Monday, June 25, 2012

Fleck/Roberts Collaborate; Big Band Jarreau - Bob Stewart

The Marcus Roberts Trio, founded in 1995, is known for its virtuosic style-a style that is strongly rhythmic, melodic, and filled with dynamic contrast. When long time Roberts fan and banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck stayed late at a Savannah Music Festival jam session just to hear the pianist play, he was asked to join in. A year later they agreed to perform together at the same festival. "The gig was honestly amazing," says Fleck. "There was a natural rapport between Marcus and me from the first note." "It was a lot of fun working with Bela on this project," say Roberts of their new CD, "Across the Imaginary Divide." "The recording brings our two styles together in a way that I think will be really enjoyable for the listeners."

After nearly five decades of recording and performing, at an age when many artists are coasting if not retiring altogether, Al Jarreau continues to take his music to new and different places. Since the mid-1970s, this versatile singer has applied his distinctive vocal style to a broad spectrum of musical genres, and is the only vocalist in history to claim Grammy Awards in three distinct genres of jazz, pop and R&B. The most recent chapter in his journey is "Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest-Live", a collection of the best performances from a two-night engagement in the Netherlands last year with full orchestral arrangements by conductor and arranger Vince Mendoza.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Jimmy Heath Reads from His Autobiography at Jazz Fest

Jazz 88.3 KCCK and Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature will present jazz legend Jimmy Heath in an opportunity to meet fans and sign copies of his autobiography, “I Walked with Giants,” Sunday, July 1 at 1pm at Iowa City’s Java House CafĂ©, 211 East Washington St., prior to his performance at the Iowa City Jazz Festival.

Heath, 85, is the composer of more than 100 jazz songs, a three-time Grammy nominee, and was a collaborator and friend of many jazz stars, including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Heath’s autobiography is structured like a jazz song, where Heath will tell a story about a particular time or performer, and someone else who was there will then “riff” on the same story, creating a unique dialogue format.

The Heath Brothers Quartet, with Heath on saxophone and his brother Albert “Tootie” Heath on drums, will perform at 6pm on the main stage at the Iowa City Jazz Festival on July 1.

The signing will take place at 1pm at the Java House in downtown Iowa City. Then, after the performance, at approximately 7:45pm, Heath will appear at the KCCK booth on Clinton Street and sign books and CDs.

“Jimmy’s book is a unique snapshot of a time in jazz, in all of popular music, really, that will never come again, “ says KCCK General Manager and Iowa City Jazz Festival stage host Dennis Green. “To be able to hear the reminiscences in person of someone who was a close friend of Charlie Parker, Milt Jackson, Miles Davis and others is truly the tale of someone who walked with giants.”

Green, along with City of Literature Interim Executive Director John Kenyon, will moderate the discussion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Metheny's Unity Band; Reed on Monk - Bob Stewart

Over the course of more than three decades, guitarist Pat Metheny has set himself apart from the jazz mainstream, expanding and blurring boundaries and music styles. Now, for the first time since his 1980 release " 80/81", he's recorded with a band that features tenor saxophone. "Unity Band" introduces a new Metheny ensemble featuring Chris Potter on sax and bass clarinet, longtime collaborator Antonio Sanchez on drums and the up-and-coming Ben Williams on bass. "In many ways my bands were envisioned as an alternative to the more conventional kinds that I had come up playing in," says Metheny. "The fact that it has taken me another 30 years to get to it again is kind of a testament to how busy those 'alternative' ways of thinking have kept me." Metheny wrote a considerable amount of new material with the new group in mind, winnowing the music down to nine tunes.

Pianist Eric Reed has claimed that Thelonious Monk's music makes it possible "to travel way out there, if you're willing to go where it can take you." On his new CD, "The Baddest Monk", Reed and his colleagues prove more than willing. This is not another Monk tribute disc, dragging out the usual suspects for another tired line-up but it is rather a vital, living and insightful re-examination of Monk as seen through the imagination of sympathetic and like-minded artists. Reed and his ensemble are able to penetrate to the very core of Monk's writing, dismantle its component parts and reassemble them so that they contain not only the essence of Monk, but that of the players themselves.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Diverse CD from Stern; A Mary Lou Tribute - Bob Stewart

Since his days with Billy Cobham and Miles Davis in the 1980s and a solo career that spans more than 25 years, guitarist Mike Stern has used his jazz roots as a starting point for exploring a range of alternate territories that include R & B, rock, swing, funk, world music and numerous other regions along the musical topography. The recipient of Guitar Player magazine's Certified Legend Award for 2012, Stern now offers up "All Over the Place", an 11-song set aligning the characteristically diverse and adventurous guitarist with a cadre of brilliant guests, including trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, drummer Dave Weckl, and bassists Dave Holland, Esperanza Spalding, Victor Wooten and Richard Bona.

Saxophonist Virginia Mayhew has been an active participant on the New York jazz scene since 1987, working with many well-known jazz musicians along the way and performing at many jazz festivals worldwide, including the Coe College Jazz Summit in Cedar Rapids. Her big, swinging sound on tenor, which has been likened to Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, and the infectious, blues-inflected guitar of Dizzy Gillespie-alum Ed Cherry provide the right ingredients to showcase the work of the woman Duke Ellington called, "Soul on soul." "Mary Lou Williams-The Next 100 Years" celebrates the 100th year anniversary of pianist, composer and arranger Mary Lou Williams. Mayhew has arranged eight of Williams' stellar compositions for the project and has added two of her own pieces inspired by Williams.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 Jazz Under The Stars "Super Sized"

Iowa’s Jazz Station celebrates 25 years with a bonus concert

The 25th season of Jazz Under The Stars will be 25% bigger than ever before this year, as Jazz 88.3 KCCK presents a bonus concert in celebration of the series silver anniversary. For the first time, the station will present five concerts rather than four in Cedar Rapids’ Noelridge Park.
“We were talking about what we might do that would be special for the 25th anniversary,” explained KCCK General Manager Dennis Green, “And we realized that there were five Thursdays in August this year.  It seemed natural to put on an extra concert to celebrate. And the five groups we’re going to put on the stage represent some of the finest talent not just from Iowa, but from neighboring major metro areas including Chicago and St. Louis.”
The 2012 Jazz Under The Stars Lineup:

·         August 2 – The Fez
·         August 9 – Johnny Kilowatt with Gloria Hardiman
·         August 16 – Elsie Parker & The Poor People of Paris
·         August 23 – Equilateral
·         August 30 – Jazz Under the Stars 25th Anniversary Concert featuring Orquesta Alto Maiz

Here is a little more about each band:

August 2 – The Fez

In just over a year, Steely Dan tribute band The Fez has become one of the hottest groups in the Corridor. The Fez is a fifteen-piece ensemble, led by sax player Saul Lubaroff. The band faithfully recreates the music of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who were heavily influenced by jazz and used jazz masters like Wayne Shorter as session players on albums such as “Aja.”

August 9 – Johnny Kilowatt featuring Gloria Hardiman
Johnny Kilowatt is the creation of Iowa City guitarist Jon Klinkowitz, a founding member of The Blues Instigators, who also went on replace Bo Ramsey in Pat Hazell’s Mother Blues. Joining the Kilowatt band for this show will be blues singer Gloria Hardiman, a fixture on the Chicago blues scene for many years, who has recorded for Alligator Records.

August 16 – Elsie Parker & The Poor People of Paris
Continuing a recent Jazz Under The Stars trend of featuring nationally-touring bands at least once during the series, KCCK welcomes Elsie Parker back to the area, after an outstanding performance at the 2011 Iowa City Jazz Festival. A UI graduate now living and touring out of St. Louis, Parker specializes in popular French music, typified by Edith Piaf and Michel Legrand.  The Poor People of Paris have been featured on French TV and have performed at "Piaf's" in San Francisco.

August 23 – Equilateral
Equilateral is the creation of two longtime friends without him the respective jazz departments of the University of Iowa and UNI would be much poorer. Brent Sandy and Chris Merz are joined by Eric Thompson and Greg Mazunik to play original and progressive jazz.  An interesting thing about this group is they use no chordal instruments, such as piano or guitar, creating a unique rhythm and sound.

August 30 – Jazz Under The Stars 25th Anniversary Concert featuring Orquesta Alto Maiz
For a quarter of a century, Orquesta Alto Maiz, a.k.a. The Salsa Band, have introduced Latin jazz to the Midwest, gaining nationwide accolades along the way, from Latin music critics who astounded to hear such authentic Afro Cuban and Salsa rhythms from a bunch of Iowa “gringos.” The Salsa Band will be the featured guest at a special fifth concert, celebrating 25 years of Jazz under the Stars. The performance will also be special as it will mark a farewell of sorts, as this concert will be the final show by several founding members of the Orquesta, who have announced they are retiring from the band.

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. Attendees are also invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets and their own picnic if they wish.
Major support for KCCK’s Jazz Under the Stars series comes from Pat McGrath Chevyland, the Eastern Iowa Airport, The Linn County Board of Supervisors Witwer Fund, Collins Community Credit Union, Rockwell Collins, Latta, Harris, Hanon & Penningroth, Shive Hattery Architecture Engineering, West Music and Kirkwood Community College. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dirty Dozen Anniversary;Saluting Bennett and Evans - Bob Stewart

Credited with revitalizing the brass band tradition in New Orleans, Dirty Dozen Brass Band has spread their music to the world in more than 30 countries on five continents. Timed with their 30th anniversary, "Twenty Dozen" contains the first new original music since 1999 and is their first release in over five years.

Eloquence. Empathy. Interplay. These are just some of the words that can be used to describe the mellifluous meeting of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans on their storied duo recordings from the 1970s. Few modern musicians have dared to tackle the venerable songbook that these jazz giants made their own. That is until now. With the release of "Convergence", vocalist Allan Harris and pianist Takana Miyamoto forge a symbiotic sonic bond, saluting the spirit of Bennett and Evans, while coining their own music vocabulary as well.

Wednesday Night Special - Gordon

Kevin Hart and the Vibe Tribe with David Hoffman  at the 2011 Iowa City Jazz Festival:

Kevin Hart and the Vibe Tribe draws upon a broad repertoire that spans the eclectic history of Kevin's experience. The group features pianist Adam Wilhelm, bassist Andy Crawford of Knox College, drummer Tom Marko, Director of Jazz at Illinois State University, and special guest trumpeter David Hoffman.

Kevin has performed extensively as a jazz vibraphonist, pianist, and drummer throughout the Midwest. He performed at the Iowa City Jazz Festival in 1999 with the Bob Washut Trio and in 2010 with the Bob Washut Dream Band. He is currently on the music faculty at Illinois State University, Knox College, and Parkland College. A past recipient of a DownBeat student award, Kevin has performed with many legendary jazz musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Ed Thigpen, Bob Berg, Bobby Shew, and Louis Bellson.

Special guest David Hoffman was the trumpet/flugelhorn soloist and composer/arranger with the legendary Ray Charles from 1991 until 2004.

7 p.m. following JazzSet.