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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jason Moran Named MacArthur Fellow : A Blog Supreme : NPR

Jason Moran Named MacArthur Fellow : A Blog Supreme : NPR

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named Jason Moran, a jazz pianist and composer known for his prodigious talent and eclectic sensibility, as one of 23 new MacArthur Fellows for 2010.

The MacArthur Fellowship, informally and externally known as the "genius grant," is an award worth $500,000, distributed quarterly over five years. The award comes with no restrictions on spending; the program is designed to encourage creativity, based on previous achievement and future promise.

Moran, 35, is an exceptionally versatile pianist, known for his fluency in both pre- and post-modern styles, and everything in between. He is just as likely to interpret jazz standards as he is to write multimedia compositions based on found sound, hip-hop or contemporary art.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Music Review - Wynton Marsalis and Kenny Garrett at Rose Theater -

Music Review - Wynton Marsalis and Kenny Garrett at Rose Theater -
One of the most accurate ways to understand jazz these days is through Roy Haynes’s cymbal beat. On Saturday night at the Rose Theater, for about three-quarters of his stage time, he tilted his head toward his ride cymbal and drove a changing stream of swing through it, using every other sound — from the snare drum, kick drum and the rest of his kit — as circulating accents around that primary force. It was mesmerizing, affirmative, flexible and incredibly artful. It made internal sense.
“An Evening With Roy Haynes” opened Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new season, and marked a birthday: Mr. Haynes turned 85 in March, which doesn’t make much sense at all. He played in the first half with his working quartet, the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, and in the second half with a heavy ad-hoc group: Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, Kenny Garrett on alto saxophone, Danilo Pérez on piano and Dave Holland on bass. Mr. Haynes makes ordinary gigs feel special — it can seem as if he never learned how to be glib — but here, in the second half especially, he was especially fine. He got all the way in.
He filled the dimensions of the theater, making you hear his bass drum accents in the back rows. But he never numbed you by doing everything loudly all the time. The first important bebop drummers, of which he was one, used silences and moderation and self-imposed restrictions to make their sneaked upbeats pop more vividly.
Instead of making his sound a static thing, Mr. Haynes was flickering: working for the benefit of the music as well as the benefit of the show, even when laying back or making no sound at all. Several times he got up from his stool, prowled around the kit, shaking his shoulders and legs, and clicked his sticks together, or whacked a floor tom, or hit the edge of the cymbal at the start of a new chorus. Once he made the band sink into a period of silence and reanimated it with something like a kick-drum heartbeat. Once he got up in Mr. Garrett’s face and twirled a stick. Once, absorbing the feeling of a tune at his own speed after the rest of the band had started it, Mr. Haynes waggled the stick in his right hand, playing the air for a minute, like a draftsman preparing to sketch. And then he leaned into his ride cymbal and started again.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Root Interview: Roy Haynes on the Fountain of Youth

JAZZ: Roy Haynes - Carnegie Hall Concert 2007 #2Image by Professor Bop via FlickrThe Root Interview: Roy Haynes on the Fountain of Youth
The elder grandmaster of drums Roy Haynes talks with The Root about his upcoming season-opening concert for Jazz at Lincoln Center, his roll call of influences and why his style remains in the pocket.
Roy Haynes percolating on drums is like Ali dancing on the tips of his toes, jabbin', snapping heads back, which is why they call him "Snap Crackle," for the way Haynes pops the pulse, the groove. He doesn't just keep time rudimentally -- he plays with time, listens oh so closely to his younger band mates and responds with empathy. Whenever you see him, he's always clean, dressed to the nines; in fact, back in the 1960s he was one of Esquire magazine's best-dressed men. He has a taste for vintage cars, but it's his tasty drumming style that really sets him apart and through which he's made his mark.
In the first several decades of his career, Haynes on the regular played with the icons of jazz: Pops, Prez, Bird, Diz, Monk, Miles, Mary Lou, Getz, Coltrane, Billie, Sarah, Ella, to name a bunch. Nowadays, he's a great-grandfather whose aptly named Fountain of Youth Band travels the world summoning wonder. Very recently, Haynes made an impromptu appearance at Sonny Rollins' 80th-birthday concert and threw down the gauntlet of pleasure with Rollins, Christian McBride and free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why We Love Ornette Coleman : A Blog Supreme : NPR

