Monday, June 15, 2020

News of Past Guests, Pandemic Edition

The performing arts world is at a virtual standstill.  But there's so much happening "virtually" that it can be hard to keep up.

Since March 17th, NPR has been keeping a calendar, updated daily, of "Virtual Concerts to Watch During the Coronovirus Shutdown."  The calendar covers musical performances in all genres, including a series of live streams from New York's storied jazz club, the Village Vanguard.  That series opened this past weekend with a pair of shows by a group that was slated to play the RJA's 2020-21 season:  the Billy Hart Quartet with Ethan Iverson, Mark Turner, and Ben Street.  The next three scheduled shows--cover charge $7 (no drink minimum!)--will feature RJA veterans: 
  • Pianist Vijay Iyer with his new trio (June 20th & 21st)
  • Bassist Joe Martin (Anat Cohen, David Berkman Trio) and his quartet (June 27th & 28th)
  • Saxophonist Joe Lovano and his Trio Fascination (July 4th & 5th)
  • Small's (browse for such RJA alumni as Helen Sung, Omer Avital, Melissa Aldana, Anat Cohen, Joe Martin, Gilad Hekselman, Ari Hoenig, and Manuel Valera)
  • The Jazz Gallery (their "Words and Music" series is ticketed, as are the archives for their "Lockdown Sessions," featuring RJA vets like Theo Bleckmann, Melissa Aldana, Miguel Zenon, Dayna Stephens, Camila Meza, Walter Smith III, Marcus Gilmore, Mark Turner, and Fabian Almazan)
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center
  • Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT, whose Spring 2020 performance series has been replaced with weekly archival performances including Marty Ehrlich & Myra Melford, Ralph Alessi’s This Against That, The Claudia Quintet, The David Berkman Quartet, Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts, and The Ben Allison Quartet

Want to watch or listen to what other past RJA guests have been up to during the quarantine?
  • Here's Humboldt County's own Michael Moore, playing in a duo with guitarist Rogerio Bicudo, as part of a series curated by Amsterdam's Concertgemaal.
  • Since March 19th, multi-reedist Ben Goldberg (Plays Monk, Myra Melford's Be Bread, Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom) has been keeping a daily "Plague Diary"--i.e., writing a new piece every day and adding it to a digital album-in-progress on Bandcamp, which you can stream and/or download on a pay-what-you-like basis.  Bay Area music journalist Andrew Gilbert profiled Goldberg for a long piece in the San Francisco Classical Voice ("Covid Confidential: Ben Goldberg's Notes from a Pandemic"), and Jeffrey Siegel interviewed him about the project for his long-running Straight No Chaser podcast.
  • At the end of May, Goldberg also took part in this year's (Virtual) Hyde Park Jazz Festival, as did Bay Area bassist, composer, educator and bandleader Marcus Shelby.
  • Meanwhile, on Earth Day, pianist Fabian Almazan and bassist Linda May Han Oh kicked off their own online festival, the Biophilia Records Fest, showcasing artists associated with the label, which like founder and director Almazan is committed not only to music but also to social and environmental justice. (Last week, trumpeter Dave Douglas spoke to Almazan on his A Noise from the Deep podcast.) Most of the events charged a nominal admission fee (you can still buy an all-access pass to watch the recorded video streams for just $20), but two of them can be viewed for free, including the May 9th performance by Linda May Han Oh.
  • NPR's Jazz Night in America devoted a second episode to Oh on March 13th--a follow-up to a concert film of her "Aventurine" project broadcast on the program last fall.  Or maybe it was a prelude to the May 22 episode of its new "Alone Together Duets" series featuring...Fabian Almazan and Linda May Han Oh!  

Speaking of Dave Douglas: drummer Rudy Royston has been a fixture on Douglas's Greenleaf Music label for years now, and on June 19th he's releasing a new album, PaNOptic, whose proceeds will go to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.   You can pre-order now--and Rudy's statement about the album, which you can find both there and here, is worth reading.

Other musicians helping fellow musicians include pianist Fred Hersch, who with bassist & vocalist Esperanza Spalding have released an EP of duets recorded live at the Village Vanguard in October 2018, as a benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America and its efforts to support musicians during the pandemic. (Hurry, as the album is on sale for the month of June only.)  Hersch has also done a series of at-home concerts which you can still stream from his Facebook page, and he's released a number of singles on Spotify, duets with friends like Anat Cohen and Miguel Zenón. He talks about all of this and more on the podcast Speaking of the Arts.

