Saturday, December 22, 2018

News of Past Guests, Holiday 2018 Edition

It's been a while since we did a roundup of our past guests' recent activity, and after such a long pause, it's hard to catch up.  What follows, then, is more selective than comprehensive.

December is, among other things, the "Best Of" season. NPR's "50 Best Albums of 2018" include the new record by Myra Melford's Snowy Egret, The Other Side of Air, as well as Ambrose Akinmusire's Origami Harvest. (In his "Favorite Albums of 2018," former New York Times and Jazz Times jazz writer Nate Chinen, now Director of Editorial Content for NPR's flagship jazz station WBGO in Newark, New Jersey, also favored Akinmusire and Melford, as well as Cécile McLorin Salvant and Dan Weiss.)

The New York Times's "The Best Jazz of 2018" likewise includes Akinmusire and Melford, along with albums by Justin Brown (Akinmusire's longtime friend and drummer), Allison Miller (with Carmen Staaf), the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, and Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Salvant is also included among Rolling Stone's (well, veteran jazz critic Hank Shteamer's) 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2018, together with Dan Weiss's Starebaby and Still Dreaming, Joshua Redman's all-star tribute to the band Old and New Dreams, whose lineup also includes RJA alumni Ron Miles, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade.

Ambrose Akinmusire and Myra Melford are also high atop the Jazz Times Top 50, with Salvant, Still Dreaming, and Miguel Zenon not far behind.  (Other RJA vets on the list: David Virelles, Tyshawn Sorey, Dan Weiss, Noah Preminger, Martin Wind, Gilad Hekselman, and Chris Lightcap.) At the Ottawa Citizen, Peter Hum singles out Frank Kimbrough, Ben Wendel (Linda Oh's Sun Pictures), Noah Preminger (with Frank Carlberg), and Myra Melford.

Finally, Dave Sumner's "Best Jazz Albums of 2018 [on Bandcamp]" include both the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble's All Can Work and Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch's Live in Healdsburg.

Recent Interviews:
Jazz Speaks spoke to Jamie Baum, The Jazz Session hung with Helen Sung (so did WBGO's Salon Sessions), and Straight No Chaser chased down Ben Allison and Rudy Royston.  Royston was plugging a new album, Flatbed Buggy, which had a featured review in DownBeat and an Editor's Pick in Rolling Stone. Sung, meanwhile, was touting her collection of settings of Dana Gioia poems, Sung With Words, which was also featured on NPR's First Listen in the week preceding its release.

Other notable new releases include Frank Kimbrough's magisterial, multi-volume set of the complete compositions of Thelonious Monk, Monk's Dreams:

and Miguel Zenón's collaboration with the Spektral Quartet, Viejo:

At WBGO, Nate Chinen previewed Viejo--and in his onlin "Take 5" column, he featured first Rudy Royston and Myra Melford, then Tyshawn Sorey and Allison Miller.

And speaking (once more!) of Allison Miller: the Thanksgiving episode of NPR's Jazz Night in America showcased the supergroup "Artemis," with Allison Miller, Anat Cohen, and Cecile McLorin Salvant.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

We Have Voice

Earlier this year, the We Have Voice Collective, a "new group of female and non-binary musicians in jazz and experimental music" (see stories in the New York Times and on NPR), invited music festivals, presenters, venues, educational institutions, record labels, media outlets, and other members of the music industry/ecosystem to adopt a new Code of Conduct promoting safe(r) workspaces in the performing arts.

The Code calls for "zero tolerance of harassment of any kind, including but not limited to sexual harassment and bullying."

The Redwood Jazz Alliance is proud to join dozens of other organizations in committing to uphold this Code of Conduct.  It's a no-brainer.  Time is indeed up.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

News of Past Guests, Summer 2018 Edition

I think we begin virtually every other post this way:  "It's been a while."  (You get busy, right?  There are distractions--things going on in the world.)

