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Jaimie Branch

OCTOBER 2017 • $5.95

Gilles Peterson | Marquis Hill

Camille Thurman | Newport Jazz Festival
The Herb Alpert
School of Music
at CalArts

PERFORMER Notable CalArts Jazz Alumni—Ravi Coltrane, Peter

Epstein, Ralph Alessi, Kris Tiner, Nedra Wheeler, and Richard

JAZZ Giddens—returned to CalArts to play with faculty, students,

and guests in a tribute concert to Charlie Haden at the Wild
Beast Music Pavilion.
COMPOSER Faculty List
Founded by the late jazz giant Charlie David Roitstein Chair, Jazz: Jazz Piano
Haden as a creative alternative to academic Joseph (Joey) De Leon Jazz: Latin Percussion
jazz studies, the Herb Alpert School of John Fumo Jazz: Trumpet
Music’s Jazz Specialization at CalArts Alex Iles Jazz: Trombone
emphasizes small ensemble performance and
Alphonso Johnson Jazz: Electric Bass
improvisation, training students to become
Larry Koonse Jazz: Guitar
highly versatile performers, improvisers, and
Joe LaBarbera Jazz: Drumset
composers. Along with the closely related
Bennie Maupin Jazz: Woodwinds
Performer-Composer Specialization, these
areas of study reflect the increasing demand Paul Novros Jazz: Saxophone

today for flexible musicians who are able to Darek Oles Jazz: Bass
integrate multiple modes of music making. David Rosenboom Coordinator, Performer-
Composer: Piano, Violin,
Capitol Records Electronics
Every spring for 28 years, CalArts music students from all Vinny Golia Performer-Composer: Woodwinds
areas of specialization have had the rare opportunity to
document their new original compositions at the legendary Eyvind Kang Performer-Composer: Strings
studios at Capitol Records, recording creative music in ideal Steve Lehman Performer-Composer: Saxophone,
conditions. Electronics

Jazz Archive (jazzarchive.calarts.edu) For more information, please contact:

On our CD Archive website you are free to stream or download admissions@calarts.edu
the music and art, to browse our photo galleries, and to link to
the hundreds of talented musicians and graphic designers who
have participated in our project over the years. See what these
remarkable people are doing after their experience at CalArts.


Grammy® nominated Chuck Owen (and his 19-piece ‘Jazz Surge’) is back in a big way!
Grounded in the jazz tradition, Owen’s writing is nevertheless utterly unique: buoyant,
intimate, and coming straight out of the American heartland. Aided by evocative violin,
luminescent harmonica, an array of acoustic guitars, blistering trumpet solos and even
the occasional burst of color from the accordion and hammered dulcimer - Owen and
his ‘Jazz Surge’ present an unforgettable Jazz Journey!


Critically acclaimed in a short amount of time, Hong and her
18-piece orchestra impress big time with a rich Korean-musical-heritage


[MAA 1052]

Randy Brecker and Dick Oatts ’scorch’

through well crafted, critically acclaimed
Holmquist originals (with Latvian Radio
Big Band)! Very well done!


YOU ALREADY KNOW [SMT 705] Blistering Big Band celebrating great
Together with a cast of world-class writing with the ‘voice’ of one of
musicians (including; Jason Marsalis,
Marcus Roberts and Rodney Jordan),
today’s most important saxophonists,
you’ll hear why Potter is quickly Rich Perry! Very impressive!
becoming known as an impact
musician! Great recording!

[SMT 697]
Critically acclaimed, one of the top
flute players on the modern jazz Just one listen to this incredible trio
scene, Gerald Beckett is a skilled and recording and you honestly won’t
versatile improviser within the jazz know what hit you. This is hauntingly
tradition...a Fantastic musical outing! beautiful music performed brilliantly. R E C O R D S
inside OCTOBER 2017

6 JT Notes Editor Evan Haga on

what list-making means

8 Hearsay Mike Stern, Gilles Peterson,
Camille Thurman, Newport Jazz Festival,
Lauren Kinhan, news and farewells

18 Before & After Marquis Hill

22 Overdue Ovation Joe Fiedler

← Trumpeter Marquis
46 AudioFiles Inside the Newvelle label’s
Hill analyzes tracks by vinyl subscription service
Donald Byrd, Eddie 48 Chops Rob Mazurek and Cuong Vu
Henderson and others, offer an introduction to trumpet electronics
beginning on p. 18
50 Gearhead New additions to the
Real Book library from Hal Leonard


To compile this list of 40 fantastic improvised solos you need to
hear—and, if you’re a musician, transcribe—we polled more than 52 CD Reviews
100 top players and critics. The results are almost certainly not 69 VOX
what you’d expect, and we’ve included commentary by Joe Lovano,
Helen Sung, Fred Hersch, Dave Douglas and many other artists. 71 Jazz Directory
72 Artist’s Choice Ambrose Akinmusire
chooses tracks by other great
34 DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER young trumpeters
Bridgewater, a recently knighted NEA Jazz Master, has been one of
our greatest jazz singers for decades. But her formative years and
family history are soaked in the blues and R&B, and she soulfully
pushes those influences to the fore on her new album, Memphis ...
Yes, I’m Ready. By Lee Mergner outside
AT J A Z Z T I M E S . C O M
There’s a common complaint that today’s younger jazz musicians promotions - jazz MP3s
are a homogenous lot, devoid of character. The 34-year-old JazzTimes Spins & Riffs, a podcast hosted by
trumpeter Jaimie Branch, however, is just the opposite: absolutely JT publisher Lee Mergner, plus free tracks from Wali Ali,
unforgettable, from the jersey collection she calls stage wear to Ron Blake, Uri Caine, Jeff Kashiwa and B.D. Lenz
her lyrically strident free improvising. By Shaun Brady
articles - columns
42 THE STATE OF THE CORNET Sponsored interviews with Blue Note at Sea artists
Cornet devotees will speak in poetic verse about the instrument’s Robert Glasper, Marcus Miller and Leslie Odom Jr.,
gorgeously foggy midrange tone and how its playability makes plus a conversation with comedian-in-residence
melodic beauty unavoidable. But could all of that be in the player’s Alonzo Bodden; an extended interview with punk legend
head? Michael J. West talks to musicians, craftsmen and other Iggy Pop, on his jazz-related work, Miles, his MMW
experts to find out. collaboration and more; Roseanna Vitro’s conversation with
Jazzmeia Horn; extensive coverage of the Newport, Chi-
cago, Detroit and Monterey festivals; Artist’s Choice playlist by
Cover image of Louis Armstrong, c. July 1946, by William P. Gottlieb, courtesy of the Library of Congress. Jason Miles; giveaways, polls, news, reviews and much more
Table of Contents image by Sarah Escarraz.


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expectations in sales, customer service, and
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Evan Haga

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Owen Cordle, Brad Farberman, Colin Fleming, Andrew Gilbert, Fernando Gonzalez, Steve Greenlee, Geoffrey Himes, Marc Hopkins,
Willard Jenkins, Mike Joyce, Ashley Kahn, David Kastin, Aidan Levy, Matt R. Lohr, Christopher Loudon, Bill Meredith,
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The To-Listen List
By Evan Haga

here’s a point of near-madness that occurs when I undertake unit or filing a tax return, and near-spiritual, like I’ve made meaning
one of our articles, like this month’s cover story, based on out of something vast and uncontrollable. Writing should always
a comprehensive poll of musicians and JT contributors. It create that sensation, but in these instances the feeling is less self-
usually occurs on a sunny Sunday afternoon, when I’m holed serving, as if I’ve worked for the greater good.
up inside counting votes for “Ko Ko,” then I realize that some voters The late Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco thought
have spelled it “Ko-Ko,” with a hyphen, which throws a wrench into long and hard about most things, including the importance humans
my search-and-tally method. I recount. Uh-oh. Others have opted to place on creating lists. “The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the
list it as a single word. Re-recount. So which one should be printed? history of art and literature,” he told Germany’s Spiegel Online in 2009.
My Real Book says no hyphen, yet this nearby reissue LP is pro- “What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. … [H]ow,
hyphen. Also, what the hell am I doing with my life? as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to
Arduous as they may be, I feel immense gratification after they’re grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through
completed, whether year-end critics’ polls or roundups of classic collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.”
tenor LPs. On an editorial level they’re fun to read and they dis- (Have the artifacts of our culture ever felt more like an infinity of in-
seminate useful insights culled from experts; on a commercial level formation than they do in our age of streaming and partisan media?)
they tend to do well at the newsstand. Long before BuzzFeed began Jazz improvisations, being the spontaneous, limitless, ethereal phe-
its inanity, list-based articles were a coup for magazine publishers. nomena they are, seemed especially ripe for a little bit of consensus.
We can put sexy sell lines on the cover—with words like “special” So take a look at the results, and remember that in addition to outlin-
and “collectible” and, in this case, “essential.” And a number! Media ing accomplishments, lists provide a context for meaningful interac-
consultants tell us you love numbers. Anyway, my sense of satisfac- tion with other people—to cheer, to critique or even to complain.
tion is at once superficial, like I’ve finished cleaning out a storage That’s fine too. ehaga@jazztimes.com JT


CHORUS )) Stay in tune ) )
Playing Through the Pain Inside
Mike Stern, Gilles Peterson,

ou can get a lot accomplished career began with sideman work for Miles Camille Thurman, Newport Jazz
in two and a half months. For Davis and Jaco Pastorius in the 1980s, was Festival, Lauren Kinhan,
instance, that’s how long it took back in the studio only six months later, news and farewells
legendary New York jazz-rock laying down tracks for his new LP, the aptly
guitarist Mike Stern to go from having two titled Trip (Heads Up). An earnest, enthu-
broken arms—he fell over construction- siastic fusion field day, the album is notable
site debris on the street in New York in the not only for what’s there—contributions
summer off 2016—
2016 from
f trump
t peter Wallace Roney, saxophon- 18 Before & After
Marquis Hill
to gigging at his ist Bill Evanns and drummer Lenny White,
main hang, the 55 among others—but also for what’s missing:
Bar in Greenwich sonic evideence of Stern’s accident. 22 Overdue Ovation
Village. Just as At a 55 BBar hit in July, with the leader Joe Fiedler
improbably, backed by bassist Harvie S and drum-
Stern, whose mer Richiee Morales, you couldn’t hear
it either. Sttern took long, winding solos
that never grew dull or revealed a loss
of steam. “You gotta keep going with
it, right?” ssays Stern, 64, before the the fuck to do this, ’cause it wasn’t possible.
performan nce, detailing his injury and I figured it out with a glove and Velcro
two subseq quent surgeries. “’Cause ev- and stuff like that, so it was OK but really
erybody’s got shit. I mean, Django, Les a drag. Every other day I wanted to [say],
Paul, to name a couple. I got a bunch of “Alright, fuck this. I can’t do it.” Blah, blah,
friends tthat have had much worse shit blah. And then the next day I said, “I’ve
than this. And my wife, [guitarist and gotta keep trying.”
singerr Leni Stern], is a breast cancer So then I went on the road with Dave,
surviivor of 30 years ago. And she’s and some nights were getting better.
been totally cool since then. She Somehow I was able to work this out. Then
went on the road when she was on by March I’d done a whole bunch of gigs
chemo. So if you got a wife like that, and gotten through them, and generally
you can’t wimp out—that’s for damn the support was great. People were saying,
sure [laaughs].” BRAD FARBERMAN “Man, your heart is coming through, and
there’s enough stuff coming through,” and
JAZZTIME I’m saying, “I can’t feel this and that. This
AFTER YOUR ACCIDENT, YOU WERE sucks.” There was real trouble. Still it both-
ONSTAGE AGAIN, SITTING IN WITH ers me. But it’s much better now, because
CHICK COREA. WAS THAT YOUR FIRST by March I had another surgery … and [it]
K ONSTAGE? cooled me out more so. It’s kind of a work
No, I played here a couple times first. … in progress.
It was the eend of October [when I played
with Chick k at the Blue Note in New York]. TELL US THE STORIES BEHIND TWO
Artist’s Choice: Yeah, beccause I went on the road for the IMPORTANT SONG TITLES FROM THIS
Mike Stern picks entire month
m of November with me RECORD, “SCREWS” AND “SCOTCH
tracks by Miles Davis and [drrummer] Dave Weckl. [We] TAPE AND GLUE.”

did a co-led thing. And it was tricky: The Scotch tape was what originally I was
I was trrying [to hold the pick] with a using; it wasn’t Scotch tape, but it was some
glove. I was trying to figure out how kind of tape. I was trying to take the pick.
For Your Grammy Consideration

Brooks’ voice possesses a superior pliancy, enabling the singer to

adapt to manifold musical environments…..her voice stands front
and center in these expertly-crafted songs, a voice full of experience
and learning, deftly prepared for any material.
- C. Michael Bailey — All About Jazz

Sylvia never loses sight of her laser focus as being a top jazz singer
that understands her lyrics and knows how to make them new.
Chops like this are practically one of a kind and are not to be missed.
- Chris Spector — Midwest Record

We found ourselves wanting to repeat the set over and over!

- D. Oscar Groomes — O’s Place Jazz

I was just trying to find my way, figure out He had his hand in some kind of weird ARE YOU NOTICING ANY POSITIVE
how to do this. Then finally I started using contraption. He was in a wheelchair in CHANGES IN YOUR PLAYING?
this wig glue, so that’s all I’m using now, the airports. And he kinda kept going. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU’RE
which is on the pick. It sticks sometimes, He was walking really slow. But you DISCOVERING?
[and] I can hear it. The dynamics are not know, you see guys troop through to try Nah. Maybe. I guess the main discov-
quite as fluid as I’d like. to do what they love to do. And he man- ery, or positive thing, is that I can keep
It’s kind of a mindfuck—you have aged. He got his soul out there, and then going. That’s the main thing. You know,
to just keep going and go for different it got stronger. He gradually got stronger. shit happens, and the positive thing is

things. You start editing: “I can’t do that.” AND WHAT ABOUT THE SONG the support, because that gets you the
And you just say, “Fuck it. I’m gonna do TITLE “SCREWS”? strength, I think. I don’t think anybody
it even if it comes out like shit.” You gotta “Screws” was from the 11 screws I had could do this if they’re not able to ask for
try. I saw that with Miles when I was play- in my shoulder, and a plate. They took help. … [That support is] what I think
ing with him. At one point he got really out four recently. I asked the doctor if gives you strength. And then just the
weak; he had a small stroke. And we still he could take out some from my head, music alone, that’s one thing that you get
kept playing. He took a couple months and he said, “It would cost too much.” more grateful for—just to have that in
off, and then all of a sudden he was back. [laughs] I said, “They’re loose already!” your life. JT

The Tastemaker
IMPRESARIO GILLES PETERSON GILLES PETERSON: Being a big music fan and having this
role in which I can shout out stuff and not feel compro-

ven at 52, Gilles Peterson still exudes childlike glee mised by what I’m playing—[because] most DJs do—I’ve
when he plays records. Watching him host his weekly got the best gig in the world. As a DJ I can do what I want.
program at BBC Radio 6 Music in early August was People want me to do what I want. So I’ve found myself
inspiring and infectious. Each time the French-born, in the same place as, say, people like Steve Coleman or
London-based impresario spun a song, his eyes brightened as Herbie Hancock.
if he were hearing the most transformative music for the very I also get a chance to find artists and give them a break.
first time. As he offered tidbits about the tracks and artists, So while I might not be the artist, I can be the background
his voice reflected that excitement. guy. And that’s quite nice, because I think if I was just the
Supported by a small team handling broadcast directions, artist or just the DJ then I would only get one side of the
his website and his social-media platforms, Peterson also music industry. I think what I’m doing keeps me a little bit
brought an improvisational zest to his programming. He paid more solid and my ego in check.
tribute to the recently departed record executive and pro-
ducer Joe Fields via a Kenny Barron cut, and presented music IT’S INTERESTING WATCHING YOU HOST YOUR RADIO
by such emerging U.K. artists as Vibration Black Finger, Zara SHOW AND SEEING THE IMPROVISATIONAL ELEMENT
McFarlane and Ezra Collective. Also filtering through the set HAPPEN. IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE DISCOVERING MUSIC
was Eddie Palmieri’s “Life,” Arthur Blythe’s “Autumn in New IN THE VERY MOMENT.
York” and Kamasi Washington’s “Truth,” topped off with a I mix my music live in this show, which hardly any radio pro-
special nod to Jules Buckley, co-founder of the East Sussex- ducers do. I come in every week with 60 songs, some of which
based Heritage Orchestra. are on vinyl. Most weeks I won’t know until 30 seconds before
Later that evening, Peterson would fly off to the Jazz in the hour what song I’m going to start off with. So my show is
Marciac festival, where he’d collaborate with Cuban pianist absolutely based upon the moment.
and composer Roberto Fonseca. We caught up with him dur- I’m always close to a massive error, but that’s part of it. I
ing his BBC set, to chat about his expansive career as a radio think that’s really important, because errors are good. Actually,
and club DJ, label owner and festival producer. people like that. The listeners like things in which they feel like
JOHN MURPH the show is on the edge a little bit.


HAVE YOU EVER TEST-DRIVEN A NEW SONG ON THE AIR THAT Toward the end of my stay at Phonogram, which became Universal,
YOU ABSOLUTELY HATED? the DJ scene was becoming a global network. People were becoming
No. I do listen to the records before I play them. I’m very specific about superstar DJs. At that time I was on KISS FM, which is a local station,
why I play songs. What makes the 60 is a week’s worth of curation out and I really wanted to get onto BBC Radio 1. I said, “This is really a
of, say, 200 songs. I’ve never done a show in which I haven’t listened great time for me to concentrate on being a DJ rather than being the
to all the songs properly. It’s important that you’ve studied your music record-company guy.” I’d been DJing all the time, but it was second-
before you go on air or on a DJ set. ary to heading the record label. So I focused on being a DJ by getting
myself on BBC Radio 1. I continued doing all of my syndicated shows
AS A LABEL OWNER, TALK ABOUT THE TRANSITION FROM around the world as a DJ. I was in [the venue] Cargo, in East London,
TALKIN’ LOUD RECORDS [1990-2003] TO YOUR CURRENT LABEL, and this guy came over to me and gave me a CD and said, “This is
BROWNSWOOD. pretty good.” I put it in my car on my way home, and it was José James
[In 1986] I started an independent label called Acid Jazz while also doing a version of John Coltrane’s “Equinox.”
DJing five nights a week. Literally every penny that I was earning as a I said, “Wow, this is great.” It was the kind of male jazz vocals that
DJ was going into the Acid Jazz records. Out of that label came Gal- I had been waiting to hear for ages. It sounded like Leon Thomas
liano, Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies. I was then offered a job meets Andy Bey. I felt like putting it out. Then I got the tickle to do a
by [the Phonogram company], and they said, “Look, why don’t you record label again. José James was sort of the catalyst for me to set up
do that for us and we will give you [a salary] and a car and a pension.” Brownswood Recordings. I signed three artists—José James, [pianist]
It was amazing because there were no boutique labels for me to learn Elan Mehler and the Heritage Orchestra.
from at the time.
Once I [co-founded Talkin’ Loud under Phonogram], the boss TALK ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF YOUR ANNUAL WORLDWIDE
who brought me in got fired. Then I spent the next 13 years fight- FESTIVALS IN SÈTE, FRANCE, AND LEYSIN, SWITZERLAND, WHICH
ing the system at Phonogram that was putting out Def Leppard and BEGAN WITH THE FRENCH EDITION IN 2006.
Elton John records. I was in that world [but] coming out with the I spent 10 years helping Montreux in the 1990s and 2000s. They asked
me to curate the Miles Davis Hall. That’s when I brought over everyone
from the Cinematic Orchestra and Roni Size to J Dilla and Madlib. It
was during that period of time in which the festival audience didn’t quite
get what I was giving them.
The other problem I had with Montreux was that the bands sounded
good but DJs didn’t sound that great because they didn’t care about the
DJ thing. And being a DJ, I wanted to create a festival where if I invited
Theo Parrish from Detroit, he would have the [same great] sound and
experience as if I had invited guitarist Ebo Taylor from Ghana. I wanted
to make it perfect for the DJs and the bands, and have almost a hand-
picked audience from around the world.
At Worldwide, we get a very strong element—about 40 percent of the
audience—from the U.K.; they bring the party, the decadence and the
club culture. [That British culture] is dirty and kind of raw. You need
that at a party. The French bring the elegance and the sexiness. Then
we have people from Holland, Germany, Austria, Japan. So it’s like a

handpicked audience of 2,000 people who are ready to listen to techno,

free jazz and everything in the middle. And they get it. That’s the holy
grail for a festival for me.


“I’m not going Obviously talent. [laughs] But I look for drive—someone who’s really
to play any records ambitious. That’s one thing that I like about American artists. Opportu-
I don’t like,” nities are scarce in America. When American artists have that moment
says Peterson when they see that bit of light, they go for it fully. And they will do
anything—maybe too much.
Young Disciples and Nuyorican Soul. Phonogram would give me just Whereas sometimes here the musicians are little bit too cool, and
enough money to sign the bands but they never really gave me the some will miss their moment. A lot of musicians here are a little bit
full weight of the company because Talkin’ Loud was always a little spoiled, and I don’t like spoiled artists. You can be brilliant but you
fringe thing. can’t be spoiled. I’ve seen so many artists who were brilliant when they
But the positive side of it is that I still got a chance to put out some were 28 years old but they missed their moment because of arrogance.
great albums. We had five Mercury award-nominated albums, from It’s important that they have the right attitude. But there’s a learning
Courtney Pine to M.J. Cole. And I learned about the corporate record window. You have to give room for artists to learn.
business. I would have never learned that lesson had I just stayed an Also, I look for music that touches me. It’s selfish a bit—but like here
independent-records guy. on the radio, I’m not going to play any records I don’t like. JT


Double Threat

he singer-slash-horn player is a rare phenomenon in jazz, never hurried. She’s
mostly because singing and horn playing are mutually exclu- a dexterous impro-
sive. There are, of course, standouts, including the two Louises, viser, both as a scatter
Armstrong and Jordan. Dizzy Gillespie and James Moody and a saxophonist.
sang, too, and memorably, but never all that seriously. There’s Valaida “It seems to me that
Snow, who sang and played trumpet, along with the little-known Camille is actually as
bebop-and-blues saxophonist Vi Redd. gifted a singer as she
The list thins out as you make your way to the present. There’s the is a player,” said Billy
trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg, and the young alto saxophonist Drummond, who
Grace Kelly occasionally sings, but she’s better known for the preco- plays drums on Inside
cious virtuosity she brings to her instrument. the Moment, record-
Enter Camille Thurman, the 30-year-old jazz vocalist and tenor sax- ed live at Rockwood

ophonist who is equally at home channeling John Coltrane and paying Music Hall in New

homage to the jazz-vocal tradition extending from Bessie Smith. Since York. The album
2014, Thurman has quietly released three albums—Origins, Spirit features an array of
Child and the latest, Inside the Moment—all of which make the serious covers that attest
case that a singing saxophonist, though not so easily marketable, is no to Thurman’s stylistic range: Sarah Vaughan’s
novelty in modern jazz. “Sassy’s Blues,” Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti,” Wes Montgomery’s
Thurman, a runner-up in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International “Road Song” and the standard “Detour Ahead,” among others.
Jazz Vocal Competition, has a nasal, sonorous voice. Her horn There was a time, though, when Thurman kept her singing secret.
tone is rich and full-bodied, and her phrasing is pleasingly slurred, Raised in St. Albans, Queens, once home to Fats Waller, Basie, Ella,

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Coltrane and others, Thurman picked up her first saxophone at McRae, all sang and played an instrument. Though that instrument
14. Though she intended to join a pit orchestra on Broadway, happened to be piano, Thurman was undeterred.
which seemed like a safe career choice, early on she heard Dexter In 2009 Thurman moved back to New York and began working on
Gordon’s solo on “Second Balcony Jump,” from his 1962 album the local jazz scene, gigging in Charlie Persip’s big band and other small
Go, and decided to devote herself to jazz. “That just made me lose groups. Through a mentor, the saxophonist Antoine Roney, she con-
my mind,” Thurman recalled in a recent interview at the midtown nected with legendary tenorman George Coleman who, presiding over
Manhattan offices of Chesky Records, which released Inside the a Fender Rhodes in his home, recounted to her a number of stories that
Moment. “All I heard out of that record player was a man that deepened her emotional understanding of jazz and its history.
sounded like he was 10 feet tall.” Stories are particularly important to Thurman, who feels that her ex-
Thurman’s time playing in the jazz band at the LaGuardia High perience as a singer, as an interpreter of lyrics, has enriched her playing
School of Music & Art, however, wasn’t quite as empowering. As on the saxophone, imbuing her solos with a grander sense of narrative.
one of only a couple of female musicians in a group full of highly “You can’t play nothing if you don’t understand a story,” Thurman said.
competitive teenage boys, Thurman felt that she was overlooked Thurman has been busy since she returned to New York about
and that not much was expected of her. “I was fighting just to be able eight years ago. Her next Chesky recording, featuring guitarist Jack
to take a solo,” Thurman remembered. Wilkins, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Steve Williams, is an
Though she often found herself scatting absentmindedly in the all-vocal album, though Thurman still plays saxophone throughout.
shower, Thurman said, “I kept [my] singing under wraps because I (All of her previous records have had instrumental tracks.) Thurman,
wanted to prove to myself that I’m a saxophonist.” who now lives in Newburgh, in the Hudson Valley, is also at work on
She persisted, but decided to enroll in the geology program at Bing- a vocal tribute to the pianist Horace Silver, a great she believes has
hamton University to keep her options open, playing jazz on the side. not gotten his due from her generation.
It wasn’t until a music lecturer named Michael Carbone encouraged Although Thurman still sometimes feels that, as a woman, she is
her to sing that Thurman decided she didn’t have to pick one path. She expected to put down her saxophone and pursue singing fulltime, she
could devote herself to her voice without diminishing her credibility has no plans to do so. She held out on committing herself to singing for
as a saxophonist or putting herself in a box. perhaps longer than she should have, but never felt as though singing
Thurman also realized, she said, that many of her favorite and playing were at odds. “When you’re learning the music,” Thurman
performers, including Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Carmen said, “you’re singing it.” MATTHEW KASSEL

Developing musicians versed

in the Jazz continuum and its
Wynton Marsalis, Director
American vernacular roots
Aaron Flagg, Chair and Associate Director
• Undergraduate and graduate degrees and
• World-renowned faculty
• Performance opportunities in New York City
and abroad

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Photo by Claudio Papapietro


Newport News
“I VIEW THE [JAZZ] TRADITION AS LESLIE ODOM JR. play on Saturday with her collaborative
BEING LIKE THE ROOTS OF A TREE,” Odom, the 36-year-old singer and trio ACS, featuring bassist Esperanza
the bassist Christian McBride told JT veteran of the blockbuster musical Ham- Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne
contributor Nate Chinen in 2013. “But ilton, was a valuable discovery for fans Carrington. Rather than scrap the set, a
you can’t just have the roots. Something’s of both jazz-adjacent vocal music and poignant tribute was assembled quickly
got to grow out of that: different branch- pop-culture soothsaying. There was a lot but sharply. Recruited to pay homage
es, leaves, the tree’s going to get taller.” of still-cresting star power on display, and here were three of Allen’s many dis-
That’s a familiar set of metaphors that not in a cloying way. He was a charmer, a ciples, pianists Christian Sands, Vijay
are also right and true. And they reflect self-deprecating performer whose voice Iyer and Jason Moran, each of whom
why McBride fit like a glove in his first tends toward a feathery, expressive, high played two songs.
year as artistic director of the Newport R&B croon. Fronting a smart and power- In Iyer and Moran her impact was
Jazz Festival, helming the venerable, ful band filled out with jazz players like especially obvious. Iyer played her
versatile institution alongside its co- bassist Orlando le Fleming, he deployed “Drummer’s Song,” from Allen’s book
founder, George Wein. What did the his ace in the hole at set’s end: the rare with her trio of drummer Paul Motian
transition mean to the Newport faithful, opportunity to hear the songs of an and bassist Charlie Haden, and you
who bolstered a strong turnout Aug. 4-6 impossibly in-demand Broadway show couldn’t help but relate the tune’s geom-
at Rhode Island’s Fort Adams State Park? performed by an original cast member. etry to the rhythmically stirring ap-
On the surface, not a whole lot. McBride (He joked about that fact, in a meta sort proach to exploratory jazz Iyer used in
inherited a well-oiled machine that of way.) Expect a full-festival-circuit his sextet earlier that day. Allen’s effect
sounds crisp and tends to run like clock- takeover. on Moran was similarly evident, and
work, and its programming continued to his lyricism throughout her arrange-
run the gamut of jazz and jazz-ish music. “FLYING TOWARD THE SOUND: ment of “Lucky to Be Me” pointed up
Here are a few standout sets from three FOR GERI WITH LOVE” the balance of confidence and romantic
overwhelming days; for expanded cover- The influential pianist and celebrated vulnerability she applied to standards.
age visit JazzTimes.com. EVAN HAGA educator Geri Allen, who died in More than anything, this lovely hour-
late June at age 60, was scheduled to long program underscored Allen’s es-
sential yet still overlooked place in the
jazz-piano lineage: The totality of her
knowledge and ability—from the most
blues-based, tradition-minded mastery,
to both the visceral and intellectual
extremes of the avant-garde—was a
downright innovation.

