Sunday, August 10, 2014

Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival Big Hit, Boon for Downtown

The lilting sounds of big band music, jazz and merengue drifted over the downtown on Saturday, drawing about 1,000 people to Court Square during what emerged as a banner weekend for the city.

Spectacular blue skies. Legendary basketball stars. A top notch lineup for the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival, where tons of people set up chairs on the city's green to listen to the likes of Phil Woods with the Greg Caputo Big Band, Mikata, and the Charmaine Neville Band featuring Charles Neville of the famed musical family.

Nearly each act brought down the house and meanwhile, Charmaine Neville and 22-year-old saxophone phenom Grace Kelly offered music workshops at the nearby Community Music School on State Street.

"This makes me proud to live in Springfield. I wish they had things like this more often," said resident Mindy Garcia, who came down for the festival with her husband, Edward Garcia.

The festival, which was free, also featured a beer tent and local food vendors including Adolfo's, Nadim's, the Q Restaurant and Elegant Affairs.

"It's not Newport - yet!" Mayor Domenic J. Sarno joked to the crowd before presenting Woods, a Springfield native and graduate of the former Springfield Technical High School, with a key to the city.

"I don't give many of these out," Sarno said, estimating that he has bestowed less than a handful throughout his three terms as mayor.

Woods, 82, went to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City and has played alto saxophone with Count Basie, Quincy Jones and Billy Joel, to name a few.

"I couldn't be more proud," he told the crowd. "My parents always told me to be the best at whatever I did, so I'm trying to do that."

Ambassador Evan Plotkin, a downtown real estate developer and one of the primary organizers of the event, said jazz music unites crowds like few other art forms.

"I love music, I love jazz, and I love things that bring people together. There's nothing like jazz to bring people together," Plotkin said. "It's like a perfect storm."

This year's jazz festival revived a jazz festival founded by former city worker John G. Osborn, who also was honored at the festival. This was the first in four years, Plotkin said.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jazz Singer Jane Monheit to Play Iron Horse in Northampton

Although she had written lyrics to some of her songs before, jazz vocalist Jane Monheit had never recorded a tune she had completely written by herself until last year's "Night Night Stars" on her album "The Heart of the Matter."
"It's not the first time I've written a song, it's just the first time I put one on an album because I finally had one I liked enough to record," she said.

Monheit took a few minutes from her current tour to talk about her career and music. The Grammy Award-winning vocalist will play the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Aug. 16.

On being an song interpreter more than a singer/songwriter:
I don't really consider myself songwriter. I'm more of an interpreter. Writing songs is not something I do every day. But I do like to write when the time is right.

On mashing up The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" and "The Long and Winding Road" on her most recent album:
It was my husband's idea. I've wanted to do "Golden Slumbers" forever. But I knew I couldn't do it by itself. I had the pair it with something. But somewhere along the line, it was Rick's idea to parent with "The Long and Winding Road," which immediately hit me as a brilliant idea. It's great when you put two songs together in a medley and instead of just being what they are, they mean even more when they're together.

On how she chooses songs to sing and record:
It's always sort of on my mind. I'm always on the lookout. And the thing about the Great American Songbook is that most of the songs are ones I've known all my life. But it will become the right moment for one. It will be a song I've known forever and then I will realize that now is the time to do it. They just kind of find me.

On working with renowned producer Gil Goldstein again:
He's a genius. He's Gil Goldstein and everything he does is amazing. That goes without saying. But in addition to that, he's the sweetest, loveliest person imaginable. He's a wonderful energy to have in the studio. I really adore him.

On having her husband, drummer Rick Montalbano in her band:
It totally works. Otherwise we wouldn't do it. (Laughs.) It's really that simple. It just works for us to work together. I think we'd be really unhappy if we couldn't work together. Ultimately it's separate from our marriage. If we weren't a couple, we would still work together.

