Tag: jazz

“Learning to Listen,” by Gary Burton (book review)

Boston Globe, September 4, 2013 In the mid-1980s, Gary Burton was just entering middle age, but he’d had experiences as a jazz player to fill several lifetimes. Duke Ellington had treated him with kindness, Milt Jackson with suspicion, Miles Davis with a death threat. He’d endured the mercurial tendencies of Stan Getz, in whose band […]

With new album, Marc Cary pays tribute to his mentor

Boston Globe, August 22, 2013 NEW YORK – A solo recording is a watershed event for a jazz musician, one that usually comes many years or even decades into one’s career. It marks a commercial risk, as record labels and concert bookers often hesitate to back a solo project. More than that, it represents creative […]

Carmen Souza gives Cape Verdean sounds a jazz twist

Boston Globe, June 13, 2013 As a child growing up in Lisbon, Carmen Souza only visited her family’s home nation of Cape Verde once, for a short trip when she was 10. But that did not stop the singer from having a quintessentially Cape Verdean upbringing. The family spoke Cape Verdean Creole at home. They […]

Legendary saxophonist Lloyd finds new life in new quartet

Boston Globe, March 16, 2013 Who is Charles Lloyd? If you were around for the flower-power era, you may remember Lloyd as a firebrand saxophonist who led avant-garde jazz groups in the 1960s, had a crossover hit with the Woodstock crowd, went off to play with the Beach Boys, then burned out and vanished from […]

Miguel Zenón’s rhythms follow a changing culture

Boston Globe, February 21, 2013 The saxophonist Miguel Zenón came from Puerto Rico to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music in 1996, and fast emerged as a major creative voice in jazz, with a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2008 to attest to it. In his young but prolific career, he has made […]

A singer at the busy crossroads of soul and jazz

Boston Globe, January 24, 2013 The singer José James grew up in Minneapolis and studied jazz in New York, but he’s made his career mostly out of the American mainstream eye: recording for overseas and indie labels, living a few years in London, working with recherché producers like Gilles Peterson and Flying Lotus. His recordings, […]

Trumpeter Christian Scott gives jazz much-needed stretch

Boston Globe, August 9, 2012 NEW YORK — The trumpeter Christian Scott terms “stretch music” the big, open-minded sound that he seeks, for his own band and for jazz in general. On his brand-new album, “Christian aTunde Adjuah,” Scott stretches more than just rhythmic and harmonic conventions. The album itself is a sprawling double CD, […]

Liner Essay: Debo Band, “Debo Band” (Album)

Sub Pop Records, July 10, 2012 The Debo Band’s debut CD on Sub Pop/Next Ambiance came out today. Here is the text of the liner essay I contributed to the album.  There’s something dangerous about tales of a Golden Age: especially a brief one. The so-called Golden Age of Ethiopian popular music (or Ethio-jazz, or […]

Boston singer Marianne Solivan’s NY move pays off

Boston Globe, May 25, 2012 NEW YORK — This city may boast the nation’s highest concentration of jazz musicians, venues, recording opportunities, and cover-charge-paying aficionados, but that doesn’t mean you can just show up here and get a gig. Just ask singer Marianne Solivan. When she first got here in 2007, with enough money for […]

With jazz trio Pilc Moutin Hoenig, anything can happen

Boston Globe, May 18, 2012 When pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, bassist François Moutin, and drummer Ari Hoenig play music together, whether in concert or in the studio recording an album, the plan is always the same: There is no plan. No sheet music. Nothing discussed in advanced. Only improvisation. “We go on stage and we don’t […]

Tessa Souter adopts classical airs

Boston Globe, May 14, 2012 The jazz vocalist Tessa Souter, who released her fourth CD, “Beyond the Blue,” last week, has always had an eclectic, even adventurous, approach to repertoire. Alongside songbook standards and Brazilian classics like “Manhã de Carnaval,” she’s delivered scintillating takes on spiritually intense works like Pharoah Sanders’s “The Creator Has a […]

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire makes a jazz life on his own terms

Boston Globe, May 4, 2012 NEW YORK — Ambrose Akinmusire — young trumpeter, recent signee to the hallowed Blue Note label, and author, with his quintet, of one of last year’s best-received jazz albums — is a creature of habit. “Annoyingly so,” he says, laughing. He wakes every day at the same time, and makes […]

Alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett puts Motor City in his sound

Boston Globe, April 6, 2012 When speaking about jazz, it is established custom to identify a musician’s city of origin, even if he or she left it long ago. This recalls the time when culturally specific scenes thrived in different cities, with distinct idioms and influences, exporting players in this mold onto the national stage. […]

Dafnis Prieto plays more than meets the ear

Boston Globe, February 24, 2012 NEW YORK – In a prominent spot on the shelf in the peaceful living room of drummer Dafnis Prieto’s apartment in Washington Heights sits a row of books on one of Prieto’s favorite subjects: optical illusions. Close by is a stack of volumes on an artist famous for his use […]