Bokanté, the high-volume global-blues
outfit fronted by Snarky Puppy’s Michael
League, here mostly on baritone guitar,
and the fantastic Guadeloupe-raised
singer Malika Tirolien, worked toward
its peaks through guitar firepower. Atop
locomotive African-blues grooves, a trio
of soloists positively ignited: There was
Chris McQueen, playing hard angles
with a flinty tone; Bob Lanzetti, shred-
ding with an echoey sound built for
an amphitheater; and lap-steel master
Roosevelt Collier, playing beautiful
singing lines as well as weird, idiomatic
rhythmic ideas. (Bokanté was also a rare

instance of a Newport artist even hinting

• Newport's new artistic director, Christian McBride, smooches the festival's at the current political climate, though
co-founder George Wein there were certainly examples I missed


happening on stages I wasn’t standing McBride spent a lot of time giggling funny. Other stories—like Questlove
in front of. Between tunes, Tirolien toward one another like the prank- remembering the different musical recom-
related the parable of the boiling frog, loving, trash-talking chums they were mendations he got from his schoolmates
explaining its meaning that when at the Philadelphia High School for the McBride, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Black
“something’s wrong in your family … Creative and Performing Arts during Thought—were deeper, and helped to
your country, you better do some- the 1980s. Some of the anecdotes—like explain the current state of American jazz,
thing.” Cheers came quickly.) driving their high-school orchestra hip-hop and R&B. As with McBride’s play-
director batty by fitting funky grooves ing, bandleading and now curating, the
HUDSON into unlikely places—were flat-out history lessons went down easy. JT
The supergroup Hudson hit precisely
the marks you’d want from a band
featuring drummer Jack DeJohnette,
guitarist John Scofield, bassist Larry
Grenadier and organist/pianist John
Medeski. I caught a loud, elastic,
cathartic take on Hendrix’s “Castles
Made of Sand,” with Scofield covering
the vocal melody in tasty Wes-style
octaves before DeJohnette sang with
fatherly, workmanlike charm. Hudson
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More Than a Tribute


year or so ago, when New York Voices alto Lauren As 2017 dawned, Kinhan connected with acclaimed sound
Kinhan began contemplating her fourth solo release, engineer Elliot Scheiner. Long associated with Phil Ramone,
she was sure of one thing: It would be her first album Scheiner, whose current Grammy tally includes 26 nominations
devoted entirely to standards. How, though, to focus and eight wins, has worked with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie
the repertoire? Kinhan grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., where she to Beyoncé. He’s helped shape two New York Voices albums
spent hours listening to her parents’ hi-fi. “One of the records and has known Kinhan since her Ramone-produced solo de-
that was powerfully impactful to me was [1961’s] Nancy Wil- but, Hardly Blinking, from 2000. “We decided to do everything
son/Cannonball Adderley,” the vocalist, 54, recalls. “She was as live, with the band in the same room and Lauren in a vocal
much a horn player as a singer on that album. booth but with the door wide open,” Scheiner says. “We felt that
“So I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll pay tribute to that record.’ But there that was the way Nancy made records back then.”
are only six songs she performs. So I went back to the begin- Searching for affordable studio space, he called Carl Beatty,
ning of her story. How did she find herself with Cannonball another esteemed engineer, now Assistant Vice President of
and then with George Shearing? What interested me the most Artist and Music Industry Relations at Berklee, Kinhan’s alma
were the early years, when the arrangements were so succinct mater. “I said I had a singer and small band and wanted to
and tight and swinging. I only got as far as 1964. I didn’t want record it all live, and to make things on their end work out,
to go into the pop or R&B worlds she ended up exploring, so I we’d come in to do a pre-production class on Thursday night,
stayed in that [early ’60s] valley.” then record on Friday and Saturday,” Scheiner explains. “He
and the dean thought it would be great for the students to see
an entire record done in two days. We had about 25 students
in the pre-pro class and about 30 each recording day, with
nine or 10 who were there every minute.” Scheiner subse-
quently invited that core group to his home in New York to
witness the final mixing. All accepted. He also arranged with
music-education publisher Hal Leonard to film the recording
sessions and craft an instructional video.
Berklee’s offer of its Shames Family Scoring Stage came
with one hitch: The only open weekends were less than a
month away. “We had to move very quickly,” Kinhan says,
“and Matt, Ben and Jay weren’t available. So I gathered Matt
Penman, who is a wonderful bassist, and Jared Schonig on
drums. … We basically had one rehearsal. The beauty of it is
that the music was really conceptualized, which wouldn’t have
happened if we hadn’t had the workshop gigs the year before.”
Added to the mix was Ingrid Jensen. Why, with so strong a
Cannonball connection, a trumpeter and not a saxophonist?
Before & After Listening Session: New York Voices Says Kinhan, “I felt going with saxophone was a little too ob-
vious. I love Ingrid’s playing and also wanted another woman
on the bandstand.”
Her first call was to pianist Andy Ezrin, whose connection The final program includes five selections from the Adder-
with NYV dates back nearly a quarter-century and who partici- ley album, two from 1961’s The Swingin’s Mutual! with Shear-
pated in Kinhan’s two previous albums. “We started to develop ing and such signature Wilson pieces as “Guess Who I Saw
the concepts and arrangements,” Kinhan says. “Like on ‘Never Today” and “How Glad I Am.” All are cleverly, thoughtfully
Will I Marry’ we have this herky-jerky bassline, and on ‘A Slee- reinterpreted, particularly the closing “Happy Talk,” which
pin’ Bee’ [the album’s title track], I wanted Andy to really pay Kinhan likens to “a circus moment. … There’s a theatricality
tribute to Shearing [and his] clustery, meaty, gorgeous voicings. to it now that I like, and it made sense for me as an artist to
So we were paying homage to Nancy but also to the incredible take an expressive risk like that.”
musicians who were on those records.” Though its release celebrates Wilson’s 80th birthday, A
To workshop the material, Kinhan established a residency at the Sleepin’ Bee, due out Oct. 6, is more than just a tribute. “No one
Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, on Long Island’s North Shore. “I wanted is ever going to say I sound like Nancy,” Kinhan observes. “She
to give the music time to grow,” she explains, “so I put together was my muse and also a way for me to find a launching pad for
Andy, Matt Wilson on drums and Ben Allison on bass, as well as this project. I tried to stretch a lot without stretching too far,

Jay Anderson [alternating on bass], and we started to develop it on trying to frame what I do well in these settings. It’s a celebration
the bandstand. It came together very nicely, and Matt brought a lot of Nancy, but it’s definitely a Lauren Kinhan record.”
of wonderful color and ideas to the music, as he does.” CHRISTOPHER LOUDON


John Abercrombie, a versatile and whom he shared a close bond. He
inventive guitarist who became a was later recognized for the touring
thinking man’s guitar hero during the and recording he did with Mike
fusion era, died on Aug. 22 after a Mainieri and Michael Brecker in the
long illness. Abercrombie was 72 and fusion band Steps Ahead. In 2010,
had resided in upstate New York. Loeb replaced Larry Carlton in the
Abercrombie had a long and smooth-jazz supergroup Fourplay. He
fruitful association with ECM, also enjoyed a successful solo career,
recording dozens of albums for releasing nearly two dozen albums as
the label. He collaborated onstage a leader, for the DMP, Shanachie and
and in the studio with a wide Heads Up labels, and was a prolific
range of generation-defining jazz composer, not just of jazz tunes but
players, including Jack DeJohnette, also of compositions for film and
Dave Holland, Ralph Towner, television, including the theme music
Peter Erskine, Adam Nussbaum, for CNN’s Headline News.
Charles Lloyd and Marc Copland.
Beginning in the late 1970s, he Longtime record executive and
recorded nearly two albums a producer Joe Fields died of natural
year as a co-leader or leader, and causes on July 12 on New York’s
appeared as a sideman on many Long Island. He was 88. Fields
more dates. Among the notable was instrumental in the formation
bands he co-led were the New and/or development of several
Directions group with DeJohnette, key jazz record labels, including
Lester Bowie and Eddie Gomez Cobblestone, Muse and, with his
and the Gateway Trio with Holland son Barney Fields, HighNote and
and DeJohnette. One of his earliest Savant. In addition, Fields served in
gigs was with Johnny “Hammond” the capacities of executive producer,
Smith, and Abercrombie would producer and engineer for hundreds
return to organ-based groups of titles released on the labels he ran.
over the years. He developed a
singular style that emphasized fluid Dolores Ferdinand Marsalis, the
runs, understatement and angular matriarch of a family considered
phrasing, sharing a sensibility with New Orleans musical royalty, with
peers like John Scofield, Towner and husband Ellis Jr. and sons Branford,
Pat Metheny but standing alone with Delfeayo, Jason and Wynton (plus
an instantly recognizable sound. two more sons, Mboya Kenyatta
and poet Ellis III), died on July 18
Chuck Loeb, a versatile guitarist, in New Orleans. The cause was
composer and producer best known pancreatic cancer. She was 80.
for his associations with Stan Getz Born in 1937 in New Orleans,
and Steps Ahead, and a musician La., the future Mrs. Marsalis came
whose compositions have been from a family with its own musical
recorded by a variety of smooth-jazz heritage. She attended Grambling
and pop acts, died on July 31. He State University, graduating with
had suffered with cancer for several a degree in home economics. In
years. He was 61. 1956 she met Ellis, fresh from a stint
Early in his career, Loeb worked in the Marine Corps, at a Dinah
as a sideman with several jazz Washington concert. Three years
greats, including Chico Hamilton, later they were married. As the family
Ray Barretto, Hubert Laws, Freddie grew with children, Dolores provided
Hubbard and most notably Getz, with stability and inspiration at home.

News from JazzTimes.com

• In mid-August, Chamber Music America (CMA) announced
its annual grant recipients in four programs: New Jazz
Works and Presenter Consortium for Jazz, supported by the Doris
Duke Charitable Foundation; Classical Commissioning, supported
by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the Residency
Partnership Program, funded by Chamber Music America’s
Residency Endowment Fund. The total amount of the grants is
$951,545, with much of the funding going to support jazz artists,
organizations and ensembles, among them the Ben Wendel Group,
Craig Handy and 2nd Line Smith, the Curtis Brothers, Kendrick
Scott Oracle and the Manuel Valera Trio.


Review: Marquis Hill’s The Way We Play

MARQUIS HILL 1. Ingrid Jensen

“Dear John” (Higher Grounds, Enja). Jensen, trumpet; Gary Thomas,
THE WAY HE LISTENS tenor saxophone; David Kikoski, piano; Ed Howard, bass; Victor
By Brad Farberman Lewis, drums; Freddie Hubbard, composer. Recorded in 1998.

BEFORE: [sings along] It’s “Dear John.” I’m waiting to hear the

n both his technique and the way he organizes his music, trumpet player, of course. Swingin’. Modern, definitely modern.
trumpeter Marquis Hill, 30, strikes a balance between mer- I’ll guess from New York. New York band. New York musicians.
riment and determination. On his most recent album, the Tim Hagans?
exhilarating 2016 standards collection The Way We Play [after the track ends] That’s nice. Lots of energy. I love that
(Concord Jazz), featuring his band the Blacktet, he solos with tune, “Dear John.” Based on “Giant Steps.” I’ll give myself three
seriousness and direction but also tenderness and excitement. guesses. I said Tim Hagans. Two more. It’s definitely coming out
He barrels and dives on his horn. He exclaims and encourages. of that Tom Harrell school of playing. It’s not Tom Harrell. Alex
And his moves as an arranger follow the same pattern. Herbie Sipiagin? OK, I’ll give myself one more. Jim Rotondi?
Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” is somber sailing, but only until
about a minute and a half in, when breathy female scat vocals AFTER: I’ve checked Ingrid’s music out, and I actually
part the clouds and raise the temperature. This approach ex- played with her a couple of times. We did this thing at
plains the musician Hill is: He knows that complexity actually Dizzy’s and also the Jazz Gallery—the [annual Festival of

lies between extremes, not inside them. New Trumpet Music, or FONT]. We did a huge trumpet
Raised in Chicago and now based in New York, Hill, winner of summit and she was a part of it both years. She’s amazing.
the 2014 Thelonious Monk trumpet competition, recently sat down Absolutely amazing, her clarity and flexibility around the
with JT to reflect on a wide range of new and old trumpet music. horn. Yeah. Nice. Ingrid.


2. Sly & the Family Stone
“St. James Infirmary” (Live at the Fillmore East, October 4th &
5th, 1968, Epic/Legacy). Sly Stone, organ; ynthia Robinson,
trumpet, Freddie Stone, guitar; Greg Errico, drums. Recorded
in 1968.

BEFORE: Um-hum. “St. James.” Kermit Ruffins? Very deep

groove. My mind automatically goes to New Orleans, ’cause
it’s a New Orleans traditional tune. I’m not sure [who it is]. I
like it, though. Very raw. Raw sound. I would definitely guess a
trumpet player from New Orleans. Band is very tight, listening
to one another very well.

AFTER: That’s bad, man. It’s soulful; it’s rooted. The energy was
there. It’s nice.

“Have You Heard the News?” ( ank You For F. . . .

(Funking Up My Life), Elektra). Byrd, trumpet, vocals; Paul
Jackson Jr., Rick Littlefield, Wah Wah Watson, guitars; reg ERIC ALEXANDER tenor saxophone
Phillinganes, piano; Eddie Watkins Jr., bass; Anthony Cox, HAROLD MABERN piano
drums; the Uptown Singers, vocals. Recorded in 1978. NAT REEVES bass
BEFORE: Donald Byrd? Yeah, that’s one of my major influences.
I love Donald Byrd, man. with special guests
And you did a Byrd tune on your last album.
CYRO BAPTISTA percussion
Yeah, “Fly Little Bird Fly.” Fro a di erent ti e period [off
1966’s Mustang!]. This is more of his ’70s pop stuff. But he still
has that sound in the core of his music.

What do you like about Donald Byrd?

First [time] I was attracted to Donald Byrd was [when] I

discovered his more jazz-bebop stuff. So I was attracted to the
way he highlighted chord changes. And something about just
the way he would speak, my ear was attracted to. His sound,
his articulation. The decisions he made, even the little nuances
in his solos, I was just kind of attracted to it. It spoke to me.
Definitely his ideas and the way they flow. He would have these JOHNNY O’NEAL
eighth-note lines that are flowing, and I was attracted to that ROY HARGROVE GRANT STEWART BEN RUBENS ITAY MORCHI
in his playing. Then I discovered his Blackbyrds stuff and I was
just like, “Yeah.” He did it all, you know? In the Moment
Can you hear in your own music how you might have been JOHNNY O’NEAL piano
influenced by Byrd as a player or composer? BEN RUBENS bass
That’s a really good question. I think I relate to him more in
with special guests
my actual sound and improvisation than in my music. But
just talking about the similarities in the music, definitely the ROY HARGROVE trumpet
groove aspect. Even his bebop, straight-ahead stuff of that era GRANT STEWART tenor saxophone
still had that aspect of groove. That essence was from where
this music comes. And I try to capture that in my music—
even my more hip-hop or funky stuff to my more swinging www.SmokeSessionsRecords.com
jazz stuff. It’s all about capturing that feeling and being able to
© 2017 Smoke Sessions Records
transfer it to people. I think his music captured that through-
out his career.


4. Tito Carrillo 5. Takuya Kuroda

“Shades of Morpheus” (Opening Statement, Origin). Carrillo, “I Don’t Remember How It Began” (Zigzagger, Concord).
trumpet; Darwin Noguera, piano; Lorin Cohen, bass; Dana Kuroda, trumpet; Takeshi Ohbayashi, keyboards; Rashaan
Hall, drums. Recorded in 2011. Carter, bass; Adam Jackson, drums. Released in 2016.

BEFORE: Keyon [Harrold]? Fat, fat sound. I’ve heard this BEFORE: Is this Takuya? He’s got a pretty distinctive
before. Wooo. Oh. [laughs] Tito. That’s Tito, yeah. From sound when it comes to his music combining hip-hop and
the first note I thought it was Keyon, ’cause Keyon Harrold jazz: his melodies, the form of his tunes, the shape of his
is one of my favorite trumpeters. He has a really fat, rich tunes. [He’s] blurring that line, because they’re really
sound. Oh yeah, that’s Tito. coming from the same place. I ran into him and his band
a few times touring in the last year, and I’ve been able to
I picked this because I saw that you had studied with him. hear him play beautifully.



Man, Tito is … Tito’s a bad man. He’s one of my teachers from 6. Eddie Henderson
Chicago, one of my mentors. Yeah. His vocabulary. I gotta check “Scorpio-Libra” (Realization, Capricorn). Henderson, trum-
this record out more. Thank you for reminding me. pet; Bennie Maupin, tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock, key-
boards; Pat Gleeson, synthesizers, organ; Buster Williams,
What did you learn from him? bass; Billy Hart, Lenny White, drums. Recorded in 1973.

He’s one of my trumpet teachers that engraved in me that BEFORE: Coming out of the Miles thing, if it isn’t Miles.
you have to be able to play the instrument—the importance I really love how the bass is mic-ed. Seventies electric bass
of being able to execute on your instrument. Because once vibe. Damn. Wooo. Yeah. This is the ’70s? OK. You probably
you hear these ideas, you hear these things while you’re threw something really obscure, right? Eddie Henderson?
improvising, if you can’t actually play the things that you’re
hearing, it’s no good. So he was really big on fundamen- Has Eddie been an influence at all?
tals: embouchure, air flow, flexibility. And then in the jazz
world, he was just really big about finding your own voice. You know, yeah, I would say, in his own way. I did a tour
Transcribing. Checking out the greats, what they did. Just with him in college, Northern Illinois University. Profes-
being really thorough about the information, as you can sor Ronald Carter would bring in these amazing artists and
hear when he plays. Man. Yeah, Tito’s bad. Eddie Henderson was one of them. I got to rap with him a
little bit and kind of follow him all week and listen to him.
I hadn’t heard of him before I assembled this playlist. Is he And then, also through the FONT organization, we honored
sort of a Chicago secret? him two years ago at the New School. I got to talk with him a
little bit. He’s just one of the masters of the music, definitely.
He is. I feel like if Tito would’ve left Chicago or travelled We’re lucky to still have him around.
anywhere else, he would have been one of the names that cats
remember and talk about. ’Cause he’s absolutely amazing. Right. What do you like about his trumpet playing
Not to take anything away from him—he’s definitely had specifically?
a huge impact in Chicago, and teaches at the University of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He’s a trumpet teacher there. He It’s very raw. It’s hard. It’s in-your-face. But it’s also beautiful.
taught a lot of players in Chicago, plays in Chicago a bunch. He has clarity; he has flexibility. In my opinion, he has all
Yeah, he’s one of those hidden gems in the city. the things that us trumpet players strive to get. He has that
aspect of [how it can sound] free when he plays. Completely
Is there a Chicago sound going on here that you can identify? liberated. He’s able to play the things that he hears without
hesitation. That’s the goal, to me—being able to sit and play
People talk about the Chicago sound a lot, and it’s interest- these ideas in your head and put them on your instrument in
ing. In my opinion, it’s just a certain rawness to it, a certain the moment. When I hear Eddie Henderson, that’s what I’m
energy. And I love playing with musicians that have that. You hearing. And he just keeps getting better. [laughs]
can tell that it’s a Chicago musician.


7. Ibrahim Maalouf AFTER: Oh, yeah. Duh. It’s so funny, I was gonna say that,
“Essentielles” (Red & Black Light, Mi’ster/Impulse!). Maalouf, too. That’s [hip-hop artist] Nas’ pops.
trumpet; François Delporte, guitar; Eric Legnini, keyboards; Sté-
phane Galland, drums. Released in 2015.
9. Ron Miles Trio
BEFORE: Wooo. Bad. Polyrhythmic. Let’s see if I know who this “Wildwood Flower” (Ron Miles Trio, Capri).
is. Very clean articulation, I love that. He’s dealing very well with Miles, trumpet; Eric Gunnison, piano; Kent McLagan, bass.
the rhythm moving and the way it’s moving. It’s nice. Funny, the Released in 1999.
vibrato reminds me of a Clark Terry type of thing. Coming out of
that a little. Very pretty sound. Fan of that. BEFORE: Um-hum. Very beautiful, fluffy sound. I’m a fan of
that. I don’t know who this is but it feels familiar. The hookup
AFTER: It’s grooving. Very rhythmic. Polyrhythms. And he’s dealing that the band has is ridiculous. [laughs] Beautiful sound.
with that: It seems natural to him to deal with those rhythms and be Sound is everything. Who is this?
able to improvise over that feeling. I enjoyed it. Pretty sound. Not one of
those players who screams at you when he plays. He isn’t overbearing. AFTER: I was gonna say Ron Miles. Flumpet. He has that
thing in certain situations—he stays in a certain register, you
know? Yeahhh. I love Ron Miles’ playing.
8. Olu Dara
“Harlem Country Girl” (In the World: From Natchez to New York, Atlan- What do you like about his sound?
tic). Dara, cornet, vocals; Kwatei Jones-Quartey, Ivan Ramirez, guitars;
Alonzo Gardner, bass; Greg Bandy, drums. Released in 1998. It’s very reminiscent of a human voice. When I play, that’s the
goal. You wanna be able to sing. When you’re playing your
BEFORE: It’s got a great feeling. Soulful. Rooted. The player, instrument, your instrument is just an extension of your
he’s in that trumpet-vocal tradition. You know, that’s a tradi- voice, so I feel like he’s tapped into that.
tion—trumpet player singing. Very beautiful sound. Another one His ideas are clear—very, very clear. There’s clarity in
of those players, at least in this situation, who isn’t beating the everything he says. But the most [important] thing, I’m at-
listener over the head. Very lyrical. Beautiful. tracted to the sound. Very warm. Yeah. JT

OPENING CHORUS Overdue Ovation

The circuitous path he has followed since pulling over to the

shoulder of a Pennsylvania highway more than 30 years ago has led
to Like, Strange (Multiphonics), which expands his longtime trio
into a quintet and places a new emphasis on tunes. He still employs
the growls and smears of avant-garde trombone, but he marries
those techniques to an increased emphasis on melody and form.
“With this record, after so many years with the trio, I wanted to try
my thing in a more conventional format without sacrificing any bit
of my personal style,” he explains. “I found it is more dangerous and
challenging to play over standard changes and to limit a solo to two
choruses, because the room for error is much less. Now I have to
make conscious decisions about when I’m going to play inside the
changes and when I’m going to play outside.”
Later that evening, Fiedler leads the quintet from the record-
ing through a tour date at Baltimore’s armchair-filled jazz venue,
An Die Musik Live! On “Maple Avenue Tango,” off the new al-
bum, Michael Sarin’s drum mallets and Pete McCann’s shivering,
film-noir guitar set up the jaunty melody, introduced by Fiedler
and saxophonist Jeff Lederer.
After McCann plays a slo-mo guitar solo over bassist Rob
Jost’s tango syncopation, Lederer and Fiedler engage in a call-
and-response duet, trading eights that stay close to the theme.
By the time they’re trading fours, however, they’ve digressed into
free improvisation that only obliquely echoes the tune. Soon
they are soloing simultaneously.
Review: Joe Fiedler’s That collective improvisation recalls not only Ornette Cole-
Like, Strange man’s Harmolodics but also early New Orleans jazz. More
specifically, the interaction between Fiedler and Lederer evokes
the exchanges between trombonist Roswell Rudd and saxophon-
ist Steve Lacy, two avant-gardists who got their start playing

JOE FIEDLER trad-jazz. The trombone, of course, was a key instrument in

early jazz, as was the tuba, which Fiedler employs in another of
BOP BEGINNINGS, his ensembles, Big Sackbut. “I don’t listen to a lot of Dixieland,”
AVANT-GARDE ADVENTURES he admits, “but I recognize that it’s at the root of my music. It
all starts with Roswell and Steve, but Ray Anderson took it a
By Geoffrey Himes step further by playing tunes and solos. Most of the people who
have a free vocabulary don’t have command of harmony—and

n the mid-1980s, Joe Fiedler was a jazz student at the Univer- vice versa. The ideal is to have both. You could hear that with
sity of Pittsburgh, studying the trombone bible according to J.J. Mingus. He could have Clifford Jordan play a solo and then have
Johnson under the tutelage of hard-bop legend Nathan Davis. Eric Dolphy play a solo—and have it work.”
A math nerd, Fiedler enjoyed the puzzle of chord substitutions, At An Die Musik, tunes such as “Tuna Fish Cans,” “Guiro
but he felt he was missing something. Then, late one night, as he Nuevo” and “Quasi…” are built atop Latin rhythms, even if the
was driving home from a date, he heard a recording on Public themes and solos sound little like those of a Latin dance band.
Radio International’s Jazz After Hours that changed his life. Nonetheless, those pulsing patterns open yet another door for
“It was the greatest thing,” Fiedler remembers. “The trom- audiences to approach the challenging sound of avant-garde
bone was growling, smearing against the grain and using a lot jazz. Fiedler’s Afro-Cuban influence resulted not so much from
of vibrato. It had humor and drama. I told myself, ‘That’s how I an aesthetic choice as from the exigencies of making a living as
want to play, and that’s the road I want to go down.’ I’d been so a trombonist in New York. He had had some experience playing
into bebop, but this put me on a new path. I pulled the car over salsa in Pittsburgh, and when he moved to New York in 1993, he
to the shoulder so I’d be sure to hear [deejay] Jim Wilke name all found that Latin gigs paid a lot better than free-improv ones.

the players. The trombonist was Ray Anderson.” “I was pretty good at it,” Fiedler says, “and I ascended from the
At a pizza joint in downtown Baltimore, Fiedler, now 52, grins neighborhood bands to play with Celia Cruz and Eddie Palmieri.
at the memory. A tall man with gray sideburns, wearing glasses, People teased me that I must have been Puerto Rican in a past life.
jeans and a blue-and-white print shirt, he exudes the modesty I could play high and I could play all night, so I played 300 to 400
of an underdog. Despite a deep catalog of impressive recordings gigs a year for a long time. I turn a lot of work down now, but I’m
and collaborations with Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Anthony still with Eddie. He’s the one who first added the trombone, because
Braxton, Maria Schneider, the Mingus Big Band and Eddie he wanted something different from all the other salsa bands. His
Palmieri, he has never won much renown outside the world of trombonist Barry Rogers set the standard in the ’60s. Even today,
avant-garde jazz. if you play a good solo, people will nod and say, ‘Barry Rogers.’”


