Monday, May 30, 2011

Flecktones Redux; Goens Debuts - Bob Stewart

Groundbreaking banjoist/composer/bandleader Bela Fleck has reconvened the original members of his band The Flecktones for a brand new disc -- "Rocket Science" -- marking the first recording by the initial line-up of the group in almost two decades. Pianist and harmonica player Howard Levy is back in the fold alongside Fleck, bassist Victor Wooten and percussionist Futureman. All manner of genres come into play, from jazz and classical to bluegrass and African music to electric blues and Eastern European folk dances, for a sound that Fleck has coined "blu-bop."

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

KCCK Relatives Remembered

With the arrival of Memorial Day 2011, some KCCK staffers' relatives, who are no longer with us, are being remembered for their service during war-time.

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

Mouzon Finishes Long-Term Project; Alexander Doesn't Follow the Crowd - Bob Stewart

In his colorful and wide-ranging career, Alphonse Mouzon has long been considered one of the most skilled and versatile drummers in the music business. He was a member of the original versions of Weather Report and Larry Coryell's Eleventh House, and worked with Gil Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Jean-Luc Ponty. He's led a couple dozen of his own recording sessions ranging from funk to fusion, smooth to straight ahead. Yet it is doubtful that he's ever spent as much time on a project as on "Angel Face", which took him 11 years to complete. Mouzon wrote and arranged all of the songs and gathered together a summit of musical giants including Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, Christian McBride, Bob Mintzer, Arturo Sandoval and Wallace Roney.

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

Grusin Live; Matta/Ben-Hur Pairing - Bob Stewart

If you've spent any time at all in a movie theater or in front of a TV set during prime time over the past four decades, chances are good you've encountered Dave Grusin along the way. In addition to a formidable body of work as a jazz recording artist, the pianist, composer, arranger, and winner of 10 Grammys and an Oscar has scored some of the most entertaining and enduring films and TV series of the past half-century. Grusin steps out from behind the various machinations of film and television work to take center stage on "An Evening with Dave Grusin" -- a live recording that captures him conducting and performing with a host of stars and backed by a 75-piece orchestra. The list of guests includes Gary Burton, Patti Austin and Nestor Torres.

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

Redman Debuts New Band, Parlato Returns - Bob Stewart

"James Farm" is a collaborative band featuring saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist Matt Penman, drummer Eric Harland and keyboardist Aaron Parks. The band uses traditional acoustic jazz quartet instrumentation for its song-based approach to jazz and incorporates the members' myriad influences: rock, soul, folk, classical and electronica, among many others. The quartet has received critical acclaim since its debut at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival, where they played to rave reviews. Although this is the first time the quartet members have performed and recorded together in this exact configuration, Redman, Harland and Penmen have performed together in the past as part of the SF Jazz Collective.

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

Jazz Under The Stars 2011 Schedule Released! - Dennis

The 2011 edition of the Corridor’s longest-running jazz series will include one of the most talked-about young jazz performers in the country, the legendary Blue Band, and more in four exciting August concerts.

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

Here's a little bit more about each artist:

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.

August 11 – Funk Daddies
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 or follow KCCK on Twitter or Facebook for schedule updates.

Food and refreshments will be available for purchase at the concerts. But feel free to bring your own picnic, along with lawn chairs, and blankets.

We're very grateful to the Jazz Under The Stars Sponsors, who help us keep this great free series going! Pat McGrath Chevyland, Collins Community Credit Union, Rockwell Collins, Latta, Harris, Hanon & Penningroth, Shive Hattery Architecture Engineering, Northtowne Cycling & Fitness, West Music and Kirkwood Community College.

Papa John & the Big Phat Band - Bob Stewart

For ten years, saxophonist, pianist and Grammy-winning composer/arranger Gordon Goodwin has been driving a train that won't stop. He first assembled his Big Phat Band in 2000-an ironic starting point for an 18-piece big band, given that the fleeting neo-swing craze of the late '90s was just winding down. In the decade since their ambitious beginnings, the Big Phat Band has burned up stages and studios with an eclectic, intelligent and high-energy brand of music that marries the best elements of Ellington, Basie, John Barry and other big-band and orchestral jazz giants of the past 70 years. Their new CD -- "That's How We Roll" -- is a ten-song set of all-original material, save for an intriguing rendition of Gershwin's classic "Rhapsody in Blue."

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.