April 27-30: Princeton University Jazz Festival features Gilad Hekselman, Alexa Tarantino, Seamus Blake, Tony Malaby

Jazz at Princeton University, helmed by acclaimed saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, announces the return of the Princeton University Jazz Festival. Presented in conjunction with Jazz Appreciation Month, the event, which takes place Wednesday, April 27 – Saturday, April 30, features guest artists guitarist Gilad Hekselman, and saxophonists Seamus BlakeTony Malaby, and Alexa Tarantino performing with Princeton University’s stellar student ensembles. ∙ Wednesday, April 27 – Jazz Vocal Collective directed by Trineice Robinson-Martin.The JVC is a small jazz ensemble highlighting solo voices and a rhythm section to create a collaborative musical experience. The 7:30 p.m. performance takes place at Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. Admission is free. Please visit musicprincetoninfohub.com/covid for the latest safety requirements. For information go to https://music.princeton.edu/events/jazz-vocal-collective-5. ∙ Thursday, April 28 –Guest saxophonist Alexa Tarantino joins Small Group Zguest guitarist Gilad Hekselman performs with Small Group X. The 7:30 p.m. performance, under the direction of Matthew Parrish, takes place at Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. Free admission. Please visit musicprincetoninfohub.com/covid for the latest safety requirements. For information go to https://music.princeton.edu/events/jazz-small-groups-x-z-0. • Saturday, April 30 – Titans of the Tenor SaxophoneA celebration of International Jazz Day the concert includes Princeton’s Small Group I featuring guest saxophonist Tony Malaby and Small Group A joined by guest saxophonist Seamus Blake. The 8 p.m. performance takes place in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. Tickets $15, $5 students. Please visit musicprincetoninfohub.com/covid for the latest safety requirements. For information go to https://music.princeton.edu/events/small-groups-i-and. “We are thrilled about the return of The Princeton University Jazz Festival,” says Mahanthappa. “In a trio of concerts during Jazz Appreciation Month, accomplished guest artists perform alongside our remarkably talented students, creating a truly special synergy that feels particularly significant given the curtailing of live music we’ve all experienced over the last couple of years.”

GUEST ARTIST BIOS New York-based saxophonist/composer Seamus Blake is recognized as one of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz. Seamus was born in December 1970 in England and raised in Vancouver, Canada. At age 21, while still a student at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, he was asked to record with legendary drummer Victor Lewis. After graduation, he moved to New York, where he rapidly established himself on the New York jazz scene. In February 2002, Seamus took first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. As the winner, he performed with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. His music is known for its sophistication, bold improvisations, and “sheer swagger.” John Scofield, who hired Seamus for his “Quiet Band,” called him “extraordinary, a total saxophonist.” Throughout his 24-year career, Seamus has garnered critical praise for his masterful playing, his fine compositional skills, and his facility as a leader. Since moving to Paris in February 2018 Seamus has been invited to perform the music of his CD Superconductor with a number of European jazz bands, including the Latvian Radio Jazz Band, the Trondheim Big Band, and The Sibis Alumni Big Band. In 2017 Seamus assembled a new quartet, The French Connection. The band (Seamus, Tony Tixier on piano, Florent Nisse on bass, and Gautier Garrigue on drums) recorded their first CD in Paris in November of 2017 and have toured in France and Spain. As a leader/co-leader, Seamus has released more than a dozen albums. He is featured as a sideman on over 70 releases. He has played and recorded with Bill Stewart, Kevin Hays, David Kikoski, Alex Sipiagin, John Scofield’s Quiet Band, Dave Douglas, Eric Reed, Ethan Iverson, Chris Cheek, and Matt Penman, among others. Gilad Hekselman is one of the leading voices in jazz guitar. Only a few years after his 2004 arrival in New York, this native Israeli was already sharing stages with some of the greatest artists on the scene including Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Ballard, Ben Wendel, Gretchen Parlato, Ben Williams, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks and Becca Stevens among many others. In May 2019, Hekselman featured his quartet at the legendary NYC venue The Village Vanguard. He has also played at major jazz clubs including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club, and Smalls. He tours internationally and has played jazz festivals and venues including Montreux, North Sea, Montreal, and SFJazz. Hekselman has released nine critically-acclaimed records as a bandleader, many of which have made it into ‘best of the year’ lists in The New York Times, DowBeat, All About Jazz, and many other publications. His tenth record, Far Star, will be released on Edition Records in May 2022. It’s an all-original album in which Hekselman plays many instruments, and it features special guests such as Eric Harland, Shai Maestro, Ziv Ravitz, and more. The record release will be celebrated with a week-long engagement at the Village Vanguard in 2022. Gilad is the recipient of several prestigious awards and recognitions. In 2017, Gilad placed first in the Rising Star category of DownBeat. In 2018 Gilad was asked by guitar legend Pat Metheny to perform as part of his NEA Award ceremony at The Kennedy Center, alongside some of Metheny’s other favorite young guitar players. Gilad is also the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition, which led to a string of performances including opening for guitar legend Paco de Lucia with his trio at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006. In 2009, Gilad recorded three tracks for Walt Disney Records, one of which was included in the record Everybody Wants To Be a Cat (2011). The album features versions of Disney songs played by a top-shelf lineup of musicians including Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Esperanza Spalding, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Bad Plus, and many other jazz legends.

