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. And in October, 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: