Archive for May, 2014

Full 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival Lineup Announced

Thursday, May 29th, 2014




A favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition celebrating both the mainstream of the national jazz scene as well as Chicago’s unique contributions to the art form, the 36thAnnual Chicago Jazz Festival will be presented Aug. 28-Aug. 31, 2014 inMillennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center.


This year’s headliners include trumpeter and noted film music composer Terence Blanchard, vibraphonist and jazz education pioneer Gary Burton, Miles Davis alumnus bassist Dave Holland and his all star fusion band Prism featuring three of modern jazz’s leading lights – Craig Taborn, guitarist Kevin Eubanks (formerly of The Tonight Show Band) and drummer Eric Harland, jazz’s most celebrated new straight-ahead singer in years (and rightly so), Cécile McLorint Salvant, Chicago native and bassist Rufus Reid, trumpeter and now elder statesman and noted mentor Tom Harrell leads a new band,Colors of a Dream featuring jazz’s biggest breakout crossover star of the last decade, Esperanza Spaulding Finally, the Sun Ra Arkestra celebrates the centennial of Ra’s “arrival” on planet Earth from Saturn.

The Chicago Jazz Festival differentiates itself from other American jazz festivals largely based on a history of putting its own regional stamp on the artistic proceedings. This is particularly true given the city’s deep roots in the history of jazz from Louis Armstrong to Muhal Richard Abrams to the late Von Freeman and Fred Anderson to today’s stars Ken Vandermark, Dana Hall, Mike Reed, Dave Rempis and many more. Historically incorporating artists affiliated with the Chicago-founded Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as well as the city’s straight-ahead and world-influenced artists, the Chicago Jazz Festival takes an annual stock of what makes Chicago such an amazing international destination for jazz year-round.

Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by theJazz Institute of Chicago, the free admission Chicago Jazz Festival festival will officially open with a Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Chicago composer Ernest Dawkins. The Millennium Park performance of Dawkins’ Afro Jazz Opera will also be the final concert in this year’s Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series. The Sun Ra Arkestra, celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its founder, a Chicago legend, will close out the Chicago Jazz Festival. This is the event’s second year in the glorious setting of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The festivities will mark the 45th anniversary of the JazzInstitute.



Nels Cline and Julian Lage Announce Duo Tour

Thursday, May 29th, 2014


The guitar duo of Nels Cline and Julian Lage features compositions by both players, along with a healthy amount of spontaneous improvisation. Those familiar with Cline’s work may be surprised to hear him play without effects pedals or looping devices; those familiar with Lage’s work may be surprised to hear him play totally “free” improvisation. The degree of creative empathy as these gentlemen create spontaneous structure is as dramatic as their compositions are original. Cline and Lage approach and pay homage to the syntax of jazz, while pushing the music into remarkable new territories.

Last April, Cline and Lage recorded a 7″ vinyl entitled Racy which, with a limited pressing of 500, was released at Wilco’s biennial festival, the Solid Sound Festival in Western Massachusetts. You can purchase a copy of one of the limited edition copies–and read a quote by Nels about this project– here.



Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Click Soundcloud Above to Hear 3-song sampler from Bop Kabbalah

A found­ing mem­ber of the acclaimed punk/jazz/new music ensem­ble Gut­bucket, composer/guitarist Ty Citerman delves deep into his Jewish roots for Tzadik Records’ Radical Jewish Culture series on his debut as a leader under his own name, Bop Kabbalah. Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as the Beat Generation, medieval Eastern European and Asian musical modes, the rich depths of Kabbalistic mysticism and more, Citerman has fashioned an intense and colorful program of modernist music that blends klezmer, nig­u­nim (traditionally sung wordless melodies), jazz, rock, new classical and more.

Citerman’s primary musical vehicle for the past fifteen years has been Gutbucket, and over the course of 5 albums and hundreds of festival and club performances in the US and Europe, he has pioneered what Guitar Player Magazine called“kinetic punk-jazz opuses,” that reveal “an explosive concoction containing lethal doses of Ornette Coleman, King Crimson, John Zorn, Black Sabbath, Stravinsky, and Fugazi.” (The Guardian).


Andy Biskin’s Ibid Act Necessary (Strudelmedia) Out May 20

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Clarinetist-composer Biskin’s new release brims with wit, ingenuity, and intricate craftsmanship.

With An All-Star Quartet, Featuring Cornetist Kirk Knuffke, Trombonist Brian Drye, & Drummer Jeff Davis
“It’s hard to find gentle humor in jazz but the clarinetist Andy Biskin has perfect radar for it. … it’s a sweet-tempered [music] that doesn’t take itself too seriously but has a lot of hidden virtues.”
—Ben Ratliff, The New York Times

Clarinetist-composer Andy Biskin is up to his old tricks again on Act Necessary (strudelmedia), the debut release by his new quartet, Ibid. Mashing up everything from polkas and New Orleans jazz to funk and Tin Pan Alley, Biskin shoehorns sophisticated compositional elements into epic miniature tunes. His all-star quartet, featuring cornetist Kirk Knuffke, trombonist Brian Drye, and drummer Jeff Davis, handles each musical hairpin turn with infectious enthusiasm and deep insight into the music’s many subtleties.


JAMAICAN-BRITISH SOUL-JAZZ CHANTEUSE ZARA MCFARLANE Makes DEBUT U.S. TOUR In Support of If You Knew Her (Browswood Recordings, 2014)

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

If You Knew Her,
Released in Early 2014 on Peterson’s
Soul-Inflected Brownswood Recordings
Is Already One of 2014’s Most Acclaimed Recordings

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH



Preview If You Knew Her on Soundcloud

One of The LA Times ‘Faces To Watch in 2014’

Zara in USA Today

Zara in The New York Times

“Open Heart” Video Premiere on Wax Poetics

All Music Guide Rave Review

NPR Weekend Edition Interview


Universal Critical Acclaim For Nels Cline Singers MACROSCOPE: Out Now

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014


“A guitarist with a knack for wrangling restlessness into coherence.”
– New York Times

“It’s a record that has no boundaries, and an album with the musicianship to make that a memorable experience.” – NPR First Listen
Macroscope is the Nels Cline Singers’ most expansive, approachable album yet.” – Los Angeles Times
“Nels Cline is an artist whose inspired anti-genre-purist attitude creates music of sheer joyful surprise.” – LA Weekly
“Nels Cline never sounds more inspired — or more inquisitive — than when he’s charting his own, curiously zigzagging path.”
– Washington Post
“Exploring a typically disparate array of influences and textures.”
– SF Chronicle

“More than anything Cline has released in his prolific career, it’s wide-angle music.” – Chicago Reader
“Macroscope is an album brimming with power, beauty, noise and surprise.” –  Downbeat
“A magnificently diverse yet coherent set of tracks incorporating countrified psychedelia, punk-rock shredding and probing jazz.”
– Financial Times
“Macroscope is a rich embrace of Braziliana, balladry, percussion, and the tender-touch influence of samba master Baden Powell.”
– Philadelphia Inquirer
“Cline explores particularly diverse terrain on Macroscope.”
– Denver Westword
MACROSCOPE, is a deep exploration into free-from, improvised music but with a more textural, melodic slant.” – Premier Guitar
“One of the best jazz releases of the year to date.” – Paste
“Cline’s many moods coalesce into a portrait of the artist as a novelty-driven sonic omnivore.” – Relix Magazine
“Macroscope lives up to its name, juxtaposing multiple genres in an organic yet cohesive fashion” –
“They’re still making some of the most interesting, adventurous, genre-smashing music of the early 21st century.” – AllMusic

JAMAICAN-BRITISH SOUL-JAZZ CHANTEUSE ZARA MCFARLANE Makes DEBUT U.S. TOUR In Support of If You Knew Her (Browswood Recordings, 2014)

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Iconic SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE® Bandleader Saxophonist LENNY PICKETT, (Tower of Power, David Bowie, David Byrne, Katy Perry) Releases Second Album of Storied 40+ Year Career, The Prescription, With Finnish UMO Jazz Orchestra Out June 10, 2014 on Random Act Records

Monday, May 12th, 2014

It’s remarkable that The Prescription marks only the second album as a leader for Lenny Pickett, the renowned tenor saxophonist and E-flat clarinetist who was a seminal horn-section member of the pop/funk band Tower of Power from 1972-1981, and has been a member of the Saturday Night Live band since 1985 and its musical director since 1995. A longtime session musician and arranger who has worked with a wide range of artists from David Bowie and Elton John to David Byrne and Katy Perry, Pickett’s singular instrumental voice is unmistakable. As arranger Rich Shemaria attests: “He’s worked with everyone and he’s an original. When you hear him playing on the radio, there’s no mistaking who this is.”

A 10-song collection of Pickett rowdy-to-waltzing originals, a robust rendition of the TOP hit, “What Is Hip,” and the whimsical Shemaria tune “A Sad State of Affairs,” The Prescription, released by the adventurous Random Act Recordslabel, is a superb collaboration with the Finnish 19-piece big band, UMO Jazz Orchestra. “This is a unique project that has artsy elements as well slow blues, uptempo swing, funk and eclectic music in the mix—it’s hard to categorize what this album is,” Pickett says. “But it’s got the spirit of all the musicians involved, and Rich is an extraordinary musical arranger.”


Pianist Bobby Avey To Release Authority Melts From Me, The Product of A Chamber Music America Grant, A Three-Part Suite Exploring Haitian Vodou Drumming & Its Role in Haitian Revolution

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Featuring Saxophonist Miguel Zenón, Guitarist Ben Monder, Bassist Thomson Kneeland & Drummer Jordan Perlson

Authority Melts From Me Is Out May 6th Worldwide
via Whirlwind Recordings
Pianist Bobby Avey is an emerging star on the international jazz scene.  In 2005, while a student at the Purchase Conservatory of Music, Avey was invited by NEA Jazz Master David Liebman to adapt and arrange art songs from the Classical and Romantic eras for reinterpretation creating a vehicle for improvisation.  The project, which culminated with the album Vienna Dialogues, was released in 2006 on ZOHO to rave reviews.  In 2011 Avey won the esteemed Thelonious Monk Competition for composition following on from his critically acclaimed debut album A New Face.  His solo piano album Be Not So Long To Speak was released last year and deemed “a record of mystery, patience, imagination and clear design” by the New York Times.  Avey is a current member of David Liebman’s ‘Expansions’.

Authority Melts From Me is Avey’s fascinating new album, an hour-long suite of music for quintet that was inspired by events surrounding the Haitian Revolution and based on rhythms found in Haitian Vodou drumming.  The night before the slaves of Haiti joined the revolution in 1791 it is believed that a massive Vodou ceremony was held to seal their pact, the drumming rhythms playing a central role.  Moved by these events Avey travelled to Haiti to visit and record a Vodou ceremony in the small village of Soukri, near the town of Gonaïves.  Having transcribed this recording and that of an album by the drummers of the Societe Absolument Guinin from Port au Prince, Avey was able to analyse the relationships between different drumming layers and use them as the rhythmic foundation and starting point for Authority Melts From Me.


Guitarist Joel Harrison Revisits His Roots Growing Up in Washington, D.C. On Latest Cuneiform Records Release, Mother Stump Out May 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Mother Stump Highlights Harrison’s Guitar Playing Over His Composing On Covers of Buddy Miller, Leonard Cohen, Al Kooper, Luther Vandross, Paul Motian, George Russell And More

Featuring Top NY-Based Sidemen
Michael Bates (bass), Jeremy ‘Bean’ Clemons (drums), Glenn Patscha (keyboards)

For many years, guitarist Joel Harrison claimed he had no roots. Growing up in Washington D.C., a place whose identity and values are always in drift, Harrison was convinced he had to “go out into the world with a shovel and plant something of my own,” he says in his liner notes to Mother Stump, his latest album on Silver Spring, MD-based Cuneiform Records, a fitting home for a record paying tribute to the artist’s DC-upbringing.

But as we often discover, time and distance have a way of putting things in perspective. Looking back, Harrison realized that Washington D.C. was, in fact, a town whose musical gravity overpowered whatever ephemeral political and cultural winds might blow. “I had to move away and get older to see those roots,” Harrison says. “You can hear them on this record.”



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