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.
Born in Detroit, saxophonist and composer JDAllen has risen to prominence through a string of critically acclaimed recordings featuring various ensembles. He’s also been featured as a dynamic sideman with acclaimed bandleaders such as George Cables, Cindy Blackman, Winard Harper, Lester Bowie and Betty Carter among others. His current trio with drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Gregg August displays their unique concept of songs within songs on their latest project, “Graffiti” for Savant Records. It was great to speak with JDAllen who’s an exciting improviser and is is a force for good in the continuing cause of advancing creative music.
As an improviser and composer saxophonist Dayna Stephens has risen to prominence due to his unique sound and conception. His collaborations with stellar musicians such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Brad Mehldau, Taylor Eigsti, Kenny Barron and Walter Smith III reveal a patient player comfortable among a wide variety of expressions. It was great to talk with Dayna about his life in and outside of the music. He also happened to be weeks away from a kidney transplant that has now been re-scheduled for late September. Although he says he’ll break from public playing for just a couple of months to recuperate, Dayna has an unmatched ethic and we’re anxious to see what he will reveal musically in the year ahead.
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
Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s recording “Bird Calls” isn’t a tribute, but rather a “devotion” to the energy and spirit of Charlie Parker. His incredibly energetic quintet featuring pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist François Moutin, drummer Rudy Royston, and 20-year old trumpet prodigy Adam O’Farrill executes the project’s vision expertly— to play distinct, original compositions directly based on a Parker solo or composition that are never imitative. It seems as though it’s almost the perfect setting for Mahanthapa’s sound and conception. He’s blazing here. As “Bird Calls” is already earning critical praise, it should prove to be a landmark in Mahanthappa’s evolving catalog and career as he continues to earn diverse distinctions and acclaim from groups such as the Rockefeller Foundation, Downbeat Magazine, Doris Duke Foundation and Chamber Music of America.
Alto and soprano saxophonist Jaleel Shaw is a gifted band leader, educator and all-star sideman. Hearing Jaleel with the legendary Roy Haynes, the Mingus Big Band or as the front man in his critically acclaimed groups will reveal a player well-versed in tradition with a commitment and dedication to the present. In our conversation, Shaw shares with us his musical roots in Philadelphia, his evolution as a independent musician and how composition can be a foreshadowing of things to come. All three of his CDs as a leader have been praised critically and popularly. If you haven’t heard his latest, “The Soundtrack of Things To Come,” be sure to investigate it. It captures Shaw’s working quartet in several transcendent moments investigating the music at hand with an integrity that is not easily matched or attained.
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.