Archive | April, 2011

"Now in Stores" XII

30 Apr

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

1. Here We Go Again by Willie Nelson/Norah Jones/Wynton Marsalis (Blue Note Records, March 29,2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Once in a while the stars align and something magical happens…as on the night Jazz at Lincoln Center presented a salute to the late, great bluesman, Ray Charles. Two musical iconoclasts, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, along with the stunning songstress Norah Jones, collectively brought their unique musical perspective to the legendary artist’s hits such as “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, “Hit the Road Jack,” and “Unchain My Heart.” Country music legend Willie Nelson and Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz artist and Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis share more in common than their multiple GRAMMY® awards. They also share great respect and admiration for the late musical pioneer Ray Charles. Nelson and Marsalis joined musical forces for a two-night Jazz at Lincoln Center concert event at New York City’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Their set list explored the legacy of Charles, cleverly sequencing the songs to tell the story of a love affair from beginning to end and beyond. This fine idea was made finer by the inclusion of fellow multiple GRAMMY® winner Norah Jones, whose style suggests a middle ground between Nelson and Marsalis. The sold out performance was captured and the resulting footage expertly mixed and mastered for the brand new album.

2. James Farm by Joshua Redman (Nonesuch, April 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2011 release, a collaborative effort between Joshua Redman and fellow Jazz travelers Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland. Since they’ve already guest-starred on each other’s recordings, James Farm is a natural progression for these Jazz musicians. James Farm made its debut at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival and has since performed dates in North America and Europe, garnering praise for its live set and fueling anticipation for this studio debut, which features tunes by each of the four musicians.

3. Sign of Life, Music for 858 Quartet by Bill Frisell (Savoy Jazz, April 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

It’s hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. –NY Times. Bill Frisell’s remarkable artistry shines through on this brand new album with his world renowned 858 string quartet. Featuring Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola), and Hank Roberts (cello), Sign Of Life was born out of Bill’s composing retreat in Vermont during the fall of 2010. The entire album was recorded, mixed, and mastered in only 3 months – the shortest gestation period ever for a Frisell recording.

4. ‘Round Midnight by Karrin Allyson (Concord Records, May 3, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

`Round Midnight, an 11 track collection was recorded at Sear Sound in New York City and features tracks from a wide variety of sources, including Bill Evans, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mandel, Thelonious Monk, Stephen Sondheim, even Charlie Chaplin. But regardless of who wrote the songs and when, Allyson ties them all together with the same melancholy thread with which they were originally spun. The three time GRAMMY nominated vocalist describes her new album best in her liner notes: “Imagine yourself, in the city, walking late at night,” she writes. “It’s `Round Midnight. The wind is cold, but you hear some warm sounds and you follow your ear down into a small, dark club. There’s a woman at the piano singing these intimate ballads – one after the other. Maybe you’ve just recently suffered a heartache, or maybe the lyrics, melodies and harmonies evoke feelings you have somewhere deep down inside.”

5. Live at Birdland by Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian (ECM Records, May 17, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

A quartet of master musicians and a program of jazz classics. Live At Birdland presents the finest moments from two inspired nights at New York’s legendary club, as Konitz, Mehldau, Haden and Motian play “Loverman”, “Lullaby Of Birdland”, “Solar”, “I Fall In Love Too Easily”, “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” and “Oleo” with freedom, tenderness, and a love of melody that only jazz’s greatest improvisers can propose. On this live recording from New York’s legendary club, an ensemble of history-making players dives into the music without a set list. Four exceptional jazz musicians -Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian – approach the standards from new perspectives and unusual angles. They play them with freedom, tenderness and a melodic and rhythmic understanding found only amongst jazz’s greatest improvisers.

“Now in Stores” XI

“Now in Stores” X

“Now In Stores” IX

“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” XII

30 Apr

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

1. Here We Go Again by Willie Nelson/Norah Jones/Wynton Marsalis (Blue Note Records, March 29,2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Once in a while the stars align and something magical happens…as on the night Jazz at Lincoln Center presented a salute to the late, great bluesman, Ray Charles. Two musical iconoclasts, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, along with the stunning songstress Norah Jones, collectively brought their unique musical perspective to the legendary artist’s hits such as “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, “Hit the Road Jack,” and “Unchain My Heart.” Country music legend Willie Nelson and Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz artist and Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis share more in common than their multiple GRAMMY® awards. They also share great respect and admiration for the late musical pioneer Ray Charles. Nelson and Marsalis joined musical forces for a two-night Jazz at Lincoln Center concert event at New York City’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Their set list explored the legacy of Charles, cleverly sequencing the songs to tell the story of a love affair from beginning to end and beyond. This fine idea was made finer by the inclusion of fellow multiple GRAMMY® winner Norah Jones, whose style suggests a middle ground between Nelson and Marsalis. The sold out performance was captured and the resulting footage expertly mixed and mastered for the brand new album.

