Archive | September, 2010

"Now In Stores" VIII

27 Sep

Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:

1. Chamber Music Society by Esperanza Spalding (Heads Up – August 17, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Centuries ago, long before the advent of radio or recording technology, chamber music was the music for the masses – the music in which people from nearly every segment of society could find meaning and relevance. A decade into the 21st century, Esperanza Spalding – the bassist, vocalist and composer who first appeared on the jazz scene in 2008 – takes a contemporary approach to this once universal form of entertainment with Chamber Music Society.

Backed by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese – and inspired by the classical training of her younger years – Esperanza creates a modern chamber music group that combines the spontaneity and intrigue of improvisation with sweet and angular string trio arrangements. The result is a sound that weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical music.

“So much of my early musical experience was spent playing chamber music on the violin, and it’s a form of music that I’ve always loved,” says Esperanza. “I was very inspired by a lot of classical music, and chamber music in particular. I’m intrigued by the concept of intimate works that can be played and experienced among friends in an intimate setting. So I decided to create my version of contemporary chamber music, and add one more voice to that rich history.”

Chamber Music Society is a place where connoisseurs of classical music and jazz devotees – and fans of other musics as well – can find common ground. The recording offers a chamber music for modern times – one that brings together people of different perspectives and broadens their cultural experience, just as it did in an earlier age.

Esperanza first took the world by storm in 2008 with her self-titled debut recording that spent more than 70 weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Two years later, she continues to push the boundaries of jazz and explore the places where it intersects with other genres. Co-produced by Esperanza and Gil Goldstein, Chamber Music Society surrounds Esperanza with a diverse assembly of musicians. At the core are pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and percussionist Quintino Cinalli. The string trio is comprised of violinist Entcho Todorov, violist Lois Martin, cellist David Eggar and Gretchen Parlato on voice. The great Milton Nascimento also makes a guest appearance on one track.

This is the work of a brilliant young musical talent who isn’t afraid to challenge the limits of jazz and its relationship to other forms of musical expression. Chamber Music Society is the first of two current Esperanza projects. Radio Music Society, set for release in the spring of 2011, features an exciting new repertoire of funk, hip-hop, and rock elements fused into songs that are free from genre. “I’m confident that this music will touch people,” she says of Chamber Music Society. “We all want to hear sincerity and originality in music, and anyone can recognize and appreciate when love and truth are transmitted through art. No matter what else has or hasn’t been achieved on this recording, those things are definitely a part of this music. Those are the things I really want to deliver.”

2. Mirror by Charles Lloyd (ECM Records – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Many critics have opined that Lloyd’s “New Quartet”, with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland may be the best of all his groups. The quartet’s previous release in this line-up, the live-recorded Rabo de Nube, met with across-the-board approval and was voted #1 album of the year in both the Critics and Readers Polls of JazzTimes.

Mirror is the first studio album by the Lloyd-Moran-Rogers-Harland unit and it features beautiful, transformed versions of favorites including both Lloyd originals and tunes Charles has made his own over the years. There is a pair of Thelonious Monk tunes, “Ruby, My Dear” and “Monk’s Mood”, as well as hymns and traditionals including “Go Down Moses”, “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, and “The Water Is Wide”. Lloyd covers Brian Wilson’s’ “Caroline, No” (the saxophonist guested on several Beach Boys albums in the 70s, including the classic “Surf’s Up”), and plays an achingly lovely version of the the standard “I Fall In Love Too Easily”. Lloyd originals include “Desolation Sound”, “Mirror”, “Tagi” (which includes a Bhagavad Gita inspired spoken-word meditation by Lloyd) and “Being and Becoming”.

The band plays superbly. Interaction between Jason Moran and the elastic rhythm section of Harland and Rogers is agile and alert in every moment. While each of these three players is completely in tune with Lloyd’s way of working, none of them had yet been born when Charles had his idiomatic breakthrough with “Forest Flower” in 1967. Moran recalls that his father encouraged him to listen to Forest Flower when he was just starting to check out jazz, and the album was part of the soundtrack of his childhood.

There is plenty of Lloyd’s graceful, mellifluous and poetic tenor sax: We also get to hear some of his rarely-showcased alto saxophone, the instrument that Billy Higgins called Charles’s “secret weapon”.

“Charles is playing really beautiful,” Ornette Coleman says, in the documentary film The Monk and the Mermaid. “He’s expressing the qualities of what we experience. Trying to make a contribution to the quality of life, to do with knowledge.” The knowledge, experience, and wisdom conveyed through Lloyd’s tender saxophone soliloquies have drawn great musicians to him over the decades, and contributed to a reputation as one of the most insightful band leaders in all of jazz. Those qualities are reflected once more in Mirror, which is perhaps as succinct a portrait of Charles’ music as can be embraced by a single disc.

“Charles approaches the music with such openness”, pianist Jason Moran said recently “I like playing with leaders who let you bring what you’ve got to the table, and interpret the music however you’d like. Charles is a great promoter of free-thinking music, and letting it develop on the spot.”

Reuben Rogers was born in the Virgin Islands and grew up listening to calypso and reggae as well as jazz, exposure that seems to have impacted on the lyrical dancing swing of his bass playing. He works exceptionally well with Harland, exploring loose grooves behind Lloyd’s solos, and speaks of the joy of “being in the music in the moment,” when the Lloyd band is improvising collectively, “without any worries, just giving it all.” A much sought after sideman, Reuben has also worked extensively with Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves and more.

Eric Harland is increasingly regarded as one of the most important contemporary jazz drummers. In addition to his work with Lloyd in the quartet and in the Sangam trio (with Zakir Hussain) he has played and recorded with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Greg Osby, Dave Holland and many others.

3. Beautiful Dreamers by Bill Frisell (Savoy Label Group – August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

For a long time I’d had the dream of making a trio with Eyvind Kang and Rudy Royston. We’ve known each other for years and worked together in many situations. The idea came about as a result of the power and strength of the connection that happens when we play music together. It wasn’t about the instruments, it was about the people. We played our first gig on June 7, 2008 in Eugene, Oregon and from the first note, it was working. Each time we get together the music feels new…..and old. Backwards and forwards. Up and down. Anything is possible. I can’t wait to hear what happens next. Of course, the next thing on my mind was wishing, hoping we could make an album together of new music. I went to my friend Lee Townsend. Anyone familiar with my music needs no introduction to Lee. Over more than 20 years he has produced many of my albums. We were working together on another project at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley CA. and I started noticing the size, shape, sound, vibe of the room there. It was like it had been custom designed. The perfect set up and atmosphere to record this trio. The next thing I knew, we were in there recording and Savoy came along and wanted to put out the record! I’m so fortunate having the chance to play music with Eyvind and Rudy and having an audience willing to go along for the latest adventure. I’m the luckiest guy in the world being surrounded by all these folks who have so much faith and trust in the music, helping me to make my dreams come true. Beautiful dreamers.

4. Never Stop by The Bad Plus (E1 Entertainment – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

For the past ten years The Bad Plus Reid Anderson on bass, Ethan Iverson on piano and David King on drums have created an uncompromising body of work by shattering musical convention. Rolling Stone called their amalgam of jazz, pop, rock and avant garde about as badass as highbrow gets, while The New York Times said the band is better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post- 60s jazz and indie rock. Few jazz groups in recent memory have amassed such acclaim, and few have generated as much controversy while audaciously bucking musical trends.

Ten years together is a milestone we chose to mark with a set of originals, said Iverson. The new album, NEVER STOP, is a ten-track set, the group s first album of all-original material, strictly an instrumental affair and a collection whose live groove belies its studio origins. It s a rapid-fire succession of engaging performances showcasing the band’s range as well as its three distinct personalities. From gentle and melodic to fierce and abstract, from swing to 80s techno, NEVER STOP does just what the title says: it keeps rolling and flowing, a kinetic playground of new sounds.

With a year-long anniversary tour planned for 2010-2011, The Bad Plus is ready to solidify its status as the go-to band for the ultimate in jazz and beyond. You re going to have to deal with us some time or another,” says Iverson. “We re never going to stop.

5. Providencia by Danilo Perez (Mack Avenue – August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Danilo Perez’ debut on Mack Ave Records is deeply anticipated by the critical community and while that level of near-academic excitement exists, it is vital to remember that this music is truly moving on visceral, physical and emotional planes. In a nutshell – and from the artist himself – Providencia crosses streams of jazz, classical and Latin American folk music, which Perez refers to as ‘hearing music in three dimensions.’ The title track itself is buoyed by pulsating Latin rhythms and an enticing vocalizes foray. While there is no doubt that talent and technique abound on this record – in Danilo’s facile fingers and players – a great heart also resides in the compositions and performances. The birth of his daughters and his ongoing commitment to education and social change through music spark his desire to make music that matters – music for all to enjoy and hopefully draw inspiration from its vivacity. ‘Daniela’s Chronicles’ is part of an ongoing symphony he’s writing for his daughter and ‘Cobilla’ is a title she contributed to one of the CD’s tunes, a challenging yet playful exploration. This is well worth the 25 years Danilo claims it took for him to create this exemplary music – only you have to set aside an hour to partake in its fruits.

“Now In Stores” VII

Now in Stores (Late May, June, and July)

“Now in Stores” – 5/16/2010 to 5/22/2010

“Now in Stores” – 5/2/2010 to 5/8/2010

Now in Stores” – 4/25/2010 to 5/1/2010

“Now in Stores” – 4/18/2010 t0 4/24/2010

“Now In Stores” – 5 Noteworthy Jazz Albums Released this Week (4/11/2010-4/17/10)

“Now In Stores” VIII

27 Sep

Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:

1. Chamber Music Society by Esperanza Spalding (Heads Up – August 17, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Centuries ago, long before the advent of radio or recording technology, chamber music was the music for the masses – the music in which people from nearly every segment of society could find meaning and relevance. A decade into the 21st century, Esperanza Spalding – the bassist, vocalist and composer who first appeared on the jazz scene in 2008 – takes a contemporary approach to this once universal form of entertainment with Chamber Music Society.

Backed by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese – and inspired by the classical training of her younger years – Esperanza creates a modern chamber music group that combines the spontaneity and intrigue of improvisation with sweet and angular string trio arrangements. The result is a sound that weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical music.

“So much of my early musical experience was spent playing chamber music on the violin, and it’s a form of music that I’ve always loved,” says Esperanza. “I was very inspired by a lot of classical music, and chamber music in particular. I’m intrigued by the concept of intimate works that can be played and experienced among friends in an intimate setting. So I decided to create my version of contemporary chamber music, and add one more voice to that rich history.”

