South Asian-American jazz from New York

Rudresh Mahanthappa -- an extraordinary American jazzman of South Asian descent -- has a critical fave with Kinsmen, his album featuring his own alto sax coupled with that of Indian Carnatic master musician Kadri Golpanath, supported by Karachi-born but L.A.-bred former surfer/electric guitarist Rez Abassi, violin, bass, traps, mridingam from East and West. They all talk and play in my NPR production on last night's "All Things Considered." … [Read more...]

Freddie plays, Freddie talks

My NPR appreciation of the late, great Freddie Hubbard -- with Freddie talking about himself, and music examples. And for prime mid-period Hubbard hear his out-of-print 1978 album Super Blue, especially the tracks "Take It To The Ozone" and "Theme For Kareem" (the original unfortunately not available from Amazon as an MP3 -- this version is from his final recording, On The Real Side). Subscribe by Email Subscribe by RSS All JBJ posts … [Read more...]

Celebrating Freddie Hubbard, the intrepid fox

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard died last night around 2 a.m. in Sherman Oaks Hospital (Los Angeles) of complications following a heart attack he had suffered on the night before Thanksgiving (November 26), not November 30 as previously reported. He was 70 years old.Gifted with powerful technique, abundant melodic imagination, rhythmic drive and a deep bluesy feeling, Hubbard emerged in the 1960s as one of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and recorded timeless music throughout that decade with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, … [Read more...]

late gift ideas

You can't buy 'em music, 'cause you don't know what they're missing - so try other music and beyond formats (books, videos, music toys) as stocking stuffers for the out-leaning --  … [Read more...]

I wake up screaming

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" --  the most odious quasi-pop song ever committed -- was ringing in my semi-conscious loud enough to jolt me out of sleep one night last week (I summoned to mind "Night In Tunisia," trying to recall ever kink in Charlie Parker's famous alto break, to dispell it). "Little Drummer Boy," "Silent Night," Gene Autry's original version of "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" and James Taylor singing "Go Tell It On The Mountain" -- does it really have an extended chorus for recorder ensemble? -- assault me at the grocery store … [Read more...]

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard ailing

L.A.-based jazz consultant Ricky Shultz (who directed one of this year's most innovative label rollouts for Resonance Records) writes: "Freddie Hubbard suffered heart failure last Sunday and is in ICU. One of Freddie's past bandmates spoke with his wife yesterday a.m. He is being worked on to revive certain organs' function. I'm told there were some encouraging signs but his condition remains critical. Share some love with all that great Freddie music and keep him in your thoughts."Trumpeter Hubbard has been a jazzman's … [Read more...]

Ten top of 2008 and many more recommendations

So much music, so little time -- it's absurd to whittle down this year's "best" recordings to 10, an act that merely bows to convention. Why not 15? 25? 50? -- if there are that many albums that reward repeated listening with enjoyment and revelation.I make no claims for the following list being definitive -- I haven't yet had a chance to hear once many of the some 1100 promising cds that arrived for consideration of review since November 1 2007. But I guarantee that none of these recommendations are made on the basis of anything except my … [Read more...]

Classic Monk, classical Jazz at Lincoln Center

The jazziest scene at the second night of Jazz at Lincoln Center's Monk Festival was in the fifth floor atrium, during intermission of simultaneous concerts by pianist Danilo Perez's trio (reprising his cd Panamonk, in the Allen Room) and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performing members' arrangements of Monk's music in big band settings led by Wynton Marsalis, with featured pianist Marcus Roberts (in more formal Rose Hall). Between sets all-age, all-hipster-style attendees mingled in the buzzy, high ceilinged room. Especially fashionable … [Read more...]

Guitar heroes, virtual and actual

The phenomenon of Guitar Hero is unaccountable to most musicians. Why would anyone spend hours miming moves with a fake instrument when given similar time investment you could make music yourself, live, and with friends? Nonetheless, the game is the Christmas season's most highly anticipated music item. As for disappointing early sales reports for "World Tour," its just-released new edition, aren't sales down for everything, everywhere?Here's my flick at stimulating the music economy -- consumer alerts to recommended new cds by guitar heroes … [Read more...]

Mostly Other People’s killer liner notes

Mostly Other People Do The Killing is a super-serious-with-a-sense-of-humor Philadelphia-based  quartet paying homage to Ornette Coleman with its hot new album This Is Our Moosic.The cd's cover photo cops and mocks the oh-so-cool look of Coleman's earth-shaking quartet on its classic 1960 release This Is Our Music  -- but more impressive is the young band's music, which in its leader's explicit liner notes endorses Coleman's revolutionary "free jazz"  concept and in ensemble play expands upon it without being imitative. A nominee for best album … [Read more...]

The jazz of victory and celebration

It's odd that of all the nuances of expression jazz can convey, the thrill of victory and celebration of success is hard to find among the music's classics. Barack Obama's heartening win of the presidency prompts me to search out joyous music, but I can't think of a movement akin to the bells ringing in Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" in the repertoire of Miles, Ornette, Cecil or Coltrane, Mingus, Monk, Bird and Diz, or Ellington, Basie and Goodman. The crowning last chorus of Armstrong's "Tight LIke This" comes to mind, though the satisfaction … [Read more...]

hail Studs Terkel, Jazz Age Chicagoan

A talker and listener, actor-dj-writer-oral historian, good humored realist and pragmatic idealist, Studs Terkel (1912 - 2008) stands as an American cultural patriot, who enjoyed as rich if not untroubled a life as genuinely democratic artist might hope for over the course of the 20th century -- earning Roger Ebert's thumbs up as greatest Chicagoan. Studs was hugely enthusiastic about music, loving blues as well as jazz, gospel, rootsy folk, the Great American Songbook, the soundtrack of the labor and Civil Rights movement, classical stuff too … [Read more...]

Globalism in the Azores

Globalism held its head high at the tenth annual Ponta Delgada Jazz Festival last week. Five nights of concerts performed by an international coterie of improvisers in the superb acoustics of a nicely modernized old center-city theater for a stylish, educated audience didn't seem a cultural far cry, though they were held in the capital of the Azores, the mid-Atlantic archipelago 700 miles from mainland Portugal. … [Read more...]