Jazz is, of course, a music of history. Every reissue, every discovered album, points backwards while informing forwards. And that history is colored by the context of the struggle around it: politically, socially, intellectually. What should not be forgotten is that each musician carries their own history in each note played, that every player's thread brings a particular hue to the jazz tapestry. Pianist Fred Hersch (On The Cover)'s career has been affected not only by his musical influences and peers but also his sexual orientation and health, the latter transmuted to great effect in his art. Hersch is at Village Vanguard for a week. Violinist Regina Carter (Interview) has devoted numerous albums to her history, whether it be the influence of Ella Fitzgerald, youth in Detroit or songs of her grandfather's era. Carter has a four-day run at Jazz Standard. Trumpeter/composer/arranger/bandleader Michael Leonhart is a scion of a musical family, weighty history to be sure, yet transcends that with his work with players like Nels Cline and his own projects, the latter at Jazz Standard for a pair of evenings. And vocalist Barbara Dane (Encore) and bassist Jimmie Blanton (Lest We Forget), the latter a recent inductee into the Jazz at Lincoln Center Ertegun Hall of Fame (speaking of history), have lived their own history as performers of influence, whether it be for decades or only a few years.
On the Cover: FRED HERSCH
By Jim Motavalli; photos by Martin Zeman and Mark Niskanen
I told pianist Fred Hersch I was reading his 2017 autobiography, Good Things Happen Slowly (Crown Archetype), and had reached the part where he's relaxing at his Pennsylvania summer house with the man of his dreams and reflecting on his good fortune. "Keep reading," he said. "There's a lot more drama ahead. You haven't gotten to my coma yet." Hersch's book—and his life—are unique in the annals of jazz history. Hersch is at Village Vanguard Jul. 24th-29th.
Interview: REGINA CARTER
By Alex Henderson; photo courtesy of the artist
One need only take a quick glance at Regina Carter's resumé to realize the breadth of her taste. Although the Detroit-born violinist is primarily a jazz player, she has worked with everyone from Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin and Lauryn Hill to country star Dolly Parton. Carter first made her presence felt in the jazz world in the late '80s-early '90s as a member of the Detroit-based, all-female group Straight Ahead and has been recording as a leader since her eponymous 1995 debut on Atlantic. Her most recent album, Ella: Accentuate the Positive, is a tribute to the legendary singer released in 2017 by OKeh/Sony Masterworks. Carter is at Jazz Standard Jul. 26th-29th.
Artist Feature: MICHAEL LEONHART
By John Pietaro; photo by Nathan West
"Greetings from lovely Austin, Texas," says Michael Leonhart, deep in the heart of Steely Dan's latest tour. The trumpet player is on the road so often, it's hard to imagine space for much else—but much else is in central focus. Leonhart's orchestra is at Jazz Standard Jul. 17th-18th.
Encore: BARBARA DANE
By Suzanne Lorge
Iconoclastic singer Barbara Dane always knew that music could help to change the world for the better. Now 91, she's spent a lifetime proving it.
Lest We Forget: JIMMIE BLANTON
By Marilyn Lester
In the 50-year history of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, many consider its pinnacle to be the "Blanton-Webster Band" (Webster being tenor saxophonist Ben Webster) of 1939-1941. Ellington was expert at attracting musical geniuses and Jimmie Blanton (not Jimmy, as confirmed by Phil Schaap with Blanton's family) was one of them. A tribute to Blanton is at Dizzy's Club Jul. 17th as part of the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame Festival.
Record Label Spotlight: INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM
By Eric Wendell
Chicago is a metropolis that knows how to nurture creativity. Whether it's comedy, music or theater, Chicago is a cut above with scenes building on top of each other, creating a rich tapestry few other cities can match. One such thread in said tapestry is record company International Anthem. Artists performing this month include Jaimie Branch at Bushwick Public House Jul. 30th.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Geoffrey Keezer -- On My Way To You MarKeez (Mezzrow)
Theo Hill -- Interstellar Adventures Posi-Tone (Smoke; Mezzrow; Jazz Standard)
John Colianni -- I Never Knew Patuxent (Birdland; Saint Peter's; The Sound Bite; Mezzrow)
Agustí Fernández/Johannes Nästesjö -- Like listening with your fingertips Konvoj (Spectrum; Ibeam Brooklyn)
Agustí Fernández/Artur Majewski/Rafał Mazur -- Spontaneous Soundscapes Not Two (Spectrum; Ibeam Brooklyn)
Memoria Uno -- Sons Of Liberty. Live at Granollers Multikulti Project
Eric Wyatt -- Look to the Sky Whaling City Sound (Brooklyn Borough Hall; Socrates Sculpture Park)
Hank Jones -- In Copenhagen (Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983) Storyville
Hazel Leach & The Composers' Orchestra Berlin -- Postcard Collection JazzHaus Musik
Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York -- Fukushima Libra
Peggy Lee -- Echo Painting Songlines
Itai Kriss -- Telavana Avenue K (The Django; Smalls)
Sarah Bernstein Unearthish -- Crazy Lights Shining Phase Frame Music (Downtown Music Gallery; Wonders of Nature)
Evan Ziporyn/Wacław Zimpel/Hubert Zemler/Gyan Riley -- Green Light Multikulti Project (The Stone at The New School)
Kidd Jordan/Alvin Fielder/Joel Futterman/Steve Swell -- Masters of Improvisation Valid (Zürcher Gallery; Downtown Music Gallery)