Archive for April, 2012

April 30th 2012
The Jazz Session #368: Dan Cray

Posted under Pianists & Podcast

Pianist Dan Cray’s latest CD is Meridies (Origin, 2012). In this interview, Cray talks about moving to New York City at a later stage in his career than most people do; why he decided to focus on his own compositions on this album; the influence of his teachers on his musical career; and how he leaves room for surprise in the studio and on stage. Learn more at and follow his on Twitter at @DanCrayJazz.

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April 27th 2012
The Jazz Session #367: Chris Brubeck

Posted under Composers & Guitarists & Pianists & Podcast & Trombonists

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Chris Brubeck’s latest CD is Live At Zankel Music Center with his band Triple Play. In this interview, conducted at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Brubeck talks about his orchestral compositions; how he gets inside the lives of the people he writes music about; the history of the band Triple Play; and writing music with his father, Dave Brubeck. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter at @ChrisBrubeck.

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April 23rd 2012
The Jazz Session #366: Romain Collin

Posted under Pianists & Podcast

Pianist Romain Collin’s new CD is The Calling (Palmetto Records, 2012). In this interview, Collin talks about the marriage of acoustic performance and sound design on his new album; how his classical training influences his approach to sound; his compositional process and why he sometimes leaves a piece unfinished for months at a time; and the benefits of his time at the Monk Institute and in New York. Learn more at

CONCERT NOTE: Collin’s New York CD release party for The Calling is at The Jazz Standard on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Details here.

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April 19th 2012
The Jazz Session #365: Joel Harrison

Posted under Guitarists & Podcast

Joel Harrison’s most recent records are Search (Sunnyside Records, 2011) and Holy Abyss (Cuneiform, 2012), a record he co-leads with Lorenzo Feliciati. In this interview, Harrison talks about continuing the blend of classical and jazz influences that began with The Wheel; where he looks for inspiration as a composer and player; the current state of the common language of jazz; and his forays into big band writing. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter at @JoelHarrisonGtr.

NOTE: This is Joel’s second appearance on The Jazz Session. Listen to our 2008 conversation.


April 16th 2012
The Jazz Session #364: Terrence McManus

Posted under Guitarists & Podcast

Guitarist Terrence McManus’ most recent recording is Transcendental Numbers (No Business, 2011), with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Other recent recordings include Below The Surface Of, a duet session with Hemingway, and the solo album Brooklyn. In this interview, McManus talks about finding musical inspiration in the natural and industrial worlds; how he tries to free himself of his expectations and preconceptions before each performance; the importance of doing it right … and doing it wrong; and the many projects of which he’s a part. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter at @TerrenceMcManus.

CONCERT NOTE: McManus is playing at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 8 p.m. Joining him will be Ellery Eskelin, Mat Maneri and Billy Mintz.

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April 12th 2012
The Jazz Session #363: Devin Gray

Posted under Drummers & Podcast

Drummer Devin Gray’s new CD is Dirigo Rataplan (Skirl Records, 2012). In this interview, Gray talks about finding space for surprise; his early years at the Maine Jazz Camp with the likes of Tony Malaby and Ethan Iverson; finding time and discipline for practice during a busy musical life; and his various projects as a leader and sideman. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter at @DevinGrayMusic.

CONCERT NOTE: Devin Gray’s quartet is playing tonight (April 12, 2012) at 8:30 p.m. at Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City.

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April 9th 2012
The Jazz Session #362: Patrick Cornelius

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists

Saxophonist Patrick Cornelius’s latest CD is Maybe Steps (Posi-Tone, 2011). In this interview, Cornelius talks about the new record as a continuation of his previous full-band writing, after a break for his trio record; why it’s important to him to tell stories during his live performances; his time in the artist diploma program at Juilliard; and the economics of jazz records. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter at @PCorneliusMusic.


April 6th 2012
Review: Nicky Schrire’s Freedom Flight

Posted under Record Reviews & Vocalists

I don’t write very many record reviews these days, but this is an album that really hit me. Full disclosure: I know Schrire personally.

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Nicky Schrire’s Freedom Flight

From the first moments of Nicky Schrire’s Freedom Flight, it’s clear that this is no ordinary jazz vocal album. The album beings with an example of the fearlessness and daring that have become hallmarks of Schrire’s live performances, as she sings a stark, haunting, wordless opening to what becomes a captivating version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

Schrire, who hails from Capetown, London and New York, fills her debut recording with moments that remind us of the power of the human voice and its ability to tell a story. She does this through arrangements of well known songs like Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” and the aforementioned “Blackbird,” coupled with her own original compositions and works that aren’t often sung in this context.

Schrire is equally at home as an instrumentalist (e.g. her wordless vocal with the band at the end of her song “Journey”) or out front carrying the emotional core of the song. Her pop-inflected voice brings all her repertoire firmly into the modern era, even when she’s singing a standard like Lerner and Loewe’s heart-rending “If Ever I Would Leave You.” But don’t misunderstand, Schrire has an obvious grounding in the tradition and lots of chops – this isn’t a pop singer dabbling in the jazz world. Schrire is also a skilled arranger – clever without being precious, always serving the song.

The core band members – pianist Nick Paul, bassist Sam Anning and drummer Jake Goldbas – bring sympathetic ears and a shared understand of Schrire’s aesthetic. Paul’s piano is always right where it needs to be and he’s an accomplished soloist, too (hear him on “É Preciso Perdoar”, for example). Anning and Goldbas, meanwhile, are skilled at laying down a groove (“Ode To A Folk Song”) or creating a spacious environment for Schrire to expand into (“Cosmic Love”). There are standout solo performances by several other musicians, including saxophonist Paul Jones, who shines on “Ode,” clarinetist Jay Rattman, percussionist Brian Adler and one of Schrire’s mentors, pianist and vocalist Peter Eldridge.

It’s Schrire’s gorgeous singing, though, that holds everything together. The listener is drawn again and again to moments like the switch to English on “Sleep Away,” when Schrire’s voice seems to dance out of the speakers and fill the room. Or her arresting and childlike performance of Loudon Wainwright’s “The Swimming Song,” accompanied by Adler’s earthy cajon and Schrire’s own overdubbed backing vocals.

The highest compliment that can paid to this record is that it doesn’t sound like a debut. This is an album by a talented, confident singer with a fresh approach and the voice to bring her ideas to life.

NOTE: Freedom Flight will be available in the US on May 22 and in South Africa on July 1. Schrire will be performing a CD release show at Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City on Wednesday, June 6 at 8:30 p.m.

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April 5th 2012
The Jazz Session #361: Myra Melford

Posted under Pianists & Podcast

Pianist Myra Melford’s most recent recording is The Guest House (Yellowbird Records, 2012) with her collective band Trio M, featuring Matt Wilson and Mark Dresser. In this interview, Melford talks about the recent premiere of her multimedia work “Snowy Egret” in New York; the formation and continued success of Trio M; and how she balances a busy life as a performer with a full schedule as a professor. Learn more at

Concert Note: Trio M is playing two East Coast CD release shows this week. On Friday, April 6, they’re at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT and on Saturday, April 7, they’re at the Kitano Hotel in New York City.

Previous Appearance: This is Myra’s second time on The Jazz Session. Listen to her 2009 episode.

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April 2nd 2012
The Jazz Session #360: Melissa Stylianou

Posted under Podcast & Vocalists

Vocalist Melissa Stylianou’s new CD is Silent Movie (Anzic Records, 2012). In this interview, Stylianou talks about her accidental entrance into the world of jazz; the importance of storytelling; and how her training as an actor has impacted her musical career. Learn more at and follow her on Twitter at @sleepinbee.

CONCERT NOTE: Melissa Stylianou is performing two CD release shows in honor of her new album — at Jazz Standard in New York City on April 3 and at The Rex in Toronto on April 7. More details at

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