Royston and Hersch are among the few musicians we know who are feeling relatively fortunate so far, but so many others in the performing arts universe have simply been devastated, as gigs, festivals, and venues have shut down for the foreseeable future--in some cases perhaps permanently.  So how else can you support musicians?  Well, you can start by buying their music.  Almost anyone you could name who has played for the RJA--and if your memory needs refreshing, you can page back through our old website as well as our new one--has a presence on Bandcamp, where you can buy CDs, LPs, and downloads, and be assured that most of the proceeds will go directly to the artists.  (In fact, since the start of the pandemic, Bandcamp has periodically donated its share of sales back to the artists and labels who sell their music and merchandise on the platform.  This coming Friday, June 19th, its share will go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.)
  • Tenor saxophonist Michael Blake, for instance--who would have joined us this fall with his new chamber-jazz project--has bought up the rights to most of his back catalogue, including albums by two projects that have already played for the RJA, Blake Tartare and Tiddy Boom.
  • Guitarist Jeff Parker, who was also meant to be part of our 2020-21 season, has gotten great reviews for his album Suite for Max Brown, which came out in January.  (See, e.g., Britt Robson's review in the May issue of Jazz Times, Kevin Whitehead's review for Fresh Air with Terry Gross, or Gary Fukushima's interview for DownBeat.)
  • And alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's new album, Hero Trio (the other two heroes are drummer Rudy Royston and bassist François Moutin), is the occasion of a Jazz Times cover story by Nate Chinen, who also premiered a video of the trio on WBGO's Take Five.  And for you players out there, Mahanthappa contributed to the "Reed School" feature in the May issue of DownBeat with a lesson on "Crafting Improvised Lines from 3-Note & 4-Note Cells."

Those are just three examples.  As for artists whose new releases don't appear on Bandcamp?  Find and preview them on streaming platforms, then ask People's Records (Arcata) or The Works (Eureka) to order them for you.  Here are some suggestions:
  • Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's new album on Blue Note, on the tender spot of every calloused moment, got a featured review from Nate Chinen on NPR Music.  Akinmusire also spoke about it to the Jazz Gallery's Jazz Speaks.
  • A quartet version of Dayna Stephens's new project, whose trio album Liberty got a "Hot Box" review from Suzanne Lorge in the April issue of DownBeat, would have led off the 2020-21 RJA season in September.  (We're committed to rescheduling.)  Kevin Whitehead also reviewed the album for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
  • Speaking of DownBeat: the first and final artists of our most recent (truncated) season recent also got some love in the pages of that hallowed magazine: Alex Rodriguez gave Reverso's The Melodic Line a 4-star review in the April issue, while Puertos by the Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra got 5 stars from James Hale in the March issue. The June issue saw two more RJA vets as the recipients of  "Hot Box" reviews: tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery (Tom Harrell Quintet), for The Humble Warrior, and Liberty Ellman (Myra Melford's Snowy Egret) for Last Desert.  That same issue includes reviews of All For Now by Gary Versace (Rudy Royston's Flatbed Buggy, John Abercrombie Organ Trio, Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts) and Planet B by Jasper Høiby (Phronesis), as well as a "Blindfold Test" by Walter Smith III (Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet).

Finally, as long as you're perusing those magazines (or their websites), why not check out Ted Panken's "Overdue Ovation" for cellist Hank Roberts (Rudy Royston's Flatbed Buggy) in the March Jazz Times, or DownBeat's May 2020 cover story on drummer Antonio Sánchez and vocalist Thania Alexa, who also performed an "Alone Together Duet" for NPR's Jazz Night in America.

That should be enough to get you going, right? Check back for updates when you're finished. And if there's nothing new, then scroll back through some old posts and catch up on things you may have missed!

Monday, December 30, 2019

News of Past Guests, New Year 2020 Edition

Where did the holidays go?  Let's catch up quick for Auld Lang Syne, shall we?