In his two decades as an integral member of New York City’s improvised music community, saxophonist and composer Tony Malaby has emerged as a wholly unique and singular voice. DownBeat’s “80 Coolest Things in Jazz” article said “[Malaby] is a formidably accomplished soprano and tenor saxophonist with enviable tone and an endless font of compelling ideas [who] steers his music away from perfection” and “his considerable gifts as a melodist tend to sneak up on you.” JazzTimes called him “a hero of today’s improvised music scene.” These accolades are unsurprising given the number of projects Malaby has been involved in since arriving in New York in the early 1990s. Career highlights include being the leader of Tamarindo Trio with Nasheet Waits and William Parker; Tubacello with John Hollenbeck, Chris Hoffman, and Bob Stewart; Paloma Recio with Ben Monder, Eivind Opsvik, and Nasheet Waits; and an improvising trio with Angelica Sanchez and Tom Rainey. Malaby has worked as a sideman in Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Fred Hersch’s quintet and Walt Whitman project, Mark Helias’s Open Loose, Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth, Eivind Opsvik’s Overseas, Ches Smith’s These Arches, Michael Formanek’s Elusion Quartet, and Kris Davis’s Diatom Ribbons quintet. His latest release The Cave of Winds (Pyroclastic Records, January 2022) features Malaby’s Sabino Quartet with Ben Monder, Michael Formanek, and Tom Rainey. Alexa Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler, composer, and educator. Alexa’s “high-octane [performance]” (Jazziz Magazine) and “sharply plotted but gracefully unencumbered straight-ahead jazz [compositions]” (The New York Times) establish her individual voice which shines through as a dynamic performer and educator. Tarantino was recently named one of the “Top 5 Alto Saxophonists of 2019” by the JazzTimes Critics’ Poll and nominated as a “Rising Star – Alto Saxophone” by DownBeat Magazine’s 2021 and 2020 Critics’ Poll. She has appeared with a wide variety of ensembles including the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Cecile McLorin Salvant Quintet and OGRESSE ensembles, Ulysses Owens Jr.’s Generation Y and Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and leads the Alexa Tarantino Quartet. Firefly, Alexa’s third record for Posi-Tone Records was released April 2021, hitting #6 on the JazzWeek charts. Her previous album, Clarity, peaked at #9 on the JazzWeek charts and landed at #54 for JazzWeek’s Top 100 records of 2020. Tarantino is currently on faculty for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Youth Programs (High School Jazz Academy, Let Freedom Swing/Jazz for Young People) and represents the organization as a Clinician and Educator for various schools, festivals, and workshops. She holds a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from The Juilliard School and Bachelor’s degrees in Jazz Saxophone Performance and Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. Alexa is Founder and Director of the Rockport Jazz Workshop in Rockport, Massachusetts, and Co-Founder of A Step Ahead Jazz with pianist Steven Feifke. In February 2021, Alexa launched her new virtual community-style jazz education platform, The Alexa Approach. Alexa Tarantino is a Vandoren Artist and Yamaha Performing Artist. Learn more about her at www.alexatarantino.com. Jazz at Princeton University serves to promote this uniquely American music as a contemporary and relevant art form. Its goals are to convey the vast musical and social history of jazz, establish a strong theoretical and stylistic foundation with regard to improvisation and composition, and emphasize the development of individual expression and creativity. Offerings of the program include academic coursework, performing ensembles, master classes, private study, and independent projects. They also have the opportunity to participate in academic courses from the music department curriculum that encourage the study of the historical, social, theoretical, stylistic, and creative issues that pertain to the jazz idiom.

Copyright © 2022 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

Barcelona-born bassist Manel Fortià’s “fresh thinking and beautiful playing” – Despertar, out May 12 via Segell Microscopi

Impressive lyricism made in Barcelona and inspired by New York

“Despertar is a gorgeous declaration of emancipation from the assumptions that sometimes are erroneously made about Spanish jazz. This is fresh thinking and beautiful playing from a trio that is led by the extraordinary bassist Manel Fortià. His bass sound is huge and fluid and his bandmates are almost telepathic in their interaction with it. This is an incredible outing for a young bandleader and should firmly establish Manel as a voice to be heard for years to come.” – Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill

Barcelona-born bassist Manel Fortià bridges his Mediterranean and Spanish roots with the sounds of modern New York jazz on his trio album Despertar, available May 12, 2022, via Segell Microscopi/Altafonte Distribution. Meticulously composed and produced by Fortià, Despertar presents a musical self-portrait based on a selection of spirited originals, all inspired by his experiences while living in New York City between 2016 and 2020. The composer creates mellow and personal music which touches on influences as varied as Charlie Haden, Keith Jarrett, Maurice Ravel, and Paco de Lucía, among others.

Fortià’s extraordinary trio features two of the most prolific European jazz personalities of the new generation. Multi-award-winning Spanish pianist Marco Mezquida (Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman, Bill McHenry, Chicuelo, Noa), understands Fortià’s music deeply and performs with elegance and dynamism. The connection between these two artists and their ability to listen deeply was showcased on their critically acclaimed 2015 duo album My Old Flame. Rounding out the trio is the revelatory French drummer Raphaël Pannier (Miguel Zenón, Aaron Goldberg, François Moutin) with whom Manel recorded the 2018 album Bulería Brooklyniana mixing Brooklyn jazz underground with flamenco. Joining them on that album was pianist Albert Marquès. With his huge palette of textures and sounds, Pannier brings the music to another level, infusing vital and foundational energy into the rhythm section. “This album is very important to me because it reflects one of the most transcendent moments in my artistic life. I feel that living in NYC changed me tremendously and I grew a lot there,” Fortià says. “It is also the first time I recorded a full album featuring all my compositions. That I can share playing them with two of my favorite musicians with whom I have a great connection personally and musically, is like a dream come true.”    The Spanish title “Despertar” translates into “awakening,” which references the last tune of the album, while, in contrast, the first one is called “Dormir” (“fall sleep”). Between these tracks we are on a dreamy journey of vital experiences, traveling to different places and moments in a very imaginative way that brings about the magic of Mediterranean culture.

