One of the reasons jazz can lay claim to being a truly American art form is how it reflects the diversity and openness the country (supposedly) was founded upon and still represents. While jazz has its splinter group equivalents of the anti-immigrant border-closers, that is a reductive and myopic view; had this ideology been rigorously applied throughout jazz history, the music we have today would be far less rich, if it even existed at all.
For proof just take a look at our features. Where else but in jazz could you find an avant garde trumpeter from Mississippi (with stops in Illinois and Connecticut) who has a decades-long career of exploratory composition and collaboration (Wadada Leo Smith, On The Cover); a Washingtonian tenor saxophonist with a love for the melodic tradition of the golden age (Harry Allen, Interview); a Japanese-American who brings an instrument from her heritage into a panoply of compelling musical encounters (Miya Masaoka, Artist Feature); a free jazz drummer from Minnesota (Charles "Bobo" Shaw, Encore); or a Floridian cornet player whose songs became standards (Nat Adderley, Lest We Forget).
The news is filled with stories about different Americas, be it racially, economically or politically; let's keep that divisiveness out of the music we all love.
On the Cover: WADADA LEO SMITH
By Kurt Gottschalk; photos by Scott Groller & Maarit Kytöharju
This interview took place during Wadada Leo Smith's remarkable week at the Stone last April. It wasn't just a seven-day jam and it wasn't so simple as to be a career retrospective (although it was arguably both those things). The residency was a demonstration of his secret to longevity. Each of the 12 sets was a different project, a different conception and different relationships. Over the course of the engagement, 44 different compositions were played, representing, Smith explained, the 44 years of his professional career. It was a demonstration, in short, of the remarkable revival his career saw in the '90s, first with some strong releases on the Tzadik label and then with the support of other imprints, including Cuneiform and TUM. It was, for him, a demonstration of the importance of special projects. Smith is at Vision Festival Jul. 11th.
Interview: HARRY ALLEN
By Ken Dryden; photo courtesy of Harry Allen
Tenor saxophonist Harry Allen continues the tradition of earlier players who focused on great melodies. The Washington, D.C. native attended Rutgers University, graduating in 1988. His career took off after meeting veteran drummer Oliver Jackson, with whom he frequently toured Europe. As a leader, Allen has recorded over 50 CDs for a variety of labels worldwide and developed a big fan base in Japan and Europe. He has appeared on releases by Tony Bennett, Freddy Cole, John Pizzarelli, Rebecca Kilgore and many others. Allen is at Jazz at Kitano Jul. 4th, Dizzy's Club Jul. 23rd and 92nd Street Y's Jazz in July Jul. 28th.
Artist Feature: MIYA MASAOKA
By Ken Waxman; photo by Lori Eanes
As perhaps the pre-eminent innovator on the multi-string koto, Miya Masaoka is fully committed to the present and future via her compositions, performances and improvisations. But, at the same time, she stays in touch with her roots, often performing in traditional gagaku (court music) ensembles and took time during a recent Japanese trip to visit a shrine associated with members of the extended Masaoka family, who have been priests and Shinto singers at that location since the 15th Century... The paradox between the new and the tradition has characterized Masaoka's career since she began concentrating on the koto in her early 20s. Masaoka is at Vision Festival Jul. 11th with Ingrid Laubrock and The Stone Jul. 31st.
Encore: CHARLES "BOBO" SHAW
By Clifford Allen
Building on the localized unity of the Jazz Composers' Guild in New York (1964-65) and earlier self-reliance projects, tributaries in the Midwest and on the West Coast signaled a larger foment. Los Angeles had the UnderGround Musicians and Artists' Association/Union of God's Musicians and Artists' Ascension while Chicago birthed the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (A.A.C.M.). St. Louis was home to the Black Artists' Group (B.A.G.) from 1968-72... Founding members included saxophonists Julius Hemphill, Hamiet Bluiett, Luther Thomas and Oliver Lake, trombonist Joseph Bowie, trumpeters Baikida Carroll and Floyd Le Flore, poet Ajulé Rutlin and drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw. Despite being there from the beginning, Shaw is probably one of the lesser-known figures to have emerged from this collective, though he was instrumental in bringing B.A.G. music first to Paris and later New York. Shaw is at Vision Festival Jul. 12th.
Lest We Forget: NAT ADDERLEY
By George Kanzler
Just as Paul Desmond wrote "Take Five" and Billy Strayhorn penned "Take the 'A' Train", Nat Adderley contributed some of the most iconic songs associated with the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Like those other two, the cornet player was the super sidekick, the indispensable musical partner to his older alto saxophonist brother. A Nat Adderley tribute is at Smoke Jul. 3rd-5th.
Record Label Spotlight: SONORAMA
By Andrey Henkin
Albums are the musical equivalents of battles fought during a war; they mark the audible progress of an artist across his career. So imagine if you found out that between Ligny and Waterloo, Napoleon had nipped off to Wavre and had a skirmish only known to its participants. It is this kind of revisionism that the German label Sonorama, and its founder/sole proprietor Ekkehart Fleischhammer, has been practicing since 2004, bringing impossible-to-find albums to a larger market via reissues and, more significantly, releasing unearthed gems that provide new insight into a musician's oeuvre.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Terell Stafford -- Brotherlee Love (Celebrating Lee Morgan) Capri (Village Vanguard)
Grachan Moncur III -- Evolution Blue Note (Smalls)
Nu Band -- The Cosmological Constant Not Two (Downtown Music Gallery)
Charenée Wade -- Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson Motéma (Jazz Standard)
Marilyn Crispell/Gerry Hemingway -- Table of Changes Intakt (Vision Festival)
Lucky Thompson & Barney Wilen -- Four Brothers Sonorama
William Hooker/Liudas Mockūnas -- Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival NoBusiness
Dmitrij Golovanov -- ME s/r
Kęstutis Vaigin -- Lights of Darkness s/r
Jeremy Steig/Eddie Gomez -- Music For Flute & Double-Bass / Rain Forest CMP-Art of Groove (Saint Peter's)
Jemeel Moondoc -- The Zookeeper's House Relative Pitch (Vision Festival)
Kyoko Oyobe -- Happy Silence Oyobe Music (Sugar Bar, City Crab, The Garage, Smalls)
Earth Tongues -- Rune Neither/Nor
The Gate -- Stench Heat Retention
Alphone Mouzon -- In Search of a Dream MPS-Kultur Spiegel (Blue Note)
Henry Threadgill -- In For A Penny, In For A Pound Pi (Village Vanguard)
Brian Charette -- Alphabet City Posi-Tone (Smoke)
Ghost Train Orchestra -- Hot Town Accurate (Prospect Park Bandshell)
Ivo Perelman/Whit Dickey -- Tenorhood Leo (Michiko Rehearsal Studios)
Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp -- Callas Leo (Michiko Rehearsal Studios)
Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Mat Maneri -- Counterpoint Leo (Michiko Rehearsal Studios)
Pericopes + 1 -- These Human Beings Alfa Projects (Tomi Jazz; ShapeShifter; Rockwood Music Hall)
David Gibson -- Boom! Posi-Tone (Dizzy's Club)
Howard Alden/Lloyd Ellis/Cal Collins -- Famous Door Ace Guitarists Famous Door-Progressive (92nd Street Y)
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra -- The Conny Plank Sessions Grönland
Luis Perdomo Controlling Ear Unit -- Twenty-Two Hot Tone (The Jazz Gallery)
Deborah Latz -- sur l'instant June Moon (Café Noctambulo; Cornelia Street Café)
Marta Sánchez -- partenika Fresh Sound-New Talent (Cornelia Street Café)
Joel Harrison -- Spirit House Whirlwind (Cornelia Street Café)
Lionel Hampton -- Alive and Jumping (with Milt Buckner) MPS-Edel
Dmitry Baevsky -- Over and Out Jazz Family (Bar Next Door; Smalls)
Gary Bartz/Larry Willis/Buster Williams/Al Foster -- Heads of State: Search for Peace Smoke Sessions (Smoke)
Tomeka Reid -- Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists Corbett vs. Dempsey (Vision Festival)
Bobby Bradford/John Carter Quintet -- No U-Turn Dark Tree
Bobby Bradford/Frode Gjerstad -- Silver Cornet Nessa
Paul Bedal -- Chatter Ears & Eyes
Marquis Hill -- Modern Flows EP, Vol. 1 Skiptone Music (Smalls; Minton's)
Makaya McCraven -- In The Moment International Anthem
Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House -- Roulette of the Cradle Intakt (Cornelia Street Café; Vision Festival; The Jazz Gallery)
Chris Washburne & The SYOTOS Band -- Low Ridin' ZoHo (Smoke)
Susan Alcorn -- Soledad Relative Pitch (The Stone)
The Bad Plus/Joshua Redman -- Eponymous Nonesuch
Freddie Redd -- Music For You SteepleChase (The Jazz Gallery)
Lennie Tristano -- Chicago April 1951 Uptown
Georg Graewe -- Stills and Stories Random Acoustics (The Stone)
Ernie Krivda Quartet with Gene Bertoncini -- The Best Thing For You Ride Symbol
Sun Ra -- The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note CAM Jazz (Vision Festival)
...and Plenty More!
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