2. James Farm by Joshua Redman (Nonesuch, April 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2011 release, a collaborative effort between Joshua Redman and fellow Jazz travelers Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland. Since they’ve already guest-starred on each other’s recordings, James Farm is a natural progression for these Jazz musicians. James Farm made its debut at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival and has since performed dates in North America and Europe, garnering praise for its live set and fueling anticipation for this studio debut, which features tunes by each of the four musicians.

3. Sign of Life, Music for 858 Quartet by Bill Frisell (Savoy Jazz, April 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

It’s hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell. –NY Times. Bill Frisell’s remarkable artistry shines through on this brand new album with his world renowned 858 string quartet. Featuring Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola), and Hank Roberts (cello), Sign Of Life was born out of Bill’s composing retreat in Vermont during the fall of 2010. The entire album was recorded, mixed, and mastered in only 3 months – the shortest gestation period ever for a Frisell recording.

4. ‘Round Midnight by Karrin Allyson (Concord Records, May 3, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

`Round Midnight, an 11 track collection was recorded at Sear Sound in New York City and features tracks from a wide variety of sources, including Bill Evans, Paul Simon, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mandel, Thelonious Monk, Stephen Sondheim, even Charlie Chaplin. But regardless of who wrote the songs and when, Allyson ties them all together with the same melancholy thread with which they were originally spun. The three time GRAMMY nominated vocalist describes her new album best in her liner notes: “Imagine yourself, in the city, walking late at night,” she writes. “It’s `Round Midnight. The wind is cold, but you hear some warm sounds and you follow your ear down into a small, dark club. There’s a woman at the piano singing these intimate ballads – one after the other. Maybe you’ve just recently suffered a heartache, or maybe the lyrics, melodies and harmonies evoke feelings you have somewhere deep down inside.”

5. Live at Birdland by Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian (ECM Records, May 17, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

A quartet of master musicians and a program of jazz classics. Live At Birdland presents the finest moments from two inspired nights at New York’s legendary club, as Konitz, Mehldau, Haden and Motian play “Loverman”, “Lullaby Of Birdland”, “Solar”, “I Fall In Love Too Easily”, “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” and “Oleo” with freedom, tenderness, and a love of melody that only jazz’s greatest improvisers can propose. On this live recording from New York’s legendary club, an ensemble of history-making players dives into the music without a set list. Four exceptional jazz musicians -Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian – approach the standards from new perspectives and unusual angles. They play them with freedom, tenderness and a melodic and rhythmic understanding found only amongst jazz’s greatest improvisers.

“Now in Stores” XI

“Now in Stores” X

“Now In Stores” IX

“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)

Henry Butler the photographer

25 Apr

Most people know Henry Butler as a wonderful blues based pianist from New Orleans. I also knew that Butler happened to be a photographer as well, which many might find amazing, as Henry happens to be blind.

I had known this, and even seen some of his photographs, but I had never really figured out how he goes about his photography without the ability to see, until I recently read an article that Butler wrote for The Digital Journalist back in 2005 called The Eye of the Beholder.

In the article, Butler talks about being inspired by the empty feeling he would have after going to museums.

“After going to exhibits, hearing people describe photos and paintings, I felt kind of empty—- I wasn’t getting all that I could get. The best thing, I decided, was to try to become at least an artist who was doing something in one of the visual arts.”

The Mississippi River from Audubon Park, New Orleans - Photo by Henry Butler

So he chose photography. Butler started by taking a bunch of Polaroid pictures so that he could get an immediate response from a sighted audience. From there, Butler learned how to improve his shots based on what he could hear.

“When I take a picture, I listen to the voice, to sound, and try to realize how tall my subject is, relative to my height.”

Mardi Gras 2005, New Orleans: bw shoes - Photo by Henry Butler

Butler admits that he has had an assistant for his photography for several years, helping with details such as angle, distance, and background, but says that the final product needs to be something that is inspiring to him.

“It’s a delicate balance – she could see each image very differently. When Andrea says, “That’s a great shot” if don’t feel that image stimulates me, then I don’t want it. She doesn’t interfere with what I do unless I’m way off.”

Car,on exhibit in New Zealand. - Photo by Henry Butler

Butler suggests that everyone is going to take away something different from his photographs, like each person might take away something unique from one of his piano performances. But like in music, Butler suggests that an audience that is paying attention can at least see part of what the artist was trying to present.

” If the person is attuned, they might have a glimpse of what the photographer had in mind.”

Henry Butler’s Website

The Digital Journalist

Groove Notes comes to you

23 Apr

There are a couple of ways to get Groove Notes blog updates as soon as they are posted.

You can subscribe to Groove Notes by entering your email address or clicking subscribe in the box on the right side of this page where it says “EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION”. You will get updates from Groove Notes sent right to your email inbox.

Also, if you follow me on Twitter you can receive blog updates automatically as well. Follow me @KevinKniestedt or by clicking here.

Thanks for reading!

