Archive for January 2011
I’d be remiss if I failed to take notice of great jazz photographer Herb Snitzer‘s new book “Glorious Days and Nights: A Jazz Memoir” (University Press of Mississippi). It’s a collection of beautiful, telling photos, mostly focused on his work in New York City between 1957 and 1964 for the magazine Metronome.
Herb will sign copies of the book, his sixth, during a reception this Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Tampa Museum of Art. The exhibition of his work continues through May 15 at the museum, 120 W. Gasparilla Plaza in Tampa. For more information, call (813) 274-8130 or visit the museum’s web site.
As noted by Amazon,”This book includes Snitzer’s very best jazz photographs. He reveals the essences of the artists, their struggles, joys, and pains. A number of Snitzer’s jazz images have become iconic, including Louis Armstrong with the Star of David, Lester Young at The Five Spot Café in New York City, John Coltrane reflected in a mirror, Thelonious Monk with piano keys reflected in his sunglasses, and Miles Davis at Newport. With eighty-five black and white images of jazz giants, Glorious Days and Nights provides a long-awaited testimony to the friendships and artistry that Snitzer developed over his remarkable career.”
I’ll be forever grateful to Herb for lending a quintessential portrait of Monk (above) to the CD project I produced several years ago, Monk in the Sun.
Listening Post, Week of Jan. 24, 2010: Garaj Mahal, Nickel Creek, Teenage Fanclub, New Orleans Funk, Wild Tchoupitoulas
Five releases in rotation at home and in the car – a list without comment (in alphabetical order):
Saxophone giant Sonny Rollins, by many accounts the greatest living jazz musician, is one of many artists sure to give a lift to this year’s lineup for Jazz Fest (New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival).
Jazz fans will also be happy to see the great bassist Ron Carter on the bill, as well as pianist Ahmad Jamal. In the not-so-much category: Smooth jazz acts Kenny G and Fourplay.
The initial lineup, announced today, also includes a fleet of heavy old-school rockers, including Jeff Beck, Robert Plant, Gregg Allman, and John Mellencamp. Predictably, laidback-lifestyle salesman Jimmy Buffett is back.
On the Americana/altcountry/folk side: The Avett Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, Punch Brothers, Arlo Guthrie.
Rockers (modern, indie, more): Wilco, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, The Decemberists.
World music: Ivan Lins (Brazil), Boukman Eksperyans, Tabou Combo, Wyclef Jean (Haiti).
Blues, R&B, funk, etc: Robert Cray, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Bobby Blue Bland, Keb’ Mo’, Charlie Musselwhite, John Legend & the Roots, Maceo Parker with Pee Wee Ellis.
More: Edie Brickell, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Kid Rock, Cyndi Lauper, Michelle Shocked.
A cavalcade of great New Orleans and Louisiana artists: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Mystikal, Pete Fountain, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Better Than Ezra, Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic, Tab Benoit, The Radiators, Cowboy Mouth, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Marcia Ball, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ellis Marsalis, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Sonny Landreth, Henry Butler, Papa Grows Funk, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, John Boutté, Terence Blanchard, Amanda Shaw, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Jon Cleary, Partners N Crime with 5th Ward Weebie, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste, Glen David Andrews, Anders Osborne, Buckwheat Zydeco, George Porter, Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners, Big Freedia & Sissy Nobby, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, MyNameIsJohnMichael, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Zachary Richard, Warren Storm – Willie Tee & Cypress, Honey Island Swamp Band, Bonerama, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Nicholas Payton, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Jeremy Davenport, Deacon John, Donald Harrison, Astral Project, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Banu Gibson, Shamarr Allen, Pine Leaf Boys, Mia Borders, Hot 8, Mahogany, New Birth & Pinstripe Brass Bands, Roots of Music Marching Crusaders Band, The Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians.
And, oh yeah, Tom Jones, Bon Jovi, Fantasia.
Jazz Fest this year runs April 27-29 and May 5-8.
Joe Lovano’s “Bird Songs” CD is a loving but not reverential salute to the music of Charlie Parker. See my review, as published in Las Vegas City Life, here. Or read the somewhat varied text below.
Joe Lovano Us Five, “Bird Songs” (Blue Note)
Every jazzer alive owes a debt to Charlie Parker, the saxophonist-composer who helped create bebop, a language that was foundational to all the jazz that followed. Given the requisite level of technical virtuosity, and able accomplices, most any talented and dedicated saxophonist can turn in a convincing tribute to Bird. Simply pick the now-familiar tunes, crank the tempos and hold on for dear life.