“Despertar,” the debut trio album as a leader by bassist-composer Manel Fortià

Like Charlie Haden, Fortià is an extremely melodic and open-minded player, executing performances on the upright bass with deep sound and precision, dropping guideposts, marking turns and grounding the journey while adding the occasional weighty statement on his compositions. His sound on the instrument is his major virtue, easily recognizable as his own. He can play a variety of styles and rhythms without losing his personality. Mellow and powerful, straight and flexible, sober and free, laid-back and energetic… all of these contrasts coexist in his playing. Inside his music we can find New York modern jazz but also some Mediterranean colors, hints of flamenco as well as European classical influences.  Between the Bach choral-inspired opener “Dormir” and the powerful meditative suite “Despertar,” we have seven different episodes of an exciting dream unfolding in NYC. The energetic groove of the JFK AirTrain (“Circular“) drives us from the airport to the melancholic, impressionist neighborhood Astoria (“Saudades“) where Manel lived while in New York. Then we travel to Harlem with the beautiful gospel-inspired “Espiritual,” an homage to Black American music, where Manel’s solo travels from the bottom of his upright bass to heaven. Next is the deep ballad with a Spanish touch called “El Día Después,” dedicated to La Rambla de Barcelona where there was a terrorist attack in 2017 while Fortià was in New York, suffering in the distance. We then travel to the iconic Grand Central Station at rush hour which is represented by the frenetic and dynamic song “Crescente.” A calm after the storm arrives courtesy of two beautiful tunes with South American flavors: “Aires de Libertad” and “Simple“. Based on his Mediterranean reminiscences and Atlantic influences, “Aires de Libertad” is dedicated to Prospect Park/Cuba and “Simple” to Jackson Heights/Colombia. This musical “American Dream,” Manel’s self-portrait of life as an immigrant artist during his time in the United States. Recorded and mixed at El Local Studios (Girona, Spain) by Marc Piña and mastered at Sear Sound (NYC, USA) by Grammy-Award winning sound engineer Jeremy Loucas, Despertar has the perfect balance of sounds between Europe’s beautiful harmonies and America’s energetic rhythms, bringing us on a journey of different colors and contrasting climates. The striking album art highlights original objects the Argentinian artist Fran Pontenpie conceptualized and built after listening to the music and then photographed for the album. On the cover is a wooden upright bass bridge transformed into a human who is awakening from the bass. On the back are four clouds created from bass tuners. Inside is a plant that has three pairs of eyes, for every member of the trio. Pontenpie’s visual contributions enhance the listening experience and make the album a unique piece of art.

The Tracklist 01 – Dormir                                                              (04’03)02 – Circular (to JFK AirTrain)                                   (08’16)03 – Saudades (to Astoria)                                       (05’45)04 – Espiritual          (to Harlem)                               (05’57)05 – El Día Después (to La Rambla de Barcelona)     (05’48)06 – Crescente (to Grand Central)                             (08’11)07 – Aires de Libertad (to Prospect Park)                   (03’34)08 – Simple (to Jackson Heights)                              (05’01)09 – Despertar                                                         (07’20)

The Musicians Manel Fortià           Upright bass / compositionsMarco Mezquida    PianoRaphaël Pannier    Drums

Manel Fortià Biography

His melodic sense, rhythmic precision, and creativity have made Manel Fortià one of the most unique and original double bassists of the new generation. He has performed and/or recorded with jazz luminaries such as Dave Liebman, Chris Cheek, Eliot Zigmund, Bill McHenry, Ari Hoenig, Arturo O’Farrill, Chano Dominguez, Scott Hamilton, Dena Derose, and Raynald Colom among many others. Manel has performed at many prestigious international festivals such as Vitoria Jazz Festival (Spain), SudTirol Jazz Festival (Italy), NYC Mediterranean Jazz Festival (USA), Jazz in Sardegna (Italy), PortaJazz Festival (Portugal), and Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival (Spain) as well as in famed jazz clubs like the Blue Note and Zinc Bar (New York), Bimhuis (Amsterdam), An Die Musik (Baltimore), Hot Five (Porto), and Cafe Central (Madrid). He has appeared on more than 50 albums as a leader and as a sideman, including My Old Flame in duet with Marco Mezquida, Estándares with Chano Dominguez & Antonio Lizana, and Buleria Brooklyniana with Albert Marques and Raphaël Pannier. Recent albums as a leader include Arrels (2021, Microscopi), the debut recording of his Libérica project featuring Antonio Lizana, the award-winning saxophonist and singer from Cádiz. This album mixes flamenco, Catalan folk songs and free jazz in a unique and powerful way. His folk-jazz duo album Fang i Nuvols (2020, Microscopi) with the talented Spanish singer Magalí Sare, was also critically acclaimed. Throughout his career, Manel Fortià has been recognized with multiple awards such as the “Jazzer 2020” from the Jazzing Festival of Barcelona. He has also been a finalist at “Terra i Cultura 2019” with Magalí Sare, and a three-time finalist at Castelló Jazz Contest (2012-2014). He won the Jazz Fusion Contest (2013) with Tak!  In addition, Manel combines a performing career with his teaching role at the prestigious ESEM – Taller de Músics in Barcelona and in the Jazz Department of Girona Conservatorium. He also has been involved with social justice music projects in the U.S. including Freedom First (Justice for Keith Lamar), which fights for human rights and equality.

