Jazz Viewpoints - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 19:09:19 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Six-Time Grammy Nominee Nnenna Freelon Reaches Out to Students http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/six-time-grammy-nominee-nnenna-freelon-reaches-out-to-students.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/six-time-grammy-nominee-nnenna-freelon-reaches-out-to-students.html Aspiring singers, many of whom wish to embark on a career in entertaining, eagerly await six-time Grammy nominee and internationally renowned singer and songwriter, Nnenna Freelon. Students at James Hubert Blake High School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, were about to participate in a workshop conducted by the Jazz songstress.

Aspiring singers, many of whom wish to embark on a career in entertaining, eagerly await six-time Grammy nominee and internationally renowned singer and songwriter, Nnenna Freelon. Students at James Hubert Blake High School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, were about to participate in a workshop conducted by the Jazz songstress.

Telling students to "Check all closed minds at the door," Freelon smiles and shares short stories with the students around her as they file in. Animated and full of energy, she teaches thru the arts; using song and modulation to illustrate the many ways the voice can develop song interpretation. She shares funny vignettes about various stops on her train ride in life. She shows students that what she does as a singer is about the journey, not the destination, underscoring the importance of being in front of them by saying, "I remember when I was in fourth grade I got exposed to music. Everyone got exposed to it and now that is not the case. Not everyone is exposed to it and we have to make connections between artists and students"

Freelon is conducting the workshop as part of an ongoing partnership Blake High School, a Fine Art and Humanities influenced high school, has with Bowie State University. The university plans to open a new performing arts center in January and has committed to a new program of study in the performing arts. Freelon who was the ambassador for the National Partners in Education for four years, has made hundreds of similar workshop presentations all over the country to spread the word of the importance of the performing arts in education.

Freelon's own path to music came about slowly. Exposed to jazz and big band music she started to sing in her church in grade school. Freelon went to college and got a degree in health care administration. It wasn't until she was married with children and in her thirties that she continued the journey and began a music career. "I saw my children, these little human beings who saw me as a role model. How could I tell them to go live and pursue their dreams when I knew I wasn't doing that for myself," says Freelon.

More than forty students from two music classes are involved in the workshop. Students interacted with Freelon by asking questions ranging from the music process to personal organization. Her presentation also included an inspirational element; encouraging students to follow their dreams. "What I'm going to try to do today is teach thru the arts. We are going to show what I do as a singer is about the journey and not the destination. The journey is more important than the destination," she explains. The students nod in affirmation. She adds, "Music makes me feel more powerful, stronger, taller, and it empowers me."

Most of the students Freelon interacts with have plans to be involved in the performing arts after high school. "When she [Freelon] was singing, it sent chills up my spine because I realized that her incredible talent is unique to her and that myself and everyone else in the room also has a talent that only they can do and therefore we have something in life we are meant for," says senior Neva Gakavian.

Sophomore Allana Dawkins is similarly impressed. She becomes fast friends with Freelon. Dawkins sits quietly making eye contact with Freelon as she patiently weaves through a series of questions. Dawkins smiles when Freelon talks passionately about her role as a bridge between generations. "I'm here to show kids that life in the arts is a possibility and a very wonderful path," says Freelon who looks directly at Dawkins. They both smile as if sharing a secret. "You are my future. If I ever wanted to time travel all I have to do is go to any high school and look at your faces and I can see the future. You are going to be my audience, you are going to be my elected officials, you are going to be fully immersed human beings in the arts and you are going to know how important that is in life."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Peter Daddone) Jazz Viewpoints Mon, 14 Nov 2011 07:36:43 -0600
Jazz FM 91 10 Year Anniversary - 24 Hour Jazz http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/jazz-fm-91-10-year-anniversary-24-hour-jazz.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/jazz-fm-91-10-year-anniversary-24-hour-jazz.html It's the 10 year Anniversary of Jazz Fm 91, the station actually started in 1949, CJRT radio, it was created by Ryerson University as an educational radio station to compliment the college's journalism program - reportedly one of the best in the country at this present date. The station went 24-hour jazz in 2001 and changed its moniker to Jazz Fm 91, and this is what we are celebrating - if you are in fact a jazz fan or at least a Jazz Fm91 fan.

Jazz FM 91

It's the 10 year Anniversaryof Jazz Fm 91, the station actually started in 1949, CJRT radio, it was created by Ryerson University as an educational radio station to compliment the college's journalism program - reportedly one of the best in the country at this present date. The station went 24-hour jazz in 2001 and changed its moniker to Jazz Fm 91, and this is what we are celebrating - if you are in fact a jazz fan or at least a Jazz Fm91 fan.

 

I am a fan, I have supported Jazz.Fm over the last 10 years as a regular donor and I have attended shows they have organized. It's been a good relationship and I give thanks regularly that we have a local and powerful radio station that plays a good mix of jazz.

 

The stations most recent good jazz deed is their offer of 10 for 10 - 10 years of support from their fans and 10 free downloads of jazz tunes from Itunes as a thank you. I thought this was a nice gesture. Although I have no use for the songs they have picked, having access to a great number of songs. I have the complete album of every artist they picked. A better idea, for me anyway, would have been a 10 song pick from Itunes - anything my heart desired, maybe next time.

 

As a good will gesture in return, I decided to take the time to write my 10 favorite things about Jazz Fm91. And of course, no list is complete without your 10 least favorite things.

10 Best points:

 

1.)  Ross Porters voice and his show on Saturdays he plays some of his favorites a great show.

 

2.) Jazz 24/7, well almost.

 

3.) John Pizzarelli's show - Sunday mornings, John and his wife Jessica have the best show, bar none, on the airwaves.

 

4.) Interviews with jazz artists who are visiting Toronto or set to play a concert.

 

5.) Bob Parlochas, late night show.

