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Now in Stores

25 Jun

Here is a look at five jazz releases that recently hit the shelves and are worth giving a listen to. Enjoy!

1. harryEvery Man Should Know by Harry Connick Jr. (Columbia – June 11, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Harry Connick, Jr. has built a reputation for musical and emotional honesty. Never one to rest on his ever-growing list of laurels, Connick exposes his feelings as never before on Every Man Should Know. The new CD contains twelve original songs for which Connick wrote music, lyrics and arrangements.

“No rules, no limits,” is how the multi-talented artist describes the songs in his liner notes for the new collection. “I don t recall ever reaching quite as deeply or confidently into my inhibition pool.”

2. jarrettSomewhere by Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Gary Peacock (ECM Records – May 28, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Now in its 30th year, the Keith Jarrett Trio is widely considered, as the NY Times recently remarked, to have set the gold standard for jazz groups, and this sparkling concert recording from 2009 is issued to mark a milestone anniversary.

The Somewhere in which the Standards trio find themselves is Lucerne, Switzerland with a performance both exploratory and in-the-tradition. The Neue Zurcher Zeitung headlined its review of the show Kontrollierte Ekstase controlled ecstasy an apt metaphor for a set that begins in improvisational Deep Space modulates into Miles Davis Solar, soars through the standards Stars Fell On Alabama and Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and climaxes with an extended romp through West Side Story, as Bernsteins Somewhere and Tonight are bridged by the freely associative Jarrett original Everywhere.

3. terenceMagnetic by Terence Blanchard (Blue Note Records – May 28, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

“I’ve always believed that in life, what you keep in your mind is what you draw to yourself.” That’s how trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard explains the title of his 20th album, Magnetic, which finds a stunning variety of sounds and styles pulled together by the irresistible force of Blanchard’s vision.

4. peacockAzure by Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell (ECM Records – June 11, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell made outstanding music together in her trio with the late Paul Motian, the three kindred spirits recording the ECM albums Nothing ever was, anyway (1997) and Amaryllis (2001) each a modern classic. The New York Times called the pair two of the most beautiful piano-trio records in recent memory. The Peacock-Crispell duo project also has a history, albeit one undocumented on disc until now, with Azure. This extraordinary new album proves that these two musicians shared sense of lyricism, their distinctive compositional styles and their profound backgrounds in free improvisation make them exceptional musical partners in the most intimate of settings.

5. walterGet Thy Bearings by Robert Walter’s 20th Congress (The Royal Potato Family – June 25th, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Robert Walter performs all his own stunts. For 20 years, the San Diego native has been pulling drawbars and pushing the limits of the Hammond B3 organ. As a founding member of the Greyboy Allstars, he helped usher in the funk-jazz renaissance of the early ’90s and has continued to keep one hand comping chords in the instrument’s funky past, while the other explores ever-new melodic terrain. On June 25, his long-standing project, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, returns with, Get Thy Bearings, via The Royal Potato Family. It was a recent move from New Orleans to Los Angeles that jump-started the 20th Congress who hadn’t recorded a studio album in ten years. The nine-track effort presents Walter’s organ, piano, Rhodes and synthesizer driving an all-star line-up rounded out by guitarist/bassist Elgin Park, drummer Aaron Redfield, sax players Karl Denson and Cochemea Gastelum, and percussionist Chuck Prada.

Robin Lloyd reviews the film “The Girls in the Band”

21 May

Sax section, International Sweethearts of Rhythm (credit: thegirlsintheband.com)

Sax section, International Sweethearts of Rhythm (credit: thegirlsintheband.com)

Based on actual conversations:

WHY WE NEED THIS MOVIE #1

Me:  I’m going to watch this movie, “The Girls In The Band.”  And hopefully write a review.

Hip Old Jazz Radio Dude:  Oh, yeah?  What’s it about, chick singers?

Me:  Um, no.  It’s about the great female instrumentalists who couldn’t get hired by the big bands, or almost any band led by a man.

HOJRD:  Didn’t they have those all-girl bands to play in?

Me:  Well, that’s what they had to resort to in order to make a living.  And even then, they were treated as novelty acts, not as “real” musicians.  Many of them were better players than their male counterparts, but they had to put on frilly dresses and smile all the time.  You know, I think –

HOJRD:  (eyes glazing over, attention span limit reached) Oh, yeah, yeah, right.  Excuse me, I have to go dust off this turntable…

WHY WE NEED THIS MOVIE #2

Me:  I really enjoyed your playing tonight!

Very Young Female Saxophonist:  Thanks so much.

Me:  Are you glad you continued with your music after college?  It couldn’t have been an easy career choice.

VYFS:  Um, what?

Me:  Well, historically, female jazz instrumentalists were largely ignored, or treated with disdain by male musicians.  They’d never get called for gigs, or if they actually got into a band, they could be replaced with a male musician at any time, without any notice.  You know, I think–

VYFS:  (looking at me like I’m deranged)  I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Excuse me, I have to go adjust my reed…

Alternately touching and humorous, The Girls In The Band is a delightful movie that can serve as a primer for the nearly forgotten story of  the talented, hard-working, dedicated musicians who just happened to be female during a time when “girls just don’t do that!”  It’s nicely paced, moving between interviews and archival film footage and photos, and filled with great music.  The older musicians tell their tales, the hurts and disappointments still fresh; the good times, the excitement and the love lingering and making it all worthwhile.  The younger musicians listen, learn and pay tribute.