There's a lot we've missed over the past five or six months, and we won't bother trying to catch up.  But here's what's new right now (we began this post on May 27th, and have added to it since then).

The 2018 Jazz Journalists Association Awards were announced a couple of weeks ago, and if you've been following the Redwood Jazz Alliance for a while, you'll recognize a lot of these names:
  • Musician of the Year:  Matt Wilson
  • Record of the Yard:  Matt Wilson's Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg
  • Female Vocalist of the Year: Cecile McLorin Salvant
  • Jazz Band of the Year: Vijay Iyer Sextet
  • Trumpeter of the Year: Tom Harrell
  • Alto Saxophonist of the Year: Miguel Zenon
  • Tenor Saxophonist of the Year: Chris Potter
  • Baritone Saxophonist of the Year: Claire Daly
  • Clarinetist of the Year: Anat Cohen
  • Pianist of the Year: Fred Hersch
  • Bassist of the Year: Linda May Han Oh
  • Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz of the Year: Gary Versace (accordion)
More of the same in the annual DownBeat Critics Poll, whose results were published in the August issue:

  • Jazz Artist of the Year: Vijay Iyer
  • Jazz Group of the Year: Vijay Iyer Sextet
  • Female Vocalist: Cecile McLorin Salvant
  • Jazz Album:  Cecile McLorin Salvant's Dreams and Daggers
  • Trumpet: Ambrose Akinmusire
  • Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa
  • Clarinet: Anat Cohen
  • Rising Star Drums: Johnathan Blake
  • Rising Star Composer: Tyshawn Sorey

Ryan Keberle posted to his Facebook page a couple of videos shot by an audience member at his season-ending April 16 show with Catharsis at the Arcata Playhouse.

In advance of his new book Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century, former New York Times writer Nate Chinen (now with WGBO and NPR) shares some entries from his list of "The 129 Essential Albums of the Twenty-First Century (So Far)." You can read his very smart assessments of Ben Allison's Peace Pipe (2002); the first outing of John Hollenbeck's The Claudia Quintet (2001); the eponymous debut by AlasNoAxis (2000) the quartet led by drummer Jim Black (Endangered Blood); Perceptual (2000) by the Brian Blade Fellowship (Blade appeared here with Joel Harrison and Spirit House); and Science Friction (2002) by alto saxophonist Tim Berne, a member of the Michael Formanek Quartet.

Lots happening these days at New York's Jazz Gallery (one of our presenting partners for Fabian Almazan under a Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation grant)--which means lots of artists speaking to the Gallery's "Jazz Speaks" blog. For instance: Johnathan Blake, Linda May Han Oh, and Chris Potter dish about their "BOP" Trio.  Joel Harrison comments on his 8th annual Alternative Guitar Summit.  And Melissa Aldana talks about her new commissioned piece, "Visions: For Frida Kahlo." (Aldana, who just recorded an album entitled Doubtless with her new quartet, also took her first "Blindfold Test" in the July issue of DownBeat.)

Speaking of tenor saxophonists: the prolific Noah Preminger has yet another new album out--his third in twelve months, by our count--this one with his "Dead Composers Club" co-led by Rob Garcia (and featuring Nate Radley and Kim Cass).  It's The Chopin Project, the DCC's take on Chopin nocturnes, preludes, and etudes.  Buy it directly from Noah; preview a couple of tracks right here:

Walter Smith III (Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet) has just released his fifth disc as a leader, TWIO, with guest spots from big dogs Joshua Redman and Christian McBride:

And Donny McCaslin, still in the process of reinventing his sound, post-Bowie, releases a new single, "What About the Body," on June 13th.  NPR's All Songs Considered thinks it's the most exciting example of "art rock" they've heard in a good long while.

Meanwhile, young trumpeter Adam O'Farrill (Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls) takes a leap forward on a new album, El Maquesh, with his group Stranger Days.  Hear Kevin Whitehead's review on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and hear some tracks on Bandcamp:

Much more to come; stay tuned.