 

6.) Saturday's Latin jazzshow with Laura Fernandez and her predecessor Amanda Martinez.

 

7.) The stations sponsorship and direct involvement in jazz concerts. I've attended a few, the price is right and the artists are top notch.

 

8.) Sundays - commercial free.

 

9.) Jim Galloway's voice and his new show on Sundays. Great jazz picks.

 

10.) 10 for 10, 10 years of support equals 10 downloads from itunes. The motivation to write this article.

 

10 Worst points:

 

1.) Brad Barkers afternoon show - formerly Larry Green's drive anywhere show. Bring Larry back or failing that, find somebody with a more relaxed, laid back and humorous, rather than pompous manner.

 

2.) The morning show - bring back Tish Iceton - I loved waking up to Tishs' voice, the best female voice in radio.

 

3.) Dinner Jazz - why not give it back to Walter Venafro, he did a super job.

 

4.) Ted O'Reilly quitting or retiring in 2002, a loss to the station that I still haven't got over.

 

5.) Too much talking from most of the on air hosts.

 

6.) Not enough variations in jazz. The avant-garde voice of jazz is seldom heard, even in its relatively tame idiom. Where is Dolphy, Braxton, Parker, etc?

 

7.) New music that is not charted and not Canadian does not see any air play.

 

8.) Bill King's show - he played plenty of new artists, and mostly new releases. One of the best shows, a shame it had to be cut.

 

9.) Larry Green and his drive anywhere show - crashed and burned. Where's Larry?

 

10.) The big band show on Sundays - A show that has lasted too long.

 

This is of course just my point of view; I think the positives out weigh the negatives. Ross Porter came on board in 2004 as the President and CEO, overall I would give him a 4 star rating out of a possible 5 stars.  The station that started out in 1949 as an educational radio station - CJRT and transitioned into a jazz powerhouse - renaming the station in 2001 to Jazz Fm 91 and announcing a 24-hour jazz operation is by far the biggest positive. Through strong leadership, the station has remained a vibrant and thriving not-for-profit broadcaster and supporter of Toronto's jazz scene. If you haven't heard JazzFm91 check it out - anywhere in the world -  at jazz.fm on your internet connection.

 

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Paul J. Youngman) Jazz Viewpoints Sun, 12 Jun 2011 16:51:05 -0500
More Treasures From the Vaults http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/more-treasures-from-the-vaults.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/more-treasures-from-the-vaults.html During the ‘60s, one would have been hard pressed to find a local bar or juke joint that didn’t have a Hammond B-3 organ and the concomitant Leslie speaker as part of the landscape. Groups led by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Stitt, Wild Bill Davis, Willis Jackson, and many others kept those kinds of places packed with people who liked to jam and finger pop to the funky sounds of the time. It’s no accident then that the major independent record labels of the day would develop a stable of artists …
During the ‘60s, one would have been hard pressed to find a local bar or juke joint that didn’t have a Hammond B-3 organ and the concomitant Leslie speaker as part of the landscape. Groups led by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Stitt, Wild Bill Davis, Willis Jackson, and many others kept those kinds of places packed with people who liked to jam and finger pop to the funky sounds of the time. It’s no accident then that the major independent record labels of the day would develop a stable of artists in the organ combo mold to keep those same customers happy at home with their turntables. By now you should have guessed that Fantasy’s recent batch of two-fers dip into the vaults for a few goodies from those B-3 heydays, with some other titles off the beaten track thrown in for good measure.

Aside from the more obscure names such as Gloria Coleman or Rhoda Scott, SHIRLEY SCOTT emerged as the lone female jazz organist during the ‘60s, first getting her start as a member of tenor man Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis’ quartet. Many of her great Prestige sides have been reissued, although several vital titles do remain unavailable. LIKE COZY (Prestige 24258) fills in a nice gap in regards to Scott’s earliest work for the label. With material recorded in 1958 and 1960, this new reissue collects the entire contents of the original Moodsville releases THE SHIRLEY SCOTT TRIO and LIKE COZY. Bassists George Tucker and George Duvivier share duties with drummer Arthur Edgehill being the constant on 16 delicate performances that are certainly in the narrow range of slow ballads to medium swing but which manage to impress nevertheless. A special treat to be heard is some rare piano work from Scott and the first-rate use of both organ and piano on several numbers to boot.

Scott also takes part on a few of the cuts from EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS’ new compilation entitled GOIN’ TO THE MEETIN’ (Prestige 24259). The first six cuts were initially released on the Moodsville release MISTY: EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS WITH SHIRLEY SCOTT and Scott’s STOMPIN’ (it’s a shame that we get this material in piecemeal fashion), but don’t let the label fool you because these performances swing, with the added gusto added by conga drummer Ray Barretto a pleasant touch. More substantial though are the last nine titles that formerly comprised the album GOIN’ TO THE MEETIN’. One of Davis’ rarest Prestige sets, it features a quartet with pianist Horace Parlan (!), bassist Buddy Catlett, drummer Arthur Taylor, and conga drummer Willie Bobo. As the old saying goes, these guys will swing you into bad health, Davis’ blustery yelps balanced tastefully by Parlan’s endemic sense of the blues on such chestnuts as "Night and Day," "Our Love is Here to Stay," and "People Will Say Were in Love."

Although not as well known as Jimmy Smith and his scores of followers, CHARLES KYNARD first got a start on the west coast in the early ‘60s, recording a few now-forgotten sides for Dick Bock at Pacific Jazz Records. By the end of the decade, he would head east and hook up with Prestige at a time when organ combo records were selling at a fast and furious pace. A great two-fer for fans of Kynard’s organic funk, THE SOUL BROTHERHOOD (Prestige 24257) collects the organist’s second and third albums for Prestige, THE SOUL BROTHERHOOD and REELIN’ WITH THE FEELIN’. The former album is probably of the utmost importance due in no small way to the cast assembled, including Blue Mitchell, David "Fathead" Newman, and Grant Green. Kynard’s two originals mix in agreeably with Marv Jenkin’s "Big City," Mitchell’s "Blue Farouq" and Newman’s "Piece o’ Pisces." The latter date is even more of an outwardly attempt at rhythm and blues, Wilton Felder, Joe Pass, and Fender bass legend Carol Kaye getting’ down to the nitty gritty with ease.

