Mon, 4 July 2016
American Independence Day 2014. We celebrate with cookouts, fireworks and concerts, but often fail to recall the brave words that were written by our forefathers in Philadelphia in 1776:
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
The official Straight No Chaser song of Independence Day is Ray Charles version of "America the Beautiful". It seems strangely appropriate that we in the 21st century are able to listen to a recording made in the 20th century, featuring a blind African-American man singing a song with lyrics by a white woman (Katherine Lee Bates), with melody based on a 19th century hymn written by a white man (Samuel Ward). Enjoy!
Category:general -- posted at: 2:14pm EDT
Wed, 22 June 2016
The 39th Freihofer's Jazz Festival will kick off the summer festival season in style at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this coming weekend. "The Hang" has something for everyone to enjoy, and this year is no exception.
Saturday June 25th brings something blue to the Main Stage with Eric Lindell and Shemekia Copeland, before bringing the new (Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah; Joey Alexander) and the old (Pieces of a Dream 40th anniversary tour and a Steps Ahead reunion). The ageless Chaka Khan was forced to cancel her appearance, but the always exciting Isley Brothers will bring their mix of R&B, Funk and Rock to end the evening.The Gazebo Stage will showcase some of today’s best jazz musicians, with sets from the criminally underrated Vincent Herring & the Kings of Swing (featuring Mike LeDonne, David Williams & Carl Allen); singer Karrin Allyson; and relative newcomers Jamison Ross and Elio Villafranca.
Sunday’s Main Stage offerings are full of treats for hardline jazz fans: Chick Corea’s award-winning Trilogy featuring Christian McBride & Brian Blade; Bria Skonberg Quintet; Pat Martino Organ Trio plus Horns; and singer Lizz Wright. Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen will bring some New Orleans piano soul to Saratoga, and the man once called “the Greatest Living American Poet” by none other than Bob Dylan (supposedly) - Smokey Robinson - will end the festival in style.
I’m very high on the Sunday Gazebo lineup of up-and-coming stars – pianist Aaron Diehl; singer Alicia Olatuja; the Skonberg Quintet; and a performance of “LaFayette Suite” featuring Walter Smith III & Laurent Coq.
Impresario Danny Melnick and I talked about the festival bookings and what to look for over the weekend in Podcast 540. Musical selections include tunes from Pieces of a Dream ("Fo-Fi-Fo"), Vincent Herring ("Soul Leo"), Lizz Wright ("Coming Home") and Aaron Diehl ("Kat's Dance").
Direct download: Podcast_540_-_Previewing_the_Freihofers_Saratoga_Jazz_Festival_with_Danny_Melnick.wav
Category:podcast -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT
Wed, 15 June 2016
2016 has been a good year for jazz films, from the biopics on Miles Davis and Chet Baker to documentaries like I Called Him Morgan. The latest addition is Adam Kahan’s The Case of the Three Sided Dream, a documentary on the life and times of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Released in early May on just recently available on iTunes, and had a special screening at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas last week.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk(1935-1977) was one of several jazz artists – think of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy – who in many ways created the Sixties’ image of the jazz artist as spiritual leader. A seminal figure in the Avant-Garde, he pioneered the use of circular breathing to play as many as three saxophones simultaneously. Blind from birth, he discovered and integrated unusual instruments into his sound, including the nose flute and siren.
Ridiculed as much as revered by the general audience, many found Kirk’s onstage theatrics and dress merely window-dressing, rather than components of his complex persona. He was a man of intense will, who not only followed his own muse musically, but had a cutting wit and a strong sense of politics. It was this kind of will that allowed him to overcome a stroke at the age of 40, returning to the stage playing with one hand. A second stroke felled him at the age of 42.
Filmmaker Adam Kahan has labored over the film for more thana dozen years, leaving the project and returning a number of times. The Case of the Three Sided Dream premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest film festival and went on to win Best Documentary at the 2015 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, as well as Best Documentary at the 2015 Soundtrack Cologne festival in Cologne, Germany. It was also named one of the top ten music documentaries of 2014 by Nonfics.com. While The Case of the Three Sided Dream is his first feature, he has also made a number of short documentaries on contemporary visual artists that have played on national television and in festivals internationally
I believe the film will go a long toward establishing Kirk as the major musical visionary he truly became. Packed with electrifying archival footage of Kirk and his music, intimate interviews, and inspired animated sequences, the film allows us a rare chance to get into the world of this legend. It’s no wonder that almost forty years after his death, his influence is still being felt, and his compositions continue to be played.