Copyright © 2022 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

Preview of Early to Mid New Jazz Releases for 2022 by Braithwaite & Katz

January 2022
Tony Malaby’s Sabino – The Cave of Winds – Jan. 7, 2022  – Pyroclastic
Fred Hersch  Breath by Breath – January 7, 2022 – PalmettoCrosby Street String Quartet and Hersch with Drew Gress & Jochen Reuchert
Pete Malinverni – On the Town, Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein  –January 14, 2022 – Planet Arts
OGJB – Ode to O – January 21, 2022 – TUMOliver Lake, Graham Haynes, Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul
Andrew Cyrille, William Parker & Enrico Rava – 2 Blues for Cecil – January 21, 2022 – TUM
Satoko Fujjii / Joe Fonda – Thread of LIght  – January 28, 2021 – FSR Fujii’s 99th album as a leader/co-leader.

February 2022

Natsuki Tamura – Summer Tree – Libra – February 11, 2022 Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Hero Trio – Animal Crossing (EP) – February 4, 2022 – WhirlwindDigital only – EP with four tracks. MOPDtK – Disasters Vol. 1 – February 18, 2022 – Hot Cup RecordsTrio album with both Kevin Shea and Ron Stabinsky playing Nord electronics in addition to drums and piano. All the tunes are named after Pennsylvania towns where disasters occurred.  Gordon Grdina’s Haram w. special guest Marc Ribot – Night’s Quietest Hour  – February 18, 2022 – Attaboygirl RecordsGrdina’s Arabic music ensemble Haram with special guest Marc Ribot.Just before the Pandemic hit Marc joined our ensemble for two concerts in Vancouver Feb 28 and Seattle on March 1st, with a recording session on the leap year Feb 29th. This was an incredible experience and Marc blended into the ensemble from the beginning. He played almost our entire repertoire with us and these tracks are the previously unreleased pieces. This album reflects our continued exploration of the Classic Arabic repertoire and new exploration of Sudanese music from the ’60s and ’70s. This was an already incredibly dynamic group, and Marc’s presence pushed the group’s delicacy, intensity, and explosive nature to new heights. An already incredibly dynamic group Marc’s presence pushed the group’s delicacy, intensity, and explosive nature to new heights. The process of creating this album has realigned the trajectory of the ensemble. Gordon Grdina – Oddly Enough – February 18, 2022 – Screwgun (digital) + AttaboyGirl Records (physical)Solo album featuring the music of Tim Berne.Near the beginning of the pandemic, Tim Berne had mentioned that he was writing a piece for solo guitar and sent it over. I sent him back a short recording of it and he sent me another piece. We went on like this for about a year or so. The pieces were incredibly challenging yet beautiful and aligned with what I had been exploring in my own writing on my last two solo albums.  I started getting the idea to record a predominantly electric solo album of his music. I wanted to explore the use of midi to create a sonic world that wasn’t completely unrecognizable but was connected in a different way than an ensemble or typical solo album would be. I designed a new guitar that could simultaneously record midi data, acoustic and electric. I recorded all of the pieces that Tim had sent me. This album is about half of that material with a combination of acoustic, electric, and midi sampler instruments. There are a couple pieces with overdubs but most of the music is live solo guitar. The compositions are incredibly complex, personal, and harmonically unique.Martin Wind –  Air – February 25, 2022  – Laika Records Rare bass quartet album featuring bassist Wind, Gregg August, Jordan Frazier, and Sam Suggs along with special guests Matt Wilson, Gary Versace, and Lenny White.Javon Jackson – The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni  – February 18, 2022 – Solid JacksonGospel music and spirituals are curated by Nikki Giovanni with Giovanni singing on one track.

MARCH 2022

Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double – March  – March 4, 2022 – Firehouse 12 Wadada Leo Smith –  String Quartets No. 1 – 12 – March 18 – TUM RecordsMajor box set with 7 CDs featuring RedKoral Quartet plus featured soloists including Smith, Anthony Davis, Alison Bjorkedal, Thomas Buckner and more. Wadada Leo Smith – Emerald Duets – March 18 – TUM RecordsBox set with 4 CDs, one each with Pheeroan akLaff, Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille and Jack DeJohnette.  This set adds to Smith’s long history of duo recordings with some of the greatest drummers in the history of creative music.

