It's been awhile. So without any further ado:
Antonio Sanchez's arresting score for the Oscar-winning Birdman was disqualified--on an ill-conceived technicality--from consideration for a well-deserved award. Still, you can buy a copy of the score for yourself and appreciate it all you like.
In better news: the results of the 2014 Expanded Jazz Times Critics Poll came out in the March 2015 issue, and who should we find at the top of the list? Best New Artist: Melissa Aldana. Artist of the Year: Miguel Zenón. Farther down: Best trumpeter: Ambrose Akinmusire. Tenor Sax: Mark Turner. Alto Sax: Miguel Zenón again. Clarinet: Anat Cohen. Violin: Regina Carter. Drums: Brian Blade (Joel Harrison). Female Vocalist: Cécile McLorin Salvant. Podcast: A Noise From the Deep with Dave Douglas. We'll try not to break our arms patting our own backs--but you gotta admit, we do know how to pick 'em.
Joel Harrison, who organized the Alt Guitar Summit in New York in February, speaks with guitar god Nels Cline on the latest episode of his podcast, Say What You Mean.
Also in February, René Marie was Michael Feinstein's guest on NPR's Song Travels, performing duets with Michael and talking about Eartha Kitt.
On March 4, Anat Cohen performed on NPR's Jazz Night in America with her group Choro Aventuroso, which plays the improvisatory Afro-Brazilian instrumental music known as "choro." You can stream that program by following the link above, and you can order the band's new album, Luminosa, at the Anzic Records Bandcamp store (and preview three tracks from the album right here):
And speaking of new albums, trumpeter Eddie Henderson (The Cookers) and The Vijay Iyer Trio both have new releases. (The New York Times says Iyer's album, Break Stuff, "confirms his stature in jazz's contemporary vanguard, along with the dynamic excellence of his working trio.") The new incarnation of Harris Eisenstadt's "Golden State" features Trio M's Mark Dresser and Humboldt's own Michael Moore on Golden State II (you can stream two tracks and download one at the Songlines Records website.) Dafnis Prieto's Sextet--who played maybe the most exciting set we heard at this year's WinterJazzFest in New York--has some terrific new tunes on Triangles and Circles. And guitarist Rez Abbasi, the subject of a feature in the March issue of DownBeat, has a fantastic new record with his Acoustic Quartet. With a nod to the late, great Bill Dixon, he entitled it Intents and Purposes. It's available from all the usual suspects: iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, etc.--and, if you're an audiophile, at HD download sites like Pro Studio Masters and Qobuz. Here's the Video EPK:
Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth just released Epicenter on the always hip Clean Feed label. The title track and two others are available for streaming:
Finally, to our great shame, we never got around to plugging what was probably our favorite album of 2014, Michael Blake's brilliant, swinging tribute to Hawk & Prez, Tiddy Boom: