Monday, January 30, 2012

Lorber's Fusion; Bass-ic Glawisching - Bob Stewart

By the late 1970s, trailblazing keyboardist and composer Jeff Lorber had become a prominent figure in the new movement know as jazz fusion-a marriage of traditional jazz with elements of rock, R&B, funk and other electrified sounds. The Jeff Lorber Fusion first honed their craft on the Portland, Oregon, club scene and rapidly expanded their reach to a national and international audience via a combination of complex harmonies, unconventional time signatures and compelling rhythms. More than three decades after his earliest recordings. Lorber comes full circle with "Galaxy." Yellowjackets' bassist Jimmy Haslip joins him in this 21st Century version of the band along with Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta and Lenny Castro.

The Austrian-born Hans Glawischnig has been a first call bassist in New York for over a decade now. His playing has been especially highly regarded by the Latin community as he has been featured in groups led by artists like Paquito D'Rivera, Miguel Zenon and Ray Barretto. For his third release -- "Jahira" -- Glawischnig debuts a new trio featuring his own explorations of the acoustic bass. The title is an acronym for the group's credo, "jazz history roundabout," which applies to the ensemble's use of elements from the entire breadth of jazz's history to inform their sound. The bassist decided on a trio setting because of his regard for the intimacy of the smaller ensembles of Sonny Rollins and Charlie Haden. The musicians he chose for the group are exceptional young talents, saxophonist Samir Zarif and drummer Eric Doob.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kennedy Senior Wins Corridor Jazz Art Contest

Whitney Jungjohann, a senior at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, has been chosen as the winner of the Corridor Jazz Project CD Cover design. Jungjohann will receive a $100 cash prize from KCCK-FM and her design will adorn the cover of the “The Corridor Jazz Project V”, a compilation of recordings from the top jazz bands from Jefferson, Kennedy, Prairie, Xavier and Washington High Schools in Cedar Rapids, Linn Mar and, Marion in Marion; and City and West High Schools in Iowa City.

The Corridor Jazz Project CDs, along with tickets for the CD Release Concert, April 3rd at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, will go on sale February 15th. Tickets are $10, but discounted tickets will be available from participating schools.

Jungjohann’s drawing was chosen out of over 100 entries from art students in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Marion high schools.

Receiving Honorable Mention in the contest were:

  • Mitchell Barta – Marion
  • Josh Hewitt - Xavier
  • Alex Lee – Kennedy
  • Tristan Rowley – Xavier
  • Allison Scott –Marion
  • Tara Ushel – Washington
  • Kyle Van Meter – Marion
  • Derrick Williams – Marion

JungJohann’s original piece, and those receiving Honorable Mention will all be exhibited during the April 3rd concert.

The Corridor Jazz Project is a jazz education and mentoring program for jazz band students at the eight public high schools in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. The program, developed as a part of the education outreach of Jazz 88.3 KCCK, matches each school’s top jazz band with a professional jazz player, who performed as a guest soloist with the band. The subsequent recordings have been collected and will be released on a compilation CD. CDs will be made available to each school to sell and keep the proceeds. CDs will be available at local retail outlets as well. Participating bands and guest artists include:

  • CR Kennedy: Cassius Goens, drums
  • CR Washington: Don Jaques, sax
  • CR Jefferson: Kim Fitten, vocals and Billy Davis, sax
  • Prairie: Dan Casady, Trombone
  • Linn-Mar: Dave Pietro, Sax
  • Marion: Rod Pierson, Sax
  • IC West: Brent Sandy, Trumpet
  • IC City High: Steve Grismore, Guitar
  • Xavier: Mike McMann, Trombone

Support for the Corridor Jazz Project comes from Rockwell Collins, M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers and West Music.

Jazz 88.3 KCCK is the public radio station operated as a part of the community outreach of Kirkwood Community College.

For more information, visit or call 319-398-5446.

Cat's Tour De Force, a Northwest Clipper - Bob Stewart

Vocalist Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker born to musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a pioneering pianist/composer/bandleader and Louis Armstrong's long-time side-kick. Her mother, Carline Ray, is a bassist, guitarist and vocalist who performed with Mary Lou Williams, among others. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Catherine embarked on a rich journey backing artists like Steely Dan, David Bowie, Paul Simon and Michael Feinstein. On "Strictly Romancin'" -- her fourth release as a leader -- the singer takes us on a journey; from Harlem dance hall, to Parisian café, to store front church, to New Orleans gin joint, to Uptown cabaret in a musical tour de force.

Seattle bassist Clipper Anderson has been an unassuming yet vital figure on the Northwest jazz scene for almost three decades. He's lent his talents to countless recordings and live performances, including work with Michael Brecker, Benny Golson, Phil Woods and Buddy DeFranco. With "The Road Home", Anderson makes his debut as a leader and composer. Supported by longtime collaborators, pianist Darin Clendenin and drummer Mark Ivester, Anderson has crafted a thoughtful collection of original music that reflects his influences and pays homage to his mentors.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ernie Watts' Oasis; Floridian Has New CD - Bob Stewart

"What comes through is Watts' essential lyricism. There are some players with Ernie Watts' total command of an instrument who focus more on showing their technical prowess than on creating music. They equate showers of notes with saying something.
But Watts is always saying something-as musicians put it-through the mastery of his horn. Never in the least tentative, his authority comes through from note one.
And he swings like a tidal wave." So says legendary jazz journalist Nat Hentoff of Watts, who has delivered a brand new disc, "Oasis." With his European quartet,
Watts creates a synergy of jazz ranging from Dizzy and Bird to Lennon & McCartney and everything in between, including three tunes of his own.

Jamie Ousley is professor of jazz bass at Florida International University in Miami.
He was named Best South Florida Jazz Musician of 2011 by Boca Life magazine, and
his previous CD was named Best Jazz Release in South Florida by the Palm Beach Post. He tours internationally with his own trio, as well as having performed with jazz royalty such as George Shearing, Benny Golson and James Moody. He decided to record his new CD -- "A Sea of Voices" -- featuring water-inspired compositions, as a not-for-profit to benefit the environment. "I found the Sunshine State Interfaith Power and Light organization, whose mission is to mobilize faith communities in Florida to care for creation," Ousley explains. "Here, I could combine the worlds of diverse faiths and jazz to benefit a common cause: care of our planet."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Evans & Monk Tributes - Bob Stewart

The contributions of pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Bill Evans to the language and appreciation of jazz continue to have profound influence on musicians. Pianist Chick Corea leads Evans Trio alumni Eddie Gomez and the late Paul Motian on "Further Explorations", a live set recorded at the Blue Note in New York in 2010. For bassist Gomez and drummer Motian, the connection to Evans was personal and emotionally deep, involving performing and recording with Evans during his most fertile and creative periods. Corea's connection is that of a student, adapting many of Evans' harmonic concepts and pianistic techniques and a mutual understanding of the piano trio as a singular jazz ensemble. Much of the performance features music written or associated with Evans, with each musician also contributing original material. Incidentally, 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the release of Evans' original Explorations album.

Legendary trumpeter, educator, and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Owens leads a stellar septet on his new disc "The Monk Project", a program of his own uniquely original arrangements of Thelonius Monk compositions. Owens, who has been heard on countless big band and small group recordings as a virtuoso sideman, has recorded only sporadically as a leader, making this date a special one. Longtime colleague and fellow NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, well known for playing Monk's music with the group Sphere, heads the rhythm section. The all-star ensemble also features drummer extraordinaire Winard Harper, front-line members Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland and the amazing multi-instrumentalist Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone sax.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Old Friends Record; Adolfo Goes Brazilian - Bob Stewart

The bond between old friends gives life meaning. When the friends are improvising musicians sharing the stage, their common language cements a mutual trust that can ignite the bandstand. Music has been the glue binding the friendship of bassist Omer Avital, pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Ali Jackson for nearly 20 years. Though they have performed in many combinations and under the aegis of different leaders for many years, the trio's new CD -- "Yes!" -- is their first collaborative effort in the studio. The meeting of an Israeli of Yemeni/Moroccan descent, a Detroit-based Black American with Islamic roots and a Jewish Bostonian stands as a tremendous example of the call of jazz music transcending race, religion and politics.

An integral and influential behind-the-scenes player as a producer, composer, arranger, label entrepreneur, and educator in his native Rio de Janeiro, Antonio Adolfo has in recent years been devoting more time to recording his own music. While his first two CDs tapped into Brazilian and American standards by the likes of Cole Porter and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Adolfo's new CD -- "Chora Baiao" -- focuses on the Brazilian styles choro and baiao, specifically in the works of the brilliant, innovative Brazilian composers Guinga and Chico Barque. "My passion's for their harmonies and melodies that aren't just sophisticated, but quite unusual in Brazilian music," Adolfo says. "...with their harmonies you can't use clichés. You must go into some really different directions."