Monthly Archives: June 2013

Eugenie Jones – Black Lace Blue Tears

(Eugenie Jones)

Seattle-based singer Eugenie Jones launches an impressive debut with Black Lace Blue Tears. Not only does Jones provide vocals for the  project, she composed all but two of the songs (a couple of classic  tune covers). It’s nice to hear a new artist creating new material that speaks in modern vernacular to contemporary issues, although there is always some risk in the effort. Jones has a very soothing delivery of the lyrics; surrounding herself with very capable and experienced musicians helps greatly in this regard. Jones is joined by Bill Anschell on piano, Clipper Anderson on bass, Michael Powers on guitar and Mark Ivester on drums. With this project as her start, it should be amazing to watch the continued rise of Jones as a songwriting and vocal talent.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Black Lace Blue Tears”.

Tracks: A Good Day; Can You Dance?, Take Five; All The King’s Men, So Hard To Find, Black Lace Blue Tears, Perfect; I Want One, In A Shot Of Tequila Or Two, My Funny Valentine, Sat’day Night Blues.


National Endowment for the Arts Announces the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters, Nation’s Highest Honor in Jazz


The National Endowment for the Arts has announced its 2014 Jazz Masters, the nation’s highest honors in jazz. The four recipients chosen for the honor are musician/educator Jamey Aebersold, saxophonist and instructor Anthony Braxton, bassist/ educator Richard Davis and composer/pianist Keith Jarrett. The honorees were selected for their “lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz”. They will each receive a one-time award of $25,000 at the NEA awards ceremony & concert on January 13, 2014, at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, which will be webcast live at and Congratulation, gentlemen, for this well-deserved recognition.

Photos: Aerbersold (John Nation), Braxton (Carolyn Wachnicki), Davis (Ken Halfmann), Jarrett (Rose Anne Colavito).

David Ake – Bridges


Pianist and composer David Ake paints a diverse musical landscape on his latest recording, Bridges. The project presents a nice multi-layered snapshot of Ake, who wrote all of the tunes on the project. The music goes from melodic, introspective, into a grinding swing or into a hypnoptic ballad. It’s a true journey for the listener. Helping to make the venture ever more interesting is an outstanding lineup of musicians, which includes Ravi Coltrane and Peter Epstein on saxes, Scott Colley on bass, Ralph Alessi on trumpet and Mark Ferber on drums. Ake’s top-notch pianissimo, added to his compositional artistry, makes the whole endeavor just terrific.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Grand Colonial”

Tracks: Bridges, Sonomads, Waterfront, Story Table, We Do?, Boats (exit), Year In Review, Open/Balance, Dodge, Grand Colonial, Light Bright.


Cecil Taylor Receives Japan’s Kyoto Prize

ctaylor_awarded(June 21, 2013) Today, venerable pianist and composer Cecil Taylor was named a Kyoto Prize laureate by the the Inamori Foundation. The annual award is presented for excellence in the areas of the arts, philosophy, science and technology. The prize includes a cash gift of 50 million yen (approximately $510,000) and will be presented at a ceremony in Kyoto in November.

Taylor was recognized with the Arts and Philosophy Prize in Music, along with fellow recipients inventor and electronics engineer Dr. Robert Dennard and Dr. Masatoshi Nei, an evolutionary biologist for outstanding work in their fields.

Steve Heckman- Born To Be Blue

(Jazzed Media)

Saxophonist Steve Heckman’s latest finds him joining forces with a tremendous lineup of musical talents for one outstanding recording. On Born to Be Blue,  Heckman is joined by guitar great Howard Alden, drummer Akira Tana, bassist Marcus Shelby and pianist Matt Clark. The menu of tunes here is almost entirely standards, featuring selections from Mel Torme, Irving Berlin, Bill Evans, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer. Heckman’s deference to Alden on many of the tunes works well and when they’re playing together the blend of sound is superb. The whole unit fits together nicely and you can tell than you’re listening to pros at work here. This is a fantastic production.

Click here to listen to a clip of “I Remember Zoot”:

Tracks: Alone Together, Moon and Sand, Andrew’s Pate, Born to Be Blue, How Deep Is Ocean, I Thought About You, We Will Meet Again, The Things We Did Last Summer, I Remember Zoot, Lazy Afternoon, Without a Song .


Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck Recording Discovered 50 Years Later


NEW YORK — Tony Bennett never forgot the first time he performed with Dave Brubeck more than half a century ago. But the tape of that memorable collaboration between two American jazz masters lay forgotten in a record label’s vaults until its discovery by an archivist just weeks after Brubeck’s death in December, and it’s just been released as “Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962.”

