head. So, The other thing I would mention he’s in total control. is the impact of A Love Supreme Now neither of these scenarios can and associated record sales. Becaube true. You can’t go from being an se Impulse! had sold on to severartist manipulated by the industry al other labels and ended up with on the one hand to completely au- Universal, there are no specific statonomous on the other hand. This tistics on how many records have basically feeds into these bigger is- been sold over the years. Wheresues: the master art work that is a A as with Kind of Blue (Columbia, Love Supreme has to have a narra- 1959) you might say the album has tive attached to it that gives Coltra- sold X millions of units, and the ne autonomy and power, whereas number of units sold is used as a the more popular-focused ballads marker of artistic integrity. But it album can’t have any artistic me- actually adds to the mystique of A rits generated by the artist him- Love Supreme when we say, oh we self—it has to be the record label. just don’t know how many units Obviously, in both instances there’s we’ve sold. So, you’re drawing on a marketing campaign; there’s an the commercial success, when it agreement between artist and label suits, but it’s to reinforce a much about concept and how it’s going to more dominant agenda, which is be marketed, designed and medi- about the artistic status of the work. ated. And it’s just a denial of that I talk about several things like that really.

in the book and it’s really just to think about how the artist is portrayed as unmediated, like music is the only thing that matters. I’m sure Coltrane was an obsessive personality but at the end of the day he still had relationships. He had children. There’s an everyday life that is lost in these deified descriptions of the artist’s legacy. That extends to the links between politics and environment and also the industry itself and how the music could be marketed and best made available. What artist wouldn’t want their music to reach the largest public that they possibly can? It’s why they record and why they perform. AAJ: It’s interesting how the commercial success of Kind of Blue is often referred to as an indicator of its value and at the same time how saxophonist Kenny G’s far greater commercial success is seen as an indicator of a commercial sell out and a complete lack of artistic integrity. In Jazz Icons... you re-examine the Kenny G/Pat Metheny controversy; what for you are the main points it illustrates about our relationship with jazz icons and their recordings?

Gallery and defacing a painting by ripping it up or drawing on it. Recordings by their very nature are reproducible and can be reworked. The reaction was almost as if Kenny G had destroyed the Armstrong original when actually all it was doing was overdubbing some of Kenny G’s music, which is what a lot of people do anyway. What I was thinking was what is this buying into? I don’t necessarily know, it’s circumstantial but what makes an artist like Metheny react like this? Maybe it’s the whole question of authenticity and what it means to be a jazz icon. Maybe there’s an aspect of Metheny thinking he doesn’t want to be identified with Kenny G as a white imposter.

I’m an Englishman so I should only listen to English music, or whatever. It questions the idealized view of jazz as not only innately black music but that it’s a music of and for black people, whereas in actual fact Kenny G’s music is much more popular and maybe that doesn’t sit very well with anyone really [laughs]. AAJ: You were in Paris in June for Global Circulations of Jazz conference, which was exploring similar themes to those explored in the Rethinking Jazz Cultures conference in Salford; what emerged from that conference? TW: It was an interesting forum. We went and presented a panel on Rhythm Changes itself. I spoke about Scandinavia, ECM and the Nordic sound, George McKay was talking about Winifred Atwell, which is a fantastic story about gender and race in British jazz history and changing relationships to the popular. Walter van de Leur discussed Han Bennink and Dutch jazz, and Nick Gebhardt was talking about the legacy of the Jazz Warriors. On paper they seemed to be four very different aspects of European jazz, but throughout the panel, similar themes and threads emerged.

“I’m sure Coltrane was an obsessive personality but at the end of the day he still had relationships.”

TW: There was a lot going on there, which I tried to highlight and it wasn’t for one minute to credit or discredit Kenny G. It was more about why somebody like Pat Metheny should respond in such a way that they lose it. In jazz we revere these figures so much to the point that any kind of interpretation that’s not an official one, where you’ve paid your dues or whatever, is treated with contempt or as a marker of disrespect. The idea was to challenge this and say, look, it’s not like I’m walking into the Tate

That’s the shorthand of where I was coming from with it. There might be agreed and accepted forms of reverence and anybody who steps outside of that is seen as a transgressor. Metheny even described Kenny G’s act as “necrophilia.” Other statistics showed not only Kenny G’s market share but how there were perhaps surprises in terms of his following. Chris Washburne, who edited a book called Bad Music: The Music We Love To Hate (Routledge, 2004), got hold of audience figures in the States showing that Kenny G had a much larger following of African Americans than a lot of African American jazz artists. It challenges the idea that African Americans should listen to African American jazz. Or, oh,

It was good for us to think about the flow of culture and how jazz feeds into identity and the relationship to America everything from the Dutch rejection of American values to ECM creating a kind of European aesthetic, even when it’s involving American artists, and so on. That was probably the most valuable thing for us, to get together as a panel and discuss this. The broad aims of the conference were really good, to think about jazz as a All About Jazz Magazine 55

Tony Whyton : What Does Jazz Do For You? - Cont global music, even from its inception the exchange routes and emergence of local scenes and sounds.

ced the Syrian regime at the time to have a jazz festival was because they were convinced it was anIt goes back to the [Stuart] Ni- ti-American music [laughs]. But cholson thing of can you identify actually understanding that, and with national sounds? Are sounds how jazz can bring people together rooted in a particular place? That, even if they have radically diffefor me, is a really interesting ques- rent views, could inform Ametion because obviously sounds are rican foreign policy much more related to place and the works of than just promoting the same old a musician can become bound up stuff—America as this sort of land with a particular nation or setting, of opportunity or freedom. but equally, they’re not bound by that. I’d hate for someone to say to AAJ: Just wrapping up here Tony, me, ‘oh, you live in Manchester, I I’d like to quote a brief passage can hear the Manchester sound from the Jazz Icons... book: “Wheflowing through you,’ when actu- re scholars have attempted to exally I’m exposed to musics from pose the ideological nature of canonical discourses their insights everywhere. remain firmly rooted on the marAAJ: Certainly jazz seems to have gins of mainstream jazz culture.” a much greater international pro- Do you feel that the tide is turning a little bit in this respect? file than ever before? TW: Yeah, I’m fascinated by the UNESCO International Jazz Day; on the one hand I’m thrilled. It’s fantastic. It’s the only music that is celebrated by the UN in this way, and it acknowledges the global presence of jazz. There’s a jazz scene in almost every country in the world. On the other hand, I’m mortified when I see the way in which it’s being promoted; it’s almost a throwback to the 1950s and Eisenhower’s ambassador programjazz is presented as America’s gift to the world, or through the lens of an American world view. Actually, if you wanted to use jazz as a means to understand cultural diversity and complexity, and even as a diplomatic tool, I think it would be much more interesting to think about the way jazz means different things to different people; the way it is not a universal language. I interviewed a guy from a Syrian jazz festival a few years ago and he said that the reason he convin56 All About Jazz Magazine

Some jazz journalists or writers might look at my book and say it’s academic gobbledygook and too theory-driven. I’m sure there are people who think that scholars live in ivory towers and don’t understand the music, but I think the Rhythm Changes conference indicated to me that these perceptions are changing, and that we are at a really important point of writing about the music where we can develop common projects and develop ways of working that benefit the music as well. One of the privileges of working on Rhythm Changes has been not only producing scholarly work and a series of books but getting the opportunity to work with musicians, festivals and venues.

If we can help bring people to the music and enhance their listening, TW: I’d like to think so. One of the for me, that would one of the trilegacies of the project that I wanted umphs of Rhythm Changes. to pursue was to talk more broadly with journalists, media and jazz AAJ: Rhythm Changes was iniwriters and so on about this—the tially conceived as a three-year way jazz is written about and un- project but it sounds like there are derstood. It’s not necessarily to good arguments for extending the stand on my pedestal and say you’- project; is that a possibility? re doing this wrongly, you’re repre- TW: It’s hard because the initial senting the music in a limited way funding we received was for a fixed it’s more to enter into a dialogue. period of time. There will be a legWhat are we doing here? I’m not acy to the project but it will probaconvinced that we’re there yet. I bly find ias ts way into a number of think that in a lot of the jazz press different activities. Rhythm Chanor writings about jazz we fall back ges has provided us with a platform on these comfort zones. It’s a kind to develop these ideas in different of shorthand where we can say a ways. I feel privileged to have been few things about the music and its part of it. past, but I think it would be really good to create some sort of forum where we could share ideas and talk more creatively and productively about the way the music is represented. Otherwise, and it’s a point I keep coming back to, we’re doing the complexity and value of the music a disservice by limiting its representations.

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All About Jazz Magazine 57

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All About Jazz Magazine 59

Being Grateful

Defining the Jazz Years Part One - 1973


Jazz, like the Grateful Dead, has never been particularly easy to define. It seems jazz, in its most simply defined meaning, is improvised music. The Grateful Dead have been called a thousand different things since its official formation in 1965, but has rarely been called a jazz band.


here have always been and will always be heated debates about which years were the best, which tone of Jerry Garcia’s was the best, which keyboardist was the best. I’ve heard it all: endless interpretations and conversations that go on for hours at college parties and crowded parking lots of Phish and Widespread Panic shows: “The Drug Years,” “The Heineken Years,” “The Best Years,” “The Worst Years” etc. For many, the Dead’s career gets divided by decade as the band’s lineage conveniently splits itself, for the most part, into neat categories with different pianists/

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organists being the dividing line: Pigpen Ron McKern and Tom Constanten in the 1960s, Keith Godchaux, in the 1970s, Brent Mydland in the 1980s, and Vince Welnick and Bruce Hornsby in the 1990s. This first installment of “Being Grateful” focuses on a post 1960s Dead in an attempt to examine why 1973 is one of the band’s most jazz heavy years. he 1960s and the acid tests with Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady and the Pranksters living all out beatnik, glow paint, tie-dye inventing, flute playing, Kerouac envying, free-loving lifestyles had given the Dead, for-

merly the Warlocks, a chance to discover themselves and their potential as an improvising unit without too much, if any, negative criticism coming from the fans. These early years of risk and self development eventually led the band to the famed 1972 Europe tour that had them sounding tighter and cleaner than ever before. The 1960s and early 1970s had readied the band for a new, more adventurous sound, and in returning home from Europe their musical and improvisational creativity exploded, creating one of the best and most risk taking years in the Dead’s career:1973. The emerging bands and albums surrounding the Grateful Dead in the early 1970s had to have had an influence on the band’s expanding sound: In 1971 the Mahavishnu Orchestra released their first album Inner Mounting Flame, by 1973 Weather Report had already released three albums including Sweetnighter the same year, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew had come out in 1970, and John Coltrane had died a few years earlier in 1967 leaving behind numerous avant-garde albums. Dead biographers never point directly to any of these albums as influences, although Phil Lesh has talked about the importance of Coltrane in dealing with the Dead’s evolving sound, but like Percy Shelley wrote in 1821, “it is less their spirit than the spirit of the age.” Even though the band pointed to bluegrass, rock n’ roll, and blues as primary influences, by 1973 the surrounding spirit of funk and jazz fusion had entered the soul of the Grateful Dead.

there and only singing a few numbers. In “Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead” by David Gans and Peter Simon, Garcia speaks on a post Pigpen band: “It’s not a question of better of worse—it’s just different. Getting Keith [Godchaux], we became a different band.” While 1972 is one of the most celebrated years in the Dead’s canon, it’s about as “hit” heavy as the Dead ever got, hit heavy in that many of the songs from that year are shorter and more reserved. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that as the music was as fruitful and original as ever. This is a common scenario amongst improvisers: an example being Miles Davis who went from Someday My Prince Will Come to Bitches Brew in the same decade. If a musician is willing to maintain a lasting career, originality and risk must be a driving force. It’s like when John Lennon said he didn’t want to be singing “She Loves You” when he’s thirty: people grow up and the music should too.

Now, about 1973. On December 6 near the end of a evenly mixed hard rockin,’ cowboy style set, the band broke into one of the most inspired and tumultuous “Darkstars” on tape. Other “Darkstars” rival in comparison: the Capitol Theater show on February 18, 1971 being a strong contender for the top ten. These two versions of the same song present a good example of the band’s developing sound. The 1971 version is much shorter with more focus on maintaining a coherent riff throughout; it also comes relatively early After Pigpen’s departure from the Dead in 1972 the in the set and they wedge a polite “Wharf Rat” in the band had developed into a freer, more exploratory center: a nasty jam I’ll admit, but it’s more rock n’ roll band. I hesitate to make any claim that the Dead were than jazz. Jerry comes in with the vocals about three ever anything but free-form, but 1973 brought with minutes into the jam, where as on the 1973 set he coit a more comfortable Keith Godchaux, a cymbal he- mes in with the vocals around twenty-five minutes in: avy Bill Kreutzman, and some of the longer sets of the a good indicator of the willingness of the band to dig band’s thirty year career. There’s no polite way to say that night. that the band’s music improved artistically and styKeith is in rare form on the 1973 set, as he was for listically after Pigpen’s death, but Pigpen was a blues most of the year, leading the jam on the Fender Rhoman and the Dead were looking to tread deeper and des that he introduced into his setup a few months more fiercely into the complex melodic improvisatiprior. Apparently Keith—like Brent Mydland a few ons found more in jazz and fusion than in the rock years later—was plagued with some sort of insecurin’ roll and blues of their day . Members of the band ty that often held him back musically and creatively, have repeatedly talked about the fact that Pigpen dideventually leading to his annoying trademark of the n’t mind to sit out during the extended exploratory late 70s in which he simply repeated Garcia’s lines on jams, but that had to have taken a toll on the band the piano: although impressive, it makes for boring and created some sort of mixed feelings. Whatever the music. In 1973, however, Godchaux and Phil Lesh feelings, I’ve always thought the 1972 tour held a bit of were a hard driving, madness inducing duo leading timidity and reservation in terms of improvisation; of the band throughout the entire “Darkstar,” circling course I can’t speak for the band, only for the music around Garcia and Weir like the wicked witch of the and of the footage of the Europe tour with a weathered west in the tornado scene. Weir is Dorothy resting on Pigpen sitting, sunken-faced and red-eyed, behind the bed with those massive, complementing chords, the B-3 adding a touch of color to the jams here and Garcia is Toto barking at the storm—knowing it’s out All About Jazz Magazine 61

Being Grateful : Defining the Jazz Years Part One - 1973 there—adding to the madness. Kreutzmen’s the house holding it all together: the centerpiece, the mantle, the mortar keeping the bricks together, the symbol his mightiest tool. Phil is dropping deep, witch-like-grumbling bombs throughout and Keith has found a somewhat clashing, beautifully mixed set of jazz chords and runs that are refreshingly outside of his normal ragtime, honky-tonk rhythms. Keith remains in that deep Rhodes, Herbie Hancock, style—sustaining rhythm throughout the jam—while Jerry hovers high above with bird like lines. I get the same feeling on Charlie Parker’s string albums or Jimmy Smith’s big band albums: all three musicians had the ability to be part of a well blended music but still manage to sound physically “above” the rest of the band.

getting funky on Rhodes again, Jerry on the distorted wah, with Kreutzman, without Mickey Hart to get heavy on the toms, picking up his former and soon to be band mates’ trademark pounding the deeper toms, and in short stints, has the band sounding like a Billy Cobham lineup. The Dead that comes after 1973 got them through 1974 as well as short-lived hiatus and eventually into the celebrated 1977 tour. It’s hard to pinpoint an official set or song or jam that allowed the Dead to become the powerhouse they were in 1977, but 1973 and the extended jams from that year like the December 6 “Darkstar” sure seem likely contenders. Like Oceanographers and their field of study, people who love the Dead are dealing with a band that is deep and mysterious with a thousand different dynamics, a million different critics, and a certain unexplainable The “Here Comes Sunshine” from the same night clocmystique that continues to intrigue all who enter it. king in at around sixteen minutes is a real barn burner 1973 and the music created that year were a launching and a must-listen. Another highlight show for Keith in pad for the band’s post-Pigpen sound and eventually 1973 is the Roosevelt Stadium show from July 31. The led them into another jazz heavy year and the next twenty-three minute “Playing in the Band” has Keith installment of “Being Grateful”: 1982.

