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Al Jarreau and the Cleveland Orchestra

Sold out crowd well entertained by Al Jarreau and The Cleveland Orchestra

Roy Berko

Entertainment Reviewer

Known as “the voice of versatility,” seven time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau joined The Cleveland Orchestra, under the baton of Larry Baird, to energize and please a Severance Hall audience on Sunday evening.

The 72-year old Jarreau, who has been heralded as “one of the world’s greatest natural resources,” and “the greatest jazz singer alive,” scatted, crooned, …more…

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Preservation Hall Band jazzes up Blossom

Roy Berko

(Member, Dance Critics Association)

New Orleans’ Preservation Hall is a small weathered music venue in the heart of the French Quarter.  Its jazz band was founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe.  Since its inception the group has travelled world wide spreading the New Orleans sound, which centers on creating a joyful spirit.

In its own intimate setting the band fits like an old shoe, …more…

Guitar Picks and Del Casher

About 30 years ago I bought a gross of guitar picks, and I recently discovered that I was down to about six.  So when I was atGuitarCenteron Pico to drop some of my meager funds on some other items, I was dismayed to find that they were out of my brand (Fender extra heavy, if you must know).  So I rolled up to West L.A. Music, where I encountered sheer …more…

Out of the Cool Album Cover

Jazz to Take to a Desert Island

Years ago, deejay and old acquaintance John McNally had a segment on whatever at the time was L.A.’s premier jazz radio station (it might have been KKGO), in which he identified tunes or albums that he would take to a desert island.  Continuing in that tradition, here are a couple of albums and tunes, which if I had to live without might tempt me into less constructive pursuits.

“Out of the …more…

Out of the Cool Album Cover

Jazz to Take to a Desert Island

Years ago, deejay and old acquaintance John McNally had a segment on whatever at the time was L.A.’s premier jazz radio station (it might have been KKGO), in which he identified tunes or albums that he would take to a desert island.  Continuing in that tradition, here are a couple of albums and tunes which if I had to live without might tempt me into less constructive pursuits.

“Out of the …more…

Curtis Fuller (from last.fm)

“Down Home” – New Release from Trombonist Curtis Fuller

Curtis Fuller (from last.fm)

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…

Brews and Blues Festival at the Springs Preserve

When summer sets in and the temperatures in Vegas maintain a steady triple digits there are are few things that can get you to commit to an outdoor event better than live music and beer.  The Springs Preserve is hosting its third annual Brews and Blues Festival.  Last years event sold out with over 2,500 people coming out for a afternoon of beer tasting and live Blues.

Starting at 3:00 for Springs Preserve …more…

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Jazz in the Burbs? Enter Pete Miller’s

 

Once when I was a student at Binghamton University, I was taking a taxi cab back to campus from the Greyhound Station.  The gregarious driver and I struck up a conversation about music and he asked what genre I enjoyed.  “Mostly jazz” I answered, to which he became very excited and asked if I liked Art Pepper and John Coltrane.  I immediately answered in the affirmative so we took our …more…

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Old Friends, New Recordings

 

As a former New Yorker now living in Chicago, it is always great when old New York jazz friends come to town.  This month was especially a treat with bassist Tal Ronen rolling through the windy city.  Ronen, who is easily one of the best bassists of his generation, is a regular at New York stalwart clubs, such as Smalls, 55 Bar, and the Fat Cat.  Recently, he has been …more…

Black Hawk, San Francisco

San Francisco Jazz Landmark Recognized

Though it closed its doors in 1963, a half-dozen classic recordings made at San Francisco’s Blackhawk nightclub have ensured a secure, lasting renown for the club in jazz lore. Along with other, long-gone clubs such as New York’s Royal Roost, Chicago’s Blue Note, and Philly’s Showboat and Peps’, the Blackhawk enjoys a mythic status as a club where all of the great post-war small groups played; Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, …more…

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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…

Album Cover for Grant Johnson's CD "lightflyte"

Grant Johnson

These days it’s possible for any jerk with a Fender Squier, a peace button for a pick and a bootleg copy of Garage Band to create a CD.  And wading through the mountains of discordant dreck to find that one diamond in the rough can be daunting, if not downright depressing.

But every once in a blue moon a real gem shines through the dense strata of muck.  Such is the …more…

Amina Figarova (from AminaFigarova.com, photo by Joke Schot)

Amina Figarova – New Release: “Twelve”

Amina Figarova (from AminaFigarova.com, 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…

The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books

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 (from Bass Musician Magazine)

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…

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Feel the Sway with Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts at the Green Mill

 

As one steps back and takes a good look at all of the jazz that is out there, all the different musical directions that have developed and are developing right now, it can be overwhelming.   To boot, much jazz music is quite serious in nature (don’t get me wrong, much of that serious music is quite inspiring) but when one is listening to a jazz suite composed over the John …more…

Rose Colella

Jazz Spotlight: Vocalist Rose Colella

 

In the age of American Idol, singers are often unfortunately graded on how hard they can belt.  Rose Colella sings with understated nuance in a way that brings to mind Blossom Dearie, Shirley Horn, and Billie Holiday.  Colella does not use a song’s lyrics as a “show off” vehicle, she massages each lyric with deep musical sensitivity and emotional maturity.  She uses a gentle whisper to caress a melody or …more…

From http://www.gilevansproject.com

Album of Newly-Discovered Gil Evans Music

From http://www.gilevansproject.com

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…

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To Berkeley with Fury: Seun Kuti and Egypt 80

Last night in UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, Seun Kuti had the crowd on its feet and dancing in the aisles to his version of Afrobeat, the music pioneered by his legendary father, Fela Kuti. While Fela! The Musical has brought new attention and perhaps a new audience to Fela’s music and story of protest, the late Black President’s legacy also survives in the music of his son, Seun (pronounce Shay-oon). …more…

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Jazz Concerto Premiere – An Interview With Lewis Porter

On April 19, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. in Paine Hall on the Harvard University campus, jazz pianist, composer, educator, and author, Lewis Porter’s Concerto for Saxophone will receive its world premiere with jazz icon Dave Liebman as the soloist (event site). Dr. Porter was kind enough to answer some questions about the piece and his collaborations with Liebman:

Your achievements as a scholar and educator are tremendous: You have been a …more…

Kaissa at Zinc Bar

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…

SFJAZZspring_april

SFJAZZ Spring Season Underway

The Spring season is well underway at SFJAZZ, but there is still plenty to look forward to in April, May, and June. Starting the month on a particularly strong note, the presenting company’s namesake combo, the SFJAZZ Collective, is playing Yoshi’s in Oakland on this weekend, March 31 – April 1. As great as they are, you may want to wait and catch them on Sunday so that you don’t …more…

Journey into Capricorn - Stan Kenton

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…

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Chicago’s Iconic Experimental Jazz Scene

I was recently attending the annual conference for the International Society for Improvised Music and I got into a conversation with trombonist, Jeff Albert.  First of all, Jeff is a pretty awesome dude: he is currently working on his Ph.D in Experimental Music, experimenting with the possibilities of computers and improvised music, and was recently named a Rising Star in the Trombone category for Down Beat Magazine… plus, Jeff is …more…

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The State of Jazz Clubs: Chicago and New York

 

I was attending a wonderful show by vocalist Arlene Bardelle and I reflected on the unique perspective that my wife and I (as well as a few others) have from observing the jazz scenes of both the windy city and the big apple.  As jazz clubs continue to financially tread water, refine their lineups to fit more popular tastes, or simply close down, many in the jazz community question what …more…