Chamber Music Society is a place where connoisseurs of classical music and jazz devotees – and fans of other musics as well – can find common ground. The recording offers a chamber music for modern times – one that brings together people of different perspectives and broadens their cultural experience, just as it did in an earlier age.

Esperanza first took the world by storm in 2008 with her self-titled debut recording that spent more than 70 weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Two years later, she continues to push the boundaries of jazz and explore the places where it intersects with other genres. Co-produced by Esperanza and Gil Goldstein, Chamber Music Society surrounds Esperanza with a diverse assembly of musicians. At the core are pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and percussionist Quintino Cinalli. The string trio is comprised of violinist Entcho Todorov, violist Lois Martin, cellist David Eggar and Gretchen Parlato on voice. The great Milton Nascimento also makes a guest appearance on one track.

This is the work of a brilliant young musical talent who isn’t afraid to challenge the limits of jazz and its relationship to other forms of musical expression. Chamber Music Society is the first of two current Esperanza projects. Radio Music Society, set for release in the spring of 2011, features an exciting new repertoire of funk, hip-hop, and rock elements fused into songs that are free from genre. “I’m confident that this music will touch people,” she says of Chamber Music Society. “We all want to hear sincerity and originality in music, and anyone can recognize and appreciate when love and truth are transmitted through art. No matter what else has or hasn’t been achieved on this recording, those things are definitely a part of this music. Those are the things I really want to deliver.”

2. Mirror by Charles Lloyd (ECM Records – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Many critics have opined that Lloyd’s “New Quartet”, with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland may be the best of all his groups. The quartet’s previous release in this line-up, the live-recorded Rabo de Nube, met with across-the-board approval and was voted #1 album of the year in both the Critics and Readers Polls of JazzTimes.

Mirror is the first studio album by the Lloyd-Moran-Rogers-Harland unit and it features beautiful, transformed versions of favorites including both Lloyd originals and tunes Charles has made his own over the years. There is a pair of Thelonious Monk tunes, “Ruby, My Dear” and “Monk’s Mood”, as well as hymns and traditionals including “Go Down Moses”, “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, and “The Water Is Wide”. Lloyd covers Brian Wilson’s’ “Caroline, No” (the saxophonist guested on several Beach Boys albums in the 70s, including the classic “Surf’s Up”), and plays an achingly lovely version of the the standard “I Fall In Love Too Easily”. Lloyd originals include “Desolation Sound”, “Mirror”, “Tagi” (which includes a Bhagavad Gita inspired spoken-word meditation by Lloyd) and “Being and Becoming”.

The band plays superbly. Interaction between Jason Moran and the elastic rhythm section of Harland and Rogers is agile and alert in every moment. While each of these three players is completely in tune with Lloyd’s way of working, none of them had yet been born when Charles had his idiomatic breakthrough with “Forest Flower” in 1967. Moran recalls that his father encouraged him to listen to Forest Flower when he was just starting to check out jazz, and the album was part of the soundtrack of his childhood.

There is plenty of Lloyd’s graceful, mellifluous and poetic tenor sax: We also get to hear some of his rarely-showcased alto saxophone, the instrument that Billy Higgins called Charles’s “secret weapon”.

“Charles is playing really beautiful,” Ornette Coleman says, in the documentary film The Monk and the Mermaid. “He’s expressing the qualities of what we experience. Trying to make a contribution to the quality of life, to do with knowledge.” The knowledge, experience, and wisdom conveyed through Lloyd’s tender saxophone soliloquies have drawn great musicians to him over the decades, and contributed to a reputation as one of the most insightful band leaders in all of jazz. Those qualities are reflected once more in Mirror, which is perhaps as succinct a portrait of Charles’ music as can be embraced by a single disc.

“Charles approaches the music with such openness”, pianist Jason Moran said recently “I like playing with leaders who let you bring what you’ve got to the table, and interpret the music however you’d like. Charles is a great promoter of free-thinking music, and letting it develop on the spot.”

Reuben Rogers was born in the Virgin Islands and grew up listening to calypso and reggae as well as jazz, exposure that seems to have impacted on the lyrical dancing swing of his bass playing. He works exceptionally well with Harland, exploring loose grooves behind Lloyd’s solos, and speaks of the joy of “being in the music in the moment,” when the Lloyd band is improvising collectively, “without any worries, just giving it all.” A much sought after sideman, Reuben has also worked extensively with Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves and more.

Eric Harland is increasingly regarded as one of the most important contemporary jazz drummers. In addition to his work with Lloyd in the quartet and in the Sangam trio (with Zakir Hussain) he has played and recorded with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Greg Osby, Dave Holland and many others.

3. Beautiful Dreamers by Bill Frisell (Savoy Label Group – August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

For a long time I’d had the dream of making a trio with Eyvind Kang and Rudy Royston. We’ve known each other for years and worked together in many situations. The idea came about as a result of the power and strength of the connection that happens when we play music together. It wasn’t about the instruments, it was about the people. We played our first gig on June 7, 2008 in Eugene, Oregon and from the first note, it was working. Each time we get together the music feels new…..and old. Backwards and forwards. Up and down. Anything is possible. I can’t wait to hear what happens next. Of course, the next thing on my mind was wishing, hoping we could make an album together of new music. I went to my friend Lee Townsend. Anyone familiar with my music needs no introduction to Lee. Over more than 20 years he has produced many of my albums. We were working together on another project at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley CA. and I started noticing the size, shape, sound, vibe of the room there. It was like it had been custom designed. The perfect set up and atmosphere to record this trio. The next thing I knew, we were in there recording and Savoy came along and wanted to put out the record! I’m so fortunate having the chance to play music with Eyvind and Rudy and having an audience willing to go along for the latest adventure. I’m the luckiest guy in the world being surrounded by all these folks who have so much faith and trust in the music, helping me to make my dreams come true. Beautiful dreamers.

