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July/August 2021

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Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses, the latest project by vocalist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu, is multi-dimensional, a meeting of jazz, traditional Asian musics, theater, and dance that blends the themes of racism, sexism, climate change, and family grief. As Michael J. West discovers, its creator is just as complex.

Over four decades, Vince Mendoza has established a gold-standard career as an arranger, composer, and conductor, winning half a dozen Grammy Awards in the process. Now, for the first time, he’s produced a work that’s explicitly political. A.D. Amorosi finds out why, while also uncovering Mendoza’s sizable debt to Philly soul.

His playing is straight-up amazing, a bold and hand-challenging transposition of pianistic ideas to the guitar. Ted Panken speaks to the Italian virtuoso Pasquale Grasso about his classical background, his relationship with bop mentor Barry Harris, and his admiration of many modern jazz guitarists—although you can rest assured he won’t be sounding like them anytime soon.

Fifty years ago, he founded the Mahavishnu Orchestra and revolutionized the jazz world. Today, he’s making music that reaches back to his roots, and his first instrument (not guitar). In conversation with Jim Farber, McLaughlin discusses both of these topics, as well as his overcoming of hand problems that were nearly career-ending.

Opening Chorus: Larry Goldings’ comic sideline; Tali Rubinstein makes a case for the recorder; Nick Millevoi; Pat Thomas; Andrew Renfroe; John Chin on being an Asian-American jazz musician; and farewells
Chronology: The apotheosis of Freddie Redd
Chops: Diego Barber plugs in
Coda: Charlie Christian at Minton’s

Overdue Ovation: Lorne Lofsky
Before & After: David Gilmore
Audio Files: Brent Butterworth on all-in-one turntables
Gearhead: The Bond Electraglide

Reviews: Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller, Julian Lage, Dave Holland, JD Allen, James Francies, Garage A Trois, Mosaic’s latest trawl through the Louis Armstrong catalog, and more