On advice she'd give her younger self when starting out in the music business:
I think I'd tell myself not to be afraid of the industry bullies. Because I'm not now, but I was then. I guess I would tell myself not to get so upset over being pushed around.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jazz Music Listings for August 8 to August 14

Fabian Almazan Trio (Tuesday through Aug. 17) 

A serious-minded pianist originally from Cuba, Fabian Almazan has been establishing himself as one of the important younger voices in the polyglot stir of modern jazz. He’ll draw from his confident new album, “Rhizome,” starting out with a trio featuring the bassist Thomas Morgan and the drummer Henry Cole. (After Thursday, he’ll add a string quartet). At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th Street, West Village, 212-255-4037,; $25 and $30 cover, with a one-drink minimum.

Brooklyn Jazz Underground Festival (Tuesday and Thursday) 

The Brooklyn Jazz Underground, a coalition of artists with a borough and an aesthetic in common, presents its eighth annual showcase, with a night apiece in two clubs. On Tuesday at Smalls in Greenwich Village, a parade of roughly hourlong sets will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the David Smith Quintet, followed by the Anne Mette Iversen Quartet, the Adam Kolker Quartet, the David Cook Quintet and Owen Howard’s Drum Lore. On Thursday at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn, the Tammy Scheffer Sextet performs at 7 p.m., and the Rob Garcia 4 takes over at 8:15 p.m. Closing out the festivities, at 9:30 p.m., is the in-house Brooklyn Jazz Underground Ensemble, previewing music from its album “7x7.” Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Smalls Jazz Club, 183 West 10th Street, West Village,; $20. Thursday at 7 p.m., ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn,; $15.

Regina Carter Quartet (Thursday through Aug. 17) 

On her spirited new album, “Southern Comfort,” Ms. Carter, the acclaimed jazz violinist, takes a close look at American roots music, with a clear emphasis on the African-American experience. She draws from the album in this engagement, featuring a spry backing band with Marvin Sewell on guitar, Will Holshouser on accordion, Chris Lightcap on bass and Alvester Garnett, her husband, on drums. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., with an 11:30 p.m. set on Aug. 16, Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan, 212-576-2232,; $25 and $30.

Celebrating 60 Years of ‘Sarah Vaughan With Clifford Brown’ (Tuesday and Wednesday) 

The cumbersome title of this anniversary tribute doesn’t offset its potential, mainly because the album in question starring one of jazz’s greatest-ever singers and one of its greatest-ever trumpeters, both in peak form still retains all of its power. Sean Jones and Keyon Harrold stand in for Brown on trumpet, and Kennedy and Joanna Teters do the same for Vaughan on vocals; the rhythm section consists of Raymond Angry on piano, Chris Smith on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th Street and Broadway, 212-258-9595,; $35 cover, with a $10 minimum; $20 for students at select sets. )

Nels Cline at the Stone (through Sunday) 

Nels Cline might be best known in some corners of the world as the lead guitarist of Wilco, but at the Stone, where he is in residence this week, that’s a mere footnote to his career. Among the highlights of his closing stretch this weekend are a series of acoustic guitar duets with Elliott Sharp (Friday at 10 p.m.); Reunited, with the accordionist Andrea Parkins and the drummer Tom Rainey (Saturday at 8 p.m.); and Old Themes with New Schemes, another guitar duo, with Mary Halvorson (Sunday at 10 p.m.). At Avenue C and Second Street, East Village, 212-473-0043,; $15 per set, $10 for students.

Cosmic Lieder Duo/Farmers By Nature (Saturday) 

The estimable avant-garde label Aum Fidelity presents a double album-release show, featuring artists at the heart of its current roster. First up, at 7:30 p.m., is the Cosmic Lieder Duo, composed of the alto saxophonist Darius Jones and the pianist Matthew Shipp, improvisers of penetrating insight; their new album is “The Darkseid Recital.” Then at 8:45 p.m., drawing from “Love and Ghosts,” is Farmers by Nature, a texture-alert collective featuring the drummer Gerald Cleaver, the bassist William Parker and the pianist Craig Taborn; doors open at 7 p.m. ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn,; $15.

Kris Davis Trio Plays Standards

The name of the booking is instructive, because Kris Davis — a pianist of fearless instinct and deep insight — has not made a public habit of dipping into the standard songbook. Her partners, well suited to the mission at hand, are the bassist Michael Formanek and the drummer Billy Drummond. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, Greenwich Village, 212-989-9319,; $10 cover, with a $10 minimum.

Django Reinhardt NY Festival (Friday through Sunday) 

This celebration of Gypsy swing is celebrating its 15th anniversary, with the usual profusion of fleet-fingered European guitarists — Samson Schmitt, DouDou Cuillerier and Olli Soikkelii — alongside festival stalwarts like the accordionist Ludovic Beier. Among the special guests this weekend are the singer Jane Monheit (Friday), the harpist Edmar Castañeda (Saturday) and the trombonist Chris Washburne (Sunday). At 8:30 and 11 p.m., Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, Clinton, 212-581-3080,; $45 cover, with a $10 minimum.

Orrin Evans Quintet (Friday and Saturday) 

The pianist Orrin Evans, a one-man post-bop wrecking crew, has a strong new album, “Liberation Blues,” made with a band much like this one. He draws from its varied repertory with the trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, the tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, the bassist Luques Curtis and the drummer Clarence Penn. At 7, 9 and 10:30 p.m., Smoke, 2751 Broadway, at 106th Street, 212-864-6662,; $38 cover, with a $10 minimum for the 10:30 p.m. set.

Wycliffe Gordon Quintet (Friday and Saturday) 

A charismatic trombonist specializing in gutbucket swing, Wycliffe Gordon leads a band with Adrian Cunningham on saxophone and clarinet, Chris Pattishall on piano, Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Alvin Atkinson Jr. on drums. At 8 and 10 p.m., Jazz at Kitano, 66 Park Avenue, at 38th Street, 212-885-7119,; $30 cover, with a $15 minimum.

Sherman Irby Quintet: The Music of Art Blakey (Friday through Sunday) 

The alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, a prominent member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, specializes in a soulful but searching brand of hard bop. That among other things makes him a good fit for this tribute to Art Blakey, also featuring the trombonist Vincent Gardner, the pianist Eric Reed, the bassist Gerald Cannon and the drummer Willie Jones III. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th Street and Broadway, 212-258-9595,; $35 to $45 cover, with a $10 minimum; $25 for students at select sets.

Earl Klugh (Tuesday through Aug. 17) 

An acoustic guitarist with impeccable touch, Mr. Klugh draws partly from “HandPicked,” which earned him a nomination for best pop instrumental album at this year’s Grammy Awards. At 8 and 10:30 p.m., Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, 212-475-8592,; $35 cover at tables, $20 at the bar, with a $5 minimum.

Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns Tour (Thursday) 

Mr. Koz, the alto saxophonist, entrepreneur and smiling ambassador of smooth jazz, is still riding the momentum of “Summer Horns,” which earned a Grammy nomination and has spent more than a year on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. He has been on tour with the album’s saxophone front line — Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, all established solo artists — and will bring the whole contingent to the Smooth Cruise, a two-hour dinner jaunt around the southern tip of Manhattan. Departs at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., Hudson River Park Pier 40, Houston and West Streets, West Village, 866-468-7619,; $65, $90 with buffet; the early show is sold out.

Briggan Krauss Quartet (Friday) 

The alto saxophonist Briggan Krauss, possibly best known for his combustible presence in Sex Mob, leads two four-piece bands here, each a reflection of his personality. The Need, playing at 7 p.m., is a plugged-in outfit with Mr. Krauss doubling on electric guitar, with effects; also in the lineup are the guitarist Brandon Seabrook, the bassist J. Granelli and the drummer Jim Black. As for the Briggan Krauss Jazz Quartet, which follows at 8:15 p.m., its declarative name shouldn’t be confused for an easygoing approach. It will feature Mr. Black, along with Jacob Sacks on piano and John Hébert on bass. ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn,; $10.

Harold Mabern Trio (through Sunday) 

The pianist Harold Mabern, an endlessly soulful hard-bopper originally from Memphis, has a fine new live album — “Right on Time,” on the Smoke Sessions label — that gives some indication of the ground he’ll cover during this run. As on the album, he’ll be working with his regular rhythm team of John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums, and probably playing standards along with some familiar but surprising fare (like “Making Our Dreams Come True,” the theme song from “Laverne & Shirley”). At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th Street, West Village, 212-255-4037,; $25 and $30 cover, with a one-drink minimum.
Nellie McKay (Friday and Saturday) 

Ms. McKay, the winningly diabolical jazz singer, cabaret conceptualist and wiseacre-provocateur, presents her new show, “A Girl Named Bill: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton” — inspired by the transgender bandleader and pianist, who has also inspired books, plays and at least one opera. Her backing band features Cary Park on guitar, Alexi David on bass and Kenneth Salters on drums. At 8 p.m. 54 Below, 254 West 54th Street, Manhattan, 646-476-3551,; $50 to $85 cover in advance, $5 extra at the door, with a $25 minimum.

Pat Metheny Unity Group and Bruce Hornsby (Friday) 

The Pat Metheny Unity Group, which has been on the road for much of this year, represents a culmination of recent efforts by its namesake guitarist: quicksilver acoustic post-bop along with the sweep of his orchestrion, with a generous helping of poplike emotional clarity. This concert, part of a “Campfire Tour,” sets up the ensemble on a double bill with Mr. Hornsby, the singer-songwriter and pianist, with the promise of some collaborative energies. At 8 p.m., New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center Street, Newark, 888-466-5722,; $39 to $99.

Camila Meza and Fabian Almazan (Friday) 

A bright young singer and guitarist with an ear for music of both folkloric and pop intention, Ms. Meza has connected with a strong peer group since moving to New York from her native Santiago, Chile, in 2009. Among her frequent partners is Mr. Almazan, an ambitious Cuban pianist and composer, who joins her in duologue here. At 9 and 11 p.m., the Jazz Gallery, 1160 Broadway, fifth floor, at West 27th Street, 646-494-3625,; $22, $10 for members.

Mingus Big Band (through Monday) 

A 2011 Grammy winner for “Live at Jazz Standard,” this repertory band has held a Monday-night residency here for years. It also plays this weekend, filling in for a last-minute cancellation — and building as always on the rugged sophistication of Charles Mingus’s music, which still has the capacity to sound radical. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan, 212-576-2232,; $25 and $30.

Jane Monheit’s Jazz Party (Sunday) 

Ms. Monheit is a jazz singer who has always fit the profile of an ingénue, though she has developed shades of complexity in her interactions with the standard repertory. She continues her Sunday night series at Birdland, during which she’s developing new material with her trusted band, including the pianist Michael Kanan, the bassist Neal Miner and her husband, the drummer Rick Montalbano. At 6 p.m., Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, Clinton, 212-581-3080,; $30 cover, with a $10 minimum.

Arturo Sandoval (through Sunday) 

Mr. Sandoval is a Cuban trumpeter best known for stratospheric bravado: He is capable of subtlety, but not predisposed toward it. His most recent album, “Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You),” reaffirms his allegiance to Dizzy Gillespie, the bebop patriarch who took him on as a protégé. At 8 and 10:30 p.m., Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, 212-475-8592,; $45 cover at tables, $30 at the bar, with a $5 minimum.
Swallow-Talmor-Nussbaum (Wednesday) 

“Singular Curves” is the altogether charming new release by this collective post-bop trio, made up of the bassist Steve Swallow, the saxophonist Ohad Talmor and the drummer Adam Nussbaum. The album’s air of firmly self-assured chamber interplay gives some idea of what should unfold here. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan, 212-576-2232,; $20.
Greg Ward Quartet (Thursday) 

 A versatile young saxophonist with a full plate of sideman activity, Greg Ward fills his work with nods to electronic music, postrock and other modern enticements. His quartet includes the guitarist Dave Miller, the bassist Zack Lober and the drummer Kenneth Salters. At 8:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, Greenwich Village, 212-989-9319,; $10 cover, with a $10 minimum.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bix Youth Jazz Band Entertains with the Sounds of Another Era

Barely into their teens, clean-faced and wide-eyed, the musicians tentatively strode onstage. The lights went up and the audience cheered as the young players tore into a ferocious set of smooth jazz.
And so it went down, at the wild hour of noon on a Saturday, in a convention room at the Davenport RiverCenter. The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Youth Jazz Band, comprised of adolescent musicians from throughout the Quad-City area, entertained about 100 fans as part of the 43rd annual festival named for Davenport’s music legend.

“It was a fabulous show,” Patricia Bare of Walcott said. “These young people’s enthusiasm for jazz and the dedication it takes to play it so well is impressive.”

“I thought it was great,” said Don Barr of St. Joseph, Mo. “I used to play this kind of music when I was younger, although it was quite a bit more popular with young people back then. I thought they did a terrific job.”

That said, when most people think of teens playing in a band, the sounds of rock, rap or electronic dance music come to mind. This show was all about the brass, not the bass. What is it about the eternal sound of the Prohibition Age that charms a group born after the death of rapper Biggie Smalls, let alone Bix?

“The music just gets you really into the rhythm,” said Jarred McClendon, 15, of Rock Island, who has been playing with the band for three years. “I really enjoy how there are so many different types of beats and music. It’s not just one basic thing over and over.”

“My sister was in youth band before, and I didn’t like it then, but once I started playing it, I really liked it,” said Stephanie Hesse, 18, of Bettendorf. “It’s a lot of fun, and the crowds are so grateful we’re keeping the music alive. Plus you get to hang out with a lot of great musicians.”
“My grandfather used to listen to it all the time, so I grew up hearing it, and I really like playing it,” said Katy Fier, 17, of Clinton. “I like it better than today’s music because it’s so heartfelt. It has more heart and soul.”

Even more than Justin Bieber?

“Yes, oh yeah,” Fier said, laughing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

24th Houston International Jazz Festival Non-stop music for 4 days

The 24th annual Houston International Jazz Festival promises four venues of non-stop music over four days. The festival will be held from Thursday, July 31, through Sunday. Aug. 3, in four different venues.
The festival has been scaled back this year in preparation for its 25th anniversary next year. The changes include: an additional concert day and local talent will also be highlighted. This year will feature a musical theme, with each day having its own name.

The festival will have a “Soundcheck” on Thursday, July 31, at Phil & Derek’s in downtown Houston. The “Soundcheck” will feature smooth jazz artists Kyle Turner, Joe Carmouche and Courtney Sanchez.

The official kickoff event, “the Downbeat,” will happen on Friday, Aug. 1, at the Museum District Bistro & Lounge, featuring the Bayou City Brass Band and more artists to be announced. Saturday, Aug. 2, will feature Althea Rene, Michael Ward, Kyle Turner and Liz Vaughn at the Indigo as the “Backbeat” main concert. All concert attendees must be 18 years old or older.

The festival is an annual fundraiser for the Houston-based nonprofit Jazz Education Inc, which has made its name in jazz education for over 40 years. Jazz Education Inc was founded by jazz artist Bubba Thomas, who saw a need in the community for music education for youths.

Jazz Education Inc provides four programs: The Jazz & Poetry Series, Summer Jazz Workshop, August Jazz Month Houston and the Houston International Jazz Festival. The Summer Jazz Workshop is a five-week intensive youth-oriented program focusing on the fundamentals of music and associated business aspects.

Students from their 2014 workshop will perform at Mayor Annise Parker’s Scholarship Jazz Brunch Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Wortham Theatre, ending the weekend as the “Masterpiece.” Mayor Parker will also be presenting the 2014 Jazz Education Inc scholarship recipients at the brunch.

For more information on tickets, performance times and more, visit

Thursday, March 29, 2012

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