4. Never Stop by The Bad Plus (E1 Entertainment – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

For the past ten years The Bad Plus Reid Anderson on bass, Ethan Iverson on piano and David King on drums have created an uncompromising body of work by shattering musical convention. Rolling Stone called their amalgam of jazz, pop, rock and avant garde about as badass as highbrow gets, while The New York Times said the band is better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post- 60s jazz and indie rock. Few jazz groups in recent memory have amassed such acclaim, and few have generated as much controversy while audaciously bucking musical trends.

Ten years together is a milestone we chose to mark with a set of originals, said Iverson. The new album, NEVER STOP, is a ten-track set, the group s first album of all-original material, strictly an instrumental affair and a collection whose live groove belies its studio origins. It s a rapid-fire succession of engaging performances showcasing the band’s range as well as its three distinct personalities. From gentle and melodic to fierce and abstract, from swing to 80s techno, NEVER STOP does just what the title says: it keeps rolling and flowing, a kinetic playground of new sounds.

With a year-long anniversary tour planned for 2010-2011, The Bad Plus is ready to solidify its status as the go-to band for the ultimate in jazz and beyond. You re going to have to deal with us some time or another,” says Iverson. “We re never going to stop.

5. Providencia by Danilo Perez (Mack Avenue – August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Danilo Perez’ debut on Mack Ave Records is deeply anticipated by the critical community and while that level of near-academic excitement exists, it is vital to remember that this music is truly moving on visceral, physical and emotional planes. In a nutshell – and from the artist himself – Providencia crosses streams of jazz, classical and Latin American folk music, which Perez refers to as ‘hearing music in three dimensions.’ The title track itself is buoyed by pulsating Latin rhythms and an enticing vocalizes foray. While there is no doubt that talent and technique abound on this record – in Danilo’s facile fingers and players – a great heart also resides in the compositions and performances. The birth of his daughters and his ongoing commitment to education and social change through music spark his desire to make music that matters – music for all to enjoy and hopefully draw inspiration from its vivacity. ‘Daniela’s Chronicles’ is part of an ongoing symphony he’s writing for his daughter and ‘Cobilla’ is a title she contributed to one of the CD’s tunes, a challenging yet playful exploration. This is well worth the 25 years Danilo claims it took for him to create this exemplary music – only you have to set aside an hour to partake in its fruits.

“Now In Stores” VII

Now in Stores (Late May, June, and July)

“Now in Stores” – 5/16/2010 to 5/22/2010

“Now in Stores” – 5/2/2010 to 5/8/2010

Now in Stores” – 4/25/2010 to 5/1/2010

“Now in Stores” – 4/18/2010 t0 4/24/2010

“Now In Stores” – 5 Noteworthy Jazz Albums Released this Week (4/11/2010-4/17/10)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (721-730)

26 Sep

Here is another 10 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.

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 721 through 730.

721. Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section – Art Pepper (Original Jazz Classics, 1957) CLICK HERE TO BUY

722. Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley – Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley (Capitol, 1962) CLICK HERE TO BUY

723. Live at the Lighthouse ’66 – The Jazz Crusaders (Pacific Jazz, 1966) CLICK HERE TO BUY

724. Fenix – Gato Barberi (RCA, 1971) CLICK HERE TO BUY

725. Jazz – Wallace Roney (High Note, 2007) CLICK HERE TO BUY

726. El Ritmo De La Vida – Doc Severinsen, Gil & Cartas (Tejate Records, 2009) CLICK HERE TO BUY

727. Jazz in the Garden – Stanley Clarke (Heads Up Records, 2009) CLICK HERE TO BUY

728. Complete Communion – Don Cherry (Blue Note, 1965) CLICK HERE TO BUY

729. Fuchsia Swing Song – Sam Rivers (Blue Note, 1965) CLICK HERE TO BUY

730. The Lee Konitz Duets – Lee Konitz (Milestone/OJC, 1967) CLICK HERE TO BUY

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (711-720)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (701-710)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – The First 500

A 1977 Interview with Jaco Pastorious: The Florida Flash

25 Sep

Here is an interesting interview that I found on jacopastorius.com.

Jaco Pastorius: The Florida Flash
by Neil Tesser (Downbeat; 1/27/77)

“There’s a real rhythm in Florida,” Jaco Pastorius says in a voice saturated in matter-of-fact. “Because of the ocean. There’s something about the Caribbean Ocean, it’s why all that music from down there sounds like that. I can’t explain it, but I know what it is.” He pauses to unclasp his hands, like gangly sandcrabs, and drop his lanky arms to the sides of his lanky body. “I can feel it when I’m there.” The concept of Florida is not a constant among Americans. Some people think of Miami Beach, others warm to the less hectic conjuration of Ft. Lauderdale or sleepy St. Petersburg; for some it is the gateway to the new frontier represented by Cape Canaveral, for others the far older frontier that is the Everglades. Still others revel in the broad paradox of a mecca for retirees on the site of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, or the full-circle irony of a land discovered by Spaniards being gradually inundated by the Spanish- speaking. But no one thinks of Florida as a source of American music. No one thinks of it for jazz.

