Archive for November, 2009

November 30th 2009
The Jazz Session #116: Wayne Wallace

Posted under Podcast & Trombonists

wallace

Trombonist Wayne Wallace brings a lifetime of jazz, R&B and latin playing together on his new latin jazz CD, ¡Bien, Bien! (Patois Records, 2009). In this interview, Wallace talks about his introduction to latin music and why it spoke to him; his years as a semi-pro soccer player and how that helped him navigate the communities in which latin music is played; and why he may just have the greatest wedding band in history. Learn more at walacomusic.com.

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 27th 2009
The Jazz Session #115: Paquito D’Rivera

Posted under Clarinetists & Podcast & Saxophonists & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

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Paquito D’Rivera is equally at home in the jazz and classical worlds, a fact he showcased during his performance at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. In this interview, D’Rivera talks about several of the pieces he performed that night: “Conversations With Cachao” and “The Panamericana Suite.” He also discusses “Fiddle Dreams,” a rare commission from the Library of Congress; and why he thinks the jazz and classical worlds can learn from one another. The music in this program is taken from his album Jazz Clazz (Termidor Music, 2009). Learn more at paquitodrivera.com.

If you’d like to buy the album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 25th 2009
The Jazz Session #114: Edmar Castaneda

Posted under Harpists & Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

casteneda

Harpist Edmar Castaneda combines folkloric music from his native Colombia with jazz and other latin influences on his new album, Entre Cuerdas (ArtistShare, 2009). In this interview, Castaneda talks about his discovery of jazz as a teenager; his first attempts to sit in at descarga jam session … on the harp; and how he ended up with what is probably the only harp-trombone-percussion trio in the world. Learn more at edmarcastaneda.com.

If you’d like to buy the album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 23rd 2009
Popdose.com: Chuck Mangione

Posted under Popdose

My newest column for Popdose.com is titled, “Dr. Flügel, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Chuck Mangione.” Here’s the first paragraph:

The first album I ever bought with my own money (earned, I think, by babysitting for one of the neighborhood kids) was a two-cassette version of Chuck Mangione’s 1978 concert recording An Evening Of Magic: Live At The Hollywood Bowl. This album, if you’ll forgive my salty language, kicks ass.

You can read the rest at Popdose.com.

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November 23rd 2009
The Jazz Session #113: Benny Reid

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

reid

On his second album, Escaping Shadows (Concord, 2009), saxophonist Benny Reid continues to explore the musical path first laid down by Pat Metheny. In this interview, recorded just after Reid’s performance at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Reid talks about the influence of Metheny; why he chooses to compose everything from the melodies to the bass lines of his tunes; and how he navigates both the artistic and business sides of music. Learn more at bennyreid.com.

If you’d like to buy the album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 20th 2009
The Jazz Session #112: Martin Urbach

Posted under Drummers & Podcast

urbach

Drummer Martin Urbach is a citizen of the world. His travels have taken him from his native Bolivia to New Orleans and then New York. His experiences along the way are expressed musically on Free Will (self-produced, 2008). In this interview, Urbach talks about his musical and cultural upbringing; his flight from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; and why after so many years playing instrumental music, he’s now writing songs with words. Learn more at martinurbach.com.

If you’d like to buy this record, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 18th 2009
The Jazz Session #111: Diverse

Posted under Bands & Podcast

diverse

The band Diverse consists of students from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. They all study with saxophonist Bobby Watson. They won a contest that included a recording contract with Origin Records, and the result is Diverse (Origin, 2009), a well-crafted selection of original music. In this interview, trumpeter Hermon Mehari talks about how the band got started; why they ended up playing some tunes in the contest that were written the same day as the performance; and what comes next now that they’ve made a record and opened for Roy Haynes. Learn more at diversejazz.com.

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 16th 2009
The Jazz Session #110: John Goldsby

Posted under Bassists & Podcast

goldsby

Bassist John Goldsby has worked in Germany for the last 15 years, playing in a state-sponsored jazz orchestra in Cologne. On his album Space For The Bass (Bass Lion, 2009), Goldsby explores the role of the bass in a variety of small-group settings. In this interview, Goldsby talks about why he’s chosen to make his home in Germany since the mid-90s; his view of the bass and its place in an ensemble; and how an improbable gig in Louisville, KY, put him on the bandstand with some of the great names in jazz. Learn more at goldsby.de.

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 13th 2009
The Jazz Session #109: Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Roger Lewis)

Posted under New Orleans & Podcast & Saxophonists

ddbb

Saxophonist Roger Lewis is one of the founding members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Since the 1970s, Lewis and the band have played with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Elvis Costello. In this interview, Lewis talks about the formation of the band; how the Dirty Dozen decided early on to use all their musical influences to create their own sound; and why life on the road isn’t for everyone. Learn more at dirtydozenbrass.com.

The Dirty Dozen’s album What’s Going On? is a tour de force. If you’d like to buy it, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 11th 2009
The Jazz Session #108: The Dan Loomis Quartet

Posted under Bassists & Podcast

loomis

The Dan Loomis Quartet currently features Loomis on bass, Eli Asher on trumpet, Robin Verheyen on saxophone and Jared Schonig on drums. This particular line-up of the band performed for the first time in Albany, NY, during the 2009 Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival. After the show, the four musicians talked about the freedom found in a band without a chordal instrument; how they approach complex rhythms and forms; and what makes the experience of collective improvisation such a joy. Learn more at danielloomismusic.com.

The previous incarnation of the Dan Loomis Quartet recorded an album in 2007 called I Love Paris (Jazz Excursion Records, 2007). If you’d like to buy the album, you can help support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 9th 2009
Sonny Rollins on the relevance of jazz

Posted under Jazz Writing & Saxophonists

2008_0418_SonnyRollins I interviewed Sonny Rollins tonight for the second time. Before the interview, I asked my wife Jennifer, who’s a casual jazz listener, what one question she’d ask Sonny if she were interviewing him. She said she’d ask him whether jazz is still relevant. So I asked him, and this is what he said:

“I think that the relevance of jazz depends on what you think jazz is. For instance, if you think that jazz is a piano trio playing in a small nightclub — they’re good musicians, maybe have a girl singer — and you come in and there are people smoking and sitting at tables … if that is your conception of jazz then of course jazz is not relevant, because that refers to a time and place. Jazz is something which is much bigger. Jazz has to do with freedom of expression. So is jazz still relevant? Of course, because there are always people trying to express themselves in music. I think of jazz as having the big umbrella, so that a lot of styles of music that have merged over the years all fall under the umbrella of jazz. The act of trying to create something musically and spontaneously is something that is a part of life. It’s like the weather — it’s always there. Jazz as something that fits into a narrow little remembrance, no, that kind of jazz is not relevant. But jazz is as relevant today as the yearning for people to be free. That’s how relevant jazz is.”

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November 9th 2009
The Jazz Session #107: Kat Edmonson

Posted under Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival & Vocalists

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Kat Edmonson is making a name for herself as both a smart interpreter of popular songs (both old and new) and as a musician who puts her values into practice in her art. Edmonson’s debut CD, Take To The Sky (Convivium Records, 2009) features creative reworkings of tunes by Carol King, The Cure and The Cardigans, alongside (un)expected versions of Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Henry Mancini. In this interview, Edmonson talks about her years of apprenticeship in Austin, TX; how she’s navigating the line between jazz and pop music; and how she turned a quotation from Gandhi into a hit YouTube video. NOTE: Edmonson is making two rare East Coast appearances this week: at Sculler’s in Boston on Tuesday (11/10) and at The Jazz Standard in New York on Wednesday (11/11). Learn more at katedmonson.com.

If you’d like to buy this album, you can help support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 6th 2009
The Jazz Session #106: Patti Wicks

Posted under Pianists & Podcast & Vocalists

wicks

Pianist and vocalist Patti Wicks teams up with her Italian trio — bassist Giovanni Sanguinetti and drummer Giovanni Gulino — and guest saxophonist Scott Hamilton for Dedicated To… (Geco Records, 2009). In this interview, Wicks talks about how she dealt with her childhood visual impairment and learned to play by ear; her college days at the Crane School of Music and her early years in New York; and why Italy has become a home-away-from-home for her. Learn more at pattiwicks.com.

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 4th 2009
The Jazz Session #105: Steve Lehman

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

lehman

Saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman makes use of spectral harmony on his album Travail, Transformation and Flow (Pi Recordings, 2009). The result is a carefully crafted and emotionally engaging exploration of the physics of sound, played by a group of musicians who are seeking new ways to make improvised music. In this interview, Lehman offers a crash course in spectral harmony; discusses his compositional style and why he chose the particular musicians on the album; and talks about the influence on his life and music of Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton. Learn more at stevelehman.com.

If you’d like to purchase this album, you can help support The Jazz Session by buying it via the link below:

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November 3rd 2009
The Kareem Kronicles: How I (almost) (sky)hooked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Posted under Jazz Writing

kareem

Late this past spring, I read On the Shoulders of Giants, a book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about the Harlem Renaissance, its music, and the effect of both on Kareem’s development as a person. I already knew about his lifelong love of jazz and his wide-ranging education and passions, and he seemed like the perfect guest for The Jazz Session … if I could book him. Little did I know that the process of not booking him would stretch out from the end of one NBA season to the beginning of the next, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth and one basketball legend short of a show.

On June 3, 2009, I sent the following message to the various addresses listed on Kareem’s site:

Dear Kareem,

I’d love to have you on my jazz interview show, The Jazz Session. I think it would be a lot of fun for my listeners to hear your point of view on jazz, and also on the relationship between sports and music that you’ve so eloquently written and spoken about over the years. In particular, we could talk about On The Shoulders of Giants and then expand into your thoughts on jazz in general.

