Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The journey to make a spiritually driven disc began with a performance at a convention of 2,000 ministers from all over the world in 2010. It turned out to be such a great and uplifting experience for Kelly that she contacted gospel pianist and luminary George Russell, Jr., to be her main collaborator on a new record.
While mostly duets between Kelly and Russell, it also features cameos from celebrated percussionist Jamey Haddad and classical guitarist Peter Clemente.
Monday, December 19, 2011
During a prolific career that spans more than four decades, tenor saxophonist Michael Pedicin has toured with such jazz greats as Maynard Ferguson, Dave Brubeck, Stanley Clarke and Pat Martino. He's recorded ten albums under his own name since 1980 and considers his tenth one -- "Ballads...Searching for Peace" -- to be his crowning achievement. The disc was inspired, in part, by Pedicin's main musical hero, John Coltrane. "From the time Trane did that "Ballads" album, I've always wanted to do a ballads album when I felt ready to do it."
Monday, December 12, 2011
David Budway is one of the most versatile pianists on the New York music scene today and an award-winning composer. After a fifteen-year teaching career at Duquesne University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, he moved to New York to pursue his dream playing with some of the greats of jazz. Since then, he's been the pianist for groups led by jazz luminaries such as Stanley Turrentine, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and Joe Pass. On his new CD -- "A New Kiss" -- Budway is joined by a top-notch rhythm section consisting of bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff 'Tain' Watts. Special guests include saxophonists Branford Marsalis and Marcus Strickland and guitarist Ron Affif.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Since his return to ECM Records in 2003, Enrico Rava, grand master of Italian jazz, has made a number of recordings exceptional by any standards, with groups both national and international. "Tribe" belongs to the former category. The trumpeter is playing at a peak of lyrical invention, and his newest quintet is his strongest yet. Voted Rising Star Trombonist in the Downbeat Critics Poll of a few years back, Gianluca Petrella has a front-line relationship with Rava which recalls Enrico's affinity with Roswell Rudd back in the heyday of the New Thing. Rava has always encouraged younger musicians, and pianist Giovanni Guidi and bassist Gabriele Evangelista are young players of much promise. Drummer Fabrizio Sferra's resume includes work with Chet Baker, Paul Bley and Kenny Wheeler.
Monday, November 28, 2011
"Celebrating Christmas", preeminent pianist Marcus Roberts' majestic new disc brings an astounding level of artistry and insight to fifteen beloved holiday classics. Roberts is joined by Rodney Jordan on bass and his longtime drummer Jason Marsalis, together forming an exuberant trio that weaves familiar holiday melodies into the layered rhythms, tones and textures of traditional jazz, bebop and other touchstones of the genre.
From Grammy Award winner Harry Connick, Jr. comes a new instrumental holiday classic -- "Music From the Happy Elf" -- a companion disc to Connick's first picture book for children and the fourth edition of the ongoing "Connick on Piano" series; renowned contemporary jazz guitarist Chris Standring and singer/songwriter Kathrin Shorr celebrate the season with ten witty, charming and easy grooving originals on "Send Me Some Snow"; and Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack offer up a Gypsy swing holiday with "A Very Gypsy Christmas."
Monday, November 21, 2011
Over the course of four decades, composer and bandleader David Murray has created a body of work remarkable for its magnitude, importance, and breadth. He's been a part of more than 150 albums, been honored with a Grammy Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and co-founded iconic bands such as the World Saxophone Quartet. His newest project -- "David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole en Espanol" -- is based on two recordings, from 1958 and 1962, which found Cole singing melodies from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Argentina accompanied by ensembles of Cuban and Mexican musicians. To play his new arrangements, Murray assembled some of the best Cuban musicians to form his 10-piece ensemble. The result, jazz journalist Gary Giddens proclaims, "is one of Murray's most purely pleasurable albums...a sensational tour de force and high spot in his massive discography."
Monday, November 14, 2011
Speaking of the B-3, Joey DeFrancesco remains the most comprehensive of jazz organ talent with the full spectrum of orchestral sounds and registrations at his finger tips and unparalleled musical sensibilities. Year after year, Joey D brings new life to jazz organ, a genre he almost single-handedly re-defined and brought into the new millennium. He has won the Down Beat Magazine Critics and Readers Polls as the top jazz organist every year since 2003. DeFrancesco's new release -- "40" -- finds him celebrating a milestone in his life and career as he turns 40-years-old. His original compositions and cover tunes here run the gamut from jaw-dropping virtuosity to funky R&B and tender ballads.
