Tuesday, January 17, 2017

News of Past Guests, New Year 2017 Edition

I don't know that "happy" is an adjective we're ready to apply to 2017.  But we started the new year off right, anyway, with a visit to New York for Winter JazzFest. Our old friend Donny McCaslin was part of this year's lineup--as well as a recent visitor to NPR's Tiny Desk:



Across the pond, Phronesis have announced a forthcoming album, The Behemoth, to be released in March. The name might have something to do with the fact that the trio are backed by the Frankfurt Radio Bigband, arranged and conducted by Julian Argüelles. Here's a preview track, "Zieding":


Monday, December 12, 2016

News of Past Guests, 2016 Holiday Edition

Just in time for the holidays--well, just in time for the solstice--pianist Frank Kimbrough has released a beautiful trio album, Solstice (Pirouet), with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirschfield. Here's the title track:



Pianist Uri Caine, meanwhile, has a new trio with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Clarence Penn--and a new album, Calibrated Thickness, with cornetist Kirk Knuffke guesting on several tracks. (Buy and listen to samples at CDBaby.)

And speaking of trio albums, drummer Allison Miller plays a big part in two of them just out. The first, Swivel, is by the collective Honey Ear Trio, with bassist Rene Hart, saxophonist Jeff Lederer (now filling founding member Erik Lawrence's shoes), and guest trumpeter Kirk Knuffke.  Two tracks here:



And then there's Lean, with saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh and bassist Simon Jermyn.  Here's a taste of their eponymous debut:



Meanwhile, Miller's group Boom Tic Boom (with RJA vets Myra Melford, Ben Goldberg, Kirk Knuffke, Jenny Scheinman, and Todd Sickafoose) released a video from a recording, made back in May, of their upcoming appearance on WBGO's The Checkout:



(As it happens, Boom Tic Boom bandmate Myra Melford appeared on the November 21 edition of The Checkout, performing solo and talking about her own band Snowy Egret.)

Guitarist Rez Abbasi appeared in a live webcast from New York City's Asia Society on Friday, December 16 with his band Invocation, featuring fellow RJA veterans Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, Johannes Weidenmuller, and Dan Weiss. The concert of music from the band's upcoming release Unfiltered Universe was previewed with a profile and interview in the Village Voice, and you can watch an archive of the webcast (the band comes on around 12'30"):


Finally: the 2016 Jazz Critics Poll, facilitated as always by Francis Davis and hosted (for the 4th year in a row) by NPR, may be dominated by what Davis calls the "avant elders."  But the Top 10 also include records by past guests Vijay Iyer, Michael Formanek, Nels Cline, and Matt Wilson.  Keep going into the top 50 and you'll see Tyshawn Sorey, Tom Harrell, Fred Hersch, Donny McCaslin, Frank Kimbrough, Melissa Aldana, The Cookers, Jeff Parker, and Allison Miller.  (Rene Marie tops the special "Vocal" category; Camila Meza is #3.)  We--and 139 of the world's most knowledgeable jazz writers--can't be wrong. Right?  Happy Holidays!



Sunday, September 11, 2016

News of Past Guests, Fall 2016 Edition

Phronesis bassist Jasper Høiby has a new album, Fellow Creatures, on Edition Records; "Bird Is the Worm" blogger Dave Stapleton interviewed Høiby for the indie download site Bandcamp, where you can hear and buy the album. Here's a video for the track "Little Song for Mankind":


On Fresh Air with Terry Gross, guitarist Nels Cline talks about his "with strings" album, Lovers:

Cline's Blue Note debut is also the subject of a feature story in the September DownBeat and a featured interview in the September Jazz Times.

Myra Melford (along with our November 2016 guest, Helen Sung, and others) will be part of "Handful of Keys: A Century of Jazz Piano" at Jazz at Lincoln Center on September 22. JALC promises to make the concert available on its "Livestream" page.

Elsewhere in JALC webspace: Sheila Jordan goes crate-digging:



And speaking of brilliant vocalists: back at the end of August, Cécile McLorin Salvant was featured on NPR's Jazz Night In America:


Monday, July 18, 2016

News of Past Guests, Summer 2016 Edition

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a smart appreciation of Matt Wilson's Big Happy Family on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross:


And in other drummer news: Allison Miller talks with Drew Miller about Otis Was a Polar Bear on his Wing Walker Music podcast.