Joe Lovano, for his second album with his Us Five group — which includes pianist James Weidman and rising-star bassist Esperanza Spalding — opts for a different strategy, with compelling results. Partial to the bigger, deeper tenor, he mostly chooses that horn over the smaller, higher pitched alto, sometimes turning to the mezzo soprano, straight alto or two-soprano aulochrome.
He uses the group’s double-drummer approach to give Parker tunes unexpected rhythmic twists, going it alone with the two percussionists — Otis Brown III, Francisco Mela — on “Koko,” and opening up “Dewey Square” for an extended percussion jam. And he turns several pieces on their heads, downshifting the usually lightning-speed “Donna Lee” to a ballad tempo, building the friendly melody of “Moose the Mooche” over a repeating bluesy line, up-ending “Yardbird Suite” for “Birdyard,” and creatively mixing three Parker pieces on “Blues Collage.”
I’m a longtime supporter of the work of pianist Ellis Marsalis and his more famous progeny, having written almost universally positive features and CD & concert reviews on all of them over the 25 years or so.
They deserve plenty of kudos for — at the very least — helping promote the art of jazz, helping keep it alive. And trumpeter-bandleader-composer-arranger Wynton is practically a household name, a worldwide ambassador for the music.
But it strikes me as a bit odd to see saxophonist Branford (50), Wynton (49), trombonist Delfeayo (45), and drummer Jason (33) named National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters alongside the others on the list — their dad (76), also known for his enormous influence as a teacher, and flutist Hubert Laws (70, left, below), saxophonist Dave Liebman (64, right), composer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Mandel (85), and record producer and writer Orrin Keepnews (87).
Does it not beg the definition of the title?
The awards ceremony and concert is Tuesday night at Lincoln Center from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. EST. That show and the Jan. 10 panel discussion with NEA Jazz Masters will both be streamed live at Arts.Gov.
Yes, I’m late on the upswing on this, but … herewith a dozen of my favorite non-jazz CDs of 2010.
Sorry, trendsters, but no Kanye, Arcade Fire or Vampire Weekend here. Instead, my list is dominated by roots rock, jam band, blues, funk, fusion, and Americana.
In alphabetical order:
- Black Crowes, Croweology (Silver Arrow)
- Black Prairie, Feast of the Hunters’ Moon (Sugar Hill)
- Galactic, Ya-Ka-May (Anti-)
- Garaj Mahal, More Mr. Nice Guy (Owl)
- Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone)
- Los Lobos, Tin Can Trust (Shout Factory!)
- Stanton Moore, Groove Alchemy (Telarc)
- Anders Osborne, American Patchwork (Alligator)
- Matt Perrine, Bayou Road Suite (Threadhead)
- Tom Petty, Mojo (Reprise/WEA)
- Trombone Shorty, Backatown (Verve Forecast)
- Derek Trucks Band, Roadsongs (Sony Legacy)
Is it indifference, apathy, ignorance, or impossibly tangled civic bureaucracies that are letting jazz heritage sites — historic birthplaces, old venues — in New Orleans and elsewhere variously fall apart and be razed?
Or maybe there are multiple culprits?
“In the push to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina and eliminate eyesores, officials unwittingly approved the demolition of the (home),” according to the story. “While many landmarks still stand, the city lacks markers at many places where pioneers lived and learned how to play. Other cities have razed jazz history, too, but the spate of New Orleans demolitions in recent years has alarmed enthusiasts.
“Last year, the city tore down the Halfway House, a venue that had been turned into a pesticide business and later damaged by fire. It’s now a parking lot.
Meanwhile, the Gallo and Dixie theaters and the Naval Brigade Hall are gone since Katrina. The homes of several jazz musicians — including Louis Nelson, Willie Guitar, Ed Garland, Danny Barker and Buddy Bolden — have been torn down or fallen into disrepair in that time.”
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, back when he was lieutenant governor, was a HUGE supporter of the arts, vowing to better recognize the New Orleans & Louisiana “arts economies” and leverage the value of all things jazz for the good of the region’s tourist industry.
Was that mere lip service? Shouldn’t his mission extend to saving the city’s key historic jazz sites?
I’m a jazz twitterer, you’re a jazz twitterer, everybody’s a jazz twitterer. Or not.
Everybody who’s anybody in jazz — musicians, writers, enthusiasts, agents, managers, casual listeners, and any other number of people, places and events – and who has a Twitter account is included on the Twitter Jazzerati List.
With the holiday-break music slowdown over, the Tampa Bay area music calendar is piling up with shows that will be of interest to fans of jazz, blues, Americana, and rock of the mainstream and rootsier varieties.
