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International Jazz Day in Australia: Continental Connections

The late Bernie McGann, a hugely influential figure in the history of Australian jazz, studied and played in New York, collaborated with Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Dave Liebman and others, and toured extensively. But he also enjoyed a life of solace in a small picturesque coastal town south of Sydney, working as a postman and … Read More “International Jazz Day in Australia: Continental Connections”

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Bright Moments with William Parker

To work on an installment of Bright Moments featuring the bassist and composer William Parker can feel like an exercise in futility. But not because he’s uncooperative or vague. In his cozy East Village apartment in January, Parker, 67, proved an exceedingly kind and gentle presence and a strikingly thoughtful interview. Storytelling is yet another … Read More “Bright Moments with William Parker”

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Jeff Goldblum: Not a Hollywood Square

Talking with Jeff Goldblum is one rare instance in which it’s comforting to learn that a Hollywood reputation holds true. Well, nearly true. Reached by phone this past fall, Goldblum, 66, is less delightfully quirky than he is enthusiastic without affectation—especially about his new Decca release, The Capitol Studios Sessions, an outgrowth of his semiregular … Read More “Jeff Goldblum: Not a Hollywood Square”

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Chops: What It Means to Be a Drummer from Houston

Last December, the drummers Chris Dave, 44, Eric Harland, 41, and Kendrick Scott, 38, found themselves on old stomping ground, milling about the hallways of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA). They had returned for the annual holiday-season “DocFest” benefit, which raises money for a music scholarship fund, and decided to … Read More “Chops: What It Means to Be a Drummer from Houston”

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Live Review: 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival

In Switzerland, a snowman effigy called a Böögg is burned and exploded at the stake as a way of marking winter’s end and predicting the fortitude of the upcoming summer. Native American elders have been known to speak to tornadoes in hopes of diverting them. The ancient Greeks spent an inordinate amount of time and energy … Read More “Live Review: 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival”

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The Return of the Fender Jazzmaster Guitar

Last March, at the Brooklyn venue Roulette, the guitarist Nels Cline began his segment of a live tribute to John Abercrombie alone. He interpreted the late jazz hero’s “Memoir” in swells of trademark legato phrasing, with a gorgeous, crystalline tone—distinctly Fender-like but with a deeper, darker midrange. The oversold house went pin-drop silent. The late … Read More “The Return of the Fender Jazzmaster Guitar”

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JT Notes: JazzTimes’ Editor Evan Haga Bids Farewell

In 1907, after the Coney Island impresario George C. Tilyou witnessed the ashy ruins of his Steeplechase Park, he posted a pithy note that begins with two lines I find to be exceptionally beautiful: To enquiring friends – I had troubles yesterday that I have not today. I have troubles today that I had not … Read More “JT Notes: JazzTimes’ Editor Evan Haga Bids Farewell”

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Live Review: Grant Green’s Evolution of Funk in New York

Grant Green’s Evolution of Funk, which closed out a four-night stint at Jazz Standard in Manhattan on Sunday, July 1, is an unabashed tribute act. The quintet is fronted by Grant Green Jr., whose late father (1935-1979) remains one of jazz’s sleeper icons. In Blue Note Records’ fertile early-to-mid-’60s, Green the elder was an integral … Read More “Live Review: Grant Green’s Evolution of Funk in New York”

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Live Review: Bill Frisell Guitar Invitational in New York

“These are all my teachers up here,” Bill Frisell said on Thursday night (June 21) at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. He was referring to four of his fellow guitarists—Brandon Ross, Matt Munisteri, Julian Lage, and Marvin Sewell—who share his reverent yet open-ended attitude toward the jazz-guitar tradition, and who’d joined him for … Read More “Live Review: Bill Frisell Guitar Invitational in New York”

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Jazz Foundation of America Gala: Of Jazz and Charity

Institutional support in jazz is now essential to the music’s health, but it can sometimes seem like a satire of charity: a few thousand dollars of grant money to a postgraduate trust-funder, so that he or she might finally finish that chamber-jazz song cycle about whale watching and not get razzed by the family during … Read More “Jazz Foundation of America Gala: Of Jazz and Charity”

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Live Review: Ry Cooder at Town Hall, NYC

If the contemporary concert experience offered by most famous baby-boomer guitar heroes evokes an upscale sports bar—you know the place: Budweiser in those strange aluminum bottles, flat-screen TVs like wallpaper—then Ry Cooder’s current tour is more like a family-run coffeehouse. Hopefully you’ve been there too, with its farm-to-table snacks, old upholstered furniture, and interesting books … Read More “Live Review: Ry Cooder at Town Hall, NYC”

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Letter From Saint Petersburg

“You have to imagine peace, and work for it,” the arts producer and musician Hannibal Saad told me in the late evening of April 30. “Otherwise you become insane.” We were standing in the ballroom-style atrium of the Commandant’s House at the Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Established by Peter the Great … Read More “Letter From Saint Petersburg”

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Jazz Festival Etiquette: “Keep Your Shirt On Because Newport Is Not Bonnaroo”

As I slink toward middle age, I’m finding less enjoyment at concerts, or at least more frustration, and it has nothing to do with the music. I’m not sure we as humans still have the attention span and decency to responsibly take in performances or films. Last fall, at a fantastic set by the Gary … Read More “Jazz Festival Etiquette: “Keep Your Shirt On Because Newport Is Not Bonnaroo””

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Herbie Hancock & Kamasi Washington at Walt Disney Concert Hall

I adore criticism, and I rarely enjoy reading more than when I’m digging into great profile writing. But I also find straight-up oral history fascinating, especially when the person doing the talking is a musician. The feeling of candid nightclub conversation is more palpable than when the dialogue is being filtered through a features writer. … Read More “Herbie Hancock & Kamasi Washington at Walt Disney Concert Hall”

