Jeremy Pelt Quintet, per una serata di jazz mozzafiato

Jeremy Pelt Quintet, per una serata di jazz mozzafiato

Jeremy Pelt Quintet, per una serata di jazz mozzafiato

Sarà ospite del Jazz Cat Club lunedì 9 febbraio al Teatro del Gatto di Ascona

ASCONA - È davvero una all-star band di primissimo piano quella messa assieme da uno dei migliori trombettisti della scena jazz contemporanea, il newyorkese Jeremy Pelt, artista di 38 anni acclamatissimo dal grande pubblico e dalla critica statunitense che si esibirà in concerto, ospite del Jazz Cat Club, lunedì 9 febbraio alle 20.30 al Teatro del Gatto di Ascona.

Nato in California nel 1976, Jeremy Pelt si dedica alla tromba già nei primissimi anni di scuola. Dopo aver completato la famosa Berklee College of Music di Boston, giunge a New York nel 1998 ed immediatamente si mette in luce come uno dei più interessanti musicisti jazz della sua generazione, suonando al fianco di star del jazz di ieri e di oggi come Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Ravi Coltrane, senza dimenticare Wayne Shorter.

Jeremy Pelt gode oggi di una meritatissima fama e popolarità. Proclamato “Rising Star” della tromba per cinque anni consecutivi dal prestigioso Downbeat Magazine e dalla Jazz Journalists Association, portato su un palmo di mano dal leggendario critico e produttore americano Nat Hentoff, Pelt è solista di spicco in varie band, tra le quali la Roy Hargrove Big Band, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, l’ensemble di Lewis Nash o The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band con Louis Hayes. In qualità di leader, Pelt ha registrato una decina di album e ha girato il mondo con le sue varie formazioni, apparendo in molti importanti festival jazz e sale da concerto.

La band con cui viene al Jazz Cat Club nell’ambito di un tour europeo è una delle migliori che sia possibili ascoltare oggi, tutta formata da vere stelle del jazz. Un concerto insomma da non perdere. Pelt si esibirà con una formazione comprendente Peter Washington al basso (già ammirato quest’anno al Jazz Cat nella all-star band di George Robert), Danny Grissett che è considerato una delle più interessanti e personali voci pianistiche del momento, il celebre vibrafonista Steve Nelson (meglio noto per la sua lunga collaborazione con Dave Holland) e dal grande Bill Stewart, batterista impostosi sulla scena internazionale nei cinque anni trascorsi con la band di John Scofield tra il ‘90’ e il ’95 e oggi richiestissimo (Joe Lovano, Larry Goldings Trio fra le sue tante collaborazioni).

Insomma una serata mozzafiato di jazz mainstream contemporaneo, in grado di fondere sapientemente tradizione e modernità.

I biglietti del concerto (sostenuto da BancaStato, AET, Canton Ticino e da la Regione Ticino, sono in vendita a 30 CHF (15 CHF studenti) alla cassa serale, dalle ore 19.00. I biglietti prenotati vanno ritirati entro le ore 20.00. Apertura porte del Teatro ore 20.00. I posti non sono numerati. Per prenotazioniinfo@jazzcatclub.ch oppure telefonare allo 078 733 66 12 (dall'Italia +41 78...).

Rex Abbasi Acoustic Quartet/Intents and Purposes/Enja Records

Rex Abbasi Acoustic Quartet/Intents and Purposes/Enja Records

Rex Abbasi Acoustic Quartet/Intents and Purposes/Enja Records

By CHRIS COOKE

Many fans of jazz-rock are familiar with some of the most well-known 1970s anthems from the supergroups that attracted huge followings worldwide. On the Last Call, I have played many of these selections for fans of avant-garde music . Some listeners may have desired from time to time to hear these selections through a different, more subtle, less noisy lens.

The new recording from accomplished guitarist Rez Abbasi does just that. Intents and Purposes is a superb entry into the guitarist's already impressive lineup of stellar recordings. Abbasi and his quartet take eight selections and present them with vastly different shades of instrumental color than their original readings in the bands of Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, and others. The listener may find new meanings in the delightful renditions of "Black Market", "Butterfly", "Resolution" and "There Comes A Time", in addition to four other gems of interest.

Veteran guitarist Rez Abbasi is in the studio on steel string, fretless and baritone acoustic guitars, with the inspired company of Bill Ware on vibraphone, Stephan Crump on acoustic bass and Eric McPherson on drums. Together they create simply gorgeous music.      

