Think you know every aspect of Tierney Sutton's artistic persona? Think again. Hearing the Paris Sessions is to hear Sutton anew. Sure, it's that same one-of-a-kind voice, but there's no Tierney Sutton Band here, incredibly novel arrangements aren't a priority on this one, and there's no grand umbrella theme to contend with. This is simply a captivating listen-by-candlelight album that strikes to the heart of Tierney Sutton. Paris Sessions is easily the most informal item in Sutton's discography, but the idea of informality shouldn't carry a negative connotation; quite the opposite, in fact. This is a work ...read more
Over the past ten years, electronic music and jazz have developed a curious relationship. As programmers and DJs sought to remove the human element from their beats and loops, acoustic musicians sought to apply the tight, complex patterns of house and trance music to their traditional instruments. Drummer Mark Guiliana is at the forefront of this new vanguard of progressive acoustic artists. In this article we'll discuss his work with acclaimed pianist Brad Mehldau, his studies with renowned instructor John Riley, and his new record label Beat Music Productions. All About Jazz: I have to admit that I ...read more
So are there any first-rate big bands worth hearing in California outside of the Los Angeles area? So happy you asked. As a matter of fact, San Diego is solidly entrenched in that position thanks to the superb Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine which, coincidentally, has recorded a spectacular new album, It's About Time. Even though the Jazz Machine is now thirty-five years old, its various working parts remain untarnished, ensuring that no mishaps or glitches arise to impair a consistently bright and exhilarating studio session. To further underwrite its success, Liss persuaded a number ...read more
Rigmor Gustaffson's extensive discography, stretching back to 1997, has seen the Swedish vocalist working with major jazz musicians such as Jacky Terrasson and Eric Harland. When You Make Me Smile is her sixth album on the ACT Music label--all of which have included You" in the title. Gustafsson is a subtle vocalist--no over-the-top melodrama or blues hollerin' here--and this is a polished collection of songs. The album title and its cover photo of a smiling Gustafsson hint strongly at an upbeat, if sentimental, collection of pop-jazz songs. There's certainly plenty of examples--"A Different Kind," Blind As A Bat" ...read more
In light of today's economic hardships, jazz orchestras or more precisely innovative jazz orchestras are really only little big bands. When you cannot travel with two dozen musicians, a leader must recruit players who can project a synergetic sound that appears greater than the sum of their parts. Masters of the little big bands include Taylor Ho Bynum's Sextet, Ken Vandermark's various projects, including Audio One and Resonance Ensemble and Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra. Lane's outfit of seven to nine players (eight here) combines the best of traditional large group swing with what Lane calls live orchestration, ...read more
A working jazz musician in New York City and environs since 1991, clarinetist, composer, and filmmaker Andy Biskin is a modern-day Renaissance Man. The Texas native was already a fixture in San Antonio's polka scene (yes, people, this is a thing) as a teenager, Biskin attended Yale where he double-majored in music and anthropology. Later, he joined the staff of the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. While working as an independent videographer and video producer / director, fate intervened and a chance meeting with Gunther Schuller in an elevator resulted in Schuller producing Biskin's debut album, Dogmental (GM Recordings, 2001). Since ...read more
The piano trio is the supreme discipline in jazz. Through rich possibilities, it functions as a strong filter sifting out those few who were and are able to set new standards. What matters is how the three instrumental vertices relate to each other dynamically, harmonically and soundwise to build something coherent, in close dependency. Eventually, each shift at one vertex inevitably triggers shifts by the other two. New York pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, not excessively jazz affined in her previous work, kept distant from this classic format hitherto--even when Tzadik's spiritus rector John Zorn kept on inciting her. On ...read more
Melissa Aldana and Lionel Loueke Summerstage at Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Marcus Garvey Park New York, NY August 23, 2014 Playing before a packed audience at Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park, Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana made her Charlie Parker Jazz Festival debut backed by a piano-less trio rounded out by Pablo Menares (bass) and Francisco Mela (drums), kicking off with a down-tempo take on George Gershwin's I Loves You Porgy" in which the bandleader took advantage of the blank spaces left in the music to improvise. She followed with the original ...read more
Meet Charles Gambetta: I've been playing bass for nearly 50 years, composing and arranging for over 40 years and conducting for 40 years as well. It has been an incredible journey with many surprises, unexpected turns and several major turning points that have shaped my growth as an artist and person. The first of these came in 1965 when my music teacher told me I should play bass. The second came in 1972 when I started playing jazz at North Texas State. The third followed in 1976 when I received a fellowship grant at the Bennington Summers program where ...read more
From the brooding opening title track to the closing Chet Baker homage, I Fall in Love Too Easily," Dark Nights unapologetically embraces the heart of jazz. Every aspect of the album--from the cover photo, to Cohen's precise trumpet inflections, to the trio's dedication to immediacy and collective improvisation (and even the album's forays into electronic affects)--is saturated with the emblematic textures, rhythms, and imagery of jazz. This is achieved with professionalism, creativity, and skill, without a wit of irony or cliché, while avoiding both navel-gazing insularity and crowd-pleasing revivalism. Instead, the album's ten tracks wander the shadowed corridors ...read more
Meet Dave Fabris: The music of guitarist David Fabris has been steeped deeply in an eclectic pool of influences... His new CD, Lettuce Prey (Great Winds/Musea), is music that has the guts and glory of rock, the surprise and intrigue of jazz and the intricacy and depth of contemporary classical music. His diverse influences are also evident in the variety of performances and ensembles to his credit: He has recorded four albums (Hatology, Soulnote, NoBusiness) and toured internationally with his mentor, third stream pianist Ran Blake, to great acclaim. Blake joins The Knife" as a featured guest ...read more
Bassist Ray Brown sure knew how to pick his pianists. While each player who manned the 88s in Brown's trio displayed a different personality, all had Swiss watch timing and shared an affinity for the blues and effulgent swing. It didn't take more than a few seconds to hear that when Gene Harris was on the bench, delivering church-y proclamations and earth-shaking tremolos, and it was equally noticeable when Benny Green put his hands to good use, displaying the Oscar Peterson-esque athleticism that remains his calling card. And while there isn't very much recorded evidence to cover pianist Larry Fuller's ...read more
Meet Ana Velinova: Jazz vocalist and songwriter Ana Velinova has inspired audiences around the world with her wide range arstistic talents. With repertoire extending from Mozart and Stravinsky to Ellington, Dorsey and Jobim, Ana has shared the stage with many accomplished jazz artists including Bob Moses, Neil Swainson, Don Thompson, Brad Turner, Willard Dyson and Miles Black to name a few. A native of Sofia, Bulgaria, Ana has lived and performed in major US and Canadian cities. A highlight of Ana's Spring 2014 Season is the second release of her album The Thief and the ...read more
Two of the most enduring voices avant-garde jazz belong to trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and reedman Henry Threadgill. Smith's The Great Lakes Suites, six of his distinctive compositions on a two CD set, teams the two icons inside the equilateral quartet that includes drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist John Lindberg. It sounds like a dream team, and it is. DeJohnette has played on Smith's Golden Quartet, Lindberg has joined the trumpeter in a variety of contexts, groups large and small. Threadgill is new to the fold. All the groups members--with the exception of Smith--were born and grew up ...read more
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