Sunny Jain and Red Baraat make bangers from bhangra

Boston Globe, January 29, 2012 NEW YORK – The drummer Sunny Jain tells the story of a time when he auditioned before Wynton Marsalis, the great trumpeter and consummate arbiter of all things jazz in general, and particularly New Orleans. In lieu of a bass drum, Jain had substituted a dhol – the two-sided drum […]

Jazz comes first for all-female Mosaic Project

Boston Globe, December 9, 2011 It shouldn’t be this way, but it’s still the case that when a jazz group forms in which all the players are women, that fact attracts at least as much notice as the music they perform. It’s unavoidable: all-women groups remain rare in a jazz world where most performers, listeners, […]

Jazz artist draws richly on Indian roots

Boston Globe, October 30, 2011 It’s been a subtle kind of homecoming for Rudresh Mahanthappa. Of course, southern India was never really home for the alto saxophonist, strictly speaking: Though his parents came from there, he grew up in Colorado and developed his jazz chops at the Berklee College of Music, then on the Chicago […]

Their notable conversations

Boston Globe, September 25, 2011 NEW YORK – One of them played at Woodstock. The second got his doctorate in physics at age 24. They found their third member in a small town in France and the fourth working as a personal trainer at an Equinox gym. Behold: A jazz quartet. Of course, more than […]

The whole kit and caboodle

Boston Globe, August 5, 2011 Any decent investigation of the jazz scene is likely to yield these near-conclusive findings: First, Eric Harland is everywhere. Second, Eric Harland can do anything. Evidence? Just look at his schedule for the next few days. At the Newport Jazz Festival this weekend, Harland, a 34-year-old drummer with an absurdly […]

Composer Previte drums up new musical ideas

Boston Globe, May 27, 2011 NEW YORK – When So Percussion – a quartet based here that plays only percussion instruments – received an invitation to collaborate from drummer and composer Bobby Previte, they quickly went online to research his work. And what they found pretty much blew their minds. It wasn’t that Previte was […]

Live from N.Y.: A struggling Berklee grad gets his big break

Boston Globe, October 4, 2010 NEW YORK – Viewers of last weekend’s season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” who blinked at the wrong moment as the camera panned across the set might not have spotted the newest member in the house band. But there he was, a slender figure at the keyboard, dreadlocks pulled back […]

Jazz revelations: Mina Cho

Boston Globe, September 27, 2010 If there is a recurring motif in the unusual path from Korea to Boston of pianist Mina Cho it is revelation. It was a pair of musical revelations that exposed the young woman, who as a child in Korea had the ambition to become a world-famous classical pianist, first to […]

Jazz you can feel

Boston Globe, August 8, 2010 NEW YORK – An experience that Alicia and Michael Olatuja did not anticipate when they began touring their sleek vocal-jazz band, the Olatuja Project, was strangers approaching them in tears after a set to gush about their music’s healing force. In recent months, as the project has honed its combination […]

Sonny Rollins is still blowing strong

Boston Globe, April 17, 2010 The last time Sonny Rollins performed in this region, he closed out the 2008 Newport Jazz Festival with a potent, expansive set, his tenor sax broadcasting relentless improvised patterns into the salty breeze as the sun went down over Fort Adams. The impression was forceful and nearly elegiac, the muscular […]

“Don’t let it become a job”

Boston Globe, April 2, 2010 It’s been a season of recognition for Kenny Barron. In January the pianist received the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters award, the most prestigious honor in the field, at the ceremony the NEA holds each year at Jazz at Lincoln Center. At 66, Barron was the youngest of […]

Energy and intellect

Boston Globe, March 19, 2010 A pair of star charts, the kind used in astrology readings, adorn the cover of the latest recording by the almost decade-old, New York-based Respect Sextet. One chart is for Karlheinz Stockhausen, the avant-garde composer, born in 1928 in Germany. The other is for Sun Ra, the jazz visionary and […]

An eclectic music box of a band

Boston Globe, December 25, 2009 NEW YORK – When percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck, an eclectically minded veteran of the New York scene with a portfolio ranging from big band and klezmer to avant-garde “new music,” set out to form his own group, he didn’t necessarily expect to make something as unusual – nor as […]

To another place: Somi

Boston Globe, November 15, 2009 Somi’s new album, “If the Rains Come First,” glistens with the sheen of an almost impossibly perfect cosmopolitanism, but that shouldn’t be held against her. It could hardly be otherwise. Recorded in Paris and New York, with a group that includes a Senegalese guitarist, Herve Samb, a Japanese pianist, Toru […]

This jazzwoman speaks softly, but carries a big repertoire

Boston Globe, October 11, 2009 NEW YORK – How refreshing. One of the biggest new voices in song is not, in fact, a big voice at all. It’s the voice of Gretchen Parlato, who has taken an antiheroine’s route to prominence as a jazz singer, breaking with the conventional character traits. Rather than belt or […]

