Many people hear the word "Creole" and immediately think of New Orleans. So it's easy to look at bandleader/trumpeter Etienne Charles’ new album, Creole Soul, and assume it's full of traditional jazz or New Orleans-style trumpet. This is not the case, as Charles’ background (and playing) is actually the true epitome of Creole.
The Wunderkind has come of age! Gustavo Dudamel, the young, Venezuelan conductor known for his flashy and energetic performances with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and, since 2009, as music director with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has turned in a deeply considered performance of Gustav Mahler’s profoundly personal symphonic statement. The recording captures the 32-year-old (31 at the time of this live concert recording) tackling repertoire conductors 20 years his senior are just now finding themselves ready to take on.
Noah Preminger is a saxophonist of consequence, fully deserving of the positive critical response and appreciative audiences that flock to his appearances around New York and elsewhere. His relaxed, low-key leadership style on the bandstand offers up an easy-going vibe and he hosts his gigs with an affable charm. As a performer, Preminger is all in, sporting a sweetly burnished tone that smacks of classic tenor out of the Ben Webster or John Coltrane tradition, but Preminger speaks his own modern language that’s fresh and exciting.
A one-of-a-kind pianist and performer, you never know what Eliane Elias will do next. The Brazilian native is an indefatigable interpreter of song, effortlessly shifting between styles and moods. In concert, she has a story behind every tune and infuses her playing with a party-like groove, yet she remains a consummate musician with a deep, soulful vibe that she always brings to the material.
I admit I approach any new recordings of these, my favorite Tchaikovsky symphonies, with a bit of trepidation. Over the years I’ve encountered one too many recordings, as well as concert performances, that lay on the incurable Romanticism a bit too thick. Thematic presentations are muddled and tempos are stretched so that each movement, regardless of the tempo indication, seems to plod at the same pace.
It’s as if some conductors believed that Tchaikovsky, who always wore his heart on his sleeve, needed help expressing his feelings.
It's not often that you hear the words "jazz" and "violin" used in the same sentence. But over the past few years, violinist Christian Howes has become one of the artists to masterfully bring these words together.
Let me make one thing clear: I am not a gamer. I am, however, an admirer of the recordings of La Pieta, the Canadian all-female string orchestra, and their leader, violinist Angele Dubeau. In particular, I appreciate their impeccable musicianship and the good taste of the arrangements that are composed for the ensemble. In recent recordings, they've championed the music of notable contemporary composers Philip Glass, John Adams, and Arvo Part, all favorites of mine.
Drummer, composer, producer, and vocalist Terri Lyne Carrington has been on the scene for over 20 years, and her interpretation of jazz has always blurred the alleged boundaries of the genre. She's a self-proclaimed jazz head who creates complexly evocative melodies and harmonies cross-bred with funk, soul, and pop elements.
There's a certain intensity of spirit in jazz and improvised music, to the point where it occasionally aligns with religious worship. You especially see it around Christmastime, when certain musicians who happen to be Christians purpose their craft in observance of the season.
Of course, sometimes jazz musicians just like playing familiar songs.
Here are five records, all from 2012, which run the gamut of Christmas jazz. From deep meditations on the holiday's narrative to more offbeat ways to get into the spirit, inventiveness isn't a scarce resource this winter.