Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mike Westbrook: Art Wolf at 75

Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine a jazz composer who began with Ellington and then moved on through Mingus. He soon encompassed rock music, Kurt Weill, Rossini, the traditions of English church music and the pastoralism of Vaughan Williams and Holst, but still found a place in his music for The Beatles, European political cabaret and The Great American Songbook.

And what if his inspirations ranged from painters like Paul Nash, Caspar Wolf and J.M.W. Turner to Lorca, William Blake, Shakespeare, D.H. Lawrence, Siegfried Sassoon and Bertolt Brecht, and his subject matter took in war, life and death, the decline and fall of European culture, the Ballet Russes choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, man's fall from grace, the '69 moon landing, the Greek muses and the irresponsible song of the little Sedge Warbler. Now add that he's performed everywhere from street corners, political demonstrations, factory canteens and geriatric hospital wards to circus tents with acrobats and fire-eaters to West End theatres and some of Europe's finest concert halls.

Doesn't really sound like one guy, does it? Actually, it's two cats but that's two other stories we'll come back to later. But answer me—how does that sound to you? A bit difficult, a bit too much trouble? You need to try harder. Then maybe you're saying to yourself, "That's cool—heavy but cool," and "Who is this guy?" and you don't mind the jazz police coming around taking names. Well, I'm talking about Mike Westbrook and I'm talking about Kate Westbrook, his musical partner of nearly forty years.

It was fifty years ago today that Sergeant Westbrook taught the band to play—not quite, but not far off either. It was down in Plymouth, in glorious Devon in the early sixties that Westy started his first band. Westbrook turned 75 this year and can look back over a career that began in that miraculous era of British music that saw the creation of some of the finest pop, rock, folk, jazz and contemporary music ever. And his music was right at the cutting edge of British jazz.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Manfred Eicher: Through the Lens

It begins in silence, always silence. Since the 1990s, all ECM recordings begin with five seconds of silence, and so, too, do directors Norbert Wiedmer and Peter Guyer open their feature film on the heralded German record label and its enigmatic founder, Sounds and Silence: Travels with Manfred Eicher. As longtime ECM recording artist Keith Jarrett's performance of G.I. Gurdjieff's "Reading of Sacred Books," from the pianist's Sacred Hymns (1980), begins in the background, the film fades in on Eicher, sitting on a simple wooden chair beside an equally unadorned table, steeped in thought. Dissolving to the film's title, an impressionistic car ride suddenly leads to a view from an airplane window, one of many that Eicher experiences as producer of the majority of the label's 40-50 recordings each year. A generally introspective man who, nevertheless, shares plenty of warmth when engaged with the artists on the various sessions represented in the film, Eicher leads an itinerant lifestyle that would be a solitary one, were it not for the demands of the professional life he leads, where the music is all about interaction and engagement.

As a producer, Eicher is a rare entity, an endangered species, in fact, in a time of DIY recordings; he's also unique amongst the vast majority of producers, whose roles are more about ensuring that a recording comes off on-time and on-budget. Eicher makes sure these things happen as well, but his involvement in the music goes beyond mere practical facilitation; he's an active producer, who becomes directly involved in the very creation of the music, from arrangements to track sequencing...even providing the occasional uncredited musical contribution. Originally a double bassist, he rarely plays anymore—though he has been known to pick up a bass, play a little piano or strike a cymbal, every now and then, if it helps him to communicate. Being a musician may not be an absolute prerequisite, but there's little doubt it allows for a common vernacular that's all the more important when mother tongues are, as often as not, different, and when artists from around the world are regularly placed together in new, globe-spanning combinations.

Providing more than just an objective ear, Eicher tacitly but invariably increases the number of musicians in any given ensemble by one, so collaborative is the nature of his involvement. Eicher's strong interest in film leaks into the oftentimes cinematic nature of his productions, and he considers his role more akin to that of a film director. He has even said, to further that analogy, that he views the responsibilities of recording engineers like Jan Erik Kongshaug, James Farber and Gérard de Haro to be the audio equivalent of the director of photography, bringing technical knowledge and trained ears to bear in order to help the director and actors—Eicher and the musicians—more fully realize their vision.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Brian Adler: A World of Percussion

Brian Adler is truly both a drummer and a percussionist—in his world, the drum set coexists peacefully with a dizzying array of ethnic percussion instruments as equal partners in a myriad of musical possibilities. His work with vocalist Sunny Kim in the Prana Trio—which also includes a rotating cast of guest artists such as Frank Carlberg, Stomu Takeshi, Carmen Staaf, and Jeremy Udden—is a case in point. His nimble, sensitive approach to the drum set is matched only by his similarly accomplished work on cajon, tablas, and a host of other ethnic percussion instruments. Never getting lost in his own chops, always totally plugged in to his surroundings in the moment, Adler is the sort of player who always makes the musicians he's playing with sound better. As a composer, he exhibits many of the same characteristics—his writing is consistently intriguing but not overly elaborate. His music is not simple, but there's an economy and a sparseness to it that invites listeners in.

Brian's latest project is something of an anomaly in the jazz world. The Helium Music Project (Circavision Productions, 2011) is an ongoing, download-only compendium of music created with different musicians in different locations all over the globe. So far, just three tracks have been released, with two more to come in October, 2011. As with all of Brian's other projects, the music is soulful, incredibly diverse, and played with passion and virtuosity.

All About Jazz: Tell us how you got interested in music, and how you decided to make it your profession.

Brian Adler: I became interested in music at a young age through kirtans, and began taking drum lessons on an Indian drum called a mridung. As far as making it a profession, I am not sure if I had a moment when I decided; it has always been a big part of my life. And I have a very supportive mother who taught me to reach for the stars. When I was a sophomore in high school, my drum teacher asked me if I wanted to pursue music as a career, and I remember being surprised by the question. I guess I thought it was so obvious that I did.

AAJ: Your early involvement in non-Western music is not a typical pathway to the drum kit—though it provides insight into your uncanny mastery of all sorts of hand percussion. So tell us about kirtans, the mridung, and how you came in contact with them as a youngster?

BA: Kirtans are Indian devotional chants or mantras that are sung in a call-and-response fashion. They can be performed with several chanters or sometimes with several thousands of people chanting, and there is typically one or two drummers, a harmonium player, and a cymbal player accompanying them.

I grew up in and around a meditation retreat center where chants like these were performed regularly. It was not uncommon for the kids there to learn how to play the mridung or one of the other instruments.


Contributor News: November 2011

We made several refinements and additions to the website in October and we are looking for your feedback and assistance moving forward.

Newsletter topics include:

1. Expansion Plans—We Need Your Help
2. Welcome Aboard!
3. CD Reviews Wanted
4. Books to Review
5. Contributor-related Improvements
6. Archiving Older Interviews and Columns
7. Feedback wanted: How are we doing?


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

CTI Celebrates Kudu Legacy: Lonnie Smith, Johnny Hammond, Hank Crawford, Esther Phillips

CTI Masterworks' 40th anniversary reissue program has, until now, focused on producer Creed Taylor's primary label. Two multi-disc sets and 24 single discs have made available on CD cherished CTI LPs by artists such as trumpeters Chet Baker and Freddie Hubbard, saxophonists Paul Desmond and Stanley Turrentine, guitarists George Benson and Kenny Burrell, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and pianist Randy Weston (the little known 1972 masterpiece Blue Moses). Classy affairs all, on which, typically, Taylor blended strong material, top drawer (if, mostly, abbreviated) soloists, solid backbeats and lush orchestral backings.

The final batch of reissues—four discs originally released between 1971 and 1974—turns the spotlight instead on CTI's funkier imprint, Kudu. Here, while Taylor remained the producer (and Rudy Van Gelder the engineer), the aesthetic was more streetwise than CTI itself—even though Taylor and, on some albums, arranger Bob James, continued to stir in their trademark sweeteners. With Kudu, Taylor struck a fine balance between soul jazz and raw, jazz-inflected funk on the one hand, and sophisticated orchestral arrangements, often including string charts, on the other.

The 40th anniversary's four featured Kudu artists are organists Lonnie Smith (pictured above, more recently) and Johnny Hammond, alto saxophonist Hank Crawford and singer Esther Phillips. Four decades on, their discs still have legs.


Pete Townshend: "Rock Music is Junk", iTunes is a "Vampire" and "What's Next is Already Here."

The BBC invited The Who's Pete Townshend to give a lecture in honor of iconic UK broadcaster John Peel. During the wide ranging, smart and often amusing speech, Townsend professed his love of streaming music and called iTunes a vampire. But that was just the start...

Pete Townsend:

Firstly, I'm honored to have been asked to do this first lecture in the name of John Peel. John and I were never close friends, and I know he was not always an unconditional Who fan, but through his long-time producer John Walters—who was a great friend to me and to Who drummer Keith Moon—I followed John Peel's career with the sense of a family insider. I don't want to kick off this series of annual lectures with any po-faced intellectualism. Nor do I want to talk about pop music as art—hard for me because music as art is my favorite subject. Neither do I wish to try to make this lecture amusing, or light-hearted or even ironic in the tradition of the sixties and post sixties pop era Peely and I shared. I don't want to try to celebrate John Peel, nor make this into any kind of memorial. That's all been done. So what do I want to do?

I have limited time. Looking at what John Peel did with his show on radio for many years is worth looking at. But I must assume that most listeners will know what he did. Annie Nightingale once told me that John was one of the few deejays at Radio 1 who would take home everything left in the in-tray cubbyholes at the end of each week. More than that, he listened to it all. Sometimes he played some records that no one else would ever have played, and that would never be played on radio again. But he listened, and he played a selection of records in the course of each week that his listeners knew—partly because the selection was sometimes so insane—proved he was genuinely engaged in his work as an almost unconditional conduit between creative musicians to the radio audience.

So he listened. And he took chances with what he played.

And he is gone.

Why was John Peel's system important? Why is listening important? Why is being ready to give space to less polished music important? Will John Peelism survive the internet? Or is John Peelism thriving on the internet without many of us realizing it?

So we have John Peel. The BBC. And—for the purposes of this lecture—iTunes. All enormous icons in music.

Let me introduce you briefly to my inner artist, then I will put him back in his box.


Monday, October 31, 2011

All About Jazz Improvements: October 2011

We've made several improvements to All About Jazz over the last four weeks. Here are just a few:

Scrollable archive on all landing pages

We've made it easy to access the archives from our article, CD reviews, news announcement, MP3 download, calendar, upcoming album releases, and guides pages. Just scroll to the bottom of any of our landing pages and look for the numbered scroll bar. You can scroll to page 731 on our CD review landing page in an instant!

Hot CD Reviews

We identify our top read CD reviews in the last seven days with a flame icon.

New member profile page

We improved the appearance and have plans for added features and functionality soon. Please make sure your profile is complete.

Improved Private Message functionality (PM)

We now include the reply message on the reply form.

Improved MY AAJ page

Update your member profile with your zip code (and city), your favorite jazz genres, your favorite writers, your favorite article types and follow musicians from their profile pages. Setting your preferences will determine what appears on your MY AAJ page.

Improved content readability and page performance

You should notice that pages are loading faster and are more readable thanks the new template we are implementing.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alice Coltrane and The Flowering of Astral Jazz

The launch of Impulse! Records' 2-on-1 reissue series—which packages two original LPs on one CD—includes six key albums from the glorious first flowering of the astral jazz forged by pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders on Impulse! towards the end of the 1960s.

The style emerged following saxophonist John Coltrane's passing in 1967, when Alice Coltrane and Sanders—both members of John Coltrane's later groups—repositioned at center stage the African and Indian percussion instruments and song forms with which John Coltrane had colored his music during his final years. They married these with hummable melodies, trance music-informed ostinatos, ambient-rich improvisations and, on Alice's albums, harp. The Indian drone instrument, the tamboura, a stripped-down version of the sitar, was emblematic, as were chanted, often wordless, vocals.

Astral jazz continued in full bloom until the mid-1970s, when, in hands other than those of Coltrane and Sanders, it degenerated into cliché and, ultimately, into a blissed-out sub-genre of the fusion movement.

The 2-on-1 reissues are Coltrane's Huntingdon Ashram Monastery (1969), Universal Consciousness (1971), World Galaxy (1972) and Lord Of Lords (1972), and Sanders' Wisdom Through Music (1972) and Village Of The Pharoahs (1973). All these albums have previously been rereleased, but their availability has been patchy and often on relatively expensive, limited editions.

Unlike some of the tackily produced reissues which have been visited on the Impulse! catalogue by a succession of corporate owners since the 1970s, the 2-on-1 series has been put together with care. The LPs' original gatefold sleeves are not used, but they are reproduced in their entirety in the 12-page booklets included with the discs. You may need a magnifying glass to read the original, lengthy liner notes for the Coltrane discs, but read them you can (and it is worth the trouble).


Alice Coltrane's Divine Ferocity

Alice Coltrane's death in 2007 did not bring about the critical reassessment her work deserves. Nothing less than a trailblazer in free and spiritual jazz, the pianist and harpist was a deeply sensitive blues player and top-rate composer. Working in the shadow of her husband, saxophonist John Coltrane, through his controversial, late-period work and her erratic recording career later in her own life have not helped her legacy but Alice Coltrane's work is Important with a capital "I." If you are making CDs from this two-hour playlist, tracks 1 and 3 make up disc one with the remainder on disc two.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D. (2011)

Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D. Dogon A.D. has long been revered as a classic among jazz connoisseurs; Julius Hemphill's relatively obscure but highly influential debut is widely considered the missing link between the avant-garde and populist forms such as blues, funk and soul. The 1972 recording session for this historic masterpiece originally produced four unique compositions, but Hemphill only issued three on his Mbari Records imprint due to time constraints. Arista/Freedom Records eventually bought the master tapes, using the fourth cut, "The Hard Blues," as the lead-off track to the saxophonist's 1975 LP, 'Coon Bid'ness, before reissuing the Mbari set two years later. Long out of print, this limited edition CD reunites the original four tracks for the very first time, packaged in a deluxe mini-replica of the Arista/Freedom jacket.

Hemphill, like many of his peers in the aftermath of the 1960s, attempted to reconcile the aesthetic differences between the innovations of the New Thing and the proverbial "music of the people." Critical success was often fleeting for most jazz musicians in this regard, especially those operating in the then nascent fusion scene. This spartan date bears the distinction of being one of the first records to capture an artist of Hemphill's caliber successfully transposing the emotional candor of popular African-American musical traditions—from the sacred to the secular—into the rarefied language of free jazz, without compromising the unique characteristics of either idiom.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Graham Collier, 1937-2011

Graham Collier

Composer, bassist and bandleader Graham Collier left town on Friday, September 9,, 2011. He was holidaying with his partner, John, in Crete, when a sudden heart failure took his final breath. It was quick, relatively painless but unexpected. We all felt sure Graham had too much sparkle, too much music in him to go so soon.

His career, indeed his life, was shaped by music. Collier grew up in Luton, Bedfordshire—reason enough to leave home at 16 to join the army and become a band boy. In his early twenties, he won a scholarship to Berklee School becoming its first British graduate in 1963. His fellow students at the time included Rhodesian-born trombonist Mike Gibbs and a precocious vibraphonist by the name of Gary Burton, while the school's Herb Pomeroy was an important early influence.

Collier remained in the States post-graduation but suffered injury in a car crash whilst on tour in Wyoming with the Tommy Dorsey ghost band. Returning to Britain in the mid-sixties, Collier formed his own band and by the early seventies had released a handful of records that remain amongst the finest examples of small group jazz. Songs For My Father, with Alan Skidmore on tenor and Phil Lee on guitar, comes highly recommended, but Mosaics is even greater, revealing an approach to composition and performance that Graham would continue to develop and refine for the rest of his life.