Monday, November 7, 2011
At the ripe old age of 30, Israeli native Yotam is being quickly recognized as a leading new voice of jazz guitar. Since being selected as a semi-finalist in the 2005 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition, he's performed with jazz greats Benny Golson, James Moody, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath and Frank Wess, to name just a few. On his new CD -- "Brasil" -- Yotam is joined by three of Brazil's brightest stars, legendary guitarist Toninho Horta, pianist David Feldman, and percussionist Vanderlei Pereira, interpreting some of that country's greatest composers, including Tom Jobim, Edu Lobo, and Chico Buarque. Yotam is also joined by special guests Roy Hargrove, Paquito D'Rivera and Cladio Roditi.
Monday, October 31, 2011
"Listening to the exquisite playing and arranging of the Afro Bop Alliance is always an experience. The mix they've achieved is so balanced you never feel the music is too Latin to be jazz, or too jazzy to be Latin." So says Paquito D'Rivera about the 2008 Latin Grammy Award winners for Latin Jazz Album of the Year. The all-star fueled Afro Bop Alliance returns for another powerful recording of dynamic new compositions. "Una Mas" features special guests Dave Samuels on vibes and percussionist Roberto Quintero.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Minneapolis-based pianist and composer Mary Louis Knutson has been called "one of the most exciting and innovative artists to happen to jazz in quite some time." Her warm, inviting tone, broad range of emotional expression, and distinctive compositions have brought her much recognition on the national music scene, performing with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Ernie Watts and Peter Erskine. Knutson's new CD -- "In the Bubble" -- showcases her tasteful playing and arranging as well her gift for composition. Twin Cities rhythm icons, bassist Gordon Johnson and drummer Phil Hey, are among Knutson's bandmates for this release.
Monday, October 17, 2011
A release that its creator Stanley Jordan cites as his most realized project to date finds him in challenging company: fellow guitarists Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli and Mike Stern; saxmen Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; N'awlins trumpeter Nicholas Payton and the renowned violinist Regina Carter. Christian McBride guests on bass when not handled by Stanley's long-time trio bassist Charnett Moffett. Truly, it's a collection of "Friends" whose benefits push Jordan into a heightened musical reality.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Click here for a full obituary.
Following his death, we ran a feature about Bill on our Local Color program. You can listen to that feature at www.kcck.org.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Keyboardist Mike LeDonne has held court at the historic Smoke Jazz Club in New York City for probably more years than he cares to admit. But his new CD -- "Keep the Faith" -- finds him and his Hammond B-3 in the controlled atmosphere of the recording studio with his regular band mates Peter Bernstein on guitar and Joe Farnsworth on drums featuring Eric Alexander on tenor sax. LeDonne and company romp, stomp and burn through an imaginative set of pieces by Charles Earland, Michael Jackson and Horace Silver, along with a handful of originals which display LeDonne's considerable skills as a composer.
Monday, October 3, 2011
The phrase "living legend" has been applied many times over many years. Few figures in American music today are more deserving of this appellation than drummer and bandleader Roy Haynes. Often cited among the greatest jazz drummers of all time, the 86-year-old's history of collaborations spans six decades and include those with Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. For his new CD -- "Roy-alty" -- Haynes is at the helm of his exciting Fountain of Youth band plus very special guests Chick Corea and Roy Hargrove.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Meanwhile, Bill Frisell, whom the Wall Street Journal calls "the most innovative and influential guitarist of the last 25 years," focuses his new CD -- "All We Are Saying..." -- on the music of John Lennon. "John's music has been with me, the band, everybody, the world...seems like forever," explains Frisell. "The songs are part of us. In our blood. There was nothing we really needed to do to prepare for this. We've been preparing our whole lives. The songs were there. All we had to do was play them. Everyone involved with this has their own personal, deep, long relationship to John Lennon's music. It connects us all and brings us together. I feel blessed having the chance to play this music with these people."
Monday, September 19, 2011
New York City's premiere jazz venue got the blues last April when Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton performed together in Rose Hall for two sold-out shows dedicated to vintage blues. The extraordinary collaboration, billed as "Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues", paired these musical virtuosos with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as they brought to life a repertoire of songs selected by Clapton and arranged by Marsalis. The group combined the sound of an early blues jump-band with the sound of New Orleans jazz to accommodate the integration of the guitar/trumpet lead, a combination that gave the musicians the latitude to play different grooves, from the Delta to the Caribbean and beyond.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Many of the most cherished standards in jazz were born as popular songs which have served as a source of inspiration for jazz artists. They still do. Now, with "Alma Adentro: the Puerto Rican Songbook", saxophonist, composer and arranger Miguel Zenon brings that jazz tradition home-his homeland of Puerto Rico. The disc is comprised of ten pieces from a quintet of Puerto Rican songwriters, orchestrated by Argentine pianist, composer and arranger Guillermo Klein, and featuring Zenon's regular quartet augmented by a 10-piece wind ensemble. "This was not just about melodies and harmonies," says Zenon. "There was a deeper, more emotional connection here. I grew up with these songs and they all had a very special and lasting effect on me."
