Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls review – Charlie Parker-themed set from fusion sax master 4 / 5 stars

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls review – Charlie Parker-themed set from fusion sax master 4 / 5 stars

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls review – Charlie Parker-themed set from fusion sax master 4/5stars
  

By John Fordham

April 2, 2015

Rudresh Mahanthappa, the US-raised alto saxophonist who astutely fuses western and Indian traditions with mind-bending jazz rhythms, has moved from the fiery, guitar-powered fusion of his 2013 Gamak band to more jazz-rooted materials with this Charlie Parker-inspired album. Still, this being Mahanthappa, the music has a thoroughly contemporary feel – and with no direct Parker covers, the references are cannily oblique. The swoonily anthemic Talin Is Thinking is an inviting variation on Parker’s Mood; Chillin’ is a folksy sax/trumpet dance steered by the leader’s request that his improvisers should bear Relaxin’ At Camarillo in mind; On the DL is an exchange of skimming breaks over a brooding piano pulse, made from a rigorous analysis of the Parker theme Donna Lee. Bassist François Moutin, pianist Matt Mitchell, trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and drummer Rudy Royston complete a remarkable quintet, celebrating Mahanthappa’s contention that “I feel I’ve always been playing Bird.”

Review: The Journey - Charles McPherson

Review: The Journey - Charles McPherson

Review: The Journey - Charles McPherson 

By Miles Jordan 
03.26.15.
Now 75, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson had worked with pianist Barry Harris in Detroit before, at the age of 20, moving to New York City where he began working with Charles Mingus, with whom over the next 12 years he made a handful of records. He also made a batch of LPs as a leader for the Prestige and Mainstream labels during the 1960s and 1970s; however, since 1992 he's released just 10 CDs. Like almost every other alto player of the era, he was strongly influenced by Charlie Parker and even appeared on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood's 1988 film Bird. He's back again with The Journey, accompanied by tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman, pianist Chip Stephens, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid. McPherson shows that he's still got great chops as he blazes his way through his arrangement of Parker's “Au Privave” with Oxman hard on his heels. Great solos, too, from the rest of the group—especially Stephens, who's a joy on every track. McPherson slows things down a couple of times, most notably on a magnificent, relaxed duet with Stephens on “I Should Care.” Other tunes of note include a very spritely “Spring Is Here,” McPherson's own low key “Manhattan Nocturne” and Oxman's dreamy “Elena.”

L’AMR met le jazz genevois en vitrine depuis plus de trente ans

L’AMR met le jazz genevois en vitrine depuis plus de trente ans

L’AMR met le jazz genevois en vitrine depuis plus de trente ans

Par Fabrice Gottraux

24.03.2015

Le pianiste Craig Taborn ce mardi soir, le saxophoniste Gary Bartz vendredi ou encore le tromboniste Ray Anderson samedi? Avec pareilles vedettes internationales, le 34e AMRJazz Festival propose juste ce qu’il faut de prestige pour faire parler de lui. Et mettre en lumière les musiciens du cru. Dans l’ordre, dès mardi et jusqu’à dimanche, on appréciera les talents maisons que sont Manuel Gesseney, Contro Vento, Antoine Thouvenin, Basel Rajoub, Mathieu Rossignelly tout comme Maël Godinat et son groupe Trionyx. Les jazzmen locaux, voilà la chair d’un festival unique en son genre, qui a pour particularité d’être programmé par les musiciens eux-mêmes, rassemblé dans l’association AMR. Un fonctionnement vieux de plus de trente ans, qui se nourrit essentiellement de la scène locale, mais aussi, a contrario, des vedettes internationales. Vedettes dont à besoin la scène locale pour faire des émules dans ses rangs.

«De ce point de vue, la belle époque, c’était, encore dans les années 1990, lorsque venaient jouer en Suisse les Mingus, Sun Ra Orchestra et autres Pharoah Sanders, disparus aujourd’hui, expliquent Brooks Giger, contrebassiste, et Martin Wisard, saxophoniste, investis tous deux dans la programmation du festival. De tels concerts ont marqué les musiciens locaux, c’était une musique vivante, plutôt risquée.» Qu’en reste-t-il en 2015? «Des jazzmen fameux, il y a en beaucoup moins, qui tournent peu et coûtent très cher. Wayne Shorter, par exemple. On aimerait bien qu’ils vienne au festival, mais ça n’aurait pas de sens de le proposer dans notre salle de 180 places.»

«Intégrité musicale»
Si l’AMR Jazz Festival fait parfois des «entorses» en matière de cachet, ainsi de John Scofield en 2013, son objectif reste avant tout la défense d’une «intégrité musicale»: «Sans prétention de notre part, nous sommes les seuls à inviter les Norvégiens du trio Kuara (à suivre mercredi 25 mars), des artistes que nous avons programmés devant 50 personnes l’an passé, et que nous trouvons superbe. Kuara n’est pas tant médiatisé, mais représente une forme de musique importante».

Plutôt que de tabler sur la notoriété de quelques têtes d’affiche omniprésentes, ou faute de pouvoir se les payer, l’AMR Jazz Festival défend son rôle de découvreur, qu’il s’agisse de talents locaux ou internationaux. 

34e AMR Jazz Festival Au Sud des Alpes, rue des Alpes 10, du mardi 24 au samedi 28 mars à 20 h 30, dimanche 29 mars à 19 h 30. Infos: amr-geneve.ch (TDG)

The Compositions of Charlie Parker, and the Ladybugs Sing

The Compositions of Charlie Parker, and the Ladybugs Sing

The Compositions of Charlie Parker, and the Ladybugs Sing


By Will Friedwald
Updated March 20, 2015 1:25 p.m. ET


Rudresh Mahanthappa, “Bird Calls”

Jazz Standard
116 E. 27th St., (212) 576-2232
Tuesday

The Indian-American postmodern saxophonist plunges headfirst into one of the most challenging canons of work in all of jazz: the compositions of Charlie Parker. For his part, Mr. Mahanthappa makes his treatments of Bird sound as radically different from the source material as Parker’s do from his own sources. Although most of the tunes are based on classic Birdlore, virtually only “Talin Is Thinking” is immediately recognizable as spinning off a familiar Parker classic, “Parker’s Mood”. Mr. Mahanthappa is joined by trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, who—at 20—wasn’t born when Clint Eastwood directed “Bird” in 1988. 

Cyrus Chestnut Trio headlines Mid-South Jazz Festival

Cyrus Chestnut Trio headlines Mid-South Jazz Festival

Cyrus Chestnut Trio headlines Mid-South Jazz Festival

Gail M. Robinson-Oturu, Ph.D., APSU 
March 19, 2015
The Cyrus Chestnut Trio will headline this year’s 54th Annual Mid-South Jazz Festival in collaboration with the Clarksville Community Concert Association Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. The trio plays jazz festivals around the world with Chestnut believing, “If I can send one person home after a performance feeling better than when they arrived, then I’ve done my job.” Ticket information can be acquired through www.clarksvillemusic.org or 1-877-811-0200.

Jazz pianist, composer and producer Cyrus Chestnut explains that he likes “to construct melodies that tell stories, based on what I’ve seen, what I feel and what I hear. If I can connect to what I’m playing then I’ll be able to share it.” Known for his improvisational skills, he has been described as “highly intelligent improviser with one of the surest senses of swing in jazz.”

Chestnut’s earliest musical influences come from gospel music and Thelonius Monk’s greatest hits. His music is a blend of jazz, gospel, classical, and R&B.

Throughout his career, Chestnut has worked and toured with an array of artists, including saxophonists James Carter and Joe Lovano; trumpeter Freddie Hubbard; jazzman Chick Corea; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops; and vocalists Vanessa Williams, Anita Baker, Bette Midler, Isaac Hayes, and Brian McKnight, among others. The New York Daily News once named Chestnut as the “rightful heir to Bud Powell, Art Tatum, and Errol Garner.”

Cyrus Chestnut also holds the piano chair in many big bands including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.

The 54th Mid-South Jazz Festival begins Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. with the APSU Jazz Combo directed by David Steinquest and the APSU Jazz Collegians directed by Robert Waugh and the Cumberland Jazz Project directed by Mike Ritter on Friday night March 27, at 7:30 p.m. All events are held in the George and Sharon Mabry Concert Hall in the Music/Mass Communication Building on the campus of Austin Peay State University at Eighth and Marion streets in Clarksville.