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Live Review: “John Abercrombie: Timeless”

Subscribe to JazzTimes magazine for the latest news, reviews, and more!  On Monday night, at the Brooklyn venue Roulette, a fantastic two-hour-plus tribute show was bookended by the same interview footage from the documentary Open Land – Meeting John Abercrombie (which sees DVD release this summer). In it, the guitarist is talking about what constitutes … Read More “Live Review: “John Abercrombie: Timeless””

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Jimmie Vaughan’s B-3 Vibe

Onstage with Steve Miller at Jazz at Lincoln Center in early December, the guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, Texas blues royalty at age 66, used his generous solo spots to invoke history. Electric blues guitar, with its rough-edged phrasing and tonal grit, saw that winsome rawness smoothed over as blues-rock became a virtuoso’s medium (see Vaughan’s iconic … Read More “Jimmie Vaughan’s B-3 Vibe”

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JT Notes: Keeping Timeliness

Even in our fully digitized era, print has its selling points: portability, durability, cheaper than an iPad. But timeliness? Not so much. I’m sending this completed, polished “In Memoriam” issue to the printer at the same time I’m editing an online obituary for Hugh Masekela. Surely the architect of South African jazz should’ve had a … Read More “JT Notes: Keeping Timeliness”

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Various Artists: Blue Note Review, Volume One – Peace, Love & Fishing (Blue Note)

This first installment in Blue Note’s new subscription box-set series requires a different kind of jazz review, maybe something closer to a consumer guide or catalog writing. The point of it, in the context of our streaming era, is that it’s an object, a collectible, containing interviews to be read and photographs to be framed … Read More “Various Artists: Blue Note Review, Volume One – Peace, Love & Fishing (Blue Note)”

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Jason Moran: Skate and Create

I like to think of Jason Moran as jazz’s current time-capsule musician. By which I mean, if one were given the futile task of pointing to a single figure to represent the music at this particular postmodern moment, you could hardly do better than the 42-year-old pianist-composer and Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy … Read More “Jason Moran: Skate and Create”

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New York Art Party: Celebrating Roswell Rudd

The trombonist Roswell Rudd looked drained as he entered his 82nd birthday party at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in mid-November. Making his way in a wheelchair toward a center table, he still boasted a beautiful shock of white hair, but the cancer he’s been battling for several years now has caught up with him. Sickness is … Read More “New York Art Party: Celebrating Roswell Rudd”

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In Honor of Christopher Loudon: A Soldier of Songs

I was single, childless and 25 years old in the summer of 2009, but I don’t remember being carefree. I had been an editor at JazzTimes since the spring of 2006, but the magazine was between owners, so I was unemployed. Contributors hadn’t been paid for their hard work, and they were rightfully furious. Petitions … Read More “In Honor of Christopher Loudon: A Soldier of Songs”

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Field Notes: GoGo Penguin’s “Koyaanisqatsi” in Brooklyn

To compose a new score to Koyaanisqatsi, the breathtaking 1982 experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio, is in many ways to remake the Mona Lisa. The first and best-known installment in Reggio’s dialogue-less Qatsi trilogy, it offers an interdependence of images, by cinematographer Ron Fricke, and music, by Philip Glass, that deserves comparison to milestones … Read More “Field Notes: GoGo Penguin’s “Koyaanisqatsi” in Brooklyn”

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Field Notes: John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring in NYC

The guitarist John McLaughlin, who helped pioneer jazz-rock fusion and became arguably its most important figure, is currently on what has been sold as his final U.S. tour. His packed-out performance at the Town Hall in Manhattan, on Friday, was even touted as his “final New York City appearance.” The culture of fandom around McLaughlin … Read More “Field Notes: John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring in NYC”

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JT Notes: Bang the Drum Smartly

“It’s one of those ancient arguments, like a black guy can’t be a quarterback or a woman can’t fly a plane,” Jeff “Tain” Watts tells Shaun Brady in this month’s Chops piece. He’s referring to those worthless stereotypes about how drummers can’t be effective composers or songwriters—an extension of a larger trope that views drummers … Read More “JT Notes: Bang the Drum Smartly”

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Gearhead: Let’s Get Real

For decades, The Real Book was the jazz musician’s favorite piece of contraband (well, it was at least top-five) and a fascinating tale of perseverance in the face of intellectual-property law. Songbook publisher Hal Leonard, who launched its official, legally sound version in 2004, wasn’t the first company to attempt to legitimize The Real Book, … Read More “Gearhead: Let’s Get Real”

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The To-Listen List

There’s a point of near-madness that occurs when I undertake one of our articles, like this month’s cover story, based on a comprehensive poll of musicians and JT contributors. It usually occurs on a sunny Sunday afternoon, when I’m holed up inside counting votes for “Ko Ko,” then I realize that some voters have spelled … Read More “The To-Listen List”

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Review: Detroit Jazz Festival 2017

It says something about the curatorial sharpness and magnitude of the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival when sets including the Vijay Iyer Sextet, Karriem Riggins with Esperanza Spalding, a tribute to Elvin Jones featuring Dave Liebman, and Wayne Shorter plus strings can be cancelled and a serious fan still feels sated. Unfortunately that point was proven … Read More “Review: Detroit Jazz Festival 2017”

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JT Notes: The Mahavishnu Letters

On the occasions when I’ve solicited feedback in this space, I’ve been consistently impressed with the thoughtfulness and depth of feeling in those responses. But none of my queries have inspired such obviously heartfelt messages as my request, in the March 2014 column, for readers to send me their “Mahavishnu moments”—their fondest memories and bolts … Read More “JT Notes: The Mahavishnu Letters”

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