We have referenced poet John Donne's 17th Century work "No Man Is an Island" in this space before but it seems like a particularly good time to revisit the concept. We are currently at the mercy of a president who can't remember or won't admit if he has ignored his advisers or not, a small man who feels that he and he alone has the wisdom, knowledge, charisma and experience to solve complex issues that have befuddled generations. Another relevant quote is Louis XV's "Après moi, le déluge", generally taken to mean that after the French king's reign was over, little mattered to him; our current president's motto instead is, "Before me, nothing of consequence happened", demonstrated by his notion of historical significance in everything related to him, regardless of its wild inaccuracy.
Our feature subjects have far more humility and maturity. Saxophonist Chris Potter (On The Cover), violinist Jean-Luc Ponty (Interview) and cellist Tomeka Reid (Artist Feature) all speak of the musical communities of which they were a part, of how mentorship and partnership made them the musicians they are today. The same sentiment runs through the label profile on Ropeadope Records and is implied in every CD review, every calendar listing.
If our president wants to be an island, he should buy one and relocate there permanently.
On the Cover: CHRIS POTTER
By Marilyn Lester; photos by Bill Bungard and Caterina di Perri
Saxophonist Chris Potter is the Energizer Bunny of musicians. He's just released his 16th CD as a leader, The Dreamer Is The Dream (ECM) with his quartet of David Virelles (piano and celeste), Joe Martin (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums), an acoustic group combining melodic rhapsody with intense rhythm... And he has recorded on well over 100 CDs as a guest soloist or sideman with the most recognized names in jazz. Potter's talents have translated into
a prodigious level of recognition and popularity: a consistent winner in DownBeat music polls, Grammy-nominated and roundly hailed by his contemporaries for his accomplishments. Potter and his quartet are at Village Vanguard Jun. 20th-25th.
Interview: JEAN-LUC PONTY
By Ken Dryden; photo by Sochi Winter Arts
Jean-Luc Ponty has been one of the great innovators of jazz violin since the early '60s. The classically trained artist has continued to evolve on his instrument and as a composer/arranger. Though he took time off from leading his own band to record and tour with both Frank Zappa and The Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early '70s, Ponty soon became one of the major faces of jazz fusion, particularly in his extensive recordings for Atlantic. Now 74 and splitting his time between homes in France and the U.S., Ponty continues to tour the world playing with several different lineups. Ponty is at BB King's Blues Bar Jun. 25th as part of Blue Note Jazz Festival.
Artist Feature: TOMEKA REID
By Clifford Allen; photo by Peter Gannushkin
Tomeka Reid has emerged as a highly individual musician over the last decade-plus, subtle but with a rich tone and robust swing. The cello, far from being an obscure gimmick, has graced many an improvised music recording at least since Fred Katz came to prominence with drummer Chico Hamilton in the '50s and Reid, along with Hannah Marshall, Okkyung Lee, Daniel Levin, Leila Bordreuil, Fred Lonberg-Holm and veterans like Abdul Wadud, Tristan Honsinger and Nioka Workman, has been part of a continual stage-resetting for the instrument in creative music. Reid is at Judson Memorial Hall Jun. 1st as part of Vision Festival, Roulette Jun. 7th and ShapeShifter Lab Jun. 12th with David Haney.
Encore: REUBEN WILSON
By Alex Henderson
While many of the great soul-jazz organists of the '60s-70s have passed away, Reuben Wilson, who celebrated his 82nd birthday in April, is still going strong with a busy schedule of live appearances and forthcoming CDs. Wilson is at Smoke Jun. 29th.
Lest We Forget: PAUL MOTIAN
By John Pietaro
Paul Motian conquered silence. In his career, he turned spaciousness into an art form. His professional foray into jazz came during the period when struggles for Civil Rights exploded into public consciousness. The musical path he embarked on over 50 years threaded the shock of the new to the mainstream, postbop modernism to traditional Armenian song and militancy in both his music and politics. A tribute to Motian is at Greenwich House Music School Jun. 22nd.
Record Label Spotlight: ROPEADOPE
By Mark Keresman
Small labels to the rescue, as usual, but even among them, Ropeadope is still a unique operation. For one thing, they have a clothing line. More importantly, Ropeadope has a zeal for the music being made NOW in various parts of the globe. Artists performing this month include Michael Blake at Cornelia Street Underground Jun. 9th with Michael Bates; Jeremy Danneman at Nublu Jun. 9th with Matt Lavelle; Charles Owens at Smalls Jun. 18th; Eddie Palmieri at Subrosa Jun. 5th and 26th; Slavic Soul Party at Drom Jun. 10th and Middle Collegiate Church Jun. 17th; Nate Smith at Nublu Jun. 13th with Orlando le Fleming; and David Weiss at Fat Cat Jun. 15th and 23rd.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
ANEMONE -- A Wing Dissolved in Light NoBusiness
Peter Evans/Agustí Fernández/Mats Gustafsson -- A Quietness of Water Not Two (Jazz Gallery; The Stone; Jewish Museum)
Peter Evans -- Genesis More is More (Jazz Gallery; The Stone; Jewish Museum)
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (with Wynton Marsalis featuring Jon Batiste) -- The Music of John Lewis Blue Engine (Rose Theater)
Michel Edelin's Flute Fever Orchestra -- Kalamania Rogue Art
Nicole Mitchell Black Earth Ensemble/Ensemble Laborintus -- Moments of Fatherhood Rogue Art (Vision Festival)