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Because it was apparent that big news was happening, we did twice-an-our updates on the situation throughout the rest of the day. Late that afternnon, we did an extended summary of the day's events from a world, national, state and local perspective. News Director George Dorman produced and anchored with interviews and reports by news producers Paulette Cott and Deb Williams and Station Manager Dennis Green. Gordon Paulsen was at the audio board in Master Control.
Our report was awarded First Place among Large Market Stations for Spot News Coverage for 2001 by the Iowa Broadcast News Association in the IBNA's annual news contest. Click here to listen to the report..
Monday, September 5, 2011
It's not every day that a distinguished sideman becomes a successful leader in his own right. But that hasn't stopped legendary percussionist Sammy Figueroa from becoming one of the most exciting artists in Latin jazz today. After many years of playing with jazz masters like Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis, Figueroa formed his own band, the Latin Jazz Explosion. On the heels of two Grammy-nominated discs, he and his band unveil "Urban Nature" -- recorded in Miami and reflecting the rich scene of Venezuelans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and other cultures that are currently percolating there, creating a whole new sound for Latin jazz.
Monday, August 29, 2011
The New York Times says, "Larry Vuckovich is a fleet-fingered bebopper who can also play sultry, big-chorded blues." Nat Hentoff of Downbeat describes saxophonist Scott Hamilton as, "...one of those improvisers whose music defines swing." The two are partnered on Vuckovich's new offering -- "Somethin' Special" -- which honors the masters who inspired Vuckovich when he first began playing jazz. The recording grew out of a Northern California tour Vuckovich helped arrange for Hamilton and also features the pianist's hard-swinging East Coast rhythm team along with legendary West Coast tenor player Noel Jewkes.
Monday, August 22, 2011
NEA Jazz Master Cedar Walton has enjoyed an up-tempo career, which never seems to slow down. Maintaining a non-stop itinerary, Walton has accompanied a litany of jazz greats while also fronting his own successful groups since 1966. As a pianist, Walton doesn't rely on pet licks or pyrotechnical display, although he has an excellent technique. Rather he invents all the time, and makes his always imaginative work fit into the context of whatever he's playing. As a composer, Cedar is one of the finest in jazz whose works have been widely recorded with many now being recognized as jazz standards. For his latest CD -- The Bouncer -- Walton returns to his favored quintet format with poll-winning trombonist Steve Turre adding his luxurious, velvet tone to Vincent Herring's saxophone sound.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Chicago's dynamic Deep Blue Organ Trio returns with their fourth disc, this time bringing their singular approach and sound to the music of Stevie Wonder. Influenced deeply and early on by Wonder's compositions, artistry and cultural impact, guitarist Bobby Broom, organist Chris Foreman, and drummer Greg Rockingham bring reverence and musical honesty to their interpretations of nine Wonder gems on "Wonderful!"
Monday, August 8, 2011
Among the most talented and resourceful figures in the exciting Miami Latin jazz scene, Venezuelan pianist Silvano Monasterios leads the way as a top-rated figure. Both as a performer and composer, he is among the most gifted today, and his piano playing and compositions have appeared on recordings by artists including Dave Liebman, Donald Byrd, Paquito D'Rivera, Randy Brecker and Dee Dee Bridgewater. With his new quintet, Silvano has recorded eight new and imaginative compositions for the CD "Unconditional." It showcases an artist with a complete understanding of his complex Venezuelan roots, who understands the Austro-Germanic-European compositional heritage, and who is steeped in the great American jazz tradition.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Chuck Redd began his career as a young drummer with a well-earned reputation for his ability to swing with passion, making him a favorite of veteran jazzmen like Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Flanagan, Ray Brown and Monty Alexander. He took up the vibes after a teacher played him a Modern Jazz Quartet record and he heard the sound of master vibesman Milt Jackson, instilling in him a desire to extend his abilities to that instrument. He had a long tenure with Charlie Byrd and the Great Guitars, a half-decade with Mel Torme and, more recently, work with Bucky Pizzarelli and Ken Peplowski. He's also made a name as the leader of his own groups, and for his brand new CD -- "The Common Thread" -- he's joined by jazz legends Bob Cranshaw, Mickey Roker, and Houston Person.
Monday, July 25, 2011
"This album is a true fusion of jazz, salsa, New Orleans, hip hop, rap, African rhythm and its classical forms. This is the most fun we've had making a Headhunter CD and we're excited to see how people react to our new album, Platinum." So say percussionists Bill Summers and Mike Clark of the Headhunters, the legendary jazz-funk fusion band founded in 1973 by Herbie Hancock. The band went on to produce more seminal records on their own and has been acclaimed for its musical pioneering and innovative concepts. The new release also features saxophonist Donald Harrison and bassist Richie Goods, with guests including Patrice Rushen, George Clinton and original Headhunter Bennie Maupin.
Monday, July 18, 2011
In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has distinctively bridged the worlds of jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica. With over 70 albums to his name, Alexander celebrates his 50th year in music with "Harlem-Kingston Express: Live." It presents his most "reggaefied" touring group yet which, for the past few years, has defined a bold new chapter in Alexander's lifetime journey of uniting jazz with reggae and a wide array of other Island musical idioms he holds dear. A majority of the disc was recorded live during the group's triumphant week at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York City in June of last year, which the Wall Street Journal called, "an outrageously good time."
Monday, July 11, 2011
"You're It" is the debut release from the H2 Big Band out of Denver, Colorado, a collaboration of trumpeter Al Hood and pianist/composer/arranger Dave Hanson. It features world-class soloists and players from the Mile High City and beyond, including veterans from the bands of Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Trumpet legend Bobby Shew is also in the spotlight, playing on all the tracks as either soloist, lead player, or section trumpeter. Hanson offers up a program of originals and his unique arrangements of tunes by Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Cy Coleman.
John Rapson, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Iowa, has unveiled his latest project -- "Mystery and Manners: the Improvisations of Vinicius and Nene" -- featuring Brent Sandy, Chris Merz and Drew Morton.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Described as being "soulful, swinging and yet utterly modern," New York-based alto saxophonist Jim Snidero's music seems to encapsulate what is both unique and compelling about jazz. Called an "alto sax virtuoso" and "master musician" by Downbeat magazine, Snidero is a veteran recording artist with sixteen releases to date. He's also been a valuable sideman in the bands of Jack McDuff, Eddie Palmieri, and the Mingus Big Band over the years. Snidero exercises his composing chops on "Interface" -- penning all the tunes on the program and drawing an astonishing array of colors from the sax-guitar-bass-drums quartet combination.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Tom Harrell can write music of such melodic grace and melodic beauty that it can bring tears to one's eyes. Even his complex, up-tempo pieces retain singable ideas and attractive harmonies that are challenging without sounding pedantic. On his new CD -- "The Time of the Sun" -- Harrell and his quintet once again reaffirm their place at the top of the post-bop mainstream. Of course, Harrell's often beautiful, always rigorous solos are to the fore but Wayne Escoffery's tenor certainly plays no second fiddle here. Whether it be on ballads or driving pieces, the group's expositions, interactions and song development are exuberant and extensive, devoid of gimmicks, and are delivered in an energetic yet disciplined and sophisticated manner.
Monday, June 20, 2011
When two of the most acclaimed modern explorers of Cuban music combine their prodigious talents on the music they love, musical magic happens. That is demonstrated in truly enchanting fashion on "Cuban Rhapsody" -- the duet recording by Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnett. They are both virtuoso players, arrangers, composers and bandleaders in their own right, and both are famed for their innovative take on contemporary Latin jazz and Cuban styles. The disc is best described as an exploration of Cuban classical music, and the results are both educational and accessible.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Though the world is poorer now that Freddie Hubbard is gone, it gets richer as previously unheard documentation of his art emerges for the public to savor on "Pinnacle: Live and Unreleased From Keystone Korner." Recorded at the famed jazz club in San Francisco in 1980, Hubbard's explosive and lyrical virtuosity as well as his flow of brilliant, spontaneous ideas are on full display. His band of West Coast all-stars includes pianist Billy Childs, drummer Eddie Marshall, saxophonist Hadley Caliman and trombonist Phil Ranelin.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Since the mid-1980s, pianist and singer Eliane Elias has grafted various elements of jazz, pop, soul and other elements to her deep Brazilian roots to create a hybrid groove that appeals to listeners of every geographical locale and cultural persuasion. Her new disc -- "Light My Fire" -- wields this universal sound to explore the various corners of the human heart-from romance and passion to the shared joy of being alive. In addition to four Elias originals, there are covers of familiar works by songwriters as diverse as Jim Morrison, Stevie Wonder and Paul Desmond. Backing her up is a crew of twelve high-caliber players including trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Marc Johnson, and guitarists Romero Lubambo, Oscar Castro-Neves and Gilberto Gil.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Following his Grammy-nominated 2009 debut, virtuoso guitarist Julian Lage returns with "Gladwell" -- the second effort by his offbeat, eclectic group. "We began playing with the idea of creating a story we could use as a guiding light in our writing process," Lage explains. "The result was the development of an imaginary and forgotten town known as Gladwell. As a metaphor, Gladwell presented us with a clear architecture, to compose songs that evoke feelings of people and places we hold dear." The disc reflects the Lage's wide-ranging musical interests, ranging from chamber music, American folk and bluegrass to Latin, world, and modern jazz.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
George Dorman's father, Jack Dorman, was in the U.S. Army for nearly four years during World War II. Most of that time was spent in northern Africa, where he was a crytopgrapher, encoding and decoding secret messages.
Bob Stewart's dad, Allan, served in the Army in Panama during WWII.
Craig Kessler's father, Donald F. Kessler, was a bombardier in the 15th Air Force in WWII (Italy, Germany).
And, student producer Tim Johnston's uncle, Lucien Levesque, was a paratrooper in the Korean conflict.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Eric Alexander is the rarest type of jazz artist: one who garners critical acclaim from every corner while firmly establishing his own voice within the illustrious bop-based jazz tradition. He has trained and toughed it out with some of the best musicians in the business, and is a player possessing both accessibility without condescension and intelligence without alienation. For his latest CD -- "Don't Follow the Crowd" -- Alexander was once again in Rudy Van Gelder's studio with his long-time collaborators Harold Mabern, Joe Farnsworth and Nat Reeves for a program of originals, standards and not-so-standards delivered with the prerequisite imagination and daring that has earned him a place among the elite jazzmen of today.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Uniting their mutual love for both jazz and Brazilian music, two acclaimed stylists, guitarist Ron Ben-Hur and bassist Nilson Matta, have found common ground on "Mojave" -- their first recorded collaboration. With expert support from drummer Victor Lewis and Brazilian percussionist Café, Ben-Hur and Matta have conjured up a project that blends original tunes from all four players with compositions from some Brazilian masters. The pair are virtuosos thoroughly entrenched in the bebop idiom, yet both men are just as obviously in thrall to the rhythms and sophisticated melodic and harmonic shapes of classic Brazilian music.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Gretchen Parlato's 2009 breakthrough CD signaled the arrival of one of this generation's most inventive modern jazz singers. The recording garnered international acclaim, being voted onto year-end, "best-of" polls for Jazz Times, the Boston Globe, the Village Voice and NPR among others. Now with the release of her follow-up -- "The Lost and Found" -- Parlato demonstrates that she has staying power. It exposes a broad dynamic range in the young singer's repertoire, which features her original compositions paired alongside interpretations of material ranging from that of Simply Red and Mary J. Blige to Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis.
Monday, May 2, 2011
For the 24th consecutive year, we're proud to present Jazz Under The Stars in Cedar Rapids Noelridge Park.
Here's the lineup:
•August 4 – Ariel Pocock
•August 11 – Funk Daddies
•August 18 – Dennis McPartland and The Jazz Underground
•August 27 – Bob Dorr and The Blue Band
August 4 – Ariel Pocock (presented in cooperation with West Music)
Ariel Pocock is just graduating from her suburban Seattle high school, but she has already garnered more awards and acclaim than many musicians twice her age. While still in middle school, she won the Lionel Hamption International Jazz Festival Young Performers Award. As a sophomore she won BOTH the Outstanding Piano and Outstanding Vocal awards at the Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center. She currently divides her time between her home in Washington State and studying jazz piano with the legendary Shelly Berg at the University of Miami.
Funk Daddies is a five-piece band consisting of some of the Corridor’s best-known musicians, playing the music of Tower of Power, Earth Wind & Fire, and all the great Motown artists. The lineup includes names familiar to any Iowa music fan: Ken Duncan, Drums; Billy Davis, Saxophones; Craig Erickson, Guitar; Denny Ketelsen, Keyboards; Ken Fullard, Bass.
August 18 – Dennis McPartland and The Jazz Underground
Drummer Dennis McPartland leads a new group whose name comes from the first place they played together: the rough-hewn lower level of a since-closed restaurant. Joining Dennis will be Indian Hills jazz director Dave Sharp on saxophone, singer D Pittam, Uni guitar professor Bob Dunn and Steve Charlson, bass.
August 25 – Bob Dorr and The Blue Band
Iowa’s legendary blues and party band celebrates its 30th anniversary with its first-ever performance at Jazz Under The Stars. Founder Bob Dorr says “our Jazz Under The Stars debut will definitely be a highlight of the 30th anniversary tour.” The Blue Band features Dorr on vocals and co-founder Jeff Petersen on guitar. The regular roster also includes Cedar Rapids’ own Al Naylor on trumpet, Steve Hayes on drums and Mark Linda on bass. However, an ever-rotating cast of Blue Band alumni regularly sit in, so anything can happen!
All concerts start at 7pm in Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids.
In case of inclement weather, the concerts will move indoors to Parlor City Pub, 1125 3rd Street SE. For updates, listen to Jazz 88.3 over the air, online at www.kcck.org or follow KCCK on Twitter or Facebook for schedule updates.
If you lived in the greater Philadelphia area around 1980, you knew the name Papa John DeFrancesco. He was the dean of the Hammond organ at that time and an overlord of Philly's hard-bop-and-deep-groove bar-jazz scene. Famously, Papa John put aside his playing career to watch over his progeny, Joey DeFrancesco, who by age 17 would start touring as a member of Miles Davis' band. But by the mid-'90s, with Joey grown and on his own, not only did Papa John resume his nights out behind the B-3, he started recording. He's made another trip to the studio for "A Philadelphia Story" -- not only bringing Joey along for the ride on trumpet but also with his guitar playing son John.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick made his first appearance on ECM Records as a sideman at the age of 23. From the outset, critics responded very positively to his vaulting melodic improvisations, often drawing comparisons to one of his main influences, Kenny Wheeler. His new disc -- "Skala" -- extends the concept and the panoramic sweep of his 2007 debut as a leader. It calls upon the services of more musicians and there is more detail in the arrangements. The disc pools new and older compositions written by Eick inspired, he says, by music from classical to pop.
Monday, April 18, 2011
The release of "Action-Refraction" marks gifted bassist, composer and bandleader Ben Allison's first collection of music by other artists. He has turned his ear towards the music of some of his favorite artists, creating an inspired, atmospheric, and at times, art-rock mix tape featuring the music of PJ Harvey, Donny Hathaway, Thelonius Monk, Neil Young, Samuel Barber and Roger Nichols. The idea was sparked when Ben wondered how it would sound "to refract some of my favorite tunes through the prism of an electro-acoustic orchestra featuring two electric guitars, bass clarinet, saxophone, analog synthesizer, piano, acoustic bass and drums." Regular band mates Steve Cardenas, Rudy Royston, and Michael Blake are joined by keyboardist Jason Lindner and guitarist Brandon Seabrook.
Monday, April 11, 2011
For her first trio outing in several years, pianist Jessica Williams digs deep as she channels the spirit of John Coltrane on "Freedom Trane." "John Coltrane has been my light through the darkness," she explains. "When there are questions, I'll ask 'what would Philly Joe Jones or Dexter Gordon do.' But when things are really weird, I can ask the 'Trane." She's joined by drummer Mel Brown and bassist Dave Captein on a set of originals along with compositions favored in performance by the saxophone legend.
The following is a guest opinion run in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on April 11, 2011. Read it on their site.
Much of the dialogue regarding proposals in the U.S. Congress to reduce or restrict funding for public broadcasting has focused on the impact those cuts will have on news and information stations such as Iowa Public Radio that carry National Public Radio programming.
While many public radio stations provide unrivaled news and public affairs programming, music also is an integral element of public radio's service. More than 100 stations, including our own KCCK, have full-time music formats. Music accounts for about one out of every three hours of public radio listening.
Jazz, classical, folk, world and eclectic music are offered in Iowa and around the country by public radio stations mainly because these niche formats are regarded as economically unsustainable in the commercial market. Chances are, whenever you have heard music on the radio that is something other than mainstream pop, rock or country, it's because you're listening to a public music station. In some communities, public stations are the only music outlet that is locally programmed, not controlled by a distant corporate owner.
Sadly, the potential impact of federal funding cuts will tend to have a much deeper effect on music stations than news outlets. Public music stations tend to be smaller than our news and information cousins. Therefore, federal grants can make up a much larger portion of our budget. In KCCK's case, Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants provide 20 percent of our cash budget -- nearly $110,000.
Now perhaps, if you aren't a jazz fan, you don't see a lot of value in having a jazz radio station in your community. But KCCK provides community benefits that go well beyond playing jazz on the radio.