David Murray: A jazz innovator leads from the center to the edge

David Murray: A jazz innovator leads from the center to the edge

David Murray: A jazz innovator leads from the center to the edge

By Giovanni Russonello 
February 27, 2015
David Murray was invited to perform at New York’s Winter Jazzfest this January in an early celebration of his 60th birthday. He did three sets over two nights, each with a different ensemble, all playing the city for the first time. No surprise there — the saxophonist has recorded nearly 100 albums as a leader, with dozens of bands. He lives ahead of expectations.

A 20-year-old Murray took jazz by surprise in 1975, when New York was still reeling from the death of John Coltrane. The penetrating certainty and harmonic sparseness of Coltrane’s late work left people awed. Murray made his mark by reengaging with the older, more lyrical styles of Don Byas and Ben Webster, and he built new room in the avant-garde for blues humor and playful ironies.

“He wasn’t really bothered by what Coltrane did, or what he was trying to do. He didn’t hear it like that,” says Stanley Crouch, a jazz writer and cultural critic who taught Murray at Pomona College and lived with him in New York.

“David also came to recognize what most musicians don’t: That once you understand the idea that gave rise to the notes, you don’t have to play the notes themselves that way,” Crouch adds.

On Winter Jazzfest’s first night, he led a Clarinet Summit at the Minetta Lane Theatre, with four clarinetists plus a bassist and a drummer. The front line set up oblique harmonies, and Murray — who celebrated his 60th birthday Feb. 19 — knifed through them with downward skewers on the bass clarinet, studded with meaty, gutbucket flavor.

After a set break, he switched to tenor saxophone and introduced a brand-new trio, featuring pianist Geri Allen, who made warm and humming vamps, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, whose kit wafted a spiked haze upward through the room. The next day, nearby at Le Poisson Rouge, Murray’s Infinity Quartet blended straight-ahead free jazz and open-mike funk as poet Saul Williams delivered brooding, invective ribbons of verse.

It’s not typical for an innovator to lead from a position near the center, especially in jazz. But across four decades, Murray has always held onto multiple forces at once while finding an expressive balance. He likes to create an illusion of precariousness or overextension while projecting confidence. Sometimes it’s as if he is stridently arguing a point — his horn ejecting thick, charred notes and staccato cries — but not indicating which side of the argument he’s on. It’s payoff and suspense, all at once from a player who has often been unfairly footnoted as the ambassador of a thwarted movement.

Murray splits his time between homes in Portugal and Paris, visiting New York just a few times a year. By the time he first moved to the city from California, musicians could more easily get a gig playing jazz in Europe than at a legitimate club in New York. The venues that remained were loath to book experimental acts.

Young players started turning their Lower Manhattan apartments and studios into pseudo-commercial spaces, giving rise to the much-documented “loft jazz” scene. Murray and Crouch lived in an apartment on the Bowery, above the Tin Palace jazz club, and they hosted poetry readings and salons and concerts. Murray became a lodestar for the underground, earning the Village Voice’s “Musician of the Decade” accolade in 1980 while developing an array of ensembles: duets, quartets, an octet, a big band. The last was a rarity in the avant-garde world.

“It was just a way to expand my idea of compositions,” he says. “That’s essentially what Ellington did — he took songs he wrote and said, ‘Let’s see what everybody else can do with this song.’ I don’t know if people hear it in my music or not, but the history of our music is so deep.”

Murray’s big-band arrangements were only intermittently successful, sometimes too heavily weighted with unbending unison lines. But his arranging was perfectly suited to the World Saxophone Quartet, an all-saxes group featuring three fellow downtown stars: Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill on alto and Hamiet Bluiett on baritone. On such albums as “Steppin’ With the World Saxophone Quartet,” “W.S.Q.” and “The World Saxophone Quartet Plays Duke Ellington,” he composed marbled harmonies that embraced and gave way like waves. The tunes ranged from shadowy harmonic movement to sputtering free improvisations.

There was an eagerness to bridge artistic and personal and ideological gaps, sometimes all at once. When Crouch, his roommate, declared verbal war on the poet and critic Amiri Baraka, objecting to the Black Arts leader’s insistence that revolutionary politics stay central to the music’s identity, Murray somehow maintained a working friendship with both.

“He’s inspired by words, their meanings, and something that speaks to a unified outlook. He’s a listener,” says poet/singer/musician/actor Saul Williams of Murray. (Guadalupe Ruiz/Guadalupe Ruiz)
Murray performs at the Hague Jazz Festival in the Netherlands in 2011. He moved to Europe in 1996 and splits his time between homes in Portugal and Paris. (Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns)

“I used to give parties in my loft, and that was one of the times [Crouch] and Baraka might have fallen out. I’d have Baraka in one corner, I’d have Albert Murray in the other corner, I’d have Ishmael Reed in the other corner. I’d have all these writers, and I had to keep them separated,” Murray says. “Writers are vicious, man. But my thing was, I was working with all of them. I was a writer’s musician. I always did music to their poetry and they used to like me to take their poems.”

