Jazz music, news and views

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Maria Schneider Feature

Arranger, composer and bandleader Maria Schneider made Grammy history with her 2005 album Concert in the Garden (which won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album), selling it exclusively through her website. This album, however, is only part of an impressive body of work from a fertile, forward-thinking compositional mind. Now, she's finding more and more demand for her music in the mainstream modern jazz world, and her music is more accessible (in the literal sense) to her fans than ever before. She's the first "success story" for the ArtistShare label, which gathers support for its artists by giving their fans a look into the creative process.

Here, we get a glimpse into her own process, her earliest orchestral gigs, how Mel Lewis motivated her to start her own band, her experience with Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer and the pressure of commissions.

Listen to: a Maria Schneider feature.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ali Ryerson Feature

Many flutists in jazz are actually doublers, splitting their expertise between flutes and different reed instruments (not that there's anything wrong with that), but Ali Ryerson's life-long commitment to the flute means her sound is all the more richer. Always a melodic and thoughtful soloist, her sound has the fullness and depth of Hubert Laws or Yusef Lateef, and she has the harmonic and technical facility to bridge the styles of bop, Brazilian, classical and modern mainstream jazz.

In this feature, she talks about her sound, her classical music career and affinity for Brazilian music, jazz and classical influences, flute education and her flute-centric philosophies.

Listen to: an Ali Ryerson feature.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ingrid Jensen Feature

After graduating from Berklee in '89, Ingrid Jensen became the youngest professor at the Bruckner Conservatory in Austria at 25 years old before coming back to America and releasing her debut as a leader, Vernal Fields, at 27. Today, she's often heard with Maria Schneider's Orchestra, and she's currently focusing on performing with her group from her fifth and latest release, At Sea, which includes pianist Geoffrey Keezer, Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund (winner of last year's Thelonious Monk Competition), bassist Matt Clohesy and her husband, drummer Jon Wikan. Her beautifully dark, burnished tone, chromatic, searching solos and a wide range of emotion make any of her albums worthwhile listening.

This feature focuses on her "voice," her early jazz heroes, composing and performing as well as her gorgeous, expressive flugelhorn work.

Listen to: an Ingrid Jensen feature.

Also, check out HerSpace.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Tierney Sutton Feature

Tierney Sutton has always viewed herself as more of an instrumentalist than a singer. With a focused, pure-toned voice and melodic and harmonic knowledge that rivals plenty of instrumentalists, she's been executing some challenging arrangements for over the past dozen years. As with any great vocalist, a masterful performance of a song is just as important as its interpretation, but her musicianship certainly doesn't make her melodies any less accessible -- she always lets the listener in.

Hear about her studies with Jerry Bergonzi, her band of over a dozen years, "the process," her career in films and commercials, the "spirit" versus the "craft" and her philosophy on and off the bandstand:

Listen to: a Tierney Sutton feature.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

About last weekend...

Just wanted to mention a couple artists/venues I checked out this past weekend:

Violinist (and Cryptogramophone label owner) Jeff Gauthier was performing with his "Goatette" (pianist David Witham, bassist Joel Hamilton and drummer Alex Cline) at Cryptonight/Cryptonoche in Club Tropical. Plenty of modern melodicism with a healthy spike of searching, avant-garde flavor. And speaking of flavor, try the papusas the restaurant serves. Salvadorian food plus modern music in an intimate setting equals inexpensive fun for the senses on Thursdays/Fridays. The Goatette has a new album coming out in May, but in the meantime, check out these tunes (free courtesy of Crypto's website):

Jeff Gauthier: "Waltz For K.P.," "Clea's Bounce" and "Ephemera (For Eric)" from the album Mask.

I also saw guitarist Matthew Von Doran at Dizzy's down in San Diego. Though the room's acoustics are a bit odd (it's very spacious and loft-like), it's entirely dedicated to the music, and that's what we like! Matthew's tunes and performance were clever and stylish, as always. Gearheads will enjoy his many toys, including processors, looping pedals and his 11-string fretless. Tenorist Andy Suzuki and drummer Joel Taylor were in top form, and bassist Jimmy Haslip has the talent of twenty musicians in his ten fingers. Expect to hear about Matthew's new album near the end of the year. In the meantime, check out this download from AAJ (it's Larry Goldings on B3 with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington):

Matthew Von Doran: "Swang" from In This Present Moment. (Catchy, right? You ain't heard nothing yet; buy the album!)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

MB-A Programme

Some Velvet Blog recently alerted us about an NPR interview with violinist Miri Ben-Ari. While her career has been defined more by hip-hop projects with Kanye West and Jay-Z, a few jazz artists like have tapped her for their recordings: Santi DeBriano, Roseanna Vitro, Bob Belden and Ted Nash among them.

Born in Tel Aviv, Ben-Ari studied classical violin, eventually coming to the attention of Isaac Stern, who recommended her for an America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship. While serving her mandatory stint in the army at 17 years old, she discovered jazz through the music of Charlie Parker. She came to the States to study in New York at the Mannes School, releasing the jazz/funk Sahara immediately after graduating in '99 (she pays tribute to her mentor Betty Carter on "In the Shade of the Tree"). Recently, her musical trajectory points more towards urban music than jazz, having arranged and performed strings on albums by John Legend, Twista and DJ Logic. Though players like Jenny Scheinman, Jeff Gauthier, Regina Carter or Mark Feldman may have more experience with the idiom than Ben-Ari, her voice is nonetheless compelling. I was reminded of some of her past contributions on jazz albums that sound pretty hip, and if she returns to the jazz world in the future, she'll have plenty to offer.

Check out her performance in saxophonist Ted Nash's Double Quintet with Wynton Marsalis and pianist Frank Kimbrough on the 1999 album Rhyme and Reason.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

More Morph

It’s come to my attention that a number of Song With Orange readers have dropped in looking for an mp3 from Donald Fagen’s long awaited Morph the Cat (available this Tuesday, March 14th). Though I have no mp3s, I wanted to hunt something down for the inquisitive minds/ears. After “hunting,” I realized he has a few full-length songs streaming on his website. "H Gang" is particularly groovy.

Here’s a phone interview with Donald by Chris Rolls, available as a webstream and transcript. Donald talks about his love for dark humor and science fiction, the "sexiness" of wartime, his jazz listening habits and thoughts on hip-hop and keyboard tuning.

And check out Fred Kaplan’s article in the NY Times.

P.S. The World Café on WXPN interviews Donald this Friday, March 10th, 2-4pm ET (11am-1pm PT). Listen here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New links

On the sidebar to the right under "Links," you'll find some new places to peruse:

Etnobofin: A very hip, attractive blog with plenty of info and reflections on jazz, culture, etc., plus mp3s and a radio playlist (click on "etnoRadio" at the top) updated regularly... "Free parking for improvisation in multiple environments," as the sign reads! Check it out.

Recorda Me: From Canada, Mr. Peter J. MacDonald lets us peek at his record collection, reminding us of some incredible innovators in jazz (Anthony Braxton, Lennie Tristano, Alice Coltrane, late Miles and Art Ensemble of Chicago among others) in addition to other classics (Led Zeppelin, Elvis Costello, film soundtracks, etc.).

WGBH Blog: The jazz blog of Boston's jazz/classical/news station. From the pens of Steve Schwartz, Eric Jackson and Stephen J. Charbonneau, we get bits of jazz history, news and reviews.

Making of Strange Liberation

As my boss was cleaning out his office, he found this: a made-for-radio interview with Dave Douglas and Bill Frisell (narrated by John Schaefer) just after the release of Dave's Strange Liberation in 2004. A glimpse into two very intricate musical minds:

Dave Douglas/Bill Frisell interview, Pt. 1: [no longer available]

Dave Douglas/Bill Frisell interview, Pt. 2: [no longer available]
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