APRIL 2022

Lynne Arriale – The Lights are Always On  – April 8, 2022 – Challenge Live from Summit Rock in Seneca Village  – April 8, 2022  – Giant Step Arts (Date may be pushed back)Three albums – from groups led by Abraham Burton, Sarah Hanahan, and Jason Palmer – all recorded during Jimmy Katz’s outdoor concert series.Manel Fortià – Despertar – April 21, 2022 – Segell Microscopi Stunning young Barcelona-born bassist.April 23, 2022 – Special Project for Record Store Day.Info is embargoed, so please ask me about this.
May 2022
Ches Smith Interpret It Well – May 6, 2022– PyroclasticQuartet album with Bill Frisell, Craig Taborn, and Mat Maneri   Project conceived by Henry Threadgill – Baker’s Dozen – May 2022Baker’s Dozen is a project conceived by Henry Threadgill during the lockdown to try to do something for musicians by releasing music without using the normal business model. Baker’s Dozen is a set of 13 albums by 13 individual artists — some quite well known, others not — and at the moment there will be 3 “digital box sets” of these (it’ll be a digital-only release on Bandcamp).
Gordon Grdina’s Nomad Trio – Boiling Point May 2022 – Astral SpiritsThis is the second album for the group. We recorded this after our last North American tour in January 2020 just before the pandemic hit. The group had really come together over the course of the tour and the pieces took on a life of their own. It is some of the most challenging music I’ve ever written but through the tour, it reached that great state of still revealing new avenues to explore while becoming comfortable and second nature. Matt’s playing is always incredible and this record is no exception. He expresses a raw sense of abandonment while continuing to be completely in control at all times. Jim is astonishing throughout the album building a massive sonic world while making every note groove. We have delayed releasing the album until we can tour again which will be at the end of June.

June 2022

Josh Sinton – Title TBA – June 3, 2022 – Form is Possibility RecordingsReedist Josh Sinton (Ideal Bread, Nate Wooley quintet) and longtime friends Jed Wilson (pianist with Dominique Eade and Heather Masse), and Tony Falco (drummer with Tsiziji Munoz) reunited musically in the wake of Covid-19’s impact on the world. Affirming the invaluable ties of friendship and human closeness, they spent an afternoon playing free, lyrical, and inspired music that will provide a much-needed balm for everyone.Brian Landrus – The Red List – June 17, 2022 – Palmetto Records2022 Releases from Pyroclastic – Dates TBA
Nate Wooley – Columbia Icefield 2 – Date TBA – PyroclasticKris Davis – Diatom Ribbons –  Live at the Village Vanguard  – Date TBA – Pyroclastic
Copyright © 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

Pyroclastic Records Showcase January 14 & 15, 2022 as part of the Winter Jazzfest Marathon at The Jazz Gallery, NYC

Performances by Kris Davis’ Diatom Ribbons, Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson, Chris Lightcap’s Superette, and the Eric Revis Quarter

Kris Davis photo by Michael Jackson

Pyroclastic Records, the non-profit label founded by the visionary pianist, composer, community builder, and educator Kris Davis, will host a Pyroclastic Records Showcase on Friday, January 14, and Saturday, January 15 as part of the Winter Jazzfest Marathon. The concerts take place at the Jazz Gallery, 1160 Broadway at 27th Street, 5th Floor, New York City. Winter Jazzfest tickets are available via https://www.venuepilot.co/events/47992/orders/new

Friday, January 14th

7:30 PM – Kris Davis Diatom Ribbons
Kris Davis-piano, Val Jeanty-electronics, Terri Lyne Carrington-drums

9:30 PM – Searching for the Disappeared Hour
Mary Halvorson-guitar, Sylvie Courvoisier-piano

Saturday, January 15th

7:30 PM – Chris Lightcap’s Superette
Chris Lightcap-bass, Steve Cardenas and Curtis Hasselbring-guitars, Brian Marsella-keyboards, Dan Rieser-drums

9:30 PM – Eric Revis Quartet – Slipknots Through A Looking Glass
Eric Revis-bass, Darius Jones-alto saxophone, Bill McHenry-tenor saxophone, Kris Davis-piano, Chad Taylor-drums

Eric Revis photo by Javiera Estrada

Pyroclastic RecordsPianist-composer Kris Davis founded Pyroclastic Records in 2016 to serve the release of her acclaimed recordings Duopoly and Octopus (with Craig Taborn) with the goal of growing the label into a thriving platform to serve cutting-edge artists. In 2019, Davis launched a nonprofit to support those artists whose expression flourishes beyond the commercial sphere. By supporting their creative efforts, Pyroclastic empowers emerging and established artists — including those on its 2022 roster: Tony Malaby, The Cave of Winds; Ches SmithInterpret It Well; Nate Wooley, Columbia Icefield 2; Kris Davis’ Diatom RibbonsLive at the Village Vanguard – to continue challenging conventional genre-labeling within their fields. Pyroclastic also seeks to galvanize and grow a creative community, providing opportunities, supporting diversity, and expanding the audience for non-commercial art.

Thurs, Oct 14: World premiere – Wadada Leo Smith’s “Mercy” – streaming concert via Harvard with Vijay Iyer and Andrew Cyrille

Iconic composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith delivers Harvard University’s Louis C. Elson Lecture

“A Dialogue: Creativity and Mercy with a Reflection on the Role of the Artist in Today’s World” features the world premiere of Smith’s “Mercy”

and a conversation with Vijay Iyer

© Dominik Huber

Groundbreaking composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith celebrate his 80th birthday with a year of special events includingA Dialogue: Creativity and Mercy with a Reflection on the Role of the Artist in Today’s World,” Harvard University’s Louis C. Elson Lecture delivered virtually at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 14.

The event features the world premiere of Smith’s new work “Mercy,” composed in honor of essential hospital workers and performed by Smith, Vijay Iyer, and Andrew Cyrille. Smith and Iyer will also participate in a virtual conversation followed by a Q&A session. Free and open to the public. To register, visit https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aocX9uKMSNyfhbLIA3F4hA.

Smith’s year-long celebration of his 80th birthday includes the release of six major projects comprising 22 CDs on TUM Records, two world premieres, inclusion in a film and concerts, and numerous residencies culminating in an 80th birthday celebration concert to be broadcast on his birthday, December 18, 2021.

