Tag Archives: jazz

Jazz on Twitter

28 Mar

Since recently learning how to “tweet”, I have tracked down a number of jazz musicians and organizations that you can follow on Twitter. Here is many that I have tracked down (and a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter @KevinKniestedt).

Terence Blanchard: @T_Blanchard

Ron Blake: @RonBlakeMusic

Ramsey Lewis: @RamseyLewis

Maurice Brown: @mobettabrown

Matt Wilson: @mattwilsonjazz

Joshua Redman: @Joshua_Redman

Joe Lovano: @joelovano

Cassandra Wilson: @reallycassandra

Dianne Reeves: @DianneReeves1

David Marriott, Jr.: @RedRaspus

Chris Potter: @chrispotterjazz

Brian Blade: @BrianBlade

Bela Fleck: @belafleckbanjo

Lee Mergner (JazzTimes editor in chief): @JazzTimes

Jason Parker: @1WorkinMusician

Jamie Cullum: @jamiecullum

Blue Note Records: @bluenoterecords

Chick Corea: @ChickCorea

Karl Denson: @KarlDenson

Charlie Hunter: @charlie_hunter

Sean Jones: @sjonesjazz

Michael Buble: @michaelbuble

Nikki Yanofsky: @NikkiYanofsky

John Patitucci: @JohnJPatitucci

Dave Holland: @TheDaveHolland

Gerald Clayton: @geraldclayton

Vijay Iyer: @vijayiyer

Branford Marsalis: @bmarsalis

Wynton Marsalis: @wyntonmarsalis

Norah Jones: @NorahJones

Diana Krall: @DianaKrall

Christian Scott: @cscottjazz

Dave Douglas: @dave_douglas

Pat Metheny: @PatMetheny

Christian McBride: @mcbridesworld

Herbie Hancock: @herbie__hancock

Marsalis Music: @marsalismusic

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Spain and The Netherlands, Jazz, and the World Cup

18 Jul

The World Cup is over, and I suppose the time has come for me to stop complaining. I was cheering for Holland from the beginning, and was crushed when the Netherlands lost to Spain in the final minutes of overtime in the final, in what in general was a pretty good game.

These two countries are soccer superpowers, but have also made some nice contributions as far as jazz musicians go.

The Dutch boasts a drummer who is a virtuoso in all styles, from Dixieland to free jazz. I speak of Han Bennink, who was the drummer of choice for jazz musicians like Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy when they would make their trips to Holland (in fact, Bennink was the drummer on Dolphy’s album Last Date from 1964).

Spain boasts the extremely talented blind-born pianist, Tete Montoliu. Montoliu learned to read music in Braille when he was seven, and a wonderful piano style followed shortly after. Several top-notch jazz musicians enjoyed working with Montoliu as well, including Lionel Hampton and Roland Kirk.

In addition to being thankful for the contributions the Netherlands and Spain gave to the 2010 World Cup, we can also be thankful for the contributions of their jazz musicians as well.

Jazz Modernized

8 Mar

When you have an art form that has existed for well over one hundred years, with roots to that art form going back even farther than that, you undoubtedly end up placing many different interpretations of that art form all under the same umbrella. There may be no better example of that than jazz. Because of the freedom and progression of jazz, a musician could conceivably call anything jazz if they find some ground to justify it on.

Jazz can be broken down by eras, styles, and about a dozen or so other fields. Debates and arguments happen over which era or style is the best, or what really made jazz what it is. And it seems that as time goes on, many artists try to offer their own performance of a traditional tune with as much respect to the original as possible, write new music, or completely transform old recordings into something completely different, with the vaguest hint of the original.

It is the latter that has my attention today. There are some musicians who are doing a wonderful job creating new modern works, or offering new looks at older compositions. Trumpeter Russell Gunn might be a perfect example of that. His original recordings, and his covers of older recordings both offer the same thing: personality. And not just personality in general, they offer his personality. You can hear one of his recordings, and whether its an original or not, it always has a little attitude and a little bite. It becomes very Russell Gunn.

Some vocalists have taken to putting lyrics to old instrumental tunes, and some have made it work. It took guts for Norah Jones to put lyrics to the Duke Ellington tune Melancholia, but she did, called it Don’t Miss You At All, and the end result was wonderful. On the flip side, you won’t see me banging down any doors to get to the Manhattan Transfer vocal interpretation of the Weather Report hit Birdland.