It’s much more of a mixed bag that finds me scrambling for a scorecard with the JACK MCDUFF compilation THE SOULFUL DRUMS (Prestige 24256). The first six cuts actually come from the album THE SOULFUL DRUMS OF JOE DUKES WITH THE BROTHER JACK MCDUFF QUARTET. The next seven selections were released as HOT BARBECUE and a final track appeared on two previous compilations. The core group was one of McDuff’s strongest units ever, fronted by saxophonist Red Holloway and featuring drummer Dukes and guitarist George Benson. Of course, Dukes is strongly highlighted on half of the album as the mood goes from the intense swing of "Two Bass Hit" to the boogaloo groove of "Greasy Drums." "Hot Barbeque" is a party item if there ever was one complete with band vocals, but really nothing here should fail to get those feet tapping and those bodies moving.

Back when there really was the opportunity for musicians to make a living by playing in the studios for a diversity of purposes and in a mixture of styles, guitarist BILLY BUTLER was a hot commodity. Utilizing effects pedals and displaying his classical guitar technique, Butler cut a wide swathe with his series of four albums for Prestige. NIGHTLIFE (Prestige 24260) comprises the last two to see reissue, 1969’s GUITAR SOUL and 1970’s YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW. With Seldon Powell sporting a tenor sax with Varitone attachment and organist Sonny Phillips laying down the beat, Butler is at his funkiest on the seven cuts that make up GUITAR SOUL. Nonetheless, "Golden Earings" is a spotlight for some acoustic guitar and the bass guitar is prominently featured on "The Thumb." The selections from YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW also go for broke in the name of variety, the most impressive being the title track’s romp through country blues territory. Highly recommended!

First getting his start with Prestige, JOHNNY "HAMMOND" SMITH went on to become one of the few organists on the Riverside/Jazzland roster before making the scene with Creed Taylor and his Kudu imprimatur during the ‘70s. The compilation OPEN HOUSE (Milestone 47089) completes the series of Riverside albums to see reissue on compact disc. The aptly titled OPEN HOUSE brings on special guests like Thad Jones, Seldon Powell, and Ray Barretto, while A LITTLE TASTE puts trumpeter Virgil Jones and saxophonist Houston Person on the front line. Both sessions are notable for the way that Smith tastefully employs the organ both as a backing instrument and solo vehicle. He never overwhelms the horns and his own displays are chock full of tasty embellishments and other delights. Too long unavailable, it’s a real pleasure to have both of these albums on the scene again and combined on one disc.

Along with Freddie McCoy and Roy Ayers, JOHNNY LYTLE was one of the few vibists able to cross over to the soulful amalgam of jazz and rock sensibilities that were combining as the norm in the ‘60s. His excellent catalog of recordings for Riverside/Jazzland are still under appreciated by all but the most astute jazz followers, but hopefully a new Milestone compilation will help reverse the trend. GOT THAT FEELING/MOON CHILD (Milestone 47039) brings together two dates of the same name spotlighting Lytle’s trio with organist Milt Harris and drummer Peppy Hinnant. This is swinging stuff; just take a listen to "Big John Grady" and you’ll see what I mean! Ray Barretto adds the extra spice on the second set, but it all comes off with finesse and an inspired sense of swing that should tickle the fancy of anyone who digs the vibes.

Our final item is the oddity in that no organist is involved and the groove is more in keeping with the hard bop tradition. You could also say that it might be the most precious of the lot in terms of historical importance. CLIFFORD JORAN recorded a number of impressive albums during the ‘60s, but none quite as significant as the two assembled on MOSAIC (Milestone 47092). 1961’s STARTING TIME is a virtual masterpiece, with Cedar Walton, Kenny Dorham, Wilbur Ware, and Tootie Heath on board. Not only is the playing magnificent, but also the writing is top-notch. We get Dorham’s "Sunrise in Mexico" and "Windmill," Jordan’s "Quittin’ Time" and "Down Through the Years," and Walton’s "Mosaic." Enough said. A STORY TALE is Jordan with alto genius Sonny Redd at the fore and an all-star rhythm section including Ronnie Mathews, Art Davis, and Elvin Jones. Again, the writing is choice and the soloists speak with wisdom and grace. What more could you ask for?
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (C. Andrew Hovan) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
A Second Listen http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/a-second-listen.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/a-second-listen.html Today I re-listened to EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, the okkadisk CD released this year. I listened to it in the context of the nature of the recording: live or studio. Since I originally wrote about this CD, I have reviewed and heard other live recordings and have resultantly become increasingly aware of the way in which they are mastered. EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION is a live recording. I did not remember being annoyed by the humming of conversation and the clanking of glasses and bottles …

Today I re-listened to EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, the okkadisk CD released this year. I listened to it in the context of the nature of the recording: live or studio. Since I originally wrote about this CD, I have reviewed and heard other live recordings and have resultantly become increasingly aware of the way in which they are mastered.

EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION is a live recording. I did not remember being annoyed by the humming of conversation and the clanking of glasses and bottles in the background at the onset of the the CD. And the reason why is that it does not take long for the music to override the residue of ambiance and I cannot hear the audience noise anymore, because I would say that the audience was actually listening to the music. Who knows? Maybe Hamid Drake and Joe McPhee blasted the audience so that its members would listen. And the insertion of GOD BLESS THE CHILD re-instills the recording as well as the performance with a balance; the tune is perhaps a return to familiarity and calm for both the audience and the musicians. Sure there is applause in between and the announcements of the two musicians by each other at the end of the title tune, but this is followed by yet another sensible piece that could have been an encore. The whole CD works... it just does.

