Archive for December, 2009

December 31st 2009
The Jazz Session looks back at 2009: Oh, the places you’ll go!

Posted under Jazz Writing & Podcast & Site Updates

My year-in-review article for All About Jazz is now available online. It’s a look at some of the interesting places at which I recorded episodes of the show in 2009. These spots include:

  • Steve Kuhn’s kitchen
  • The lobby of Vijay Iyer’s apartment building
  • A trailer behind the stage at the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival
  • James Shipp’s minivan
  • …and many more!

Read: The Jazz Session: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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December 30th 2009
The Jazz Session #129: Eric Alexander

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

Saxophonist Eric Alexander has forged a multi-decade career out of one simple concept: “To thine own self be true.” In this interview, recorded before his September 2009 performance in Schenectady, NY, Alexander talks about his musical vision; his experience as a teacher at SUNY Purchase; and why he thinks it’s possible to point to one particular period of jazz as the greatest in the music’s history. Learn more at www.ericalexanderjazz.com.

The tunes in this interview come from Eric Alexander’s Nightlife In Tokyo CD. 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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December 28th 2009
The Jazz Session hits 400,000 downloads!

Posted under Podcast & Site Updates

What a way to end 2009! Thank you so much for your support. You make it all worthwhile.

Stay tuned in 2010 for many more interviews, including Sonny Rollins, Marty Ehrlich, Amy Cervini, Matthew Shipp, Lee Shaw, Tyshawn Sorey, Chad Taylor, James Wiedman, Mike Reed, Linda Oh, Hiromi, Jason Parker, Erik Deutsch, Harris Eisenstadt, Roger Kellaway, Sam Sadigursky and many more!

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December 28th 2009
The Jazz Session #128: Dan Scofield on Sonny Simmons

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

Saxophonist Sonny Simmons is the subject of a new documentary now in production called Just A Guy Who Knows. The filmmakers, Dan Scofield and Mike Ercolini, have so far produced a 20-minute trailer and are raising funds to finish a 45-minute short film on Simmons. The saxophonist has lived a remarkable life, moving from his days as a colleague of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins to near anonymity as a musician on the streets of San Francisco. He’s now back in action again, and his wisdom and intelligence shine through in the documentary. Learn more at www.justaguywhoknows.com.

Here’s the short trailer for the film. Visit the Web site to get access to the longer version.

JUST A GUY WHO KNOWS trailer from Blind Escrow Productions on Vimeo.

One of Sonny’s recent albums is Ancient Ritual. 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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December 25th 2009
The Jazz Session #127: James Shipp

Posted under Drummers & Podcast

Drummer and percussionist James Shipp is making music without borders. With his band Nos Novo, Shipp has just released Strange Sweethearts In America (Shippwrite Music, 2009), a fascinating and fun mix of traditional Irish melodies and rhythms with Brazilian music and collective improvisation. In this interview, Shipp talks about the genesis of the band; provides a guide to the varying ingredients on the album; and talks about what makes each of these styles so special to him. Learn more at www.jamesshipp.com.

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

4 Comments »

December 23rd 2009
The Jazz Session #126: Cooper-Moore

Posted under Harpists & Pianists & Podcast

Cooper-Moore is a musical renaissance man. He’s a pianist who also invents and builds his own instruments. He’s steeped in history and tradition, and refreshingly free from convention. In this interview, Cooper-Moore talks about his childhood days as the town musician; why he feels that playing music is far more than a profession; and how and why he began creating his own instruments. Learn more at www.hopscotchrecords.com/cooper.html.

Several of the tunes in this interview come from the new Digital Primitives album. If you’d like to buy this recording, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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December 21st 2009
The Jazz Session #125: Harry Babasin

Posted under Bassists & Podcast

babasin

You’d think that helping to invent a new genre of music and being the first person to play your instrument in a jazz setting would be enough to get you some headlines in the jazz history books. You’d be wrong. Meet Harry Babasin, the bassist who played on the very first recordings of what became bossa nova, and then became the first person to play pizzicato cello in a jazz group. He’s now largely forgotten. In this interview, his son Von Babasin talks about Harry’s life and accomplishments, and Von’s mission to film a documentary that will restore his dad to his rightful place in jazz history. Learn more at www.jazzinhollywood.com/harrythebear.html.

Harry Babasin’s band The Jazz Pickers features Harry’s cello work. 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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December 18th 2009
The Jazz Session #124: Ted Sirota

Posted under Drummers & Podcast

sirota

Drummer Ted Sirota is using his powers for good. On his most recent album, Seize The Time (Naim, 2009), Sirota once again chooses to make a political statement with his song titles and choices. In this interview, Sirota talks about making political jazz; why he’s not going to use liner notes again; and the fine balance between delivering a message and having that message overshadow the music. Learn more at tedsirota.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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December 16th 2009
The Jazz Session #123: Willard Jenkins

Posted under Authors & Bloggers & Podcast

jenkins

Willard Jenkins is a jazz broadcaster and blogger, and a consultant to jazz artists and festivals. Jenkins’ blog, The Independent Ear, is a constant source of news and views about the jazz world. In this interview, Jenkins talks about the diminishing influence of jazz in people’s home record collections and thus in the lives of their children; why jazz is no longer an integral part of the black community experience; and that jazz isn’t dead — but it does need to work on audience development. Learn more at openskyjazz.com.

4 Comments »

December 14th 2009
The Jazz Session #122: Rez Abbasi

Posted under Guitarists & Podcast

abbasi

Guitarist Rez Abbasi continues his rhythmic and harmonic explorations on Things To Come (Sunnyside, 2009). He’s joined on this album by pianist Vijay Iyer, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, bassist Johannes Weidenmeuller, drummer Dan Weiss, cellist Mike Block and vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia. In this interview, Abbasi discusses the Indian-Pakistani jazz scene in New York; how he incorporates Indian and Pakistani music into his compositions even without the use of traditional instruments; and why he feels his best compositions are combinations of craft and inspiration. Learn more at www.reztone.com.

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

3 Comments »

December 11th 2009
The Jazz Session #121: Darcy James Argue

Posted under Composers & Podcast

argue

Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records, 2009), the debut CD from composer Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, is one of the most talked-about records of the year. In this interview, Argue reveals why he chose to write modern music using a big band as his musical vehicle; how he turned a simple blog into a social media juggernaut; and why the last thing he wants to be is nostalgic about music. Learn more at secretsociety.typepad.com.

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

4 Comments »

December 9th 2009
The Jazz Session #120: Sam Rivers

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

rivers

Sam Rivers is a musical renaissance man. He’s performed in big bands, bop bands, R&B groups, blues bands and free-jazz ensembles. Rivers is currently composing adventurous large-ensemble music (such as is found on his 2006 CD Aurora) in an unlikely location: Orlando, Florida. In this interview, Rivers talks about his early days in Boston; how he was recruited by Jimi Hendrix while playing with Cecil Taylor; and how a tour with Dizzy Gillespie led to his relocation to Florida. Learn more at rivbea.com.

The music in this episode comes from Sam Rivers’ album Aurora. If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

2 Comments »

December 8th 2009
My Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2009

Posted under Jazz News & Jazz Writing & Podcast

These lists are always a bit ridiculous to compile, given the near impossibility of rating art and the sheer number of CDs released each year. That said, I compiled the list below for the 2009 Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll.

TOP 10
Artist – Album (Label)

  1. Fay Victor – The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue)
  2. Vijay Iyer – Historicity (ACT)
  3. Darius Jones – Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)
  4. The Fully Celebrated – Drunk On The Blood Of The Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity)
  5. The Respect Sextet – Sirius Respect (Mode)
  6. Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls – Seize The Time (Naim)
  7. Digital Primitives – Hum Crackle & Pop (Hopscotch)
  8. Terence Blanchard – Choices (Concord)
  9. Steve Lehman – Travail, Transformation & Flow (Pi Recordings)
  10. Kat Edmonson – Take To The Sky (Convivium)

TOP 3 REISSUES

  1. Art Pepper – The Art History Project (Widow’s Taste)
  2. Tony Bennett & Bill Evans – The Complete Tony Bennett & Bill Evans Recordings on Fantasy (Concord)
  3. — not voting for a 3rd —

BEST VOCAL ALBUM

Fay Victor – The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue)

BEST DEBUT CD

Darius Jones – Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)

BEST LATIN JAZZ CD

— not voting —

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December 7th 2009
The Jazz Session #119: Dom Minasi

Posted under Guitarists & Podcast

minasi

Guitarist Dom Minasi’s most recent recording, Dissonance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder (Konnex, 2009), features his string quartet in a program of adventurous composition and improvisation. In this interview, Minasi talks about how he spent the 20 years between his last Blue Note recording and his re-emergence as a leader; why Johnny Smith was a big influence on him, and why he let that influence go; and how a lifetime of playing, teaching and practicing has brought him to this prolific period. The Dom Minasi String Quartet plays on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 at Roulette in NYC. For more information, visit domminasi.com.

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

1 Comment »

December 4th 2009
The Jazz Session #118: Luis Bonilla

Posted under Podcast & Trombonists

bonilla

Luis Bonilla blends humor, adventurousness and a passion for his family on his new CD, I Talking Now (Planet Arts, 2009). In this interview, the in-demand trombonist talks about the use of humor in music; the effect of his time with Lester Bowie; and how thinking “beginning brass” was a shop class led to his life with the trombone. Learn more at trombonilla.com.

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

3 Comments »

December 2nd 2009
The Jazz Session #117: Eldar

Posted under Pianists & Podcast

eldar

Pianist Eldar came onto the jazz scene as a child prodigy. Now in his early 20s, Eldar is expanding his repertoire as a composer and improviser. His new album is Virtue (Sony Masterworks Jazz, 2009). In this wide-ranging interview, Eldar talks about making music relevant to the present day; the nature of the jazz audience; and why many people respond to the “color” of music before anything else. Learn more at eldarjazz.com.

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

3 Comments »