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The last of the Magic Triangle Series for its 14th year took place at its old home, Bezanson Recital Hall, at UMass Amherst, Massachusetts on Friday, April 11. The performance - David Murray and the Gwo-Ka Masters: a seven man band for this session made up of Hamid Drake on drumset, Klod Kiavue on Ka drum, Philippe Makaia, also on Ka drum, Hugh Ragin on trumpet, Jaribu Shahid on electric & acoustic bass, Herve Samb on guitar and David Murray on tenor & bass clarinet. A charge emanated from on
When Nancy Kelly strides on stage and picks up that microphone, an aura of excitement pervades the room. One can feel the electricity in the air that always precedes a special performance. There are many vocalists with certain attributes that enable them to perform acceptably, Kelly goes beyond this. The magical quality of Nancy Kelly lies in the fact that she has all of the aforementioned attributes, plus the intangibles that make her the "compleat" performer and arguably the top vocalist on
Webster's defines radiance as the quality of being radiant. It is further defined as radiating beams of light or brightly shining even glowing. The radiance that I speak of is that which vocalist/songwriter Lizz Wright gave as she performed on a rainy Monday evening at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts. Her warmth and natural beauty filled the room as she sang beautiful melodies with such poise, grace, and innocence that you are just in awe. She caresses a lyric
Personnel: Jimmy Dykes (Piano)..Harvey Newmark (Bass) Doug MacDonald (Guitar)..Bobby Shugold (Flute)..Phil Feather (Oboe)..Brian Walsh (Clarinet)..Bob Carr (Bassoon)..Bob Summers (Trumpet)..Jack Coan (Trumpet)..Stephanie O'Keefe (French Horn)..Ira Nepus (TBone)..Bill Reichenbach (Tuba)..Jack LeCompte (Drums).. Doug MacDonald has assembled a most interesting group of musicians with instruments not often heard in Jazz ensembles. This eclectic mix was obviously well thought out by MacDonald beca
The granddaughter of Leonard Kranendonk, for 40 years the baritone voice of Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, returned to her gramps’ home state and nearly his hometown of little old Oostburg, up near Sheboygan, der. So did the founder three decades ago in the Big Apple, at the age of 20, of one of the great jazz vocal combos of all time, the Manhattan Transfer, to sing in the ritzy but rustic Sharon Wilson Center for the Arts in this woodsy, wealthy far suburb of Milwaukee. But most of all,

Art of the Instrument

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On Feb. 5, at the Iron Horse, in Northampton, Massachusetts, Lee Konitz, in his trio comprised of Matt Wilson on drums and Dennis Irwin on bass, performed an extended 2 sets: two hours of beautifully basic continuity. As the trio arrived, slowly the instruments crept up on the platform: Wilson’s drums came first-- set up to the right. Then all the speakers at the front of the stage disappeared. Then the bass arrived and was placed on the left. Even further left of the bass and a little c
Jennifer Hall is an ardent admirer of Gerry Mulligan and his influence is prevalent in her playing but make no mistake, her own imprimatur is stamped on every tune. It was no surprise that "Bernie's Tune" kicked the festivities off, with Hall leading the way. Her blazing solo was a tribute that Mr. Mulligan would have been most appreciative of. He must have been bestowing his heavenly blessing on the proceedings, because this swing fest got off the ground in a hurry. The Tenor Saxophone wa

