Tuesday, May 28, 2019

News of Past Guests, Summer 2019 Edition

As we first put fingers to keyboard, it's the day after Memorial Day, and that's the unofficial start of summer, right?  Besides, our Spring post was getting so packed that Blogger told us we'd exceeded the limit on "tags." So put on your shorts and sandals, grab a gin & tonic, and let's go:

At the Jazz Gallery's Jazz Speaks blog, saxophonist Tony Malaby (Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth) talks about his new collective trio with guitarist Ben Monder (Theo Bleckmann) and drummer Nasheet Waits (Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy).

On the web, the Burning Ambulance podcast talks to saxophonist Melissa Aldana:



In the June DownBeat, Suzanne Lorge has a short feature ("Sanchez's Borderless Music") on Antonio Sánchez's latest release with his band Migration, Lines in the Sand, a timely album about border issues, as well as a long profile ("Seeking Unity") of bassist Linda May Han Oh, while Bill Milkowski highlights guitarist Ben Monder's Day After Daya double album (solo and trio) of covers.



The July DownBeat, meanwhile, has feature articles on Melissa Aldana and on clarinetist Anat Cohen, a four-star "Hot Box" featured review of Fabian Almazan's This Land Abounds with Life, and a profile of vocalist and guitarist Camila Meza (Ryan Keberle & Catharsis).  (Not to be outdone, the July Jazz Times includes a cover story on saxophonist Chris Potter, a feature on multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich, an interview with multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson, and a "Before and After" listening session with saxophonist Dayna Stephens.)

On May 31, Meza released her fifth album as a leader and her first on Sony Masterworks, Ámbar.  In April, DownBeat previewed a tune from the album as part of its online "First Listen" series, while back in 2018 The Pace Report interviewed Meza (and recorded her in performance) when she debuted her "Nectar Orchestra" at the APAP conference:



The Chilean-born guitarist-vocalist-composer-bandleader came in for special praise from NPR's "Alt.Latino" recently, after she appeared with her on NPR's Jazz Night in America:


Meza also continues her work with Keberle's Catharsis on The Hope I Hold, due out June 28. Here's a video of the album's first single, "Despite the Dream":



Drummer Johnathan Blake (Omer Avital Quintet) just released his third album as a leader, Trion, a double live set with two other RJA alums, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter and bassist Linda May Han Oh (each of whom has recent new releases of their own; see our Spring 2019 update):



And drummer--well, multi-instrumentalist--Tyshawn Sorey (Myra Melford's Snowy Egret) was the object of praise (Steve Smith, "Composer Portrait") and the subject of a profile (Alex Ross, "The Shape-Shifting Music of Tyshawn Sorey") in The New Yorker recently.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

News of Past Guests, Spring 2019 Edition

Spring can really hang you up the most.  But let's not dwell on that.  Instead, let's get right to it, shall we?  In no particular order:

A belated discovery: last summer, saxophonist Michael Blake wrote a brilliant profile/appreciation of tubaist extraordinaire Marcus Rojas (Dave Douglas's Brass Ecstasy) for All About Jazz.

In other tenor sax news: Noah Preminger has a new album, After Life, with Jason Palmer, Kim Cass, Max Light, and Rudy Royston; you can order it here.  While you're at it, go to CD Baby and check out trumpeter Palmer's new double-CD, Rhyme and Reason. (Listen to a track on Soundcloud, first, if you like:)



At CD Baby you can also find Preminger's Chopin Project CD, part of his "Dead Composers Society" project, co-led with drummer Rob Garcia.  And by the way: there's a profile of Preminger, "Perpetual Motion Machine," by Dan Ouellette in the April issue of DownBeat.

There's also a new one from multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson (Ryan Keberle and Catharsis), Tenormore, with Helen Sung, Martin Wind, and Dennis Mackrel.  It's available here.



Keberle's Catharsis itself (with Robinson, Camila Meza, Jorge Roeder, and Eric Doob) will see the release The Hope I Hold on June 28.  Read all about it at Greenleaf Records (and read an interview with Keberle at Jazz Speaks).

And tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana just unveiled her Visions:



Meanwhile, you can listen to drummer Bill Stewart's latest, Band Menu, with Walter Smith III and Larry Grenadier, on Soundcloud before purchasing it at CD Baby (where you can also find also saxophonist Miguel Zenón's Grammy-nominated Yo Soy La Tradición, featuring the Spektral Quartet).

Guitarist Joel Harrison assembled an all-star crew of RJA veterans (including David Binney, Uri Caine, Chris Tordini, Stephan Crump, Brian Blade, and Allison Miller, with guest spots by Nels Cline and Theo Bleckmann, among others) for Angel Band, the third volume of his "Free Country" series, featuring jazz-inflected arrangements of classic country tunes. Buy it from Joel; watch a promo video here.