New App for jazz fans

23 Apr

A new App has recently been released by www.rocksourcearchive.com, an interactive music facts database. The App, called JazDayz, is a new iPhone and iPad App aimed at jazz lovers and professionals in the jazz world, with instant access to day by day jazz facts covering over 100 years – including  birthdays, wedding days, etc.

It also features facts linked to artist websites, video clips, audio files and more. The App will continuously update facts, allows users to search by day, month, year, or by any text string such as artist name, song title, city, or venue.

The App can be found for sale for 99 cents here. It is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

In the studio with Kurt Elling – The complete jazz singer

22 Apr

Kurt Elling stopped by our performance studio on April 15th. Check out the audio and video from the performance below.

In the studio with Kurt Elling – The complete jazz singer

Kurt Elling performing live in the KPLU Seattle studios on April 15, 2011. Justin Steyer / KPLU

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO

Some jazz singers excel at singing standards. Others excel at scat-singing or vocalese (writing lyrics for instrumental improvisations and singing them). However, Grammy award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling can do it all.

He easily proved it in front of a small studio audience of Leadership Circle members on April 15th with along with two long-time musical colleagues; pianist, Laurence Hobgood, and guitarist, John McLean.

The first song of the day, Samurai Cowboy, is Kurt’s vocalese reworking of a composition by Marc Johnson called Samurai Hee-Haw (See video below).

He followed that with Estate, featuring lyrics by one of Elling’s major inspirations (and one of the originators of vocalese), Jon Hendricks.

To wrap things up, Kurt, John and Laurence launched into a good, old-fashioned jam with Kurt showing his mastery of scat singing.

Between songs, Kurt talked about his youth as a singer in his father’s church choirs and, more recently, the benefits of working with producer extraordinaire, Don Was, on Elling’s latest CD, The Gate.

Humor in jazz: puttin' on the wits

17 Apr

Another great conversation between KPLU’s Nick Morrison and Kirsten Kendrick. Enjoy!

Humor in jazz: puttin’ on the wits

Jazz great Mose Allison, one of the artists in this survey of humorous jazz songs. AP

April is National Humor Month. So, Nick and I thought we’d explore the funny side of jazz.Here are  five jazz artists known for their wit as well as their jazz chops.

Humor is subjective, though, so to make this list as much fun as possible, be sure to go to the ‘Comments’ section below and recommend some jazz songs that make you laugh. Share a smile.

1: Your Feet’s Too Big—Fats Waller—The Very Best Of Fats Waller—RCA

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Just mention Fats Waller’s name to a jazz fan and the reaction will be a smile.  At least.  Not only was Waller a hugely influential jazz pianist, he could pack more joy into a song than anyone.  In lesser hands, Your Feet’s Too Big (1936) probably would have been just another novelty song that would eventually disappear, but Fats made it a classic.

2: I’m Hip—Dave Frishberg—Classics—Concord

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Dave Frishberg began his career as a pianist, working with artists including Zoot Sims, Carmen McRae and Ben Webster, but he’s become best-known for his songwriting, which is often quite humorous.  For I’m Hip, Dave collaborated with another very witty singer/pianist/songwriter, Bob Dorough.  The song is a delightful skewering of people (and you’ve met ‘em) who are trying so hard to be hip, they have to tell you how hip they are…which, as we all know, is decidedly un-hip.

3: The Shape Of Things—Blossom Dearie—Blossom Time At Ronnie Scott’s—Universal

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Although Blossom Dearie was an accomplished jazz pianist, it is her voice that immortalizes her.  Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote this about Dearie’s vocal style: “Rarely raising her sly, kittenish voice, Ms. Dearie confided song lyrics in a playful style below whose surface layers of insinuation lurked. ”  Insinuation lurks like crazy in The ShapeOf Things, written by Fiddler On The Roof lyricist, Sheldon Harnick.  If you just listen to the melody, the song sounds like an old English folk song about true love; but when you listen to the words, you find that it’s something quite different.  And quite funny, in a rather bizarre sort of way.

4: Certified Senior Citizen—Mose Allison—The Earth Wants You—Blue Note

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Over the past 50 years, singer/pianist, Mose Allison, has commented on the human condition in a number of great songs, many of which are also quite humorous.

In Certified Senior Citizen, released in 1993, Mose gives notice to the world that, even though he’s getting older, he’s not getting out of the way. As time goes along, this could become a ‘boomer’ anthem.

5: You’re Outta Here (Minor Drag)—Lorraine Feather—New York City Drag—Rhombus Records

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Lorraine Feather was born into jazz.  Her father was a famous jazz writer (Leonard Feather), her mother was a big-band singer and her godmother was Billie Holiday. Combining those genes and influences, Lorraine has become one of today’s wittiest jazz singer/songwriters. You’re Outta Here comes from her 2001 CD, New York City Drag.

For this CD, Lorraine took instrumental songs by Fats Waller (yes, here comes Fats, again) and put lyrics to them.  You’re Outta Here is based on Waller’s composition, The Minor Drag.

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