If jazz has become a niche market in the music industry (and it is), a contributing factor for its slide into cultural irrelevance is a failure to promote and support new artists. No matter what sub-genre of jazz you personally love, across the board there is no sustained effort to develop a roster of first-tier talent in jazz. Every so often along comes a Esperanza Spalding who joins the long list of previous saviors" of jazz such as Wynton Marsalis or Robert Glasper and is saddled with the unasked-for responsibility of reviving interest in the incredibly shrinking jazz field.read more
Remember when CDs were so expensive to make that record companies would release double albums and remove a track or two, just so that it could fit on a single CD? Well, there may be many negatives about the state of the music industry today---despite this being a time when so much music is being made that, like the glory days in the 1960s/70s, it seems like anything is possible...there's just no more industry support to help any of it reach the same number of people--but one good thing is that the price of manufacturing a CD has dropped so ...read more
Lion is a good name for Marius Neset's first recording with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, for like a great cat, the Norwegian orchestra purrs and prowls, roars and pounces. Regardless of tempo--whether cruising or charging--there's majesty in the collective voice. Commissioned for the Molde Jazz Festival in 2012, the momentum from that performance took Neset and this twelve-piece orchestra into the recording studio with spectacular results. In fourteen years, the TJO has become something of a Norwegian national institution, reaching an ever-greater audience across Europe. Lion is another feather in its cap, following collaborations with Chick Corea, Pat ...read more
Charles Lloyd Arrows Into Infinity ECM Records 2014 It's rare to have an opportunity to see a music film in both the theatre and the comfort of your own home, but a serendipitous invite to the 2013 Jazztopad Festival in Wrocław, Poland not only provided the chance to hear saxophonist Charles Lloyd premiering a new work, commissioned by the festival, with an entirely new group; it also presented, in a movie theatre, Arrows Into Infinity, a nearly two-hour look at Lloyd's life and career, directed by his longtime life partner, manager and co-producer Dorothy ...read more
Even among established groupings Japanese composer and pianist Satoko Fujii continues to search for new means of expression. For the ninth disc from her New York Orchestra, Fujii departs from accustomed practice, particularly in the 36-minute plus title track which dominates proceedings. Truly orchestral in its scope, Fujii wields her composer's wand in a way which largely avoids some of the expected intricacy, in favour of more opaque connections, organically developed soundscapes and ragged choruses, from which the compositional signposts unexpectedly emerge. The loose painterly style recalls the trumpeter Bill Dixon's large scale works, in that the talented cast is ...read more
Grenoble-born keyboardist Matthieu Marthouret started playing the Hammond organ as a way of covering for bass players' absence from rehearsals. It became one of his favorite instruments, leading to the formation of the Matthieu Marthouret Organ Quartet in 2007 and then to the establishment of the Bounce Trio. Small Streams...Big Rivers is the first album from that outfit, an organ/tenor/drums triumvirate. On Small Streams...Big Rivers the Bounce Trio performs original tunes by Marthouret and saxophonist Toine Thys alongside a trio of covers. The band opens This Guy's In Love With You" with a few seconds of free-form noodling ...read more
Drummer Mark Guiliana's work has nothing to do with benzedrine, berets, William S. Burroughs and the like; he's a beat poet of a different sort, shrewdly dissecting and interpreting the language of rhythm in real-time. Guiliana is one of the few drummers who can successfully and creatively straddle and blur the electro-acoustic dividing line, and he's been a key ingredient in the musical recipes concocted by artists as different as bassist Avishai Cohen, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, singer/rapper Matisyahu, and pianist/keyboardist Jason Lindner. Thus far, Guiliana has largely been viewed as a valuable sideman, but things are rapidly ...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
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 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
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
Like a kind of musical contortionist, Stefano Bollani keeps repositioning himself with eye-popping ease. The diversity and eclecticism of Bollani's projects are reflected in the sweeping breadth of his vocabulary; his output as leader on ECM alone, since his debut Piano Solo (ECM, 2006), is indicative of his adventurous spirit. That solo outing was followed by Orvieto (ECM, 2011), a joyous duologue with Chick Corea, whereas the exhilarating O Que Sera (ECM, 2013) coupled the Italian with Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda. With Bollani virtuosity is a given, but the pianist's first ECM effort fronting a group is a ...read more
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