“The water in the Caribbean is much different from other oceans,” Jaco says. “It’s a little bit calmer down there; we don’t have waves in South Florida, all that much. Unless there’s a hurricane. But when a hurricane comes, look out, it’s more ferocious there than anywhere else. And a lot of music from down there is like that, the pulse is smooth even if the rhythms are angular, and the pulse will take you before you know it. All of a sudden, you’re swept away.”

The corresponding hurricane of music that has been unleashed by Florida on a hardly expectant world goes by the unlikely name of Jaco Pastorius, the 25-year-old, man-child of the Caribbean who popped up in early 1976 on a startling debut album of his own design, simultaneously replaced Alphonso Johnson in the fusion music showcase Weather Report whose music he had never listened to before joining the band and at once began to redefine the conception and connotations of the electric bass guitar.

Jaco’s playing is nothing less than revolutionary. In fact, he has almost single-handedly opened a heretofore unimagined world of resources for the instrument, forging in ultrasuede sound that at once encompasses the tonal characteristics and phrasing idiosyncrasies of amplified guitar and bass fiddle. In his extraordinary control and imaginative usage of the electric bass’ harmonics alone, he has sketched a stylistic device of sizable potential.

But more than that, he has burst upon the scene with a wholly mature and wildly successful compositional ability that draws in varying doses upon jazz, modern rhythm and blues, the classics and the music of the by now familiar Caribbean, from the reggae riffs of Kingston Town to the steel drum bands of Trinidad. “I consider myself as much a writer as a bass player,” says Jaco, who avoids boasting but never slights what he perceives as his real assets. I’ve always done both. The people at Epic (which released his first album, Jaco Pastorius) probably got a little more than they bargained for when they signed me. They knew they had some guy who could play a lot of bass, but they didn’t know they had a writer as well.”

Neither did his father, a drummer and singer in Norristown, Penn., when John Francis Pastorius III was born on Dec. l, 1951. “He didn’t want anyone calling me Jack, like everyone else named John, so he started calling me Jaco. And when we moved to Ft. Lauderdale, in 1958, that’s how it got the spelling I use (Jaco substitutes a t for the d in Lauderdale), because that’s how the guys from Cuba and Jamaica would spell it.”

His father provided the influence and the example, but there were never any lessons. Jaco developed his unique approaches to both performing and composing completely on his own, based on what he heard. And what he heard consisted mainly of the handful of jazz musicians Ira Sullivan was one of them in the area, as well as the bands and musical shows that toured the state and the Afro-Cuban rhythms that filtered up from the relatively nearby Islands.

But Jaco owned few records and listened to them infrequently, opting most often for the flesh-and-blood performance. “I’ve just always had big ears,” he shrugs to explain his self-taught talents. “I never had any money, so I had to work, and I caught on quick.” He actually caught on to a multitude of instruments before he eventually settled on the bass guitar. He also worked out on drums, piano, saxophone and guitar, and eventually started playing piano or bass behind many of the concert headliners that came through Florida: Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders, the Temptations, the Supremes, Nancy Wilson, and Charo, of all people, among others. “I was playing like five instruments, and I was pretty good on all of them, but I wasn’t realIy good on any of them. I mean, there’s no way you can play that many instruments at a time. I had to concentrate on just one. “That’s not to say I was wasting time,” he quickly continues. “I mean, I’m glad I fooled around with all of them, like for writing and stuff; I can write as fast as I can think for all those instruments. I’m not hung up on different keys or anything like that,” a situation that facilitated his early big band charts for the University of Miami stage band and Ira Sullivan’s Baker’s Dozen. The precocious youngster was still in his teens. “But I finally realized that in order to do something really well, I’d have to settle on one instrument.”

The impetus for that decision was the steady persistence of his daughter Mary whose birth was imminent. Just 18, Jaco was already married, his wife Tracy was pregnant with the first of their two children, and he was working at a car wash, which he frankly admits “wasn’t much fun. We needed money, and so I had to ask myself, ‘OK, what do you really want to play?’ and I decided to work on the bass. “The truth is that I couldn’t physically play the bass at least, not like I play now until I was 18 anyway. I had been injured playing football when I was 13, and my right arm had never healed correctly. It was sort of dead.” As a result, Jaco had to give up his first to follow in his father’s steps as a drummer. “Finally, when I was 17, I figured I had to go see the doctor. It took about a year after the operation before I was strong enough to really play the bass. I could get by on it before then I could play ‘Soul Man’ and ‘Funky Broadway,’ play reggae lines and walk a jazz line in four/four but I couldn’t solo. I couldn’t have played ‘Donna Lee’,” he says, alluding to the stunning and audacious version of the Charlie Parker tune that opens his album. “So it was really the influence of my family that got me to play. I had to be pragmatic about it, and they inspired me to actually get down to doing things. That’s why I call my music Family Music. There’s so much more involved than just playing the notes. I mean, a chimpanzee could learn to do what I do physically. But it goes way beyond that. When you play, you play life. And my family is the main influence on my life. They’re the main influence on my music.”