“Joe and I have worked parallel paths on the New York
freelance scene,” Lederer adds. “We ended up on a lot of free-
improv and salsa gigs. A directness of communication and an
aggressiveness of attack are encouraged by both genres. The
phrasing of eighth notes that makes salsa swing ties into some November 4–12
of the more ‘out’ things we also love. We’d see each other at a
salsa show and then see each other at a free-improv jam session
at the Knitting Factory. It’s not that we’re musical polyglots; it’s
that we share this very specific combination of interest.”
Fiedler initially took up the trombone because all the trum-
pets were spoken for in his fourth-grade band in Pittsburgh,
but he grew to love the instrument. “I find it to be the most
expressive of all instruments,” he says now. “With the slide and
all the mutes, it feels more like the human voice; I don’t think
the saxophone or trumpet can touch it. With all its humor and
burlesque, I can’t think of a better way to express myself.”
You can hear that sense of humor on the title track from the botti
new album. In Baltimore, over McCann’s wah-wah-infused Wed, Nov 8 @ 7:30PM
R&B vamp, Fiedler’s trombone seems to be talking in the hip- This world’s best-selling jazz instrumentalist returns to NJPAC.
ster slang suggested by the phrase “Like, Strange.” Remarkably,
even as Fiedler seems to be mocking bohemian affectations, he
radiates an affection for the scene. When he plays “I’m In,” the
title tune from his 2015 trio album, Fiedler uses a toilet plunger
to simulate growls of pleasure and squeals of laughter. “Jazz has
gotten way too serious,” Fiedler argues. “If you look back to Bill
Harris and J.J. Johnson in the late ’40s, you see a splitting of the
seas. Bill kept to telling a story and being funny, while J.J. went
in the bebop direction. To do that, however, he had to lose a
lot of the trombone’s identity so it sounded more like the other
ella & dizzy
bebop instruments. The trombone’s ability to joke and talk got the centennial
lost till Roswell and Ray came along.”
With his job writing and arranging the incidental music and
Sun, Nov 12 @ 7PM
underscoring for Sesame Street, Fiedler enjoys more economic Gregory Porter (above), Lizz Wright, Regina Carter, Valerie Simpson,
security these days. That work and the Palmieri gig enable him Randy Brecker, Sean Jones and the Christian McBride Big Band salute
to spend more time composing for his quintet, his trio and Big Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie and celebrate the Ella songbook.
Sackbut. In addition, the Jeff Lederer-Joe Fiedler Quintet (with
More TD Moody Jazz to love this November!
bassist Nick Dunston, drummer George Schuller and vocalist
Manhattan Transfer John McLaughlin
Mary LaRose) will be touring New England and Portugal this Sat, Nov 4 @ 7:30PM & Jimmy Herring
fall. In all of these projects, Fiedler is searching for new ways to Fri, Nov 10 @ 8PM
Hiromi & Edmar
combine tradition and innovation. Castaneda Dorthaan’s Place
Sun, Nov 5 @ 3PM Jazz Brunch
“The danger of extended technique on the trombone is a Crosscurrents with Kevin Mahogany
Sun, Nov 12 @ 11AM & 1PM
loss of accuracy,” he says. “If you play a wrong note in a bebop Dave Holland & Friends
Sun, Nov 5 @ 7PM Sarah Vaughan Int’l
setting, it really stands out. The trombone is risky; it requires Christian McBride & Jazz Vocal Competition
Sun, Nov 12 @ 3PM
a lot of courage. You have to be willing to go for it. But if you Dianne Reeves: Guest judges include TS Monk,
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have enough technique to start a tune with a conventional Fri, Nov 10 @ 7:30PM Will Downing, Vanessa Rubin
and WBGO’s Gary Walker
approach and then explode into something different, the Sponsored by:

audience will respond. They want to hear you go to the edge,

even if you fall off sometimes. That’s the difference between
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I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to
Freddy Robinson’s perfectly designed guitar solo on “Good Time Boogie,” off
John Mayall’s 1972 LP Jazz Blues Fusion, but it feels like a million. As you might
deduce from the album’s title, the music is an exercise in smartening up simple
forms and grooves. And during those impeccable choruses, Robinson plays
along the dividing line between roots music and bebop to thrilling effect: He’s
got the comfort-food phrasing plus the deeper sense of harmony
that allows him to unspool a narrative, with a cool, dry hollowbody
tone that makes his showier licks stand out in sharper relief than if he
were plugged into an overdriven Marshall. It isn’t a canonical solo,

by any means, but it’s on my short list of recommendations.
That’s pretty much what this undertaking is about, as opposed
to a countdown or a compendium of jazz’s received wisdom.
I asked JT contributors and top musicians to give me a list of

between five and 10 improvised jazz solos they consider to be
their favorites. “And note that I said your favorites,” I wrote
in my pitch email. “I’m looking for the choruses that you have
worn out on vinyl and cassette and painstakingly transcribed,
the lines you’ve been humming for years.” (Musicians were also
asked to r rain from voting for
for a y rec
recording they appear on.) The tallied results, from over 100 ballots,
are fascinatingly diverse. Some jazz-school staples made the cut, but just as many are missing, in
favor of solos from recordings you might need to dust off. Again, and with one exception—Miles on
“So What,” which “won” the poll by a country mile—this isn’t a countdown but simply an alphabetized
list of great solos any student of this music needs to hear, fleshed out with commentary from artists
and writers. Happy listening.   EVAN HAGA, EDITOR
Feature: Top Tenor Albums

← “A perfect balance
of sound and space”:
Miles architects
modal jazz in 1959


Miles Davis
“So What”
Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959)
It is the first improvisation on the best-selling classic Today, the solo serves as a primer on improvisation for

jazz album of all time. It is recognized as a paradigm first-year music students, revealing “how creative they
of soloing over minimal harmony—and prized as a can be, how much emotion they can get to, even at the
harbinger of modal jazz, a perfect balance of sound beginning,” says Paolo Fresu, one of Europe’s premier
and space. trumpet and flugelhorn players and an educator at Uni-
What it is not is a “look-at-me” leap of technical versità di Bologna. “It is so easy and so clear. Most solos
prowess. Miles’ “So What” solo is brief—two unhur- jump up and down octaves. Miles keeps it simple, like
ried choruses long—and goes by in no time at all. it’s a new melody [draws his finger horizontally].”
It features that laconic, behind-the-beat phrasing of You can see what Fresu means: There’s a moment
his skinny-tie period, unfolding in call-and-response around 1:45 into the tune (00:15 into the solo) when Miles
patterns faintly echoing the opening theme, without plays five straight, stuttering D’s in a row, tying together
calling attention to itself. If there’s a grand statement one phrase with the next across a huge pause, defining a
being made, it’s one of minimal gesture and insouci- straight horizontal line: so simple and so rhythmically hip.
ance, perfectly reflected in the tune’s title. So, as Miles would call it, what. ASHLEY KAHN



“West End Blues”
Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five
“West End Blues” (OKeh, 1928)
The heraldic leadoff cadenza; the theme statement like
a Platonic ideal; the breathtaking ascension of arpeg-
gios climaxing in a high B-flat; the final chorus open-
ing with that same B-flat held for four dramatic bars;
an eruption of glorious free phrasing; out. In 1928,
Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues” began modern
jazz history. THOMAS CONRAD


“All the Things You Are”
Sonny Rollins/Coleman Hawkins
Sonny Meets Hawk! (RCA Victor, 1963)
Transcribing soloists on instruments other than your
own is essential for musical growth, and this Bley solo
from one of Rollins’ most daring albums has been
studied by dozens of my non-piano-playing friends.
It features traditional melodic phrases twisted in
unique and surprising ways, and adds rhythmic and
harmonic displacements to an overall sense of humor
and bravado. Essential. JON IRABAGON


“Swing to Bop”
← Charlie Christian
“Just pure Various compilations (rec. 1941)
joy in living”:
SOLOIST: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Recorded at a jam session at Minton’s, this 1941
Louis Armstrong
in the ’40s “Milestones” improvisation by one of the earliest electric guitarists
Miles Davis in history still stuns me. The interplay between Charlie
Milestones (Columbia, 1958) and drummer Kenny Clarke is electrifying and in the
Cannonball jumps right out of the gate with a moment, with a sense of rhythm and phrasing that
perfect alto sound and complete command. He is would sound modern if played on a gig today. Yet it
able to play melodically, both within the mode and has that old-school sense of narrative structure and
also by flirting with playing outside the changes. dynamics that is more rare now than then; there is real
There are so many memorable phrases in this solo; storytelling here. So adventurous and unique—and that
it’s simple yet sophisticated, and his energy and the tone! It has everything. I come back to this one often.
“happy feel” of his beat are infectious. Wouldn’t NIR FELDER
change a note. FRED HERSCH

“Potato Head Blues” Ornette Coleman

Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic, 1959)
“Potato Head Blues” (OKeh, 1927) The song strikes the listener as being so familiar, very
This is an incredible track from the very begin- much like the kind of small-group bebop heads that no
ning—with a blistering Johnny Dodds solo—and doubt influenced Ornette. It’s as if everything makes
yet, when Louis’ stop-time chorus begins, time perfect sense yet all the customary rules for soloing
seems to stand still. It’s like that moment when you are being broken—not for belligerence or whimsy, but
arrive at the edge of a cliff after hiking through a because this is the only way he knows how to play. Bar
forest, and the entire vista just suddenly opens up lines are shattered; intonation is in its own world. Still,
and it takes your breath away. The solo is a master- his playing swings like crazy. He darts in and out of the
piece of rhythm, harmony and melody, but what F-major key center, adding a touch of blues here and
comes across the most is joy—just pure joy in living. there. And one can’t forget the conversational spirit
SCOTT ROBINSON Ornette shares with drummer Billy Higgins. STEVE KHAN


SOLOIST: JOHN COLTRANE Flanagan could barely eke his way through the
“Chasin’ the Trane” changes. Coltrane’s vertiginous solo outlines
John Coltrane as many arpeggios as it has launched doctoral
Coltrane “Live” at the Village Vanguard (Impulse!, 1962) dissertations into the architectonics of hearing
Listening to “Chasin’ the Trane” still gives me a Trane build a house in under five minutes. 
sense of what Maestro Coltrane was all about: From AIDAN LEVY
his first phrases, which seem to be an improvised
melody, to his extended trio exploration, his impro- SOLOIST: JOHN COLTRANE
vising here is stunning. On the original LP, it was a “My Favorite Things”
full side of the record and would capture you from John Coltrane
start to finish. I came to realize he worked every- My Favorite Things (Atlantic, 1961)
thing out on the blues. JOE LOVANO Much of Trane’s work on “My Favorite Things”
sounds like his usual tenor and not the soprano
SOLOIST: JOHN COLTRANE he’s actually playing. But after each repeat of
“Crescent” the melody, he tantalizes with ever-lengthening
John Coltrane Quartet high-note phrases that finally burst into an
Crescent (Impulse!, 1964) ecstatic frenzy, just before he draws the quartet
This solo is so well balanced—between fast and back together for the close. MICHAEL J. WEST
slow figures, different dynamics and energy, and
lyrical phrases versus more chromatic ideas—that SOLOIST: JOHN COLTRANE
it could pass any compositional-review process “Resolution”
with flying colors. Add to that some of the most John Coltr e
relaxed yet intense swinging achieved by this stel- A Love S ulse!, 1965)
lar rhythm section and you have jazz perfection. Here Co incredible arc that
DAVID LIEBMAN incorp soloing—as if
it is al vised.
is a


“Giant Steps”
John Coltrane
Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960)
With “Giant Steps,” Coltrane supplanted “Cherokee”
as the litmus test for aspiring improvisers, packing
so many harmonic substitutions into one progres-
sion that at first blush, consummate pianist Tommy



in her sound”:
Chick Corea Ella Fitzgerald
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Solid State, 1968) in 1946
I often cite Chick’s solo on “Matrix” as a perfect
example of motivic development and storytelling
whenever I do clinics or master classes. The way he
connects his ideas is a perfect example of what a
great solo should be, and it is also very representa-
tive of Chick’s unique sound, touch and phrasing. It
has incredible momentum, originality, clarity and
subtlety. And the interplay between Chick, Miroslav
Vitous and Roy Haynes is always fresh and unpre-
dictable. Just great all around. ANTONIO SANCHEZ


“But Not for Me”


Ahmad Jamal
At the Pershing: But Not for Me (Argo, 1958)
Rather than only play the bassline in the first
chorus, Crosby adds solo fills that have become
standard repertoire for the bass world—and Ahmad
Jamal gives him the space in which to do it. The
other brilliance happens in the walking basslines
that follow. People ask how to play melodic
basslines? Here’s the answer, folks. JOHN CLAYTON


“Come Rain or Come Shine”
Bill Evans Trio
Portrait in Jazz (Riverside, 1960)
I love the subtle, organic shifts of groove and the
emotionally charged, continuously developing SOLOIST: ELLA FITZGERALD
melodic line, spanning theme-solo-theme; it makes “How High the Moon”
me hear “Come Rain or Come Shine” and, simul- Ella Fitzgerald
taneously, a completely new composition. Evans Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin (Verve, 1960)
washes away any sense of difference between chord What you hear in the Berlin recording of “How
and melody as they complement and support each High the Moon” is the blossoming of Ella’s artistic
other. This solo is like receiving a candid letter from maturation. In the freedom of her phrasing and the
a good friend. LASZLO GARDONY smile in her sound, you can hear her love for the
audience and the sense of playfulness she enjoyed
with her band. She sings the solo she recorded on
her 1947 studio version of the tune and continues to
develop more ideas, among them band hits, quotes
and the comedy routine at the end. This perfor-
mance is the perfect representation of her ideas and
hard work, and of the magic that happens on the
bandstand when you have the crowd in the palm of
your hand. KRISTIN KORB


“Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”
Duke Ellington
Ellington at Newport (Columbia, 1957)
The phrase that Gonsalves states to begin his solo
in “Diminuendo” has a boldness, a swagger, an


elegance, a deep traditional stamp and a curios-
ity about it. He manages to keep these attributes
alive and threaded together through 27 choruses.
Everything can be traced to how he sets this solo up.


“Cheese Cake”
Dexter Gordon
Go (Blue Note, 1962)
Gordon’s solo on “Cheese Cake” was the first
improvised jazz solo I ever learned, and, almost
25 years later, I can still sing it note for note. What


makes it so memorable? The fact that he plays
great melody after great melody for over two min-
utes of melodic perfection; this is a study in what
makes a melody a good melody. Some of those
qualities include Gordon’s logical melodic develop-
ment, his rich harmonic vocabulary (without
resorting to complex chord substitutions) and his
relaxed yet deep rhythmic feel. RYAN KEBERLE


Ornette Coleman ←
Change of the Century (Atlantic, 1960) Herbie and band, as
Haden’s gorgeous double stops had already be- seen on the back of the
come famous by the time “Ramblin’” was released. SOLOIST: HERBIE HANCOCK Thrust LP: Hancock,
Bill Summers, Paul Jack-
His short solo begins as a double-stop sonata, “Actual Proof”
son and Bennie Maupin,
the bassist applying the technique to sumptuous Herbie Hancock from left, with Mike Clark
melody, with a bluesman’s sense of suspense. But Thrust (Columbia, 1974) sitting down
the solo is a twofer, ending with another Charlie An iconic track with a legendary solo. I’ve been
Haden signature: an extensive quote from the folk listening to it since age 13, and it has been very sig-
tune “Old Joe Clark,” his favorite song. nificant for me: a roiling, circular obstacle course,
MICHAEL J. WEST with bassist Paul Jackson and drummer Mike Clark
spurring Herbie on to a grippingly digressive im-
provisation. He keeps upping the ante, chorus after
chorus, a wellspring of invention, head-shaking
in construction and catchiness, with a touch of
psychedelic production to add to the ear candy.


“Body and Soul”
Coleman Hawkins & His Orchestra
“Body and Soul” (Bluebird, 1939)
A few people I’ve known—Dizzy Gillespie includ-
ed—saw tenorman Coleman Hawkins not only as
one of the giants of the swing era, but also in some
ways like a very early bebopper. His exuberant solo
on “Body and Soul” sounds almost like a perfectly
built through-composed classical piece—with-
out losing the candid freshness of improvisation.
← Bridging swing and bop: Coleman Hawkins in 1946

← Hubbard
rehearses for seemingly impossible and would leave us all stunned.
the Ready for “One Finger Snap” is a perfect example of this. He
Freddie session
in 1961
begins his solo so melodically that we all thought
for years that the first chorus of his solo was actu-
ally the melody of the tune—it’s even in some Real
Books that way—only to find out otherwise through
the alternate takes released later on CD. This is also
Freddie’s first recording with Miles’ then-current
rhythm section of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and
Tony Williams, and I’m sure he was aware of this
and was even more determined on the date. If my
informal poll of all my trumpet-playing colleagues
over the years is any indication, this is Freddie’s most
transcribed solo. I think part of the reason is that
while it is amazing and difficult to play along with,
one can actually master it with a lot of work and
effort—unlike most of Freddie’s solos, which are just
impossible to master in their entirety. DAVID WEISS


“Monk’s Dream”
Larry Young
Unity (Blue Note, 1966)
This solo is a masterpiece for many reasons. Elvin’s
unique ability to stretch and expand the feeling of
time while maintaining form and structure is on
full display. He not only maintains the form but also
references the melodic phrase of the tune. For a long
time, I was under the impression that Elvin turned
the beat around during the solo; however, upon
IST: EDDIE HUBBARD further study and the improvement of my own time,
“Birdlike” I began to see that he would play through entire
Freddie Hubbard sections of the tune on what seemed like the wrong
Ready for Freddie (Blue Note, 1962) side of the beat, then suddenly make the phrase cor-
I remember the day I finally made it through rection needed to land on his feet. RALPH PETERSON
Freddie’s brilliant blues excursion. I was living in
Chelsea and was determined to make the transcrip-
tion happen. And yes, my neighbors were thrilled ← Elvin Jones in 1957
when I finished it! Chorus after chorus, nearly 20
in total, it feels like one big groove-driven story to
me. Badass riffs connected to melodies with clear
and distinct direction, leading to perfectly swinging
lines that I’ll be striving for forever. Not a second
of unwarranted high notes or easy-out moments of
false-fingering “whatevers.” Who knew B-flat could
have so many possibilities? INGRID JENSEN


“One Finger Snap”
Herbie Hancock
Empyrean Isles (Blue Note, 1964)
The best Freddie Hubbard solos had it all. They were
profoundly melodic, harmonically complex, swinging
and soulful, full of fire and passion and of course
always contained what I called pyrotechnic feats of
strength; he did things on the instrument that were


“C Jam Blues”
Charles Mingus
Mingus at Carnegie Hall (Atlantic, 1974)
This solo is the entire history of the jazz tenor
saxophone in the space of about four minutes. Kirk
enters with an amazing retort to George Adams’ own
virtuosic display of extended technique, and then
gives a backwards-chronological catalogue of tenor
saxophone stylings, ranging from John Coltrane’s A
Love Supreme through bebop to the guttural growls
of Ben Webster. It is jazz legacy in sound. JEFF LEDERER


“Bright Size Life”
Pat Metheny
Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976)
I love how Metheny dives right into his solo with
no hesitation. There’s a lightness and fluidity to it all
that I respond to: The ethereal nature of some of his
upward-spiraling lines landing right on these bluesy
riffs—while locking in with Jaco Pastorius and Bob
Moses—makes me giggle and sing along every time.


“Remember” “Embraceable You”
Hank Mobley Charlie Parker Quintet
Soul Station (Blue Note, 1960) “Embraceable You” (Dial, rec. 1947)
This solo features Hank’s trademark melodicism and Parker’s improvisation on “Embraceable You” bears
unapologetic enjoyment of the changes. The phrasing the mark of both his compositional thought process
and use of space make it feel as though he’s having a and his seemingly effortless extemporaneous flow.
dynamic and entertaining conversation with some- It is a new melody, and its development is perfect:
one just out of ear’s reach. I also enjoy the rainbow- The harmonic clarity and innovation and rhythmic
shaped arc of the solo. He develops themes in an invention are flawlessly navigated, and he’s always
unhurried way, letting them expand and blossom, telling a story. Add to that Parker’s glorious alto
and then guides us home via the blues. Perfection! saxophone sound and the vocal nuances that come
KATE MCGARRY through his horn and you have one of the greatest
recordings in history. Duke Jordan’s piano introduc-
SOLOIST: OLIVER NELSON tion is also a classic, and the alternate take is equally
“Stolen Moments” brilliant, soulful and … different! BILL CHARLAP
Oliver Nelson
The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse!, 1961) SOLOIST: CHARLIE PARKER
The relaxed pacing and motivic development “Just Friends”
make this solo a strong, bold statement that offers Charlie Parker
a stark contrast to the preceding solos by Fred- Charlie Parker With Strings (Verve, rec. 1949)
die Hubbard and Eric Dolphy. I love all the solos “Just Friends” is one of those recordings that exem-
on this track, but there is something special about plify the genius of Charlie Parker. He was, obviously,
Nelson’s statement that makes you lean in and a complete player: His tone, his time, his articulation,
listen. Holding long tones, at times over more than his understanding of harmony, his almost extrasen-
one chord, Nelson says a lot with not a lot of notes sory ability to listen—these were some of the things
while also utilizing a wide span of the pitch range that made him who he was. He transcended the saxo-
on the instrument. The hint of augmented sound phone and went to pure music. Listen to the fluidity
at the end—also a nod to “Hoe-Down,” another of in his playing and the lightness and transparency of
Nelson’s compositions on the album—is like a brief his sound. It makes me think of what butterfly wings
brushstroke of contrasting color. LINDA MAY HAN OH would sound like if we could hear them. JEFF COFFIN

“Ko Ko” “Havona”
Charlie Parker’s Ri Bop Boys Weather Report
“Ko Ko” (Savoy, 1945) Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977)
A book editor once told me he thought the best “Havona,” by Jaco Pastorius, is a remarkable study
books are always strong and strange. Parker’s “Ko in contrasts. The melody’s long notes soar majesti-
Ko”—all of it, not just his solo but the composition cally atop the swirling “Florida beat” (Jaco’s term)
from the first emphatic “one”—is strong and strange of the bass and drums. Jaco’s bass solo starts with
and also clear. There are open spaces and long tones stately melodic components, including an homage
amid Parker’s fast, forceful, off-centered language. to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, but then he whips
Jazz operates on paradox, and Parker’s two choruses out the chops while somehow never losing any sense
sound like some kind of off-the-cuff law; their spon- of the elegance and melody that were the hallmark of
taneity is matched only by their careful preparation. his best playing. And he does it all on the fretless bass
BEN RATLIFF with perfect intonation and tone. And time. One of the
finest Weather Report tracks ever. PETER ERSKINE


“Blue 7”
Sonny Rollins
Saxophone Colossus (Prestige, 1956)
On “Blue 7,” what Rollins derives from a simple
minor-blues theme is so vast yet so relevant to the
melody, so imaginative yet so logical, it is astonish-
ing that he made it up on the spot. Arnold Schoen-
berg said the best written music sounds improvised
and the best improvised music sounds written.
“Blue 7” is proof. THOMAS CONRAD


“The Eternal Triangle”
Dizzy Gillespie/Sonny Rollins/Sonny Stitt
Sonny Side Up (Verve, 1959)
This track is a great example of the right way to ap-
proach a “cutting contest”—no grandstanding, no
cheap tricks, just constant invention and musical
focus. Both Sonnys are clearly inspired and motivat-
ed by the other’s presence, playing individual solos
and trading sequences full of rhythmic, tonal and
harmonic surprises. KEN PEPLOWSKI


“Donna Lee” “On Green Dolphin Street”
Jaco Pastorius Miles Davis
Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976) The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965
Overall the architecture is uniquely witty, with bold (Columbia/Legacy, 1995)
use of extensions/upper structures—not commonly I’m not an academic (and there’s probably not enough
associated with bass solos—as well as phrasing that room here to get academic, though one could with this
pushes over typical groupings of measures and cho- solo). For me, it’s the counterintuitive choices Shorter
ruses. Add to that Jaco’s impeccable time feel and makes in this solo that really get me. By counterintui-
technique; his diverse choices in range, rhythm and tive I mean: Shorter seems to use the unusual notes
articulation; the slick and unexpected key change to in a chord or voice-leading moment to connote other
E; and the refreshing instrumentation (which allows harmonic areas, keys and scales, and somehow always
for that freedom to explore those upper structures). manages to resolve the dissonance tunefully but
LINDA MAY HAN OH almost never in the way you expect. It helps that his
dialogue with the rest of the band is telepathic, with


← During the session
for The Real McCoy in
April 1967, Tyner (left)
strategizes with Blue
Note co-founder and
producer Alfred Lion


each interesting harmonic, melodic and rhythmic energy and inevitability he’d use to solo over changes.
choice leading to an intelligent and emotive response. His phrasing, the shapes of his lines and how he
The deeper you listen, the more profound those navigates harmony are uniquely his own: compelling,
choices seem. That makes a great improvisation, no irresistible, a game-changer. HELEN SUNG
matter the music or style. DAVE DOUGLAS
“Line Up” “September Song”
Lennie Tristano Sarah Vaughan
Lennie Tristano (Atlantic, 1956) Sarah Vaughan With
Tristano’s “Line Up” is a tour de force demonstration Clifford Brown (EmArcy, 1955)
of soloing in the bebop idiom. Learning that he had Vaughan delivers an inter-
crafted it over a prerecorded rhythm section doesn’t pretation of this melody
lessen the beauty and power of his lines, which that displays her wide
showcase striking syncopation, incisive melodies range in sonority, including
and phrasing and daring harmonic excursions. low husky tones, a velvety
Tristano plays “all” of “All of Me”—and then some! midrange and shimmering
HELEN SUNG high notes. Her voice soars
beautifully over sparse
SOLOIST: MCCOY TYNER horn riffs and the relaxed,
“Passion Dance” warm rhythm section.
McCoy Tyner Brown’s solo is also memo-
The Real McCoy (Blue Note, 1967) rable: Upbeat, repeated
When I first heard McCoy’s solo on his iconic rhythmic figures on the
“Passion Dance,” I remember being exhilarated muted trumpet fuel forward motion and exemplify
and fascinated. Having started playing jazz only a his personal style. This solo is a remarkable example
few years before, I was amazed at how he was able of his phrasing, inflections, articulation, dynamics
to play over one chord with the same directional and ornamentation. JARED SIMS

rammy-winning vocalist and NEA Jazz Master The music I recorded is all music I was able to hear on a radio
Dee Dee Bridgewater has been an electric pres- station out of Memphis called WDIA. It’s a station that began
ence on the jazz scene for decades. A live per- in [the late ’40s] and was dedicated to black music only. It’s a
former whose charisma and comfort onstage re- station that still exists today, but the programming has changed.
flect her success in theatre and as a broadcaster All of the artists I selected were artists whose songs I heard on
for WBGO/NPR, she also demonstrates ingenuity in the studio, the radio. And WDIA, the [signal] was able to be caught after 11
crafting conceptual tribute albums like Dear Ella, Eleanora Fagan o’clock at night in Flint. So I listened to this station in secret, and
(1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater, Red I never really talked about this music. It wasn’t until I decided
Earth (a dedication to African and Malian music) and Dee Dee’s I was going to do music out of Memphis that I started thinking
Feathers (a love letter to the Crescent City, with trumpeter Irvin about the songs I had heard that were played on that station.
Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra). Her latest is Mem- And I found out in my visits to Memphis, which began in 2014,
phis ... Yes, I’m Ready (DDB/OKeh/Sony Masterworks), a spirited that my father was one of the first DJs on WDIA, because the
homage to the soul music Bridgewater grew up on in Michigan owners decided they would hire up-and-coming musicians in
and, through some surprising family history, had in her bones all Memphis to spin records. My father’s [on-air] name was “Matt
along. Here she talks to JT publisher LEE MERGNER about the the Platter Cat.”
project, her recent NEA award and more.
Did he perform R&B or jazz?
He taught jazz, he taught marching band at the high school. But
JAZZTIMES: You were born in Memphis but grew up in Flint, Mich. he played in a lot of different bands—he played alongside Willie
What was it like musically in Flint at that time? Mitchell, who of course created the whole history of Royal Stu-
DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER: When I was growing up it was Top [40] dios. He and Willie Mitchell were friends and played together. At
radio. We had a radio station that played all the black music, the Stax Museum, I found a photo where he was with him.
called WAMM. Apart from that in the ’60s, Motown Records
was the big influencer for Flint. Did you know your father had that musical background in Memphis?
No. The only thing I had known about my father, who was
When you were young, did you want to be a part of the Motown thing? quite secretive, was that he taught at Manassas High School [in
I was in Flint at the beginning of the Motown thing. I was there Memphis], and some of the jazz musicians are still around today
until I turned 18, and then I went to Michigan State University. that he taught—from Charles Lloyd to Harold Mabern to George
So it was still looming quite large. Did I want to be a part of it? Coleman. Booker Little was a student of his—a private student,
Not particularly. My father took me to an audition and I met but he went to Manassas High School. Frank Strozier, Garnett
Berry Gordy and I met Smokey Robinson. Berry Gordy wanted Brown, Phineas Newborn Jr. … These were all kids that he taught.
my father to bring me back when I was 18—I was 16, so [the But, you know, my father wasn’t much older than them.
audition was in] 1966. He wanted to sign me. Charles Lloyd and I did an interview together for a TV show
I told my father on the way back that I wasn’t really interested in in Switzerland a couple of years ago, and he was the one who
Motown, I was interested in Capitol Records because that’s where confirmed that my father was, indeed, a DJ at WDIA and that
Nancy Wilson was. So that was the scope of my intellect at the time. they had a band together after the first year my father taught at
Manassas. Yeah, he shared a lot of stuff with me about my father
For your new album, Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready, was it a matter of that my father never [did]. Then, when I went back and asked
rediscovering classic R&B and soul? my father about it, he was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s true.”



to Memphis
I have no idea. I think it was my father’s family. I [do] know him
not wanting me to be a musician—that was from the generational
idea. I had expressed interest in playing the piano when I was 12
and he told me, “Girls don’t play instruments, girls sing.” So that’s
very generational.