2021-22 TUM Recordings

• May 21, 2021 – Sacred Ceremonies, a 3-CD box set featuring Wadada with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell in duets and a trio.

• May 21, 2021 – Trumpet, a 3-CD box set featuring 14 new compositions for solo trumpet.

• November 19, 2021 – Wadada Leo Smith’s Great Lakes Quartet: The Chicago Symphonies   
Box set with 4 CDs.  Smith on trumpet, Henry Threadgill and Jonathon Haffner on saxophones, John Lindberg on double bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

• November 19, 2021 Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer, and Jack DeJohnette: A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday  
This brings the three artists together for the first time in this meeting of creative giants.

• February 18, 2022 – Wadada Leo Smith: String Quartets No. 1 – 12 
Box set with 7 CDs featuring RedKoral Quartet plus featured soloists including Smith, Anthony Davis, Alison Bjorkedal, Thomas Buckner, and more.

• February 18, 2022 – Wadada Leo Smith: Emerald Duets 
Box set with 4 CDs, one each with Pheeroan akLaff, Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille and Jack DeJohnette.  This set adds to Smith’s long history of duo recordings with some of the greatest drummers in the history of creative music.

About Wadada Leo Smith 
Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.”

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work.  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.” In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion.

Smith regularly earns multiple spots on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. In 2017 he topped three categories: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year, and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he has earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes Critics Poll as Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.

In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.

Born December 18, 1941, in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo, and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural, and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His most recent recording is 2019’s Rosa Parks: Pure Love, an Oratorio of Seven Songs. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music, and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”  Writing about Smith’s 2017 album Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk in the New York Review of Books, Adam Shatz notes: “For all the minimalism of his sound, Smith has turned out to be a maximalist in his ambitions, evolving into one of our most powerful storytellers, an heir to American chroniclers like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman.”

© 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.


Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Sept 15-19: Montreal Jazz Festival 41st Edition!

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presented by TD Bank Group in collaboration with Rio Tinto is proud to announce the complete line-up for its 2021 edition! From September 15 to 19more than thirty renowned artists will once again bring the heart of the Quartier des spectacles to life. True legends of Canadian and Quebec music will occupy the TD Stage (Place des Festivals) as well as the Rio Tinto Stage (Parterre Symphonique) to offer us a series of exceptional and free concerts! Here are the artists who will be part of this 41st edition.

On Wednesday, September 15BEYRIESRanee LeeGuy Bélanger and his Blues Summit 2021 gathering the greatest artists of the local blues scene, Yannick RieuFlore Laurentienne, and Dawn Tyler Watson will launch the festivities. On Thursday, September 16, performances by the incomparable Daniel LanoisPlants, and Animals, Teke::Teke and Théo Abellard Trio will be presented and we will celebrate both the 25th anniversary of the François Bourassa Quintet as well as the release of the album Omertà with Michel CussonFriday, September 17, folk, soul, and blues-rock fans will enjoy a great evening with ElisapieBasia BulatThe BrooksClerelSteve Hill & the Devil Horns, and the Emie R Roussel Trio. On Saturday, September 18, festival-goers will vibrate to the sounds of neo-soul, hip-hop, and R&B thanks to performances by Charlotte Day WilsonShay LiaAnachnid, and Vox Sambou, while Socalled and MISC‘s exhilarating experiments will undoubtedly seduce the most avid music lovers.

The 41st edition of the Festival de Jazz de Montréal will close on Sunday, September 19, featuring Patrick WatsonGhostly Kisses, an exclusive show led by Modibo Keita who will pay tribute to Marvin Gaye to mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic album What’s Going OnSimon Leoza, and CODE Quartet. Coral EganDaniel ThouinYannick RieuAlain Caron, and Paul Brochu will also perform the late Chick Corea‘s album Light as a Feather.

The first four nights of the Festival will end at L’Astral and Club Soda as part of the Les Nocturnes series presented by Loto-Québec, which will allow the public to discover free and exclusive performances by Nomadic Massive, Nate Husser and Emma BekoFredy V & The Foundation and Snotty Nose Rez Kids.

Copyright © 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

JazzNow: Awakening with Dream Alliance Friday, June 25 at 8PM

Nadia Washington, Marco Pignataro, Kenny Werner & Devon Gates

The free performance features jazz pianist Kenny Werner, saxophonist Marco Pignataro, vocalist Nadia Washington and double bassist and vocalist Devon Gates

The event aims to inspire intergenerational dialogues through music by blending jazz, vocal music and poetry as a cultural message for restoration, hope and collective dreams. The performance will be available on-demand following the initial stream, with a required RSVP

Featuring jazz pianist Kenny Werner, saxophonist Marco Pignataro, vocalist Nadia Washington, and double bassist and vocalist Devon Gates, this anticipated GBH and JazzBoston performance aims to inspire intergenerational dialogues through music.