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Mr. P.C.’s Guide to Jazz Etiquette...

Mr. P.C.’s Best of 2013

Inspired by the cutting edge advice of Abigail Van Buren, the storied bass playing of Paul Chambers, and the need for a Politically Correct doctrine for navigating the minefields of jazz etiquette, I humbly offer my services. Dear Mr. P.C.: I was playing at a club in town, a pretty fancy place, the gig all the guys in town want. On the break a pretty woman in the audience came up to me and complimented my playing. So far so good! But then she asked if I play professionally, right in the middle of a gig! What should I have said?

some other, more viable source of Why do people play faster on the income. Like being a realtor, or an east coast? insurance salesman, or whatever it Nice and Easy is you actually do for a living. Dear Mr. P.C.:

Why do guys want to play tunes really fast? Like I’ll call “It Could Happen to You,” but instead of having a nice swinging groove they want to play it at 280 beats John G., Denver per minute or something. Then Dear John: they say it’s an “East Coast” You should be flattered! Obviously thing, which I guess is supposed to she was attracted to you and just mean I can’t understand because wanted to make sure you have I always lived on the west coast.

Dear Nice: They just are faster — how do you think they got three hours ahead of us? I can already hear your objection: Wouldn’t that make tempos even faster in Europe, since it’s several hours further ahead? That, of course, gets into the metric system, and Europeans can legitimately claim to have taken the lead in exploring meters. But those are All About Jazz Magazine 63

Mr. P.C.’s Guide to Jazz Etiquette... principally odd meters, which can’t be played nearly as fast as ones that aren’t odd at all, but rather reflect the American ideals of normalcy and conformity. Do the Europeans care? Not after their obligatory wine with lunch, which of course slows them down even more. Put it all together, and you have the secret to ECM’s classic formula: Eurocentric sluggishness, slyly marketed as “laid-back” and “floating.” Dear Mr. P.C.: I bought an acoustic bass guitar that you can also plug in and my son and I have been playing a lot of pop songs together taking turns on the bass and guitar. I know this is a stereotype that upsets bassists and I’m sure it’s hard to play really well, but... it does seem pretty f ’ing easy to play the root or maybe a little more and sound okay. It’s also very fun. Andrew Dear Andrew: Well, you’re half right. Playing simple roots on the downbeat can be easy, but it’s not fun. How can it be fun when almost anyone can do it? Frankly, so called “simple pleasures” have no place in jazz bass, or in jazz itself, for that matter. What is more profoundly fun is playing busy lines of dizzying harmonic and rhythmic complexity. That’s what motivates bassists through a lifetime of desperate practicing, for they are the jazz world’s true hedonists. Dear Mr. P.C.: I heard a pianist talk about his “reharm” of a song. Why would a 64 All About Jazz Magazine

on and off the bandstand— about whose chord changes are better. The poor audience members, who wanted nothing but beautiful music, are left seriously harmed, if they’re left at all. Dear Mr. P.C.:

Did you ever say anything about people undercutting each other? There’s a gig where I live, and it used to pay $100 a musician want to harm a song at man for three hours, and then a guy who doesn’t play very well all, let alone multiple times? offered the owner to do it for Ryan E. $60 a man. Seems like the bread will keep going down and never Dear Ryan: go up. How does that work? Are we doomed? That’s a great question! The initial harm, of course, is the banal Undercut Player solo he takes over a song whose harmonic structure he considers Dear UP: pedestrian. Can’t you just see his If lesser musicians didn’t offer condescending sneer as he’s forced to play for less money, everyone to navigate simple chord changes would be paid the same. While that are totally beneath his dignity? that achieves some admirable Musically harmful, indeed! egalitarian ideals, it’s not really fair to the best players, is it? So he takes matters into his own This “guy who doesn’t play hands, and writes a whole new very well” is showing amazing set of chord changes. These are graciousness and humility by all about him—the way he thinks volunteering to play for less. You music should be, which is of course should be grateful to him, not a very complicated series of chords only for knowing his place, but that he alone can sail through, for helping establish a pay scale having worked on them for most of that recognizes and rewards his life. And so we have a “reharm”: excellence. the damage he’s done to a song once marked by simple beauty, and now Dear Mr. P.C.: a testament to his own harmonic On a recent trip into the city conceit. I attended a master class by The greatest harm of all—a third a well-known jazz guitarist. harm (or re-reharm, if you will)— At one point he claimed that comes when others are forced to it is our limitations that truly solo over these new changes. They define us. I have read about can’t sound nearly as good as he this kind of thing before so the does, of course, and a clash of egos idea was not entirely new to often ensues. The end product is me, yet hearing him say it so a series of heated arguments— clearly was inspiring. I really

would like your opinion on this as I have more limitations than most and feel ready to take advantage of that in a big way. I gave notice at the local middle school where I teach P.E. and have packed my drums but am now having doubts. Please help! Walter “Sig” Mathews, Milepost 17, State Route 4, Tulelake, CA Dear Sig: Milepost 17 I’ve totally been there! It wasn’t in Tulelake, but I remember it vividly. It was just outside of Eagle, Idaho, a few miles before the VFW hall where I had a gig. Inside the hall, in the men’s bathroom, they had decorated the urinal with a drawing of Jane Fonda’s face, so that each user had no choice but to direct the stream into her mouth. I remember wondering: Was her acting really so bad? Distracted by

deer. Was it my fault or the deer’s? Oh, how I’d love to blame the deer! Then I’d at least have a partner in the blame for what I did to Jane. But, alas, I’ll never know. The poor bloodied deer, involuntarily quivering in the harsh glare of my headlights. The crude, glistening drawing of Jane Fonda, desecrated by an endless procession of war-hardened veterans... That’s my Milepost 17, a nightmare that will haunt me that thought, and rushing to make to my dying day. Your Milepost the downbeat, I started urinating 17 apparently involves some light before I realized what I was doing. wordplay about limitations and Could I stop, mid-stream? Hardly definitions. Forgive me, Sig, if I I don’t have superpowers! But I’ve have trouble pretending to care. never forgiven myself, to this day. Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Why was I urinating so hurriedly? Ask him. You see, my arrival at the Elks club and with it, my subsequent defiling of Jane’s image—had been delayed at Milepost 17, where I struck a

Genius Guide to Jazz...

How to Listen to Jazz By JEFF FITZGERALD, GENIUS

After surviving a near-fatal marriage and returning once again to the Original Geniusdome, the site of some of my best work (remember that really funny thing I wrote about jazz that time?), I recently took some time to reflect upon my contributions to Our Music. As the Dean of American Jazz Humorists©®, I have long considered it my responsibility both to demystify some of the more esoteric aspects of jazz and to loosen the death grip of the zealot so that the music can breathe. And if by fulfilling these duties, I should somehow end up rich and famous, romantically linked to unspeakably hot actresses like All About Jazz Magazine 65

Genius Guide to Jazz...

“Me, listening to jazz? I might as well go buy some Birkenstocks and a Prius right now. And they’ll never Christina Hendricks and/or Scarlett Johansson and let me back in the Moose Lodge. All is lost.” given a lifetime supply of beer by the Anheuser-Busch Acceptance. : corporation for my work promoting the consumption “Maybe jazz is alright after all. Maybe I’ll go buy me of their product by tireless example, well, then, so be a whole jazz CD. And I might even try one of them it. mocha lattes they serve in places that sell jazz.” But in the process of sifting through my collected Upon admitting jazz to be a viable form of alternaworks, a glaring oversight was pointed out to me by tive listening, though, there is still the issue of how to my parakeet/bodyguard Luca Brasi. “Yes, we get it, make sense of the torrent of new sounds and advanced Wynton Marsalis has a very round head. But where in musical concepts. Unlike most forms of music, jazz is all this do you give JazzNoobs a lesson in how to listen primarily active listening. That is, it requires particito this sometimes daunting music?” he said, making pation from the listener, rather than lying passively in a valid point for someone who spends a significant the background like the inoffensive music they play in portion of his day chirping at his own reflection in a grocery stores to make you shop slower and not steal mirror. anything. The problem is, most people lack active lisSure enough, in eight years of occupying my mantle tening skills because most of the music we hear tohere at AAJ, I had not once addressed the very ba- day requires nothing more than the ability to tolerate sic issue that is probably most responsible for keeping endless repetition of simple bass-heavy rhythms and people from making a more dedicated foray into the frequent use of the word “booty.” seemingly impenetrable depths of Our Music that lie Active listening is the difference between a fast-food beyond the safety and comfort of the familiar kind of burrito and a burrito from a little hole-in-the-wall jazz one hears on those 1970’s TV shows where people joint where someone’s abuelita is in the back making in polyester bell-bottoms and crocheted sweater-vests the tortillas. The fast food burrito is hot, fast, relatively are supposed to be hip. tasty, and readily available. It is also bland, predictable, and safe. You don’t run the risk of tasting anything Be that as it may. To the uninitiated, jazz may seem either irrelevant or you can’t identify. impenetrable. The soundtrack by which middle-aged The hole-in-the-wall burrito requires a little more efmen with ponytails drive their Volkswagen Passats to fort to find. It requires a little more effort to order, sinWhole Foods, a tuneless mishmash of meandering so- ce it doesn’t automatically come filled with shredded los and jarring chords set atop a seemingly unrelated textured beef protein and happy-face-yellow procesrhythm. Jazz comes off as inaccessible to the average sed cheese product. It requires a little more effort to Joe (not Joe Zawinul, obviously), like a 12-page wine eat, because it there are tastes and textures that may list in one of those places where they call green beans take some work to figure out. Is that cumin? What the “haricot verts” like they’re better than you or some- hell is cumin? Is it as naughty as it sounds? And what thing. is it doing in my burrito? Yet, every day people from all walks of life find themselves exposed to some aspect of Our Music that makes them pause and think, “I like this, I wonder what kind of music it is?” When informed by a helpful passer-by that it is, in fact, jazz, most people go through the same five steps: Denial. : “That can’t be jazz!” Anger. : “Jazz is for people with .edu e-mail addresses and too many cats, for crissakes!” Bargaining. : “Maybe it is kinda jazzy, but I wouldn’t call it jazz.” Depression. : 66 All About Jazz Magazine

Relax, Paco.

With the added effort come knowledge and experience (and a couple of Tecates, and maybe some flan). Once you figure out that “al pastor” doesn’t mean “made by a minister,” and that cilantro is not that Western movie in which Elvis is supposed to have stolen a cannon from Mexican revolutionaries but it was actually the guy who played Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie, you might find yourself looking for other things that set that burrito apart from its more familiar counterpart. Your senses are engaged, you’re involved.

That’s active listening.

Applying that analogy to jazz, we’ll start with the tortilla. The tortilla represents rhythm, because both

we tell them to keep them off the furniture and away from the refrigerator.

With that said.

Inside our jazz burrito, there is meat and cheese. And possibly some guacamole, maybe rice. This is our melody, our tune. Most melodies are simple, hummable, unchallenging. Indiscernible ground meat with a glob of synthetic almost-kinda-cheese-like stuff, “You Light Up My Life” with a packet of mild salsa. Jazz melodies may begin simple, but get considerably more complex as they go. This is due, in part, to improvisation.

hold everything together and both benefit from a liberal application of salsa. The jazz tortilla is made from the same basic ingredients, masa flour and water. These may be equated either with bass and drums, or the musical concept of syncopation mixed with alcohol. For our purposes, let’s go with syncopation and booze, then work our way to the bass and drums. Syncopation is the idea of placing emphasis on normally unaccented beats. To demonstrate this, listen to an average pop song while tapping your foot with the beat. You will soon find that you can divide it into measures of four beats per measure. Once you start counting along, you will notice that it goes something like “ONE-two-THREE-four.” Now, try the same thing with a jazz tune (let’s use Coltrane’s “Blue Train”), and it will produce a different result. Not only will you be counting “one-TWO-three-FOUR,” but you will find that you are now wearing a sharkskin suit and drinking a Harvey Wallbanger.

Thus is the power of syncopation.

Moving forward, if we think of the jazz tortilla as the bass and drums, we will notice several significant differences. First, the tortilla is not just some processed, benign edible wrapper. It has a character of its own, a definite texture and taste which adds a dimension that enhances the overall burrito experience. The drums aren’t just relegated to basic timekeeping duties, the bass isn’t just responsible for holding down the bottom end. They are unique voices with their own valuable contributions to make. Or, at least, that’s what

Let’s take our burrito and fill it with chunks of pork (being from Virginia, where pork is its own food group). But let’s take our pork and marinate it in a blend of chili peppers, herbs and spices. There’s the addition of improvisation. This allows the individual cook to take the dish and make it theirs, let their own creativity come through. Sometimes, they take chances and make something unexpected and wonderful, like adding some pineapple to the marinade. Sometimes, they take chances and make something inexplicable and seemingly wrong, like adding Raisinettes or menthol cough drops. The hardest thing for most jazz newcomers to accept is that freedom which comes with improvisation. As with all freedoms, there is the freedom to do something weird. So long as you understand that the musicians are legitimately trying to express themselves, and are not just screwing around (for the most part), you can accept when those efforts sometimes go astray. You may also find yourself appreciating the Raisinettes in the burrito because, after all, Mexicans have been cooking with chocolate for centuries and who doesn’t like raisins? Alright, kids, this seems like as good a place as any to pause our lesson and give everyone a chance to go get one of those burritos you’ve been craving for 8-10 paragraphs. You may also take this opportunity to listen to some of that jazz we’ve been talking about. When we reconvene, I’ll go into different types of jazz, how to appreciate each one, and how to choose the appropriate hat for the type of jazz you settle on as your favorite. Till next month, kids, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of AAJ All About Jazz Magazine 67

Take Five With...

Joseph Daley

Born in New York City’s Harlem, Joseph Daley began his musical studies in elementary school and received high honors and recognitions throughout his school years, including the renowned High School of Music and Art, and was a member of the most prestigious ensembles in the New York City school system. During his high school years, he began performing on the Latin music scene alongside Rene McLean, Mongo Santamaria, Andy Gonzalez, Alex Blake, and many others.

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A scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music resulted in a Bachelor’s Degree in Performance and a Master’s Degree in Music Education led to a career as an educator in the New York and New Jersey school systems from 1976 until his retirement in 2005. Heavily dedicated to the education of young people to the highest values in musical understanding and expression, Daley balanced his extensive educational commitments with recording and performing in the ensembles of some of the most provocative musicians on the contemporary jazz scene. In addition to those mentioned above, Daley has contributed heavily to groups led by artist like Muhal Richard Abrams, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Jason Hwang, and Dave Douglas. Joseph Daley was an original member of Howard Johnson’s groundbreaking tuba ensemble, Gravity. Daley has also been a longtime

collaborator with highly respected composer, ethnomusicologist, and master of non- Western instruments, Bill Cole, a relationship that is still intact. Joseph Daley is also currently a member of the highly eclectic ensemble, Hazmat Modine, under the direction of visual artist Wade Schuman. It was Schuman’s paintings that helped inspire the creation of Daley’s Seven Deadly Sins project, which was developed at the McDowell Colony in 2001. On top of his busy schedule, Daley’s focus right now is on his next recording project, The Seven Virtues, which features a large string ensemble. He has also designed an extensive series of educational projects for the university level and will be embarking on a series of residencies and performance-based projects.

To sum up the purpose and commitment of Joseph Daley, the tuba player says, “If the music I compose provides one wit ha sense of beauty, inner peace, and instropection, then I am pleased.” Instrument(s): Tuba and euphonium.

orchestrated original compositions. It is the follow up project to my masterwork The Seven Deadly Sins, which was written for an extended jazz ensemble of close to 30 musicians. I am presently organizing World Premier performances for the 2014-2015 concert season for both ensembles.

I knew I wanted to be a musici- What’s your greatest fear when an when... you perform? When I began to realize the power My greatest fear as a brass player is of sound.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower? I love to sing the melodic tunes of composer Billy Strayhorn. “A Train” and “Lush Life” are two excellent examples. I find the interval relationships very contemplative. By Day: I was very fortunate to be a professional music educator for over 30 years, I have retired formally but continue informally to work

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (Impulse, 1965). Coltrane draws the music on this project from the depths of his creative soul and it has a stimulating effect of one’s spirituality. CDs you are listening to now: Marty Ehrlich, A Trumpet in the Morning (New World Records, 2013). How would you describe the state of jazz today? Jazz is recognized internationally as a the creative environment for many artists. It has assimilated musical concepts from the many diverse musical cultures of the world. This symbiotic relationship has broadens the appeal of the music while it simultaneously nourishes the growth. What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? In my eyes the most essential element is strong support for music education in the schools. A musically educated audience will provide strong support to keep the art form alive and growing.

executing the very first few notes of a performance. Once that is accomplished I know that everything is going to be alright.

with anyone the makes a request. I found teaching very rewarding because you always receive more than you give.

What song would you like played at your funeral? If I am able to, I plan to write a few What is in the near future? I have recently released my string compositions for my funeral. If I ensemble project, The Seven Hea- am not able to, then any of the New venly Virtues (Jaro, 2011). It ser- Orleans 2nd line repertoire will be ves as a vehicle for 10 beautifully appropriate.

If I weren’t a jazz musician, I would be a: A composer, educator, or a strong supporter and patron of the arts.

All About Jazz Magazine 69

Take Five With...

FIDEL CUELLAR A native of Bogota, Colombia, Fidel Cuellar moved to New York City in 2007 to continue his apprenticeship as a jazz pianist and composer under the tutelage of renowned musicians like Bruce Barth, Mike Holober, and John Patitucci. In 2009, Cuellar graduated summa cum laude from the City College of New York’s jazz performance program. Fidel Cuellar’s stylistic versatility but distinct pianistic approach has put him in the radar of some of New York’s best jazz, Latin-jazz, and world-music musicians like award-winning 70 All About Jazz Magazine

drummer Bobby Sanabria, flautist Carlos Jimenez and many others. Cuellar’s recording credits include Thoughts (Martinete Music, 2008), by Carlos Jimenez, which features Vince Cherico on drums and bassist Ruben Rodriguez, and Future Connection, a collective jazz trio with Carlos del Pino

and Rafael Monteagudo. He has performed as bandleader and a sideman in world-class venues and festivals like Iridium, Joe’s Pub, The Knitting Factory, La Casita Festival at Lincoln Center, and The Highline Ballroom. Instrument(s): Piano. Teachers and/or influences? At school, I studied with Mike Holober, John Patitucci, Alison Deane, Scott Reeves, and Dan Carillo. But my all time favorite private piano teacher is the great Bruce Barth. In Colombia, my long time teacher was Ricardo Uribe. Ricardo introduced me to jazz language and theory. He also helped me work on my technique. Niko

and Chick Corea, and eventually to all the big and legendary names in jazz from Miles Davis and on. In school, jazz styles are learned in chronological order, but in life, music doesn’t come in a predetermined order. Your sound and approach to music: I love textures, melodies, interesting harmonies, and space! I try to avoid going for obvious and prefer trying different things. I see improvisation and arranging as one and the same—a problem solving exercise, which I draw solutions from different musical styles, eras, musicians, and schools.

Meinhold, a German pianist, was a very big influence on me by helping me find my voice. I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I have felt that calling many times. It seems I sometimes even forget why I’m in this, and God sends a reminder. When I was about 12 years old, a friend handed me a copy of Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert (ECM, 1975). He found it among his grandfather’s CD collection. This music opened up the world of improvisation to me. I had never heard anything like it, and this was the first time I remember thinking to myself, “I want to be this guy and play this music.” Keith Jarrett’s music opened the world of other amazing pianists like Herbie Hancock

Music is not just sound, it is codified in human’s brains—it makes sense there. That is why it is crucial to listen, use the ears, and determine if you like what you hear when playing and writing. That is why I’m not crazy about serialists and other types of conceptual experiments where compositions are a result of a random series of notes or conceptual proposals but haven’t been put to the test of human ears. Your teaching approach: Each student has a specific learning style, level of interest, dexterity, and knowledge. Therefore, each student needs a tailored teaching approach. Just like arranging a song, as a teacher, you have to ask yourself what approach suits this particular case the best? There are no generalized formulas or solutions. Your dream band: Saxophone: Jason Rigby and Mark Turner, Trumpet: Kenny Wheeler Bass: Dave Holland and Drums: Mark Guiliana The first Jazz album I bought was: Probably a Beatles anthology.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? With so many young amazing and virtuoso players coming out of great schools and playing bebop licks up and down the scale, I feel the urge to insist on space, playing with the band, orchestrating the other musicians no matter what instrument you play, and to try to go beyond the role that is typical for the particular instrument. Did you know... I studied a bit of economics in college. I am very curious about stuff outside of music, especially how people think, learn, and make decisions. For a while, I thought about changing careers and explore how music thinking and proficiency in improvisation can be useful in a different field like change management. How would you describe the state of jazz today? I have heard the comment “I think I like jazz, but I don’t understand it,” countless times. Jazz was born in the spirit of improvisation, and in this sense, it sets itself apart from other styles of music for its unique flexibility and freedom of expression. Over time, people that have not been exposed, trained, or raised in the tradition of jazz have grown to see it as a niche music, and something that can only be enjoyed by the few who understand it. Remember, jazz was pop back in the day. I feel that people need to be reminded that if they give themselves the opportunity to listen, they will be happily surprised. They will be touched, moved, and enjoy the experience of listening without having to worry about understanding the music.

All About Jazz Magazine 71

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Photographer, Richard Conde’s work has been featured in National Geographic and recently chosen for their permanent stock collection. Meet Richard Conde :

B ehin d t h e L e n s Wit h . . .

RICHARD CONDE Most of my work consists of jazz photography, travel photography and dance performance events. Currently I am the senior staff photographer for the Jazz Museum in Harlem and the club photographer for the Birdland jazz club in New York City. I am also represented by the HP Garcia gallery in New York City. I have earned a Masters of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. For the past few years I have worked on assignment for several travel organizations. My work has been published in the New York Times, Down Beat Magazine, JazzTimes and numerous magazines and album covers, the most recent with Verve Records. Gear: I currently use the Nikon D3s and D3 cameras. My choice of lenses: the 70- 200, 17-55 and 24-70 Nikon lens.

photographic eye. It’s important to establish a relationship with your subject; the closer the relationship is the better the picture will be, it’s as simple as that. I always strive to create a photograph no one has seen, it’s important to get past the clichés of point-andTeachers and/or influences? shoot photography. Lastly, I try not to take myself too I come from a fine arts background, so for me Remseriously; there are plenty of photographers out there brandt and the painter Caravaggio are a major inwho are more talented than I am. fluence. Their one-directional approach to lighting influences the emotion and passion of my work. The Your teaching approach/philosophy: painter Peter Paul Rubens influences my usage of co- If I had to give a young photographer advise I would lor. The great jazz photographer Herman Leonard is say this, shoot everything until you find what interest also a big influence on my work, as well as Richard you. Practice, practice, practice; the worst thing in the Avedon. Avedon helps me to see the meditative in- world is to be confronted with a great moment and ner workings of my subjects. Ansel Adams, the great only to find out you still do not know how to turn the landscape photographer, is my tech guru. He helps me camera on. Know all the rules before you can break to see the surface tones and gradations of my work. them. Get past the level of becoming a point-andshoot photographer; create photos no one else has I knew I wanted to be a photographer when... seen. I was able to get past the point-and-shoot phase of my work and started producing work which connected Remember that in life there is a moment, it maybe big with me emotionally. At that point I felt I was able to or small but it will always be there waiting to be phofinally express myself as a visual artist. tographed, you have to be ready when it happens. Your approach to photography: I try to keep everything simple starting with my camera bag, I pack light and take only what I need. It’s important to know your equipment, that only comes by practicing, shooting everyday and developing your

Shoot your camera like you’re shooting a video; you have to shoot thru the moment in order to capture that great moment. Do not take yourself too seriously; there are plenty of photographers out there who more talented than you are. I try to make what is invisible All About Jazz Magazine 73

Behind The Lens With... visible. That is my approach and philosophy in a nutshell.

me to shoot Newport as his official photographer. I had a great time and the memories are too many to mention.

Where was your first assignment location? My first job was a photo shoot for Benny Golson’s CD Your biggest challenge when shooting indoor cover, which was shot for Arkadia Records. The shoot (or low lighted) events: went so well I was hired for two other photo shoots, Low light photography is always a challenge, the Ni- which included a photo shoot in Scotland. kon D3s and D3 cameras help me to resolve that issue. I find Jazz photography and dance performance pho- Your favorite musician(s) to photograph: tography the most difficult lighting in which to shoot. I look for musicians that bring life to my photos, and If you master the technique of low light shooting, you it’s hard to pick a favorite, so I would have to narrow it down to three. First would be Pharoah Sanders: his can shoot anywhere. mannerism and facial features are ancient and timeYour biggest challenge when shooting outdoor less. Second is Esperanza Spalding: her mannerisms events: are free-spirited; it’s like watching a flower dance in Shooting outdoors is the easiest part, the biggest chal- the wind. Third is Roy Hargrove: watching him play lenge is working with rude or unfriendly photograp- his trumpet is like watching a child play in the playhers at these outdoor festivals. There are many pho- ground for the first time. Each one of these musicitographers out there shooting these events for all the ans seems to become one with their instruments, and right or wrong reasons. Most of them forget what we make photographing them unpredictable and excido is an art form; they cannot seem to get past just ting. being point-and-shoot photographers. Most of them act like paparazzi and seem to make it more difficult Did you know... for guys like us who truly consider this work as art. No one would guess I was a New York City Police OfI cannot tell you how many times as a young photo- ficer for 20 years. While all my fellow officers went out grapher I was rudely dismissed because I dared to ask to the bars after work, I was at the jazz clubs photoa technical question. This “every man for himself ” graphing musicians and trying to get there autographs. mentality is truly hurting our profession. Your favorite jazz story: Shooting at the Blue Note in the early ‘90s, I was phoFavorite venue to shoot: The Birdland jazz club is best venue to shoot in; I have tographing Nancy Wilson. I had a front row table and been the house photographer there for four years now was shooting with a camera which made a very loud and I find the lighting there to be perfect. The ligh- camera noise, it sounded as if someone was tap danting is one-directional which is perfect for my style of cing on the stage. She was singing a ballad and right in the middle of the song she leaned over to me while shooting. singing and sang, “you should not do that anymore.” Favorite festival to shoot: What a class act; she could have embarrassed me but The Newport Jazz Festival is my favorite place to she did not. She changed my life and I guess I changed shoot. In 2011, George Wein (the founder of New- her lyrics, a moment I will never forget. port) attended one of my jazz photo exhibitions in New York City. He purchased a few prints and invited

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AboutJazzJazz & World Music Return of the Elephant

The Phonebone Quintet

ACD HD 027-2

Return of the Elephant

Alone together, One pair of boots, Why did you leave me, Cherokee, Old country, I didn’t know what time it was, Funkalerro, Lover man, The way it goes, Autumn leaves.

