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Steely Dan’s Walter Becker Dies at 67

Walter Becker – co-founder, co-songwriter, guitarist and bassist of the era-defining, jazz-savvy rock band Steely Dan – died yesterday. The news was announced on his official website. He was 67, and had missed Steely Dan performances in July. With his partner in Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, in the 1970s, Becker bridged the gap between jazz … Read More “Steely Dan’s Walter Becker Dies at 67”

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Iggy Pop: Croon & Destroy

There is at least a slight news-of-the-weird element to Loneliness Road (RareNoise), the recent album from the trio of pianist Jamie Saft, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte: The program features three vocal performances by punk architect Iggy Pop, who wrote original lyrics for prerecorded tracks and overdubbed his offerings in his hometown of … Read More “Iggy Pop: Croon & Destroy”

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Concert Review: John Scofield’s Quiet and Loud Jazz at JALC

Canons are useful constructs when looking at the history of the arts, and organizations like Jazz at Lincoln Center are synonymous with the virtues and vices of honoring such a hall-of-fame concept. Holding up a curated list of masters and epochs is important, but there are snares to consider, like repetition and the exclusion of … Read More “Concert Review: John Scofield’s Quiet and Loud Jazz at JALC”

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Field Notes: Newport 2017, Day Two

There’s a very true cliché that jazz musicians, producers, promoters and other industry folks like to deploy in case of emergency, when something that had been carefully planned goes awry. It goes something like: Jazz musicians can improvise, so this unexpected logistical hiccup is really just another opportunity for inspired spontaneity. It came in handy … Read More “Field Notes: Newport 2017, Day Two”

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Field Notes: Newport 2017, Day One

There’s a story, an angle to the Newport Jazz Festival this year, other than the long-running narrative about it being an enduring institution of jazz and, by extension, a pearl of American culture. Twenty-seventeen marks the first edition under the artistic directorship of bassist, composer and broadcaster Christian McBride, alongside the festival’s feted co-founder George … Read More “Field Notes: Newport 2017, Day One”

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JT Notes: Celebrating Alice Coltrane

Despite its reputation for wallowing in nostalgia, jazz always tends to mirror its time. The manic optimism of America in the 1920s yielded hot jazz; the conservatism of the Reagan era bolstered the history-minded Young Lions; today, globalization has granted the music an international aesthetic few could have imagined in the ’50s. In the 1960s … Read MoreJT Notes: Celebrating Alice Coltrane”

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La La Means … What Exactly?

I had a grand time defending Damien Chazelle’s 2014 film, Whiplash, as it made its ascent toward the multiplexes. Whether cynical or idealistic, jazz defenders took aim at this tremendously entertaining flick early and often, as if refusing to realize that Chazelle used jazz education as the springboard for a fine genre movie, or a … Read MoreLa La Means … What Exactly?”

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Various Artists: Celebrate Ornette (Song X)

I attended “Celebrate Ornette,” the June 2014 all-star tribute concert that makes this outstanding new box set an essential piece for Coleman devotees. I recall that it threatened to and eventually did rain in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park that night; I remember thinking it was under-attended for an event so obviously historic; I remember that I … Read More “Various Artists: Celebrate Ornette (Song X)”

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The 2017 International Jazz Day Global Concert

Despite taking place in Havana, Cuba, one of the most inspiring but politically complex nations on the planet, this year’s International Jazz Day Global Concert, which streamed live from the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso on Sunday, didn’t dig into specifics regarding any of the world’s governments or regimes. The two-and-a-half-hour all-star concert, … Read More “The 2017 International Jazz Day Global Concert”

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JT Notes: Keith Jarrett, Political Humorist

I received a few sharp emails in response to my January/February column, which opened with barbs directed at President Trump. That rhetoric has no business in a jazz rag, these incensed readers argued, before the obligatory threat of a subscription cancellation. In many ways I agree with the pushback: Here they were, trying to unwind … Read More “JT Notes: Keith Jarrett, Political Humorist”

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Winter Jazzfest 2017: Snow, Sprawl & Social Justice

Will 2017 go down as a banner year in the history of Winter Jazzfest? The annual festival, which held its 13th edition Jan. 5 through 10, primarily at venues in Lower Manhattan, has enjoyed steady and consistent improvement throughout its run. But this round felt bigger, better, more important. By upping its offerings and introducing … Read More “Winter Jazzfest 2017: Snow, Sprawl & Social Justice”

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JT Notes: End of an Era

Each year, our March issue is one of change, transition and reflection. Mostly this has to do with the magazine’s centerpiece, our annual collection of artist-to-artist tributes celebrating the lives and music of those we lost during the previous year. But this month there are other reasons for contemplation, and for thinking about how the … Read More “JT Notes: End of an Era”

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JT Notes: The Year in Review

Two-thousand-sixteen was a year filled with great promise and just recognition for deserving leaders. I’m discussing the year in jazz, of course; generally speaking, we suffered the devastating loss of several beloved cultural heroes and handed the reins of the free world to a human boardwalk caricature. But I digress. I’m tired of talking about … Read More “JT Notes: The Year in Review”

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Robert Glasper Experiment: ArtScience

ArtScience, the latest release from Robert Glasper’s Experiment band, begins with the keyboardist’s trademarked take on acoustic jazz, like Bud Powell and prime Herbie passed through a J Dilla filter. Soon enough comes Glasper’s spoken mission statement, containing all the subtlety of an opening quote in a press release: “The reality is my people have … Read More “Robert Glasper Experiment: ArtScience”

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Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions

Pat Metheny has long been jazz’s most heroic guitarist, but he’s a guitar god with a definite and unabashed affinity for experimentation and the avant-garde. Two recent offerings from Nonesuch, The Unity Sessions and Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny, veer toward each pole of Metheny’s identity while also underscoring the inside-outside nature of nearly … Read More “Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions”

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Benny Golson: Horizon Ahead

If John Coltrane came to personify a profound spiritual yearning, what has his boyhood friend Benny Golson signified? A personal brand of stately elegance, in everything from his appearance, with his dapper mustache out of classic Hollywood; to his playing, a flawless balance of elegant and earthy; his composing, with its meticulous craftsmanship yielding effortless … Read More “Benny Golson: Horizon Ahead”

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