Ornette Coleman at Enjoy Jazz Festival 2008, H...Image via WikipediaWhy We Love Ornette Coleman : A Blog Supreme : NPR
This weekend, The Jazz Gallery in New York will host a three-day festival called Celebrating Ornette Coleman. As tributes to the jazz legend go, this one is special.
For one, the lineup is packed with stars and musician's musicians: Mark Turner, Joe Lovano, Nasheet Waits, Johnathan Blake, Kevin Hays and Joel Frahm are leading bands with such sidepersons as Matt Wilson, Seamus Blake, Marcus Gilmore, Stanley Cowell, Avishai Cohen, Joey Baron and more. (The collaborative trio of Vijay Iyer, Matana Roberts and Gerald Cleaver will also perform.) For another, The Jazz Gallery is a small room usually committed to the up-and-coming generation of artists — this weekend, they'll be packing in artists who often command theaters and weeklong club runs. And as a third, the shows are presented by Jimmy Katz, the jazz portrait photographer and audio engineer. With his wife, Katz raised all the funds; he is also recording the shows, and the musicians will own their masters. There are no guidelines for how each group will play their tributes.

Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to Perform in Havana

Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center for the ...Image via WikipediaWynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to Perform in Havana
HAVANA, Cuba, Sept 24.- At the invitation of the Cuban Institute of Music, American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln CenterOrchestra will perform in Cuba on October 5-9.
The concerts are scheduled for October 5,6,7 and 9 and they will all be held at the Teatro Mella theater. Some performances will feature Cuban special guests including seven-time Grammy winner Chucho Valdes.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra residency includes improvisation workshops at the National School of Music and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory on Octubre 8.
“This is our first residency in Cuba and we can’t wait,” said Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center, as posted at the musician’s website.
Wynton Marsalis (born October 18, 1961) is an American jazz and Western classical virtuoso trumpeter and composer. He is Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center which he cofounded in 1987. He has promoted the appreciation of Classical and Jazz music, often focusing on young audiences.
As a Jazz performer and composer he has made display of his extensive knowledge about jazz and jazz history and for being a classical virtuoso.
As of 2006, he has made sixteen classical and more than thirty jazz recordings, has been awarded nine Grammys in both genres, and was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Music for a jazz. (ACN)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


By Culturekiosque Staff
NEW YORK, 23 SEPTEMBER 2010 — Wynton Marsalis’ Symphony No. 3, titled Swing Symphony, recieved its U.S. debut last night as part of the gala opening of the 2010 - 2011 season of the New York Philharmonic and its 36-year-old music director, Alan Gilbert. Commissioned jointly by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and London’s Barbican Center this composition is Mr. Marsalis’s third symphonic work. With this piece, the American jazz artist and composer's intention was no less than to trace the long and rich history of jazz.
Given its world premiere last June by the Berlin Philharmonic together with Mr. Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle, the Swing Symphony is a stylish work full of American vigour, hair-raising virtuosity and a conservative, New Orleans aesthetic charm. Blues, New Orleans parade marches, Hollywood film music, the Hot Club de France and Latin Jazz are among the styles evoked in the six-movement work. And while some may not agree with Mr. Marsalis' vision of the history of jazz, he nonetheless pays tribute to the many great American jazz artists and composers, most notably Duke Ellington, who came before him.
Particularly sexy was the acoustical effect of Mr. Marsalis and his superb 15-piece multi-ethnic jazz orchestra tucked neatly in the gut of the 85-member New York Philharmonic, who acquitted themselves honestly and with enthusiasm, although there were moments when one could hear that Mr. Marsalis' ambitious score obliged them to defend their classical pedigree in unexpected ways.
Similarly, Mr. Marsalis' score makes it patently clear that to be a member of the Jazz Orchestra of Lincoln Center requires not only the same level of virtuosity and artistic talent as their classical colleagues, but in addition, demands a consumate mastery of improvisational jazz performance practice from its early days in New Orleans to the latest global avant-garde. Never an easy task for either musical genre given the history of racial segregation in both classical music and jazz in America. Astutely, Mr. Marsalis has written a work that requires the collaboration of the finest of both worlds in order to be realized. This bodes well for Mr. Marsalis' ensemble, as well as for future musicians and composers with a love of both art forms.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Albany Student Press Ravi Coltrane puts on a great performance at Jazz Fest

Albany Student Press

Coltrane puts on a great performance at Jazz Fest
By Jeff Nania
Jazz Musicians entertain the city of Albany at the annual Riverfront Jazz Festival
The sound of Ravi Coltrane's tenor saxophone was clear on the walk to the amphitheater where Albany's 2010 Riverfront Jazz Festival was held on the 11th of this month.
The first tune was immediately recognizable as "Nothing Like You." This song was first heard years ago on an album called "Sorcerer" by the second great Miles Davis Quintet with drummer Tony Williams, bassist Ron Carter, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and Pianist Herbie Hancock.
The track is somewhat of an oddity of jazz lore, a piece of music that has its own little story to go with it. Maybe that is why Ravi Coltrane chose to start his set with it
The second piece was called "Prelude," an original of Coltrane's. It began more lightly and slowly than the first tune, starting out with just bass and sax for the first couple of bars. Unlike the first tune, it never made its way to a full on swing groove.