RJA veterans included in DownBeat's July feature story, "25 for the Future" include saxophonist Melissa Aldana; drummers Marcus Gilmore (Vijay Iyer Trio), Tyshawn Sorey (Myra Melford's Snowy Egret), Justin Brown (Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet) and Mark Guiliana (Donny McCaslin Group); and guitarist Matthew Stevens (Linda Oh's Sun Pictures).

Downbeat

Meanwhile, as usual, our past guests are well represented in the 64th annual DownBeat International Critics Poll, whose winners include Vijay Iyer (Jazz Artist of the Year), Ambrose Akinmusire (Trumpet), Anat Cohen (Clarinet), Regina Carter (Violin), and Cécile McLorin Salvant (Female Vocalist). "Rising Stars" include Tim Lefebvre (Electric Bass), Mark Guiliana (Drums), and Liberty Ellman (Guitar). 142 writers, journalists, and critics from around the world participated in the poll.

On August 12, Réne Marie stopped into the NPR studios in Washington to perform a set for the Tiny Desk Concert:


Finally, in album news: guitarist Charlie Hunter assembled a new quartet with Kirk Knuffke, trumpet; Marshall Fowlkes, trombone; and Bobby Previte, drums, for a CD on the GroundUP Music label entitled Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched In the Mouth. Here's a track:



And Entertainment Weekly,  Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork are among those touting Donny McCaslin's forthcoming album, Beyond Now, due out in October, which will include two Bowie covers, "Warszawa" and "A Small Plot of Land." You can read an interview with Donny (and hear "Small Plot") at EW, and you can pre-order the album from Motema.

Monday, May 2, 2016

News of Past Guests, May 2016 Edition

Okay, sure: we'll start this post in the traditional way, with news about past guests.  For instance, over at Jazz Speaks (the weblog of New York City's venerable performance space, the Jazz Gallery), bassist Linda Oh talks about her upcoming album (and playing with Pat Metheny).

Then there's Matt Wilson (below), who has a beautiful new album, Beginnings of a Memory, with a group he's calling Big Happy Family.



The "memory" is of Wilson's beloved wife Felicia, who died in 2014, and the "family" are a dozen members of his three working bands--Felicia's favorite players, who came together to play some of her favorite tunes. Wilson talks about the album in the June issue of DownBeat. Here's the title track:



There are other albums out, too (or coming out soon), by Rez Abbasi, with a new ensemble called "Junction":



by the Claudia Quintet:



--and by Phronesis bassist Jasper Høiby:



Plus, vocalist Rene Marie has just released a full album of her own compositions:



And if you'd like to hear Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom, and/or the Vijay Iyer Trio again, then you might be interested in WNYC's New Sounds podcast, since they all appear on the same episode devoted to "Groove-Based Jazz":



Otherwise, though, our news this month isn't about past guests, but about old friends from closer to home. To wit:

Last month, longtime jazz fanatic and radio programmer (at KZYX in Fort Bragg) Doug Moody was named a "Jazz Hero" by the Jazz Journalists Association.  A co-owner (and Senior Vice President for Marketing) of North Coast Brewing Company, Doug has also been one of the RJA's most stalwart supporters since the very beginning of our ten-year existence.  As beneficiaries of his largesse, we're in good company: North Coast supports jazz presenters, performers, and educators all over California and all across the country, not least through its sales of its "Brother Thelonious" abbey-style ale:



These days, Doug and North Coast are presenting jazz, too, at their "Sequoia Room" in Fort Bragg. Road trip, anyone?

Finally, bassist Shao Way Wu left Arcata a couple of years ago for the bright lights of Portland, where he's been illuminating that city's own local jazz scene. He's got a new album, Canvas Sky, with his bass-piano duo "Tar Beach."  You can buy it on Bandcamp after you listen to it here:



(You can also find albums by the PDX incarnation of his Coconino Trio and tracks by his bass-guitar duo "Day In the Sun.")

