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.
Grammy nominated trombonist, composer and educator, Alan Ferber’s new project, “Roots and Transitions” (Sunnyside) breaks new ground on a few levels. First, the songs on the CD examine his continued commitment to music through the lens of his role as a father. Secondly, it showcases a new process that involves composing the music first from the trombone, his primary instrument, as opposed to the piano. The results are not only exciting for the listeners, but Alan tells us that he is enjoying a new longevity and melodic focus in the compositions as well. He also shares his story about his evolution as a musician and as an artist. We had a great chat. Enjoy Alan Ferber on Jazzwatch!
NEA Jazz Master Lou Donaldson remains one of the foremost practitioners of swinging, feel-good groove music. He cut his teeth playing for original bebop jazz audiences as a sideman and bandleader appearing on the now classic, “A Night At Birdland” recording from 1954. For the next 20 plus years, Poppa Lou set out on his own to develop a touring route that would reach urban jazz audiences from New York to California. The crowd that he cultivated were major supporters and pushed records like “Blues Walk” and “Alligator Boogaloo” to radio and jukebox hits and best sellers. Several of his groovy tunes from the later 60’s and early 70’s saw new life as samples in Hip Hop productions by artists such as De La Soul, The Pharcyde, Mad Lib, Pete Rock and many more. Lou gave us some great wisdom in this conversation. Enjoy!
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.