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“Down Home” – New Release from Trombonist Curtis Fuller

Curtis Fuller (from

Legendary trombonist Curtis Fuller has a new record out on Colorado-based Capri Records. Down Home is a charming collection of tunes new and old from one of longest serving and most consistently great trombonists of the century. As a sideman, Fuller has played on recordings with John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Gil Evans, Jimmy Heath, Quincy Jones, and many others. On this recording, Fuller is clearly and …more…

Gil Evans Centennial Celebration – May 20th, 2012

Last night at the Jazz Standard, some of Gil Evans’ finest, and least known, compositions and arrangements graced the stage again. Led by Ryan Truesdell, an all-star lineup of New York’s finest played some of the most wonderfully complex and challenging arrangements in the late Mr. Evans’ vast catalog.

Truesdell and the group played all weekend at Jazz Standard, each night featuring a different aspect of Evans’ career. Sunday night featured …more…

Amina Figarova – New Release: “Twelve”

Amina Figarova (from, photo by Joke Schot)

NYC via Rotterdam via Azerbaijan. Figure that one out.

The prolific jazz pianist Amina Figarova is releasing a new album with her sextet titled simply Twelve (In + Out, 2012). As a self-proclaimed citizen of the world, Figarova recently moved from Europe to the quaint neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens in NYC. Having been dragged kicking and screaming all the way out that …more…

From the Vault: Ella Obsessions

The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books

Help! I’ve fallen into an Ella black hole and I can’t get out! (Neither can my roommates.) I made it a goal of mine to listen all the way through the The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books and I’m almost done! So I’ve decided to give you the low-down. Feel free to listen along at home:

I discovered Ella somewhere back in the dark ages …more…

Buster Williams at Smoke

Buster Williams (from Bass Musician Magazine)

I’ve written about how much I love Smoke, the relative newcomer to the club scene at the lower edge of Harlem, but I just want to reiterate what a fabulous job I think they do not only of being a first-rate venue to see live music, but what great acts they bring through.

Take, for instance, this Friday/Saturday night (May 4th & 5th). The indomitable …more…

Album of Newly-Discovered Gil Evans Music


An incomparable composer, arranger and bandleader, the importance of the great Gil Evans could not be overstated. Instrumental in the development of modal jazz, jazz fusion and a number of other sub-genres, Evans and his collaborators forever changed the face of America’s art form.

On a new disc to be released on May 13th, producer Ryan Truesdell explores some quite extraordinary newly-discovered Gil Evans works. Truesdell is the first …more…

African Jazz at Zinc Bar

Kaissa at Zinc Bar

I find hybrids endlessly compelling. And when you really stop to think about the origins of jazz, combining it with African traditions seems like an exceptionally easy match. Every Friday at Zinc Bar in the Village is African Jazz night and I would be willing to bet that the clubs who have a recurring night of African Jazz are few and far between.

This Friday, April 13th, …more…

From the Vault – Stan Kenton’s “Journey into Capricorn”

Journey into Capricorn – Stan Kenton

For this week’s lecture, class, I want to delve into the past. And by the past, I mean the 90’s. I remember in the early-to-mid days of CD players in cars (my parents were far from early adopters of this luxury), we would all load into the van and head off to some mosquito-ridden campsite in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.

The soundtrack of …more…

Devin Gray – “Dirigo Rataplan”


I would be the first to admit that free jazz is not really my strong suit. My tastes tend to run more toward straight ahead or vocally-driven jazz. However, anytime I’ve dabbled in what you might consider “avant garde”, it always seems to come back to drummer-driven music. (Think Jack DeJohnette, etc.)

So it’s surprising and not at all surprising that I’ve been seriously enjoying NYC drummer Devin Gray‘s …more…

Pianist Johnny O’Neal takes the stage at Smalls

It was not at all difficult to imagine pianist Johnny O’Neal as Art Tatum in the 2004 film, “Ray” (one of my favorites). Mostly because Mr. O’Neal is easily just as prodigiously talented as Mr. Tatum. ...more...

Nellie McKay at Feinstein’s

What is there to say about Nellie McKay? Mostly just that as soon as you try to define what it is that she actually does, she goes and does something so out of left field that you’re left bereft of descriptive ability. ...more...

Kate McGarry “Girl Talk”

I first heard Kate McGarry when she stopped by The Kitano to perform a gorgeous cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man” with Moss bandmate, Peter Eldridge (of New York Voices). I was taken by her beautiful, smoky voice and stunning song interpretation.