Tell me about the songs on this album and how you chose them.
These were just songs that I always loved and songs that I
wanted to sing. On the album is a song by Barbara Mason called
“Yes, I’m Ready” and “Givin’ Up” by Gladys Knight and the Pips,
which was the first song I heard on the radio when I stopped
going up and down on my dial on my transistor. “Goin’ Down
Slow,” which was the first song I heard Bobby “Blue” Bland sing.
“B.A.B.Y.” by Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas’ daughter. A group
called the Soul Children recorded a song that I loved in my teen
years, and that’s called “The Sweeter He Is.” I do “I Can’t Stand
the Rain” by Ann Peebles. I had to do something from Elvis
Presley, because he was so prevalent on the Memphis scene, and
that song is “Don’t Be Cruel,” which was rearranged and features
one of my co-producers, [saxophonist] Kirk Whalum. I do Big
Mama Thornton’s version of “Hound Dog.” I do Otis Redding’s
“Try a Little Tenderness.” I do “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King;
I do “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” by the Staple Singers.

It’s incredible to think that almost all of those songs are from a
10-to-15-year period.
Exactly. From going back to Memphis, I just thought, when I
made the decision to do an album there, that it would be blues
and soul. It also had to do with seeing how South Memphis,
which was where the biggest black community was, has all but ← Bridgewater accepts her NEA Jazz Master award
disappeared. Royal Studios is still in South Memphis, but it is a at the Kennedy Center on April 3
very blighted community and there is a lot of poverty. It became
a thing for me to want to try and draw some attention to the
Memphis music, to the soul music. … And this music is pretty What does your father think about the Memphis project?
much all black, or African-American, as we are called today. To I have not played the album for him yet. He just knows that I went
try and bring focus back to the city, to that history, to my people, and did it. We’ll see how he likes it. I think he’ll enjoy it. He’s 89; his
I am performing with a band composed of all Memphis musi- health is not the best. He wants to make it to 90. He was always very
cians. If they were not born in Memphis, they have lived there competitive, my father. My mother made it to 90, so that’s become
for a large part of their lives. his focus. He wants to at least do what my mom did, which is cute; I
think it’s very sweet. He’s known about [the Memphis project], and
Like you, Kirk Whalum is a jazz person who has lived in and around I’ve kept him in the loop. In fact, I met someone who was able to put
the R&B idiom. him in touch with the people that were working on the history of
Exactly. I feel like I’ve really gone full circle. I was able to acknowl- musicians in Memphis, and they were able to interview my father,
edge my roots. They say up until 3, that’s your formative period. and that was great.
Going back and finding out a lot of stuff about those years that my
family was in Memphis, it’s been very, very healing for me. In April you received the NEA Jazz Master award. It’s great to see you get it
I have also discovered that I really love this music. I absolutely this year, and then learn that Dianne Reeves will be recognized next year.
adore this music. It’s very therapeutic for me. I don’t know if that’s It is great to see Dianne get it. I’m so happy for her. And it was
because I lost my mother March 1, and my emotional-support wonderful for me, because I didn’t even know I was on the radar. It

service dog, I lost him on Dec. 1. It’s been kind of a traumatic six was never something that I had thought about. I even felt a little un-
months for me that I’m just now beginning to come out of and comfortable receiving it, knowing that my new album was blues and
see my way clear. But I have to say, every time I go to Memphis soul music. So I thought, “Well, that’s kind of ironic.” But, of course,
I just feel so good and so at home and I start having ideas about these are all musics that come from the black experience, so there is a
songs and stuff, and I haven’t had that in years. I’ve kind of been connection in that way.
in a creative limbo since even before I did the Dee Dee’s Feathers
album [from 2015]. I actually haven’t felt really creative-creative I would think that it must have been quite an affirming feeling for you to be
since I did my Red Earth project [released in 2007]. That was quite recognized like that.
something for me. It was very affirming for me. I always knew about the NEA Jazz


Before & After Listening Session: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Masters; I saw a lot of the people who were awarded with the Jazz work with China, and to be able to watch and participate in her
Masters. But I don’t know, I never thought I was of that ilk. My progression as an artist and as a musician, has been nothing short
focus has always just been on recording, making the money so I of extraordinary. She has a new album out that she co-wrote and
can take care of my family, and just trying to uphold traditional co-produced—she just co-everything-ed on this album—called
jazz, vocally speaking. And to allow my reputation to be a platform Nightingales that is just extraordinary. Several of the songs on her
for the musicians I hired to step from to get better recognition album I could absolutely sing. They’re just great songs.
for themselves. That’s always what I’ve been about. And just to do I have a 25-year-old son [Gabriel Durand] who’s a musician—a
music that I wanted to do, that I believed in, that I was ready to guitarist, a bassist, he wants to play all instruments. He’s coming
defend. And that’s it. I was trying to do my music more from the along. He was born in Paris, so he’s back home in France. He’s
standpoint of a musician’s place, because as singers people expect been there a year and he’s starting to make a way for himself and

“It was wonderful for me [to receive the NEA Jazz Master award],
because I didn’t even know I was on the radar. It was never something
that I had thought about. I even felt a little uncomfortable receiving it,
knowing that my new album was blues and soul music.”
us to stay in the same category of music all of our lives. Musicians starting to be called for bass gigs and guitar gigs and singing gigs.
are allowed to be much freer. Miles Davis was always my model I call him my jack-of-all-trades. I try to tell him, “It’s better to stay
that I tried to create my music after. I wanted to be exploratory and in one position instead of trying to fan yourself out.” But he’s gotta
I wanted to have those experiences like the musicians—that was learn himself. I just sit back and I don’t say anything, which is what
always very important to me. I did with China. I didn’t really say anything to China; I didn’t help
China. Because one thing I wanted for my kids is for them to arrive
The final thing I wanted to talk to you about is parenthood. Your daughter where they want to be on their own, without feeling like they’ve
Tulani Bridgewater is your manager, and your other daughter, China Moses, piggybacked on me. JT
is an accomplished singer. What has it been like for you to get to work with
your children, Tulani on the business side and China onstage? This conversation has been edited and condensed for space. To read
It’s an absolutely amazing experience to work with my children. the uncut interview, including discussion of a live all-star tribute
To work with Tulani, who handles my management, and then to series for Abbey Lincoln, visit JazzTimes.com.


emphis. Birthplace, as Academy Choir and “I Can’t Get Next to You”
described by Otis Redding saxophonist Kirk loses its choreographed
biographer Jonathan Gould, Whalum, also the Motown sheen and more
of “a distinctive brand of project’s co-producer. closely aligns with Al
earthy, gospel-tinged rhythm and blues Bridgewater Green’s funkier 1970
whose roots in the fervent emotionalism of imbues all 13 reading, Bridgewater
the black church had earned it the label tracks—from an emerging as a fiery sorcer-
‘soul music.’” Born in Memphis in 1950, ecstatic “B.A.B.Y.” to ess frustrated by romantic
Dee Dee Bridgewater shares those roots. a sinewy, serpentine indifference. Her sassy,
And though her family migrated to Michi- “Why (Am I Treated growling “Hound Dog”
gan three years later, her musical upbring- So Bad)”—with pure recaptures the take-control
ing was largely shaped by those dense, Memphis ardency. For gutsiness of Big Mama
horn-driven sounds. So it is hardly surprising some, unearthing the Thornton’s original, and
that Bridgewater, widely acknowledged Memphis link requires a bit of digging. For Redding’s searing take on “Try a Little Ten-
as one of the premier jazz vocalists of her example, Carla Thomas shaped a piquant derness” is rewrapped in silk before rising
generation, proves an equally magnetic “Yes, I’m Ready” a year after Barbara to orgiastic heights. To close, Bridgewater
soul-stirrer on Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready. Mason’s massive hit, and Bobby “Blue” appropriately heads to church with a rafter-
Ramping up the authenticity, the album was Bland scored with an equally impactful rattling “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” that
recorded at the city’s famed Royal Studios “Goin’ Down Slow” more than a decade places her shoulder-to-shoulder with Aretha
and features area talent like the Stax Music after Howlin’ Wolf’s landmark recording. and Mahalia.



n the night in June that leads, Branch regularly wrings poignant, don’t want to give too much direction, but
she turned 34 years old, melodic order from turbulent chaos before even with language and talking everybody
Jaimie Branch welcomed inevitably decaying into turmoil again. She interprets things in their own manner,”
a small crowd to Ibeam combines a tightrope-walking sense of ad- Branch explained later. “Even if I say some-
Brooklyn with bashful, venture, a quality that made her a vital part thing really specific or sing a little melody
almost childlike charm. of the Chicago avant-jazz scene for nearly or [spits a beat], that could mean some-
“Thank you, guys, for a decade, with an electric virtuosity that’s thing entirely different to Mike than it does
coming to my birthday landed her on tours with rock bands like TV to me. But if we’re all holding on to this one
party,” she murmured— on the Radio and Spoon. idea, the music will hang together too.”
then immediately under- At Ibeam, alongside bassist Luke Stewart It’s dangerously tempting to indulge in
cut the air of naïveté with and drummer Mike Pride, moments of en- a bit of armchair psychology here, to see
an incendiary burst of ticing beauty sprung forth shockingly from music as the stabilizing counterweight to
shrapnel-spewing inten- a whirl of abrasive textures. Though the Branch’s sometimes turbulent life, steer-
sity from her trumpet. trio’s set was wholly improvised, Branch, ing her through struggles with family
That uneasy balance of vulnerability and sporting a black White Sox hat and jersey and drugs and other missteps. As one of
aggression seems to churn at the very core and bright-red sneakers, would pause her mentors, trumpeter John McNeil—
of Jaimie Branch. It’s certainly a vein she between each piece to offer a few words himself no stranger to battling personal
mines effectively in her music. Throughout of guidance or direction, giving her some demons—put it, “It’s been an interesting
her recent debut album, Fly or Die (Interna- degree of control while still allowing the trip for Jaimie. It hasn’t been conventional,
tional Anthem), named after the band she music to roam freely wherever it might. “I that’s for sure, but she’s an unconventional


← Jaimie Branch in Brooklyn

person. Everybody tells their story. If you her first choice. “Had we stayed in New York on to bands like Descendents, NOFX and
don’t say it in words, you say it in actions.” I would have played the bass, but my school Minor Threat. “When we were kids, I
didn’t have an orchestra so that wasn’t on remember it was ‘Are you Nirvana or are

■■■■ the table. My mom really wanted me to play you Pearl Jam?’ I was steadfastly Nirvana.”
alking her 14-year-old dog, Pat- oboe, and the band director really wanted At the same time, Branch’s trumpet
ton, through a light drizzle in her me to play French horn, but I was choosing playing led her to begin exploring jazz,
Red Hook, Brooklyn, neighbor- between saxophone and trumpet. My family beginning with Miles Davis’ ’58 Sessions
hood earlier on her birthday, went out to dinner one night and I spilled Featuring Stella by Starlight, off of which
Branch recalled her early, insulated life on my dad’s red wine all over the saxophone she transcribed Miles’ solo on “On Green
Long Island. “I was 9 before I actually sat [sign-up] sheet and all over his white shirt. Dolphin Street.” Flipping to the jazz station
down to look at a map and understood And that was it—I played trumpet.” in the upper channels of her cable service,

that people lived other places than New Branch’s earliest musical exposure came she was stunned by Ornette Coleman’s
York,” she said. “Literally, my world view from her two older half-brothers, who “Lonely Woman” and immediately biked
was ‘Everybody’s born in New York, some passed along cassettes by the likes of to her local Coconuts to buy The Shape of
people move to Jersey, and when you’re Michael Jackson, Beastie Boys and the Jazz to Come. “I went to school the next
old you move to Florida.’” Go-Go’s, while her “kinda square” parents day talking about Ornette Coleman’s new
That same year, her family moved to the listened to Barbra Streisand, Perry Como record,” she laughed. A friend corrected
Chicago suburb of Wilmette, on the city’s and Elvis. Like many a kid with such con- her, pointing out that it had been released
North Shore, where she began playing ventional options at home, Branch found in 1959. “I said, ‘This is the same year as
trumpet in the school band. The horn wasn’t her escape through punk rock, latching Kind of Blue? What the fuck?’”

Soon thereafter she began venturing aggressive, but always with a purpose.” drawn to it in a physical, visceral way.
regularly into Chicago to hear music at the Recognizing her drive and ambition, I needed to be part of that scene.”
Jazz Showcase. Her more or less conven- McNeil encouraged Branch to move to Branch landed a summer job at the Jazz
tional path was disrupted, though, when Boston and study at New England Conser- Record Mart, where she restocked shelves
she accidentally started a fire that burned vatory, where he’s a member of the faculty, and talked music with several of the scene’s
down her house and opened a schism and lobbied the school to accept her into then-rising players, including drummer
with her family. “The summer before my the jazz program. And although she ended Frank Rosaly, cornetist Josh Berman, vibra-
senior year of high school, my buddy and up graduating from NEC, her restlessness phonist Jason Adasiewicz and saxophonist
I made some food, lit some candles [in my continued, sending her back to Chicago Keefe Jackson. “She was really young, but
basement bedroom, and then] watched every summer. “The move to Wilmette everybody was really impressed with her
The Matrix and fell asleep [upstairs]. At 6 had been rough because the north suburbs right away,” Jackson recalled. “She was so
in the morning I hear my mom scream- were super white and square and I really energetic and so interested in so many dif-
ing; I go to open the door and smoke wanted to get back to New York,” she said. ferent kinds of music. Those were the days
rushed in. We lived in a ranch house, so I “Then, as soon as I got to NEC, I learned when not everything was on YouTube, so
got my little sister and my friend out and about Chicago’s free-jazz history and went if you knew a lot about different kinds of
then I jumped out the window. After that, running back to Chicago.” music it took a little work.”
my mother was like, ‘You need to not be Branch’s discovery of the thriving Along with making regional tours with
around for a while.’” avant-jazz scene in Chicago brought the a couple of short-lived ska-punk bands,
Branch began playing more with her
coworkers and other musicians in the city,
where she was welcomed with open arms.
Taking a semester off from NEC to recover
from gall bladder surgery, she became
more immersed in the improvised music
scene. “That was the semester that changed
everything,” she said. “I took a lesson with
[German trumpeter] Axel Dörner at Fred
Lonberg-Holm’s house. Fred heard me play
and invited me to play with his Lightbox
Orchestra, and I met all the dudes.”
Lonberg-Holm remembers that first
meeting, when Branch approached Dörner
following a duo gig. “We weren’t real sure
what to make of her, to be honest,” the
cellist said. “This punky chick wearing a
Ramones T-shirt, a backwards baseball cap
and cut-off jeans comes up and asks to get a
lesson, and Axel was just looking at me like,
‘What do you think?’ But I went up to my
room and heard the trumpet. [I] could tell it
wasn’t Axel, but she sounded really good.”
← “When we were kids, I remember it was ‘Are you Nirvana or are you Pearl Jam?’” Typical of the collaborative Chicago
Branch remembers. “I was steadfastly Nirvana.” scene, Branch formed a number of regular
configurations out of a loose pool of play-
ers: Princess, Princess, with Rosaly and

■■■■ two sides of her musical life together. In bassist Toby Summerfield; Sherpa, with
taying with the family of her future the city’s musician-led activity she saw Summerfield and Lonberg-Holm; a duo
sister-in-law in Denver, Branch resonances with the attitudes and aesthet- with multi-instrumentalist Marc Riordan,
attended the Mile High Jazz Camp ics that had attracted her to punk. “I liked which became the trio Rupert with the
that summer in Boulder, where she the DIY-ness of it all,” she said. “Ken addition of Summerfield, which would
crossed paths for the first time with John Vandermark had done a lot of organiz- become the trio Battle Cats by subbing
McNeil. “He’s a total weirdo and I was a ing in the late ’90s, so there was this great bassist Anton Hatwich for Riordan.
total weirdo, so we hit it off,” she explained. infrastructure in place. There was literally

“I understood her, that’s for sure, if a series almost every night of the week. ■■■■

anybody can understand anybody else,” Everyone was playing music at a super- ranch’s prolific Chicago tenure end-
McNeil said. “Jaimie had a very strong high level but it wasn’t ego-driven. There ed in 2013, when a chance encoun-

personality, like a ‘get out of my way’ kind was really a focus on the music. That was ter with trumpeter Dave Ballou
of personality, but not unpleasant. She super appealing—actually, I don’t even while on tour in Baltimore led her to
played the same way: very pointed, very know if appealing is the right word. I was continue her studies at Towson University.


← In June at Brooklyn’s
Ibeam space, Branch
celebrates her 34th
birthday with help from
bassist Luke Stewart and
drummer Mike Pride

Her stint at the school combined music The album, recorded live at (Le) Pois- Kenton converge in “Leaves of Glass,”
with her increasing interest in audio son Rouge in New York’s West Village, and “The Storm” begins with ominously
engineering. A self-professed “gearhead and then supplemented and manipulated swooping strings and rumbling toms and
without a lot of gear,” she began experi- in the studio, carves out an abstract alters the sound of cornets to evoke eerie
menting with recording shows she ran in narrative arc through the combination trombones.
Chicago, and she continues her engineer- of traditional and graphic notation as In addition to Fly or Die, Branch
ing work on other musicians’ projects currently leads her trio and teams with
and in the post-production elements she drummer Jason Nazary in an electronics-
brought to Fly or Die.
Ballou said that Branch “shook things
“She always seems heavy duo called Anteloper (“I jokingly
call it the New York Underground Duo,”
up at the school pretty good,” but in 2015
she made another move. Her gradu-
to be at the Branch admitted). She’s also recently had
the opportunity to play with veterans
ate assistantship at Towson ended, and
she found herself lacking the funds to
nexus of something,” like saxophonist Oliver Lake and bassist
William Parker, enthusing that “the super-
continue. Most important, she was de-
termined to kick the drug habit that had
said trumpeter dope thing about New York is that there’s
elders everywhere.”
increasingly been consuming her life over
the last several years. Intent on a change,
John McNeil, For his part, Parker said he invited
Branch into his Little Huey Creative Music
she landed in Brooklyn and quickly began
forming a new circle of collaborators. “She
one of Branch’s mentors. Orchestra because “I needed some new fire
in the band and I felt she could handle the
always seems to be at the nexus of some-
thing,” McNeil said. “She’ll be the center
“She’ll be the center entire palette of sound. Jaimie doesn’t fool
around; she has a darting and daring sound
of a scene, no matter where she is.”
Ironically, Branch’s long-delayed debut
of a scene, no matter that has power and isn’t intellectual.”
Arriving relatively far into a still-
came about after her move to New York where she is.” young career, Fly or Die reveals a

but features a cast of Chicago musicians: well-hewn vision that revels in the
cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Jason Ajemi- space between off-the-cliff daring and
an and drummer Chad Taylor, along well as guided and free improvisation. big-picture imagination. It may be long
with guest appearances by cornetists Ben Spontaneous inventions from past overdue, but it also arrives at exactly the
LaMar Gay and Josh Berman and guitar- performances became written melodies, right time. “I’ve decided recently to push
ist Matt Schneider. The lattermost takes while the suggestion of “space sounds” in a lot harder, and I think that’s partly why
over for the lyrical closing track, “…Back the score, illustrated by a sketch of Sat- things are going better,” Branch said.
at the Ranch,” subtly suggesting Branch’s urn, leads to the airy, floating “Waltzer.” “Shit happens for a number of different
varied interests and searching curiosity. Influences of Walt Whitman and Stan reasons. That’s life.” JT


any jazz trumpeters and cornetists are familiar less clear. “It’s a subtle difference,” says cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, who
with Herbert L. Clarke’s 1921 letter to Elden is often mistakenly billed as a trumpeter. “They’re very close cousins.”
Benge. Clarke was then the most famous Musicians have certainly made the distinction. When the trumpet
cornetist in the world, a star soloist in John gained cachet after Louis Armstrong made the switch in the 1920s, some
Philip Sousa’s band and a writer of method nonetheless opted to stay with the cornet, including Bix Beiderbecke and
books that are still standards today. Benge, Rex Stewart (who played it in Duke Ellington’s trumpet section, perhaps
who would go on to become a major soloist in another example of Ellington’s timbral experimentation). Bebop initially
his own right, was then a 16-year-old student ignored the cornet, but Thad Jones reintroduced it in the ’50s, first in
in Iowa, weighing whether to switch from cornet to trumpet. Count Basie’s New Testament band, then in small-band contexts like
Clarke was strongly against it. “[T]he latter instrument Thelonious Monk’s classic 1959 recording 5 by Monk by 5. Then, with
is only a foreign fad for the time present, and is only used the advent of hard bop, Nat Adderley emerged as a cornet specialist. In
properly in large orchestras … for dynamic effects,” he wrote to the New Thing era came Bobby Bradford, Olu Dara and Butch Morris.
Benge. “I never heard of a real soloist playing before the public In the ’80s, Ron Miles arrived in jazz’s modern mainstream, and Graham
on a Trumpet. One cannot play a decent song even, properly, Haynes became known through his work in the M-Base Collective. Over
on it, and it has sprung up in the last few years like ‘jaz’ [sic] the past two decades a cornet renaissance of sorts has been taking place in
music, which is the nearest Hell, or the Devil, in music.” the avant-garde jazz arena, with players like Bynum, Rob Mazurek, Kirk
There is much to learn from this letter, beyond the contempt Knuffke and Josh Berman having built careers on the instrument.
classically trained musicians directed toward early jazz. To Clarke’s Yet the two horns are tough to discern for trained ears, let alone
likely dismay, the trumpet’s then-surging popularity never faded, untrained ones. “If you blindfolded 90 percent of the public, nobody
but would soon eclipse the cornet. We also find that musicians would be able to tell you the difference,” says Warren Vaché, a
considered the instruments to be at cross-purposes: The cornet traditional-jazz cornetist. “I’m not sure I could, either, really.”
was for melody and soloing, the trumpet for volume and ensemble
passages. And yet, the letter also suggests that the two instruments ||XXX||
were more similar than they seemed. Clarke likens the trumpet to EVEN THE PHYSICAL DIFFERENCE IS TRICKY. Both are brass
jazz, but in 1921, almost every jazz band’s lead horn was a cornet. horns with valves and tubes that wrap around the top and bottom of
All of this has been folded into the mythology of the jazz the valve casings. A side-by-side comparison, however, reveals that the
cornet: its diminishment and neglect in favor of the trumpet, the cornet is shorter—roughly 14 inches to the trumpet’s 19—and about
question of its similarity to and difference from the other brass an inch and a half deeper from the top of the valves to the bottom
horn. The former is undisputed and obvious; the latter is a little tube. (Stretched end to end, the tubing for each instrument is the same


length.) Traditionally, the cornet also had a “S errd’s
Crook”—an additional outward curve at the f th
horn that contemporary models sometimes
More important, the cornet is a conica o
trumpet’s cylindrical bore—that is, the t t’s -
ing has the same diameter up to its last ,
it begins to widen into the bell. The cor t
widens from the receiver to the bell.
These aren’t just cosmetic differenc . u
difference between the sounds of the
enough that they can only be define
other. “What [the conical bore] ac
is that when the sound leaves the b n
says. “The cornet is like light in a f ru
more like a laser beam.”
The cylindrical bore creates t l
intense sound thanks to a tube t
vibrations to widen. The coni ,
vibrations to begin widening a t l
shank of the mouthpiece, an se
result is a similar but slightl
“The sound is a bit rounde
call a wider center,” Vaché t
a little breezier.”
as co et”
Because of this, says e tee
trumpet tends to be m -
ble—that brilliance an
The cornet tends to b d o t
sits inside the ensem By Michael J. West
ME 43
Review: Taylor Ho Bynum’s Enter the PlusTet

