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Live Review: Archie Shepp at Princeton

Introducing saxophone great Archie Shepp for a rare performance at Princeton University in early December, Rudresh Mahanthappa recalled his own college days, often spent huddling with friends to listen to John Coltrane’s Ascension into the wee hours. Lessons gleaned from the music of that era, he continued, instilled the idea that social activism was as … Read More “Live Review: Archie Shepp at Princeton”

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Good Bandstand Behavior: Discipline, Focus, Respect

If the students in his rehearsal room at Camden’s Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy start to get restless, unruly or unfocused, Jamal Dickerson simply points to an empty spot on the wall. The average observer might search in vain for the object of Dickerson’s gesture, but his students know exactly what he’s pointing out, as … Read More “Good Bandstand Behavior: Discipline, Focus, Respect”

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Geri Allen: The Nurturer

On the day that I interviewed her for JazzTimes’ 2010-11 Jazz Education Guide, Geri Allen complained that she was “feeling sick to my stomach … in disbelief.” Earlier that morning, she’d received news that the Detroit Public Schools planned to fire a number of arts and music teachers in an ill-advised budget-cutting move, including the … Read More “Geri Allen: The Nurturer”

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Live Review: Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

In its 21st year, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival has grown from an informal gathering at founder Lorenzo Sancassani’s beachfront pizza joint into a sprawling, weeklong affair that travels from one end of the island to the other. The majority of the concerts take place in towns along the resort-speckled north coast, all free of … Read More “Live Review: Dominican Republic Jazz Festival”

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Chops: Secrets of the Sonic Trumpet

You could credit a kind of musical peer pressure for the earliest electronic experiments of trumpeter-cornetist Rob Mazurek and trumpeter Cuong Vu. Mazurek, renowned for his work with experimental groups from Chicago and Brazil, was a member of Isotope 217°, a spin-off of the post-rock group Tortoise; Vu, a celebrated avant-jazz bandleader and an alum … Read More “Chops: Secrets of the Sonic Trumpet”

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Jaimie Branch: Chicago State of Mind

On the night in June that she turned 34 years old, Jaimie Branch welcomed a small crowd to Ibeam Brooklyn with bashful, almost childlike charm. “Thank you, guys, for coming to my birthday party,” she murmured—then immediately undercut the air of naïveté with an incendiary burst of shrapnel-spewing intensity from her trumpet. That uneasy balance … Read More “Jaimie Branch: Chicago State of Mind”

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Live Review: October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music

In 1964, trumpeter Bill Dixon organized the October Revolution in Jazz, a four-day festival at New York’s Cellar Café intended to showcase the leading edge of free jazz and improvised music. Headliners included Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra and Paul Bley. Out of the public and private discussions at the festival ultimately grew the Jazz Composers … Read More “Live Review: October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music”

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Bokanté: Blues & Roots

Things didn’t exactly go smoothly for Bokanté during its Philadelphia debut, part of the Funk of Ages event at the Fillmore in June, when technical difficulties cut the group’s set nearly in half. Many a newborn band—this was only the ninth show in its short history—would have walked away dejected. Then again, Bokanté is a … Read More “Bokanté: Blues & Roots”

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Kevin Eubanks: After The Tonight Show

Located just outside Times Square in Manhattan, Birdland draws its fair share of curious tourists on any given night. That allure was amplified in mid-April, when the club hosted guitarist and singer Kevin Eubanks for four nights—the rare name familiar even to the least jazz-educated of Big Apple sightseers. Those coming in just to catch … Read More “Kevin Eubanks: After The Tonight Show

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Q&A: Nate Smith on KINFOLK: Postcards From Everywhere

There’s always been a serious sense of groove in Nate Smith’s drumming. Whether navigating the heady rhythms of Dave Holland’s bands, propelling the electric explorations of Chris Potter’s Underground or meshing jazz and R&B behind singer José James, Smith’s playing fluidly intermingles the soulful and the intricate. On his long-awaited leader debut, KINFOLK: Postcards From … Read More “Q&A: Nate Smith on KINFOLK: Postcards From Everywhere

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Ornette Coleman: “Tomorrow Is the Question”

Just over two years since the groundbreaking saxophonist’s passing, Ornette Coleman was the subject of a series of tribute concerts in July as part of the annual Lincoln Center Festival in New York. The four-part event, subtitled “Tomorrow Is the Question,” fell almost exactly 20 years after the career-spanning “? Civilization: A Harmolodic Celebration,” a … Read More “Ornette Coleman: “Tomorrow Is the Question””

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Chops: The Good Fight of a Two-Tenor Frontline

One tune that Jimmy Greene always plays for his sax students is the title track to Sonny Rollins’ 1956 classic Tenor Madness—the famous tenor battle between Newk and Trane. “Coltrane plays the first solo,” Greene recounts, obviously hearing the thrilling virtuosity in his head. “He’s doing the things that he was working on at the … Read More “Chops: The Good Fight of a Two-Tenor Frontline”

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Bill Evans: Portrait in Jazz

In the opening moments of Bill Evans, Time Remembered, a new documentary by Bruce Spiegel, bassist Chuck Israels admits that, despite his long tenure in the pianist’s trio, even he has trouble answering questions about the man behind the artist. “People are interested in who he was, what was he like? Damned if I know, … Read More “Bill Evans: Portrait in Jazz”

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World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)

The Impulse! release of Translinear Light in 2004 was heralded as a re-emergence from self-imposed spiritual exile for Alice Coltrane, but that narrative only held true for those of us on the outside listening in. Though more than two decades had passed without a widely released album, Coltrane never stopped making music, even as she … Read MoreWorld Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)”

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Chops: The Art of the Slap

For Poncho Sanchez, 65, growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk felt like living in a “pretty white world.” Whether he was searching for Tito Puente or Cal Tjader albums at the local record store or looking for something beyond the standard guitars, saxes and trumpets at the music shop, his inquiries were … Read More “Chops: The Art of the Slap”

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John Coltrane: Love & Heart & Spirit

Early in the new documentary Chasing Trane, Benny Golson recalls his friendship with John Coltrane, complaining that the iconic saxophonist made him do all the talking. “He was quiet,” Golson says. “He never talked—until he put that saxophone in his mouth.” Director John Scheinfeld, never a diehard jazz fan before making Chasing Trane, discovered Coltrane’s … Read More “John Coltrane: Love & Heart & Spirit”

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Overdue Ovation: Roberta Piket

There are plenty of reasons why Roberta Piket decided to record a tribute album to Marian McPartland. One has to do with timing. The English-American pianist, composer and longtime host of NPR’s Piano Jazz died almost a year to the day before Piket performed with a sextet at the Wall Street Jazz Festival, in Kingston, … Read More “Overdue Ovation: Roberta Piket”

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ELEW: Between Rockjazz and a Hard Place

I hesitate to call Eric Lewis’ new album a welcome return to straight-ahead jazz—even though that’s precisely what And to the Republic is. Phrasing it that way, though, feels uncomfortably close to throwing in with the more conservative factions of the jazz community, those who dismiss any deviation from the state of the art circa … Read More “ELEW: Between Rockjazz and a Hard Place”

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