Copyright © 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

Please join Saxophonist/composer Dan Blake for Livestream & live album release concerts celebrating his new Sunnyside Records recording Da Fé

Friday, May 14 at 7 p.m. 
LIVE at Jazz Habitat, El Barrio Artspace (PS109), 215 E. 99th St., NYC
with Leo Genovese- piano/synthesizers; Dmitry Ishenko – bass; Jeff Williams – drums
For information click here

Saturday, June 5 at 6 p.m.
LIVE at Lydia’s, 7 Old US 209, Stone Ridge, NY
with Bob Meyer, drums; others TBA
For information click here

Dan Blake
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Dan Blake has developed a wide-ranging career as a contemporary composer, performer, and educator that “regards tradition as a welcoming playground best approached with a sense of wonder and adventure” (The Boston Globe). Blake’s music has been called “stunning” (All About Jazz), and his most recent release, The Digging, was described as “a creative essay on what can be done in the trio format” (Ottawa Citizen). In addition to his work as a leader, he has toured and recorded with three-time Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding, NEA Jazz Master Anthony Braxton, and Velvet Underground founding member John Cale, among many others. In his extended multidisciplinary compositions, Blake weaves together his interests in world music, contemporary improvisation, animation, and performance art. This genre-bending catalog of works has earned him support from the Jerome Fund for New Music, ASCAP, and New Music USA. A musician keenly interested in bringing music together with social justice causes, Dan Blake produces the annual Concert To Feed The Hungry, a fundraising event celebrating the struggle to end hunger and malnutrition in poor communities around the world. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the City University of New York and is currently on faculty at the New School for Social Research, and at the Conservatory at Brooklyn College.

Dan Blake, DA FE’

Dan Blake– Da Fé
Sunnyside Records – SSC 1616 – Recorded Aug. 8,9 & 22, 2019
Originally released March 12, 2021

Listen too Dan Blake’s “DA FE'” and savor the moment.

Copyright © 2021 Braithwaite & Katz

Masabumi Kikuchi’s final studio recording “Hanamichi” via Red Hook Records

The final studio recording from the late Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, Hanamichi is the culmination of a lifetime of musical exploration and discovery.

Debut release by Red Hook Records features masterful, definitive performances 

“[Kikuchi] was continually searching for his ‘voice’ that he couldn’t articulate with words. It wasn’t until a few years before he died that his ‘voice’ found him!” – Gary Peacock

Six revelatory tracks by the late Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi are featured on Hanamichi, the debut release by Red Hook Records, due out April 16, 2021, in digital, LP, and CD formats available at 
https://ingroov.es/hanamichi Recorded over a two-day New York session on a magnificent Steinway, the music marks a divergence from the mostly free improvising Poo (Kikuchi’s nickname), who died at age 75 in 2015, practiced during his final years. Kikuchi’s radiant playing sparkles with melodic exploration and expression in renditions of lesser-known tunes and popular standards.

As Kevin Whitehead writes in these excerpts from the album’s liner notes:
“I don’t have any technique,” Kikuchi protested to the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff, a year and a half before recording Hanamichi. More accurate to say he’d developed his own. He played with fingers curved, hands moving crablike or poised banana-bunched. Sometimes his palms drooped below the keyboard, and sometimes he played with hands crossed or overlapping. You can hear the resultant sonic knots on “Improvisation” and the first “My Favorite Things”: churnings from which instant melodies suddenly arise. 

For Hanamichi, producer Sun Chung nudged him toward playing tunes, in addition to his free improvisations. That proved to be a good idea. Poo didn’t bring music or a setlist,calling selections in the moment. One is a personal standard, a staple of  his sets since 1970, the ballad for his daughter “Little Abi.”

You can measure how radically Kikuchi transforms Mabel Wayne’s brisk Spanish waltz “Ramona” by the seven-second gap between the first and second notes of the melody once he finally gets around to it. Languid tempo lets him build, and the final melody statement in a new key is freighted with accumulated feeling. That tempo lets us hear Kikuchi’s command of pedaling and of overtones at the margins: the high thin sheen of ringing harmonics that persists through changing chords. 

While some pianists who ride sustain pedal overplay, Kikuchi pares back, choosing notes with extra care for clarity. Humming piano harp is a shifting backdrop to present action, not a heavy curtain descending on it. Kikuchi’s “Summertime” announces the melody with playfully ambiguous barroom tremolos and distorts the graceful timing of Gershwin’s internal cadences. All those dynamics he minds are on display: piano rings in many ways, across the registers — another zone of dynamic variation. In the performance’s back half, an overflight of chattering birds/dissolving high chords unhatches Poo’s eerie buzzard voice. Other pianists sing along with their right hands; Kikuchi’s keening would beam in from beyond, an independent voice. On Hanamichi, his utterances are few and surprisingly on point, intensifying musical effect. 

Two radically different “My Favorite Things” confirm Hanamichi’s improvisatory spontaneity: two days, two perspectives. Taking his time on the longer take, Kikuchi finds implications in the melody and harmony that skirling modal versions gloss over. As on “Abi” he strikes hammered-anvil chords, dynamic alloys of timbre, harmony and attack. They signify, and remind us, that Masabumi Kikuchi’s piano music is not about rippling over the keys but making the instrument sound.

Masabumi Kikuchi ©Tae Cimarosti

Masabumi “Poo” Kikuchi (October 19, 1939 – July 6, 2015) was a Japanese jazz pianist and composer. Born in Tokyo, he studied music at the Tokyo Art College High School. He worked with a diverse range of musicians, including Lionel Hampton, McCoy Tyner, Mal Waldron, Elvin Jones, Miles Davis, and Gary Peacock. His vast discography covered a wide range of styles, ranging from straight-up post-bop and vanguard classical to fusion, synthesizer, and digital dub. After winning a DownBeat magazine contest for overseas musicians, he won a full scholarship for Berklee College of Music, playing piano for Sonny Rollins’ Japanese tour before departing for the United States. He gained renown as a leader, sideman, and featured guest, recording albums and touring with jazz music’s top players. Over the decades he experimented with electric music, synthesizer, improvisation, and new forms. In 1990 he released the Bill Laswell-produced Dreamachine and began his significant, longtime collaboration with drummer Paul Motian. He continued to play and release new music until his death in 2015.

