Category Archives: Preview

Jazz Week and more: a preview of highlights from this week’s live events

 

The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra plays the Berklee Performance Center on April 26. Photo by Jimmy and Dina Katz.

The Maria Schneider Orchestra plays the Berklee Performance Center on April 26. Photo by Jimmy and Dina Katz.


Jazz Week

Boston’s 8th annual Jazz Week celebration begins April 25 and continues through May 4.  As in the past, just about everything jazz-related during these ten days becomes part of the Jazz Week calendar. But there are a number of special events being organized by Jazz Week’s sponsor, JazzBoston.

The theme of Jazz Week this year is “No Walls: A Salute to the Power of Jazz To Bring People Together.” Its centerpiece will be a free concert to be held at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, on April 30, the date proclaimed as International Jazz Day by UNESCO a little over three years ago with that theme in mind.

The title “No Walls” comes from an anthemic South African-style piece written by Boston composer Mark Harvey (of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, who are also playing this week). Players at the April 30 concert include Danilo Pérez, the Either/Orchestra, Musaner, Watchout Creole Jazz, and Zérui. The event will begin with a prelude on the steps of the church by Boston’s New Orleans-style brass band, Revolutionary Snake Ensemble. The prelude begins at 6 p.m., the indoor concert at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, April 27, at Wally’s Jazz Café on Mass. Ave., Emilio Lyons, the legendary “sax doctor” of Rayburn Music,  will be honored as a Boston Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association. The event, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., is free and open to the public, with music and light refreshments.

Jazz impresario Fred Taylor will receive the Roy Haynes Award  — presented “for exceptional contributions to jazz and the jazz community” — at the club he books,  Scullers, on May 4. Performers will include by Rebecca Parris, Grace Kelly, Bob Gullotti, Yoko Miwa, Amanda Carr, and others, plus, we’d imagine, some surprise guests. Tickets are $20, available through the Scullers.

Other free events include daily noon concerts at South Station and other public spaces around town and, as part of a “Next Generation of Jazz” program, a high school jazz band showcase at the Boston Public Library main branch in Copley Square on April 29 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.jazzboston.org.

Meanwhile, here’s just a small sampling of other jazz events around town this week, through April 30:

“The State of Jazz Composition Symposium and Concert Series”
April 22-27
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA.

Berklee may as well call this “The State of Jazz,” but who’s arguing? Performers and panelists include Geri Allen, Terence Blanchard, Vijay Iyer, Tania Léon, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Maria Schneider, with a keynote address to be delivered by Blue Note Records president Don Was (April 24). All events are open to the public, including many free performances. (Registration and full schedule at berklee.edu/jcs.)

Kendrick Scott
April 23, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Kendrick Scott, 33, is one of a handful of drummers these days who has made hip-hop beats integral to jazz (see also Marcus Gilmore, Chris Dave, Mark Colenburg, Charles Haynes, et al.). He’s helped transform Terence Blanchard’s band over the past decade, and he also loaned his special zip to singer Gretchen Parlato. Now he comes to Scullers with his band Oracle, with saxophonist John Ellis, guitarist Mike Moreno and pianist Taylor Eigsti, and bassist Matt Penman.

Yoko Miwa Trio
April 25, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The Boston pianist Yoko Miwa has an equal love for Bill Evans’ harmonic lyricism and Oscar Peterson’s driving swing, and she matches her own exploratory compositions with a taste for offbeat covers like Aerosmith’s “Seasons of Wither” and the Velvet Underground’s “Who Loves the Sun.” Which she plays as a medley — and it works. She’s joined by trio mates Will Slater on bass and Scott Goulding on drums.

Aardvark Jazz Orchesta
April 26, 8 p.m.
Kresge Auditorium, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA.

Boston’s esteemed avant-garde jazz orchestra presents a program of original material by bandleader Mark Harvey — “Commemoration (Boston2013),” for the Boston Marathon victims and survivors; “No Walls,” his Abudullah Ibrahim-inspired anthem (the theme of this year’s Boston Jazz Week); and “Spaceways,” his centennial tribute to Sun Ra.

 

Maria Schneider Orchestra
April 26, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.