- High-profile trumpeter Byron Stripling (left) is joining with the Florida Orchestra for a tribute to Louis Armstrong, this Friday at the Straz Center in Tampa, Saturday at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. More info here.
- The Michael Ross Quartet, still one of the area’s most interesting purveyors of original jazz compositions, plays Sunday afternoon at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. Ross, on double bass, leads a group including saxophonist David Pate, guitarist LaRue Nickelson, and drummer Walt Hubbard. That concert follows a Thursday night performance at the same venue by guitarist Nate Najar‘s trio with saxophonist Harry Allen. INFO
- The end of the month brings the third annual St. Petersburg College Jazz Festival, with singer Denise Moore joining the Helios Jazz Orchestra on Thursday, Jan. 27; Latin-jazz bassist Alex Berti (of Alfredo Triff’s group) leading a trio with saxophonist Pablo Gil and pianist Max Farber on Friday, Jan. 28; and multitalented drummer-composer Ronnie Burrage (Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band) (photo, right) bringing a trio with bassist Doug Mathews (Sam Rivers) and saxophonist Alain Bradette on Saturday, Jan. 29. Performances will be held at the SPC Music Center. INFO
- And just around the corner is the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, which closes with a killer Sunday (April 10) lineup of New Orleans artists, essentially a microcosm of the best music at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: Eric Lindell, Jon Cleary, Trombone Shorty (photo, left), Irma Thomas, and Tab Benoit and the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars with Cyril Neville, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. The fest opens April 8 with a bill topped by Robert Cray and Rod Piazza, and April 9′s lineup includes Jonny Lang, James Hunter, and Tommy Castro. INFO
Also playing the Tampa Bay area during the first quarter:
- Donna the Buffalo, this Friday & Saturday night, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa
- Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Jan. 13, Crowbar, Ybor
- Marcia Ball, Jan. 14, Skipper’s
- Mofro, Jan. 15 (w/Daryl Hance) and 16 (w/Damon Fowler), Skipper’s
- Infinite Groove Orchestra (CD release show), Jan. 15, The Local 662, St. Petersburg
- Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Jan. 15, New World Brewery, Ybor
- Galactic, Jan. 20, Ritz Ybor
- Drive-By Truckers, Jan. 21, Ritz Ybor
- Terrance Simien with the Gumbo Boogie Band, Jan. 21, Skipper’s
- McCormick Marimba Festival, Jan. 28-29, USF Music Recital Hall, Tampa
- Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith with Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, Feb. 4, Skipper’s
- Diana Krall, Feb. 4, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater
- Yonder Mountain String Band, Feb. 5, Jannus Live
- Dark Star Orchestra, Feb. 12, Straz Center
- Willie Nelson, Feb. 16, Ruth Eckerd Hall
- Whitney James, Feb. 19, Palladium
- Arturo Sandoval, Feb. 24, Ritz Ybor
- Ira Sullivan, Feb. 27, HCC Performing Arts Building, Ybor
- Old 97′s with Those Darlins, March 2, Skipper’s
- G. Love and Special Sauce, March 12, Jannus Live
- The Avett Brothers, March 25, Ruth Eckerd Hall
- Acoustic Africa, April 10, Straz Center
Winners will be announced during an awards bash and concert Jan. 28 at Generations Hall in NOLA. The show will feature performances by Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Chubby Carrier, Davis Rogan, the Stooges Brass Band and many others, as well as tributes to Dave Bartholomew and Alex Chilton.
The nominees for Album of the Year, below, include one of my favorites of 2010, Anders Osborne‘s “American Patchwork,” as mature and compelling piece of blues-tinted music, alternately hard driving and laidback, as the gifted singer, songwriter and guitarist has ever recorded.