In the jazz mediasphere:
  • In "Two Become One" (Jazz Times December 2019), Jeff Tamarkin writes about bassist Chris Lightcap's "supergroup," Super-Bigmouth.
  • Meanwhile, in the November Jazz Times, Shaun Brady gives clarinetist/multi-reedist Ben Goldberg an "Overdue Ovation."
  • And way back in October, Jazz Times writer Geoffrey Himes profiled guitarist Ben Monder in "The Understated Appeal of Ben Monder."
  • For the December issue of DownBeat, drummer Antonio Sánchez subjected himself to the "Blindfold Test"--and passed with flying colors. The print version hasn't yet been made available online, but you can listen to it as it was recorded at this year's Monterey Jazz Festival:

A lot of people have sworn off the hoary "Top 10 List" this year, but...

  • Jazz Times compiled its writers' Top 50 picks for 2019, and that list reads like a Who's Who of RJA alumni: Camila Meza's Ámbar (#4), Tom Harrell's Infinity (#6), Johnathan Blake's Trion (#9), Linda May Han Oh's Aventurine (#10), Dave Douglas/Uri Caine/Andrew Cyrille's Devotion (#12), the Fabian Almazan Trio's This Land Abounds With Life (#13), Miguel Zenón's Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (#16), Ralph Alessi's Imaginary Friends (#17), the Anat Cohen Tentet's Triple Helix (#18), Melissa Aldana's Visions (#22), Frank Kimbrough's Monk's Dreams (#25), Ryan Keberle & Catharsis' The Hope I Hold (#26), Tyshawn Sorey & Marilyn Crispell's The Adornment of Time (#27), Fred Hersh & WDR Big Band's Begin Again (#36), and Allison & Miller's Boom Tic Boom's Glitter Wolf (#37).
  • The Ottawa Citizen's Peter Hum, one of the smartest, most sympathetic jazz writers around, also includes Meza, Oh, Almazan, and Blake (3, 2, 4, and 16) in his year-end list, along with Ben Monder's Day After Day (14) and Jason Palmer's Rhyme and Reason (15).
  • Those names--and other past RJA guests (Parlour Game, Noah Preminger, Scott Robinson)--show up again and again on other lists (LA Times,, AllAbout Jazz, the Jazz Journalists' Association, PopMatters, the Chicago Tribune).  See for yourself here.

Friday, September 6, 2019

News of Past Guests, Fall 2019 Edition

Let's start with bassist Linda May Han Oh, who performed her double-quartet chamber jazz project "Aventurine" on the September 19th episode of NPR's Jazz Night in America.

The album, which we previewed in a previous post (and which you can get on Bandcamp) is getting great buzz.

Pianist Helen Sung, meanwhile, contributed to the episode of the NPR series Turning the Tables: 8 Women Who Changed American Popular Music devoted to piano icon Mary Lou Williams.  Her video segment is entitled "How to Swing Like Mary Lou Williams."

In a recent newsletter, Helen also mentions how proud she is to be part of the album Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women's Suffrage (released August 30th) where she "joins the Karrin Allyson Sextet (and some very special guests!) to perform creatively reimagined songs from the Suffragette Movement." Billboard wrote about the project here.

Speaking of iconic pianists: Fred Hersch, renowned for his intimate trio work, has a new big band album (with Hamburg, Germany's NDR Bigband), Begin Again, that was recently reviewed by Kevin Whitehead on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

A week or so later, Whitehead also reviewed a new record by Ben Goldberg (Plays Monk, Myra Melford's Be Bread), A Good Day for Cloud Fishing, built around the poetry of Dean Parks and featuring guitarist Nels Cline and cornetist Ron Miles.  (You can buy the album from a number of online venues, including Bandcamp.)

And speaking of big bands: our first guest of the 2019-20 season, Emilio Solla, has a special talent for writing and arranging for large ensembles.  He debuted his own big band, the Tango Jazz Orchestra, at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola earlier this year, and now his debut big band album has dropped.  It's called Puertos: Music from International Waters, and you can get it from all the usual online vendors, including the artist-friendly CD Baby (want a high-resolution format? try Qobuz).

