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INTERVIEWS

Lonnie Plaxico: Being Your Own Bird

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Editor's Note: The following interview is reprinted from George Colligan's blog, Jazztruth] Electric and acoustic bassist Lonnie Plaxico has been on the jazz scene in New York since 1980. He is on hundreds of recordings with everyone from Art Blakey, Cassandra Wilson, Jack Dejohnette, to Ravi Coltrane. He has 13 CDs as a leader, the latest being Ancestral Devotion (Plaxmusic, 2009). I first played with Lonnie Plaxico in 1999 on some gigs with trombonist Robin Eubanks. Lonnie barely knew me, but he recommended me for a nine-week tour with Cassandra Wilson. I was a member of Plaxico's first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: West Side Stories

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Six original compositions and several familiar pieces give Lonnie Plaxico's eleventh album a heavy dose of spontaneity. With pianist George Colligan, drummer Kenny Grohowski, tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas, trumpeter Alex Norris and several influential guests on board, the session rocks hard with a contemporary edge.

The theme of West Side Stories points to the neighborhood where Plaxico grew up: Chicago's West Side. He was brought up with a wide variety of musical forms, from funk, groove and soul to swing, pop, bop and mainstream jazz. Like most of us, the bassist has always enjoyed the spontaneity that comes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: West Side Stories

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West Side Stories, Lonnie Plaxico's eleventh recording as a leader, draws from memories of growing up in Chicago and listening to a variety of sounds from the '70s--R&B, popular music and smooth jazz--as well as his collaboration in the development of advanced M-Base musical concepts in the '80s. To coin a phrase from none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, Plaxico might just be one the hardest working bassists in the business. He is a player with clear abilities, intensity and keen ideas who has contributed to many recordings, including releases by Art Blakey's Jazz ...

INTERVIEWS

Lonnie Plaxico

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Lonnie Plaxico's first recording on Blue Note is a treat for a musician who, in his early 40s, already has an exciting veteran career in jazz circles, although he played mostly R&B in Chicago. He left his native Windy City to come play for Wynton Marsalis. The famed trumpet player heard a demo tape from Plaxico and asked him, during Christmas, to come immediately to New York. Such a move, 20 years ago, led to gigs with Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Steve Coleman, a stint with Art Blakely, an even longer stay with Cassandra Wilson, as well as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Live at Jazz Standard

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The M-BASE Collective, when it first emerged in the ‘80s, championed a style that was about rhythmic unpredictability that was nevertheless mathematical in its precision, and a new way of looking at harmony that differentiated it from the post bop language of the young lions of the time. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico has the advantage of having worked seriously in both camps, and with his latest live release, Live at Jazz Standard he continues to straddle the line, although he clearly tends to lean towards the M-BASE side. The result is a mixed programme; while the talents of the members of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Lonnie Plaxico Group: Live at the Jazz Standard

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Bassist Lonnie Plaxico is perhaps best known for his associations with Greg Osby and M-Base, and for being the long-time bassist for Cassandra Wilson. He was the leader of several recordings made for the now static Muse label in the '80s and '90s. On January 29, 2003, Plaxico was leading an energetically funky sextet at New York City's Jazz Standard. The pieces populating this live disc are closer to Plaxico's Art Blakey experience than to his M-Base involvement. That is to say that this is superb contemporary hard bop. The spirit and association of Bu is big, very big. Plaxico's ...

INTERVIEWS

Lonnie Plaxico: Striving for Originality, Noteriety

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The story of bassist Lonnie Plaxico starts out like a classic tale. Local kid makes it out of Chicago’s projects by learning to play an instrument, finding himself, and making music his life’s work. He goes on to play bass with a Who’s Who list of musicians, including a long tenure with one of rising star vocalists, the dazzling Cassandra Wilson. But nowadays, Part II of that tale smacks of cold hard reality. A sharp musician with a vision tries to get some acclaim with his own band. Without “star” appeal, the picture is clouded by a music ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Live at the 5:01 Jazz Bar

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After a brief stint with Blue Note, Lonnie Plaxico quietly released this fine live date in 2002 on his own label, PlaxMusic. It consists of highlights of two sets he cut with his band (featuring trumpeter Alex Norris, tenorist Marcus Strickland, pianist George Colligan, and drummer Nat Townsley) earlier that year while at the 5:01 Jazz Bar in Columbus, Ohio.

The recording quality leaves something to be desired, but the disc compensates in the form of some of the most exciting ensemble jazz recorded live in recent memory. The music is simply bashin' from start thru finish; certainly the youngbloods ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: M

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Lonnie Plaxico’s maturity as a musician comes to the fore in his first release under the jazz banner label Blue Note as Mélange finds him putting together almost 30 years of professional musical experience in a recording that works well.

Plaxico wisely allows the supporting cast of this flecked tale to make the most of their respective roles; hence, the bass playing does not suffer from “featuritis.” With the exception of the opening tune, “Squib Cakes,” the album’s leader wrote the rest of the compositions and the music was written out, offering a consolidated vision, although with enough freedom for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

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He was part of the crowd surrounding Wynton Marsalis’ jazz revival in the late ‘80s, yet bassist Lonnie Plaxico has been seen in the spotlight far too little during the past decade. Yet, with a resume that includes work as a musical director for Cassandra Wilson and an inclination for the genre-bending grooves of the M-Base movement, Plaxico is in a singular position to be chameleon-like in his versatility. That may have something to with the approach and title of his first release as a leader in some time. But Melange is far from being a mixed bag trying to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

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Lonnie Plaxico’s Blue Note debut is similar in thrust to last year’s Emergence (Savant). The emphasis is on funk, yet the frequent complexity of Plaxico’s writing harks back to his M-Base roots, especially on tunes like “Short Takes," “T.O.P.," “Patois," and the title track. Apparently the disc grew out of two different sessions — the first with Tim Ries on sax and Lew Soloff on trumpet, the second with regular band members Marcus Strickland and Jeremy Pelt in their stead. George Colligan handles the main piano and keyboard duties, with Helen Sung contributing a couple of stunning solos along the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

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Experience has taught Lonnie Plaxico that a tenor saxophone and trumpet front line works best. His 6th recording as a leader combines straight-ahead, modern mainstream, and Tower Of Power funk. At 40, the bassist has paused to reflect on which jazz styles are meaningful; his session includes variety with significance. Plaxico writes out the arrangements in detail. As musical director for Cassandra Wilson's touring band, he's aware of what works. That professional relationship began in 1987. Prior to that, Plaxico was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers for three years. He's learned the ropes. The middle child in a family of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

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Lonnie Plaxico is one of those in-demand bassists, like Peter Washington or Dwayne Burno, who shows up on album after significant album, but, like most bassists, stays in the background. Attempting to gain radio play in the early 1990's, Plaxico led some of his own CD's, but fell into the smooth-jazz format in an effort to attain record-sales success. It didn't work. As Plaxico says, “I wasn't playing the music that reflects my experiences, and I still wasn't making money." Indeed. Plaxico ended up paying the difference in musicians' fees and other expenses to produce the early Muse recordings.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

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The fine bassist Lonnie Plaxico, while still somewhat obscure to many, has now been a hard-working sideman on the jazz scene for some twenty years. He has quietly compiled an impressive resume via Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Von Freeman, Dizzy Gillespie and Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition band in earlier years, and M-BASE comrades Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, Geri Allen, and Cassandra Wilson in later ones. Plaxico has now acted as the musical director for vocalist Wilson for the past 6 years, and has made important contributions to bands fronted by Geri Allen and Greg Osby moreover. In short Plaxico has ...



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