Red Hook Records is a new label launched in 2020 by former ECM producer Sun Chung. Red Hook Records is a place for encounters, where musicians have opportunities to interact with creative minds, share insights, explore and carve new adventurous ways of creative wayfaring. Red Hook aims to dissolve musical boundaries through the interweaving of musical genres and the exploration of intercultural collaborations. Among the label’s upcoming releases are new projects by trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith, drummer Andrew Cyrille, and electronic musician Qasim Naqvi.

Masabumi Kikuchi – Hanamichi
Red Hook Records – Catalog Number 1001
Release date April 16, 2021

Listen to HANAMICHI by pianist Masabumi Kikuchi

Copyright © 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

Internationally Acclaimed Musicians Julian Lage, Melissa Aldana, and Marshall Gilkes Join New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Faculty Beginning in 2021-2022 Academic Year

New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Department has appointed three internationally acclaimed artists – guitarist Julian Lage, saxophonist Melissa Aldana and trombonist Marshall Gilkes – to join the jazz faculty beginning in the fall of 2021.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Julian Lage, Melissa Aldana, and Marshall Gilkes to the faculty at NEC,” says Ken Schaphorst, Chair of NEC’s Jazz Studies Department. “Each of these artists has a powerful and distinctive voice. They’ve all made significant contributions to the world of creative music, while at the same time being committed to education and sharing their experience with others.”

Hailed as one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation and “highest category of improvising musicians” (New Yorker), Julian Lage has spent more than a decade searching through the myriad strains of American musical history via impeccable technique, free association and a spirit of infinite possibility. The California-born New York-based musician boasts a prolific resume on his own accord in addition to collaborating with Gary Burton and John Zorn, as well as duo projects with Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge and Fred Hersch, among others.

In 2020, Lage founded Guitar.Study, an initiative designed to cultivate a strong and prosperous home for music educators and players alike. Guitar.Study offers online lessons, encouraging the advancement of all practicing guitarists through the lens of historical, technical and theoretical frameworks.

Julian Lage, guitarist and composer

Born in Santiago, Chile, Melissa Aldana began playing the saxophone when she was six. Inspired by such greats as Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Don Byas, she began with alto saxophone but switched to tenor upon hearing the music of Sonny Rollins. In 2005, she was invited by pianist Danilo Pérez to play at the Panama Jazz Festival, after which she attended Berklee College of Music, where her teachers included Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Frank Tiberi, Greg Osby, Hal Crook, Bill Pierce, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Santoro and Ralph Peterson among others. She has since relocated to New York, where she is an active performer and teacher. In 2013, at age 24, she was the first female instrumentalist and the first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, for which her father had been a semi-finalist in 1991.

Aldana received a Grammy nomination for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo” for the song Elsewhere from her most recent album Visions (Motema Music). On the quintet album  she connects her work to the legacy of Latina artists who have come before her, creating a pathway for her own expression. Inspired by the life and works of Frida Kahlo, Aldana creates a parallel between Kahlo’s experiences and her own as a female saxophone player. Aldana will be teaching at NEC during the 2021-2022 academic year as part of a sabbatical arrangement.

Melissa Aldana, tenor saxophonist and composer

Multiple Grammy-nominated trombonist/composer Marshall Gilkes integrates myriad influences into a singular and distinctive voice, combining the spontaneous invention of jazz with the elegant architecture of classical composition and virtuosic technique with passionate emotion. His sound can be heard in the lush impressionism of the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the unique Slide Monsters Trombone Quartet; and on Monday nights at the world-famous Village Vanguard as lead trombonist with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He has conducted his music with the WDR Big Band, UMO Jazz Orchestra, Airmen of Note, and Army Blues. He’s also performed with Makoto Ozone, Billy Cobham, Richard Bona, and Edmar Castañeda. A finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2003, Gilkes has released six albums as a leader. The latest, Waiting to Continue showcases Gilkes playing and writing in a trio setting.

Marshall Gilkes, trombonist and composer

NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became president of the Conservatory in 1967. He soon hired saxophonist Carl Atkins as the first department chair, as well as other greats including NEA Jazz Master George Russell, pianist Jaki Byard and Ran Blake. The foundation of its teaching and success begins with the mentor relationship developed in lessons between students and the prominent faculty artists. In addition to its two jazz orchestras, faculty-coached small ensembles reflect NEC’s inclusive approach to music making, with ensembles focused on free jazz, early jazz, gospel music, Brazilian music, and songwriting, as well as more traditional approaches to jazz performance.

Students are encouraged to find their own musical voices while making connections and collaborating with a vibrant community of creative musicians, and ultimately to transform the world through the power of music. The program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers and has an alumni list that reads like a who’s who of jazz, while the faculty has included six MacArthur “genius” grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters.

About New England Conservatory
New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized internationally as a leader among music schools, educating and training musicians of all ages from around the world for over 150 years. With 800 music students representing more than 40 countries in the College, and 2,000 youth and adults who study in the Preparatory and Continuing Education divisions, NEC cultivates a diverse, dynamic community for students, providing them with performance opportunities and high-caliber training with internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC’s alumni, faculty, and students touch nearly every aspect of musical life in the region; NEC is a major engine of the vital activity that makes Boston a musical and cultural capital.

Copyright © 2021 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.