JazzWatch #57 | Billy Hart

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.

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JazzWatch #56 | Peter Erskine

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.

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JazzWatch #53 | Tommy Crane

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.

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JazzWatch #52 | Ulysses Owens

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.

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JazzWatch #50 | Jaco Pastorius Remembered

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.

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JazzWatch #40 | Ron Carter

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

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JazzWatch #33 | Jack DeJohnette

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.

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