It's a sad fact that jazz has already lost generation upon generation of its innovators (to provide perspective, Charlie Parker began recording just before the death of Jelly Roll Morton and himself died the same year the Adderley brothers first came to New York). We are reminded of the passing of greatness with the death of Ornette Coleman. To honor the seminal alto saxophonist, we devote two pages to remembrances from his Harmolodic family.
But yesterday's young lions are today's elder statesmen. For our steamy August issue, our feature subjects will one day take their places in the jazz pantheon. Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa (On The Cover) is one of the most exciting players in jazz today and appropriately celebrates his Charlie Parker tribute disc Bird Calls at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. Bassist Charnett Moffett (Interview), son of Ornette drummer Charles Moffett, who plays Iridium this month, has been a presence since the mid '70s and even worked with his dad's former boss. And vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant (Artist Feature), who won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010 and hasn't looked back, is at Jazz Standard for a week.
While we lament the cold ashes of the past, we are warmed by the fire of the future.
On the Cover: RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA
By Terrell Holmes; photos by Jack Vartoogian
It is a truth universally acknowledged that alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa is among the most talented and respected performers in jazz today. Inspired by the music's great standard-bearers and his Indian heritage, Mahanthappa's trademark raga-inflected chords are frequently overpowering, laid down with cyclonic fury and pulsating urgency. But he is equally impressive on ballads and plays with a poignant soulfulness and lyricism. He's appeared on many critically acclaimed albums, including 15 as leader or co-leader. In this year's DownBeat Critics Poll, he was voted Best Alto Saxophonist (for the fourth time in five years), placed first as Rising Star-Composer and his album Bird Calls (ACT Music) was chosen as Jazz Album of the Year. Mahanthappa is at Tompkins Square Park Aug. 23rd as part of Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.
Interview: CHARNETT MOFFETT
By Alex Henderson; photo courtesy of Charnett Moffett
When Blue Note Records released Charnett Moffett's first album as a leader, Net Man, in 1987, he was best known for playing the upright bass in trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' postbop quintet. The album came as a surprise, showing Moffett's proficiency on both acoustic and electric bass and demonstrating that he was not a purist when it came to jazz. Moffett (whose father was late drummer Charles Moffett) has gone on to record over a dozen albums as a leader and his far-reaching catalogue has included everything from straightahead postbop and fusion to avant garde jazz. Since 2008, Moffett has been recording for vocalist Jana Herzen's Harlem-based label, Motéma Music: his two most recent releases are The Bridge, an album of unaccompanied solo bass, and Spirit of Sound, which underscores his interest in world music and incorporates traditional Indian instruments. Moffett also has a long list of sideman credits and worked extensively, like his father, with the late jazz innovator Ornette Coleman. During a recent interview in late June, Moffett (now 48) reflected on his diverse contributions to jazz and Coleman's recent passing. Moffett's NeTTWork Trio is at Iridium Aug. 13th-16th.
Artist Feature: CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT
By Russ Musto; photo by Mark Fitton
In 2010 Cécile McLorin Salvant took first prize in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Jazz Vocal Competition. She credits her mother with encouraging her to enter... The award resulted in the recording of her first U.S. release, WomanChild (Mack Avenue). While the surprisingly ripened style demonstrated on her debut was still evident, her sophomore effort opened up the gate for her inner child to come out. McLorin Salvant is at Jazz Standard Aug. 25th-30th.
Encore: FRANKLIN KIERMYER
By John Pietaro
Franklin Kiermyer, who was born on Jul. 21st, 1956 in Montréal, Canada but has lived around the world over the decades, began studies at age 12 with a local percussionist and composer. By high school, timpani was added to his instrumental palette. "Playing timpani brought me to the awareness that each drum has its own pitch, a natural resonance, a natural voice where the instrument speaks." Listening for the natural voice inside has become the guiding force for Kiermyer. As a teenager, the drummer was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism. He has since been a life-long devotee. Kiermyer is at Korzo Aug. 4th.
Lest We Forget: MULGREW MILLER
By Ken Dryden
One of a string of great pianists with strong ties to Memphis, Mulgrew Miller combined intricate bop with modal music into a distinctive personal style ranging from lush, melodic arrangements to volcanic postbop. A Miller tribute is at Smoke Aug. 12th-13th.
Record Label Spotlight: XANADU
By Donald Elfman
The story of the birth and rebirth of Xanadu Records is heroic in nature: it starts with a jazz pioneer creating a label at a time when standard and traditional jazz was losing ground to jazz fusion and is now reborn thanks to someone who sees the original work as legendary and is willing to keep the music alive with all the challenges and risks a venture like that entails. Artists performing this month include Jimmy Heath at Grant's Tomb Aug. 26th as part of Jazzmobile Summerfest and Kenny Barron at Mezzrow Aug. 28th-29th.
In Memoriam: ORNETTE COLEMAN
photo by Alan Nahigian
Remembrances of the legendary alto saxophonist and composer by Geri Allen, Greg Cohen, Denardo Coleman, Charles Ellerbe, Tony Falanga, Joachim Kuhn, Al MacDowell, Charnett Moffett, Bern Nix, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Kenny Wessel and G. Calvin Weston.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Ellery Eskelin -- Solo: Live at Snugs hatOLOGY (The Stone; Cornelia Street Café)
Ben Wolfe -- The Whisperer Posi-Tone (Dizzy's Club)
Joan Wildman/Joe Fonda -- Conversations s/r (WhyNot Jazz Room)
Gary Burton -- Duster/Country Roads & Other Places RCA-BGO
Christian Muthspiel/Steve Swallow -- Simple Songs In + Out (Birdland)
Fulvio Sigurtà -- The Oldest Living Thing CAM Jazz
Chris Dingman -- The Subliminal and the Sublime Inner Arts Initiative (Korzo; ShapeShifter Lab)
Wes Montgomery -- In the Beginning Resonance
Hayden Chisholm -- Breve Pirouet
Jonathan Crayford -- Dark Light Rattle
Reuben Bradley -- Cthulhu Rising Rattle
Michael Gibbs & The NDR Big Band -- Play a Bill Frisell Set List Cuneiform
RighteousGIRLS -- Gathering Blue New Focus/Panoramic (Joe's Pub)
Craig Brann -- Mark My Words SteepleChase (Tomi Jazz; The Garage)
Samuel Torres -- Forced Displacement ZoHo (Zinc Bar)
Gabriel Alegria -- 10 ZoHo (Zinc Bar)
Steve Johns -- Family Strikezone (Birdland)
William Hooker -- Red Gaffer
Sumari -- Eponymous Unseen Rain (Dissident Arts Festival)
Conrad Herwig -- The Latin Side of Joe Henderson (featuring Joe Lovano) Half Note (Blue Note)
Harry Allen -- For George, Cole and Duke Blue Heron (Dizzy's Club)
Kamasi Washington -- The Epic Brainfeeder (Blue Note)
Andy Haas -- Taballah Resonantmusic (Freddy's Backroom)
Kenny Werner -- The Melody Pirouet (Blue Note)
Sonny Rollins -- Vol. 1 Blue Note
Jonah Parzen-Johnson -- Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow Primary
Carsten Meinert -- To You M.S.—Frederiksberg
Ray Anderson -- Being The Point Intuition (The Stone)
Curtis Nowosad -- Dialectics Cellar Live (WhyNot Jazz Room; Rockwood Music Hall)
Robert Sabin -- Humanity Part II Ranula Music (Greenwich House Music School)
Paul Abler/James Weidman -- The Last Brahma Bossa Nova Music Productions (Birdland)
Scott Robinson/Julian Thayer -- ? Sciensonic (Smalls; Birdland)
Scott Robinson Spacetette -- Mission in Space Sciensonic (Smalls; Birdland)
Steve Slagle/Bill O'Connell -- The Power of Two Panorama (Birdland; Blue Note; Subrosa)
Daniel Carter/Federico Ughi -- Extra Room 577 Records (Dissident Arts Festival)
Ran Blake/Christine Correa -- The Road Keeps Winding Red Piano
Lenore Raphael -- Love Notes (A Tribute to Oscar Peterson) Swingin' Fox
Last Exit -- Iron Path Virgin-ESP Disk
Eyal Vilner -- Almost Sunrise Gut String (Smalls; Dizzy's Club)
Darius Jones -- Le bébé de Brigitte (Lost in Translation) AUM Fidelity (The Jazz Gallery)
Anthony Williams -- Spring Blue Note
...and Plenty More!
Look for other sections like In Memoriam, On This Day, In Print, On DVD, VOXNews, NY@Night, Recommended New Releases, Birthdays, and our invaluable Event Calendar.
Thanks so much for reading The New York City Jazz Record, the city's only homegrown gazette devoted to the music.