This interview was originally published in February 2000. Chicago music scene
On my new recording [Kurt Elling Live in Chicago, Blue Note] I'm really proud to feature a lot of the musicians who have treated me well and who have taught me and who have been on the team with me from the get-go. Not only because of the debt of gratitude that I owe them, but also just because they're really beautiful musicians and deserve to be heard, and I'm fortunate enough to have a slightly more visible platform than other cats. It's a point of ...read more
This article was originally published in May 2001.
New Colors (Hip Bop Records), new CD
I met David Weiss a couple of years ago. He's from North Texas State. He had a rehearsal band [New Jazz Composers Octet] in New York, and he had been writing out a lot of my compositions and arranging them. He said he'd like to get together and have me play some of my material with the group. At first it was only supposed to be a one-time thing, but we're going to be working together the next couple of years until I ...read more
Early interest in jazz
I got interested in jazz early. One of my first inspirations was hearing my uncle play. He was an accomplished mandolin, banjo, and guitarist, and he used to play all the time. My father played a little guitar, and he had a large collection of records: Django [Reinhardt], Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, boogie-woogie, all that stuff. I started listening to a lot of music. In Connecticut where we lived it used to be very cold in the winter so we would close a couple of rooms off. The phonograph was in one. I used to put ...read more
Everything about In The Company of Friends is first class. For one thing, there is a sense of balance: between comfortable material and challenging reinvention, between brilliantly conceived arrangements (never cluttered) and sparse backgrounds, between ensemble playing and soloing, between singer and accompanist. Each tune is a fresh scenario with its own message, especially in the rhythm department. I've been playing the CD over and over since I got it, and I'm still not tired of it.
Denise Donatelli moved to Los Angeles recently from Atlanta. This is her first CD, and it came out of a working relationship with ...read more
Zane Musa Quintet Descanso Gardens La Canada, California April 30, 2005
A one-time student of the late Gordon Brisker, Zane Musa is here with his own voice on alto. For this one-off outdoor concert he assembled a challenging band of beyond bebop players older than himself. Descanso Gardens is a lovely, peaceful setting for lyrical music, and the acoustics aren't bad. Both horns played without amplification, allowing them to sound more natural and direct than in a club.I heard Musa a few years ago playing devastating free music he definitely knew the ins ...read more
One-of-a-kind trumpeter John McNeil is not as well-known as he might be, but things are looking up for him lately after putting out a couple of varied, personal, and idea-filled CD's. The concept for the second of these, Sleep Won't Come, came out of his long-time battle with insomnia and the sense of frustration that hits him when he sees the sun come up. Of course I interviewed him at 3 A.M. after he'd played a gig at Cornelia Street Cafe with his quintet, Insomnia.Cornelia Street Café performanceIt was great, a full house for both sets. ...read more
Since moving to New York five years ago Kate McGarry's musical approach has expanded from jazz standards and ballads through a percussive, electronic sound to her current pop- and folk-informed approach. Guitarist Keith Ganz has been an integral part of her latest evolution since they started playing together. They were married in 2004, and are inseparable musically and personally. Both have sparkling new CD's.Mercy Streets (Palmetto Records) It just came out a couple of weeks ago. We had the CD release party at Joe's Pub in NYC with the same band as on the CD. It ...read more