Reissued recently by BGO records, these albums reveal a rare talent able to fuse a British pastoral compositional sensibility with something far more rambunctiously funky that stemmed from an admiration for Charles Mingus. Even more importantly, BGO included amongst the reissues an alternative and very different recording of Mosaics, as well as a stereo version of Deep Dark Blue Centre. The first two BGO sets are indispensable, while the third is perhaps merely necessary.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Discover Jazz: Andreas Ulvo and Jeremy Udden

Download "Choral" free jazz mp3
Choral (01:51)
Andreas Ulvo
From: Light and Loneliness (Atterklang)

Download "Bovina" free jazz mp3
Featured: 2011-10-20
Bovina (03:27)
Jeremy Udden
From: If The Past Seems So Bright (Sunnyside Records)

Download more free MP3s

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jeremy Udden: Far From Plain

Jeremy Udden is one of those outstanding working musicians on the scene in Brooklyn. A saxophonist, composer, and bandleader, he is—like so many musicians of his generation—influenced by a variety of things outside what is known as jazz, and his music reflects that. He's developed a band called Plainville that offers a different sound and feel. A different tapestry on which musicians can subtly embroider their improvisations. A different mosaic.

Out of the New England Conservatory, he cut his teeth in bands like the Either/Orchestra and stayed in that organization for about seven years. He eventually landed himself in New York City, but he spent time in China and thought of staying there. This year, moving to Stockholm was on his mind. But all the while, he's pushing new projects and is excited about his distinctive band—sax, electric keyboards including organ, banjo, bass and drums—that produces music with an almost-folk quality.

"The band is called Plainville because that's the name of the small town that I grew up in, in Massachusetts," says Udden. The band's previous album was also titled Plainville (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009). "It continues to be a reflection of getting in touch with that, which is definitely a quieter time in my life, a more peaceful time in my life. Also, it's a reflection of the different music I've been into over those years."

If the Past Seems So Bright (Sunnyside Records, 2011) is Udden's third album as a leader. It shows his compositional skills as well as his abilities on saxophone. There are also things beneath the surface, like how he melds the instrumentation and allows his band mates to have a personal say.


Jaco Pastorius
The 60th Anniversary Collection
Warner Music Japan

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a quarter century since Jaco Pastorius died at the outrageously young age of 35. At a time when other electric bassists like Stanley Clarke were redefining the role of the instrument—no longer playing only a supporting role, but becoming a front-line partner—Pastorius still managed to shake an already fusion-quaked world with the one-two-three punch of his debut as a leader, Jaco (Epic), his first appearances with fusion supergroup Weather Report on Black Market (Columbia), and his stunningly lyrical work for singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell on Hejira (Elektra/Asylum), all in 1976. Three views of a secret, indeed.

Sixty years after his birth in Norristown, Pennsylvania—though his parents ultimately relocated to Florida shortly after his birth, a move that would color his music from a very early age—Warner Music Japan has put together the sumptuous The 60th Anniversary Collection, a six-CD box that, if collected together with his 1976 debut, represents the best music Pastorius made as a leader during his relatively brief time on the planet. He may have lept to fame and relative fortune for his seven-year stint with Weather Report—tracks like the knotty "Teen Town," from the group's bestselling Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) remaining required 'shedding grist for aspiring electric bassists—and there's no doubt that group's string of Columbia albums, beginning with Black Market, where Pastorius appeared on just two transitional but nevertheless earth-shattering tracks, through to WR's self-titled 1982 swan song, remain vastly influential. But the 60th Anniversary's six albums, starting with 1981's completely unexpected Word of Mouth, not only confirmed Pastorius' inestimable innovations as a performer on fretless electric bass, but clarified his position in the jazz canon, as a composer of considerable weight if not prolificacy—and an arranger whose ear for large ensemble work was, in many ways, a big surprise for those only familiar with his first album and the Weather Report discography.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison's The Great Flood in Select Markets



The Great Flood Comes to Select Markets Throughout the U.S.

Grammy Award-winning guitarist and composer Bill Frisell and Obie-winning experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison recently premiered “The Great Flood,"—an electrifying, soulful, and thought provoking 75-minute multimedia work of original music and film inspired by the 1927 Mississippi River floods. Now, Frisell and Morrison take The Great Flood on the road, stopping at select University and public venues across the country. The complete list of dates is listed below.

The Great Flood premiered last month at ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival at the University of Illinois' Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and received a standing ovation for its stirring, contemporary perspective on this natural disaster and the ensuing transformation of American society and music. In the spring of 1927, the Mississippi River broke out of its banks in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles to a depth of up to 30 feet. Part of its enduring legacy was the mass exodus of displaced sharecroppers. Musically, the Great Migration of rural southern blacks to Northern cities saw the Delta Blues electrified and reinterpreted as the Chicago blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll.

Members of the Illinois Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute (eDream) and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) collaborated with Morrison on the film, creating data-driven visualizations of the Mississippi River Valley showing the extent of the destructive floodwaters. “This was a novel collaboration between an inspired artist and data-visualization experts," said Donna Cox, director of eDream and AVL.

The Great Flood is currently confirmed to stop in the following places:


Thursday, November 3—Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Friday, November 4—Zankel Hall, New York, NY
Saturday, November 5—Duke University, Durham, NC


Saturday, March 31—Wexner Center, Columbus, OH
Thursday, April 19—UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Saturday, April 21—SF Jazz, San Francisco, CA

Additional dates to be announced.

Jazz Arts Group of Columbus Releases National Data for Regenerating Jazz Audiences

The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) has released findings from a 21-month research project focused on current and potential jazz ticket buyers across the U.S. and in Central Ohio. Funded in part by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) with a $200,000 grant, the Jazz Audiences Initiative (JAI), is a first-of-its-kind study designed to explore how and why people engage with jazz. The main goal was to learn new ways for engaging audiences, and infusing the art form with new energy.

Jazz Audience Initiative Key Findings:

  1. Tastes in music are socially transmitted.
  2. Across western-based art forms, jazz still draws a relatively diverse audience.
  3. Consumption of jazz is artist-driven.
  4. Music preferences are shaped by local programming.
  5. Younger buyers have categorically more eclectic tastes in music.
  6. There are many musical pathways into jazz.
  7. Jazz buyers strongly prefer informal settings.

“This research provides deep insights into the ways contemporary audiences are choosing to participate in and engage with the arts, and specifically creative forms of music, such as jazz," expressed Robert Breithaupt, Executive Director of the Jazz Arts Group. “From the beginning, we worked collaboratively with our national research partners to share information and new ideas. We're now turning our attention to putting this research into practice and considering the implications of this important data for our organization. We hope other organizations will join us in this work to strengthen the field."


Tom Everett: Jazz at Harvard

It's no accident that forty years of jazz at Harvard coincides with forty years of Tom Everett at the esteemed university. Everett founded Harvard University's first student jazz band, taught its first jazz history course and welcomed the campus' first visiting jazz artist. He now leads two jazz bands at the prestigious university, continues to teach jazz history courses and welcomes a different visiting jazz artist each year, working with and commissioning works from Anthony Braxton, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, J.J. Johnson, Steve Lacy and many others. In April 2011, Harvard celebrated "Forty Years of Jazz at Harvard" with an exhibition of manuscripts and memorabilia, a discussion about the history of jazz at Harvard, moderated by Everett and Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music Ingrid Monson, and a star-studded concert at Harvard's Sanders Theater.

Yet Everett's accomplishments at Harvard are just one part of a long career as a performer, educator and musical advocate. Everett has played with established big bands and premiered over thirty works for bass trombone in the world of classical music. Through it all, he's combined the resourcefulness and imagination of an improviser with the tireless devotion of a teacher.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Michael Kaeshammer: Kaeshammer (2011)

It doesn't take a Charles Darwin to realize that the true evolutionary inheritors of Frank Sinatra's and Peggy Lee's brand of "popular" music were Elton John and Billy Joel, and not Harry Connick, Jr. or Michael Buble, the latter being more keepers of the flame than the former innovators. Had popular music not dissembled into the current confused concoction of country, rock and hip-hop, where might it have ended up? At the door of German/Canadian Michael Kaeshammer, that's where.

Kaeshammer debuted with Blue Keys (Alma Records) in 1996. Since that time, he has released six more recordings, including this eponymous release. The staggering reality of Kaeshammer is the fact that so much talent—composing, singing, instrumental chops, and arranging—comes so densely packed in a single person. It seems inconceivable that with such a discography, including Kaeshammer in particular, the singer is not more widely known. Because this is music more infectious than the flu.

