SPECIAL ISSUE: THE TOP 50 RELEASES OF 2016
A RARE INTERVIEW
LIFE AFTER “ROCKJAZZ”
DARCY JAMES ARGUE The Art of Conspiracy
INSIDE HER GREATEST RECORDINGS
Sonny Rollins Macy Gray Alex Skolnick Kevin Hays Jason Lindner Scott Kinsey
March 31-April 9, 2017 Reading, PA
Spend 10 jazz- and blues-ﬁlled days and nights in the Greater Reading area! Over 120 scheduled events, plus great shopping and dining in one area, make the 27th annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest your perfect spring getaway. For tickets, call Ticketmaster toll free at 1-800-745-3000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com to order online. PATTI AUSTIN • GERALD ALBRIGHT • JONATHAN BUTLER • SNARKY PUPPY • WILL DOWNING • NAJEE • KEIKO MATSUI • RICK BRAUN JIM BRICKMAN • MARCUS MILLER • FOURPLAY FEATURING BOB JAMES, NATHAN EAST, HARVEY MASON, CHUCK LOEB • BRIAN CULBERTSON PAT MARTINO ORGAN TRIO WITH HORNS • NEW URBAN JAZZ PARTY: BOB BALDWIN, WALTER BEASLEY, MARION MEADOWS, TOM BROWNE NICK COLIONNE • ERIC DARIUS • ADAM HAWLEY • LARRY GRAHAM & GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION • DR. LONNIE SMITH • TROKER JEFF HAMILTON TRIO • JAREKUS SINGLETON • TOMMY KATONA & TEXAS FLOOD • JON CLEARY • EVERETTE HARP & FRIENDS: CHANTE MOORE, PHIL PERRY, BRIAN BROMBERG • JASON MILES PRESENTS CELEBRATING THE MUSIC OF WEATHER REPORT • GERALD VEASLEY’S MIDNIGHT JAMS THE SUPER BAND FEATURING RANDY BRECKER, MIKE STERN, BILL EVANS, KEITH CARLOCK, TOM KENNEDY • ERIC MARIENTHAL • GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAZZ CELEBRATION: KIRK WHALUM, FRED HAMMOND, KEVIN WHALUM, JOHN STODDART AND THE DOXA GOSPEL ENSEMBLE • ANAT COHEN QUARTET • WEST COAST JAM WITH RICK BRAUN, NORMAN BROWN, RICHARD ELLIOT • BERKS GROOVE PROJECT • FRANK DIBUSSOLO’S PHILLY REUNION BAND • THE ARTIMUS PYLE BAND: TRIBUTE TO RONNIE VAN ZANT’S LYNYRD SKYNYRD • SHEMEKIA COPELAND AND MUCH MORE!*
Tickets on sale now! • berksjazzfest.com * LINEUP AS OF 11/16/16. SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Follow us on Twitter @berksjazzfest
NORAH JONES DAY BREAKS
JOSÉ JAMES LOVE IN A TIME OF MADNESS
ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT ARTSCIENCE
The 9-time GRAMMY winner comes full circle returning to her jazz roots on an album featuring WAYNE SHORTER, DR. LONNIE SMITH, BRIAN BLADE and others, proving her to be this era’s quintessential American artist with a sound that fuses elements of several bedrock styles of American music.
The critically-acclaimed vocalist makes a triumphant return, venturing deeper into modern R&B while staying true to his Jazz and Soul roots. Featuring vocalists MALI MUSIC and OLETA ADAMS, this 12 track collection takes listeners on an autobiographical exploration of the various forms of love and the places it can go.
2-time GRAMMY winners return with another genre-defying album that weaves through R&B, hip-hop, and jazz, and sheds outside performers in favor of the vocal talents of Experiment band members ROBERT GLASPER, CASEY BENJAMIN, DERRICK HODGE and MARK COLENBURG.
KANDACE SPRINGS SOUL EYES
NELS CLINE LOVERS
GREGORY PORTER TAKE ME TO THE ALLEY
KANDACE SPRINGS SOUL EYES
The Wilco guitarist and arranger MICHAEL LEONHART assembled 23 musicians for an expansive double-album featuring originals, American Songbook standards and songs by SONIC YOUTH, ARTO LINDSAY, JIMMY GIUFFRE and others.
Grammy-winning vocalist solidifies his standing as his generation’s most soulful jazz singer-songwriter with the the much anticipated follow-up to his internationally acclaimed million-selling Blue Note debut Liquid Spirit.
The singer and pianist makes her full-length debut with an album that touches upon soul and pop while channeling her jazz influences and her Nashville upbringing. Produced by Grammy-winner LARRY KLEIN and featuring guests including trumpeter TERENCE BLANCHARD and guitarist/songwriter JESSE HARRIS.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 VOLUME 47 NUMBER 1
JT Notes Editor Evan Haga writes about the year in jazz
The Gig Nate Chinen on the unlikely arena-improv of bass clarinetist Jason Stein
Hearsay Donny McCaslin, ELEW, Macy Gray, feedback from Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea celebrates his 75th birthday at the Blue Note, Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, news and farewells
Before & After Kevin Hays Overdue Ovation Roberta Piket
48 SOUND ADVICE 48
Keith Jarrett continues to set new challenges for himself in his solo concerts. Among his latest: “consciously choosing the most difficult possible thing to do at a certain spot.”
2017 Jazz Connect Conference Program Guide! P. 53
24 THE TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2016
Our writers choose the best and most important new and historical releases of the year.
59 REVIEWS 59 69
CD Reviews VOX
Jazz Directory Artist’s Choice Guitarist Alex Skolnick picks must-hear world-influenced jazz tracks
28 KEITH JARRETT
In a rare interview, the piano master talks to Nate Chinen about audiences, solo improvisation and the fraught circumstances behind his revelatory recent box set, A Multitude of Angels (ECM).
34 DARCY JAMES ARGUE
The definitive large-ensemble leader and composer of his generation, Argue explores the psyche of the conspiracy theorist with Real Enemies, an ambitious multimedia project now available as his latest album. By Michael J. West
40 CARLA BLEY
Funny, witty, empathetic, sweet, honest—composer and pianist Bley’s conversation zigs and zags just like her music. Here she journeys through her vast and diverse discography, prodded on by Aidan Levy.
Cover image by Junichi Hirayama, Table of Contents image by Daniela Yohannes; both courtesy of ECM Records. 2
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
AudioFiles Brent Butterworth on his favorite audio products of 2016 Chops Scott Kinsey and Jason Lindner share tips for effective synth soloing Gearhead Our monthly roundup of musical instruments, accessories and jazz-education resources
AT J A Z Z T I M E S . C O M
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[JT]Notes The Year in Review By Evan Haga
wo-thousand-sixteen was a year filled with great promise and just recognition for deserving leaders. I’m discussing the year in jazz, of course; generally speaking, we suffered the devastating loss of several beloved cultural heroes and handed the reins of the free world to a human boardwalk caricature. But I digress. I’m tired of talking about that guy, I’m sure you are too, and there’s a lot of fantastic music to cover. Funnily enough, jazz saw the sort of year you want in a political climate: a healthy status quo accented by fresh opportunities; the participation of enthusiastic young people; a newfound understanding of the past that can inform the present. Henry Threadgill, whose astounding Old Locks and Irregular Verbs received top honors in our Critics’ Picks, won a hard-earned Pulitzer Prize. Jazz on film had
something of a banner year, with high-profile biopics—Miles Ahead is a jazz conversationstarter for the ages—and many fine documentaries making news. Artists who crossed over in 2015 continued to make the festival, theater and club rounds in ’16, strengthening their audiences and, at least by default, jazz’s on the whole. I’m thinking of pianist Joey Alexander, whose recent release, Countdown, failed to enter our Top 50 but needs to be heard, and especially saxophonist Kamasi Washington, a jazz-pop phenomenon in ticket sales but not artistic concession. The year was one of the strongest I can remember in the way of historical or vault recordings. Some of them—the latest Miles Bootleg installment, Unheard Bird, A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters—mine the meaningful scraps, flubs and leftovers of jazz history; others, like the Savory Collec-
tion or Resonance’s lost Bill Evans Trio studio album, unearth fully formed treasures. There will be more room for reflection in our next issue, which will include the annual Readers’ and Expanded Critics’ Polls. But allow me to close with my favorite jazz memory of 2016, and one of the best moments in my career at this magazine. In April, I had the privilege to report on the International Jazz Day concert at the White House, hosted by the Obamas. It was, not surprisingly, a striking concert saturated with A-listers. What really impressed me, however, was the grand display of cultural appreciation, and the deeply felt and considered speech the president delivered to open. I’m not a soothsayer, but I doubt I’ll have a similar experience during the next four years, and I worry about jazz’s place in our national future. But let’s face it, we’ve got bigger worries. JT
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JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
[the]Gig Jason Stein: Arena Avant-Garde Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore walked onstage one night in October in semidarkness, to the bombast of a blockbuster rap hit. “Started from the bottom, now we’re here,” crowed Drake in his rat-a-tat singsong, through a massive, gut-rattling sound system. No, it’s not the standard setup for an avant-garde jazz trio led by a bass clarinetist, but in one sense it’s become routine, at least for this trio in particular. Stein and his band had rolled into Madison Square Garden to open for the comedian, actor, writer and producer Amy Schumer, who happens to be his younger half-sister. They were embarked on the current leg of an arena standup tour that began late in 2015 and will run through New Year’s Eve, with more dates to come in 2017. And over the course of the tour, Locksmith Isidore has set what must be some kind of record for audience exposure to a rugged, purely acoustic free-jazz trio, notwithstanding the three years David Murray spent on the road with U2. (Don’t quote me on that.) “We’ve played 60 or 70 shows since December of last year,” Stein said by phone the day after the show, and hours before his own gig in a cozier setting, the Greenwich House Music School. “We’ve gotten comfortable with the setting. So we can really dig in and play, and not just run through the set. It feels more like we’re actually creating something.” Back in December, I reported the first news story about Stein’s unlikely gig, separately interviewing him and Schumer, who grew up in suburban Long Island. The comedian, who told me she failed miserably with her own attempts at musical training, still absorbed some of Jason’s jazz enthusiasm: “I listen to a lot of Coltrane, a lot of Kenny Garrett,” she said. She recalled being a teenager and tagging along with her brother to see shows, like a James Carter gig at St. Nick’s Pub in Harlem. Schumer also readily drew an analogy between jazz and standup comedy. “The bass clarinet’s not a fun instrument to hear someone learning,” she said dryly. “And that was the one that he was in love with. So that’s where it’s similar to comedy, because you’re only passable at five years, and you just have to put the time in to get better.” Like many standup greats, she cut her teeth in New York clubs like the Comedy Cellar. As for Stein, who studied jazz at Bennington College and the University of Michigan, he moved to Chicago about a decade ago, quickly becoming a fixture of that city’s vibrant experimental scene. You can hear him on recent albums by drummer Frank Rosaly, clarinetist James Falzone, cornetist Josh Berman and baritone saxophonist Boris Hauf. With Locksmith Isidore, which features Jason Roebke on bass and Mike Pride on drums, Stein has released three albums, all between 2008 and 2010: A Calculus of Loss and Three Less Than Between, on Clean Feed, and Three Kinds of Happiness, on Not Two Records. Locksmith Isidore—a phrase combining the name and trade of Stein’s grandfather, whose grinning face appears on the cover of A Calculus of Loss—favors a restless, interactive roil. Stein’s writing for the group occasionally builds on the harrumphing angularities of Eric Dolphy, an obvious bass clarinet hero, but his improvisational logic flows more out of Ornette Coleman. At the Garden the trio opened with “Eckhart Park,” a new tune with a swinging melody played in
octaves by bass and bass clarinet, punctuated with muscular drum breaks. The second piece, also new, rode a rock beat in 19/8 time, and bore the title “As Many Chances as You Need.” From note one there was a genial fury to the performance, a focus on onrushing rhythm. That high-impact combustibility was partly a nod to the setting. On record, Locksmith Isidore expresses a more abstract, textural finesse, skewing spookier and subtler. Still, you’d be crazy to suggest the band had dumbed things down for mass consumption. On “Man or Ray,” a mad scramble of a tune in the Coleman vein, bass and drums worked in an agitated tandem, while Stein’s solo toggled between boppish clarity and a series of gargles, honks and squeals. “Amy Music” had a slinkier tempo but an intervallic language that evoked Out to Lunch!, the Dolphy album. From my seat in Section 116, it was hard to tune out the din of conversation and carousing in the crowd. The friend I’d brought along characterized the gig as “a jazz suicide mission.” And yet after every tune, the room erupted in cheers and applause—a reminder that even if a small percentage of the audience was actually listening, that amounted to a victory. Stein certainly sees it that way. “To me, even the people who are sitting and talking, having a drink, they’re still hanging with us,” he said. “That really feels meaningful to me. We’re spending time together in this environment with these sounds that they may never have heard before.” Stein’s most recent album, Hearts & Minds (Astral Spirits), is a raucous and scintillating outing with Rosaly and keyboardist Paul Giallorenzo. (His one-nighter at Greenwich House Music School was a release show for this trio.) He has been developing new music for Locksmith Isidore’s next album on the road—in effect, treating the arena stage like a composer’s workshop, at least for part of his set. The particulars of Stein’s situation are obviously unique, but I asked him what general advice he’d give to any jazz musician suddenly thrust into a similar position. His reply was instantaneous, unequivocal and true to form: “I would definitely say play music that you believe in, and focus on authenticity and honesty and what feels right to you.” JT
JOHNATHAN CRAWFORD, CHINEN BY JOANNA ELDREDGE MORRISSEY
By Nate Chinen
Stein has become a go-to opener for his famous half-sister, Amy Schumer
Stay in tune
Hearsay Donny McCaslin, ELEW, Macy Gray, feedback from Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea celebrates his 75th birthday at the Blue Note, Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, news and farewells
18 Before & After Kevin Hays
SAXOPHONIST DONNY MCCASLIN ON THE PROFOUND INFLUENCE OF AN UNLIKELY COLLABORATOR, DAVID BOWIE
onny McCaslin’s latest disc, Beyond Now (Motéma), contains colossal emotional weight. The tenor saxophonist composed the album’s original music in the summer of 2015, several months after working on what would become David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. Given that McCaslin’s bandmates—keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana—also participated in the Blackstar sessions, it’s not surprising that Bowie’s influ-
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
ence saturates Beyond Now. “[Blackstar] was still swimming inside my head,” McCaslin confirms. “But there are other things too. I got deeply into Deadmau5’ while(1<2), a lot of Aphex Twin and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Those are the other main influences, besides Bowie.” In one of the cruelest ironies in rock history, Blackstar was released on Jan. 8, 2016— Bowie’s 69th birthday—and the icon died of liver cancer two days later. McCaslin and company recorded Beyond Now just three
months after Bowie’s death. “Making Blackstar was such a profound experience for all of us. I wanted that same level of emotional gravitas to come through on Beyond Now,” McCaslin says. As on McCaslin’s previous seven albums, alto saxophonist David Binney lends his production acumen to Beyond Now. The results are noir-ish escapades marked by ominous electronica textures, menacing rhythmic interplay and McCaslin’s scorching saxophone work, which, on numerous occasions, such as the moving rendition of Bowie’s “Warszawa” and his melancholy original “Glory,” flares with transcendental fervor. Right before embarking on a European tour in the fall, McCaslin, 50, talked about the making of Beyond Now and its relationship to Blackstar, and touched upon the personal and professional impact Bowie had on his life. JOHN MURPH JAZZTIMES: DESCRIBE THE EMOTIONAL TONE DURING THE SESSIONS FOR BEYOND NOW. WAS IT MOURNFUL, CELEBRATORY OR A MIX OF BOTH? DONNY MCCASLIN:
Sometimes while recording, I had to pause and reflect on everything that had happened, then get myself in the right frame of mind. We are all friends; whenever we are together, there are a lot of
The Gig of a Lifetime
laughs. So I didn’t think [the sessions] were mournful. It was more celebratory, because we were all within the moment of the music. I was definitely thinking of David when we recorded “Warszawa,” because that tune just has so much meaning for me. A couple of weeks after he passed, we did a gig at the Village Vanguard. As a band, we talked about how we should pay tribute to him. Jason suggested that we try doing “Warszawa,” so we played it during sound check, then we started playing it every set, every night that week. That was an extremely difficult time for us emotionally. To have that song as a way to channel all of our feelings about his passing into music—I’m very grateful, because it’s a great song. WERE YOU FAMILIAR WITH “WARSZAWA” BEFORE JASON SUGGESTED IT?
I knew the record [that song appears on], Low, but I didn’t know it intimately. When Bowie and I started working together, I was generally aware of his hits. At some point before we recorded Blackstar, I started really checking out his discography so that I would be really informed.
Then I realized that David hired us to do what we already do. I didn’t want to be too influenced by his earlier music, so I stopped checking out the early stuff and just focused on the music that he sent me to be recorded. After we finished, I started listening to his older stuff again, Low included. YOU ALSO COVER “A SMALL PLOT OF LAND,” FROM BOWIE’S 1995 ALBUM, 1. OUTSIDE. THE COMMONALITY BETWEEN THAT AND “WARSZAWA” IS BRIAN ENO. DID THAT INSPIRE YOUR SELECTIONS?
I was just drawn to those tunes. It just so happens that they are from times he worked with Brian. “A Small Plot of Land” came about from David Binney and I emailing each other back and forth about different song possibilities. That song was one on his list. I didn’t know that song before. When I started listening to it, I knew it could be a good fit for us. I think the commonality you’re referring to is the looseness about those tunes; there’s something about those tunes that makes great bridges between what he did and what we do.
WHAT DID BOWIE PULL OUT OF YOU ARTISTICALLY THAT YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO USE DURING THE SESSIONS?
The first thing that comes to mind is that as I was listening over and over to the tunes, I orchestrated the woodwind stuff. I remember getting the idea of using alto flutes, clarinets and counterpoint. So I think from being so involved in those tunes I got a chance to bring my voice to them as an orchestrator. That’s something that doesn’t usually happen for me, so orchestration is something that came out that I wasn’t expecting. BEYOND ALL THE ARTISTRY OF DAVID BOWIE, WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT HIM?
I miss his humanity. He was such a wonderful person and so great to be around. You just felt his presence the moment he walked into the room. Obviously, most of the time we were with him we were working; you felt this intense focus, but there was a calmness about it. His focus wasn’t manic. He was so warm and generous. I really miss the person. JT
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Between Rockjazz and a Hard Place SHAUN BRADY CONSIDERS THE COMPLICATED POP ASPIRATIONS OF PIANIST ELEW
hesitate to call Eric Lewis’ new album a welcome return to straight-ahead jazz—even though that’s precisely what And to the Republic is. Phrasing it that way, though, feels uncomfortably close to throwing in with the more conservative factions of the jazz community, those who dismiss any deviation from the state of the art circa 1959 as a corruption of the ideal. What was wrong with the “rockjazz” that Lewis—or ELEW, as he continues to bill himself—played and hyped over the last several years was not the fact that he deviated from the path that had led him through apprenticeships with Elvin Jones, Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson. It was that a gifted pianist with an obviously inventive and savvy imagination dumbed
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
down his talents to seize the spotlight with a garish and empty spectacle. What’s even more disappointing is how well it worked. In truth, there was nothing new about the rockjazz concept. Lewis simply played instrumental, jazz-adjacent covers of popular rock hits by the likes of Nirvana, Radiohead, Coldplay (ugh) and Linkin Park (ugh again). The 2010 release of Rockjazz, Vol. 1 came seven years after the Bad Plus had essentially taken the same approach, down to a shared cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” with more wit and subtlety on the trio’s Columbia debut. It had been four decades since Miles, Chick, Herbie and their likeminded peers took notice of the power and electricity of rock and made their own stabs at integrating it with jazz.
They didn’t always approach that small-f fusion with surgical precision, but rarely did those earlier attempts come with the blunt force of ELEW. Yet Lewis kicked aside his piano bench, strapped on a pair of armored wristguards and declared himself an exile from the jazz industry blazing a new trail. Plenty of media outlets, always eager to be hoodwinked by a prepackaged narrative delivered with charismatic bravura (see Trump, Donald J.), happily peddled his tale. He played at the White House. He delivered a popular TED Talk decrying the stodginess of the jazz elite. He received adoring coverage from NPR, CNN and the New York Post, which listed Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman and Forest Whitaker among his famous fans. The prodigal son has returned to the fold with And to the Republic (Sunnyside), which is nothing if not the piano-trio record his champions hoped he’d make all along. Lewis certainly doesn’t ignore the lessons he learned playing on his feet to fist-pumping fans; the album is muscular and assertive, with Reginald Veal playing basslines as thick as tree trunks and Jeff “Tain” Watts supplying his trademark forceful propulsion. But the aggression is paired with equally meaty melodic and harmonic twists and leaps,
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
ELEW’s latest (left) is a welcome return to hard-core jazz following his ostentatious “rockjazz” projects
glaringly absent in the showy but hollow playing on his Rockjazz outings. Given the venom of his statements about the jazz mainstream over the years, Lewis is surprisingly repentant; the “Republic” in the new album’s title refers to the jazz world, and he flat-out refers to the album as an apology. “I don’t have regrets from the rockjazz period,” he told me, “but I have regrets—remorse might be a better word—about some of the rancor that was promoted by me. I had a narrative that was full of umbrage and anger, but I can definitely say that there was a lot that I was ignorant of as far as the mechanics of the industry. I think I made myself clear as far as my misgivings and issues, but I’ve come to an understanding of what was eluding me for so long, and I wanted to share that epiphany with the jazz republic.” With all of its talk of respecting tradition and carrying forward a legacy, jazz would seem an ideal environment for a punk movement to fester. The idea becomes more complicated when one takes into account the technical ability prerequisite to playing the music, as well as its unique cultural and racial history. But Lewis’ sneering rejection didn’t come with equally impassioned music; his rockjazz was simplistic, and even he admits that it was as much about branding as it was about creating. “I had to do what I had to do in order to carve out a particular niche for myself,” he said. “A lot of what I did in the rockjazz period was narrow; it was very niche and fueled by a lot of angst and aggravation. But it was also a tactical move, and like most of my moves as a chess player, there are layers. I thought if I made a name for myself with rockjazz it would be easier to penetrate the jazz world later on.” That’s probably true, and perhaps an argument for a bit more strategic cynicism in a genre constantly worrying over how to attract audiences. Lewis is enjoying a successful career in the pop world and as a DJ concurrent to his return to “pure jazz.” He hasn’t forsaken rockjazz either; he’s currently planning a third volume, though he says the advances he’s made in his own technique may make for a more fluid integration of styles. He even muses about inviting Wynton Marsalis to join him on the album for a rendition of “Weather Bird.” For now, though, Eric Lewis is back, even if the name on the cover is ELEW. Maybe it’s for the best that the two make peace. JT
Performances for Young Audiences
Bud, Not Buddy January 12–15 | Eisenhower Theater In 1936, a boy goes looking for his father guided by a band ﬂyer. Jazz master Terence Blanchard composes the music and plays with an ensemble in this world premiere commission adapted from Christopher Paul Curtis’s awardwinning book. Age 9+
Part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy.
Jason and Jyoti: Muldrow Meets Mingus January 28 | The Crossroads Club Performances at 8 p.m. in the Atrium. Expansive standing room (only) and high-top tables, with drinks available for purchase.
Jason and Joan: Reanimation February 4 | Family Theater Performance at 7 p.m. Jason Moran & Joan Jonas
Discovery Artist in the KC Jazz Club:
Jazzmeia Horn February 10 | KC Jazz Club Performances at 7 & 9 p.m. in the Terrace Gallery. No minimum. Light menu fare available. Discovery Artists in the KC Jazz Club are supported by The William N. Cafritz Jazz Initiative and The King-White Family Foundation and Dr. J. Douglas White.
Additional support is provided by The Argus Fund.
Regina Carter: Simply Ella February 17 | Family Theater Performances at 7 & 9 p.m. Regina Carter
Jason Moran and Theaster Gates: Looks of a Lot February 24 | Eisenhower Theater Performance at 8 p.m. Theaster Gates
TICKETS ON SALE NOW! (202) 467-4600 | KENNEDY-CENTER.ORG Tickets also available at the Box Ofﬁce. Groups (202) 416-8400 For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Ofﬁce at (202) 416-8540. Support for Jazz at the Kennedy Center is generously provided by Elizabeth and Michael Kojaian.
Major support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by David and Alice Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.
Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsor of Performances for Young Audiences.
Support for JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy is provided by Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley and The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.
Additional support for Bud Not Buddy is provided by The Clark Charitable Foundation;The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; and the U.S. Department of Education.
Kennedy Center education and related artistic programming is made possible through the generosity of the National Committee for the Performing Arts and the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.
Q&A: Macy Gray THE R&B SINGER MAKES HER PROPER JAZZ DEBUT WITH THE STARKLY PRODUCED STRIPPED
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several of her best-known tunes—including her Grammywinning hit, “I Try”—and crafting a few new gems, with the support of a quartet of top jazz interpreters: guitarist Russell Malone, bassist Daryl Johns, drummer Ari Hoenig and, on four of the album’s 10 tracks, trumpeter Wallace Roney. We recently sat down with Gray, 49, in her hometown of Los Angeles. MATT R. LOHR JAZZTIMES: HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT SELECTING THE
MUSICIANS FOR STRIPPED? MACY GRAY:
That was the label, because I live in L.A. and I [recorded the album] in New York. They already had their top list of musicians they liked, and the producer knew who he wanted for it. So it just became a trust thing. That was the first time I played with any of them. But the musicians on there are excellent. We got along really good, and we got the album done in two days. It went great.
acy Gray cuts a powerful figure on the cover of Stripped, her ninth studio album. Her defiant gaze and proud posture exemplify the iconoclastic style that has marked the R&B artist’s work since her 1999 solo debut, On How Life Is. But Gray’s fringed flapper dress also calls to mind images of classic 1920s blues singers, like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, who carved their place in the music’s history with nothing but a microphone, some trusted accompanists and the sheer might of their voices and personalities. The album’s m.o. follows suit. In recent years Gray’s collaborations with saxophonist David Murray have tapped into her connections to jazz and blues, and the vocalist further solidifies her place in that lineage with Stripped, her first jazz album and her inaugural release for New York-based audiophile label Chesky Records. Captured with a single binaural microphone in a deconsecrated Brooklyn church, the album finds Gray reinventing
DESCRIBE THE STUDIO SET-UP FOR THE RECORDING, WHICH WAS DONE WITH A SINGLE MICROPHONE.
It was in this big old church building in Brooklyn—classic high ceilings, the perfect wood. And if you picture a church, the pews are facing the front. So I was facing the pews, I was on this little stair, and there was a mic in front of me. To my left was Daryl, about three or four feet away from the mic. Russell was to my right, and Ari was in front of me. They were all kind of equally spaced away from the mic. Then Wallace came in at the end of the second day, and he stood way back, like back in my left corner. HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHICH SONGS FROM YOUR CATALOG WOULD BE BEST SUITED FOR THIS SMALLGROUP REIMAGINING?
“I Try” was obvious, and then I picked some older songs that I knew would sound good in that setup, with those instruments. And we wrote one on the spot. We wrote “Lucy” [the album’s final track] right before we recorded it. The band got this slow beat going, and I was asking everybody what it should be about. Norman [Chesky, coproducer of Stripped] is actually the one who said “Lucy.” I said, “Norman, what’s your favorite word?” And he couldn’t think of something, so I said, “Well, what’s your favorite girl’s name?” We did it right there in like 10 minutes. We didn’t write anything down. Everybody was just making it up as we recorded it. CAPTURING THE ALBUM WITH A SINGLE MIC DOESN’T REALLY GIVE A VOCALIST ANYWHERE TO HIDE. DID RECORDING IN THIS MANNER ALTER YOUR APPROACH?
