Guitarist and composer Peter Bernstein is one of the most identifiable voices in jazz guitar in the last 20 years. Noted for his work with stellar musicians such as Sonny Rollins, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Cobb, Larry Goldings and Brad Mehldau, Peter’s melodic improvisations and distinct harmonic sense are now influencing many budding guitarists on the scene today.
While maintaining a full schedule as a traveling musician and master clinician, you can still catch Peter often in his home base of NYC. Most recently, a new recording, “Let Loose,” was released on Smoke Sessions Records featuring a balance of thoughtful arrangements of standards and bright new original compositions.
We caught up with Peter on the busy streets of NYC to chat about the new CD, his origins as a player, the long-standing relationship of his trio with Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart and what it takes to stay artistically productive as an itinerant artist. Enjoy our chat with Peter Bernstein.
As one of the most exciting Hammond B3 organists of all time, Dr. Lonnie Smith continues to take his combination of swing, groove and sound into new directions. His new CD, “Evolution,” documents just that – the Good Doctor’s blend of soulfulness and spontaneity with a special cast of musicians. There are new originals such as, “For Heaven’s Sake,” “African Suite,” and “Talk About This,” as well as re-imagined standards like, “My Favorite Things,” and “Straight No Chaser”. “Evolution” is a striking and attention-getting CD, but at the same time, familiar enough to make the listener feel right at home. It’s all part of the wizardry of Dr. Lonnie Smith. It was great to talk with the Doctor about coming back home to Blue Note Records and the similarities of late great producers Frank Wolf and Duke Pearson with current label president and producer, Don Was. Dr. Smith also gave us his ideas about how to keep young players and practitioners of the music evolving in the right direction. We hope you enjoy our chat with Dr. Lonnie Smith on Jazzwatch.
Guitarist Ed Cherry’s lyricism and commitment to the groove makes him. He has a direct approach to music that is refreshing as well as distinguishing. As a veteran on the international music scene since the late 70’s, he has amassed important credits with icons such as trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and organist Big John Patton. And when he steps out to lead his own bands, the results are just as great—there’s even more to appreciate about his distinctive brand of swinging soul. The forthcoming Posi-Tone CD, “Soul Tree,” features Cherry’s organ trio (ft/ Kyle Koehler on Hammond B3 and Anwar Marshall on drums) and contains the roots, branches and leaves that we’ve come to expect from him. It was great to talk to Ed Cherry about growing up in New Haven, CT, seeing guitar greats Jimi Hendrix and Grant Green live at different times and traveling the world and learning from Dizzy. He also talks about what he is drawn to musically that has helped him craft his conception. So glad that we could put the spotlight on the great Ed Cherry. Cop his record and see him live when you can. More info at edcherrymusic.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.