ESP Disks — origins of jazz beyond jazz


Reviewing a sleeping giant, ESP Disks before its early '00s revival  Howard Mandel c 1997, published in issue 157, The Wire It was a time before psychedelics. Following the seismic cultural disruptions of the mid '50s, rock 'n' roll had hit a period of stasis, enlivened only by the occasional novelty number – the British Invasion had not yet arrived. College kids in the US listened to folk singers and blues of the '30s from the Mississippi Delta; pop music meant Pat Boone serenading Doris Day over a white-picket fence. There were … [Read more...]

William Parker, my DownBeat feature from 1998

Howard Mandel c 1998/published by DownBeat, July 1998, under headline Beneath the Underdog (the editor's reference to Charles Mingus's autobiography): There's an anchor for New York's downtown free jazz and improv "wild bunch": his name is William Parker. The steadfast bassist has a huge, deep-rooted sound and concept, tied to more than 25 years of hard-won experience in the noble if often misunderstood, under-appreciated and underestimated world of the avant garde--a term he uses without pause. "If jazz is the underdog, avant garde jazz … [Read more...]

Matthew Shipp, my feature for The Wire, 1998

This is a complete version of the feature on pianist Matthew Shipp I wrote for The Wire, published in February, 1998 Is this the face of New York's jazz avant now? Pianist Matt Shipp's mug can be wide open, inquisitive, or guardedly blank, his expressions range from the distracted to the transcendent. On the street, he may appear deep in thought; call his name, and he looks up, preternaturally awake, bright and alert, as though he's been watching you right along. Up close in conversation, Shipp is by quick turns chuckling, quirky, candid, … [Read more...]

The Makers of Jazz Beyond Jazz

Over the course of three decades, I've been privileged to get behind the scenes and meet heroic creators of jazz as well as up-and-comers, innovators and exemplars of many other genres. Please enjoy these archival interviews and articles. … [Read more...]