The heir to Bob Brookmeyer (her teacher) and Gil Evans (for whom she worked as an assistant) brings her broad palette of harmonies and rhythms (with plenty of Afro-Latin and Afro-Brazilian) to Berklee Performance Center. The star soloists include saxophonists Steve Wilson and Donny McCaslin and pianist Frank Kimbrough. But the real stars are this 17-piece orchestra and Schneider’s compositions. (Scheider is also a featured participant in Berklee’s “State of Jazz Composition” symposium; see above.)

Fabian Almazan Rhizome Trio
April 29, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

We know what you’re thinking: another genius Cuban pianist. But Almazan, who grew up in Miami, uses all that conservatory training and a grasp of folkloric rhythms to inform a decidedly New York-modernist frame of mind. Now living in that city, he’s joined by the exciting young bassist/composer/bandleader Linda Oh (a regular with Dave Douglas’s quintet) and drummer Henry Cole.

 

Clayton Brothers Quartet
April 30, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Post-bop veterans Jeff (alto, oboe, French horn, flute) and John (bass) Clayton are joined by trumpeter Terrell Stafford, drummer Obed Calvaire, and John’s son, the rising piano star Gerald Clayton.

 

Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio
April 30, 8 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Stephan Crump’s day job, as it were, is playing bass with the Vijay Iyer Trio, but one of his side gigs is this tidy little trio with Liberty Ellman playing acoustic guitar and Jamie Fox playing electric. If your thing is tone, texture, and three-way string-band counterpoint, this is the place to be. And yeah, they have a nice sense of swing, too. They’re celebrating the release of their third album, Thwirl.

For more information on these and other jazz events as well as classical, rock, world music, film, theater, dance, and readings, check out The Arts Fuse.

 

Montreal Jazz Festival tickets on sale

Diana Ross is just one of a gazillion artists who will appear at the 35th annual Montreal Jazz Festival.

Diana Ross is just one of a gazillion artists who will appear at the 35th annual Montreal Jazz Festival.

Newport Jazz has announced its schedule (August 1-3), the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is right on our doorstep (April 25-May 4), and tickets are also on sale for the 35th anniversary edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal (June 26-July 6).

Montreal artistic director Andre Menard was in Boston on Monday to present this year’s festival line-up to press and local presenters and also offer a sneak peak at some shows that won’t be announced officially until April 23.

In acknowledging the Boston scene, Menard cited Newton’s George Wein, co-founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, as a  particular inspiration, whose words of advice 35 years ago were, “If you want to lose your shirt, go ahead.” Well, it didn’t turn out that way, and the Montreal festival is now huge. Tickets for many shows are now on sale, with more concerts to be announced and tickets released on April 23 (www.montrealjazzfest.com).

In case you’ve never been, the festival takes over downtown Montreal for 10 days, with hundreds of free open-air events going on all day and ticketed theatre and club events in the evening. This year’s big names include Diana Ross (July 3 and 4), Beck (June 25), and Michael Buble (July 4-5). Rufus Wainwright will play a series of solo shows (June 27-29).

On the jazz end of the spectrum, both Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau will give solo piano recitals (June 28 and July 1, respectively). Singers Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Stacey Kent, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Buika are all on the bill (June 26-29), and the cantankerous Ginger Baker is coming in with his Jazz Confusion project (June 28).

One of the oddest features on the bill is “For the Record: Tarantino in Concert” (June 25, 28-29), in which “28 musicians, dancers, and performers” will seek to represent the Master’s oeuvre in a concert setting. 

Many more concerts will be announced on April 23, including plenty of left-of-the-dial indie jazz pathbreakers. Watch this space for more news.

 

 

Jazz picks week of March 28

Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio. Photo by Anastasia Sierra.

Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio. Photo by Anastasia Sierra.

Here are just a few jazz events around town this week. These and more coming attractions — classical, dance, theater, etc.— can be found at The Arts Fuse.

Grace Kelly
March 28, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

The former child prodigy alto saxophonist from Brookline, now 21, celebrates 10 years of performing — including gigs with Phil Woods and Lee Konitz — by playing a show at her home base, Scullers.

Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio
March 28, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Guitarist Juanito Pascual’s idea of flamenco has always been expansive, going well beyond the sound of the Gypsy Kings. His latest CD, New Flamenco Trio, incorporates a variety of traditional flamenco rhythms as well as a bit of Panama, American jazz, and George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” His trio — with bassist Brad Barrett and percussionist Tupac Mantilla — will be joined by flamenco dancer Auxi Fernández. (The show was rescheduled from the original snowed-upon February 15 date.)

Mary Lou Williams “Mass for Peace”
March 29, 7 p.m.
Union United Methodist Church, Boston, MA.

The great jazz pianist and composer spent much of the latter half of her career devoted to religious works. UnionARTS at the Union United Methodist Church presents the Euphonic Chorale in Williams’s “Mass for Peace.”

Ran Blake
April 2, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Just shy of his 79th birthday (April 20), the endlessly exploratory pianist, composer, and teacher offers a rare solo concert — playing standards (from gospel and folk to American songbook), film noir soundtracks, and originals.  (This is another show rescheduled from an earlier storm date.)

Marissa Licata
April 2, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Honduran-American Marissa Licata matches an effervescent stage presence with fearsome chops, born of classical training and gigs with pop acts like Jethro Tull. She’s best when she pushes her Gypsy-jazz world-music fusion to the edge.

Matthew Stevens
April 2, 8 p.m.
Café 939, Boston, MA.

For the past several years, guitarist Matthew Stevens has been Christian Scott’s right-hand man in the trumpet star’s rock-edged jazz quintet. Now, in anticipation of his Concord Records debut as a leader, Stevens returns to alma mater Berklee for a gig at the school’s Café 939, with his own formidable quintet: pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Eric Doob, and percussionist Paulo Stagnaro. It’s part of “The Checkout” live broadcast series by Hoboken’s WBGO-FM and NPR.

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol Jazz Orchestra
April 3, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The Turkish-born pianist and composer Mehmet Ali Sanlikol came to Boston 20 years ago and studied big-band composing and arranging with the likes of Herb Pomeroy and Bob Brookmeyer. Ironically, his study of American big-band jazz led him back to the court music of the Ottoman Empire. His orchestra compositions, at their best, are a provocative blend of varied traditions. He celebrates the release of his album whatsnext? with his orchestra at the Regattabar.

 

 

Jazz Picks Week of March 14

Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

Here’s a look at the coming week in live jazz, including THREE important shows tonight. For more jazz and other picks in dance, theater, classical music, pop, and more, check out The Arts Fuse.

Vijay Iyer Trio/Robert Pinsky
March 14, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist, composer, MacArthur Fellow and now Harvard music faculty member Vijay Iyer joins former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinksy for one of Pinsky’s PoemJazz duo sets and then takes the stage with his formidable trio mates, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, in this Celebrity Series concert.

Myra Melford
March 14, 8 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist and composer Myra Melford’s exquisite chops, tact, and imagination have served her well in collaborations with any number of jazz’s other great experimenters, from Henry Threadgill, Joseph Jarman, and Leroy Jenkins to Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, and Matt Wilson. She plays a solo gig in support of her solo-piano CD, Life Carries Me This Way (Firehouse 12) at the intimate Lily Pad.

Snarky Puppy
March 14, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.

From the next generation of jazz-rock-funk fusion, Snarky Puppy have signaled their arrival with a 2014 Grammy win for Best R&B Performance and a booking at the upcoming Newport Jazz Festival. You’ll hear R&B, but also the familiar sound of proggy ’70s-’80s fusion, updated with nifty horn charts and distinctive post-rock twists and turns. Dallas funk-fusion band Funky Knuckles opens.

Nando Michelin’s “Juana de America”
March 14, 9 p.m.; March 19, 9 p.m.
Acton Jazz Café, Acton, MA [March 14] + Ryles Jazz Club Cambridge, MA. [March 19]

Pianist and composer Nando Michelin continues his series of shows exploring the work of Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979) in this new suite. Performing Michelin’s settings are his trio with bassist Robert Taylor and drummer Tiago Michelin along with singer Katie Viqueira and the Four Corners string quartet.

Ali Amr
March 15, 7 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Moroccan-born Berklees student Ali Amr made a splash at last year’s Newport Jazz Festival by busting out his zither-like qanun and improvising stunning free flying lines with a like-minded jazz crew on the big mainstage. Amr also brings his compelling vocals to his trad-modern fusions of jazz, funk hip-hop, and Arabic folk forms.

Dave Liebman and Marc Copland
March 15, 8 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA

The great saxophonist Dave Liebman was here just a couple of weeks ago with a band. Now he returns to play two duo sets with pianist Marc Copland. Liebman is known for his impassioned, all-out attack in band settings, but on Impressions, their 2012 Hat Hut release, he and Copland took more lyrical flights in their free explorations of modern standards (including the title track). That album also included a few spontaneous pieces invented from scratch, so don’t be surprised if they lean that way tonight. After all, they’ve done this before.

The Makanda Project
March 15, 7 p.m.
Dudley Branch Library, Boston, MA

Pianist John Kordalewski’s ensemble tribute to the late composer and reedman Makanda Ken McIntyre holds forth in a free concert at the Boston Public Library Dudley branch auditorium with special guest brass player Craig Harris. The Makanda’s regular crew includes a cast of Boston all-stars: Arni Cheatham, John Lockwood, Kurtis Rivers, Charlie Kohlhase, Bill Lowe, and Jerry Sabatini.

Jay Clayton
March 19, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

Clayton is one of a select group of free-jazz vocalists, having worked with Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Reich, Julian Priester, Jane Ira Bloom, and many others. Tonight she goes “out” by working “in,” celebrating the release of her new CD, Harry Who?, a tribute to songwriter Harry Warren (“At Last,” “September in the Rain,” “I Only Have Eyes for You”). Joining her are the players from that album, pianist John DiMartino and esteemed tenor saxophonist Houston Person.

Eric Hofbauer’s “Prehistoric Jazz”
March 21, 8 p.m.
Pickman Concert Hall, Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA.

Guitarist and composer Hofbauer’s last attempt to stage this show got snowed out. But maybe this time he’ll be aided by the fact that he’s re-scheduled his jazz ensemble rendering of Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps for the day after the first day of spring. Hofbauer and crew have played “the Rite” before, but this time they’ll also be premiering his arrangement of Messiaen’s Quator pour le fin du temps (“Quartet for the End of Time”). The band includes Hofbauer, clarinetist Todd Brunel, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and drummer Curt Newton. And it’s free.

Jazz picks this week

Ambrose Akinmusire plays the Regattabar on March 12.

Ambrose Akinmusire plays the Regattabar on March 12.

Here are some highlights of live jazz for the coming week. These and other picks for theater, dance, classical, and pop music can be found at The Arts Fuse.

 

Four Generations of Miles Davis
March 7-8, 7:30 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Four outstanding players — saxophonist Sonny Fortune, guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Jimmy Cobb — are pooling their combined experience from different eras of working with Miles Davis.

Nando Michelin’s “Juana de America”
March 8, 8 p.m.; March 10, 8 p.m.
Amazing Things Arts Center, Framingham, MA [March 8] + Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA. [March 10]

The terrific Uruguayan-born jazz pianist Nando Michelin has long been a mainstay of Boston’s jazz and Latin-jazz scenes (his “Duende” trio with drummer Richie Barshay and a pre-famous Esperanza Spalding is semi-legendary). This month, Michelin premieres a new work in a series of metro-Boston venues. The piece, “Juana de America,” is a suite of songs set to the verse of Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979). Argentine singer Katie Viqueira joins Michelin’s trio, with Robert Taylor on bass and Tiago Michelin (Nando’s son) on drums, and the Four Corners string quartet. The show travels from the Amazing Things Arts Center (March 8) and the Longy School (March 10) to the Acton Jazz Café, Acton (March 14), and Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge (March 19).

New World Jazz Composers Octet
March 10, 8.p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.

This octet, led by saxophonist and composer Daniel Ian Smith, digs deep into the mainstream tradition to create new work that is both elegant and fiery. The band also includes pianist Tim Ray, saxophonist Felipe Salles, trumpeters Walter Platt and Tony D’Aveni, percussionist Ernesto Diaz, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, and drummer Mark Walker.

Nir Felder
March 11, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

On his Okeh Records debut, Golden Age (released in January), young guitar wizard Nir Felder mixes dreamy indie-rock instrumentals with the kind of busy, sharp-angled uptempo pieces that progressive jazz fans love. The latter showed off his amazing chops — spiky patterns so unpredictable and fresh that it was hard to imagine how he was thinking so fast. It will be interesting to see how he mixes things up at the Regattabar with two players from the album, pianist Aaron Parks and drummer Nate Smith, along with bassist Orlando le Flemming.

