APAP showcase, Sat. Jan. 11 2014

14 Jan

Today is the end of the 2014 APAP conference, which featured countless brilliant artists. Below are trumpet player Freddy Hendrix with saxophonist Sharel Cassity and Cassity with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who performed on Saturday afternoon at the Harlem Suite on the 4th floor of the midtown Hilton. 

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APAP lunch, celebration of artistic creation

14 Jan

Today during the yearly APAP luncheon, Vijay Iyer spoke after Philip Glass. Iyer paid tribute to the late Amiri Baraka who just passed last week and was an inspiration to him. 

Kurt Elling at Birdland, Saturday Jan. 11th 2014

14 Jan

Kurt Elling performed two nights at Birdland last week. On Saturday night, his second and last night, he sang along with Regina Carter, who was a guest player for the occasion. Elling never stops reinventing himself, always using new themes, new melodies and now different languages for his shows – he sang in Portuguese and French for the set I attended, his last one for the week, paying tribute to bossa and Edith Piaf altogether. Elling’s show was listed among the APAP showcases of the weekend, but his concert was a full show, not just a showcase. Elling was accompanied by John McLean on electric guitar, Bryan Carter on drums, Gerarld Clayton on piano.

Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet at the Jazz Standard

11 Jan
The Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet started a week of performances at the Jazz Standard on Wednesday night. The quartet features Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Aaron Parks on piano, Eric Revis on acoustic bass and Kendrick Scott on drums. The band will be playing until tomorrow night.
 
I attended Wednesday night’s second set and was absolutely stunned. Every musician of the quartet is a universe, so that the band is nothing but an aggregation of genial sparks (of course this is my opinion and you should check them out for yourself! but I hope you agree…) 
 

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2014 APAP and JazzConnect

11 Jan

This week the famous yearly conference APAP kicked off in New York City. The other, smaller conference, JazzConnect, which all registered for APAP can attend, is primarily dedicated to jazz, and lasts two days. JazzTimes publisher Lee Mergner and the Jazz Forward Coalition organize JazzConnect, which started on Thursday Jan. 9, and featured several panels with various jazz industry professionals such as radio hosts, reviewers, musicians and festival directors.

On Friday Jan. 10, an entire panel entitled “Jazz in the Future Tense, A Look into the Fractured Crystal Ball” addressed questions pertaining to the way jazz is seen, understood and promoted today, and what the future holds for the American art form.

Peter Gordon, cofounder of the Jazz Forward Coalition (http://news.jazzjournalists.org/2010/11/jazz-forward-coalition-launches/), moderated that panel, which featured James Donio, from the Music Business Association, pianist Jason Moran, guitarist Vernon Reid, and Kristin Thomson, from the Future of Music Coalition. Jason Moran spoke about the importance of “intent, content and emotion” in jazz.

Moran also explained how jazz conservatories throughout the country do not teach students about what really matters, what is essential. “Don’t be you” is their motto. And Moran described a situation where he told one of his students, jokingly and more as a way to experiment, to play for his family after a Thanksgiving dinner. The student did, much to Moran’s surprise, and the student’s grandmother asked for more coffee, his aunt lied down on the sofa and was ready for a full conversation. Moran was delighted to realize, one more time, how powerful music can be.

The artist also reminded the audience how beautiful “the sounds of [the US] are,” and that much pride should derive from them. “This sound is everywhere,” he said.

Reid explained that nowadays, it is not enough to have talent – one also needs to be a top model. And he mentioned the iconic figure Thelonious Monk and wondered if Monk would win the very Thelonious Monk competition today, should he partake in it.

The following panel, “Blue Note at 75,” paid tribute to the 75th birthday of Blue Note Label and also featured Jason Moran. This time however, famed writer Ashley Kahn moderated the discussion in which Michael Cuscuna, from Mosaic Records and pianist Robert Glasper took part. The panelists discussed various Blue Note releases, the history of the label, and what the label is and should be today.

Glasper emphasized that jazz musicians react to what is happening around them while it is happening, so that Blue Note today cannot be what it used to be, which is why the artist uses hip hop in his music.

Bruce Lundvall, former president of the Blue Note label, was present and gave a speech which moved and captivated everybody in the audience.

APAP conference opening night in Harlem 01/10/2013

11 Jan

Tonight at the Harris’ house in Harlem, a lovely, cosy brownstone, several artists showcased their work throughout an evening dedicated to jazz, old and new. Singer Allan Harris himself, pianist Marc Cary, singer Cynthia Scott, singer Caterina Zapponi, accompanied on the piano by none other than Monty Alexander himself, the lovely trio The Amigos Band, singer Loston Harris, and extremely talented pianist Yoko Miwa performed for the occasion. The lineup also featured guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, pianists Charnett Moffett and Cyrus Chestnut, singers Julie Michels and Amy London, whom I could not hear because my recent jet lag fatigue forced me to reluctantly call it an early night. Some of those artists will also perform throughout the weekend at various APAP showcases. APAP stands for Association of Performing Arts Presenters. 

The Harris’ house was packed with a crowd of over 50 jazz afficionados, musicians of course, but also writers, renown agents, managers and booking agents, such as Mary Ann Topper, former manager of Michel Petrucciani. Everyone looked rejoiced, happy about the songs, and thrilled to be part of the evening. Harris sang a tune about still being in love with a woman who has been gone too long, and wrestling with the fear pertaining to the situation. 

The Harrises own two pianos and host music parties on a regular basis. A must!

Saxophone player Charles McPherson at the Jazz Standard this week, Thursday through Sunday

17 Oct

This week jazz alto saxophonist Charles McPherson is coming to New York City. He will be playing at the Jazz Standard from Thursday until Sunday.

McPherson was raised in Detroit, Michigan, which certainly influenced his unique sound. The artist now lives on the West Coast, but he learned to play music by listening to Charlie Parker. He also played with Charles Mingus for more than ten years, in the 1960s’ and 1970s’. McPherson is often described as a Bebop artist. BeBop comes from the 1930s’ swing music. Some important Bebop players include Don Byas, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie.

Charles McPherson

Charles McPherson, by Laurent Kramer

As McPherson mentioned in an interview I conducted with him in March at the Savannah jazz festival (https://emiliepons.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/charles-mcpherson-on-the-blues-savannah-music-festival-3272013/), he always makes sure he plays at least one blues during his shows.