Kaeshammer's stylistic range is as deep as it is wide, ranging from the stride piano of the 1930s Willie "The Lion" Smith ("Tightrope") to the Fender Rhodes of the Faces' Ian McLagan ("Kisses in Zanzibar") and singing from 1920's show tunes (an inspired and revamped "Love Me or Leave Me") to the Christopher Cross-meets-Bruce Hornsby style on "Remedy." Ray Charles, Leon Russell, Lindsey Buckingham, Elton John, Don Henley, and so on are all here in a sound that can only be called Kaeshammer's own.


Download a Free MP3

Love Me Or Leave Me
Michael Kaeshammer

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Music Matters: The Blue Note Reissue Series

Music Matters has been reissuing classic Blue Note jazz records since 2007. It has dug deep into the catalog, remastering lesser known, infrequently heard titles, and done so with passionate attention to presenting the highest possible sound quality. Offering an analog solution in a digital age, this exceptional series is available on 45rpm vinyl records only. It is an extraordinary collection of music.

With some of the Blue Note recordings now pushing 60 years old, it's wholly appropriate to release a first-rate reissue series, but to do it right requires people who are fanatics about these titles and who bleed enthusiasm for the music. It also helps to have folks with the attention to detail necessary to worry about the weight of the vinyl and the type of ink used in the jackets. It requires folks who are a little crazy about making the best possible pressings, and are willing to go to any length to make it happen. Ron Rambach (far left above), owner of Music Matters, and his friend and co-conspirator, Joe Harley (second left, with Steve Hoffman, second right, Kevin Gray, far right), have personally overseen every element of the reissue series since its inception. They're both a little nuts about classic Blue Note records, and they've channeled their madness into an exceptional collection.

Rambach and Harley are music fans first and foremost, and they approached reissuing the Blue Note catalog as an extension of their dedication to the label. Original 33rpm Blue Note albums are scarce and outrageously expensive. Many collectors have at least one original Blue Note that they just had to buy, even though the vinyl had clearly been used for target practice. The label has so much cache that some folks will pay a premium for a scratchy, damaged Blue Note record just to have it, even when a CD of the same performance may be readily available. Rambach, a long time dealer in collectible vinyl, was concerned that people would only ever hear poor quality copies, and that they'd overlook lesser known titles: "I didn't know how the next generation was going to hear this music. It's the music that needs to be discovered. It's about bringing these guys back." Both men had a deep knowledge of the label's catalog through their own collections and felt strongly that, handled properly, a reissue could offer something new to enthusiasts.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tierney Sutton: In Union There is Strength

Bands come in all shapes, sizes and dynamics. Some thrive on the tensions, while others fall apart too soon due to creative differences or inflated egos. None of these challenges seem to present themselves to the group of musicians that takes its name from the vocalist Tierney Sutton. With nine albums under its collective belt, complemented by three Grammy nominations, the Tierney Sutton Band is about to tour again in support of its American Road release (BMF Jazz, 2011).

Since Sutton formed the group in 1994, she has exerted what appears to be a healthy and positive influence over the band's structure and modus operandi, based on her religion. Her adoption of the Baha'i faith, at the age of 18, has led her to incorporate its fundamental principle of collective evolution in the creation and nurturing of the Tierney Sutton Band. Along with Sutton, the band comprises up to four additional members: Christian Jacob (piano), Trey Henry and/or Kevin Axt (bass) and Ray Brinker (drums). The decisions the band makes are holistic, and are focused on providing an effective conduit between the music and the audience—stretching the talents and improvisational skills of each band member, yet seeking to engage and resonate with the listener.

All About Jazz: What were your earliest musical influences?

Tierney Sutton: Early on, I had no conscious exposure to jazz, whatsoever. I grew up in Milwaukee, a Midwest town. My parents didn't have many records and didn't listen to music much at home. My mother had a nice voice and some musical tendencies, but they didn't take me to concerts or have records. I showed an interest in music early on and, like many singers I know, could sing before I could talk.

AAJ: Ah, something you share with Johnny Mercer— his aunt told him he was humming music when he was six months old. As a child, were you encouraged to take up an instrument?

TS: I took piano lessons and sang in children's choirs. When I was only five years old, I had the lead in a school musical of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. But I didn't really feel passionate about it and want to do it for a living until at college, when I became exposed to jazz for the first time.


Discover Jazz: Ancestral Tales by Anthony Branker

Download this free MP3 from composer/trumpeter Anthony Branker...

Featured: 2011-10-10
Download Ancestral Tales (5:35)
Anthony Branker
From: Dialogic
Origin Records

About Anthony Branker

Dr. Anthony D.J. Branker holds the endowed chair of the Anthony H.P Lee ’79 Senior Lecturer in Jazz Studies, is Founder and Director of the Program in Jazz Studies, and serves as Associate Director of the Program in Musical Performance at Princeton University, where he directs an extensive list of ensembles and teaches courses in jazz theory through improvisation & composition, jazz performance practice in historical and cultural context, jazz composition, and the evolution of jazz styles. He has served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn, Estonia and has also been a member of the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, Hunter College of the City University of New York, Ursinus College, and the New Jersey Summer Arts Institute. Professor Branker was visiting composer at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany and for the Socrates/Erasmus Intensive Programme in cooperation with the European Union, the Association of Baltic Academies of Music, and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. He has been honored by the United States Department of Education with a Presidential Scholars Teacher Recognition Award, the Institute for Arts and Humanities Education Distinguished Teaching Award, the International Association of Jazz Educators Award for Outstanding Service to Jazz Education, and was the recipient of the 2004 Alumni Award presented by the Association of Black Princeton Alumni. Recently, the New Jersey Association for Jazz Education honored Dr. Branker at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark by presenting him with the 2009 Jazz Education Achievement Award for “Outstanding Accomplishment in the Field of Jazz Studies and Continued Dedication to the New Jersey Jazz Education Community.”


Monday, October 10, 2011

Miguel Zenon: Jazz Sherpa

At the dawn of the second decade of his career, saxophonist Miguel Zenón has established himself as one of the most sophisticated and stylish players of the new millennium. In a very short time, Zenón has made his mark as a composer, band leader, educator, and jazz advocate. He has performed and recorded with scores of the scene's most prominent musicians as leader, side man and member of the groundbreaking SFJAZZ Collective, where he is the sole founding member remaining with the group.

Zenón has taken jazz awareness and education to new levels through his work as a Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador to West Africa, a guest lecturer and teacher at Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory of Music and elsewhere, as well as with his founding of Caravana Cultural, a quarterly series of concerts and talks aimed at bringing jazz music "to the people" in his native Puerto Rico.

Zenón's work as an educator extends to his creative endeavors as well. His latest release, Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music, 2011), is his third so far to examine and interpret a musical form from his homeland, in this case songs from the Puerto Rican popular songbook of the mid-20th century.

All of this work—and much more—earned Zenón a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 2008. With its $500,000 prize allocated over five annual installments, the award not only recognizes Zenón's growing impact in the world of music but has afforded him the resources to continue to pursue his passions with vigor.


Friday, October 7, 2011

MoonJune Records: A Decade of Progressive Rock Documentation

On a moon of this past June, appropriately enough, Leonardo Pavkovic, owner of the progressive jazz label MoonJune Records, gave All About Jazz an interview at the label's office in Union Square, New York City. The name MoonJune Records, which Pavkovic started back in 2001, is taken from the title of a song, "Moon In June," that appeared on the Canterbury jazz-rock group, Soft Machine's 1970 album, Third (CBS). MoonJune Records aims to provide jazz and progressive rock musicians from different continents and different cultural backgrounds with a very personal, hands-on relationship with a label.

At the time of the interview, MoonJune Records had just hit its 10-year mark. Pavkovic was optimistic about the label's future, and provided details on how he works with musicians and remains responsive to his customers.