I can compare this to what does not work, Kali Fasteau's VIVID, which I reviewed recently and which pales to the aforementioned because it is so cut up and pasted together that there is no continuity.

And then, the new Cadence TRIO X CD is a highly refined live recording to the point that the music becomes the only concern. The audience's presence introduces itself only once and the sound of the applause therein is nearly like a bridge from the drum solo to the next instrument barline.

Other recordings that come to mind that are taken from live performances have distance from the music and I cannot become involved with the music as much as I would like to because of this very fact. There is one recording I know of made at a concert which I attended. The concert was not that outstanding but to hear it on the recording it was fabulous...that is the result of the way in which it was mastered.

In general, I do not eschew live recordings. It is a chance for people to hear music that they might not have had the opportunity to hear otherwise. And live recordings are often the choice for vanguard musicians to get their music out. However, I am now adopting higher standards for listening to another level because my ears have developed new sensibility.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Lyn Horton) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
This Just In Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/this-just-in-diana-krall-and-wynton-marsalis.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/this-just-in-diana-krall-and-wynton-marsalis.html The divine demoiselle, Diana Krall, performed Sunday night, singing selections from her new CD "The Look of Love," which is scheduled for release September 19. Reviews in local daily newspapers that one could find around this charming jazz-drenched village were not really positive about Diana Krall's performance, crowning her with the label "Miss Cool!" "She shows no emotion at all. She's a pure marketing product!" And, what's worse, "She hasn't got a clue about music!"

The divine demoiselle, Diana Krall, performed Sunday night, singing selections from her new CD "The Look of Love," which is scheduled for release September 19. Reviews in local daily newspapers that one could find around this charming jazz-drenched village were not really positive about Diana Krall's performance, crowning her with the label "Miss Cool!"

"She shows no emotion at all. She's a pure marketing product!" And, what's worse, "She hasn't got a clue about music!"

I wouldn't go that far in describing Ms. Krall's musical abilities. She is an extremely talented and accomplished artist, but one thing is true. I've seen Krall perform four times, twice in Europe and twice in California. The first two concerts were extremely disappointing, followed by the third upon which I knew what to expect and the fourth, I left after the first song. I'd rather listen to her warm, romantic CDs than watch a cold fish on stage. It's nurse Jeckyl and Ms. Hyde!

Krall was the same cold fish at last year's North Sea Jazz Festival. She was the only artist who was unattainable during the entire festival, even at the Bel Air Hotel where all the great musicians and artists mingled around with press and event people. There is something to say about privacy, but the Tower of Babel reputation she is creating for herself is likely to have a negative effect with her most avid fans.

During Krall's concert performance at this year's Marciac Jazz Festival, photographers were requested to confine themselves from picture taking at the stage. They were confined to an area far removed, behind a fence on the left and right of the stage. This is not usual procedure, but obviously one that was requested by Ms. Krall. Normally, photographers are allowed to take photos during the first song of the concert, then they leave the area completely. A French Magnum photographer called for a strike against Ms. Cool, and all photographers stormed out of the marquee and went outside. It was not until the Mayor of Marciac glued things back together did the photographers return to take their shots of Krall from front stage. So much for winning the French popularity contest!

It was totally different as far as Wynton Marsalis was concerned. The French simply adore him. They have erected a statue of him in the town and in touching gratitude, Wynton has written a Marciac Suite, which I'm sure we will be hearing soon. General consensus of French townsfolk and press say there is no musician like Wynton. He plays ball with the kids in the street and on Monday, he even assisted the wine farmers with the inauguration of a wine that they have named after him. Way to go Wynton!

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Suzi Price) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
Independent Jazz Releases http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/independent-jazz-releases.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/independent-jazz-releases.html Some of the most exciting music being recorded around the world is on independent labels, often only available through websites. These are a few that have caught my ear lately.Johnny A: Sometime Tuesday Morning; Favored Nations (PO Box 550. Salem, MA 01970. 562-989-8707) ***Johnny A is a Boston-based guitarist who defies easy categorizations. He reminds at times of Danny Gatton, simply for the fluidity of his playing and the seeming effortlessness of crossing stylistic …
Some of the most exciting music being recorded around the world is on independent labels, often only available through websites. These are a few that have caught my ear lately.


Johnny A: Sometime Tuesday Morning; Favored Nations (PO Box 550. Salem, MA 01970. 562-989-8707) ***

Johnny A is a Boston-based guitarist who defies easy categorizations. He reminds at times of Danny Gatton, simply for the fluidity of his playing and the seeming effortlessness of crossing stylistic boundaries. Given that he played with Peter Wolf of J. Geils Band fame for seven years, this comes as something of a wonderful surprise. He's as Les Paul-inspired ("Oh Yeah") as he is by Wes Montgomery ("You Don't Love Me"). He covers the Allman Brothers, Beatles, Ventures and Glenn Campbell (a sweet take on "Wichita Lineman"). All instrumental and altogether different than anyone out there. This one just refuses to come out of the CD player.


Harry Allen: Love Songs Live; Nagel Heyer Records (www.nagelheyer.com) ***

Harry Allen is a tenor saxophonist based in Germany who has a tone deep in the Lester Young and Ben Webster school. He is joined here by Randy Sandke (trumpet), Howard Alden (guitar), John Bunch, Brian Dee and Dave McKenna (piano), Dennis Irwin, Len Skeat and Frank Tate (bass), and Oliver Jackson, Duffy Jackson, and Butch Miles on drums. Is it amazing? How could it not be. From the opening bars of the appropriately titled "But Beautiful" to the fade on Hoagy Carmichael's chestnut "Stardust," this is a class project top to bottom. "Every Time We Say Goodbye," "Once I Loved" (with wonderful Alden work), "Sweet Lorraine," "The Touch of Your Lips," ""This Time The Dream's On Me," "Sophisticated Lady," "O Grande Amor" and the original "Skyscraper" comprise this stunning collection of late-night ballads.


