Jazz Pianist Dean Malsack nominated for best Jazz CD

Dean Malsack- for the Grateful Web

Dean Malsack started piano lessons at the age of five and began playing professionally at fourteen.  His father, also a professional pianist, was his teacher.  His mother teaches piano as well. Dean has performed all over the United States as a solo pianist and with several ensembles ranging from jazz to blues to popular show tunes and has just released his 6th solo piano recording.  Dean is a voting member of the Grammy Awards and has performed on a USO tour.  Dean's enjoyment in playing is evident in his whimsical and unique style, and appeals to a wide range of listeners.  Dean performs over 250 engagements yearly.

TRIBUTE TO ELMO HOPE - Dec 9 & 10 at the Jazz Standard

Elmo Hope- for the Grateful Web

Pianist and composer Elmo Hope was on the scene from the mid 1950s into the 1960s. This year, June 27, 2008, would have been Elmo's 85th birthday. Elmo was very close to two forward-thinking musical giants, in fact, he spent so much time with Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell that they were called "The 3 Musketeers." Monk loved Elmo's composing and referred to him as his favorite contemporary composer.

Elmo left us with a body of important original music that he recorded essentially between 1953 and 1963. On Tuesday, December 9, and Wednesday, December 10, the sextet will be performing 4 different sets of Elmo's music, exploring the music chronologically each night. This will give us the opportunity to present at least 24 of Elmo's compositions over the two nights.

Elmo's music is compelling (to the audience) and demanding (to the musicians). As drummer Kenny Washington said at rehearsal, Elmo's music demands all your musicianship to try to play it, but if you spend the time to really try to learn it, the rewards are incredible! For the audience, it's an opportunity to hear Elmo's world through the artistry of today's fine musicians.

It's been a dream of mine for quite a few years to be able to present Elmo's music to contemporary audiences. So on Tuesday, December 9, and Wednesday, December 10, we will be performing Elmo's original compositions. Most will be performed in a sextet context, featuring a horn section of alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon (the 2008 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition), tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, and myself, Don Sickler, on trumpet. The rhythm section features the pianist who knows more about Elmo's music than anyone, Bertha Hope, Elmo's widow; bassist John Webber; and drummers Kenny Washington (Tuesday the 9th) and Willie Jones, III (Wednesday the 10th). Special guest pianist Jonny King will perform "La Berthe," one of Elmo's tributes to his wife Bertha, on the second set opening night.

Please join us for an exploration of Hope!

Don Sickler

At the Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street New York, New York 10016

J.D. Allen Jazz Clinic And Concert Series

photo by Frank Stewart- for the Grateful Web

Saxophonist J.D. Allen and his trio (featuring bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston) will conduct a master class on "Jazz Improvisation" as part of LIU-Brooklyn Campus Jazz Clinic and Concert Series. The clinics are FREE and OPEN to the general public. They take place on various Tuesdays, from 4:00 - 6:00 PM, in room H-106 of the Humanities Building on Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus.

Hailed by the New York Times as "a tenor saxophonist with an enigmatic, elegant and hard-driving style," J.D. Allen is one of the most thoughtful jazz saxophonists on the scene today.
The Detroit natives apprenticeship has largely been in New York, where he has performed, recorded, and toured with legends Lester Bowie, George Cables, Betty Carter, Louis Hayes, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Frank Foster Big Band, Winard Harper, Butch Morris, David Murray, Wallace Roney, and contemporaries Cindy Blackman, Orrin Evans, Marcus Gilmore, Russell Gunn, and Me'shell N'degeocello, Dave Douglas among others.
J.D.'s debut album, In Search Of... (Red Records), won him the "Best New Artist" award in Italy in 1999, and had reviewers praising him for his original compositions and bold playing. That same year J.D. began touring and recording with drummer Cindy Blackman's Quartet, where he remains a member.

His second release, Pharoah's Children (Criss Cross), won him accolades for its thoughtfulness, maturity, and adventurousness. One of Jazziz Magazine's Critics Picks  "Top 10 Albums of the Year," the album was praised in the U.S. and Europe, along with leading musicians, such as Michael Brecker and Jeff "Tain" Watts.

Since making a strong impression in his early years in New York at venues like Smalls, Village Gate, and Visiones, and serving an invaluable tenure with Betty Carter, J.D. has come a long way, now fully possessed of his own sound. J.D. has appeared on NPR's Jazz Perspectives, WNYC's Soundcheck, WKCR's Musician's Show and is a member of the Romare Bearden Homecoming Jazz All-Star Band.

J.D.'s most recent recording as a leader, I AM – I AM (I Am – I Am Records, 2007), featuring bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston, was named TOP 10 ALBUM OF THE YEAR – JAZZWISE Magazine

Organ Summit This Weekend At The Iridium Jazz Club

Photo by Jim Eigo- for the Grateful Web

ORGAN SUMMIT Featuring: Joey DeFrancesco, Reuben Wilson, Paul Bollenback, & Byron Landham.  Also, be sure to check out EVERY MONDAY LES PAUL AND HIS TRIO JOHN COLIANNI – PIANO - LOU PALLO – GUITAR, NICKI PARROTT - BASS.

