Doris Duke Performing Artists of jazz beyond jazz


Announced yesterday: the third annual Doris Duke Performing Artist and first ever Impact Awards, providing substantial financial honorarium to 13 "jazz" musicians whose works take seriously the mission of exploration and experimentation, as well as dancers and "theatre" artists. Saxophonist/composers Oliver Lake, Steve Lehman and Roscoe Mitchell as well as pianists Craig Taborn and Randy Weston and transformative harpist Zeena Parkins are recipients of the Artist awards, which comprise $275,000 total "investments" to each of them, … [Read more...]

Jazz in the ‘hood: house concerts make Brooklyn mighty

ku-umba Frank Lacy

Jazz is local and homey, as well as grand and global -- that's what a house concert last weekend in Brooklyn shouted out. Transylvanian photographer Sánta István Csaba joined me at a "rare NYC performance" of 10³²K, the trio of trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy, bassist Kevin Ray and drummer Andrew Drury, at Drury's apartment in Leffert Gardens. As his images show, the musicians were no less serious about their creative interaction for being in a living room decorated with childrens' drawings, and the audience was as attentive as any at a … [Read more...]

Gordon Marshall, Boston music poet

yoko miwa

Boston-based poet Gordon Marshall has published 12 collections of his works, and is currently blogging on The Flash: jazz, noise, psych from the house scene in Boston. There he writes prose. All his poetry is musical, whether directly about music or not. See also my report about Boston doubling down on jazz. Different Colors The silence of the streets In the outdoor night Remembered to Miles Davis' Pangaea, the bopping beat Electric, going nowhere And everywhere, Sonny Fortune Sax loping a loop around The city street I remember, Under … [Read more...]

What does it take to write a jazz biography?


"Writing Jazz Biographies" is the third free, interactive webinar, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 8 pm. edt, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association. Paul de Barros (Shall We Play That One Together? The Life and Art of Piano Legend Marian McPartland), Robin D.G. Kelley (Thelonious Monk: The LIfe and Times of an American Original), and Peter Pullman (Wail: The Life of Bud Powell) will speak of research, subject-dedication and dealing with living people as sources of information in a 90-minute panel moderated by me. The webinar … [Read more...]

Are there new songs? Play what’s recorded on gigs?

Jazz song composers Ellington and Strayhorn

The venerability, relevance and novelty of the "jazz standard" is being questioned in the jazzosphere, but I wonder about the dearth of new songs that are sticking in my latest column in CityArts-New York. In my just- previous column I reviewed recent albums by a few musicians gigging in NYC, and warned there's no reason to expect them to do live what they committed to record. Abiding by space limits on both these columns, I didn't expand as I would have, to say that while there aren't necessarily new songs that are sticking with us … [Read more...]

Rhymin’ Simon swings $3.6 mil Wynton’s way

from left: Mark Stewart, Paul Simon, Wynton Marsalis (photo by Kevin Mazur)

Jazz at Lincoln Center has released a "Post Gala Report" on the April 18 concert debut of Paul Simon performing his career songbook with both his band and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, plus special guest vocalist Aaron Neville.  $3.6 million was raised at the black tie event, which provided dinner and dancing for some 900 attendee-donors who also honored Lisa Schiff, retiring Chairman of the Board of JALC. According to Jon Pareles in the New York Times, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra's member-arrangers and … [Read more...]

New York jazz now, on records (listen and be wowed)

Acrobat: Music by and for Dmitri Shostakovich, by Michael Bates (for quintet)

City Arts did post my column of record reviews so please read what I wrote about Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective, Steve Lehman Trio, Less Magnetic (on Facebook, or view their show below), Esperanza Spalding, Michael Bates (plays Shostakovich), and Wayne Escoffrey. Then, I urge you, check out samples of those artists online, and judge for yourselves ('cause you won't know if I'm right otherwise). Subscribe by Email or RSS All JBJ posts   … [Read more...]

Etta James and Johnny Otis — Jazz Masters?

etta james

Etta James, who died today Jan. 20 at age 73, and Johnny Otis, who died Jan. 17 at 90, are rightly recognized as innovators and icons of American rhythm 'n' blues and soul. But the jazz world -- listeners, broadcasters and journalists, musicians and institutions up to and including the NEA -- would be well-served to proclaim that Etta James and Johnny Otis are "jazz masters." Their sub-genre identities remain within the greater mainstream of Afro-American music born about a hundred years ago, with blues becoming ever less a so-called … [Read more...]

West Side Story @ 50 — the soundtrack’s the thing

west side story poster

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of West Side Story -- the movie, released October 18 1961,  not the play which debuted on Broadway in 1957 -- for my column in CityArts - New York, I listened to the Bernstein/Sondheim music in many variations. Here's my report, slightly revised for the web: For West Side Story, the score's the thing. Even first exposure to either the 1957 original Broadway cast album or the 1961 Academy Award-winning movie soundtrack reveals this music to be the peak of the golden, pre-rock age of American song. Leonard … [Read more...]

Marian McPartland choses “Piano Jazz” successor: Jon Weber

jon weber

Pianist and NPR "Piano Jazz" host Marian McPartland, age 93, has found a worthy   successor to her post interviewing and duetting with musicians --  Jon Weber, an extraordinarily fluent keyboard artist with encyclopedia depth on many of the earliest styles of American improvised music. Though rather under-recorded, Jon excels at the most intricate (and frequently obscure) compositions of the great stride piano masters (James P. Johnson at their head) as well as writing and arranging his own works, which fall into the modern-mainstream … [Read more...]

MC to stars @ Jazz Foundation Loft Party benefit

perc. Neil Clarke (left, standing) and MC HM, JFA loft party 2010

MC JazzMandel: At the Jazz Foundation of America's Benefit Loft Party tonight (Oct. 29), 7 pm to midnight, Manhattan, my room has -- Tom Harrell's Quintet, pianist Marc  Marc Cary, preeminent bassist Ron Carter with fine guitarist Gene Bertoncini, turbanated organist Dr. Lonnie Smith with alto sax/Mardi Gras Indian Donald Harrison and N.O. drummer Herlin Riley (yeah!), magisterial Randy Weston's African Rhythm Quintet, and DC-based blues/r&b updater Memphis Gold. It's a great lineup to raise funds for the nationwide safety-net for … [Read more...]

Roulette: “old” new music/dance space moves to central Brooklyn


My new column at CityArts-New York is about Roulette, the new music/new dance performance space, started in downtown Manhattan but moved to a coolly refurbished theater near a major Brooklyn transportation hub. Roulette's in first season in this new home is thick with Chicago-born, -raised  and -emigrated "creative musicians" -- Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, George E. Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, all early members of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Which makes perfect sense, as their decades old but still … [Read more...]

NYC new music post-9/11 to fall 2011

arturo o'farrill

"The decade that followed 9/11/2001 has been marked by jazz and new music makers’ determination not to be deterred from what the Taliban and Tea Party alike may consider marginal activities, if not outright affronts to God’s dominion," I write in my latest CityArts column. "Whether the city suffers attacks from abroad, natural disasters or economic collapses caused by the financial services sector that thrives in our midst, the minds of composers and the bands of improvisers play on." An excerpt from the article regarding Amina Figarova's … [Read more...]