I was more conscious with my notes at first, but that kind of went away, because that was throwing me off as far as just having a compelling vocal and singing from your heart. By the time I let it go I was warmed up and I was hitting the notes anyway. But you are a bit more conscious. There’s more of a focus on being technically right, because it’s all one take. They can’t go in and fix all that with machines and stuff, so it was all very new. There’s really nothing I could compare that to in my career so far. DID YOU PREFER THIS BAREBONES STYLE OF PRODUCTION TO THE FULL POP-ORIENTED APPROACH OF YOUR PREVIOUS PROJECTS?
There’s a lot more immediacy. You have to get it done right there, and you’re doing a take, so you don’t want to be the one in the room who’s making everybody have to do it over and over. And it’s more defined. You just record it, and it’s gonna be what it is. You’re really at the mercy of the engineer and the band—the sound of it, what they play and what you sing on top. That was cool, ’cause you’re not overthinking and over-planning. You can spend months or years on a pop album. And this was two days. That part of it I really, really liked. I see how fast things can get done, and it makes me a little more impatient with the new record I’m working on now. I’m gonna do it again, though. I’m gonna do another jazz album. JT JAZZTIMES.COM
Sonny Speaks THE SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS ARGUES FOR HIS FREEDOM SUITE IN LATE OCTOBER, we received a friendly but troubled call from one of our longtime subscribers, Sonny Rollins. He was concerned about the absence of his 1958 LP Freedom Suite from Michael J. West’s “Protest Jazz” sidebar, a supplement to the cover story featuring Kamasi Washington, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and writer Ashley Kahn. Our response to Rollins was apologetic, of course, and we were quick 12
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to explain that despite its “JT Essentials” header, the sidebar was simply a roundup of entry points into the rich legacy of jazz as social protest; we couldn’t possibly hit all of the “essentials” in a brief article of a few hundred words. Still, Rollins’ arguments were mighty, and we wanted to give him an opportunity to plead his case here—as if his music hadn’t already. EVAN HAGA, EDITOR
I Live In,” which was very much a civilrights anthem at the time. And I made an early record with Miles Davis, “Airegin,” which was Nigeria spelled backwards. It was an attempt to introduce some kind of black pride into the conversation of the time. That was my history. The record Freedom Suite was made in the beginning of 1958. It was a trio recording with Max Roach and Oscar Pettiford, and it was an important album. The producer, Orrin Keepnews, took a lot of heat for that record. I made a statement [about civil rights on the back cover of] that record, and he even had to say at one time that he wrote the statement, which is ridiculous. But he wanted to record me on his Riverside label, and that was the piece that he had, and he accepted it. I took some heat for it as well. I was
t was quite distressing to see that the JazzTimes article on protest music in jazz jumped from Louis Armstrong’s “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue” and Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” right to 1960 and Max Roach’s We Insist! The Freedom Now Suite. Well, before that was Freedom Suite. I had an activist grandmother, and when I was a little boy, 3, 4, 5 years old, she used to take me on marches up and down Harlem for people like Paul Robeson and segregation cases on 125th Street. That was just a part of my upbringing. Later, when I was playing music and making a little name for myself, I was able to record “The House
PDX JAZZ FESTIVAL 7P
playing a concert in Virginia, something at a school down there, and I remember being confronted—not in a hostile or violent way, just verbally—about why I made this record, and so on and so forth. There were a lot of those [incidences]. It wasn’t a big deal for me, because as I said, it was quite normal. I was born into a family that was always very cognizant of those things. I do remember that the controversy was slightly scary—but not too much, because I was a big, strong guy, and when you’re young you think you’re indestructible. But in retrospect it was a little scary, yes. And it was also one of these situations where some people talked with me about it and some people didn’t, but it was always there, hanging over everything. Especially at that time; 1958 was pretty early on in the consciousness of the civil-rights movement. So it wasn’t like something that nobody knew about; it was a controversial record. They actually changed the title to Shadow Waltz [when the album was reissued by the Jazzland label in the early 1960s]. “The Freedom Suite” took up one half of the album, and the other half was standard compositions. So they took a name from the other half of the record. Anyway, it’s history—but it is history. And that’s why I was distressed to see it omitted from the list. In the modern jazz era, that was the first record that reflected the civil-rights period. That was the first that I know of. It was an important thing, a groundbreaking record. I just don’t want to be written out of history. JT [As told to Michael J. West]
“IN THE MODERN JAZZ ERA, [FREEDOM SUITE] WAS THE FIRST RECORD THAT REFLECTED THE CIVIL-RIGHTS PERIOD. THAT WAS THE FIRST THAT I KNOW OF. IT WAS AN IMPORTANT THING, A GROUNDBREAKING RECORD. I JUST DON’T WANT TO BE WRITTEN OUT OF HISTORY.”
CELEBRATING MONK & DIZ AT 100 Ralph Peterson’s TriAngular Featuring The Curtis Brothers Aaron Parks Trio ∙ Bill Mays ∙ John Abercrombie Quartet Farnell Newton & The Othership Connection ∙ Marianne Trudel Ralph Towner ∙ Heath Bros. & Javon Jackson ∙ John Scoﬁeld The Cookers ∙ Amina Claudine Myers ∙ Alan Jones Branford Marsalis ∙ Kurt Elling ∙ Jon Faddis ∙ Roy Ayers John Beasley presents MONK’estra ∙ Bridgetown Sextet Hector Martignon ∙ Craig Taborn Quartet ∙ T. S. Monk Charenee Wade ∙ Kneebody ∙ Yellowjackets & Mike Stern
February 16–26, 2017 | pdxjazz.com SEE YOU IN PORTLAND, OR!
Chick Corea’s 75th Birthday Celebration at the Blue Note
eyboardist and composer Chick Corea has a storied history of performances at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club, including multi-week stands marking his 60th and 70th birthdays. But in mid-October through midDecember, Corea celebrated his 75th with an eight-week concert series featuring a strikingly diverse program of past and present collaborators. JT photographer Alan Nahigian was granted access to the sound checks and sets, and we’re pleased to offer a sample of his images here. (More will appear online at JazzTimes.com.) At press time Corea is nearing the series’ close, which culminates with an all-star fusion summit including Corea, guitarist John McLaughlin, bassist Victor Wooten and drummer Lenny White.
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
This page, clockwise from left: Corea leads a tribute to Miles featuring, at back and from left, Marcus Miller, Wallace Roney, Kenny Garrett and Mike Stern; sound-checks with duo partner Herbie Hancock; and explores electronica with saxophonist Yosvany Terry, vocalist and electronic musician Taylor McFerrin and guest drummer Kojo Roney, sitting in for Marcus Gilmore
From top: Corea and his Flamenco Heart featuring Niño Josele, Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent (obscured), Tom Brechtlein and dancer Nino de los Reyes (from left) enjoy the applause; with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra; in duet with Brad Mehldau
“A Beguiling Soulfulness” LONDON CHANTEUSE DEELEE DUBÉ WINS THE SARAH VAUGHAN COMPETITION WITH WARMTH AND RHYTHM
inging jazz competently is an uncommon skill, a high bar that most aspirants will never reach. Becoming a worthy heir to Sarah Vaughan, however, is another thing entirely. The kind of perfection that Vaughan personified—a combination of artistic refinement and authentic emotion, chops and musical sensitivity—comes along once or twice in a generation. So it’s not a critique of any of the contestants at the 2016 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition for women—dubbed the “Sassy Awards,” after Vaughan’s nickname, and held Nov. 20 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark—if most audience members’ socks stayed firmly in place. While all the singers trod a fairly conventional path through a program mostly consisting of jazz standards, the eventual winner, London chanteuse Deelee Dubé, displayed a beguiling soulfulness and a relaxed, solid sense of swing. Even if none of them seem destined to stand the world of jazz singing on its ear, the five finalists in the contest—Dubé; Danish singer Sinne Eeg; Teira Lockhart Church, from Los Angeles; London-based Canadian transplant Lauren Bush; and Detroit native Lauren Scales—are all promising singers who brought plenty to the table. The competition just to get to the finals was intense. The group had been winnowed down from a talented field of 145 contestants from 23 countries during three preliminary rounds 16
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and a public online vote. Some notable singers didn’t make the finals, including Deborah Latz, Gabrielle Stravelli and Allegra Levy. Go figure. The grand-prize winner receives $5,000 and an offer of an exclusive deal with Concord Music Group. The 2014 winner, Ashleigh Smith, released her Concord debut album this year. The Sassys’ most spectacular discovery was undoubtedly Cyrille Aimée, who won the first competition in 2012 and has gone on to release two highly praised albums on Mack Avenue Records. The judges for this year’s fifth edition were bassist Christian McBride; legendary singers Dianne Reeves and Sheila Jordan; jazz journalist Mark Ruffin; and Sheila E. Anderson, host of WBGO Jazz Radio’s Weekend Jazz After Hours. In part one of the awards show the five contestants each sang two songs, usually one uptempo followed by a ballad. All of the contestants stayed safely within the bounds of jazz tradition, even when singing their own compositions. They were ably accompanied by a trio consisting of Sergio Salvatore (piano and musical director), Lisle Atkinson (bass) and Buddy Williams (drums). In the lead-off spot, Church displayed confidence, a pleasing personality and all the technical skills necessary to put over her versions of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and the more demanding
“Lush Life.” In making a run at Strayhorn’s moody masterpiece she provided plenty of drama, but occasionally betrayed some tentativeness about the rhythm. Bush (“Sweet Georgia Brown” and “My One and Only Love”) and Scales (the French song that begat “Autumn Leaves” and an original ballad) both displayed sweet voices and considerable technique. On the other hand, both proved unable to resist the temptation to over-sing occasionally. Such attention-getting vocal tricks detract from what should be job one: leading the band rhythmically. The warmest reception of the three-hour concert, hands down, was for Eeg’s two-song set. Eeg (her full name is pronounced “Sinnuh Ee”) is already a bona fide star in Europe, racking up an impressive list of professional accomplishments, including four Danish Music Awards and the 2014 Prix du Jazz of the French Academie du Jazz. Her spirited rendition of the standard “Comes Love” injected a frisson of excitement into what had been, up to that point, a fairly staid recital. After counting off with absolute authority, she did two things better than anybody else: interpreted the lyrics, milking every bit of humor out of them; and executed an effortlesssounding scat solo with structure, shape and musical imagination, one that only a mature jazz artist could produce. Dubé, the victor, may not have had the most precise note articulation or enunciation, but she made up for it with a warm tone, genuine blues feeling and a kind of easy rhythmic authority. She played it straight with a sincere “Darn That Dream,” sung as a ballad, as Jimmy Van Heusen intended, then followed up with “Cherokee,” taken at a surprisingly relaxed tempo. In fact, she didn’t sing anything fast. Her “finalist performance” in the program’s second half was Bruno Martino’s austere bossa nova masterpiece, “Estate.” It was her most mature, restrained and emotional performance of the day, and may have sealed the deal. Judges and audiences don’t always agree, and the judges’ verdict seemed to surprise many in the audience. Second place went to Eeg, and third place to Scales. Yet it probably doesn’t matter very much who finishes first, second or third in contests like these. In 2010, the winners of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition were, in order: Cécile McLorin Salvant, Charenée Wade and Cyrille Aimée. Today all three have thriving careers, and this year’s Sassy finalists all have that potential. ALLEN MORRISON
Dubé soars in November
Farewells Mose Allison, the Mississippiborn singer and pianist whose effortless blend of jazz and blues and smart, prolific work as a songwriter influenced the blues-based rockers of the 1960s and ’70s, died on the morning of Nov. 15, of natural causes, at his home on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Allison had celebrated his 89th birthday on Nov. 11. Victor Bailey, the virtuoso electric bassist and educator
best known as the final bass player in Weather Report, following Jaco Pastorius, died on the morning of Nov. 11. He was 56, and had long suffered with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, essentially a form of muscular dystrophy that ran in his family.
When Sunny Gets Blue
For full-length obituaries, visit JazzTimes.com. Artists who passed in 2016 will be remembered in a special feature in the March issue.
News from JazzTimes.com • From Aug. 5 to 21, the Chick Corea Elektric Band
will join Béla Fleck & the Flecktones for a co-headlining series of North American live dates. Keyboardist Corea’s performances will reunite the complete lineup of his classic Elektric quintet with saxophonist Eric Marienthal, guitarist Frank Gambale, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl. Fleck fans can also look forward to a reunion of the original Flecktones lineup for this tour, as the banjoist rejoins musical forces with bassist Victor Wooten, keyboardist/harmonica player Howard Levy and Victor’s brother Roy “Future Man” Wooten on his self-invented drumitar. These shows will feature full-band sets by Corea and Fleck’s ensembles, as well as encore jam sessions combining both bands. At press time, show locations and times are to be announced.
• In the fall, the American Society of Composers, Authors
and Publishers (ASCAP) named composer, arranger and bandleader Maria Schneider one of two recipients of the ASCAP Foundation’s Life in Music Award for 2016. Schneider was honored, said Foundation President Paul Williams, “for her inventive works in classical and jazz,” and for a career that exemplifies “the creative excellence that is at the heart of the Life in Music Award.” The other awardee was celebrated choral composer Morten Lauridsen.
• The 38th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival has announced 10 concerts to be included in the festival’s summer lineup. These shows will take place at a half-dozen venues throughout the span of the festival, which runs June 28 through July 8. The scheduled shows and artists include a blues summit featuring guitaristvocalist Buddy Guy, harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson; Pink Martini; guitarist Jesse Cook; Québécois vocalist-pianist Charlotte Cardin; trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire; a duo performance by pianist Hiromi and Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda; keyboardist Cory Henry and his Funk Apostles; Brazilian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo Amarante; saxophonist Donny McCaslin; and drummer Mark Guiliana’s Jazz Quartet. For more information, visit montrealjazzfest.com.
“I have been a fan of Jan Daley’s for years! Don’t miss this great songstress live” —Steve Tyrell “Jan is a truly talented musician, singer and lyricist. Her marvelous voice is selectively controlled and her intonation is immaculate” —Jack Segal “Miss Daley, whose voice matches her looks, is in every sense of the word a knockout”……Billboard For veteran recording artist, touring performer and actress Jan Daley, choosing to title her latest EP after her lush, lush heartbreaking interpretation of WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE has a personal connection. Its legendary composer, Jack Segal, has been her songwriting coach and mentor, and the one who encouraged her to do this exquisite project. While showcasing the master vocalist in the purest of lights, WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE the EP, offers lush, caressing arrangements that provide the perfect setting for her smooth, swanky and swooning vocals. A former Miss California, Daley follows in the Great American Songbook tradition of many of the legends she’s opened shows for, including Louis Armstrong. You won’t feel blue after listening! Just back from an exciting time in Sydney Australia, where Jan Daley was celebrating the directing debut, of her good friend Dame Julie Andrews, of “My Fair Lady,” at the Sydney Opera House, she returned to Los Angeles to work on the ﬁnal touches on her jazz EP “When Sunny Gets Blue” with Michael B. Sutton, President of iMerica Entertainment. Since Ms. Daley’s worldwide radio release, her EP quickly jumped up the Smooth Jazz chart the very ﬁrst week. Mr. Sutton shared, “Jan is an incredible talent, her voice and her phrasing are spot on. We recently added the strings to “When Sunny Gets Blue” and when the strings team with Jan’s voice the result is marvelous. The release is one to hear. Jan Daley is absolutely phenomenal on these recordings!”
Purchase Now at Amazon | iTunes Learn More at JanDaley.com
“AM I BEING CONTROVERSIAL ENOUGH?” By David R. Adler
nown for his exceptional output as a leader and his modern-minded pianism in bands led by Nicholas Payton, Al Foster, Chris Potter and more, Kevin Hays has nothing if not a discerning ear. He’s rooted and highly proficient in the postbop piano lineage but always game to branch out. On several releases, most recently the 2015 trio outing New Day, he has featured his mellow, pop-tinged singing voice. He’s ventured into semi-classical terrain with the 2011 solo piano disc Variations and the two-piano collaboration Modern Music with Brad Mehldau and composer Patrick Zimmerli. Shores Against Silence, Zimmerli’s new archival Songlines release, features a younger Hays on a set of extremely demanding and never-before-heard music from 1992. Between that and Hays’ latest trio effort for the Sunnyside label, North, we get the measure of a complete and always evolving musician. When we caught up with the pianist, 48, he was still getting settled in a new Brooklyn apartment after several years living upstate. No stereo yet, but we gathered around an adequate speaker and rapped about the following music. 18
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1. Ethan Iverson “Song for My Father” (from The Purity of the Turf, Criss Cross). Iverson, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Nasheet Waits, drums. Recorded in 2016. BEFORE: It’s “Song for My Father” [by Horace Silver], I know that. It’s not Horace. [hearing a dissonant phrase] Whoo! It almost makes me want to say—I mean, it sounds like a very new recording, but could it be Horace? [hearing a sudden low bass note] Whoa! Someone’s got an extension. That was a low C. The bass has an extension. It doesn’t sound like Ron [Carter], but then [this speaker] is kind of rumbly. I’ll take a wild guess. At first I was thinking, “Could it be Jason [Moran]?” But I’ll take a wild guess at Ethan. Yes. With Ron Carter. [fist in the air] Whoo! Whoo! That’s bizarre. I guess I would have heard Ron’s tone. I wish we had a better system. Just really cool. You can hear the history and Ethan’s connection to the tradition. He’s done his homework. The creativity of the voice leading made me think of him a little bit, and then I started hearing tremolos and stuff that he was doing at the end. Just really in the pocket. I was thinking, “These guys know what came before, so maybe it’s
Before & After
some lost ’80s recording of Horace or something.” But yeah, I really dig Ethan. You hear the nod to Horace not just in the tune choice but in the treatment. I mean, you hear some of the left hand that Horace was famous for—rhythmic, pulsing stuff.
2. Mulgrew Miller “Yardbird Suite” (from Solo, Space Time). Miller, piano. Recorded in 2000.
BEFORE: I was checking out the drummer for a minute there. My best guess would be [pianist] Joey Calderazzo. My second guess, and I don’t think it’s Kikoski. … Is it? It was going to be either Dave or Joey. I don’t think it’s Victor Lewis on drums. Gary Novak. It’s a co-led band with Dave Carpenter and Bob Sheppard. Oh, cool. I almost thought it might be Chick [Corea]. It’s Chick’s tune.
BEFORE: [listens to entire track] I was going to guess Mulgrew. What led you in that direction? Well, I heard his voice a little bit, and I thought, “That’s Mulgrew.” I just put two and two together. The right hand, man, it’s incredible. A real loss. [Miller died in 2013.] Really beautiful cat and great musician. Did you get to spend any time with him? Not any significant time. Met him over the years. We used to hang out at Bradley’s together, back in the ’90s. I saw him play many times. Saw him play with Tony [Williams]. Really, a powerhouse.
3. Nat King Cole Trio “How High the Moon” (from The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio: The Instrumental Classics, Capitol). Cole, piano; Oscar Moore, guitar; Johnny Miller, bass. Recorded in 1947. BEFORE: I would guess George [Shearing]. What would be the other guess? I figured it would be old. It’s about the happiest “How the High Moon” I’ve ever heard. Gosh, who else would it be? I don’t think it’s Nat Cole… AFTER: Is it? It’s almost a little painful for me. I mean, I love Nat Cole. And to me that just was not one of the more swingin’ Nat Coles. It was like, “What’s he going for?” I just love him. But the touch, man, it just felt so kind of one-heavy. Lord, have mercy. He’s one of my favorite musicians in the world. It’s uncomfortable to not feel like I love whatever that was. Because Nat was an incredible pianist. I don’t use the word “corny” lightly, but man, it didn’t feel like Nat, like what he grew into. Certainly his touch is incredible—he’s one of the guys for me, just in terms of sound, him and Hank Jones, in terms of how to touch the instrument. But that’s not a recording I would put on. There you have it, folks.
OK, right. I know the tune—named for a person, was it, Chan? No, that’s Herbie. “Tones for Joan’s Bones.” Oh, man. Well, I’ve known Dave [Kikoski] a long time. We came up—well, he’s a little bit older than me—but we were playing with Eddie Henderson around the same time when I came to New York, and he played in Roy Haynes’ band and I was subbing for him, and I did some gigs with Roy after that. Dave’s an incredible musician, man. There’s nothing he can’t do. In fact, it’s kind of legendary now: When he broke his hand, you’d go down to hear him with the Mingus band, and he had the right hand in a [cast], and then the left hand was even more incredible than the right hand. Amazing.
5. Charlie Haden & Hank Jones “We Shall Overcome” (from Steal Away, Verve). Haden, bass; Jones, piano. Recorded in 1994. BEFORE: [listens to entire track] Hank and Charlie. It’s been a long time [since I heard that]. Those guys, those were the heroes. Hank was one of the early guys that I checked out. I remember seeing a video of him, before YouTube; it was part of some series, and it was Hank with Ben Webster or somebody. Great band. I got to see him play a number of times in New York. Just his touch, the way he touched the piano, never forced, always just so tasteful, the phrasing, nothing extraneous. It seems like almost a lost art. Really, really beautiful. Appropriate for our times.
6. Kris Davis “Eronel” (from Duopoly, Pyroclastic). Davis, piano; Billy Drummond, drums. Recorded in 2015.
4. Kikoski/Carpenter/ Novak/Sheppard
BEFORE: [listens to entire track] I’m trying to guess the pianist. I was going to say Jason, but not quite. I heard some Chick kind of stuff going on. It’s Monk. It’s a duo. Let me just think for a minute. … Might be Vijay [Iyer], but I don’t think so. You got me.
“Tones for Joan’s Bones” (from From the Hip, BFM). David Kikoski, piano; Dave Carpenter, bass; Gary Novak, drums; Bob Sheppard, saxophone. Recorded in 2006.
AFTER: Oh, I don’t know Kris’ playing too much—really nice! Oh, and that was Billy Drummond? I’ve played a lot with Billy; JAZZTIMES.COM
OPENING CHORUS I kind of thought [I heard him in] the snare drum. Cool! Really nice touch. I particularly liked the opening—it was like I was listening to Glenn Gould play some Krenek or something.
7. McCoy Tyner “When Sunny Gets Blue” (from Today and Tomorrow, Impulse!). Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Albert “Tootie” Heath, drums. Recorded in 1963. BEFORE: [right before the bridge] Bass player’s kind of not sure sometimes what’s happening. [listens straight through, occasionally singing the melody] Obviously McCoy. “When Sunny Gets Blue.” What a unique pianist. Has his own thing, man. Not afraid to go to the upper regions of the piano, or the lower. What tipped you off? The articulation. That’s a Van Gelder recording, so the piano sounded the same no matter who played it, in terms of the tone. I got to record out there once, years ago—not on that piano, but I touched it. Anyway, the way McCoy played the
Before & After So I thought, “If Sonny Rollins, one of the greatest improvisers on the planet, sends you music with very little improvisation, then that’s what’s important if you want to go far in your improvisation, to use the melody as a reference. If Sonny’s roots are that deep into the melody…” That’s what I learned from him—to be tethered to something, not just free from it. And you hear that love for the song [in McCoy’s performance].
8. Frank Kimbrough “Here Come the Honey Man” (from Solstice, Pirouet). Kimbrough, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Jeff Hirshfield, drums. Recorded in 2016. BEFORE: I don’t know who the pianist is. I was going to guess Lynne Arriale. Bass player sounded really good. Gershwin, right? Beautiful song. Who could that be? AFTER: Oh, it was Frank? With Tim Horner? Jeff Hirshfield and Jay Anderson.
“WHEN I FIRST PLAYED WITH SONNY [ROLLINS], HE SENT ME A CASSETTE TAPE OF ALL THE TUNES THAT WE WERE GOING TO PLAY, AND HE SENT ME ALL VOCAL VERSIONS. [MIMICS ROLLINS’ VOICE] ‘I WANT YOU TO KNOW WHAT THESE TUNES REALLY SOUND LIKE…’” melody, those kind of short notes. I’m familiar with this recording too, but it’s been a while. As much as he became known for being a hard player, he has such a light touch. We miss the fact that a lot of the older guys, I don’t know, there was an understanding somehow that the piano is not something to be hammered, and that you could get a beautiful tone. Of course, with these records you’re given some of the Van Gelder treatment when you’re not necessarily going to hear the bright brittleness of today’s recording techniques. Was McCoy a big influence on you? Not in terms of style, but he’s in there. A lot of people tried to steal licks, or to codify the fourths voicing thing, but I don’t hear him playing licks. You still hear improvising. Also, you hear the melody throughout; he’s playing around with the melody, and that’s something I really appreciate, and something I’ve been teaching over the past few years. I always tell a story about when I first played with Sonny [Rollins], and he sent me a cassette tape of all the tunes that we were going to play, and it was all singers, every one of them. He sent me all vocal versions. [mimics Rollins’ voice] “I want you to know what these tunes really sound like…” 20
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
And Jay! That’s not the Newvelle recording [Meantime], right? No, that’s still on vinyl. I was actually thinking it might be European. Really nice. I met Frank when I first moved to town, in the late ’80s, ya know. He was friends with Jeff Williams, and I met all those guys. Frank’s great. Nice unique version of that tune, very open. Am I being controversial enough? These are my boys.
9. Matt Mitchell “Veins” (from Fiction, Pi). Mitchell, piano; Ches Smith, drums. Recorded in 2012. BEFORE: I’m not sure who that is. It’s the new school. I could maybe guess Vijay, but no. I was going to almost guess it’s a drummer’s record—this is really coming off wrong—because it makes me think of a lot of written music, and it doesn’t feel very pianistic to me in some way. I was wondering if it was maybe Jacob Sacks with Dan Weiss or something. It’s not Mark Guiliana. AFTER: Don’t know Matt. OK! Interesting. He’s working a lot with Tim Berne, Dave Douglas…
OK. How do I put it … it had a mechanical quality that put me off a bit. It was like the parts trumped the musicality part for me, and that can happen sometimes, where the written stuff is priority. Bill Stewart made a comment once about “composer’s music.” In some ways you could say we’re kind of purists that way. Labels suck anyway, but [I’m] just talking about jazz and the spirit of it; I’m not even talking about swing feel. That was just my feeling. I’d have to listen more to it, but it doesn’t strike a bell in me.
10. Ben Wendel & Dan Tepfer “Line Up” (from Small Constructions, Sunnyside). Wendel, saxophone; Tepfer, piano, Rhodes. Recorded in 2011.
www.tonycimorosi.com All CD's Available at CDbaby- Itunes- Amazon
Yesterday Again robzinn.com
BEFORE: [listens to entire track] Crazy, man. That’s the Lennie Tristano solo, right? And I don’t know what instrument—he’s playing an electric pianet or digital piano … or I was thinking maybe he did the same technique [as Tristano] of speeding up the [tape]. Is that what he did? Yes. AFTER: Ah, Dan and Ben. I was going to guess Ben, just because of the smoothness of the dealin’. Yeah! Fun. I’ve played a little bit with Ben and he’s fantastic. And I’ve heard Dan a bit; he’s great. Was Tristano an influence for you?
James Silberstein Jamessilberstein.com
I didn’t really check him out very much, but I really respect and admire what he did. What didn’t reach me was the emotional content. But at the same time he’s brilliant. He had a great feel, but there was something about the heavy intellectual processing that didn’t really connect with me.
