UTILITY STRING: Jenny Scheinman released two CDs, played her vocal music at the MFA, and was the lead “voice” of Bill Frisell’s string ensemble.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite things from among the people, CDs, and performances I wrote about this year.
Brian Blade Fellowship
|WFNX Jazz Brunch Top 10 of 2008|
1. Cassandra Wilson, Loverly [Blue Note]
2. Patricia Barber, The Cole Porter Mix [Blue Note]
3. Brian Blade, Season of Changes [Verve]
4. Todd Sickafoose, Tiny Resistors [Cryptogramophone]
5. Marco Benevento, Invisible Baby [Hyena]
6. Aaron Parks, Invisible Cinema [Blue Note]
7. Pat Metheny, Day Trip [Nonesuch]
8. e.s.t., Leucocyte [Emarcy]
9. Maceo Parker, Roots and Grooves [Heads Up]
10. Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza [Heads Up]
Blade has become the man in jazz drumming, most prominently with Joshua Redman in the '90s and Wayne Shorter in the '00s. But he's got a string of pop credits that includes Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Daniel Lanois. His Fellowship Band, with co-composer and keyboardist Jon Cowherd, represents the merger of Blade's pop and jazz sides and a general movement in jazz among players under 40 toward creating jazz from the kind of pop they grew up with (as opposed to the pop Sonny Rollins grew up with). Blade, Cowherd, bassist Chris Thomas, reedmen Myron Walden and Melvin Butler, and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel released only their third album since 1998, Season of Changes (Verve), tore it up at Newport last August, and (with a slightly different line-up) filled Scullers for two shows in November.
Colorado-raised alto-saxophonist Mahanthappa didn't begin to explore seriously the music of his parents' native country till he traveled to India as a Berklee student in 1994. Since then he's continued to travel there, studying and developing his own vision of the music, and he's continued to collaborate with fellow Indian-American Vijay Iyer. In February, he brought pianist Iyer as part of a quartet to the Gardner Museum for an exciting concert. In September, Mahanthappa released Kinsmen (Pi), perhaps his most fully realized Indo-jazz fusion yet, a collaboration with veteran Indian alto-saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and an ensemble that included violinist A. Kanyakumari and guitarist Rez Abassi.
Bley's local performances have been rare in recent years, so it was a treat to see her at Scullers in April with long-time collaborators Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard — her Music with Legs trio. They played her 20-minute suite "The National Anthem," the beautiful slow tango "Tropical Depression," the rock-beat "Sidewinders in Paradise" (which of course quoted "Stranger in Paradise"), the Monkish bebop "Doctor," the sinister matinee-movie waltz "Valse Sinistre," the Norwegian folk "Útviklingssang," and her eternal cyclical waltz "Ad Inifinitum." This was the intimate, small-group Bley. Later in the year came Appearing Nightly (ECM) — Bley in her daunting big-band mode. Maybe we can get her back live with the big band in 2009?
Live and on record, 2009: The year in jazz, Teachers and students, More
- Live and on record
To call Darius Jones’s music avant-garde seems almost beside the point. In its way, it’s older than old — it’s ancient.
- 2009: The year in jazz
Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite things from among the people, CDs, and concerts I wrote about in 2009.
- Teachers and students
Several of this fall's promising jazz performances are clustered around the week of October 18. That marks the 40th-anniversary celebration of the jazz-studies program at New England Conservatory, which, created by Gunther Schuller, established NEC as one of the international twin beacons of jazz education in Boston along with Berklee College of Music.
As guitar heroes go — even jazz guitar heroes — Ben Monder flies under the radar.
- Giant Steps: Goodies from Berklee's Beantown Jazz Festival
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival has grown from a one-day street fair to 10 days of activities that encompass club gigs as well as the signature afternoon multi-stage event in the South End. Here are some highlights.
- Fall Jazz Preview: Blindfold test
A search for this fall’s must-see jazz revealed a lot of overlapping personnel — Jim Hobbs, Allan Chase, Joe Morris, Taylor Ho Bynum. Hey, you wanted to know what’s good , right?
- Esperanza and Kenny
Spalding's chamber music; Werner's elegy
- Society's demands
Esperanza Spalding wants to prepare her listeners for something different with her new Chamber Music Society (Heads Up). She made that clear at Sanders Theatre Saturday night.
- Joe Lovano Us Five | Bird Songs
It's worth taking Lovano's word that this is not a Charlie Parker "tribute" album.
- No identity crisis
If great art and great artists are supposed to contain multitudes, then in music, at least, pianists have the edge: 10 fingers theoretically capable of 10 different simultaneous paths for the music to take. Of course, it's not that simple.
- Linda Oh Trio | Entry
Chinese-Australian bassist Linda Oh (now living in NYC) favors a spare setting on this debut: trumpet, bass, and drums.
: Music Features
, Entertainment, Pete Wentz, Music, More
, Entertainment, Pete Wentz, Music, Norah Jones, New England Conservatory of Music, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Andy Sheppard, Jazz and Blues, Lucinda Williams, Less