One of the things that stirred these thoughts more vividly recently was hearing more and more songs “remixed”, and hearing them everywhere. Not so much the radio, but in department stores and elevators. These “recordings” are classic songs chopped up by a DJ, who with the help of a couple turntables (used for scratching, not playing) and a $99 music software program turn it into something you could easily hear at a techno music club. The only resemblance the final product bears to the original is one or two lines that Sarah Vaughan or Nina Simone sang that didn’t hit the DJ’s cutting room floor. The rest is purely electronically produced, almost always with a trance-like robotic drum beat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent hours in dance clubs that featured music produced entirely with electronics. And as a modern day employee of a radio station, there is no more reel-to-reel editing, thank goodness, as everything is done quicker and easier on computers.

But when do we hit the point where we realize, in some ways, that the wonderful modern technology we have in front of us might be a tool that robs us of personality? Is it bad that someone tries to recreate Nobody’s Fault But Mine with one or two lines from the original, plus a recycled drum beat and a heavy bass line, all at five times the original tempo? The majority of the lyrics and anything resembling a solo are completely gone. Maybe it isn’t bad, but it can be unnerving at the very least when someone hears it and assumes it to be the original.

I’m not some old stick in the mud that has anything against modern technology. In fact, it is quite the opposite. But to me, there comes a point where you simply rob music of its originality and personality. And it was that personality that got us all interested in the first place. One might have seen Coltrane in concert and spoke of his 45 minute solo, or heard a recording by Ella Fitzgerald and mentioned how “you could even hear the piano bench Ellis Larkins creak as he rocked in the background, while she sang that heartbreaking tune”.

Give me personality any day, especially when it comes to music…especially when it comes to jazz. Give me something interesting and creative to listen to, and leave the computer and the canned drum beat at home.

Audio Blog: Jazz Perspectives with KPLU's Weekday Jazz Hosts

16 Feb

KPLU’s four weekday jazz hosts, Dick Stein, Robin Lloyd, Abe Beeson, and myself, individually sat down and recorded thoughts on a variety of topics related to jazz.

With all of us coming from different backgrounds and upbringings, you will hear very different and interesting perspectives on topics ranging from what the first jazz we remember ever hearing, what music was playing when we were growing up, what how we got hooked on jazz, what live jazz performance blew our mind, what jazz musicians we think are doing great things today, and, if we could pick anyone to see play one song in concert, alive or dead, who would it be.

Enjoy the first Groove Notes Audio Blog by clicking here.

Watch Teddy Wilson, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton play Moonglow, as picked by Dick Stein:

Watch Thelonious Monk play ‘Round Midnight, as picked by Abe Beeson:

Watch Michael Brecker, as picked by Kevin Kniestedt:

Watch Dizzy Gillespie play Manteca, as picked by Robin Lloyd:

Audio Blog: Jazz Perspectives with KPLU’s Weekday Jazz Hosts

16 Feb

KPLU’s four weekday jazz hosts, Dick Stein, Robin Lloyd, Abe Beeson, and myself, individually sat down and recorded thoughts on a variety of topics related to jazz.

With all of us coming from different backgrounds and upbringings, you will hear very different and interesting perspectives on topics ranging from what the first jazz we remember ever hearing, what music was playing when we were growing up, what how we got hooked on jazz, what live jazz performance blew our mind, what jazz musicians we think are doing great things today, and, if we could pick anyone to see play one song in concert, alive or dead, who would it be.

Enjoy the first Groove Notes Audio Blog by clicking here.

Watch Teddy Wilson, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton play Moonglow, as picked by Dick Stein:

Watch Thelonious Monk play ‘Round Midnight, as picked by Abe Beeson:

Watch Michael Brecker, as picked by Kevin Kniestedt:

Watch Dizzy Gillespie play Manteca, as picked by Robin Lloyd:

Jazz Grammy Winners Are In!!!

8 Feb

The Grammy award winners were announced today during the 51st annual Grammy Awards. Below is a list of who won which jazz Grammy awards.

We conducted a poll in a blog a while back asking you who you thought would win these awards. Below each winner is the percentage of Groove Notes readers who voted in favor of that particular winner in our poll. Congratulations to all of the winners!!!

Best Instrumental Jazz Album Winner:

The New Crystal Silence
Chick Corea & Gary Burton

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 8%

Best Jazz Vocal Album Winner:

Loverly
Cassandra Wilson

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 53%

Best Contemporary Jazz Album Winner:

Randy In Brasil
Randy Brecker

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 33%

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo Winner:

Be-Bop
Terence Blanchard, soloist
Track from: Live At The 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars)

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 33%

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album Winner:

Monday Night Live At The Village Vanguard
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 56%

Best Latin Jazz Album Winner:

Song For Chico
Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 45%

Best Instrumental Composition Winner*:

The Adventures Of Mutt (From Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull)
John Williams, composer (John Williams)
Track from: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull — Soundtrack

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 0%

Best Instrumental Arrangement Winner*:

Define Dancing (From Wall-E)
Peter Gabriel & Thomas Newman, arrangers (Thomas Newman)
Track from: Wall-E — Soundtrack

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 13%

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Winner*:

Here’s That Rainy Day
Nan Schwartz, arranger (Natalie Cole)
Track from: Still Unforgettable

Percentage of readers picking this winner: 14%

* = Not a jazz category, but contained jazz artists/songs/albums within its list of nominees.

And the results of the Groove Notes poll for ” Which artist deserved a nomination but didn’t receive it this year?”:

Roy Hargrove: 64%

Eva Cassidy: 18%

Melody Gardot: 9%

Nicholas Payton: 9%

Other: 0%

Once again, congratulations to all of the winners!!!

Jazz and Trendiness

27 Jan

If someone calls you “trendy”, you can assume that you have managed to stay current and up-to-date on things that might include fashion sense and style, pop culture, attitudes, lingo, and current events. To stay trendy, you have to adjust as the trends do. If you don’t, or haven’t, it’s possible that you may show a slight resemblance to these guys:

Flock of Seagulls

Flock of Seagulls

Jazz has survived for over one hundred years, and its likely that it will always survive in some fashion. We can find countless books and recordings on how it has changed over the decades, thanks in large part to not only those who were brave enough to experiment with their own unique thoughts and ideas, but also to great classic recordings that kind-of-bluehave withstood the test of time. Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis, sold 5,000 copies a week in 2008, roughly a half century after its creation. When you ask someone who isn’t a huge jazz fan why that CD happens to be part of their music collection, a collection filled with rap and country and rock, they usually just say “because its cool”. “Jazzheads”, on the other hand, will give you a twenty minute response on its modality, tonality, and improvisation and how it changed the world. Both are right.

Today, “jazz” is rarely used in the same sentence as “trendy”. For younger generations, jazz concerts are not as much of a must-see event as they are a random, occasional novelty. It’s far less likely that a high school cafeteria would be buzzing with discussion about what Coltrane’s best album was during lunch hour, and more likely that it will be buzzing with the latest Brittney Spears gossip.

The question is though, does jazz need to be trendy to survive? Will a younger generation find jazz and buy records and go to concerts without jazz being the main headline in pop-culture publications? Some jazz purists feel that it’s not necessary for jazz to be the headline. But doesn’t a younger generation need to be exposed to jazz somehow in order for record companies to not only invest in new jazz artists but to also afford to invest in printing copies of older albums for sale? Isn’t anything that needs to remain trendy, or even viable, or to even have a pulse, in need of new audience members year after year?

Will younger generations find satisfaction in old recordings, or will they need newer, more modern sounding recordings to enjoy. Will artists be willing to take that step and record them, and will jazz radio stations play the new stuff that might appeal to “the kids”?

There is always hope and promise. Artists like Norah Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Michael Buble over the last few years have definitely given jazz record sales a boost. But at the same time Norah Jones and Michael Buble have received criticism for not being “true” jazz musicians, while Herbie recently has teamed up with pop superstars, drawing his own critiques from jazz purists.

Whether you think that the days of jazz appealing to a younger audience are still possible or not, or which way you think the jazz industry should go about marketing to a younger audience, or if jazz needs to be or can be trendy at all, it is safe to say that jazz has to find its way into the hands of every new generation.

Below, see some “trendy” videos of musicians of today.

Norah Jones singing Cold, Cold Heart:

Herbie Hancock with Corinne Bailey Rae performing River:

Michael Buble in a Starbucks commercial:

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