The Phonebone Quintet Allard Buwalda - sax, Martijn Sohier - trombone, Joe Dinkelbach - piano, Frans van Geest - bass, Hans Dekker - drums



Nominated for the Dutch Edison Price 2008

Winner of the Dutch Edison Price 2009

The Shakespeare Album


featuring Fay Claassen

ACD HJ 035-2

Modern Jazz interpretation of Sonnets by William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. Music composed by: Ilja Reijngoud

The Phonebone Quintet

Ilja Reijngoud - trombone, Fay Claassen - vocals, Martijn van Iterson - guitar, Marius Beets - bass, Marcel Serierse - drums, Paul Heller - tenor saxophone

The Andrew Read Trio


The Shakespeare Album

J.S.B. The Andrew Read Trio ACD BH 054-2

J.S.B, Just before dawn, It never entered my mind, Round midnight, Flat five blues, I surrender dear, Waltzing Mathilda, W.A.M, Lara, Study in blue, Gray and viscarel.

The Andrew Read Trio

Andrew Read - Double Bass Hans Kwakkernaat - Piano Erik Poorterman - Drums

Hans Kwakkernaat Erik poorterman Andrew Read



My Foolish Heart JB 0493100

Alone together, One pair of boots, Why did you leave me, Cherokee, Old country, I didn’t know what time it was, Funkalerro, Lover man, The way it goes, Autumn leaves. Roelof Stalknecht - piano Henk haverhoek - bass

Who are you ACD BO 065-2

Jazz from the Low Countries.

Klatwerk 3

Boelo Klat - piano Rico de Jeer - double bass Ancel Klooster - drums


It’s so nice to meet you too! ACD BB 058-2

Salsa Suspension, Wolf the Cat, Fair Winds, Rolling Stones Fantasy, Lebuinus ex daventria, On the Street Where You Live, It’s So Nice to Meet You Too, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, The Groove Makers, Cargo Funk, Inspire Your Environment.

Inspiration Orchestra

conducted by Peter Kleine Schaars Rap by O-Dog

Aliud Records The Netherlands

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Album Reviews

Aaron Parks Arborescence Label: ECM records By: JOHN KELMAN

CD Showcase Parks is a rarity: a young musician who, at a time when such things are difficult if not impossible, spent his first few professional years mentored by an older musician, in this case Terence Blanchard. The trumpeter met Parks when the pianist was 15, recruiting him three years later and giving him an opportunity to see how it was done both on the road and in the studio, so that when Parks stepped out on his own with the acclaimed Invisible Cinema (Blue Note, 2008), he was well and truly ready.

In the ensuing years, Parks has beSlowly but surely, over the past come increasingly in demand, inseveral years, ECM Records has cluding membership with the egaforged relationships with some of litarian James Farm, the promise New York City’s most impressive of its 2011 eponymous Nonesuch musicians—no mean feat given debut confidently delivered with that, despite the Big Apple no lon- more recent live performances, ger being the jazz mecca it once and with Kurt Rosenwinkel, whose was, it certainly remains a light- Star of Jupiter (Wommusic, 2012) ning rod for some of the world’s represented yet another career most creative musicians, ranging milestone for the upwardly mobile from trumpeter Ralph Alessi and guitarist. saxophonists Tim Berne and Chris None of which prepare for ArboPotter, to pianists David Virelles, rescence, a suite of eleven largely Jason Moran and Craig Taborn all spontaneous creations that reflect of whom have been represented, a great many touchstones while, either as guests or leaders, on some at the same time, speaking with a of the most uncompromising and voice that has fully matured, now impressive music to be released in plainly assertive of its own persorecent times not just on the heral- nality. The opening “Asleep in the ded German label, but anywhere, Forest” and darkly pastoral “Elseperiod. where” feel somehow a kinship to Add to that list pianist Aaron Parks who, like Taborn’s superb first recording as a leader for the label (2011’s Avenging Angels), makes his own ECM debut by contributing another fine installment to a label that has, across four decades beginning with Chick Corea’s Piano Improvisations Vol. 1 (1971) and Keith Jarrett’s Facing You (1972), defined the litmus test against which all subsequent solo piano recordings are measured.

French composer Erik Satie, were he to have hailed from the forests of the Northwestern United States (where Parks grew up) instead of the southern estuary of the Seine River in Northwestern France. Minimalistic hints imbue the repetitive motif-driven “In Pursuit,” where Parks’ virtuosity never an end, just a means—is more dominant, while the skewed and, at times, abstruse lyricism of “Branchings” and “Past Presence” hint at

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Paul Bley’s innovations in the realm of spontaneously composition, despite Parks’ independent voice a constant delineator throughout this 50-minute set. With Parks turning 30 a week prior to Arborescence’s October 15 release, the pianist’s milestones continue to accelerate. His past work All About Jazz Magazine 79

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recorded in the studio and the other live (at London’s Vortex) the may have been consistently imfollowing day, documents a sponpressive, but Arborescence repretaneous dialogue of the highest sents the true watershed of Parks’ order. Deep listening underpins arrival as an artist whose future the congruency of pacing and dyshines brighter with every passing namics, and even sometimes phrayear. sing, making for a more harmonious pairing than the avant-garde reputations might suggest. Both Shipp and Parker work in a syntax of repeated motifs and sonic cells, which themselves prompt further rejoinders in a process of continual calibration. They don’t settle on any particular mode of expression for more than a few minutes, but at times become surprisingly reflective, as an air of abstract lyricism pervades both sessions, perhaps most prevalent in the concert setting. Evan Parker/ Matthew Shipp Rex, Wrecks & XXX Shipp is the more likely to lock into Label: Rogue Art nagging patterns which furnish the By JOHN SHARPE substructure, although he leavens Few barriers remain in jazz. Cer- the repetition with delicate prantainly not geographical or genera- cing sweetness as well as unpretional. Even genre does not present dictable outbursts of thunderous insurmountable obstacles. Were tumult. Parker restricts himself to it needed, further confirmation tenor saxophone throughout (his arrives in the shape of a meeting jazzier horn), although he reins between two distinctive stylists: in the split toned dissonance for American pianist Matthew Shipp which he is so well known, in faand English saxophone iconoclast vor of a mellow considered output. Evan Parker. Far from being their Of course there are passages where first encounter, the pair know each the Englishman’s guttural machiother well, having waxed Abbey ne-gun delivery begets a rapidfire Road Duos (Treader, 2007), colla- rhythmic response from Shipp, borated during the saxophonist’s but they occur as occasional peaks October 2010 residency at the Sto- not expansive plateaus. Unaccomne in New York City, and appeared panied features for each transpire in duet at the 2011 Vision Festival. both in the studio and live, and What’s more piano/saxophone du- while they provide a welcome conets form a significant strand in the trast, they do not reveal anything Shipp’s discography (Rob Brown, not already known. The eight stuRoscoe Mitchell, Darius Jones, Ivo dio cuts allow greater opportunity Perelman and Sabir Mateen being for concision and structure than just some of his partners), and are the unbroken live set, notably on far from unknown in Parker’s (Stan “Rex 5” which alternates piano Tracey, Georg Graewe and Agusti and tenor, as they conjure a golden thread, each picking up where the Fernandez). No surprise then that Rex, Wrecks other left off. The ghost of Theloni& XXX, comprising two discs, one ous Monk stalks proceedings when 80 All About Jazz Magazine

Parker touches on the interval of “Shuffle Boil” and Shipp responds almost in kind. Mercurial, playful discourse which erases boundaries, real or imagined.

Gretchen Parlato Live in NYC (2013) Label: ObliqSound By C. MICHAEL BAILEY

Live in NYC is vocalist Gretchen Parlato’s eagerly awaited live recording and follow-up to 2011’s excellent The Lost And Found (Obliqsound). Gretchen Parlato (Obliqsound, 2006) and 2011’s In A Dream (Obliqsound) round out her catalog as a leader. That said, Parlato has been much more busy than would be indicated by her four recordings in eight years. She has appeared on some 70-plus recordings from Kenny Barron’s The Traveler (Emarcy, 2006) to Esperanza Spalding’s Esperanza (Concord Music Group, 2008) to Becca Stevens’ Weightless (Sunnyside, 2011). That is a full plate by any estimate. From 10,000 feet, Live in NYC is a study in suspension. Parlato puts her voice and phrasing into the ether, seemingly where it exists attached to nothing. Pianist Taylor Eigsti and the band accomplish very much the same thing: sound untethered, floating among one another. The effect is one of spacial disconnection, with each voice easily isolated and heard. But

when these disparately sounding elements are brought together and managed in the same time space (and at a given tempo and signature), it all makes sonic sense...very progressive sonic sense. That said, Parlato has been expanding vocal boundaries at regular intervals after having got her “standards” album (Gretchen Parlato) out of her system. That and her increasing associations with like-minded progressives like Eigsti and alto saxophonist David Binney have pushed Parlato into the forefront of East Coast jazz singers.

With the tragic passing of Michael Brecker in 2007 at the all-tooyoung age of 57, it seemed that the flagship group the Brecker Brothers, co-led by the saxophonist with his trumpet-wielding older brother Randy, was also to be a thing of the past. But some things never die; as it was, during the saxophonist’s lifetime, the horn-led band that defined the term “downtown funk” and an edgy, urban sound that could only have come from New York City seemed to have an unquenchable life clearly fated to continue, even as the brothers separated at various points to pursue other projects. Emerging in the ‘70s with a string of six superb albums on Arista Records beginning with 1975’s The Brecker Bros. and culminating with the 1981’s swan song, Straphangin’, the Brecker Brothers reformed in the mid’90s for the stellar The Return of the Brecker Brothers (GRP, 1992) and equally strong Out of the Loop (GRP, 1994), coming together yet again in 2003 for a collaboration with Germany’s WDR Big Band that, documented on Some Skunk Funk (Telarc, 2006), may have been listed under Randy’s name but, with Michael in tow, was a Brecker Brothers record in everything but name.

Parlato’s material is derived mostly from her last two recordings with “Weak,” “On The Other Side,” “Butterfly” and “Within Me” being drawn from In A Dream while the standout cover of Simply Red’s “Holding Back The Years,” “JuJu,” “All I Can Say,” and “Alo, Alo” are from The Lost And Found. Her band is made up of her regulars from the last several years, thus the continuity from the last recording is maintained and built upon. Parlato’s vocal approach is light and breezy, very user friendly. She pushes boundaries without offending any musically liberal or conservative sensibilities. Parlato’s music is pure music, with genres aside. This is one of the futures of jazz vocals. Last year’s The Brecker Bros.—The Complete Arista Albums Collection (Legacy, 2012) was a precursor and taste-whetter forThe Brecker Brothers Band Reunion, an album that, once again under Randy’s name, revives the spirit of downtown funk with a double-disc helping: a studio CD recorded in the fall of 2011 with a larger cast of characters, and a DVD recorded at New York City’s Blue Note in 2012 with a core sextet that includes proRandy Brecker ducer/keyboardist George Whitty, Brecker Brothers Band Reunion guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Will Label: Piloo Records Lee, drummer Dave Weckl and, By JOHN KELMAN stepping into Michael’s shoes with

all the requisite fire and energy without ever resorting to mere imitation, Randy’s wife, Ada Rovatti. That Michael is missed is undeniable, but his spirit looms large over the entire record’s vibe, even if he’s not represented compositionally on the studio set, a collection of 11 largely new tunes by Randy, only “Really In For It,” one of three to revive his rapping and singing alter ego Randroid, was apparently written in 1971 by the trumpeter but recently unearthed and reworked. The live set does feature one Michael Brecker composition, Straphangin’’s funkified title track, but the majority of the high octane 98-minute live set is culled from The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion studio disc, plus two additional tracks from Randy: an incendiary version of “Some Skunk Funk” “played,” as Brecker says, “as fast as humanly possible”; and the thundering altered blues of “Inside Out.” The early Brecker Brothers Band actually sported a three-horn frontline, and so alto saxophonist David Sanborn rejoins Brecker and Rovatti for the Latinesque “The Dipshit” and “Really In For It,” proving, as he did this past summer, on tour with keyboardist Bob James, that he still has plenty of fire on tap when needed. A bevy of guitarists are also featured alongside Stern, who sounds better than ever, managing to step away from some of his more signature lines to deliver some real surprises on the fiery, aptly titled opener, “First Tune of the Set,” as well as on the greasy “The Slag,” which also features Brecker’s only appearance on electric trumpet. Adam Rogers guests on two tunes, delivering a suitably gritty solo on the mid-tempo “The Dipshit,” while Dean Brown is featured on the balladic “Elegy for Mike,” with RovatAll About Jazz Magazine 81

Reviews - Cont ti delivering a soprano saxophone solo that matches, in beauty, the fire she demonstrates on tracks like the samba-centric but ultimately more fusion-fired “Adina.” Mitch Stein brings a strange, banjo-esque guitar to the down-and-dirty groove of “R N Bee”; elsewhere, his slide guitar introduces “The Slag,” while adding some additional rhythmic support on “Really In For It.” Two tracks feature guest singer Oli Rockberger, who also provides some additional keyboard support, swapping verses with Randroid on “On The Rise” and taking the lead, with his auto-tuned voice, on the catchy “Merry Go Town,” on which he also guests for a live version on the DVD. Brecker is, of course, as top-of-game as ever; two things that can always be counted on from the trumpeter, whether it’s the downtown funk of the Brecker Brothers or the nuclear post-bop of the unearthed Pendulum: Live at the Village Vanguard (Mosaic, 2008), is consistent invention and a tone to die for. What he’s managed, however, with The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion is a set that keeps the flame of the original group alive with its feet firmly planted in the new millennium. Ada Rovatti isn’t Michael Brecker, nor does she need to be; with this set, whether on tenor or soprano (an instrument Michael rarely played), she proves completely capable of standing her own ground—no small challenge under the circumstances. Brecker Brothers 2013 isn’t Brecker Brothers of the ‘70s or ‘90s, nor does it need to be; instead, it’s a modern update that, beyond reviving the memory of Randy’s departed brother and the music they innovated together, proves that downtown funk still has relevance in the 21st Century. Just over a year after Blue Moon 82 All About Jazz Magazine

grooves. Stepping into Cammack’s shoes, Jamal’s bassist for 29 years, can’t have been easy but Veal’s lyricism, bold motifs and striking improvisations color the music greatly. Badrena conversely, plies his wares more subtly than before, while Riley keeps a simple, in the pocket groove throughout, rarely slipping the leash. Ahmad Jamal Saturday Morning Label: Jazz Village By IAN PATTERSON

Just over a year after Blue Moon (Jazzbook Records, 2012), Jamal’s stellar homage to American cinema and Broadway—the Pittsburgh pianist returns in the same rich vein of form on Saturday Morning. Blue Moon earned a Grammy nomination, and for the second time in recent years Jamal was invited to open the Lincoln Center season in September; clearly, Jamal is enjoying his status as one of jazz’s great, elder statesmen. Saturday Morning could almost be part of the same sessions that produced Blue Moon with its mixture of standards, new compositions and reworked older material. Like Blue Moon, this recording occasionally evokes his classic 1950s Argo years, only there’s more meat on Jamal’s arrangements these days, and remarkably, greater fire in his fingers.

