Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marion Brown in Failing Health

MARION BROWN, Bay Pointe Terrace, 12OO Arthur St., Hollywood, FL 33O19, (954) 926~655O, ~56OO, , , ;

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mike Wheeler-Mikey's Waltz

Don't you just love the fact that cities across America are filled with pockets of really great jazz musicians. Unknown to wider audiences though some may be. All it points to is the fact that the music is alive and well.

In just about every major urban center there is jazz, breeding itself. Flourishing to large measure in the neighborhoods to the university. In fact, jazz education is greater now than its ever been in history. One such case is Houston based guitarist Mike Wheeler. He's worked in educations and in the 'streets', in the taverns, bars, lounges, etc. He's paid his dues along the way. And now we are entreated to the music that is...

"Mikey's Waltz" (Blue Bamboo) is one of the seasons true surprises. With rhythm mates pianist Pamela York (a one time student of Donald Brown); Tim Solook and David Craig, bass and drummer respectively. Wheeler and crew take on a full program of standards and originals with the title tune being the discs' magnum opus. And the closer 'Fair Trade' being the flag waver. Pianist York has a bright New 'York'ish touch and feel while the rhythm team is first rate. As for Wheeler's low key yet strident melodic lines, they are of classic bent. With nods to the illustrious legacy of jazz guitar Wheeler isn't flashy, just steady and heartfelt. No need to compare him to the greats, he's already there. This is a marvelously unflawed session that is sure to delight. A deeply intimate session filled with warmth, Mikey's Waltz is the ultimate kind of jazz session that is sure to pleasure after repeated listening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adrian Iaies-Vals De La 81st & Columbus

On first glance apprehension. Admittedly ashamed, I was prejudiced. For on the surface was an Argentine group, playing 'jazz', with an accordion no less! What could they possibly do with the music in this format setting? I would ask myself.

Suffice it to say, I found pianist/composer Adrian Iaies a world class virtuoso. World class with a capitol C. His compatriots Pablo Aslan, bass; Pepi Taveira, drums and Michael Zisman, a master of the bandoneon are unequalled as well. The group is augmented by the sanguine trumpet stylings of Juan Cruz De Urquiza.

Jazz Speak has become a universal language. And like the home grown variety State side, jazz round the world uses universal elements to furthers its methods. Be it a mandolin in Spain, a sitar in India, dumbeks in Northern Africa, or a taragoto of eastern Europe. Nothing, no instrumentation, save for probably piano, bass and drums is sacrosanct in jazz.

Decades ago when Astor Piazzolla introduced the bandoneon to wider audiences outside of Argentina we were aghast. His fluid mastery astounded audiences. The bandoneon's sound is less harsh than that of its big brother the accordion. It possesses a 'sweeter' sound.

Argentine native Adrian Iaies is no stranger to international audiences. Widely recognized for his deft touch and consummate command of the jazz idiom, only now American audiences are witness to this pure talent. His new Vals De La 81st & Columbus (Sunnyside), brings a lucidly responsive quartet session of warm and wondrous music.

Within his meager discography of only a handful of (domestic) recordings Iaies has paid homage to American masters such as John Lewis, Monk, Herbie Nichols, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis and Michel LeGrande. Here on Vals there are moments of euro-classical ardor, as on the stately, Juarez El Casamentero. To flat out New York fire, Astor Changes. Trumpeter De Urquiza shows mute skills on only two tunes, the title selections and the hauntingly lovely version of Nefertiti. And it would have been to their advantage to feature his brass fittings more. However, textually the music's touching momentum stirs the heart strings from beginning to end in the quartet. The horn adds a jazzy flavoring. This music soothes and satisfies. As if we are transported way south of the boarder.Way,way south of the boarder! Thanks for the trip...

Shame on me. I will never doubt again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

L.A. Emenari, III's Playlist Week of 6/22/2008

1. JD Allen - IAM, IAM- Sunnyside

2. Libby York - Here With You - Libby York Music

3. Sabir Mateen - Other Places, Other Spaces - NuBop

4. Yusef Lateef - 10 Years Hence- Wounded Bird

5. The Stein Brothers - Quixotic -Jazzed Media

6. Ed Reed - The Song Is You - Blue Shorts

7. Adrian Iaies Trio - Vals De La 81st & Columbus - Sunnyside

8. Cory Wilkes - Drop It-Delmark

9. Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra- Harriet Tubman-Noir

10. Saxophone Summit-Seraphic Light- Telarc

11. Janine Gilbert-Carter-A Song For You-Jazz Karma

12. Mike Wheeler-Mikey's Waltz-Blue Bamboo

13. Sabertooth - Dr. Midnight-Delmark

14. Alvin Queen-Goin Uptown-About Time

15. David Bond-Live at the Twins-C.I.M.P.

Friday, June 20, 2008

News Article Courtesy

The Jazz Journalists Association Announces 2008 Jazz Award Winners

The Jazz Journalists Association announces winners of the 2008 Jazz Awards, the non-profit professional organization's 12th annual celebration of excellence in jazz and jazz journalism, and induction of an “A Team” of activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz, The Jazz Awards are engraved statuettes, handed to attending recipients by jazz journalists and their supporters at a barbeque and beer lunch at the Jazz Standard, Wednesday June 18. For further information about the Jazz Awards and Jazz Journalists Association, visit


Lifetime Achievement in Jazz
Marian McPartland

Musician of the Year
Herbie Hancock

Up & Coming Musician of the Year
Lionel Loueke

Record of the Year
Sky Blue
Maria Schneider Orchestra

Reissue/Historical Release of the Year
Cornell 1964
Charles Mingus Sextet
Blue Note

Reissue/Historical Box Set of the Year
A Life In Time: The Roy Haynes Story Dreyfus Jazz

Record Label of the Year
Blue Note Records

Composer of the Year
Maria Schneider

Arranger of the Year
Maria Schneider

Male Singer of the Year
Andy Bey

Female Singer of the Year
Abbey Lincoln

Latin Jazz Album of the Year
Big Band Urban Folktales
Bobby Sanabria

Small Ensemble of the Year
Ornette Coleman Quartet/Quintet

Large Ensemble of the Year
Maria Schneider Orchestra

Trumpeter of the Year
Terence Blanchard

Trombonist of the Year
Wycliffe Gordon

Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz
Scott Robinson, reeds/brass/antiques

Alto Sax Player of the Year
Ornette Coleman

Tenor Sax Player of the Year
Sonny Rollins

Soprano Sax Player of the Year
Jane Ira Bloom

Baritone Sax Player of the Year
James Carter

Clarinetist of the Year
Anat Cohen

Flutist of the Year
Nicole Mitchell

Pianist of the Year
Hank Jones

Organ-Keyboards of the Year
Dr. Lonnie Smith

Guitarist of the Year
Bill Frisell

Bassist of the Year
Christian McBride

Electric Bassist of the Year
Steve Swallow

Strings Player of the Year
Regina Carter

Mallets Player of the Year
Joe Locke

Percussionist of the Year
Candido Camero

Drummer of the Year
Roy Haynes

Events Producer of the Year
Patricia Nicholson-Parker, Arts for Art, RUCMA, Vision Festival

Jazz Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award
Doug Ramsey, author, biographer, blogger

Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Broadcasting Award
Nancy Wilson, for “Jazz Profiles”
National Public Radio

Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Feature & Review Writing Award
Nate Chinen
New York Times, JazzTimes

Best Periodical Covering Jazz

Best Website on Jazz

Best Book about Jazz
Playing the Changes: Milt Hinton's Life in Stories and Photographs, by Milt Hinton, David G. Berger and Holly Maxson (Vanderbilt University Press)

Lona Foote-Bob Parent Photography Award
Milt Hinton (1910-2000)

Jazz Photo of the Year
(click to view larger image)

Time Stood Still for Andrew Hill
Laurence Donohue-Greene

The Jazz Journalists Association 2008 Award for the “A Team” Activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz

  • Dr. Valerie Capers, pianist, composer, emeritus chair of City University of New York Department of Music and Art at Bronx Community College;

  • Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts;

  • Lauren Deutsch, photographer and executive director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago;

  • Susan Muscarella, pianist-composer-arranger-educator, founder of JazzSchool (Berkeley);

  • Phil Nimmons, clarinetist, improviser, father of Canadian jazz education;

  • George Russell, conceptualist, composer, orchestra leader, educator (New England Conservatory)

  • Dick Wang, musician, educator (Univ of Illinois-Chicago), mentor, historian, archivist, co-founder, past president and current board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago;

  • Dr. Herb Wong, founder of the Palo Alto jazz alliance and Berkeley public school jazz programs, broadcaster, record producer and annotator, past-president of the International Association of Jazz Educators, spirit of the Monterey Jazz Festival

  • Wendy Oxenhorn, executive director of the Jazz Foundation of America, founder of Street News, blues harmonica player

Return to the All About Jazz

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All material copyright © 2008 All About Jazz and contributing writers. All rights reserved.

Libby York-Here With You

Something's cool. Something's really cool.

June Christy's landmark album aside, Meredith D'Ambrosio, Laverne Butler, Ethel Ennis, are all jazz singers whom I'd consider true jazz singers. Singers of individuality, dexterity and above all an innate sense of jazz vocal history. They are also jazz singers who flew a bit under the jazz radar in terms of a wider audience. Add Libby York to that short list. And the comparison will arise no doubt. She sounds like...this. She sounds like that. Ms. York should'nt have that problem. She sounds like herself.

"Here With You" (Libby York Music), Ms. York's latest offering is further proof of her unique brilliance. Smooth and oh so cool under fire, Ms. York surrounds herself, as well she should with world class cats in Russell Malone, Howard Alden, and Warren Vache. Bassist Jon Burr along with drummer Vanderlei Pereira aren't slouches either (Kudos for the production work of pianist Renee Rosnes who was one Ms. York's preceding disc, 'Sunday In New York').

All true singers plumb the depths of the American songbook. Entreated we are to snug versions of 'For All We Know', 'You Go to My Head', 'But Beautiful', etc. With a gem in the clunky crying tender romance of Howard Alden's guitar, back dropped by Warren Vache's muted horn styling. And did you know Mr. Vache could sing? I sure didn't! He's got a few grains of gravel in his throat. His duet with Ms. York is straight out of Armstrong/Fitzgerald or Ray Charles/Betty Carter. Classic stuff. Also very nice is the soft passionate lilt of 'Flamingo'.

Each tune herein is engaging. But that's what the best of jazz singers are known for - making all songs their own! Libby York does it with unforced grace and ease. And she does it with something cool. Something really cool! Her own voice.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jazz champion Svensson dies at 44

The Swedish jazz pianist and composer Esbjorn Svensson has died in a scuba diving accident near the Swedish capital Stockholm. He was 44.

His Esbjorn Svensson Trio, known as EST, became renowned for bringing jazz to a younger audience.

They gained international acclaim playing in rock venues, using light shows and fog machines at concerts.

The music of EST drew on disparate influences, ranging from classical music to funk.

Burkhard Hopper, EST's manager, told Reuters news agency that Svensson had died on Saturday in Sweden's Stockholm archipelago.

"Musically, he was the light that lit the world because in what he did he was pushing boundaries," Mr Hopper said.

"His music inspired people in all corners of the world."


I had the privilege of seeing Esbjorn in concert twice. The experience was mesmerising on both occasions. This is an absolute shock.
David, Ireland

This is very sad. All the bright lights in jazz seem to go out too soon. First there was Bob Berg, Frank Mantooth, Michael Brecker and now Esbjorn Svensson. I will not forget the EST gig I saw in Leeds about 7 years ago, stunning playing. This is such a loss.
B, Northampton, UK

This is a very sad day. EST was a great light on the jazz circuit. I saw them twice in Manchester. Once in a small intimate venue when they were more low-key and acoustic, and again in the Bridgewater Hall, when they put on a fantastic show with lights, smoke, and the bass put through a distortion amp. Svensson was a true artist and will be missed.
Andrew Moffat, Gwangju, South Korea

EST was one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen. The intensity that they played with was second to none. I was one of the lucky Americans to get to see them live and it actually gives me nothing but great memories of a love that once was. Thanks EST and I wish the best to the family.
Mike Walker, Michigan, United States

I was fortunate enough to be able to see EST perform live a couple of times over the last two years. I was blown away by the fluidity and cohesiveness that they showed as an ensemble, they performed as one. Music has lost a young, vibrant and progressive voice, what a tragedy.
Solon McDade, Montreal

I only discovered EST about 18 months ago and they were a thrilling revelation. Playing jazz with a rock sensibility in a way that really works, they pleased both the jazz lover and the rocker in me. Virtuoso playing, with complex yet accessible tunes, they succeeded in a genre where lesser talents would have failed. Esbjorn death is a sad loss, and I will add him to the list of greats I was never fortunate enough to see in concert. Thanks for the music you have left us with.
Steven Perkins, Perth, Australia

Published: 2008/06/16 05:14:49 GMT


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Keefe Jackson - Project Project -Just Like This

The new music of Chicago is gaining higher and higher stratum's. Ending out the decade of the 90s into the 2000s has seen a marked red shift straight upwards going, going, and going! I'd be willing to say it is perhaps stronger than in the 70s when the avant garde legitimized itself across the broad face of jazz in America.

Keefe Jackson is a tall, gangly slight fellow. Soft spoken even. Don't let that fool you. You'd never tell it from his music. Its big, narly, ragged edged. They can be a noisy, snarly bunch. All this stands to reason that Jackson, himself a rather formidable soloist is surrounded by some of the brightest and best musical minds on the scene today. His new disc, 'Just Like This' (Delmark) by his Project Project will make a mark soon enough. If not before!

It still doesn't prevent some writers and pundits from force feeding us before the bands time has sprung.

One of the reasons I tend to stay away from reading into too many liner note assertions are the fantastic claims made by some writers, much to the embarrassment of the unknowing player/artists. Case in point are John Litweiler's wild declarations that, paired trumpeters "Jaime Branch and Josh Berman" (s) work somehow parallels that of (Duke) Ellington's Cootie (Williams) and Rex (Stewart)"!

That's just flat out irresponsible to compare perhaps the best trumpet duo in jazz history to, while awfully good two neophytes barely weaned off the spittle of Don Cherry's plastic toy cornet! Litweiler, who's writing I generally enjoy furthers this outlandish waist bowing by lavishing Jackson's 'Project Project' big band as being, "one of the liberated wonders of our century".

Wait one damn minute!

Somehow I can forgive him for the Williams/Stewart gaff, but one of the "wonders of our century?"

Hyperbole aside let these guys breathe some. Let them live a little of life in the big city. Get their jazzy nails, feet and faces dirty, reasonably gritty making more music before hoisting them unto Valhalla. This isn't to take anything away from Jackson and crew for they are more than able. But this is a work in progress. And they're awfully good, make no blankedy, blank doubt about it!

Jackson's got trombonist Jeb Bishop, who ain't no slouch on that big sliding thang! The aforementioned tandem trumpeters Branch and Berman, keep getting better and better at each hearing. In fact Berman is on the brink of notoriety. Frank Rosaly is the most versatile drum man around, he can go free, play time and swing. Check out the duo between him and altoist Dave Rempis on the cut, 'Which Well', they cut it up something fierce. But the star is the unsung clarinet force in James Falzone. In all fairness he reminds of his AACM counterpart Mwata Bowden. Yet Falzone has a sing song fluidity. A vocal phrasing that enthralls and delights the ear down to the soul. In the final analysis Jackson's writing will ultimately hurl itself around the talents and personalities of each of his players. Let's give them some time.

The disc's six compositions are each mini-travels into the landscape of Keefe Jackson's intellectually driven yet colorful and vibrant canvas of musical conceptions. And I'm more than confident he'll have more in store. A 'live' recording of this band would be hip! But just wait, fruit of the cornicopia is just beginning to spill forth.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nicole Mitchell-Xenogenesis Suite

Visionary. Nicole Mitchell's flute calling has been the sine qua non of contemporary new music across America. If not the world in general. Coupled with a rigorously astute compositional aptitude and sheer ambition, the year 2007 entering '08 has found her stardom soaring - pitched at the preface of an assure fame. Suffice it to say 'hard work' has paid off as nothing else can.

Entering it's tenth year her Black Earth Ensemble is well seasoned, armed to the teeth with even newer music that doesn't hardly disappoint. Unprecedented music that plants seeds of forward motion. Attribute her musical lineage through the AACM for this flowering flourish. For she nestled neath the feet of many a master. She's had features in both Downbeat and Ebony magazines this year alone. It is truly her time as the new Xenogenesis Suite (Firehouse 12 Records), firmly establishes.

The woefully undervalued work of science fiction writer Octavia Butler is Mitchell's palette of offering. Butler's sui generis prose, oft times bizarre and profoundly ubiquitous even for science fiction writing, Mitchell valiently approaches the setting through her own lens of recognition. If anyone could make Butler's work palatable through music Mitchell can. And shes does! This is perhaps the best achievement on CD of the Black Earth Ensemble output thus far.

Mitchell states, "fascination with the unsettling nature of Butler's literary work led me to compose Xenogenesis Suite."

The music is weighty yet does not alienate. For the sake of artistic interpretation of Butler's prose Mitchell's track note narritives of each composition provide a penetrating saga of humanity's other worldly condition. The music augmented by the brazen luster of Mankwe Ndosi's vivid vocal tapestries (referring to her vocalise as merely 'vocalise' doesn't really capture the true essence of her abilities), is a wunderkind. The only other vocalist even approaching this parameter of uncharted territories could be Elizabeth Kontomanou. Ndosi's sorceress wail on the track, 'Smell of Fear' is eerily hypnotic and historically congers up the forlorn cry of African chattel in the rotten, stinking holds of a slave ship. However Mitchell's insightful track liner notes put things into perspective as to her musical intentions. This is the sort of music that can take you to just about any universe it will. The listener is hurled up in its might and power. As on the track 'Oankali' Ndosi shifts into sound vectors of almost unimaginable human capabilities. Darting and spreading landscapes of tension and daring. And Mitchell's writing makes for an even more mystical venture.

Mitchell also tells us in those liner notes that, "the process of writing this music allowed me to face the feeling of fear head on- to enter and explore it."

The Black Earth Ensemble is a living breathing whole. Organic and full of life Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble has created a celestial cosmos while fashioning a new music lingua franca. Extraterrestial or earth bound this music will ultimately take you on a journey even Sun Ra would heartily enjoy.