The MoonJune office is a working shrine to some of the best jazz and progressive rock artists, past to present—from Pavkovic's own CDs waiting to be mailed out, to extensive video and book libraries and stacks of trade publications and music magazines. One wall is covered with posters and stickers going back to the late 1960s and English bands such as Colosseum, and up to the recent past with Indonesian groups such as Tohpati Ethnomission.

There is no shortage of interest for a visitor to feast eyes on in this office—and from the way Pavkovic jubilantly blasts music out of his sound system, it is obvious he is a man who loves what he does.


Grand Union Orchestra: If Paradise

Grand Union Orchestra
If Paradise
Red Gold

If Paradise, the biggest jewel in British composer, keyboardist and trombonist Tony Haynes' recording career to date, joins a handful of orchestral albums which have not so much crossed genre and cultural boundaries as rendered them meaningless. Off-piste singularities may exclude these discs from mainstream jazz history, but their exalted singularity make them artifacts to be treasured. Other high-carat items are pianist Joachim Kühn and arranger Michael Gibbs's Europeana (ACT, 1995) and pianist Randy Weston's Blue Moses (CTI, 1972).

With "If Paradise," a raga-based suite in eight sections, Haynes and his 19-piece Grand Union Orchestra—formed in 1982 as a vehicle for jazz-based, cross-cultural experiment—blend the music and instruments of Bangladesh and India with the jazz tradition to extraordinary effect. Haynes' genius here, as elsewhere in his corpus of work, has been not merely to bolt colorful ethnic exoticisms onto the exterior bodywork of the jazz tradition; instead, he creates a truly syncretic blend in which, much of the time, it is impossible to say where one culture stops and another starts. Listening to it is like looking through a kaleidoscope with a headful of the finest charas.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Discover Jazz: Chora Baiao by Antonio Adolfo

Download this free MP3 from pianist Antonio Adolfo...

Featured: 2011-10-05
Download Chora Baiao (5:11)
Antonio Adolfo
From: Chora Baiao
AAM Music

About Antonio Adolfo

Antonio Adolfo is an important composer, having written songs recorded by Nara Leao, Marisa Gata Mansa, Angela Ro Ro, Wilson Simonal, Ivete Sangalo, Leci Brandao, Emilio Santiago, Beth Carvalho, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, Stevie Wonder and Herb Alpert among others. Adolfo also had a noted role in the process of making important music available through independent production, through the creation of the pioneer independent label Artezanal. His recordings of important and almost-forgotten composers of the belle epoque, like Chiquinha Gonzaga, Ernesto Nazareth and Joao Pernambuco, are noted cultural initiatives. As an arranger, he worked for Leci Brandao, Angela Ro Ro, Elizeth Cardoso, Emilio Santiago, Fatima Guedes, Marcos Valle, Mongol, Nara Leao, O Grupo, Ruy Maurity (his brother), Sueli Costa, Vinicius Cantuaria, Rita Lee, Zeze Motta, and others.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum: October 2011

October 2011

Dear Mr. P.C.:

On my steady gig, I'll be trying really hard to play well. You know, being in the moment, trying to come up with ideas I've never played before, treating jazz with total respect. Right in the middle of all that I'll hear the drums start to sound like something is wrong. When I look over, the drummer is making kissy faces at some cute woman in the audience and showing off for her with all these fancy but totally inappropriate fills. It totally destroys my concentration. What should I do?

-- Drummer Ruins My Sanity

Dear DRMS: I understand why you're so upset. Instead of singling out and objectifying a "cute" woman, he could perform a real service by flattering a less attractive woman, particularly a geriatric or grossly misshapen one. Or he could deliver an even bigger blow to chauvinism by "making kissy faces" at the men in the audience, especially the more macho guys--the ones pounding beers and looking hatefully toward the bandstand. But think about it, DRMS: At least he's accompanying you, taking part in your journey. During his solos, you don't even play! Instead, you disengage from the music, silently counting "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four..." while worrying about what you'll eat during the next break. I can only imagine what you'd be doing if you had his arsenal of gadgets at your disposal: Swiveling around on the drum throne (Look how tall I am! Now look how short I am!), twirling the sticks (Take cover--I'm a nunchuck Master!), and wearing the ride cymbal on your head (Quick, someone find me a rice paddy--it's a coolie hat!). Your drummer may have his faults, DRMS, but you have to give him credit for engaging the audience. And I've got some great news: You can take his approach to a whole new level, combining audience outreach with social activism! Best of all, you can do it during his solos, when you're normally nothing but dead weight on the bandstand! Here's how: When he starts to solo, turn to the people in the audience and leer at them suggestively. But--this is the key--leer only at those who are least accustomed to it, and would therefore most welcome it: The disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, and the disfigured.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Bunky Green: Urgency and Continuity

Saxophonist Bunky Green bristles at the idea of playing by the rules. On more than one occasion, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin native was on his way to jazz stardom, but each time his principles guided him elsewhere. This is a significant reason why the highly influential musician has mostly remained unsung and out of the spotlight for decades, instead focusing his energies on his role as a leading jazz educator. For the past two decades, Green has served as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of North Florida at Jacksonville.

During the early days of his career, Green took over for Jackie McLean in Charles Mingus' band in 1960. The legendary bassist's adventurous spirit and willingness to push boundaries, often at the risk of commercial success, proved highly influential on Green's artistic psyche. In 1961, he relocated to Chicago, where he recorded and performed with luminaries including Sonny Stitt, Yusef Lateef and Andrew Hill, while also propelling his solo career forward with albums such as Testifyin' Time (Argos, 1965) and Playin' for Keeps (Cadet, 1966).

Unhappy with how he was treated by labels and the music industry in general, Green began transitioning into jazz education in the early '70s. He taught at Chicago State University from 1972 to 1989, while sporadically recording. During the late '70s, he released three albums for the Vanguard label: the commercially oriented Transformations (1977) and Visions (1978), as well as the uncompromising Places We've Never Been (1979). Places We've Never Been features six expansive post-bop pieces with an all-star band including Randy Brecker, Eddie Gomez and Freddie Waits. It's particularly notable for its first track, "East and West," which finds Green exploring the cultural and aural influences of a trip to Algiers.

Race and Jazz Criticism: A Conversation with John Gennari

When I began this Race and Jazz series several months ago, I knew the topics I wanted to touch upon, and the general culture vs. race point-of-view I intended to pursue. With those chord changes (topics) and that melodic perspective (pro-culture, anti-race) in mind and at play, I figured I'd proceed with the rest by ear. As it turned out, the most recent column featured an interview with premier jazz critic and book author Gary Giddins, in which he discussed disparities in the recognition and acclaim attained by certain black American jazz critics/journalists compared to some so-called "white" jazz critics/journalists over the past generation of jazz criticism.

Yet since jazz criticism has a history that can be tracked and traced right along with the growth and development of the music, there's no need to stay confined to the past 40 or so years. "How has race played into the way jazz has been covered over the past 100+ years of the existence of the art form?" is one question that has now arisen.

Fortunately, there's a scholar who has researched jazz letters and the history of jazz criticism and has written the thus far definitive work on the critical discourse of jazz from the 1930s to the turn of this century: John Gennari. His book is Blowin' Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics (University of Chicago, Press, 2006.) He's an Associate Professor of English and ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont.

John Gennari and I first met in the late 1990s through the Jazz Study Group (JSG) at Columbia University. I was a grad student in a doctoral program in American Studies at New York University at the time. The Jazz Study Group was founded by Robert G. O'Meally, an English and Comparative Literature professor at Columbia whose scholarship has included a focus on jazz since he earned his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1975. From 1995-2006, the Jazz Study Group held quarterly meetings, mostly on the Columbia campus. Personally, I most enjoyed the occasions when the small group of about 30 of us would meet in the spacious yet cozy book- and CD/LP-lined apartment of Prof. O'Meally and his wife Jacqui Malone, a historian of American dance.

Very relevant to the conversation you are about to read is the following goal of the JSG: "to cultivate and strengthen the then-budding interdisciplinary field of jazz studies at a crucial point in its emergence as a discrete area of scholarship within the context of African American and American Studies."