Jamal has created his own language on piano; on “Back to the Future” his jangling left-hand powers like rising flood water while rhapsodic right-hand explorations alternate between chordal steps, spinning flurries and long, cascading runs. On this opening number Jamal’s two-handed synchronized run towards the finishing line and his trademark final punctuation epitomizes the sense of drama that inhabits his play. On “I’ll always be with You” Jamal emerges from a tempestuous improvisation to land on the most delicate of blue notes, as though flung from a washing machine only to land on his feet immaculately attired.

Jamal admirers and detractors alike point to his continual, restless motivic development and compositions like the gently paced “Edith’s Cake” and the grooving “The Line” have enough “fiddling and diddling” to quote Cammack from a 2012 interview—to delight and frustrate according to taste. At his most fluid, when there don’t Though drummer Herlin Riley and seem to be enough keys on the piformer Weather Report percussi- ano to accommodate his dazzling onist Manolo Badrena first play- runs, it’s easy to see where pianist ed with Jamal in the 1980s, these Hiromi Uehara finds much of her latter two Jamal recordings have inspiration. the feel of a new quartet, especi- For all his technical dexterity and ally in the wake of the departure passion, Jamal is never more at of long-standing drummer Idris home than when caressing and Muhammad and bassist James teasing the melody of a ballad. Cammack. Happily, bassist Regi- There are a few to savor here, nonald Veal is much more prominent tably a majestic rendition of “I’m than on Blue Moon, engendering In the Mood for Love” and Duke real swing and irresistible funk Ellington’s “I Got it Bad and that

Ain’t Good.” On the latter, Jamal plays with the melody, letting it drift before gently rekindling the flame. Bass, brushes and percussion lend tender support. Jamal can’t resist quoting the melody to “Take The A-Train” here, and on numerous occasions throughout the album he exercises his penchant for quoting the popular melodies he has breathed for a lifetime. Jamal pays tribute to pianist Horace Silver on the Afro-Caribean flavored “Silver,” whose simple melody and uncluttered arrangement harks back to the Jamal of yesteryear. Similarly, the sparse architecture and beautiful minimalism of Saturday Morning recall At The Pershing:But Not For Me (Argo, 1958) a million-selling album that cemented Jamal’s reputation as an original and influential voice. The lilting melody of the title track is hypnotic enough for the quartet to repeat it throughout the song’s ten-minute duration without it ever sounding less than charming a signature tune to replace “Poinciana” perhaps?

mains almost unmatched. The four musicians sound fully molded to each other contours and the result is music that is fantastically tight yet exhilarating. Jamal is still minting great melodies, still blazing his own trail and for many, still leading the way.

Jon Cowherd Mercy Label: Self Produced By IAN PATTERSON

Pianist/keyboard player Jon Cowherd is best known for his association with drummer Brian Blade’s Fellowship (a group he co-founded in 1998) but as a producer and arranger too, there are clearly other strings to his bow. Cowherd’s keyboard collaborations with jazz, country and rock artists including singers Cassandra Wilson, Rosanne Cash and Iggy Pop, point to his versatility, so it’s maybe something of a surprise that his debut as leader, firmly rooted in the jazz idiom, is so stylistically homogenous. Heavyweights Blade, bassist John Patitucci and guitarist Bill Frisell gel beautifully to illuminate the subtle strands of the leader’s compelling originals.

The title track from One (20th Century Fox Records, 1978) seems like an unnecessary indulgence on an album that weighs in at a healthy one hour. Nevertheless, its jaunty melody and infectious groove will appeal to new fans and maybe send others back to rediscover an overlooked recording nestled in the middle ground of a discography that dates to 1951. “Saturday Morning (reprise)” a three and a half-minute radio-friendly version serves up that delightful melody one last time and burns it into the subconscious mind if it wasn’t al- The up-tempo opener “The Coready there. lumns” sets out the quartet’s stall; Jamal proves once again that he’s Cowherd and Frisell, inseparable lost none of his customary ele- on the defining melody, solo in gance or electricity. His expansive turn, with Patitucci and Blade stoimagination as an interpreter of king the quartet’s engine. Whilst standards (particularly ballads) re- the compositions rarely stray from

this orthodox pattern the music is never less than absorbing, hardly surprising with musicians of this caliber. Frisell has rarely enjoyed such a prominent role as a sideman, soloing on nearly every number; yet it says much for Cowherd’s writing and playing that he succeeds in stamping his own personality on these tunes. The 16-minute, three-part “Mercy Suite” is a delightful exercise in group interplay. A pretty melody and grooving bass ostinato at the outset of Part 1 gives way to an extended solo from Cowherd, underpinned by Blade’s flowing dynamics. The drummer switches to brushes on Part 2, which is broadly defined by its hushed lyricism. The atmospheric Part 3 revolves around another gorgeous unison melody, with the quartet sustaining a gently smoldering intensity throughout. An altogether bolder vibe colors “Postlude”; with minimal fuss Blade and Patitucci propel Cowherd and Frisell—who employs a meatier electric tone—to some of their most vibrant playing of the set. Patitucci makes the most of his own brief turn before the music peters out, dissipating in typical Frisellian mode. The sparser architecture of the graceful “Baltica” foregrounds Blade’s fluid invention and the drummer features even more prominently on the undulating “Newsong”; Cowherd’s lively intervention is followed by a brooding Frisell, who subtly lets the wind out of the sails in a drawn out, loop-colored ending. “Seconds” sees Cowherd’s mellotron merge with Frisell’s loops in an oddly abstract interlude before the gently meandering “Lowertown” restores the quartet’s equilibrium. Cowherd and then Frisell each take solos whose lyricism is matched by their economy. “Blessings” shares the airy melodicism of a Burt All About Jazz Magazine 83

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the ensembles and expand the instrumental palette, there is a downBacharach tune and allows Pati- side: we don’t get to hear quite so tucci to stretch out a little more; much of the stellar team of trumCowherd dances lightly in the up- peter Peter Evans and reedman Jon per registers with Frisell adopting a Irabagon. more subdued supporting role. Piano tinkles and sparkles like a little One consequence of drawing upon stream on the meditative “Four Ri- such a distant age is that the styvers,” bookended by Frisell’s loops. listic juxtapositions between the modern and the source era becoThere’s a simple beauty in these me jarringly obvious, having the finely balanced compositions that side effect of revealing Elliott’s rewards repeated listening. Only compositional gambits with startwhen egos are suspended in the in- ling clarity: the abrupt jump cuts, terests of the music does it sound the irreverent exaggerations and this good. Cowherd’s fine debut is the in your face contrasts. Cram in clearly built on the foundations of the period detail of a polyphonic many years honing his craft. Hope- front line, shout choruses, block fully it’s just the first of many more chords, stop time figures and short to come. solo breaks, and it’s a madcap, even disorientating, experience. Even that’s not the end of it, as if in thrall to some fevered logic, Elliott also gleefully inserts passages of klezmer, free improv, modal vamp and Latin groove into the mix.

Mostly Other People Do The Killing Red Hot Label: Hot Cup Records By JOHN SHARPE

Having been simultaneously inspired by and ironic about ‘80s smooth jazz on the excellent Slippery Rock (Hot Cup Records, 2013), Mostly Other People Do the Killing delve back further into history to explore pre-War genres on Red Hot. It’s a tall order for a foursome, so bassist and leader Moppa Elliott has added Brandon Seabrook on banjo, Ron Stabinsky on piano and David Taylor on bass trombone to fully exploit the possibilities inherent in post New Orleans modes. Though the new voices successfully fill out 84 All About Jazz Magazine

That theme of colliding textures bleeds into the longer solos which announce many numbers. Drummer Kevin Shea undertakes a wide ranging survey of percussion styles to launch “Zelienople,” maintaining his riotous approach in opposition to the ensuing steady group tempo, while in a tour de force introduction to “King Of Prussia” Stabinsky essays a statement that consists almost entirely of fragmentary quotes from a dizzying selection of tunes. Neither is as extreme as Seabrook’s feature beginning the title cut (incidentally a mash up of at least five different songs by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) which alternates sine wave electronics with acoustic banjo fills. Most rewarding musically is the bassist’s lead in to “Turkey Foot Corner” apparently following instruction to make something from a restricted menu comprising just double stops, glissandi and wide intervallic leaps.

It takes consummate skill to be able to navigate such choppy waters so seamlessly and this crew have it in abundance. But while undoubtedly smart, the carefully plotted anarchy takes some getting used to, and may even deter some listeners. That would be a shame, as once past the intentionally jolting polarities, we are ultimately left with a typically irreverent, occasionally infuriating, but always staggeringly inventive homage to the jazz canon.

John Escreet Sabotage and Celebration Label: Whirlwind Recordings By PHIL BARNES

Doncaster born pianist John Escreet recorded this exhilarating modern jazz record in his adopted home of New York on 7 November 2012 informed, he has said in a recent interview, by two events. The first, Hurricane Sandy, was responsible for his incarceration in his Brooklyn apartment for long enough to write and fine tune the material for this collection, while the second was the increasingly polarised US political situation in the lead up to the 2012 Presidential election itself held on the night before the session. Whether or not we read this as a reverse justification for the instinctive, the title track of the collection perhaps illustrates Escreet’s point the best. The initial section of piano and strings gives way to a free

squeal before settling into a wonderful section that begins with Escreet soloing before swapping back and forth with the stellar horns of David Binney and Chris Potter. The feel is of a game of tag—Escreet and the horn section swapping back and forth at one time inserting an angular rhythmic riff or intervention, reminiscent of Troyka’s “Dropsy,” the other covering it with energetic, rhythmic solos. The solos themselves feel like the introduction of a disruption to a tight rhythmic system or structure—sometimes celebratory but arguably also working against and ‘sabotaging’ the established patterns. The impact is thrilling and must be among the finest modern jazz tracks of the year. This idea of the introduction of elements of disruption or conflict into the music occurs throughout the collection. Take for example the wonderful segued opening pair of “Axis of Hope” and “He Who Dares.” The strings start “Axis of Hope” off gently enough before a contrary theme emerges, which prefigures the disruptions to come from the core band after the segue into “He Who Dares.” The latter is fantastic, one of those tracks that make you stop whatever you happen to be doing and just listen. The solos build and release tension around a memorable, filmic, main theme setting up a final disruption to the proceedings that sounds like an acoustic attempt to play a techno glitch—an analogue portrayal of a digital ghost perhaps? Melodic enough to satisfy the more open minded Thelonious Monk fan, yet angular and forward looking enough to grab the attention of a modern jazz crowd, it is an absolute triumph. And so it largely is across the rest of the collection too. All of the pieces have merit whether they be the more soulful “Laura Angela,” whe-

re Escreet switches to Fender Rhodes, or the way that “Animal Style” resolves its dialogue between patterns into the fab celebratory horn segment at its conclusion. “Beyond Your Wildest Dreams” allows Binney to swap to soprano saxophone and adds Adam Rogers on guitar plus three vocalists to great effect.

jazz veterans, legends, really: bassist Ron Carter and pianist Kenny Barron, with relative newcomer Gibbs, on an energized set of jazz standards and pop tunes along with some inspired band member originals. Gibbs, the son of vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, bit off a big chunk when he hooked up with his “dream Escreet had nothing to prove with band.” How do you play in the prethis collection, his previous albums sence of giants? On the drum kit, were all great after all, yet here he do you go covert, slip in behind has surpassed all expectations. the big guys and lay down a subtle Such is his work rate that the next timekeeping groove and let them record (with John Hebert, Tyshawork their magic? Or do you get wn Sorey, and special guest Evan into an overt approach, and engage Parker) is apparently already comyour heroes, and see if you’ve got plete, but for now Sabotage and what it takes? Celebration marks a new personal artistic peak and one of 2013’s fi- Gibbs take the latter route, and nest modern jazz records into the does a marvelous job of it, with bargain. drum work that is dynamic and assertive, in the driver’s seat for the supreme swing on his original tune, “The Thrasher,” keeping impeccable time on Barron’s “Sunshower,” adding a snap and pop on Carter’s “A Feeling,” or painting a diaphanous pastel with the brushes on his tender “The Woman on the T.V. Screen.” There are some excellent jazz covers included: pianist Herbie Hancock’s “The Eye of the Hurricane,” and Thelonious Monk’s “EpistropKenny Barron/ Gerry Gibbs/ Ron hy.” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” Carter Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio cranked up to near frenetic tempo, represents the Great AmeriLabel: Whaling City Sound can Songbook. But the highlights By DAN MCCLENAGHAN are Gibbs fabulous arrangements Drummer Gerry Gibbs calls this of some familiar pop tunes. The band the Thrasher Dream Trio. Hal David/Burt Bacharach tune, That “Thrasher” aspect of the ap- “Promises, Promises” is given a pellation might make the uni- swinging treatment by the trio that nitiated conjure images of burly gives the melody a bounce; and tattooed guys in sleeveless shirts, Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worsporting long black hair (and may- ry “Bout a Thing” sparkles around be facial make-up) slamming their Carter’s big, solid bass notes. instruments in the heavy metal Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio bass/drums/guitar mode. But this (a superb piano trio outing) reprecouldn’t be further from the musents a dream project come true for sic at hand. Gerry Gibbs Thrasher drummer Gerry Gibbs. Dream Trio teams two seasoned All About Jazz Magazine 85

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Keith Jarrett No End

Label: ECM Records By JOHN KELMAN

When Keith Jarrett released Spirits in 1986 on his longstanding/ exclusive label, Germany’s ECM Records, this two-disc home recording—featuring the pianist on a multitude of instruments in addition to his main axe, including a bevy or recorders and flutes, guitar, saz and percussion—came out of the blue to his legion of fans while, at the same time, not representing a total surprise. After all, at this point in time, the musically voracious Jarrett was busy recording and touring with his then-nascent Standards Trio; delivering epic solo piano performances like Concerts: Bregenz/Munich—first released in 1981 but finally issued on CD in its entirety for the first time concurrent with this release; and was looking to other instruments for improvisational grist, as he did with church organ on 1979’s Hymns/Spheres (another recent reissue in complete form) and clavichord on 1986’s Book of Ways. But even those accomplishments did not represent the sum total of Jarrett’s breadth since coming to ECM with the 1972 solo piano album that shook the world, Facing You. In addition, the pianist led two now-legendary bands in the 86 All About Jazz Magazine

‘70s, each with their own separate repertoires, largely penned by the pianist: his American Quartet with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian; and the European “Belonging” Quartet that, with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen, was recently heard on 2012’s stellar archival unearthing, Sleeper—Tokyo, April 16, 1979. Jarrett was also composing classical music as early as 1974’s In the Light (1974) while performing classical music written by others, including then-ECM newcomer, Estonian composer Arvo Part’s Tabula Rasa (1984).

music from the ether with his solo shows and as a similarly unfettered interpreter of the Great American Songbook and jazz standards both well-known and obscure, then the Jarrett of the new millennium has become, if not in content, then certainly predictable in form. Which makes the release of another unearthed piece of archival music, No End, something of a surprise— or, perhaps, it should be not so much of one.

