Through a series of critically acclaimed releases over the past decade, saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa has explored the music of his South Indian heritage and translated it through the vocabulary of his own distinctive approach to modern jazz. On his latest release, “Bird Calls,” Mahanthappa trains his anthropological imagination on an equally important cultural influence: the music of Charlie Parker. With a stellar quintet of forward-thinking musicians, which includes some long-time collaborators as well as 20-year-old trumpet prodigy Adam O’Farrill, Mahanthappa offers an inspired examination of Bird’s foundational influence and how it manifests itself in a decidedly 21st-century context. The saxophonist will be bringing this music to the Iowa City Jazz Festival on July 3rd.
“Triangles and Circles” is the sixth album by Dafnis Prieto as a leader and his sextet’s long-awaited second release. The new recording brightly illuminates the drummer and McArthur Fellow as a composer of considerable depth, with a penchant for complex but infectious melodies that meld the folklore of his Afro-Cuban roots with modern harmonies rich with counterpoint and virtuosic rhythmic concepts. His bandmates, including saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum and pianist Manuel Valera, are all brilliant soloists but also exemplary team players who, like Prieto, are experts at crafting a musical narrative from Pan-American source material.
Also this week, the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn-based collective Snarky Puppy are joined by the famous Metropole Orkest for their new project, “Sylva”; Johnson County Landmark, the University of Iowa’s premiere jazz ensemble, plays the music of their director John Rapson on “Crescendo”; and Canadian saxophonist Cory Weeds takes on the Jackie McLean songbook on “Condition Blue.”