Monday, March 14, 2016

News of Past Guests, Spring Break 2016 Edition

Michael Blake's new album, Fulfillment, a suite of compositions for large ensemble on the themes of immigration and exclusion, is out on the Canadian label Songlines. Read about the project at the label's website, where you can also download a free track. Here's another cut, "Sea Shanty"--



--which is one of three tunes from Fulfillment that are part of a Michael Blake playlist at Songlines' Soundcloud page.

The New York Times calls Melissa Aldana's brand-new release, Back Homeher "finest album" yet. It's available at the usual online vendors (and, if you ask for it, at your local record store). Read the transcript of an amazing conversation between her and Sonny Rollins at Burning Ambulance.


The April issue of Jazz Times focuses on bassists--and it includes profiles of Chris Lightcap (Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, Regina Carter's Southern Comfort) and Scott Colley (Antonio Sanchez Migration), a "Before and After" listening session with Eureka's own Trevor Dunn (Nels Cline Singers), and Linda Oh picking (and discussing) some of her favorite bass duo tracks. Select content from the magazine will go online April 5.

And speaking of bassists: out March 18 from Omer Avital is Abutbul Music. (Abutbul is one of Avital's ancestral surnames.) DownBeat magazine's "Editor's Choice" review says that some of the album's tunes mix genres, "mov[ing] through various guises, switching rhythms and meters with a dancer’s precision," while "[o]thers hone in on a single genre and explore it through Avital’s distinctly groove-filtered lens."  Case in point: "Bed-Stuy," which "incorporates hushed, Mingus-flavored swing":




Preparing for his last record, Intents and Purposes (an album of acoustic covers of classic 70s fusion tunes), inspired guitarist Rez Abbasi to compose some electric "fusion" of his own. The results are on a new album, Behind the Vibration, out May 20th:



Finally: the Donny McCaslin Group is the subject of a story on the cover of the May issue of DownBeat (the same issue also contains an interview with drummer Allison Miller). 


Donny and the rest of the band also talked about their experience with the late David Bowie (they're the core group on Bowie's celebrated swan song, Blackstar) on a recent episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

News of Past Guests, February 2016 Edition

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis have a new album on Greenleaf, Azul Infinito (buy it on Bandcamp). Here's a lovely video of the opening track, "I Thought I Knew":



And a key member of Catharsis, vocalist/guitarist Camila Meza, has an album of her own, Traces. Pre-order from the Sunnyside Records Bandcamp store and stream three tracks below:


In other news: pianist Vijay Iyer is the subject of a profile by Alec Wilkinson in the February 1st issue of The New Yorker. It's called "Time Is a Ghost: Vijay Iyer's Jazz Vision."


March 1-6, Myra Melford becomes the latest RJA veteran to be honored with a weeklong run at New York's storied Village Vanguard (with her band Snowy Egret, which opened our current season last September.) In a preview for the Times, Nate Chinen calls Melford "a pianist-composer of restless imagination and rigorous execution," leading an ensemble whose "ranks consist of improvisers with a keen ear for textural interplay." If by some chance you'll be in New York the first week of March, then go see Myra (and Ron Miles, and Liberty Ellman, and Stomu Takeishi, and Tyshawn Sorey) there and say hello...

snowy egret band

More new releases: Allison Miller's new album with Boom Tic Boom, Otis Was a Polar Bear, comes out in April, just days before she shows up in Arcata, BTB in tow. Pre-order it from Royal Potato Family Records, and watch Allison sitting in with the 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers all week long, the week of February 22d (photo here). Here's the album's title track:



Also out in April: Parallax, a new one from Phronesis. Preview/pre-order:



Drummer Dan Weiss's album Sixteen: Drummers Suite honors six legendary jazz drummers. You can buy it on Bandcamp (stream two tracks below), read Nate Chinen's exegesis in Jazz Times, and get Dan's annotations of every track at the Jazz Gallery's website.


Sunnyside Records has reissued (and remastered) a terrific 1987 trio date from Fred Hersch called Sarabande with the late, great Charlie Haden and drummer Joey Baron. The re-release is dedicated to Haden:



And finally, Noah Preminger has a new one dropping soon: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground. You can pre-order it at his spiffy new website, and get a taste of it right here: