Jazz beyond Jazz: April 2009 Archives

In his article on the collaboration of Jim Hall and Bill Frisell in the April issue of Jazz Times, Evan Haga refers to the "Big Three" of current jazz guitarists: Frisell, John Scofield and John McLaughlin.

Much as I dig them (and Hall), that designation is a rather typical journalistic foreshortening of a field, relegating to a rich second tier such high-profile powerhouse contenders as Pat Metheny, Pat Martino, Larry Coryell, James "Blood" Ulmer, Vernon Reid, George Benson, Les Paul, Russell Malone, Al Di Meola, Kenny Burrell, Toninho Horta, Romero Lumbambo, Stanley Jordan, Charlie Hunter, Lionel Loueke, Birelli Lagrene, John Pizzarelli, Mike Stern, Leni Stern, Lee Ritenour, Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marc Ribot, Mary Halvorson, Elliott Sharp, Doug Wamble, Jeff Parker, Earl Klugh and Dave Fiuczynski, for starters. Whaddya think, readers: Are McLaughlin, Scofield and Frisell all that guitaristically dominant?

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April 27, 2009 8:41 AM | | Comments (15)
The Five Peace Band -- guitarist John McLaughlin, keyboardist Chick Corea, alto saxist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade -- opened the last leg of a multi-month tour with a three-night stand at Jazz at Lincoln Center last night. The players' musicianship can't be faulted, their energy was high and they looked like they were deeply  engaged in having fun. So are my expectations and/or standards disproportionate, unfulfillable? Why at concert end did I feel more enervated than invigorated? 
April 24, 2009 12:37 PM | | Comments (9)
  • The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra at the Village Vanguard on Monday night since 1967 
  •  The Mingus Big Band, Orchestra and Dynasty ensemble in regular rotation on Mondays at the Jazz Standard
  • Guitarist Les Paul, at age 94 a genuine hipster, the Ben Franklin of American popular music, Monday nights at Iridium forever.
These are a few of our favorite things. Read about it in my new monthly column in City Arts NYC: New York's Review of Culture, published by the folks who also bring you New York Press.
April 16, 2009 4:19 PM | | Comments (0)
With no news confirming -- or denying -- that there will be a mainstream New York City jazz festival next summer like those produced by George Wein since the late '60s and for the past 25 years supported by the JVC Corporation of America, the artist-organized "avant-jazz" Vision Festival stands as the largest and longest concentrated such effort in the city this year, having just released its complete schedule of concerts and panels to be held at the downtown Abrons Arts Center and Angel Orenzanz Foundation June 9 - 15, 2009.

Wein by comparison -- and disassociated with Festival Network, to whom he sold his former Fetival Productions company two years ago -- has announced he'll present singer-pianist Diana Krall at Carnegie Hall June 23 and 24 (in celebration of Quiet Nights, her recently releasedstring-drenchedchart-topping album of broken-hearted love songs) and stage jazz and folk fests in Newport, Rhode Island, where he established the successful format for summer vernacular music fests 55 years ago.
April 15, 2009 11:45 AM | | Comments (7)
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation last week announced recipients in the U.S. and Canada of 180 fellowships from nearly 3000 applicants. Fellows in this 85th year of the program include seven who are jazz-related: composer-pianists Billy Childs (winner of two Grammies in 2006), Ryan Cohan (Chicago-based, in trumpeter Orbert Davis's ensembles) and Chuck Owen (prof of jazz studies at University of South Florida, Tampa), trumpeter-composer-educator Wadada Leo Smith (of the AACM, a professor at California Institute of the Arts), professors Thomas Brothers (a Louis Armstrong expert at Duke University) and Ingrid Monson (Harvard's Quincy Jones Professor of African-American music) and choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of the dance troupe Urban Bush Women

No information about the no-strings financial awards connected to the fellowship is available, but the one-time grants last year were reported to be in the neighborhood of $35,000. Congrats to all.

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April 11, 2009 6:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Guitarist Al di Meola, recently of Return to Forever's reunion tour, takes me to task for not knowing his most recent recordings -- during WNYC's "Soundcheck Smackdown," which pitted me "against" Will Layman (of PopMatters.com) regarding jazz fusion's legacy, moderated by John Schaefer.

Di Meola let it be known that he agrees that some of Return to Forever's music is bombastic -- and over-long! He describes 2008 RTF juggernaut as a nostalgia trip, fun for a while, but eventually not so much. He said keyboardist-composer-RTF leader Chick Corea, despite his vaunted interest in communication, didn't pay attention to di Meola's opinion that audiences didn't want 20 minute unaccompanied solos and two-song second halves of concerts. 

Taking di Meola at his word -- "My composing has grown, developed" -- I'm going to give quick listens to his most recent albums, in "Fusion Wars part 2," asap.

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April 7, 2009 6:30 PM | | Comments (3)
ASCAP's longstanding Deems Taylor Awards recognizing excellence in music journalism has been suspended; no-charge online listening station Accujazz.com wants to be "the future of jazz radio." Seismic shifts in the music media landscape continue.
April 6, 2009 12:10 PM | | Comments (7)
Commenting after my Cecil Taylor postings, correspondent "Jake" reports
Alex Ross "publicly champions Cecil Taylor . ..  lists the rather obscure FMP big band record "Alms/Tiergarten (Spree)" as among his favorite pop/jazz recordings and wrote an appreciation of the maestro (paired with Sonic Youth) in The New Yorker way back in '98 . I wish more classical critics and fans would deal with avant-garde jazz and vice-versa. These musics have much in common and it seems a bit arbitrary to choose one absolutely over the other. Howard, I'd be curious to know how much you seek out modern classical and what you make of it. 

Well, it's like this . . . 
April 4, 2009 2:07 PM | | Comments (3)
Pianist Cecil Taylor, live at the Village Vanguard from July 2008 with drummer Tony Oxley, was recorded for a 2-lp vinyl album titled Ailanthus/Alitssima, and one cut of it is being offered as an MP3 for a limited time, free, by the website Destination-out.com. 

Word is only 475 copies of the lp will be sold -- details on that at Triple Point Records.

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April 1, 2009 11:27 AM | | Comments (2)



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