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Suzy Williams: Enjoy the Ride

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Suzy WilliamsEnjoy the RideSuperbatone2010 The sprawling landscape of Southern California plays home to numerous pockets of creative regional artists. On LA's westside, Venice, a long time artists' enclave, once a backdrop for Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, continues its fierce resistance to gentrification, while nurturing independent visionaries of all stripes. The release of singer Suzy Williams' warm and beautiful Enjoy the Ride shines a light on a group of rarely recorded but broadly gifted musicians keeping the jazz light burning in this colorful coastal town. Williams recorded the disc ...

INTERVIEWS

Nels Cline: Of Singers and Sound

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Mimi Melnick's Salons feature some of Los Angeles' best improvising musicians in the most intimate of settings--her home, at the top of a hillside overlooking the San Fernando Valley. This afternoon's trio tunes, and tests sound levels. Bass wizard and longtime UCLA professor Roberto Miranda banters with veteran drummer Bert Karl, while the group's lanky guitarist, Nels Cline, studiously tunes a vintage Fender Jazz Master, and a fretless hollow-bodied 11-string that probably exists only in the arsenal of the versatile guitar slinger. Their two hours of exhaustive exploration slip by quickly, and the widely employed Cline rides off to his ...

INTERVIEWS

Don Preston: Just Another Duo From LA

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Just a few miles east of the Whisky a Go Go, where they stunned the world over 40 years ago with the classic Mothers of Invention, keyboardist Don Preston and saxophonist Bunk Gardner returned to Sunset Blvd. as The Don and Bunk Show, reviving their duo homage to the early music of Frank Zappa. Dolores Petersen Productions brought the terrible two to the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill to warm up for their east coast tour, which may jump the ocean and go all European. Despite busy solo careers, Preston and Gardner still love the old master, and play wonderfully ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Adam Rudolph

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Watching Adam Rudolph conduct the Go: Organic Orchestra is witnessing the embodiment of music. Rudolph takes on the role of sound sculptor, leading the specially-trained musicians through channels of sound as they occur to him in the course of performance, mixing and editing with hand signals, facial expressions and bodily torque. The only constant in the swirling world of change that characterizes the project is the near ecstatic Rudolph, shaping and molding the music as it appears, in the form of an improvised dance. “You're just flowing with whatever you're receiving," he says. “If it's something ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Snooky Young

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When they called Eugene Edward Young up to the podium to receive his 2009 NEA Jazz Master's award, he was called by his professional name, Snooky. “I don't know how I got it," he said. “It started when I was a real little kid. I don't know where it came from. It used to be Snookum and it finally wound up being Snooky." The first chair trumpet player with Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Gerald Wilson, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, the Tonight Show Orchestra and currently the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, began playing at age five, having been born ...

INTERVIEWS

Todd Sickafoose: The Art of Non-Resistance

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With the release of his unique, understated, and critically acclaimed Tiny Resistors (Cryptogramophone, 2008), bassist/composer Todd Sickafoose suddenly and unintentionally upped the ante for indie jazz. Surging ahead of such indie mainstays (and label mates) as Nels Cline, Steuart Liebig, and boss Jeff Gauthier, Sickafoose has garnered strong press from such diverse sources as Bass Player Magazine, PopMatters, Jazz Times, USA Today, and The New York Times. The daring, spacious compositions and performances on Tiny Resistors, Sickafoose's third CD collection, have succeeded in obliterating all the subheadings of “modern," “progressive" and “new"--settling, instead, on eminently appealing.

A longtime ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Empty Cage Quartet: Stratostrophic

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Stratostrophic, the sixth release by the Empty Cage Quartet (ECQ), finds the avant West Coasters full of ideas and limited by nothing. Their omnivorous approach gladly frustrates label taggers while rewarding informed listeners with advanced compositional and improvisational delights. Their continuing association pays off in an acquired looseness that revels in taking chances without losing the links that keep these sonic aerialists flying together. Inside/outside, silly/serious, ECQ's creative central heat liquefies such abstractions into a bold shower of musical sparks. The set begins with the three-footed “Again A Gun Again A Gun Again A Gun." Drummer Paul ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Anthony Ortega

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You know you're talking about a jazz musician when the artist in question has played and recorded with Elvis, Streisand, Sinatra, Lalo Schifrin, the Lighthouse All-Stars, Quincy Jones, Gerald Wilson, Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Paul Bley, Dinah Washington and Frank Zappa, to name a few, while still finding time to record soundtracks, release highly regarded and collectible sessions as leader, experience a resurgent wave of acclaim in Europe and despite it all remain virtually unknown in the US. Now at 80, saxophonist and composer Anthony Ortega still plays with the wit and dexterity of his bebop ...

