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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…


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…

The Devil's Music

Bessie Smith Lives at St. Luke’s

The great blues singer Bessie Smith is getting a revival at St. Luke’s Theatre, an intimate Off-Broadway venue on West 46th Street, thanks to a powerhouse performance by Miche Braden in The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith.  With no more than a pointed look and a swish of the hips, the Drama Desk Award-nominated Braden commands the room the minute she enters.  And it doesn’t hurt …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…


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…


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…


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…

vandermark 5 at njf 080809_1

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…


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…


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...


Jovino Santos Neto joined Santos at Yoshi’s

The top Bay Area jazz happening of recent weeks was surely John Santos Sextet’s two-night stand at Yoshi’s in Oakland. While Santos is always a notable attraction in these parts, his engagement at the famous East Bay club on March 2 & 3, 2012, was one of those not-to-be-missed events whose auditors were glad they had made the trip. Upon entering the room for the first set on Friday night, it was clear that the evening was going to be a fun and collaborative one. ...more...


Jazz Spotlight: Sarah Marie Young

With the eclectic nature of Chicago’s music scene, filled with the blues, jazz, gospel, and R & B, it is a real joy to check out the vocal stylings of Sarah Marie Young.  An alumni of Columbia College’s heralded vocal jazz program, Young has been impressing Chicago audiences since 2004.

One aspect of Young’s singing that really amazes is her ability to sing jazz, R & B, as well as her …more…

McGarry "Girl Talk" Cover

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…


Saving Humanity One Dance At A Time

Pablo Malco, choreographer and director of The Hip Hop Symphony, the dance performance extravaganza hosted by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on January 29, 2012, tells us about how he got into dance, the making of The Hip Hop Symphony and the dance company turned foundation ( that brings the art of dance into the community. ...more...

'Vocalese' - The Manhattan Transfer (from Wikipedia)


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...

Petra's Recession Seven

“The Artist”?…Try Seven Artists!

Recently, my wife and I went to the movies to see “The Artist”.  The film (which is silent) is a love letter to grand old cinema, with references to Welles, Chaplin, Wilder, and many more. The theater was packed with people watching from the stairs in rapt attention without a peep from a soul in the audience.


There is something fantastic about a work that wittily references the past and exudes …more…


Top attraction this weekend: Alfredo Rodriguez

Saturday night’s Treasures from the Archives presentation by Mark Cantor of rare, fascinating jazz film clips was, as expected, another memorable occasion. This was no tiny, peripheral jazz society splitting hairs over minutiae and obscure musicians lost to history; Cantor’s presentation was informative, fun, and, above all, well-attended! The screening occurred in Kanbar Hall in The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco with an appreciative audience of probably 300 fans …more…

mattson 2

Identical Twins Jazz Up San Diego

Photo courtesy of Andrew Paynter

Identical twin jazz duo, the Mattson 2, have been taking the San Diego jazz scene by storm with their contemporary take on the genre. The pair, namely Jonathan and Jared Mattson, are crossing boundaries with their distinct sound and even more distinct fashion sense.

The duo has been on the jazz scene for a few years now under the Indie label, Galaxia …more…



One of the most intriguing jazz news stories of recent years was revived when Don Cheadle recently confirmed that his plans to make a film about Miles Davis were developing. The proposed project, which Cheadle would both direct and star in, was announced two years ago but had scarcely been mentioned by the Oscar-nominated actor since. Cheadle, of course, has been busy starring in films like Iron Man 2 and …more…

Fat Cat NYC (from Gotham Jazz)

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...


Jazz at Jacks Brings Soul to the Heart of Downtown Denver

Whether you are a visiting tourist or a Denver native, you’d be hard pressed to find a more accessible jazz venue than ‘Jazz @ Jacks,’ conveniently located in the center of Downtown Denver, in the Denver Pavilions on the bustling 16th Street Mall. ...more...

Jazz vocalist Karla Harris at Jimmy Mak's.

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...


2011 Top Musical Discoveries (a personal list)

Many critics, reviewers, and bloggers end the year with a top ten list of the year’s best recordings, best performances, top news stories, etc. For my record of San Francisco and Bay Area jazz happenings, I want to offer a list of top musical discoveries of 2011. Admittedly, this is a highly personal list and I offer it in the hopes that readers respond with their own discoveries:

Early Music scene …more…

New Orleans Museum of Art (Photo courtesy of NOCVB)

New Orleans Museum of Art turns 100 with a party

In most any other major North American city an art museum would commemorate an anniversary with a dry, stuffy affair consisting of a string quartet quietly playing Haydn or Brahms while hor d’oeuvres would be passed along to attendees by a wait staff in thick-starched black and white uniforms.

New Orleans Museum of Art (Photo courtesy of NOCVB)

But this is New Orleans and when the New Orleans Museum of Art …more…