Gennari's Blowin' Hot and Cold is a prime example of this interdisciplinary direction of jazz studies.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wilco: New York, NY, September 22, 2011

Rumsey Playground, Central Park
New York, NY
September 22, 2011

Nels Cline can conjure wind. He did so mid-way through the third song of Wilco's performance in New York City on September 22. There were several thousand witnesses.

Cline, Wilco's guitarist-cum-audio mad scientist, was at the crest of an intense solo passage in "Ashes of American Flags" when a strong, crisp breeze blew in from the East, lifting the blanket of early evening humidity that was laid over the crowd gathered in Central Park's Rumsey Playground. Wilco is a live band of such extraordinary powers that a supernatural act of meteorological manipulation seems well within their grasp. Cline's was greeted with an appreciative roar from the devoted crowd.

In 2000, when Wilco was still playing clubs behind their then-current record, Summerteeth, the band's sound was an easy-to-digest gumbo of all that came before: the ramshackle power pop song writing of Big Star; the psychedelic country of the Byrds; the arena rock of mid-period Who. Those strains are still evident, but in the intervening decade-plus they have been joined by hints of Sonic Youth, Kraftwerk and other electronic noise elements. Incredibly, Wilco has never veered too far into experimental territory. They've pushed the boundaries of pop, but there are no throwaway records. Perhaps using the model of The Beatles, Wilco leader and songsmith Jeff Tweedy has managed to keep Wilco about the songs, using technology and noise as spicy embellishments, not the main dish. The result is a book of songs equally at home channeled through a seven-piece electric band as through an acoustic guitar on Tweedy's not- infrequent solo jaunts.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Gary Burton Quartet: New York, NY, September 21, 2011

Gary Burton Quartet
Blue Note
New York, NY
September, 21, 2011

Lionel Hampton carved out a place for the vibraphone in a swing setting, and Milt Jackson brought the instrument into bop, but Gary Burton remains the guru and guiding light in virtually every other aspect for vibraphonists and fans the world over. As a visionary educator, he helped to make Berklee the place to go for aspiring jazzers, and as a performer, he's redefined the very way the vibraphone is played. His four-mallet grip and stunning technique pointed the way to a more pianistic approach for vibraphonists everywhere, and his influence looms large over every aspiring vibes player who came into being in the past four or five decades. While countless other vibraphonists active today—from elder statesmen like Bobby Hutcherson, Teddy Charles and Mike Mainieri to younger trendsetters like Stefon Harris and Jason Adasiewicz—have left a lasting impact in different ways, Burton is in a class all his own.

During this visit to New York's Blue Note, where this quartet first came together nearly a year earlier, Burton brought forth a set of music that churned, swirled and glowed with clarity and energy. The first set on the opening night of a four-evening run featured nods to vibraphone forefathers, with a Cal Tjader-associated "Afro Blue" opening the set and Milt Jackson's signature "Bags' Groove" serving as the show-ending encore, but original works from the quartet's Common Ground (Mack Avenue, 2011) proved to be the main attraction. Bassist Scott Colley's "Never The Same Way" began with interlacing rhythms that seemed random at first, but quickly connected in logical fashion. Guitarist Julian Lage delivered nimble, single note lines as he moved all over the neck and, on this song and elsewhere throughout the set, he showed a strong kinship with drummer Antonio Sanchez. Sanchez continually supported him, while simultaneously egging him on with his polyrhythmic drumming spree.


Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz

Ornette Coleman
Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet

Alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's masterpiece, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet, is one of the hinges of jazz evolution. As a musical hinge, Free Jazz, heard from this side of its development, is a bit of an anticlimax compared with the two-label, five album prelude to this point: Something Else!!!! (Contemporary, 1958), Tomorrow is the Question! (Contemporary, 1959), The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic, 1959), Change of the Century (Atlantic, 1959) and This is Our Music (Atlantic, 1959). Had Coleman done nothing else but release these first five recordings, his legacy as one of the pioneers of free jazz would still be assured. But on Free Jazz Coleman took that final step into the chaos of untethered group improvisation and in doing so took the "free" in free jazz as far as it would go. Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, taking his own route, would do the same five years later with Ascension (Impulse!, 1966).

If following the cause-and-effect explanation for the development of free jazz, Coleman's music was an evolved response to the highly structured be bop of the late 1940s and early 1950s and swing-era big band jazz before that. Unlike Coltrane, free jazz's other high priest, Coleman did not have a slew of recordings before he began disassembling the genre. Coleman emerged anxious and impatient with the music when he started to record in 1958. Coleman's creative evolution in free jazz lasted a mere three years and was dense and rapid.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Download Two Free MP3s by Trumpeter Jon Crowley

At the Edge (5:36)
Jon Crowley
From: At The Edge
Lonely Crow Records

Icarus (4:39)
Jon Crowley
From: Connections
Self Published

Lots more free MP3s here.

All About Jazz Interruption in Service on September 28th

We apologize for the interruption in service for most of the day yesterday. If you had difficulty downloading our free MP3s, please try now. You can get caught up on news here. Thanks for you patience. Your friends at All About Jazz

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Francesco Turrisi: In Pursuit of Ecstasy

It has often been said that composer/harpsichordist/violinist Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was the first jazz musician. His contrapuntal techniques and ideas on harmony, rhythm and form have influenced countless jazz musicians. Numerous are the jazz musicians who have also studied classical music, usually prior to shifting to jazz. Few, however, are those who have taken a Master's degree in jazz and then opted to study early music, a term that refers to European classical music dating roughly from the Medieval era, through the Renaissance and until the end of the Baroque period, marked by the death of Bach.

Italian pianist Francesco Turrisi is one such rare case. His impressive debut as leader, Si Dolce e il Tormento (Diatribe Recordings, 2009) intertwined the threads of jazz improvisation, Italian folk melodies and baroque roots to stunning effect, and garnered highly positive reviews in the press, with the Irish Times describing it as "exquisite." It may be the first jazz recording to feature the theorbo—a long-necked lute more typical of the late 16th and 17th centuries—alongside clarinet and a jazz rhythm section. Not many would have imagined such juxtaposition, but for Turrisi, part of the joy of music is searching for interesting sounds that complement each other. That recording announced the arrival of an individual voice on the jazz scene, something which they've known in Ireland since Turrisi made Dublin his home in 2006.

The pianist/accordionist/harpsichordist/percussionist is what you might call an all- rounder, playing in at least half a dozen different contexts where he is able to explore his passion for jazz, early music, and the music of Africa, Brazil, the Balkans, southern Italy and the greater Mediterranean area, and of course, his adopted Ireland. Turrisi's second CD as a leader, Fotografia (Diatribe Recordings, 2011) is another distillation of the pianist's southern Italian roots, baroque rhythms and a jazz trio aesthetic. Gone is the theorbo, and in are more jagged, brooding, improvised pieces, with lyrical folk numbers strewn throughout, like pools of calm amongst the turbulence.


Monday, September 26, 2011

John Scofield: Peaceful Pursuits and Incendiary Explorations

Sometimes a recording comes together easily, with a minimum of muss or fuss. Other times, life seems to conspire against it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't get done, or that it suffers as a result. Sometimes, in fact, it can make the end result even better. For John Scofield—one-third of a power trifecta of guitarists, also including Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell), who emerged in the mid-1970s to become some of their generation's most influential and highly regarded jazz artists—the road to his latest release, the aptly titled A Moment's Peace (EmArcy, 2011), was riddled with complications. But the end result is a set that stands out among the plethora of ballads albums flooding the market these days, with its unique combination of standards, less-traveled covers and Scofield originals delivered with more gentleness than is, perhaps, expected from a guitarist capable of searing paint off a wall.

Still, despite its largely relaxed nature and slower tempos, A Moment's Peace manages to come to a near boil at times—no surprise, given the powerful group that ultimately converged for a couple days in January, 2011, at Sear Sound in New York City: keyboardist Larry Goldings (making A Moment's Peace a recording reunion of sorts, having last worked on Trio Beyond's Saudades [ECM, 2006], in 2004); ubiquitous and ever-adaptable bassist Scott Colley; and Brian Blade, a drummer who, like Scofield, is perhaps better known for his unbridled power and sheer improvisational energy than the soft approach and subtle nuances he demonstrates here.


