Saturday, September 16, 2017

News of Past Guests, Fall 2017 Edition

It's after Labor Day, so we've put away our white shoes--and begun a new season of concerts and workshops.  (Big love to Matt Wilson and Honey & Salt!)  And even though summer's not officially over until September 21st, we thought it was time for an autumnal edition of the news.

The saddest event we have to report is the death of guitarist John Abercrombie on August 22. Our deep condolences to his family, friends, and fellow musicians.


Here are remembrances from:
In happier news: Eureka-born bassist Trevor Dunn (Nels Cline Singers, Endangered Blood) completed a prestigious weeklong residency at John Zorn's soon-to-be-former East Village mecca for new music, The Stone.  (It's moving across town to The New School.)  The New Yorker commented: "Quiet as it's kept, except among the freethinking musicians who depend on his imaginative anddaring playing, the bassist Dunn has been an M.V.P. for both new-jazz and experimental-rock outfits for some four decades now. . . ."

Meanwhile, pianist Fred Hersch spoke with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about his new memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly and his new solo album, Open Book:



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

News of Past Guests, Summer 2017 Edition

As usual, RJA alumni are well represented in DownBeat's annual International Critics Poll, a survey of 155 prominent jazz writers from around the world. Rudresh Mahanthappa topped the alto saxophone column (Miguel Zenón was second) and Anat Cohen, the clarinet, while breakout singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was the runaway winner of the Female Vocalist category. Noah Preminger was named Rising Star tenor saxophonist; and Fred Hersch, Nels Cline, and Matt Wilson all had albums among the year's top 10 (#3, 5, and 8, respectively).

Speaking of Matt Wilson: the new album from his "Honey and Salt" project, Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg, gets a five-star review from DownBeat's Jim Macnie. (His colleague John Murph calls it a "stunning, melodically enriched, jazz-inflected avant-country album.")

Here's a promotional video:



and a preview track:



Meanwhile, Ambrose Akinmusire, who finished close behind Wadada Leo Smith as the critics' choice for trumpeter of the year, has a new double-live album, A Rift in Decorum, on Blue Note:



As it happens, Akinmusire is the subject of a cover story in the September issue of DownBeat, which also contains a feature story on Wilson, who leads off the 2017-18 RJA season on September 12. (That same issue also spotlights Fred Hersch, who releases his 11th solo album, Open Book, and publishes a memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of Jazz, in September; and David Berkman's co-led New York Standards Quartet. The August issue of Jazziz, meanwhile, sports a feature on Ryan Keberle, who returns with his band Catharsis to round out the upcoming RJA season in April 2018.)

Also in September, Cécile McLorin Salvant (see above) will  have a 2-CD set, Dreams and Daggers, which you can pre-order--and preview--from her label, Mack Avenue. At the end of August, Vijay Iyer brings out Far from Over, a sextet date, on ECM. (Kevin Whitehead reviewed it on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, while Iyer discussed the album with Scott Simon on Weekend Edition Saturday.) And in October, Iyer's former collaborator Rudresh Mahanthappa releases a new album, Agrima, with his trio "Indo-Pak Coalition" (featuring Rez Abbasi and Dan Weiss):



Two other records quietly appeared earlier this summer: Omer Avital and Avi Avital's (no relation) Avital Meets Avital, on Deutsche Grammophon, and guitarist Joel Harrison's The Other River, on Whirlwind Recordings.

Finally, drummer Tyshawn Sorey, part of Myra Melford's "Snowy Egret" project, was the subject of an appreciative profile by Alex Ross in The New Yorker and another by Giovanni Russonello in The New York Times.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

News of Past Guests, Spring 2017 Edition


Our first item this time is a sad one: (Dutch) jazz giant Misha Mengelberg, co-founder of the legendary ICP Orchestra--our second guest ever, back in April 2007--has died after a long illness.

Misha Mengelberg (R) with Han Bennink

Plenty of other people have written and spoken about Mengelberg more eloquently than we could, beginning with Kevin Whitehead on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross:



Continue with pianist Ethan Iverson at Do the Math, then check obituaries in the New York Times and the (London) Guardian.  And read an interview with Arcata's own Bob Doran.

In happier news: Linda May Han Oh is on the cover of April's Jazz Times, and she has a new album, Walk Against the Wind, on Fabian Almazan's new Biophilia label:



(You might also want to check out a profile of Oh, "Almost Famous, Almost Broke," that appeared last summer in the Village Voice.)

Meanwhile Dayna Stephens, whose album Gratitude is also just out, was interviewed by Burning Ambulance, drummer Dafnis Prieto spoke for the Jazz Gallery's "Jazz Speaks" feature, Cecile McLoren Salvant was the subject of a profile in The New Yorker, trumpeter Cuong Vu sat down with Straight No Chaser, Chris Potter talked to Ted Panken about his new ECM album The Dreamer Is the Dream in the June issue of DownBeat, and trombonist Ryan Keberle, who also has a new release (with his band Catharsis), was on Leo Sidran's Third Story podcast. Hear a track from Keberle's Find the Common, Shine a Light right here:



And: check out a video interview with Catharsis vocalist Camila Meza (a fine songwriter and bandleader in her own right) for the Jazz Gallery's "Jazz Speaks."

Finally in the new releases department: go track down David Binney's The Time Verses, the first album with his core quartet (Jacob Sacks, Eivind Opsvik, Dan Weiss), since 2009.




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 some of us on the RJA board 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:



--and an interviewee of Dave Sumner at the Bandcamp Daily blog.

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":



Noah Preminger also has a new album, Meditations on Freedom--a protest album of sorts, with tunes that respond passionately to our difficult times. He talks about it on the Straight, No Chaser podcast, and you can buy the digital download or the CD at Noah's website.

It's the season for new sax albums, evidently. Miguel Zenón's Típico was recently featured on NPR's "First Listen."  You can't hear it there any more, but you can listen to one track below and another on Soundcloud.  Then buy the album from CD Baby (where the artist gets a much more generous cut of the purchase price than at most other digital outlets).



Finally, Linda May Han Oh is leaving Dave Douglas's Greenleaf Music label and joining Fabian Almazan's Biophilia label.  Preview her forthcoming album, Walk Against the Wind, below:


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.