11. Sullivan Fortner “You Are Special” (from Aria, Impulse!). Fortner, piano; Aidan Carroll, bass; Joe Dyson, drums. Recorded in 2014. BEFORE: My best guess, I think it’s Fred [Hersch]. But I could be wrong. I was thinking he’s got some strong Hank—but that’s my guess; I don’t know who else it would be. From your lingering silence, I’m assuming it’s not Fred. It’s very good. Whoever it is, it’s somebody who knows the tradition. Beautiful touch, beautiful sound, great trio. I think it’s someone older, for sure. The only other people I can think of from that camp really had kind of a Hank touch. Tommy [Flanagan]? The left-hand stuff made me think of Fred. A little bit of counterpoint. AFTER: Oh, perfect. OK, that makes sense. I know he’s a student of Fred’s. He’s a beautiful player. The touch—it’s rare to find a young guy like Sullivan who can be that steeped in it. He knows what he’s doing. You can tell. JT
JAZZ STANDARDS / AFRO BAHIAN RHYTHMS Andrew Scott Potter • Bons Ritmos email@example.com
HUNTED MAN Tom Gavornik
ROBERTA PIKET ONE FOR MARIAN By Shaun Brady
here are plenty of reasons why Roberta Piket decided to record a tribute album to Marian McPartland. One has to do with timing. The English-American pianist, composer and longtime host of NPR’s Piano Jazz died almost a year to the day before Piket performed with a sextet at the Wall Street Jazz Festival, in Kingston, N.Y., in 2014. There’s also a personal connection. McPartland invited Piket to appear on Piano Jazz for the first time in 1994, before the younger pianist even had a recording to her name, and continued to encourage and support her throughout her career. Then there are the purely musical reasons. McPartland left behind a wealth of compositions, many of them rarely performed or recorded. On a warm evening in mid-October, Piket joined saxophonist Steve Wilson for a duo gig at Mezzrow, in Greenwich Village, leaning heavily on material from One for Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland. The performance, attended by McPartland’s granddaughter Donna Gourdol, displayed the versatility of the late pianist’s compositions. Tunes like the lush, flowing “Ambiance” and the tender “In the Days of Our Love” were as expressive and memorable in two-person dialogue as they are in Piket’s sextet arrangements on the album. “Marian’s compositions lend themselves well to a lot of different treatments,” said Piket, who lives in Teaneck, N.J. “You have to have a strong melody in order to give it another treatment and not have the song lose its essence. That’s what I love about standards. If you listen to a Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, you
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
can do almost anything you want to it and you still have that essence. And that’s how I felt about Marian’s tunes: They’re really well constructed and the melodies are really strong.” But in listening to Piket describe McPartland, a deeper connection becomes obvious, a truly simpatico rapport that closely links these two women, born half a century and an ocean apart. “When you think about it, it’s pretty remarkable,” Piket mused over coffee before the show. “Marian came of age in the ’40s, yet she never stopped developing and never stopped paying attention to what was going on around her. I think that was a sign of her humility. She was always trying to build other people up.” Aside from the specifics, much the same could be said of Piket herself. She’s equally disinclined toward self-promotion; it’s telling that she’s dedicated more resources toward publicity on an album paying homage to one of her mentors than she has on her own recent solo efforts, and she seems far more comfortable praising her husband and frequent collaborator, the drummer Billy Mintz, than she does exploring her own history. Her approach to the keyboard is equal parts swinging and coloristic, and she’s worked alongside tradition-minded leaders including Lionel Hampton and Benny Golson, in addition to the more progressive likes of Mintz, Michael Formanek and Jamie Baum. “I’m pretty ecumenical,” Piket admits. “I guess you could say that Marian and I are kindred spirits in that sense: We both don’t want to get closed off into one style of jazz like it’s the only style that counts. Marian was always trying to grow and develop, and that’s very inspiring to me.” ••• PIKET’S WIDE-RANGING TASTES COME NATURALLY. She was born in Queens, to a mother who had been a professional singer and had stacks of Great American Songbook sheet music in the house. Her father was the Austrian composer Frederick Piket,
whose music was performed by the New York Philharmonic, among It was obvious from that call and from statements she made others. Though she was only 8 when he died, Piket grew up with on her show that McPartland felt her repertoire was underappreher father’s collection of records by composers like Ives, Hindemith ciated. When the host played her piece “Twilight World” during and Stravinsky, instilling in her a love for complex harmonies. “It’s a one of Piket’s Piano Jazz appearances, the protégé remarked that weird combination,” Piket says of the musical heritage she received the song—included on One for Marian, with Karrin Allyson from her parents. “It’s more in my blood than it was in the house, singing—was familiar but that she hadn’t been aware it was one but I think the influence is that I don’t like to get too locked into the of McPartland’s. Despite the fact that no less an eminence than stock harmonies. I think it’s important to Tony Bennett had recorded it, the comhave that jazz foundation, but I tend to try poser replied, “I’m glad you’re actually to push myself a little beyond the expected. hearing it. My tunes are the world’s most And I still love to swing. I think you have obscure tunes.” to do what’s appropriate for the musical Piket would return to McPartland’s situation. But I think that I can fit into a catalog on a few occasions over the lot of different environments, because I ensuing years. Like her mentor, she have those fundamentals and I also have focused on the piano trio in her earlisome other stuff that I’ve been attracted est recordings, though she’s varied the to over the years.” format more in recent years, since Piket’s father was her first piano founding her own Thirteenth Note label. teacher, though she went on to study at The imprint began as just that—a tag to New England Conservatory with Fred put on the back of CDs that Piket had Hersch, Stanley Cowell and Bob Moses. opted to self-release, beginning with her After graduating she came under the tu2003 album, I’m Back in Therapy and It’s telage of Richie Beirach, whose famously All Your Fault, with the electric group bristly personality emerged in their first Alternating Current. That was followed meeting, after he listened to her audition by a trio outing with Mintz and bassist “I GUESS YOU COULD SAY tape. “I remember Richie said, ‘I liked Ratzo Harris; Sides, Colors, which feaTHAT MARIAN [MCPARTLAND] tures a sextet format similar to One for your tape,’ and I was very humble and said, ‘Thank you, Mr. Beirach. I know I Marian, along with a string quartet; and AND I ARE KINDRED SPIRITS have a lot to work on—my melody and a pair of gorgeous solo records. my harmony and tunes.’ And he said, Since then, Piket has been joined on IN THAT SENSE: WE BOTH ‘And your time.’ That was Richie in a the roster by Mintz, who returned to nutshell: He could be very supportive New York from the West Coast in 2003, DON’T WANT TO GET but he always told it like it was.” in part due to their blossoming relaIn the mid-’90s, Piket was playing in CLOSED OFF INTO ONE STYLE tionship, and made his belated leader a quintet with musicians who were also debut a decade later. Saxophonist Lena OF JAZZ LIKE IT’S THE ONLY members of Lionel Hampton’s big band, Bloch opted to release her 2014 album leading to her getting a call to sub when Feathery, featuring Mintz, through the STYLE THAT COUNTS.” that ensemble’s regular pianist missed a label, and Piket hopes to add a few more gig. She formed a close, nurturing relaartists soon. “It’s become like a real lationship with the aging bandleader, making her recording debut in bel,” she laughed. “If you can do it on your own, in the long run auspicious circumstances. She plays on a single track on Hampyou’re going to be better off.” ton’s 1995 album, For the Love of Music, but her bandmates on that McPartland’s early interest and encouragement were crucial to rendition of “Sweet Lorraine” are Hampton, Wallace Roney, Ron developing the assurance to go it alone, Piket said. “The early ’90s Carter and Roy Haynes. was a time when the prototypical jazz musician was a young man in Around the same time she met Hampton, Piket made her first a zoot suit—no exaggeration. There were certainly role models, but of three appearances on Piano Jazz. The host heard Piket play getting into the pack was very challenging. It wasn’t so much that during the 1994 BMI/Thelonious Monk Composers Competition, she was a woman, but the fact that Marian took such an interest in where McPartland was a judge for the concurrent piano competime and my career was a big confidence booster.” JT tion. “I guess she just liked what she heard,” Piket shrugged. “She was that kind of person, very open-minded and supportive.” The relationship worked both ways. As Piket prepared to record Unbroken Line, her 1997 debut for the Criss Cross label, McPartland called to ask if she might consider adding one of the elder pianist’s Unbroken Line (Criss Cross, 1997) own compositions to the date. Piket was flattered, and had already Sides, Colors (Thirteenth Note, 2011) decided to record McPartland’s “Threnody.” She revisits the piece Emanation (Solo: Volume 2) (Thirteenth Note, 2015) on One for Marian in a more fully fleshed-out version driven by Wilson’s aggressive, percussive flute and her own urgent solo. (The One for Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland album’s personnel also includes Mintz, saxophonist Virginia May(Thirteenth Note, 2016) hew, bassist Harvie S and Bill Mobley on trumpet and flugelhorn.)
COURTESY OF ROBERTA PIKET
year in review’16
We calculated our top 40 new releases and top 10 historical/reissue recordings of 2016 based on year-end lists by our writers. They were asked to choose the 10 best new releases and five best historical titles—i.e., albums and box sets consisting primarily of music recorded 10 or more years ago. To see each voter’s ballot, log on to JazzTimes.com. CDs and box sets released between Nov. 4, 2015 and Nov. 8, 2016 were eligible. Some discs may have slipped through the cracks, however, as official release dates shifted or weren’t available. Album blurbs by Shaun Brady, Thomas Conrad, Evan Haga, Aidan Levy, Christopher Loudon, Mac Randall, Britt Robson, Jeff Tamarkin and Michael J. West.
HENRY THREADGILL ENSEMBLE DOUBLE UP
Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi) Few jazz-rooted figures have made the transition into old-lion status while upping the audacity and integrity of their art, but the composer and musician Henry Threadgill, 72, continues to prove how complementary wisdom and daring can be. In April he was named the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music, for 2015’s Pi release In for a Penny, In for a Pound, featuring his vigilant working band, Zooid, though the award came off more like a painstakingly earned Lifetime Achievement nod. Threadgill’s 2016 offering on Pi, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs, kicks open the door to more accolades. A momentous album that diverts from Threadgill’s patents as much as it encapsulates them, it features Ensemble Double Up, his first new band in well over a decade and the first to include piano (two, actually). The man himself composes and conducts but does not play—all the more fitting for an extended tribute to the late Butch Morris, who staked his claim initially as a cornet player but became one of the avant-garde’s most visionary bandleaders. Parts One through Three of Old Locks are built for focused listening, full of the oblique counterpoint and upended concepts of interplay we expect from Threadgill, though largely without the funky thrust of Zooid. Then comes Part Four, a gorgeous benediction that proves Threadgill’s sense of consonant beauty is just as sharp as his knack for personal innovation. Catharsis this breathtaking rarely, if ever, occurs in jazz composition. E.H.
JOHN ROGERS/COURTESY OF PI RECORDINGS
JACK DEJOHNETTE/RAVI COLTRANE/ MATTHEW GARRISON
6. CHARLIE HADEN LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA
IN MOVEMENT (ECM) A cross-generational lineup as gaudy as this has to contend with major historical baggage. But In Movement more than measures up to even the loftiest expectations that listeners may bring to it. That’s due in large part to Garrison’s inventive bass playing, which establishes a questing mood that Coltrane and DeJohnette are clearly happy to broaden and deepen. M.R.
3. JD ALLEN
AMERICANA: MUSINGS ON JAZZ AND BLUES (SAVANT) The 44-year-old tenor titan mines the I-IV-V and the sax-bass-drums trio to find open corners for experimentation, reclaiming Americana as a genre with more capacious boundaries than the codified campfire harmonizing it has come to represent. Bright but with ballast, Allen’s singular sound embodies what Ralph Ellison called “blues-toned laughter.” A.L.
4. JOHN SCOFIELD
COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (IMPULSE!) Scofield’s brilliance rests in his ability to utilize both his soul-deep love of roots music and his mastery of modern-jazz harmony within the same tune—and often within the same solo. That interdependence defines this collection of C&W interpretations, which often feels as homey as a honky-tonk yet remains full of surprises. E.H.
5. CHARLES LLOYD & THE MARVELS
I LONG TO SEE YOU (BLUE NOTE) For his second recording on his new label, Lloyd dreamed of guitars. His tenor saxophone has always been the pure sound of spiritual aspiration, and now Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz (on pedal steel) surround it and bathe it in warmth and glittering light. It is ear candy of the highest order. “Shenandoah” may make you cry. T.C.
Haden’s sixth and final LMO album has the assets of its predecessors: arranger Carla Bley’s rich color and dark drama; vivid statements from committed soloists (Tony Malaby, Chris Cheek, Michael Rodriguez, Loren Stillman, Steve Cardenas); anger at injustice objectified and dignified by art. Bley’s title track, a eulogy for Haden recorded after his death, is sad and brave. T.C.
DUOPOLY (PYROCLASTIC) Davis proves herself to be an ideal dance partner throughout this wide-ranging set of duets. Pairing with eight very different instrumentalists for a composition and an improvisation each, the pianist always knows when to lead and when to follow, ensuring that each step falls with grace but into unexpected patterns. S.B.
8. NELS CLINE
LOVERS (BLUE NOTE) The realization of a long-cherished dream, Lovers finds Cline reimagining the vintage mood-music album—those martini-and-romance LPs designed to accompany lava-lit lust—as an orchestral noir that opens the genre up to the full panoply of erotic tastes. S.B.
9. ESPERANZA SPALDING
EMILY’S D+EVOLUTION (CONCORD) Her best album yet, Emily’s D+Evolution deftly combines influences we’ve heard before in Spalding—sunkissed ’70s R&B; Wayne Shorter; Prince; world-jazz; the theatrical conceits of the concept album—with a few welcome new ones. To the point, Espy rocks hard, summoning the wide-open electricity of Cream and the compositional labyrinths of progressive and experimental rock. E.H.
10. JULIAN LAGE
ARCLIGHT (MACK AVENUE) The former guitar prodigy’s first album on solidbody electric guitar—and first to feature a significant amount of other people’s compositions—has the kind of aggressively modest, whimsically self-deprecating tone that only the ultra-talented can get away with. And get away with it Lage does, balancing exquisite taste with occasional (and welcome) lapses into delightful excess. M.R.
AZIZA (DARE2) Melodious, thrillingly energetic, effortlessly multicultural and not afraid of crazy time signatures, Aziza is everything you’d figure a band made up of Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, Dave Holland and Eric Harland would be. Although its music is rooted in the fusion-minded ambitions of the ’70s, the unit’s unpretentious intelligence marks it as a true supergroup for our time. M.R.
12. GREGORY PORTER
TAKE ME TO THE ALLEY (BLUE NOTE) Four albums in, Porter’s genre-blurring brilliance shows no signs of abating, and the singer’s estimable songwriting chops are given their most vigorous workout yet, extending from the romantic disconnect of “In Fashion” and politicized rumble of “Fan the Flames” to the hushed, spiritual majesty of the title track. C.L.
13. MATT WILSON’S
BIG HAPPY FAMILY
BEGINNING OF A MEMORY (PALMETTO) Beginning of a Memory is a love letter to Wilson’s cherished late wife, Felicia, and to the musicians who’ve supported the warmly singular drummercomposer throughout his career. Traversing a vast range of styles and spirits—like life itself—the album both embodies and reinvents the concept of the jazz funeral. E.H.
year in review’16
14. DARCY JAMES ARGUE’S SECRET SOCIETY REAL ENEMIES (NEW AMSTERDAM) Taken separately (except for some soundbites) from its paranoia-charged multimedia production, Real Enemies is a major extension of the big-band jazz vocabulary. It brings the twelve-tone compositional tradition into contact with film music, minimalism, Latin and Afro-Caribbean jazz, electronics and even the blues. Composer-bandleader Argue’s vision is a vast one. M.W.
INTO THE SILENCE (ECM)
18. DR. LONNIE SMITH EVOLUTION (BLUE NOTE)
15. TOM HARRELL
SOMETHING GOLD, SOMETHING BLUE (HIGH NOTE) Harrell adds kindred spirit Ambrose Akinmusire for a two-trumpet quintet, trading bold phrasing and a buffered tone over the complex changes on nine new, inimitable Harrell compositions, plus “Body and Soul.” He’s still refreshing—himself and his listeners—as he sidles into his 70s. B.R.
25. MICHAEL FORMANEK
26. ANDREW CYRILLE QUARTET
THE DISTANCE (ECM)
THE DECLARATION OF MUSICAL INDEPENDENCE (ECM)
16. JAIMEO BROWN TRANSCENDENCE
WORK SONGS (MOTÉMA) On his follow-up to 2013’s Transcendence, drummercomposer Brown and collaborator/co-producer Chris Sholar—along with saxophonists Jaleel Shaw and JD Allen, a bevy of vocalists and deftly integrated electronics—tell stories of strength drawn from hardship. But the real stars are the sampled sounds of prisoners, miners and craftsmen, from which Brown constructs his elating tales. J.T.
Bill Evans in 1968
33. JONATHAN FINLAYSON & SICILIAN DEFENSE
MOVING STILL (Pi)
DOGS (THE ROYAL POTATO FAMILY)
WADADA LEO SMITH
A COSMIC RHYTHM WITH EACH STROKE (ECM)
27. WADADA LEO SMITH AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS (CUNEIFORM)
35. MARQUIS HILL
THE WAY WE PLAY (CONCORD JAZZ)
TOP 10 HISTORICAL RELEASES:
← GERMAN HASENFRATZ/COURTESY OF ANDREAS BRUNNER-SCHWER
19. VIJAY IYER/
1. BILL EVANS
SOME OTHER TIME: THE LOST SESSION FROM THE BLACK FOREST (RESONANCE) For Evans devotees, At the Montreux Jazz Festival, recorded on June 15, 1968, is a foundational document. Imagine the excitement when a previously unknown session, recorded five days later in a superb German studio, was discovered and published in a lavish two-CD or vinyl package, including a “Lover Man” for the ages. T.C.
2. THAD JONES/MEL LEWIS ORCHESTRA
ALL MY YESTERDAYS (RESONANCE) It was incredible luck for all of us that this legendary band’s debut gig at the Village Vanguard was recorded in such expert fashion, and that the tapes survived. Fifty years later, what we hear is the sound of brilliant musicians being given a chance to unleash their ideas on the world for the first time, and making the absolute most of it. A treasure. M.R.
20. MURRAY, ALLEN
& CARRINGTON POWER TRIO
21. BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET, SPECIAL GUEST KURT ELLING
UPWARD SPIRAL (OKEH)
ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT ARTSCIENCE (BLUE NOTE)
23. HERLIN RILEY
NEW DIRECTION (MACK AVENUE)
24. MARY HALVORSON OCTET
AWAY WITH YOU (FIREHOUSE 12)
28. JASON MORAN
29. DONNY MCCASLIN
30. JEFF PARKER
31. JANE IRA BLOOM
32. CATHERINE RUSSELL
36. TYSHAWN SOREY
37. STEVE LEHMAN
38. REZ ABBASI &
39. RENÉ MARIE
40. MELISSA ALDANA
THE ARMORY CONCERT (YES)
THE INNER SPECTRUM OF VARIABLES (Pi)
BEYOND NOW (MOTÉMA)
3. LARRY YOUNG
IN PARIS: THE ORTF RECORDINGS (RESONANCE) In the first previously unreleased Larry Young recording in the four decades since his passing, history has almost caught up with the trail of B-3 organ grease left in his wake. From the ORTF studio in Paris, virtuosic trumpeter Woody Shaw stretches out for the kind of extended cuts that could never have fit on Young’s 1966 classic, Unity. A.L.
6. VARIOUS ARTISTS
SAVORY COLLECTION VOL. 1: BODY AND SOUL – COLEMAN HAWKINS & FRIENDS (NJMIH/APPLE MUSIC)
SHIRLEY HORN LIVE AT THE 4 QUEENS (RESONANCE)
THE NEW BREED (INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM)
BEHIND THE VIBRATION (CUNEIFORM)
4. SONNY ROLLINS
EARLY AMERICANS (OUTLINE)
SOUND OF RED (MOTÉMA)
HOLDING THE STAGE: ROAD SHOWS VOL. 4 (DOXY/OKEH) Almost half of the latest installment in the epic Road Shows series comes from a concert in Boston, four days after 9/11. Rollins’ first choices from the Boston material were released in 2005 as Without a Song. Vol. 4 is the least essential entry, but “In a Sentimental Mood” is sublime. T.C.
8. JOHN COLTRANE THE ATLANTIC YEARS— IN MONO (RHINO)
HARLEM ON MY MIND (JAZZ VILLAGE)
BACK HOME (WOMMUSIC)
5. MILES DAVIS QUINTET
FREEDOM JAZZ DANCE: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 5 (COLUMBIA/LEGACY) Fun for fans and revelatory for researchers, this new installment in Legacy’s titanic Bootleg Series makes you a studio assistant to Teo Macero and the Second Great Quintet. The false starts and trash talk are all there for the savoring, but it’s the leader’s empathetic support and merciless self-criticism that make the most profound impression. E.H.
9-11. JOHN COLTRANE
A LOVE SUPREME: THE COMPLETE MASTERS (IMPULSE!/VERVE)
READY TAKE ONE (LEGACY)
LIVE AT ROSY’S (RESONANCE)
[REISSUES 9-11 ARE TIED] JAZZTIMES.COM
ALONE IN A CROWDED ROOM A newly released archival box set offers fresh insight into the spontaneous genius of KEITH JARRETT
KEITH JARRETT HAS GARNERED A RARE CULT OF CLOSE LISTENERS OVER HIS MORE THAN 40 YEARS OF IMPROVISED SOLO PIANO CONCERTS: CONNOISSEURS OF HIS SOUND, DEVOTED MAVENS OF HIS STYLE, LIST-MAKING FANATICS, DISCERNING EXPERTS, EVEN THE ODD ASTUTE CRITIC. None of these people, it’s fair to say,
has better insight into Jarrett’s solo music than the pianist himself. This is one reason to take special note of A Multitude of Angels, a collection of archival solo performances recorded over a single week in 1996, during a tour of opera houses and small halls in Italy. Each concert—in Modena, Ferrara, Turin and Genoa— takes up a single disc in the set and features the rhapsodic, long-form improvisations that Jarrett introduced back in 1975, with his best-selling album The Köln Concert. As it happens, A Multitude of Angels marks the end of that approach for Jarrett, who was struggling at the time with the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome. For the next couple of years he’d regain his strength in a veil of silence, emerging in 1999 with The Melody at Night, With You, a brittle and affecting solo album made in his home studio. Like that album, A Multitude of Angels was captured under do-it-yourself conditions, outside the jurisdiction of even his longtime producer, ECM founder Manfred Eicher. Jarrett used the same DAT recorder, serving as his own engineer. The result was a body
B Y N AT E C H I N E N
SÁNTA ISTVÁN CSABA
Jarrett onstage in Japan in October 2002. By this time, and following a hiatus brought on by chronic fatigue syndrome, his solo improvisations had developed into more concise melodic inventions
of music remarkable for its resonance, structural integrity and searching dynamism. As a coherent statement, it’s one of the more impressive feats of Jarrett’s illustrious career. He officially returned to solo performance in the early 2000s, making his first recorded statement with Radiance, a burst of short inventions released in 2005. Jarrett has kept to this format ever since, playing discrete pieces that form a sort of arc. His most recent solo tour, in 2016, included a concert in San Francisco that he’s considering for future release, because it accurately reflects the formal challenges he recently set out for himself: “consciously choosing the most difficult possible thing to do at a certain spot.” Jarrett, 71, spoke recently in his home studio in rural New Jersey, in a control room whose walls are cluttered with LP covers, photographs and awards, including several gold records. A wry and voluble conversationalist, he was eager to reflect on A Multitude of Angels and its place in his career, which is still actively unfolding as he settles into a phase of late eminence.
IT DOES FEEL LIKE YOU’RE MAKING THOSE SONIC DISCOVERIES IN THE MOMENT.
I’M STRUCK BY WHAT A BREADTH OF EMOTION THERE IS IN THIS MUSIC. YOU’VE REFERRED TO IT YOURSELF AS A PINNACLE.
I don’t, either. I think the best example is that D-minor vamp near the end of Genoa. It is unlike any other vamp I’ve ever played. Because I was deep in this place. I knew this was the last concert. I didn’t know if I’d play again. And yet there’s this enormous patience with what turned out to be very simple motifs. They don’t ever get boring.
WHY DID IT TAKE THAT LONG? I hadn’t listened to the tapes much because I knew how weak I was. But Manfred used to tell me, “You always play better when you’re screwed up.” What struck me when I listened again was that I was utilizing the sound. It would have taken that sound for me to do what I’m doing with the overtones, hanging these little glittery stars that stay in the air. The way pianos are recorded now, with close mics, you don’t get the space a piano is inhabiting, and you don’t get my touch and phrasing. The fact that those pianos sound so good, with the overtones hanging there, it gave me a whole new language to use. 30
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HOW LONG HAD YOU KNOWN THAT YOU WERE SICK? In the airport on the way to this tour. I just found myself too tired to do anything I normally do. I thought I was dying. I couldn’t get diagnosed until I was back [in the States].
AND YET THE MUSIC SUPPORTS THAT IDEA OF SURMOUNTING SOMETHING TO PRODUCE A MORE TRANSCENDENT RESULT. I HEAR POIGNANCY, BUT I DON’T HEAR WEAKNESS.
YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THE VAMP ON DISC 4, PRECEDING THE ENCORES. Yeah, before the blues and “Over the Rainbow.” I can’t see that as anything but extremely spiritual. There was no reason beyond the music to play what I was playing. If I couldn’t like it while I was playing, why was it there? And so I couldn’t give candy to anybody. I couldn’t give cookies out. But there’s such an overwhelming warmth there, and the funkiness of the vamps. I played the Ferrara concert and I heard this strange thing; I
JUNICHI HIRAYAMA/ECM RECORDS
It took me 20 years to come to that conclusion.
And when you hear all the concerts, you realize they’re all in different halls, in different cities and with different pianos. But something about it adds up. For a while I was thinking I would choose one concert to release. Then I started listening to them next to each other and thought, “No, they belong together. They don’t repeat, but they all share something.” So it’s like recording an era. And it was the era of being sick, really. [laughs]
“I know I’m sitting in a room with other human beings who are trying to concentrate, if I’m lucky. But they might also be human beings who have lost the ability to concentrate over any extended period of time— which, by the way, is another reason I have moved to playing separate pieces.”
didn’t even know how I played it. I was playing a melody and some shit in E-flat major, and it blew me away. I thought, “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
enough, maybe.” But then what should be next? That problem goes away if I keep playing, and it’s caused me more grief than I would’ve expected since I began playing the shorter pieces. Only one out of my eight recent concerts strikes me as a possibility to release.
I WAS GOING TO SINGLE OUT FERRARA. THERE’S A LONG STRETCH IN THERE THAT’S IMPOSSIBLY FUNKY AND VERY DEEP.
IN YOUR LINER NOTES YOU ALLUDE TO THE FACT THAT 1996 WAS BEFORE THE UBIQUITY OF OUR DEVICE CULTURE, AND OUR AGE OF DISTRACTION.
If I was going to release just one of these concerts, that was the first one I considered. And it was mainly because of those sections. But then there’s also the latter part of the first half of Genoa, when I’m finding this repeating note in the bass and then creating some kind of whirlwind out of that. So I found things on all these concerts that were mandatory to come out.
IF YOU LISTEN TO JUST THE FIRST TWO MINUTES OF EACH ONE, THEY’RE WILDLY DIFFERENT. I THINK TORINO IS THE CLOSEST I COME TO HEARING DESPERATION—THERE’S A DESOLATE FEELING TO THE BEGINNING. I agree with that. But the angels were there. The second half of Torino undoes everything you thought about the first part. Like, whoops! Wait.
AND EVEN THOUGH I’VE BEEN LISTENING CAREFULLY, SUDDENLY I FIND MYSELF THINKING, “HOW DID WE GET HERE?”
COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THE DIFFERENCE THAT HAS MADE, JUST IN THE QUALITY OF THE LISTENING AMONG AUDIENCES? That’s a very good question. I probably forced myself never to think about it. [laughs] I know I’m sitting in a room with other human beings who are trying to concentrate, if I’m lucky. But they might also be human beings who have lost the ability to concentrate over any extended period of time—which, by the way, is another reason I have moved to playing separate pieces. That’s why it’s probably necessary for this release to be out. In a funny way, it’s like a good book. But not short stories. And not a thin book.
CAN WE TALK FOR A MOMENT ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT? HOW ESSENTIAL IS THAT TO PLACING THIS WORK IN ITS CONTEXT? Very essential. It’s so essential I forgot about it. I’ve been out of that milieu, let’s call it. But I haven’t forgotten anything. It just rang the bells when I heard the music, that this is what it is to be conscious in the moment and produce something of extreme integrity. And meaningfulness. And emotion. And even funkiness. [laughs] Music is an emotional experience, and it has the ability to be a spiritual experience. I’m not trying to play religious music, and yet I hear so many kinds of deep meditation, let’s say. And deep joy.
You know what’s so good about having a four-CD set? I don’t remember what to expect, even now. I remember thinking, “Wait, isn’t this where I go into G major? How will I get there? When does that happen? And then how does it get funky from where I am at this point?” And yet it all makes sense. That’s why I had to release all four of them. I had to convince Manfred of that.
SINCE YOUR RETURN TO SOLO PERFORMANCE, YOU’VE PLAYED CONCERTS FULL OF SHORT PIECES, RATHER THAN THIS EARLIER LONG-FORM MODEL. WHAT’S LOST AND WHAT’S GAINED IN THAT SHIFT? I don’t know how many hundreds of concerts I’ve played, but every now and then I think, “I have to change something.” Nothing in the music itself, but something. And there was a time when I would build something from a sort of graceful place. And softer. My recent concerts, it’s the other side of the universe.
Not really, because I’m a human being, and after I hear a certain amount of something I say to myself, “OK, that’s
DOES IT LESSEN THE PRESSURE WHEN YOU PLAY THOSE DISCRETE PIECES, BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK AS MUCH ABOUT TRANSITIONS OR A LARGER STRUCTURE?
Jarrett’s landmark double-LP The Köln Concert, recorded when the pianist was 29, made him a celebrity in and out of jazz and is reported to be the best-selling piano album of all time JAZZTIMES.COM
At Jazz at Lincoln Center in January 2014, Jarrett accepts his NEA Jazz Master Award. Seated to his right is ECM Records founder Manfred Eicher, the pianist’s favored producer with some exceptions, including the self-produced A Multitude of Angels
It’s internal. But it’s from vast experience, which I luckily had had by then. And not to mention, having played the piano long enough that I could un-piano-ize it. I was not being pianistic, I was saying, “What do I hear?” And if it’s a single-note thing in the right hand, played over a held-down chord in the left hand with overtones that come out depending on what notes you’re playing—to me that takes me back in some way to a time when chords didn’t exist, when polyphony didn’t exist. And because it’s so missing in the world, it’s moving to hear that.
THAT GOES BACK TO WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT THE OVERTONES AND THE QUALITY OF THE RECORDING. ONE OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL RELIGIOUS GESTURES IS THE RINGING OF A GONG, EXPERIENCING THE SPATIAL DIMENSION OF THAT SOUND. Yeah. Yeah.
SO FOR THAT TO BE A PART OF THIS LISTENING EXPERIENCE, IT SEEMS TO TIE THINGS TOGETHER. Yeah. There was a time when I played so many vamps at so many concerts, my ex-wife said, “You know, I don’t know if I like vamps anymore.” I knew what she meant. But when they’re really done right, there’s nothing like it. When a note is played at the right moment, you almost don’t need another note to exist, unless you find one that is calling out: “Please play me; this is the right thing.” I mean, it really was the simplicity that sold me on this music. And I don’t mean simplistic. The heart was in it, and the funky stuff was as funky as it gets.
THAT’S A GOOD SEGUE FOR ME TO ASK ABOUT YOUR TRIO WITH GARY PEACOCK AND JACK DEJOHNETTE. AFTER MORE THAN 30 YEARS, IS IT REALLY DONE? Well, I was trying to keep it together as long as I could. Jack wanted to do his own thing, and Gary was losing his hearing, to the extent that, given what we do when we’re a trio, he couldn’t actually maintain it. So it is not a trio anymore. And there was 32
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no adverse feeling, except that I was pleading with Jack: “One more tour in Europe. Please. I want to be able to tell you guys what this whole thing meant to me.” Well, I remember when Miles was pleading with Jack. [Miles voice] “Hey Jack, you know, just tell me what you want.” When it’s your group, and when you have lived and worked with those guys that long, and the music has gone that far, you don’t ever want to just drop it.
DID IT LEAVE YOU WITH A SENSE OF LOSS? Oh, yeah. Yeah. [pause] But, you know, because it was gradual, it wasn’t like suddenly something happened. It was pretty much, “We can’t do this exact thing anymore.”
IS THERE ANY PLACE YOU FEEL YOU DIDN’T GET TO WITH THE TRIO? No. See, I have a basic principle, which is: I don’t want to have that be true on any level. So at this moment, if I couldn’t do any more of something, I know I already did. I don’t have goals that I haven’t met, let’s put it that way. I can see moving around inside this space that I’ve created, which is pretty vast. I could move in there forever. But I don’t feel like there’s some horribly missing piece of information that needs to be presented.
ONE THING THAT’S OUT OF YOUR CONTROL IS THE PERCEPTION OF YOUR WORK. THE LEGACY OF YOUR BAND WITH DEWEY REDMAN, CHARLIE HADEN AND PAUL MOTIAN, FOR INSTANCE, HAS A GREATER RESONANCE NOW THAN IT DID 20 YEARS AGO. HOW AWARE OF THAT DO YOU TEND TO BE? I am aware of it, completely. That’s why I feel satisfied with the changes that have occurred in my career. There was always something else I was doing when something dropped off the map. At
FROM LEFT: ALAN NAHIGIAN, MICHAEL G. STEWART/NEA
DOES THIS CREATIVE IMPULSE TAP INTO SOMETHING EXTERNAL? OR IS IT REALLY INTERNAL?
this moment that’s not true, because I don’t have a group. But I know what I’m doing with what I have.
IN THE LAST 15 YEARS OR SO, THERE’S BEEN A GENERATION OF NEW CLASSICAL MUSICIANS WHO ARE MUCH MORE FLUENT WITH IMPROVISATION. THERE’S MORE DIALOGUE BETWEEN ARTISTS WITH JAZZ TRAINING AND CLASSICAL TRAINING. Mm-hmm.
I FEEL LIKE YOUR CAREER CAN’T BE REMOVED FROM THAT DEVELOPMENT. THE EXAMPLE THAT YOU’VE SET WITH NON-IDIOMATIC SPONTANEOUS COMPOSITION, FOR LACK OF A BETTER TERM— No, that’s a good way of putting it.
—AND JUST THE IDEA THAT THIS CAN ALL LIVE ON THE SAME CONTINUUM. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? Yes. I’m using what I learned, and I’m using everything I didn’t learn. [laughs] But it includes everything. What happens is, musicians find themselves in categories. As it turns out, with an incredible amount of luck and personal history that worked in my favor almost the whole time, I haven’t had to deny any of the categories. So I will touch the piano in the way a classical player would touch it, at a certain moment in an improvisation. And at another moment in that improvisation I am a wild man playing this crazy stuff, and the touch isn’t playing a role. These things can connect.
THEY AREN’T MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. I mean, I kind of rejected the classical thing. First of all, my family ran out of money for teachers. But everything was working in my favor. I was listening to everything my teacher didn’t want me to hear. Then I was finding records that a buyer in a certain shop in a mall didn’t want to buy. It just ended up there in the rack. One of those was Ahmad Jamal’s white album [The Portfolio of Ahmad Jamal, 1958], and that changed my life right there. I was in a car once with Jack and Gary when I mentioned that. And they said, “You too?” We all had had the exact same experience with that album.
DO YOU LISTEN TO ANY PIANISTS WHO HAVE CLEARLY BEEN IN THE WOODSHED WITH YOUR MUSIC? I haven’t heard them. I purposefully don’t hear them if they have that rep. That may be a problem with the media age by itself. There’s too much information, and information can’t lead to knowledge. It bothers me that people are trying to emulate other people. What happened to tenor saxophonists after Coltrane died was a sin, really.
THERE’S A CERTAIN EXPERIENCE THAT’S MAYBE GONE, IN TERMS OF BECOMING A JAZZ MUSICIAN. THINGS ARE VERY DIFFERENT NOW THAN THEY WERE WHEN YOU WERE COMING UP. There’s no tribal thing. Especially if you include big bands, there was a life that a jazz player would lead that wouldn’t be quite like the life somebody else would lead that works in an office. Wouldn’t be anything like it. They’d keep different hours; they’d always be traveling. The world has somehow conspired to make that smoother, and at the same time, that means it’s harder to become real—to become real like the grass is real. Three-dimensional, in a way. And not just spit out what you learned.
“I kind of rejected the classical thing. First of all, my family ran out of money for teachers. But everything was working in my favor. I was listening to everything my teacher didn’t want me to hear.”
RIGHT. Because people are gonna say, “Great! That’s fantastic, man.” And if you feel really good that they’re saying that, you probably will want to do something like that again. I had to get rid of things. I had to throw out a lot of classical yeses, in terms of how to play, and find my own voice. I wasn’t throwing them in the garbage. I was going to be able to use everything at some point. But what I mean by knowledge, it’s consciousness. Let’s put it that way. You can gain knowledge, but you can’t gain consciousness. That’s what my statement should have been. And consciousness is what I was working on in ’96. That’s the thing about this new set: I believe people could listen to this music 30, 40, 50, 60 times, and they’ll keep noticing subtler things. Unless they have a bad system, in which case I can’t do anything for you. JT
Maybe I can clarify that, because I’ve never said that phrase before. Information is surface, in my opinion. You can get information about chords, you can get information about melodies. You can read scores and get information from that. But as Lester Young asked a young player, “Where is your story?” That’s what I mean by knowledge. It would be self-knowledge in that case, right? Instead of you playing your ax, you’re expressing who you are at that moment as well as you can as a musician. To do that, any amount of information is still not going to make that happen.
DANIELA YOHANNES/ECM RECORDS
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON WHAT YOU JUST SAID, THAT INFORMATION CANNOT LEAD TO KNOWLEDGE?
Jarrett’s “Standards Trio,” with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock (from left), in 2010. Among the greatest working groups in jazz history, the trio performed its final concert in November 2014
JAZZTIMES â€¢ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
DARCY JAMES ARGUE STRIVES TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE AND MOTIVES OF THE CONSPIRACY THEORIST “SHALL I REVEAL A WORLD?” Paraphrased from The Crying of Lot 49—Thomas Pynchon’s classic conspiracy-theory novella—these five words take center stage during “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars,” the fourth movement of Darcy James Argue’s Real Enemies. More precisely, they take center screen: the nucleus of the 15 massive screens, mounted in the collective shape of an inverted trapezoid above the heads of Argue’s acclaimed 18-member big band, Secret Society. Indeed, those words aren’t a bad summary of Real Enemies, inasmuch as a multimedia epic can be summarized in an epigram. The production is a three-way collaboration between composer Argue, writer-director Isaac Butler and video artist Peter Nigrini. Commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), it premiered there last November. (The music is now a standalone, released via New Amsterdam Records as Argue and Secret Society’s third album.) Its subject: the nature and psychology of conspiracy theory. Or, if you like, of the conspiracy theorist.
Appropriately, Argue uses the discordant musical language of 20thcentury modernism to convey Real Enemies’ themes of paranoia. Says the composer, “If you’re going to write an extended piece of music about conspiracy theories and you don’t write it in twelve-tone, you’re doing a bad job.”
legitimately discriminated against, and are legitimately put under surveillance—they have real enemies, in the words of the title. And how that tended to fuel an overreaction on their part that would launch an additional conspiracy theory. There’s a real circularity there—how paranoia brings more paranoia, creates more self-reinforcing circles. That was an attractive framing device, musically and thematically.” For the fully staged production, the men in the band are clean-shaven and dressed in suits and fedoras, the women in professional dresses and attire: the costumes of the shadowy authority figure. On the screen next to “SHALL I REVEAL A WORLD?” flash patriotic photos: Mount Rushmore, the American flag, the Statue of Liberty. Then the whole bank of screens dissolves into images and words meant to evoke Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s notorious mind-control program. Beneath, on Argue’s round rostrum, into which is set the image of a clock face, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and trombonist Jacob Garchik circle, playing dissonant, menacing counterpoint with the rhythm section rumbling underneath them. That is, until the screens suddenly explode into blinding white light, followed by images of storm clouds and snippets from The Manchurian Candidate, and the entire orchestra plays a terrifying blast of noise. The cacophony isn’t incidental. Argue’s music is written in the twelve-tone style, the 20th-century modernist concept that assigns equal importance to every pitch in the tempered scale. (It’s also a concept whose dominance
of academia in the 1950s and ’60s inspired a conspiracy theory of its own—that a sinister cabal of twelve-tone composers had conquered the university sphere.) “It couldn’t have been anything else, could it?” Argue chuckles. “If you’re going to write an extended piece of music about conspiracy theories and you don’t write it in twelve-tone, you’re doing a bad job.”
Real Enemies is Argue’s second multimedia collaboration, and his second commission from BAM. The first on both counts was Brooklyn Babylon, a co-creation with visual artist Danijel Zezelj, which premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in 2011. (Brooklyn Babylon became Argue’s sophomore album release in 2013.) It was a great success, enough so that BAM invited Argue to pitch another multimedia commission. Argue knew immediately that he wanted to do something completely different this time, and he also knew with whom he wanted to work. Butler, who counts Argue among his closest friends, is an experienced theatrical director in New York; he also has a master’s degree in creative nonfiction. “I had worked on Brooklyn Babylon,” he says, “and Darcy wanted me to be a co-creator on this one.” In late 2013 they began brainstorming ideas, but nothing clicked. Inspiration finally struck when Argue’s girlfriend, journalist Lindsay Beyerstein, recommended the book she had just finished: Kathryn Olmsted’s Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11. “Lindsay suggested that ‘this might give you some ideas about things you might explore in a multimedia vein,’” Argue says. It did. Argue passed the book on to Butler. “I said, ‘This may sound crazy, but this book—tell me if you think there’s a show in it.’” “I was looking at what I could do with non-fiction that wasn’t a memoir, and wasn’t traditional journalism,” Butler says. “What could you do that was an essayistic approach—but also onstage, because I also come from a theatre-directing background. I was like, ‘I think the challenge of creating a show that is inspired by this material is really fascinating, and so yeah. Let’s do it.’” They immediately began preliminary work, spending about three months doing research into the conspiracy-theory universe. Books like Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Jesse Walker’s The United States of Paranoia and Milton William Cooper’s Behold a Pale Horse became their diet, as did hundreds of hours of YouTube videos. (“Conspiracy theorists really like to make documentaries and put them on YouTube,” Butler says.) They also laid out a theatrical structure for the piece, based around the circular nature of conspiratorial thinking—hence the clock face on which Argue stands while conducting. “The idea that time is forever running out, and that
“I was just really struck by … the vicious circle of conspiratorial thinking,” Argue says. “Groups that are
← there’s an urgency to the paranoid’s call to action, and the symbolism of the doomsday clock,” he says, “that was an important part of our exploration, our beginning visual metaphor.”
In February 2014, BAM gave them a green light. The next step was to find a
visual collaborator, who came courtesy of Beth Morrison, the producer behind both Brooklyn Babylon and Real Enemies. “Assembling the creative team is something that I do,” she says. “And I gave them a list of video designers for them to meet and see, and Peter Nigrini was the one that they chose to work with.” Though it wasn’t exactly his usual milieu—designing projections for live theatre—Nigrini was immediately taken with the project. “Their basic kernel of an idea at that time just seemed so fascinating,” he asserts. “And I had seen Brooklyn Babylon and it was great, so I was both excited by the work Darcy had done in the past but also by how different this was. It seemed to be in some exciting middle place. Is it theatre? No, it’s really a concert, but a concert that has theatrical aspects. It occupied a great unknown place that I thought was exciting.” “It was Peter’s idea that the video part should be broken into 15 screens,” Butler says. “It looks like a movie screen that’s exploded. And sometimes that would show one image, and sometimes it would show 15 images.”
With three collaborators in place, Real Enemies now took a three-pronged approach. Butler distilled their many long conversations to write what they call “the spine.” “It was a treatment for each chapter— mainly it was about what we would see on the 15 video screens,” he explains. “What images, or what we would be referencing. Sometimes it would be very specific, like ‘We see this headline’—with a link to the headline—and sometimes it’s ‘We see images of security cameras.’”
Argue and his Secret Society premiere Real Enemies at BAM’s Harvey Theater in November 2015
“THERE’S A REAL CIRCULARITY [TO CONSPIRACY THEORIES]— HOW PARANOIA BRINGS MORE PARANOIA, CREATES MORE SELF-REINFORCING CIRCLES,” ARGUE SAYS. “THAT WAS AN ATTRACTIVE FRAMING DEVICE, MUSICALLY AND THEMATICALLY.” By the time they were finished, Real Enemies was, by design, an overwhelming sensory experience. In addition to the big band and its intense, dissonant music, the video contained hundreds of images, some in brief flashes and others in extended film clips. Some of the imagery had corresponding sound bites: JAZZTIMES.COM
Argue and company perform Real Enemies on the Newport Jazz Festival’s mainstage in July
“[REAL ENEMIES WRITER-DIRECTOR] ISAAC [BUTLER] AND I WERE BOTH A LOT MORE BULLISH ON TRUMP’S CHANCES THAN A LOT OF PROFESSIONAL POLITICAL OBSERVERS,” ARGUE SAYS. “WE BOTH KNEW … THAT THERE WAS A PATH TO POWER FOR SOMEONE THAT WAS GOING TO SAY THAT STUFF OPENLY AND OVERTLY.” That subjectivity was important: Real Enemies makes a point of not taking a true-or-false stand on any of the conspiracies it presents. It wants not to sell or discredit the theories, but to suggest how they are developed and why that development makes belief in them possible. “We really wanted to do this thing where we were providing disparate pieces of information, and the audience was connecting the dots,” Butler says. “The audience is going to have to form the connections in these things. And 38
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sometimes they wouldn’t be able to. Sometimes they wouldn’t want to. Sometimes it’s really spelled out, but we didn’t guide them.” “There are some red herrings,” Nigrini says. “‘Go ahead, try and make a connection between these two ideas! We have no idea what the connection is—but we dare you to try to make one.’ That was really the founding principle: visual disparity and the sort of cacophony that is our modern-day visual world, and then manifesting this idea of the audience’s brain trying to make sense of it and constructing their own theories.” There is a distinct logic to its progression. It begins with information that we know to be true—the U.S. surveillance state, the Kennedy Assassination, Iran-Contra. “The stuff that might be a bit more of a heavy lift for the audience, we placed a little bit later, so there’s this cumulative process of paranoia building through the music and the visuals,” Argue says. “We hope that we’re able to boil the frog, put the audience in a receptive frame of mind, so that by the time we get to [the idea that most of the world’s most powerful people are really] lizard people from Alpha Centauri, some people are thinking, ‘Well … maybe?’”
In constructing the musical component, Argue had an additional research agenda. He spent time combing over the history of twelve-tone music, and of American twelve-tone music in particular. “There really was quite a huge diversity,” he says. “Obviously you have canonical twelve-tone composers like Milton Babbitt and Charles Wuorinen, and then you have composers like [Igor] Stravinsky or Aaron Copland who were not really part
John F. Kennedy extolling the evils of the Soviet Union, Nancy Reagan telling kids to “just say no” to drugs. The screens were set so that a spectator’s perspective altered their engagement with the show. “Every place you were sitting in the audience, the show would look a little different,” Butler says. “Subjectivity was really in the set design.”
of the twelve-tone cabal, exactly, but at various points in their careers felt compelled to compose twelve-tone works, and what they did with that was really interesting. So I really tried to explore this as much as I could.” Still, Argue recognized that he was working in the jazz idiom, and Real Enemies is rich in the blues, a musical element that neither Brooklyn Babylon nor its predecessor, 2009’s Infernal Machines, had much of. “It’s difficult to conceive the ways that you can do something new with the blues, or have something meaningful, emotionally meaningful, without sounding trite,” he says. “I didn’t set out originally to have blues progressions play so much of a role in the piece, but as I was exploring, I came up with three tone-row progressions that sounded like blues progressions to me. And that sort of changed the tenor of the piece: I realized I could weave it through the piece to give it an earthiness and bring it back to some refracted sense of the jazz tradition—especially composers like Duke and Billy Strayhorn, Mingus, Monk and George Russell, who found ways to abstract the blues, to use the blues form to justify or support highly chromatic material. “It was a real ‘a-ha’ moment: It allowed me to access a part of the jazz tradition that I hadn’t previously accessed in my own work.”
NEW JERSEY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Dorthaan’s Place Sunday Jazz Brunches NJPAC’s series of intimate jazz brunches returns, curated and hosted by jazz champion and WBGO legend Dorthaan Kirk, Newark’s “First Lady of Jazz.”
NICO Kitchen + Bar • 11am & 1pm
Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin Quartet January 22 Hear one of the greatest marriages in jazz over brunch!
Kevin Mahogany February 12 The renowned jazz baritone performs.
Rob Paparozzi March 12
If there’s an unfortunate aspect to Real Enemies, it’s that it has turned out to be far more timely than even its authors knew. After the BAM premiere run (and previous to that, a workshop preview performance at Virginia Tech), Real Enemies’ next full-scale performance took place at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam. There were two performances, and the first was on the night of the Brexit vote in the U.K. “The politics of fear play on an international stage,” Argue says. “We’ve seen the results of that, stoking all kinds of fear of the other—not aliens from Alpha Centauri but illegal aliens and refugees, a force that’s going to undermine the unity of the great nations of Europe.” It also hits close to home, says Butler, whose next theatrical gig was as director of Mike Daisey’s The Trump Card. “When we made Real Enemies, we did not know that our election cycle would be dominated by a conspiracy theorist running for president, whose entire run would constantly traffic in the classic rhetoric of paranoia and conspiracy,” he says. “We started building it two years before Donald Trump declared. When we started working on Real Enemies, my biggest doubt was that we were dealing in a subject matter that was very esoteric. Do people really care about this issue? And of course by the time we premiered it, it was prophetic.” “Isaac and I were both a lot more bullish on Trump’s chances than a lot of professional political observers,” Argue says. “We both knew … that there was a path to power for someone that was going to say that stuff openly and overtly.” Real Enemies, then—perhaps to its creators’ dismay—is more than just an artistic success. It’s poised to be a chilling chronicle of its time. “Watching all this stuff unfold, I feel a little bit Cassandra-like,” Butler says. “This show ends talking about birtherism—the start of Donald Trump’s serious flirtation with running for president. So that’s been really weird.” The world the project reveals, it seems, is the one in which we live. JT
Blues, harmonica and more from NJ’s Rob Paparozzi.
The Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub Duo April 2 The accomplished guitar duo perform American Songbook selections.
Coming this April —Wayne Shorter Weekend! Cécile McLorin Salvant with Sullivan Fortner and The Emmet Cohen Trio • 4/21 Weather Report and Beyond Reimagined Christian McBride, Rachel Z, Joe Lovano, Steve Wilson, Omar Hakim and Manolo Badrena • 4/22 Christian McBride & Esperanza Spalding: One on One • 4/23
Wayne Shorter Quartet with special guests Herbie Hancock and Gretchen Parlato • 4/23
For tickets & full schedule visit njpac.org or call 1.888.GO.NJPAC Groups 973.297.5804 One Center Street, Newark, NJ
CATERINA DI PERRI/ECM RECORDS
It was November 4, and Carla Bley sat at the piano at Jazz Standard in New York, gesticulating at drummer Matt Wilson during “Silent Spring,” one of Bley’s elegiac compositions on Time/ Life: Song for the Whales and Other Beings, the Liberation Music Orchestra’s fifth album over as many decades. The orientation of the stage made it so that only Wilson had a clear sightline to the conductor’s Warholian shock of hair. He communicated cues to the band with subtle cymbal shots, so seamlessly it felt as though Charlie Haden, the band’s late founder, was in the room. Before the show, the 80-year-old high priestess of chamber jazz sat down with her daughter, Karen Mantler, at the Leon Levy Center for 40
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Biography at the Graduate Center, CUNY, to reflect on her peripatetic career. Bley’s artistic wanderings span free-jazz collaborations with Steve Lacy, the sprawling operatic masterwork Escalator Over the Hill, the enduring prog-rock classic Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports and the uncanny soundtrack to director Claude Miller’s Mortelle Randonnée. In this candid conversation, she discusses the influence of Count Basie, Stravinsky and the Beatles, and reveals the backstory to Andando el Tiempo, her arresting recent release with her longtime drummer-less trio featuring her husband, the bassist Steve Swal-
CARLA BLEY THE COMPOSER AND PIANIST REFLECTS ON HIGHLIGHTS FROM HER DISCOGRAPHY
low, and multireedist Andy Sheppard. Bley calls the album “a soundtrack to one person’s recovery from addiction.” Inspired initially by the partisan rancor of the 1968 presidential election, the Liberation Music Orchestra’s work is still far from finished. Time/Life, Haden’s “final” album (he appears on two tracks), extends the social-justice mission to environmental advocacy, and Bley has committed to continuing his legacy. Haden himself delivers the album’s poignant final words: “The whales represent all living creatures. They’re so precious and so wonderful, just like this universe is, like this planet is and like you are. You have to never forget that.”
BY AIDAN LEVY
BRIGHT MOMENTS Carla Bley CARLA BLEY/MIKE MANTLER/STEVE LACY Jazz Realities (Fontana, 1966) I think I met Michael Mantler in New York around the time of the October Revolution [at the Cellar Café in 1964]. We decided to try to improve the situation of jazz musicians, like better gigs. I was basically a composer and so was Michael, so it was like two composers trying to play their instruments, and banding up with a couple of musicians who were basically players and didn’t write that much. We got to do tunes, and it was free playing, no chord changes. It was probably just one day in the studio. We had a gig in Italy on a little stage at a restaurant, and I don’t see how they served any food while we were playing, because it was really raucous and totally free jazz and hopelessly adolescent, with all this energy and nowhere to put it. It was not good because people would come up to [bassist] Kent Carter and say, “Can you slap that thing instead of picking it? Just slap it.” It was awful, and we didn’t stay together for very long. I think it was just that one record and that was it. I had known Steve Lacy very well before this band. I liked him much better than I liked Coltrane’s or anybody else’s soprano playing. Then he worked in a band I had at Phase 2, a little coffee shop, and we played only Monk tunes, and that’s where I learned all the Monk tunes. I actually was there when Monk used [Lacy] for a week at the Jazz Gallery [in 1960]. I was working there in
Bley as seen in the packaging for 1971’s Escalator Over the Hill, her wildly ambitious avant-jazz opera. Written with Paul Haines, it features a sprawling cast of legendary musicians including Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Sheila Jordan, Charlie Haden, Linda Ronstadt, John McLaughlin and Paul Motian
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the cloakroom. I got to use him later that year, and if Monk had continued to use him I wouldn’t have had him. Interesting guy, marvelous troublemaker who loved paintings more than reality. We would be driving through the Alps on tour and he’d be looking at a book of modern art. “Hey, there’s the Matterhorn!” And he’d say, “Ah, but this Salvador Dalí. You’ve got to see it.” CARLA BLEY/PAUL HAINES Escalator Over the Hill (JCOA, 1971) Most of it was composed in advance, but there was one tune Don Cherry was playing on—they just started playing and they played for 15 minutes and then they stopped. So I took one of the licks that Don had played and I made it into a tune, just cutting the tape. It was that one that goes [sings “A.I.R. (All India Radio)”]. I didn’t write that; he just made that up. Paul Haines wrote the words in India, where he lived at the time. He was a teacher of English, and I lived in New York City, and we never met for the writing. He would send the words and I would put them to music. I wrote for Jack Bruce. I met Jack when I saw him at the Fillmore West with Cream, and we were sharing a dressing room. I wasn’t playing there, but I was there in somebody’s dressing room, and I said, “Oh, man, you were great. I’m a real big fan,” and he said, “Oh, I’m your greatest fan. I thought [Gary Burton’s Bley-composed] A Genuine Tong Funeral was incredible.” And then I wrote this thing for him. When I invited him to be in it, he said yes, and so I was glad since I had written it all for him. I wrote it for Linda Ronstadt, too. I guess I wrote it for all my friends, people I had heard of, or known, or that were around me. I just put them all in it. [English entertainer] Paul Jones asked if he could be in it. I even put in people that were on the street at the time. I’d say, “I need some background singers,” and they’d say, “OK!” Boy, those were the days. And I didn’t stint on paying them. They all got paid a union wage. We raised money to do all of this stuff from rich people. Paul Haines knew someone, and he got some money from them, and then I borrowed $20,000 from John D. Rockefeller’s wife; she cosigned the loan because Timothy Marquand [a participating vocalist] was her nephew. Rich people, poor people—there was a lot of mingling in those days. Rich people were fascinated by artists, and the artists were fascinated by the rich people. It’s still going on, but that’s how we got the money for it. I went to Teo Macero and John Hammond and Francis Wolff, and everybody said, “Oh, it’s wonderful, but we’re not going to sell anything like that. We can’t do it.” So I finally put it out myself. I don’t know where I got the idea for the locked groove. [The LP set’s final track, “...And It’s Again,” closes with a continuous loop.] I just thought it was a good idea, and it was hard to do in the recording, and in the actual manufacture of the vinyl, but we carried it off. I’d heard that idea earlier in our piece “Holiday in Risk,” where it’s as though the record player got stuck on the line [sings], “Staying, staying, staying…” It went on and on.
