Archive for September, 2008

September 29th 2008
The Jazz Session #45: Javon Jackson

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

Jason Crane interviews saxophonist Javon Jackson. On his new recording for Palmetto Records, Once Upon A Melody, Jackson pays tribute to the people and songs that have influenced him, from Wayne Shorter to Sonny Rollins to Ramsey Lewis to Corinne Bailey Rae. During this interview, Javon leads a track-by-track tour of the record, and you’ll hear excerpts from every composition. He’s joined on the album by pianist Eric Reed, bassist Corcoran Holt and longtime musical partner Billy Drummond on drums. Find out more at

CONTEST: WIN A COPY OF JAVON JACKSON’S CD, Once Upon A Melody. To win, send an e-mail to with JAVON in the subject line. Good luck!

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September 25th 2008

Posted under Thoughts

If you like jazz, you must start reading JazzWax right now. I mean it. Go there now. I’ll wait.

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September 22nd 2008
The Jazz Session #44: Adam Niewood

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

Jason Crane interviews saxophonist Adam Niewood about his new 2-CD set, Epic Journey: Volumes I & II (Innova, 2008). Niewood is the son of famed woodwind player Gerry Niewood, but he has stepped firmly out of his father’s shadow with this new release, which features both composed and free-improvised music. Niewood’s writing skills are as strong as his playing, and the albums surprise and delight with repeated listening. In this interview, Niewood talks about the making of Epic Journey, the 90s scene in NYC, and his kindergarten-era tour with Simon & Garfunkel. Find out more at and download tracks at


September 19th 2008
Jazz writer Doug Ramsey wins major award

Posted under Jazz News


Congratulations to Doug Ramsey, who is the recipient of the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Journalists Association.

You can hear Doug talk about his life in music on TJS Extra #2. And be sure to check out Rifftides, Doug’s fantastic jazz blog.

Congratulations, Doug!

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September 15th 2008
Nina in clay

Posted under Thoughts

I saw this years ago in an art-house movie theater that was showing short films. It’s been in my brain ever since, but it never occurred to me to look it up on YouTube until today. Enjoy Nina Simone singing “My Baby Just Cares For Me” in Claymation:

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September 15th 2008
A note about this site

Posted under Site Updates

I’m starting to do a bit more traditional blogging about jazz on this site, rather than just using it to post shows and links to my articles. To make it easier to just find the episodes of The Jazz Session, please note that you can click the SHOW ARCHIVE link at the top of the page or at the left side of the page for a list of all the episodes. You can also scroll down to the CATEGORIES section on the left side of the page and select PODCAST.

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September 15th 2008
Brian Priestley on criticism of free jazz

Posted under Thoughts

Debutgh1.jpgI was listening to Albert Ayler’s wonderful album Ghosts (aka Vibrations) recently, and decided to look up some reviews of the record. Brian Priestley didn’t like the record very much, but he did have this interesting bit to say at the end about criticism of “free jazz.”

(From Jazz Monthly No. 178 – December, 1969 (?)) – UK

As Charles Fox said recently, in so many words, the only trouble with most of the “new thing” is having to listen to it. I never found any problem in accepting the idea of “free jazz” intellectually, and I find most of the arguments used against it to be fallacious. To describe it as “anti-jazz” is definitely out, if only because the term “anti-novel” was employed ’way back in 1839! To say that “They don’t know what they’re doing” is illogical, because the statement merely proves that the listener doesn’t know what they’re doing. And it’s no use saying, for instance, that Albert Ayler’s tone is patently ridiculous, because so is all jazz to the genuine outsider; all the most moving noises which we treasure mean nothing to millions of people. Even with the most basic vocal music, the sound of Bessie Smith bellowing is as incomprehensible and potentially embarrassing to the uninitiated as the sound of Edith Piaf emoting. In fact, however much some jazz writers may attempt to deny or ignore the fact, the only way in which appreciation of any kind of music can be cultivated or deepened is by the realization, whether conscious or unconscious, of the musical laws by which it is governed. I just wish someone would tell me what laws govern Ayler’s music. — BRIAN PRIESTLEY

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September 15th 2008
Wayne Escoffery needs your help!

Posted under Jazz News

This was in my inbox this morning from saxophonist Wayne Escoffery (who was a guest on The Jazz Session #7):

My Saxophone is Gone!

Hi all,

I hope you are all well. I unfortunately am not feeling so hot.
On Thursday Sept. 11, 2008 myself (jazz saxophonist Wayne Escoffery) and my wife (singer Carolyn Leonhart) jumped out of a white Lincoln livery cab in mid-town while carrying our two month old son (Vaughn) and accidentally left my saxophone in the trunk. I very much want it back and am offering a big reward. The saxophone is my prime instrument and has been at my side since I moved to NYC in 2000. I play this saxophone with such groups as the Charles Mingus Big Band, The Ben Riley Monk Legacy Septet, Tom Harrell’s Quintet, and my own band, Veneration. I have performed at most of the NYC Jazz venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center and have toured the world with this instrument.

My wife and I were married in 2004 and recently gave birth to our first child, a boy named Vaughn Jalen Escoffery. Like so many couples in NYC these days, we are adjusting to Manhattan life with a newborn. Unfortunately, I have been on tour for most of the 2 months since our son was born. Last week, I returned home for a 3 day break from a tour with trumpeter Tom Harrell. On Thursday, we – in a rush – hailed a white Lincoln gypsy cab in front of our Harlem apartment at 153rd and Saint Nicholas Place, packed our son and my horn to go downtown for some family time while I brought my saxophone in for some quick repairs. Two minutes after exiting the cab in midtown, we realized the unthinkable had happened! We had left my irreplaceable 1951 Super Balanced Action Tenor Saxophone in the trunk of the car–a car that had no company name or any identifying logos. The only details of note were that the car was an older white Lincoln and the driver was female.

Because no two horns are alike, the instrument a musician chooses to use becomes an indispensable part of his or her sound. It is impossible to re-create the horn, especially one that is as old as this particular saxophone. It’s value therefore is not only monetary, but artistic. My #9 NY Otto Link mouthpiece was also in the case.
This is the only instrument I have used for the past 8 years, and I have used the mouthpiece for as long as I can remember. The saxophone and piece are an indispensable part of my sound and now they are gone. But I truly hope and pray they might be returned.

We got the car at 153rd and Saint Nicholas Place and took it to 50th street and 7th ave. at 1pm on Thursday September 11th 2008. We have spent the last three days reaching out to drivers and dispatchers in our neighborhood in the hopes of locating the driver and retrieving the horn, but have had no luck. Please keep a lookout and any help you can offer is much appreciated – and will be rewarded!

Thank You,


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September 13th 2008
Henry Grimes

Posted under Jazz News

I went to the 25th annual Jazz At The Lake today in Lake George, NY, to interview bassist Henry Grimes. Henry’s amazing story will be in an upcoming episode of The Jazz Session. It was a special interview with a deeply intuitive musician. I can’t wait to bring it to you.


I wrote this after meeting Henry:

For Henry Grimes

Henry sits
in a plastic chair on
the balcony,
drinking water and watching
the lake.
Below the surface,
roiling motion.
reflected sky.

Henry waits
to be surprised,
never knowing where
this note — here —
will take him.
he doesn’t find his way back
for a long time.

Henry talks
with his hands,
plucking and bowing his message,
going to the ritual and
inviting all to follow.

Henry talks.
Henry waits.
Henry sits.
Henry knows.

Jason Crane
13 September 2008

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September 13th 2008
Kate McGarry sings “Chelsea Morning”

Posted under Podcast

In going through my audio recorder, I discovered that I had recorded a complete song by Kate McGarry and the Less Is More Trio at the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Here are Kate on vocals, Keith Ganz on guitar and Clarence Penn on percussion with Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning.”

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September 12th 2008
The Jazz Session #43: Spencer Day (Tanglewood Jazz Fest Part 3)

Posted under Pianists & Podcast & Vocalists

Jason Crane interviews singer-songwriter Spencer Day in the last of three interviews recorded at the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Day and his band had just finished their set at the festival, one day after Day joined Marian McPartland on stage for a live taping to celebrate her 90th birthday. That’s quite a distance from growing up Mormon in small southwestern towns. Day is nearly finished with his next CD, which includes the Turtle Island String Quartet and a gospel choir performing Day’s compositions. This interview features tracks from Day’s 2005 recording Movie of Your Life. Find out more at

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September 10th 2008
The Jazz Session #42: Jo Lawry (Tanglewood Jazz Fest Part 2)

Posted under Podcast & Vocalists

Jason Crane interviews vocalist Jo Lawry in the second of three shows recorded live at the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox, MA. Lawry hails from Australia, and she’s pursuing her doctorate in jazz performance at the New England Conservatory. With flawless intonation and inventive arranging, Lawry impresses on her debut recording, I Want To Be Happy (Fleurieu Music, 2008). And be sure to check out her own compositions, including the new classic, “Small House.” Find out more at

CONTEST: Win a copy of Jo Lawry’s I Want To Be Happy! To win, be one of the first two people to send an e-mail to Please put “Jo” in the subject line! (Note: Listeners who’ve won in the last 30 days need to sit this one out. Thanks!)


September 8th 2008
Donny McCaslin at All About Jazz

Posted under Jazz Writing

A transcript of my recent interview with saxophonist Donny McCaslin (Show #39) is now available at All About Jazz.

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September 8th 2008
Expanded Tanglewood Jazz Fest coverage at All About Jazz

Posted under Jazz Writing & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

An expanded version of my coverage of the 2008 Tannglewood Jazz Festival is now available at All About Jazz.

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September 8th 2008
The Jazz Session #41: Eddie Daniels (Tanglewood Jazz Fest Part 1)

Posted under Clarinetists & Podcast & Saxophonists

Jason Crane interviews clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Eddie Daniels in the first of three Jazz Session shows recorded live at the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox, MA. Daniels played the fest with many of the same musicians who appear on his 2-CD live album Homecoming (IPO Recordings, 2007). Daniels got his start as a saxophonist with the Thad Jones & Mel Lewis big band, and then launched a successful solo career that took the clarinet to new heights. He started performing on saxophone again in 2005 and now uses both instruments in his sets. During the interview, you’ll hear Daniels receive a fateful phone call that changes the nature of his performance at the festival.

CONTEST: Win a copy of Eddie Daniels’ Homecoming: Live At The Iridium! To win, be one of the first three people to send an e-mail to Please put “Eddie” in the subject line! (Note: Listeners who’ve won in the last 30 days need to sit this one out. Thanks!)


September 1st 2008
The Jazz Session #40: Joel Harrison

Posted under Guitarists & Podcast

Jason Crane interviews composer and guitarist Joel Harrison. With The Wheel (innova, 2008), Harrison straddles the line between written and improvised music, composing for an ensemble made up of a string quartet and jazz quintet. The results are surprising and powerful. The majority of the album is composed of the five-movement suite “The Wheel,” and the record ends with the moving tribute, “In Memoriam: Dana Brayton.”

CONTEST: Listen to the show to hear how you can win a copy of the The Wheel!

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