Download Two Free John Scofield MP3s

Simply Put

John Scofield
A Moment's Peace


John Scofield
New Morning: The Paris Concert

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Tierney Sutton Band: American Road

The Tierney Sutton Band
American Road
BFM Jazz

Solidly innovative and a forward-thinker in jazz vocals arena over the past 15 years, Tierney Sutton has constantly looked backwards while forging a future path that has influenced the likes of Laurie Antonioli and Gretchen Parlato, among many other noted contemporary jazz vocalists. A master of vocal pyrotechnics like Sarah Vaughan, Sutton sings on a high-wire, taking stylistic chances that, more often than not, pay off handsomely. Sutton and her band have been perfecting their unique updating of the great American songbook on such well-received recordings as Desire (Telarc, 2009), On The Other Side (Telarc, 2007) and I'm With The Band (Telarc, 2005). And she provides a tour-de-force in American Road.

An important part of the band's unique sound derives from divining the organic earthiness from the standards it selects to perform. Where Cassandra Wilson spent the better part of the 1990s stripping down standards and redressing them with more rustic instrumentation such as acoustic slide guitars, mandolins, violins and other artifacts of rural blues, effecting a more seminal, fecund sound, Sutton accomplishes the same with carefully conceived arrangements, created by the entire band as opposed to a single person. Additionally, she does this with her traditional jazz piano trio of 18 years. These arrangements are spare and wide open. Often jarring and dissonant, the clever settings reveal the pieces as dramatically different from traditional performances, revealing their anxious and unsettling elements.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Contributor News: Kickin' it Up a Notch!

We've had our mojo workin' since July as we continue to improve All About Jazz and roll out new features; we're also looking for two new editors to support our staff. Please read on for the latest...

1. Help Wanted: Take Five/iTunes Playlist Editor

Well... maybe some. We're looking for someone to spend an hour a week preparing Take Five articles and iTunes Playlist articles. If you have time, have some familiarity with simple HTML tagging, and have a basic understanding of AAJ house style, please contact me to discuss.

2. Help Wanted: CD Review Editor

We're looking for someone who can help John Kelman and Jeff Rzepiela edit CD reviews. Same deal as above (an understanding of AAJ's house style). When you spend your time editing is strictly up to you--we're simply looking for a minimum of two reviews a day. And if you read AAJ, you know we have some very fine writers whose reviews will only take 10-15 minutes to prepare.

3. Looking for CDs to Review?

We updated the AAJ Contributor Start Page with a "REQUEST CDS TO REVIEW" link. If you're looking for CDs to review, please peruse our active list.

4. Improvements: A Bunch

We are on a roll! Since our last contributor announcement, we relaunched, modified the login and private message section, improved the musician profile page, topped 11,000 Twitter followers, added Google +1 to our articles, increased the speed of our article pages by 60%, added related audio to our articles, upgraded the photo gallery, topped 7 million MP3 downloads, and now offer a wallpaper/skin advertising option.

Up next: On demand audio, a new jazz website, improving the sign up/sign in/sign out process, and a few more surprises.

James Nadal's Seafood Paella 5. James Nadal: Wears Another Hat

James Nadal, the chef at Restaurant El Yugo in San Sebastian, PR has long been associated with All About Jazz as a musician profile editor--claiming nearly 1,300 profiles to his name. He replied to our help wanted post back in June, graciously stepping up to assume the video of the day editor position. Thank you so much, James!

6. Your iTunes Playlists: Submit Your Own Today!

We'd like to regularly publish iTunes playlists as articles and we want to start by publishing favorite playlists by our contributor community. If you use iTunes and create playlists, please upload one of your faves here. It only takes a minute and we'd greatly appreciate your help.

7. What Jazz Musicians Expect from Music Journalists

Journalist Willard Jenkins recently polled a group of prominent jazz artists. His question: when you read music journalism/criticism what qualities are you looking for in the writer and the writing? Read bassist Ben Allison and pianist Bill Anschell's answers here.

Thank you for your continued support and creativity,

Michael Ricci

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Take Five With Jake Hertzog

Meet Jake Hertzog:
Jake Hertzog's accomplishments as a jazz musician mesh with his love for the rock idiom, creating almost an entirely new musical language. His new album, Evolution, co- produced by the great jazz bassist Harvie S, the original compositions (except for Jake's version of Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia") have been mastered to perfection--and is a recording destined to become a classic.

Past achievements include winning the Grand Prize in 2006 for the Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition in Switzerland. Jake holds title at 20 years old as the youngest ever prize winner in the competition's history. He was invited back in 2007 to showcase his original music at the Festival. Jake is an alum of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and recipient of several performance scholarships.

Under the alias Hey Jazz Guy, Jake is a monthly contributor to Guitar Player Magazine's "Lessons" section. He has been coined as the Jazz Ambassador to the non- jazz world. Guitar Player calls him ..."the blazing wunderkind"; The Boston Phoenix has declared him ..."the WOW! factor."

Award-winning jazz guitarist and composer, Jake's second studio album, Patterns, was chosen by Guitar Player Magazine as an Editor's Pick and quickly gained international regard.

Electric Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences?
Mick Goodrick, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Ben Monder.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Florencia Ruiz: Luz De La Noche (2011)

Florencia Ruiz: Luz De La Noche Since her debut in 2000, Argentina-based guitarist/vocalist Florencia Ruiz has merited high acclaim in South America, Europe, and Japan as an artist of vision and panache. With a renascent spirit, she embraces a wide range of stimuli—folk, pop, jazz, classical, electronica, and visual arts in works with large and large ensembles. Her U.S. debut of Luz De La Noche (Light of the Night) continues her diverse ideas and introduces her to a wider audience.

Ruiz's aura is at the center of a project which benefits from the superb arrangements of producer Carlos Villivicencio and guests that include Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelenbaum (Ryuchi Sachamoto) and pianist Hugo Fattoruso (Milton Nascimento, Ron Carter).

"Alumbremos (We'll Enlighten)" is an apropos introduction. Dramatic and glamorous, it's colored with opulent strings, dashing flutes, flugelhorn calls, and Ruiz's innocent yet sultry voice. From the dreamlike "Por ahi (Maybe)," with its guitar and keyboard ostinato, and lovely yet dissonant piano solo in "Todo Dolor (All Pain)," to the alternative rock of "Hacia El Final (Towards The End)," the intricate dance between lyrics and music is creatively balanced.


Chick Corea / Eddie Gomez / Paul Motian: Further Explorations

Chick Corea / Eddie Gomez / Paul Motian
Further Explorations
Universal Classics and Jazz Japan

Three still-living jazz icons team up on Further Explorations, an album inspired by another legend whose influence remains unequivocal, 30 years after passing away, age 51, in 1980. Gaining initial exposure as a member of Bill Evans' first trio on New Jazz Conceptions (Riverside, 1956), drummer Paul Motian left the group nearly four years before bassist Eddie Gomez would commence an eleven-year run with the pianist on At the Montreux Jazz Festival (Verve, 1968).Though the connection is less direct, Evans was an early influence on perennial student Chick Corea, in particular on early recordings like the younger pianist's now-classic Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Solid State, 1968); the two also sharing a common interest in classical music and bosses—trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist Stan Getz—albeit years apart.

With Corea, Gomez and Motian far too advanced as distinctive voices and personal stylists to do anything quite so overt as a tribute record, Further Explorations is better-described as a tabula rasa, built on a repertoire largely associated with Evans, along with a few well-chosen originals. That he actually presented the lead sheet for his gently balladic "Bill Evans" to Evans, at the Top of the Gate in the 1970s, only speaks to Corea's endless appreciation of a pianist who was, in fact, gracious enough to let him sit in with his trio around that time.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tim Collins: Mixing It Up

Tim Collins likes to mix it up. It starts at home; the vibraphonist is married to a successful concert violinist and is intimately connected to the world of classical music. Recording with pianist Matthias Bublath, Collins has also worked with guitarist Charlie Hunter, who produced his second album, mixing rock, jazz, and string quartets. He seeks melodies and inspiration without regard to genre, covering songs by artists a disparate as Tom Petty and Björk on Castles and Hilltops (Nineteen-Eight Records, 2011), his most recent recording.

