JazzWatch #59 | Alan Ferber

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!

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JazzWatch #58 | Kenny Barron

We are proud to welcome pianist, arranger and educator Kenny Barron on Jazzwatch. Since his emergence on the national music scene in the early 1960’s, he has been the pianist of choice for such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard and many more. Honored as an NEA Jazz Master, Mr. Barron has continued to inspire global audiences with his melodically inventive and incredibly swinging approach to the piano. His new Impulse Records CD, “Book of Intuition,” is a magnificent trio program featuring his longtime unit with bassist Kiyoshi Kitagowa and drummer Johnathan Blake. This disc has already distinguished itself as one of the best of 2016. Mr. Barron will celebrate this new CD in a series of performances May 3-8 at The Jazz Standard in NYC. More info at jazzstandard.com and kennybarron.com.

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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.

http://www.petererskine.com

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JazzWatch #55 | Dr. Lonnie Smith

As one of the most exciting Hammond B3 organists of all time, Dr. Lonnie Smith continues to take his combination of swing, groove and sound into new directions. His new CD, “Evolution,” documents just that – the Good Doctor’s blend of soulfulness and spontaneity with a special cast of musicians. There are new originals such as, “For Heaven’s Sake,” “African Suite,” and “Talk About This,” as well as re-imagined standards like, “My Favorite Things,” and “Straight No Chaser”. “Evolution” is a striking and attention-getting CD, but at the same time, familiar enough to make the listener feel right at home. It’s all part of the wizardry of Dr. Lonnie Smith. It was great to talk with the Doctor about coming back home to Blue Note Records and the similarities of late great producers Frank Wolf and Duke Pearson with current label president and producer, Don Was. Dr. Smith also gave us his ideas about how to keep young players and practitioners of the music evolving in the right direction. We hope you enjoy our chat with Dr. Lonnie Smith on Jazzwatch.

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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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