Jaco relates a story to underscore the importance of his wife and children. “When my daughter was born, I had about $700 saved up to pay for all the hospital bills and all. This was about a month before she was born. And I went out and spent it on an amplifier instead. I needed it; we needed it. Playing was my life, and if I didn’t have a good amp, I realized no one was going to hear me. And by the time she was born, I had already earned about $500 back, working with that amp. It was a decision forced on me by the realities of the situation. “And something happened to me when my daughter was born. I stopped listening to records, reading Down Beat, things like that, because I didn’t have the time anymore. That wasn’t bad that’s why my sound is different. But there was something else. A new personality being born made me see that it was time for my musical personality to be born; there was no need for me to listen to records. I knew music, I had the makings of a musician; now I had to become one. My daughter made me see all this, because she was depending on me. I wasn’t going to let her down.” The sound that Jaco was developing is indeed “different.” In some respects, it is even unique, all the more so since the bass guitar is not an instrument that easily lends itself to a great range of individual expression. At least it didn’t before Jaco, with a few notable exceptions such as Stanley Clarke, Alphonso Johnson, and especially Steve Swallow, whose style is the closest thing to an antecedent that one could find for Jaco’s playing. To begin with, Jaco conceptualizes the instrument as a guitar which, of course, it essentially is. But whereas others have treated the instrument specifically as an electric guitar, Jaco somehow urges the rounded tone and fluidity more commonly associated with the amplified acoustic guitar, the hollow-body instrument favored in mainstream jazz. Very smooth, deeply resonant, Jaco’s tone is a confluence of three important instruments: his left and right hands, and the Fender fretless electric bass.

“It sings,” says Jaco in explaining the preference for the fretless instrument. “I’ve been playing it for about six years. It’s all in the hands; in order to get that sound, you have to know exactly where to touch the strings, exactly how much pressure to apply. You have to learn to feel it. And then it just sings.” Jaco’s sound has come to embody a sometimes bewildering array of chord clusters, nearly tangible overtone qualities, swift improvisatory lines that retain a surprising tonal depth and a penchant for using the instrument’s harmonics in both melodic and percussive senses. Quite simply, never has so catholic an imagination been applied to the bass guitar. Still, there is one added dimension to Jaco’s musical persona, as it is conveyed through the bass guitar: Its uncanny ability to sound, in its sonorous tonality and innovative phrasing, as much like an acoustic bass fiddle as it does a guitar. The nature of the instrument is not always clear to even the most experienced listeners. When Weather Report’s Joe Zawinul first heard a tape of “Continuum”, which appears on Jaco’s album, he drank in the velvety richness of Jaco’s bass lead, then turned to the young musician and asked him if he also played the bass guitar. Which, of course, was what Joe had been listening to. Jaco himself can present the clearest analysis of his technique: “I felt that I had never heard anyone clearly outline a tune on the bass. Maybe someone has done it before, I don’t know because I don’t listen to that many records, but I had never heard it before. I had never heard someone take a tune like ‘Donna Lee,’ and play it on the bass without a piano player so that you always could hear the changes as well as the melody. It’s a question of learning to reflect the original chord in just the line. Players like Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Ira Sullivan can do that. I wanted to be able to do it, too.” Choosing to display this on his record with a dazzlingly fresh version was no accident. Bebop was his self-imposed theory class. “The first jazz record I heard was a Max Roach quarter date,” he says “with Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley. I don’t even know who the bassist was. The record was old, and shot, and I couldn’t hear the bass player at all. The only thing I could hear was these lines. So I just worked them all out on the bass, without thinking anything of it. And at 15, I already knew how to play most of Bird’s tunes, I couldn’t play them very fast, because of my arm, but I studied them, and I knew how they worked. Just the heads. I didn’t mess with the solos, man; I figured that was personal.” Jaco left the formal educational process after one semester at the University of Miami. He was never enrolled there: he taught bass in the music school. His dissatisfaction with high school “I should’ve quit when I was 10; the schools in Florida didn’t have much to offer” was reflected in his decision not to go to college. Although he had excelled in art as well as music during his high school years, Jaco never had a second thought about which medium to pursue.

“I could draw real well, but it’s just not spontaneous. You gotta buy material, you gotta have all this stuff….But music; I mean, the musicians are singers. They can go to the beach, they don’t need to take anything with them, they can go swimming and be making music. That’s where it’s at. Or like Hubert Laws, who played piccolo on my album. That thing is eight inches long, he can stick it in his back pocket, and yet he can make all that music from it. That’s what I like about music. It’s always there.” It was at about this time that Jaco, who had been exposed to the eclectic blend of Caribbean music that infused Florida during his entire lifetime, began to explore that heritage in a more first-hand manner. He became a show musician on the tourist cruise ships that would set off from the southern tip of Florida for a week at a time. “These were hip little jaunts,” he recalls, “not musically the music we had to play was even below the normal show band thing but we would sail all around. We’d go to Mexico for a couple of days, or to Jamaica, the Bahamas, Haiti. We’d go out for a week, get back on a Saturday about noon, and then leave again a few hours later. “So when we were docked, I’d just hang out, hit the streets. I got close to some guys in the Wailers. When I got back to Florida, and I left the tours, I played country & western music. Or soul. Or reggae that got up onto the mainland. You see, coming up in Florida, there was nobody really to hang out with. I mean, I had friends who were into music; but there was no one with a national reputation to hang out around. There weren’t even that many of my friends that I could share this stuff with. There weren’t any cliques of young musicians, like you’d find in New York for instance. And they’re all talking so much, feeding off each other…for me, that wouldn’t have been good. The diversity that I’ve developed came from me just being in Florida, just growing up and liking whatever I heard. No one convinced me if something was cool, or not cool. I was into the Beatles, the Stones, the Wailers, Sam and Dave, along with Max Roach.”

