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.
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.
Grammy Award Winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson continues to inspire audiences in live performance and on her latest CD, “Coming Forth By Day.” Wilson’s distinctive aura, the synergy of her band and producer Nick Launay guide listeners through a moving devotion to the great Billie Holiday. The genre-less approach to noted Great American Songbook (GAS) classics that Holiday favored is firmly in the tradition of Wilson’s conception. She’s broken numerous barriers for the current generation of artists with regard to the types of tunes that can be covered beyond the standards, but when the material steers toward the classics found on “Coming Forth”, Wilson and company shape the arrangements in the moment and keep their ears in the present with an eye toward the future. In our conversation, Cassandra shares some insight into the making of the record, reflects on key members of her touring band and shares some wisdom with us that she gained along the way.
Ron Carter is a national treasure. His musical excellence has been a source of inspiration for many musicians and listeners throughout his 50 plus year career. As the most recorded bassist in jazz history, he has been featured alongside such masters as Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Bobby Timmons, Aretha Franklin, Carmen McRae, B.B. King, A Tribe Called Quest, Jim Hall and Bill Frissel. He is a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master (1998), a Grammy Award Winner and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at City College of NYC (2002). His Big Band, Foursight and Golden Striker ensembles continue to earn critical praise and popular acclaim, and his new foundation, Finding the Right Notes, advocates for arts access for the up and coming generation of music makers. http://www.roncarter.net
It was a treat to catch the amazing and ever-evolving bassist and bandleader Christian McBride. As he continues to win listeners with his infectious sense of groove and swing, Christian has become one of the more frequent ambassadors and representatives for our music. In this conversation, Christian gives us a window into new recording projects being prepared for release, a special duo touring project with another monster bassist and his take on the scene that he’s been a vital member of over the last several years.
In perhaps his most prolific period, John Coltrane was documented several times at his probing best in 1965. The master saxophonist recorded no less than ten albums’ worth of material in that year alone. In this special edition of JazzWatch, Greg spotlights rare Coltrane Quartet performances from The Half Note in NYC (March 19, 1965) and at Seattle, Washington’s Penthouse (September 30, 1965). As the Half Note served as Coltrane’s New York “home” performance venue in the mid 60s, the latter date and location is notable for bringing us the recordings that were issued as Coltrane’s “Live in Seattle.”
Pianist Chip Crawford’s rhythmic precision and harmonic invention distinguishes him as a unique improviser. After moving to NYC 15 years ago, Crawford met singer Gregory Porter and a unique musical fellowship was born. For the last three years, the group has traveled the world, earned Grammys and won new listeners. Chip tells us all about the journey, gives us insight into several of the band’s tunes and his approach to supporting one of the great voices of our time.
Drummer Roy McCurdy has proven to be the man for the job for a who’s who of music legends such as Cannonball Adderley, Nancy Wilson, Sonny Rollins, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and others. He’s been a part of the changing musical landscape since his emergence on the scene in the early 60’s. He continues to train a new generation of instrumentalists. He discusses his tenure in the Adderley group, how Sonny Rollins helped him build his endurance and how he accompanied some of the most legendary jazz singers to ever grace the stage.
Mocean Worker combines his knowledge of real instruments with cutting edge technology to produce music that is catchy, groovy and points the way to the masters and legends that came before. He’s a bassist, he’s a producer, and as the son of producer Joel Dorn, he had first hand encounters with music legends such as Marcus Miller, Miles Davis, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Luther Vandross and Art Neville.
Terreon Gully is one of the premiere drummers of our time. His comprehensive approach to music has mad him the drummer of choice for Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride, David Sanborn, Joe Locke and Stefon Harris. Drawing his influences equally from gospel, R&B, straight ahead jazz and Hip-Hop has given him a unique sound that influences today’s percussionists across genre.
Special shouts out to Noel Rose of Brooklyn, NY, Mr. Graham Spice of Lexington, Va and to others of you who shared your reflections on Episode 1. I feel energized and encouraged to continue. Drop us a line with any questions/suggestions that you have. Looking forward to connecting with you 1 on 1.
As I mentioned at the end of our last podcast, I was fortunate to attend the 2013 JazzConnect conference in NYC just a few weeks ago presented by Jazztimes and the Jazzforward Coalition.
It was good to meet and see so many musicians, executives and presenters all in one space…many of them also in town for the APAP conference for arts presenters. Registration was at no cost and conference goers could attend or roam freely through any of the 16 panels ranging from streaming rights issues to the new musicians mentorship model, provided over the course of 2 days.
Two of the panels that I happened to attend and felt were particularly important concerned the 21st century jazz Tour and the truth about jazz radio. For the do it yourself model employed by many artists—-i think that its helpful to learn about different approaches and what diverse gatekeepers look for when they present rising talent on the air or on the stage. For the touring panel, drummer and composer Alison Miller was important to hear from as a self-managed artist who has begun to successfully tour and promote her projects apart from her work with such luminaries as Ani DiFranco, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Ben Allison to name a few.
Artist Managers Gail Boyd and Liz Pinta (MMW) also shed light on ways that artists can cut costs in the beginning to promote not only economic but physical sustainability while on the road.
On the broadcast side of things, it was good to meet and hear from moderator Derrick Lucas of 90.1 in Rochester, NY and Mark Ruffin of Sirius Sattelite Radio’s Real Jazz Channel as they disected a select group of new recordings to explain why they would or would not air them. These gentlemen along with other panelists brought to light certain programming preferences—-interesting to hear that there is a shortage of jazz male vocal records, that some jazz stations wont air much blues-based material, the preference toward a mostly acoustic sound (but not guitar), preferences toward second generation standards verses the GAS, the proliferation of female vocal recordings, and which tunes overall can make the cut without a ride symbol or “swing” beat. ***
And, while I was not able to attend the panel on “Presenting Jazz More Creatively”, I think the panel titled “Race in Jazz” yielded a hidden gem at the very end of the discourse and a question that I hope the organizers and the music community can begin to seriously address in the years to come, and that is, How do we cultivate and provide access to arts funding and programming for youth and among members of underrepresented populations? That’s a real issue that can have some positive results.
If we want to ensure that youth and members of underrepresented populations have the chance to experience live creative music then they must learn to not only desire it but have access to capital to create opportunities for the music to happen. It would be great to also see more festivals, clubs and performing arts groups diversify their talent buying, creative and artistic committees. And again, although this issue is a grand one, that might be something the committee could fine tune for a future panel.
Of course, the Winter Jazz Festival was on in full swing just after Jazz Connected ended. A big success six venues all participating and hosting two nights of shows. Shout out to Brice Rosenbloom and his staff. Many of the other clubs hosting other fantastic acts Blue Note featured Donald Harrison Smalls with a great series of gigs for drummer Gregory Hutchinson’s new group and Jazz Standard hosting the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio and Octet.
No Stress BUMP MUSIC
If you want to see brief clips/ highlights of Jazz connect , head over to the jazzwatch youtubechannel at youtube.com/gbjazzwatch. And, catch a clip of the good Dr. at the Hammond B3 in action at youtube.com/gbjazzwatch. We’re always on the watch for the active ear here at Jazzwatch.
CHARLIE HUNTER TRACK/Ghost Mall
Segment 3—Interview(CH) (Runtime — 15 minutes)
As we talk about the DIY model, I recently had the oportunity to speak with 7 string guitarist Charlie Hunter about that approach. Having seen and employed both models of operation, for Charlie its still about getting into the van and driving thousands of miles around the country bringing the music to the people. He’s endured and seen changes not only in the music industry, but also within the communities—and his latest recording “Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead” is his attempt to reflect the changes and adaptations that we’ve all had to make in our communities over the past several years though tunes like “There used to be a night club there,” “Economy with Dignity,” “Ghost Mall” and and the title track.
Charlie plus longtime friend and drummer Scott Amendola create grooves and moods on this disk that address the “right now blues”—-good for all that ails you. This is yours truly, The Watchman, Greg Bryant. We’ll her a portion of the tune “Economy with Dignity” followed by our talk with Charlie Hunter about the new record, his relationship to the beat, the DIY model and an early upclose live dose of John Lee Hooker, right here on JazzWatch.
CHARLIE HUNTER/ECONOMY WITH DIGNITY(30 sec)
Segment 4— Ending (Runtime – 3 minutes)
Catch the Omaha Diner Group March 1st at New York’s Cutting Room & PHILADELPHIA’S WORLD CAFE lIVE MARCH 2. & Charlie and Scott Amendola go to Japan this February. More info at charliehunter.com and on facebook.com/charliehunter.
Thanks to No Stress for our theme and transition tracks. No Stress is a hip trackmaker on the rise that you should check out. More sounds and information available at nostress.bandcamp.com. JazzWatch is written by yours truly, Greg Bryant for Watchman Music and produced and edited by Dara Tucker.