The New York City Jazz Record

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Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (On The Cover) has recently released a new album and a book of interviews with jazz elders. Both share the title Griot, apt for a music whose proliferation is most honestly and effectively done through word of mouth or, say, word of instrument, the famed "university of the bandstand". For a music rooted so deeply in history, in interpretation, in the parsing of what has come before in order to create that which will come, the lessons passed down by the musical griots are found in every note played on all the bandstands in the world.

All of our features, Pelt, drummer Billy Drummond, guitarist Ava Mendoza, bassist Herb Bushler and the late saxophonist Harold Land are of the lineage of their respective instruments but, if one remembers the childhood game of telephone—kids in a circle whispering a phrase to one another—the message changes with each person, the lineage is never a line, not even a branch from a tree. How jazz has developed and will continue to develop is too complex to assign hierarchy. For every elder who took a new player under their wing, a younger musician changed an established musician's way of thinking. Musicians are the sum of their influences yet that mathematical term does not fully express how abstractly that absorption happens.

The griot tells a tale to those who will listen. That tale will make its passage, changing along the way. Jazz is that tale, a never-ending story still being written.

On the Cover: JEREMY PELT

By Marilyn Lester; photos by Ra-Re Valverde / courtesy of the artist

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is something of a Renaissance Man, a composer, recording artist, producer and educator whose pursuit of knowledge and learning has led him in many directions. Pelt has released over 18 leader dates and appears on over a 100 releases as a sideman. Most recently, his conversations with living (and now historic jazz figures) are compiled in a new book, Griot: Examining the lives of Jazz' great storytellers Vol. 1, along with a HighNote album of the same name, which combines music with audio clips of some of the book's interviewees. It's a project that Pelt says, "I knew I had to write." Pelt is at Dizzy's Club Oct. 28th-30th.


By Tyran Grillo; photo by Roberto Cifarelli / courtesy of the artist

Billy Drummond took an interest in the drums as soon as he could pick up a pair of sticks. He seems predestined to have made a humble home for himself in the pantheon of the instrument, playing on over 350 recordings alongside such pillars as Horace Silver, Bobby Hutcherson and Sonny Rollins, among many others. His 1995 leader date, Dubai, was named a New York Times #1 Jazz Album of the Year. Before and since then, Drummond has contributed to projects too numerous to mention in full, including his "Freedom of Ideas" quartet, which is preparing to step into the studio. Drummond is at Mezzrow Oct. 1st with Peter Zak, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning Oct. 2nd with Danny Simmons, The Jazz Gallery Oct. 28th with Jay Clayton and Smalls Oct. 29th-30th as a leader.

Artist Feature: AVA MENDOZA

By George Grella; photo by Niclas Weber / Monheim Triennale

Ava Mendoza is not cutting back. Even with forced public inactivity through much of the 2020-21 pandemic, the guitarist/singer/composer can be heard on many recent recordings...That range, certainly, and maybe the inner drive, could stem from Mendoza's unique entry into the world of jazz (or at least jazz adjacent) and improvising music.


By Anders Griffen

Herb Bushler was one of the busiest bassists in New York from the mid '60s into the '80s. With a classical background, he discovered jazz at the dawn of the '60s and worked with prominent artists while becoming very busy in the recording studio business.

Lest We Forget: HAROLD LAND

By Mark Keresman

Harold Land was an ace tenor saxophonist who, while never becoming a real star, made his mark as a reliable, first-rate master of his craft. He made several fine albums under his own leadership but is perhaps best known for his membership in the seminal Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet... More recently, an excellent collection of archival recordings has come to light courtesy of the redoubtable Reel To Real label: Westward Bound! collects material recorded at Seattle, Washington's The Penthouse in 1962-1965.

CD Reviews

(this month's performance/streaming venues in parentheses):

  1. Joanie PallattoMy Original Plan (featuring Fareed Haque) Southport (Pangea)
  2. Ron CarterFoursight - Stockholm Vol. 2 In + Out (Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning; Birdland; Dizzy's Club)
  3. Jeff Lederer SunwatcherEightfold Path Little (i) Music (Bar Bayeux; Bar Lunàtico)
  4. John Blum/Jackson KrallDuplexity Relative Pitch (Michiko Studio)
  5. Alex NorrisFleet from the Heat SteepleChase (Smalls)
  6. Jessica Ackerley/Daniel CarterFriendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel 577 Records (Bushwick Public House; Downtown Music Gallery)
  7. Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew MillerIn Harmony Resonance
  8. Francesco CafisoIrene of Boston E Flat
  9. Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders/The London Symphony OrchestraPromises Luaka Bop
  10. Timo LassyIrene of BostonTrio WE Jazz
  11. Pasquale GrassoSolo Ballads Sony Masterworks (Mezzrow; Dizzy's Club)
  12. Marc Ribot's Ceramic DogHope Northern Spy (The Bell House)
  13. Henry Fraser/John McCowen/Sam WeinbergThip Tripticks Tapes (The Vale in Prospect Park; Barbès)
  14. Sam Weinberg/Henry Fraser/Weasel WalterGrist ugEXPLODE (The Vale in Prospect Park; Barbès)
  15. Henry Fraser/Sam WeinbergBust Renfusa (The Vale in Prospect Park; Barbès)
  16. Joey DeFrancescoMore Music Mack Avenue (Dizzy's Club)
  17. Steph Richards (with Joshua White)Zephyr Relative Pitch (Roulette)
  18. Steph RichardsSupersense Northern Spy (Roulette)
  19. Billy TestComing Down Roses Aveni Test Music (Mezzrow)
  20. Edmar CastañedaFamily Arpa Y Voz Productions (Dizzy's Club)
  21. Mike LeDonneIt's All Your Fault Savant (Dizzy's Club)
  22. Julian LageSquint Blue Note (VIllage Vanguard)
  23. Sun Ra and His ArkestraA Fireside Chat with Lucifer Modern Harmonic (BRIC Jazzfest)
  24. Broken ShadowsEponymous Intakt
  25. Chris SpeedLight Line Intakt (Joe's Pub)
  26. Sasha DobsonGirl Talk (with Peter Bernstein) s/r (Mezzrow; Birdland Theater)
  27. Roscoe MitchellDOTS Wide Hive (Roulette)
  28. Roscoe Mitchell/Mike ReedThe Ritual and The Dance Astral Spirits (Roulette)
  29. Janis Siegel/Cantor Daniel Kramer/John Di MartinoMazel Jamarka (Birdland Theater)
  30. Judy WexlerBack to the Garden Jewel City Jazz (Pangea)
  31. Mofaya!Like One Long Dream Trost
  32. Josefine Cronholm/Kirk Knuffke/Thommy AnderssonNear The Pond Stunt (Children's Magical Garden de Carmen Rubio; Barbès; Bar Lunàtico)
  33. Joel FrahmThe Bright Side Anzic (55Bar)
  34. Dom Minasi, Hans Tammen, Harvey Valdes, Briggan KraussEight Hands One Mind: In Memory of Bern Nix Unseen Rain (Soapbox Gallery)
  35. Kurt EllingSuperblue Edition (BRIC Jazzfest)
  36. Mike Clark/Michael ZilberMike Drop Sunnyside (Smalls)
  37. Leon Lee Dorsey/Manuel Valera/Mike ClarkFreedom Jazz Dance Jazz Avenue 1 (Smalls)
  38. Lee Konitz/Martial SolalDuo (Live At The Berlin Jazz Days 1980) MPS-Edel (Durham Jazz Workshop live-stream)
  39. KuzuThe Glass Delusion Astral Spirits (Catalytic Sound Festival live-stream)
  40. KuzuAll Your Ghosts In One Corner Aerophonic (Catalytic Sound Festival live-stream)
  41. Matt HavilandSomething To Say Connotation (Smalls)
  42. Christopher HoffmanAsp Nimbus Out of Your Head (Brooklyn Conservatory of Music)
  43. Becca StevensBecca Stevens & The Secret Trio GroundUP Music (Bar Lunàtico; Drom)
  44. Various ArtistsRelief (A Benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America's Musicians' Emergency Fund) Mack Avenue
  45. David SanfordA Prayer for Lester Bowie (featuring Hugh Ragin) Greenleaf Music
  46. Bill EvansLive at Ronnie Scott's Resonance
  47. Bill EvansBehind The Dikes (The 1969 Netherlands Recordings) Elemental Music
  48. Bill EvansOn A Friday Evening Craft
  49. Art PepperUnreleased Art, Volume Eleven: Atlanta Widow's Taste
  50. Henry "Skipper" FranklinShowers of Blessings Skipper Prod.

...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.

All the best,
Andrey and Laurence