The Girls in the Band has won Audience Awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Omaha Film Festival and the Victoria Film Festival.  Director/Producer Judy Chaikin has a couple of Emmy nominations under her belt for her documentaries, as well as numerous film festival awards and a Blue Ribbon from the American Educational Film and TV Festival.  A theme running through most of Chaikin’s work is “righting a wrong,” and she spent eight years making this film so that the stories and the art of these musicians would not disappear.

One can forgive the hip old jazz guy for being from another era.  One can rejoice that the very young jazz girls don’t have to deal with the same issues that plagued their predecessors.  Both could still benefit from watching this entertaining slice of history.

KPLU School of Jazz Volume 9 to be released May 7

4 May

KPLU’s new School Of Jazz CD – Volume 9 will be released this coming Tuesday, May 7. Listeners can purchase the CD at kplu.org. All proceeds go to the schools’ music programs. KPLU has raised over $70,000 for the schools, since the project started. This year, bands from Ballard High School (Seattle), Graham-Kapowsin High School (Graham), Jackson High School (Mill Creek), Lakewood Jazz Choir (Arlington), Lynnwood High School (Bothell), Mercer Island High School, Mountlake Terrace High School, Newport High School (Bellevue), Roosevelt High School (Seattle), Seattle JazzED, South Whidbey High School, and W.F. West High School (Chehalis) will be featured on the CD. This year’s professional jazz mentors include Thomas Marriott, Tracy Knoop, Greta Matassa, Brad Boal, Jay Thomas, Travis Ranney, Dan Wager, Steve Treseler, Neil Welch and Andy Omdahl.

The School of Jazz project has won has won two national awards for its effort. On May 7th during KPLU’s Midday Jazz, KPLU will broadcast the entire CD (one song every 30-minutes) between 9am – 3pm PST. Listeners can hear it locally in the Seattle/Tacoma market on 88.5 FM, or online at kplu.org.

Jazz and skateboarding

25 Apr

SFJAZZ Center has had a very exciting opening season, but no show will likely be more creative than the program that pianist Jason Moran has put together.

On May 4th and 5th, Moran will close out his residency at SFJAZZ by combining jazz and skateboarding. That’s right, skateboarding. The Bay Area has wonderful skateboarding tradition and is home to many of the finest skateboarders in the country. For two nights, Moran will mix this culture with jazz, in what the SFJAZZ website calls “a two-day installation engaging the Bay Area skateboarding tradition, an unprecedented meeting of jazz improvisation and aerial artistry.”

Moran will be performing with his Bandwagon combo, which includes Tarus Mateen on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums, while “a who’s-who of Bay Area skating luminaries who will take flight on a specially constructed skating half-pipe installed in front of the SFJAZZ Center stage.” Skaters include Adrian Williams, Alex Wolslagel, Dave Abair, Jake Johnson, Ben Gore, Justin Gastelum, Billy Roper and Brian Downey.

Jason Moran has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2010.

Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars

6 Feb

 

Juan de Marcos

 

Cuban bandleader, composer and arranger Juan de Marcos González is known as the “Quincy Jones of Cuba” and as the architect of the Afro-Cuban All Stars (the foundation for The Buena Vista Social Club), and the founder of another successful Cuban band, Sierra Maestra.  His father was a singer for Arsenio Rodriguez’s Orchestra; his uncle was Ruben González, famed pianist for the Buena Vista Social Club.

Juan’s mission is the preservation of his rich musical heritage.

His Afro-Cuban All Stars is a unique orchestra devoted to promoting the complete story of Cuban music.

The 1996 Afro-Cuban All Stars recording “A Toda Cuba Le Gusta” featured nearly 60 performers. Then, with celebrated artists Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa, and American guitarist Ry Cooder, the unforgettable Buena Vista Social Club CD was recorded.

Fusing contemporary, traditional and a hint of the future styles of Cuban music, the band is multi-generational, sometimes featuring musicians from the ages of 19 to 90.  The current line-up consists of Cuban expatriate musicians, all alumni of Cuba’s greatest bands.  Continuing the family traditon, the band also includes Juan’s wife and general manager, Gliceria Abreu on percussion, and his daughters Laura Lydia Gonzalez (clarinet and saxophone) and Gliceria Gonzalez (keyboards).

The band’s outstanding 2011 release “Absolutely Live” is a DVD/CD combination, featuring performances in Japan and The Hague, Netherlands.

You can see this remarkable show live at Seattle’s Jazz Alley this Thursday 2/7 through Sunday 2/10.  They’re also featured on the première of KCTS9′s new program “Pie” airing this Thursday at 7pm.

Hear more great Cuban music on Jazz Caliente, Thursday afternoons at 2pm on KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz.

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