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi has reconvened his quintet This Against That for his third outing on ECM, Imaginary Friends(Fly Trio bassist Larry Grenadier, meanwhile, has done a solo session for ECM entitled The Gleaners.)

Trumpeter Dave Douglas, meanwhile, has three new releases on his Greenleaf label: Brazen Heart: Live at Jazz Standard (capturing a five-night run with his most recent quintet), UPLIFT: Twelve Pieces for Positive Action in 2018 (with frequent partner Joe Lovano and the twin guitars of Julian Lage and Mary Halvorson), and Devotion, a trio record with Uri Caine and Andrew Cyrille.

Antonio Sanchez and Migration's Lines in the Sand, says jazz writer Brian Morton, "makes its strong point" about xenophobia and immigration "without surrendering even a fraction of its musicality." Hear more in this NPR story:




Bassist Linda May Han Oh talks to Burning Ambulance about many things, including her latest album, Aventurine:



And finally (in the "new releases" department, anyway):
Shall we talk awards? The Jazz Times Critics Picks put albums by a bunch of RJA vets in its Top 10 albums of 2018: Ambrose Akinmusire (Origami Harvest, #2), Myra Melford's Snowy Egret (The Other Side of Air, #3), Cecile McLorin Salvant (The Window, #5), Ron Miles (with Joshua Redman, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade in Still Dreaming, #6), and Miguel Zenón (Yo Soy La Tradicion, #10).  More recently, the Jazz Journalists Association recognized Linda May Han Oh as Up and Coming Musician of the Year and Bassist of the Year, Cecile McLorin Salvant as Female Vocalist of the Year, Scott Robinson as Multi-Reeds Player of the Year and Player of the Year of Instruments Rare in Jazz, Miguel Zenon as Alto Saxophonist of the Year, Chris Potter as Tenor Saxophonist of the Year, Anat Cohen as Clarinetist of the Year, and Brian Blade as Traps Drummer of the Year.

That same issue of Jazz Times (February 2019) had a long-overdue profile of Myra Melford by Matthew Kassel, "Both Sides Now."

Speak of the devil: Melford herself penned a remembrance of the late Cecil Taylor--and vocalist Rene Marie pays tribute to Aretha Franklin--in the March issue of Jazz Times.

In addition to being an important composer and bandleader, Melford is of course an integral component of Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom--and Miller, who is "blowing up" these days, almost deserves a section of this post all her own.  To begin with, here's a great mid-career profile by Suzanne Lorge in the February issue of DownBeat, "Allison Miller's Life of Contradictions."  Of course Boom Tic Boom's latest, Glitter Wolf, has been out for a few months now, but Miller is just as busy these days with a new band co-led by BTB member Jenny Scheinman, Parlour Games, whose debut is set for release on Royal Potato Family in June.  (You can listen to a teaser track when you hit that pre-order link.)

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.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

News of Past Guests, Holiday 2017 Edition

No, you're not going to find our list of favorite holiday jazz records here (although we can recommend a few good ones, starting with albums by Geri Allen, Carla Bley, Etienne Charles, the Manhattan Brass, Thomas Marriott, the Respect Sextet, Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O, and John Zorn and the Dreamers).

We can also point you towards this year's edition of NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas, which features RJA veteran Helen Sung (along with Joanne Brackeen, Marcia Ball and Abelita Mateus):


And speaking of NPR: this is also the season for the venerable NPR Jazz Critics Poll, a survey of 130+ jazz journalists, trendsetters, and opinion makers from around the world, curated by Francis Davis, who began the poll back at the Village Voice. As usual, the list is bursting with names that should be familiar to RJA audiences: the Top 10 picks include pianist Vijay Iyer (#1); drummer Tyshawn Sorey (#3; see below), who performed here with Myra Melford's Snowy Egret; pianist Craig Taborn (#4), of the Michael Formanek Quartet; vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant (#6); drummer Matt Wilson (#8); and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (#10). (You'll recognize a lot of those bandleaders' sidemen, too.) Keep scrolling through the Top 50 and you'll also find saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Chris Potter, Noah Preminger, and Miguel Zenón; trumpeters Ron Miles and Kirk Knuffke (Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom); pianists Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, and Matt Mitchell (of Rez Abbasi's Invocation); guitarist Rez Abbasi; and bassist Linda May Han Oh. Pianist Fabian Almazan, who'll arrive in March with his "Rhizome" project, is in there, too.

Now: if you're looking for some new music to give to a jazz lover in your life, then read on.