Pierre Bensusan: Intuite; Favored Nations (PO Box 550. Salem, MA 01970. 562-989-8707) ****

Bensusan is a gifted acoustic guitarist who defies easy categorizations. He is mesmerizing in his melding of classical, jazz and folk guitar in this solo masterpiece on guitarist Steve Vai's label. This is gorgeous from beginning to end. He has far more than just mere total control of his instrument; he has an intimate relationship with the instrument. It breathes in his talented hands. This is one of my favorite discs of the year. It is a slow drift in a canoe on a summer's day. As musically satisfying as a collection can get.


Mac Gollehon's Smokin' Section: In The Spirit of Fats Navarro; Half Notes Records (www.halfnote.net) ** 1/2

Smokin' for certain. This comes out of the chute strong and doesn't let up. A six-piece with the power of a big band, trumpeter Gollehon and his mates fire it up on a program, as indicated, heavy on Fats Navarro. Occasionally heavy-handed, the tempo rarely varies from hard-blowing, though there are moments that shine, particularly the sextet's takes on "Nostalgia," "Boperation" and Bud Powell's "Dance Of The Infidels." Gollehon's original bluesy "Ten Til Twilight" is a treat, too.


Paul Kendall Quartet: Rhapsody; Sea Breeze Jazz (www.seabreezejazz.com) ***

This is a first-class set of music on which the tasteful tenor saxophonist is backed by three separate sets of players. The program is enhanced by well-chosen covers from the likes of Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, John Coltrane, and Arlen and Mercer. Kendall's tone is strong and contained. He's particularly impressive on Silver's "Barbara," and Henderson's "Recordame," and the backing musicians are as impressive as the leader. A solid work.


The Mitchell Ruff Duo: Breaking the Silence - Standards, Strayhorn & Lullabies; Kepler (www.willieruff.com) ***

Dwike Mitchell has a touch as delicate as John Lewis and as majestic as Oscar Peterson's. His partner Willie Ruff is as deft a bassist as he is a french hornist. The music the two create on this delicious musical treat is of a rare kind. That they've been playing together for nearly 50 years is apparent (they left Lionel Hampton's band together in 1955). The interplay is intuitive and well balanced. Whether it be the excitement of their take on "Autumn Leaves," recorded live at Yale, or the delicacy of Brahm's "Lullaby," performed by piano and french horn, this never fails to impress. Mitchell and Ruff are as adventurous as they are firmly rooted in the classics -- be that Billy Strayhorn or Igor Stravinsky. Superb.


Chase Sanborn: Sweet & Low; Brass Tactics (www.brasstactics.net) *** 1/2

Chase Sanborn is an impressive trumpeter and flugelhorn player from Toronto who deserves a much broader audience than that which he now enjoys. Though he's worked with a who-who from Ray Charles to Diana Krall to Aretha, his presence on the American jazz scene is virtually non-existent. Given the caliber of playing here, that's the audience's loss. A gifted player on muted and open trumpet, as well as on flugelhorn, he works out of a tradition that sounds familiar and fresh at the same time. His take on "Only Trust Your Heart" reminds of Art Farmer and "There's A Small Hotel" has a hint of Clifford Brown to it. The core backing group of pianist Mark Eisenman, bassist Pat Collins, guitarist Rob Pitch is exquisite. Drums (Barry Elmes) are on three cuts, vocals (Carol McCartney) on two, and a wonderful flugelhorn duet with Guido Basso opens the set.


The World Strings Trio: Live In Kiev; Jazz Forum Records (no label address on disc. Try e- mailing bassist Rodowiecz at prodowicz@pro.onet.pl) *** 1/2

Recorded live at the Dynamo Kiev Club in 2000, the latest project for Poland's premier jazz trio (violinist Maciej Strzelczyk, acoustic bassist Piotr Rodowiecz, and guitarist Krzysztof Wolinski) is nothing shy of spectacular. Two Gershwins ("Lady Be Good" and "Summertime") are intertwined in a tapestry of brilliant originals that show off the players chops and brilliant improvisatory technique. "Second Chance" is a gorgeous ballad, "Green Rumba" is a quick and spry Grappelli-style toe tapper, and everything between is equally brilliant. This is a jazz string trio with no equal.
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
The Genius of Ken Burns http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/the-genius-of-ken-burns.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/the-genius-of-ken-burns.html After watching all of the Ken Burns "Jazz" movies I am now aware of the significance of Jazz music in America. The documentaries were so informative and so interesting that it is impossible not to learn something new. Jazz is very important to me and it should be important to every American. It is the most original American form of art. Jazz is so complex that its musicians deserve the utmost respect for their talents. Judging from a difficult standpoint, Jazz is harder to play well than any oth …
After watching all of the Ken Burns "Jazz" movies I am now aware of the significance of Jazz music in America. The documentaries were so informative and so interesting that it is impossible not to learn something new. Jazz is very important to me and it should be important to every American. It is the most original American form of art. Jazz is so complex that its musicians deserve the utmost respect for their talents. Judging from a difficult standpoint, Jazz is harder to play well than any other style of music. Jazz is America at its finest. I believe Jazz is now on a comeback in popularity, not only with the older generation but the younger generation, as well. All people should watch Ken Burns documentaries in order to educate themselves about this wonderful music. Ken Burns does a great job of explaining all the small details of Jazz music, even the less appealing aspects that have molded the music to what it is today. The different opinions voiced throughout are extremely credible and well-rounded. It is an impossible task to explain everything associated with Jazz music, but Ken Burns has come as close as anyone ever will.
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Thomas) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
Guitar Picks http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/guitar-picks.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/guitar-picks.html In this new era in which Palm Pilots are replacing wirebound book organizers, the preferred reading of the morning commuter has become PC Magazine and MP3 is making us all either sweat or smile, the guitar world luckily still maintains a core simplicity of wood and wires, plugs and picks. Not to say that technology hasn't made many things better, but certain rules will always stand, and while silicon chips may make your ideas easier to get on CD, they don't replace good old-fashioned creativi …
In this new era in which Palm Pilots are replacing wirebound book organizers, the preferred reading of the morning commuter has become PC Magazine and MP3 is making us all either sweat or smile, the guitar world luckily still maintains a core simplicity of wood and wires, plugs and picks.