ROBERTO MASOTTI/ECM RECORDS
NICK MASON Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports (Columbia, 1981) I knew [Pink Floyd drummer] Nick Mason through Gary Windo, who was Nick Mason’s car mechanic, but he also was a tenor player. When he got a vanity record offer—everyone from Pink Floyd could make their own album—Nick Mason didn’t know what to do. He didn’t have anything in mind at all, so he asked me if I had anything. I wrote the songs and I wrote the words, and he chose to do it. We recorded it at my house; I had a studio in the basement then. He wanted Yul Brynner to be the singer, but he didn’t want to do it. So Nick came up with Robert Wyatt, and I already knew Robert Wyatt and was a big fan of his, but the songs were not written for him or for that band. The songs were written for a punk rock band that I had called Penny Cillin and the Burning Sensations, and I was Penny Cillin.
CHARLIE HADEN Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse!, 1970) I got together with Charlie through Paul Bley. Paul Bley had a band at the Hillcrest Club in Los Angeles and Charlie was the bass player, and I went to the club every night. That was my education. If working in Birdland as a cigarette girl was my college, that was definitely my high school. I dropped out of school very young, so I didn’t have any of the regular stuff, just the musical stuff. And so I got to know Charlie while he was Paul Bley’s bass player, and we became friends. We shared a lot of the same tastes, not only in music but in the way things looked, the way things sounded, the way things felt—everything. We were in tune with each other. We would like a certain chord in a certain piece, and he would say, “Yeah, that’s my chord, too! I love that chord.” When Paul Bley’s band got fired from the Hillcrest Club and Charlie took the gig with Ornette [Coleman], Charlie and I were out of touch for a while because he was in New York and I was in L.A., or vice versa. When he wanted to make his first album, he called me and asked if I would arrange the music, because he liked what I had done with A Genuine Tong Funeral. And he also knew that it was like hiring himself to do it, because he knew I would come up with the same things he would have done if he could have. I put a lot into it, and it turned out to be a good album. I think we both chose the guys in the band, it was half and half, and it was his idea to use actual portions of original recorded music from the Spanish Civil War. We laid that on afterwards. We knew when we were recording that there would be these songs where this ghost would appear in the middle during somebody’s solo. It was recorded live, and there were actual old soldiers that had fought in the Spanish Civil War in the front couple rows. They were very old, and they sat there nodding their heads, but I don’t know if they liked the music that much. That was nice and it gave me a certain cred. I didn’t have a social life in terms of career. I always wanted to just sit and listen and not do the argle-bargle part, so I think I got some recognition for being on that album.
Bley with Charlie Haden in the early 1980s. “We shared a lot of the same tastes, not only in music but in … everything,” Bley says. “We were in tune with each other.”
Peter Apfelbaum was in it. He would sweep the floor as we played, and I would lie on my back and play C melody saxophone, and we were just wonderfully crazy people. I met all those guys at Karl Berger’s Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, and I taught there for a semester, but I really just raised havoc and had food fights in the dining room, and made them into useless social creatures. Steven Bernstein was one of my students. I had a studio in my basement, and Nick Mason had a studio somewhere in London, so we did all the overdubbed Robert Wyatt vocals in London. I don’t know if anybody conducted. It was just a small band, and I counted it off and stopped it at the end. That’s still what I do. CARLA BLEY Mortelle Randonnée (Soundtrack) (Mercury, 1983) I never saw the movie, but I remember there were some wonderful things that the guys came up with. I think the director was a fan. We recorded it at my house, and there was “Sad Paloma,” and “Whistling Palomino.” The music was written before. I didn’t write it by looking at the film. This wasn’t writing music for a film in the way that most people are asked to do it. I just gave him the material, and they used the bits in the film wherever they wanted to JAZZTIMES.COM
BRIGHT MOMENTS Carla Bley
Bley, Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard (from left) exercise a deep rapport onstage and off. “During a tour, usually some people will split off and be by themselves, but we stick together,” Bley says. “I think the corny word is family.”
CARLA BLEY/STEVE SWALLOW Duets (Watt/ECM, 1988) First we had to have a band. We practiced and got enough tunes together that we thought we could get some work as a duo. I had a booking agency, so I said, “Steve and I want to work as a duet, but we don’t want to work in Europe or anything. We just want to get a gig in the Caribbean. We want to work at some club that has a nice beach, and we go on each night and play for cocktails.” I got a letter back saying, “That’s really stupid. You could do this in the capitals of Europe.” So we had to go to the capitals of Europe, and it became a viable band. It was easy rehearsing; we just went down to the basement where the piano is and played. Then we recorded it for my own label. I could have recorded anything I wanted to record, and I chose to do that. We kept that band going for like 20 years I think, until it got to the point where I couldn’t stand the tension anymore. You would be playing at a nightclub somewhere in the middle of Europe and you’d have to walk through the audience, and people would be taking your picture and making you nervous. I wanted to have somebody to take the spotlight off of me so I could have a good time. So that’s when we went to trios. 44
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[Saxophonist] Andy Sheppard takes all the attention. He’s standing up there and I’m just hunched over the piano. I have to have that situation. I’m not Liberace or something. I can’t play with any flourishes—no big endings. CARLA BLEY Fleur Carnivore (Watt/ECM, 1989) I wanted one guy from every country. I got Italy, Germany, England, Austria, France, Denmark. Some people think that’s my best big-band album, but it isn’t even big band yet—it’s 10 horns. The poor oboe player [Daniel Beaussier] had to stand in front of [trombonist] Gary Valente, because the reeds were in front of the brass. And he would just have tears streaming down his face as he played. I really didn’t want to do big band. I was such a fan of Count Basie, I thought, “Why would anyone ever want to do big band again?” That was it. You can’t just keep working on something that’s already finished. But I don’t like the idea of somebody thinking I can’t write for big band. When I first started, I didn’t know about phrase marks or any of the articulations. I read that in a book later. And I didn’t want to be weird. I wanted to be part of the whole progression of big band, and hopefully survive somewhere in a little dark corner after Count Basie’s name. I don’t think I ever succeeded in that. I used [drummer] Buddy Williams first, from the Saturday Night Live Band, but then I used the Count Basie Orchestra’s drummer, Dennis Mackrel. I thought with CB—Carla Bley, Count Basie— I could get those old stands, and that would have been funny.
CATERINA DI PERRI/ECM RECORDS
use them. So there was no me looking at the film and writing a piece that would match what was happening onscreen. It was just my imagination. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I didn’t think a lot in those days. I just did things without using an editor. I didn’t have to. People let me do whatever I wanted to do, because I was not bothering anybody except myself and my friends.
THE CARLA BLEY BIG BAND Goes to Church (Watt/ECM, 1996) I had written a piece called “Setting Calvin’s Waltz,” and that was like 20 minutes long, and I thought, if I had some more music that had to do with the church, I could maybe just make an album. So the other piece that I had written was “Major,” which was something I wrote for a Mozart birthday gig at the Public Theater. Then I arranged a Carl Ruggles piece for the big band. I looked through all my titles, and I thought maybe we could do “One Way,” because you could say Jesus’ way or something. And I cobbled together these tunes, but really the only two that were religious were the Carl Ruggles and “Setting Calvin’s Waltz,” which were really a “Bringing in the Sheaves” kind of thing from my old church days. I played piano in the church before I played it anywhere else. CARLA BLEY The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu (Watt/ECM, 2007) As a record-company executive, I said, “You’ve got to do something different. People are only going to buy the record if it’s something different. Let’s do something really weird that people would be curious about. How about the Lost Chords with the Tabernacle Choir, or the Lost Chords with the Alligator Man?” But the guys wanted Paolo Fresu, and I thought, OK, I’ll write an album for Paolo Fresu. I’ve never met him. It took a long time—about a year. The first rehearsal, we were in Basel, Switzerland. I remember the first gig, and we had of course only that one rehearsal for the whole tour and record. So the very first night in Basel, I thought we couldn’t possibly play this. We were only in the third song and we hadn’t even got the ending right. I was going crazy, and everyone was standing there waiting valiantly for me to rehearse the next song, and they wanted to stay without eating if they had to. But we went out and played it live and it turned out great. They just played their hearts out and made up things that weren’t right and made them better than the written part, and I just cried onstage when the audience applauded. It was the first time I had ever heard it. How much happier could you get in your life? Maybe some people could be happier if they had grandchildren, but not me. I like a piece of music to get me off. I had that one quote [in the composition “Four”]. I thought it was Led Zeppelin. I must have heard it and it just stuck in my head without my knowing what album or what group it was. And it was the Paul McCartney line [sings “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”]. I just loved that, and I didn’t know what it was. I was touring with Charlie at the time, and I asked the guys in the band, and Matt Wilson and Steve Cardenas said, “She’s So Heavy.” And I said, “The Beatles? I quoted the Beatles?” And they said, “Yeah, I’m afraid you did.” Mr. McCartney, I hope you don’t mind my doing that, but what a great bassline. There were five of us, so I tried to do things in 5/4, and I tried to do things that were five measures before the bridge, and then everything possible that made it five instead of four. Because it was a quintet. Stupid reason, but fun. I can amuse myself. That’s the way I’ve made a living all my life. If I think it’s good or funny, I just do it. What freedom that is. I wish everyone had that.
“I WANTED TO BE PART OF THE WHOLE PROGRESSION OF BIG BAND AND HOPEFULLY SURVIVE SOMEWHERE IN A LITTLE DARK CORNER AFTER COUNT BASIE’S NAME. I DON’T THINK I EVER SUCCEEDED IN THAT.” Don’t water it down, whatever you’re doing, man. Just do it exactly as you hear it, and as you grow you’ll become bigger but only because you’re adding things that you want to add, not that somebody told you to slap the bass. I don’t think anyone cares what any of us do anymore, because we’re such a small little kingdom, the jazz kingdom. They let us do what we want to do, and the more we do what we want to do, the more they like us. Stravinsky did whatever he wanted to do. That’s my favorite composer at this point in my life. Stravinsky, “Symphony of Psalms”—big influence. CARLA BLEY/ANDY SHEPPARD/STEVE SWALLOW Andando el Tiempo (ECM, 2016) I think we’ve been together about 23 years. I wanted a saxophone player that sounded different. All the guys in New York at the time—at least the ones I knew—were trying to sound like John Coltrane, and I wanted to get somebody that didn’t. That’s why I got Johnny Griffin for the Hal Willner thing [That’s the Way I Feel Now: A Tribute to Thelonious Monk], because he didn’t sound like Coltrane. After Coltrane, it was like the coming of Jesus and everybody became Christian. But I wanted somebody that was still a heathen, and I found my perfect heathen in London. Steve Swallow had known him in advance, and had been the producer on several of his albums, and when I said I didn’t want a Coltrane clone, he said, “I’ve got the guy for you, but he lives in England.” Andy had played on Fleur Carnivore, and he had hired me and Steve to play trio on something he did for the BBC or something in New York City. We just clicked right away. Even at the beginning we were playing with a lot of pleasure together. The part of me that finds pleasure from things that are wrong, like the Portsmouth Sinfonia or something, this was the tiny little place in me that found pleasure from being right. Andy Sheppard is so melodic. I transcribed one of his solos once, and it wasn’t what he played at all—it was how he played. What a lesson that is. If I want to play in the States, they’ve got to bring Andy over. We’re playing the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn., and they’re bringing Andy over and paying for the visa. It costs a lot of money to bring him over, particularly now. I don’t even know if they let musicians leave. We’ll see how Theresa May does with the arts. There were all these things that have kept us together. We like to eat the same food; we enjoy each other’s company. During a tour, usually some people will split off and be by themselves, but we stick together. I think the corny word is family. This album was written specifically for the trio in the last few years. I can’t tell you who the person is who was an alcoholic. JAZZTIMES.COM
BRIGHT MOMENTS Carla Bley I always said it was just an addiction, but it was alcohol. I wrote this whole piece while he was in that state, because that’s what was on my mind. Some of the stuff that came out was pretty sad, probably because I was pretty sad. So I just kept writing. He couldn’t get out of it, which is the first piece, “Sin Fin”—no ending. Then the second piece was how bad everyone in his family felt about how “he can’t go on like this”— he’s going to kill himself. So that was the sadness in the middle of “God, this guy has got so much talent and he can’t do it anymore. He can’t do what he was doing.” And the whole last part, “Camino al Volver,” that was going to meetings, that was eating better, that was finding non-alcoholic things you could drink with your meal. That was exercising, that was getting in shape, that was trying to get your mind into a position where that pleasure center was not pushed, and having maybe worked out some alternative things. Just trying as hard as he could, and he made it. I wrote the piece during the whole experience, and it’s like a soundtrack to one person’s recovery from addiction. “Saints Alive!” was written when Andy Sheppard got married and he was very happy for the first time in a long while, and I just tried to say, what do wedding bells sound like? “Naked Bridges/ Diving Brides” comes from Paul Haines’ Secret Carnival Workers. CHARLIE HADEN LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA Time/Life: Song for the Whales and Other Beings (Impulse!/Verve, 2016) Charlie wanted it to be environmentalist. I think it was [Ruth Cameron Haden’s] idea first. I had a piece called “Silent Spring” that was written like 20 years ago, when I first heard of Rachel Carson [author of the landmark conservationist book Silent Spring]. Charlie said, “Finally, I can do ‘Song for the Whales,’ because we always said, ‘That doesn’t have anything to do
“AFTER COLTRANE, IT WAS LIKE THE COMING OF JESUS AND EVERYBODY BECAME CHRISTIAN. BUT I WANTED SOMEBODY THAT WAS STILL A HEATHEN, AND I FOUND MY PERFECT HEATHEN IN [ANDY SHEPPARD].” with Richard Nixon.’” And luckily [Haden] was still alive when we got to play it, and we played it live in Europe and that’s on the recording, and he played it so great. I wrote “Time/Life” within 24 hours of the time he took his last breath. Ruthie called me. I was in the garden at the time and I had the phone with me, and she called and said, “Charlie’s gone. He died last night.” And I was all flustered, and I said, “Wait a minute! I’m in the garden. Just going to put these peapods in my basket and I’ll call you right back.” So I wrote this piece and it took me four months to write it. It had a place for every guy to say goodbye. Every guy got eight bars and that was the goodbye. And every time something went wrong, if there was a mistake in the background, I would say, “I’m sorry, you’ve got to do it over again. I know you just played the greatest solo of your life, but you’ve got to take another one.” And whoever it was at the time would take another great solo that was greater than the one that went before. That was the first time I ever really loved that band. Just like Andando, it was more than music. This was really going back to when music was something that you didn’t just listen to, you watched. And you were there, you experienced, you felt all this stuff. It was going back to a higher form of music I thought that the band had reached, and God, I hope they do it tonight, man. JT
COURTESY OF THE DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL
Bley leads Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra at the 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival
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Gear of the Year THE BEST AND BOLDEST AUDIO PRODUCTS RELEASED IN 2016 By Brent Butterworth
udio experts may look back on 2016 as a turning point: the year an Internet company passed decades-old, legendary brands to become the biggest seller in audio. That’s right—Amazon is now the number-one speaker brand in the U.S., earning a 26-percent market share just two years after entering that market. Most of Amazon’s success can be attributed to its introduction of the first viable voice-command speaker, the Echo. Time will tell if Amazon’s competitors can catch up, but for now, the storied audio brands can take pride in having packed 2016 with extraordinary products that deliver better sound quality, better value, more features or all three. Here are some of my favorites. AMAZON ECHO DOT (2ND GEN) MUSIC STREAMER The Echo Dot gets you into voice-command music for just $49. Connect it to your audio system (or a Bluetooth speaker or headphones), say “Alexa, play Herbie Hancock,” and in just a second or two you’ll be hearing “Maiden Voyage” or another classic. If you’re one of the 70 million Amazon Prime subscribers, you can tap the large Prime Music jazz library or access tunes through Pandora or a Spotify subscription.
AUDEZE ISINE 10 HEADPHONES The $399 iSINE 10s are the weirdest in-ear headphones ever made, producing sound using tiny planar magnetic panels that look like they were pulled off a Star Wars toy. But I’ve never heard another set of in n-ear headphones like them. In fact, they don’t sound like in-ears at all. The iSINE 10s have the sound of big, audiophile-grade headphones, but in an ultra-compact design that slips into a pocket or purse.
AUDIOQUEST DRAGONFLY BLACK DAC/HEADPHONE AMP The original DragonFly turned any computer into a true audiophile-grade music source. The new $99 DragonFly Black also works with phones and tablets. The thumb-drive-sized device has a headphone amp and a high-resolution 24/96 digital-toanalog converter built in. The $199 DragonFly Red adds more power for large audiophile headphones.
BOSE QUIETCONTROL 30 NOISECANCELLING HEADPHONES Any noise-cancelling headphones can reduce low-frequency sounds, such as airplane cabin noise, but the $299 QC30s drastically cut almost all sounds, even speech. They have Bluetooth wireless circuitry built into a lightweight neck band, with a couple of supercomfortable in-ear headphone earpieces attached. They also have a sweet, non-fatiguing sound that suits jazz well. B&W 804 D3 TOWER SPEAKER Bowers & Wilkins’ 800-series speakers have for decades been considered a reference standard, and the D3 line offers the best 800s yet. The 804 D3 is gorgeous and possessed of a sonic charm I’ve only rarely heard equaled. At $9,000 per pair it’s an undeniably expensive speaker, but the price seems more reasonable when you consider that the next model up in the line costs $17,000 per pair.
ELAC UNI-FI UB5 BOOKSHELF SPEAKER The UB5 is the smallest of the two stereo speakers in famed speaker designer Andrew Jones’ new Uni-Fi line. For its $499-per-pair price, it sounds incredibly clean and full, with consistently smooth sound across a broad area—plus a particularly delicate touch on vocals. For most jazz, the little speaker puts out more than enough bass. FLUANCE RT81 TURNTABLE The budget speaker brand Fluance shocked the audio world when it released its first turntable, yet audiophiles were even more shocked to discover that the $249 RT81 is really, really good. The solidly built, retro-looking turntable comes with an Audio-Technica AT95E cartridge installed. It’s the perfect way to bring your old Blue Note, Riverside and CTI sides back to life. MICROMEGA M-ONE 100 INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER The most appealing of the many new integrated amps introduced in 2016 was the $3,999 M-One 100, which I heard at two different tradeshows; both times it drove large tower speakers with an ease and grace that normally demand a much larger amp. Bluetooth, Internet radio, a phono preamp, a 100-watt-per-channel amp and a 24/768, DSD-capable DAC are included; automatic room equalization adds $600.
POLK BOOM BIT BLUETOOTH SPEAKER My favorite new Bluetooth speaker of 2016 measures just 3 inches long and costs just $29. The BOOM Bit clips to your collar so you can enjoy up to three hours of music while walking, biking or even driving without blocking your ears. It’s waterproof, and a USB charging plug is built-in. For its size, it sounds amazing. ROGERSOUND LABS SPEEDWOOFER 10S SUBWOOFER My lab tests show that the $399 SW10S plays as deeply and powerfully as many subs twice its size and price. But it’s no muscle-bound boombox; it reproduces Ray Brown’s quickest, subtlest licks as perfectly as it pounds out Marcus Miller’s most explosive slaps and pops. SENNHEISER HD 800 S HEADPHONES “I respect them, but I don’t love them,” an audio reviewer friend of mine said of the original HD 800s, which were revered for their detailed treble but sometimes reviled for their lack of bass. The $1,699 HD 800 S headphones present a fuller, more satisfying balance, while sounding at least as spacious and detailed as any headphones I’ve ever heard—perfect for everything from rough Charlie Parker recordings to the best ECM sides. JT
Synth Secrets SCOTT KINSEY AND JASON LINDNER OFFER ADVICE FOR CRAFTING AN EFFECTIVE KEYBOARD SOLO
hen keyboardist Jason Lindner recalls some of his more memorable synth solos, the first to come to mind is a tempestuous passage on the Donny McCaslin track “Faceplant,” off the saxophonist’s newly released Beyond Now. Right on the heels of a blistering McCaslin sax solo, Lindner pushes his Dave Smith Instruments’ Prophet-6 to conjure a swirling sound which has more impact than the notes themselves. “It builds tension in a certain way, and it’s just really strange and almost eerily emotive but somehow maintains
Synth stars: Lindner (above) and Kinsey
some musical logic,” Lindner says. “It sounds like screaming a bit.” The archetypal solo, no matter the instrument, starts simple, builds to a climax and segues back into the song. Soloing is far from an exact science, though— particularly with synthesizers, which are flexible by nature. The art of synth soloing is as much about mindset as it is about the music, according to Lindner and fellow keyboardist Scott Kinsey. For them, a song is a dialogue between 50
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
instruments, and their approach is the same whether they’re soloing or playing rhythm. “Maybe I’m the one doing the talking a little bit more, but I still need that conversation,” said Kinsey, who plays in Tribal Tech and whose most recent solo album is titled Near Life Experience. “I don’t like the soloing concept where it’s just about you, and you’re playing your shit on top of the rhythm section. It gets boring.” Finding your voice as a soloist can be especially hard on piano, which is a more universal instrument, Kinsey says. Synths at least give you the capability to radically change the timbre of the notes. Work on
a signature sound, Kinsey advises, one that’s recognizable and becomes familiar to listeners. Don’t change it up too often, he says. “The worst thing you can do on a synth is sound like a NAMM [tradeshow],” Kinsey says. “You don’t want to sound like you’re calling up a patch every three seconds. You have to develop a couple that are your voice.” That said, Lindner, who lent his talents to David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, as part of McCaslin’s band, likes to completely morph the sound of his melodies mid-solo. The sonics are more important than the notes, he explains, and sounds, like characters in a novel, evolve over time. Technically speaking, the notes we hear are a series of high-frequency rhythms in and of themselves, he points out. “Just as a moving picture is a series of frames, each note is like a mini-movie at different speeds,” Lindner says. Changing the qualities of the note in the middle of a solo can limit your flexibility—one hand might be needed to adjust knobs or flip switches instead of playing chords or a counter-melody—but it often makes for a bigger effect in the music, Lindner says. Organs and synths are similar in this regard, he notes; they can both be adjusted while playing, which helps convey an idea. “You can start a solo or a phrase on any note, really,” Lindner says. “It’s what happens after that makes the previous note work, and so on. The sound is what’s affecting people, more than the choice of notes.” Kinsey agrees, explaining that while many musicians have a few riffs they repeat in their solos, that’s not something to strive for. It’s better to focus on an overall effect than on a specific melodic line, he says. Soloing in a recording studio is completely different than at a gig, Kinsey explains, because you can’t draw from the
FROM TOP: DENIKA PENISTON, CURT BIANCHI
By Sam Sessa
energy and feedback of a live audience. He sees it as an opportunity to orchestrate more, and will often take a pass at a solo, recording his parts on a simple electric piano or synth via MIDI, then examine certain phrases and build them out with different sounds. He points to the keyboard solo on “Rocket Science,” the title track of the 2000 Tribal Tech album, which was recorded live in studio. On it, Kinsey played Fender Rhodes but modified it to sound like something
“THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO ON A SYNTH IS SOUND LIKE A NAMM [TRADESHOW],” KINSEY SAYS. “YOU DON’T WANT TO SOUND LIKE YOU’RE CALLING UP A PATCH EVERY THREE SECONDS. YOU HAVE TO DEVELOP A COUPLE THAT ARE YOUR VOICE.” halfway between an electric piano and a synth. “I like the idea of having some mystery in it,” Kinsey says. “I don’t want it to be like, ‘Oh, there’s my Minimoog sound and I’m going to blow on it,’ because we’ve all heard it too much.” If you’re in a rut, try physically rearranging your keyboard setup, Kinsey suggests. He solos with his bottom keyboard rather than the top, because it’s closer to his body. (“It just feels more natural to me that way,” he says.) Kinsey’s mentor, the late Joe Zawinul, would reverse the order of the notes on his keyboards to challenge himself to come up with new ideas. After decades in the music business, Kinsey still wrestles over whether or
not to solo in some of his own songs, and what shapes his solos will take. Learning how to solo isn’t all that different from learning how to speak, he says. “It comes with experience, with being
open to everything and just learning the things you love and hoping that when you play, those things will come out,” Kinsey says. “And little by little, they will.” JT
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Wynton Marsalis Omnibook Surely there are Omnibooks players should absorb before this one, and even Wynton himself would be hard-pressed to disagree. But this new volume from Hal Leonard, dedicated to decoding the improvisations of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s artistic director, is an invaluable addition to the jazz-ed library. The book begins at a summit, with a terrific introductory essay that defines Marsalis as a conceptualist whose smart juxtapositions of jazz eras approach innovation. Equally astute stylistic analysis follows, then it’s on to the diverse spread of 35 solos. $19.99. halleonard.com.
