Archive | January, 2010

And the Jazz Grammys go to….

31 Jan

Here are your Grammy winners in the main jazz categories, as announced Sunday, January 31st:

Best Contemporary Jazz Album: Joe Zawinul & the Zawinul Syndicate – 75

Best Jazz Vocal Album: Kurt Elling – Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman


Best Improvised Jazz Solo: Terence Blanchard “Dancin’ 4 Chicken” from CD Watts (Jeff “Tain” Watts)


Best Jazz Instrumental Album: Chick Corea/John McLaughlin Five Peace Band – Five Peace Band – Live


Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (led by Irvin Mayfield) – Book One


Best Latin Jazz Album: Bebo Valdes/Chucho Valdes – Juntos Para Siempre


OTHER WINNERS:

Best Instrumental Arrangement: Bill Cunliffe – Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals: Claus Ogerman – Diana Krall – Quiet Nights

Best Album Notes: Dan Morgenstern – The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946)

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Buble – Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden

A few surprises here? I sure expected Allen Toussaint to win Instrumental Album, and underestimated Kurt Elling’s latest as well. Let us know what you think!

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Groove Notes, Live From New Orleans Day 2 (Music and Football)

25 Jan

So yesterday, to say the very least, was a big day in New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints football team was playing against the Minnesota Vikings in a game that could send the Saints to their first Super Bowl in the teams 43 year existence. As I mentioned yesterday, New Orleans is a city that takes advantage of any reason to celebrate or have a party, and yesterday was far from an exception.

The game was in the evening here, but the anticipation of it was going strong all day long. As we walked down Bourbon Street, there was not a step you could take without hearing music in some form. The street was blocked off to traffic by mid-morning, and crowds were already out. I was perhaps the most out-of-place person on Bourbon Street, being the only one in town not wearing a Saints jersey or t-shirt.

One of the assumptions that I had going in to this trip was that, sure, there would be good music, but I didn’t realize that genuinely good music would be everywhere. I assumed that the great music would be limited to the Preservation Hall and House of Blues-like establishments, but even the “amateurs” are groups I would be happy to see in any top-tier jazz club.

As I walked in to the famous Pat O’ Brien’s bar for lunch (which consisted of free chili dogs and potato chips…that’s right, free), even the dueling pianists were impressive. Most times a dueling piano bar you get cheesy guys pounding out classic rock while modifying the lyrics in some perverse fashion for a laugh. Here, you had two smokey voiced laidies from Mississippi singing everything from jazz to Billy Joel to church music.

Street musicians might often suggest an untalented panhandler. As I settled into my seat at the Chartres House Cafe for a plate of crawfish cakes minutes before the football game was to start, a brass band came passing right by my table, led by a trumpeter who performed a solo I would have recorded, pressed, and packaged if I had the opportunity.

During the game, a man who introduced himself as an advertising executive named Bo told me that a world-famous jazz musician was to be performing in a tiny room free of charge on the fourth floor of the Wyndham Hotel. I was happy with what I was seeing on the street.

The Saints won that evening, and 4 1/2 years after Katrina, the city finally had a victory, and their team was going to the Superbowl. They celebrated accordingly. Bourbon Street was packed with people cheering, with music from every balcony, and no more than two seconds went by without someone shouting “WHO DAT?”, the Saints adopted motto.

Groove Notes, Live From New Orleans, Day 1

24 Jan

Our weekly “1,000” and “Clash” posts will be taking a weeklong hiatus, but for good reason.

This week I will be posting live from New Orleans. It is my first visit here, and there is so much to soak up and talk about, especially musically.

I will start by saying that I am making a pact with myself to only post entries while eating beignets and drinking cafe au lait from Cafe Du Monde. Of the 30 or so emails I received ahead of time from listeners and readers about what I should do while in New Orleans, Cafe Du Monde was on almost every single list. Delicious.

For jazz fans, you know you are home when you get off the airplane in New Orleans and are almost immediately greeted by a giant statue of Louis Armstrong, and the few shops and restaurants in the airport almost all have the word “Jazz” in their name.

While day one was only a half-day, and half of that was taken up by a nap, I wasn’t going to waste my first night. New Orleans is a city that will take advantage of any reason to celebrate, and with the Saints playing for the NFC Championship today, the crowds were out at night. There is music of all forms everywhere, but my first night I decided to head to Frenchman Street.

One restaurant had live reggae, and across the street was live blues at a small bar. A dixieland band was playing on the street for donations, but I wasn’t stopping until I made it to Snug Harbor, self described as New Orleans premier jazz club. I had a fried chicken sandwich, a Hurricane, and enjoyed a wonderful night of tribute to Django Reinhardt.

The social scene at these jazz clubs, restaurants, and bars is completely different than what I have previously been familiar with. It is a party, not just a show. I made reservations for Tuesday night, when Terrance Blanchard is going to be playing. After Snug Harbor, I went across the street to a place called the Spotted Cat music club, where a band called the Frenchman Street All-Stars were playing. This was high energy, high intensity jazz, the way I always imagined jazz being played in a small New Orleans club. Crowded, a little greasy, but standing room only, loud, and with a quintet that tore the roof off of the place. People cheered for solos like solos are supposed to be cheered for.

This was Day 1. As previously mentioned, I plan on seeing Terrence Blanchard on Tuesday, as well as a visit to the Musician’s Villiage, among many other music related activities. I’ll keep ya posted.

Clash of the College Bands Tourney – Week 3: University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble vs. BYU Synthesis Big Band

19 Jan

Congratulations to the week 2 winner, University Northern Colorado, who beat Willamette University with 64% of the vote.

Week 3 begins now, with the first round match up between the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble versus the BYU Synthesis Big Band.