Not to say that technology hasn't made many things better, but certain rules will always stand, and while silicon chips may make your ideas easier to get on CD, they don't replace good old-fashioned creativity and inspiration.

With all that said and done, welcome back to Guitar Picks. I hope you enjoyed the debut installment, and will continue to enjoy our forthcoming columns.

Before I continue where I left off with Part 2 of Essential Guitar Recordings, I want to address a topic that I feel is essential in expanding your harmonic range and phrasing...

To Pick or Not To Pick ? (and what in heck it means to you)

There are many arguments that address this topic, but none which have proved conclusive. Using a pick or not using a pick is still, to me, an issue of personal preference, and while there are a plethora of guitar heroes across the board who have made history with and without the almighty pick, there is no definitive example proving one method better or worse than the other.

Personally, like many guitarists in jazz, country, rock, blues and beyond, I employ the use of both my fingers and my pick, often simultaneously. The purpose: to get the more precise attack and speed that a pick provides, while gaining the wider harmonic reach and warmer tone associated with finger-style playing. The best of both worlds, more simply put.

The best example of this is if you like to intertwine quick and precise single-note lines within your chord melodies, and the reverse, to drop quick and open chord voicings within your solo runs.

The example below (in Cm/EbMaj) contains 3 sound samples that show the evolution of a basic melody line. The line (audio sample 1) is presented here without accompanying chords/harmony. The chord melody (audio sample 2) is played using both my pick and fingers, with my pick (and the thumb/index finger) acting in place of just the thumb alone (the case if we were playing strictly fingerstyle).

Fingerings: (T = Thumb or Index/Pick/Thumb combo, 2 is middle, 3 is ring, 4 is pinky)

Audio Sample 1 (Melody Line) | Audio Sample 2 (Chord Melody) | Audio Sample 3 (Lines/Chords)

You may say that the chord melody could be played easily as a fingerstyle-only piece, but Audio Sample 3 is a variation of the chord melody, and intertwines runs and chords. Granted, Joe Pass could blow audio sample 3 to bits with his fingers alone, but while many of us have grown dependent on the pick, it makes sense to adapt some new additions to your technique rather than completely reinventing it. Doing so will make examples like Audio Sample 3 more possible for someone who has not spent much time without a pick between his/her fingers. You may also find the ideas flow more easily without the physical restrictions of playing one way or other.

And now, for our monthly gear talk, I've decided to feature a new instrument sure to strike up the interest of guitarists from all reaches of the earth - it struck enough awe in me that I decided to buy it!

More Essential Recordings!

Keep in mind that these recordings are selected based on my personal preference, and by no means do the chronological order or absence of any recordings indicate anything other than forgetfulness or space restriction on my part. By all means, the library of essential guitar recordings is endless, and no single list can be all-inclusive.

Barney Kessel: Barney Kessel

Kessel still stands as one of the finest bop guitarist to emerge post-Charlie Christian, and in addition to stints with the Oscar Peterson Trio, the Artie Shaw and Chico Marx big bands was a featured member of Great Guitars alongside Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd.

Grant Green: The Matador

His solid foundation of R&B and bebop fire made Grant Green one of the shining stars of guitar. Often favoring smaller organ-backed settings, Greens melodic and fiery lines have influenced generations of players.

Kenny Burrell: Verve Jazz Masters 45

I find that this Verve compilation is a good mixture of quality, value and overall representation of the artist's style and work. Burrell's reputation as a tasteful, solid and innovative bop player are well-earned, and one thing I've always admired is Burrell's unrestrained yet controlled command of the guitar and ability to convey beauty in a through a variety of moods.

John Scofield: Hand Jive

Now for a jump decades ahead..Scofield is royalty in the world of groove-jazz, and while just as fiery and dexterous as his colleagues, has often favored more vocal, edgy lines over straight out, over-polished miles of notes and runs. Hand Jive is a modern classic that has set the pace for many of the newer funk-jazz-acid groups on the road today.

Django Reinhardt

One of the most influential guitarists to emerge from Europe (ever), Reinhardt's incredible technique, singing lines propelled the acoustic guitar to the front lines of jazz, while setting the pace for Western Swing as we know it. There are too many Django recordings to list, and while (with the help of a friend who contacted me from overseas) I compile a more definitive list for a future column, I recommend exploring any of EMI's Djangologie recordings, Verve Jazz Masters 38, or Blue Note's Best Of (1996 Release).

Gear Talk : The Godin Glissentar

While adaptations of Eastern traditional instruments in the design and construction of modern instruments is not necessarily new, the methods in which this is done are what can make or break a new "experimental" instrument.

This past October, in a tireless pursuit for a quality fretless acoustic instrument, my friend Mario over at Rudy's Music on 48th street in NYC turned me onto a new model that Canadian guitar maker Godin was releasing at the turn of the year.

