Archive | October, 2010

Irma Thomas in Studio

30 Oct

Grammy Award-winning “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma Thomas brought her rythym section to the performance studio on October 29, 2010 to perform live on KPLU’s Blue Plate Special hosted by Nick Morrison.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE PERFORMANCE

In Studio with Manhattan Transfer

An Interview In Studio with Vocalist Nikki Yanofsky

An Interview With Doc Severinsen

In Studio With Kyle Eastwood

An Interview With Dr. John

KPLU Studio Sessions

"Now In Stores" IX

25 Oct

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

1. Fellowship by Lizz Wright (Verve Forecast – September 28, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Fellowship continues Lizz Wright’s celebrated collaboration with acclaimed singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon, who co-produced the new album and wrote/performed on a number of tracks on Wright’s previous release. The record features several traditional songs that Wright grew up with in church including “Amazing Grace,” “Sweeping Through the City,” and a gospel medley featuring “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Power Lord.” Wright also covers a number of songs by noted writers including “Presence of the Lord” by Eric Clapton and “In From the Storm” by Jimi Hendrix. Bernice Johnson Reagon performs on two tracks, including “I Remember, I Believe” which she composed. Lizz Wright, whom The Wall Street Journal calls “a thoughtful, sensitive soul,” has received critical praise from Time Magazine, NPR, Ebony, Essence, New Yorker and Billboard, and her music is featured in several major television shows. Wright was born in the small town of Hahira, Georgia, to a local minister. She grew up traveling through the South singing with her parents and siblings. She first came to national attention in 2002 when she performed in a series of Billie Holiday tribute shows. Since then, she’s released Salt (2003), Dreaming Wide Awake (2005) and The Orchard (2008), all three critical and fan favorites.

2. Chucho’s Steps by Chucho Valdez (Four Quarters Ent, Aug 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Born in Quivicán, Cuba in 1941, Chucho Valdés is one of Cuba’s most famous pianists, bandleaders, composers and arrangers. Perhaps best known for founding the famous Latin jazz band Irakere in 1972, Chucho’s illustrious career has also garnered him 6 Grammy wins and 16 nominations over the past three decades. His most recent win, a 2009 Latin Grammy for the record Juntos para Siempre, saw him collaborate with his father, Bebo Valdés, a major player on the Cuban jazz scene in his own right. Chucho Valdés has recorded over eighty CD’s and performed with everybody who is anybody in the world of jazz; from Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, to Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. His reputation as one of the greatest living Cuban jazz pianists has earned him appearances on the great stages in music, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl. Chucho’s new album with the Afro-Cuban Messengers, which will extensively tour the USA in October 2010, marks Chucho’s return to the US for the first time in 7 years.

3. Solo by Vijay Iyer (Act Music & Vision, August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

By now, there can be no doubt that pianist-composer Iyer stands among the most daringly original jazz artists of the under-40 generation,” writes Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune. The American-born son of Indian immigrants, VIJAY IYER (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by The Village Voice as “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years,” by The New Yorker as one of “today’s most important pianists… extravagantly gifted,” and by the L.A. Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star.” After the phenomenal success of The Vijay Iyer Trio’s 2009 release “Historicity” – the `800-pound gorilla on year-end best-of lists’ (L.A. Times), Iyer returns with Solo. The document of Iyer’s continuing dialogue with history, both his own and that of the music to which he has dedicated his life, Solo encapsulates both Iyer’s career and his distinctive approach to his instrument. The diversity of Iyer’s experience infuses each note of Solo. The first section of the record centers on music of the past, presenting Iyer’s interpretation of music from the jazz canon. In this way, the disc might be viewed as an extension of 2009’s Historicity. His own compositions, dominating the album’s second act, demonstrate how completely he has assimilated and brought his own vision to creative music. For Iyer, the new album embodies both departure and return. It is a monumental step forward and a defining moment in Vijay Iyer’s artistic life. With this powerful, subtle homage to Monk, Ellington, Taylor, Hill, Muhal Richard Abrams and Randy Weston, Iyer joins the ranks of these and many other artists who have recorded great, enduring, original solo piano statements.