Even more pertinent, the mouthpieces differ. The trumpet’s The cornet’s standing eroded further in the era of electric
typical mouthpiece has a shallow, round interior cup; the cornet’s is amplification. “The cornet does not project,” Knuffke says. “You
deeper, almost v-shaped. This is yet another example of constrained can play as hard as you want on it and the sound will just keep
versus liberated vibrations. But in the case of the trumpet, the getting bigger and warmer, but it’ll never hurt your ears. And
mouthpiece also tightens the player’s embouchure, forcing the lips when amplification and microphones and everything came in,
to buzz faster and thus enacting a higher register. “The cornet has a the cornet was just too hard to deal with.”
deeper, lower register,” says Graham Haynes, who started on trum- From then on, the instru-
pet but switched as a teenager to cornet. “It’s a warmer sound.” ment’s rarity made anyy
Of course, it’s the combination of the high register and the con- major players loom thaatt
centrated punch that gives the trumpet the feel we call “brassy.” much larger. Stewart,
(Think of Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan or even onetime cornetist Jones and Adderley be-
Armstrong.) The cornet is no less a brass instrument, but, says came cornet canon—th hough
Haynes, “a brassy sound is not a cornet sound.” to most of us their sound is no
“You’ll never have the Arturo Sandoval of the cornet,” Knuffke more distinguishable froom the
says. “You’ll never have a screeching cornet player, which is one of trumpet than Armstrong’n s.
the reasons why I love the cornet.”

||XXX|| ||XXX||
SPECTIVE HISTORIES. The trumpet is one of the world’s most CORNETISTS DIS-
enduring instruments at around 3,500 years old, and for almost all of CUSS HOW THEIR
that time it had no valves, thus cultivating a long tradition of power INSTRUMENT DIFF FE
and high-register playing but limited pitch range. It was associated FROM THE TRUMP PEET.
with things like fanfares and military calls (such as reveille). Everyone agrees that the cornet
The cornet, on the other hand, was created in 1814 by fitting valves sounds wider, mellow weer, less projec-
onto an older instrument known as a post horn—which until then tive. But as for other differences,
d the
was similarly limited in range, but already employed for its stronger answers vary.
middle register and mellower tone than the trumpet. Although valve For Haynes, the co ornet’s Shep-
trumpets were invented shortly after the cornet, they didn’t fully catch herd’s Crook necessittaates slower
on for decades (millennia of tradition don’t shake easily). Besides, the playing. “If you try to
o rip through
classical repertoire had been written for “natural” trumpet. the cornet and play really fast, like
For the remainder of the 19th century, then, new music—from in bebop, the sound will
w kind of
the classical work of Berlioz to the popular marches of Sousa— back up on you,” he says. “So the
scored the instruments in two different sections, with ensemble tendency with the cornet is to
blasts for trumpet and solos and melodies reserved for cornet. play slower, not with muscle.
m ”
Which is why Sousa veteran Clarke would perceive them that “Not if you listen to Nat
way in 1921, when trumpets were just becoming solo instruments. Adderley!” Vaché lau ugghs. “Nat
It’s also why New Orleans jazz musicians, with their close rela- played just as fast as an
tion to marching bands, would choose the cornet to shape their and it was on a corneet, and it
melodies. Of course, proto-jazzman Buddy Bolden was renowned didn’t get in his way.” Vaché,
for his extraordinarily loud cornet playing, as was Armstrong too, burns on the insttrrument.
20 years later. But these were the exceptions. Others, like Fred- Knuffke and Bynum both say
die Keppard and King Oliver, were celebrated more for their that pitch is more flexxiible on the
technique. (Indeed, Oliver’s innovations involved softening the cornet—less “slotted,” mean-
cornet’s sound with mutes.) “We all played cornets. Only the big ing the notes are morree able to
orchestras in the theaters had trumpet players in their brass sec- bend. “I would say th hee trumpet
tions,” Armstrong recalls in his 1954 memoir, Satchmo: My Life in tends to be a more accu ate
New Orleans. “We all thought you had to be a music conservatory instrument, but I like t e f zier
man or some kind of a big muckity-muck to play the trumpet. For sound of the cornet,” n says.
years I would not even try to play the instrument.” “It gives you more s ce c t in
Nevertheless, it was apparently Armstrong’s switch to the trumpet between the notes.” ←
in 1926 that caused the mass migration to the horn. According to “A cornet typically has overto ess “[The cornet]
historian Chris Albertson, when Armstrong was working in Erskine closer together than t trum mpe , gives you more
Tate’s Vendome Orchestra—true to his perception, it was a Chicago so that it is more agile,” s s space to play
theater orchestra—the bandleader asked him to switch simply be- Monette, a highly acclla ed in between the
notes,” says Taylor

cause the cornet was “too short.” But to his legions of trumpet-playing instrument-maker w o s
admirers, the reason was irrelevant. “He was the king,” Haynes notes. trumpets and cornets “ , Ho Bynum
“He had all these hit records, so a lot of the guys wanted to copy him.” on a cornet you can


Profile: Kirk Knuffke

“ The cornet
is like light in a fog,
and the trumpet
is more like
a laser beam.”


← Current cornet

masters, clockwise
from left: Graham
bend the notes [more] before you crack to the next higher Haynes, Kirk Knuffke
or lower overtone.” and Warren Vaché
“I really don’t think that’s true,” Haynes says of those
more supple notes.
Vaché concurs: “That has not been my experience.” says. “It’s a flat-out myth that cornets, from the get-go, were much
According to Monette, the tendency is really one of older more conical in interior shape than trumpets. It’s just not true!”
cornets, like the 1908 Conn that Bynum plays. “Instruments made The two horns do have different mouthpieces, which Eldredge
now by mass producers are made with trumpet parts, and they says might account for different timbres, the mouthpiece being “the
sound more like trumpets than cornets,” Monette says. This, he second most important variable” in determining a musician’s sound.
explains, is what his custom-built cornets attempt to ameliorate. The most important? The musician him/herself. And Eldredge sug-
Do these debates suggest that such technical differences are exag- gests that the player’s very recognition of playing a different instru-
gerated? At least one expert thinks they could even be nonexistent. ment is what accounts for their making a different sound on it. “It’s
Dr. Niles Eldredge is a biologist and paleontologist best known psychological suggestion about what the instrument can give you,”
for coauthoring (with Stephen Jay Gould) the evolutionary theory he says. “Joe Giorgianni was over here in the ’90s, and he said, ‘Let’s
of Punctuated Equilibrium. But he is also a player and collector play some duets.’ So he took a cornet off my wall, and his approach
of vintage cornets—he has more than 500—and he has published to the cornet was very different than his approach to the trumpet.
scholarly articles on their history, development and minutiae. He expected something else, so he sounded sweeter, more mellow
Not only does Eldredge dismiss the differences in pitch bend- than the kind of sound he does for a living—which is basically to
ing—unless the valves leak, he says, “a well-made cornet that’s in play high, loud and fast, and scream.”
good condition … slots as well as anything I’ve ever played”—and If biases could affect the perception of no less an authority than
the effect of the tubing shape, he casts doubt even on the most Herbert L. Clarke, why not the cornetists who followed? In jazz,
basic distinction. “Since the 1850s, there’s been no real formal dif- individuality is the top priority. Perhaps that’s nowhere truer than
ference in interior design between the cornet and the trumpet,” he on the cornet. JT



← Newvelle’s highly collectible

first-season releases

Very Important Vinyl

By Brent Butterworth

ven in the best of times, the jazz copies of each record are pressed. story by novelist Douglas Kennedy on a
recording business was, as Duke “The music industry in general is not seventh album at no additional charge,
Ellington termed it, a “money particularly sustainable,” Mehler said. “To with music based on the story.
jungle.” Today, when the low make money with streaming services you Newvelle’s recording process is just as
royalties paid by streaming services can’t have to be listened to by millions of people, unusual. “Labels tend to cut a lot of cor-
compensate for the sharp reduction and jazz musicians are not. CDs are really ners,” said Mehler, who has released four al-
in overall sales of physical and digital dying, so it’s either digital or vinyl, and with bums under his own name on other labels.
media, finding money in that jungle vinyl we can charge a higher premium.” “You may get four or six hours to make a
may seem impossible. “I haven’t profited record, or the artist does it themselves and
from my recordings; they’re really just a The Price of Perfection licenses it to the label. We give our artists 20
fancy business card,” saxophonist Noah Subscriptions to Newvelle Records don’t hours in the studio, and more if they need
Preminger told me, invoking a metaphor come cheap. The first year’s collection (still it. Having two days to record makes the
used by many musicians. available) is priced at $400, and a subscrip- first day sound better, because the artists
Last year, jazz pianist Elan Mehler and tion to year two costs $360. But these are more relaxed. And on the second day
computer-industry executive Jean-Chris- aren’t just any records. They’re released on you can try tunes you haven’t played much,
tophe Morisseau teamed up to launch a clear 180-gram vinyl, 50-percent thicker and maybe bring other people in.”
new record label with a fresh approach to than standard records and thus less likely The albums are recorded by engineer
the business of recording and packaging to warp. They come in heavy gatefold Marc Urselli at Manhattan’s EastSide
jazz. You won’t find Newvelle Records sleeves adorned with dramatic artwork Sound. They’re recorded and mixed us-

on any streaming service. Their record- and brief works of literature. The first year ing Urselli’s collection of vintage analog
ings are available only on vinyl, and only boasted images from French photographer equipment, then converted to digital
through yearlong subscription programs. Bernard Plossu and poems by Pulitzer at a minimum (and much better than
Newvelle produces six records per year, Prize-winning poet (and recently elected CD-quality) resolution of 24-bit/88.2
and releases one every two months. U.S. Poet Laureate) Tracy K. Smith. Year kilohertz for editing in Pro Tools. Master-
At the end of the year, the subscriber two features photos by French collective ing for vinyl is done by engineer Alex De-
receives a box to hold the set. Only 500 Tendance Floue, and will include a short Turk at Masterdisk in upstate New York,


and the albums are pressed and shipped album!” enthused Preminger, whose Some live shows, but I don’t think that’s the
by MPO in France. Other Time was one of Newvelle’s first- best thing to put on record. This is about
Most audiophile-focused jazz records year releases. “I’m 31 and never reaped the storytelling,” he said, adding, “Usually I
have a natural, spacious sound intended benefit of labels taking care of jazz musi- ask the artist if they have a project they’d
to reproduce the ambience of the record- cians; that basically ended in the mid-’90s. like to do that’s somewhat to the left of
ing venue, but I’d describe the Newvelle Elan let me do an all-ballads project that I what they typically do.” Other Newvelle
sound as more of an updated version of always wanted to do, and let me assemble releases have included drummer Jack
Rudy Van Gelder’s classic sides for Blue a group I really loved [including bassist DeJohnette’s first solo-piano album as
Note and Prestige. The records have John Patitucci and drummer Billy Hart as well as works by Patitucci, bassists Ben
that same focused, intimate feel of Van well as guitarist Ben Monder, a frequent Allison and Rufus Reid, pianist Frank
Gelder’s best work, but with a more mod- Preminger collaborator].” For Newvelle’s Kimbrough and a duo featuring pianist
ern mix (i.e., no instruments panned hard third year, he’s planning another dream Kevin Hays and guitarist Lionel Loueke.
left or right) and additional sonic detail. project, titled Preminger Plays Preminger, According to Mehler, artist response
where he focuses on music from films has been enthusiastic. “Everybody we’ve
Nice Work If You Can Get It directed by Otto Preminger, a distant reached out to says yes,” he said. “It’s still
The premium price the records command relative. not clear whether this works. I think
allows Newvelle to not only cover the re- The projects and artists recorded by it does, but no one knows what’s really
cording, mastering, pressing and artwork, Newvelle are chosen by Mehler with a coming in the music biz. We need as many
but also to pay the artist directly for the focus on “melodically driven music. I ideas as possible out there to find the re-
recording session. “I got paid to do an will happily listen to 12-minute solos in sources for musicians to make records.” JT


Secrets of the Sonic Trumpet
By Shaun Brady

ou could credit a kind of
musical peer pressure for the
earliest electronic experi-
ments of trumpeter-cornetist
Rob Mazurek and trumpeter Cuong
Vu. Mazurek, renowned for his work
with experimental groups from
Chicago and Brazil, was a member of
Isotope 217°, a spin-off of the post-
rock group Tortoise; Vu, a celebrated
avant-jazz bandleader and an alum of
the Pat Metheny Group, was playing in
a college fusion band. Both discovered
that their raw horn sound didn’t allow
them to blend with the range of tim-
bres available to their guitar, synth and
electronics-playing cohorts.
“I was trying to figure out a way
to broaden the sound spectrum with
an instrument that can only play one
note at a time,” Mazurek says, while Vu
simply shrugs, “I just didn’t feel like
my sound fit very well.” As it happens,
both took their first steps into effects
by plugging their microphones into more resonant than just the effects.” in the horn. The horn plays a lot dif-
a BOSS delay pedal, and both recall To get to that point, Mazurek ferently when you use a Harmon mute
remarkably similar reactions. advises, a trumpet player who is seri- versus a cup mute, for instance.”
“I plugged in and thought, ‘Wow, ous about crafting a personal sonic As for common pitfalls, Mazurek
this is super cool,’” Mazurek remem- palette must rethink their attack on says there are plenty, but that it’s best
bers. Vu echoes the sentiment, in the acoustic instrument so that it not to avoid them. “I’m a big fan of
a slightly more reflective way: “It complements and interacts with the mistakes,” he explains. “I would say
sounded pretty cool to me back then.” pedals, synths or programs. “I don’t make as many mistakes as you can,
Sounding “cool” may be a natural think of it as being something that is because you’re going to find interest-
first step on the road to working with ‘affected,’” he says. “You want to get to ing stuff in there—maybe even more
effects, but it’s not enough to sustain the point where it just sounds like one interesting stuff when things go wrong
a musical voice, as Vu points out. “It’s instrument, not like something being at first than the other way around.
really easy to sound good when you done to something else. You want it to From those mistakes that you like you
put on some delay,” he says. “It’s almost sound like one strange entity moving can build a vocabulary.”
like watching a strongman competi- through the air.” The vast array of technology now
tion: When somebody lifts something Adjusting technique shouldn’t be available can be daunting, not to
really heavy you get impressed, but unfamiliar to trumpeters who already mention wallet-draining, but getting
after about 10 minutes of watching use a variety of approaches to manipu- started can be as simple as borrowing
you realize there’s no substance to it. late the acoustic sound of their instru- a guitarist friend’s stompboxes, toying
People have to be really careful not ment. “You definitely have to create around with your sound in a program

to get too sucked into the way things a technique with these machines,” like GarageBand or tweaking an am-
sound and be more aware of the Mazurek says, “just like you have to plifier or PA. “You can learn different
context, of the things that make music build a technique when you put a mute techniques on how to use feedback to


← Rob Mazurek (opposite) uses electronics
by Industrial Music Electronics (The Har-
vestman), including their Tyme Sefari Mark
II 16-Bit Loop Sampler Module (with official
expander, A Sound of Thunder) and Piston
Honda Mark II Wavetable Oscillator; Make
Noise, including their Maths, Phonogene
and Echophone (soundhack) units; and
Doepfer, including their A-124 VCF5
Wasp Filter Eurorack Module and A-100
Analog Standard System. Cuong Vu’s rig
includes the Audio-Technica ATM35
Cardioid Condenser Clip-on mic, Danelec-
tro DJ14 Fish and Chips 7-Band EQ Pedal,
Lexicon MPX100 Effects Processor, RFX
412 Stereo Volume CV Pan Pedal, BOSS
DD-20 Digital Delay and DigiTech Echo
Plus 8 PDS 8000

your advantage from putting the bell of

the horn close to the microphone,” Ma-
zurek suggests. “Once you can control
that, controlling other parameters can
be easier because you’re understanding
what the sound is doing while careening
Even after you’ve gained that under-
standing, though, translating it for studio “IT’S BEST TO HAVE YOUR DOMAIN IN COMPLETE CONTROL.”

and venue sound engineers can be a

struggle. “Until you start playing with
really exceptional sound people, who are
pretty rare, sometimes you have to be OK to sculpt sound in an interesting way,” into the sonic deep end to experiment,
with the sound not being great,” Vu says. Mazurek adds. “But you have to have both can be effective strategies, Vu says,
“It’s best to have your domain in complete your monitor set up in such a way that and that philosophy extends beyond
control; the less they have to do outside of it’s going to be listenable and pleasant for electronics. “Even if you’re not dealing
balancing you with the band, the better. I the other musicians. I like extremes—ex- with effects, somebody can get OCD
always kept my acoustic sound and the ef- treme noise as well as super-quiet, spatial with what scale to play over what chord
fects sound integrated so the sound man things—so trying to find a balance in instead of focusing on the now, making
couldn’t mess it up.” the monitors so everyone can hear what decisions and following your intuition.
“In the end it’s all just sound, so [elec- you’re doing can be a challenge.” I never think about any goal except for
tronics] shouldn’t be approached as some Whether you’re striving to achieve trying to make good music, and the end
strange thing or novelty, but as a way a specific imagined sound or diving result will be guided by that.” JT


Let’s Get Real
By Evan Haga

or decades, The Real Book was is a selection
the jazz musician’s favorite piece of tunes that
of contraband (well, it was at seem to lend
least top-five) and a fascinat- themselves to
ing tale of perseverance in the face of getting played
intellectual-property law. Songbook the most,”
publisher Hal Leonard, who launched Metheny
its official, legally sound version in 2004, writes in his
wasn’t the first comp ,
legitimize The Real B
sold only upon reque n.
counter at music sho
of mouth. Many great players continue every case, I was able to get them
to stand by Sher Music Co.’s earlier down to just a few pages with
The New Real Book and The Standards all the essential information
Real Book. But while Sher’s volumes, needed to make them happen at
with regard to song list, typefaces and a jam session or at a gig.” That
added reharmonizations, are their own intro—a deftly crafted essay,
brilliant beast, Hal Leonard seemed really—also allows Metheny to
to want mostly to right the wrongs detail his involvement in The
of the bootlegs. Copyright deals were Real Book’s origin story of how “one
struck, corrections were inputted and my best guitar students and one of Gary ing, thus far, the standards collection
engraving was made clean and strong, [Burton’s] best vibraphone students had Maiden Voyage, Miles Davis, the blues
all while retaining the familiar vibe of a great idea.” The enterprising pupils, roundup All Blues, Charlie Parker and
those scrappy, beloved, coffee-stained their identities protected to this day, Jazz Funk—comprises 10 tunes in the
tomes. Even more impressive has been wanted a real fake book that would bet- trusty Real Book format, for C treble,
the brand’s Real Book program over the ter serve the heady Boston and Berklee B-flat, E-flat and C bass instruments. But
past decade, with editions dedicated to scene of the mid-1970s. Hence The Real the bigger fun happens online. Type in
individual composers as well as to styles Book’s mix of standards, hip jazz tunes the URL and code and you’ll arrive at an
in and out of jazz. And Hal Leonard has and music by Berklee personnel like easy-to-use interface that encourages the
found savvy ways for online technology Metheny, Burton, Steve Swallow and player to essentially step behind a studio
to complement the utilitarian splendor their contemporaries. console. Listen to or download the full
of an old-school lead sheet. That quietly revolutionary crew no stereo demo mix—crisply recorded and
Among the most recent variations is doubt worked out on the tunes included faithfully performed—or mix and match
The Pat Metheny Real Book (C Edition: in The Real Bebop Book (C Edition: the horn, piano, bass, drum and click
$24.99, 270 p.), Hal Leonard’s first Art- $34.99, 244 p.). Here are more than tracks. Follow the red cursor through
ist Edition Real Book, “compiled and 200 hard-core bop standards, includ- the online lead sheets, loop bars and
gig-tested by the composer.” You could ing most of the Bird, Dizzy, Bud Powell sections that need extra attention, and
hardly come up with a living jazzer and Gerry Mulligan you’ll need, from slow the playback speed if you’re not
better suited for an undertaking of “Anthropology” and “Au Privave” to quite ready to burn. (The pitch isn’t
this sort. Here are 147 of the guitarist’s “Tempus Fugit,” “Woodyn’ You” and altered, though the audio quality suffers
indelible melodies, delivered with the “Yardbird Suite.” a tad.) The Multi-Tracks inspired me to
streamlined, gig-friendly practicality For proof of just how far the play- actually get my guitar out of its case and
The Real Book was founded on. (Warn- along concept has come, check out The spend some evenings practicing, which
ing: This isn’t one of those tab-along Real Book Multi-Tracks ($17.99 with is about as authentic an endorsement as
record-rip transcription books.) “[T]his audio code). Each volume—includ- a jazz-education resource can get. JT


It goes with
your kit

JazzTimes. It goes with you.

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52 69

Profile: Vijay Iyer Vox

nuanced, than a protest concept album.
There is yearning in this music, and
On “Poles,” the opening track,
thoughtful piano is overtaken by the
jolting, careening ensemble. Shim’s
hoarse cries are acts of rebellion. But
Haynes, in drawn-out calls, steps back
for a longer view. With its many inner
moving parts and intense counter-
point, “Poles” reflects such values as
group unity and commitment. Iyer
has history with all these musicians,
but the sextet sounds fresh, raw and
brash. Iyer’s pieces provide intellectual
infrastructure, upon which his players
unleash (to borrow a Trump phrase)
fire and fury. The title track is a charg-
ing anthem that provokes vehement
trade-offs among the horns and Iyer.
Shim, commingling with others, as on
“Nope” and “Into Action,” or by him-
self, as on “Poles,” is a major reason
for the visceral impact of this album.
His solos are onslaughts and strivings.
They rasp as if they were ripped out
• “There is yearning in this music, and compassion”: Tyshawn Sorey, Vijay Iyer, of him. They teeter on the knife edge
Graham Haynes, Mark Shim, Steve Lehman and Stephan Crump (from left) of our troubled times. Sorey, a unique
voice in jazz, creates intriguing spon-
VIJAY IYER SEXTET equality” in America—was completed taneous compositions within Iyer’s
FAR FROM OVER (ECM) in a spirit of protest. Iyer has said that forms, and does it on drums.
This review is being there is “resistance” and “defiance” in It is fitting that an album that often
undertaken in the days this music now. rages closes with “Threnody,” which
immediately following Iyer is one of the most decorated deepens the narrative, sometimes in
President Donald Trump’s musicians in jazz. His technical erudi- quietude. Iyer opens by piecing out a
notorious press confer- tion and facility are beyond question, haunting, tentative melody that climbs
ence of Aug. 15, when he stated that but he is not for everyone. His music, and pauses and searches again. Lehman
there was “blame on both sides” for the in its precise, rapid execution of com- enters like a second line of thought,
violence in Charlottesville, Va. That the plexity, can sound more mathematical perhaps a meditation on all that has
moral distinction between members of and austere than lyrical and personal. been lost. Like everything Lehman
hate groups and those protesting hatred Far From Over plays to his strengths. plays, it is not assembled by conven-
is lost on our current president imparts With elite players around him, he can tional means but in fragments and
poignancy to this album’s backstory. focus on creating ferocious protean gestures that aggregate to their own
Vijay Iyer first presented Far From energy (he is one of the most rhyth- vivid logic. His utterances intensify into
Over as a suite-in-progress at the mically centered and rhythmically held cries. Then the others enter and
Chicago Jazz Festival in 2008. It was a gifted of pianists) and let his sidemen “Threnody” implodes in chaos, Iyer
moment when Barack Obama’s election provide passionate responses to the raining discords. But when the horns
was imminent and hope prevailed. But form and content of each composi- subside Iyer too relents and ends the

the finished suite was not recorded tion. The band is alto saxophonist album with a cycle of soft notes. They
until April 2017, four months into the Steve Lehman, tenor saxophonist recur because they must not fall silent
Trump presidency, when hope had been Mark Shim, cornetist Graham Haynes, until their emotion is no longer tenta-
dashed. A project that began in faith— bassist Stephan Crump and drum- tive. Their beautiful quiet insistence
in Chicago Iyer said he looked forward mer Tyshawn Sorey. Far From Over is holds out the possibility of future hope.
to the work of attaining “justice and more emotionally complicated, more THOMAS CONRAD


3DIVAS lective improvisation; the calculated im- dissolve. No one had ever made such
3DIVAS (Diva Jazz Orchestra) pulsiveness; the theatricality; the zany music: not blues-based Ornette Coleman,
Throughout her career, humor; the cacophonies of whistles and not manic Albert Ayler. It is like the mu-
drummer and bandleader gongs and kazoos. sical equivalent of metafiction. The AEC
Sherrie Maricle has worked On “Number 1,” this drummer-less laid bare the interior creative process of
in several different trio plays surreal chamber music, full improvising jazz collaboratively.
configurations, ranging of open space. From silence, phenom- On “Number 2,” gestural chamber-
from the DIVA Jazz Orchestra to the Five ena emerge (a bowed bass note, an alto jazz becomes roiling masses of reeds
Play Quintet and the DIVA Jazz Trio. saxophone blast like a foghorn, splashing and trumpet. Open space is no more.
3Divas is another three-piece, with Jackie bells), then silence returns. The outbursts Horns squall, jitter and blare. It is pan-
Warren on piano and Amy Shook on bass suggest John Cage in their apparent demonium, except that melodies keep
(both are members of the orchestra as randomness. But this trio listens to one flying by. The secret to the AEC’s artistic
well), and this seven-track set of well- another, and often finds patterns, even (and, to a degree, commercial) success
chosen covers is their debut. something like songs, although all songs was that their noise always made music.
One might wonder, at first, why
Maricle chose to launch another trio, and
what this one might offer that the other FABIAN ALMAZAN
(with bassist Noriko Ueda and pianist ALCANZA (Biophilia)
Tomoko Ohno) does not. The answer is, Pianist-composer Fabian Almazan’s ambition is not a matter of
simply, a different flavor—or, to be more opinion. (Consider: The string quartet of violinists Megan Gould
specific, a bunch of different flavors. John and Tomoko Omura, violist Karen Waltuch and cellist Noah
Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders” Hoffeld isn’t supplemental, but rather equal partners in his band
becomes a cerebral meditation in the with Almazan, bassist Linda May Han Oh, guitarist-vocalist Camila
hands of 3Divas, Shook stating the theme Meza and drummer Henry Cole.) So his creation of a nine-part suite, Alcanza, is
in deep arco tones, Maricle salting the no surprise; nor is its multilayered complexity. More remarkable is the degree to
melody with lightly tinkled jingle bells which he pulls it off.
and, finally, Warren expounding as the Little improvisation is apparent in the first four movements, though perhaps
pace picks up. “In the Wee Small Hours that’s because Almazan’s grand structure leaves little room for it. Shape-shifts oc-
of the Morning,” the Sinatra-associated, cur internally to each movement, and then segue to the next without disruption.
David Mann-composed standard, be- Meza’s Spanish vocals, with lyrics about exploring the world and finding one’s
longs almost entirely to the pianist and place in it, provide a stronger through line—but their presence, too, frustrates
bassist, with Maricle barely audible on improvisation. Instead, the variety and intensity of emotional payloads engage
brushes. On “Tennessee Waltz,” too, the the listener, bursting as they do with discovery, hope, pathos (particularly in the
drummer remains in the support role, dulcet fourth movement, “Mas”) and wonder.
again yielding the floor to the evocative Improvisation does add another level of excitement—particularly rhythmic
melodicism of Warren. excitement, on an album that is predominantly melodic—to the suite’s back half.
It’s not all played in hushes though. Oh’s bass cookery in part five (“Tribu T9”) is matched by Cole’s verve in part
Jobim’s “Favela” heads quickly into a seven (“Pater Familias”), wherein the drummer captures a feel of spontaneity de-
gallop that never lets up, and the surprise spite not actually soloing. (That’s to say nothing of the album’s three solo improv
that wraps it, Sonny and Cher’s signature interludes, of which Cole’s is the best; the album download also includes the full
hit “The Beat Goes On,” is driven by a suite, minus the interludes, as a single track.) Yet it takes nothing away from the
boogie that gives the tune a respectable more composed sections, whose musical and emotional sweep hold their own.
funkiness its originators likely never They also proffer some high drama and narrative ebb-and-flow: Almazan’s inter-
dreamed it had in it. JEFF TAMARKIN est in film scoring pays dividends here. Alcanza is a triumphant accomplishment,
and more important, gorgeous music. MICHAEL J. WEST
NUMBERS 1 & 2 (Nessa)
This album was recorded
in two sessions in August
of 1967. The band is Lester
Bowie (trumpet, flugel-
horn), Roscoe Mitchell
(reeds), Malachi Favors (bass) and, on
the second session, Joseph Jarman
(reeds). It was the first release on Nessa.
Soon this quartet would name itself

the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The AEC’s

signature procedures were already in • “Discovery, hope, pathos and wonder”: Fabian Almazan and collaborators
place for these sessions: the episodic col-