Other new albums:
  • Tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger's 15th album as a leader, Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert, is available for pre-order (CD or download) at his website.  It includes the talents of John O'Gallagher, Jason Palmer, Kris Davis, Rob Schwimmer, Kim Cass, and Rudy Royston.
  • Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón's latest is dedicated to a legendary Puerto Rican singer, Sonero: The Music of Ismail Rivera. (Miguel also did his first "Before and After" listening session for the September issue of Jazz Times.)
  • Saxophonists (and longtime friends) Donny McCaslin and David Binney team up with fellow reedmen Dave Liebman and Samuel Blais for a sax quartet project called Four Visions:
  • Bassist Chris Lightcap (who was recently interviewed for the Burning Ambulance podcast and the Jazz Gallery's "Jazz Speaks" series) combines his ensembles Bigmouth and Superette into a large ensemble called--you guessed it--SuperBigmouth, featuring two tenors, two guitarists, and two drummers.  "With whatever band Lightcap is leading," says the New York Times, "he strikes a masterly balance between urgent, punctuated bass playing and smooth, sighing melodies on top."  "SuperBigmouth commingles prog rock, spiritual jazz and the indie-lounge vibes of Stereolab, resulting in something altogether new." You can pre-order--and listen--on Bandcamp:  
  • Bassist Ben Allison's new disc is the second with his collective trio "The Easy Way," featuring saxophonist Ted Nash and guitarist Steve Cardenas; it's called Somewhere Else: West Side Story Songs (preview | order)
  • Guitarist Joel Harrison teams up with Anupam Shobakhar and the Talujon Percussion Quartet for Still Point: Turning World (order & preview on Bandcamp):
  • Guitarist Rez Abbasi, meanwhile, is coming out with two new albums, one a soundtrack for the 1929 silent film A Throw of the Dice (interview in DownBeat), the other a collaboration with French harpist Isabelle Olivier, Oasis.  Here's a preview track:
  • Drummer Harris Eisenstadt has a new live album with his quartet Canada Day (pre-order it at Clean Feed Records), as well as a new studio album with his other quartet Old Growth Forest (pre-order it--and preview it--on Bandcamp)
  • Drummer Dan Weiss (who has played for the RJA multiple times as a sideman) returns as leader of a "Trio +1" with Utica Box
  • Drummer Gerald Cleaver (Michael Formanek Quartet) leads his band "Violet Hour" (which includes Chris Lightcap) on a live date for Firehouse 12 Records entitled, strangely enough, Live at Firehouse 12 
  • And pianist Uri Caine has written an oratorio, The Passion of Octavius Catto, dedicated to the 19th-century Philadelphia civil rights activist.  Order it from Caine's website with the link above, or from CDBaby. Here's a review, and here's a promotional video:

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

News of Past Guests, Summer 2019 Edition

As we first put fingers to keyboard, it was 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).

Jazz Speaks also spoke with saxophonist Melissa Aldana, as did Burning Ambulance:

In the August issue of DownBeat you'll find this year's installment of the magazine's prestigious Critics Poll--which, like similar polls by Jazz Times critics and the Jazz Journalists Association (see our Spring Update), lauds plenty of RJA veterans.  For instance?  Cécile McLorin Salvant (whom we presented in 2014 in collaboration with Center Arts) took both Female Vocalist and Jazz Artist of the Year.  The Fred Hersch Trio: Jazz Group of the Year.  Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet. Miguel  Zénon: alto sax.  Anat Cohen: clarinet.  Regina Carter: violin.  Brian Blade (Joel Harrison and Spirit House): drums.  Adam O'Farrill (Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls): rising star trumpet.  Dayna Stephens: rising star tenor sax.  Allison Miller: rising star drums.

The July DownBeat had feature articles on Melissa Aldana and 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 in New York:

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

Elsewhere in print: in the July/August Jazz Times, Andrew Gilbert writes about vocalist Claudia Villela's recent travails and her latest album ("Into the Fire, and Out Again").  And in the June DownBeat, Suzanne Lorge had a short feature ("Sanchez's Borderless Music") on drummer Antonio Sánchez and Migration's Lines in the Sand, a timely album about border issues, as well as a long profile ("Seeking Unity") of bassist Linda May Han Oh (about whom Steve Futterman also said nice things in a recent issue of the New Yorker), while Bill Milkowski highlighted guitarist Ben Monder's Day After Daya double album (one solo, one trio) of imaginative covers.

More drummer news: Johnathan Blake (Omer Avital Quintet), featured on the Straight No Chaser podcast, 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 Allison Miller was interviewed for both Burning Ambulance, and DownBeat, where she spoke (among other things) about "Parlour Games," her quartet co-led with Jenny Scheinman.  (See our previous update).  And drummer--well, multi-instrumentalist--Tyshawn Sorey (Myra Melford's Snowy Egret) was recetnly 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.

Miscellaneous new releases:
  • The Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Transitions
  • David Berkman Sextet, Six of One:

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.