In the two short years since he's resettled in Munich from New York, after a short stay in Salzburg, Collins has learned German, landed teaching jobs at the Bavarian International School and the New Jazz School of Munich, released Castles and Hilltops, and taken his place alongside Matthias Bublath, Martin Scales, Ulrich Wangenheim, Tom Reinbrecht, and Christoph Holzhauser as a driving force on the Munich jazz scene.

As seems to be the case with many vibraphonists, he started out on drums and piano before taking up marimba and vibes. Thanks in part to the physicality of the instrument, he's a dazzling soloist on stage with a fiery impassioned energy and a soulful inclination that would also work well in rock, soul, blues, and jam settings. At the same time, his considerable musical training and ample skills, in classical music and jazz, give him the ability to handle the intricacy and harmonics of very demanding music. This openness and solid musical foundation are also evident in his engaging compositions.

Living & Working in Europe

All About Jazz: When people you meet in Europe hear you are from New York, they probably envision NYC. But in reality, you grew up near Lake Champlain on the border to Vermont, and relatively close to Montreal. Aside from language differences and cruising along the Autobahn at 110 mph, how would you characterize the adjustment of living in Bavaria or Salzburg?

Tim Collins: Hmmm, well let me say that moving to Salzburg was definitely an adjustment, but then moving to Munich afterwards seemed like an adjustment back in the direction of what I was used to. Once you get past the language difference, to me Munich actually feels a lot like the U.S. Nowadays, it's easy to call overseas with Skype and stuff, and it's not too hard for me to bring my American habits with me—like watching Yankees games for example—the only problem is that they are on at 1:00am, German time. Ugh.


Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1967 - The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

The Miles Davis Quintet
Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1
Legacy Recordings

With the compact disc in its waning stages of dominance as a medium for music, The Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1967—The Bootleg Series Vol. 1 restates the case for the archiving as a means of historical as well as collecting purposes. The rare sources of these recordings, most from radio and television broadcasts, don't preclude bootlegging, but the collection in a single source speaks with an academic clarity the music deserves.

In the deluxe package (there is also a single disc of highlights available), there are seven complete concerts on CD and DVD by trumpeter Davis' second great quintet, featuring pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter and drummer Tony Williams. Recorded on a package tour promoted by George Wein as "The Newport Jazz Festival in Europe," most of this content has been available over the years, but the Denmark show is one significant exception, as are two prominent set features of the Paris show (Shorter's "Footprints" and Davis' "Agitation"). The only existing video record of this group appears on the enclosed DVD, which was previously available only on The Complete Miles Davis Collection released by Legacy in 2009.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Chris Combs: Jacob Fred's Tulsa Tale

On a Memorial Day in 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, an encounter between a young black shoe shiner named Dick Rowland and a white elevator operator named Sarah Page—an incident that was reported with hazy details and shocking incompleteness—started one of the most brutal and tragic race riots in American history. Even more tragic, however, was how little the event was discussed by national or even Oklahoman sources. It was an event that Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's Chris Combs, like many proud Oklahomans, felt needed to be told.

"It was something that people didn't like talking about. They still don't like talking about it," said the lap steel guitarist. "The race riot was ignored for so long that has become one of the strangest and darkest parts of our city's history."

Combs's vision of describing this work in great and impassioned musical detail has already come to fruition. On May 20th 2011, JFJO premiered the Race Riot Suite to a live audience at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The suite, which will be released on the band's Kinnara Records on August 30, 2011, seeks to bring the events into literal and impressionistic light in the best way the quartet can. The suite's conception was borne out of the guitarist's inquisition into Tulsa's past.

"At the time I was just reading a lot about the Tulsa race riot," says Combs. Some great books have been published about the riot and you can learn so much if you dig a little. Initially I had a group of small musical ideas that were inspired by different historic pieces of the race riot. Separately, JFJO had been planning on doing a larger ensemble album. Gradually the two ideas converged and I began demoing all of the material late at night in our rehearsal space, playing all the parts by recording and overdubbing."

Before the inception of Race Riot, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey was embarking on a very different kind of big project: Ludwig, the band's re-imagining of Beethoven's third and sixth symphonies. The creation, described by pianist Brian Haas as "The Far East Suite meets the Flaming Lips," was typical of JFJO; the melding of many different styles is something the band excels in. However, the scope of the work and getting inside Beethoven's head was a watershed experience.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chet Baker: She Was Too Good To Me

Chet Baker
She Was Too Good To Me
CTI Records

The modern image of trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker is a hopelessly fractious one. Baker is, at once, a brilliant musical autodidact with a superb ear while, at the same time, a musician with a nonexistent grounding in musical theory. Like cornetist Bix Beiderbecke before him, Baker taught himself, thereby forging a personal sound identifiable across the space-time continuum. He left a 40-year aural testament, recorded during the most revolutionary period in jazz, that revealed a remarkable focus unshaken by those changes.

Baker's peccadilloes were also larger than life. Like Beiderbecke, Baker was hopelessly chemically-dependent, a life-long heroin addict whose addiction greatly contributed to his death as Beiderbecke's alcoholism did to his. Unlike Beiderbecke, Baker recorded copiously, particularity after his "comeback" in 1974, and then primarily to fund his addiction, so copiously that at least some of his recordings had to be good, if not exceptional, conforming to the adage that, "monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare."

Perhaps this sells Baker short; perhaps not. In the end, criticism of Baker's work must be cast in a post-modern isolation from the man himself and his story; but even that is not fair. Baker did not produce the music he did because of the confluence of his chaotic life, he did so in spite of it. There were glimmers of unimpaired sunshine in his discography and one of these occurred at the beginning of his "comeback" 1974, when he recorded She Was Too Good To Me for Creed Taylor's CTI Records.


Gerry Mulligan / J.J. Johnson / Sarah Vaughan / Misha Mengelberg & Piet Noordijk: Live At Concertgebouw

The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam was a stop for quite a few notable jazz musicians during the 1950s and '60s, and for the past few years the Dutch Jazz Archive has released a concert from their archive at the rate of one per year. Judging by what has been released, it seems that many of these musicians did their best work here. Many of them were at the peak of their careers, and European audiences were always eager and enthusiastic for American jazz. The Concertgebouw releases are a significant series of live recordings due to the quality of the musicianship and the excellent sound.

Gerry Mulligan
Western Reunion
2008 (1956)

Gerry Mulligan was one of the leaders of the 1950s' West Coast scene as both a player and arranger. Both are on display in this Concertgebouw outing from the fifties; the baritone saxophonist brought an all-star line-up from the States to show off the kind of coolly swinging jazz that only an eager bunch of Californians could offer. In 1956, when the concert was held, Mulligan and his colleagues were turning in terrific recording after terrific recording for the Contemporary and Pacific labels and thus were caught in their prime here.

Mulligan tended to favor either smaller quartets or big bands, so these sextet recordings are a fortunate discovery. The front line represents a scaled down version of a big band, in which each member represents an entire section: Zoot Sims on tenor sax, Jon Eardley on trumpet, Bob Brookmeyer on trombone and Mulligan on baritone saxophone. Bill Crow on bass and Dave Bailey on drums round out the rhythm section; in typical Mulligan fashion, there is no piano to anchor the front line (except on the rare occasions when he tickles the ivories himself.) This gives the arrangements a lot of breathing room and the tightly interwoven front line on "Mud Bug" and "Demanton" provide such depth and richness that the keys aren't missed.

The music is loose, playful and energetic—between numbers the band engages in some light banter. A couple of numbers make the evening (and the recording) even more special—a quartet reading of "Line For Lyons" with Eardley taking the place of Chet Baker, who played trumpet on the most famous version of the song, and "My Funny Valentine," which begins with just Mulligan and Brookmeyer before the other two horns join in.

The audience was enthusiastic throughout and deservedly so—this was an excellent show. The sound quality is pristine, the players are in top form and the end result is one of the best examples of live West Coast jazz available, proving that the warm climate of the Pacific wasn't an essential ingredient to what these fellows were cooking.