Now in Stores

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.

Music Craft: Jazz Films at Northwest Film Forum

The Incredible Jimmy Smith
credit: vervemusicgroup

Music Craft is a series of jazz documentaries and concert films presented by Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, and sponsored by 88.5 KPLU.

Saturday December 15, 7pm:  Jimmy Smith

This documentary from 1965 made for German TV follows B-3 organ master Jimmy Smith and his trio on tour:  Berlin, Helsinki, London, and points between.  A snapshot of life on the road and on the stage, the film’s highlights are the concert footage, and the scenes of  interaction backstage with Dizzy Gillespie and his band.  It’s also a time-capsule view of the world in 1965, with Jimmy and Dizzy’s bassist Chris White commenting on civil rights and racism, the Beatles, and the “new attitudes” of young people.

Saturday January 19, 8pm:  Sarah Vaughan

From a performance on German TV in 1969, Sarah Vaughan mesmerizes with her incredible vocal range and expression.  She lives up to both of her enduring nicknames–Sassy, for the way she teases and plays with melodies and lyrics; and The Divine One, for the pure angelic tones she produces.

Saturday February 16, 8pm:  Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek

Keith Jarrett’s European quartet set the standard for exploratory acoustic jazz in the 1970s.  In this 1974 Jazz Workshop session for Germany’s NDR public broadcasting service, the interplay between Jarrett and Garbarek is nothing less than magical.

More information on the series at Northwest Film Forum.

“Now in Stores” XV

Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:

1. Rio by Keith Jarrett (ECM Records, November 8, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2011 two CD release from the Jazz pianist On April 9, 2011 Keith Jarrett returned to South America for the first time in decades to perform three solo concerts. The third and final concert found him in Rio de Janeiro in front of a packed house and enthralled audience. Inspired by the electrifying atmosphere, the pianist pulls a broad range of material from the ether: thoughtful/reflective pieces, abstract sound-structures, pieces that fairly vibrate with energy. The double album climaxes with a marvelous sequence of encores. 40 years ago this year Keith Jarrett recorded his first ECM disc, the ground-breaking, solo piano Facing You. He has refined his approach to solo music many times since then, always finding new things to play. So it is here, in this engaging solo recording from Brazil.

2. Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center by Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton (Warner Bros., September 13, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Deluxe two disc (CD + DVD) edition includes bonus DVD. 2011 live collaboration between guitar legend Eric Clapton and Jazz great Wynton Marsalis.. The duo performed together in Rose Theater at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center for two sold-out shows dedicated to vintage Blues. The extraordinary collaboration, billed as Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues, paired these musical virtuosos with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as they brought to life a repertoire of songs selected by Clapton and arranged by Marsalis. The band nimbly navigated a diverse set list that touched on different styles, from the four-on-the-floor swing of Louis Armstrong’s “Ice Cream” and the southern slow-drag of W.C. Handy’s “Joe Turner’s Blues” to the traveling blues of “Joliet Bound” and the boogie-woogie jump of “Kidman Blues.”

3. Guitar Man by George Benson (Concord Jazz, October 4, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2011 release from the Grammy-winning Jazz legend. The album includes a mix of Jazz and Pop standards – some in a combo setting and some solo, but all of them tied together seamlessly by Benson’s soulful and exploratory signature sound. Lending a hand on this recording is a solid team made up of veterans and newcomers alike – pianist Joe Sample, keyboardist and musical director David Garfield, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Harvey Mason.

4. For True by Trombone Shorty (Verve Forecast, September 13, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2011 album from the Grammy nominee Troy Andrews AKA Trombone Shorty. Produced by Galactic’s Ben ElIman, For True, features Andrews’ band, Orleans Avenue, as well as a string of legendary performers with whom he recently shared the stage, including Jeff Beck, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, Ledisi, Warren Haynes, Ivan and Cyril Neville, The Rebirth Brass Band and more. Troy wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks on the new album including co-writes with Ledisi, Kid Rock, the legendary Lamont Dozier and others.

5. MSMW Live: In Case The World Changes Its Mind by Medeski Martin & Wood (Red General Catalog, November 8, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2011 live album featuring guitar guru John Scofield and genre-busting improvisational Jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood. MSMW LIVE: In Case The World Changes Its Mind is a live collection of 12 tracks culled from their 2006 MSMW tour and features music from Scofield’s A Go Go and MSNW’s Out Louder.

Earshot Jazz Festival reaches its peak with Keith Jarrett

“Everyone thinks that I am serious all the time. Do you know anyone who is serious ALL the time? If you do, that person should be in a straight jacket.” – Keith Jarrett during his performance at Benaroya Hall November 1st.

photo by Rose Anne Colavito

I had never seen Keith Jarrett perform live before. I had only heard his wonderful recordings and heard some interesting stories about the demands he has on his audience.

The trio, made up of Keith Jarrett on piano, Gary Peacock on bass and NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette on drums, is considered by many to be the premier jazz trio on the planet, and was the headlining performance at this years Earshot Jazz Festival.

