Hail visionary Charles Gayle (from The Wire, 1994)

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Saxophonist and pianist Charles Gayle has one of the largest, most urgent and original saxophone sounds to be heard since the 1990s. That was 20 years after he moved from Buffalo to NYC and started playing on the streets, then was "discovered," promoted and booked by Michael Dorf, operator of the original Knitting Factory. Today (June 11) Gayle is receiving Lifetime Achievement honors and performing with three ensembles at the 19th Vision Festival. I interviewed and profiled Charles for The Wire in March, 1994 -- and read part 2, as originally … [Read more...]

Attn time-travelers: Dolphy & Ayler this week in NY/NJ

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If saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Albert Ayler, icons of bust-loose and beautiful improvisation, were alive today . . .they'd be pleased by and maybe attending the festival and concert in their honor this week in Montclair, NJ and Brooklyn. Dolphy died of undiagnosed diabetes in 1964, and Ayler either jumped or was pushed into the East River in 1970, however their music is imbued with immortal spirit. Eric Dolphy: The Freedom of Sound Festival is an extraordinary convening of musical survivors and admirers of the flutist/bass clarinetist/alto … [Read more...]

Celebrating Ornette! from Philly, in photos

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Ornette Coleman, genius musician and major inspiration to this blog and blogger, turned 84 on March 9. His son Denardo threw a family 'n' friends party in celebration, which I was privileged to attend. Denardo graciously allowed me to bring Hungarian photographer Sánta István Csaba, who created this portrait of one of the creative heroes of the 20th and 21st century (and all other photos on this page, but Sound Evidence's image of Ben Schacter and Jamaaladeen Tacuma). Ornette Coleman has exemplified the big, natural, fundamental idea of … [Read more...]

Evolving jazz beyond jazz in March & JazzApril

daniel

Leading up to and so far during Jazz Appreciation Month, I've heard some stunning, challenging and engaging if not always 100%, brilliantly revelatory music that goes beyond the strictest (old) definitions of jazz. I'm just getting to post about certain performances (here's a preview: -- having been busy with grassroots organizations and activists in 22 cities publicly celebrating local Jazz Heroes, part of the Jazz Journalists Association's JazzApril efforts to raise media profile of jazz (broadly defined) throughout especially the USA, … [Read more...]

What’s April for jazz?

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We're past April Fools Day  so I can safely say "Happy JazzApril" --  a shorthand hailing Jazz Appreciation Month (April, so designated in 2001 by the Smithsonian), culminating in International Jazz Day (April 30, first celebrated  in 2012 by UNESCO as advised by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz). These officialized jazz occasions -- IJD with an all-star concert to be webcast live from Osaka, Japan, JAM with US gov't sanction, and both events endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors -- are good opportunities for jazz enthusiasts to … [Read more...]

“The Point Being” be here now with all you’ve got: Ray Anderson & Sarah Weaver

Bloom Lake Anderson Zollar

Trombonist Ray Anderson and composer/conductor Sarah Weaver at Roulette last Sunday hit a collaborative sweet spot. Their unusually mixed, all-star ensemble at Brooklyn's creative music concert hall wove highly individualized solos into a continuous 50-minute set based on loose, humorous writing and spontaneous textural swells.  Photographer Sánta István Csaba took photos while I just listened -- also to the opening piece performed by Slide Ride, the four-man trombone unit in which Anderson takes part. Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, … [Read more...]

A weekend alt-guitar fest (photos)

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The New York Guitar Festival this past weekend (Jan 17-19) featured master classes and three nights of "alternative guitar summits" curated by composer-guitarist Joel Harrison at the performance space Subculture. Photos by Sánta István Csaba from Friday night's 30-minute sets by four trios, show the young men (all men) in the throes of plectralism and drumming -- and the audience digging it. Introducing Will Bernard and the Pleasure Drones, playing rockin' surf jazz -- familiar bluesy chords sequenced for suspense and dramatic … [Read more...]

NEA 2014 Jazz Masters’ investiture photo gallery

Jimmy Owens and Kenny Barron playing a piece by the late Frank Wess at the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters ceremony

Photographer Sánta István Csaba flew from Budapest to attend the NEA's 2014 Jazz Masters awards ceremony, and here are some of his fresh images. I'm reporting about the event for Down Beat, so must reserve most of my comments prior to publication. The entire three-hour event can be watched at the NEA's website. However, many controversies could arise from the program. The most notable within the Allen Room itself as the evening unfolded concerned new Jazz Master Anthony Braxton's 40+ minute peroration. I've followed Braxton's … [Read more...]

Henry Threadgill’s tribute to Butch Morris @ WinterJazz Fest 10

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Composer-reedist Henry Threadgill created a stunning tribute at WinterJazz Fest 10 in New York City last night to honor his great friend Lawrence Douglas "Butch" Morris, who died just short of his 66th birthday on January 29, 2013. The nearly hour-long piece had two movements -- a long, complex, multi-layered improvisation based on Threadgill's score of shifting intervallic cells, and after a brief pause, a wrenching,  climactically exultant tutti that distilled his characteristically angular and disjointed yet coherently emphatic expressivity, … [Read more...]

Recommended 2013 jazz-beyond-jazz recordings

jamie

I'm interested in the jazz beyond "jazz" --  a genre very subjectively defined as exciting, enticing, sooo real recorded music to my ears. This list of "Best of 2013" follows from the format critic Francis Davis designed for the NPR Music Jazz Critics' Poll, with one significant difference.  Francis asks, reasonably enough, that contributors to his poll refrain from voting for albums on which they've labored in some professional capacity. But I'd be remiss not to say I think two of last year's best records were Organ Monk's American … [Read more...]

Unforgettable sounds and best videos of Yusef Lateef

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I'll never forget (I hope) Yusef Lateef's flute wafting out from the stage of  the 1973 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival . . . Or his head-shaved, suited image on the cover of the boldly-named album 1984 (released in 1965, and not as dark as I'd expected) . . . Or his galvanizing spontaneous duet with percussionist Adam Rudolph at the 2010 NEA Jazz Masters concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center . . . Indeed, Dr. Yusef Lateef enjoyed and shared with all who'd listen a fabulously creative, accomplished life to age 93, ending 12/23/13. He'd made … [Read more...]

14 performances — varied sounds — in six weeks

Michael Hashim with bassist

In the past 6 weeks I've heard a lot of live music  -- though just a patch on what I'd like to have gotten to. In reverse chronological order: Sunday night 11/24: Adam Rudolph improvisationally conducting five flutists from his Go: Organic Orchestra at The Stone, then adding in his Moving Pictures septet. Earlier in the eve: trombonist Roswell Rudd blowing "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill" over a chorus of union member singers, as well as with the cast of his Trombone For Lovers cd (Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet, guitarists Gary Lucas and Rolf … [Read more...]

Let us now praise, help and hear should-be-famous jazz men

Arthur Blythe

Two celebratory benefit jazz concerts in New York City this weekend: tonight (11/22) a tribute to alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe featuring his fellow altoist Oliver Lake, poet/cultural critic Amiri Baraka, tubaist Bob Stewart and guitarists Kelvyn Bell and Vernon Reid, among others at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn; Sunday (11/24) starting at 4 pm a 78th birthday show for trombonist Roswell Rudd at (le) Poisson Rouge, where keyboardist John Medeski, slide-trumpeter Steven Bernstein, singers Bob Dorough and Fay Victor, guitarists Gary … [Read more...]