Recent guests on The Jazz Session include: Sonny Rollins, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gary Burton, Hugh Masekela, Kenny Garrett and Chico Hamilton. Upcoming guest include Branford Marsalis, Avery Sharpe, Arturo O’Farrill, Gene Ludwig, E.J. Strickland and Henry Grimes. All of the shows are available to listen to at http://www.thejazzsession.com and in iTunes.

The Jazz Session’s 60 episodes have been downloaded more than 200,000 times. The Jazz Session recently joined forces with All About Jazz to bring my interviews to an even wider audience.

I hope you’ll agree to come on the show. I think it would be rewarding for both of us.

Sincerely,

Jason Crane

Like any initial contact by email, I felt like I was yelling “Anybody home?” in a dark house, but it was worth a shot. Imagine my surprise when just two days later, on June 5, I received the following:

Hi Jason,

Will be a happy to schedule after the Playoff Season ends.

Deborah Morales | iconomist | Iconomy, LLC  |
Private Office of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar |

Can you believe it? Not even 48 hours after I sent the message, Deborah Morales from Kareem’s office had agreed to schedule an interview. I was thrilled. I posted about the coup on Facebook and on The Jazz Session‘s newsletter, and sent a reply to Ms. Morales:

Hi Deborah,

You mean Kareem’s busy right now?

Just kidding — good luck to all concerned. I’m listening every night, and trying not to think of my defeated Celtics.

Should I contact you, or wait to hear from you?

All the best,

Jason

Kareem, of course, was on staff with the Lakers, who were deep into the playoffs on their way to their eventual victory. It was completely reasonable to be asked to wait until after the playoffs and finals were complete, and I was happy to do it. Here’s the note I included in the following week’s newsletter:

If I had a list of people I never would have expected to get for The Jazz Session, I think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would have easily made the list. Kareem is a big jazzhead, though, and his most recent book traces the evolution of basketball from jazz to hip hop. So I sent him an email message, never expecting a response. Within 48 hours, though, his office responded and said he’d be happy to come on the show after the NBA finals. So Kareem will be a guest. Cool, huh?

The response to the newsletter and my Facebook post was immediate and very positive. Most folks who aren’t jazz fans don’t know any of the people I normally have on my show, but everybody knows Kareem. I was even stopped on the street by friends and acquaintances who congratulated me on booking him. I think my newsletter wording (“Cool, huh?”) just about sums it up.

On June 15, after the Lakers had won the championship, I sent a follow-up message to Ms. Morales:

Hi Deborah,

Congratulations to the Lakers on #15!

My listeners have been very excited about Kareem’s upcoming appearance on
The Jazz Session. I’ve received a lot of feedback already.

My show features in-depth interviews interspersed with audio clips from
the artists’ CDs. Would you send me a copy of Vols. 1-4 of On The
Shoulders of Giants so that I can pull clips from those CDs? (And so that
I can listen to them in preparation for the interview. I’ve already read
the book.) My mailing address is: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

If you’re interested, I do quite a few giveaways on The Jazz Session,
usually of jazz CDs and DVDs. If there are any items Kareem would be
willing to give away, I’d be thrilled to have them.

As for the timing of the interview, I do the majority of my interviews on
weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern or later. I can sometimes do them on weekends
if necessary. Here are several open dates when I’m available. If none of
these work for Kareem, would you suggest some alternates? Thanks.

7/22
7/23
7/24
7/30
7/31
8/3
8/4
8/5

Thanks again for your help.

All the best,

Jason Crane

It was at this point that things started to go south. Ms. Morales’ response was quick and deflating:
Continue Reading »

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November 2nd 2009
Popdose: Taking a stand with ‘conscious jazz’

Posted under Popdose

popdose-logo

My latest “Jazz Don’t Hurt” column for Popdose.com takes a look at jazz musicians who’ve taken a political or social stand with their music. From Billie Holiday and Max Roach to Chris Washburne and Vijay Iyer, the essay offers a brief overview of 50 years of political jazz. Here ’tis: Taking A Stand With ‘Conscious Jazz’.

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November 2nd 2009
The Jazz Session #104: Ben Perowsky

Posted under Drummers & Podcast

ElDestructoVol2a

Ben Perowsky’s newest recording, Moodswing Orchestra (El Destructo, 2009), is an experiment is ambient improvisation. Perowsky has assembled an all-star cast of instrumentalists and vocalists, including everyone from Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori and Brazilian vocalist Bebel Gilberto to turntable/laptop artist Markus Miller and tuba player Marcus Rojas. In this interview, Perowsky talks about his desire to embrace the spirit of jazz but avoid “jazz language”; and how the process of the recording was as much about improvisation as was the content. Learn more at perowsky.com and see the band live on Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. at the Nublu Jazz Festival.

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