“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...]

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...]

A weekend alt-guitar fest (photos)


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

henry butch 2

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


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


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...]

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...]

Boston doubles down on jazz

berklee students

Boston -- historically stuffy but blue-blood liberal, devoted to higher education, high finance and professional sports -- is now doubling down on itself as a world-class jazz city. Berklee College of Music, nearly 4500 students strong and  an economic engine onto itself, is generating energy that enlivens Boston's  neighborhoods, drawing in general audiences with such outreach events as the Beantown Jazz Festival, the free street fair held last weekend. JazzBoston, a non-profit grassroots  organization, has announced that its 2014 … [Read more...]

Chicago Jazz Festival ’13, in Marc PoKempner’s photos

Rudresh expresses appreciation of the crowd

Photo-journalist Marc PoKempner, a long-time collaborator and one of my bffs, has a clear eye as well as a sharp ear for music. He captured some of the diversity and vigor of the 35th annual Chicago Jazz Festival, August 28 - Sept 1  2013. Click on these photos for the better, enlarged view.             Marc knows what he likes: Irresistible dance music and genuinely moving what-have-you. It's always fun to ride with him, looking and … [Read more...]

New Orleans’ post-modern piano professor Jon Batiste and his “harmoniboard”


Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human were among the emerging young charismatics vying to revitalize jazz at the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival, August 10th and 11th, and as a post-modern New Orleans piano professor  of "social music" he approached his art from many directions. A scion of five-generation Louisianan musical royalty, 26-year-old Batiste can boogie, rock, play out, get traditional -- he sings, jams, comps and sometimes fronts with what he calls his "harmoniboard." Aka "melodica." And people like it. What's not to like? Though it's … [Read more...]