Mark Guiliana: Exploring Your Creativity on the Drumset Mark Guiliana, a technical master with a rare sense of musicality, has over the last decade become one of the most influential drummers of his generation. His new book/DVD set, Exploring Your Creativity on the Drumset (Hudson), provides the sort of concept-driven instruction—emphasizing Dynamics, Rate, Orchestration and Phrasing, or D.R.O.P.—you’d expect from a musician who has collaborated with David Bowie, Donny McCaslin and Brad Mehldau. Guiliana’s longtime colleagues in and out of McCaslin’s group, keyboardist Jason Lindner and bassist Tim Lefebvre, join him in the sharply produced video. $29.99. hudsonmusic.com
D’Angelico Guitars Premier Series The reactivated D’Angelico brand just can’t stop releasing hip, high-quality instruments at killer price points. Players on a budget will need to check out the company’s Premier Series, a versatile line of axes running $699 – $749. Among our favorites: a version of the EXL-1 (pictured), which will remind you most of D’Angelico’s archtop legacy; and the single-cutaway SS archtop, with two humbuckers and a center block. For jazz-guitar warmth with the feedback resistance of a solidbody, look into the two chambered, thin-line semi-hollowbodies available without f-holes, the SS and DC. dangelicoguitars.com
Audio-Technica ATM350PL UniMount Close-miking a piano can be frustrating without the right gear. This kit from Audio-Technica includes the necessary products for your next live or studio gig: an ATM350a cardioid condenser microphone, whose accuracy and transparency will suit any instrument, not only piano; an AT8490L 9-inch gooseneck; and the AT8491P magnetic piano mount. The setup “isolates the [piano] by reducing side and rear pickup,” as the company puts it, and a switchable high-pass filter helps clean up the low end. The package also includes the AT8468 violin mount, with a protective carrying case. $349 online. audio-technica.com
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Fodera Victor Wooten Yin Yang Deluxe Series III Bass A Fodera player and advocate since the mid-1980s, bass virtuoso Victor Wooten has teamed up with the company for his third signature fretted Yin Yang instrument, and it’s a doozy: a chambered walnut body aims for unparalleled tonal balance and resonance, and a pair of Fodera/Seymour Duncan Dual Coil pickups, along with the Fodera/Pope threeband Custom Preamp, means noise-free single-coil sound with added heft. This high-end instrument is being produced on a very limited scale; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Z Z A J 7 1 20 CONNECT E C N E R E F ON C
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BY JA SENTED
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Z Z A J F O Y L I M A F E TH
JANUARY 5-6, 2017 SAINT PETERâ€™S CHURCH NEW YORK CITY
Composer and bandleader Maria Schneider, the keynote speaker for 2017
THURSDAY, JANUARY 5 9 am – 3:30 pm Table-top displays in foyer (Narthex Gallery)
9:30 am – 10:30 am
SOCIAL MEDIA: THE ARTIST’S PERSPECTIVE ƌƟƐƚƐǁŝƚŚĂŚĂŶĚƐͲŽŶĂƉƉƌŽĂĐŚƚŽƐŽĐŝĂůŵĞĚŝĂĚŝƐĐƵƐƐŚŽǁƚŚĞǇĚĞĂůǁŝƚŚ ƚŚĞĞǀĞƌͲĐŚĂŶŐŝŶŐůĂŶĚƐĐĂƉĞͶĨƌŽŵ &ĂĐĞďŽŽŬ͕/ŶƐƚĂŐƌĂŵĂŶĚdǁŝƩĞƌƚŽ sŝŶĞ͕WĞƌŝƐĐŽƉĞĂŶĚǁŚĂƚĞǀĞƌ͛ƐŶĞǆƚ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1) Q
COMMUNITY CHOICE PANEL TOPIC TBA (Living Room on LL1)
INDIE LABEL ROUNDTABLE: INDIES’ RISE IN CHANGING THE SHAPE OF POPULAR CULTURE DĂũŽƌůĂďĞůƐǁĞƌĞĂůǁĂǇƐƚŚĞ ĚŽŵŝŶĂŶƚĨŽƌĐĞŝŶĚƌŝǀŝŶŐƚŚĞƉŽƉƵůĂƌ ŵƵƐŝĐĂŐĞŶĚĂ͘/ŶƌĞĐĞŶƚǇĞĂƌƐ͕ŝŶĚŝĞ ůĂďĞůƐŚĂǀĞŐĂŝŶĞĚŶŽƚŽŶůǇĂǀŽŝĐĞ ďƵƚŚĂǀĞŐƌĂďďĞĚĂůĂƌŐĞƉĞƌĐĞŶƚĂŐĞ ŽĨƌĞĐŽƌĚƐĂůĞƐͶŝŶĐůƵĚŝŶŐƉŚǇƐŝĐĂů͕ ĚŝŐŝƚĂůĂŶĚƐƚƌĞĂŵŝŶŐ͘^ŽŚŽǁĐĂŶǁĞ ĂůůďĞƉĂƌƚŽĨƚŚĞŶĞǁĨŽƵŶĚŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶĐĞĂŶĚŵĂƌŬĞƚƐŚĂƌĞŽĨŝŶĚĞƉĞŶĚĞŶƚŵƵƐŝĐ͍tĞ͛ůůĞǆƉůŽƌĞƌĞƐŽƵƌĐĞƐ͕ ŵĞƚŚŽĚƐĂŶĚŶĞǁĂŶĚŝŶŶŽǀĂƟǀĞ ĂƉƉƌŽĂĐŚĞƐƚŽũŽŝŶƚŚĞƌŝƐŝŶŐǁĂǀĞ ŽĨŝŶĚĞƉĞŶĚĞŶƚŵƵƐŝĐ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2) Q
10:45 am – 11:45 am
JAZZ CONNECT CONFERENCE PROGRAM
ALTERNATIVE SPACES FOR PRESENTING JAZZ &ƌŽŵŚŽƵƐĞĐŽŶĐĞƌƚƐƚŽĐŽƌƉŽƌĂƚĞ ĞǀĞŶƚƐ͕ƵŶŝƋƵĞŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƟĞƐĨŽƌŐŝŐƐ ĐĂŶďĞĨŽƵŶĚďĞǇŽŶĚƚŚĞƵƐƵĂůĐůƵďĂŶĚ ĨĞƐƟǀĂůĐŝƌĐƵŝƚƐ͘dŚŝƐƉĂŶĞůŚĞůƉƐĂƌƟƐƚƐ ĂŶĚƌĞƉƐƚŚŝŶŬŽƵƚƐŝĚĞƚŚĞďŽŽŬŝŶŐďŽǆ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1) Q
JAZZ DOCUMENTARIES: THE NEW WAVE dŚĞƌĞŚĂƐďĞĞŶĂǁĞĂůƚŚŽĨĚŽĐƵŵĞŶƚĂƌŝĞƐŽŶũĂǌǌƐƵďũĞĐƚƐƌĞůĞĂƐĞĚŝŶƚŚĞ ůĂƐƚĨĞǁǇĞĂƌƐ͘tŚĂƚĂƌĞƚŚĞĨĂĐƚŽƌƐ ďĞŚŝŶĚƚŚŝƐƌŝƐĞ͕ĂŶĚǁŚĂƚĂƌĞƚŚĞ ĐŽŶƟŶƵŝŶŐĐŚĂůůĞŶŐĞƐ͍tŚŽĂƌĞƚŚĞ ƉƌŽĚƵĐĞƌƐďĞŚŝŶĚƚŚĞƐĞĞīŽƌƚƐ͕ĂŶĚ ǁŚĂƚŝƐĞĂĐŚĚŽŝŶŐƚŽƐƚĂŶĚŽƵƚĨƌŽŵ ƚŚĞĐƌŽǁĚ͍,ĞĂƌĨƌŽŵƚŚĞĚŝƌĞĐƚŽƌƐ ďĞŚŝŶĚŵĂŶǇŽĨƚŚĞƐĞĚŽĐƵŵĞŶƚĂƌŝĞƐ͕ Q
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JAZZCONNECTCONFERENCE ĂŶĚǁĂƚĐŚĐůŝƉƐĨƌŽŵƚŚŝƐĞǆĐŝƟŶŐŶĞǁ ĐƌŽƉŽĨĮůŵƐ͘ (Living Room on LL1) Q PRODUCERS ROUNDTABLE WƌŽĚƵĐĞƌƐĂĐƟǀĞŽŶƚŚĞũĂǌǌƐĐĞŶĞƚĂůŬ ĂďŽƵƚǁŚĂƚŝƚƚĂŬĞƐƚŽŵĂŬĞĂŐŽŽĚ ƌĞĐŽƌĚŐƌĞĂƚ͕ŝŶĂƟŵĞǁŚĞŶƌĞĐŽƌĚŝŶŐ ďƵĚŐĞƚƐĂƌĞƟŐŚƚĞƌƚŚĂŶĞǀĞƌ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2)
12:15 pm – 1:45 pm
KEYNOTE AND STORIES OF INSPIRATION /ŶƚƌŽĚƵĐƟŽŶ͗Mario Garcia Durham (APAP) <ĞǇŶŽƚĞWƌĞƐĞŶƚĂƟŽŶ͗ Maria Schneider WƌĞƐĞŶƚĂƟŽŶŽĨƌƵĐĞ>ƵŶĚǀĂůů sŝƐŝŽŶĂƌǇǁĂƌĚƚŽŚƌŝƐƟĂŶDĐƌŝĚĞ ^ŽůŽ^ƉŽƚƐ͗Dorthaan Kirk; Rudresh Mahanthappa /ŶDĞŵŽƌŝĂŵdƌŝďƵƚĞ͗DƵƐŝĐďǇIke Sturm (Sanctuary on LL1)
Artist | Painter
LOVE NOTE 19 x 27 $40
2 pm – 3:30 pm
(Presented by the Music Business ƐƐŽĐŝĂƟŽŶͿ Q MUSIC INDUSTRY REBOOT: A FRESH LOOK AT THE WAY MUSIC IS BOUGHT, SOLD AND CONSUMED &ŝƌƐƚƐŽǀĞƌƚŽŽŬǀŝŶǇů͕ƚŚĞŶŵƵƐŝĐ ĚŽǁŶůŽĂĚƐŽǀĞƌƚŽŽŬƐ͕ŶŽǁ ƐƚƌĞĂŵŝŶŐŝƐŽǀĞƌƚĂŬŝŶŐŵƉϯ͛ƐĂŶĚ ǀŝŶǇůŝƐĐŽŵŝŶŐďĂĐŬ͘tŚĂƚ͛ƐŐŽŝŶŐ ŽŶ͕ĂŶĚŚŽǁĚŽǁĞƐƚĂǇĂŚĞĂĚŽĨƚŚĞ ĐƵƌǀĞƚŽŚĂǀĞŽƵƌŵƵƐŝĐŝŶĨƌŽŶƚŽĨ ƚŚĞƌŝŐŚƚƉĞŽƉůĞŝŶƚŚĞƌŝŐŚƚƉůĂĐĞĂƚ ƚŚĞƌŝŐŚƚƟŵĞ͍dŽƉͲůĞǀĞůĞǆĞĐƵƟǀĞƐ ǁŝůůĚŝǀĞŝŶƚŽƚŚĞƐĞŝƐƐƵĞƐĂŶĚƉƌŽǀŝĚĞ ĂƌŽĂĚŵĂƉƚŽƐƵĐĐĞƐƐ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1) 3:30 pm – 5:15 pm Q RECEPTION TBA (Living Room on LL1)
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JAZZ CONNECT CONFERENCE PROGRAM
5 pm – 6:30 pm
ASK THE EXPERTS NETWORKING SESSION DĞŵďĞƌƐŽĨƚŚĞũĂǌǌĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇŐĞƚ ƚŚĞŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƚǇƚŽŵĞĞƚĨĂĐĞͲƚŽͲĨĂĐĞ ĨŽƌϭϬŵŝŶƵƚĞƐǁŝƚŚŝŶŇƵĞŶƟĂůĂŶĚ Q
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
ŚƌŝƐƟĂŶDĐƌŝĚĞ ĞǆƉĞƌŝĞŶĐĞĚ ŝŶĚƵƐƚƌǇ ůĞĂĚĞƌƐƌĞƉƌĞƐĞŶƚŝŶŐƚŚĞƐĞŝƐƐƵĞĂƌĞĂƐ͗>ĂďĞůƐͬZĞĐŽƌĚŝŶŐͬ WƌŽĚƵĐƚDĂŶĂŐĞŵĞŶƚ͖/zDĂŶĂŐĞŵĞŶƚ͖ DĂƌŬĞƟŶŐͬ^ŽĐŝĂů DĞĚŝĂ͖ WƵďůŝĐŝƚǇͬWƌŽŵŽƟŽŶ͖ ĂŶĚ WƌĞƐĞŶƟŶŐͬŽŽŬŝŶŐͬ dŽƵƌŝŶŐ͘ ^ŝŐŶƵƉĂƚƌĞŐŝƐƚƌĂƟŽŶĂƌĞĂ͘ dŚĞƌĞĂƌĞůŝŵŝƚĞĚƐůŽƚƐĂǀĂŝůĂďůĞ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1)
10 am – 3:45 pm
SPECIAL INTEREST WORKHOPS & MEETINGS
2 pm – 3 pm
Q BASICS IN JAZZ JOURNALISM (Workshop Presented by the :Ăǌǌ:ŽƵƌŶĂůŝƐƚƐƐƐŽĐŝĂƟŽŶͿ :ŽƵƌŶĂůŝƐƟĐďĂƐŝĐƐƉƌŽǀŝĚĞƌĞůŝĂďůĞŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶ͗ƚŚĞ͞ǁŚŽ͕ǁŚĂƚ͕ ǁŚĞƌĞ͕ǁŚĞŶĂŶĚǁŚǇ͟ŽĨĂŶ ĞǀĞŶƚ͘ƌŝƟĐŝƐŵƌĞƋƵŝƌĞƐĐŽŶƚĞǆƚƵĂů ŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶ͕ĂŶĂůǇƐŝƐĂŶĚũƵĚŐŵĞŶƚ͘ DĞŵďĞƌƐŽĨƚŚĞ:Ăǌǌ:ŽƵƌŶĂůŝƐƚƐ ƐƐŽĐŝĂƟŽŶƉƌĞƐĞŶƚĂǁŽƌŬƐŚŽƉŽŶ ŚŽǁƚŽĐŽŵďŝŶĞĂůůƚŚĞĞůĞŵĞŶƚƐŝŶ ǁƌŝƟŶŐ͕ďƌŽĂĚĐĂƐƟŶŐ͕ƉŚŽƚŽŐƌĂƉŚǇ ĂŶĚǀŝĚĞŽŐƌĂƉŚǇŽŶĞǀĞƌǇƉůĂƞŽƌŵ ƚŽĂĚǀĂŶĐĞƚŚĞďƵǌǌĂďŽƵƚũĂǌǌ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2)
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS 2017 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
VOCALISTS PANEL: FINDING YOUR FOCUS ^ŝŶŐĞƌƐĂŶĚŝŶĚƵƐƚƌǇǀĞƚƐĚŝƐĐƵƐƐŚŽǁ ĂƌƟƐƚƐĐĂŶƐƚĂŶĚŽƵƚŝŶĂĮĞůĚƚŚĂƚ͛Ɛ ŽŌĞŶŽǀĞƌĐƌŽǁĚĞĚ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2) Q
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6
CREATING DEMAND TO MAXIMIZE MEDIA PLACEMENT (Presented by ASCAP) DƵƐŝĐŝƐƵƐĞĚŵŽƌĞƚŚĂŶĞǀĞƌŝŶĂůů ƚǇƉĞƐŽĨŵĞĚŝĂ͕ǁŚĞƚŚĞƌŝŶds͕Įůŵ͕ ĂĚǀĞƌƟƐŝŶŐŽƌǁĞďͲƌĞůĂƚĞĚƉƌŽŐƌĂŵŵŝŶŐ͘,ŽǁĞǀĞƌ͕ƚŚĞƌĞŝƐŵŽƌĞĂŶĚŵŽƌĞ ŵƵƐŝĐďĞŝŶŐŽīĞƌĞĚĨŽƌĐŽŶƐŝĚĞƌĂƟŽŶ͕ Q
ǁŚŝĐŚŚĂƐĐƌĞĂƚĞĚĂǀĞƌǇĐůƵƩĞƌĞĚ ŵĂƌŬĞƚƉůĂĐĞ͘dŚŝƐƐĞƐƐŝŽŶĞǆĂŵŝŶĞƐ ǁĂǇƐƚŽĚŝīĞƌĞŶƟĂƚĞǇŽƵƌŵƵƐŝĐĂŶĚ ŵĂŬĞŝƚƐƚĂŶĚŽƵƚĨƌŽŵƚŚĞƉĂĐŬĨŽƌ ƚŽƉ ĐŽŶƐŝĚĞƌĂƟŽŶ ĨƌŽŵ ŵĞĚŝĂ ŽƵƚůĞƚƐ͕ ƚŽ ĞǆƉĂŶĚ ǇŽƵƌ ƌĞǀĞŶƵĞ ŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƟĞƐ ĂŶĚ ŚĞŝŐŚƚĞŶ ǇŽƵƌ ƉƌŽĨĞƐƐŝŽŶĂů ĂŶĚ ƉƵďůŝĐ ƉƌŽĮůĞ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2)
9:30 am – 3:30 pm Table-top displays (Narthex Gallery)
9:30 am – 10:30 am
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR PRESENTING JAZZ WƌĞƐĞŶƚĞƌƐĂŶĚĐŝǀŝĐůĞĂĚĞƌƐĚŝƐĐƵƐƐ ŚŽǁƚŽďƵŝůĚĐŝǀŝĐĂŶĚĐŽƌƉŽƌĂƚĞƉĂƌƚŶĞƌƐŚŝƉƐĂŶĚďƵŝůĚůŽĐĂůĐŽĂůŝƟŽŶƐƚŽ ĞǆƉĂŶĚƚŚĞĂǁĂƌĞŶĞƐƐŽĨũĂǌǌ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1)
Grammy Nominated Vocalist ROSEANNA VITRO, KENNY WERNER piano & percussionist MINO CINELU in concert APAP presentation • January 7th • Saturday 8 pm
Q SPOTLIGHT ON JAZZ IN ISRAEL (Presented by the Israeli Consulate General) ĐƌŽƐƐͲƐĞĐƟŽŶŽĨũĂǌǌŝŶĚƵƐƚƌǇƉƌŽĨĞƐƐŝŽŶĂůƐĨƌŽŵ/ƐƌĂĞůĚŝƐĐƵƐƐƚŚĞƵŶŝƋƵĞ ĂƐƉĞĐƚƐŽĨƚŚĞũĂǌǌƐĐĞŶĞƚŚĞƌĞ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2)
JUKEBOX JURY (Presented by JazzWeek) Q ƉĂŶĞůŽĨƌĂĚŝŽƉƌŽŐƌĂŵĂŶĚŵƵƐŝĐĚŝƌĞĐƚŽƌƐǁŝůůŚĞĂƌƉƌĞǀŝĞǁƐŽĨ ƵŶƌĞůĞĂƐĞĚŶĞǁũĂǌǌƌĞĐŽƌĚŝŶŐƐĂŶĚ ǁĞŝŐŚŝŶŽŶǁŚĞƚŚĞƌƚŚĞǇǁŽƵůĚ ĂĚĚƚŚĞŵƚŽƚŚĞŝƌƐƚĂƟŽŶ͛ƐŽŶͲĂŝƌ ŵƵƐŝĐƌŽƚĂƟŽŶ͘^ĞĞĂŶĚŚĞĂƌũĂǌǌ ƌĂĚŝŽƉƌŽŐƌĂŵŵĞƌƐĂƐƚŚĞǇŐŝǀĞǇŽƵ ĂŐůŝŵƉƐĞŽĨǁŚĂƚŵĂŬĞƐĂƌĞĐŽƌĚŝŶŐǁŽƌŬŽŶƚŚĞƌĂĚŝŽ͘ (Living Room on LL1)
January 8th • 12:30 pm
Roseanna Vitro with pianist Mark Soskin, The Jersey Horns new music “Southern Standard Time” ”She is a creative storyteller who sings jazz like she means it, understands lyrics & knows how to caress a melody and, most of all, swings like mad” —Denver Post January 5th • 3:15-4:15 pm Jazz Connect Singers Forum “FindingYour Focus” RoseannaVitro,Al Pryor,Seth Abramson, Bria Skonberg & Kate McGarry
Saint Peters,54th & Lexington,NYC
January 8th • 9: 30 pm
Roseanna presents special guests, the amazing vocalist Cindy Scott & guitarist Brian Seeger http://cindyscott.us/
RESERVATIONS: Jazzflamer3@gmail.com THE NEWYORK SUITE • 4th Fl.NY Hilton NY Hilton
1335 Avenue of the Americas •Allan Harris Productions Suite
10:45 am – 11:45 am
PRESENTERS LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER WƌĞƐĞŶƚĞƌƐĚŝƐĐƵƐƐƚŚĞǀĂůƵĞŽĨƐŚĂƌŝŶŐƌĞƐŽƵƌĐĞƐĂŶĚŝĚĞĂƐďŽƚŚĨŽƌŵĂůůǇ͕ ƚŚƌŽƵŐŚĐŽĂůŝƟŽŶƐŽƌŶĞƚǁŽƌŬƐ͕ĂŶĚ ŝŶĨŽƌŵĂůůǇ͕ƚŚƌŽƵŐŚĂƩĞŶĚŝŶŐĂŶĚ ŽďƐĞƌǀŝŶŐŽƚŚĞƌĞǀĞŶƚƐ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1) Q
JAZZ CONNECT CONFERENCE PROGRAM
JAZZCONNECTCONFERENCE JUKEBOX JURY FROM THE INSIDE OUT (Presented by JazzWeek) ĐŽŵƉĂŶŝŽŶƐĞƐƐŝŽŶƚŽƚŚĞ:ƵŬĞďŽǆ :ƵƌǇƉĂŶĞů͕ƚŚŝƐĨŽůůŽǁͲƵƉǁŝƚŚƌĂĚŝŽ ƉƌŽŐƌĂŵŵĞƌƐǁŝůůĚŝŐŝŶƚŽŝŶĚŝǀŝĚƵĂů ƚƌĂĐŬƐŵŽƌĞĚĞĞƉůǇ͘dŚĞƌĞǁŝůůďĞƟŵĞ ĨŽƌŵŽƌĞĚĞƚĂŝůĞĚĚŝƐĐƵƐƐŝŽŶŽŶǁŚĂƚ ŵĂŬĞƐĂũĂǌǌƌĞĐŽƌĚŝŶŐǁŽƌŬĨŽƌƚŚĞ ĚŝǀĞƌƐĞũĂǌǌƌĂĚŝŽĂƵĚŝĞŶĐĞ͕ǁŚŝĐŚĐĂŶ ƌĂŶŐĞĨƌŽŵĂǀŝĚĨĂŶƐƚŽĐĂƐƵĂůůŝƐƚĞŶĞƌƐ͘ (Living Room on LL1) Q
ŽīĞƌŝŶŐĂŽŶĞͲƐŝǌĞͲĮƚƐͲĂůůƉƌŽĚƵĐƚƚŚĂƚ ůĞĂǀĞƐĨĂŶƐǁŝůůŝŶŐƚŽƉĂǇŵŽƌĞ͕ďƵƚ ǁĞĚŽŶ͛ƚĂƐŬƚŚĞŵ͘/ŶƚŚĞĞƌĂŽĨƐůŝĐŝŶŐ ĂŶĚĚŝĐŝŶŐĚĂƚĂ͕ǁĞĐŽƵůĚŚĂǀĞŵŽƌĞ ŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶƚŚĂŶĞǀĞƌďĞĨŽƌĞĂďŽƵƚ ǁŚĂƚŽƵƌĨĂŶƐŵŝŐŚƚďĞǁŝůůŝŶŐƚŽƉĂǇ͘ ,ĞƌĞĂƌĞƐŽŵĞƐƚƌĂƚĞŐŝĞƐƚŽŵĂǆŝŵŝǌĞ ǇŽƵƌŝŶĐŽŵĞƉĞƌĨĂŶ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1)
/ZdͳdKͳ&E&KZ/EKD MAXIMIZATION zŽƵ͛ƌĞůĞĂǀŝŶŐŵŽŶĞǇŽŶƚŚĞƚĂďůĞ͊ &ĂŶƐĂƌĞǁŝůůŝŶŐƚŽƉĂǇĚŝīĞƌĞŶƚ ĂŵŽƵŶƚƐƚŽŚĞĂƌĂŶĚƐĞĞƚŚĞŝƌĨĂǀŽƌŝƚĞ ĂĐƚƐ͘tĞŽŌĞŶŵĂŬĞƚŚĞŵŝƐƚĂŬĞŽĨ Q
3:30 pm – 5:15 pm
SPECIAL EVENT: ISRAELI SPOTLIGHT PERFORMANCE & WRAP PARTY ^ƉŽŶƐŽƌĞĚďǇ/ƐƌĂĞů͛ƐKĸĐĞŽĨ ƵůƚƵƌĂůīĂŝƌƐŝŶEŽƌƚŚŵĞƌŝĐĂ Q
10 am – 3:45 pm Q SPECIAL INTEREST WORKSHOPS & MEETINGS
1:45 pm – 3:15 pm
CUBA: NEW OPPORTUNITIES tŝƚŚƚŚĞƌĞĐĞŶƚƚŚĂǁŝŶĚŝƉůŽŵĂƟĐƌĞůĂƟŽŶƐǁŝƚŚƵďĂ͕ƚŚĞƉŽƐƐŝďŝůŝƟĞƐĨŽƌƚƌƵĞ ĐƵůƚƵƌĂůĞǆĐŚĂŶŐĞĂďŽƵŶĚ͘^ŽŵĞƉůĂǇĞƌƐ ǁŚŽŚĂǀĞĂŶĂĐƟǀĞƌŽůĞǁŝƚŚƵďĂŶũĂǌǌ ƐŚĂƌĞƚŚĞŝƌŝŶƐŝŐŚƚƐŝŶƚŽǁŚĂƚŶĞǁŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƟĞƐĂƌĞůŝŬĞůǇŝŶƚŚĞŶĞĂƌĨƵƚƵƌĞ͘ (Sanctuary on LL1) Q
12 noon – 1:30 pm
12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
BASICS FOR RADIO PROMOTION (JazzWeek Workshop) :ĂǌǌƌĂĚŝŽĐŽŶƟŶƵĞƐƚŽŵĂŬĞĂŶŝŵƉĂĐƚŽŶĂƌƟƐƚƐǁŚŽǁĂŶƚƚŽƉƌŽŵŽƚĞ ƚŚĞŝƌĐĂƌĞĞƌƐĂŶĚƌĞĐŽƌĚƐ͕ďƵƚƚŚĞƌĞ ĂƌĞŵĂŶǇĐŽŵƉŽŶĞŶƚƐƚŽĂƐƵĐĐĞƐƐĨƵů ƌĂĚŝŽĐĂŵƉĂŝŐŶ͘ƉĂŶĞůŽĨũĂǌǌƌĂĚŝŽ ƉƌŽŵŽƟŽŶĞǆƉĞƌƚƐǁŝůůĚŝƐĐƵƐƐƚŚĞ ƉƌŽĐĞƐƐĂŶĚĂŶƐǁĞƌƋƵĞƐƟŽŶƐ͕ďŽƚŚ ŽƵƚůŝŶŝŶŐďĞƐƚƉƌĂĐƟĐĞƐĂŶĚǁĂƌŶŝŶŐ ŽĨƉŝƞĂůůƐƚŽďĞĂǀŽŝĚĞĚ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2) Q
2 pm – 3:15 pm
USING STREAMING, DOWNLOADS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE (JazzWeek Workshop) /ŶŵĂŶǇŵĂƌŬĞƚƐ͕ũĂǌǌƌĂĚŝŽƉƌŽŐƌĂŵŵŝŶŐŚĂƐĞǆƉĂŶĚĞĚďĞǇŽŶĚƚŚĞ &DƚƌĂŶƐŵŝƩĞƌ͘dŚŝƐŐƌŽƵƉŽĨƌĂĚŝŽ ƉƌŽŐƌĂŵŵĞƌƐĂŶĚŵĂŶĂŐĞƌƐǁŚŽ ŚĂǀĞďƌŽĂĚĞŶĞĚƚŚĞŝƌĂƵĚŝĞŶĐĞƐǁŝƚŚ ƐƚƌĞĂŵŝŶŐ͕ƐŽĐŝĂůŵĞĚŝĂĂŶĚŽƚŚĞƌ ŝŶŶŽǀĂƟǀĞŵĞƚŚŽĚƐǁŝůůƐŚĂƌĞƚŚĞŝƌ ƐƵĐĐĞƐƐƐƚŽƌŝĞƐĂŶĚĂŶƐǁĞƌƋƵĞƐƟŽŶƐ ŽŶŚŽǁƚŽŝŵƉůĞŵĞŶƚƚĞĐŚŶŽůŽŐǇƚŽ ŐƌŽǁƚŚĞũĂǌǌĂƵĚŝĞŶĐĞ͘ (The York Theatre on LL2) Q
&ŽƌƵƉĚĂƚĞĚŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶ͕ go to www.jazz-connect.com
PRESENTED BY JAZZTIMES & THE JAZZ FORWARD COALITION 6
JAZZ CONNECT CONFERENCE PROGRAM
Vox DAVID S. WARE & MATTHEW SHIPP DUO
LIVE IN SANT’ANNA ARRESI, 2004 (AUM Fidelity)
BOBBY KAPP & MATTHEW SHIPP CACTUS (Northern Spy)
MATTHEW SHIPP TRIO PIANO SONG (Thirsty Ear)
• Fearless, prolific, adaptable: Matthew Shipp performance, but it’s not without beauty. For Cactus, Shipp teamed up in 2016 with Bobby Kapp, a drummer probably best known for recordings with saxophonists Gato Barbieri, Marion Brown and Noah Howard. A quartet under his leadership and including Shipp recorded Themes 4 Transmutation in 2014. The duo creates nine impressionistic pieces that explore a variety of moods. Kapp comes off less like a firebrand from the ’60s free-jazz era and more like a meditative explorer, reveling in the sound of mallets running across his kit and cymbals. After he does this in “Money,” Shipp enters in a hard-bop mood, hammering out chords and inspiring Kapp to switch over to brushes. “Before” also resides in the bop of a parallel universe, where walking basslines collide with dissonant clusters of notes. But sometimes, as on the lengthy “Good Wood,” the duo seems to have so many options to choose from they have difficulty pursuing one. Still, a sense of aesthetic balance persists. Though Shipp has been affiliated with several record labels, his relationship with Thirsty Ear has been his most enduring and comprehensive. In addition to releasing his own projects there since 1999, he has served as curator of the imprint’s “Blue Series,” which includes perfor-
mances by likeminded friends such as William Parker and Roy Campbell. The trio document Piano Song marks the end of Shipp’s tenure as a Thirsty Ear recording artist (though not as a curator). Bassist Michael Bisio has worked with Shipp for over six years, but drummer Newman Taylor Baker has only been in the group since 2015’s The Conduct of Jazz. He brings elasticity to the trio that makes a performance like “Cosmopolitan” one of the best in an overwhelmingly strong catalog. Here, Baker alternates between laidback swing and a loose pulse, in a way that magnifies the rhythmic cells the pianist unleashes. Along with Bisio’s plucked solo, Baker takes a solo that simply runs free. Even when the trio gets spare and spacey it retains an air of suspense—cue “Void Of,” with its low piano notes ringing and slowly decaying over Bisio’s gentle bow work. “Blue Desert” sounds both fragmented and focused, as Baker keeps time with a shaker, Bisio scrapes away and Shipp plays a riff that sounds like Miles Davis’ “It’s About Time” turned on its ear. If Shipp is leaving Thirsty Ear, hopefully this configuration will continue at a new home, because these players sound like they’re just getting started. MIKE SHANLEY
“[D]uring the entire 17-year period we worked together, we felt like we were on a mission. Every performance we felt like we were changing the world and lighting up the stars.” Those words come from Matthew Shipp’s liner notes for Live in Sant’Anna Arresi 2004, and reflect on his tenure in David S. Ware’s quartet. The band’s large discography bears witness to the shared intensity between the pianist and the saxophonist, along with bassist William Parker and various drummers. This performance, recorded in Sardinia, offers a more intimate portrait of these close friends and collaborators, as they hit the stage with a high level of energy and sustain it for 46 minutes. In his rugged, brawny tenor tone, Ware dissects bluesy melodic fragments, pops out some low overtones and squeals passionately in the upper register of his horn. What makes him unique is how he incorporates all of it into one performance. After an array of moments both thoughtful and visceral, he cues a climax in “Tao Flow, Pt. 1,” sounding like a foghorn and growling for 60 majestic seconds. In the second segment of “Tao Flow” (essentially one performance banded into two tracks), he uses his altissimo skills to run through a speedy melodic lick rather than simply shrieking. Whatever Ware does, Shipp meets him on equal ground. The pianist adds thunder for reinforcement or carves out a tempo with walking left-hand figures and boppish chords in the right, changing time signatures or rhythms as needed. For the four-minute “Encore,” the duo trades fours in their own way. Ware has the final word, quoting “Wade in the Water,” to make sure the spirit is felt by all listeners. It’s a wild
GREATEST HITS (Sazi)
Drummer Scott Amendola and organist Wil Blades have played together for a decade, but Greatest Hits—funny title—is their first album as a duo. It captures them performing at a restaurant in Oakland, Calif., where Blades had brought both his Hammond B-3 and his clavinet. These guys are master musicians, and they put everything on display over the 48 minutes that it takes these seven original tunes to unfold. They prove that you don’t need a third instrument to make groove music that burns; in fact, there
are times—for instance, in the final moments of the set closer, “Oladipo”— when you kind of can’t believe only two people are playing. Right from the start, you understand why organ granddaddy Dr. Lonnie Smith has called Blades “the future of the B-3.” His feet pound out the bassline of “Lima Bean” while his hands churn out funky improvisation, with Amendola frantically hitting toms, snare and the sides of his kit. Blades, in fact, taps the organ pedals while his hands alternate between clavinet and B-3 on several tunes, including “Addis,” the supremely funky “32nd Street” and “Slow Zig,” a sneaky, slithering tune driven byy Amendola’s sly
BILLY HART & THE WDR BIG BAND THE BROADER PICTURE (Enja)
Billy Hart is beyond a “first-call” drummer. He is all but inescapable. It is not surprising for him to turn up almost anywhere. Except in Germany, leading a big band. Actually, the conductor here is Christophe Schweizer. Hart occupies the drum chair, his explosive rhythmic forces shaping and motivating every track. Schweizer, from Switzerland, studied with Hart in 1992 at the Mannes College of Music in New York. For this album, 24 years later, he created new big-band arrangements for eight Hart originals. The tunes were originally recorded between 1977 and 1996 on Hart’s small-group albums Enchance, Rah and Oceans of Time. Hart’s writing is like his drumming: theatrical and suspenseful. You never know when turbulence will be unleashed. Schweizer’s charts fully exploit a large ensemble’s capacity for density and impact, and Hart’s tunes thrive in such an environment. The orchestra sounds huge and looming, but it can move quickly under Hart’s lashes. On “Layla-Joy,” Schweizer makes you think of Gil Evans. His color palette is darker, but like Evans he can blend an ensemble into a single majestic voice. “Song for Balkis” is a rubato flowing, a muted seething, in support of a sprawling, wildly lyrical tenor saxophone solo by Paul Heller. “Téulé’s Redemption” is a harmonically adventurous piece that gathers like a storm over the ominous rumblings of bassist John Goldsby and Hart. The WDR Big Band, based in Köln, is one of the many capable regional radio orchestras of Europe. It nails Schweizer’s challenging charts and is full of badass soloists like Heller, trumpeter Rob Bruynen, alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer, trombonist Andy Hunter and pianist Frank Chastenier. That a project as improbable and international and powerful as this one got made gives one hope for the survival of big-band jazz. • His “writing is like his drumming—theatrical and suspenseful”: Billy Hart
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
rhythm. Blades is well schooled in building tension and swells as a song moves along, but he can also lie back and play with sweet soul, which he does on the smoky ballad “Deep Eyes.” Not once does he resort to any tired organ gimmicks, like relentlessly repeated notes. Amendola plays like a four-armed monster, constantly mixing up the rhythms and adding unexpected accents; his solo on “Mae Mae” is a jaw-dropper. Two people shouldn’t be allowed to have this much fun. STEVE GREENLEE
TAYLOR HO BYNUM ENTER THE PLUSTET (Firehouse 12)
It might come as no surprise that Taylor Ho Bynum’s original work draws inspiration from Anthony Braxton and the late Bill Dixon, two of his musical mentors. The real head-scratcher arrives in the way these adventurous influences commingle with, in separate cases, the swing of big band and the soulful grooves of Prince. Even more impressive is the PlusTet, a “dream team” of 15 forward-thinking musicians that straddle freedom and composition with an unerring sense of taste. In “Sleeping Giant,” short interjections from the ensemble give way to Nate Wooley’s trumpet smears and some collective whooping. More solos spread over a unique ostinato created by a blend of guitar, vibes, bass and drums. But halfway through, the group morphs into what Bynum calls a “purple hue,” evoking a Prince vibe. Even as the group again engages in more solos, the R&B-laden background makes perfect sense. “Three (for Me We & Them)” tips the hat to Jabbo Ware’s Me We & Them Orchestra, a big band that included PlusTet member Bill Lowe (bass trombone, tuba). After a psychedelic solo by guitarist Mary Halvorson and a gruff bass trombone spot by Lowe, the ensemble takes up bluesy swing that argues it’s fluent in the tradition as well as the avant-garde. “That Which Only … Never Before” takes its name from a paraphrased quote by Bill Dixon that encapsulated the approach of an improviser. In that spirit, Bynum opens with some Dixon-esque rasps on cornet, and cellist Tomeka Reid and alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs offer penetrating solos. This band does its influences proud. MIKE SHANLEY
AMENDOLA VS. BLADES
ONCE & FUTURE (Posi-Tone)
RICHIE COLE PLAYS BALLADS & LOVE SONGS (RCP)
