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Monday, March 17, 2014

"Hard Rain" lands soflty yet unforgettably

From her sharp yet subtle interpretations of such pop classics as "Once In a Lifetime" [Talking Heads] and "I'm A Believer" [Monkees] to her adaptations of Nina Simone classics, Barb Jungr is one of our very favourite singers - however you wish to classify her music. We can't wait to hear for ourselves.
Advance word - as you can see below - on her latest CD, Hard Raid (in which she appropriates Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) is more than positive, and we can't wait to hear it 
4 Stars Jazzwise
"Investing everything she sings with telling insight, Jungr's complete affinity with the material lends the collection a galvanising power."
8/10 Uncut
"The commanding and rhapsodic singing brings connection and insight…superlative arrangements….To give such standards precious new life is quite some achievement."
The Sunday Times
"1000 Kisses Deep is simple heart-stopping. Jungr's attention to timbre and nuance brings new depth to every syllable."
5 Stars Independent
"This music is the North American Songbook's climax, revealed by its greatest interpreter."
4 Stars The Times
"Enthralling…Jungr is the perfect interpreter of this kind of material.

Blues Matters
"An unforgettable release. Brilliant."

Doug Boynton

"For my money, Ms. Jungr is one of the best living tellers of Bob Dylan’s tales."
Track listing, track times and composer:
1. Blowin’ In The Wind (Bob Dylan)
2. Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
3. Who By Fire (Leonard Cohen)
4. Hard Rain (Bob Dylan)
5. First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
6. Masters Of War (Bob Dylan)
7. It’s Alright Ma (Bob Dylan)
8. 1000 Kisses Deep (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
9. Gotta Serve Somebody (Bob Dylan)
10. Land Of Plenty (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
11. Chimes Of Freedom (Bob Dylan)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Jazzin the "New Land": Dennis Rushton Group at Terra Nova's Regency Bar & Lounge

its a most rewarding scene for an audience, whether composed of aficionados or musical neophytes, to hear musicians who not only have ability, but are clearly enjoying themselves.
Such was the scene last Thursday evening at the tony Regency bar & lounge, the Terra Nova's category-defining upgrade of its former El Dorado Room. Dennis Rushton on piano, Paul Madden on bass, Obed Davis on drums and Ian Hird on alto sax and flute treated a very receptive gathering to a night of rumbling resonance, sharp stick work, sonorous keyboard runs and plangent horns.

No surprises on the set list, of course. Starting with the Joe Zawinul-Cannonball Adderly classic Mercy Mercy Mercy and encompassing Nat King Cole's "L-O-v-E" Spyro Gyra's "morning Dancer" and "Blue Monk" among others. It is part of the commercial aspirations of the project, after all, to set a familiar and refreshing scene for the executive, professional and self-made types who gradually brought the room to near capacity over the course of the 3-set show.Conversations of all types were conducted in the chic lounge and on the adjoining terrace. A multi-screen plasma composite, mounted on the far wall facing the entrance showed muted hip-hop/r n'b videos, and ironic counterpoint to the music on the floor.

That said, musical aspirations were undoubtedly met, and the interplay between the four - all longtime fellow travelers on the city's cocktail music circuit - was palpable and made for a hugely enjoyable evening. Madden and Davis have grown beyond even their considerable talents of a few years ago - Madden coaxing deep resonance from the irridiscent strings of his instrument. Davis meanwhile continues to show the fruits of continuous application and study of the trapset - offering bursts of speed and power without sacrificing musicality nor slipping too far from his bandmates. His work on the high-hat was particularly distinguished on the night.

While working the flute on a couple selections, Hird reeled off some tart alto sax runs, including one extended solo that literally brought all other proceedings to a halt and elicited cheers from even the white-jacketed bartenders behind the counter. Leader Rushton smartly worked a modulated version of  his more outre show mode - offering tasteful fills punctuated, rather than obliterated, by appropriate flourishes.

This show was the third since the inauguration of the weekly series, the prior ones sadly missed by this writer. Not that it was even needed, but the night's performance provided ample incentive for more consistent attendance going forward.