In our previous post, we mentioned fresh albums by RJA alumni Fred Hersch, David Virelles (David Binney Quartet), Antonio Sanchez, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi, and Dave Douglas (with brass quartet The Westerlies). Earlier this year, there were releases by Shao Way Wu, Linda May Han Oh, Matt Wilson, Miguel Zenón, Ryan Keberle & Catharsis, Vijay Iyer, Ambrose Akinmusire, Omer Avital, Ben Allison, David Binney, Phronesis, Chris Potter, Noah Preminger, Matt Stevens (Linda Oh's Sun Pictures), and Cécile McLorin Salvant...and there must be others we've missed. (In addition to the Jazz Critics' Poll, NPR also put albums by Miguel Zenón, Vijay Iyer, and Ron Miles among its 50 best records of the year--of any genre.)  Now, in the final weeks of 2017, there's been a slew of new discs. In no particular order:

Tom Harrell, Moving Picture (includes sound samples):


NPR editor and former New York Times and Jazz Times columnist Nate Chinen's second favorite album of 2017 is Ron Miles's I Am a Man (with Jason Moran, Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan, and Brian Blade).  Watch a film by Mimi Chakarova, below; there's a nice early review--with an old interview--by Peter Hum at the Ottawa Citizen:



Harris Eisenstadt Nonet, Recent Developments:



Uri Caine and Lutoslawski Quartet, Space Kiss:



Chris Speed (Endangered Blood) Trio (featuring bassist Chris Tordini and Bad Plus drummer Dave King), Platinum on Tap:



Yet another album, Pathways, from Dave Douglas (this one with his sextet):



The Anat Cohen Tentet, Happy Song:



Mark Guiliana (Chris Potter's Underground) Jazz Quartet (featuring Fabian Almazan, appearing at Fulkerson Recital Hall next March), Jersey:



A big band album from Double-Wide trombonist Alan Ferber, Jigsaw:


And finally, MacArthur "genius" Tyshawn Sorey, Verisimilitude:



New Yorker classical music critic and blogger Alex Ross only half-facetiously named Sorey "The Rest Is Noise Person of the Year." Unsurprisingly, Verisimilitude is also showing up on all sorts of 2017 "Best" lists. Here's a New York Times profile of Sorey by Giovanni Russonello that you may have missed when it appeared last summer.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

News of Past Guests, Fall 2017 Edition

As we start this post, it's just 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 to the Dayna Stephens Quartet featuring Billy Childs! Next up: John Ellis and Double-Wide on November 10th.)  And even though we posted the first edition of this update before summer was officially over on 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:


Hersch is everywhere these days: read Peter Hum's review of a rare performance of Hersch's Walt Whitman song cycle Leaves of Grass at Lincoln Center.  Elsewhere, at PopMatters, to be exact, Andy Jurk reviews a new album on ECM, Gnosis, by young pianist David Virelles (heard in Arcata in 2011 with the David Binney Quartet). Here's a taste of that album:



At NPR Music, Nate Chinen talks to drummer (and composer of the soundtrack to Birdman) Antonio Sanchez about his new album Bad Hombre. The story includes a streaming track from the album. Sanchez was also guest DJ on a recent edition of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast, and he's on the cover the drummer-centric November issue of Jazz Times.

Meanwhile, NPR Music's "First Listen" recently streamed Rudresh Mahanthappa's new album, Agrima (with his "Indo-Pak Coalition," featuring Rez Abbasi and Dan Weiss, RJA veterans all) in its entirety, ahead of its mid-October release. Not coincidentally, Mahanthappa is on the cover of the November DownBeat, which also includes interviews with Rez Abbasi and Linda May Han Oh. Abbasi, too, has a new album, Unfiltered Universe, with Iyer, Mahanthappa, Weiss, and others:



And Iyer, whose new sextet album Far From Over appeared late this summer to rave reviews (see our previous post), was the focus of the latest Jazz Night in America on NPR, which featured performances from the recent Ojai festival that Iyer directed.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, a big winner in this year's DownBeat Critics Poll (see our last post once again), was the subject of a great cover story by Phillip Lutz, "True Character," in the October issue of DownBeat.

Another RJA genius: drummer-percussionist/composer/polymath Tyshawn Sorey (Myra Melford's Snowy Egret) has been named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow.  Coverage at Jazz Times and NPR, and a profile (including a video) at the MacArthur Foundation.


Around 100 pages of the latest issue of the journal Music & Literature are devoted to saxophonist Mark Turner (of the trio Fly).  There are appreciations from twenty fellow musicians, an interview with writer and critic Ben Ratliff, and transcriptions of Turner's music. You can purchase it at the journal's website.

Finally, elsewhere at NPR, you can listen to a rebroadcast of an appearance by trumpeter Dave Douglas on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz way back in 2000--a publicity warm-up, perhaps, for the release of Douglas's new album (with Anwar Marshall and The Westerlies), Little Giant, Still Life:



(You can also watch a series of interviews about the album with Dave, The Westerlies, and drummer Anwar Marshall at the Greenleaf Music website.)