4. Vitoria Suite by Wynton Marsalis (Emarcy – October 19, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Emarcy is pleased to announce the release of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ Vitoria Suite, available on October 19th. The two disc set is a new extended work by Marsalis that uses the impulse of the blues as a foundation to jointly explore the music of two worlds and two cultures: the jazz and blues of North America and the indigenous music of the Basque region and flamenco of Spain.

Vitoria Suite is a 12-part work, inspired by the 12 measures of the blues, and also includes a bonus “Making Of” DVD. Composer Wynton Marsalis’ seamless usage of both Spanish and American styles shows how much the two locations have in common, musically if not geographically. “As outsiders,” says Marsalis, “it’s not possible for us to play this music in the same way that a Spanish musician would, so instead I’ve tried to take elements of the music of the region and translate that into the sound of jazz.”

The Suite isn’t only about American musicians experimenting with Spanish forms – it is also about collaborating with leading Spanish players, specifically the legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, whose contribution is a testament to the power of inter-cultural collaboration.

5. When Larry Met Harry by Larry Goldings and Harry Allen (Palmetto Records – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Larry Goldings and Harry Allen form a stylish partnership featuring some gem-like standard interpretations alongside beautiful, melodic, new compositions.

Harry Allen’s effortless phrasing meets Larry Goldings’ impeccable piano playing, with a gorgeous Vince Mendoza string arrangement of Goldings’ composition ‘Benny’s Dream’ performed by the Metropole Orkest.

Best known as a leading jazz organist, this is Goldings’ first record to predominantly feature him as a pianist since 2006’s ‘Quartet.’ Drummer Andy Watson (from Jon Hendricks’ band) joins the fun. Bassists Doug Weiss (Chris Potter / Al Foster) and Neal Miner (Jane Monheit / Stacey Kent) trade duties on various tracks.

“Now In Stores” VIII

“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” IX

25 Oct

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

1. Fellowship by Lizz Wright (Verve Forecast – September 28, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Fellowship continues Lizz Wright’s celebrated collaboration with acclaimed singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon, who co-produced the new album and wrote/performed on a number of tracks on Wright’s previous release. The record features several traditional songs that Wright grew up with in church including “Amazing Grace,” “Sweeping Through the City,” and a gospel medley featuring “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Power Lord.” Wright also covers a number of songs by noted writers including “Presence of the Lord” by Eric Clapton and “In From the Storm” by Jimi Hendrix. Bernice Johnson Reagon performs on two tracks, including “I Remember, I Believe” which she composed. Lizz Wright, whom The Wall Street Journal calls “a thoughtful, sensitive soul,” has received critical praise from Time Magazine, NPR, Ebony, Essence, New Yorker and Billboard, and her music is featured in several major television shows. Wright was born in the small town of Hahira, Georgia, to a local minister. She grew up traveling through the South singing with her parents and siblings. She first came to national attention in 2002 when she performed in a series of Billie Holiday tribute shows. Since then, she’s released Salt (2003), Dreaming Wide Awake (2005) and The Orchard (2008), all three critical and fan favorites.

2. Chucho’s Steps by Chucho Valdez (Four Quarters Ent, Aug 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Born in Quivicán, Cuba in 1941, Chucho Valdés is one of Cuba’s most famous pianists, bandleaders, composers and arrangers. Perhaps best known for founding the famous Latin jazz band Irakere in 1972, Chucho’s illustrious career has also garnered him 6 Grammy wins and 16 nominations over the past three decades. His most recent win, a 2009 Latin Grammy for the record Juntos para Siempre, saw him collaborate with his father, Bebo Valdés, a major player on the Cuban jazz scene in his own right. Chucho Valdés has recorded over eighty CD’s and performed with everybody who is anybody in the world of jazz; from Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, to Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. His reputation as one of the greatest living Cuban jazz pianists has earned him appearances on the great stages in music, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl. Chucho’s new album with the Afro-Cuban Messengers, which will extensively tour the USA in October 2010, marks Chucho’s return to the US for the first time in 7 years.