Monday, January 6, 2014

That's a Lot of Coca-Cola: jazz @ Lincoln gets 20 million boost

the New York Times today reports that financier and philanthropist Robert J. Appel has given $20 million to Jazz At Lincoln Center "to benefit the organization’s performance, education and broadcasting efforts. The gift will also be used to help promote the center’s global initiatives of audience development and jazz advocacy."
Appel's pledge has been called "the largest private contribution to date in support of jazz music."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jazz into Law: Preserving the Heritage

The road to official recognition for the jazz art form continues with the re-introduction of a near 30-year old bill designating Jazz as an official National Treasure in the US. The National Jazz Preservation and Education Act of 2011 will build on Congressman John Conyers, Jr.'s  1987 Resolution by establishing jazz education programs
aimed at elementary and secondary students and by preserving the many artifacts, documents,
and photographs that tell the story of jazz in America. By preserving the past and creating a new
generation of jazz musicians and fans, this legislation will help to ensure that this uniquely
American musical genre lives on

In 1985, under the leadership of Mr Conyers, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) Jazz Issue Forum and Concert was established to enhance and perpetuate the art form, emphasize its cultural heritage, and force awareness and pride within the African American community. Each year, the Forum explores a different aspect of the jazz experience in order to promote a better understanding of the diversity and vibrancy of this music as a dynamic cultural phenomenon within our society. Over the past 26 years, Congressman Conyers has covered such topics as mentoring, opportunities for new talent, jazz education, the economics of jazz, and the contributions of women in jazz. The Forum is held in conjunction
with the CBCF's Annual Legislative Conference. Traditionally, the Forum followed by a free
concert where live jazz is performed by some of America's finest jazz artists. The Jazz Issue Forum and Concert has brought together an impressive array of talent, from song stylists to composers, from musicians to publishers, from broadcasters to educators, and historians and archivists. Among the notables who have previously participated are: Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet, Abby Lincoln, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Donald Byrd, Barry Harris, Dr. Billy Taylor, Shirley Horn, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Count Basie Orchestra, Gary Bartz, Hank and Elvin Jones, Wynton and Ellis Marsalis, and many more.
In 1987, the Congress passed Conyers’ House Concurrent Resolution 57 designating jazz a
"national American treasure."

In 1990, the Congressman won passage of a resolution commemorating tap, a form of dance
closely associated with jazz. That measure designated May 25th, the birthday of Bill
"Bojangles" Robinson, as National Tap Dance Day. Also in 1990, Congressman Conyers won
passage of appropriations legislation awarding the Smithsonian Institution with funding to
establish a comprehensive jazz program, including the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
During the 111th Congress, Mr. Conyers introduced House Resolution 894, honoring the 50th
anniversary of the recording of the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue and reaffirming jazz as a
national treasure. The album is widely considered the greatest jazz album of all time. The House
of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 894 on December 15th, 2009. The
vote showed a strong commitment on the part of Members of Congress to preserving and
celebrating American music and culture.

In the 112th Congress, Congressman Conyers introduced H.R. 2823, the “National Jazz
Preservation and Education Act of 2011.” The Act will make needed investments that will allow
for the preservation of artifacts that document our country’s jazz legacy and educate America’s
youth about this national treasure. Specifically, the Act will establish a National Jazz
Preservation Program at the Smithsonian and resurrect both the Jazz Artists in the Schools
Program and the Ambassadors of Jazz Program

Congressman Conyers has been supportive of efforts to present live jazz to the public in the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area through his past service on the board of directors of such
organizations as Capital City Jazz Festivals, Inc., and District Curators. He has also served in the
past on the boards of the National Jazz Service Organization, and the Rhythm and Blues

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Magris x three: the latest offerings

Even by jazz standards (no pun intended), piano man Roberto Magris' creativity knows almost no bounds judging from his prolific output to date. Scarcely had I digested the last two, the consummately excellent "Alien on a BeBop Planet"
, and "One Night in With Hope and More, Vol.1", when Magris and his varied, ever-changing list of collaborators has sprung forth not two, but three new discs. The discs continue thematically in veins similar to that which he has previously mined; there is, instead of the Lee Morgan Tribute (which has so far taken up two full-lengths) a Cannonball Adderly tribute disc, and instead of Kansas City (though that storied jazz locale still features indirectly) there's a Philly exploration, aided by the Philly alto master (and Odean Pope Saxophone Choir alum) Sam Reed.