Even on instrumental albums — such as the elegiac “Flowers for Albert” (1976) or the tender “Ballads” (1988) — you can hear Murray’s affection for words. It’s in the way he places notes: boldly, with interrogative inflections and an arc toward ecstatic revelation. Maybe that’s part of what helped him avoid the rabbit hole of babbling perspectives and relativism that so irritated people like Crouch. He was a free musician with an interest in form, syntax and recognition.

“He’s inspired by words, their meanings, and something that speaks to a unified outlook. He’s a listener,” says Saul Williams, the poet/singer/musician/actor whom Murray contacted last year after hearing him read a poem at Baraka’s funeral. “ He’s been around those people, like Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed, and it bleeds through.”

Since Murray moved to Europe in 1996, his boundary-crossing politics have engaged especially with global black identity. In the 1990s and 2000s, he recorded a series of albums in Senegal — joyful, mutinous funk with sabar drummers and other local musicians and poets. A few years later, he began to record with musicians in Cuba. In the process, he has developed relationships with young artists and helped some travel to the United States and Europe.

His output has been slow of late, and the typically prolific Murray hasn’t recorded an album since 2012. But he still has his characteristic certainty, and his sights are set in multiple directions.

“American black people, we’re from all different tribes, but we’ve become a tribe, too. My idea is to share those experiences with all of our brothers that are in Africa,” he says of his continuing work in West Africa. “I always thought that traveling and playing music, I’m teaching at the same time. In the big-band situation with Ellington, he used to always have older cats in the same band as the young ones. The philosophy was each one teach one.”

Ben Wendel: THE SEASONS

Ben Wendel: THE SEASONS

Ben Wendel: THE SEASONS

By NATE CHINEN
FEB. 27, 2015
A tenor saxophonist, bassoonist and composer with an unassuming breadth of style, Ben Wendel has made a subspecialty out of duologue, recently and notably with the pianist Dan Tepfer. For his new project — “The Seasons,” inspired by the Tchaikovsky piano suite of the same name — Mr. Wendel is unveiling a new duet every month this year, with video freely available at benwendel.com/theseasons. He conceived each piece with a handpicked collaborator in mind, like the pianist Taylor Eigsti, whose playing on “January” suggests a swirl of deft angularities and busy composure. “February,” which was posted on Feb. 23, is a more driving proposition: Mr. Wendel and one of his saxophone influences, Joshua Redman, dart through its syncopated form with an intense but collegial give and take. Both videos spotlight terrifically assured performances with sharp production values, raising expectations for Mr. Wendel’s 10 remaining installments, with partners yet to be revealed.

Ron Carter: A Benchmark for Professional Musicians – Portland Jazz Festival – From OMN the Magazine

Ron Carter: A Benchmark for Professional Musicians – Portland Jazz Festival – From OMN the Magazine

Ron Carter: A Benchmark for Professional Musicians – Portland Jazz Festival – From OMN the Magazine

by Kevin Tomanka 
February 27, 2015

Ask someone in the Jazz community about Ron Carter, and you may hear that he has a reputation for being a bit temperamental when interacting with certain players or people in the industry. If one wishes to, they can easily find stories from the past that tell of Ron becoming upset with someone at a session or maybe scolding a news reporter for their ignorance.  

It’s even recounted in his 2009 biography by Downbeat writer Dan Ouellette that while he was a member of the famous Miles Davis Quintet in the 1960’s, he nearly walked out on Miles right before a west coast tour because the band hadn’t been paid from the previous week. However, with any examination at all, it’s clear to see that this is not an ego trip. In fact, it is the opposite. It’s a tack that’s not frequently found these days in professional music called “upholding standards” – not the ones that you play, but the ones that you live by.
It boils down to a respect for the process, and when you have worked hard to attain a reputation and a place in this industry, you respect it, and you can’t help but have opinions about those who didn’t learn or forget to hold that respect. Not even a musical behemoth like Miles Davis was immune from the fundamental rules that govern a true professional like Ron Carter.

There is another image of Ron out there, as spoken by his peers and music professionals who above all, defend Ron as the most reliable, trustworthy, sensitive player they know and how he is their number one call on every gig, regardless of the challenges. And it is actually this reputation that causes the other, because this one is much harder to attain, more difficult to maintain, and can evaporate instantly if the wrong choices are made. Those juicy stories of past conflict are really just reverberations of reputation maintenance. Yet, they are still the ones that filter into the headlines and rumors of the main stream. It’s easy to tell which Ron is the real one, he’s the one up there on stage, making all the right choices night after night. Watch him at any gig: always impeccably dressed, punctual, articulate, a towering posture standing with even a taller instrument, his attention focused to a razors edge. With every note he commands attention, nay, he demands it.

