Jazz Viewpoints (222)

Trying to get an interview with Maxine Todd, Program Director at Houston's new smooth jazz radio station almost proved to be a lesson in futility. To her credit, the lady has been busy launching 95.7 The Wave since November 2002. In fact, bringing the format to the city is a big deal, seeing as how Houston has been without a commercial jazz station since 1997. Numerous attempts have been made to program jazz in the city over the last 25 years, but to date four of them have failed t …
29.01.2011

Jazz Independence

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There are a lot of jazz fans who refuse to listen to the blues because it’s perceived as "too rowdy," and just as many blues aficionados who are sure that jazz is "too crazy." Talk about some misinformed ears!

There is a disc jockey on the public radio station in Detroit (Gene Elzy, WDET-FM) who plays what he terms "the jazzy side of blues and the bluesy side of jazz." The coexistence of the two has been inextricable forever. The intersection has always been a busy one, with frequent and glee …

29.01.2011

Matt's Metaphysics

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In 1998, Matthew Shipp played the piano in a performance with Other Dimensions in Music in Amherst, Massachusetts. This was the first avant-garde music concert I had ever attended and the first about which I would attempt to write and successfully did.

Matthew’s music was familiar to me by way of the radio. Any prior awareness of him resulted from his name being in the air, so to speak. This is the same kind of familiarity I had had with William Parker; I had carried his name with me for near …

29.01.2011

THE AULOCHROME

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In Belgium, the country of its original inventor, Adolphe Sax, the saxophone has recently been reinvented by François Louis. Known worldwide albeit only by saxophone players and flutists as the inventor and builder of a complete new range of legendary mouthpieces, reed ligatures and reeds, Louis has invented the instrument of the third millennium.

Mel Lewis’ 1984 "20 Years at the Village Vanguard" was the first album that featured a François Louis’ revolutionary hand-made mouthpiece of boxwo …

A couple of months ago, Wayne Shorter submitted a Desert Island Disc piece to Jazzreview.com. Beside the fact that it was a rare opportunity to read the jazz maestro’s thoughts, it lit a fire. Knowing I’m not in the minority and that there are actually millions of closet list makers among us, it seemed a fine time to lay bare this obsession. I’ve engaged in this exercise many times over the years. My lists don’t vary much. John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, Frank Zappa, Doc Watson, Stevie Wonder and M …
29.01.2011

Defining Thurston

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Back in March, at the conclusion of my interviewing DJ Spooky (Paul Miller), he asked me if I knew Thurston Moore. I said: No. Paul left it at that because someone came seeking answers for some sort of performance question. Thurston’s name did not come within my spectrum of interest until I received the promotional material from MASSMoCA regarding the summer’s activities. I saw that Thurston was commissioned by the Bang on A Can Ensemble to write a piece for the group. I bought a ticket right aw …
29.01.2011

Boogie Woogie 101

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Boogie woogie, a piano style that has been in an out of favor with audiences a few times over the past century, is an excruciatingly complex combination of a dancing bass line (it sure isn’t just walking) supplied by the left hand and dazzling runs from the right, and usually played on an upright piano. The ability to combine the two hands in a complimentary and cohesive fashion is what separates masters from pretenders and is why the list of the former remains relatively short.

History trace …

In November 2002, a Houston icon was unceremoniously escorted off the radiowaves. KIKK 95.7-FM had been a country & western musical treasure for more than a quarter of a century. As the station left the airwaves, it was replaced by an upstart of sorts, KHJZ 95.7-FM, otherwise known as "The Wave." The transition did not sit well with die-hard KIKK listeners, especially after they realized what the new format would be, "Smooth Jazz." A sonic boom reaching meteoric heigh …
‘ReMix Structures and Improvisations’ is Uri Caine’s visionary project as Director of the 47th Festival Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea (International Festival of Contemporary Music) to be held at the Venice Biennale, Italy (12-21 September 2003.) A bold turning point in terms of programme, it allows Contemporary Music to be experienced in all its kaleidoscopic forms. Caine musically translates Venice’s pensive beauty into the vertical suspension of New York’s skyline, into a stage of dif …

February 4th 2005
It's a new day. The record business has finally taken its toll and lost its fight to stay alive and the smooth jazz world has taken a nose dive along with it. After several years of radio play and incessant touring, artists are now finally hanging up their hats. It's over. The news is grim. Well, for the artists at least. The writing is clearly written on the wall: Smooth jazz musicians are to put down their horns and retire as there are simply no more record deal …

29.01.2011

Female Trumpet Players

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Remember when you first started band? It was "understood" that the boys played the drums and brass instruments and the girls played the flute, clarinet or oboe. Those days are long gone. I want to tell you about two women who are establishing themselves as players to be reckoned with.

