One of the more tumultuous years in recent memory is finally behind us. The challenges don't stop with the turning of the calendar page but there is a moment of mental restart, of (a New Year's) resolution towards addressing issues facing our country and the world. And in times of strife, art is a healer, a unifier and a mirror into which society looks at itself.
But before we throw the last spadeful of dirt onto 2016, we take a moment to celebrate the brightest in jazz from the past year, with the Best of 2016 center spread and our choices in a wide array of categories. And in more somber tones, we also publish the list of all those stitches lost in the jazz tapestry (pg. 12) and a special section of CD Reviews (pgs. 34-35).
But on to 2017: drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts (On The Cover) celebrates the release of his new album at Jazz Standard; trumpeter Jon Faddis (Interview) appears around town; pianist Mike LeDonne (Artist Feature) and drummer Leon Parker (Encore) perform as part of the annual Winter Jazzfest; and late trumpeter Roy Campbell (Lest We Forget) is honored with an evening at the Arts for Art Evolving Music concert series. And our CD Review section is packed with release concerts, some of which may end up in our best of 2017 list 12 months from now.
On the Cover: JEFF "TAIN" WATTS
By Terrell Holmes; photos by John Rogers
In a career that has spanned over three decades, Jeff "Tain" Watts has established himself as one of the greatest jazz musicians of his generation. This Grammy-winning drummer, composer and producer is a standard bearer on his instrument. He can lay down polyrhythms with head-spinning speed and complexity or thunder on bass, toms and snare drum with a volume and power measurable in megatons. Watts is steeped in the jazz, blues, gospel and R&B traditions, with influences ranging from Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane to the Ohio Players and Marvin Gaye, which reflects the music he heard while growing up in Pittsburgh in the '60s-70s. Watts is at Jazz Standard Jan. 19th-22nd.
Interview: JON FADDIS
By Ken Dryden; photo courtesy of Suny Purchase
Known for his incredible range and ability to play startling high notes with accuracy, trumpeter Jon Faddis has long been acknowledged as a hard-working, dedicated composer, arranger, bandleader and jazz educator. Barely after graduating from high school, Faddis was playing with Lionel Hampton and before the decade was over had recorded with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner and Randy Weston, among many others. Although he has devoted himself to his teaching career at SUNY Purchase in recent years, he remains an active leader and composer. Faddis is at Quaker Friends Meeting Hall Jan. 5th as part of Winter Jazzfest/Jazz Legends for Disability Pride, Birdland Jan. 10th-14th and Juilliard School Peter Jay Sharp Theater Jan. 18th with the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra.
Artist Feature: MIKE LEDONNE
By Russ Musto; photo by Steve Sussman
At 60, Mike LeDonne has already amassed a lifetime of achievements of which he can be proud, with a resumé that includes tenures with some of the jazz world's greatest masters and a discography of over a hundred recordings, including a dozen and a half under his own name...He says, "Whether my music is important or not I guess history will judge. But what I'm doing with Disability Pride, this is important for people, for the betterment of people's lives." LeDonne is at Quaker Friends Meeting Hall Jan. 5th as part of Jazz Legends for Disability Pride, Birdland Jan. 10th-14th, Mezzrow Jan. 30th with Hendrik Meurkens and Smoke Tuesdays.
Encore: LEON PARKER
By John Pietaro
After 15 years of life abroad, where he engaged in a musical pilgrimage of sorts, native New Yorker Leon Parker is back. Hopefully to stay. Known as a brash young lion at the dawn of the '90s, the drummer was as celebrated as deemed notorious due to a thorny frankness and arduous drive to authenticity. Parker is at Zinc Bar Jan. 6th with Aaron Goldberg as part of Winter Jazzfest and Yamaha Artists Services Jan. 7th.
Lest We Forget: ROY CAMPBELL
By Kurt Gottschalk
Precision isn't always the currency of New York City jazz. It's a hardscrabble town and volume and stamina are often as determining factors as pitch and tone when it comes to making one's mark. This ain't Saõ Paulo, after all, and it sure ain't L.A. But every once in a while there comes a player who can keep a sharp focus while channeling the energy of the city and one such player was the late Roy Campbell. A multi-set tribute evening for Campbell is at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center Jan. 9th.
Record Label Spotlight: NEWVELLE
By Marcia Hillman
With all of the changes in the recording industry during the past few decades, it has been increasingly difficult for a record label to do business in the 'old fashioned way'. However, Newvelle Records—started by Elan Mehler (a pianist himself) and his partner Jean-Christophe Morisseau in Paris in 2014—is meeting the challenge with their unique format and marketing approach. Artists performing this month include Ben Allison Jan. 7th at New School Glass Box Theater as part of Winter Jazzfest; Jon Cowherd at New School Glass Box Theater Jan. 6th with Nate Smith as part of Winter Jazzfest, Bar Lunàtico Jan. 9th with Mike Moreno and Jazz at Kitano Jan. 26th with Audrey Silver; Kevin Hays at Club Bonafide Jan. 6th with Uri Gurvich and Jan. 7th with Gregoire Maret, Jazz at Kitano Jan. 12th and Cornelia Street Underground Jan. 26th with Eduardo Belo; Frank Kimbrough at Mezzrow Jan. 12th and Greenwich House Music School Jan. 27th; Aruán Ortiz at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center Jan. 3rd and Jan. 19th with Francisco Mora Catlett; John Patitucci at Flushing Town Hall Jan. 21st with Gustavo Casenave and Smoke Jan. 25th with Antonio Farao; Noah Preminger at Rockwood Music Hall Jan. 15th with Michael Feinberg; and Chris Tordini at Le Poisson Rouge Jan. 2nd with Chris Speed, Korzo Jan. 3rd, New School 5th Floor Theater Jan. 6th with Andy Milne and with Jim Black, both as part of Winter Jazzfest, New School 12th Street Auditorium Jan. 7th with Becca Stevens as part of Winter Jazzfest, The Stone Jan. 10th with Jim Black and ShapeShifter Lab Jan. 15th with Zack Foley.