A couple of years ago, organist Brian Charette published the well-regarded instruction book 101 Hammond B-3 Tips: Stuff All the Pros Know and Use. Once & Future, his newest album release on Posi-Tone, wasn’t planned as a companion piece, but it could serve as one. Returning to the trio format he’s long favored, Charette, along with guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk, serves up a broad sampling of B-3 stylings, paying tribute to some of his own favorite players along the way. Eleven of the 14 tracks here are covers, Charette dipping into the catalogs of several Hammond organ progenitors. Jack McDuff ’s summery “Hot Barbeque” serves as a showcase for both Charette and Bernard, who proves an ideal foil for the organist throughout the session. Woody Shaw’s “Zoltan,” made famous by Larry Young on his Unity album, kicks the pace up a notch, while Jimmy Smith’s “Mellow Mood” takes it back down, living up to its title, easygoing and quixotic. Fidyk is a valuable third here behind the kit; he knows when to keep his touch light (the Gordon-Warren blues staple “At Last”) and when to push hard—exactly what he does on James Brown’s “Ain’t It Funky Now,” from a 1970 album that featured several instrumentals, some with JB himself playing organ. From the same era, Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” glides smoothly, a samba beat at its core. But it’s some of the more surprising choices—a breakneck reading of Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels” and the spunky Fats Waller opener, “Jitterbug Waltz” (yes, he also played organ)—that allow Charette to achieve his dual goal of taking the Hammond out of its comfort zone while acknowledging its storied role. And his original compositions, particularly “Falling Fourth” and the set-closing “Blues for 96,” could easily pass for classics of the genre.
If you’ve wondered what Richie Cole is up to these days, he’s in Pittsburgh. He moved there in 2014. He is still practicing Alto Madness, a motto he adopted 40 years ago, as a name for his various bands and a description of his musical ideology. Cole is a rational saxophonist, but he plays
L I S A H I LT O N
modern bebop with a passion on the near edge of madness. Perhaps it was a laidback Pittsburgh vibe that inspired him to finally do a ballads album. Perhaps it was a cool, clear, deliberate Pittsburgh rhythm section (guitarist Eric Susoeff, bassist Mark Perna, drummer Vince Taglieri). In any case, Cole and his Alto Madness are just right for ballads. His hard, slightly brittle tone, penetrating vibrato and headlong forward thrust all preclude sentimentality.
“Simply Phenomenal!” -KVNF Radio
D AY & N I G H T
1/10/2017 WEILL RECITAL HALL AT CARNEGIE HALL / 8pm NYC, www.CarnegieHall.org 2/3 THE OLD CHURCH / 8pm Portland, OR, www.theoldchurch.org 2/9 JUNIOR BLIND OF AMERICA / 4pm Los Angeles, www.JuniorBlind.org 2/18 THE EDYE SECOND SPACE AT THE BROAD STAGE / 7pm Santa Monica, www.TheBroadStage.com 3/10 SF JAZZ /Joe Henderson Lab / 8pm San Francisco, www.SFJazz.org 4/8 BERKLEE COLLEGE / 8pm Boston, www.berklee.edu/BPC/events 4/11 THE GREEN MILL 5:30pm Chicago
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Reviews Internationale,” the original national anthem of the Soviet Union. As a call for solidarity, it is a very pretty song. Cole adds “America the Beautiful” for a coda. The best is “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” The famous interpretations are by vocalists like Ella and Carmen. Fran Landesman’s lyrics are the quintessence of hip detachment and ironic resignation. When Cole sings it on saxophone, without words, you hear the poignancy of Tommy Wolf ’s melody, its rise and fall of hope. It is about love lost, after all. THOMASS CONRAD CO
FRANK KIMBROUGH SOLSTICE (Pirouet)
The best pianists play with a lyricism that makes fast pieces feel like ballads and an incisiveness that makes ballads feel chiseled from stone. Solstice is a ballads album, but not one thing about it is soft. It may be the best recording Frank Kimbrough has made. A key to its realization is repertoire. Most jazz musicians today want to play their own stuff, whether they are good composers or not; the rest do standards. Kimbrough does neither. He plays one original, the tense, intriguing “Question’s the Answer.” Then he chooses six pieces from distinguished composers who are known—but only within the insular world of jazz—as conjurors of magic. Each song has a necessary place in the enveloping atmosphere of this album, which should only be played after midnight. “Albert’s Love Theme,” by Annette Peacock, was written for that loud, brave warrior Albert Ayler. It is dead slow and quiet, a bare outline of deep feeling. Kimbrough allows Peacock’s open spaces to prevail. Paul Motian’s “The Sunflower” is made from asymmetrical fragments, scattered across an austere landscape, like runes. Carla Bley’s “Seven” is as simple as a lullaby, except that it refuses to resolve. Over and over Kimbrough makes unexpected, revelatory note choices that require the listener to reimagine the song. The only traditional standard is “Here Come the Honey Man,” from Porgy and Bess. It is often done as a slow, dreamy interlude within Gershwin’s opera. Kimbrough turns it into something stark and uncertain, something devastating in its longing. The wistful melody evaporates and reappears like an incantation of hope, barely sustained until it falls away. As always on this album, the restless stirrings of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield pull against Kimbrough’s storyline, suggesting alternate meanings.
• “Requiring the listener to reimagine the song”: Frank Kimbrough
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
SYLVIE COURVOISIER/ MARK FELDMAN/ IKUE MORI/EVAN PARKER MILLER’S TALE (Intakt)
If there is a recording that can simultaneously put kittens to sleep and send a 14-year-old girl running from the room, it is Miller’s Tale. This observation is not theoretical. An hour-long set of improvisations inexplicably inspired by the plays of Arthur Miller, the album manages to be at once silly, irritating, dull and unnecessary. Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, violinist Mark Feldman, electronics sculptor Ikue Mori and saxophonist Evan Parker— respected veterans, all, of the avantgarde—gathered in a New York studio in 2015 with Miller’s work on their minds. They ended the day with this ridiculous mess. The first four pieces involve the full quartet; the final five have the musicians squaring off in a variety of duos. Each musician sounds more restrained than he or she typically is, and Parker in particular tones down his act substantially, mostly foregoing the long, circularbreathing technique he so often employs. Together, these four musicians should make music that is utterly compelling and alive. Instead, they wander aimlessly from track to track. Oddly, the subtler moments are the more grating: Courvoisier indiscriminately scraping the piano strings on “Death of a Salesman”; Mori burbling like a yard-sale Casio keyboard on “Riding on a Smile and a Shoeshine”; Parker blurting the same notes over and over on “Playing for Time.” Spontaneity is one thing—going nowhere with no plan is quite another. Their music is dry, uninspired and often annoying. It is random tinkering and squealing. It is insects buzzing around your head. It is clawing at strings and haphazardly pressing keys. It is poor rehearsal. It is noise. It is unpleasant. STEVE GREENLEE
JOHN ESCREET THE UNKNOWN (Sunnyside)
In February of 2016, pianist John Escreet, along with regular triomates John Hébert, on bass, and Tyshawn Sorey, drums and vibraphone, embarked on a brief four-date European tour. Escreet’s trio
“Alfie” has been done to death, but in Cole’s loose rendering fervor prevails over introspection. Very few jazz musicians have dared to cover “Chances Are.” Johnny Mathis made it moony and creamy. Cole and his band make it physical and erotic. “Emily” is the name of Cole’s mother. It is the closest he comes to unalloyed gentleness, and he lingers over its hovering melody. Susoeff ’s concise guitar interludes are islands of contemplative calm within every track. The most surprising choice is “The
joined avant-garde saxophone stalwart Evan Parker to treat their audiences to a series of extended collective improvisations. The Unknown, Escreet’s first live recording as leader, captures two of these long-form explorations. Recorded at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis on Feb. 12, “The Unknown (Part One)” commences its 45 minutes with dense chords from Escreet that build to a squall under the thunder of Sorey’s cresting cymbals. A Parker-led cacophony descends into eerie arco exclamations from Hébert, backed by chiming Sorey cymbals that evoke a Zen meditation mood. The bassist locks into a keening unison exchange with Parker, Sorey amplifying the mystery with echoing single-note vibe hits. Escreet’s icy solo lines give way to brawny Parker phrases, and the pianist urges him on with antic backing harmonies before cascading over Sorey’s resonating vibes into the outro. Throughout the piece, the band locks into a feverishly communicative mindset, anticipating each shift in tempo and intensity and riding the inventions they inspire for all they’re worth. The nearly 30-minute-long “The Unknown (Part Two),” from the following night at Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam, is somewhat more structured, two cluster-bomb free-jazz flights bracketing a contemplative central interlude. Parker screams and bleats over roiling, no-roomto-breathe Sorey fills, and Escreet hammers out sharp-tongued repeated phrases before a fire-tinged solo statement from the saxophonist. An oasis of serenity follows soon, with Escreet and Hébert weaving a breathlessly fragile rhythmic spell. The last 10 minutes dive back down the rabbit hole: Escreet viciously rakes his piano strings and Sorey attacks his kit with fierce, focused drive. The classical set calls this “absolute music.” And to the right kind of ears, it’s absolutely compelling. MATT R. LOHR
DIZZY GILLESPIE & FRIENDS CONCERT OF THE CENTURY: A TRIBUTE TO CHARLIE PARKER (Justin Time)
A sextet of jazz royalty gathered onstage in Montreal on Nov. 24, 1980, to pay tribute to Charlie Parker. The evening was recorded superbly.
One might think that such an occasion would result in a landmark jazz record. This was not the case. A limited-edition LP was printed, and then the tapes went into storage. Twenty-six years later, Concert of the Century gets its due, with a CD and a double vinyl album. The band—trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, tenor saxophonist James Moody, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianist Hank Jones, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Philly Joe Jones—is crazy good, and the fidelity is delicious. Everyone is miked well, especially Jones, whose bomb-dropping is captured in full brilliance. The concert may have been staged more than three decades after bebop’s heyday—and some of these guys were there at the creation—but this is every bit as fresh and alive as Diz ’n Bird at Carnegie Hall. After a raucous 11-minute romp through “Blue ’n’ Boogie” that plays horns and drums off each other, the band serves up a tasteful rendition of “If I Should Lose You” that brings out Jackson’s best, and then a sprightly take on Moody’s “Darben the Redd Foxx” that features the composer’s staccato attack on flute. Gillespie puts in the mute to lead the band through a pretty “Time on My Hands,” and Jackson’s quick-fire mallets propel the super-speedy “Get Happy.” Moody’s comparatively modern touch—he starts off atonally and blows with harsh edges—sets the tone for an everybody-gets-to-stretch “The Shadow of Your Smile.” After eight minutes of a splendid bass showcase, in which Brown merges “Manha de Carnaval” with “Work Song” almost entirely unaccompanied, the group closes with a bewitching version of “Stardust.” It’s a beautiful ending to a magical evening. STEVE GREENLEE
When Sunny Gets Blue
For veteran recording artist, touring performer and actress Jan Daley, choosing to title her latest EP after her lush, lush heartbreaking interpretation of “When Sunny Gets Blue” has a personal connection. WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE the EP, offers melodic, caressing arrangements that provide the perfect setting for her smooth, swanky and swooning vocals. Purchase Now at Amazon | iTunes Learn More at JanDaley.com
TIGRAN HAMASYAN/ ARVE HENRIKSEN/ EIVIND AARSET/JAN BANG ATMOSPHÈRES (ECM)
In our brave new digital world, it is not always possible to tell who is playing what. On the back cover of this two-CD set, the instruments attributed to the quartet are piano (Hamasyan), trumpet (Henriksen), guitar (Aarset) and “live sampling, samples” (Bang). But photos in the liner booklet suggest that Henriksen and Aarset are also manipulating electronics. JAZZTIMES.COM
added. Of the 15 tracks, 10 (“Traces I - X”) are group improvisations. The remainder are pieces by the Armenian priest and composer Komitas (1869-1935). The press notes aptly describe the Komitas themes as “islands in the flow.” They are stark incantations. When they appear, everything stops for their solemn ceremonies. When the music moves on, it now contains the haunting melodies of Komitas. There is an allure to this strange, quiet music. The improvised decisions never sound random, but like spontane-
BRIAN LYNCH MADERA LATINO (Holistic)
The subtitle of Madera Latino is “a Latin-jazz perspec on t music of Woody Shaw.” He was a groundbreaking innovator whose use of fourth intervals and pentatonic scales created a new trumpet language. Shaw also left behind a body of strong compositions. Most of them are hard-charging anthems, calls to arms. The first thing you notice about Brian Lynch’s tribute album is how natural these tunes sound in a Latin rhythmic environment. Shaw often used Afro-Cuban elements in his music, but Lynch’s arrangements make the clave infusion complete. The second thing you notice, from the opener, “Zoltan,” is that Shaw’s music has new power. The energy generated by four percussionists (Obed Calvaire/Little Johnny Rivero/Pedrito Martinez/Anthony Carrillo) comes in jolts, like adrenaline. Most tracks have two percussionists and still kick ass. The third thing you notice is that Lynch decided to binge on trumpet players. No less than nine rotate through this album, two to four per tune. They are Lynch himself, Dave Douglas, Michael Rodriguez, Sean Jones, Diego Urcola, Josh Evans, Etienne Charles, Philip Dizack and Bryan Davis. “On the New Ark” is for Shaw’s hometown, Newark, N.J. Charles goes first. He smokes it. He sprays the song with trumpet bullets. Then Douglas smears it around. Then Lynch carries it aloft. The wild trades before the end will satisfy even rabid trumpet junkies. “Song of Songs” is chariot music. The solos of Lynch, Evans and Rodriguez are all different, but all make you see chariots rolling majestically into the Colosseum. The quality of trumpet work from these nine players, in the ensembles and solo after solo, is outstanding. The album never feels like a cutting session. They all pick up on one another’s ideas and elaborate them, in turn. But “elaborate” is too dispassionate a term. They all spill their guts. None sounds like Woody Shaw, although some may incorporate more wide intervals than usual into their solos, in honor of the occasion. And in the unrelenting passion of this project, they all draw upon the fire that is Shaw’s legacy. In that sense they are all keepers of • Paying tribute to Woody Shaw, his flame. THOMAS CONRAD Latin-style: Brian Lynch
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
ous ensemble responses to shifting tides of emotion. The most striking moments come from Henriksen, a free trumpet spirit whose lines (subject to electronic processing) often veer into vivid lyricism (like on “Traces IX”). Hamasyan’s role is to draw bright threads of single notes through these deep sonic textures. They are minimal markings, implications of form. Aarset’s role is sublimated. He is buried in the mix. When the unfolding turns into fervor, like on “Traces VII,” it is repetitive and frenetic and momentarily breaks the spell. For the listener, the most important requirements of this music are patience and an open mind. For the musicians, selflessness and faith must have been required for a creative undertaking so communal. Atmosphères is an admirable, honest experiment, but would be more viable if it were half as long. THOMAS CONRAD
JULIAN LAGE LIVE IN LOS ANGELES (Mack Avenue)
Julian Lage’s Arclight, released in April, marked an invigorating new direction for the still-young guitarist. Joined by Scott Colley on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums (the same pair Lage had seen as a child backing Jim Hall), Lage cranked out a spirited but tightly edited set of 11 tunes, ranging from covers of obscure 1930s gems to free-jazz originals, all clocking in at between 2:09 and 4:12 in length. On this follow-up EP, the trio stretches out on five of those same tunes, albeit by only an extra minute or so on three tracks. It opens with “Persian Rug,” an irresistible burner featuring Lage’s guitar virtuosity, Colley’s race-walking bass and Wollesen’s fleet brushes, which he swaps out for sticks as the volume ratchets up midway through. “Nocturne” fills four and a half minutes with a leisurely country vibe reminiscent of Bill Frisell, another of Lage’s heroes (and a longtime collaborator of Wollesen’s). “Activate,” written to be free but short, moves in and out of uptempo swing, and Lage monopolizes the freedom until the raucous end of this supercharged set-closer. Tracks 2 and 4, lasting 12:57 and 10:13, respectively, are where the band really gives itself room to ramble. “I’ll Be Seeing You” begins with Lage unaccompanied, his guitar slow and pensive before gliding into the familiar melody three minutes in. The others join: Colley improvises counterpoint,
Hamasyan’s piano is usually clear, but is it Henriksen’s trumpet that sounds like a reed instrument or a human voice? Is it Aarset’s guitar making those drones? You don’t really need to know. Atmosphères is an 89-minute dreamscape. Clouds of sound evolve and slowly float. What matters is the enveloping whole, not the parts. The genesis of this project was a duo performance by Hamasyan and Bang at the Punkt festival in Norway in 2013. For the recording, Henriksen and Aarset were
the music revs up and turns free just over halfway in and Colley eventually grabs his lone solo. “Stop Go Start,” an avant-garde crowd-pleaser, opens with three minutes of adventurous, unaccompanied Wollesen. Lage jumps in and takes off, inventing flurries of notes that evolve into quoting Ornette Coleman’s “School Work” for a spell, before exiting in another flurry. Arclight was stellar work, and this EP demonstrates the group is even more exciting live.
blistering cries galvanize a fine-andmellow take on Ray Brown’s “Gravy Blues,” and LeDonne’s “Sweet Papa Lou,” a tribute to alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, finds the saxophones singing out a playful unison melody over LeDonne and Farnsworth’s peerless groove. If That Feelin’ can’t make you feel and move, you just might want to check your pulse. MATT R. LOHR
THE DAVE LIEBMAN GROUP
MIKE LEDONNE & THE GROOVER QUARTET
A powerful testament to the abilities of saxophonist Dave Liebman’s current quintet, Expansions Live was compiled from live recordings in three cities. It’s divided into “acoustic” and “electric” discs, but this categorization isn’t entirely accurate— Bobby Avey plays electric keys on the so-called acoustic disc’s spooky run through Hermeto Pascoal’s “Selim”—and anyway, the band’s basic approach doesn’t change all that much when a couple of its members plug in. The central goal remains the same: to stretch rhythms, melodies and chords as far as they can go. Take, for example, the group’s spirited rendition of “All Blues.” It’s played at a brisk pace in a kind of chromatic shorthand, with Liebman and fellow reedman Matt Vashlishan (on alto saxophone here) competing on how out they can get while still, just barely, adhering to the outlines of the head. Avey’s piano solo starts off quiet and impressionistic, evoking swirly cloud formations, then builds to a crescendo of jagged McCoy Tyner-esque chords. His multidimensional playing, not just here but throughout the album, is a continual highlight reel. Every band member has opportunities to shine, of course. Vashlishan blows jaunty clarinet on a reharmonized version of Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty.” Bassist Tony Marino and drummer Alex Ritz lock into a complex, time-signature-skipping groove for “Liberian Hummingbird.” And on “The Moors,” Liebman’s speedy, snakecharming solo gives us a sense of what the soprano sax might sound like if it were a traditional flamenco instrument. At times, the emphasis on limit-pushing can become a little tiresome, giving the music a sense of aloofness. But as a hard-swinging take on “Good Bait” amply demonstrates, the fun always returns. MAC RANDALL
THAT FEELIN’ (Savant)
Organist Mike LeDonne’s Groover Quartet makes a soulful noise on That Feelin’. LeDonne, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Joe Farnsworth have been doing their thing together since 2004, and this album displays their seasoned chemistry, with a brash, full-bodied sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a late-’50s Blue Note release. LeDonne seems equally comfortable offering deftly galloping runs, like his full-speed-ahead solo on Donald Byrd’s “Fly Little Bird Fly,” or coaxing gentle bluesy chords, as he does under Bernstein’s coolly heartfelt phrases on “At Last.” The organist and Farnsworth are a potent pair, most notably on “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” where LeDonne clears the harmonic floor for Farnsworth to uncork masterfully understated cymbaland-snare pyrotechnics. Even when pirouetting through his most intricate phrases, as on a smooth-cooking rendition of the Delfonics’ “La-La Means I Love You,” Alexander’s brawny tone never wavers, giving this album much of its old-school hard-bop appeal. Bernstein brings supple shadings to “This Will Be (an Everlasting Love),” and on the title track his licks slice through Farnsworth’s beat with pinpoint precision. Alto saxophonist Vincent Herring joins the quartet for a trio of tracks. “I’d Never Change a Thing About You” is a LeDonne original dedicated to the organist’s daughter Mary, who inspired him to found the non-profit Disability Pride NYC. The tune is pure joy, with LeDonne throwing down exultant all-over-thekeys runs and Alexander, Herring and Bernstein swinging like mad. Herring’s
EXPANSIONS LIVE (Whaling City)
Napoleon Revels-Bey “New Mo Swing Ensemble” “Al Andalusia to Dizzy– Jazz & Caribbean Music Project” Engagement and Development for the 21st Century Community Programs to promote and unite the arts with social responsible organizations. Developing and fostering long life learners, youth, young adult, educators, after-school providers, parents and parent organizers with community programs that include seniors, veterans, libraries, places of worship, Civic organizations, and resource coordinators, agency partners, social workers, investors, private, and corporate funders, business, and banking institutions.