We apply a community engagement model to our service. What this means is that we go into the community we serve, engage in a two-way dialogue about how we can help and then become an active partner in the solution.
Here's an example: In conversation with high school band directors, we learned that some incoming freshmen didn't have a strong background in jazz because their middle schools don't offer jazz band. This led KCCK to bring Kirkwood Community College and a group of jazz educators together to create a summer jazz band camp just for middle school students. Students who might not otherwise have even tried out for jazz band are now leaders in high school.
We've also created an exciting new music service that is not replicated anywhere in the world. The Iowa Channel is a program stream devoted exclusively to local artists, the majority of whom have never been played on the radio at all. The Iowa Channel gives listeners a steady diet of bands like Orquesta Alto Maiz, The Blue Band, The Nadas, SPT Theatre and many more.
You can listen online at http://iowachannel.org, download the iPhone app, or over the air on KCCK HD-2.
Loss of federal funds would have a devastating effect on KCCK and the community we serve. It would force us to lay off staff and certainly would spell the end of programs such as band camp and the Iowa Channel.
What can you do to help? Two suggestions:
- Let your representative know you value local, public radio. Information is at www.170MillionAmericans.org, a website set up to harness the voices of the millions who interact with public broadcasting each month.
- Support public broadcasting with a tax-deductible gift. Every dollar you contribute is one less dollar we need from the government.
With your help, we can keep public radio strong and maintain a strong and vibrant local music culture, for jazz and all genres of music.
Monday, April 4, 2011
French composer Michel Legrand has written some of the most memorable romantic music on film. Many of his songs have long since become jazz and pop standards. Since starting his career in the '70s, the French-American pianist and composer Roger Davidson has been as voracious in his musical curiosity as Legrand. His writing includes symphonies and choral music, small-group jazz, Klezmer, tango and a bounty of Brazilian-flavored songs. It was bassist David Finck who suggested that Davidson explore an album's worth of Legrand's songs. In "Umbrellas and Sunshine", Davidson and Finck offer a deeply original, intimate take of Legrand's music.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Versatile virtuoso brass man Mac Gollehon returns to the jazz recording scene with "Mac Straight Ahead." One of the most recorded trumpeters in music today, Gollehon cut his jazz chops with the big bands of Buddy Rich and Stan Kenton and went on to become a member of mentor Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy and Ray Barretto's ensemble. Gollehom reaffirms his jazz roots with this amazing outing that finds him in the role of a one-man brass section, overdubbing both trombones and trumpets to create the sound of a roaring big band. Special guests include baritone sax great Ronnie Cuber, bass trombonist Sam Burtis and drummer Victor Lewis.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Born in the Bronx to parents from Jamaica and Trinidad, T.K. Blue began gigging around New York City in the mid-'70s with the Natives, a group led by South African pianist Ndikho Xaba. Through Xaba, he met Abdullah Ibrahim and joined his group in 1977. Since 1980, Blue has been a member of Randy Weston's band and currently serves as its music director. Blue's new CD -- "Latin Bird" -- takes the alto saxophonist back to his musical and personal beginnings. Charlie "Yardbird" Parker was a major early inspiration for T.K., and eight of Parker's compositions are ingeniously reworked in Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, Brazilian, and New Orleans second-line rhythms.
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch pays tribute to a diverse group of jazz trumpeters who have flown below the radar of the general jazz public, including Tommy Turrentine, Joe Gordon and Idrees Sulieman, on his new disc, "Unsung Heroes."
Monday, March 14, 2011
The award-winning singer Rene Marie presents "Voice of My Beautiful Country" -- an ambitious celebration of Americana which glorifies the cultural diversity of the United States through her beautifully and emotionally charged interpretations of nationally loved anthems, from Motown and Tin Pan Alley classics to "America the Beautiful." With the new CD, Rene says, "I set out to embrace the many varied voices of this country. A person might think, 'What do a Jimmy Van Heusen song, a Temptations song, a Jefferson Airplane song and 'John Henry' all have in common?' To me, each song reflects a different facet of American life."