To see the bracket, click here.

Each week, two college or university big bands will “face off”. You, as the reader, will listen to a song from each band, and then vote for the one you like the best. After the week is over, one team will move on to the next round, and we will feature two new bands. The last band standing is the Clash of the College Bands winner.

Below are the next two school bands.

Click on the link for each school below. Audio will begin in a new page. After you have listened to each band, vote on the one you like the best.

University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble – Zach

BYU Synthesis Big Band – Begin the Beguine

Clash of the College Bands Tourney – Week 2: Willamette University Jazz Collective vs. University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band 1

Clash of the College Bands Tourney Begins Now! Week 1: University of Miami Concert Jazz Band vs. Princeton University Big Band

Clash of the College Bands


A New Orleans Pre-Funk with Holotradband

16 Jan

If you are a listener of my radio program, you have no doubt heard my excitement about my first trip to New Orleans next week. Listeners have been emailing with their suggestions of places that I HAVE to visit, raising that excitement to an unreal level.

Being the overwhelmingly impatient person that I am, I needed to get some sort of New Orleans fix, any New Orleans fix in before I left.

I found my fix.

I am ashamed to say that I have never ventured to the New Orleans Creole Restaurant in the Pioneer Square district of downtown Seattle on a Tuesday night before. For six years, a seven piece group named Holotradband has been performing a wonderful blend of New Orleans and Chicago style jazz. It took my own selfish desires to finally seek out this band, and I realized immediately that I had been missing out for way too long.

My friend (the friend who I am heading to New Orleans with) and I sat down, and our table was soon filled with orders of pan-fried oysters, pan-fried catfish strips with creolaise dip, and ice-cold Hurricanes. The food and drinks paired perfectly with the music of Holotradband, who with their three-horn front delivered the early sounds of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Clarence Williams.

A couple got up to dance. My friend asked if I danced, and I reminded her that I am regularly the tallest, most untalented dancer on the dance floor, but I might consider it. Shortly after, about six younger dancers, dancers that appeared to have been in lessons since birth, made their way to the dance floor. I was forced to revoke my previous consideration, knowing now that  I would not only be shown up, but tragically embarrassed. Truthfully, it remained impossible to keep, at minimum, from tapping my foot. The band communicated, not only with each other flawlessly, but with the audience as well.

All in all, it was a great night out, and a wonderful way to prepare for my trip, and I will no doubt will return in the future when I simply need another fix. The food was affordable and tasty, the cover was free, and the band was fantastic.

Holotradband has CD’s available. When speaking to a band member about them, he said that “they might not be perfect studio quality, and will sound a lot like what I was listening to tonight.”

“Perfect”, I said. “I wouldn’t want them any other way”.

You can visit Holotradband’s website at www.holotradband.com, where you can read up on the band, hear their music, and purchase CD’s.

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (401-420)

16 Jan

Here is another 20 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Every week I will offer up twenty more, in no particular order and with no ranking system or common theme (other than jazz of course).

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with this week, and in no particular order, albums 401 through 420.

401. Lonely Woman – Modern Jazz Quartet (Atlantic, 1962)

402. Somethin’s Cookin’ – Junior Cook (Muse, 1981)

403. Here and Now – Geoff Keezer (Blue Note, 1991)

404. Present Tense – Bobby Watson (Columbia, 1992)

405. Cross-Currents – Bill Evans (Fantasy/OJC, 1977)

406. Red Garland at the Prelude – Red Garland (Universal Distribution, 1959)

407. The Koln Concert – Keith Jarrett (ECM Records, 1975)

408. Music in Motion – Jason Marsalis (Basin Street Records, 2000)

409. Crazy! Baby – Jimmy Smith (Blue Note, 1960)

410. Ella and Louis Again – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (Verve, 1957)

411. Long Road Home – Lynne Arriale (TCB Records, 1997)

412. African Sketchbook – Abdullah Ibrahim (then Dollar Brand) (Enja, 1969)

413. Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith – Dinah Washington (Emarcy, 1958)

414. Bumpin’ – Wes Montgomery (Verve, 1965)

415. What is There to Say? – Gerry Mulligan (Sony Music Distribution, 1959)

416. Jazz Giants ’58 – Stan Getz (Verve, 1958)

417. Deep Passion – Oscar Pettiford (MCA Records, 1957)

418. Red Door: Remember Zoot Sims – Scott Hamilton and Bucky Pizzarelli (Concord Jazz, 1998)

419. Triple Treat, Vol. 1 – Monty Alexander (Concord Jazz, 1983)

420. Lady in Satin – Billie Holliday (Columbia, 1958)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (1-20)

Clash of the College Bands Tourney – Week 2: Willamette University Jazz Collective vs. University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band 1

11 Jan

Congratulations to the week 1 winner, University of Miami, who beat Princeton with 78% of the vote.

Week 2 begins now, with the first round match up between the Willamette University Jazz Collective versus the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band 1.

To see the bracket, click here.

Each week, two college or university big bands will “face off”. You, as the reader, will listen to a song from each band, and then vote for the one you like the best. After the week is over, one team will move on to the next round, and we will feature two new bands. The last band standing is the Clash of the College Bands winner.

Below are the next two school bands.

Click on the link for each school. Audio will begin in a new page. After you have listened to each band, vote on the one you like the best.

University of Northern Colorado Lab Band 1 – Flux in the Box (audio made available by UNC Jazz Studies website)

Willamette University Jazz Collective – In Your Voice (audio made available by Willamette University Music website)

Clash of the College Bands Tourney Begins Now! Week 1: University of Miami Concert Jazz Band vs. Princeton University Big Band

Clash of the College Bands

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