3. Solo by Vijay Iyer (Act Music & Vision, August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

By now, there can be no doubt that pianist-composer Iyer stands among the most daringly original jazz artists of the under-40 generation,” writes Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune. The American-born son of Indian immigrants, VIJAY IYER (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by The Village Voice as “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years,” by The New Yorker as one of “today’s most important pianists… extravagantly gifted,” and by the L.A. Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star.” After the phenomenal success of The Vijay Iyer Trio’s 2009 release “Historicity” – the `800-pound gorilla on year-end best-of lists’ (L.A. Times), Iyer returns with Solo. The document of Iyer’s continuing dialogue with history, both his own and that of the music to which he has dedicated his life, Solo encapsulates both Iyer’s career and his distinctive approach to his instrument. The diversity of Iyer’s experience infuses each note of Solo. The first section of the record centers on music of the past, presenting Iyer’s interpretation of music from the jazz canon. In this way, the disc might be viewed as an extension of 2009’s Historicity. His own compositions, dominating the album’s second act, demonstrate how completely he has assimilated and brought his own vision to creative music. For Iyer, the new album embodies both departure and return. It is a monumental step forward and a defining moment in Vijay Iyer’s artistic life. With this powerful, subtle homage to Monk, Ellington, Taylor, Hill, Muhal Richard Abrams and Randy Weston, Iyer joins the ranks of these and many other artists who have recorded great, enduring, original solo piano statements.

4. Vitoria Suite by Wynton Marsalis (Emarcy – October 19, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Emarcy is pleased to announce the release of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ Vitoria Suite, available on October 19th. The two disc set is a new extended work by Marsalis that uses the impulse of the blues as a foundation to jointly explore the music of two worlds and two cultures: the jazz and blues of North America and the indigenous music of the Basque region and flamenco of Spain.

Vitoria Suite is a 12-part work, inspired by the 12 measures of the blues, and also includes a bonus “Making Of” DVD. Composer Wynton Marsalis’ seamless usage of both Spanish and American styles shows how much the two locations have in common, musically if not geographically. “As outsiders,” says Marsalis, “it’s not possible for us to play this music in the same way that a Spanish musician would, so instead I’ve tried to take elements of the music of the region and translate that into the sound of jazz.”

The Suite isn’t only about American musicians experimenting with Spanish forms – it is also about collaborating with leading Spanish players, specifically the legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, whose contribution is a testament to the power of inter-cultural collaboration.

5. When Larry Met Harry by Larry Goldings and Harry Allen (Palmetto Records – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Larry Goldings and Harry Allen form a stylish partnership featuring some gem-like standard interpretations alongside beautiful, melodic, new compositions.

Harry Allen’s effortless phrasing meets Larry Goldings’ impeccable piano playing, with a gorgeous Vince Mendoza string arrangement of Goldings’ composition ‘Benny’s Dream’ performed by the Metropole Orkest.

Best known as a leading jazz organist, this is Goldings’ first record to predominantly feature him as a pianist since 2006’s ‘Quartet.’ Drummer Andy Watson (from Jon Hendricks’ band) joins the fun. Bassists Doug Weiss (Chris Potter / Al Foster) and Neal Miner (Jane Monheit / Stacey Kent) trade duties on various tracks.

“Now In Stores” VIII

“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)

Concert Review: Doc Severinsen & El Ritmo De La Vida (10/16/2010)

24 Oct

One unfortunate phrase that is too often uttered when referring to older jazz musicians who come to town for a concert is “You better go see them now, because you never know if you will have the chance to see them again.”

While legendary trumpeter and bandleader Doc Severinsen is 83 years old, I find that phrase hardly applicable after seeing him in concert at the Kirkland Performance Center on October 16th.

Not only are Doc’s chops still in good shape, but the rest of him seems to be just as strong.

After retiring to Mexico, Doc heard guitarist Gil Gutierrez and violinist Pedro Cartas, who head up the band El Ritmo De La Vida, and immediately knew who he would be spending the next few years with touring and recording.

For those who associate Severinsen with big bands, this setting would surprise you. The show featured a quintet with a repertoire of everything from gypsy jazz, music with a heavy influence from Spain and South America, and jazz standards.

Many of the arrangements were done by Gutierrez, who is a world class guitarist, and were absolutely beautiful. The incorporation of the trumpet into these tunes was seamless, not only because of the arrangements, but because of Severinsen’s ability to adapt to the feeling and mood of each song.

There are some things about Doc that haven’t changed. On stage he remains incredibly witty and mobile, hopping up out of his stool and constantly cracking jokes. His wardrobe hasn’t slowed down either. In the first set he showed off a wildly printed collared shirt with purple pants and black and white striped socks. The second set boasted a pink blazer with black lace, and pink leather pants, which he stated that “every woman in the audience would die to own a pair.”