Monday, February 28, 2011
Its IS name an anagram formed by the first letter of the last names of its members, BANN features the vibrant sounds of tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, the dynamic Israeli guitarist Oz Noy, and the driving rhythm section of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Adam Nussbaum. The quartet makes its recording debut with "As You Like" -- showcasing the groundbreaking electro-acoustic band's inventive sound in which Noy's progressive fusion guitar and Blake's jazzy leaps soar over the percolating rhythmic foundation laid down by Anderson and Nussbaum. BANN has been touring as a unit since 2007, appearing at jazz festivals and jazz clubs throughout Europe.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Bassist/composer/producer and two-time Grammy winner Marcus Miller has been a student and a leader, creator and an interpreter, a master and a mentor in the art form of music from his teen years to the present. He continues this legacy with "A Night in Monte Carlo", a live audio document of an amazing concert he was commissioned to perform in 2008 in the "rich man's playground" of Monaco-a performance of music of his choice, much of his from his own pen, featuring his arrangements for symphony orchestra. It features Miller leading both his quartet and the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, with special guest Roy Hargrove on trumpet.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Twice Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Geoffrey Keezer teams up with guitarist Peter Sprague in a set of all-new, original music on "Mill Creek Road." "Since moving to San Diego in 2006, I've had the fortune to collaborate with several world-class musicians..." says Keezer. "I first heard Peter Sprague performing with Billy Childs' jazz-chamber ensemble, and knew immediately this was someone I wanted to make music with. We formed this quartet in 2009 with SoCal guys Hamilton Price and Duncan Moore as an outlet to play creative, energetic modern music without anyone having to ever get on a plane." The result is jazz which is beautifully complex, fresh and contemporary.
Meanwhile, guitarist Howard Alden, who famously coached Sean Penn on how to play the guitar and soloed on the soundtrack for Penn's role as a Django Reinhardt-style guitarist in the Woody Allen film "Sweet and Lowdown" is out with a salute to the great gypsy swing legend on "I Remember Django."
Monday, February 7, 2011
At 37, bassist/composer Matthew Rybicki may have waited longer that most to make his first recording as a leader. But from a cursory listen to "Driven" -- his auspicious debut -- it would seem that he picked the right time. The long-time New York City resident, who apprenticed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Terell Stafford and Wycliffe Gordon, is joined on his impressive first outing by such stellar players as pianist Gerald Clayton, trombonist Michael Dease and saxophonist Ron Blake for a program of Rybicki originals and two well-chosen covers.
Meanwhile, guitarist Bill Frisell collaborates with Brazilian singer and composer Vinicius Cantuaria on a new duo release, "Lagrimas Mexicanas."
Monday, January 31, 2011
Los Angeles saxophonist Tom Luer's "Project Popular" explores the work of some of the top rock bands and pop artists of the last twenty years, reinterpreting the now classic compositions for a modern jazz ensemble. Along with seven originals, the band tackles tunes from Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Prince, among others. With his wide-ranging and always grooving group of L.A.-based artists, Luer creates a nuanced and highly interactive recording while retaining the visceral power of the compositions that led to their popularity.
The latest from Cedar Rapids native Pat Daugherty and his band New York Electric Piano is the two-disc set "Keys to the City."
Monday, January 24, 2011
Argentina-born trumpeter/composer Diego Urcola pays tribute to his heroes and contemporaries on his new release, "Appreciation." He shows his recognition not by imitation but through compositions inspired and dedicated to heroes and friends, including Freddie Hubbard, Hermeto Pascoal, Paquito D'Rivera, and Guillermo Klein. Urcola presents his originals with the help of an amazing ensemble, featuring pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Eric McPherson.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Whether adventuring into interior or outer space in her music, award-winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom continues to navigate her unique musical path with creative abandon. "Wingwalker" is her 14th release as a leader and reunites her with long-time bandmates Dawn Clement on piano, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte. After two years since Bloom's last CD, she brought the band together in June of last year to record 11 new compositions, written during time made possible by a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Also this week, San Francisco trombonist, arranger and composer Wayne Wallace is back with his Latin Jazz Quintet on "To Hear From There", the follow-up to their Grammy-nominated disc of last year which was named by Downbeat as one of 2010's best; Seattle pianist Randy Halberstadt returns with a quintet date, Flash Point, featuring his working trio along with trumpeter Thomas Marriott and saxophonist Taylor; and Seattle-based saxophonist Richard Cole further solidifies his position among the important voices on the tenor saxophone with Inner Mission, again utilizing the talents of long-time friend and trumpet giant Randy Brecker.
Monday, January 3, 2011
The innovative trio from New York City, Bernal, Eckroth & Ennis, blends the infectious rhythms and richly nuanced songwriting traditions of Brazil, Chile, Cuba and other Latin American countries with the spontaneous and exhilarating improvisation and group dynamics of jazz. Having immersed themselves deeply in the cultures from which they draw their inspiration, Chilean vocalist Natalia Bernal, keyboardist Mike Eckroth and seven-string guitarist Jason Ennis put their unique stamp on familiar Bossa Novas, boleros, tangos, Andean folk tunes, original compositions and jazz standards on "La Voz de Tres."