Podcast 539 is my conversation with Adam Kahan, featuring musical selections from the inimitable Rahssan Roland Kirk, including "Kirk's Works", "Blue Roi", "Serende to a Cuckoo" and "The Inflated Tear".
Direct download: Podcast_539_-_A_Conversation_with_Adam_Kahan_about_Rahsaan_Roland_Kirk.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
Sun, 12 June 2016
This will be short, and to the point - Chick Corea is having a special birthday, and this is my card to him.
Those who read this blog know that it was the music of Chick Corea, first with Return to Forever, and then moving backward in time, with Stan get, that was my first step intot he world of jazz. Check out this posting for more on this.
But with Chick turning 75, I wanted to give you all an hour plus of his music, which comes so varied, with so many different collaborators, that I barely scratched the surface of his work with this Podcast. But dig in, and I'm sure you will find music that moves you.
Selections for Podcast 538, "Chick Corea @ 75", include:
Sat, 4 June 2016
Short Stories is more than an album title for the latest release from Dominick Farinacci, it’s the overriding theme of a diverse collection of material. The trumpeter has assembled an all-star band as his core collaborators – Larry Goldings on piano, organ and celesta; Christian McBride on double bass; Steely Dan and fusion veterans Steve Gadd on drums and Dean Parks on guitar; and two of the most sought out session men around in Jamey Haddad on percussion, and Gil Goldstein on accordion. Produced by the man who brought us George Benson’s Breezin’, Tommy LiPuma, the album contains wide ranging sounds, song selections and textures.
Trumpeter Farinacci has spent much of his time over the past few years in Qatar and Abu Dhabi as a Global Ambassador from Jazz at Lincoln Center. The experiences have broadened his musical palate, and tunes like “Doha Blues”, with its Middle Eastern shadings and Lebanese vocalizing from Mike Massy show his growth. He’ll reinterpret pop tunes as varied as Tom Waits’ “Soldiers Things”, Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and the Gipsy Kings’ “Bamboleo” with jazz sensibilities, and recalls his musical hero Louis Armstrong on “Black Coffee”.
LiPuma and Farinacci share a Midwestern background, growing up in the Cleveland suburbs. Farinacci moved on to Juilliard on the strength of his appearances with Wynton Marsalis’ Big Band, and has been working mostly with his own band since. Short Stories is his most mature statement to date, and bodes well for the future.
Podcast 536 is my conversation with Dominick, in which we discuss the new record, his times in the Middle East, and his strong support for a number of causes, including supporting returning veterans and the Music & Wellness movement. Musical selections from Short Stories include “Doha Blues”,"Sunshine of Your Love", and "Black Coffee".
Direct download: Podcast_536_-_A_Conversation_with_Dominck_Farinacci.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT
Sat, 21 May 2016
The working jazz musician has to wear many different musical hats, sometimes more than one at a time, If that were taken literally, Mac Gollehon would have difficulty walking through any doorway in New York without knocking a few fedoras off the top of his head.
His career has taken him from the Latin Jazz Big Bands and Orchestras of Ray Barretto, Héctor Lavoe, Hilton Ruiz, Larry Harlow, and Charlie Palmieri, to a nine year tenure with Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy band, to studio sessions with David Bowie (Let’s Dance), Duran Duran, Chic, and Mick Jagger. In all, Gollehon can be heard on over 100 gold and platinum and double platinum records. Bet you didn’t know that.
This extraordinary cross-section of experience allows him to release his 9th CD, Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics, an intriguing hybrid of Latin Jazz, Caribbean sounds, Hot Jazz and Electronic Dance Music (EDM). While tunes like “No More Drama” and “Exito Obscuridad” sound like club-shaking anthems, his jazz sensibilities show through on “'Il Aceite” and “Elegancia.” There is something for everyone here.
Podcast 535 is my conversation with Mac, as we discuss the recording process of the new CD, and he recalls with great humor and pathos his past meetings and recordings with legends like Lavoe, Lester Bowie, Woody Shaw, Miles Davis and David Bowie. That’s Mac’s trumpet solo in the introduction to the title track. Musical selections from Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics include “No More Drama” and “Amor Tragico”, as well as David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and an unreleased recording of Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy performing “Good Morning Heartache” from the Deutschen Jazz Festival in Frankfurt, Germany; October 22, 1999. That entire recording �can be found at Big O's ROIO page on the web,
Direct download: Podcast_535_-_A_Conversation_with_Mac_Gollehon.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:03pm EDT
Wed, 11 May 2016
Carla Bley turns 80 years old today. Her various creative incarnations - composer, band leader, side person, singer – have all been at the highest level, and she shows no sign of stopping now.
