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.

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