Jaco’s abilities, as well as his emergence onto the national scene, remained one of Florida’s best-kept secrets for several years. He made brief and generally unnoticed inroads: during his time at the University of Miami, he had met Chicago guitarist Ross Traut, then enrolled there, and Traut introduced Jaco to Paul Bley, with whom he played a few dates. Also at the University, Jaco came into contact with the guitarist Pat Metheny, with whom he would occasionally play in Pat’s home town of Boston, and on whose album for ECM he appeared. During this time, Jaco played frequently with reedman-trumpet legend Ira Sullivan, and kept body and soul together by playing in the house band at Ft. Lauderdale’s Bachelors III club. In the middle of 1975, Blood, Sweat and Tears were booked into the club for a short engagement, and Jaco met Bobby Colomby, the BS&T drummer, guiding light, and soon-to-be producer of Jaco’s as yet unanticipated album. “My wife was working at the club at the time,” says Jaco, “and she, along with all the help, the maitre d’s, the light men, everyone at the club who knew me, had been telling Colomby about me. His reaction, predictably, was ‘Oh, big deal.’ He had met my wife, and he knew that she was married to this guy everyone was talking about. Then one night, I dropped in just to see my wife I didn’t even know that BS&T were working there and I saw Colomby, and we started to talk. We talked about an hour and a half, about all kinds of things, and then my wife came by and kissed me. Colomby said, ‘you’re Jaco’ I hadn’t even introduced myself. And he asked me if I’d like a record date. “I figured he was just talking I mean, he hadn’t even heard me play, we had just talked but then, in about a week, he called me up, and within two months I was in New York. I went in with Bobby to see the big brass at Epic, just me and my bass, and I played solo for them. And they said, ‘OK. You got it’.”

While at work on the material for his own album, a rousing success that nonetheless only skims the surface of Jaco’s diverse approach to modern music, he again came across Zawinul, who was at work on the new Weather Report album (Black Market). Zawinul was in the midst of recording “Cannonball,” his tribute to the late Julian Adderley who, like Jaco, was an emigrant from Florida. “Joe said he wanted that Florida sound,” says Jaco. “So I recorded that tune, and one other, strictly as a sideman. Alphonso Johnson had already left the band, and even though I didn’t realize it, Joe was auditioning bass players.” They hit it off and, on April l, 1976, Jaco joined Weather Report. Since then, he has consistently been a focal point of the band’s performances, no easy matter in a group boasting Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. His album, which enlisted the talents of Herbie Hancock, Don Alias, Michael Gibbs, Shorter, and Hubert Laws, almost immediately became an underground sensation and an above-ground debut of unusual success. At work on a second album, as well as touring with Weather Report, Jaco’s major problem at this point in time is finding time to spend with his family at his quiet home in Ft. Lauderdale. There he listens to no music, does little if any playing, and keeps in touch with his personal founts of youth and inspiration: his wife, his children, and the mysterious rhythms of the Caribbean.

In Studio with Kyle Eastwood

18 Sep

As the son of actor/director/jazz fan, Clint Eastwood, Kyle Eastwood grew up listening to jazz. In this performance-interview hosted by Abe Beeson, Kyle talks a childhood trip to The Monterey Jazz Festival and how hearing the Count Basie Big Band that day inspired him to become a bass player.

For the past few years, Eastwood’s home base has been in France.

He and Abe discuss the differences between European and America music listeners…and how living in Europe has influenced Kyle’s music composition.

Eastwood wrote all three songs that are performed in this session. Marciac and Andalucia are from an as-yet-untitled CD that will be released in the near future.

Song For You is included on his most recent release, Metropolitain.

CLICK HEAR TO LISTEN TO THE FULL IN STUDIO INTERVIEW AND PERFORMANCE

An Interview With Dr. John

Lee Ritenour Live in Studio 8/26/2010

Click for past KPLU Studio Sessions

'Louis the Movie'

16 Sep

From the Associated Press. Although unfortunate that the screenings with live music by Wynton Marsalis was only held in five cities, it is encouraging that the director intends to eventually get the film out to a larger audience, even if it means adding a recorded soundtrack.

—-                        —-                                —-                          —-

Dan Pritzker has spent more than 15 years and millions of dollars trying to bring the story of a jazz singer of whom little is known to the big screen.

0802 louis armstrong.JPG

Then he decided to release another movie first. And not just any other movie, but a silent, black-and-white movie about Louis Armstrong.

“Since I finished the silent film first, it’s kind of like I finished my second film before I finished my first, which is a little ridiculous,” Pritzker acknowledged.

Pritzker, the billionaire son of the late Hyatt hotel magnate Jay Pritzker and a musician in his own right with the R&B band Sonia Dada, had intended to release “Bolden,” starring Anthony Mackie, as his debut film project. It’s about Buddy Bolden, the cornet player virtually unknown in most circles but credited with being one of the creators of jazz.

But while Pritzker was writing the script for that movie in 2001, he took his mother to see the Charlie Chaplin classic “City Lights,” complete with a live symphony, in Chicago. He decided it would be a challenge to make a silent film as well, one that was supposed to pick up where “Bolden” left off.