There are plenty of column inches dedicated to less disciplined musicians out there acting the fool, squandering resources in a studio session, or maybe losing it out on the road. Less often is that space used to outline a real role model for the professional musician. If you happen to need a perfect example for a monster player who also keeps his ship together, then look no further.

Oregon Music News got to talk with Ron Carter about his music and the trio he will be bringing to the PDX Jazz Festival 2015:

Who’s in the trio you’re bringing to the Portland Jazz Festival?
Larry Coryell on guitar, Donald Vega on piano and myself. We have a great library, and I’m looking forward to playing in Portland, I haven’t been there in a while.

Instead of a drummer, you’ve chosen two instruments from the rhythm section that can comp and play solo melodies. Did you put them in your trio by design, or did you pick these guys, and take them whatever their instrument?

It was by design: When Mulgrew Miller passed away, who was the original piano player of the trio I needed someone to take his slot, and Kenny Barron recommend Donald Vega. I’m very happy with Kenny’s recommendation. Donald is working out very well and getting better each time we play a concert.
I just came back from Japan with Larry Coryell in December, we did a tribute tour with Peter Bernstein called “ A Tribute to Jim” where we played songs from the Jim Hall / Ron Carter library in tribute to Jim’s passing. So it’s all set to go and I’m looking forward to having a chance to play with these guys again.

So when you tour in Japan, are you given the rock star treatment more so than in than in the states?

I’m not a rock star so I wouldn’t know how they get treated. They have significant hands-on-hands that move the gear around, wherever we go in Japan they’ve got a professional crew. If you have a concert or a gig at a club the sound man is there every day for the sound-check, they tune the piano every day. They’re really professional about making the presentation for musicians easier to take place then sometimes we get in the states. It’s a pleasure to play there and I look forward to going back whenever I can.

In the U.S. then, when in your career did you feel that the the genre of jazz finally separated from mainstream popular music?

Any separation that’s there is due to the instrument, not from the Jazz community. I mean, we’d love to have audiences as big as we can get them. I don’t know of any Jazz band that I’ve known or played in that was content to have a small audience if that’s what we’re asking here. Whatever separation there is from the jazz community and the other music, it’s not Jazz’s fault nor is it to their desire of course.

So for you there’s no lack of personal connection with the crowd as the venue grows?

Absolutely, but that’s not your question. Your question was how I feel about the separation between the Jazz community and the other music’s community. The Jazz community would like to have a full house every night wherever they play, the fact that they don’t is not their doing, it’s other factors out of their control.

And what do you think are the biggest factors?

Media, whatever media there is. I mean, let me ask you a question. Does your paper have a regular Jazz column?

OMN covers all genres, and Jazz typically is our top story on Tuesdays, but it’s actually Jazz / Blues combined.

That’s ok, but the fact that there’s a “Jazz/ whatever” column available every day. How many newspapers in the U.S. have that? None, I’m telling you, none. That’s a big reason.

What keeps you so grounded and present in today’s music scene?

The music is fragile as it is, and you work your lifetime to have a reputation that makes you stay available to various musical projects and various locations to play these gigs. All of that makes for ones career to be extended past it’s normal point of extinction. I’ve worked a long time and I still do to play with a certain standard, a certain attitude, a certain goodwill vibe whenever I go to work and people respond and respect that.

Do you now find yourself holding people to a standard because you’re working with them, or do you find yourself now only working with people who hold themselves to similar professional standards?

Some of both, it’s hard to have a group that is not going in the same direction in many avenues. I think if one guy’s comfortable with being half-awake for the gig but if he plays good that’s not enough good for the band if he’s not there. If he doesn’t wear the uniform or he loses the music or stuff like that that’s counterproductive to establishing a responsible relationship, I don’t see how that band can function as a band. So those kind of bands that stick together with certain rules and regulations, those are the ones that I think are the most successful and are longer lived.

Do you ever feel like you are alone in keeping up these standards these days

That’s someone else’s view, I don’t have a view on that because I’m in the center of it.

You have been a part of many super-groups over the years, are there still artists that you wish to collaborate with but haven’t gotten the chance yet?

There probably are people out there but I’m determined to have my groups be successful. I think the moment you put the group aside to join an All-Star band, you lose some of the credibility of being a leader of a certain ensemble with the people of your choice. So I’m opting to do that less and less because I’m determined to make my groups a viable financial musical organization.

So as far as planning to come to Portland? Is the set-list prepared in advance or do you pick songs a little closer to the show?

I haven’t yet but I will before I leave New York, I’ll sit down and plan a story, a 90-minute story and hopefully the audience will leave with some melodies and memories from our story.