Jazz and Blues

News about jazz, blues, Studio Sessions, and music samplings from jazz artists in the northwest and around the world.

Clave (klah-vay) is the basic defining rhythm of Latin Jazz and other types of African, Cuban,  South American and even Australian Aboriginal music.  The claves are wooden sticks used to produce the rhythm.

For conservatory-trained jazz musicians, it's a scary job market out there. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, an NEA Jazz Master and veteran statesman, paints a bleak picture:

In the current world of jazz education, the situation vis a vis graduating more and more of the most equipped musicians in history (every year more so) in stark contrast to the scarcity of paid performance and recording opportunities has assumed epic disproportion. To deny this would be like ignoring global warming. Serious educators are and should be concerned.

Enter here to win!

The Gate (2011) pointed Elling in a new and satisfyingly emotional direction. He has somehow found a way to make a deeply personal statement out of the music of King Crimson, Joe Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles, in addition to providing a new and vibrant understanding of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Herbie Hancock. That Elling is first and foremost a jazz singer makes the work searching and enthralling. His phrasing is cool and meditative as he ventures into areas usually reserved for instrumentalists. As a lyricist, Elling breathes new life into gems previously known only for their melodies.

The animated film Chico y Rita was released to DVD this week.  It's been playing in the UK and in film festivals world-wide for two years, to glowing reviews. It was nominated Best Animated Feature Film for the 2012 Oscars.

The music of saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and trumpeter/ pianist Arturo Sandoval has been censored from Cuban airwaves for decades now,  since they both defected to the U.S.  

Bandmates and founding members of the legendary Cuban group Irakere, both took advantage of musical world tours to make their escape.  Both have also gone on to make incredibly successful international careers, but still, it has to hurt to know that your name has been erased from your native country's cultural history.

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was a disaster that reshaped the South. With flooding in 10 states, the river below Memphis reached 60 miles across in some places. Not only was farmland swallowed up, but many poor blacks were forced to work rebuilding levees. With no crop that year, many headed north in what was part of a large migration to urban centers.

Alan Nahigian

Two informative, fun and  in-depth resources for learning about Latin music debuted  in 2009:  the interactive exhibit American Sabor  and the PBS series  Latin Music USA.

Nima Fatemi / Flickr

I literally had someone say that to me the other day. My head almost exploded.

So if I am not familiar with a band that you happen to know or like, that means I have NO musical knowledge, whatsoever?

What is worse is that this is not the first time I have heard this from someone.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Last week, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz announced the 12 semi-finalists for its annual competition for young musicians, often seen as the most prestigious in jazz today.

fundrum.blogspot.com

Every art form needs its champions, its teachers, those who believe deeply and share their passion.

I have tremendous respect for two such champions of Latin Jazz (one based in San Francisco, the other in the Bronx): John Santos and Bobby Sanabria.

Andrea Corniel Photography

Latin Jazz is rich with percussion and compelling sounds.  Most of the percussion instruments originate from Africa, and are tied to spiritual and religious ceremonies.  Here are a couple of favorites:

Tommy Johnson’s songs may not be very well known, but he was a hugely influential blues player and also may be the source of one of the most enduring legends of the blues – the Devil and the Crossroads.

While this legend is sometimes associated with Robert Johnson (no relation), it was Tommy Johnson who first cultivated a story about himself that he met the devil at a crossroads, and sold his soul in exchange for his musical ability.

Sonny Watson's Streetswing.com

According to Rebeca Mauleon's indispensable "Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble,"  the Mambo is:

An up-tempo dance style, developed through the 1940s and 1950s, which blended several elements of North American instrumentation and harmony with the Cuban son (a style of popular dance music that combined Spanish and African elements).

I know. I know. It is widely assumed and believed that smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. But for me (and a handful of musicians that I spoke to), music – in some cases even just a few bars of a song -  can draw upon some of the most powerful memories in a persons life.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Pages