If melodies crazily collided, it was GERALD CANNON bassist convened over a two-day period
because there were so many. COMBINATIONS (Woodneck) to knock out material specifically
It is astonishing to ponder that this The title of bassist Gerald tailored to their talents.
music, too modern to be widely accessi- Cannon’s first disc since Cannon has made a mosaic out
ble in 2017, is 50 years old. For this an- 2004 takes note of the fact of guest stars and personal tributes.
niversary reissue, Nessa did not provide that none of the 11 An original composition for his late
the historical perspective of new liner songs—five of them mother, “Amanda’s Bossa,” features
notes. They simply printed the original Cannon originals—feature the same the creamy unison horns of alto
lame ones by Terry Martin, which prove configuration of musicians. But this is saxophonist Sherman Irby and trum-
how risky it is to accompany free music no hodgepodge. Ten cohorts who had peter Jeremy Pelt presaging the el-
with free prose. THOMAS CONRAD previously shared a bandstand with the egant Kenny Barron on piano. For his
late father, Benjamin, a guitarist for a
band called the Gospel Expressions,
ALAN BROADBENT WITH THE Cannon duets with guitarist Russell
LONDON METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA Malone on the spiritual “How Great
DEVELOPING STORY (Eden River) Thou Art.” Alto saxophonist Steve
Alan Broadbent has played in major bands like Charlie Haden’s Slagle’s lone appearance has him
Quartet West, has made over a dozen strong piano-trio albums, kicking off Duke Ellington’s “Prelude
and has won Grammy Awards for his work as an arranger. to a Kiss” with a honey-dripping
Developing Story is the high point of his career to date. solo. When he wants to wring a mix
The 26-minute title track, in three movements, opens by in- of postbop and R&B that alto player
troducing two themes, a forte figure from the London Metropolitan Orches- Gary Bartz is especially suited for, he
tra and a solo-piano song. Broadbent the composer derives vast, rich content plucks Living Colour drummer Will
from these two core ideas, moving them through different sections of the Calhoun for his single contribution
orchestra, in many tempos and textures and levels of intensity. Broadbent the on “Gary’s Tune.”
pianist (solo or in a trio with bassist Harvie S and drummer Peter Erskine) But the unsung heroes on Combi-
keeps inventing new corollaries of these themes. In the second movement, nations are the members of Cannon’s
after a graceful piano improvisation in waltz time, the orchestra sweeps in and working trio, pianist Rick German-
insists upon the song introduced in the first movement. This simple melodic son and drummer (and co-producer)
idea becomes high drama. Only very large ensembles can provide such aural Willie Jones III, who help him
experiences. Broadbent understands a symphony orchestra’s capacity for comprise the core ensemble on five
envelopment, for seductive lushness and for sheer physical power. songs. They provide continuity and
The other tracks are mostly familiar jazz standards, reimagined and magni- hone the sophisticated postbop that
fied. “If You Could See Me Now” has never evolved so slowly and poignantly, in has been Cannon’s métier through
so many colors, all pastel. “Naima” has a new majesty. On “Blue in Green,” the time with the Jazz Messengers, Roy
full ensemble provides a deep, rapt atmosphere for Broadbent’s piano variations. Hargrove, Elvin Jones and McCoy
The orchestra and Broadbent’s piano were not recorded together. LMO was in Tyner. They navigate the intricate
Abbey Road Studios in London; Broadbent recorded his piano parts at Eden River rhythms of Cannon’s brightly toned
Studio in Neuss, Germany. Developing Story sometimes sounds like a dialogue original “Columbus Circle Stop,” and
between a pianist and a large ensemble, rather than an organic integration. But are on board for the two cuts Can-
Broadbent non selects from the 1977 Sam Jones
plays with such album Something in Common. The
concentrated first, Slide Hampton’s “Every Man
lyricism that Is a King,” opens Combinations and
it is a dialogue leads with Cannon evoking Mingus
between through a solo of stubby, jabbing
equals. The notes that crystallize into melody
two separate and christen a parade of solos from
sources, piano Pelt, Bartz and Germanson. On the
and symphony second, “One for Amos,” by Jones,
orchestra, Cannon seizes the spotlight to deliver
form a creative the sort of yeoman, woody lyricism
symbiosis. Each associated with the bassist-composer.
would be less That and the closer, a five-minute
beautiful with- solo version of “Darn That Dream,”
out the other. shows that after 13 years between

THOMAS discs, Cannon wasn’t going to deny

• “The high point of his career to date”: Alan Broadbent CONRAD himself the heightened exposure he
clearly merits. BRITT ROBSON


CYRUS CHESTNUT ground Duo when it became clear the pair of a Chicago Underground Duo piece
THERE’S A SWEET, SWEET SPIRIT (HighNote) generated the core concept. Their albums as an improvisational springboard—an
When it comes time to reveal a rapport that has developed over appropriate backdrop for Hawkins’ Ce-
record, Cyrus Chestnut many years, with unique ideas about cil Taylor-esque exclamations—before
has never been inclined to improvisation and how and when to the group finally lands with fragments
stay in his lane. The widely develop sonics. For that reason, anyone of a jazz standard. Clearly this was a
acclaimed jazz pianist, who sits in has a great responsibility. meeting of kindred spirits, which hope-
who once devoted an entire album to Neither pianist Alexander Hawkins fully will happen again before long.
Elvis Presley’s legacy, has always had a nor bassist John Edwards had ever MIKE SHANLEY
healthy disregard for genre borders and played with Mazurek or Taylor prior to a
biases. So it’s not surprising to find him performance at London’s Café OTO last CHICAGO EDGE ENSEMBLE
charting his own curious course on year. Yet their previous experiences in DECAYING ORBIT (MUSIC +) (Lizard Breath)
There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit, with the help London (collectively having performed Chicago Edge Ensemble
of three likeminded collaborators: bassist with Evan Parker, Sunny Murray and is an all-terrain vehicle, a
Buster Williams, drummer Lenny White Anthony Braxton, to name a few) more quintet equally capable of
and vibraphonist Steve Nelson. than prepared them for the task at hand. negotiating the bumpity-
Naturally, Nelson, who appears on The deep connections among the four smooth contours of
three of the album’s 10 tracks, plays can be felt immediately on the 24-min- swinging postbop, the banked hairpin
a crucial role when the band salutes ute “A Night Spent Walking Through turns of fusion-funk, the fog and ether
Bobby Hutcherson by performing Mirrors.” Sounds rise and fall in waves of AACM-style intrigue and the
two compositions penned by the late as Mazurek’s cornet blasts blend with tumultuous thicket that awaits if you
vibraphonist, “The Littlest One of All” Edwards’ visceral bass sounds, both arco gleefully careen off the road. Leader-
and “Little B’s Poem.” Both the former, and pizzicato. The momentum holds guitarist Dan Phillips writes segmented
with its insinuating pulse and melodic together through the dynamic shifts; songs that frequently include at least
shimmer, and the latter, with its spiral- when one musician pauses, another one two or three of those scenarios in
ing charms, consistently inspire Nelson is always ready to continue in his wake. succession. Although he left the Windy
and his closely attuned session-mates. At the midpoint, only Taylor’s mbira City to teach in Thailand in 2001,
“Little B’s Poem” gives way to poetry of and Hawkins’ keys remain floating on Phillips has retained impeccable
another sort: Williams’ tender ballad the surface, but this tranquil pause feels contacts that allowed him to recruit
“Christina,” a showcase here for Chest- hypnotic. drummer Hamid Drake beside his
nut’s spacious, light-fingered lyricism. The other three tracks, all lengthy, longtime bassist Krzysztof Pabian in the
Of course, any album that also cele- keep the atmosphere going via Taylor’s rhythm section, and the ex-Vandermark
brates the music of Chopin, Miles Davis multidirectional drumming or by incor- 5 horn duo of trombonist Jeb Bishop
and the Stylistics is going to present porating Mazurek’s electronics and voice. and saxophonist Mars Williams.
Chestnut with myriad opportunities to “Boss Redux” uses the programmed riff All seven songs, Phillips originals,
display his talents in shifting lights and
moods. Suffice it to say that “Rhythm-
A-Ning” delightfully underscores his
deep appreciation of Thelonious Monk’s
singular legacy, while “Easy Living”
proves a splendid and soulful vehicle
for Nelson. The album’s title track is On Public R dio SiriusXM & iTunes
saved for last. One of two solo-piano
performances here, it caps the session
with a quiet, slowly unfurling “Amen!”

Twenty years ago,
cornetist Rob Mazurek
and drummer Chad
Taylor began playing
under the moniker
Chicago Underground Collective.
Players came and went, and the name
was amended to the Chicago Under-


are restless explorations. Take the title Williams—is going to be shredding, THE KENNY CLARKE/
track, which opens with bowed bass, but that’s just one of many events in FRANCY BOLAND BIG BAND
cymbal taps and delicate electric guitar each song. “Bipolar Vortex” leads with ALL SMILES (Edel/MPS)
before the drowsy horns enter in unison. chromatic drones that evolve into feisty In the 1960s the Kenny
Riffs glance off each other in a meander- squabbles, then parade-march funk, back Clarke/Francy Boland Big
ing fashion before Phillips introduces to squabbles, into full-blown sax-guitar Band became the first
a vamp, Drake answers in the pocket, spasms and back to drones. And “Uptown important European large
Bishop goes brawny to engage the Swagger” could be the work of a classic jazz ensemble. It was
drummer for a while, and Phillips’ weepy fusion-rock trio until the horns enter and European with an asterisk. Many of the
guitar signals another change—and we’re spin it into campy funk. This is music that players were American expatriates
only halfway through the 11-minute tune. animates your solar plexus, the soles of (drummer/co-leader Clarke, saxophon-
The titles “Bluster Buster” and “Splatter your feet and, not least, your soul. ists Johnny Griffin and Sahib Shihab,
Pattern” infer that someone—usually BRITT ROBSON trumpeters Benny Bailey and Idrees
Sulieman). But co-leader/pianist/
arranger Boland was Belgian. England
AMIR ELSAFFAR RIVERS OF SOUND was well represented (saxophonists
NOT TWO (New Amsterdam) Ronnie Scott, Derek Humble and Tony
Cecil Taylor’s occasionally raucous large ensembles might not Coe, trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar).
evoke a confluence of diverse musics flowing into a bigger Trombonists Åke Persson and Erik van
concept. But trumpeter Amir ElSaffar cites his time in Taylor’s Lier were from Sweden and the
big band as one inspiration for Rivers of Sound. This 17-piece Netherlands, respectively.
orchestra combines the sonorities of Western instruments The conventional wisdom in the 1960s
(trumpet, reeds, English horn, cello, violin, vibraphone) with oud, buzuq and was that European drummers couldn’t
santur. The pulse comes from a combination of piano, bass, trap kit, mridan- swing. This band, of course, avoids
gam, dumbek and frame drums. ElSaffar, whose enthralling work has combined the issue. Clarke was one of the living
Iraqi maqam and jazz improvisation in his Two Rivers sextet, gave himself a masters of his instrument, a founder of
more formidable task with a sprawling group, but the results are strong. modern drumming, usually credited
The strength of the music lies in a goal ElSaffar mentions in Not Two’s booklet. with moving time-keeping to the ride
Rivers of Sound doesn’t function as a way to bridge the far-flung cultures that cymbal. Clarke could lift an orchestra.
“belong” to different people. Instead maqam, polyphony, polyrhythms, melisma It is such permanent values as swing
and groove all flow together so that “overtones react, as we come close to a uni- that make this band worth revisiting
versal human sound,” he explains. This results in moments where Jason Adasie- today. Boland’s arrangements contain
wicz’s vibes or ElSaffar’s trumpet add vital notes on top of Iraqi strings that sound some interesting harmonic concepts,
dissonant to ears tuned to the West’s 12 notes. But what might sound jarring especially for the saxophones. But he was
initially becomes beautiful a classicist. His traditional big-band ap-
with exposure. proach prioritized precision and power,
Sections of the eight tracks and swung like crazy. For the American
feature improvisation, though Songbook standards on All Smiles, he
they aren’t delineated spe- created elegant, concise charts designed
cifically as breaks from the to set up his fine soloists.
main melodies. “Iftitah” acts Clarke-Boland broke no new ground.
as both an ensemble-wide But Scott jumps all over Gershwin’s
introduction and a blend of “By Strauss.” Persson and Deuchar
maqam and Coltrane influ- glide on Clarke’s energy all across “Get
ences. “Ya Ibni, Ya Ibni (My Out of Town.” “When Your Lover Has
Son, My Son)” includes space Gone” contains a heartfelt rendering
for English horn, clarinet and by Sulieman, first literal, then loose.
trumpet before pianist Craig “Sweet and Lovely” has Griffin at his
Taborn stretches out over best, growling and croaking. This band
drummer Nasheet Waits’ reminds you what fertile soil the old
free playing. And that piece ground was.
doesn’t end there. If music The reissue package provides infor-
really is the healing force of mative documentation, a two-panel
the universe, ElSaffar’s wide- nostalgic band shot (Griffin wailing)
ranging perspective makes and remastered sound. A nice touch is
him someone who knows the photo of the original master tape
how to put that axiom to use. box, scribbled over in German, dated

• “A universal human sound”: Amir ElSaffar MIKE SHANLEY “Januar 69,” so long ago and far away.


Smoke Jazz Club, NYC
who performed under the name Blue
Utopia, for a gig at a club in New York. Sing a Song of Bird
In just over two decades, (There’s no trace of her on the Internet.) The Music of Charlie Parker
pianist-composer George The show didn’t generate much interest, with good lyrics!
Colligan has released Cohn said, “but those three guys killed
more than two dozen that day.” He wanted to record them, so
albums as a leader, served he brought them into the studio and
as a sideman on over a hundred more, added bassist Derrick Hodge and
toured with and played in the bands of vibraphonist/pianist Warren Wolf. Each
Jack DeJohnette and other greats, and musician was asked to bring one or two
taught at Juilliard and several universi- compositions. The result—a beautiful,
ties. He’s the type of artist for whom the diverse, perfect session of jazz—sat in
phrase “best-kept secret” was coined: storage for nearly a decade because
constantly working and too accom- Cohn didn’t have the funding to release Boppin’ vocalists:
plished to be called a journeyman, yet it. Now, at last, we have The Co-Op as a
rarely the first name to roll off the lips vinyl record and digital download. Sheila Jordan • Bob Dorough
when top-10 lists are compiled. As it’s a vinyl LP, the album runs only Roseanna Vitro • Mark Gross, alto
More Powerful is a prime example of 39 minutes. But there are two songs Jason Teborek piano, Dean Johnson bass,
why Colligan’s stature should be elevated. each by Gordon and Hodge and one Bill Goodwin drums
The nine new compositions he’s recorded each by the other members, and this
on his debut for Whirlwind, with the crack variety of authorship gives the record OCTOBER 5th
team of Linda May Han Oh (bass), Rudy an expansive, elastic feel. The soft
Royston (drums) and Nicole Glover (tenor impressionism of the opener, Hodge’s Sets 7 pm, 9pm & 10:30 pm
and soprano saxophones), are imbued “Simplicity,” invites comparisons to
2751 Broadway @105th St. NYC.
with estimable technique and creativity; mid-’60s modal jazz, and the soul-
but, more important, they’re eminently ful, slightly funky rhythm of Gordon’s
listenable, often gripping pieces of music. “The Theme” conjures late-’60s soul
“Whiffle Ball,” the postbop cavalcade that jazz. Scott’s pretty tune “The Journey”
opens the program, takes off like a solid features a haunting trumpet convers-
homerun slug, the core piano trio buzzing ing with piano, before Wolf switches
with ceaseless ferocity until, a couple of to vibraphone, soloing with gusto (and
minutes in, Glover raises the bar yet again. much sustain) on the latter. Wolf ’s “Ka-
That capability established, they’re trina” is something of a mini-suite, its
able to settle into a nuanced ballad, slowly swinging midsection bookended
“Waterfall Dreams,” before another by mournful bass-vibes duets.
stomper, a full-on trio piece titled “Ef- The record gets progressively wilder.
fortless,” affords Oh the opportunity to Pelt’s “Jake’s Dilemma” lurches toward
set the rhythmic patterns that Colligan Bitches Brew territory, screaming
and Royston are more than happy to trumpet and scorching trombone
run with. The back-to-back “Retrograde layered over a ringing Fender Rhodes
Pluto” and “Southwestern Silence” are electric piano and frenetic drumming.
more astral, and “More Powerful Than The horns are absent on Hodge’s “Now
You Could Possibly Imagine” throws or Never,” a herky-jerky tone poem in
Glover back into the front spot. For 9/8 that lays a mesmerizing, repeating
“The Nash,” the closer, Oh and Royston marimba pattern over hip-hop-in-
again create a powerful, driving founda- spired drumming. The finale, “Okay!,”
tion for Colligan’s exceedingly impres- is just Gordon—on five trombones,
sive pianism. JEFF TAMARKIN thanks to overdubbing, and it’s a fun,
raucous, New Orleans-style finish.
THE CO-OP (Brown Brothers)
The story seems implau- MARC COPLAND
sible, but label head Jake BETTER BY FAR (InnerVoice)
Cohn swears it’s true: In Pianist Marc Copland is
2007 he hired trombonist the most ECM-friendly
Wycliffe Gordon, musician without a
trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and drummer record under his own
Kendrick Scott to back a Swedish singer name on that label. Via
and harpist named Malin Johansson, his frequent and longstanding engage-


ment with ECM headliners like John bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey for each member of the band. With Paul
Abercrombie and Gary Peacock, and Baron—but swaps out Abercrombie for Motian no longer with us, who better
through his prolific recordings on the the crucial presence of trumpeter Ralph than Baron to fashion a delicate lattice-
German Pirouet label, Copland has Alessi. Their followup to Zenith, entitled work of beats that ushers in the refrain
consistently displayed the harmonic Better by Far, acknowledges that Copland’s of “Gone Now,” with its music-box
elegance and crystalline intonation that compositions can be as masterfully con- simplicity? And when the soundscape
compels and rewards keen listening. trolling and cerebral as an Ingmar Berg- of “Room Enough for Stars” begins to
There is no better way to listen to man film, and intersperses three playful feel limitless in its tranquilly, it’s a tonic
Copland right now than in the quartet group improvisations plus a Monk cover to hear Gress ground the proceedings
that prompted him to start a record label (“Evidence”) as recess from the delightful with his earthy tone. Best of all, as with
of his own, InnerVoice Jazz, for the 2016 rigor of the more meaty material. Zenith, the contours of the Copland-
disc Zenith. The group consists of Ab- The five Copland originals are exqui- Alessi tandem are an ongoing revela-
ercrombie’s rhythm section—Copland, site, calibrated with a s a r tion tion. In particular, the trumpeter’s pel-
lucid solos on “Day and Night,” “Gone
Now” and “Dark Passage” are slightly
URI GURVICH harsher extensions of Copland’s own
KINSHIP (Jazz Family) aesthetic, nudging the interplay into a
Kinship is an affable assortment of buoyant bop and international bit more aggression without disrupting
folk music traditions. As with leader Uri Gurvich’s two previous the harmonic grace and unruffled flow.
discs (both on Tzadik), the album flexes the virtues of the Yes, InnerVoice Jazz is a fine name for a
ensemble’s cosmopolitan lineage—Gurvich the Israeli saxophon- label created to convey this music.
ist, Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese, Bulgarian bassist Peter BRITT ROBSON
Slavov and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela.
Two saxophonists not on the disc have a pronounced influence on the pro- JON DAVIS
ceedings. One is Joe Lovano, who has taught and/or played with every member HAPPY JUICE (Posi-Tone)
of the quartet, and whose Us Five shares a musical template with Gurvich’s en- For this trio set, pianist
semble. Gurvich’s ability to unpredictably flit and dart through the phrasing on Jon Davis, accompanied
his (primarily alto) horn while retaining the integrity of the groove is likewise by bassist Boris Kozlov
reminiscent of Lovano. The other totem of Kinship is John Coltrane and his or- and drummer Mark
bit of cohorts. You hear it in the way “Song for Kate” (a tribute to Gurvich’s wife) Ferber, sets forth his
resembles the sunny spunk of McCoy Tyner’s “Fly With the Wind”; in Gurvich’s intentions unambiguously. The 10 songs
serene, soaring soprano à la Coltrane on “Go Down Moses” (a spiritual marred here are intended to honor the five
by some very unsoulful chanting later in the cut); and in Genovese’s Alice pianists whose 1960s work Davis most
Coltrane-like arpeggios on the title track. admires: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea,
After a decade together, the quartet is experienced enough to synthesize its McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett and Bill
disparate sources into a recognizable identity. “Dance of the Nanigos” is dedicated Evans. Davis has chosen one represen-
to the Abakuá dancers of Mela’s Cuba. “El Chubut” pays tribute to the pilgrimage tative composition by each master, and
to Israel of Argentinian Jews, with lyrics written and sung by Bernardo Palombo, then matches them with five of his own,
the disc’s lone guest. inspired by his heroes.
“Twelve Tribes” It’s a gamble, perhaps—can any
utilizes Slavov’s contemporary pianist successfully
Balkan heritage and, absorb and rearticulate the essence of
along with “Blue such diverse, cornerstone players?—but
Nomad,” features a winning one. The way Davis makes
Middle Eastern it work is by not attempting to mimic.
modes. “Hermetos” The interpretations honor their creators
nods to the Brazil- by placing their work into new settings;
ian percussionist- the original music more than hints
composer Hermeto at the muses behind it, but Davis is
Pascoal. And there enough of an original stylist that noth-
are two songs from ing feels copied. In the end, there’s an
the 20th-century inviting consistency of spirit and style
Israeli composer Sa- throughout these performances.
sha Argov. Even so, Take the two Evans-related tracks:
the program sounds On “The Two Lonely People,” Davis
more organic gumbo spends nearly half the tune setting up

than hopscotch quilt. the theme solo, very much as Evans did
• “Buoyant bop and international folk”: Uri Gurvich BRITT ROBSON on his 1971 recording. The rhythm sec-
tion enters tentatively, Ferber brushing,


Kozlov plucking sparingly, Davis only Film Noir in 2008.) And this music
digging into the melody with true gusto always includes, at surprising moments,
with a little more than a minute to go. jazz chords and progressions.
“Bred on Red,” Davis’ Evans-like original, There is a more universal appeal:
takes a similar approach at first, the Luminosa is profoundly pretty. The liner
pianist channeling Evans’ block chording notes, by producer James Fitzpatrick,
before opening up more freely as the trio even reference easy-listening formats.
expands its exploration. To be sure, all the pieces here have an
So it goes throughout. Davis’ true skill alluring surface and a life-affirming lilt.
here, exemplified gratifyingly on tracks But the intellectual refinement with
like Corea’s “Tones for Joan’s Bones,” which Franzetti assembles his projects,
Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child” and the and the depth of his emotional content,
tribute numbers, is in understanding gives Luminosa qualities that easy-lis-
why he wants to play these masters’ mu- tening music lacks, like brains and balls.
sic and how best to put their ideas to use THOMAS CONRAD
on his own terms. JEFF TAMARKIN
LUMINOSA (Sunnyside) Gilmore has assembled a
The term Renaissance man marvelous band for this
is thrown around too album: tenor saxophonist
loosely these days. But Mark Shim, pianist Victor
Carlos Franzetti really is Gould, bassist Carlo DeRosa and
one. He is a composer, drummer E.J. Strickland. He’s also
arranger, conductor, vocalist and pianist chosen to de-emphasize his own
who moves at will across the theoretical compositions and focus on the work of
borders separating classical music, jazz, artists who have (to borrow from the