Kate’s got a new record out called Girl Talk, inspired by some of her idols (Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, and many others).

“Girl Talk” is a wonderfully intimate record that …more…

An Interview with Straight-Ahead Jazz Guitarist, Rick Stone

This week, NYC-based jazz guitarist Rick Stone answers some of my burning questions! Rick’s album Fractals with the Rick Stone Trio came out in 2011 and has been getting some great notice out on the interwebs, including a great review on You can catch The Rick Stone Trio in at the Bar Next Door at La Lanterna in NYC on February 25th. More info at ...more...

Esperanza Spalding – What now?

I have a soft spot in my heart for Esperanza Spalding. I used to catch her on OPB on whatever local arts show she happened to be playing that month. It was shocking and amazing when she won the Grammy for Best New Artist. Life changing. ...more...


I wanted to take a moment today to highlight one of the most under-appreciated sub-genres in jazz (in my incredibly biased vocalist opinion). ...more...

Diane Schuur @ The Blue Note NYC


I remember seeing Diane Schuur in Portland when I was quite young (the date and location escape me) and I remember being utterly fascinated with her voice.

Today, I can more easily spot the singers she imitates with ease and aplomb, but I suppose that makes it no less impressive.

Tonight, Diane will be at the Blue Note NYC. Tickets are here. I might just wander over there and see …more…

Jazz Pirates?

Arrrr! Thar she blows the saxophone! (via

I know, I know. You’ve probably heard more than enough about SOPA and PIPA this week. I won’t drag my opinion about the whole matter into this blog (and being a songwriter and working musician myself, my opinions on the issue are complicated). I do, however, want to put forth a thought for the jazz community.

In my (ever so humble) opinion, the …more…

Fat Cat

I paid a visit last week to Fat Cat down on Christopher Street with a few friends. I’d forgotten how great this place is!

With some of the best pool to be played in NYC and a really swingin’ after hours jam session every night, what’s not to love? ...more...

Jimmy Mak’s – Love Song to a Hometown Haunt

Greetings from the West Coast! I’m on a quick trip home and I thought I would step in as a guest blogger for Portland – my almost hometown! ...more...

The Kitano

Greetings from the fatter, more slothly side of Christmas!

I want to talk about one of my favorite spots for jazz in NYC. I discovered The Kitano a couple years ago when I went to see Peter Eldridge of New York Voices do a fabulous set in this sleek hotel setting. ...more...

The Best Holiday Jazz Recordings – Part II

Staring at Christmas from this side of Thanksgiving feels somehow more daunting. To combat your Winter Wonderland Woes (fingers crossed that the Snow Gods treat us kindly here in New York this year), I bring you the second and final installment of my favorite holiday jazz classics. ...more...

Russ Gershon and the Either/Orchestra

Mood Music for Time Travellers – Either/Orchestra

One of my favorite larger ensembles out there at the moment is the Either/Orchestra, led by saxophonist Russ Gershon. For over two decades, they’ve been fusing afro-cuban sounds with some of the best funky grooves to be found. In my mind, they sound a bit like one took Stan Kenton, put him in the blender and made a really spicy Gazpacho.(How’s that for …more…

The Best Holiday Jazz Recordings (An Early Present)

Sad Christmas Tree is Sad.

Call me grumpy, call me undeservedly crotchety in spite of my years, call me what you want, but hearing Christmas music on the radio BEFORE Halloween this year was just too much. It could also be that I had a terrible cold and wished I could’ve been out there in the freezing rain impressing people with my witty costume commentary on Occupy Wall Street instead …more…

Jazz at Lincoln Center – “Who is Duke Ellington?”

Jazz at Lincoln Center is, in this blogger’s humble opinion, one of the finest cultural institutions in NYC and indeed, the U.S., that no one seems to know about! With Wynton Marsalis at the helm, JALC has tapped into the dual needs of the Ken Burns educate-me-gently generation and our collective yen for good, old-fashioned quality entertainment to provide some of the best programming around with the world’s finest performers.

For …more…

A Zen Approach to Jazz

Oscar Peterson, Munich 1977 (Photo by Hans Bernhard)

I was sitting, looking out the window in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago, writing the jazz genre introduction for Arts America when Oscar Peterson’s rendition of the Gershwin classic “I Loves You Porgy” pops up on Spotify. I remember that I was writing the section on the debate over what jazz “is”.

Peterson was a master of the piano and watching this …more…