His range on the trumpet, as well as the speed of his fingers were still impressive, but what was truly mind-blowing was how great his tone still was. Severinsen boasted long, full lines with pitch that didn’t waiver in the high register.

I didn’t walk away from the concert worried that it would be the last time I would see Doc. He presents the attitude that he doesn’t feel like aging, and his body seemed to accept that.

Even if he does retire again sometime soon, he jokingly invited the whole audience to visit him in Mexico, where and the band would play host. Something tells me that I, at 31 years old, might have a tough time keeping up with him down there.

An Interview With Doc Severinsen

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (731-740)

23 Oct

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 731 through 740.

731. Bobby Jaspar with George Wallington – Bobby Jaspar (Original Jazz Classics, 1957) CLICK HERE TO BUY

732. Spirit of the Moment: Live at the Village Vanguard – Joshua Redman (Warner Bros. , 1995) CLICK HERE TO BUY

733. My Fair Lady – Shelly Manne (Contemporary Records, 1956) CLICK HERE TO BUY

734. Jazz Cello – Ray Brown (Verve, 1960) CLICK HERE TO BUY

735. Takin’ Care of Business – Oliver Nelson (New Jazz/OJC, 1960)

736. Eastern Sounds – Yusef Lateef (Prestige/OJC, 1961) CLICK HERE TO BUY

737. Standards – Bireli Lagrene (Capitol, 1992) CLICK HERE TO BUY

738. Good News From Africa – Abdullah Ibrahim (Enja, 1973) CLICK HERE TO BUY

739. My Panamanian Friend – Chico Hamilton (Soul Note, 1992) CLICK HERE TO BUY

740. Four on the Outside – Curtis Fuller (Phantom Import Distribution) CLICK HERE TO BUY

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

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

In Studio with Manhattan Transfer

22 Oct

When The Manhattan Transfer (Tim Hauser, Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul, Janis Siegal) came into the KPLU/Jazz24 performance studio, they had literally just gotten off an airplane. A little jet-lagged but ready to sing, they kicked of the session with their version of Moten Swing.

When the song was over, interviewer Abe Beeson asked, “Is it that easy…once a song starts…to get happy?” Their answer, as you’ll hear, was ‘yes.’ For nearly 40 years their love of music has kept The Manhattan Transfer happy…and made them internationally famous.

Along with Moten Swing, the group performed I Know Why and ended the performance with a hidden gem called Foo-Gee, their tip of the hat to The Ink Spots.

Click Here to listen to the entire interview and performance

An Interview In Studio with Vocalist Nikki Yanofsky

An Interview With Doc Severinsen

In Studio With Kyle Eastwood

An Interview With Dr. John

KPLU Studio Sessions

An Interview In Studio with Vocalist Nikki Yanofsky

15 Oct

Tuesday I had the opportunity to interview 16 year old vocalist Nikki Yanofsky, and hear her sing a few songs for us with her band.

Listen to the Session Here

Jazz and pop singer, Nikki Yanofsky, is a very cheerful 16 year-old. And why not? As you will hear in this interview, she says that as soon as she learned to talk, she began to say she wanted to be a singer. It was something she began to pursue right away.

At age 12, she was the opening act at the prestigious annual jazz festival in her hometown of Montreal. Earlier this year, millions of television viewers got to see her sing at the 2010 Winter Olympics and she’s now touring the world as one of the most prodigiously talented singers of her generation.

So, yes, Nikki Yanofsky has every reason to be cheerful and it certainly shows in this performance/interview.

An Interview With Doc Severinsen

In Studio With Kyle Eastwood

An Interview With Dr. John

KPLU In-Studio Performances

An Interview With Doc Severinsen

8 Oct

I was fortunate enough to interview Doc Severinsen last week by telephone, reaching him before a concert on the road in Columbus, Ohio.

Below are two links. The first is a short 5 1/2 minute produced piece featuring highlights from his interview as well as music, and audio from The Tonight Show.

The second link is the 28 minute full interview with Doc.

Also included in this post is video and photos of Doc, as well as a transcript of the 5 1/2 minute feature. Enjoy!

