By Brad Farberman; photos by Sánta István Csaba & Michael Weinrib
By the time he was 20 years old, drummer Lenny White had played on two albums, both of which would be released in 1970. The first one he recorded was Miles Davis' rough, wild Bitches Brew. White was 19 years old when those tracks - "Pharaoh's Dance", "Bitches Brew", "Spanish Key" and "John McLaughlin" - were laid down and he was drumming alongside Jack DeJohnette (White is in your left headphone). His next move was Freddie Hubbard's funky Red Clay, on which he propels a five-piece filled out by Ron Carter, Joe Henderson and Herbie Hancock. As the sole drummer, you can really focus on White and he sounds great: fiery, energetic, enthusiastic. That's quite a way to kick off a career in jazz. White is at Iridium Apr. 11th-12th with Larry Coryell and Victor Bailey
Interview: BILL LASWELL
By Kurt Gottschalk; photo by Peter Gannushkin
Bassist and producer Bill Laswell has made as much of an imprint on the genre-blasting of Downtown experimentalism as just about anyone in the last 40 years. He has remixed Miles Davis and Bob Marley as well as Tori Amos and Ozzy Osbourne, put out-metal guitarist Buckethead and P-Funk bassist Bootsy Collins in the same band and was the first to record Whitney Houston. He has worked with Sly Dunbar, Pharoah Sanders, Jah Wobble and John Zorn, to name just a few diverse touchstones. For almost as long as he has been playing and producing, Laswell has been creating opportunities for other musicians. He has had a hand in founding and operating a number of record labels and putting forth musicians across styles and generations. His most recent venture is Method of Defiance (MOD), a label founded in 2010 with Giacomo Bruzzo, who also started the RareNoise label, which has released nearly a dozen albums of diverse ambition. MOD has recently released Elevation: The Upper Air, the first solo piano record by another frequent collaborator and P-Funk alum, Bernie Worrell. Laswell is not, however, known for granting interviews often, which made for a good starting point for our conversation. Laswell curates a week at The Stone this month and is there Apr. 19th, 22nd, 26th and 27th.
Artist Feature: LISA MEZZACAPPA
By Ken Waxman; photo by Peter Gannushkin
As a teenage electric bass player in metal, punk and ska bands on Staten Island, Lisa Mezzacappa probably never envisioned her eventual musical future. But today, Mezzacappa, 39, concentrating on acoustic bass, is acknowledged as one of improvised music's movers and shakers in the Bay area, where she has lived since 2001. She has recorded a dozen CDs as leader or co-leader, many more as a sideperson, played all over North America and Europe and organizes local concerts as a "musical instigator". Mezzacappa is at Downtown Music Gallery Apr. 6th, The Firehouse Space Apr. 10th, Legion Bar Apr. 13th and Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center Apr. 14th.
Encore: ANDREW WHITE
By Clifford Allen
The world of jazz and improvised music is made up of people who do things themselves - it has to be, because so little art is created validly from somebody else's mobilizing hand. Though not quite as well known as he should be outside of his Washington, DC homebase, saxophonist and bandleader Andrew White is the epitome of doing it oneself. White is at The Jazz Gallery Apr. 26th.
Lest We Forget: JIMMY GIUFFRE
By Fred Bouchard
First of spring: shy shoots poke through snow, a dog snoops along squirrel tracks, a cardinal wheet-wheets low-down. Makes one think of Jimmy Giuffre, that lone pioneer of solo clarinet performance, leafy, drum-free chamber trios, cant-free forthright orchestrations - cocking an ear to Ma Nature to play and write just how he heard her. Heck, even his name conjures up his tenor tone. That humid chuffling in the clarinet's dark chalumeau evoked a primeval, halcyon strain yet unheard in jazz. A Giuffre tribute is at Jazz Standard Apr. 15th-16th.
Megaphone: All Together Now
By Amanda Monaco
"People who need people/are the luckiest people in the world," writes lyricist Bob Merrill to Jule Styne's classic tune "People". I spent a lot of years plugging away as a bandleader. I did everything myself, to mixed results. My family is a large Italian one, where the word "I" doesn't really exist; doing all of this music stuff alone all the time felt weird. I started playing jazz because I loved the community. But then I moved to New York and felt like I was lost in this sea of musicians fighting for the same silly gig where you pass the hat. Monaco is at Flushing Town Hall Apr. 26th as part of the Queens Jazz OverGround Spring Jazz Fest.
Record Label Spotlight: CHESKY
By Ken Dryden
Since its debut release in 1988, the Chesky label has drawn critical praise for its unique approach to audio. It began as a jazz label and issued valuable recordings by greats like Clark Terry, Phil Woods, McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones and Lee Konitz. Chesky recorded younger generations of musicians as well, including Fred Hersch, Eddie Daniels, Tom Harrell, Larry Coryell and Wycliffe Gordon. Co-founder David Chesky's interests as a performer himself covered many styles of music, so it was only natural that the label expanded into Latin jazz, Brazilian jazz, classical music and a subsidiary label for children's music. Artists performing this month include George Coleman at Smoke Apr. 4th-5th; George Colligan at Jazz Standard Apr. 30th; Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White at Iridium Apr. 11th-12th; Tom Harrell at Village Vanguard Apr. 1st-6th; Louis Hayes at Iridium Apr. 4th-5th and Smoke Apr. 18th-19th with Vincent Herring; David Hazeltine at Smoke Apr. 25th-26th with Jim Rotondi and Dizzy's Club Apr. 30th; Ari Hoenig at Terraza 7 Apr. 2nd and Smalls Apr. 7th, 21st and 28th; Javon Jackson at Village Vanguard Apr. 15th-20th; Romero Lubambo at Zankel Hall Apr. 5th; and Steve Wilson at Smalls Apr. 17th with Ira Coleman and Jazz at Kitano Apr. 25th with Leslie Pintchik.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Regina Carter -- Southern Comfort Sony Music Masterworks (Birdland)
Roy Nathanson -- Complicated Day Enja/Yellowbird (Joe's Pub)
Amy Cervini -- Jazz Country Anzic (55Bar)
Alfredo Rodriguez -- The Invasion Parade MACK Avenue (Jazz Standard)
Harold Mabern -- Right on Time Smoke Sessions (Smoke)
Mike Longo -- Step On It CAP (NYC Baha'I Center)
George Mraz/David Hazeltine -- Your Story Cube Metier (Smoke; Dizzy's Club)
Harry Miller -- Different Times, Different Places Ogun