Prior to the show Tuesday at Benaroya Hall, we received our warnings as audience members. No audio recording. No video recording. Turn your cell phones completely off. No pictures of any kind, at all, including while the group is taking a bow (we received these instructions again after intermission).

Even if you haven’t heard the rumors of Jarrett stopping in the middle of a song because someone coughed, it was quite clear now: stay quiet.

A dozen notes into the first song, a baby started to cry. Jarrett stops, and starts over.

A cell phone rang out loud right behind me in the middle of song number four. The owner of the phone seemed far less terrified of the consequences than I did, as he pulled out his phone and asked “Now who could that be?”

“Some people ask me why I don’t bring my cell phone up on stage with me. It’s because I don’t want to interrupt you.” – Keith Jarrett addressing the crowd after intermission.

All of the speed bumps aside, the concert was excellent, and appreciated greatly by the sold out crowd. The trio has performed together for a long time, and one thing that stood out to me was the complete understanding they seemed to have of each other on stage. No eye contact, no gestures. Just their ears and ability to anticipate one another founded on a long standing work relationship and virtuosic talents.

The trio covered the spectrum of standards, highlighted with beautiful ballads like I’ve Got a Crush on You and  Body and Soul. They showed off an ability to get a bit funky with their version of Fever, and swung hard on Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring.

The highlight for me was their version of The Meaning of the Blues, which really allowed each individual on stage to shine, not necessarily with solos, but almost as a demonstration of each performers individual talents fused together to make a seamless trio.

The group treated the crowd to multiple encore performances, including a beautiful version of When I Fall in Love.

While certainly interesting, the concert was no doubt a treat and an rare opportunity for those who had a chance to see it.

Groove Notes begins Earshot Jazz Festival coverage with an interview with John Gilbreath

The Earshot Jazz Festival kicks off this Friday, Oct. 14, and runs through Nov. 6, and through the duration of the festival Groove Notes will be delivering in-depth ongoing coverage throughout.

Leading up to opening night, we will be posting posts and questions as part of a preview to the festival, and during the festival we will be bringing you reviews, updates, and most importantly, your feedback.

Heading to a show? Did you see an amazing performance, or have a chance to chat with one of the musicians from the festival? Be sure to share your thoughts with us, and use the hashtag #earshot when you do.

We start our preview of the Earshot Jazz Festival today with an interview with the executive director of Earshot, John Gilbreath. John gives us an overview of the festival, talks about local artists on the schedule and how some of them will be collaborating with national recording artists. He also shares with us information about some of the films being screened, some sub-thematic things scheduled to happen, the headliners and a few surprises.

Festival Overview

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The festival will feature 60-plus concerts at 15 venues over the course of 24 days this year. Shows range from large concert halls to small clubs to community centers. There are some educational programs and a film series. There will also be a healthy emphasis on local artists, some who are currently local, some who have left town and returned for the festival, and some who will be teaming up with national and international recording artists.

“There is so much that wants to be done and needs to be done and should be done, and this is our attempt to do as much of it as we can.” – John Gilbreath

Local artists return

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The festival begins with a celebration, featuring both the Roosevelt and Mountlake Terrace high school jazz bands that placed this year at the Essentially Ellington festival in New York. Immediately following that show, musicians Chris Speed and Jim Black return for a performance after originally meeting in Seattle high school bands in the 80’s.

Local musicians collaborate with national recording artists

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Jay Clayton, Jerry Granelli, and Travis Shook are just a few musicians who have made a name on the national scene that will be working with local musicians such as Matt Jorgensen.



Jazz in film

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Four films will be screened at the festival this year: And I Ride, And I Ride, A freewheeling improvisation on virtuoso guitarist Rodolphe Burger; Ne Change Rien, a Seattle premiere of a meditation on entrancing French chanteuse Jeanne Balibar; In My Mind, Seattle premiere of a portrait of Jason Moranʼs 2009 tribute to Thelonious Monk, with Eugene Smith’s just-unearthed photographs and recordings of Monk rehearsals; and Black February, Seattle premiere, with director in attendance, about legendary avant-gardist Butch Morrisʼs 2005 series celebrating 20 years of his revolutionary “conductions.”

Sub-thematic elements

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A couple of shows will highlight the music of Robin Holcomb, who moved to the area from the East Village with husband Wayne Horvitz. Nov. 2 will feature the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra performing her music, as well as a small group featuring Robin and her music. Longtime collaborators Thomas Marriott (trumpet), Mark Taylor (sax), and Matt Jorgensen (drums) will be doing a live recording at Tula’s for an upcoming release on Origin records.

Festival headliners

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Pianist Keith Jarrett returns with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette and is certain to be at the top of the heap for the festival this year. Also, pianist Brad Mehldau will be doing a solo concert at the Nordstrom Recital Hall, and The Bad Plus will be in concert at Town Hall.

“At the top of the mountain, the pinnacle, the peak, the Mt. Everest of any jazz festival has got to be Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, and in my mind judging by any set of criteria is the finest ensemble and made of the finest individuals in that kind of setting that is working in jazz today.” – John Gilbreath