Thursday, January 13, 2022

Still adventurous after all these years

Trumpeter Terumasa Hino, at age 79 a jazz dynamo and elder statesman in his native Japan, divides his time between his homeland and the U.S. He worked steadily in New York starting in the mid-1970s, playing and recording in the bands of saxophonist Jackie McLean and drummer Elvin Jones, among others.

Terumasa Hino
This hard-bop player, whose musical forays have ranged from jazz-rock fusion to the avant garde, became a snowbird four years ago. He was attracted to Southwest Florida primarily to golf in the winter and spring, returning to Japan for concert tours and club dates for about half of the year.

Hino was the special guest of the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra for the quintet's Wednesday, January 12 All That Jazz concert at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion. By his recollection, this was Hino's first performance in the U.S. as a bandleader or featured player in more than 10 years.

And what an interesting performance it was, revealing Hino's trumpet mastery, range, playfulness and enthusiasm as he found ways to interact musically with each of the quintet members. They included tenor saxophonist and artistic director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The joy and legacy of the Duke Ellington songbook

Duke Ellington's impact on jazz seems beyond measure, no matter how you count it. He wrote, co-wrote or took credit for writing more than 1,000 compositions over a 50-year span. According to one family bio, it was more than 3,000 songs.

Dan Miller
The numbers really don't matter as much as the imprint Duke left on the music. That's what the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto sextet celebrated in their Charlotte County Jazz Society concert appearance on Monday, January 10. They dug into the joy and legacy as they delved into a wide emotional range of material from Ellington and collaborator Billy Strayhorn, plus a few other gems from Duke's band book.

Lew Del Gatto
In addition to his fiery playing, trumpeter Miller, a walking archive of jazz details, shared many of the back stories behind the 16 favorite tunes the band performed. Co-leader Del Gatto, a 30-year alum of the NBC Saturday Night Live Band, was an excellent foil with his to-the-point, but always gorgeous and inventive, tenor sax solos.

Their all-star band was rounded out by longtime Big Apple pianist Roy Gerson, trombonist Herb Bruce, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Tony Vigilante. Bruce's wife, the fine singer Patricia Dean, better known as a drummer in some performance settings, joined for three tunes.

Friday, January 7, 2022

2022-23 - Jazz musicians felled by coronavirus, Chapter 6 (updated 1-23-2023)

Here is the latest update to our running, chronological list of jazz-related jazz-related COVID-19 deaths, updated as we receive them.  

This segment begins with deaths in 2022. Chapter 5 covers the second half of 2021 and Chapter 4 lists deaths in the first half of the 2021, a combined 57 known losses. Chapters one, two and three contain 2020's 65 known losses. 

Our profound sympathies to their families, friends and fans as we remember the musical legacies they have given us.

  • Barcelona guitarist and educator Joan Vinyals died January 4, 2022. He was 63. Vinyals was a versatile genre-crossing player, combining rock, blues, jazz and Latin touches into his sound and also working with ease in each of those formats. He was a driving force at the Catalan Academy of Music. He was a former director of Barcelona's Association of Jazz Musicians and Modern Music of Catalonia.
  • Bassist Paul Warburton died January 5 at age 79. Warburton started playing professionally at 17, working with house bands in and around his Denver hometown, and later backing jazz headliners visiting Colorado. In 1964, at just 23, he spent a month in pianist Bill Evans' unrecorded trio with Philly Jo Jones on drums at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco. During his long career, Warburton was also a sideman in bands led by Stan Getz, Pharoah Sanders and Cal Tjader. Warburton and guitarist Dale Bruning performed as a duo in Denver for a decade, releasing an album, Our Delight on the Capri label in 1987. Warburton's 1997 solo album, Speak Low (Electric Kingdom/Synergy Distribution), featured his all-star quartet of Denver players, with trumpeter Ron Miles, pianist Eric Gunnison and drummer Nat Yarbrough.  
  • Indian tabla player Badal Roy died January 18 in Wilmington, Delaware. He was 82. Roy's drumming graced recordings by prominent musicians in jazz, rock, fusion and world music. He first came to prominence in the early 1970s with English guitarist John McLaughlin and trumpeter Miles Davis. He was a member of Ornette Coleman’s electric band, Prime Time, for more than a decade.
  • Philadelphia-based saxophonist Wendell Hobbs died January 19. He was 68. The composer, arranger, bandleader and educator led The Masters of Jazz Orchestra. He toured with the Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw orchestras during his 50-year career.  
  • Magazine publisher and promoter Sidney Miller died January 20 in Arlington VA at age 89. After working at Capitol Records, he started Black Radio Exclusive in 1976 to promote Black music and radio stations. The magazine and its annual conferences focused on R&B, jazz, rap and other genres. While a pre-med student at Florida A&M University, he played trumpet in the university band and booked music acts, including fellow students Nat and Cannonball Adderley.
  • Greek drummer, percussionist and educator Christos Yermenoglou died January 22. He was 51. He founded and taught in the Baby Artist: Program for the Musical Development of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, which has operated in Thessaloniki since 2001, as well as other education programs. This free jazz player collaborated with symphony orchestras and jazz musicians from around the globe.  
  • Cuban-born percussionist Humberto “Pupi” Menes died on February 1 in New Orleans. He was 73. Moving to New Orleans in his early teens, the conga player worked there for most of his career, playing with Rubén “Mr. Salsa” González, Santiago, Otra, Caliente, Freddy Omar, The Iguanas, Two Pan Sam and Elegant Gypsy, among others. He also played drums for the rock band Ocean.
  • Guitarist Darrell Crooks died February 1 at age 64. The Los Angeles-based musician and educator, a Texas native, spent three decades as a first-call guitarist for a wide range of jazz, R&B, hip hop and gospel artists. His jazz work included performances with singers Al Jarreau, Ledisi and Gregory Porter. 
  • Guitarist and producer Ramón Stagnaro died February 16 in Los Angeles at age 67. The Peruvian-born musician appeared on more than 600 recordings since the late 1980s. In addition to backing a wide range of first-tier pop and Latin music stars in the studio and on tour, he worked with jazz musicians Alex Acuña, Herb Alpert, Chris Botti, Denise Donatelli, Pete Escovedo, Al Jarreau, Diana Krall, Arturo Sandoval, and The Manhattan Transfer, among others. He was the brother of Boston-based bassist Oscar Stagnaro.  
  • Drummer Oscar Bolão died in Rio de Janeiro on February 16 of complications from COVID. He was 68. Bolão had been a major drummer in the samba and MPB post-bossa nova styles. One of his last jobs was performing on a new Pife Muderno album in honor of Gilberto Gil.  
  • Springfield, Missouri-based trumpeter Larry Getz died February 28 at age 80. He had been a member of the early 1980s progressive jazz group Entropy and worked in many jazz settings. He also was a founding member of the Granny's Bathwater blues-rock band and performed in the genre-busting band The Lowdown Fancy. 
  • Bassist and bandleader Isao Suzuki died March 8 at age 89. The Tokyo-born musician studied and played early in his career with saxophonist Sadao Watanabe. He moved to New York City in 1969, playing with a number of jazz greats over the next three years including Art Blakey, Ron Carter, Paul Desmond, Thelonious Monk and Bobby Timmons. After returning to Japan, Suzuki played with Kenny Burrell and Mal Waldron, and led his own ensembles. He co-founded the Japanese Bass Players Club and opened a jazz club in Osaka. 
  • Former Duke Ellington Society of New York president and record collector Morris Hodara died March 20 at age 98. Over 60 years, the physicist and union organizer amassed one of the nation's largest collections of jazz records, which he donated to The National Jazz Museum in Harlem. The Hodara collection is described as one of the world's greatest collections of Duke Ellington recordings, books, photographs, and other memorabilia. 
  • Pianist, composer, arranger, writer and photographer Sy Johnson died July 26 in Manhattan from complications of COVID-19. He was 92. Johnson was best known as the principal arranger and orchestrator for bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus. He also worked on Broadway and composed a musical based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. 
  • Czech singer and actress Hana Zagorová died August 26 in Prague at age 75. Her health deteriorated after contracting COVID-19 in September 2020. During her long and illustrious career, Zagorová performed almost 900 different songs, and sang in several ensembles. 
  • Bassist and educator Chuck Deardorf, a first-call player and mainstay on the Seattle jazz scene for four decades, died October 9. He was 68. He was jazz program director at Cornish College of the Arts. He also taught at Centrum Port Townsend. 
  • Saxophonist Lenny Rojas of St. Petersburg, Florida died January 10, 2023 of COVID-19-related complications. He was 75. After several contracts performing in and leading bands on the Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 cruise ships, the Key West native worked in a variety of Tampa Bay-area jazz bands. He was the brother of saxophonist Rodney Rojas.  

Here are links to the chronology: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Looking ahead: Southwest Florida jazz preview (updated 2-14-22)

Here is a rundown of noteworthy jazz events, principally in the Sarasota to Naples territory, from now through February. Keep in mind the reality of COVID-19 protocols, expect possible cancellations, and mask up to keep yourself and others safe.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

A look back at 2021's jazz happenings

All About Jazz has published my annual comprehensive compilation of trends, challenges and noteworthy happenings in the global jazz world. Sad to say, the year's jazz-related list of musicians and industry figures who passed away during 2021 comprise nearly 25 percent of the material.

Here's the intro:

The jazz world continued grappling and adjusting in year two of the COVID-19 pandemic. International Jazz Day again went virtual for the most part. Singer Tony Bennett put the final stamp on his touring – and likely recording – career after his Alzheimer's disclosure. Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield was headed to federal prison. The National Endowment for the Arts welcomed four new NEA Jazz Masters and said farewell to seven others who were among the many industry-associated musicians and figures passing away during the year.

You can read all of it, 2021: The Year in Jazz, here.