‘Ella’ comes to life in Long Wharf’s musical opener - The Middletown Press : Serving Middletown, CT

Ella Fitzgerald in 1968Image via Wikipedia‘Ella’ comes to life in Long Wharf’s musical opener - The Middletown Press : Serving Middletown, CT
NEW HAVEN — When Tina Fabrique takes to the stage to play the jazz great Ella Fitzgerald, she re-creates Ella’s famous scat singing as though she’s singing sacred music.
Because those seemingly casual trills and dips and improvisational “beepity bops” were Ella’s trademark, Fabrique has learned them note for note — and when she delivers them to the breathless audience, it’s as though she’s channeling America’s “first lady of song” herself.
Fabrique has been touring the country for the last five years starring in the Rob Ruggiero-directed “Ella The Musical,” an upbeat, joyful extravaganza, written by Jeffrey Hatcher, that opens the Long Wharf Theatre season Wednesday and runs through Oct. 17. It features more than two dozen of Ella’s hit songs, while exploring the legend surrounding one of the greatest jazz singers of the 20th century. George Caldwell is the musical director and pianist.
For Fabrique, the chance to play Ella Fitzgerald was a perfect fit. Already a jazz singer in her own right, Fabrique had sung as a soloist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and had appeared in several Broadway productions, including “Ragtime,” and “Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk,” and had done regional theater as well as several national tours.
When she auditioned for the part of Ella, she was considered by all who knew her to be perfect for the part. Not only did she look a bit like Ella (they share a similar facial structure), but she also knew plenty about the singer’s style.
“I was already a natural jazz singer, but my sound was more like Sarah Vaughan,” she says. “Although both women were like horns, Sarah was more like a saxophone and Ella was more like a trumpet,” she says. “A trumpet does quick, high notes and the sax does more slurred, meaty middle-voice notes. What I had to do was to connect the two and meet in the middle and become a reflection of Ella’s spirit, not an imitation of her.”
When she got the part, she says, she felt it was important to approach it as an actress rather than just as a singer. “The singing went without saying,” she says, “but I wanted to find the true person underneath. People started sending me packages of CDs and tapes of her. I watched everything I could find, about her talking about her career and about her life, and I built on that.”

Jazz saxophonist and rights advocate

Jazz saxophonist and rights advocate
Buddy Collette, 89, a Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist, flautist, bandleader and educator who played important roles in Los Angeles jazz as a musician and an advocate for the rights of African American musicians, died Sept. 19 at a hospital in Los Angeles.
He suffered shortness of breath a day before he died, but no specific cause of death was reported.
Mr. Collette's virtuosic skills on saxophones, flute and clarinet allowed him to move easily from studio work in films, television and recording to small jazz groups and big bands. He was, in addition, one of the activists instrumental in the 1953 merging of the then all-African American musicians union Local 767 and the all-white Local 47.
"I knew that was something that had to be done," Mr. Collette told writer Bill Kohlhaase for a Los Angeles Times article in 2000. "I had been in the service, where our band was integrated. My high school had been fully integrated. I really didn't know anything about racism, but I knew it wasn't right. Musicians should be judged on how they play, not the color of their skin."
Mr. Collette had crossed the color line before that in 1949 and 1950 by performing as the only African American musician in the orchestra for Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" radio and television shows.
"We integrated the Academy Awards, too," Mr. Collette said. "It was 1963, when Sidney Poitier won. We were going to picket that thing. But I was in the band, with saxophonist Bill Green and harpist Toni Robinson-Bogart." Along the way, Mr. Collette, not satisfied with having established a career in the studios, continually laid the foundation for other African American players.
Mr. Collette came to national jazz prominence in 1955 as a founding member of drummer Chico Hamilton's influential quintet. The combination of Mr. Collette's woodwinds and, especially, his flute playing with the cello of Fred Katz and guitar of Jim Hall created a timbre that remains one of the jazz world's most specially appealing sounds.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wynton Marsalis, Band Share Stages With New York Philharmonic, Roy Haynes - Bloomberg

Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center for the ...Image via WikipediaWynton Marsalis, Band Share Stages With New York Philharmonic, Roy Haynes - Bloomberg
When the Berlin, Los Angeles and New York philharmonic orchestras wanted to commission a symphony with a jazzy mood and feel, it wasn’t hard to find the artist with the right credentials.
Wynton Marsalis, the first musician to win both jazz and classical Grammy Awards in a single year, will present the U.S. premiere of his “Swing Symphony” at Manhattan’s Avery Fisher Hall tomorrow night. The backing band for Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will be the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert.
“I wanted to do something joyous and dramatic,” said Marsalis, the jazz center’s artistic director, in a telephone interview. “I wanted something we could play together and both ensembles could be challenged.” The composition, the New Orleans-born trumpeter’s third numbered symphony, had its world debut in Germany in June.
After Marsalis leaves the stage, Gilbert and company will perform Richard Strauss’s tone poem for orchestra, “Don Juan,” and Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber.” The opening night gala is sponsored by Breguet, the Swiss watchmaker.
For his second gala of the week, on Saturday Marsalis will engage in some spirited improvisation with Roy Haynes, the 85- year-old jazz drumming legend and fashionista, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s season opener.
Best-Dressed List
Haynes, one of the most recorded jazz drummers in history and once on Esquire magazine’s list of the best-dressed men in the U.S., will perform with his Fountain of Youth Band. He’ll also headline a band of notables such as Panama-born pianist and Wayne Shorter cohort Danilo Perez, saxophonist Kenny Garrett and bass legend Dave Holland in addition to the guest appearance by Marsalis.
“I saw Roy play one time with (jazz pianist) Chick Corea, and I was standing backstage with four other drummers, and their jaws dropped to the floor,” Marsalis said. “Roy has brought a clarity and intelligence to drumming. The fact that he can still play with that kind of fire is beyond astounding.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jazz musician Courtney Pine CBE, plays Bridport (From Bournemouth Echo)

Jazz musician Courtney Pine CBE, plays Bridport (From Bournemouth Echo)
WHEN jazz genius Courtney Pine comes to Bridport next week the intimate Electric Palace gig will be as important to him as any of his performances in the world’s largest and grandest venues.
“Every concert is a challenge,” said the affable father-of-four, taking a break from recording his latest album, Europa, a mammoth, musical history charting the birth of Europe.
“I walk into the venue, open my eyes and think, ‘What can I do with this – and what can this space do for me? How can I present my music?’ “It’s an attitude that keeps me on my toes and means that I don’t get bored.
“I like to do something different every night. It is an addiction for me, and I hope it entertains the audience.”
He says: “Sometimes I get to venues and they are setting out the tables and chairs and thinking that an evening of jazz means that people will be sitting round politely, drinking wine.
“But I get on stage and say, ‘I am Courtney Pine CBE, please feel free to dance – you are allowed to dance.’ That is a shock to some.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Renee Rosnes Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard : NPR

villagevanguard.jpgImage via WikipediaRenee Rosnes Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard : NPR
Renee Rosnes has been in the news lately as one half of a jazz power couple: She's married to fellow pianist Bill Charlap, and earlier this year they released the duet album Double Portrait. But she recently made headlines as one quarter of a jazz powerhouse: The Renee Rosnes Quartet. That foursome played a week at the Village Vanguard this September; NPR Music and WBGO were there to record and live broadcast the group both on air and online on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Let's be clear: Rosnes' talent on the piano is no fraction of anything. She's been on the New York scene for nearly 25 years, enough to play with late jazz legends and develop her own approach in doing so. At the Vanguard, she was full of subtle shadings on lesser-played standards and a few rambunctious originals. There was deep blues feeling and plenty of buttery swing, set forth among a variety of textures from her veteran bandmates. With Rosnes for her Vanguard run are the silky vibraphonist Steve Nelson and the reliable hookup of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash.
Raised in Vancouver, Rosnes moved to New York in the mid-1980s. Within years, she was playing in the bands of Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter and J.J. Johnson, among others. Her self-titled 1989 debut album features such guest stars as Shorter, Branford Marsalis and Herbie Hancock. She's gone on to make more than 10 additional albums under her name, recording for a while on Blue Note Records, and to join the all-star SFJAZZ collective at its inception.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bobby Watson: On Jazz And BBQ : A Blog Supreme : NPR