Album of the Year
- Curren$y: Pilot Talk
- Galactic: Ya-Ka-May
- Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk: Everybody Want Sum
- Anders Osborne: American Patchwork
- Trombone Shorty: Backatown
Best Blues Artist
Best Blues Album
- Dr. John: Tribal
- Andy J. Forest: NOtown Story
- Little Freddie King: Gotta Walk With Da King
- Kenny Neal: Hooked on Your Love
- Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Live! In Chicago
Best R&B/Funk Artist
Best R&B/Funk Album
- Big Sam’s Funky Nation: King of the Party
- Galactic: Ya-Ka-May
- Joe Krown Trio: Triple Threat
- Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk: Everybody Want Sum
- Trombone Shorty: Backatown
Best Rock Artist
Best Rock Album
- Brass Bed: Melt White
- Happy Talk Band: Starve a Fever
- Rotary Downs: Cracked Maps & Blue Reports
- R. Scully’s Rough 7: Give Up Your Dreams
- Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?: Of Resolutions and Resolve
Best Roots Rock Artist
Best Roots Rock Album
- Mia Borders: Magnolia Blue
- Susan Cowsill: Lighthouse
- Honey Island Swamp Band: Good To You
- Anders Osborne: American Patchwork
- Paul Sanchez & Shamarr Allen: Bridging the Gap
Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist
Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album or Mixtape
- Curren$y: Pilot Talk
- Gypsyphonic Disko: Nola-Phonic, Volume One (free download)
- Juvenile: Beast Mode
- TheSekondElement: The Kommencement
- Truth Universal: Guerilla Business
Best Traditional Jazz Artist
Best Traditional Jazz Album
- Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns: Lucky Devil
- The New Orleans Moonshiners: I’m Comin’ Home
- Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Preservation
- Matt Perrine and Sunflower City: Bayou Road Suite
- Kermit Ruffins: Happy Talk
Best Contemporary Jazz Artist
Best Contemporary Jazz Album
- Rex Gregory: An End To Oblivion
- Donald Harrison: Quantum Leap
- Tarik Hassan: Tarik Hassan
- Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
- Cindy Scott: Let the Devil Take Tomorrow
Best Brass Band
Best Cajun Artist
Best Cajun Album
- Bayou Deville: See Sharp and Be Natural
- Ryan Brunet and the Malfecteurs: Ryan Brunet and the Malfecteurs
- Feufollet: En Couleurs
- D.L. Menard: Happy Go Lucky
- Pine Leaf Boys: Back Home
Best Zydeco Artist
- Buckwheat Zydeco
- Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band
- Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
- Lil’ Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers
- Cedric Watson et Bijou Créole
Best Zydeco Album
- Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band: Zydeco Junkie
- Leon Chavis and the Zydeco Flames: Zydeco SoulChild
- Lil Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers: Deceived, Degraded but not Destroyed
- Horace Trahan: Keep Walking
- Cedric Watson et Bijou Créole: Creole Moon—Live from the Blue Moon Saloon
Best Country/Folk Artist
- By & By String Band
- Gal Holiday & her Honky Tonk Revue
- Hurray for the Riff Raff
- New Grass Country Club
- Washboard Rodeo
Best Country/Folk Album
- By & By String Band: Little Darling Pal of Mine: Songs of the Carter Family
- Grandpa Elliott: Sugar Sweet
- Gal Holiday and her Honky Tonk Revue: Set Two
- Hurray for the Riff Raff: Young Blood Blues
- Washboard Rodeo: Washboard Rodeo
Best Gospel Group
- Arthur Clayton & Purposely Anointed
- The Davell Crawford Singers
- Tyronne Foster and the Arc Singers
- Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
- McDonogh 35 High School
Best Emerging Artist
Best Cover Band
Song of the Year
- John Boutte: “Treme Song”
- Galactic feat. Irma Thomas: “Heart of Steel”
- Kourtney Heart: “My Boy”
- Juvenile: “Drop That Thang”
- Anders Osborne: “On the Road to Charlie Parker”
Songwriter of the Year
Best Female Vocalist
- Susan Cowsill
- Debbie Davis
- Alynda Lee Segarra (Hurray for the Riff Raff)
- Sasha Masakowski
- Irma Thomas
Best Male Vocalist
- John Boutte
- Clint Maedgen
- John Michael Rouchell (MyNameIsJohnMichael)
- Aaron Neville
- Walter “Wolfman” Washington
Best Bass Player
- Doug Belote
- Stanton Moore
- Eric Rogers (Empress Hotel and more)
- Johnny Vidacovich
- Raymond Weber (Dumpstaphunk)
- Evan Christopher
- Charlie Gabriel (Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
- Tim Laughlin
- Tom Sancton
- Ben Schenck (Panorama Jazz Band)
- Phil Frazier (Rebirth Brass Band)
- Kirk Joseph
- Jon Gross (Panorama Jazz Band)
- Matt Perrine
- Benny Pete (Hot 8)
- Sunpie Barnes
- Chubby Carrier
- Walt McClements (Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship?)
- Steve Riley
- Cedric Watson
Best Violin/Fiddle Player
Best Other Instrument
- Helen Gillet (cello)
- Michael Skinkus (percussion)
- Don Vappie (banjo)
- Washboard Chaz (washboard)
- James Westfall (vibraphone)
Artist of the Year