He’s the keeper of the beat

Boston Globe, October 4, 2009 Where to begin? The early days in Chicago, between blues, bebop, and the mid-’60s avant-garde? The time in Charles Lloyd’s band, or the years with Miles Davis when the master went electric with “Bitches Brew”? The four-decade friendship with Keith Jarrett and the subtle intimacy of their jazz standards trio? […]

Toasting its unique niche

Boston Globe, September 13, 2009 When it comes to launching jazz musicians into the big leagues, Boston schools have long been a key feeder. The well-known behemoth is the Berklee College of Music, but it was the New England Conservatory that launched the nation’s first jazz degree program, 40 years ago. This fall NEC celebrates […]

Good vibrations: Jason Marsalis

Boston Globe, August 25, 2009 The youngest scion of jazz nobility, Jason Marsalis has forged a career that’s more eclectic than those of his celebrated brothers Wynton and Branford. Besides his longtime gig as the drummer in Marcus Roberts’s trio, Jason is a founder of the Latin jazz group Los Hombres Calientes. Now 32, Marsalis […]

Free to play all of who they are

Boston Globe, August 23, 2009 For years they’ve feigned split personalities, building their name and platform in jazz with straight-ahead trios or quartets, while nurturing their generation’s funk roots and mash-up aesthetic through side projects or hip-hop moonlighting gigs. But new albums out this week from vibraphonist Stefon Harris and pianist Robert Glasper, both among […]

Long-term relationship plays well: Metheny & Burton

Boston Globe, June 14, 2009 NEW YORK – It’s a cold, drizzly spring afternoon in Times Square, but in the hotel suite overlooking the dull hurry of tourists and umbrellas, Pat Metheny looks as if he’s just stepped in out of the blazing sunshine, in shorts and a T-shirt, tousled hair crawling out from under […]

Vietnam remembered in poetry and jazz

WNYC Radio, April 1, 2009 On this first day of Poetry Month, Pulitzer prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa meets up with jazz violinist Billy Bang. They’re both veterans who have used their art to deal with painful memories.

New take on Indian classical music

WNYC News, March 9, 2009 Classical music jumped across continents this weekend. The two-week festival that celebrated the opening of the new Alice Tully Hall came to a close with a concert that showcased a new take on Indian classical music. WNYC’s Siddhartha Mitter was there.

Three’s the best company: Keith Jarrett

Boston Globe, October 24, 2008 NEW YORK – “If this isn’t the best trio in the world,” jazz pianist Keith Jarrett announced last Saturday night to a packed Carnegie Hall audience that was clearly already on board with his premise, “then I don’t care what anyone wants me to eat – I’ll eat it.” The […]

Wee Trio members are thinking big

Boston Globe, October 17, 2008 NEW YORK – They’re called the Wee Trio, but there’s nothing small about these three guys straight from the eclectic Brooklyn scene. Not their music, a free-spirited brew that works in Nirvana and Sufjan Stevens covers beside Thelonious Monk classics. And not their personality: From the Wee ones, who visit […]

This one’s for Coltrane: GURU

Boston Globe, September 26, 2008 NEW YORK – They burned bright … and faded fast. Of the phenomenal MCs who lit up hip-hop in its late 1980s and early 1990s golden age, turning it from a regional novelty to the most influential arts movement of our time, few remain in the limelight. Rakim, KRS-One, Big […]

Their Trane keeps on rolling

Boston Globe, September 21, 2008 In January 2007, a tragic two-day stretch saw the passing of two immense and influential figures in jazz. First, Alice Coltrane – widow of John Coltrane and a major pianist and composer in her own right – died from liver cancer. The next day, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker succumbed, at […]

Ace of bass: Dave Holland

Boston Globe, September 12, 2008 Consider a conversation with bassist Dave Holland a chance to check in with the state of jazz today. And consider a performance by a Holland-led group, such as the sextet he brings to Regattabar for a three-night stand starting Thursday, as synoptic a take on the music as you can […]

Recent Conservatory grad is making the grade

Boston Globe, September 5, 2008 School couldn’t end fast enough for Noah Preminger. At 22, the tenor saxophonist and brand-new New England Conservatory grad has the filled-out look and assured manner of one quite a few years older – like that one preternaturally mature kid who seems to stand out in every class. And his […]

Learning from the masters: Lafayette Gilchrist

Boston Globe, August 29, 2008 Jazz is saturated with hot talent fresh out of music schools. That’s not a bad problem to have – it certainly proves to any doubters the music’s continued appeal – but it makes it especially refreshing when a distinctive new presence on the scene belongs to a true autodidact. Characters […]

Beginning her career purely by accident

Boston Globe, August 8, 2008 Were it not for certain wrenching circumstances, it might sound like a run of absurd good fortune: A young woman from Philadelphia, an amateur musician with career aspirations elsewhere, writes and sings a few songs for personal use. Reluctantly she shares the recordings with a friend who, unbeknownst to her, […]