Saxophonist Bobby WatsonImage via WikipediaBobby Watson: On Jazz And BBQ : A Blog Supreme : NPR
When alto saxophonist Bobby Watson returned to Kansas City, it was a big deal. Despite its jazz legacy, Kansas City felt overlooked compared to other jazz towns, and often lost its best musicians to bigger cities. So for one of its own to return — especially a world-class player like Watson — brought a lot of buzz to the tight-knit scene.
Watson is a Kansas City-area native, but he left in order to make a name for himself in the jazz world. He attended the University of Miami alongside fellow students Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius. After he graduated in 1975, Watson moved to New York City and played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1977-1981. He's played with nearly everyone, from Max Roach, George Coleman and Branford and Wynton Marsalis to Dianne Reeves, Betty Carter and even Carlos Santana.
After more than 25 years touring the world and living in New York, Watson returned to his hometown in 2000 to serve as the William and Mary Grant-Endowed Professor of Jazz and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Now, the veteran saxophonist and professor has released the album of his long-awaited, seven-part work for large ensemble: The Gates BBQ Suite. (The piece premiered in December 2008 in a live performance with UMKC’s Conservatory Concert Jazz Orchestra.) Watson says the suite — more than five years in the making and completely self-financed — is a "dream piece," a labor of love. But it's also a supremely fun collection of songs in a classic big band tradition.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jazz pairing promises an intimate evening

Peter Martin playing with Christian McBride's ...Image via WikipediaJazz pairing promises an intimate evening
Pianist Peter Martin and bassist Christian McBride have been playing jazz together since they were teenagers. So when they take the stage Saturday evening at the Sheldon Concert Hall, expect a concert that's as intimate as it is entertaining.
It's the latest presentation in the "Peter Martin Music" series, which features the St. Louis-based Martin in the company of musical acquaintances. The pianist is best known for his work with singer Dianne Reeves, who was his debut guest in February. The concert with McBride will be the fourth in the series, which Martin says is attracting listeners beyond the usual jazz crowd.
"That was definitely a goal of mine," said the successful band leader, who has also served as sideman to top artists including saxophonist Joshua Redman. "And I think the audience is enjoying it."
The piano-bass duo is one of the more challenging configurations in jazz, and the prospect of hearing Martin and McBride interact is intriguing.
McBride, 38, is considered one of the foremost jazz artists to emerge in recent years. Early in his career, his skills as a bassist were showcased on such albums as trumpeter Wallace Roney's "Obsession" (1991) and Redman's "MoodSwing" (1994).

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Heading to Cuba -

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Heading to Cuba -
Jazz at Lincoln Center announced on Thursday that it would send its in-house band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, to Cuba next month.
The trip is a first for the organization, whose concert programming and educational programs have increasingly stressed the Cuban aspect of jazz over the last decade. It was facilitated by the Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés as part of a cultural exchange under the auspices of the Cuban Institute of Music, an agency of the Cuban Ministry of Culture. Mr. Valdés, with his own band, already had New York concerts scheduled at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room on Oct. 22-23.
“We have been fantasizing about this for a long time,” said Adrian Ellis, the organization’s executive director, who noted that the Mellon, Ford, Rockefeller, and two other smaller foundations came up with the money to pay for the trip once the organization secured the necessary approval from the United States Treasury Department.
The news comes three weeks after American Ballet Theater announced plans to send its company to Cuba in early November for the 22nd International Ballet Festival of Havana.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lincoln Center, Cuba Get Jazzy -

Lincoln Center, Cuba Get Jazzy -
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will take its first trip to Cuba next month as part of a cultural exchange with the Cuban Institute of Music, the company will announce Thursday.
The visit comes at the invitation of the Havana-based institute and was facilitated by the Cuban pianist and bandleader Chucho Valdés.
"We have been thinking about this for years," said Jazz at Lincoln Center executive director Adrian Ellis. "It became an event when we got the invitation, and Chucho was instrumental in that."
The artistic exchange is structured to emphasize the connections between American and Cuban musical traditions, and thus will include performances in both New York and Havana. From Oct. 5 to 9, the orchestra, led by artistic director Wynton Marsalis, will perform a series of concerts and workshops at Havana's Teatro Julio A. Mella. The performances will range in size from big bands to smaller groups, and many will incorporate Cuban guest artists. Improvisation workshops will be taught at the National School of Music, where Mr. Valdés is a faculty member.
The JaLC orchestra will also give one of its Jazz for Young People concerts, which introduce the foundational concepts of the music. "It is a formula that is very successful everywhere we go," said Mr. Ellis.
The orchestra will then return to New York for its Afro-Cuban Celebration, which will consist of two shows running concurrently. At the Frederick P. Rose Hall from Oct. 21 to 23, the "Jazz Meets Clave" program will focus on the interplay between American jazz musicians and the percussive rhythms of the Afro-Cuban tradition. On Oct. 22 and 23, Mr. Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers will perform at the Allen Room (the stop is part of a larger October tour in support of Mr. Valdés's new album, "Chucho's Steps").
Mr. Marsalis noted that the involvement of Mr. Valdés, a three-time Grammy winner and a legend of Latin piano, is especially important to the effort. "He's such a major figure. Musicians all over the world respect him."
The news of JaLC's exchange comes just weeks after American Ballet Theater announced its own plans to visit Cuba from Nov. 3 to 6, when the New York-based company will participate in the International Ballet Festival of Havana. The close timing of the visits increases the American arts presence in Havana in short order, noted Jennifer Freeman, a board member of the American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba. "It's faster than we've had in the recent past," she said. "Instead of two years in the making, this is a matter of weeks."
The Ludwig Foundation's American arm (which is not involved with the efforts of ABT or JaLC) works to facilitate cultural exchanges in the arts. "It's one of the only means of communication and lifelines between the two countries," Ms. Freeman said.
The field of music, in particular, owes much to cultural cross-pollination. "Until the doors closed, there was so much musical alchemy going on," said Elizabeth Sobol, managing director of IMG Artists, which represents artists including the Cuban pop-classical crossover group Tiempo Libre. "Musicians in New York were picking up the percussive elements and throwing them into jazz or classical music."