So let us now praise Carla Bley.
She entered the jazz consciousness as a composer. Encouraged by her first husband, pianist Paul Bley, she wrote strong compositions that were quickly recorded by the likes of Jimmy Guiffre, Don Ellis, George Russell, and most memorably, the Paul Bley Quintet on Barrage. Buoyed by that success, she became an integral part of the Jazz Composers Guild, a musical “think tank” that for ten years was a catalyst for the avant-garde, beginning in the mid-60’s. With trumpeter Michael Mantler, Ms. Bley helped create the Jazz Composers Guild Orchestra, which featured innovative soloists like Pharaoh Sanders, Don Cherry, Larry Coryell, and Cecil Taylor. On her own, she wrote, played organ and piano and conducted Gary Burton’s seminal A Genuine Tong Funeral, an album that predated Bitches Brew as jazz-rock fusion.
It was with the Jazz Composers Guild Orchestra that Carla’s most ambitious work was realized – the “chronotransduction” known as Escalator over the Hill, a collaboration with Paul Haines and Mantler. Something of a jazz opera, it took three years to record, finally appearing in 1971 as a 3-record box set with extensive lyrics and liner notes. It is hard today to realize the impact this work had on the music scene, bringing together seemingly disparate genres like European art music and cabaret; free jazz; Indian raga; and improvisatory rock. Artists from Jack Bruce and Linda Ronstadt, to John McLaughlin, Charlie Haden, Gato Barbieri, Roswell Rudd, Paul Motian and of course Ms. Bley and Mantler, brought a difficult and sometimes thrilling score to life. One of the few jazz recordings to catch the eye of Rolling Stone magazine, Jonathan Cott wrote in those pages that the album was “an international musical encounter of the first order.” The next year, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for music composition.
Whether she was working with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra; dabbling in rock (Jack Bruce, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Golden Palominos) ; or collaborating with long-time companion Steve Swallow the music she makes could never be pigeon-holed in type or genre, more so than perhaps any artist since Duke Ellington. The albums that she released under her name were constantly shifting sounds – Big Bands, Trios, Sextets and Duets. She re-interprets and reimagines her old work with grace, and continues to write and perform new work of the highest order, often in a keyboard style that is uniquely her own. She continues her satisfying relationship with ECM with the release today of Andando el Tiempo, a trio record with Swallow and one of her favorite saxophonists, Andy Sheppard. It shows an artist still growing, still exploring, still a joy to discover.
Let’s celebrate the creative work of Carla Bley with Podcast 537, featuring music selected from the body of work that bears her name as bandleader, including:
Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band - "Greasy Gravy"
Carla Bley Trio - "Andando el tiempo: Camino al Volv"
Carla Bley - "Sing Me Softly of the Blues"
Carla Bley and Steve Swallow - "Walking Batteriewoman"
Carla Bley and the Lost Chords Quartet - "Three Banana"
Carla Bley - "The Girl Who Cried Champagne Parts 1-3"
Carla Bley Big Band - "Who Will Rescue You?"
Carla Bley Sextet - "Healing Power"
Carla Bley - "Nothing"
Mon, 2 May 2016
Talking with Brian Bromberg can be like drinking from a fire hose. Ask him a question that he fins interesting, and he is off on a lengthy, usually fascinating answer. For that reason, I broke our conversation into two podcasts. Part 2 of Podcast 532 focuses on his lengthy discography, and the slew of projects he has planned for the near future.
Bromberg has never stayed with one genre for long. Among my favorites from his catalogue are the highly electric tributes to Jaco Pastorious (Portrait of Jaco) and Jimi Hendrix (Plays Jimi Hendrix) , both of which manage to convey the great sense of wonder and mystery these two ground-breaking artists brought to their music, without trying to mimic or copy their classic licks.
A polar opposite is the highly intimate Hands, a collection of double-bass solos on classic tunes from the past and present. Somewhere in between sit his Metal albums, where he plays electric bass (both piccolo and regular).
As a budding bass player, I also took the time to ask Brian’s advice for young bass players, and generously gave some very good advice. Check it out.
Musical selections for the Podcast includes a piccolo bass version of "Teen Town" from Portrait of Jaco; “King of Pain” (Hands);and an exciting take on “Voodoo Chile” (Plays Jimi Hendrix).
Direct download: Podcast_532_Pt_2_-_A_Conversation_with_Brian_Bromberg.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 10:00am EDT
Sat, 30 April 2016
April 30th is the day set aside as International Jazz Day around the world. Beginning in 2012, UNESCO set aside the day as a celebration of “the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.”
I was fortunate enough to attend the first International Jazz Day concert on the floor of the United Nations that year. It was a fabulous event, bringing talent form across the globe onstage for memorable performances. Click here for my review of the event.
The past few years have had celebratory concerts in Istanbul, Turkey; Osaka, Japan; and Paris, France. The 2016 blow-out will take place in Washington, D.C. Our nation’s capital will join with towns, cities and villages in over 190 countries on all 7 continents to observe International Jazz Day through thousands of performances and programs.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host the 5th anniversary International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert at the White House on April 29th, broadcast the next day as a one-hour primetime ABC television special, “Jazz at the White House,” on Saturday evening, April 30th and streamed on the United Nations, UNESCO, U.S. State Department and White House websites.
Among those scheduled to appear in D.C. are pianists Joey Alexander, John Beasley (Music Director), Kris Bowers, Chick Corea, Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Danilo Pérez and Chucho Valdés; trumpeters Terence Blanchard, Till Brönner, Hugh Masekela and James Morrison; vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jamie Cullum, Kurt Elling, Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves and Sting; saxophonists Eli Degibri, David Sánchez, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Watson; bassists Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Esperanza Spalding and Ben Williams; guitarists Buddy Guy, Lionel Loueke, Pat Metheny and Lee Ritenour; drummers Brian Blade, Terri Lyne Carrington and Kendrick Scott; percussionist Zakir Hussain; trombone player Trombone Shorty; and the Rebirth Brass Band.
Here at Straight No Chaser, it is our tradition to celebrate International Jazz Day by giving you an hour plus of uninterrupted jazz from artists who hail from the four corners of the earth. It’s a delight to see that performers like Anat Cohen, born in Israel, brilliantly play Brazilian music, while artists from Africa and South America are playing American jazz with their own unique twists and turns. Enjoy Podcast 53_, featuring music from artists including:
Avishai Cohen (Israel) - “Muhammad’s Market”
Anat Cohen (Israel) - “Beatriz”
Abdullah Ibrahim (South Africa) - “Soweto"
Vijay Iyer (India) and Wadada Leo Smith (USA) - “Passage”
Marcos Varela (Brazil) - “Colinas de Santa Maria”
Gato Barbieri (Argentina) - “Gato Gato”
Joachim Kuhn Trio (Germany) - “Blues for Pablo”
Tee Mac (Nigeria) - “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Key”
Hiromi (Japan) - “What Will Be, Will Be”
Darren Barrett (Canada) featuring Warren Wolf (USA) - “The Club Up the Street”
Ferenc Snetberger (Hungary) - “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Cyrille Aimee (France) - “T’es Beau To Sais”
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gl (Brazil) - 'Tropicalia"
Esbjorn Swensson Trio (Sweden) - "Viaticum"
Direct download: Podcst_534_-_International_Jazz_Day_Celebration.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 4:06pm EDT
Tue, 26 April 2016
Brian Bromberg’s latest CD, Full Circle, truly lives up to his name. The long-time bass player has been virtually absent from the public for the past four years, as he recovers from a serious back injury the required extensive physical therapy. Now he returns to recorded music, not only playing his trademark piccolo bass (among the many he uses), but also playing drums, the instrument upon which he first cut his musical teeth.
Bromberg also takes the opportunity to finally play in a combo with his late father. His Dad – a talented drummer on the East Coast scene who left the big time behind after World War II – never played with Brian during his lifetime, but by overdubbing a bass line onto an old acetate recording, Bromberg finally makes a long-time dream of his come true on two tracks.
Bromberg is often grouped into the “smooth jazz sound”, despite lengthy time in the Stan Getz band in the past, The new CD is full of moments that move beyond any one genre, whether it is the Latin Jazz of “Havana Nights” (playfully subtitled “Havana Nagillah”), the straight-ahead sound of “Bernie’s Bop” or the funky cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” And as always, there is that piccolo bass, making Bromberg sound as if he were playing electric guitar with the best of them.
Podcast 532 is the first of two podcasts with bassist Bromberg. The first part of our conversation centers on his gear and sound, plus the stories behind the new album. Musical selections include “Jazz Me Blues”, “Bernie’s Bop” and “Havana Nights (Havana Nagillah).” The second part of our talk will appear later in the week and will focus on his earlier work and musical progress,
Direct download: Podcast_532_Pt_1_-_A_Conversation_with_Brian_Bromberg.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT