Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Spyro Gyra | Wrapped In A Dream

The Buffalo-based instrumental ensemble is always credited for contributing to the pop, R&B, and jazz hybrid that eventually evolved into today's smooth jazz — but happily, as the music in that genre has gotten slightly more predictable, Spyro Gyra have been rocking, rolling, and improvising in a lot of unexpected directions. So after nine Grammy nominations and nearly 11 million albums sold, where do saxman Jay Beckenstein, keyboardist Tom Schuman, and company turn to wrap themselves in a dream? How about some "Impressions of Madrid," a moody, super-sultry Latin meditation that weaves the saxman's soprano with his own flute and (for the first time) Spanish chanting. Former full-time member Dave Samuels (marimba) and acoustic guitarist Julio Fernandez make this an irresistible, totally trippy excursion. Closer to home, Beckenstein segues into the soulful, easy-rocking blues flavors of "Impressions of Toledo" — less exotic to be sure, but still loads of fun, with ample opportunity for his mates to jam and solo. The band also makes up new titles as clever and weird as its own name, via the steamy and mysterious, strutting blues drench of "The Voodooyoodoo" and the South African/gospel-infused closer, "Woogitybop," which features some of Beckenstein's most aggressive blowing amidst rich horn textures. Not that it's ultra-important, but there are a few tracks that could qualify as artsy "smooth jazz," like Schuman's punchy "Walkin' Home" and the lone outside composition, Chuck Loeb's bouncy, super-funky "Tuesday." Mostly, this is Spyro Gyra doing what they've done best in the 2000s — staying engaging and accessible while stretching out, taking risks, and having a blast like the kids they were in the '70s.

Review by Jonathan Widran - AMG

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Kansas City Jazz | Video

Micah Langer and Eitan Paul take you on a fun, educational journey of of exploration, encounter, and exchange in the world of Kansas City Jazz. Kansas City Jazz was the first place winner for Junior Group Documentary at New Jersey History Day, National Finalist for Junior Group Documentary at National History Day, and winner of Outstanding State Entry at National History Day.

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Legendary clarinetist marching today

Back in the 1950's and 60's, if you said "New Orleans Jazz" people would respond, "Pete Fountain."

The legendary clarinetist grew up in New Orleans and still lives in the city. His home flooded following Hurricane Katrina, washing away a lifetime of photos, musical scores, instruments, and memories.

Fountain says he was stunned by the fury of the storm and still has not recovered from the shock of the loss. He's lost 25 pounds and has battled depression.

He says "music is great medicine" and there was never any question that he would march and play on Mardi Gras Day, albeit without half his Aztec costume. It was lost in the flood.

Fountain says he will never compose a piece called "Katrina." In his words, "it's a beautiful name but boy, she was mean."


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Monday, February 27, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases - 2/27/06-3/4/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Mon 27-Feb-2006

Gerry Mulligan - My Funny Valentine (Pulse) - Reissue
Jack Jones - All the Things You Are: The Love Collection (Universal) - Reissue
Oscar Peterson - I Got Rhythm (Pulse) - Reissue
Ray Ellington - Let the Good Times Roll (Pulse)

Tue 28-Feb-2006

Lizz Wright - Hit the Ground (CD Single) (Universal)
Ahmad Jamal - Digital Works (Collectables) - Reissue
Ahmad Jamal - Live at Montreal Jazz Festival 1985 (Collectables) - Reissue
Ahmad Jamal - Pittsburgh (Collectables) - Reissue
Andrew Hill - Point of Departure (Blue Note) - Reissue
Andy Laverne - Natural Living (Universal)
Art Blakey - Indestructible (Blue Note) - Reissue
Art Blakey - Vol. 2 - Holiday for Strings (Blue Note) - Reissue
Art Tatum - Piano Starts Here (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Bill Evans - Live in Tokyo (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Billy Burnette - Memphis in Manhattan (Chesky)
Blossom Dearie - That's the Way I Want to Be (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Blossom Dearie - Blossom Time at Ronnie Scott's (Verve) - Reissue
Blossom Dearie - Sweet Blossom Dearie (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Blue Mitchell - Down with It (Blue Note) - Reissue
Blue Mitchell - Thing to Do (Blue Note) - Reissue
Bob Mintzer - Old School, New Lessons (Telarc)
Bobbi Humphrey - Blacks & Bues (Blue Note) - Reissue
Bobbi Humphrey - Satin Doll (Blue Note) - Reissue
Branford Marsalis - Trio Jeepy (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Bud Powell - Tribute to Cannonball (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Cecil Taylor - Unit Structures (Blue Note) - Reissue
Charlie Christian - Original Guitar Hero (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Claude WIlliamson Trio - Claude Williamson Trio (Virgin)
Cleo Laine - Shakespeare and All That Jazz (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Cyrus Chestnut - Genuine Chestnut (Telarc)
Dave Brubeck - Anything Goes (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Dave Brubeck - Last Set at Newport (Collectables) - Reissue
Dave Brubeck - Featuring Gerry Mulligan (Collectables) - Reissue
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dee Dee Bridgewater (Collectables) - Reissue
Dexter Gordon - One Flight Up (Blue Note) - Reissue
Dexter Gordon - Gettin' Around (Blue Note) - Reissue
Dizzy Gillespie - Giants of Jazz (Collectables) - Reissue
Don Ellis - Pieces of Eight (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Black Byrd (Blue Note) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Caricatures (Blue Note) - Reissue
DOnald Byrd - Free From (Blue Note) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - I'm Tryin' to Get Home (Blue Note) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Motor City Scene (Blue Note) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Places & Places (Blue Note) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Steppin' Into Tomorrow (Blue Note) - Reissue
Donald Byrd - Street Lady (Blue Note) - Reissue
Ella Fitzgerald - Ella (Collectables) - Reissue
Ella Fitzgerald - Things Ain't What They Used to Be (Collectables) - Reissue
Funkadelic - Uncle Jam Want You (Charly) - Reissue
Galaxy 2 Galaxy - Hi-Teck Jazz Compilation (Submerge)
George Benson - While the City Sleeps (Collectables) - Reissue
Giants of Jazz - Recorded Live at the Victoria Theatre in London (Collectables) - Reissue
Grant Green - Street of Dreams (Blue Note) - Reissue
Hal Mckusick - Hal Mckusick Quartet (Virgin) - Reissue
Hank Mobley - A Caddy for Daddy (Blue Note) - Reissue
Hank Mobley - No Room For Squares (Blue Note) - Reissue
Herbie Hancock - The Essential Herbie Hancock (remastered) (Columbia) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Horace Parlan - Us Three (Blue Note) - Reissue
Howard Mcghee - Return of (Virgin) - Reissue
Jackie McLean - New & Old Gospel (Blue Note) - Reissue
Jackie McLean - Right Now (Blue Note) - Reissue
Jaco Pastorius - Word is Out (Heads Up (Japan))
Jan Huydts - Trio Conception (Universal) - Reissue
Jeannette Lambert (with Barre Phillips, Michel Lambert and Paul Bley) - Sand Underfoot (Jazz From Rant)
Jimmy Smith - Prayer Meetin' (Blue Notew) - Reissue
John Etheridge / Zappatistas - Live in Leeds (music of Frank Zappa)(Teichiku)
John Patton - Let 'Em Roll (Blue Note) - Reissue
John Taylor - Decipher (Universal) - Reissue
Karin Krog - By Myself (Philips)
Kimiko Kasai - Kimiko is Here (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Kitty Margolis - Live at the Jazz Workshop (Mad Kat)
Larry Carlton - Eight Times Up (Wounded Bird) - Reissue
Madeline Eastman - Mad About Madeline (Mad Kat)
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz - Shirley Horn (Concord)
Marlena Shaw - Marlena (Blue Note) - Reissue
Marlena Shaw - Who Is This Bitch Anyways? (Blue Note) - Reissue
Martin Sander - A Tribute to the BBC Dance Orchestra (Divine Art)
Michael Camilio - Rhapsody in Blue (Telarc)
Nick Drozdoff - No Man Is An Island (Mr. D's Music)
Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue (Varese Sarabande) - Reissue
Ornette Coleman - Vol. 2 - At the Golden Circle (Blue Note) - Reissue
Pat Moran - Pat Moran Quartet (Virgin)
Peter Welker - Duke Billy & Tadd (33rd Street)
Phil Woods - Phil Talks to Quill (Epic) - Reissue
Pim Jacobs - Come Fly With Me (Philips)
Rhett Miller - Believer (Verve)
Rita Reys - At the Golden Circle Club (Philips) - Reissue
Rita Reys - Cool Voice of Rita Reys Volume 2 (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Rita Reys - Jazz Pictures (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Rita Reys - Marriage in Modern Jazz (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Rita Reys - Meets Oliver Nelson (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Rita Reys - Two Jazy People (Universal/Philips) - Reissue
Ronnie Foster - Sweet Revival (Blue Note) - Reissue
Sadao Watanabe - Hows Everything (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue
Soulive - 32 Bleu - Colorado Springs, 10/7/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Conga Room - West Hollywood (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Double Door - Chicago, IL 9/30/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Aggie Theater - Fort Collins, CO (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Banana Joe's, Columbia, SC 11/16/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Belly Up Tavern - Solana Beach, CA (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Cewrvantes Ballroom, Denver, CO 10/08/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Fine Line Music Cafe - Minneapolis, Mn (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Fox Theater - Boulder, CO 10/09/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Granada Theater - Lawrence, KS 10/04/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Higher Ground - Winooski, VT 12/9/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Iowa State University - Ames, IA (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Irving Plaza - New York, NY 11/24/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Luther's Blues (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 5/5/05 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 5/6/05 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Shaggy's - Salt Lake, UT 10/10/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - State Theater Falls - Church, VA (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - The Canal Club - Richmond, VAA 11/13/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - The Funk Box - Baltimore, MD 11/1/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - The Independent - San Francisco, CA (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - The Marz Theater - Willmington, NC 11/14/04 (Instant Live (Ryko))
Soulive - Theater of the Living Arts - Philadelphia, PA (Instant Live (Ryko))
Spyrogyra - Wrapped in a Dream (Heads Up)
Spyrogyra - Wrapped in a Dream (Heads Up) - SACD
Stanley Turrentine - Home Again (Collectables) - Reissue
Stanley Turrentine - Inflation (Collectables) - Reissue
Steve Tyrell - Disney Standards (Walt Disney Records)
Sun Ra - Concert for the Comet Kohoutek (ESP-Disk) - Reissue
Sweet Blossom Dearie - Blossom Dearie (Universal) - Reissue
Tom Scott - Bebop United (Telarc)
Tony Williams - Spring (Blue Note) - Reissue
Wynton Marsalis - Hot House Flowers (Sony Masterworks Edition) - Reissue

Wed 01-Mar-2006

Liza Lee - Think About It Tomorrow (Jazz Doll)
Norman Hedman's Tropique - Garden of Forbidden Fruit (Powerlight)
Wajdi Cherf - Jasmine (Wech records)

Sat 04-Mar-2006

Datri Bean - Slow Down Summertime (Butter Bean)
Trilok Gurtu / The Frikyiwa Family - Farakala (Frikyiwa)

Information provided by allaboutjazz.com

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Pieces Of A Dream Celebrates Three Decades Of Funky Jazz

Pillow Talk set for release on March 28, 2006

Thirty Years ago, it was nothing more than a creative lark for two young kids from Philadelphia. Keyboardist James Lloyd was 11 and drummer Curtis Harmon was 13. All they wanted to do was make good music. They took the name Pieces of a Dream from the title of a 1974 Stanley Turrentine album, and the rest, as they say ...

Some of the names and faces have changed over the years, but Lloyd and Harmon are still at the core of this powerhouse contemporary jazz combo, and the commitment to music that is not just good but great has never wavered in the three intervening decades. Pieces of a Dream celebrates this landmark anniversary with the worldwide release of Pillow Talk on Heads Up International March 28, 2006. The new album finds Lloyd, Harmon and company just as passionate about their craft in this new century as those two Philly youngsters back in the day.

"This is another great chapter in a great story," says Lloyd. "It's a privilege to still be doing it after so many years. Making your way in the music business can be a perilous undertaking, especially these days, but the fact that Pieces has been together as long as it has says something about who we are - as musicians and as people - and the kind of music that we make."

Pillow Talk is a perfect example of how Pieces has successfully navigated the years. Filled with catchy riffs, infectious grooves and compelling vocal work, it's the kind of record that speaks to the moment yet still holds up well over time.

"House Arrest," the punchy opening track, is one of the clearest statements in the entire set. Co-authored by Harmon and Bennie Simms, the track is Harmon's way of keep the longstanding Pieces groove alive for a new generation of listeners. "That's an instrumental song with more of a house beat," says Harmon. "Part of what wanted to accomplish with the songs that I contributed was to bring a fresh new sound to Pieces. I wanted to make some danceable instrumental music."

Further in, guest vocalist Ramona Dunlap steps up to the microphone with the defiant and no-nonsense "Triflin'," and later on the impassioned devotional "Those Three Words" and the sultry "Your Love." Dunlap's rich vocal presence has been a part of the Pieces stage show in the past, and she was first introduced to worldwide audiences on the Pieces of a Dream Acquainted With The Night album. "Ramona is very professional, very much to the point with her craft" says Harmon. "It took no more than one ore two takes to get what we needed from her. She was very clear about what she was doing."

Also worth noting is the lively "Wake Up Call," with piano work from Lloyd that is both punchy and melodic at the same time. "Attitude" sets Lloyd's complex piano lines and Tony Watson Jr.'s full-bodied sax riffs against a vaguely hip-hop backbeat. The album closes with the shimmering title track, a laid back number with a persistent backbeat - a seemingly incongruous yet ultimately satisfying combination that showcases Lloyd's prowess on piano, keyboard and programming

Pillow Talk is another satisfying set from a band that has built a thirty-year reputation on finely crafted recordings. After three decades, what's the glue that holds it all together? "I think the high level of musicianship is what has made Pieces what it is over the years," says Harmon. " James is a very talented and gifted musician, and our styles and sensibilities blend well. After thirty years of working together and playing together, there's a collaborative aspect to what we do that's hard to explain. It just happens."

"We're more than just bandmates," says Lloyd. "We're family. We've been through good times and bad, and that just makes the music deeper and better. This album is just another example of what happens when two brothers who've grown up on the same creative track get together and bring out the best in each other."

Posted by Peter Böhi at smoothvibes.com>

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Béla Fleck Disc Debuts on Billboard Chart

The Hidden Land, the latest CD from the pop-jazz-bluegrass group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, debuted on the contemporary-jazz chart this week at number two.

The album features original compositions by bano player Béla Fleck as well as a take on a Bach prelude and fugue. In addition to Fleck, the Flecktones include saxophonist Jeff Coffin, bassist Victor Wooten, and drummer Roy Wooten, also known as Future Man.

Herbie Hancock's Possibilities remained at number one on the chart. There were no other new entries.

Vocalist Michael Bublé continued his reign on the jazz chart, with the platinum-selling It's Time at number one and the more recent Caught in the Act at number two. Chris Botti's To Love Again, Thelonious Monk's At Carnegie Hall, Dianne Reeves' Good Night, and Good Luck., and the benefit album Our New Orleans 2005 remained in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth slots on the chart.

Two Valentine's Day-themed albums debuted: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong for Lovers at number 19, and Dave Brubeck Plays for Lovers at number 20.

By Ben Mattison- - playbillarts.com

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Is it cold in here, or is it just me?

Curling fans were Pinerolo Palaghiaccio, about an hour outside of Torino, was rocking for today's bronze medal match between the U.S. and Great Britian. Even IOC President Jacques Rogge was in the packed house.

Any doubt that curling has arrived was removed when the event was interrupted by a streaker.

During the fifth end break (curling's version of halftime and/or a seventh inning stretch), a large and not-too-muscular guy ran out across the sheet. Nothing on except for the obligatory online gambling ad and a strategically-wrapped rubber chicken.

USA skip Pete Fenson had a chuckle, and so did Rogge. Less amused was chief referee Keith Wendorf, who tackled the offender.

An umpire mercifully covered him with a coat and he was led out of the arena by the Italian polizia.

Posted by NBC executive Jon Miller

Guitarist taking a stab at technology

Jazz is smart music. You have to study the fundamentals before you bend the rules. For many, it is as complex and satisfying to the ear as great architecture is to the eye, or fine food to the palate.

Listen to Ken Navarro - Ellicott City's resident smooth jazz guitar virtuoso - play the opening notes of his hit, "You Are Everything," and you'll get a sense of what the genre at its best is all about. Listen to him talk, and you'll get a sense of the smart thinking behind his more than 35 years of success in the music business.

"Right now, though," said Navarro, "I've been spending a lot of my day feeling inadequate." That is because Navarro, 52, has been working his way through voluminous software manuals, teaching himself computer code so that he can update and maintain his Web site (www.kennavarro.com).

"People look at Web sites the way they would billboards, driving by at 60 mph. They use them fast - they're not 'scrutinized,' " he said. Navarro got to the point where he wanted his Web site to be in sync with the immediacy of the medium - to be able to change concert dates as fast as promoters would notify him, or reflect on a current event in his Web log. Check out his thoughts on the Rolling Stones' Super Bowl halftime performance.

"Little by little, it has become clear," said Navarro, speaking of his software explorations. "And when you work your way through a myriad of problems and reason them out, there's a sense of triumph."

Navarro said that the process of learning first how to update and then make design changes to his Web site has reawakened his love of learning and emphasized to him how important it is at every stage in one's life to be actively engaged in tackling something new.

At this point, Navarro has redesigned most of his Web site himself, adding pages, an interactive guest book and Web log. Now he is moving on to produce his first podcast - a mini audio broadcast or "show," which will be posted on his and other easily accessible sites, such as iTunes. Anyone with an interest can download the podcasts free and listen to them on an iPod or through a computer.

Navarro is not sure which direction he is going to take his podcasts, but he is sure of one thing: "It's about giving information - not selling something. To me, it's a real turn-off when you hear a podcast that advertises. I can get that on commercial TV."

Navarro's latest compact disc, Love Coloured Soul, was in the top 10 for 18 weeks; its hit single "You Are Everything" is still on the charts at No. 17 after 14 months. His inventive remake of Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic" is getting serious airplay. Nonetheless, Navarro will soon begin working on his 17th record - writing, recording and mixing - aiming for a projected release date of late this year or early next year. Next is the job of promoting, shooting and editing digital footage for his Web site, as well as creating weekly podcasts.

Though Navarro has been with a major record label - which reduces the business-aspect of a musician's workload - he says, "This is where self-determination has its rewards." He can create his music and put it out there in a way that reflects his personal style and drive.

Now that's smooth, just like his music.


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Marsalis, Costello sign on for Playboy jazz fest

The lineup for the 2006 Playboy Jazz Festival will include Branford Marsalis, Jamie Cullum, Ozomatli, McCoy Tyner and Elvis Costello and the Imposters with Allen Toussaint.

Bill Cosby will return as master of ceremonies for the 28th anniversary festival after last year's hiatus.

Along with Toussaint, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is coming up from devastated New Orleans for the festival, which will take place June 17-18 at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl.

The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra will feature vibraharpist Stefon Harris in a tribute to the late Milt Jackson. Eddie Palmieri will bring his Afro-Caribbean Jazz All Stars with special guests Regina Carter and David Sanchez.

"Groovin' for Grover," a tribute to the late Grover Washington Jr., will feature Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber and Kirk Whalum.

Also on the bill is the Golden Striker Trio, comprising Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone.

Other performers on the bill are pianist Eldar Djangirov, the Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project and the Benny Golson quartet.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Rippingtons Turn 20

The Rippingtons featuring founder/guitarist Russ Freeman celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. In conjunction with this landmark event, a special 20th anniversary all-star Rippingtons recording will reunite the great artists who have been Rippingtons and/or have performed as guest stars, and it will be released on July 22 and followed by an all-star tour in August.

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Jazz Wizard George Duke Recalls Early Days

He doesn't talk all that much about it, but jazz keyboard wizard George Duke attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music — on a trombone scholarship.

The reason was simple, Duke recalled: He didn't think he was good enough to get one of the school's piano scholarships.

"They had too many classical piano players. I didn't have their chops. I couldn't keep up with them," Duke said of the applicants the year he applied. "But they also had a brass scholarship for trombone and they didn't have any trombone players. So I knew I could get that one!"

A Wednesday news conference announcing that Duke and fellow jazz great Stanley Clarke will be among the headliners at the 28th annual Playboy Jazz Festival in June got the modest keyboardist to reminiscing afterward about his early days.

This year marks the first time he and bassist Clarke have toured extensively together since 1990.

"Stanley and I decided at the end of last year to do a couple of dates, and we had so much fun we said let's make a commitment," Duke recalled as he stood in the back yard of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's Holmby Hills home.

"We were going to do an album," he added. "But our agents put out some leads and the next thing we knew we were doing a world tour."

That means they'll be doing the album next year, he said. When it comes time to record it, don't expect Duke to pick up a trombone. He did years ago at the late Frank Zappa's insistence, he says, but seldom has since.

"It's a great instrument," Duke said. "It's just not my instrument."

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Smooth Jazz Top Ten | Week Ending 2/24/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
2 - 1 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
1 - 2 - Brian Simpson - "It's All Good" (Rendezvous)
4 - 3 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
3 - 4 - Rick Braun - "Shining Star" (Artizen)
5 - 5 - Marion Meadows - "Suede" (Heads Up)
8 - 6 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
10 - 7 - Paul Brown - "Winelight" (GRP/VMG)
11 - 8 - Najee - "2nd 2 None" - (Heads Up International)
4 - 6 - Euge Groove - "Get Em Goin'" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
7 - 9 - Walter Beasley - "Coolness" (Heads Up)
9 - 10 - Chris Botti f/Jill Scott - "Good Morning Heartache" (Columbia)

Visit radioandrecords.com to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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Diana Krall and Michael Bublé Top Juno Award Nominations

Jazz vocalists Diana Krall and Michael Bublé are among the most-nominated artists for the Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent of the Grammys.

Krall's Christmas Songs and Bublé's It's Time were both nominated for album of the year, and both artists were nominated for the Juno Fan Choice Award and the artist of the year award. It's Time was also nominated in the pop category, while Christmas Songs was cited in the vocal jazz category.

Both Bublé and Krall were born in British Columbia, although Krall is now based in New York. It is the second year in a row in which Krall has vied with mainstream pop stars for the top awards at the Junos; last year, she won only in the vocal jazz category.

Paul Anka, an Ottawa native, was also nominated in the vocal jazz category for Rock Swings, a collection of jazz settings of rock and pop songs.

Classical nominees include pianist Marc-André Hamelin, nominated for a collection of music by Albéniz; the Angela Hewitt, for two string quartets by Christos Hatzis; and pianist Angela Hewitt, for a collection of Bach concertos with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Among the nominees in the classical vocal category are soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, for songs by Pauline Viardot-Garcia; tenor Michael Schade, for Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin; and tenor Russell Braun, for Schubert's Winterreise.

The Junos will be presented on April 2 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

By Ben Mattison - playbillarts.com

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Michel Camilo | Rhapsody in Blue

As we settle into the new century, Gunther Schuller's Third Stream concept remains alive and well. Another example of this jazz/classical crossover is Rhapsody in Blue, where Michel Camilo plays “classical” George Gershwin with the Barcelona Symphony. It's a terrific CD, but is it jazz?

You bet. For one thing, Gershwin was basically a jazz guy, responsible for any number of enduring standards, and the jazzy elements of his writing are inescapable. For another, although Camilo was “playing the ink” that Gershwin wrote--i.e., following the notes--he ”tried to make it sound improvised.” And it does: his original sculptings of time and dynamics result in a startlingly fresh interpretation of “Rhapsody in Blue.” (Since I've wrestled with that piano score, I recognized and was delighted by all of his points of departure.) In fact, Camilo's shadings bring such new life to this music that it's hard to believe it was premiered in 1924, over eighty years ago.

There are clear echoes of “Rhapsody” in “Concerto in F.” Written a year later, it has also become a crowd-pleaser in many orchestral repertoires. This concerto has moments of real beauty, but the other highlight, at least for me, was Camilo's solo take on “Prelude No. 2.” By slowing it down and bluesing it up--while still “playing the ink”--Camilo polishes brand new facets of this gem, and it all gleams.

There is no more formidable technique in jazz. Camilo began as a classical pianist in his native Dominican Republic, playing with their National Symphony at the age of sixteen, and later trained at Julliard. Fortunately he also has a deep artistic sensitivity--he doesn't have to go blazing around the keyboard for effect--and he can swing, something he's proved in each of his major label releases since the first one in 1988. This rare combination, together with this fine orchestra, makes his Gershwin program a clear, innovative and thoroughly enjoyable success.

By Dr. Judith Schlesinger - allaboutjazz.com

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases - 2/21/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Adrian Rollini - Trio, Quartet & Quintet (Vintage Music) - Reissue
Amalia Rodrigues - Spirit of Fado (Eforfilms) - DVD-Video
Anderskov Accident - Unity of Action (Ilk)
Andrew Hill - Time Lines (Blue Note)
Anthony Braxton Sextet - Victoriaville 2005 (Victo)
Anthony Wonsey - Thang (Sharp Nine)
Art Blakey - Mosaic (Blue Note) - Reissue
Barry Martin Band / George Lewis / Louis Nelson - 1966 (GHB) - Reissue
Bebo Valdes - We Could Make Beautiful Music Together (Wea) - Reissue
Beck / Humair Mathewson - Jazz Trio (Art of Life)
Ben E. King - I've Been Around (True Life) - Reissue
Ben Goldberg Quintet - Door Hat Chair Fat (Cryptogramophone)
Berlin/Chambers/Lavitz/Fiuczynski - Boston T Party (Mascot)
Bird York - Wicked Little High (Narada)
Bob James - Urban Flamingo (Koch)
Bob Sneider - Escapade (Sons of Sound)
Bubber Miley - Rare Recordings (VIntage Music)
Bunk Johnson & His New Orleans Band - Complete Decca Session (American Music) - Reissue
Butterbeans & Susie - Butterbeans & Susie (GHB)
Butterfield / Wellstood - Duet (Jazzology)
Carmen McRae - 24K Pure Gold (Tomato) - Reissue
Cecil Brooks - Double Exposure (Savant)
Charles Blackwell Orchestra - Those Plucking Strings (RPM)
Charlie Parker - 1952-54 (Classics) - Reissue
Chicago Underground Duo - In Praise of Shadows (Thrill Jockey)
Chich Corea / Herbie Hancock / Keith Jarrett / McCoy Tyner - Corea/Hancock/Jarrett/Tyner (Rhino) - Reissue
Chick Webb's Orchestra - Stompin' at the Savoy (Proper) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Clancy Brothers - Traditional Years: Irish Drinking Songs (Empire) - Reissue
Craig Raymond Big Jazz Band - Straight Ahead (Star Satellite)
Damn - Youth Style (Raw Fusion)
Dane T.S. Hawk - Presents: A General Broad View (Ilk)
Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden - General Representation Products Chain Drastism (P-VIne)
Dexter Gordon - Swingin' Affair (Blue Note) - Reissue
Dick Conte Quartet - Slow Hot Wind (DC Jazz)
Dr. John - Plays Mac Rebennack: Vol. 2 (Cleancuts)
Earl Hines & The Alex Welsh Band - Earl Hines with the Alex Welsh BaND (Jazzology) - Reissue
Ed Bickert Trio - Out of the Past (Storyville)
Eddie Calvert - Golden Trumpet (Xtra)
Eddie Palmiere / Cal Tjader - Bamboleate (Light in the Attic) - Reissue
Edu Lobo - Sergio Mendes Presents Edu Lobo (Revola)
Elton Dean - Bar Torque (Moonjune) - Reissue
Eric Dolphy Quintet / Herbie Hancock - Left Alone (Fruit Tree) - Reissue
Erik Friedlander - Prowl (Cryptogramophone)
Fred Hersch - In Amsterdam: Live at the Bimhuis (Palmetto)
Funk Academy - Funk Academy (BHM)
Gary McFarland - America the Beautiful, An Account of Its Disappearance (Passport)
Gene Ammons - 1951-53 (Classics) - Reissue
Gentle Giant - On Reflection: The Ultimate Anthology (DRT Entertainment) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
George Cotsirilos - On the Rebop (Oa2)
Gianluca Petrella - Indigo4 (Angel)
Ginny Sims - One More Dream (Flare UK)
Glenn Miller - Glenn & Benny (Avid) - Reissue
Gordon Beck - Jazz Trio (Art of Life)
Gordon Pattullo Ceilidh Band - Celidh Dance Party (Music Digi)
Grant Green - Iron City (Five Four) - Reissue
Hank Mobley - Dippin' (Blue Note) - Reissue
Haydon / Pizzarelli - Just Friend (Mel Bay)
Horace Silver - Silver's Serenade (Blue Note) - Reissue
Hot Tuna - Electric Hot Tuna Live at the Fillmore (Vestapol) - DVD-Video
Hustler-E - Wacocaine II: God, Money & Gun (On My Hustle)
Jesse Harris - Mineral (Secret Sun)
Jim Cullum Jazz Band - Chasin' the Bird (Riverwalk)
Jim Hall - Jim Hall (Hal Leonard) - DVD-Video
Jimmy Smith - Softly as a Summer Breeze (Blue Note) - Reissue
Joe Chambers - Outlaw (Savant)
Joe Locke / Bob Sneider - Fallen Angel (Sons of Sound)
John Coltrane - Live in Paris (Passport Audio)
John Larsen - Short Stories from Catalonia (Qualiton)
Johnny Guitar Watson - Music Hall In Concert (Music Video) - DVD-Video
Johnson Bunk and His New Orleans Band - Complete Decca Session (American Music) - Reissue
Jon Mayer - My Romance (City Hall)
Kevin Hays - Open Range: Piano Works III (HighNote)
Lee Morgan - Tom Cat (Blue Note) - Reissue
Lena Horne - 24K Pure Gold (Tomato) - Reissue
Lewis / Nelson - 1966 (GHB)
Lori Perry - Wrote This Song (Alliant)
Louis Armstrong - Pops (Passport Audio) - Reissue
Marilyn Monroe - Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend (Navarre) - Reissue
Mark Murphy - Playing the Field / Hit Parade (DRG) - Reissue
Marlene ver Planck - Now! (Audiophile)
Maysa - Sweet Classic Soul (Shanachie)
Mel Torme - Together Again for the First Time (Passport) - Reissue
Michael Bloomfield - It's Not Killing Me (Acadia) - Reissue
Miles Davis - Cool Miles (Our World) - Reissue
Muggsy Spanier - 1949-54 (Classics) - Reissue
Nara Leao - Nara '67 (E!) - Reissue
Nat Shilkret - More Than Satisfied (Vintage Music) - Reissue
Ned Rothenberg - Solo Works - The Lumina Recordings (Tzadik)
Nick Colionne - Keepin' It Cool (Narada)
Nils Landgren - Creole Love Call (HighNote)
Nina Simone - Here Comes the Sun (Pazzazz) - Reissue
Olympia Brass Band of New Orleans - Olympia Brass Band of New Orleans (GHB)
Ornette Coleman - Rock the Clock (Fruit Tree) - Reissue
Oscar Pettiford - 1951-54 (Classics) - Reissue
Osgood - When I Have You (Ilk)
Pamela Luss - There's Something bout You I Don't Know (Savant)
Paul Desmond - Body & Soul (Sony BMG) - Reissue
Paul Hofmann / Bob Sneider - Escapade (Sons of Sound)
Paul Winter - Journey With the Sun (Living Music) - Reissue
Paul Winter - Brazilian Days (Ladyslipper) - Reissue
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Rahsaan Roland Kirk (Mad Deadly) - DVD-Video
Raquel Bitton - Paris Blues (RB Records)
Rene Althea - In the Moment (Alliant)
Rick Haydon - Just Friends (Mel Bay)
Roy Ayers - Destination Motherland: The Roy Ayers Anthology (UME) Reissue
Sarah Vaughn - Memories (Passport) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Sarah Vaughn - Best is Yet to Come (Passport) - Reissue
Soren Kjaergaard Trio - Akustika (Ilk)
Soren Kjaergaard Trio - Amfebia (Ilk)
Stanley Clarke - Bass Days (Sony Music)
Steve Brody - Keep on Talkin' (215 records)
Steve Khan - The Green Field (Tone Center)
Supersilent - 7 (Forced Exposure) - DVD-Video
Thelonious Monk - Ruby My Dear (Quartet & Octet in Europe) (Fruit Tree)
Thelonious Monk - Monk's Moods (Proper Records) - Reissue
Ulf Wakenius - Notes from the Heart: Ulf Wakenius Plays the Music of Keith Jarrett (HighNote)
Various Artists - Big Broadcast-Jazz & Popular Music of the 1920s (Revermont) - Reissue
Various Artists - Gospel for JFP III (Jaco Pastorius) (Moonjune)
Wayne Horvitz - Whispers, Hymns and a Murmur (Tzadik)
Williams-Fairey Engineering Band - Best of Brass (Music Digi) - Reissue
Williams-Fairey Engineering Band - Best in Class (Music Digi) - Reissue
Williams-Fairey Engineering Band - Triumphs in Brass (Music Digi) - Reissue
Wishbone Ash - The Ultimate Collection (Music Video) - DVD-Video
Zzva - Funk Academy (BHM) - Reissue
Zzva - A Smooth Jazz Nightlife (NLM) - Reissue
Zzva - This is Ballroom Dancing (MCS) - Reissue

Information provided by allaboutjazz.com

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Latin jazz figure Ray Barretto dies

Grammy-winning percussionist had heart surgery earlier this month

Ray Barretto, a Grammy-winning Latin jazz percussionist known for integrating the conga drum into jazz, died Friday, officials said. He was 76.

Barretto had undergone heart bypass surgery in January and suffered from pneumonia, said George Rivera, a friend and family spokesman. He died at Hackensack University Medical Center with his wife and two sons by his bedside.

"He was suffering too much, so the Lord took him," Fidel Estrada, a family friend, told The Associated Press in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Barretto won a Grammy for best Tropical Latin performance in 1989 for the song "Ritmo en el Corazon" with Celia Cruz.

The following year, Barretto was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame, and last month, he was named one of the National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Masters of 2006, the nation's highest jazz honor.

His 1979 album "Ricanstruction" is considered one of the classic salsa recordings.

Barretto grew up in New York City listening to the music of Puerto Rico and to the jazz of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman.

In the late 1950s, he played in Tito Puente's band, and his popularity grew in the New York jazz scene. Over the years, he recorded with such musicians as Cannonball Adderley, Freddie Hubbard, Cal Tjader and Dizzy Gillespie.

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Chick Corea and Charlie Hunter Albums Debut on Jazz Chart

Pianist Chick Corea's The Ultimate Adventure and guitarist Charlie Hunter's Copperopolis made their first appearances on the Billboard jazz chart this week at numbers seven and eight.

The Ultimate Adventure, a suite based on the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, features performers from several of Corea's groups, including drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist Airto Moreira, saxophonists José Pardo and Tim Garland, and guitarist Frank Gambale.

Copperopolis is the latest album from Hunter and his trio, who blend jazz, funk, rock, and other influences. His bandmates are multi-instrumentalist John Ellis, who plays saxophone, Wurlitzer organ, and other instruments on this album, and drummer Derrek Phillips.

Michael Bublé's It Times and Caught in the Act remained in the top two spots on the chart; both boosted their sales this week.

On the contemporary-jazz chart, Herbie Hancock's Possibilities remained at number one with Jamie Cullum's Catching Tales at number two. New to the chart was keyboardist Jason Miles's What's Going On?, which debuted at number 21.

By Ben Mattison - playbillarts.com

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World's Finest Jazz Soloists Perform Original Tunes

For two nights, musicians from the world-renowned Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will step off the big band bandstand to appear in small groups for Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in Small Doses on March 24 and 25 at 8pm in Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center's home, Frederick P. Rose Hall. Audiences who know these musicians in the context of the big band ensemble will have the rare opportunity to hear these individual soloists strut their stuff and perform their own compositions during Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in Small Doses. With two all-star rhythm sections led by Cyrus Chestnut and Mulgrew Miller, quintets made up of the soloists - Walter Blanding, Vincent Gardner, Victor Goines, Sherman Irby, Sean Jones, Ryan Kisor, Marcus Printup and Joe Temperley - from the critically-acclaimed orchestra will perform in this more intimate setting, showcasing their own style, technique and remarkable versatility.

In addition to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in Small Doses concerts, Jazz at Lincoln Center will also host Jazz Talk: Blue Note: A Retrospective of Recorded Sound featuring Bruce Lundvall and Rudy Van Gelder on March 22 at 7pm at the Irene Diamond Education Center at Frederick P. Rose Hall on Broadway at 60th Street. Bruce Lundvall, President of Blue Note Records and Rudy Van Gelder, famed jazz recording engineer, will explore the history of the legendary jazz label with special guests.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Berklee Educators Release Jazz A Cappella CD

Boston's auspicious Berklee College of Music is home to four out of five members of the vocal jazz a cappella group, Vox One. Jodi Jenkins Ainsworth (soprano), Yumiko Matsuoka Young (also), Paul Pampinella (baritone) and Paul Stiller (tenor & vocal percussion) are current faculty members at Berklee, recognized as America's preminent jazz music institution. Now, joined by fellow Berklee alum and bass singer Tom Baskett, the quintet has recorded their first CD in seven years: Pure Imagination, a collection of off-the-beaten track originals, covers and spontaneous improvs.

Formed initially while still students in the mid 1990's, Vox One established its reputation in short order with a spate of award winning recordings (Vox One, Out There, Chameleon and Say You Love Me). Called “most adventurous and distinctive” by the San Francisco Examiner, their proprietary blend of musical ingredients pushes the boundaries of a variety musical styles and vocal techniques. Named “Best A Cappella Group, Jazz” by Boston Magazine, Vox One has opened for artists such as Ray Charles, Chicago and the Count Basie Orchestra. Deftly infusing elements of jazz, folk, gospel, blues and world music, a first-time listener of Vox One may be amazed to hear a variety of instruments such as drums, bass, horns, and guitar - all produced entirely by voices and voices only!

Pure Imagination will be released on the Primarily A Cappella Records specialty label, and will be available via the Primarily A Cappella's vast online catalog, singers.com, and distributed to record stores nationally. Vox One were one of PAC Records first signings, and the label is eager to renew the group's relationship with a cappella listeners, who appreciate Vox One's intricate musical arrangements, inventive improvs,and unexpected reharmonizations.

Visit website


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Smooth Jazz Top Ten | Week Ending 2/17/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
2 - 1 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
1 - 2 - Brian Simpson - "It's All Good" (Rendezvous)
3 - 3 - Rick Braun - "Shining Star" (Artizen)
6 - 4 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
7 - 5 - Marion Meadows - "Suede" (Heads Up)
4 - 6 - Euge Groove - "Get Em Goin'" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
5 - 7 - Walter Beasley - "Coolness" (Heads Up)
8 - 8 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
10 - 9 - Chris Botti f/Jill Scott - "Good Morning Heartache" (Columbia)
11 - 10 - Paul Brown - "Winelight" (GRP/VMG)

Visit radioandrecords.com to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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New Orleans Jazz Festival Announces Lineup

The 2006 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will feature a mix of New Orleans favorites, leading jazz musicians, and major stars, organizers announced yesterday.

The organizers said two weeks ago that contrary to initial expectations, the festival will take place at its traditional home, the Fair Ground Race Track, and its traditional time, the last weekend on April and the first weekend in May, despite the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"The true heart and soul of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, as with New Orleans itself, is music," said producer-director Quint Davis. "It is the force that drives and defines us. Not merely for entertainment, but to feed our souls. It is overwhelming how our musical family has rallied to our cause, especially the New Orleans musical mainstays, many scattered throughout the country, all committed to returning to be a part of the renewal of our spirit."

Among the jazz musicians on the schedule are trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, pianist Ellis Marsalis with saxophonist Lew Tabackin, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, pianist Marcus Roberts, and clarinetist Michael White.

Major pop stars include Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, the Dave Matthews Band, and Lionel Richie; rhythm and blues great Fats Domino, a New Orleans native who was rescued from the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is the featured performer and is pictured on the festival poster.

Among the blues and soul musicians scheduled to perform are Koko Taylor, Irma Thomas, the Ohio Players, Allen Toussaint, and Dr. John.

Tickets are $30 per day in advance and $40 per day at the gate. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.nojazzfest.com.

By Ben Mattison playbillarts.com

On the Net:
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: nojazzfest.com

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Anat Cohen at the Jazz Standard

Saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen will perform with her quartet at The Jazz Standard, NYC, Thursday, February 16, 2005. Anat's quartet will feature Jason Lindner on piano, Joe Martin on bass and Jonathan Blake on drums. Anat Cohen's latest CD, “Place & Time” was named as one of the best debut albums of 2005 by All About Jazz NY as well as being included in many other “Best of 2005” lists. Nate Chinen of the New York Times said: “Ms. Cohen, a saxophonist and clarinetist, has delivered an auspicious debut with “Place and Time”, which underscores her burnished lyricism with rhythmic nuance.”

This stunning album combines Anat's facility on tenor and soprano saxophone and clarinet with her expressive and personal compositions and emotionally charged musicality. Nat Hentoff says in his liner notes about “Place & Time”: “Anat Cohen has the quality of all lasting jazz musicians. She has presence. From her first notes, she tells you who she is - and over time, she tells you where she's been in her life and travels.”

Tel Aviv-born multi-reedist Anat Cohen has made quite a name for herself since her arrival in the U.S. to pursue her musical studies at Berklee in the mid '90's. For the past six years, Anat has been a member of the Diva Jazz Orchestra (www.divajazz.com) and Five Play Jazz Quintet. Anat is featured on their latest CDs, “TNT: A Tommy Newsom Tribute” and “Five Play...Plus”. While with Diva, Anat has had the opportunity to perform with guest artists such as Nancy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Slide Hampton and Diane Schuur. Ms. Cohen is also an integral part of a group called Choro Ensemble, the only New York-based ensemble dedicated to the authentic instrumental choro tradition of Brazil. The group was a featured guest artist at the Apollo Theater with the Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and recently made their Carnegie Hall debut with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops. Anat has also been featured as a sideman with many artists including Cyro Baptista, Duduka Da Fonseca, Jamey Haddad, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ingrid Jensen and Flip Phillips.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones | The Hidden Land

The Hidden Land, the first album of new material recorded in the wake of a year off the road, is the logical extension of the Flecktones' recent activities. It makes sense to go back to the basics and start afresh. Also, after the eclectic complexity and artful ambitions that produced the last Bela Fleck/Flecktones album (the three-CD set Little Worlds), there may have been little further afield to go, given the way the group married production and musicianship lavishly and intricately, retaining spontaneity at the heart of improvisation.

The Hidden Land opens with the band rendering two Bach pieces almost as if to warm up, which makes sense as this somewhat studied combination gives way to the more free-flowing likes of “P’lod in the House.” Radiating the joy of collaboration, each of the four musicians is in perpetual motion, yet the music doesn’t sound busy or flashy. In a more subdued vein, “Rococo” finds Bela and the ‘Tones waxing and waning respectively, their interaction delicate but authoritative.

Jeff Coffin’s flute work recalls the warm whimsy of the earliest Flecktones material (prior to his joining the group upon the departure of Howard Levy). While that atmosphere wasn’t necessarily the target of the sessions that produced this CD, it’s a natural and welcome byproduct nonetheless. The beauty of the band’s production of The Hidden Land is that it captures the timbres of the instruments accurately. As the group escalates to high gear on “Labyrinth,” the welcome simplicity of Victor Wooten’s bass supplies gravity, as does Futureman’s kick drum, alternating with his brushes.

Bela Fleck often belies his roots in bluegrass (as through the New Grass Revival), particularly when his banjo so closely approximates the sound of an electric guitar, as it does on “Kaleidoscope.” Yet the quick circular turns he navigates with the Flecktones recall his sources, at the same time rendering distinctive the sound of this band. The Celtic motif that ran through the previous album may be gone, and though no guests appear on the new album, the same integrity that earmarked Little Worlds, with its host of outsiders, remains intact here. “Who’s Got Three?” proceeds as if a natural outgrowth of Fleck & ‘Tones instrumental chemistry, while “Weed Whacker” will again bring to mind the refreshing simplicity of their earliest projects together. You might criticize the group for not breaking any new ground here, but reinventing themselves is not the point here, reinvigorating themselves is.

Hearing the band proceed through the deconstruction and reassembly of the evocative “Misunderstood,” it’s hard not to hope that the down-to-earth approach which distinguishes The Hidden Land carries over when the group returns to live performance later this year. This group is often plagued by an impersonal distance on stage. However, this newest studio effort finds Bela Fleck and the Flecktones radiating a warm rapport that in turn generates music which is eminently accessible on its surface and endlessly fascinating below.

Visit Bela Fleck & The Flecktones on the web.

By Doug Collette - allaboutjazz.com

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Peekko Chat | Firefox Extension

Peekko Chat is a new Firefox extension that makes every web page a place where people can congregate. It adds a toolbar to Firefox that shows how many people are in that page's chat room and allows you to instantly connect with them.

Check out the peekko chat site

Earl Klugh | Music For Lovers

No music draws more heavily from the imaginative mind and the passionate heart working together than jazz. No emotion depends on these human conditions more than love. The greatest jazz musicians possess a vulnerability and emotional honesty that resonates.

Blue Note introduces a new series MUSIC FOR LOVERS spotlighting great romantic performances by the world’s greatest jazz artists, drawn from the Blue Note family of labels. Each collection has an eye-catching lifestyle photographic cover and features seductive, romantic proclamations of love in the form of timeless ballads and love songs. The artists in our first release are guitarist Earl Klugh, organist Jimmy Smith, pianist Horace Silver, trumpet Lee Morgan, and tenor saxophonists Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, and Hank Mobley.

Track Listing
1 Wishful Thinking
2 Livin' Inside Your Love
3 Long Ago and Far Away
4 Dream Come True
5 A Natural Thing
6 Catherine
7 If You're Still in Love With Me
8 Christina
9 Like a Lover
10 Julie
11 Ingenue
12 A Time for Love

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Chris Botti Set to Tour with David Sanborn

Best-selling jazz trumpeter Chris Botti -- whose "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life?" has just won a Grammy Award -- will join forces with the legendary multiple Grammy-winning jazz fusion saxophonist David Sanborn for a run of very special tour dates beginning February 15 at the Civic Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

Botti and Sanborn will be accompanied by a powerhouse backing band featuring fellow Grammy-winners Billy Childs on piano and drummer Billy Kilson. Bassist James Genus will perform on the ensemble's February dates with Kenny Davis coming on-board to play bass during the March leg of the tour.

Billy Childs won two Grammys this past week: Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), along with Gil Goldstein and Heitor Pereira, for his work on "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life?" from Chris Botti's #1 Jazz album, "To Love Again" and Best Instrumental Composition for "Into The Light" from the Billy Childs Ensemble album, "Lyric."

Drummer Billy Kilson, who first worked with Botti on 2004's best-selling "When I Fall In Love" album, may be heard drumming on the Dave Holland Big Band's "Overtime, " which won this year's Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album Grammy.

Botti won his first Grammy recognition for his role as producer on the 1994 Brecker Brothers release, "Out of the Loop, " which picked up that year's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums award.

The versatile David Sanborn has won a total of six Grammy Awards -- in categories including Jazz, Pop, and R&B -- over the course of his remarkably diverse musical career.

During the course of the tour, Chris Botti will be dropping by PBS affiliates across the country to promote his Pledge Drive Special, "Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests, " set to premiere during the March Pledge Week (check your local listings).

"Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests, " shot December 1 and 2, 2005, over a Thursday-Friday run at LA's fabled Wilshire Theatre, inspired the Los Angeles Times Don Heckman to write, "It was apparent, from the first notes Chris Botti played at the Wilshire Theatre on Friday, that the sold-out house was in for a special evening ... Botti's latest album, 'To Love Again' -- as well as the previously released 'When I Fall In Love' -- features extraordinary lineups of vocal guest artists. Six showed up for the concert -- Sting, Jill Scott, Paula Cole, Renee Olstead, Paul Buchanan and Gladys Knight -- along with Burt Bacharach ... despite the inevitable audience excitement generated by the appearance of such vocal headliners and despite the artists' diversity of interpretations, it was Botti's virtuosic trumpet work, his inventive melody-making, his engaging onstage presence and his powerful band ... that ruled the evening ... "

A full concert version of "Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests" is slated for DVD release in late March.

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Nick Colionne | Keepin' It Cool

Coming off of the success of his 2003 release, Just Come On In, Nick Colionne is now releasing his debut CD on Narada Jazz. Keepin’ It Cool is Nick’s fifth CD, and truly showcases the talent and personality of this guitarist.

The CD blasts off with the high energy tune, “Can You Feel It.” This track really sets the mood for this entire CD. Nick gives his usual funky R&B vibe. The title track, “Keepin’ It Cool,” is up next, this time with Ricky Peterson on the Hammond B-3. The tempo is slow and smoky, and the organ just adds incredible flavor. The first single from this CD, “Always Thinkin’ Of You,” is very groovy and melodic. This is definitely a radio-friendly song that gives you the signature sound that Nick is known for.

Another kickin’ tune is “If You Ask Me.” This is truly a happy song and Nick passes that feeling along to every listener. It’s a head-bopper! The Hammond B-3 blends really nicely alongside the guitar. “You Were There for Me” is a very mellow, introspective-type track, but with an underlying groove that is quite alluring. “This Is the Song” is aptly named. It’s a track that makes you feel everything that Nick is about: fun, funk and a melody that sticks with you. “John L.” truly shows what a versatile musician Nick is. He provides the bass, keyboards and programming. “From Me to You” is crisp and playful. It gives you the happy guitar work that Nick is famous for. “A Moment With You,” “Liquid,” and “Catch Me” round out the new original songs on this CD. Each showcases the signature sound of Nick Colionne. Terrific melodies, upbeat tempos and great talent.

As an added bonus, Nick gives us an updated version of “Rainy Night in Georgia,” and even provides the vocals himself. What a treat! Never having heard Nick sing before, this was a surprise. He takes this classic tune and gives it his own flavor. The CD ends with Nick’s hit, “High Flyin’.” While it was a huge hit, you can hear the difference and growth between it and the new tracks.

Nick Colionne has definitely carved out a place for himself on the smooth jazz scene. His music is funky, with a lot of blues and R&B influences. If you have enjoyed Nick’s sound before, you will without a doubt fall for Keepin’ It Cool.

- Bonnie Schendell - smoothviews.com

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Spyro Gyra | Wrapped In A Dream

Due at retail on February 28, 2006, Wrapped in a Dream r eaffirms Spyro Gyra’s status as jazz fusion’s most original group. This coolly textured and cleanly produced collection is filled with subtle melodies and accomplished solos that blend easily into a lush instrumental backdrop. The album is also scheduled for SACD release in 5.1 Surround Sound ( HUSA 9107).

“After 24 albums, it’s not always easy to develop new material,” says leader/saxophonist/ producer Jay Beckenstein. “We usually try to veer away from what we did on our previous record. But we also try to embrace anything that explores new ground – in any way we can.”

In addition to Beckenstein, Wrapped In A Dream features keyboardist Tom Schuman, guitarist Julio Fernandez, bassist Scott Ambush, and drummers Josh Dion and Ludwig Afonso. Rounding out the project, special guests include marimba/vibraphone master Dave Samuels, trumpeter Nathan Eklund, trombonist Eric Oliver and percussionist Cyro Baptista.

One of the ways that Spyro Gyra did things a little differently with this album was to go to some younger talents for guest appearances as well as technical assistance rather than the superstar session musicians who have graced earlier releases. Both Josh Dion and Nathan Eklund are musicians in their mid-twenties as is Eric Carlinsky, the main recording engineer on the album.

Spyro members penned most of the twelve compositions. Beckenstein continues to show his mastery of the fusion idiom, composing four tunes for the album, including the jazzy title track. On his ingenious “Impressions of Madrid” Beckenstein plays keyboards and percussion, and even sings and plays flute for the first time on disc. He also handles vocals on the gospel-infused closer, “Woogitybop.” Indeed, the saxophonist seems ready to do it for another thirty years.

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Bob James | Urban Flamingo

For Urban Flamingo, Bob James has assembled various members from some of his favorite ‘Motown–Based’ touring bands with the goal of transferring their live energy and passion into the recording studio.
Stand-out tracks ‘Choose Me’, ‘Skidaway’ and the title track ‘Urban Flamingo’ set the mood for a few pleasant surprises. ‘Fresh Start’ reunites Bob James and long-time friend and collaborator Earl Klugh while ‘Lay Down With You’ shines the spotlight on the soothing vocals of daughter Hilary James on a song she co-wrote with husband, Kevin DiSimone. 'Endless Time' features Bob's fellow Fourplay member, Nathan East, on both bass (of course) and lead vocal.

Coming Febuary 21, 2006!
1. Choose Me
2. Niles A Head
3. Skidaway
4. Urban Flamingo
5. Lay Down With You
6. Fresh Start
7. Make It More Blue
8. Bobary Coast
9. Endless Time
10. Wingapo

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases - 2/14/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Arsen Shomakhov - Dangerous (Blues Leaf)
Arsen Shomakhov - Dangerous (Blues Leaf Records)
Art Lillard's Heavenly Band - Reasons to be Thankful (Summit)
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - Hidden Land (Columbia)
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - Hidden Land (Dualdisc) (Columbia)
Bobby Lamb - Trinity Fair (Hep)
Brad Leali - Live in Europe (TCB)
Cannonball Adderley - Spontaneous Combustion (Savoy) - Reissue
Carlos Barbosa-Lima - Carioca (Zoho)
Charlie Parker - Now's the Time (Savoy) - Reissue
Danny Moss - Swinging Affair (Qualiton)
Dave Askren - Some Other Things (Sea Breeze)
David Frishberg - Retromania: At the Jazz Bakery (Arbors)
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dee Bridgewater 2 (Collectables) - Reissue
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dee Dee Bridgewater (Collectables) - Reissue
Deodato - Somewhere Out There (Collectables) - Reissue
Django Reinhardt - An Introduction to Django Reinhardt (Varese Sarabande) - Reissue
Don Lanphere / Bud Shank / Denny Goodhew - Lopin' (Hep)
Doris Day - The Love Album (Concord) - Reissue
Etta Baker - The Tradition Years (EZ Music) - Reissue
Fabian Gisler/Michael Hammer/Donny McCaslin/Mark Soskin - One (TCB)
Fence Kitchen - Beading the Rook (North East Indie)
Gene Ludwig - Live in Las Vegas (Blues Leaf)
Hawk-Richard Jazz Orchestra - Reunion (Sea Breeze)
Henry Flynt - Back Porch Hillbilly Blues Vol. 1 (Locust) - Reissue
Henry Flynt - C Tune (Locust) - Reissue
Henry Flynt - Raga Electric (Locust) - Reissue
Iro Haarla - Northbound (ECM)
Jackie Coon - Joys of New Orleans (Arbors)
John Larsen - Short Stories from Catalonia (Qualiton)
John Valentino - Singy Brim (Omnitone)
Jon Balke / Batagraf - Statements (ECM)
Karl-Heinz Steffens / David Gazarov - Lush Life (Tudor)
Manu Katche - Neighbourhood (ECM)
Mark Soskin / Fabian Gisler / Michael Hammer / Donny McCaslin -OneTCB)
Martial Solal / Dave Douglas - Rue de Seine (Jam)
Miles Davis - Out of Nowhere (Savoy) - Reissue
Miles Davis - Cool Miles (Our World) - Reissue
Nina Simone - Broadway-Blues-Ballads (Verve) - Reissue
Nina Simone - High Priestess of Soul (Verve) - Reissue
Nina Simone - I Put a Spell on You (Verve) - Reissue
Nina Simone - In Concert (Verve) - Reissue
Nina Simone - Let it All Out (Verve) - Reissue
Nina Simone - Pastel Blues (Verve) - Reissue
Nina Simone - Wild is the Wind (Verve) - Reissue
Oliver Lake - Quartet Live (Passin Thru)
Omar Avital - Asking No Permission (Smalls)
Patty Waters - Love Songs (Jazzline) - Reissue
Ralph Reckert - Back To Back: Ralph Reichert / Jerry Til (Qualiton)
Red Garland - Complete @ The Prelude-2 CD (Prestige-Concord) - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Robert Mazurek - Man Facing East (Hep)
Scott Whitfield - Diamonds for Nat (Summit)
Sean Paul - Ever Blazin' & Rare Tracks (Atlantic) - Reissue
Sergio Mendes - Timeless (Concord)
Sigi Finkel - Sarango (Blue Flame)
Soesja Citroen - Don't Cry Baby (Challenge)
Stefano Battaglia - Reccolto (ECM) - 2+ CDs
Steve Grossman - Bible (Mambo Maniacs) - Reissue
Sweet Sue Terry - Gilly's Caper (Qi Note)
Terje Rypdal - Vossabrygg (ECM)
Tom Schuman - Deep Chill (Jazzbridge)
Tom Schuman - Schuman Nature (Synergy) - Reissue
Tony Monaco - East to West (Summit)

Information provided by allaboutjazz.com

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Chris Potter's Underground Debuts on Billboard Chart

Saxophonist Chris Potter's Underground debuted on the Billboard jazz chart this week at number 11.

The album, Potter's 14th as a leader, features several originals as well as the Beatles' "Yesterday" and Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom." Personnel includes guitarist Wayne Krantz, organist Craig Taborn, and drummer Nate Smith.

Michael Bublé's year-old It's Time remained at number one, and his Caught in the Act moved up to number two.

Also new to the chart was vocalist Erin Bode's Over and Over, which debuted at number 25.

Herbie Hancock's Possibilities remained at number one on the contemporary-jazz chart. The only new album on the chart was a compilation titled No. 1 Smooth Jazz Hits!, which debuted at number 16.

By Ben Mattison - playbillarts.com

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where music fills the air

Testing out a new Wi-Fi MP3 player

I am meeting MusicGremlin co-founder Robert Khedouri at a Manhattan Starbucks, where Sheryl Crow's new CD is for sale. A compact disc - what a quaint relic. I ask Khedouri if I can simply download the title track -- right here, right now -- to a MusicGremlin.

He hands me his company's new Wi-Fi MP3 player. The device connects instantly to an online song library, and I can download a tune in about 30 seconds. "Let's go somewhere that has free wireless access," I suggest.

We start walking in search of one of the nation's 6,000 gratis hot spots, among them libraries, malls, and eateries. When we finally hit pay dirt, I download my wish list: "Gold Digger" by Kanye West, "After Midnight" by Eric Clapton, and Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child."

Khedouri then suggests we switch our MusicGremlins into community mode. Now my player is connected to his player. Had a Gremlin-toting stranger passed by, his on-screen name would have shown up. In community mode, I'm able to see the title of the song Khedouri is listening to, "Daughters," by John Mayer. He beams it to me, and I can choose whether to buy it. I select "accept" in a dialog box, and my MusicGremlin's song library grows fatter. Had this been for real, my credit card bill that day would have been $5 higher.

Justin Martin, FSB contributor

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Smooth Jazz Top Ten, Week Ending: 2/10/06

LW TW Artist Title (Label)
1 - 1 - Brian Simpson - "It's All Good" (Rendezvous)
3 - 2 - Richard Elliot - "Mystique" (Artizen)
2 - 3 - Rick Braun - "Shining Star" (Artizen)
4 - 4 - Euge Groove - "Get Em Goin'" (Narada Jazz/EMI)
5 - 5 - Walter Beasley - "Coolness" (Heads Up)
7 - 6 - Nils - "Summer Nights" (Baja/TSR)
6 - 7 - Marion Meadows - "Suede" (Heads Up)
8 - 8 - Kim Waters - "Steppin' Out" (Shanachie)
9 - 9 - Najee - "2nd 2 None" (Heads Up International)
10 - 10 - Chris Botti f/Jill Scott - "Good Morning Heartache" (Columbia)

Visit radioandrecords.com to view the latest complete Smooth Jazz ® National Airplay© listings.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Jazz Grammy Winners


Category 45 - Best Contemporary Jazz Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

  • Keystone
    Dave Douglas
    [Greenleaf Music]

  • Soulgrass
    Bill Evans
    [BHM Productions]

  • The Way Up
    Pat Metheny Group

  • The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance Of The Infidel
    Meshell Ndegeocello
    [Shanachie Entertainment Corp.]

  • Momentum
    Joshua Redman Elastic Band

Category 46 - Best Jazz Vocal Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

  • J'ai Deux Amours
    Dee Dee Bridgewater
    [Sovereign Artists]

  • Blueprint Of A Lady - Sketches Of Billie Holiday
    Nnenna Freelon
    [Concord Jazz]

  • Good Night, And Good Luck.
    Dianne Reeves
    [Concord Jazz]

  • Duos II
    Luciana Souza

  • I'm With The Band
    Tierney Sutton
    [Telarc Jazz]

Category 47 - Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
(For an instrumental jazz solo performance. Two equal performers on one recording may be eligible as one entry. If the soloist listed appears on a recording billed to another artist, the latter's name is in parenthesis for identification. Singles or Tracks only.)

  • 'Round Midnight
    Alan Broadbent, soloist
    Track from: 'Round Midnight
    [Artistry Music]

  • Away
    Ravi Coltrane, soloist
    Track from: In Flux
    [Savoy Jazz]

  • The Source
    Herbie Hancock, soloist
    Track from: Flow (Terence Blanchard)
    [Blue Note Records]

  • A Love Supreme - Acknowledgement
    Branford Marsalis, soloist
    Track from: Coltrane's A Love Supreme Live In Amsterdam
    [Marsalis Music]

  • Why Was I Born?
    Sonny Rollins, soloist
    Track from: Without A Song - The 9/11 Concert

Category 48 - Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

  • Flow
    Terence Blanchard
    [Blue Note Records]

  • Lyric
    Billy Childs Ensemble
    [Lunacy Music/Artistshare]

  • Live At The House Of Tribes
    Wynton Marsalis
    [Blue Note Records]

  • Beyond The Sound Barrier
    Wayne Shorter Quartet

  • What Now?
    Kenny Wheeler With Dave Holland, Chris Potter John Taylor
    [CAM Jazz]

Category 48 - Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
(For large jazz ensembles, including big band sounds. Albums must contain 51% or more INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

  • Overtime
    Dave Holland Big Band

  • A Blessing
    John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble

  • Live
    The Bill Holman Band
    [Jazzed Media]

  • I Am Three
    Mingus Big Band, Orchestra Dynasty
    [Sunnyside/Sue Mingus Music]

  • Home Of My Heart
    The Chris Walden Big Band

Category 50 - Best Latin Jazz Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • Time Was - Time Is
    Ray Barretto
    [O Plus Music]

  • Here And Now - Live In Concert
    Caribbean Jazz Project Featuring Dave Samuels
    [Concord Picante]

  • ...And Sammy Walked In
    Sammy Figueroa And His Latin Jazz Explosion
    [Savant Records]

  • Listen Here!
    Eddie Palmieri
    [Concord Picante]

  • Mulatos
    Omar Sosa
    [Otá Records]

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Morgan Freeman to Play Duke Ellington in Upcoming Film

Actor Morgan Freeman will play bandleader Duke Ellington in the upcoming film The Jazz Ambassadors, according to Variety.

The movie, which has a script by Jeremy Donner, tells the story of the Ellington band's 1963 State Department-sponsored tour of Iraq, which coincided with a coup by Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party.

The CIA, which allegedly backed the coup, is said to have had spies within Ellington's entourage, according to Variety.

The Jazz Ambassadors will be directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). It was recently acquired by New Line Cinema.

By Ben Mattison - playbillarts.com

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Highlights in Jazz: Bill Charlap Trio + Living Jazz Legends

Jack Kleinsinger's “Highlights in Jazz, ” New York's longest running jazz series, announced their 33rd Anniversary concert featuring the Bill Charlap Trio and the Living Jazz Legends: Slide Hampton, and Jimmy Heath. The combination of the Bill Charlap Trio along with the Living Jazz Legend promises to be a true jazz happening.

Since his emergence in the late '80s pianist Bill Charlap has firmly established himself as one of the premier performers on the jazz scene today. Born into a musical family in New York City (his father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer and songwriter and his mother, Sandy Stewart, a popular song singer who performed with Benny Goodman) Mr. Charlap who began playing the piano at a very young age was fully thrust into the jazz world in the late '80s. He joined baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan's quintet in 1994 was enlisted by alto saxophonist Phil Woods for his band. Mr. Charlap was the musical director of the hit film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In 1996 he began playing with his trio of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. The group has recorded four CDs for the Criss Cross and Blue Note labels for which his 2004 Blue Note release Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein received a Grammy nomination. He received the Pianist of the Year Jazz Award in 2003 from the Jazz Journalists Association and was named outstanding jazz soloist by Manhattan's Night Life Awards in 2003 and 2004.

Each season Highlights in Jazz presents Living Jazz Legends who have graced the Highlights in Jazz stage many times and have been honorees at past Highlights in Jazz concerts.

Slide Hampton is a masterly arranger, composer and gifted (left- handed) trombone player. His career is among the most distinguished in jazz having appeared on numerous recordings and in the bands of Lloyd Price, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and his own World of Trombones.

Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger. During his career, he has performed on more than 100 recordings including seven with The Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader and has written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and have been recorded by Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, J.J Johnson and Dexter Gordon.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Upcoming Jazz Releases - 2/7/06

Upcoming Jazz Releases

Albert Ayler - Complete ESP-Disk' Recordings (ESP-Disk') - Reissue - 2+ CDs
Andrew Hill - Smokestack (Blue Note) - Reissue
Art Blakey - Live! At Slugs, N.Y.C. (E2)
Bill Carrothers - Shine Ball (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Birele Lagrene and Gypsy Project - Live in Paris (Koch) - DVD-Video
Buddy Rich - Best of Buddy Rich (LRC) - Reissue
Butch Cage & Willie Thomas - Old Time Southern String Band Music (Arhoolie) - Reissue
Charlie Hunter Trio - Copperopolis (Ropeadope)
Chick Corea - The Ultimate Adventure (Stretch)
Dave Douglas - Keystone (Koch Entertainment)
Denzel Sinclair - My One & Only Love (Verve)
Don Fagerquist - Portrait of a Great Jazz Artist (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Together (Blue Moon) - Reissue
Ernie Wilkins Orchestra - Big New Band of the 60s (Fresh Sound) - Reissue
Erroll Garner - Jazz Biography (United Multi Design) - Reissue
Firehouse Five Plus Two - Firehouse Five Plus Two Vol. 1 - Settin' the World on Fire-Whole Story (Jasmine)
Hank Mobley - Workout (Blue Note`) - Reissue
Horace Silver - Horace-Scope (Blue Note) - Reissue
Ismael Dusnas - Mirage (Rock Bottom)
Jack DeJohnette - Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers (Koch)
Jason Miles - What's Going On? Tribute to Marvin Gaye (Narada)
John Belcher - Sound According to John (Innova)
Jordi Matas - Racons (Rock Bottom)
June Christy - Cool School/ Do Re Mi (EMI) - Reissue
Keith Oxman - Dues in Progress (Capri)
Kenny G - Best/Live in Hong Gold Edition (Arista) - Reissue
Lee Morgan - Gigolo (Blue Note) - Reissue
Left Alone - Eric Dolphy/ Herbie Hancock (Fruit Tree) - Reissue
Louis Armstrong - Duets with Louis Armstrong & Friends (Blue Moon) - Reissue
Mark Murphy - Playing the Field / Hit Parade (DRG) - Reissue
Mary Lou Williams Collective - Zodia Suite: Revisited (Mary Records)
Nancy Wilson - From Broadway with Love/Tender Loving Care (EMI) Reissue
No Jazz - Have Fun (WEA)
Nostalgia 77 Octet - Seven & Eights (Tru Thoughts)
Ornette Coleman - Rock the Clock (Fruit Tree) - Reissue
Pat Metheny Group - Still Life (Talking) (Nonesuch) - Reissue
Pat Metheny Group - Letter from Home (Nonesuch) - Reissue
Pat Metheny Group - The Road to You (Nonesuch) - Reissue
Rabih Abou-Khalil - Journey to the Centre of an Egg (Enja/Justin Time)
Randy Crawford - Raw Silk (Warner Music) - Reissue
Rosalia De Souza - Brazil Precisa Balancar (Schema)
Roy Ayers - Virgin Ubiquity: Remixed (Rapster)
Samo Salamon Quartet - Two Hours (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Sherri Roberts - The Sky Could Send You (Pacific Coast Jazz)
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - An Introduction to Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee (Varese Sarabande) - Reissue
Southwest Jazz Band - 1961 (GHB)
Stanley Turrentine - Joyride (Blue Note) - Reissue
Stu Williamson - Trumpet Artistry of Stu Williamson (Fresh Sound) - Reissue
Xavier Callas - Yesterday's Sun (Blue Moon)
Yonder Mountain String Band - Mountain Tracks: Volume 4 (Frog Pad)

Information provided by allaboutjazz.com

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Making the Music Play for You

Rudresh MahanthappaHow long can a jazz musician with a mortgage continue to play unvarnished, uncompromised music despite the plain truth that it will never provide financial peace of mind?

I. A Parable of One Mortgage
About a year ago, Rudresh Mahanthappa and his wife — a two-income couple in their 30s — bought a nice house in Brooklyn, NY. Mahanthappa holds a master's degree from the University of Chicago and runs his own business. He's the kind of guy — the son of college professors who raised him in a privileged American suburb near Boulder, Colorado — for whom buying a house would not seem to be a stretch.

But there's a catch: he's a jazz musician.

This particular new home is what you might want to think about when you're listening to Mahanthappa play the alto saxophone, which he does with tingling skill and daredevil originality. Thinking about his new home is instructive because what you hear coming from the bandstand of, say, the Jazz Standard on E. 27th Street in Manhattan, is music that is decidedly not calculated to pay the mortgage. Every tune is an original composition — no "Body and Soul", no "In the Mood", not even a fleeting thought of something snappy like an instrumental version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" — and they are precise but harmonically obtuse melodies played by musicians hunched over non-electric instruments. In short, it's jazz — and even the 100 or so people who paid good money to get into the Jazz Standard are still trying to decide if they dig it. With every angular phrase from Mahanthappa's sharply vocalized alto, you realize just how risky that Brooklyn home truly is.

"The first time my name showed up in the Downbeat Critic's Poll," Mahanthappa tells me (referring to the highly respected poll of top talent in the nation's most august jazz publication), "I couldn't afford to buy the magazine."

But on the Jazz Standard stage he looks prosperous: a nearly Marsalis-level suit, a hip hair style, a gorgeous horn, and an A-List band featuring the explosive pianist Vijay Iyer and the on-the-way-up drummer Tyshawn Sorey. The club is immaculate — all metal and leather and expensive beverages, with effortlessly hip young New Yorkers seated around small tables. To my right, toward the back of the club, a couple seems to be making out with as much vigor as the band puts into its improvisation, embarrassing a normally unflappable waiter. It would seem that, since Mahanthappa first came to New York in 1997 and recorded his poorly distributed debut, Yatra, he's come a long way.

Yes and no. "I'm making more money now as a musician than I ever have," Mahanthappa says. "But I'm older now, too. The dream is that in the future I spend more time playing music. Right now, I spend most of my time hustling: emailing, on the phone, applying for grants. I don't have a manager or an agent. I have 12 students who I teach for about ten hours each week. But I am working more now, and my fees are starting to go up faster."

There isn't any regret or angst in Mahanthappa's voice when he says, pretty straight on: "I worry less about money now than I used to. But I still worry."

In short, after the couple at the back of the Jazz Standard has gone home and Rudresh Mahanthappa has shed his Marsalis duds, there is still a mortgage to pay.

II. The Case for Why This Matters to You
OK, cool — so a jazz saxophonist isn't going to become Donald Trump or Bono. Even Mahanthappa himself will tell you that he has it pretty sweet: "I get paid to do what I'm most interested in", he tells me when he's explaining the grant he received to record music with an Indian percussionist. (Mahanthappa is Indian-American and, though his schooling and music is jazz through-and-through, he is interested in how jazz intersects with Indian music and culture.) Life and that mortgage may be worrisome, but they're also good.

But what I suggest we all should be asking ourselves is this: how long will he be able to keep this up, and at what ultimate price?

Forget jazz for a second. It's like that band your friend was in during college, the one that could lift a party off its feet. Maybe he's still in a band in his 20s, you know — writing songs, practicing on Wednesday nights after work, getting people in the crappy little bar to sign the band's mailing list and paid $180 (split five ways) for a night's work. Your friend does this because he loves it (reason enough) — and maybe because he imagines that something could happen. Lightning could strike. After all, his band isn't all that different from, say, Dave Matthews Band or They Might Be Giants. Why shouldn't your friend be writing the theme song for Malcolm in the Middle?

The economics of the local rock band are plain and at least semi-favorable: for a modest investment of time and talent, a bunch of friends can make a whole lotta noise and roll the dice — at admittedly long odds — on the untold riches of rock stardom. That's why there are thousands of bands like this; one day they're covering "Hard to Handle" at the Grog & Tankard, and the next day Pitchfork thinks their demo is "lo-fi alchemy" and Conan O'Brien's producer has their e-mail. Can a duet with Michael Stipe be all that far in the future?

In jazz, of course, the economics and odds are worse and longer. And this is why Mahanthappa's mortgage is something that should matter to you. We want a world filled with the sounds of local rock bands and we need a world filled with what Mahanthappa plays, too.

For a jazz musician, the investment of time and money just to be able to play a few standards during a restaurant's "jazz brunch" is huge. If you want to do more — to be a meaningful and original jazz artist — then the investment has to be life-altering. Mahanthappa attended Boston's Berklee College of Music in the early '90s, then moved to the University of Chicago for a master's in music and composition. In jazz today, Mahanthappa told me," everyone goes to school." At Chicago, "there was a jobbing mentality — people were there to get a steady gig."

And what is the potential return on that investment? There are maybe 10 legitimate jazz superstars (folks like Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins) these days, and — no matter the accolades they may receive — they can't exactly afford to move to an Irish castle and take up the Kabbalah like Madonna. With all that practice and schooling and no hope of a rainbow-capping pot of musical gold, the jazz musician faces a fundamentally tougher economic voyage.

"The summer after my first year at Berklee, I got a cruise ship gig that was a big eye-opener. Almost every musician on the ship had forgotten the reason they started playing," Mahanthappa tells me. "No one cared about music any more. They were just drinking, living the life on the ship. And I thought, if that's what making a living as a musician is about, then I want no part of it."

So, to be even a moderately aspiring jazz musician is to be a poster-child for struggling artists everywhere. You have to love what you're doing and forget about the money. Arggh! Pesky mortgage!

For the rest of us, the folks sitting around the hip little tables at the Jazz Standard (making out or just listening), Mahanthappa's love of the music is palpable. The drums and bass lock into a nervous, whip-crack pattern while Iyer and Mahanthappa testify in the foreground. The pattern of the song seems uncountable — though I'm a music teacher and saxophonist, I can't even find the downbeat, not even close — even while Sorey's snare-snap brings the tune into R&B focus on every 17th beat. While Iyer solos, Mahanthappa peers at his friend through the window of the piano's upraised lid like he wants it to never stop. And the question inevitably is: how long can he keep playing this unvarnished, uncompromised music despite the plain truth that it is likely never to sell tons of copies or to pack even modest summer venues in the US? Will his teaching pay the mortgage forever?

III. Another Man Who Pays the Bills
At the back of the Jazz Standard that night, there is another guy taking care of business, literally. Seth Rosner is standing behind the inevitable "merch" table, hawking CDs by Mahanthappa, Iyer, and some other major jazz artists — some of them being the kind of "big names" that you only know if your taste runs deeply toward the eek-onk of free jazz or maybe someone who hung out at the Knitting Factory in the late '90s: Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot. Rosner is wound up and unreeling, talking a mile-a-minute to whoever wants to know more about this music. A CD or two gets sold, sure (mostly to me and my friends; none, to my knowledge, to the romantic couple), but mostly it's a chance for Rosner to talk about his passion, his record label.

The musicians, as it turns out, make little or nothing from their records. Jazz recordings, for the most part, are calling cards; demo recordings to get you into a club and advertisements so the small but dedicated batch of jazz nuts knows what you're about. The money — for Mahanthappa or Rollins or even Keith Jarrett — is mainly in the fee the musician can charge for his hardest work: playing gigs. Still, even if your disc is only going to sell a thousand copies, tops, you need a record label to get your name into the stacks at Barnes & Noble, Tower, Virgin, even the Downtown Music Gallery. And so maybe Rosner is your man.

Rosner started Pi Recordings with a partner in 2001. Can you do that? Can a kid who's hacking around Manhattan and working his way through music school just start his own record label without having any serious money or any kind of distribution deal? As it turns out: yes, if you're willing to pay the price, much like a musician would.

Rosner was working at the Knitting Factory, living the life of a True Believer; spending four dollars a day on food and scamming drinks from the bar while soaking up the rich stew of creative music that was available. Rosner grew up a hip indie-rock kid; Stereolab, Tortoise, not really much jazz. But at the Knitting Factory, a 20-something kid could get educated about what "independent music" was really all about.

"I liked left-of-center rock, and I knew there had to be an equivalent in jazz," says Rosner. "Jazz is already a left-of-center musical force, but every music has its even more vanguard elements. And when I heard Henry Threadgill play at the Knit with his Make a Move band — I was hooked."

Threadgill, like Mahanthappa, is a precise but deeply adventurous alto saxophonist and composer. Unlike Mahanthappa, however, Threadgill, in his early 60s, is one of the most acclaimed musicians associated with the jazz "avant-garde". As a veteran of Chicago's renowned Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and a refugee from a short-lived record contract with industry bigwig Columbia, can it really be that Threadgill had no record label as the millennium turned? But that, you see, is jazz economics: the chance of making a killing on Henry Threadgill records is precisely zero.

But where others saw nothing, Rosner saw a calling. "I was really attracted to Henry's music, which was so unique, so vivid and colorful. His electric band was just blowing my mind, like no band I'd ever heard before. I became kind of obsessive."

As I'm staring at Rosner's table of Pi Recordings merch in the Jazz Standard, I recognize two simultaneously-released albums by Threadgill (Up Popped the Two Lips and Everybody's Mouth's a Book) that I'd bought years earlier. And there's Rosner, the scruffy "record executive" who put them out, making change for somebody buying the latest by Mahanthappa. I've gotta find out how this guy — this really young guy who seems at first like he might just be somebody's roommate — became the digital guardian of one of the greatest US composers of the last 30 years.

"When I was working at the Knit, we'd put out 15 or 20 albums every year. And I thought, if I did this, I could do it a lot better." Rosner and I are hunched over mugs in the Hungarian Pastry Shop at 110th Street on Amsterdam Avenue. "Technology has made it so anyone can release albums. But if I was going to do it, it would have to be great music." Like Threadgill's.

At the Knit, Rosner met Velibor Pedevski, Threadgill's manager, and a historian of and advocate for uncompromising out-jazz. "Velibor knew my work ethic, and Henry trusted Velibor." And so, by 2001, Rosner was paying Threadgill and two separate bands of musicians to practice and then record two albums that became the first in the Pi catalog. "Releasing them simultaneously was not orthodox, but that's Henry," Rosner explains. "In retrospect, the decision was beyond right — as a new label, Pi was seen as gutsy." The albums were reviewed in Entertainment Weekly as well as Downbeat, and Rosner used his hip-hop instincts to get the discs distributed with a company that mainly does indie rock. "My records don't go out in the jazz catalog — they are in the cooler bin. And I knew that Henry had a certain devoted following, so I knew I had a pretty decent chance to make some money."

But what does "some money" really mean in creative music? Not all that much. As in: Rosner, who is spending a weeknight selling CDs one at a time at the back of the Jazz Standard, runs a commercial real estate leasing office by day. Pi Recordings' only office is his apartment, not far from the Hungarian Pastry Shop. Its warehouse? The apartment, too: "When you come into the hallway of my apartment, the wall is lined with boxes that wind around all the way into my living room." Some of these boxes presumably contain multiple unsold copies of Mahanthappa's most recent album on Pi, Mother Tongue. This fact is later verified for me by Rosner's wife, a social worker, who smiles and laughs at the mention of the walls-lined-with-boxes in the way that very nice and tolerant wives will smile and laugh about something that is really pretty annoying.

IV. How Do They Do It?
I ask Mahanthappa and Rosner the same questions. How can you afford it? How long can you keep it up?

"I breathe a sigh of relief," Mahanthappa says, "when young people don't ask me about how to make a living in the music. But I have never had to compromise my music to pay the rent. I had a sweet private teaching gig for years, and grants have been good. I'm working with more groups and even traveled to Ireland recently."

Rosner also sees taking this music far into the future, but he's well aware of the trade-offs. "In December of 2000, I had to figure out my life. I had been going to school for my own music. Was I going back? I was about to release two albums by Henry Threadgill, and I'd made a commitment to Waddada Leo Smith. How do I balance that with a commitment to myself and my own music?" Five years later, Pi Recordings has released 18 superb albums, including a recent stunner by Steve Lehman, Demian as Posthuman, that features bass player and R&B star Me'Shell NdegéOcello. "As long as I don't stay in one place, as long as I keep moving forward, then it's worth it. And not just worth it emotionally a spiritually, but I'm going to keep growing this."

But is that realistic? Is there likely to be an avant-garde jazz commercial renaissance that finally gets those boxes out of Rosner's wife's hallway? "I'm leery of ever using the word 'avant-garde'," Rosner says. "It pigeonholes the music. There are a total of 10,000 people who might buy 'avant-garde' music, and I don't believe the music should be limited that way."

Mahanthappa sees a similar strategy. "Younger people are the market for this music," he says. "I don't really identify with labels — and my music isn't 'free jazz'. It's very structured. But I'm not interested in selling out at all." At the same time, Mahanthappa would love to have the chance to record for a major label jazz imprint, like Blue Note. "I know a deal like that wouldn't last, but the promotion would boost my future career away from a major label." In jazz, even dreams of success are leavened with hard reality.

For a guy running a small, independent jazz label, there is at least one model of huge success: Manfred Eicher, the man who created and runs ECM Records, the home base of Jarrett, Dave Holland, and (for a while) Chick Corea. "When I open my closet," Rosner jokes, "there's a little shrine to ECM, with Manfred sitting there and staring at me, saying 'What have you done today that's of any worth?'" At the same time, Rosner is well aware that "the landscape is littered with the India Navigations", referring to one of the 100 small jazz labels that burned bright then fizzled out. Which path will Pi Recordings take?

The quickest-selling Pi recording has been In What Language?, a 9/11-related collaboration between Iyer and spoken word artist Mike Ladd. So the future of the music would seem to be both "out" and young — as Rosner and Mahanthappa prefer it. Things are on track, at least for now.

I ask Rosner and Mahanthappa not only about their rent or mortgage, but also about the possibility they may have more mouths to feed at some point. And here they have much less to say. "I'm sure every artist has that moment," Rosner suggests, "when they look themselves in the mirror and say — is this really the life I've made for myself?"

Let's hope it is a life they can maintain. While Mahanthappa teaches or hustles for composing commissions, while Rosner stamps and addresses Pi Recordings promo envelopes all by himself, you can't help but cross your fingers and pray a little bit. If you like this music — or if you just like living in a US where artists are able to take these kinds of artistic risks and make these kinds of commitments to individual creativity — then you've got to be thinking about Rosner's hallway and Mahanthappa's mortgage and pulling for them both.

And, it goes without saying, you also might catch a gig or buy a record. It's the least we can do.

by Will Layman popmatters.com

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