Unpredictability is the active ingredient of New York's annual Winter Jazzfest. This year, fans will meander around six nearby clubs and take their pick of simultaneous shows. Choosing from among so many acts will be difficult.
Many of the bands are new, paced in rapid succession and often cryptically named. If you only have 45 minutes to spare, do you check out Breeding Ground? Hazmat Modine? Merger? 40Twenty? 10^32K?
Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 11:42 pm
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton on All Songs Considered as they previewed some of the big upcoming releases of 2013. My pick was No Beginning, No End by the chameleonic vocalist Jose James.
Our partners at Jazz24 — that's the Internet jazz radio service from Seattle-Tacoma's KPLU — are making a list of the 50 Quintessential Jazz Vocals of All Time. They'll create an online stream from the results, and they're looking for your help. Vote for up to three of your top picks via a simple online survey.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 12:30 pm
Trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis hails from one of New Orleans' most distinguished jazz families. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his oratorio Blood on the Fields, as well as multiple Grammy Awards and the National Medal of Arts, but his commitment to the improvement of life for all people is what demonstrates the best of his character and humanity.
Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 1:58 pm
Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith recently led his trio through a soulful set before a sold-out house at the Kennedy Center Jazz Club in Washington, D.C. The good doctor turns 70 this year, and he's still a leader and innovator on his instrument. He's also gaining a whole new audience, as young musicians and producers sample his deep, relentless grooves.
In 2013, the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, founded and still run by Joe Segal, celebrates 65 years of presenting jazz. The venue has hosted NPR recordings several times, including Toast of the Nation 1989. That's when trumpeter Clark Terry brought a quintet into the club, featuring his long-time friend Red Holloway on saxophone. Now 92, Terry — who played in the bands of both Count Basie and Duke Ellington — is universally recognized as a living legend. He and his band were in great spirits as 1989 turned to 1990.
It started as a bongo beat — a nod to James Brown, just after his death in late 2006. Then came a few signature riffs. And an ecstatic response from the crowd. Before long, the Godfather of Soul was permanently embedded in the Evolution Ensemble's repertoire. For leader Dee Alexander, a powerful and versatile vocalist, it was all part of the same continuum — as was the music of Jimi Hendrix, whose music carried the same revolutionary weight.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:03 pm
The composer/arranger Gordon Goodwin, leader of the Big Phat Band, says he had the opportunity to play the Monterey Jazz Festival some "three or two or four decades ago." In 2012, Goodwin, who plays keyboards and reeds, returned with his large jazz orchestra.