B.D. Lenz
film scores and the folkloric traditions of title) transitioned to the next world,
his native Argentina. three of them—Bobby Hutcherson,
This album continues two long-term Victor Bailey and Jean “Toots”
Franzetti collaborations: one with his Thielemans—quite recently. “a real embodiment of a guitar hero” — Jazz Inside
wife, Allison Brewster Franzetti, a clas- Hutcherson gets two nods, with
sical concert pianist, and one with the intricate versions of “Farralone,” featur-
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. ing Bill Ware on vibes, and “Blues
The program contains three works by Mind Matter,” which draws particularly
Franzetti, including a concerto and a well-conceived solos from Gould, Shim
set of interludes from a ballet. There are and Gilmore. For a funky, percussion-
also two tangos by popular 20th-century led and piano-less take on Bailey’s
Argentinian composers (Horacio Salgan “Kid Logic,” Gilmore plays electric and
and José Dames), and a new commis- acoustic guitar, impressively choosing
sioned concerto by Grammy-winning the latter to navigate the hand-cramp-
composer Claudia Montero. ing central riff in unison with DeRosa.
Luminosa is not the first Franzetti Thielemans’ “Bluesette” is converted to
album a jazz fan should buy. That des- 4/4 time and given a set of reharmo-
ignation goes to Steve Kuhn’s Promises nized changes that seem to repeatedly
Kept, from 2004, with flowing, lush circle in on themselves. Guest har-
arrangements by Franzetti, a rare suc- monica player Grégoire Maret’s wistful
cessful example of jazz piano with string playing keeps the tune at least partly
orchestra. Luminosa is a strict formal- connected to its roots.
ist project, with a distinctly classical A few living composers are repre-
sensibility. Still, nothing Franzetti does is sented on Transitions too. Annette For festival consideration: bdlenz.com/epk.aspx
narrow in reach. Dames’ “Nada” is mag- Peacock’s “Both” is the vehicle for some
nified by a philharmonic orchestra, yet suitably spooky group improv. Hermeto Contact: Latest release:
contains the particular, personal human Pascoal’s “Nem um Talvez” receives a 908-684-1157
yearning only a tango can express. The tender reading on nylon-string acoustic.
first of Franzetti’s three ballet interludes, And there are two Gilmore originals, Available at cdbaby.com
“Dante Noir,” is haunting like film noir. “End of Daze” and “Spontanuity,”
(Franzetti released a whole album called both of which brilliantly combine the


abstract and the visceral. Producer THEO HILL Mulgrew Miller, Herbie Hancock, Kenny
Gerry Teekens deserves extra audio-geek PROMETHEAN (Posi-Tone) Kirkland and Jeff “Tain” Watts—for a bold
kudos for panning DeRosa’s bass toward Theo Hill is a dynamically hard-bop showcase also featuring bassist
the left side of the stereo spectrum and percussive pianist, so it’s Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Mark
Strickland’s drum kit toward the right not surprising that the Whitfield Jr.
rather than, as is far more common, musicians who have The album is book-ended by tunes
orienting both in the center. It’s a move inspired him have been inspired by the Williams-Miller tandem.
that arguably gives listeners a better primarily drummers and likeminded “This Here,” a funky, poppy melody Bobby
sense of what the rhythm section’s doing, keyboardists. As its title indicates, Timmons wrote for Cannonball Adderley,
and ought to be considered more often. Promethean “steals fire” from these is rendered closer to the spunkier piano-
MAC RANDALL demigods—principally To Tonyy Williams, trio rendition found on Williams’ Young
at Heart disc. He closes with “Citadel,” a
burner from Williams’ Civilization album
TIM HAGANS & NDR BIGBAND with Miller. Dues are also paid to the
FACES UNDER THE INFLUENCE: less-heralded gentler side of Williams, via
A JAZZ TRIBUTE TO JOHN CASSAVETES (NDR) covers of the ballad “Pee Wee,” from Miles’
With few exceptions—a notable one being Shadows, his directo- Sorcerer album, and Hancock’s “Finger
rial debut, which employed the music of Mingus—the films of the Painting,” from the V.S.O.P. set list.
late John Cassavetes were light on musical content. Cassavetes Hill feels more muddled and less inci-
wanted his actors to dominate the scenes in which they appeared, sive on “Blasphemy” and “Chance,” two
and considered anything that would divert attention from their songs, from Kenny Kirkland’s eponymous
performances a distraction. debut, with shifting moods. But these
In essence, the trumpeter Tim Hagans was presented with the gift of a blank are exceptions—the dominant motif of
slate when he was commissioned by Germany’s NDR Bigband to compose music Promethean is that of a young pianist
with Cassavetes’ works in mind. Serving as writer, arranger and conductor here, reveling in the imperial command of his
his trumpet employed only sparingly, Hagans focuses on characters from six instrument. You hear it on his lone origi-
classic films—Shadows, A Woman Under the Influence, Faces, Husbands, nal, “The Phoenix,” composed in tribute
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Minnie and Moskowitz—and gives them the to Watts, which competes with “Citadel”
scores they never had. For the final track, simply called “John Cassavetes,” he and a cover of Chick Corea’s “Litha” as the
nods to the director himself, whose work, the artist notes, has long kept his brain most incandescent, two-fisted hard-bop
working overtime. pieces on the disc. And don’t overlook the
Hagans thinks in a cinematic fashion anyway, so writing for familiar characters stylish rendition of Duke Pearson’s “Is That
so rich and vibrant had to have been a dream, and to have the resources of one of So,” the rare occasion where the rhythm
Europe’s best ensembles to section is allowed a democratic share of
flesh out his thoughts surely the spotlight. BRITT ROBSON
made the gig that much more
rewarding. Cassavetes was JASON KAO HWANG
fond of improvisation, and SING HOUSE (Euonymus)
Hagans keeps things loose Jason Kao Hwang isn’t the
whenever the scenario allows. only violinist using his
“Lelia,” the grand open- instrument in a context that
ing number, captures the relies equally on free
proto-hipster, post-noir vibe improvisation and composi-
of Shadows’ NYC setting, tion. But Sing House amply demonstrates
without slipping into the kind the singular blend of passion and control he
of faux-bebop clichés that un- brings to the intersection. He’s capable of
informed directors of the pe- attacking his instrument in a visceral
riod often resorted to. “Harry, manner akin to free-jazz horn players, but
Archie & Gus,” the main men even when he plays in the upper register he
of Husbands (the director never punctuates his solos with nails-on-
himself among them), are the-chalkboard scrapes or squeals,
given an alternately swinging preferring to keep the sound clear and
and swaggering theme, and crisp. That same sense of equilibrium
the man of the hour, in the applies to his writing, with its spaces for
finale, is defined by moments exciting group improvisation.
of sheer chaos and unsullied Sing House thrives on the longstand-

delicacy, a fitting tribute indeed. ing rapport among the group members.
• “The proto-hipster, post-noir vibe”: Tim Hagans JEFF TAMARKIN Drummer Andrew Drury and bassist Ken
Filiano have played with Hwang in several


other projects, some of which have included released as the album Sangoma, with the
trombonist Steve Swell. Pianist Chris Forbes third song a part of the record African
has worked in duos with Hwang as well as Portraits. The only previously unre-
in bands led by Swell. “No Such Thing” be- leased track on this reissue is the finale,
gins the album with a brief written phrase, “Khotso,” a nine-minute bamboo flute
before shifting into unhinged energy that and spoken-word recitation that works
gives all the players equal say. After some as a spiritual parable, although the potent
blasts from Swell and wild bowing from the flute work should win over even the non-
leader, Drury’s multidirectional drumming devout. BRITT ROBSON
cues a relatively languid line built in the
low register of the piano. Even then, the RYAN KEBERLE
mood continually changes shape. “When & CATHARSIS
What Could,” featuring Hwang on viola,
begins slower, with pregnant pauses that
To Be
evoke a new-music ensemble. Before long, With Find the Common,
though, the quintet springs into action; the Shine a Light, trombonist
leader plays double time over the rhythm Ryan Keberle has now
section, and Filiano offers his strongest issued three albums in five Available Now at
solo of the set. Sing House might rely years with his piano-less iTunes, CD Baby & Amazon
heavily on free blowing, yet within the four ensemble Catharsis, each one a thought-
works Hwang packs concise pieces of writ- fully conceptual disc boasting Keberle’s waliali.com | @walijazz
ing that present new discoveries with each superb arrangements. But this latest
listen. MIKE SHANLEY Catharsis outing sacrifices the promi-
nence of the group’s musical virtues for
ABDULLAH IBRAHIM topical social commentary.
ANCIENT AFRICA (Sackville/Delmark) The purpose here is to protest the
Abdullah Ibrahim converted election of Donald Trump, and, via
to Islam nearly five years music, set forth a psychological blueprint
before these solo-piano for resisting the advancement of his
recordings were captured in policies. It begins auspiciously: “Become
Toronto on Feb. 18, 1973. But the Water” is beautifully scored as a soft,
Ibrahim had just come from a pilgrimage to billowing anthem reminiscent of Ke-
Mecca, and the gusts of inspiration that berle’s mentor Maria Schneider, blending
sweep through these lengthy solo-piano the consciousness theme of Keberle’s
excursions are from the mind and heart of past few discs with gentle cheerleading
the recommitted. They are certainly less for resistance as vocalist Camila Meza
pacific and austere than the bulk of his intones the album’s title refrain. “Al Otro
considerable output later in his career (and Lado del Rio” (“Across the River”), by
at age 83 he is still going strong). Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler,
Just shy of 20 minutes long, the three- continues the water theme, features the
part title track is dense and resonant, with distinctive horn voicings of Keberle and
after-tones that stem equally from his force trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, and recalls
of touch and his use of the sustain pedal. the emphasis on relatively obscure South
Ibrahim’s expansive phrases conflate sacred American music that burnished last
reverence and folk culture in a manner that year’s Catharsis disc, Azul Infinito.
is quintessentially African, and the pleasure The rest of Find the Common is hardly
of the mixture has him softly moaning, a failure—Keberle doesn’t create bad
drawing comparisons to Keith Jarrett. music. But it’s almost entirely com-
Another three-part workout, “The Aloe and posed of overly familiar cover songs,
the Wild Rose,” is the most straight-ahead like the Beatles’ “The Fool on the Hill”
jazz on the disc, beginning with an intro and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are
that sounds like “Jitterbug Waltz” pushed A-Changin’,” mixed with short pieces,
through Monk’s angular maze. Ibrahim had entitled “Empathy,” “Mindfulness” and
been in exile from his native South Africa a “Strength,” that are too long to be mere
decade when Ancient Africa was recorded, interludes and too weighty to be tone
and the third and longest number, “Cherry/ poems, yet lack the full arc of typical
Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro,” is an open- Catharsis songs. Yes, Keberle loves his
hearted valentine to his native land. Beatles catalog, but compare “Mother
The first two songs here were originally Nature’s Son” by his double quartet


with his “The Fool on the Hill,” which is

ANNE METTE IVERSEN TERNION QUARTET too close for comfort to Sérgio Mendes’
classic rendition. Next time, here’s hop-
ANNE METTE IVERSEN QUARTET +1 ing for more wordless vocals instead of
ROUND TRIP (BJU) lyrics from Meza, more acoustic rather
Composer-bassist Anne Mette Iversen has been the best than electric bass from Jorge Roeder, and
reason to pay attention to the Brooklyn Jazz Under- more preaching to the choir that shares
ground collective the past few years, and these simulta- Keberle’s love of innovative sonority as
neous releases with two completely separate bands signal much as his politics. His bold, inventive
another growth spurt in her development and profile. arrangements are themselves incisive
Iversen formed the Ternion Quartet more than two years ago in Berlin, where she rebuttals to the autocracy in the White
now resides. It is more playful and less controlled than any of her previous ensembles, House. BRITT ROBSON
reveling in the hopscotch jousts and tonal contrasts between alto saxophonist Silke
Eberhard and Geoffroy De Masure on tenor and bass trombones. The spongy fills RUSSELL MALONE
from drummer Roland Schneider and Iversen’s steady, stentorian basslines provide TIME FOR THE DANCERS (HighNote)
the right amount of caulk and spacing. The song titles offer another clue into Iversen’s Surrounded by five
wry, carefree mindset with this group. Three snippets—“My Revised Head,” “Their budding ballerinas,
Revised Head” and “Your Revised Head”—are dotted among the nine other tracks, guitarist Russell Malone is
and vocabulary-rich titles such as “Ataraxia on My Mind” and “A Cygnet’s Eunoia” are pictured on the cover of his
simply highfalutin ways of saying, “I feel good!” That’s also expressed in the plunger latest recording at a
mutes and nuanced march-time beats that lend a New Orleans flair to “Debacled De- performing arts academy in New Jersey.
bate,” and in how “Escapade #7” does indeed feel like a musical caper, with its lowing If, for some strange reason, the photo
trombone drone, shuffling drums and walking bass. doesn’t produce a smile, chances are the
Round Trip is even better, in large part because of pianist Danny Grissett. It isn’t album will, with its artful blend of blues,
just having a harmony instrument in the rhythm section (although that is the only swing, soul and funk.
significant difference in the makeup of the two bands); Grissett is both a steadying For a few prime examples of Malone’s
presence and a subtle force. He provides welcome interludes that are like glancing underrated artistry, each a quartet
blows between the conversing horns of tenor saxophonist John Ellis and trombon- performance featuring pianist Rick Ger-
ist Peter Dahlgren on “Round Trip.” He delivers the opening vamp that becomes the manson, bassist Luke Sellick and drum-
motif for “Lines & Circles.” His lengthy solo in the middle of “The Ballad That Would mer Willie Jones III, check out three
Not Be” is a contender for the highlight of the entire disc. of the original compositions gathered
Another advantage Round Trip enjoys is the depth and variety of Iverson’s composi- here. “The Ballad of Hank Crawford”
tions. Each of the five members (drummer Otis Brown III completes the lineup) is instantly evokes, among other things, the
spotlighted solo and in tandems that continually shift. Meanwhile, the background saxophonist’s Southern affinities and, by
layers vary in their pith and weave, making the disc a durable listening pleasure for extension, Ray Charles’ chart-topping
new and expanded discoveries. In the liner notes, Iversen talks about a “round trip” Nashville alliances. Likewise, “Pocket
being a return home by a different route, and the music reflects that blend of intimacy Watch,” inspired by Ray Brown, recalls
and adventure. All but Dahlgren have been together more than a dozen years now, the renowned bassist’s engaging, unhur-
and one could say the band members are really hitting their stride. The best part is ried pulse. “Leave It to Lonnie,” on the
that it’s a different stride on almost every track. BRITT ROBSON other hand, provides a sharply percussive
contrast. It finds Malone and company
at their kinetic best, driven by a bass-
ostinato-triggered arrangement that’s
peppered with rhythmic displacements,
jabbing funk chords, call-and-response
riffs and sliding double stops.
When Malone briefly goes it alone he’s
particularly eloquent, crafting a lovely
interlude rendering of Billy Joel’s “And So
It Goes.” Seemingly effortless interplay,
though, is the album’s shining virtue. It’s
evident even when the quartet unexpect-
edly serves up, with a Brazilian twist,
José Feliciano’s “Theme From ‘Chico and
the Man’.” Closing out Time for the Dancers

is a well-known Malone composition, the

elegiac “Flowers for Emmett Till,” newly
• A “blend of intimacy and adventure”: Anne Mette Iversen arranged (and poignantly accented) by
the quartet. MIKE JOYCE


New CD from


music is several different kinds of jazz
and rock, simultaneously. Everything
SOUNDING TEARS (Clean Feed) from fusion and funk to shoegaze and
The fourth track of this free jazz finds a home here. Textures are
record is “Blessed,” more important than structure, chord
composed by Mat Maneri. progression or melody.
It is slower and quieter than Guitarist Michel Delville (who also
any funeral dirge, and more does electronics and samples) and
somber. Lucian Ban places isolated piano drummer Tony Bianco are back for the
notes like pale dots of light amid black band’s third album, but the saxophone
silence. When Maneri’s hushed viola chair has been jettisoned in favor of
enters, you think he might connect those keys. The third member this time is
dots, and you hope for meaningful Antoine Guenet, whose work on the
interaction. But Maneri stays in his own piano, keyboards and synthesizer pushes
quivering, creaking domain. At first you the group even further into experimen-
cannot be sure you are hearing Evan tal territory. Here are nine of Hendrix’s
Parker’s saxophone, but its breathy best-known tunes—“Purple Haze,”
murmuring eventually ascends to “Little Wing,” “Voodoo Chile” and “The
audibility. You strive to perceive patterns, Wind Cries Mary” among them—and Available August 4, 2017
and sometimes you think you notice they’re barely recognizable. Machine
Parker returning some portion of a Mass makes each its own. “Spanish
Maneri phrase, or Ban’s fragments Castle Magic” builds on a psychedelic
implying skeletal counterpoint with the swirl of electric guitar, electronics and
other two voices. “Blessed” provokes organ sounds. “Fire” veers toward
curiosity because you have rarely heard a metal territory with crazy electric guitar,
piece of music so perversely uneventful. thrashing drums and Deep Purple
The problem is that many listeners will organ, but ever-changing group improv
never get to track four. Whereas “Blessed” conjures early-’70s Miles more than
has a notated melody, however evapora- prog-rock or heavy metal. “Burning of

tive, the first three tracks are free impro- the Midnight Lamp” begins as a delicate
visations. They are as turgid as “Blessed,” piano solo before abruptly switching

but more random and even less attractive. to an organ-fueled stomp. It’s musical
Those who hang in until track seven will whiplash. “You Got Me Floatin’” is 11
hear an actual interesting form composed minutes of anything-goes craziness in
by Ban, two separate lines (in separate which a keyboard conjuring a mon-
hands) weaving and intersecting. It is “Po- strous buzzing insect sounds completely
laris,” for piano only. But the next piece, normal. Machine Mass Plays Hendrix
“Scilence,” entirely improvised like most is a fascinating record that captures the
of the album, is more painfully ponderous excitement of blurring—or ignoring—
navel contemplation by the trio. boundaries. STEVE GREENLEE
Parker is an elder statesman of the
European avant-garde. Maneri and Ban NICK MAZZARELLA
have done valuable work in the past. But
Sounding Tears is a wrong turn into a dead
end. It may be an experiment in removing
The first thing that strikes
from free jazz two of its key elements, am- you about Signaling, an
plitude and energy, in order to generate exceptional duo effort by
rapt three-way codes. Yet it fails because it alto saxophonist Nick
forgets that jazz must be created not only Mazzarella and cellist
to amuse the players but also to fulfill an Tomeka Reid, is its remarkable
audience. THOMAS CONRAD tonality—not just the sonic depth and
richness of the notes but the gravita-
MACHINE MASS tional pull of the spaces between them
MACHINE MASS PLAYS HENDRIX (MoonJune) as well. Its free expression cuts you
For its third album, loose in space, like the Sandra Bullock
Machine Mass uses Jimi character in Gravity, while the tensile
Hendrix songs as the strength and solidity of the playing
starting points for tethers you to a rewarding place. jazztimes.com
improvisation. The trio’s All of the tunes on the album are co-


writes by these acclaimed Chicago artists. flurry may put you in mind of electric ARUÁN ORTIZ
As explicitly conveyed by the title of the guitar hero Sonny Sharrock in Last CUB(AN)ISM, PIANO SOLO (Intakt)
gorgeous, spiritually charged opening Exit. On “Rediscovery of an Age,” Too often, solo-piano
track, “Blues for Julius and Abdul,” the Reid props up the playful, intensifying recordings feel like a
great saxophone and cello collaborations clusters of her partner with plucked larger statement stripped
of Julius Hemphill and Abdul Wadud notes and lively walking figures. of its largeness; the
figure into their approach. But the free “Topographies,” at seven-and-a-half pianist follows the same
and easy feel of Mazzarella and Reid’s minutes the longest track, grabs you rules that would’ve applied had other
exchanges, and the ease with which they with its high-low melodic attack (Reid musicians been present. Cub(an)ism
continually shift strategies in embossing climbs the register to play airy, violin- could not have been made with
and deconstructing melodies, tells you like notes) and its closeknit harmonies. accompanists. Like the visual art with
how lightly they wear that influence. The ghostly sustained tones with which which its title toys, the music here is
On the title track, which finds Maz- the song concludes take your breath frequently dismantled and restated in
zarella in a staccato mode, sculpting away—even in outer space. befuddling ways, all dissociated shapes
and spurting notes, Reid’s machine-gun LLOYD SACHS and angles tumbling and rearranging as
something else. The aha moments on
these 10 new compositions and
CHARNETT MOFFETT improvisations—the pianist’s first solo
MUSIC FROM OUR SOUL (Motéma) outing since his 1996 debut, Impresión
Charnett Moffett was just 20 and already a veteran of high-profile Tropical—tend to occur as the whole is
gigs when he made his debut as a leader. Three decades’ worth of considered, even if the components
road work and recording sessions later, he’s out with his aptly seem unmoored or ill-fitting. Ortiz’s
titled 14th release, Music From Our Soul, which handily unanticipated, on-the-fly thematic
demonstrates the free-spirited, groove-intensive approach he’s shifts make for quite a joyride; he
taken with his music in recent years. It’s a winning set of electric-acoustic follows his whims and muses with an
music, playful but serious and sometimes challenging. ear toward what’s ahead, trusting that
Music From Our Soul is essentially a collection of studio tracks and live the listener will eventually catch up.
dates in New York, Seattle and Bern, Switzerland, documenting some of what There’s a fullness and richness to his
Moffett’s been up to since the release of his 2013 album, Spirit of Sound. The executions, an aching to—as the
genesis of the project: a 2014 studio session that found the bassist joined by a Cubists did—make us rethink context.
longtime collaborator, guitarist Stanley Jordan, and drummer Mike Clark. That The Cuban influence itself is less
occasion yielded a speedy version of Miles’ “So What,” a showcase for Jordan’s overt than one might expect, given the
sinewy soloing; the hypnotic, wah-enhanced “Love in the Galaxies”; and the title and Ortiz’s pedigree. A native of
leader’s brief, unaccompanied “Celestial Dimensions,” on which, on upright, he the island, he has always made a point
alternates hard-strummed figures with bowed lines. of drawing direct lines to his home-
Avant-minded tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders takes Moffett (on fretless land. Here, even on the Baroque-esque
bass guitar), Jordan and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts further out on the opening marathon showpiece “Cuban Cubism,”
title track, the dron- and the considerably shorter but no less
ing, Middle Eastern- audacious “Sacred Chronology” and
tinted “We Are Here “Monochrome (Yubá),” Ortiz recasts
to Play,” and “Free- the raw materials of his art in his own
dom Swing.” And image. It’s pretty thrilling stuff.
for good measure, JEFF TAMARKIN
Moffett, pianist Cyrus
Chestnut and drum- TROY ROBERTS
mer Victor Lewis TALES & TONES (Inner Circle)
offer a pair of lovely For his eighth outing as
piano-trio tunes, a leader, the Australian-
caught live at NYC’s born saxophonist and
Jazz Standard—a composer Troy Roberts
delicate-to-spirited didn’t cut corners on
“Mood Indigo,” and hiring accompanists. Bassist Robert
“Come and Play,” Hurst spent time in the ensembles of
a hard-swinging both Wynton and Branford Marsalis,
original, one of several and has recorded with Diana Krall and
showcasing the leader’s many others, in addition to cutting

still-astonishing chops. several albums as a leader. Venezuelan

• “Free-spirited, groove-intensive”: Charnett Moffett PHILIP BOOTH pianist Silvano Monasterios has
appeared on a few of Roberts’ previous


releases and also boasts a lengthy list of more polyrhythmic version of Miles’ track, shows Moving Pictures at its
live and studio credits. And then there’s electric era, due in no small part to best. After nine minutes of atmospheric
drummer extraordinaire Jeff “Tain” Watts, the bright, impassioned cornet of keyboard swells and undulating flute
in whose current quartet Roberts is a Graham Haynes. Ralph M. Jones acts melodies, Drake’s cue introduces a forceful
regular featured member. as his foil, on flutes, soprano and tenor polyrhythmic theme. The title track at
The reason it’s important to note the saxophones and bass clarinet, further the front of the album goes for the same
other personnel up front is because each connecting to the instrumentation of impact, but being nearly 14 minutes long,
musician plays such a pivotal role in the Bitches Brew and stretching the sonic the one-chord groove overstays its wel-
execution of this music. Each of the nine scope. Haynes and Jones also play four come. In between, most of the album relies
tracks on Tales & Tones (six penned by interludes throughout the album, some heavily on vamps, which Haynes, Jones
Roberts) bears a distinct sonic stamp, of them discordant, ranging from 21 to and guitarist Kenny Wessel energize, never
calling upon players equally capable of 44 seconds. hindered by treacherous time signatures.
both command and connection. Roberts, “Wonderings,” the final full-length MIKE SHANLEY
who plays tenor and soprano, doesn’t of-
ten give turn signals when switching up
a tempo or stopping short during a solo GARY PEACOCK TRIO
to spill out a volley of fractured notes; he TANGENTS (ECM)
needs to rely on the others to intuit those Listening to Gary Peacock makes one pine for a world where all jazz
shifts—and, often, to take the initiative. bassists are steeped in Eastern spirituality, have played with everyone
They do. On the two opening num- from Albert Ayler to Bill Evans and live to be an agile 82.
bers, “Decoration” and “Trams,” the Peacock will forever be known for the “Standards Trio,” in which
listener quickly learns to expect the he and drummer Jack DeJohnette shepherded Keith Jarrett into some
unexpected from the quartet, whether a of the pianist’s most lucid, complementary performances without sacrificing the
spellbinding, penetrating statement from depth of their own assertions. So no one should be surprised that the bassist now
Monasterios or a display of authority and helms a trio of acutely kindred spirits in pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey
nuance from Watts and Hurst. On the Baron. In the press materials for Tangents (a followup to the trio’s first recording,
ballads, “Rivera Mountain” and “Picka- 2015’s Now This), Peacock marvels at their “lack of me, me, me. Everyone is listen-
poppy,” a more subtle straight-ahead ing for what the music tells you to do.”
approach takes over, and if you’re ex- That ambiance of received wisdom, of patient certainty, permeates Tangents. The
pecting anything tricky from the band’s opener, “Contact,” begins with the spare, sturdy frame of Peacock’s 45-second bass solo,
reading of “Take the ‘A’ Train,” you’ll followed by Copland’s tiptoe-sensitive notation and the gossamer texture of Baron’s
be waiting till the end; the standard is cymbals. Halfway through the piece, the trio gradually picks up the pace, as if com-
treated with the reverence it deserves. ing out of hibernation. “December Greenwings” reworks what was originally a 1978
Some of the wildest, most unabashedly Peacock-Jan Garbarek duet into a halting, staccato trio coordination. The lone group
free moments are saved for the finale, improvisation, “Empty Forest,” is a case study in the beauty of resonance, from Baron’s
Roberts’ “Boozy Bluesy,” an applause- timpani-like mallet-beats to the evaporating notes Peacock plucks out of his bass.
worthy demonstration of both technique The yin-oriented majesty of Bill Evans is an obvious inspiration for the trio, and
and inventiveness. JEFF TAMARKIN they honor the pianist with a gently rustling version of “Blue in Green,” highlighted
by yet another gorgeous linear solo from Peacock. Better yet is a heartbreakingly
ADAM RUDOLPH’S beautiful rendition of the Spartacus movie theme that may be more lyrical than Evans’
MOVING PICTURES previously definitive treatment. Elsewhere on the disc are songs with more oomph,
GLARE OF THE TIGER (MOD/Meta) including an initially serene “Tempei Tempo” that ramps up to a driving beat, and
Adam Rudolph might be the Ornette-friendly “Rumblin’.” But it is hard to top Peacock and his trio in repose,
the leader of the eight- listening for the music’s next instruction. BRITT ROBSON
piece Moving Pictures, but
the group doesn’t simply
serve as a vehicle to
spotlight his hand-drum prowess.
Granted, “Lehra” presents three minutes
of impressive handwork over a groove,
recorded in a manner that makes it leap
from the speakers. But most of the time

Rudolph works as part of the ensemble,

which is anchored by bassist Damon
Banks, drummer Hamid Drake and
James Hurt on additional percussion as
well as keyboards. • An “ambiance of received wisdom, of patient certainty”: Marc Copland,
The electric backdrop (Fender Rhodes, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron (from left)
B-3, electric guitar and bass) recalls a