Of the trio, my favourite is in fact the Reed disc, titled  "Ready for Reed". For fans of straight-up post-bop with appropriate and finely balanced twists, this is an essential addition to your collection. Reed is in great form, and the simpatico between himself, the leader and the band as a whole shines through - almost to the point where it seems, only seems, mind you, that there is no leader. But of course, this is a Magris disc.

There's also - wait for it! - a follow-up
 to the One Night in with Hope project. Through out all these musical explorations, Magris not only keeps it fresh with the compositions and expositions, but manages, as always, to get maximum commitment and verve out of his musical cohorts. It begins in bouncy style with Herbie Nichols' "Third World" and runs through selections from Mal Waldron, Elmo Hope, of course, and -as to be expected - a couple of originals from Magris himself.

Music aficionados can continue in gratitude to the Italian-born instrumentalist as he mines the great troves of bop and post-bop tradition and takes them out for some fresh spins. Hail Magris!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coltrane at the Double

From our friends at Jazziz magazine, "music to the ears" of Coltrane fans - like me
If it’s a John Coltrane fix you need, two August releases will set you right up.
On August 6, Mosaic Records will release The Complete Sun Ship Session, which includes newly discovered and previously unissued alternate takes from one of the final studio sessions by the John Coltrane Quartet. The three-LP set will also be made available on a two-disc set through Verve Records on April 16.
Sun Ship, recorded August 26, 1965, though, was not issued until 1971, one of several Coltrane albums issued by Impulse Records after his death. And Sun Ship was, like many jazz albums, the product of editing between takes, a process overseen by John’s widow, Alice.
f the last sessions by the classic John Coltrane Quartet (Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones). The
“This Complete Sun Ship Session edition is much more,” writes David Wild in the liner notes. “Sourced from newly discovered original reels, the set includes the album’s five original compositions, unedited, in sequence of recording, with all of the takes as they evolved, as well as the surrounding conversations. More than just a sampling of a few alternate takes, The Complete Sun Ship Session offers a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on an iconic master at work.”
In other Coltrane news, the Concord Music Group will reissue a remastered and expanded edition of the saxophonist’s Afro Blue Impressions album on August 30. The two-CD set, which includes three bonus tracks and new liner notes, celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pablo Records, the label founded by Norman Granz in 1973. After releasing more than 350 albums in a span of less than 15 years, Granz sold Pablo to Fantasy in 1987, which in turn merged with Concord Records in 2004 to form Concord Music Group.
Afro Blue Impressions represents an anniversary within an anniversary. By the time Granz launched Pablo in 1973, he’d already stockpiled several years worth of previously recorded tour performances in his vaults, including these sets from Stockholm and Berlin in late 1963 (October and November, respectively). This new two-disc reissue of the classic Coltrane Pablo album — originally released as a double-LP in 1977 — arrives just a few weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the original concerts.
Coltrane fronts a stellar quartet on both European dates that includes McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. In addition to the nine tracks that appeared in the original Afro Blue Impressions double album, the reissue also includes three bonus tracks from the Stockholm date: “Naima,” “I Want To Talk About You” and “My Favorite Things.”
“These tracks brim with the wonder and the power of discovery,” writes Neil Tesser, author of the new liner notes accompanying the reissue. “At this juncture, the Coltrane Quartet existed in a state analogous to quantum mechanics. … Each new performance yielded new insights. As the musicians gathered this data and sifted through it, they would arrive at the polished theories underlying the eventual masterworks to come, such as the album Crescent and the monumental suite A Love Supreme — achievements that would then launch a new age of chaotic discovery, on such albums as OmSun Ship and Meditations. How much those recordings will resonate on their 50th anniversaries will likely engender some controversy; Coltrane didn’t live long enough to complete the journey that began with them, and the jury remains out, even decades later, regarding the impact of that work. But history long ago weighed the import of his work in 1963, when his music stretched and struggled its way toward becoming Coltrane’s iconic stylistic statement.”
For more information about John Coltrane, go to