That’s where the inspiration for “Louis” was born. It tells a fictional story of a 6-year-old Louis Armstrong (played by Anthony Coleman), whose dreams of playing the trumpet are intertwined with the seedy, corrupt underworld of early 20th century New Orleans. Jackie Earle Haley plays an evil, corrupt politician with more than a passing interest in a brothel, and Shanti Lowry stars as the beautiful prostitute who captures the heart of the politician and young Louis.

Lowry, who stars in both movies as the same character, said she didn’t know what to expect while filming the silent “Louis,” but she wasn’t at a disadvantage because neither did anyone else, including Pritzker.

“Dan was in the same boat with us. He’d never done it before,” Lowry said. “And every day we got on the set and created the scene. It was not always exactly what was on the page. … It was an adventure every day.”

The movie, photographed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, opened Aug. 25 in Chicago, played in Detroit, and is scheduled to be screened in Bethesda, Md., New York and Philadelphia over the next few days. Each showing will feature live accompaniment by jazz great Wynton Marsalis, the film’s executive producer, his 10-piece ensemble, and pianist Cecile Licad.

Right now, there are no plans to show “Louis” in other theaters after its initial dates. But Pritzker said he’ll figure out how to bring “Louis” to a wider audience, even if it means showing the movie with recorded music instead of a live orchestra.

“I’ve been showing it to people with music just attached to it,” he said. “Humility aside, it came out really well, and it plays completely.”

Lowry agrees, saying she doesn’t care if it’s a commercial success but only hopes those who do see it “Louis” love it as much as she does.

“It’s like a museum piece,” she said. “You could freeze frame any piece and put it on a wall.”

Now that “Louis” is out, Pritzker can concentrate once again on his first love, the movie “Bolden.”

Bolden was institutionalized in 1907 and died in 1931 without leaving behind a single recorded note of music, but is considered by many historians as an integral figure in the creation of jazz.

“It’s the poetry and the tragedy — an anonymous black guy who created this music that’s incredible,” Pritzker said. “Jazz is the American art form.

http://www.louisthemovie.com/

The Associated Press

‘Louis the Movie’

16 Sep

From the Associated Press. Although unfortunate that the screenings with live music by Wynton Marsalis was only held in five cities, it is encouraging that the director intends to eventually get the film out to a larger audience, even if it means adding a recorded soundtrack.

—-                        —-                                —-                          —-

Dan Pritzker has spent more than 15 years and millions of dollars trying to bring the story of a jazz singer of whom little is known to the big screen.

0802 louis armstrong.JPG

Then he decided to release another movie first. And not just any other movie, but a silent, black-and-white movie about Louis Armstrong.

“Since I finished the silent film first, it’s kind of like I finished my second film before I finished my first, which is a little ridiculous,” Pritzker acknowledged.

Pritzker, the billionaire son of the late Hyatt hotel magnate Jay Pritzker and a musician in his own right with the R&B band Sonia Dada, had intended to release “Bolden,” starring Anthony Mackie, as his debut film project. It’s about Buddy Bolden, the cornet player virtually unknown in most circles but credited with being one of the creators of jazz.

But while Pritzker was writing the script for that movie in 2001, he took his mother to see the Charlie Chaplin classic “City Lights,” complete with a live symphony, in Chicago. He decided it would be a challenge to make a silent film as well, one that was supposed to pick up where “Bolden” left off.

That’s where the inspiration for “Louis” was born. It tells a fictional story of a 6-year-old Louis Armstrong (played by Anthony Coleman), whose dreams of playing the trumpet are intertwined with the seedy, corrupt underworld of early 20th century New Orleans. Jackie Earle Haley plays an evil, corrupt politician with more than a passing interest in a brothel, and Shanti Lowry stars as the beautiful prostitute who captures the heart of the politician and young Louis.

Lowry, who stars in both movies as the same character, said she didn’t know what to expect while filming the silent “Louis,” but she wasn’t at a disadvantage because neither did anyone else, including Pritzker.

“Dan was in the same boat with us. He’d never done it before,” Lowry said. “And every day we got on the set and created the scene. It was not always exactly what was on the page. … It was an adventure every day.”

The movie, photographed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, opened Aug. 25 in Chicago, played in Detroit, and is scheduled to be screened in Bethesda, Md., New York and Philadelphia over the next few days. Each showing will feature live accompaniment by jazz great Wynton Marsalis, the film’s executive producer, his 10-piece ensemble, and pianist Cecile Licad.

Right now, there are no plans to show “Louis” in other theaters after its initial dates. But Pritzker said he’ll figure out how to bring “Louis” to a wider audience, even if it means showing the movie with recorded music instead of a live orchestra.

“I’ve been showing it to people with music just attached to it,” he said. “Humility aside, it came out really well, and it plays completely.”

Lowry agrees, saying she doesn’t care if it’s a commercial success but only hopes those who do see it “Louis” love it as much as she does.

“It’s like a museum piece,” she said. “You could freeze frame any piece and put it on a wall.”

Now that “Louis” is out, Pritzker can concentrate once again on his first love, the movie “Bolden.”

Bolden was institutionalized in 1907 and died in 1931 without leaving behind a single recorded note of music, but is considered by many historians as an integral figure in the creation of jazz.

“It’s the poetry and the tragedy — an anonymous black guy who created this music that’s incredible,” Pritzker said. “Jazz is the American art form.

http://www.louisthemovie.com/

The Associated Press

%d bloggers like this: