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.)

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.