Jazz and beyond “jazz” — NYC to Chicago

Jazz above and beyond established conventions of jazz in and around NYC last month was super abundant — and I’m going to miss a lot about this scene when I move base of operations to Chicago in mid-July. In the past 30 days I heard:

  •  The Eric Dolphy Freedom of Sound 2-day conference/concerts at Montclair State University, NJ May 30 and 31,
  • the JJA’s NYC Jazz Awards party at the Blue Note (with music by Stephanie Richards Trumpet Quartet, beautiful Sheila Jordan singing with great bassist Cameron Brown and for a finale pianist Elio Villafranca’s explosive Jass Syncopators),
  • Jack DeJohnette’s trio with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane celebrating bassist Matt Garrison’s 44th birthday at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn on June 2 (where I gave Jack the JJA’s Drummer of the Year Award),
  • the Celebrate Ornette! blowout at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park bandshell
ornette, threadgill, murray, roney

Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, David Murray
and Antoine Roney play the blues in Prospect Park (photo by Emilie Pons)


  • the admirably neighborhood-scaled Red Hook Jazz Festival,
  • Jason Lindner playing multi-keyboards in trio at Shapeshifter Lab (I presented him with the JJA’s Electronic Player of the Year Award),
  • the largest yet/all encompassing Blue Note Jazz Festival,
  • Guitarist-singer Michael Powers’ trio followed by guitarist singer Junior Mack in the twinned-guitar band at Terra Blues
  • Lincoln Center’s Midsummer’s Night Swing’s season opener featuring Cecile McClorin Salvant singing with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks (Cecile received the JJA’s Female Vocalist of the Year and Up ‘n’ Coming Artist of the Year awards),
  • Hans Tammens’ Dark Circuits festival of electronic music, including a workshop with the Korg Little Bits synthesizer kit,
  • Soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome and pianist Ethan Iverson at Greenwich Music School.
  • With all this going on how can I leave? Only by feeling sure I can stay in touch with the remarkable depth of musical creativity here — just as musicians and other devotees all over the U.S. (and beyond) do. Good music doesn’t live only in NYC anymore, anyway, and Chicago itself has long had a terrific creative music community. From the AACM to the urban blues, with activity stirred by Jazz Institute of Chicago, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, the Green Mill, Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the reconstituted Hot House, newish Constellation, Evanston’s Space, the bistros Andy’s and Katerina’s, the Experimental Sound Studio and many places I don’t even know about yet, I’ll find plenty to hear.

    I’m not “leaving” New York any more than I left Chicago in 1982, when I relocated briefly in Washington DC, then to Manhattan’s East Village. I love it here. I love it there, and a change will be good. I’m expanding my territory, will connect some dots and maintain a presence. O’Hare to LAG takes about the same amount of time as Penn Station to Union Station, Philadelphia. My blog will be here, wherever I’m filing from.


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    1. Alex Lemski says

      Best of music, etc to you Howard in your new/returning digs / gigs :-). Please ask Dave Rempis to come and play in the Boston area, after all he grew up in Massachusetts not far away. Speaking of, here’s a sample of what Mass. elsewhere can do that we can’t…yet (?): http://www.jazzshares.org.