1650 BROADWAY (Corner of 51st)
NEW YORK, NY 10023
RESERVATIONS: 212-582-2121
Sets At 8:30 & 10:30PM (Unless Otherwise Indicated)

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio This Weekend At The Iridium Jazz Club

Dr. Lonnie Smith- for the Grateful Web

"Dr. Lonnie Smith is a phenomenal B3 burner who can light up a room with visceral intensity or lay down some of the nastiest funk ever played on an organ." Bill Milkowski in JazzTimes

1650 BROADWAY (Corner of 51st)
NEW YORK, NY 10023
RESERVATIONS: 212-582-2121
Sets At 8:30 & 10:30PM (Unless Otherwise Indicated)
Les Paul Sets Remain at 8:00 & 10:00PM

National Jazz Museum in Harlem December Schedule

Heribe Nichols- for the Grateful Web

Coming off of its very successful November 25th 2008 Gala Fundraiser which raised over $200,000, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem spends December explores the variegated personalities and styles of jazz music through discussions with trombonist and experimental composer George Lewis, drummer Andrew Cyrille and pianist Larry Willis. 
Two special events leaven our free public programming this month. How Paris influenced the development of jazz is the topic of the first, whereas "Jews and Jazz" will delve into the intersection of Harlem, ethnicity, race, culture, business and the way jazz has served as a magnet for members of the Jewish community. A live performance promises to demonstrate musically the insights related in the discussion between musicians Yale Strom and Loren Schoenberg.
As a museum dedicated to codifying the grand legacy of the living art form of jazz, we believe it necessary to highlight the contributions of unsung contributors to the idiom. Our classes will delve into the musical legacies of three pianists curious listeners will be pleased to discover more about: Herbie Nichols, Andrew Hill, and the French virtuoso Martial Solal. 
The National Jazz Museum staff, board, and volunteers invite you to attend these free sessions, and to share the wealth and glory of this music to those closest to you in this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Jazz for Curious Listeners

Deserving Wider Recognition: Herbie Nichols 
7:00 – 8:30pm
Instructor: Frank Kimbrough

Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300 or register online

Herbie Nichols is a perennially neglected jazz pianist and composer. He recorded less than half of his 170 compositions on three classic trio albums for Blue Note and one for Bethlehem before dying of leukemia at the age of 43 in 1963. He is often compared to Thelonious Monk, and his piano playing and compositions certainly do have some of the harmonic angularity people associate with Monk. But he had a very distinctive sound of his own, more melancholy and, for lack of a better word, poetic than Monk in many ways. In fact, Nichols was something of a poet, as the titles to his tunes suggest. And he was fully Monk's equal in the quality and individuality of his tunes. He is held in high critical esteem within jazz, although his tunes are still not widely recorded. Outside of jazz circles, the only tune of his anyone is likely to know is "The Lady Sings the Blues," which Billie Holiday set lyrics to and adopted for the title of her autobiography.

Nichols was born in New York in 1919 and died there forty-four years later. In the course of his brief life he was for a time an associate of Monk's, though to consequently call his music Monk-like is to do it a grave disservice. He played with, amongst others, Milt Larkin and Rex Stewart out of economic necessity. His own harmonically extraordinary music was no small distance removed from theirs. This is not to imply however that his music amounted merely to an academic exercise. As it was to be with Andrew Hill some years later, Blue Note records afforded Nichols an unprecedented opportunity to record his own music, and he made full use of it, as the three CD set of "The Complete Blue Note Recordings" shows. The music found here comes exclusively from his pen and it was recorded in a bout of concentrated recording activity between May 6, 1955, and April 19, 1956. It was all performed in the trio setting, and throughout Nichols plays with a variety of virtuosity that couldn't be included in any jazz curriculum. As a player he has capable not only of dark lyricism but also of writing melodies so harmonically adventurous that they can make the listener laugh out loud over their audacity.

Furthermore, his music was in a rhythmic league of its own, and Nichols was indeed fortunate in the drummers he worked with in his brief recording career these Blue Note sides find him in the company of both Art Blakey and Max Roach.

In his lifetime Nichols only put out four records under his own name, three for Blue Note and one for the even smaller Bethlehem label, this time in the company of Dannie Richmond, Charles Mingus's drummer of choice. This date offers listeners evidence of his way with a standard song or two.

The music of Herbie Nichols is undoubtedly an acquired taste. Whilst he plowed an individual furrow he did so with clarity of purpose and vision. The irony of it is that if he were alive today he would probably have to work outside of music in order to make a living. The passing of time has moved several steps away from the recording and marketing of music as idiosyncratic as his. As such, his life was and is a stark example of the gulf between art and commerce.