Recorded just a year after Spirits, in 1986—and again at Jarrett’s home studio (“Cavelight Studios”) in New Jersey—No End bears some A lot has changed since those comparison to its predecessor. halcyon days, however: Jarrett, Like Spirits, the pianist does play since being taken down for a his primary axe, but it’s far from number of years in the mid-’90s his main one; instead, No End’s with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, dominating instruments are has largely reduced his regular electric guitars, bass and drums, work to just two contexts: the along with some percussion, Standards Trio, last heard earlier recorder and voice. Electric?!?!? this year on Somewhere; and solo some of you might say? Drums? performances like Rio (2011)— From Keith Jarrett? though he did return to classical performance earlier this year with Well, while he has long been vocal the wonderful Bach: Six Sonatas for about not liking electric keyboards, Violin and Piano (2013), featuring Jarrett has never come out against violinist Michelle Makarski. other instruments of the pluggedin variety, and it’s important to Even so, Jarrett’s overall musical remember that, while the majority purview has shrunken considerably of his career has been in the acoustic over the years; while he asserts, world, he is still a child of the ‘60s; quite correctly, that improvisation he even performed Bob Dylan’s is a form of composition, he still “My Back Pages” on his 1968 live has not put pen to paper and trio recording, Somewhere Before formally composed any new music (Vortex), and Joni Mitchell’s “All I for more than three decades; Want” on the studio date with the while his current activities can same group, The Mourning of a certainly be considered as more Star (Atlantic, 1971). Just because than enough, there remain those his preferences lean to the acoustic in his fan base who would love to side when it comes to piano, is it see him turn back to writing the a reasonable assumption that the kind of music he did for his two same applies across the board? 1970s quartets. If artists’ activities can only be measured—by their Clearly not, based on No End. fans, that is—by what they choose And for those who thought they to release and perform in concert, knew Jarrett, a warning: when you then as brilliant as he remains as read, on a Keith Jarrett record, both an in-the-moment drawer of “Producer’s Note: Play this music

LOUD,” well, you know this ain’t Kansas you’re in anymore. The very electric nature of No End makes it a very different beast than Spirits, although there’s a certain spirituality to both that does, at least, make them distant cousins. Most of No End’s twenty, Romannumbered tracks are based around either vamps or, as in the case of the Phrygian “I,” very simple chord progressions. Jarrett is clearly not as accomplished an instrumentalist here as he is on piano; though he turns out to be a surprisingly good drummer, on electric guitar he clearly commands some language, but is not always successful at actually articulating it. Still, there’s something intrinsically charming about being a fly on the wall of Jarrett’s home studio, where he plays music for nobody but himself, and explores avenues that are about as far away as can be imagined from the music that’s garnered him his reputation as one of the most significant jazz pianists of the past half century. It’s a true mixed bag, with plenty of

layering done by bouncing tracks between two two-track cassette decks (meaning a lot of hiss). Based on Jarrett’s guitar and bass parts, and with his in-the-weeds singing, “V” could be something sourced from the Caribbean, but his straightforward, four-to-thebar drumming keeps it situated a little farther north. “VI,” on the other hand, is more outré, Jarrett’s background guitar chords revealing that earlier-referenced broader language, even if his single-note work feels a little more rudimentary and his bends are those of someone for whom guitar is clearly not a primary instrument.

however, that after nearly 30 years, Jarrett has chosen to release these recordings also reveals something important about where he is now. Not that anyone has to worry about showing up to a Jarrett show to find him with the “beautiful deep red Gibson solid body” of the recording strapped on, but there’s something revealing In his brief liner notes, when he says, ...” somehow something happened during these days in the ‘80s that won’t ever be repeated. I had wanted to record on drums most of my life, and when I got the tape out recently, I thought I’d better run with it.”

And who would ever have expected Keith Jarrett of the mid’80s to create music that actually rocks, is at times sloppily funky and elsewhere, with Jarrett’s tablas and hand percussion, approaches a kind of meditative world music?

While it’s up for discussion as to whether or not it’s possible to attain some of the milestones we achieve when we’re younger— there are certainly artists who, in their sixties and seventies, are consistently putting out the best music of their career. No End may The music of No End is ultimately well not be Jarrett at his best— incidental to its real value: evidence even nearly three decades ago in that there was a time when Jarrett 1986—but it Is proof positive that was far less sedentary in his ways; assumptions—even those with perhaps even more importantly, solid empirical support—are rarely complete truths. Jarrett may have spent the better part of his long career honing the possibilities of a single instrument within a largely singular genre, but his interests clearly reach farther afield. Hard though it may be to believe, nestled within Jarrett the jazz interpreter and spontaneous composer is Jarrett the rock-edged instigator, polyrhythmic explorer and folkloric investigator. No End is a decidedly and surprisingly lo-fi recording from the normally pristine ECM. But for the window that these 92 minutes open into what were, at the time, some of Jarrett’s private inspirations, No End may not be a great record, but it is an important one. All About Jazz Magazine 87

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Mark Orton Nebraska

black and white cinematography. While the score’s mid-western persona is indeed adventurous and rustic it also evokes more than the heartland of Americana with scenes imbued with unique temperaments in the haunting “To The Levee” and “The Ambush” with its slight Aussie guitar/violin theme or the weighty piano theme in “The Old House.” Evocative, humorous, and at times downright touching, the music gives depth to Nebraska’s complexities and humanness.

Label: Milan Records By MARK F. TURNER

Even without seeing director Alexander Payne’s critically acclaimed motion picture Nebraska, the soundtrack evokes a sense of poignant storytelling, motion, and depth. Multi-instrumentalist and film scorer Mark Orton vividly captures the essence of the film’s story about a belligerent old man (performed by Bruce Dern who earned “Best Actor” for the role at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival) who is relentlessly determined to collect, in person by the way, the unlikely one million dollar sweepstakes prize he is convinced he’s won. Orton who has written scores for films and documentaries works in familiar musical territory here and includes performances with his San Francisco based acoustic chamber music group Tin Hat Trio. The guitar-driven score takes the viewer or listener along for the ride through passages of quaint small-town folksiness to widespread landscapes decorated with the subtleties of bluegrass music in “Guitar Twenty Eight” or heart tugging melodies in “Immigration” as the tranquil glow of accordion, violin, and trumpet, and banjo cast either shadowy tones or bright hues to the film’s 88 All About Jazz Magazine

Kit Downes and Tom Challenger Wedding Music

Label: Loop Records By BRUCE LINDSAY

Six improvised pieces of music, created over a three-day residency by two of the UK’s most innovative and visionary young players and performed as church organ and saxophone duets. That’s Wedding Music, by organist Kit Downes and saxophonist Tomas Challenger. Six strange, atmospheric and starkly beautiful pieces of music. Wedding Music was recorded in St Paul’s Church, Huddersfield, in Yorkshire—the home of a church organ which Downes describes as “exceptional.” It’s the culmination of a three-day residency at Huddersfield University during which, according to the organist, the duo explored “timbre, space, duration and sound.” The exploration is a triumph.

“Shos” starts off jauntily, with Challenger’s saxophone almost skipping with joy. Downes’ entry—a doomy, stark, chord—soon shifts the mood to a much darker place and eventually Challenger follows. By the close of the piece Downes’ organ is very much in charge and the saxophone’s despairing wail no longer makes any pretence at fun. “Optics” is a slow-burner, the spacious organ chords eventually joined by Challenger’s equally spacious saxophone. The music evokes a feeling of loneliness—especially when Challenger’s sax seems to channel the sound of a lost and lonely sea creature—and yet it manages to be quite lovely at the same time. “Cooks” is another down tempo piece, opening with Downes’ organ sounding like a pneumatic drill— it’s a dark, slasher movie soundtrack, once more rich in atmosphere. “Restart,” the album’s longest number, makes “Optics” seem positively hyperactive. Both Downes and Challenger keep things simple— organ chords held for extended periods to underpin repeated two or three note tenor saxophone phrases. The result is gentle and affecting. “Rat Catcher” returns to the dark mystery of “Cooks,” with Downes yet again coaxing oddly unnatural sounds from the organ and Challenger’s saxophone once more conjuring images of despair and longing. But while “Cooks” was scary, “Rat Catcher” is rather beautiful. It’s not easy to envisage the weddings for which the first five of these pieces might form a backdrop. Perhaps a shotgun might be involved, or the Frankenstein family may be in attendance. “Wedding Music” itself is another matter. It’s Downes’ turn to begin in jaunty mood, with loud, dynamic and celebratory phrases. Challenger

responds with bursts of thick-toned notes, as Downes’ own playing becomes increasingly frenetic and rich. This isn’t the traditional accompaniment to the bride and groom walking down the aisle, but it’s an ideal accompaniment to the entire wedding party leaping and jumping in celebration. Wedding Music is a download only release from London’s Loop Collective. The meaning of the album’s title, says Downes, “is open-ended.” The music is marvellous.

expansive array of sounds. Abo- friendly people here, honestly” ve them all is the diamond that is over the cheerful, gently-rolling Simmons’ voice. melody does she mean it or is she just extracting the Michael, as her Simmons has always declared her fellow-citizens might say? love of jazz and folk, but Signs heralds the arrival of a new passion. Simmons’ solo performance of So what else is influencing Sim- the classically-romantic “You Bemons-2013? A spot of psychede- long To Me” brings her folk roots lia, that’s what—she namechecks to prominence. With just her nyGenesis and Pink Floyd. Hints of lon-strung acoustic guitar for comDavid Gilmour-era Floyd certain- pany she sings this beautiful stanly come through in the excellent dard with a purity of voice and a Kolarides’ electric guitar and the- level of emotional involvement that re’s a definite prog rock sound to few vocalists can hope to achieve. Bartlett’s keyboards and Tim Giles’ There’s a jazzy side to some of her drums on “London Loves.” But the phrasing too. finest of the Genesis and Floyd influences come from both bands’ early incarnations, with Simmons combining the quintessential Englishness of Genesis’ Nursery Cryme (Charisma 1971) and Floyd’s Syd Barrett years (Hurrah!) in lyrics and music. “Last” finds this combination at its most successful.

The tunes range from the jolly and upbeat (“Last,” “For The Love Of Kaz Simmons The Big L”) to the aching beauty Signs of “Your Love” and “I Know You.” Label: Fast Awake Records The lyrics have a similar breadth— By BRUCE LINDSAY ”Staying In” is laugh-out-loud It’s album number four from Lon- funny, “Last” is happy-sad, “Your don-based singer and songwriter Love” is heartbreaking. Whichever Kaz Simmons. It’s called Signs. It combination Simmons creates, the deftly explores the fertile ground results are a delight. that encompasses jazz, folk and the The seemingly wide-eyed innocent quirkier end of ‘70s British psych- of “London Loves” or “Last” is by rock, and it’s a joy. no means an ever-present persoSimmons has slimmed down her band for Signs—a small but perfectly formed quartet share the musical honors, compared to the dozen or so players on her third album, Dandelions (Fast Awake, 2011). It hasn’t reduced the musical range, however. Keyboard player Will Bartlett contributes a wide range of tones and colors on his own, adding Simmons’ own acoustic guitar and the guitar, bass and drums of Martin Kolarides, Riaan Vosloo and Tim Giles results in an

Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese Bella Napoli

Label: Capri Records By DAN BILAWSKY

Capri records seems to be committed to promoting meetings between actor-singers and jazz heavies. First came the pairing of Wilford Brimley and drummer Jeff Hamilton’s trio in September of 2013. Now, right on the heels of that release comes a meeting between Dominic Chianese—best known as Uncle Junior on HBO’s The Sopranos— and baritone saxophone ace Gary Smulyan. Together, they bridge the gap between Canzone Napoletana and jazz.

na. Just ask the poor sod who’s the subject of “Staying In.” This is Simmons at her most cheekily playful, the tale of a “sporty man” searching for love by means of a well-dodgy internet dating profile. Kolarides’ guitar perfectly captures the satirical edge of Simmons’ lyrics. “For The Love Of The Big L” is a bit of an homage to Simmons’ home town, but it’s by no means unambiguous even if her declaration that “I re- Smulyan, the long-reigning king ally love it here” seems genuinely of the baritone saxophone, has a heartfelt. When she sings “We’re knack for birthing unique and/or All About Jazz Magazine 89