Godin, whose shallow-bodied nylon and steel acoustics have never been short of innovative, impressive or sonically amazing, was releasing the Glissentar, an 11-string fretless nylon shallow acoustic. Essentially a 12-string minus the doubled string on the Low E, the Glissentar adopts character from the Oud, also an 11-string fretless instrument primarily used in Armenia and Egypt.

Fully fretless, fully nylon, and 5 strings more powerful than what I was looking for, I didn't hesitate to order one for myself, even pending the January/February delivery date.

Boasting a beautiful semi-gloss natural finish, rosewood fingerboard, the classic Godin shallow body and an LR Baggs Ribbon Transducer, I figured the worst thing about this instrument could only be the fact that it would dwell in its owner's clumsy hands.

If you are looking to try something new, have been dying to wander into the fretless world, and are somewhat comfortable on a 12-string, the Glissentar can only be a sound investment. Although I'm still waiting for mine, I anticipate that it will fill and exceed my expectations, and perhaps the learning curve alone will be worth its weight in gold.

For more information, contact your preferred guitar shop, or visit Godin's site for pictures and more specs on the Glissentar.

Fred Gerantab is a New York-based guitarist and composer whose work has been featured in several New York area groups and recordings, as well as music for film and television. An independent release with his fusion/jazz trio has just been completed and is due out in late January.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Fred Gerantab) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
Guitar Picks http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/guitar-picks.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/guitar-picks.html Hello everyone, and welcome to the first installment of Guitar Picks, an educational column dedicated to the guitar's role in jazz past and present. I should begin first by telling you what I hope can be accomplished by readers and students of this column over time. First and foremost, this column can assist beginner and intermediate guitar students of all styles in incorporating and introducing jazz sensibilities, phrasings and improvisational tools into their own playing, in hopes of …
Hello everyone, and welcome to the first installment of Guitar Picks, an educational column dedicated to the guitar's role in jazz past and present. I should begin first by telling you what I hope can be accomplished by readers and students of this column over time.

First and foremost, this column can assist beginner and intermediate guitar students of all styles in incorporating and introducing jazz sensibilities, phrasings and improvisational tools into their own playing, in hopes of going beyond "faster" and "better" in favor of "smarter". An important aspect of this will be learning how to listen, not just to guitar players, but to brilliant musicians of every type, as great concepts and ideas are instrument-agnostic.

Second, this column will address important aspects such as tone, setup, smarter gear shopping and the real source of your sound : your fingers.

Third, it will hopefully show you in many ways how to teach yourself through exploration of new music, styles, players and of course, self-exploration and evaluation.

As JazzReview.com is the source for getting the first word on jazz recordings, this column will use an editorial approach by through the referencing and discussion of specific recordings of all types.

Must-Have Recordings, Part 1 of 3 In speaking to the guitar's role in jazz, my first recommendation is this "hit list" of recordings, which I feel will be an economical and useful introduction to some of the pioneers of jazz guitar. Keep in mind, that while some of these recordings may seem like "Best Of" compilations, they are recommended because of their broad coverage of the artist's catalog within economic means. If you want to purchase each player's entire catalog, don't let me stop you, but for the rest of us who are on a budget, this will be a nice head start and will focus on the key aspects of each player's technique and approach.

These recordings will cover a wide variety of players, are not not in order of importance or chronological order.

1. Charlie Christian: The Genius Of The Electric Guitar (Legacy/Columbia)
Although his life ended at the early age of 25, Christian ushered in the bebop era through horn-like phrasings and some of the first jazz guitar 'licks', bringing the guitar into the spotlight as a lead instrument on the jazz scene. This recording features 16 tracks.

2. Wes Montgomery: Verve Jazz Masters 14 (Verve)
This Verve collection is a perfect mix of quality and catalog, and features several Montgomery trademark tunes, but more importantly, showcases the great's trademark thumb/fingerpicking technique across a broad range of tunes. Montgomery's use of lightning fast octaves and his mellow tone set a precedent for just about every jazz guitarist during and after his death.

3. The Best Of Joe Pass (Pablo/Fantasy)
Joe Pass has been a staple of Jazz guitar, mixing technique, melodic genius and improvisational prowess all-in-one. Right in bebop pocket, Pass' powerhouse lines were only surpassed by his use of chord melody and thick solo guitar arrangements. Most importantly, Pass conveyed his message whether at lightning speed or in the midst of a soulful ballad.

4. The Guitar Artistry Of Charlie Byrd (Fantasy/OJC)
Charlie Byrd earned a legendary place in jazz guitar history, not only for his melodic approach, but as one of the first to combine classical guitar tones and techniques with jazz styles. A student of classical guitar great Andres Segovia, Byrd favored nylon string guitars and in the tradition of classical/European guitarists, strictly fingerstyle technique, influencing a league of contemporary players (such as Earl Klugh) to adopt the same approach.

5. Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (ECM)
Metheny is a jump ahead chronologically, but his role in shaping modern jazz guitar is no less significant. Bright Size Life, Metheny's debut at the age of only 21, wowed critics and broke the mold of traditional jazz guitar, incorporating the melodic sensibility and improvisational edge of traditional jazz guitarists before him with the more daring harmonic and melodic ideas that transpired within the late 60's-70's fusion movements. BSL also features the legendary Jaco Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses.

The Sound Of Wood and Wires Just to touch briefly on the subject of guitar types, for those of us who are in the market for an instrument to further explore a "jazz" sound, or who currently own an instrument and what to evaluate whether or not it will be right for their journey into jazz guitar.