First, Ingrid Jenson. This Canadian born jazz trumpeter is one of the freshest and most underrated players on the jazz scene. Her sound has been described as "sweet and earthy". Don't let that fool you. Igrid Je …

"What am I going to dream about?" asks Rahsaan Roland Kirk in the opening seconds of his often misunderstood album, The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color (1975). This album is a glimpse into Rahsaan's "three-sided dramatization of music." But what is this "three-sided dramatization" that Rahsaan refers to in his liner notes?

If you examine the prominent themes on this album, three patterns emerge: Conversations; Dreams; and Songs. Jazz, unfortunately, is always critically measur …

29.01.2011

Becoming Aware with David

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Weeks ago, Thirsty Ear Records asked me if I would like to interview David S. Ware in connection with the release of a new recording which features a new ensemble including his quartet of long-standing. I responded, Yes.

David S. Ware personified for me one of the great players of the saxophone. I did not know the Ware’s complete discography. CORRIDORS & PARALLELS and FREEDOM SUITE (a tribute to his friend Sonny Rollins), I had written about a while back. CRYPTOLOGY and DAO of the mid 90’s pr …

British saxophonist Soweto Kinch has been honored with the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 2003, at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The MOBO Awards whose aim is to celebrate and give support to Music Of Black Origins, is one of the highest prizes of its kind. Winners as for the BBC Jazz Awards are decided by public vote.

Soweto won despite harsh competition fellow nominees were Norah Jones, Roy Hargrove, Kirk Whalum and Jamie Cullum.

Amongst the winners, Hutcheson Gayle as Best Gospel New …

Italy, a country whose people aren't afraid of sharing strong musical opinions with the world, has finally opened one of it's most influential cultural stages to experimental Jazz and improvisation.

The controversial move was sparked by Uri Caine’s enticing artistic program, powerfully closing the gap between the ‘purism’ of past ‘Biennali,’ which mainly relied on classical-contemporary music, and this year’s focus on the experimental. Until now, Jazz had not been allowed to walk the central …

There are those who refer to the Detroit area pianist Bob Seeley as the foremost player in the world, the greatest boogie woogie pianist alive today. There are those, too, who will mistakenly call him low key, in spite of the mighty rumblings that emanate from his supremely talented digits. He doesn’t have a record contract, though he’ll happily sell you any or all of his three self-produced CDs at the gig or by mail. He doesn’t take the show on the road a heck of a lot -- but when he does, he d …
29.01.2011

Handicapping the Clubs

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The week of 11/10/03 should be a good one for fans of jazz vocals in Los Angeles. Carmen Lundy will be gracing the stage of the Jazz Bakery from 11/12-11/16 with violin sensation Regina Carter as a special guest, while Feinstein's at the Cinegrill in Hollywood will feature another fine female singer in Keely Smith. Devotees of the avant-garde should find the next two offerings from the line space line series at the Salvation Theater in Silverlake interesting. On 11/10, line space line features o …
29.01.2011

Carmen Lundy, Close to Home

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Carmen Lundy has been living in Los Angeles for over a decade but her recent engagement at the Jazz Bakery represented an all-too-infrequent local appearance from the talented singer and songwriter. Backing her on stage, as on her excellent new Justin Time recording Something to Believe In, was Regina Carter, the very talented and busy violinist. In a week that included a performance from Keith Jarrett at new Disney Hall downtown, Lundy’s dates at the Jazz Bakery were the talk of the L.A. …
29.01.2011

Qnote

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A new independent jazz label was born on December 1st from the roots set by vocalist Cleo Laine and husband saxophonist John Dankworth: Qnote will try to bank on a glorious past of re-releases and perhaps try to promote some new quality jazz.

TV personalities as well as the usual Jazz crowd attended the reception for the launch of Qnote in London’s Soho. Some of the CDs included in their soon-to-come catalogue will comprise names as guitarist John Williams, cellist Jullian Lloyd Webber, saxop …

Your CD rack is bulging with all those great jazz CDs, but tell me this . . . do you have a portion of your collection devoted to holiday albums? No, you say? Well why not? It’s common knowledge that most of the old jazz dudes and dudettes put out at least one Christmas album during their lifetime. Labels practically made it a mandatory for their artists in the ‘50s & ‘60s. Those time honored albums of Ella scattin’ in the New Year, Nat’s mellow voice setting the holiday mood, Clooney and Bing u …