Brilliant Line-Up at the SummerStage Charlie Parker Jazz Festival | Arts Entertainment | Epoch Times

Brilliant Line-Up at the SummerStage Charlie Parker Jazz Festival | Arts Entertainment | Epoch Times (New York City)
On a late summer afternoon in the city, temperatures outside were probably enough to melt asphalt, but that did not stop local jazz lovers from leaving the comfort of their air-conditioned homes and congregating at Tompkins Square Park in East Village for the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, an annual two-day musical festivity in celebration of the bebop legend Charlie “Yardbird” Parker.
The festival takes place in two neighborhoods in the city where Parker lived and worked throughout his career, Harlem and the East Village downtown.
A large crowd gathered in Tompkins Square Park in East Village on Aug. 29 to listen to great jazz musicians pay tribute to the legendary Charlie Parker. (Annie Wu/The Epoch Times)
At the show on Sunday, Aug. 29, the line-up was as strong as ever, and offered audiences a diverse taste of jazz, from hard bop ensemble The Cookers, to the innovative and groovy Vijay Iyer Trio, the brainchild of self-taught jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer. The rich, powerful vocals of Jimmy Scott and contemporary singer Catherine Russell rounded out the evening.
Hard bop ensemble The Cookers wows audiences with their incredible musical prowess. (Annie Wu/The Epoch Times)
The show began with Russell, who sang bluesy tunes like “Troubled Waters” and “Spoonful” from her latest album, Inside This Heart of Mine, in her distinctively smooth and soulful voice, prompting the crowd to sway along as she seemed to churn out her notes effortlessly.
Catherine Russell sings tunes from her latest album, 'Inside This Heart of Mine,' with her distinctively versatile and soulful voice. (Annie Wu/The Epoch Times)
Next, The Cookers performed, with each artist showing incredible prowess in their playing. Billy Harper was on tenor saxophone, Eddie Henderson and David Weiss on trumpet, Craig Handy on alto saxophone, George Cables on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Billy Hart on drums.
Vijay Iyer’s trio then came on, with Iyer on the piano, Marcus Gilmore on drums and Stephan Crump on bass. Iyer’s spirited piano playing, coupled with the groovy rhythms and fiercely intense pizzicato of his two colleagues, made Iyer’s complex compositions come to life seamlessly, impelling the audience to tap their feet with them too.
The festival closed with Jimmy Scott, a jazz vocalist of the '50s and '60s, remembered for his distinctively high-pitched voice and emotional renditions. He recorded with many jazz greats, including Ray Charles and the festival’s namesake (in Parker’s album, Embraceable You.) At the age of 85, Scott continues to perform and wow audiences with his powerful voice.
The festival is part of the SummerStage series hosted by the City Parks Foundation to provide free access to arts and cultural programs in the city’s green spaces.
For more information on upcoming SummerStage events, please visit

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Events > Jazz Musical: "It's a Hardbop Life" > New Brunswick, NJ > My Central Jersey

Events > Jazz Musical: "It's a Hardbop Life" > New Brunswick, NJ > My Central Jersey
6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 8. Touring nationwide, the jazz musical “It’s a Hardbop Life” will make a stop in New Brunswick for a one-night live performance. Written and performed by Broadway trombonist Gregory Charles Royal, “It’s a Hardbop Life” is the story of a rapper who, in a dream, is brought back to 1964 and the life of his father, a jazz musician. Free; co-produced by the American Youth Symphony and the American Federation of Musicians' Music Performance

