Journalist, yes. “Jazz” journalist — why?

Hank Shteamer, writer-on-music at Time Out New York and blogger at Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches, writes "I am not a jazz journalist" in response to "The State of Jazz Journalism Now and Immediate Prospects" town hall meeting at the Jazz Journalists Association's "New Media for New Jazz" conference yesterday (Jan 8). He doesn't deny that he loves jazz and writes about it, but considers putting the title off an insistence for diversity. I'm president of the JJA and a jazz journalist -- among other things. My response to him follows; not … [Read more...]

Announcing & Happy 45th b’day AACM, a wave of guerrilla video music-news clips being initiated by the Jazz Journalists Association, has posted its first example -- my brief production from last week's 45th birthday concert of the AACM featuring composer-saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, flutist and AACM chair Nicole Mitchell (no relation) and saxophonist Ari Brown, at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. … [Read more...]

AACM at 45: “Creative Musicians” span generations, U.S., globe

The AACM -- Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians -- continues after 45 years to encourage highly original, edgy and exciting artists -- as I detail in my new City Arts column. Examples in New York City: reedist/composer Henry Threadgill's Zooid performs tonight and tomorrow at Roulette; trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's 22-piece Silver Orchestra and the duo of keyboardist-singer Amina Claudine Myers and drummer Reggie Nicholson are the bill for the AACM-New York''s concluding concert of its fall 2010 season on … [Read more...]

Fred Anderson, Chicago jazz hero, appreciated

As a teenager in pursuit of the avant garde, I took tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, who died June 24 at age 81, as a hero upon first hearing him in 1966. It was at a Unitarian Church-run coffee house in downtown Evanston near Northwestern U., and attention clearly had to be paid to the long, fierce, unreeling, knotty improvisations Anderson delivered in an ever-more hunkered-down posture as the evening went on.There was an unremitting sense of urgency, sincerity and humility to what he was saying on his horn, spelled by … [Read more...]

AACM pianist & singer give away CD at NYC show

Steve Colson, pianist/composer and band leader, with vocalist Iqua Colson --  a couple  members of American experimental music's cutting edge AACM for some 35 years --  give a rare performance quartet Saturday night (Feb 6) at NYC's Thalia theater in Symphony Space. Everyone who attends gets the Colsons' new CD, The Untarnished Dream, for free. One-time promotion? Start of a trend? Acceptance of reality? … [Read more...]

Chicago’s quirky hero of blues and jazz in NYT

Bob Koester, owner-operator of Delmark Records and the Jazz Record Mart, is celebrated in the New York Times' Arts & Leisure section today. He's documented and marketed South and West Side soul, AACM innovation, trad jazz and the Mississippi Delta blues revival. I'm among the many music fans who grew up in his sway -- and include my 12-best list of albums Koester brought to life. … [Read more...]

Modern “classical” composition informing Jazz Beyond Jazz

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 … [Read more...]

Live in New York, it’s jazz beyond jazz

Presentations of jazz that break all sorts of bounds, pushing far beyond stale conventions -- jazz beyond jazz -- are so prevalent in Manhattan that the energy expended just being on the scene can leave me too drained to report on the good stuff. Five shows in the past month -- Dee Dee Bridgewater's Mali project at the Blue Note, Myra Melford's new quartet at Roulette, Richard Bona and Lionel Loueke in the Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center, James "Blood" Ulmer with Vernon Reid's neo-blues band at the Jazz Standard and an evening celebrating … [Read more...]

Benefits of aficionado-programmed fests

The best thing about the Chicago Jazz Festival is that it's curated by an independent committee of people (mostly from the Jazz Institute of Chicago) who really love music, rather than being overly influenced by promoters, booking agents and managers representing a few big name artists who are trying to fill blank dates during their big tours. Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater's  first-time ever tribute to the late Betty Carter, her mentor, electrified the crowd at Grant Park Friday night -- after drummer Thurman Barker led a brilliant set by … [Read more...]