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just happens to work well because project shouldn’t work so well, but of the chemistry between the two theory only goes so far. Bella Nainteresting projects. The man, after protagonists, the talents of the mu- poli proves that point. all, put out the reeds-heavy Saxop- sicians involved, and a collection hone Mosaic (Criss Cross, 1993), of arrangements (provided by Jeff ambitious Blue Suite (Criss Cross, Lederer) that cater to all parties so 2000), one-of-a-kind High Noon: well. The Jazz Soul Of Frankie Laine Bella Napoli is really two albums (Reservoir/City Hall, 2009) and in one, as five numbers are inorgan-meets-bari Smul’s Paradise strumentals and six tracks featu(Capri, 2012), so it should come as re vocals. Chianese first turns up no shock that he was interested in on “Anema e Core,” which begins trying something new with Chia- with a marked sense of longing nese. but takes on a lighter feeling with Chianese made his first on-record splash as a vocalist with Hits (Madacy 2 Label Group, 2001), but that was hardly his first stab at singing. He began to explore musical theater in his youth and he entered the ranks of the professionals when he was hired as a chorus member in a touring company of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore in the early ‘50s. He even logged time in the folk trenches in the ‘60s, singing and playing his guitar and serving as MC at Gerde’s Folk City. Unfortunately, singing went on the back burner for a bit when his acting career took off, but it became a primary pursuit again in later years. Hits and Ungrateful Heart (Grandstand Entertainment, 2003) introduced his vocal talents to a wider audience, and now, ten years after his last record, the octogenarian returns with this tasty Italian dish. While many partners-from-different-worlds projects are built on the idea of compromise and a meet-in-the-middle mindset, this one isn’t. The baritone saxophonist and singer of Neapolitan songs don’t give up their respective core performance principles and this project is all the better for it; Chianese charms simply by doing his thing and Smulyan alternately smokes and seduces as usual. This odd-on-the-surface partnership 90 All About Jazz Magazine

the arrival of a bossa nova groove. From there he moves on to music that’s Cuban-infused and tropically enhanced (“Marechiare”), wistfully romantic (“O Sole Mio”) and gently desirous (“A Vucchella”). He even bares his tortured soul in the name of love (“Dicitencello Vuie”). Chianese’s final stand—an a capella “Santa Lucia Lontana”—comes with a spoken introduction but it doesn’t need one; it goes straight to the heart like all the rest of the songs he sings here. The instrumentals are no less pleasing, as deep-seated beauty merges with the simple-and-solid (“Fenestra Che Lucive”), gaiety and joy take hold (“O Saracino”), and old world sounds are opened up for the taking (“Peque”). As the program unfolds, serious notions are mixed with more playful ideals (“Tre Veglia e Sonno”), creating a well-rounded picture of where this music can go in the right hands. Gary Versace’s breath-of-Italian-air accordion and Joseph Brent’s calm-as-can-be mandolin tremolos add a stamp of sonic authenticity to this project while the rhythm team of drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind is grounded and creative all at once. Smulyan, perhaps the best at bring out the beefy and the tender in the baritone saxophone, is never short of excellent here. In theory, this

Erik Friedlander Claws & Wings

Label: Skipstone Records By TROY COLLINS

How does one deal with the loss of a loved one? For many artists, expressing remorse through their work is a normal, sometimes necessary, part of the grieving process. Creative improvising musicians, like renowned cellist Erik Friedlander, are no exception. Lynn Shapiro, Friedlander’s wife of 22 years (and an award winning choreographer and writer in her own right), died in November 2011 after a long bout with breast cancer. Just days after her passing Friedlander tore a ligament in his thumb during a biking accident, effectively sidelining him for months. Less than a year later however, Friedlander returned to composing with Claws & Wings, an album-length elegy to his late wife. The session is unique in Friedlander’s discography, not only for its highly personal subject matter, but because of its atypical electro-acoustic instrumentation and lineup. Most of Friedlander’s previous ensemble recordings have been acoustically-based, band-oriented documents; from Chimera and Topaz to the Broken Arm Trio and Bonebridge, electronics have nor-

mally been limited to the inclusion of an amplified bass in the cellist’s male-dominated working groups. For this unusual set, Friedlander is joined by two of the Downtown scene’s most remarkable female improvisers—pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and electronic percussionist Ikue Mori. Courvoisier’s adroit virtuosity provides the perfect accompaniment to Friedlander’s sinuous lyricism, her neo-classical technique finding sympathetic accord in the leader’s straightforward approach. Mori, on the other hand, is the date’s wildcard, conjuring a kaleidoscopic array of beguiling textures from her laptop that imbue the proceedings with a surreal, cinematic air.

hed musings transcend the sadness of the event that inspired it.

Nicky Schrire Space And Time

The atomization of all musical genres since the 1950s renders classifications like “jazz,” “adult contemporary” and simply “popular” fairly meaningless. But the music must go somewhere, and Schrire deconstructs George Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” (while, at the same time, completely recasting George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun”), so she’s called jazz. Much of this recording is like a classical art-song recital, maybe one a really hip Schubert would have assembled.

Schrire’s voice is punctilious. Think of Ivory soap: clean and unscented Label: Magenta Label Group by anything artificial...genuine. The By C. MICHAEL BAILEY same can be said of her composing. New York City-based jazz vocalist She is not looking to show off with The lengthy two-part opener, “Frail As A Breeze,” is prototypi- Nicky Schrire has two albums to technical fireworks; she is showing cal, gracefully juxtaposing aleato- her credit. Freedom Flight (Circa- off with the unseen and unheard: ric impressionism and harmonious vision Productions, 2012) was well grace, class and a certain élan. Orthematic variations with a classical received by AAJ colleague Dan ganically speaking, her instrument formalism that resonates with the Bilawsky, who explained her fresh is that special gift that is readily reemotional clarity of popular music. and well-scrubbed appeal thusly: cognized as finely tuned and supeAlternating between despair and “The London-born, South Afri- rior, without knowing why. optimism, the brooding “Dreams can-raised, New York-based voca- Schrire favors older material for Of Your Leaving” unfolds as a sha- list bursts onto the scene with this her standards performance. “You’re dowy pointillist meditation, while dazzling debut, but she didn’t sim- Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” the winsome “Dancer” is the op- ply materialize out of thin air. This and Berlin’s “Say It Isn’t So,” not to posite, a nimble contrapuntal duet worldly woman has been honing mention again Gershwin’s “Watch,” between Friedlander’s balletic piz- her skills at the Manhattan School echo from the jazz age and before. zicato and Courvoisier’s pirouet- of Music and studying with the Then Schrire sings George Harriting filigrees, subtly underscored crème de la crème of the jazz vocal son and something as fine as her by Mori’s ethereal flourishes. The world, including Peter Eldridge, title piece and anyone trying to piepisodic “Swim With Me” encap- Theo Bleckmann, Gretchen Par- geonhole this vocalist has lost the sulates an even greater range of lato, Kate McGarry and Norma critical battle before it has started. emotion. Seamlessly alternating Winstone; it’s clear that she’s taken Schrire’s support (pianists Fabibetween darkness and light, the their lessons to heart.” tune’s rich chiaroscuro is exempli- The beauty of Schrire’s exposure to an Almazan, Gerald Clayton and fied by the striking contrast bet- this august group of singers is that Gil Goldstein) each rise to the ween Courvoisier’s spiky opening their influence is expressed in her occasion, following the direction gambit and Friedlander’s resolutely originality and not by any audible of Schrire, who keeps everything basic and uncluttered. This is musonorous arco. characteristics in her singing or sic for the soundtrack of life: joy, Ultimately, Claws & Wings con- composing. That is what artistic in- peace and hope. veys a sense of reconciliation in the fluence is all about: evolution, not ascending melody of the uplifting replication. Schrire’s sophomore closer “Cheek To Cheek,” confir- effort, Space and Time, brims with ming this recording as a heartfelt this same originality, distilled into elegy whose poignantly unvarnis- a piano/vocal recital format with three different pianists. All About Jazz Magazine 91

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sing imparted in the humorous self-centered themed “Nobody” popularized by Vaudeville comedian Burt Williams.

Several lesser known gems are carefully interpreted and given new life, such as the bluesy “St. Louis Gal” (originally recorded by 1920’s singer Bessie Smith) or the brilliant re-imagining of “You Bring Out The Savage In Me” (a popular 1930s show tune performed by the pioneering female multi-instrumentalist, singer, and bandleader Cecile McLorin Salvant Valaida Snow). Each selection tells WomanChild a unique story of the past that’s reLabel: Mack Avenue Records vitalized by McLorin Salvant’s hoBy MARK F. TURNER ney-toned lyricism, as in Rodgers “You sound and act as if you’ve and Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What been here before,” an elder might Time It Was” or the bluesy, funky say to some precocious youngster rendition of the 19th Century folk who exhibited the traits of a much hero ballad, “John Henry.” older person. That’s a sentiment The program is fleshed out by a that could also be applied to the top notch band featuring master remarkable 24 year-old jazz sin- drummer Herlin Riley, the always ger Cecile McLorin Salvant, who solid Rodney Whitaker on bass sounds as if she was reincarnated and rising pianist Aaron Diehl, from a different era. With a unique who released another excellent background, the winner of 2010’s Mack Avenue debut, The Bespoke Thelonious Monk International Man’s Narrative, earlier this year. Jazz Vocals Competition is a Mia- The band sparkles on the title track, mi native of Haitian and Guade- written by the singer, and the clasloupian descent who grew up in sic “There’s a Lull in My Life,” with Aix-en-Provence, France. Her cap- its unique changes, before McLorin tivating singing has received criti- Salvant’s magic conjures up memocal praise from the likes of trumpe- ries of the great Ella Fitzgerald. A ter Wynton Marsalis and the proof touch of nostalgia yet totally fresh, becomes apparent when listening this is an excellent release from a to her Mack Avenue debut, Wo- unique and impressive new voice. manChild—heard in her perfect pitch, emotive vocal nuances and poise that seems well beyond her years. While McLorin Salvant’s rigorous studies in classical, baroque, and jazz music are clear factors, it’s the way she personalizes mood and style in her singing that authenticates her craft. There are hints of Billie Holiday’s melancholic phrasing and Abbey Lincoln’s storytelling, as well as comedic phra92 All About Jazz Magazine

Greg Diamond Conduit Label: Dot Time Records By EDWARD BLANCO

New York guitarist Greg Diamond follows up his well-received debut, Dancando Com Ale (Self Produced, 2008), with the equally impressive Conduit, a session of contemporary modern jazz infused with Latin rhythms and elements of jazz-rock fusion, funk, bebop and a touch of the blues. The music is a hodgepodge of different influences, melding nicely into one superb package performed by a first-rate group of players. A fixture in the city’s vibrant jazz scene, Diamond has particular affinity for the Latin side of jazz and continues this love affair here as evident on such pieces as “Inertia,” “El Martillo” (the hammer) and the finale, “Chance.” As with his debut, Diamond uses a core sextet to interpret his music, bringing back bassist Edward Perez, as well as veteran tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake and alto saxophonist Brian Hogans, who share leads on separate tracks. Presenting another selection of originals as testament to his talents as a composer, Diamond’s “Yvette” opens the disc in high-gear behind Blake’s blazing tenor, drummer Henry Cole’s firm stick work and the first of many tasteful riffs from the leader. Diamond is in true form on the spacious “Inertia,” the album’s first definite Latin rhythm piece, moving to a bit slower tempo but certainly lively enough not to warrant its misleading title. The percussive and energizing “El Martillo” kicks in with the second of the Latin influenced pieces, where Diamond’s appreciable electric guitar chops are the main course, though both pianist Mike Eckroth and Hogans contribute excellent solos of their

the same language—jazz—is not uncommon. However, finding three that are as compatible as bassist John Hébert, pianist Benoit Delbecq, and drummer Gerald Cleaver is, as the French say, reThen there is the jazz-rock (even cherché. fusion-like) ”Turbulence,” its propulsive sound waves guaran- French culture is the theme of teed to command attention, with Hébert’s trio recording. The New the rhythm section sounding most Orleans born, Cajun bassist inpronounced behind Perez, Cole, vited the Paris-based pianist and and Cuban percussionist Mauricio Detroit’s Cleaver (a city founded Herrera as they back up Diamond by French officer Antoine de La and Hogans. “La Poor Sweet” and Mothe Cadillac) to record the folthe soft-textured “Song For Jerry low-up to their inaugural release (Mi Viejo) offer more bright mo- Spiritual Lover (Clean Feed, 2010). ments, as the disc closes on the Floodstage continues their converdirection-changing “Chance,” the sation, one delivered with distincsession’s final Latin-feel song, fea- tive enunciations. turing Hogans with a stylish tenor Hébert, who can be heard as a sisolo and heavy percussion work deman to a who’s who of players from Cole and Herrera. including Mary Halvorson, Fred Diamond continues to explore and Hersch, Uri Caine, came into his refine a distinctive modern sound, own as a member of Andrew Hill’s and Conduit serves as the perfect final ensemble. He collaborates in vehicle for interpreting his take the trio Body Of Three with Tayon fusion, Latin and other mo- lor Ho Bynum and Gerald Cleaver. dern sounds that comprise the jazz Like Hébert, the drummer can be spectrum. One thing is certain: this heard in multiple bands, including a varied musical project energized those of Ivo Perelman, Tomasz by strong writing and superb musi- Stanko, Elery Eskelin, and Craig cianship, beginning with Diamond Taborn’s Trio. The conservatoryand extending to each member of trained Delbecq can often be heard with clarinetist François Houle in his band. a jazz setting. He has a strong connection to classical music, African-American jazz, and experimental musics. own. Diamond’s crisp string work is a wonder to hear on the Brazilian-tinged “El Pozo,” an intricate light ballad and one of the highlights of the album.

John Hébert Floodgates Label: Clean Feed Records By MARK CORROTO

Finding three musicians that speak

“Cold Brew” opens the disc with a hauntingly painted moodiness that is eerily bolstered by electronic pulses that sound as if they were sampled from a 1970s sci-fi B-movie. Hébert’s compositions, like “Tan Hands,” are sketches for obliging, Keith Jarrett Trio-like music making and the bassist’s sound here could easily be confused with that of Gary Peacock. But where Jarrett might zig, Hébert zags. “Holy Trinity” layers a heaviness of pulse over the mathematical structure of

the melody— creating an understated blues feel. Choosing Delbecq, a classically- trained player with an ear for world music, Thelonious Monk, and early-fusion jazz, and Cleaver, perhaps the most expressive drummer working today, the idea of a jazz trio is refocused as a mischievous chamber ensemble. Delbecq’s clavinet heard on solo on “Saints” and in trio on “Sinners,” sounds like a xylophone. The latter piece is a circular exercise that incorporates African music into the African-American traditions of New Orleans. The same goes for the traditional song “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” played as a straight church blues, and the rumble-rolling of “On The Half Shell” that pairs Joe Zawinul-sounding synthesizers with piano, thunderous bass and talking drum.