INTERVIEWS

Lenny White: Just Doing It

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Miles Davis kicked the fusion door open in 1969 and some people still haven't gotten over it. Among the future jazz star innovators on Bitches Brew (Columbia/Legacy, 1969) was an unknown eighteen year-old Tony Williams fanatic named Lenny White, who found his recording debut making history. Now an elder statesman at almost sixty, White maintains a furiously fast level of invention tied to an appropriately superhuman technique. Despite recently recovering from shoulder surgery, White packs a punch enviable in a man half his age.AllAboutJazz: How's the shoulder holding up?Lenny White: The shoulder is coming along fine ...

INTERVIEWS

Jeff Gauthier: Fiddling with the Future

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With over three decades playing in some of L.A.'s most innovative and interesting musical projects, violinist/composer Jeff Gauthier threatens to succumb to the irony of being better known as the founder/CEO of Cryptogramophone Records. Now in their tenth year, Cryptogramophone has outgrown underground status, even meriting a feature in trendy Details magazine. Boasting a roster including Nels Cline, Vinny Golia, Peter Erskine, Don Preston, Steuart Liebig, Alex Cline, and Gauthier's Goatette, Cryptogramophone also provided a safe haven for the long awaited creative rebirth of Bennie Maupin. Gauthier produced sessions regularly win glowing notices, and the label's artistic cred far outweighs ...

INTERVIEWS

Howard Rumsey: The Lighthouse All Star

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With Ken Koenig's enlightening and entertaining DVD history of a SoCal treasure, Jazz on the West Coast: The Lighthouse, ninety year-old Howard Rumsey returns to the spotlight. Bassist, booker and raconteur extraordinaire, Rumsey presented the best jazz shows in LA for thirty-three consecutive years. First with a group of studio musicians and Stan Kenton veterans, he ran the ongoing jam and experimentation of the Lighthouse All-Stars, establishing the springboard for the soon-to-be-ballyhooed “West Coast Jazz sound.After more than a decade of successful recording and personnel changes, Rumsey didn't feel it anymore and concentrated on booking world-class jazz artists ...

INTERVIEWS

Azar Lawrence: Rising Like Atlantis

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It's an uncharacteristically quiet Friday night at Los Angeles' World Stage, but that's about to change. Recent 2007 appearances here and up the street at 5th St. Dick's have served notice that saxophonist Azar Lawrence is back. One of the brightest young stars of the late seventies, Lawrence found regular employment with Elvin Jones, Miles Davis and McCoy Tyner, to name a rarified few. After burning his way through three solo albums, his name dropped from the jazz annals until his reemergence in Leimert Park. Having Benny Golson's son, Reggie, as a close childhood friend gave the ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Howard Rumsey: The Lighthouse All Star

Read "Howard Rumsey: The Lighthouse All Star"

With the release of Ken Koenig's exhaustive, enlightening, and entertaining DVD history of a SoCal treasure, Jazz on the West Coast: The Lighthouse (RoseKing Productions, 2005), 89 year-old Howard Rumsey returns to the spotlight. Bassist, booker, and raconteur extraordinaire, Rumsey presented the best jazz shows in Los Angeles for 33 consecutive years. First with a group of studio musicians and Kenton veterans, he ran the ongoing jam and experimentation of the Lighthouse All Stars, establishing the springboard for the soon-to-be-ballyhooed “West Coast Jazz sound.

After more than a decade of successful recording and personnel changes, Rumsey ...

INTERVIEWS

Kidd Jordan: Messin' with the Kidd

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Like many local legends around the country, Kidd Jordan is an immensely talented musician who resisted the urge to move to New York or LA. Based in Baton Rouge/New Orleans, Jordan became a renowned jazz educator with a long tenure at Southern University. So renowned, that his teaching has been documented by 60 Minutes and acknowledged by the French with Knighthood. His resume name checks an embarrassment of greats including Stevie Wonder, Professor Longhair, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Martha and the Vandellas, Ray Charles, Ed Blackwell, Ornette Coleman and Cannonball Adderly.

1999's 2 Days in April ...



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