Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deck the halls with songs from jazzmen (and women)

There is no shortage of holiday-inspired jazz material. Classics abound by the dozens, some long out of print. (Some of the double-entendre variety, most as covers of holiday fare with spirited soloing). And every year new ones arrive to add to the litany.

Here’s a sampling of this year’s presents to we listeners:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The best of 2012 - my take

T’is 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 he or she had a chance to hear during the year.* Bottom line, all are very subjective.

My choices below (except for the top 10 new songs of the year) have been submitted to the Jazz Times and 2012 compilations (the latter a Francis Davis-produced poll that through 2010 was published by The Village Voice.) My lists have also been posted to the Jazz Journalists Association's website, where you can get a sense what other writers and reviewers liked this year.

As I begin preparing my review of significant events and trends in jazz in 2012 for posting on, I thought I'd share my "best of 2012" lists. *Always keep in mind the above caveats.

The 10 best new jazz releases of 2012
1. Ryan Truesdell, Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (artistShare)
2. Gregory Porter, Be Good (Motéma)
3. Paolo Fresu & Omar Sosa, Alma (Otá)
4. Ahmad Jamal, Blue Moon (JazzVillage)
5. Jeff Hamilton Trio, Red Sparkle (Capri)
6. Kurt Elling, 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project (Concord Jazz)
7. Pat Metheny, Unity Band (Nonesuch)
8. Edmar Castaneda, Double Portion (Arpa y Voz)
9. Stacey Kent, Dreamer in concert (Blue Note)
10. Lisa Hilton, American Impressions (Ruby Slippers Productions)

Friday, November 23, 2012

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs from Jeff Holmes, Scott Robinson, Mike Longo, Ed Cherry and The Osland/Dailey Jazztet...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A drum summit with finesse

Tony Bruno, Jim Prosser, Ron Drischel and Johnny Moore
Drummer Tony Bruno's group Jazz Around The Corner, with Jim Prosser on piano and Ron Drischel on tenor and alto saxes, performed at the Venice Art Center on Friday with drummer Johnny Moore as a featured guest.

It was an interesting instrumental doubling for this concert, sponsored by the South County Jazz Club. The two drummers' interaction was more complementary than a full-bore drum battle - though there were some high-energy opportunities, particularly with "Caravan" and "A Night in Tunisia."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tamburr & Co. bring fire and subtlety

Vibes player Christian Tamburr’s quintet, featuring trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, closed out a three-week, 5,000-mile tour up and down the East Coast last night in Port Charlotte FL as part of the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s Artist Series.

Extended solos and a blend of subtlety and fire were the order of the night for this band, which showed from the opening notes how much it enhances a band’s chemistry if the players work together for extended periods. The band also included pianist Scott Giddens, bassist Billy Thornton and drummer Justin Varnes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

An abundance of chops and chemistry

Lew Del Gatto and Dan Miller
A newly formed organ jazz-inspired band in southern Florida is shaking things up from its home base in Naples and a regular weekly gig in Fort Myers. The Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto Quintet ventured north to Sarasota last night to open the South County Jazz Club’s five-concert series at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center.
Dan Heck

The band was formed in May and has been working steadily ever since. Trumpeter Miller is a veteran of bands led by Harry Connick Jr., Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman and Wynton Marsalis. Tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto spent 25 years in prime time as the baritone player in NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” band. The band also includes pianist Stu Shelton, drummer-singer Patricia Dean and guitarist Dan Heck, who earned his pro stripes with his Seattle-based band Bebop and Destruction before moving to the New York jazz scene, then the fertile music scene in and around Naples.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Hat Lady swings and sings

Carol Stein
Jazz pianist and singer Carol Stein can’t hide her solid chops, even when she’s working her “day job.”  Actually, it’s an evening job.

Five nights a week, Stein is “The Hat Lady” at Epcot’s Rose & Crown Pub at Walt Disney World. At the pub’s console piano, she breezes through what seems an endless litany of pop songs, English and Irish pub songs embellished with her vocal improvisations to fit the moment, jazz and classical flourishes – and a grand smile. Every tune or two, Stein changes her hat to another of the dozen odd or outlandish ones hanging on the wall or a nearby rack.

”It’s a special thing to have a full-time job as a jazz musician,” Stein told me this week between sets.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to help musicians reeling from Sandy

Jazz angel Wendy Oxenhorn and her Jazz Foundation of America staff in New York have been put to the test once again, helping musicians who have been hit hard by the impact of superstorm Sandy.

"It's so much worse than one might have imagined,” Oxenhorn wrote in today's email. “Aside from the most obvious need of water, warmth, food and money, hundreds of musicians have lost gigs because of Sandy. Clubs are closed, and musicians haven't been able to travel out of town for work either. Lost gigs means no money for the rent. No money for the rent means the Jazz Foundation will be providing emergency assistance."

She tells it well, and shares a lot of heartfelt stories about the struggles here, and efforts that are underway by the Jazz Foundation  through its Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund.

There's also a link for those of you who care to join me in helping through donations from near and far at a serious time of need by musicians who have given so much to jazz throughout their careers.