There are several types of guitars, broken out most commonly this way :

Hollow-body Acoustic Guitars: Your average steel-string or nylon-string acoustic guitar. Used for everything from rock to folk, and even jazz, a standard acoustic guitar can give the player a natural, unaffected sound for just about any purpose. A great deal of jazz guitar players have composed works strictly for the acoustic guitar, have favored the acoustic guitar for ballads or more mellow works, or, like Charlie Byrd and Paco DeLucia, have made it their primary instrument. (Examples : Martin Steel-Strings, Takamine Classical Guitars, Ovation Series Guitars)

Archtop (Hollow-body) Electric Guitars: Commonly called "jazz boxes", archtops mix the full-bodied, clean sound of acoustic guitars with the tone-shaping ability of standard electric guitars. While these guitars are the most commonly seen among jazz guitarists, their larger bodies and dimensions may be less favorable for players accustomed to smaller, slimmer solid-bodied electrics. It is also important to keep in mind that these guitars are prone to feedback, which may be undesirable for players who utilize a lot of gain or effects in their sound. (Examples: The Gibson ES-175, Guild x-150)

Semi-Hollow Archtop Electric Guitar: The slimmed-down version of the hollow-bodied electric, these guitars are a good balance of versatility, tone and dimensions. Utilized more frequently by blues guitarists, the semi-hollow has also been a favorite amongst contemporary jazz/fusion players for its ability to co-exist in both the hollow-body and solid-body worlds. Players who favor these guitars are John Scofield, among others. (Examples, the Gibson ES-335, Guild Starfire Series, Ibanez Artist Series)

Solid-Bodied Electric Guitar: Commonly seen in the hands of rock players, the solid-bodied electric depends more on the tone-shaping control at the amplifier level, although these types of guitars can carry distinct sounds all their own. Many modern players, such as Mike Stern, favor a solid bodied guitar for its smaller dimensions, and ability to handle several styles effortlessly. (Examples : Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul).

Remember, ultimately, your sounds comes from your fingers, but having the right gear is important when considering what avenue your playing and music will take.

Thank you for tuning in this month, and I look forward to beginning this journey with you into the world of jazz guitar through technique, lessons, listening and learning. Next month's issue will feature: Must-Have Recordings, Part 2, Setting up Your Sound, and Common Chord Progressions.


Fred Gerantab is a guitarist and composer whose work has been featured in several New York area groups and recordings, as well as music for film and television.
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Fred Gerantab) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600
A Monk and His Music http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/a-monk-and-his-music.html http://www.jazzreview.com/jazz-news/jazz-viewpoints/a-monk-and-his-music.html While few would even consider arguing the relative importance of the musical genius of Thelonious Monk and his impact on generations of subsequent composers and pianists, dissent can sometimes by heard when considering Monk’s recorded oeuvre which spanned many decades and is documented by several labels. While his Riverside years are universally hailed as the period of greatest artistic growth and integrity, his subsequent stay at Columbia found him producing music that many critics felt was som …
While few would even consider arguing the relative importance of the musical genius of Thelonious Monk and his impact on generations of subsequent composers and pianists, dissent can sometimes by heard when considering Monk’s recorded oeuvre which spanned many decades and is documented by several labels. While his Riverside years are universally hailed as the period of greatest artistic growth and integrity, his subsequent stay at Columbia found him producing music that many critics felt was somehow inferior by comparison and less inspired. A closer look, however, will reveal quite the contrary when taking Monk’s Columbia catalog as a whole, not to mention that the pianist led one his most gifted quartets at the time including Charlie Rouse and Ben Riley.

As Monk’s former producer at Riverside, Orrin Keepnews found himself in a unique position as the main force behind Thelonious Monk: The Columbia Years '62-'68 (Columbia/Legacy 64887), a new three-disc compilation that liberally samples some of the finer moments to be heard during Monk’s stay at Columbia. Sagaciously arranged by ensemble type, disc one features quartet and trio recitals, disc two focuses on big band, solo, and live tracks, and the third disc continues with more live performances. The sheer variety of formats that Monk utilized should alone have quelled the notion that he was merely revisiting prior glories, not to mention the creative energy that remains palpable throughout this cross section of Monkonian masterpieces.

Not content to simply pick and chose from familiar items, Keepnews decided to dig a little deeper in putting together this package. Among the 31 tracks collected, six are heard for the first time ever and another three are restored to their full length after being initially issued in truncated form. The entire set has been newly remixed and remastered and includes an eye-catching booklet with many session photos and track-by-track commentary by Peter Keepnews. Even those with the lion’s share of this material already a part of their collections will find this set a worthy addition and for neophytes nothing more needs to be said aside from stating that this one comes highly recommended.
While there are still a number of Monk’s Columbia studio dates that have yet to be reissued domestically (hey, Legacy guys, how about bringing out It's Monk's Time?), two recent sets gather for the first time in the United States some of the best live material from this period. Monk In Tokyo (Columbia/Legacy 63538) contains performances from 1963 that were issued posthumously on LP back in the early ‘80s. This two-disc set is heard in the finest fidelity and a swathe of eleven Monk classics are laid out by a quartet that includes Charlie Rouse, Butch Warren, and Frankie Dunlap. At a time when some critics were suggesting that Monk was merely phoning in his live performances, these charged improvisations show the pianist and his cohorts to be at a creative peak, clearly inspired by their gracious audience.

In 1982, a two-album set presented for the first time a collection of 1964 live performances that Monk and his quartet presented at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop. Little did anyone know at that point that the compilation would only be scratching the surface, the true mother lode being exposed only now via the release of Live at the Jazz Workshop Complete (Columbia/Legacy 65189). Two and a half hours worth of music includes a baker’s dozen of cuts never before heard and another three that are restored to their original length. While the sound quality may not quite come up to the high standard set by the Tokyo performances, the music is no less inspired and we get to hear how Monk would develop and vary his improvisations each night with multiple takes on "Bright Mississippi," "Epistrophy," "Hackensack," and ‘’Round Midnight."
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (C. Andrew Hovan) Jazz Viewpoints Sat, 29 Jan 2011 20:35:06 -0600