FERENC SNÉTBERGER Dominic Miller have continued it. cultural references are almost incidental to
TITOK (ECM) Titok is the latest guitar offering from Snétberger’s encompassing aesthetic. Titok
ECM has had a special ECM, and it is remarkable in the whole- is warm, elegant music, unassuming in its
intimate connection with ness of its realization. It is also remark- romanticism, firm in its substance, organic
the guitar from the label’s able that a 60-year-old guitar master like in its natural, unhurried flow. Inseparable
start. A disproportionate Ferenc Snétberger could be so far under from the allure of this album is ECM’s
amount of important the radar. He does have one previous excellent recorded sound. The sonic glow
jazz-guitar music has appeared on ECM. release on ECM, In Concert, from 2016, of Snétberger’s acoustic nylon-string guitar
Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, John Abercrom- but his discography, mostly on Enja, is is as sensual as a caress.
bie, Ralph Towner, Terje Rypdal and thin. He wrote all 13 songs here, and Five of the 13 pieces are in-studio
Egberto Gismonti are among the guitarists they reflect diverse influences: Roma improvisations. They sound almost as
who launched this rich history. More music (“Álom”); European classical jewel-like and complete as longstanding
recently, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Eivind (“Renaissance”); Latin (“Orange Tan- Snétberger compositions like “Kék Kerék,”
Aarset, Jakob Bro, Ben Monder and go”); jazz (most of the rest). But these which is a quietly dramatic unfolding of
inevitable melody.
The rhythm section here assures that
TYSHAWN SOREY Snétberger’s light touch will be applied in a
VERISIMILITUDE (Pi) context of intensity. Bassist Anders Jormin
Let no one think that Tyshawn Sorey’s use of a piano-bass-drums and drummer Joey Baron have appeared
trio on Verisimilitude, his sixth album (and one of his strongest), on many ECM recordings but never
brings it closer to the conventions of jazz or anything else. together. Baron’s brushes are like flicker-
Drummer-composer Sorey remains as determinedly unique as ing fire. Jormin is a special atmospheric
ever, playing a quiet music that develops gradually and draws at resource, offering haunting pizzicato on
least as much from modern classical music as from avant-garde jazz and creative “Álom,” lingering arco on “Leolo” and
music. It merely employs more familiar instrumentation to do so this time. resonant blends with Snétberger’s guitar
Actually, there are some moments that flirt with convention. The opening throughout. THOMAS CONRAD
track, “Cascade in Slow Motion,” finds pianist Cory Smythe playing a spare, in-
quiring melody (and a solo that closely follows that melody) with regular accents MELVIN SPARKS
from bassist Christopher Tordini (who switches to bow just before the piece’s LIVE AT NECTAR’S (One Note)
end) and loose, brushed drums from Sorey. Likewise, the half-hour “Algid No- A few months before he
vember” captures a few scattered, serendipitous occasions of the three (freeform) died in 2011, at age 64,
swinging together. guitarist Melvin Sparks was
Otherwise, Verisimilitude reflects a cross between experimental improv and recorded in concert at the
contemporary chamber music. Those two tributaries aren’t easy to distinguish. Burlington, Vermont, club
On “Flowers for Prashant,” almost entirely a solo feature for Smythe, the pianist’s Nectar’s. The resultant live album, now
left hand concentrates on a march-like figure both moody and peaceful. His right available as a digital download and on
plays a somber melody that stays close to the left, though it occasionally raises an limited-edition vinyl, is prototypical
octave or gives a chord crash, and it’s impossible to say what Sorey did and didn’t soul-jazz but atypical of Sparks, who didn’t
write. This is even more true feature horn players much in his later
of “Obsidian,” where Smythe years but brought in two for this gig: alto
dabbles in toy piano and Tordini saxophonist Dave Grippo and tenor
envelops everyone in electronic saxophonist Brian McCarthy. Live at
hazes. And the meditative “Con- Nectar’s is by no means an essential record,
templating Tranquility,” with its but it’s a fine coda to Sparks’ career.
quiet, chromatic shapelessness He sounds as strong as ever, and his
but occasional synergies, might chief supporters, organist Beau Sasser and
be through-composed, wholly drummer Bill Carbone, are tight. Sasser,
improvised, or anywhere in though, tends to dig into the B-3 bag of
between. tricks here: Notes and phrases are repeated
Regardless, Sorey’s genius and repeated, sometimes a few bars more
comes through sounding as than one cares to hear. On the other
fresh and insightful as ever. hand, though Sparks has been compared
The Pulitzer Prize committee to Grant Green, his music has more in
that has honored both Ornette common with funk and jam bands. Great
Coleman and Henry Threadgill lyrical soloing, in other words, is not the
in the past decade might want to top priority. You’ve got your hot opener in

• “As determinedly unique as ever”: get their ears on Verisimilitude. “Miss Riverside,” your smoking booga-
Tyshawn Sorey MICHAEL J. WEST loo in “Fire Eater,” your covers of hits in
“Breezin’” and “Ain’t No Woman (Like


the One I Got),” your midtempo funk in Among Verticals provides an opportu- WALT WEISKOPF
“Cranberry Sunshine” (which does feature nity to discover seven highly promising FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH (Posi-Tone)
a superb solo from Sasser) and your emerging players. The five not previously While it contains some
bring-down-the-house closer in “Whip! mentioned are Philip Dizack (trumpet), ambitious original
Whop!” Everything’s very enjoyable, even Kyle Wilson (tenor saxophone), Pe- compositions, such as the
if nothing stands out besides the silly, ter Schlamb (vibraphone), Rick Ro- odd-form and mixed-meter
out-of-place quotes from “St. Thomas” and sato (bass) and Craig Weinrib (drums). “Petal,” tenor saxophonist
“The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” in THOMAS CONRAD Walt Weiskopf ’s Fountain of Youth is still
the middle of “Breezin’.” It’s all in the name
of pleasing the crowds, and Sparks always
accomplished that goal. STEPS AHEAD
Cofounded by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and saxophonist
BEN VAN GELDER Michael Brecker in 1979, Steps and later Steps Ahead saw their
AMONG VERTICALS (bvg) bold blend of acoustic-electric fusion and modern jazz draw listen-
There are no liner notes to ers for the next 25 years or so. Mainieri provided the catchy,
Ben van Gelder’s new steady-grooving tunes, and the group became a launching pad for
album, but his website says a long list of top-rank players, many of whom subsequently gained even higher
that Among Verticals is “an profiles as leaders of their own projects.
ode to New York,” and that Steppin’ Out might be called a reboot, with the vibraphonist joined by various
the title comes from a painting in New members of the Steps/Steps Ahead universe: saxophonist Bill Evans, guitarist
York’s Museum of Modern Art by Chuck Loeb (who died in July), bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Steve Smith.
František Kupka. Madame Kupka Among Even better, the five are accompanied by the WDR Big Band Cologne for new
Verticals portrays the artist’s wife in “a versions of the band’s tunes, and the familiar material comes off as reinvigorated
sea of … broad vertical brushstrokes.” It rather than simply retrofitted. (True story: Way back in 1963, Mainieri and WDR
is “an image with a strong unspoken arranger/conductor Michael Abene, a pianist, played a six-week stint in Las
narrative, where the familiar is struc- Vegas with Buddy Rich’s sextet.)
tured in an unfamiliar way,” which also There are plenty of high points, including “Oops,” with vibes paired with the
describes Van Gelder’s music. big band’s horns at the start before the tune switches over to a stair-stepping
He is from the Netherlands and is one chordal pattern. It then cycles through other sections before eventually leading
of the best alto saxophone players in jazz into a typically probing solo by the leader and a beautifully paced two-tenor
under 30, with a luminous, pure, personal cutting contest between Evans and the WDR’s Paul Heller. Don Grolnick’s airy,
sound. Like most of his generation, he syncopation-spiked “Pools,” the opener and one of only two pieces here not
wants to be a composer. Unlike most, he penned by Mainieiri, has Evans and Kennedy in unison on the tricky melody
is succeeding. This recording contains no line, and opens up for extended solos by most of the group.
less than 14 varied, intriguing, detailed, “Steppish” shifts gears rapidly at the start before heading into hard-swinging
complete works for septet, several in the terrain, while the quiet ballad “Self Portrait” opens with a hymnlike section
one-to-two-minute range. What is famil- sounded by the wood-
iar is Van Gelder’s commitment to lyri- winds, and “Beirut,”
cism. What is unfamiliar is his fresh con- credited to Mainieri,
cept of ensemble form. This is absolutely Peter Erskine and three
current jazz, sprung free rhythmically and late musicians (Brecker,
harmonically. Yet it reveals both order Loeb and Victor Bailey)
and scale because Van Gelder thinks is dominated by Evans’
orchestrally. On pieces like the title track urgent soprano work
and “Silver/Grey,” colors shift as different and tinged with Middle
instruments enter the blend. Counterlines Eastern elements.
come and go. Horn backgrounds for solo- “Trains,” appropriately
ists move to the foreground then recede. enough, closes the disc
Tunes stop and start over. with churning rhythms,

The “strong unspoken narrative” is New a wandering melody

York, that vertical city where Van Gelder and a bracing solo from
lived for 10 years. He has said that New Loeb. After all these
York transformed him as an artist but years, Steps Ahead has
required “many sacrifices.” “In Retrospect” maintained its sense of
has pianist Sam Harris softly circling and adventure and forward
Van Gelder playing waves of deep reflec- • The late guitar master Chuck Loeb makes bracing motion. Nice ride.
tion. His wafting alto is memory become contributions to Steps Ahead’s recent reboot PHILIP BOOTH
sound. New York can be a lonely place.


more or less a blowing session. Not in Things in Glocca Morra,” but here it’s “Laura” and his own “Double Date” would
any pejorative sense—it sounds like he Zak who sounds thoroughly relaxed, serve well on “Glocca Morra” and “Hot
and some cohorts (vibraphonist Behn even in his double- and triple-time Dog Days,” on which he sits out. But these
Gillece, pianist Peter Zak, bassist Mike runs. Nobody gets too much at ease on are minor complaints about a thoroughly
Karn and drummer Steve Fidyk) got Weiskopf ’s uptempo swingers “Loose enjoyable session by one of the music’s
together with no further agenda than to Lips” and “Heads in the Clouds”; instead, most reliable straight-ahead voices.
have fun and play some bop. they jam. The latter features perhaps the MICHAEL J. WEST
How else to interpret the comfort- record’s best solo, with Weiskopf ’s play-
able-as-an-old-shoe take on “Close ing being decidedly more angular than MARK WHITFIELD
Enough for Love”? Weiskopf is so at the tune itself, to alluring results. LIVE & UNCUT (Chesky)
home in the Johnny Mercer song he There’s little solo space for the rhythm For the latest release from
might be playing it while reclining in section; Karn and Fidyk take one each. guitarist Mark Whitfield,
a Barcalounger. Ironically, he’s a little Gillece has more, but he too feels unde- the big concept is … no
more on edge for the ballad “How Are rused: The beautiful lines hee unfurls
un on concept. As suggested by
the album’s title, it’s a
document of a concert recorded earlier
MATTHEW STEVENS this year at Rockwood Music Hall in
PREVERBAL (Ropeadope) Manhattan. Chesky simply rounded up
Preverbal is a new installment in the immense, frequently bassist Ben Allison and drummer Billy
compromised, sometimes rich, undeniably tortured 50-year Drummond, both of whom had previ-
history of fusion. More to the point, it is one of the most ously worked with Whitfield, picked a
successful installments in recent memory. suitable performance space and gear
Like many, perhaps most, jazz musicians under 40, Matthew ensuring pristine sound, gathered an
Stevens started in music playing rock. In his youth, his home was Toronto but his audience and pressed “record.”
epicenter was Seattle. He loved Nirvana and Soundgarden. He eventually became Trio magic, more or less, ensues as
the guitarist in high-profile jazz bands (Christian Scott, NEXT Collective, Esper- the three, captured on a single binaural
anza Spalding). For his second album as a leader he revisits his origins. The rock mic enabling heightened intimacy, turn
in Stevens’ jazz-rock fusion is manifest in the head-banging beats of “Reservoir,” in four tried-and-true standards and
the basic pop-song line of “Picture Window” and the guitar death-vamp on “Un- two Drummond originals. Live & Uncut
dertow.” Rock, above all, is an attitude. Stevens’ complex intellectual jazz impro- offers a meat-and-potatoes approach to
visations occur within loud, belligerent, visceral raunch. The juxtaposition of two album production and programming,
attitudes toward art is exciting. (Wasn’t that what fusion was supposed to be?) and the resultant sonic stew is plenty
The way this music evolves is continuously revelatory. Stadium-rock anthems tasty, starting with “Without a Song,” at
with stinging guitar and barbaric drums (by Eric Doob) contain surprising melo- more than 10 minutes the disc’s longest
dies. All the din comes from only three players. Stevens and Doob also operate track. Strolling at a midtempo pace,
synthesizers. Vicente Archer generates huge groundswells with his bass alone. Whitfield follows his mostly unadorned
Stevens’ arranged soundscapes feel spontaneous, unfolding in the moment as reading of the melody with a solo
looming forces, as oceanic seeth- spiced with speedy single-note runs and
ings, perhaps even as specific chordal figures, and drops in and out of
single-note guitar lyricism (like the soundscape for Allison’s roving solo,
on “Cocoon”). followed by a trading-fours section. For
One of the remarkable “Invitation,” the musicians dispense with
achievements of Preverbal is the typical Latin-to-swing format, stick-
how all the in-studio production ing to a modified bossa rhythm. They
culminates in a clean mix that frontload “Willow Weep for Me” with a
is vivid with detail and never bluesy, back-beating intro.
sounds cluttered. In fact, this Monk is here twice, with an appropri-
beautifully recorded album is ately chunky reading of his leapfrogging
a celebration of sound, of the “Jackie-ing,” featuring some of the group’s
vast seductive sonorities of the most inspired rhythmic interplay and
electric guitar, especially when an extended showcase for the rhythm
enhanced by modern technology. section, and Drummond’s “Changes for
Stevens sounds like he is playing Monk and Trane,” its zippy melody top-
a thousand guitars. ping crawling chord changes. While there
One quibble: Esperanza are no surprises here, Whitfield, Allison
Spalding’s final vocal track and Drummond successfully provide

• “Intellectual jazz improvisations within interrupts the album’s aesthetic a pleasant, up-close view of three great
visceral raunch”: Matthew Stevens wholeness. THOMAS CONRAD musicians doing the thing they do so well.
And that’s reward enough. PHILIP BOOTH


by Christopher Loudon
Q&A: Cécile McLorin Salvant
← Cécile McLorin
Salvant’s new
collection of live
recordings solidi-
fies her place on
the vocal-jazz

CÉCILE MCLORIN Rather unique among live offer- KELLYE GRAY

SALVANT ings, Dreams and Daggers does not RENDERING (Grr8)
DREAMS AND DAGGERS focus on revisiting earlier studio One of the finest jazz
(Mack Avenue) work. Indeed, among the 23 tracks, vocalists to emerge from
It seems safe to posit only one, “I Didn’t Know What Time Texas, Kellye Gray made
that Cécile McLorin It Was,” is culled from McLorin’s an auspicious recording
Salvant is not only the prior albums. More than a dozen debut in 1990. Despite its
most successful female fresh covers extend from Ida Cox’s success, within two years Standards in
jazz singer to emerge “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues” Gray was out of print, and remained so
since the turn of the millennium but and Bessie Smith’s “You’ve Got to until Gray obtained the rights some two
also the most dynamically skilled, an Give Me Some”—Salvant alone with decades later. Come 2015, rather than
opinion that this double-disc set of guest pianist Sullivan Fortner—to simply reissue a 25th-anniversary
live recordings solidifies. On board are a double-dip into the Bob Dorough edition, Gray set a more ambitious goal:
her regular bandmates—drummer songbook for “Devil May Care” and to recreate five of those eight original
Lawrence Leathers, bassist Paul Sikivie “Nothing Like You.” She twice nods tracks, add new material and package it
and, the essential yin to her yang, to the poetry of Langston Hughes, in a two-disc set with a remastered
pianist Aaron Diehl. The Catalyst and indulges her penchant for Standards. Shaped, like its predecessor,
Quartet adds strings on select tracks. quirkier Broadway fare with a lilting in a Houston studio and recorded live
Captured in New York, these exqui- “If a Girl Isn’t Pretty.” Four of five in front of an audience of 30, with no
sitely molded sessions span September originals serve as brief, clever in- rehearsals or retakes, Renderings
and December 2016 dates at, respec- terstitials. The fifth, “More,” defines features a quintet that includes two

tively, the Village Vanguard and the a marvelously theatrical, strings- members—saxophonist Warren Sneed
DiMenna Center for Classical Music, drenched yearn for heightened and drummer Sebastian Whittaker—
in Hell’s Kitchen. romantic fulfillment. from the original session.


Now as then, much of Gray’s work, Dexter Gordon’s “Soy Califa” celebrates SARAH PARTRIDGE
as well as her phrasing and tone, sug- vibrant new romance. (Conversely, her BRIGHT LIGHTS AND PROMISES:
gests the elegant early albums of Nancy smoky “I Shouldn’t Tell You” skilfully REDEFINING JANIS IAN (Origin)
Wilson. But there remains another side rides the seesaw of romantic uncer- The songbooks of Dylan,
to Gray: a fearlessly bold jazz styl- tainty.) To close, Levy returns to Hong Lennon and McCartney,
ist who knows no limits. Sometimes Kong with the title track and its gentle Paul Simon, Tom Waits,
the bespoke Gray dominates, as on ruminations on an extended absence Joni Mitchell and Laura
the tender “A Time for Love” and a from home. Nyro have all been
sinfully alluring “How Long Has This well-mined by jazz artists. But Sarah
Been Going On.” Most often, though, JESSICA MOLASKEY Partridge is the first to excavate the
the two halves coexist within Gray’s PORTRAITS OF JONI (Ghostlight) equally rich Janis Ian oeuvre. Partridge
artful arrangements, escalating from If you’ve been fortunate met Ian in an online group of Grammy
genteel to outré without ever betray- enough to catch Jessica voters and ignited the idea. Thrilled
ing the song’s emotional core. Such Molaskey and husband with the prospect of a gifted jazz
arresting duality reaches its apex on John Pizzarelli during vocalist reinventing tunes spanning
the most unexpected of standards, their annual autumn her five-decade career, Ian provided
“How Insensitive,” usually served with residency at Manhattan’s Café Carlyle, full cooperation, even co-crafting two
chilled regret but here progressing to you know how deep their joint new compositions. Nor did Partridge
near-insane anguish. affection is for Joni Mitchell. Two years scrimp on sidemen, with seven
ago, Molaskey more fully explored the top-drawer players anchored by pianist
ALLEGRA LEVY Mitchell songbook at Lincoln Center Allen Farnham and drummer Tim
CITIES BETWEEN US (SteepleChase) as part of its Great American Song- Horner (who, between them, wrote all
It is unfair to dub a book series. 13 excellent arrangements). The results
talent as singular as Now, nine years since her previous are a stunning reminder of the
Allegra Levy the “next” solo studio album, Molaskey shapes a significance of both talents.
anyone. Still, listening to career-surveying 14-track collection Ian remains best known for “So-
Levy’s exceptional new that spans 18 Mitchell compositions. ciety’s Child,” her searing portrait of
album—confirming the intense In short, Portraits of Joni is a labor of racial discrimination from 1966, and
promise of her previous release, 2015’s love of profound thoughtfulness and 1975’s “At Seventeen,” her heartbreak-
Lonely City—it’s hard not to be craftsmanship. Keyboardist Larry ing ode to teenage outcasts. Partridge
reminded of Stacey Kent: same Goldings, drummer-percussionist does both estimable justice, further
bell-like clarity, same emotional Duduka Da Fonseca and alternating saluting Ian the enduring warrior
honesty, same light yet dexterous bassists Leo Traversa and Mike Karn with “Tattoo,” tracing the perma-
touch. Levy continues to build her lead Portraits’ sterling spectrum of nent scars of Holocaust victims, and
sublime rapport with pianist Carmen musicians, welcoming such guests as “Matthew,” an indictment of Mat-
Staaf, here joined by cornetist Kirk guitarist-vocalist Pizzarelli, saxophon- thew Shepard’s horrific murder. The
Knuffke, saxophonist Stephen Riley, ist Harry Allen, trumpeter Randy balance of the playlist blends the
bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Brecker and pianist Helio Alves. familiar with the new, extending from
Billy Drummond. Mitchell’s songs—richly diverse tales the melancholy reflection of “Belle
Levy opens with one of 10 originals, of love, loss, redemption, joy and free- of the Blues” to the sweet devotion
“Cherry Blossom Song,” likening the dom, their wordplay as masterful as that of Ian’s just-completed “Forever and
springtime bud to the early flowering of Cole Porter or Tom Waits—demand a Day.” As for the collaborations, Ian
of intellectual and emotional curiosity. a vocalist who’s also a gifted actor, as guest duets on the delightful kiss-off
Likewise, her reworking of Duke Jor- Molaskey is. And though she remains “A Quarter Past Heartache,” while
dan’s “Lullaby of the Orient” celebrates steadfastly true to the source material, “Somebody’s Child” probes the lost
youthful wanderlust and romantic she makes each—from the Annie Ross- world of the disenfranchised, remind-
yearning, inspired by her yearlong worthy bounce of “The Dry Cleaner ing us that all unfortunate souls were
residency as the featured vocalist at From Des Moines” to the sly come-on once hope-filled children.
the Hong Kong Four Seasons Hotel. of “Raised on Robbery”—uniquely
Later she adds an intriguing coun- her own. Twice she and Pizzarelli add KATIE THIROUX
terpoint with the album’s sole cover, Brazilian touches, blending “Circle OFF BEAT (Capri)
the backwards-glancing “Yesterdays.” Game” with Jobim’s “Waters of March” Following 2015’s
Two tracks, “Misery Makes the Music” and “Chelsea Morning” with Toninho impressive Introducing
and “Sleepwalk With Me (In Sek Tong Horta’s “Aquelas Coisas Todas.” And a Katie Thiroux, consider
Tsui),” delve into her songwriting, both special shout-out to daughter Made- the vocalist-bassist’s Off
examining love’s effect on the creative leine, who does fine work as co-vocalist Beat youthful promise
process. “Dear Friend” is a tender mis- and guitarist on “Little Green” and adds wonderfully fulfilled. For this 10-track
sive detailing true friendship’s price- steel-guitar accompaniment to a superb outing—nine covers and one origi-
lessness, while her exuberant take of meld of “Dreamland” and “Carey.” nal—Thiroux, a Berklee grad and


semi-finalist in the Monk Institute’s 2015 spotlight on a tender “When Lights
International Jazz Vocals Competition, Are Low” and, alone with Thiroux,
fronts a trio featuring pianist Justin sans bass, a dreamy “Why Did I
Kauflin and drummer Matt Witek. Ken Choose You?” Peplowski joins the trio
Peplowski, alternating between tenor for a spirited, scat-kissed ride across
saxophone and clarinet, guests on five Ray Brown’s “Ray’s Idea” and a sly
tracks, with two also showcasing “Some Cats Know.” Thiroux, Kauflin
saxophonist Roger Neumann. and Witek close with an intriguingly
Thiroux opens with the bright jagged “Willow Weep for Me.”
bounce of the title track, a salute to Rounding out the playlist are three
quirky individualism originally made instrumentals, two trio-crafted: a mul-
famous by June Christy, livened here tilayered midtempo treatment of the
by Peplowski’s clarinet and Neumann’s
soprano. Later, Thiroux unearths
show tune “Brotherhood of Man” and
Thiroux’s sultry “Slow Dance With Me.”
A weekly
another “cool school” gem with an
arresting reading of the Chris Connor-
The third is perhaps the album’s stand-
out, a twilit take on Ellington’s “Happy conversation
associated “When the Wind Was Reunion” built around the twining of
Green.” Kauflin makes the most of the Neumann and Peplowski’s tenors. JT about the music.

instruments buy/sell jazz lps/cds

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jazztimes.com Email Michelle Elchaak at melchaak@madavor.com.




There are so many ways that the trumpet is being approached today, from
super straight-ahead to modern to more of an ECM, European thing. These
artists are all trumpeters who continue to be creative even if they’re not al-
ways in the spotlight. A lot of them are players I’ve known since before they
moved to New York, before we had record contracts; we were on the scene
at the same jam sessions and things like that. What strikes me first is their
sound, of course, but also their conviction and spirituality.

← Always in good taste: Sean Jones

Sean Jones Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense

Kaleidoscope (Mack Avenue, 2007) Moving Still (Pi, 2016)
This song, from beginning to end, was one of my favorites for We’ve known each other since sixth grade. We had a lot of the
a very long time. The vocalist here, Carolyn Perteete, I don’t same mentors and were in Steve Coleman’s band at the same time.
know too well, but the way she sings the melody is so stark Compositionally, this piece is amazing to me. If I had to pick my
that it’s beautiful. There are subtle embellishments, and I love favorite trumpet CD of last year, this would easily be number one.
that Sean doesn’t play anything behind her. His solo comes in,
and he’s at the top part of the horn’s range and he continues Shane Endsley & the Music Band
where she left off. It’s one of the better performances from a “PEDALS”
modern trumpet player with a vocalist. Then the Other (Low Electrical, 2011)
It’s one of the few examples of a trumpet-led quartet where you feel
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah you’re not missing any instruments. Shane has a way of dealing with
“DIASPORA” the music in which he doesn’t bog you down with his technique.
Diaspora (Stretch/Ropeadope, 2017)
I met Christian when I was in high school and he came to Jason Palmer
[the Bay Area] with Donald Harrison. The reason I chose this “FOUND IT”
is the arc. This is from one of his recent albums: I remember Songbook (Ayva, 2008)
having conversations with Christian [a long time ago] about I knew him from Boston, where he has a regular gig at Wally’s Cafe.
what he was going to do, and he definitely has done that. Jason has checked out everything and digested it and come up with
a vocabulary and language that you only hear coming out of his
Philip Dizack horn. This track represents that; you can hear it in the composition.
End of an Era (Truth Revolution, 2012) Peter Evans
I went to Manhattan School of Music with Philip. He plays “PATHWAYS (FOR RAJNA SWAMINATHAN)”
a lot in New York and did the Monk competition with me. Lifeblood (More Is More, 2016)
He’s one of the guys who, when I was in college, I would Peter is just a freak, man. This is the thing that you put on when you
hear and then go spend an extra hour or two practicing. just want to shake your head and contemplate quitting the trumpet. JT
He still keeps me inspired. I love the way this song builds.
He starts off with the rhythmic part and fills in the melody, [As told to Jeff Tamarkin]
which is a really big statement.

For an extended playlist visit JazzTimes.com

Marquis Hill
“THE WAY WE PLAY/MINORITY” California-born Ambrose Akinmusire is a
The Way We Play (Concord Jazz, 2016) trumpeter and composer who has won the
Marquis sounds like Chicago! I love that he really is Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition
himself. He doesn’t try to prove himself; he’s just about and received a Doris Duke Impact Award.
making music. I love the camaraderie the Chicago cats His most recent release is A Rift in Decorum:
have—there’s a long history of that—and I think you can Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note).
hear that on this track.
Q&A: Ambrose Akinmusire

Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary
Music with concentrations in vocal
or instrumental performance


Neal Alger, Ruben Alvarez, Stephen Berry,
Yvonne Gage, James Gailloreto, Victor Garcia,
Thomas Garling, Roger Harris, Henry Johnson,
Scott Mason, John McLean, Jeffrey Morrow,
John Moulder, Marlene Rosenberg, Fred Simon,
Michael Smith, Jim Trompeter, Marshall Vente,
Paul Wertico, Cheryl Wilson

Study with accomplished faculty, who include Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera orchestra members,
Metropolitan and Lyric opera sensations, renowned soloists, Grammy-winning jazz musicians, and award-winning
composers. Enjoy opportunities to perform in professional venues.

Learn more: roosevelt.edu/jazz-times

(312) 341-6735 | ccpaadmissions@roosevelt.edu
“The Sound”
as requested by you.
You asked for the playability and
sound of the early Otto Links.

We listened.
With structural changes both
inside and out, “the sound”
of yesteryear has been

Otto Link Vintage

for tenor sax.


EX CL USIVE Cécile McLorin Salvant


Christian McBride fronts his big band FORT ADAMS STATE PARK | NEWPORT, R.I.
AUG. 4-6, 2017
Images by Marek Lazarski
Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I. | Aug. 4-6, 2017

Jason Moran leads

his Fats Waller
Dance Party

Jack DeJohnette
performs in the
supergroup Hudson


Snarky Puppy on the main stage,
with bandleader Michael League at right

Cyrus Chestnut


Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I. | Aug. 4-6, 2017

Hudson, from left:

John Medeski,
Larry Grenadier,
Jack DeJohnette
and John Scofield

George Burton


Esperanza Spalding
pays tribute to Geri Allen

Béla Fleck fronts his original Flecktones

Henry Threadgill


Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I. | Aug. 4-6, 2017
Maceo Parker

Mark Helias plays in

the Uri Caine Trio

ew artistic director
hristian McBride
d festival co-founder
eorge Wein


Branford Marsalis leads his quartet

i i

Wadada Leo Smith,

during a duo set
with Vijay Iyer


Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I. | Aug. 4-6, 2017

Benny Golson

Amir ElSaffar leads his

Rivers of Sound orchestra

Danilo Pérez