Enrico Pieranunzi Live at the Village Vanguard Label: Cam Jazz By DAN MCCLENAGHAN

Italian jazz pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, with his melodic romanticism and wondrous sense of harmony, deepened by by his classical training, gets compared often and aptly to the legendary and game-changing pianist Bill Evans (1929-1980). While Pieranunzi’s style is more gregarious, and less introspective than that of Evans (and often more abstract) he does share with the late piano icon a All About Jazz Magazine 93

Reviews - Cont penchant for the mode of the interactive trio. In the case of Live at the Village Vanguard, the comparison can be pushed further: the set’s drummer, Paul Motian—who passed away in 2011; this is one of his last recording efforts—sat in the percussion chair in Evan’s classic trio from 1959 to 1964, as a catalyst in the job of democratizing the piano trio format. Marc Johnson, who was Evans’ bassist in the pianist’s last trio, from 1978 to 1980—is here, too. And it’s the Village Vanguard, where Evans recorded, in 1961, the two albums that changed the way of the piano trio: Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby, both released in 1961 on Riverside Records. Pieranunzi, who made his name as one of Italy’s top jazz men, rose to a higher profile in America via his work with trumpeter Chet Baker, then with alto saxophonists Lee Konitz and Phil Woods. But his finest hours have been in the trio setting, with superb recordings like the gorgeous Play Morricone (CamJazz, 2002), Ballads (CamJazz, 2006), Dream Dance (CamJazz, 2008). All three of these were recorded with bassist Marc Johnson, along with drummer Joey Baron. With Motian in Baron’s place, the music changes, not for the better or worse—the Pieranunzi/ Johnson/Baron trio plays on the highest level in terms of active piano trios—but with a change in personality, an added buoyancy and percussive peculiarity. Motian displays an energized style from the beginning, on the rousing take on Thelonious Monk’s “I Mean You.” Pieranunzi adds melodic flourishes and twists, brightens things harmonically, and Johnson fits in just the right notes over, under and around the melody. 94 All About Jazz Magazine

Pieranunzi’s original, “Tales from the Unexpected,” is a churning flow piano notes, and eddying stream over rhythm full of surprises. “Pensive Fragments” begins with a brooding intro, with Motian whispering on brushes behind Pieranunzi’s abstractions. Johnson takes a solo, with Pieranunzi dropping single notes like icy raindrops before he takes the lead with the prettiest of reveries inside Motian’s shuffling brushes. “My Funny Valentine,” a jazz staple from the Great American Songbook, sounds sinister during the intro, then a light blinks on, and Pieranunzi takes things into a brighter room, giving a tune that is normally a ballad a sense of urgency, an insistent momentum. The trio wraps it up with Italian film maker Nino Rota’s “La Dolce Vita,” a sprightly tune given here an injection of idiosyncratic depth with the group slipping into a a rubato mode, then shifting into a straight ahead groove, moving into a bass solo where every note—the spare piano comping, the pull of a bass string or the hit of a stick on a cymbal—sounds like a divine proclamation. Then things swing back into a jaunty groove, closing out an extraordinary piano trio set, one of the year’s finest jazz recordings.

John La Barbera Big Band Caravan Label: Jazz Compass By NICHOLAS F. MONDELLO

The beautiful Mediterranean island of Sicily (and the triple-legged image on its national flag) are also known as the “Trinicria.” That name translates as, and also describes, the triangular shape of the island. Whether that’s a geo-historical lesson or not, the three La Barbera Brothers, John, Joe and Pat have established themselves as a most formidable familial trio in jazz history, right up there with the Joneses, Heaths, Adderleys, Breckers, and others. And, with Caravan that La Barbera legacy will assuredly continue to resonate. On this swinging journey, arranger/composer and leader, John La Barbera has aggregated a superb unit of L.A.’s Usual Suspects, added his talented brothers—Pat in the woodwind section and Joe on drums—and delivers a classic, impeccably-performed, big band recording. This is ensemble jazz the way they used to make ‘em—great writing, fiercely swinging, never over-intellectualized, and peppered putanesca with superlative solo and ensemble playing. In Sicilian, it’s genuino. The Grammy-nominated La Barbera’s arranging style is a perfect blend of contrapuntal writing, brilliant orchestrations and rhythmic and textural variety (“Caravan,” “Roman Notes,” “Trinacria”). Shrewdly, his arrangements challenge these First Call players without sacrificing swing or rendering the listener confused about what’s what. The overall tone is energetic movement—and move they do. With lead trumpet, Wayne Bergeron and alto saxophonist, Brian Scanlon eminently in charge, the ensemble is tight, never sterile, and constantly energized (“Incompatible,” “Young Rabbits”). A generous leader, La Barbera offers his soloists not only ample room to stretch out and explore,

but, intriguing background platforms that frame, spotlight and encourage the soloists. Saxophonist Pat La Barbera is on his game, always delivering as one of jazz’s most sonorous and imaginative players. Trumpeter and frequent La Barbera “Brother in Bop,” Clay Jenkins, who straddles both Hard Bop and more contemporary styles, solos heavy (“Voyage,” “Accordin’ to Gordon”). Brother Joe La Barbera, a rarity who can drive both smaller groups and big bands with equal imaginative support, shines throughout, as do his section cohorts, Bill Cunliffe (“Atlantis”), Tom Warrington (“Forgotten But Not”) and Aaron Serfaty.

“Dixie” with “Strange Fruit,” Marie took a hard left to address in music some of her pressing artistic concerns. This resulted in 2011’s Black Lace Freudian Slip (Motema) and her loving ode to America, Voice of My Beautiful Country (Motema, 2011). No, Marie had no intention of making a tribute disc and then, when she had changed her mind, she chose the perfect subject... Eartha Kitt.

If Nina Simone is the earthy, organic, dissenting voice of jazz, then Kitt was the hyper-sophisticated, cosmopolitan voice of the same. Singer, writer, actress (yes, that was Kitt playing the Catwoman on the 1960s television series Batman, Caravan is big band joy, a familial and was she not perfect, melting romp and an A+ effort in every re- the celluloid in the bargain), acgard. Why if they were still around tivist (like Marie), Kitt spread a and caught this trip, Juan Tizol and shadow long over American and Duke Ellington might even consi- European entertainment. Where der adding a vowel. Simone has had countless recorded tributes, Marie’s homage to Kitt is that artist’s first. Pure genius was the pairing of Marie and Kitt: artist and subject, kindred spirits.

Rene Marie I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt Label: Motema Music By C. MICHAEL BAILEY

Iconoclastic and often enigmatic singer Rene Marie was plain when she once said that she never wished to record a tribute disc. After four successful recordings with MAXJAZZ, including one (Vertigo (2001)) provocatively pairing

My father, while serving in the United States Army during World War II had the opportunity to see Lena Horne perform. He said that her performance was that of undistilled sex. Well, dad never listened to Kitt nor heard Marie’s tribute to her, because I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt is an unapologetic indulgence in sensual warmth and expression of that most fecund of unions. Where Marie began developing sexual creativity in song with her previous Black Lace Freudian Slip, she perfects here with the most appropriate of material.

the carnal beneath the mistletoe. Instrumentally, Wycliffe Gordon’s is perfectly conversational while Etienne Charles’ muted trumpet is opium smoke in the late evening. But in the end it is Marie who pulls off the best tribute disc of this or any other year.

Phil Woods and the Festival Orchestra New Celebration

Label: Chiaroscuro Records By JACK BOWERS

Any album with the renowned Phil Woods leading a big band (or jazz orchestra) is cause for celebration, especially so when he has written all but one of the charts and takes the bulk of the alto solos. More than fifteen years have passed since Woods last recorded with the COTA Festival Orchestra from his home precinct in Delaware Gap, PA, and that earlier album (Celebration!, Concord 4770) was nominated for a Grammy Award. This New Celebration, Woods’ second recording for Chiaroscuro, deserves no less, as it swings and sparkles from stem to stern and port to starboard, driven ever onward and upward by Woods and his talented colleagues, especially lead trumpeter Nate Ecklund and drummer Tom Whaley.

With a crack band behind her, Marie purrs her way through Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” the latter guaranteed to bring color to the most jaded cheeks. “Santa Baby” one of Even though the ensemble and soKitt’s biggest hits is a celebration of loists are exemplary, what sets the All About Jazz Magazine 95

Reviews - Cont album apart from most others are Woods’ engaging compositions and arrangements, as persuasive as you are likely to hear on any big-band recording. There are ten tracks in all, and Woods wrote and scored the first eight, while also arranging Johnny Mandel’s shuffling salute to the late great Al Cohn, “Here’s to Alvy.” Cohn arranged the finale (and lone vocal, by Nawja Parkins), “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” more than half a century ago for the Terry Gibbs Dream Band, and it remains as fresh and exhilarating today as it was then. The orchestra sets its compass from the outset with Woods’ buoyant “Bop’n Bob Don’t Stop,” which precedes a warm-hearted tribute to pianist “Hank Jones,” on which his burnished alto is out front, and a pair of well-masked standards, “And It Was Nowhere” (“Out of Nowhere”) and “Before I Left” (“After You’ve Gone”). Woods next pays homage to Art Pepper (the bossa “Goodbye Mr. Pepper”), Charlie Parker (the ebullient “Get Bird’s Word”) and a dear friend, the late clarinetist Hank DAmico (“Ballad for Hank”) before taking a cue from Frank Foster with the smooth, Basie-style “Shiny Pants.” Pianist Skip Wilkins and flugel Chris Persad share solo honors on “Pepper,” altos Woods, Matt Vashlishan, Nelson Hill and Jay Rattman on “Bird’s Word,” Rattman (clarinet) on “Ballad for Hank.” Tenors Bob Keller and Tom Hamilton burn rubber on “Alvy,” while Persad does likewise on “Bop’n Bob” and he and Hamilton excel on “Shiny Pants.”

fluence of “elegance, sophistication and emotion,” as accurately described on his website, the harmonicist may well turn out to be the aging Belgian’s torch-carrier.

Maria Mendes Along the Road Label: Dot Time Records By JOHN KELMAN

Virtuosity needn’t be on display at every moment; restraint, in fact, is an important yet often overlooked aspect of true virtuosity. Norma Winstone is a clear example; certainly capable of plenty, more often than not the British singer’s performances are defined by nuance, subtlety and a direct line to the heart of the music. Maria Mendes is another, with the spirit of Brazil looming large over this young Portuguese-born/ Netherlands resident singer’s impressive debut, Along the Road, a nine-song set of standards, material by well-known South American composers, one original and one very pleasant surprise.

The session doesn’t exactly burn, but it does simmer on Dori Caymmi’s “Obsession,” a showcase for Mendes’ accurate (and impressive) articulation, empathically supported by pianist Karel Boehlee, who—alongside bassist Clemens van der Feen (pianist Harmen Fraanje’s trio) and drummer Jasper van Hulten (trumpeter Eric Vloeimans’ Gatecrash)—ratchets the energy up, pushing and pulling with Dijkgraaaf during the harmonicist’s thematically focused solo. Mendes’ wordless improvisation at the song’s end epitomizes her effortless control, leading to a final upper register note that she holds, crystal clear and strong, for ten full seconds before fading with a gently introduced vibrato.

Unlike some singers, Mendes’ vibrato is simply one more color on her palette rather than a stylistic constant. And if she avoids overt virtuosity at the end of “Obsession,” Mendes proves she can scat with the best of them on Hermeto Pascoal’s enduring “Chorinho Pra Ele,” which also gives bassist van With harmonicist Wim Dijkgraaf der Feen a rare but fine moment in sharing the frontline, Mendes is the spotlight. As for Mendes, her ably supported by a trio of Dutch articulation is rapid-fire and absomusicians clearly conversant in lute accurate, as she proves as capaboth jazz and Brazilian traditions. ble of navigating Pascoal’s changes The set opens on a gently optimisas her band mates. tic note with Brazilian songwriter Ivan Lins’ enticing 1989 hit, “Love But beyond a soft look at “Come Dance.” From the get-go, Mendes Rain or Come Shine” and a mefinds the essence of these songs trically playful yet wholly orgaand, with a pristine, pure voice and nic look at “Somewhere Over the the slightest turns of phrase, makes Rainbow,” it’s Mendes’ “Olha Só No each one her own. “Love Dance” Meu Olhar” that’s Along the Road’s More could be said, but space is also features a lovely, lyrical solo biggest surprise. On this reverent limited. Bottom line: a superlative from Dijkgraaf; unmistakably in- yet personal adaptation of Pat Mealbum, among the best to come al- fluenced, in his formative years, by theny’s “Always and Forever,” from ong since that first Celebration way the great Toots Thielemans, with the guitarist’s classic Secret Story back in 1997. Dijkgraaf ’s now-personal con- (Nonesuch, 1992), the singer takes 96 All About Jazz Magazine

the more expansively orchestral original and, with the addition of her own Portuguese lyrics, makes it even more intimate.

Lincoln pouring their hearts out on We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (Candid, 1960), bassist Charles Mingus railing against injustice with soul stirring All too often, young jazz singers epics, and bassist Charlie Haden feel the need to prove something sermonizing with his Liberation and all the attendant excesses that Music Orchestra; today, it’s bassist go along with it; on the elegant, Alexis Cuadrado looking through gentle, joyous Along the Road, a Lorca lens of his own creation. Mendes makes clear she has absolutely nothing to prove but plenty Cuadrado’s A Lorca Soundscape, of promise and much to say. which came about as a commission from Chamber Music America, speaks to present day injustices, the dark side of New York/American life, and the divide between the have and have-nots by referencing a poetic work that did the same thing more than eighty years before it. Spanish poet/playwright Federico Garcia Lorca arrived in New York in 1929, just in time to witness the stock market crash which triggered The Great Depression. As Alexis Cuadrado a result, Lorca was present to bear A Lorca Soundscape witness to the sad state of affairs Label: Sunnyside Records that followed that epic economic By DAN BILAWSKY meltdown. He noted that he enWhen times are tough, injustice countered “a spectacle of suicides, is in the air, and something needs of hysterical people and de-morato be said, jazz always finds a way lized groups. A dreadful spectacle to do the talking. In times past, it absent of grandeur.” He used what was Billie Holiday singing “Stran- he saw as inspiration to write Poeta ge Fruit” at Cafe Society, drummer En Nueva York, and the BarceloMax Roach and vocalist Abbey na-born, New York-based Cuadra-

do used that work as inspiration for his own protest art, born in the wake of The Great Recession; that’s quite a parallel if ever there was one. On A Lorca Soundscape, Cuadrado combines the bold (“New York (Oficina Y Denuncia)”) and the beautiful (“Vals En Las Ramas”), making a statement that protest music need not be ugly or abrasive stuff. Vocalist Claudia Acuna serves as the literal mouthpiece for Lorca’s words, delivering statements that are graceful yet undeniably firm, but the music does plenty of talking as well. Cross-threaded ostinatos create a Spanish-seasoned minimalistic introduction over percussion on “Danza De La Muerte,” Miguel Zenon’s alto saxophone and Cuadrado’s bass join forces and paint a mournful yet elegant scene at the outset of “La Aurora,” and pianist Dan Tepfer serves as a directional guide on the placid “Vals En Las Ramas.” The music that’s presented herein is truly powerful, carrying forth important messages that need to be delivered. Cuadrado has birthed a masterpiece that’s linked to the pulse of New York via Spain circa 2013.

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