President John F. Kennedy’s White House made this jazz summit possible when it booked Brubeck and Bennett to perform at a concert on Aug. 28, 1962, for college-age summer interns. The crowd was so big that the concert had to be moved from the Rose Garden to an open-air theater at the base of the Washington Monument.

Source: Washington Post

2013 Playboy Jazz Festival: LA Times Review

playboy_jazzfest_13Chris Barton, Los Angeles Times Jazz Critic
June 16, 2013

There was a moment at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night when a question came to mind that felt a little like a Zen koan: If you hear a guitar solo but can’t see a guitar, did the solo really happen?

It’s the sort of thought perhaps associated with backing tracks and radio-ready pop, but this was the Playboy Jazz Festival, and the source was unquestionably live in the vocal group Naturally 7, which closed a set steeped with hip-hop and R&B with an a cappella take on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Bass, drums and that aforementioned guitar were on hand, but the only instruments were amplified voices.

Was it “real,” or did it have a place on a jazz festival’s bill?

Source: Los Angeles Times

Jon Wirtz – Tourist

(Jon Wirtz)

Colorado-based pianist/keyboadist Jon Wirtz displays incredible chops and a gentle touch on his second full length recording, Tourist. Wirtz’s syncopated style is featured here in a collage of tunes that highlight his compositional depth. The menu is a mix of sounds from upbeat and funky to gospel-flavored and ballads. The effort features a core rhythm section which includes Alejandro Castaño on drums and John Grigsby on bass. There are outstanding guest performances from guitarists Dan Schwindt and John Macy, trumpeter Gabriel Mervine, vocalists Heather Larrabee, Sarah Morris and Jess DeNicola, as a well as a spoken word contribution by Stephen Malloy Brackett. Wirtz’s ability to make it all work as a production renders this a fantastic project to experience.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Camouflage For A Sunny Day”:

Tracks: Slumber, Politico, Gratitude, Camouflage For A Sunny Day, Despite Appearances (All Is Well), Country, Tourist, Watching The World Wake Up, In The Body, Awakening.


Harry Connick Jr. releases “Love Wins” in honor of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene

Ana Grace Marquez-Greene

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Harry Connick Jr. has written a song in honor of a 6-year-old girl killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

Connick this week released the song “Love Wins,” dedicated to Ana Grace Marquez-Greene. He says proceeds will go to the Ana Grace Fund set up to help the girl’s family.

Connick played with the girl’s jazz saxophonist father, Jimmy Greene, and sang at the funeral for Ana, one of 20 first-graders and six adults killed in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Greene is scheduled to receive the Governor’s Arts Award at a ceremony Saturday at the International Festival for Arts and Ideas in New Haven.

Greene, an assistant professor at Western Connecticut State University, has released a series of critically acclaimed albums and received numerous honors.

Source: The Associated Press

Steve Lindeman with BYU Synthesis – The Day After Yesterday

(Jazz Hang Records)

Steve Lindeman with BYU (Brigham Young University) Synthesis is not ‘your father’s big band’ and their debut recording, The Day After Yesterday, is not your typical big band music. It’s a fresh entry in the genre. It’s not the big overly loud, tint-type ensemble remaking songs from the old big band playbook. This is fresh, refreshing, modern material built from the ground up by Lindeman. You can practically smell the fresh paint and lumber. The music’s contemporary rhythms and times blends nicely with swing and blues to create music that is compelling and contemplative. Mixed in with a horn section which includes trombonist Danny Burt, tenor saxophonist Benny Nichols and trumpeter Dallas Crane, is the guitar of Bradley Bills, the piano of Jordan Kamalu, the drums of Jay Tibbits and all manner of percussion instrument. Kelly Eisenhour delivers beautiful lyrics and song to the albums only tune with vocals. Under the direction of Ray Smith, who also plays multiple reeds on the project, the band makes the music flow as gracefully as any large ensemble could possibly sound. From beginning to end, this fantastic recording is a remarkable achievement.

Click here to listen to a clip of “With Wandering Steps”:

Tracks: Lavender Flowers on Her Table, Meet Me When The Stars Come Out, Lone Gone, Llévame ya al Mundo de las Maravillis (Take Me to Wonderland Right Away), Aunt Jeanne, I Remember, Verloren, October Last, With Wandering Steps, Take a Jake Break .