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Getting a big dose of goosepimples in Hancock's latest CD - SOUNDS FAMILIAR By Baby A. Gil | The Philippine Star >> News >> Entertainment

Getting a big dose of goosepimples in Hancock's latest CD - SOUNDS FAMILIAR By Baby A. Gil | The Philippine Star >> News >> Entertainment

Are you in the mood for some goosepimples? I guarantee that you will get a big dose right from the first note of Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project and then all throughout this remarkable all-star album.
Jazz music fans know Hancock very well. He is this great pianist whose tinkle tinkle of the ivories can produce so much soul. He played with Miles Davis. He is an insightful songwriter. Remember Speak Like A Child. He is also one excellent producer. I am sure you still remember how his last album The River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to the music of Joni Mitchell ran off with the Album of the Year award, plus a few more trophies at the Grammies two years ago. Hancock is now back with another album that will surely grab an award or two and which will be much talked about and most of all, listened to for a long time.
Hancock explains what The Imagine Project is in the liner notes. This album was recorded in various countries throughout the world, in multiple languages, and with various international artists in an effort to show the power and the beauty of global collaboration as a golden path to peace. It is just too bad that it takes more than making beautiful music together to achieve world peace. If it were, I can say that the release of The Imagine Project had already achieved this end.
But back to the goosepimples. We get the initial dose from Hancock’s piano intro to John Lennon’s Imagine followed by the vocals of India.Arie and Oumou Sangare. Goosepimples. Goosepimples. And not only that. There are also Jeff Beck on the guitar and chants from Konono No. 1. What a song! It still works after all these years. And what voices! What an introduction to the myriad delights waiting in the other cuts. As if that were not enough Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up comes up next as performed by Pink and John Legend. Double wow!
Hancock, who also arranged, provides his own kind of thrills throughout the CD. He plays piano and keyboards in his own distinctive style in all of the songs. Then as in the first two tracks each one features artists who make various types of music but now perform together to create this wonderful album that they recorded in studios from Paris to London to India and other places.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Leaps of faith --

Leaps of faith --
Two prominent Chicago musicians went way out on a limb over the weekend at the 32nd Chicago Jazz Festival.
Unveiling new work that challenged previous assumptions about the nature of their music, pianist Ramsey Lewis and flutist Nicole Mitchell dared to push beyond the sounds that listeners expect of them. Though the artistic results weren't always completely fulfilling, you had to admire the intrepid spirit behind both their sets, and their faith in the adventurousness of their audiences.
In the past few years, Lewis has launched a wholly new phase of a long and storied career, creating ambitious, evening-length compositions such as "To Know Her …" and "Proclamation of Hope." The acclaim these works have received apparently has inspired Lewis to keep writing, and on Friday night at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park he led his trio in mostly new and original pieces. This approach defied Lewis' earlier practice, the pianist having built most of his career on pop-tinged covers of other people's hits.
At the Pritzker, however, Lewis celebrated his recent 75th birthday by often venturing beyond predictable song forms, ignoring conventional backbeats and developing ethereal, difficult-to-categorize compositions. That Lewis had not played most of this music publicly before said a great deal about the kinds of risks he's now willing to take, in the twilight of his career.
Not that Lewis has exactly wandered into avant-garde territory. The sleek tone, elegant voicing and lushly Romantic spirit of his pianism remained very much in place. Sounding like a slightly scaled down version of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Lewis' trio dealt in lustrous, ultra-refined sounds.
Yet this wasn't music you could always tap your foot to, either. In an untitled new work, Lewis played big, unorthodox chords while Larry Gray bowed long lines on bass and Leon Joyce produced shimmering colors with brushes on drums. The delicacy, polish and subtlety of this work would have been impressive in a recital hall; pulling it off in a large, outdoor amphitheater represented a still greater achievement.
In a new and untitled ballad, Lewis and friends produced one of the most beautifully realized climactic passages in Lewis' oeuvre. And in an untitled solo work, the pianist developed his themes with unmistakable rigor.
If some of this music would benefit from a little less harmonic sweetness and a little more rhythmic bite, there was no doubting its high craft and personal tone.
Flutist Mitchell preceded Lewis on stage to lead the world premiere of the most ambitious work of her career to date, "Arc of O." Scored for a "double orchestra" – with two pianists, two cellists, two drummers, etc. – the 42-minute opus cast Mitchell less as soloist and more as an integral part of the orchestral fabric.
Like Lewis, Mitchell may have caught listeners off guard, unveiling music that leaned much closer to contemporary classical idioms than to jazz-swing-experimental models. Even within the classical context, "Arc of O" often proved texturally dense and packed with dissonance.