Lifting Every Voice

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Any talk of comeback in music is generally more a case of the fickle attention span of the audience than any lack of attention to art by the artist. But when the saxophonist, composer and bandleader Charles Lloyd returned to regular playing in the early nineties, it was indeed a cause for musical celebration. After clamoring to the largest popular audience of any jazz artist of the '60s, cloistering himself in a near-monastic semi-retirement in the '70s and forging one of the brightest 'comeback
I have a new guitar hero. (At age 44, yet. Oy.) As a lad, I idolized Eric Clapton then Phil Manzanera, John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, then I got into other kinds of music where the Guitar Solo wasn't the dominant thang. Yet, along with fine piano, saxophone and violin playing, Amazing Guitar Players still occupy a Place In My Heart. However, there aren't too many that really get to me like they used to, as far too many guitarists substitute gee-whiz, looka-me TECHNIQUE for genuine invent
At the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, VT, Myra Melford in her Be Bread quartet performed a well-designed program. The performance mirrored her attention to detail, her adherence to a certain amount of structure and her sources of inspiration. I have known about Myra Melford for years through her recordings and never in my wildest dreams expected to see her play. Her music is wonderfully melodic. The combination of instruments could not have been more appropriate. Cuong Vu played tru
Making her debut at Michael D's with a flair, Denise Donatelli not only charmed a good sized crowd at this classy jazz emporium, (that included the legendary Pinky Winters and L.A. vocalist Judy Wexler), She literally bedazzled the gathered glitterati with a 'swinging' quality that one has to be born with and (sadly) few singers in this day and age possess. Donatelli's tone is crystal clear, the key is adhered to in every song, remarkably she never goes off pitch which makes for a relaxed lis
The initial 2003 concert of the Magic Triangle Concert Series took place on February 27, 2003, at the Helen Hills Chapel at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts. And an appropriate site it was for a star-studded performance by Alan Silva’s Celestrial Communication Orchestra in an American continuation of its rebirth in Switzerland in 2001. The orchestra was packed into the fairly large platform area of the choir space of the chapel. The orchestra was arranged symmetrically with the rhyth
When the spotlight shines on Dianne Reeves, she shines right back. In her element, she draws in the audience from the moment she walks on stage and keeps their attention until the moment she walks off. Her voice is mesmerizing and she showcased it starting with the introduction, singing "Welcome, I am so happy to be here tonight and I hope you are too. The band has been working on some special music to play tonight just for you " The thing that amazed me about Dianne Reeves’ voice is h
The first Jazz Chillout will feature international artists, Victor Bailey (bass), and Bennie Maupin on the saxophone with Peter Horvath (keyboard) and Scott Peaker on the drums. Without doubt, bassist Victor Bailey belongs to one of the greatest in the last decades. He recorded and toured with artists like Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Bill Evans, The Zawinul Syndicate, and Madonna. A native Philadelphian and current resident of Los Angeles, Bailey is a link in that long lineage of Philly bas
Houston, Texas has a unique position in jazz history, mainly because numerous musicians have called the city home over the years. They have included Arnett Cobb, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Illinois Jacquet, Milt Larkin, Calvin Owens, Wayne Henderson, Joe Sample, Don Wilkerson, Billy Harper, Wilton Felder, Bubbha Thomas, Ronnie Laws, Hubert Laws and a host of others. Collectively and individually, these artists have had a tremendous impact on jazz in one way or the other. As trailblazers, this inc
Tucked away in the very depths of original Kingston, NY, is the Uptown Gathering Place. Not only is it a gathering place, but it is also a performance venue. And on March 15, 2003, Joe Giardullo’s Shadow & Light Band completed its tour of the Northeast. The Shadow & Light Band rose coincidentally out of the tragedy of September 11. Their recording on that date served to demonstrate the buoyancy that art-making can offer---- resilience, although reeling, to events which have ramifications beyo
You couldn’t imagine a better place to see and hear the great Joachim Kühn perform solo some of his own compositions, mixed with the music of, a.o., Ornette Coleman and Bach. The castle "Vilain XIIII", situated just outside the idyllic village of Leut (Limburg-Belgium), and surrounded by some rare and very old trees, was built in the 13th century. Part of it had to be restored 5 centuries later.The intimate concert hall of the castle, with its Louis XV furnishing from ages ago, has already pr

Rachel Z

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When pianist Rachel Z led her trio into the intimate confines of the 5:01 Bar, you had to forgive her if she was slightly disoriented. Rachel put on hold her solo career and promoting her new CD interpreting the music of Joni Mitchell, Moon at the Window, for a stint touring America’s biggest arenas in the band of prog-rock icon Peter Gabriel. The Manhattan-born and raised Rachel Nicolazzo (a.k.a. Rachel Z) joined Gabriel for a 20-city North American tour in fall 2002. "Peter Gabriel

Alto Madness

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The Frank Morgan & Sonny Fortune Quintet featuring George Cables is one of the more intriguing units currently on the road. Certainly any one of those names would jump out at you from the page of your local newspaper’s calendar section--Morgan, the legendary bop alto saxophonist and survivor, Fortune, the musical seeker whose fiery sax (this time an alto) has informed so many diverse projects through the years, and Cables, as good an accompanist as there is on piano--the presence of three such a
The Green Mill is one of the oldest bars in Chicago if not indeed THE oldest bar. I don’t know if it was one of the places he owned, but it was one of the favorite hangouts of legendary underworld boss "Scarface" Al Capone. On the walls within are idyllic paintings framed by the kind of elaborate, baroque-style woodwork that you just don’t see in bars (or just about anyplace) built after 1930. Though time has somewhat dulled the shine, the Green Mill (near the corner of Broadway & Lawrence on th