Doc Severinsen Interview – 5 1/2 Minute Feature

Doc Severinsen Interview – 28 Minute Full Interview

SEATTLE, WA (KPLU) – Grammy Award winning trumpeter Doc Severinsen comes to the Pacific Northwest for a concert next weekend. Probably best known as the flashy dressed bandleader for Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” Orchestra, Severinsen had a career that spanned sixty-five years, and is back on the road after a very brief retirement. KPLU’s Kevin Kniestedt caught up with the eighty-three year old musician while on tour.

Kevin: For 25 years, Doc Severinsen was the best known trumpet player in America, as his band played the theme song that brought Johnny Carson out on stage to begin The Tonight Show. But Doc’s career began long before he was on television. In fact he still remembers his first paid music job.

Doc: It was during the depression the Great Depression. I played at the Blaylock Grange Hall out in the middle of a bunch of wheat fields. They had what they called then a Hard Times Dance. I got fifty cents for it, and I thought to myself, “wow”.

Kevin: Severinsen never looked back, touring with some of the best bandleaders ever, including Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Charlie Barnet.

Doc: It was sort of like being in a rock band sort of is today. You know, you go to a ballroom or a concert hall, and they were always jam packed. They knew everybody in the band, they knew every song we were going to play. It was like riding a huge wave. It was wonderful.

Kevin: In the early fifties, Doc decided it was time to settle down.

Doc: I had a wife and a daughter. It was time to get off the road, and I had a life long love affair with New York. So I settled there, and pretty soon through some things that occurred, I got some notice, and was hired to work at NBC as a staff musician.

Kevin: That staff musician job led to being hired as a trumpet player for the Tonight Show band when Steve Allen was hosting the show. Jack Parr became the host after Steve Allen left, and the NBC decided to hire a new host by the name of Johnny Carson.

Doc: After about a year, the producer of the show came to me (he also produced Johnny’s road shows) and he said “You know, Johnny wants you to come in and take over the band on the show. He’s not happy with the way things are going, and he’d like you to come in and try it and just see how it goes”. I said “Absolutely.” And it was the single biggest break of my life.

Kevin: Doc offered more than leading the band. He would fill in as an announcer when Ed McMahon was off, and he and Johnny Carson would often take part in some quick-witted banter:

Johnny: Get that Mickey Mouse outfit together and have them sit down. What are you going to do tonight, doctor?

Doc: Well we are going to stand around and wait for you to decide whether we are a band or an orchestra.

Johnny: What would you prefer to be called?

Doc: Sweetheart.

Kevin: Severinsen was also known for his loud wardrobe.

Doc: My first night on the show, I thought “Wow. What am I going to wear?” So I was walking down a street in New York, and passed a place that sold ties. And they had some really wild ties. And (I) wore one on the show that night. And I come out, and it was like throwing raw meat to a lion. He just went right for it. And I would come out every night in something that was pretty far out. And after I had been on the show for a lot of years, one night I just said “Aw, the heck with it. I am just going to wear a blue suit tonight.” Well, I gave a cutoff to the band, and went up to my dressing room, and there was an immediate message from Johnny: “What in the hell was wrong with your outfit tonight?” And it never happened again.

Kevin: When Johnny Carson retired from the Tonight Show, Severinsen left NBC as well. He took a good portion of the Tonight Show Band on the road, recorded a few albums, was a guest conductor for a few symphony orchestras, and then headed to Mexico to retire or so he thought.

Doc: I had been told by a next door neighbor “You’ve got to go hear these guys play at the so-and-so restaurant.

Kevin: “These guys” were guitarist Gil Gutierrez and violinist Pedro Cartas, who make up the band El Ritmo de la Vida, or “the rhythm of life”.

Doc: I think I dropped my cutlery and looked up and thought “Holy Cow! These guys are great. They’re not just good, these are world class musicians.”

Doc: So I made some calls to the states to see if we could get some dates up here for them. And they said “Yeah, but you’ve got to play with them too.” That hadn’t really occurred to me. So after a couple of months of trying to integrate the trumpet in with the guitar and violin, it worked.

Doc: Somebody asked us what kind of music we called it. I said “I don’t know.” They said “Well it sounds like world music.” I said “Good, then it’s world music”.

Performance Information

Doc Severinsen and El Ritmo de la Vida perform Saturday, October 16th at the Kirkland Performance Center at 8 PM.

www.docseverinsen.com

www.kplu.org

 

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