Since the 1960’s, Billy Hart has been acknowledged as a truly brilliant force in the world of improvisational music. Through his experiences with master musicians such as Shirley Horn, Jimmy Smith, Eddie Harris, Miles Davis, and as a member of Herbie Hancock’s ground breaking Mwandishi band, Hart developed a distinct rhythmic, melodic and atmospheric perspective on the drums.
Most recently, Mr. Hart has joined together with recent standout players Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson and Ben Street to form a musical brotherhood based on the ultimate trust and freedom. Over the course of three critically acclaimed CD’s, the group tours the U.S. and abroad. This year (2016), Mr. Hart turns 75, and the wisdom of his beat continues to inspire countless musicians as an educator, master clinician and traveling musician. The fact that so many young musicians continue to learn from and seek out Mr. Hart is encouraging, and I was glad to speak with him for JazzWatch. I felt inspired after our conversation, and I trust that you will enjoy out chat.
Peter Erskine is one of the great drummers of our time. Most recently, he has shared his amazing personal collection of live and unreleased material from his tenure with one of music’s greatest groups, Weather Report. Released at the end of 2015, “The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981” features four discs of pure excellence. Not only do we further experience the brilliance of Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius and Bobby Thomas, but we hear an energy from Mr. Erskine’s drums that linked tradition to the future.
He isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Peter Erskine has just released “Dr. Um”, a new project featuring the exceptional talents of John Beasley, Janek Gwizdala, Jeff Parker and Bob Sheppard that is sure to satisfy lovers of groove and swing. It’s a wonderfully eclectic project that suggests where Erskine-era Weather Report might have gone if they were around today. Get hip and give a listen to our chat with the great Peter Erskine.
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.
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.
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.
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
Acclaimed drummer and composer Jack DeJohnette is a true master of rhythm. As one of the last distinct voices to emerge from the golden era of improvisational music, DeJohnette is perhaps at the peak of his powers in 2015. His career has spanned through the ensembles of Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Bill Evans, Jackie McLean, Jon Patton and Keith Jarrett in addition to his unique ensembles as a leader. Following his 2012 NEA Jazz Master Award, DeJohnette was contacted by the Chicago Jazz Festival and asked to headline one of the evenings the following year with any ensemble of his choosing. Armed with reed-men Henry Threadgill and Roscoe Mitchell, bassist Larry Gray and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, DeJohnette orchestrated one of his most adventurous live performances in recent years. This reunion of old friends was recorded, edited, mastered, and as is now available on the ECM release, “Made In Chicago.” In this chat, DeJohnette speaks about his origins in Chicago and many of the names and places that helped to develop his conception of music.
Jazzwatch is happy to present our extended conversation with drummer Damion Reid. His unique blend of traditional and contemporary elements of rhythm has been well-represented on recordings and in live performances around the world with an amazing cast of artists such as Robert Hurst, Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthapa, Greg Osby and Robert Glasper. In this conversation, Reid shares wisdom from the late drum master Billy Higgins – an early mentor and advocate. He also reflects and provides insight on his role in the recently re-formed Robert Glasper Trio – a sound that continues to engage and inspire the current generation of musicians and listeners. As amazing as Reid is at recording, he is certainly one to experience live. Keep informed on his latest happenings and upcoming performances at www.damionreid.com.
Drummer, producer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington stays on the go. She tours the world with both her, “Mosaic Project” and “Money Jungle” projects, with the former project as the recipient of the 2011 Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Album. As she’s collaborated with fellow giants as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Nancy Wilson, Liz Wright, Dianne Reeves and Christian McBride, Terri strives to make music that is artful, yet accessible, inspiring a whole new generation of listeners and music makers.
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.
On today’s JazzWatch, Greg interviews legendary drummer Mike Clark. You may know him from his tenure with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, but he’s also put in time with Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Vince Guaraldi, Albert Collins and Jimmy Reed.
Mike discusses learning to play traditional jazz, blues, post-Bop in addition to being on of the innovators of linear funk drumming. Be on the lookout for his forthcoming CD with pianist Michael Wolff, and his new book with fellow drum icon, Lenny White.
On today’s episode, we sit down with Kevin Calabro, head of the indie label, Royal Potato Family – a label that promotes an eclectic mix of risktaking music for what Calabro calls, “music freaks”. Greg and Kevin discuss the future of jazz, ways for musicians to catch the attention of labels, Kevin discusses his mentor, the late Joel Dorn, and they discuss the great Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Greg also highlights a few releases from the “Smalls Live” label, including albums from Harold Mabern, John Magnarelli, Steve Bernstein and Will Vinson.
On today’s episode, we interview saxophone virtuoso, John Ellis, who has just released a long-form composition called, “Mobro” with writer Andy Bragen. In his honor, we profile some of the lesser-celebrated jazz saxophonists of the golden era – Gene Ammons, Stanley Turrentine and Eddie Harris.
In this week’s episode, Greg interviews virtuoso drummer Nasheet Waits. He also gives his recommendations on some upcoming music releases including the upcoming release by Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein & Bill Stewart (Ramshackle Serenade), and the brand new release from Miles Davis’ 1969 concert, ‘Live at the Fillmore’. Be sure to like JazzWatch on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and leave us your rating on iTunes.
After a long hiatus, we’d like to welcome our listeners back. Greg discusses some controversies brewing in jazz circles of late, and he recommends some old and new music that’s been on his mind. He caps off the episode with an interview with the one and only Brian Blade.