Maria Schneider, her band soar at Detroit International Jazz Festival | | Detroit Free Press

Maria Schneider, her band soar at Detroit International Jazz Festival | | Detroit Free Press
“Let’s lift the bandstand,” Thelonious Monk used to tell his musicians. With the possible exception of Wayne Shorter, I’m not sure there’s another musician in contemporary jazz who embodies the spirit of off-the-ground music more than composer Maria Schneider. Her extraordinary 18-piece orchestra made its Detroit debut this afternoon at the Detroit International Jazz Festival under sunny skies and blessedly warmer temperatures than Saturday.
Schneider, who conducted with balletic but precise gestures, takes a great deal of inspiration from the atmosphere, wind and all things avian. “Hang Gliding,” one of the most impressive pieces today, hovered in an 11-beat meter, the irregular accents lifting the ensemble as if the players were caught in a cycle of rising thermals. Even on pieces based on earthier rhythms like a tango or a funky boogaloo, her ensemble phrasing inhabited a contrasting sphere of expression and left the impression of a band walking on air.
Schneider likes vamps, modal suspensions, rubato, pastel colors, malleable forms, Spanish and Latin rhythms and gleaming, impressionistic harmonies. Her inventive orchestrations favor surprising blends of muted brass, flugel horns, flutes, clarinets, bass clarinet, guitar and accordion. A piece like “Concert in the Garden” took a small amount of thematic material and developed it with symphonic complexity; textures morphed organically, foreground and background danced in constant motion and the improvising soloists were deployed in concerto-fashion to further the implications of the written material.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A treat for jazz lovers - Others - Parties - Life & Style - The Times of India

A treat for jazz lovers - Others - Parties - Life & Style - The Times of India
The rains may be playing spoilsport, but that did not stop Puneites from attending a jazz concert with the eminent Diane Witherspoon in performance .
The well-known singer, who is on a tour of the country, mesmerised the crowd with her powerful voice, singing renditions of popular songs including It don't mean a thing, You'll believe in love, Wild in the wind and LA after dark to name. Accompanying her were musicians Passakorn Suksuntiphab on the saxophone, Napat Piriykitsarun on the drums, Budhianant Deeswasmogkol on the Piano and Teerawat Tunboot on the Bass, who added beautiful nuances to every song. Jazz music lovers alike were held spellbound, and gave a roaring applause after the performance. The singer was touched by the response and promised to be back here again.

Jazz festival kicks off with hot, cool opening night in downtown Detroit | | Detroit Free Press

Jazz festival kicks off with hot, cool opening night in downtown Detroit | | Detroit Free Press
Sometimes it starts out hot; sometimes it starts out cool. And sometimes both modes of expression come into play on opening night. After all, this is a jazz festival.
The 31st annual Detroit International Jazz Festival began Friday evening downtown at Cadillac Square with a wide-ranging double bill that found pianist Mulgrew Miller's sleek and sophisticated mainstream trio teaming up with the a cappella male vocal ensemble Take 6, followed by Tower of Power, an Oakland soul band that's been belting out some of the hippest party grooves in the known universe since 1968. Some of the music simmered Friday night, some of it fizzled and the best of it left a trail of scorched earth in its wake.
Miller, the festival's artist-in-residence, leapt quickly into a briskly swinging version of "If I Should Lose You." Paced by bassist Ivan Taylor's sturdy foundation and drummer Rodney Green's charging cymbal beat, Miller's right hand darted smoothly and confidently through the tune's attractive harmony without really getting under the skin of the song. But the trio shifted into a higher gear of inspiration on a walking, bluesy composition by Miller called "When I Get There" and then reached a peak on Charlie Parker's swift blues "Relaxin' at Camarillo." Miller improvised fluid melodies that kept turning summersaults across the bar lines and sneaking in and out of odd harmonic corners.
Take 6, a sextet of silken male voices, has an impressive track record in a neo-gospel and contemporary doo-wop idiom, but straight-ahead jazz is not its forte. The Miles Davis compositions the group tackled with the support of Miller's trio -- "Seven Steps to Heaven" (co-written by Victor Feldman), "Freddie Freeloader," "Flamenco Sketches" and "All Blues" -- were undermined by lumpy, rhythmically awkward phrasing, especially during the uniformly regrettable scat solos by the singers. The instrument impersonations were sometimes welcome (Alvin Chea's dynamic bass lines) and sometimes not (Joey Kibble's nasally muted trumpet effects). Still, when Miller's trio exited the stage, and Take 6 returned to its home turf, including a souped-up version of the spiritual "Mary Don't You Weep," its nifty harmonies and preaching expression reached a fever pitch.