Ambrose Akinmusire
March 12, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The adventurous young trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire (2007 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition) releases his second Blue Note CD, the imagined savior is far easier to paint, on March 11, then celebrates with a show at the Regattabar. Joining Akinmusire is his working quartet: saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Justin Brown.

Bill Banfield’s Jazz Urbane
March 12, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club

Guitarist and Berklee professor Bill Banfield fronts his pop fusion outfit Jazz Urbane with the formidable young alto saxophonist Tia Fuller as special guest.

The Trio
March 13, 7:30 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Billy Cobham released their first album as the Trio in 2004, mixing exploratory variations on New Orleans funk with post-bop swing.

… and coming up

Vijay Iyer Trio/Robert Pinsky
March 14, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist, composer, and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer joins former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinksy for one of Pinsky’s PoemJazz duo sets and then takes the stage with his formidable trio mates, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, in this Celebrity Series concert.

Myra Melford
March 14, 8 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist and composer Myra Melford’s exquisite chops, tact, and imagination have served her well with any number of jazz’s great experimenters, from Henry Threadgill, Joseph Jarman, and Leroy Jenkins to Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, and Matt Wilson. She plays a solo gig in support of her solo-piano CD, Life Carries Me This Way (Firehouse 12) at the intimate Lily Pad.

Snarky Puppy
March 14, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.

From the next generation of jazz-rock-funk fusion, Snarky Puppy have signaled their arrival with a 2014 Grammy win for Best R&B Performance and a booking at the upcoming Newport Jazz Festival. You’ll hear R&B, but also the familiar sound of proggy ’70s-’80s fusion, updated with nifty horn charts and distinctive post-rock twists and turns. Dallas funk-fusion band Funky Knuckles opens.

Upcoming jazz events

Danilo Pérez plays Scullers February 15 and 16 . Photo by Luke Severn.

Danilo Pérez plays Scullers February 15 and 16 . Photo by Luke Severn.

Plenty of good stuff happening in Boston-area jazz this week. You can find these and other choice arts picks at The Arts Fuse.

Pat Donaher
February 8, 4 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge MA

Alto saxophonist Pat Donaher’s beguiling Who We Are Together lives in that world where jazz crosses over into a kind of classical chamber music.  Or maybe the other way around. With his alternating duo partners, pianists Hwaen Ch’uqi and Camille Barile, Donaher favors spontaneous improvisations, with attractive folk-like melodies and ambiguous harmonies. A Quincy, MA, native, Donaher attended the Eastman School of Music before returning home to complete a master’s degree at New England Conservatory. At the Lily Pad he’ll be joined by fellow Eastman graduate Hwaen Ch’uqi.

Ampersand Concert Series
February 13,  8 p.m.
MIT Bartos Theatre, Cambridge MA

The MIT List Visual Arts Center and WMBR Radio present the seventh in their performance series, this time with the Boston/Amherst jazz group Outnumbered and New Haven bassist and electronic improviser Carl Testa. The Outnumbered features some of the best players in the area: alto saxophonist Jason Robinson, multi-sax guy Charlie Kohlhase, pianist Josh Rosen, bassist Bruno Råberg, and drummer Curt Newton.

Dave Holland’s Prism
February 13-14, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge MA

Bassist and composer Dave Holland’s always compelling blend of grooving mixed meters and controlled contrapuntal mayhem this time falls into the hands of a new quartet with a homonymous new album on ECM. The players are guitarist Kevin Eubanks (a longtime Holland foil before jumping to direct the Tonight Show band), pianist Craig Taborn, and drummer Eric Harland. As usual with Holland’s outfits, everyone contributes original tunes, which makes for an especially alert crew.

Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz
February 13, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

Kate McGarry has long been mixing jazz with a variety of American pop and folk. Tonight she and her husband, the guitarist Keith Ganz, step out of their usual band format to play as the title alter-ego duo from their new album, Genevieve & Ferdinand (Sunnyside), somehow making Paul Simon’s “American Tune,” Todd Rundgen’s “Pretending To Care,” and Iriving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” all part of the same sound world. You can also expect a couple of McGarry and Ganz’s well-turned originals.

