JazzWatch #53 | Tommy Crane

Known for his tenure in the early 2000’s with noted saxophonist and composer Greg Osby, pianist Aaron Parks and his ongoing association with rising star saxophonist Logan Richardson, drummer and composer Tommy Crane’s approach is quick-witted and adaptable but singularly unique. Watching him in action reveals a player committed (mind, body and spirit) to the expression of a given moment.

Tommy Crane borrows from the best but has something uniquely his own. A New York resident for nearly 15 years, Crane quickly established himself as one to watch, but has not attracted the acclaim that he deserves. However, with the forthcoming release of the tentatively-titled, “Late Bloomer” project, Tommy Crane’s groove and attack over a hypnotic blend of electric bass, Farfisa organ and electric guitar may allow him more of the setting and spotlight to attract both established and new listeners curious for a new conception that several have attempted, but have not fully achieved. We can’t wait for this release, and it’s our pleasure to present, in his first full-length interview, the amazing Tommy Crane.

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JazzWatch #52 | Ulysses Owens

Ulysses Owens Jr.’s multifaceted approach to music ensures that he’ll be with us in excellence for a long while. He’s an accomplished sideman, (Kurt Elling, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton), a bandleader featured on his own projects (Unanimous , Onward and Upward) and also features and presents live talent in concert (Minton’s). He’s a thoughtful young man with an ever-growing wisdom as a global citizen and ambassador for improvisational music. As I experienced in a recent concert, not only is his command of the drums powerful and filled with a dynamic pulse, but feeling the actual vibrations of his groove put me in the space of another one of improvisational music’s greatest ambassadors and masters of rhythm, Art Blakey.

We caught Ulysses just after a tour of China to talk to him about his recent road trips as a bandleader and his philosophy about cultivating new audiences at home and abroad. Enjoy our chat and learn more about him at http://www.usojazzy.com.

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JazzWatch #51 | Orrin Evans

As one of the most prolific pianists today, Orrin Evans remains constant in his documentation of his growth and musical wisdom. His latest CD, “The Evolution of Oneself” places him in a premier trio context with drummer Kareem Riggins and bassist Christian McBride. The music swings, grooves and floats but always with a pulse. This album further captivates with a few surprises.  Evans’ youngest son produces a very captivating three-part interlude, “Genesis,” that is broken up over the course of the CD, while the surprising appearance of the Americana tune, “Wildwood Flower,” and Grover Washington Jr.’s, “A Secret Place” further demonstrates Evans’ ability to consistently shine through among the diversity of material and influences.

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JazzWatch #50 | Jaco Pastorius Remembered

Thanks for joining us for the 50th episode of Jazzwatch! We celebrate the legacy of legendary composer and bassist, Jaco Pastorius, who is the subject of the new documentary,  “Jaco: The Film”. Producer and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo spoke with us about Jaco’s impact on him and the nearly six year journey to complete the first-ever documentary on Pastorius. More information on theater screenings and the video on demand release of the film is available at jacothefilm.com.  You will also hear feature clips from my 2008 interview with the late Ingrid Pastorius along with rare performance clips of Pastorius during solo spots with Weather Report and his Word of Mouth Ensemble and Big Band.

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JazzWatch #49 | Mark Whitfield

Guitarist, composer and bandleader Mark Whitfield’s guitar is a joyful sound. His clarity has long shone through in ballads and burners. Whitfield takes the language of guitarists George Benson, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell and has emerged with something of his own – a sound that is unique, powerful and far reaching. He has been featured with a diverse group of players and singers including Chris Botti, Gladys Knight, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Burt Bacharach and many more. However, Whitfield is especially proud of his latest project – a stellar band that includes son Davis Whitfield on piano and son Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. Whitfield reveals that the group has a new recording in the can.  Look for its release soon. In the meantime, they’ll be road-testing the material on the road in the months to come.

For more info on Mark Whitfield, visit http://www.markwhitfield.com.

Songs heard on this week’s episode: “Blues for Davis Alexander” and “Businessman’s Bounce”.

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JazzWatch #48 | Benny Golson

Composer, bandleader, saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson has established a legacy built on the pursuit of excellence. That excellence has also contributed to the legacy and careers of peers such as Art Farmer, Art Blakey & Lee Morgan while raising the bar among improvisers and composers for all generations that followed. His reputation as a true gentleman is equally renowned. Mr. Golson is a leading clinician and his current group featuring the rhythm section of drummer Carl Allen, bassist Buster Williams and pianist Mike LeDonne is a leading ensemble churning out the truest swing.  You wont find a more honest and pleasant soul as Mr. Golson, and it was a treasure to have a conversation with him for Jazzwatch. If you have not seen him in concert, please do so, and be on the lookout for a new CD from Mr. Golson in 2016.

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JazzWatch #47 | René Marie

Over the last fifteen years, vocalist and songwriter Rene Marie has risen to international and popular acclaim by sticking to her guns. As you’ll hear, Rene has fought hard to be where she is and it’s paying off. She was nominated for the 2014 “Best Jazz Vocal Album” Grammy award for “I Wanna Be Evil” – her trbute to the late Eartha Kitt. These days Rene is traveling the world with her group and is preparing to record a brand new CD of all original compositions. She advocates for vocalists and musicians to be themselves and to take their craft as seriously as possible. We hope that you enjoy our chat with Rene Marie.

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