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HOW NEAR HOW FAR (Abstract Logix)
Twisty fusion, low-slung funk and world-music textures all mingle and mix with joyful abandon on How Near How Far, the fourth album led by Etienne Mbappe,
the Cameroon-born bassist best known for his work with John McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension, supergroup the Ringers and Joe Zawinul. This time out, he creates his lush soundscapes and hard-driving rhythms with the help of a new band, the Prophets: trumpeter/ flugelhornist Arno de Casanove, tenor saxophonist Herve Gourdikian,
DELFEAYO MARSALIS PRESENTS THE UPTOWN JAZZ ORCHESTRA MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! (Troubadour Jass)
Is America great, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office? Your answer probably depends on your point of view, your life experience and your economic opportunities (or lack thereof). It’s undeniable, though, that rootsy American music of the kind offered by trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and his Uptown Jazz Orchestra remains richly textured and expertly performed, effectively drawing from vintage and modern jazz styles, blues, hip-hop and spoken word. Our country is “a melting pot of diversity fighting a juggernaut of adversity,” Wendell Pierce, who played a trombonist on the HBO series Treme, says on the album’s cheekily named title track. It’s a jaunty tune, largely driven by drummer Herlin Riley, that strolls and swings and offers faux-cheery singing by multiple voices. Will the installation of a seemingly myopic reality TV star as leader of the free world cue a new era of meaningful protest music? Stay tuned. For Marsalis’ sixth album as a leader, he’s joined by his colleagues in a big band that plays weekly in the Crescent City. Despite some fine individual performances, a consistently propulsive rhythm section and a cohesive group sound, these 14 tracks cumulatively come off as somewhat uneven. Two of the most infectious pieces, “Snowball,” from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s book, and “Put Your Right Foot Forward,” are injected with the gritty, crunchy lines of Dirty Dozen baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis. Do you know what it means to miss the New Orleans Jazz Fest? Put on these tracks and be transported right back there. There are other highlights here, too, including an Ellington piece, the tradreferencing “Second Line,” featuring Gregory Agid’s vivid clarinet work; Benny Carter’s cheery “Symphony in Riffs”; “Skylark,” a showcase for the leader’s agile, sonorous ’bone playing; and a fresh arrangement of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” PHILIP BOOTH
• Diversity, musical and otherwise, trumps adversity: Delfeayo Marsalis
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
guitarist Anthony Jambon, pianist Christophe Cravero, violinist Clement Janinet and drummer Nicolas Viccaro. Mbappe honors two major influences with tunes name-checking them— “Milonga in 7 (to Astor Piazzolla)” salutes the Argentine tango master with a sprightly horns-and-violin melody, an engaging extended solo by Cravero and quick-shifting breaks. “Day Message (to Joe Zawinul),” at more than seven minutes the longest tune here, allies pastel melody lines to percolating bass grooves, unexpected unison riffs and solo turns by Gourdikian and Jambon. How Near How Far opens with “John Ji,” a piece cross-cutting West African rhythms with brash brass statements before giving way to more open terrain for sprawling tenor and piano solos. “Lagos Market” evokes the hustle and bustle of such a setting, and gives Mbappe the opportunity to showcase his prodigious funk chops. “Bad as I’m Doing” gets its kicks from alternating metal-esque basslines and out-of-nowhere speedy fusion lines that sweep in before making sudden retreats. Mbappe caps it all with a lush ballad, “Musango Na Wa,” dominated by flickering guitar, flugelhorn and violin, and fronted by the leader’s own rich, expressive vocals. His singing proves emotionally compelling even for a listener who doesn’t speak Mbappe’s language. Neat trick. PHILIP BOOTH
JORGE ROSSY STAY THERE (Pirouet)
Jorge Rossy’s work as a drummer has been so celebrated that casual listeners may be unaware of his chops as a multi-instrumentalist. His repertoire of skills includes trumpet and piano, and Stay There further extends his range to vibraphone and marimba. He’s joined for this 10-track excursion by a sterling band that has previously toured as the Jorge Rossy Vibes Quintet: tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Al Foster. Rossy’s approach to the mallets is as clean and melodically engaged as his drumming. He tackles his solos from a shade behind the beat, giving his lines the subtlest flavoring of tension and drama. The vibraphonist is also the composer of seven of this album’s tracks, his tunes pro-
ETIENNE MBAPPE & THE PROPHETS
viding his musicians plenty of airy, open ground on which to interact and assert themselves. “Portrait” proceeds from Bernstein’s burnished intro to reverb-heavy Rossy atmospherics and wailing phrases from Turner. Foster guides the malleable dynamics of “Who Knows About Tomorrow” with equal parts lightness of touch and rhythmic force. On “MMMyeah,” the drummer’s tinging cymbals mesh with Weiss’ firm-handed flow to craft a steadyrolling undercurrent for sharp-edged solos from Bernstein and Rossy. Turner’s gift for emotional clarity is spotlighted on the understatedly mysterious “Mark’s Mode,” and the title track’s smooth, shuffling rhythm sets up a Rossy solo that is simultaneously his most straightforward and expressive playing of the album. Guillermo Klein’s “ArteSano” offers chiming marimba chords, African-inflected support from Foster and a bracing solo by Weiss. “The Newcomer,” composed by Rossy’s sister Mercedes, is a pensive ballad coaxing gently felt statements from Weiss, Bernstein and an especially warm-toned Turner. Foster contributes the breezy “Pauletta,” where Rossy adds glistening accents and Bernstein takes a quietly cheerful solo. The tune’s effect epitomizes the entire album: easily enjoyable music, unimpeachably well played. MATT R. LOHR
ELLIOTT SHARP AGGREGAT
DIALECTRICAL (Clean Feed)
Dialectrical was recorded a month before Elliott Sharp’s 65th birthday and pays homage to no fewer than four of his recently deceased musical heroes. But if you think Sharp is heading toward his dotage, or feels circumscribed by mortality, the prickly immediacy of this music—with 73-year-old drummer Barry Altschul as its fearless co-pilot—will set you straight. Aggregat is the umpteenth ensemble Sharp has shepherded since becoming a staple of the New York City experimental music scene in the late 1970s. The group began in 2012 as a trio playing some of the most conventional jazz in Sharp’s voluminous discography, but Dialectrical, as with the second Aggregat disc from 2013, features a knotty quintet with Sharp (most renowned as a guitarist) as the lone reed alongside two brass and a piano-less rhythm section. Much of the overtly composed stuff is unison prancing, a baseline
RALPH PETERSON’S AGGREGATE PRIME DREAM DEFERRED (Onyx)
When it was recorded in October 2015, Dream e d was drum mmer-bandleader Ralph Peterson’s way of addressing the spate off police shootings of unarmed black men and the lack of accountability that resulted. When the disc was released just a week before Donald Trump was elected president, it became an even more prescient call to arms. The music itself is not overtly political—it’s entirely instrumental, with no vocals or lyrics—but the Langston Hughes reference in the title, the fact that Aggregate Prime consists of five astute and engaged musicians of color, and the mounting grievances reflected in our daily headlines all combine to put a noticeable charge in the ensemble interplay. Peterson has said his aim was to blend the instruments in the new quintet to match the roiling furor surrounding issues of police brutality, and specifically mentioned the flute of Gary Thomas as an inspiration akin to what Eric Dolphy wrought in the 1960s. The record opens with Dolphy’s “Iron Man,” and the band comes at it five astride, with guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Vijay Iyer and bassist Kenny Davis joining Peterson and Thomas in dense harmonies and a pointillistic spree of notes and beats. The next eight songs are group originals, four by Peterson and one apiece from the others. Even the straight burners, like Whitfield’s “Emmanuel the Redeemer,” benefit from the ensemble’s sophistication—check out the way Whitfield, Davis and Peterson operate at a breakneck pace without stepping into mere lockstep or unison lines. This is Iyer’s type of hard bop, and it’s a kick to hear him nestle in with a relatively straightforward solo. By contrast, his “Father Spirit” and Davis’ “Fearless” swing with odd-metered agility, even as Peterson’s battens down any loose ends like a dude wielding a nail gun before the hurricane hits. The final two tracks rework old originals. Yet another complex composition, Thomas’ “Who’s in Control,” from 1999, replaces the bass vamp of the original with Whitman’s wah-wah. Peterson’s “Monief Redux” is a torrid stop-and-go flexing of a song he first issued on his Blue Note debut, 28 years ago. These closing blends of flashback and refreshening feel consonant with the theme of the disc. As Hughes reminded us in the title poem, deferred dreams often dry up, fester, stink, sweeten and explode. Aggregate Prime counters the decay with oldfashioned resolve, ongoing scholarship and new, more inexorable dreaming. BRITT ROBSON
• Music “to match the roiling furor”: Ralph Peterson
Reviews combinations that are fiery and pretty at the same time, and that special lubrication is especially evident on “We Control the Horizontal,” the record’s best workout. “Bbb,” a tribute to Pierre Boulez, Paul Bley and David Bowie, sounds inevitably scattered, finishing strong with whistles and extended notes like a sonic taffy pull. “Oh See (For Ornette Coleman)” features some of Coleman’s squiggly panache but is most notable for the lengthy solo space Sharp grabs for himself on tenor, a rare departure from the spatial splatting and ricochet reac-
DAVID VIRELLES ANTENNA (ECM)
ECM couldn’t have picked more radical and freewheeling music for the label’s return to releasing new projects on vinyl. Nothing makes linear sense on Antenna, a six-song EP by David Virelles, available exclusively as a record or digital download. The pianist, who plays six different electric and acoustic keyboards here, uses the idea of Afro-Cuban rhythms as the foundation of these tracks. But the results include electronic percussion, waves of synths, vocals that approach freestyle rap and an overarching ambiance that give the whole enterprise the energy of a fever dream. Opening and closing tracks “Binary” and “Text” are attributed to Los Seres, a fictional percussion group which is actually electronics programmed by Virelles. The delightful clattering layers of polyrhythms recall some of Sun Ra’s percussive forays, accentuated by the raw fidelity of field recordings—a sharp sonic choice by Virelles and producer Alexander Overington. “Water, Bird Headed Mistress” changes gears, with Henry Threadgill gently improvising over synthesizer arpeggios on alto saxophone. After that lulling interlude, “Threshold” moves to a surrealist soundscape with shrieking cello scrapes, live drums and samples from Marcus Gilmore, disembodied voices and a bed of keyboards that rises and falls in waves. After Etián Brebaje Man’s gravelly spoken-word-cum-rap performance atop the choppy beat of “Rumbakuá,” Virelles finally gives himself a chance to stretch out on “El Titán de Bronce.” But in addition to stretching, his instruments bend, flex and finally melt in the fadeout. Antenna often sounds more like sound sculptures than written music, and in that sense of adventure is its staying power. MIKE SHANLEY
• “His instruments bend, flex and finally melt”: David Virelles
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tions that inform most of the interplay. Sharp mentions in the liner notes that the quintet, filled out by mainstay Aggregat bassist Brad Jones, recorded in a circle, an inward empathy that comes through even in the most bumptious and intrepid passages. BRITT ROBSON
RANDY WESTON THE AFRICAN NUBIAN SUITE (African Rhythms)
Based on the title alone, a listener might be forgiven for expecting some grand Ellingtonian feast of multicultural orchestration. In fact, much of this double-disc live set, recorded at New York University on Easter Sunday 2012, consists of trio, duo and solo performances. Seventeen players and singers are involved at one point or another— in addition to Randy Weston, who contributes typically sagacious piano work—but the sound of a full ensemble is only heard at the very beginning and end of a nearly two-hour program. A lack of big arrangements certainly doesn’t mean a lack of ambition, however, as this suite incorporates strains from the musics of Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Panama, China and the U.S. (Ellington does get a look in via a tribute to his longtime trombonist, “Blues for Tricky Sam,” played with witty aplomb by Robert Trowers.) The point of it all, inspired by Weston’s extensive world travels, is to reinforce the primacy of Africa in creating global culture. That point is made not only in music but also in words, and lots of them: down-to-earth commentary from Weston himself, narration by Wayne Chandler that ranges from the intriguing to the ponderous, and fiery recitation by poet Jayne Cortez, in one of her last public appearances. Unfortunately, the inherent value of what’s being played often seems subordinate to Weston’s didactic aims. There’s plenty here to enjoy, especially when the bandleader engages in thrilling oneon-ones with Moroccan hajhouj player Lhoussine Bouhamidy (“Sidi Bilal”) or bassist Alex Blake (“Nanapa Panama Blues”). And yet on repeat listens, too much of The African Nubian Suite feels easily skippable, adding up to a whole that’s less than the sum of its many parts. MAC RANDALL
from which to stagger and drag the rhythms or engage in what Sharp calls “free-floating crosstalk.” Altschul, replacing Ches Smith from the first two Aggregat discs, is a rhythmic polestar, continuing his latecareer renaissance. Sharp frequently turns him loose beneath sustained horn voicings from trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, trombonist Terry L. Greene II and Sharp himself on clarinets and saxophones. Altschul retains an uncanny knack for forming
ReviewsVox by Christopher Loudon
GREGORY PORTER LIVE IN BERLIN (Eagle Rock)
RAY CHARLES ORCHESTRA
ZURICH 1961 (TCB)
By 1961, Ray Charles’ genre-blurring panache— his synthesizing of R&B, blues, jazz, pop, gospel and country—was nearing its crescendo. There were and are few, if any, more dexterous or dynamic performers, Charles literally growling to bust musical barriers. And it is all here—loose, raw, exhilarating— across this previously unreleased Zurich date’s 80 minutes. In the liner notes, Quincy Jones cites Charles’ outfit as “the last of the big
This past April, when Gregory Porter headlined the Royal Albert Hall, the London Telegraph’s Ivan Hewett perfectly captured the vocalist’s singular majesty as the “combination of that massively authoritative voice and the touchingly confessional nature of his songs that has proved irresistible.” Six weeks later, Porter arrived at the Philharmonie Berlin, a venue that, in an interview included in this triple-disc CD/DVD set, he ranks as high as Albert and Carnegie halls, likening its pentagonal, stageencircling configuration to the intimacy of a church. The cornerstone of the set is the DVD, capturing Porter’s May 18 concert in its entirety and stretching to just under two hours, including elucidating cut-ins in which he explains the geneses of various compositions. (The two CDs also feature the full 16-song show.) The fan-friendly set list covers all four of Porter’s albums, with greatest focus on his latest, Take Me to the Alley. Supporting Porter are three longstanding bandmates—pianist Chip Crawford, saxophonist Tivon Pennicott and drummer Emanuel Harrold—plus one newcomer, bassist Jahmal Nichols, all integral to an utterly captivating evening. Of significant added value, a standalone video interview provides an incisive examination of Porter’s artistic evolution. “I tend not to do a lot of things in a traditional way,” he says. “I kind of do it my way. … I’m just doing my thing.” Amen.
“Singular majesty”: Gregory Porter
bands,” ranking it right behind Ellington and Basie. And, yes, wading into the 17-track program, first impressions are of a killer big-band session, leading off with Jones’ sizzling charts for Sonny Stitt’s “Happy Faces” and Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty.” (Golson is provided plenty of attention, as Q’s equally dazzling arrangements of “I Remember Clifford” and “Ray Minor Ray” are included later in the set.) But the orchestra’s big, brassy sound— four trumpets, three trombones and five saxophones, David “Fathead” Newman and bandleader Hank Crawford among them—is just one ingredient of this rich gumbo. The four Raelettes take center stage for a rafter-rattling “My Baby.” Charles cuts loose on “Sticks and Stones,” and slows for a remarkable “Georgia on My Mind,” propelled by Newman’s flute. He also struts through “Hit the Road Jack,” stretches “Come Rain or Come Shine” to seven and a half minutes of soulful brilliance, and reteams with the Raelettes for a gritty, slithery “I Believe to My Soul” and an ache-drenched “I Wonder.” Genius indeed.
PAULINE JEAN NWAYO (Pauline Jean)
Though relentlessly hammered by political and economic unrest and equally ferocious weather, Haiti has managed to foster a vibrant jazz community; its deeply layered homegrown rhythms, generally known as Creole jazz, blend regional, African and American influences. Among the music’s foremost practitioners is vocalist and composer Pauline Jean, with her espresso-dark, dulce de leche-smooth contralto and story-weaving elan. Jean’s debut album, 2009’s A Musical Offering, comprised mostly covers of American standards. Her self-produced sophomore release is aptly titled: Nwayo is the HaitianCreole word meaning the hard center of a piece of fruit, and this album gets to the very core of her native sound. Alongside various members of the Haitian All-Star Jazz Band—including drummer JAZZTIMES.COM
ReviewsVox Obed Calvaire, trumpeter Jean Caze, saxophonist Godwin Louis and bassist Jonathan Michel—plus stellar pianist Alex Tosca Laugart and two outstanding percussionists, Jean Mary Brignol and Danish-born Markus Schwartz, Jean ventures just once into the Great American Songbook, for a tender “I’m in the Mood for Love.” Eight other tracks shape a panoply of communal history, traditions and sentiments, ranging from the nature-celebrating children’s anthem “Ti Zwazo Koté ou Pralé?” to tales of horror, hardship and endurance. Among the lattermost are two extraordinarily powerful pieces. “Igbo Landing” poignantly recalls Nigeria’s Igbo tribe who, Haiti-bound to serve as slaves at the dawn of the 19th century, sacrificed themselves off the southern U.S. coast. The impassioned “Their Blood, Bondye,” crafted in collaboration with poet and novelist Edwidge Danticat, powerfully recalls centuries of struggle that have helped define Haiti’s indomitable spirit.
KEELY SMITH THE INTIMATE KEELY SMITH (EXPANDED) (Real Gone)
Keely Smith’s solo career, begun in the mid-1950s while she was wowing Vegas audiences alongside hubby Louis Prima, maps a rollercoaster path. Following three strong albums for Capitol and a string of solid (though never stellar) releases on Dot was a brief stay at pal Frank Sinatra’s Reprise; then came a long fallow period with a lone album on the Fantasy label and, ultimately, an impressive comeback at Concord beginning in 2000. Though almost all are available on CD, the Reprise and Fantasy albums—among her finest recordings—have remained elusive. At last, Real Gone Music has unearthed this Reprise gem from 1964 (with the promise of more to come), and it is one of the finest late-night, lights-low vocal albums of its era. Across 11 tracks, her backing quartet, featuring bassist Red Mitchell, plays with a remarkably unobtrusive softness. The focus is on sturdy standards, including a flawless “God Bless the Child” delivered a cappella and 70
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“Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” reconstituted as a hug for Smith’s two young daughters. Newly added is a pair of polaropposite bonus tracks. The first features terrific interplay with Sinatra on South Pacific’s “Twin Soliloquies,” lifted from the ambitious Reprise Musical Repertory Theater series. Then there’s “No One Ever Tells You,” a syrupy Carole King-Gerry Goffin pop heartbreaker originally written for the Crystals, with Smith adopting a curious little-girl whisper. Released as a single in 1963, it unsurprisingly went nowhere.
ALLISON ADAMS TUCKER WANDERLUST (Origin)
Californian Allison Adams Tucker is far from the first artist to parlay an album-length playlist into an around-the-world travelogue. But she comes by the concept more honestly than most, having circled the globe multiple times, performing everywhere from Tuscany to Tokyo, all the while developing credible fluency in six languages. Nor has her musical maturation been strictly linguistic. She began singing at age 5, in her native San Diego, and traversed everything from country to punk, Elizabethan madrigals to radio jingles, before settling on jazz a decade ago. Light and buoyant, her voice is remarkably fresh, its purity underscored by considerable depth and sagely shaded hues, suggesting Tierney Sutton by way of Karen Carpenter. For this, her third album and first for Origin, she is surrounded by an exceptional cadre of pros: producer Matt Pierson, pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Scott Colley, drummer Antonio Sanchez, saxophonist Chris Potter and percussionist Rogério Boccato, plus alternating guitarists Romero Lubambo, Mike Moreno and Stephane Wrembel. Together they venture far and wide, touching down everywhere from France (“Sous le ciel de Paris”) to Brazil (Jobim’s “Águas de Março”) to Iceland (the Björk title track). Along the way, Adams and Pierson
consistently make smart, interesting choices: “When in Rome,” uniquely propelled by Lubambo’s Spanish guitar; Pat Metheny’s “Better Days Ahead,” wordlessly floated atop an Afro-Caribbean arrangement; and, most inspired, a dark, manic swirl through “Pure Imagination.”
VARIOUS ARTISTS JAZZ LOVES DISNEY (Verve)
The notion that jazz singers love Disney tunes is hardly new, the relationship stretching from Johnny Mercer’s 1947 rendition of Song of the South’s Oscar-winning “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to Steve Tyrell’s Disney Standards, from 2006. Never, though, has so ambitious or smartly executed a Disney-themed collection of vocal jazz been assembled as this. Recorded in 2014 and 2015 across sessions spanning London, Paris, New York and L.A., Jazz Loves Disney is overcrowded with A-listers, all in top form: Gregory Porter’s haunting “When You Wish Upon a Star”; Jamie Cullum’s frisky “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat”; Melody Gardot coyly channeling Peggy Lee on “He’s a Tramp” and teaming with Italian crooner Raphael Gualazzi for a sprightly spin through “The Bare Necessities”; and, in French, Stacey Kent reimagining Cinderella’s “BibbidiBobbidi-Boo” as a cozy bossa nova. Reinterpretation en français is a recurring theme, with an impressively mature Nikki Yanofsky serving up a sultry “Un jour mon prince viendra” (“Someday My Prince Will Come”) and Miz Elizabeth’s Hot Sardines revitalizing The Jungle Book’s “I Wanna Be Like You” as what might best be described as Left-Bank Dixieland. Less-familiar names add equally fine performances, among them a Connick-esque “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Hugh Coltman and a delicate handling of Frozen’s “Let It Go” by Anne Sila, a victor on the French version of The Voice. If there’s a sour note it’s the sole instrumental track, an overly lush “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from the Rob Mounsey Orchestra that feels entirely out of place. JT
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BLENDING JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC BY
The definition of jazz as a musical style has caused decades of disagreement, a fact underscored by Miles Davis, who expressed disapproval of the label throughout his life. In the 1966 documentary The Universal Mind of Bill Evans, the pianist (and Miles alum) offers a point of view that, if not a solution, presents a worthy perspective: “Jazz is not a style,” he says, “it’s a process.” Like jazz, the term “world music” is also subjective. Taking all of this into consideration, here are five tracks I find unique and brilliant in their blending of jazz and world music.
h “His unique blend of soul-jazz with reggae and ska”: Ernest Ranglin
“ITSBYNNE REEL” Don’t Try This at Home (Impulse!, 1988) The concept of a Celtic reel played on EWI in unison with a fiddle, weaving in and out of dissonant tonalities, sounds at first like it could be a jazz parody. But this tune is no joke. While the title captures its composer’s sense of humor, the track—featuring an ensemble channeling the classic bands of Ornette Coleman (and featuring one of his key associates, bassist Charlie Haden), along with a guest appearance by renowned fiddle player Mark O’Connor—is a tour de force unlike any other tune by Brecker. The saxophonist begins very inside yet soon manages to incorporate outside harmonics in a way that brings to mind a turntable changing speeds and then returning to normal.
Yosuke Yamashita New York Trio (featuring Joe Lovano)
“KURDISH DANCE” Kurdish Dance (Verve, 1993) Here we have a unique international mix: a pianist from the Far East fronting musicians from the West on a tune channeling the Middle East. Japan’s Yosuke Yamashita leads a stellar group based in New York, including bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Pheeroan akLaff and featuring guest saxophonist Joe Lovano. The exoticism of the melody and series of odd time signatures feels radically unique for jazz, yet it is made to sound effortless and natural. “Kurdish Dance” feels like a natural descendent of Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” which introduced so many jazz musicians to the wonders of odd-time riffs—including some who’d go on to pioneer jazz-rock fusion and progressive rock in the ’70s.
“FIVE THIRTY” Memories of Barber Mack (Island, 1997) In this case, the artist who leads the project—Ernest Ranglin, a towering figure of Jamaican culture—hails from the very region that flavors the music. Although his name still isn’t as widely known as it should be, millions have heard his playing on the soundtrack to the classic James Bond film Dr. No, and on recordings by Bob Marley, Prince Buster, Jimmy Cliff 72
JAZZTIMES • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
and others. Not surprisingly, Ranglin’s formidable jazz-guitar skills have been somewhat overshadowed. His warm tone and fast licks bring to mind early George Benson, and his unique blend of soul-jazz with reggae and ska sounds as fresh today as it did in the ’60s.
“ADAMA” Adama (Stretch, 1998) Avishai Cohen, who broke through via his association with Chick Corea (who coproduced and released Adama, the bassist’s debut), cleverly merges horn arrangements inspired by the classic hard bop of Art Blakey, modern piano courtesy of Jason Lindner and traditional sounds of the Holy Land. Although Middle Eastern scales and time signatures had been explored in jazz before, this track and others on Adama take a step further in that direction by featuring a Middle Eastern lute rare in jazz settings: the oud, passionately played by fellow Israeli Amos Hoffman.
“EMPRESS AFTERNOON” Life on Earth (Blue Note, 2001) Several tracks on this album—whose title, Life on Earth, is a clear reflection of the project’s global influences—could have made this list. But if I have to pick just one cut, it’s Rosnes’ opener, “Empress Afternoon.” On the jazz side there is the elegance of her acoustic piano and Christian McBride’s bass, which merges with instrumentation reminiscent of John McLaughlin’s Shakti—guitar, violin and tabla, played by David Gilmore, Laura Seaton and Shakti’s own Zakir Hussain, respectively. Here these instruments sound like they were always meant to be played together. JT Alex Skolnick is a California-born, Brooklyn-based jazz and metal guitarist who leads both the Bay Area thrash-metal band Testament and his Alex Skolnick Trio featuring bassist Nathan Peck and drummer Matt Zebroski. The trio’s latest album, Live Unbound, was released by Skol Productions on Nov. 18. Visit the guitarist at alexskolnick.com.
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You asked for the playability and sound of the early Otto Links. We listened. With structural changes both inside and out, “the sound” of yesteryear has been recaptured.
Otto Link Vintage for tenor sax.
J A Z Z T I M E S • E D U C AT I O N G U I D E 2 0 1 6 / 2 0 1 7
MOUTHPIECES FOR CLARINETS AND SAXOPHONES
DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE Jon Hendricks, New York, 2014
Wallace Roney, New York, 2014
THE JAZZ IMAGES OF
SÁNTA ISTVÁN CSABA These photographs come from Sánta István Csaba’s upcoming show “Jazzonance,” which will take place Feb. 3–5 at the Müpa Budapest, located in the Millennium City Center of Budapest. The exhibition is part of the 2017 Jazz Showcase festival.
Quincy Jones Montreux, 2013
Cecil Taylor New York, 2013
JAZZTIMES | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
THE JAZZ IMAGES OF SÁNTA ISTVÁN CSABA
Albert “Tootie” Heath New York, 2014
Chico Hamilton New York, 2012 JAZZTIMES | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
THE JAZZ IMAGES OF SÁNTA ISTVÁN CSABA
Charles Lloyd, Budapest, 2012
JAZZTIMES | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
Gato Barbieri New York, 2013
Mulgrew Miller New York, 2013 JAZZTIMES | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
THE JAZZ IMAGES OF SÁNTA ISTVÁN CSABA
Pharoah Sanders, Saalfelden (Austria), 2012 Pharoah Sanders, Saalfelden (Austria), 2012
JAZZTIMES | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017