Thursday, January 21, 2021

Vincent Herring sears and swings in Naples

The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra's socially distanced concert series at Artis-Naples didn't miss a beat on Wednesday, January 20 when the sextet was joined by special guest Vincent Herring. The alto saxophonist replaced tenor player Billy Harper, who had been scheduled until pandemic concerns scuttled his travel plans.

Vincent Herring
Herring has been based in New York since 1982.  His soulful, swinging style was heavily influenced by the late Cannonball Adderley. Herring worked for nine years with trumpeter Nat Adderley. After Nat's death, he formed the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band with drummer Louis Hayes. He last played with the Naples sextet in 2018.

For this concert,  the material pretty much alternated between four jazz covers and three of Herring's varied originals. Artistic director and tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto penned arrangements for the sextet. The band also included trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey. 

Herring, Stawski, Del Gatto
After opening with a romp through Wes Montgomery's "Fried Pies,"  Herring put a new twist on "That Old Devil Moon" with some fleeting "Killer Joe" melodic references to honor composer Benny Golson. His exhilarating original "Koba's Delight" featured Miller and Harvey, who set and sustained its double-time pace.

In contrast,Herring and the resident sextet featured violinist Basham on a laid-back cover of Stevie Wonder's "You are the Sunshine of My Life." Herring's tune "Dudli's Dilemma" had a decided hard bop feel. He joined the rhythm section to explore Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" with a bit of melancholy, no doubt reflecting most jazz musicians plight after a year with little touring and minimal work.

They closed things out with another original, the gospel/R&B-tinged "Preaching to the Choir," which Herring wrote in tribute to drummer Carl Allen, with whom he has performed and recorded.

For this season, the sextet's concerts were moved out of the more intimate 275-seat Daniels Pavilion. The more than 200 audience members were masked and distanced within spacious Hayes Hall.

There are four concerts left in the sextet's 2020-21 concert season. It performs February 10 with guitarist Pasquale Grasso and celebrates the Charlie Parker Centennial on March 3. Alto saxophonist Dick Oatts is the March 31 special guest. Singer Denise Donatelli, originally scheduled in early March, joins the NPJO for its season finale on May 12.

Herring, Stawski, Del Gatto, Miller, Mauldin, Basham, Harvey

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The consensus on 2020's jazz releases

The results are posted from the 2020 edition of NPR Music's Jazz Critics Poll. This  annual undertaking, was compiled from ballots by 148 jazz critics and jazz journalists, including yours truly. Composer-bandleader Maria Schneider's Data Lords (ArtistShare) was the clear winner in the new issues category.

There is much to savor in the package, which includes the top results, pollster Francis Davis' personal thoughts on this most unusual year, and the rundown of individual contributors' ballots.

The Davis poll began 15 years ago in The Village Voice. NPR Music has been its home for eight years.

At the very least, there are lots of listening recommendations from which recordings most impressed various responders. 

Check it out.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020: The Year in Jazz

All About Jazz has just posted my comprehensive annual look back at the past year in the jazz world.  

In short: The COVID-19 pandemic put the jazz world in a tailspin, just like the world at large, in 2020. And there is plenty of uncertainty going into the new year about what “new normal: might emerge from the darkness. International Jazz Day, like so many other things, became a online virtual event this time around.

Pianist Keith Jarrett disclosed that he might never perform in public again because of lingering health issues. The National Endowment for the Arts welcomed four new NEA Jazz Masters and said farewell to nine others who were among the many industry-associated musicians and figures passing away during the year.

But there was much, much more, in a year like we've never seen before. 

With some 20/20 hindsight, there's a lot more to learn about or refresh your memory right here.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Have a holly, jolly, jazzy Christmas - and a merrier New Year

Best wishes to you, your families and friends from the Jazz Notes staff as we hunker down for this Christmas 2020. We're looking forward to the New Year as we prepare to had into a brighter 2021. 

A toast to you all as we share some vintage musical cheer from among our holiday favorites. Raise your glass, whatever your favorite libation!

While Louis Armstrong's "Zat You, Santa Claus?" and Ella Fitzgerald's saucy take on "Santa Claus Got Stuck in my Chimney" are at the top of our vintage holiday music list, the season is never complete without the delightful animated video of The Drifters’ doo-wopping their way through “White Christmas” with feeling. It features Bill Pinckney on lead bass and Clyde McPhatter on tenor.

This animated cartoon by Joshua Held is excellent - and quite special.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A glimmer of hope

Damn, 2020 has been virtually a wipeout year for the performing arts, thanks to the impact of the pandemic. In jazz, musicians, promoters and venues have been limping along at best.

This posting from New Orleans-based Offbeat, Louisiana's music magazine, reveals that there is some belated good news contained in the $900 billion relief bill that the House and Senate passed over the weekend. Read here about the Save Our Stages component.

Fingers are crossed here that the $10 billion allocation helps immensely.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My take on the best jazz recordings of 2020

‘Tis the season for the outpouring of Top 10 lists, and their many variations, for jazz, world events, etc. The jazz lists tend to have a lot of variation depending on the individual reviewer's personal tastes, as well as what they listened to during the year.* Bottom line, all listings are very subjective - and quite disparate.

My choices below (aside from top 10 new songs of the year) were submitted to the Jazz Journalists’ Association and NPR Music 2020 compilations. (The latter is the 15th annual Francis Davis-produced poll previously published by The Village Voice and The Davis poll is the largest, most-trusted year-end survey of its kind.)

As I begin preparing my review of the year's significant events and trends in jazz for All About Jazz, I thought I'd share my "best of 2020" lists. *Always keep in mind the above caveats.

The 10 best new jazz releases of 2020

  1.       Tim Ray, Excursions and Adventures (Whaling City Sound)
  2.        Maria Schneider Orchestra, Data Lords (ArtistShare)
  3.        Artemis, Artemis (Blue Note)
  4.       Jeff Rupert and George Garzone, The Ripple (Rupe Media)
  5.       Lynne Arriale, Chimes of Freedom (Challenge)
  6.       Bernard Purdie, Christian Fabian, Ron Oswanski, Move On! (Consolidated Artists)
  7.       3D Jazz Trio, I Love to See You Smile (DIVA Jazz)
  8.       Funk Shui NYC, Shark NATO on a Plane (Zoho)
  9.       Wayne Alpern, Standard Deviation (Henri Elkan Music)
  10.      The Michael O’Neill Quartet, And Then It Rained (Jazzmo)    
The best historical/reissues of 2020 (includes any recordings made over 10 years ago, whether newly released or reissued): 
  1. Sonny Rollins, Rollins in Holland (Resonance)
  2. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto (Impulse!/Sony)

  3. Ella Fitzgerald, Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes (Verve)

  4. Bill Evans, Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Resonance

  5. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Just Coolin' (Blue Note)

 2020’s best vocal recordings:
  1.      Sinne Eeg & The Danish Radio Big Band, We’ve Just Begun (Stunt/BFM Jazz)
  2.      Kenny Washington, What’s The Hurry (A-Train Entertainment)
  3.      Clairdee, A Love Letter to Lena (Declare Music)
  4.      Melody Gardot, Sunset in Blue (Decca)
  5.      Susan Tobocman, Touch & Go (Soliterra)

2020’s best Latin/Brazilian jazz recordings:

  1.  Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra, Puertos: Music From International Waters (Avantango)
  2. Calle Loiza Jazz Project, There Will Never be Another You (self-produced)
  3. John Daversa Quintet, Cuarantena: With Family at Home (Tiger Turn)
  4. Jose Rizo’s Mongorama, Mariposas Cantan (Saungu)
  5. Vanderlei Pereira, Vision for Rhythm (Jazzheads)

2020’s best debut recording:

 Douglas Olsen, 2 Cents (self-produced)

The 10 best new compositions from CDs released in 2020,
listed alphabetically:

  • Lynne Arriale, “3 Million Steps” from Chimes of Freedom (Challenge)

  • Frank Col√≥n, “Spanish Heart” from Latin Lounge (Technoprimal) 

  • Jenny Davis, “Wise Up” from Rearranged (Three Penny)  

  • Erik Jekabson, “Dusk” from Erik Jekabson Sextet III, One Note at a Time (Wide Hive)

  • Austin McMahon, “Sol” from The Lost Melody, New Songs For Old Souls (Tie)

  • Dave Morgan, Noel Cohen, “July Groove/September Funk” from Funk Shui NYC, Sharknato on a Plane (Zoho)

  • Josh Nelson, “Kintsugi” from Josh Nelson Trio, The Discovery Project Live in Japan (Steel Bird)

  • Jose Rizo and Francisco Torres, “Descarga Ramon Banda” from Jose Rizo’s Mongarama, Mariposas Cantan (Saungu)

  • Renee Rosnes, “Big Top” from Artemis (Blue Note)

  • Maria Schneider, “A World Lost” from Data Lords (ArtistShare)