Newport Jazz Festival: NOW 60
February 13, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston MA

This promotional anniversary tour for the granddaddy of jazz festivals looks on the face of it like a grab-bag of supremely talented, medium-profile all-stars, but the tour producers and bandleader Anat Cohen have declared a specific agenda: to focus not only on music from Newport’s storied history, but also original compositions and arrangements from everyone in the band. And it is a formidable crew. Saxophonist and clarinetist Cohen will be joined by multi-lingual singer Karrin Allyson, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Peter Martin, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Clarence Penn. This second night of a 21-date tour (a Celebrity Series of Boston event) should be crackling.
Read my Boston Globe piece about the tour here.

“Third Stream Headwaters”
February 13, 7 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston MA

Rare offerings at New England Conservatory tonight. The Contemporary Improvisation department goes deep into Third Stream — the term coined by composer and former NEC president Gunther Schuller to describe a blending of classical and jazz musical procedures (and also the original name of the CI department).  Topping the bill are Charles Mingus’s “Half-Mast Inhibition,” the great bassist-composer’s earliest orchestral work (originally recorded in 1960) and the premiere of Schuller’s “From Here to There,” commissioned by NEC. Also on the bill are Darius Milhaud’s “La Création du Monde,” Milton Babbit’s “All Set,” and Frank Zappa’s “Dog Breath Variations.” Charles Peltz conducts

Catherine Russell
February 14, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston MA

No less an authority than Nat Hentoff has called singer Catherine Russell “the real thing.” With a strong pedigree (daughter of Louis Armstrong orchestra music director Luis Russell and guitarist Carline Ray, of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm), Russell made her early career singing high-profile back-up gigs (Paul Simon, David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Rosanne Cash) before going solo about 10 years ago and delivering one beautifully assured album after another, focusing on vintage swing and blues, with the occasional oddball and apt contemporary choice (the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedyway Boogie”). She has the kind of voice and diction that lend every song a conversational directness and literate clarity even when she’s hitting the high notes and swinging her hardest. Her latest, Bring It Back (Jazz Village), comes out this Tuesday and it’s another well-designed collection, guided by her own taste and by the skill of music director/guitarist Matt Munisteri.

Danilo Pérez’s “Panama 500”
February 15 [8 p.m. and 10 p.m.] and 16 [4 p.m. and 7 p.m.]
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston MA

The 47-year-old pianist and composer’slatest CD, Panama 500 (Mack Avenue), is his most ambitious achievement yet. Looking again at his native Panama, he offers a portrait that mixes folkloric percussion, chants of the indigenous Guna people, modern-chamber music string writing, and, of course, fleet jazz-piano trio sections. At times, all these languages are layered so that history emerges as a living memory. Pérez brings an ensemble from the album to Scullers: violinist Alex Hargreaves, percussionist Roman Díaz, and his longtime trio mates, bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz.
Read my Boston Globe review of the CD here.

Nicholas Payton brings his trio to Scullers September 12

Nicholas Payton. Photo by Michael Wilson.

Nicholas Payton. Photo by Michael Wilson.

Last spring I talked to Nicholas Payton for New Orleans’ OffBeat magazine. He had stated his own record label, BMF, and released a live CD recorded at Washington DC’s storied Bohemian Caverns. Payton was as provocative as ever, talking about his notorious blog entry, “On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore,” which included the line, “Jazz died in 1959.” And the live album was provocative too — heavy grooves, with Lenny White on drums, Payton’s longtime bassist Vicente Archer, and Payton himself playing both trumpet and Fender Rhodes, sometimes simultaneously.

On September 24, Payton will release a live concert performance of his interpretation of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain, with Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Sinfonieorchester Basel. They’re joined by Archer on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums, and Daniel Sadownick on percussion. And this Thursday, September 12, Payton brings his trio to Scullers in Boston for an 8 pm show.

“Music is inherently empty,” Payton told me in the OffBeat interview. “It takes a life lived to imbue a note or a set of chords or a rhythm with a feeling.” You can read the rest of the interview here. See you at Scullers!