Our session will be led by Frank Kimbrough, a leader jazz composer who helped create the Herbie Nichols Project. Frank Kimbrough is a New York City based jazz pianist, educator, founding member and composer-in-residence of the Jazz Composers Collective (est. 1992). He has recorded as a leader for OmniTone, Palmetto, Soul Note, Igmod, and Mapleshade.  His most recent duo project with vibist Joe Locke is Verazzano Moon (OmniTone), recorded live in concert, which follows the duos previous OmniTone recordings, The Willow and Saturn's Child, and the Frank Kimbrough Trio (with Ben Allison and Jeff Ballard) recently made its OmniTone debut on the brilliant, live recording Quickening.

As a recipient of funding from Meet the Composer, Kimbrough's own compositions have been the focus of concerts presented by the Jazz Composers Collective, a musician-run, non-profit organization dedicated to presenting original music. These concerts have featured several groups led by Kimbrough, most notably his trio with bassist Ben Allison and drummer Jeff Ballard; and his Noumena group with guitarist Ben Monder, saxophonist Scott Robinson, and drummer Tony Moreno. He is also active in the realization of music composed by other members or guest composers of the Collective, including Ted Nash, Ben Allison, Ron Horton, Michael Blake, Eddie Gale, Joe Locke, Jon Gordon, and the Collective Big Band.

An authority on the music of the late pianist/composer Herbie Nichols, he was awarded a Jazz Performance Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1995 to fund two concerts in New York City featuring 24 of Nichols' compositions as played by a dozen musicians in 16 different ensemble configurations. The Jazz Composers Collective's Herbie Nichols Project, with Kimbrough and Ben Allison as co-leaders, has toured the U.S., Portugal, Wales, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and England, and has documented its work with one CD for Palmetto (Strange City) and two CDs for Soul Note Records (Love Is Proximity), Dr Cyclops Dream.  Kimbrough has also written about Nichols' life and work for the journal O Papel do Jazz (Portugal), the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, and liner notes for The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols.

Since 1993, Kimbrough has toured with the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra in the U.S., China, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, France, and Finland, as well as participating in her five-year (1993-98) residency on Monday nights at Visiones in Greenwich Village.  He also appears on her Grammy-nominated CD, Coming About, and contributed to Schneider's collaborations with the Pilobolus Dance Company in 1998 at the American Dance Festival, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Since 1996, Kimbrough has served on the faculty of New York University's Department of Performing Arts Professions, teaching jazz piano, improvisation, and leading student ensembles. He has conducted workshops at the Paris Conservatory (with Maria Schneider), Oxford University (with the Herbie Nichols Project), The New School, Berklee College of Music, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Indiana State University, the University of Iowa, the University of North Florida, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also served on the faculty of Cannon Music Camp at Appalachian State University from 1989-1996.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Special Event
Paris and the Development of American Jazz: How the French Influenced American Jazz
Location: Museum of the City of New York
(1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St. | get directions
$9 General admission, $5 Museum members, seniors, and students | Reservations: 212-534-1672 x3395

During the years between the world wars, a small but dynamic community of African American jazz musicians left the United States and settled in Paris, creating a vibrant expatriate musical scene and introducing jazz to the French. While the Harlem Renaissance was taking off across the Atlantic, entertainers such as Sidney Bechet, Ada "Bricktop" Smith, Django Reinhardt, and Josephine Baker were performing in Montmartre, the epicenter of the Parisian jazz scene.

Charles Hobson, filmmaker and contributor to Channel 13's Great Performances, will show excerpts from his forthcoming film Harlem in Montmartre based upon William A. Stack's bookHarlem In Montmarte: A Paris Jazz Story Between the Great Wars (University of California press, 2001) to be followed by a discussion between the filmmaker and jazz historian and author Jason Weiss.

Click for more information or to purchase tickets. 

Monday, December 8, 2008
Jazz for Curious Readers
George Lewis, Trombonist and Director of Columbia University's Center for Jazz Studies, in discussion with Jonathan Scheuer
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300 or register online

The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, an Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, George Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work as composer, improvisor, performer and interpreter explores electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, text-sound works, and notated and improvisative forms, and is documented on more than 120 recordings. His published articles on music, experimental video, visual art, and cultural studies have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes.

Professor Lewis came to Columbia in 2004, having previously taught at the University of California, San Diego, Mills College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Simon Fraser University's Contemporary Arts Summer Institute. He has served as music curator for the Kitchen in New York, and has collaborated in the "Interarts Inquiry" and "Integrative Studies Roundtable" at the Center for Black Music Research (Chicago).His oral history is archived in Yale University's collection of "Major Figures in American Music." 

Lewis has worked closely with film/video artists Stan Douglas and Don Ritter, as well as with contemporary musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Bertram Turetzky, Count Basie, David Behrman, David Murray, Derek Bailey, Douglas Ewart, Evan Parker, Fred Anderson, Frederic Rzewski, Gil Evans, Han Bennink, Irene Schweizer, J.D. Parran, James Newton, Joel Ryan, Joelle Leandre, John Zorn, Leroy Jenkins, Michel Portal, Misha Mengelberg, Miya Masaoka, Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Teitelbaum, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Rivers, Steve Lacy and Wadada Leo Smith.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Jazz for Curious Listeners
Deserving Wider Recognition: Andrew Hill
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300 or register online 

Recognized by Blue Note Records' founder Alfred Lyon as his "last, great protégé," pianist Andrew Hill spent 40 years composing, performing, recording, and mentoring young musicians. Born in Chicago in 1931, Andrew Hill began teaching himself to play piano at age 10, and was later introduced to German composer and music theorist-in-exile Paul Hindemith. He started performing in 1952 with touring jazz musicians, including Charlie Parker, Dinah Washington, Coleman Hawkins, and Miles Davis.

He moved to New York in 1961 and shortly thereafter was contracted by Alfred Lyons at Blue Note Records as a leader and a sideman, producing his early classics for the label, such as Point of Departure and Black Fire. Hill's Blue Note sessions with acclaimed musicians such as Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham, John Gilmore, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, and Elvin Jones cemented his reputation as a musician and composer of some renown.
Hill served as composer-in-residence at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York from 1970-72. In California, he performed in concert and taught classes at public schools and social service institutions before becoming an associate professor of music at Portland State University, where he established the successful Summer Jazz Intensive. He also performed and taught at Harvard and Wesleyan universities, among others.

He returned to New York City in the 1990s, reestablishing himself as a pianist, ensemble leader, and composer. In 2000, Hill released "Dusk," a song cycle loosely based on Jean Toomer's 1923 book Cane, with yet another phenomenal band. The album brought him to the attention of and garnered him acclaim from a larger jazz audience, claiming a place on best-album-of-the-year lists with Fortune Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, JazzTimes, and Down Beat.

The new attention led to reissues of his classic Blue Note recordings of the 1960s and new issues of some previously unreleased recordings from that time period. One of the most interesting was Passing Ships, a previously unknown nonet recording that prefaced his big band recording in 2002, A Beautiful Day, by more than 30 years. In 2003, he received the prestigious Danish award, the JAZZPAR Prize.  And just this year, Joyous Shout Records released a 1993 duet collaboration between Hill and drummer Chico Hamilton. Liner notes writer Gene Santoro: "How they prod and jab and lure each other, is a marvel to hear."

Thursday, December 11, 2008
Harlem Speaks

Andrew Cyrille, Drummer/educator
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300

Andrew Cyrille was born in Brooklyn, NY. As well as studying privately, he attended the Juilliard and Hartnett schools of music. He has performed with jazz artists ranging from Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet and Mary Lou Williams to Kenny Dorham, Muhal Richard Abrams, Horace Tapscott, John Carter, Mal Waldron and David Murray. In 1964 he formed and association with pianist Cecil Taylor that would last for 11 years. He played drums for many notable dancer-choreogrphers from the mid to late 1960's.

He was artist-residence and teacher at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio from 1971 to 1973. Cyrille has also taught at the Graham Windham Home for Children in New York. He is currently a faculty member at the New School University (formally The New School for Social Research) in New York City. His sterling work has earned him a number of grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer, including a commission to create a new work for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company in 1990. In 1999, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for composition.

Starting in 1969, Cyrille began to organize the first of several percussion groups, including Dialogue of the Drums, Pieces of Time, and Weights and Measures. Some of the distinguished artists who played in these groups were Kenny Clark, Milford Graves, Famoudou Don Moye, Michael Carvin and Obo Addy. Starting in 1988 through the present time, he has toured and performed here and abroad with the renowned Russian percussionist, Vladimir Tarasov.

In 1975, Cyrille formed a band called Maono (feelings) featuring various instrumental voices determined by his compositions. He is a member of Trio 3 featuring alto saxophonist, Oliver Lake and bassist, Reggie Workman. Also, from time to time, he leads another group called Haitian Fascination, playing music inspired by the musical tradition from Haiti. Within the past several years, he has been collaborating and working with musicians such as saxophonist Archie Shepp, trombonist Roswell Rudd, trumpeter Dave Douglas, bassists Henry Grimes and William Parker, pianists Dave Burrell and Marilyn Crispell, and vibraphonist Karl Berger. He continues to record and perform with duo, trio, quartet, quintet and big band formations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Jazz for Curious Listeners
Deserving Wider Recognition: Martial Solal
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300 or register online

Considered one of Europe's best jazz musicians, pianist Martial Solal is relatively unknown in the United States. Solal was born in Algiers, Algeria, North Africa, where he grew up listening to jazz pianists Fats Waller and Art Tatum and was exposed to bebop. In the forties Solal worked in Algiers as a pianist before settling in Paris in 1950. During the fifties he performed in Parisian clubs, often as backup, with many American expatriate jazz musicians.

The early 1960s were productive years for Solal. He performed for several months at the Hickory House, a club in New York City, and appeared at jazz festivals in Newport, Rhode Island; Montreal, Canada; and Berlin, West Germany. When asked in the sixties what he thought the future of jazz and his place in it would be, Solal recalled to Jerome Reese of Musician, "I said that in order for jazz to survive it had to have a repertoire; jazz musicians had to write important works. Just after that stupid declaration everyone did exactly the opposite, playing totally improvised music. Presently there is a return to traditionalism, and I persist in believing that the future of jazz lies in written music, in longer and longer written sequences, which does not exclude improvisation, of course. I also believe that once one has a very definite style, the only way to evolve is through composing."

While most jazzmen went the alternate route, emphasizing improvisation, Solal has scored pieces for big band and various trios with which he has performed since the sixties. "Freedom, for me, means being able to go as far as possible in a certain direction, established and prepared in advance," he told Reese. "But I don't like the idea of 'anything goes.' That's why I play jazz standards, which give the audience something they can follow more easily and which will perhaps entertain them while having to put up with my, shall we say, busy style. Even when playing my own pieces, a major part of my performance consists of humourous musical citations I'll throw in as they pop into my head. But this humorous aspect can only be appreciated if the audience knows the standards I'm quoting. I like music that can surprise you at any given moment, not to show off, but in order to produce something different each time."

At one point in his career, Solal seriously studied classical music to help perfect his technique. Regular daily practice, often consisting of scales, maintains the virtuoso technique that has given him the ability to express whatever he has to say musically. When improvising he explores a melody in a seemingly endless stream of variations, which has given rise to his reputation as a highly technical musician. When the French government commissioned a work from Solal in the early eighties, Solal composed a concerto for piano and orchestra that was played by the big band that eventually involved into the government-supported Orchestre National de Jazz.
While Solal is best known in France for his duo albums with saxophonists Sidney Bechet and Lee Konitz and violinist Stephane Grappelli, he has also composed more than thirty movie scores, including the original French version of Breathless, conducted by Jean-Luc Goddard and starring Jean Paul Belmondo. With the advent of pop music and highly improvisatory jazz in the late sixties, the opportunities for film-score composing vanished.

Through his composing, arranging, and performing, Solal seems to want to legitimize jazz in Europe in general and his distinct style of jazz in particular. "Even if it doesn't sound modest, I think that one must listen to my music several times because of its density," Solal declared to Reese. "If you are surprised by the technical aspect, then the musical content may escape you on the first listening. I have always had very high hopes for jazz. I want people who love classical music to find that same perfection in jazz, and 90 percent of jazz doesn't satisfy that demand."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Special Event
Jews & Jazz
Location: Museum at Eldridge Street
(12 Eldridge Street, New York, NY | get directions
Adults: $12 | Students & Seniors: $10 | 212-219-0888

Musicians Yale Strom and Loren Schoenberg will talk about the longstanding connection Jews have with jazz and its Harlem lineage beyond the stereotypes found in movies and popular culture. Roof-raising performances by Hot P'stromi and special guests will illustrate the intermingling of cultures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008
Harlem Speaks
Larry Willis, Pianist
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300

Once identified with on-the-edge free music, keyboardist Larry Willis had a profitable flirtation with fusion in the '70s, then moved to hard bop in the '80s and '90s. Willis' playing has been frenetic, ambitious and interesting, but during his jazz-rock and fusion days was funky but greatly restrained and simple. A devotee of Herbie Hancock, Willis has found a good balance, with expertly constructed modal solos and also lyrical, relaxed statements. 

Willis graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in the early '60s, then played with Jackie McLean and Hugh Masekela. He recorded with Lee Morgan and McLean in the mid-'60s, and worked with Kai Winding and Stan Getz, as well as recording with Robin Kenyatta in 1969. Willis turned to synthesizer and electric piano in the '70s, doing sessions with Cannonball Adderley, Earl May, Joe Henderson, Groove Holmes and Masekela again. He joined Blood, Sweat And Tears in 1972, recorded with Alphonze Mouzon in both 1972 and 1973, and did dates as a leader and freelance session musician. Willis also recorded with Ryo Kawasaki and Sonny Fortune in the late '70s, and with David "Fathead" Newman and Carla Bley in the '80s. Willis toured and recorded with Nat Adderley in the '80s, and joined Woody Shaw's quintet in 1986. He's done sessions as a leader for Groove Merchant, Steeplechase, Audioquest, Brunswick and Mapleshade, among others.


THE JAZZ NATIVITY- for the Grateful Web

BENDING TOWARDS THE LIGHT… A JAZZ NATIVITY, the joyful musical holiday show that warms the hearts of families of all faiths, swings into Birdland (315 West 44th Street, New York City) with seven performances this season, Sunday, Dec 21st through 25th  There will be two performances on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

A colorful presentation that delights children as well as jazz fans, the JAZZ NATIVITY boasts an all-star band featuring Latin percussionist Candido and tenor saxophonist Bob Kindred; vocalist Hilary Kole in the role of Mary; Brenda Feliciano as the archangel; and features many jazz greats. Among this years performers as Kings are saxophonist, Frank Wess, trombonist, Benny Powell, , trumpeters Lou Soloffand Ingrid Jensen, and tappers Maurice Chestnut, Andrew Nemr and Roxane Butterfly. Taking part as special guests, pianists, Hank Jones and Arturo O'FarrellDaniel Marconi, from Broadway's  Mary Poppins and Misael Sanchez from the Newark Boys Chorus School will alternately play the role of the shepherd boy.

" Written and arranged by singer-songwriter Anne Phillips at the suggestion of the late John Garcia Gensel of St. Peter's Church, JAZZ NATIVITY first premiered in 1985.  Since then, it has been a popular Christmas offering across the country.  

The show combines well-known Christmas carols with original music by Ms. Phillips, Bob Kindred andDave and Iola Brubeck. The original soundtrack recording features as narrator the late CBS Newsjournalist Charles Kuralt, with Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Tito Puente, Benny Powell, Toots Thielemans and many other jazz greats in the band.  For information: www.jazznativity.com orwww.cdbaby.com.

Tickets at $40 are now on sale at Birdland box office (212-581-3080)


JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY- for the Grateful Web

JFJO are just back from a tour of Europe where they hit a slew of festivals and turned on a whole new world of fans. At The Cork Festival in Ireland, they won the Guinness Award for "Best New Band," meanwhile Reed Mathis returned with a treasure trove of soundboard recordings from the tour, so we might even get a limited edition release of JFJO in Europe '08. Fingers crossed. Back in the U.S., look for JFJO to maintain a high touring profile throughout '09. Their album from earlier this year, Lil Tae Rides Again, was a musical departure, but then again isn't every JFJO album. Therein lies the beauty.

JFJO | Tour Dates

  • December 5 / The Deli / Norman, OK
  • December 6 / Granada Theater / Dallas,TX (w/Stanton Moore Trio)
  • December 31 / Blank Slate / Tulsa, OK

Jazz Museum Events: Nov. 17-21, 2008

James McBride- for the Grateful Web

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem begins an exciting full week of public programming with a conversation between executive director Loren Schoenberg and best-selling author, saxophonist and composer James McBride for Jazz for Curious Readers, whose first novel was recently turned into a film by acclaimed director Spike Lee.
Thelonious Monk's musical style was singular, yet his ensembles embraced the voices of other titans in jazz music. Don't miss Jazz for Curious Listeners this week: the tenures of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, the standard-bearers of jazz tenor saxophone innovation post-1950s, with Thelonious Monk is the intriguing topic that Schoenberg will pursue.
Join us mid-week for an exploration of jazz legends at Jackie Robinson Park for Jazz in the Parks. We'll screen a series of short films in which you can see the legends for yourself. Details below.
Top jazz educator and percussionist Justin DiCioccio is the guest at Harlem Speaks this week. Guest interviewer Greg Thomas will investigate the state of jazz education through the vision and experience of DiCioccio, chair of the jazz department of the Manhattan School of music.
Expect an eclectic mix of sonic pleasure at Harlem in the Himalayas at the Rubin Museum of Art, as we close out the week with guitarist Bern Nix and bassist Francois Grillot.

Monday, November 17, 2008
Jazz for Curious Readers
James McBride
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)

James McBride is an award-winning writer and composer. His critically acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, explores the author's struggle to understand his biracial identity and the experience of his white, Jewish mother, who moved to Harlem, married a black man, and raised 12 children. The Color of Water won the 1997 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Literary Excellence, was an ALA Notable Book of the Year, and spent more than two years on the bestseller list. Chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 25 books of 1996 to remember, The Color of Water has sold more than 1.3 million copies in the United States alone and is now required reading at numerous colleges and high schools across the country. It has also been published in 16 languages and in more than 20 countries.

After the success of The Color of Water, McBride turned to fiction, albeit inspired by his family's history. "My initial aim was to write a novel about a group of black soldiers who liberate a concentration camp in Eastern Europe," McBride explains on his web site. "I read lots of books and spent a lot of time researching the subject but soon came to the realization that I'm not qualified to write about the holocaust. It's too much."  So, instead, he recalled the war stories of his uncle and cousin, who served in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division, and began researching World War II in Italy - particularly the clashes between Italian Partisans and the German army. Miracle at St Anna was published in 2002, and was recently turned into a major motion picture by acclaimed director Spike Lee, for which McBride also wrote the screenplay. His second novel, Song Yet Sung, was published in 2008.

McBride is a former staff writer for The Washington Post, People Magazine and The Boston Globe. His work has also appeared in Essence, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. Aside from his literary honors, McBride is the recipient of several awards for his work as a composer in musical theater, including the 1996 American Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award, the 1996 ASCAP Richard Rodgers Horizons Award, and the American Music Festival's 1993 Stephen Sondheim Award. He has written the score for several musicals, including the highly acclaimed, award-winning show "Bobos."

McBride, an accomplished saxophonist who has toured with renowned jazz singers and musicians, has written songs (music and lyrics) for Anita Baker, Grover Washington, Jr., Gary Burton, Silver Burdett Textbooks, and for the PBS television character "Barney." He is a graduate of New York City's public schools, studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and received a Masters in journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Whitman College. He lives in Pennsylvania and is currently a Distinguished Writer-In-Residence at New York University.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Jazz for Curious Listeners
The World of Thelonious Monk: With Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300 or register online

The pianist Eric Reed once said that "When you playing Monk's compositions, you're kind of playing Monk. His compositions and improvisations are completely integrated." Such is the nature of his compositions, so intertwined with his quirky, singular and ingenious style of playing and composing jazz.

The two foremost giants of jazz tenor saxophone in the 1950s, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, were a part of Monk's band at signal moments in the development of their styles and careers.  

This promises to be a night of swingin' revelation, so don't miss it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Jazz in the Parks
Jazz legend shorts
7:00 - 9:00pm
Location: Jackie Robinson Recreation Center
(85 Bradhurst Avenue @ West 146th Street)
FREE | RSVP, please call (212) 408-0296 or email for more info: NYC Department of Parks

A selection of short films about Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. Parker discovered Davis, and it was Davis who made John Coltrane into a musical icon. It's one thing to listen to their music, and another to see them play, live, in action. This is an unforgettable evening of rare film of three of America's greatest artists

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Harlem Speaks
Justin DiCioccio, Drummer/educator
6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMIH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | Reservations: 212-348-8300

Justin DiCioccio is internationally recognized as one of the foremost jazz educators of our time. In January 2001, he was inducted into the Jazz Education Hall of Fame, which took place at the 28th Annual International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) conference in New York City. His keen insight into the teaching of conceptual and inventive ideas has earned him the title of "the musician's teacher." His performances, guest conducting appearances, adjudications, jazz and percussion clinics and workshops are numerous and widely recognized in the professional and educational fields.

Mr. DiCioccio was named assistant dean of Manhattan School of Music in June 2002, where he chairs the School's jazz department, a position that he has held since 1999. In addition, he has been a member of the School's jazz faculty since 1984, teaching percussion and coaching ensembles. Under his leadership, a complete restructuring of the jazz curriculum has taken place, which includes the creation of a new Jazz DMA program. His goal is to initiate and put into action the concept of the complete artist musician – performer, composer, and pedagogue – as well as the creation of working partnerships with public schools, community organizations, institutions and the music industry. He also directs international summer jazz programs in partnership with Manhattan School of Music that take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and at the Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina.

Mr. DiCioccio works actively in Manhattan School of Music's educational outreach program bringing jazz education to hundreds of New York City public school children. In addition, Mr. DiCioccio has initiated the creation of a jazz component to the School's already existing Preparatory Division, open to students ages 10 to 18, making Manhattan School of Music on of the few institutions in the country to offer jazz programs at the elementary, secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels.

Mr. DiCioccio serves as program director for Carnegie Hall Jazz Education and under his direction in January 2001, the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall as part of its Family Concert Series. He also acts as a consultant to Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center, with whom he also performs and gives clinics, as well as conductor of the Henry Mancini Summer Institute in Los Angeles, CA. He designed, developed and directed the internationally known and award-winning LaGuardia High School of the Arts jazz program, the first fully accredited secondary jazz program in the United States.

Mr. DiCioccio is the recipient of a citation for the major of New York for "Distinguished and Exceptional Service to Young Instrumentalists" and is currently active with the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, the Music for Youth Foundation and the National Foundation for Jazz Education. He is a three-time recipient of the Presidential Scholars teaching recognition award in the jazz field by the U.S. Department of Education. In May 1998, The Commission Project, in partnership with the New York City Board of Education, created the JD Award for Outstanding Service to Music in New York City Schools. The award, presented annually, recognizes and celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to the world of music education and honored Mr. DiCioccio as its first honoree. In June 2003, Mr. DiCioccio received an Achievement Award from Downbeat magazine.

Friday, November 21, 2008
Harlem in the Himalayas
Bern Nix and Francois Grillot
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344

Bern Nix has played the guitar since the age of 11. Bern studied music and graduated with a degree in music education from the Berklee College of Music. Since 1985, he has led The Bern Nix Trio. Before leading his Trio, Bern performed and recorded with Ornette Coleman from 1975 to 1987 as an original member of the Prime Time Band. The Prime Time Band recorded six albums including Dancing in Your Head, Of Human Feelings and Body Meta and performed hundreds of concerts around the world. The Bern Nix Trios first recording, Alarms and Excursions (New World Records) was released in 1993, making many top ten critics lists. Bern has performed with artists such as, Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, Jemeel Moondoc, Ronald Shannon Jackson, James Chance, Jayne Cortez and Kip Hanrahan. Hailed as one of the greatest jazz guitarists of our time, Bern was voted among the top ten jazz guitarists poll by Down Beat magazine. Most recently, Bern composed and recorded the score for the feature length documentary, A James Lord Portrait. Bern has a solo album coming out this fall on Tompkins Square Records.

Francois Grillot, born in Burgundy France, began studying trumpet, then guitar and electric bass. He recorded with Edition Speciale, on RCA, touring throughout France. Other credits include recordings with Mama Bea Teckelsk (RCA) and Serge Bringolf (Strave on Musea Records). Upon moving to New York he has been playing along side a number of notable musicians including Bill Bickford, Ken Hatfield, Adam Naussbaum, Harold Danko, and Mike Clarke. In 2001 his music took a turn with collaborators Matt Lavelle, Steve Swell, Daniel Carter, Matt Maneri, Roy Campbell, Mark Edwards, Jackson Krall, Lou Grassi, Jason Kwang, Robert Dick, Daniel Levin, William Hooker, Charles Burnham, Louie Belogenis, Bern Nix, Michael Marcus, Ken Filiano and a many others.

Karrin Allyson Appearing This Weekend At The Iridium Jazz Club

Karrin Allyson- for the Grateful Web

Born on July 27th, in Great Bend, Kansas, Karrin Allyson (pronounced 'CAR-in') has spent the last fifteen years carving out an impressive career as a singer, songwriter, pianist, composer and bandleader.

It's not just critics who love her, it's the rest of the world, too-musicians, concertgoers and connoisseurs of quality music.

One thing's for certain, though: The two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist has been winning over fans and critics alike. And she's been doing so just about everywhere jazz can be heard or seen since 1992.

That was the year Allyson assembled her Kansas City-based rhythm section, borrowed funds from her family and headed into the studio. The result? I Didn't Know About You. The reaction was immediate. "Stunning debut! Irresistible twists of melody and inflection," wrote veteran jazz critic Neil Tesser in Playboy Magazine, placing the young singer in the company of legends Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn. Critics and jazz lovers from coast to coast echoed the news. Allyson is a major talent that will drive you wild.

Over the years, Karrin Allyson has recorded a series of eleven CDs for Concord Records, each of which have showcased her astonishing breadth of repertoire, from standards by Gershwin and Porter to Brazilian bossa nova to samba and Thelonious Monk. She has also taken on French and Brazilian music (From Paris to Rio), the genius of John Coltrane (Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane) and the blues (In Blue).

Most recently, the vocalist has released Imagina: Songs of Brasil, a beautiful collection of 14 tracks that features songs sung fully in Portuguese, as well as Brazilian songs with English translations by Susannah McCorkle, Chris Caswell, Gene Lees, Paul Williams and Jon Hendricks. But, "Whatever your native language," she says, "I hope that these songs speak directly to your heart, as they have to mine."

Her many eclectic and steadfast recordings, however, are only the tip of the iceberg. Karrin Allyson spends two days out of three on the road, playing the major jazz festivals and clubs of the U.S. and making repeated tours overseas. In February 2004, she toured Australia for the first time. This summer, she embarks on yet another tour of Europe, South America and the Far East.

What you may not know, is that not only has Karrin performed in traditional jazz venues throughout the world, but she has appeared at Carnegie Hall, at Lincoln Center, and at the 92nd St. Y; performances made all the more special to the artist because those concerts took place in what has been Karrin's adopted home town for the last decade, New York City.

The singer has also been a popular and welcomed guest of Garrison Keillor on National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion on several occasions, most recently from Tanglewood. And finally, Allyson and her band have performed with symphony orchestras around the country, including the new Carnegie Hall concert series at Zankel Hall.

What has generated this much esteem and success? First of all there is the singer's uniquely distinctive voice. Notable jazz critic and historian Gary Giddins affirms, "Allyson coolly stakes her claim. She brings a timbre that is part ice and part grain...incisive, original, and emotionally convincing." The Houston Press agrees wholeheartedly, "If there's a choir in heaven, someday the exquisite vocalist Karrin Allyson will lead it. She's such an otherworldly talent that the creator probably already has her on heavy rotation."

But there is more. When one listens to Allyson, you hear heart, intelligence, and musical sophistication. Her emotional range, from heartfelt to sassy, is beyond her musical peers. And there is a literate and engaging connection that honors the great traditions of blues, jazz and roots, expands to the Great American Songbook and embraces French and Brazilian rhythms.

The classically trained Karrin Allyson is also a great bandleader - she is a musician's musician. If you listen carefully, you will hear highly developed musical interplay with her band that sounds so effortless and natural that it conceals the deep level of musical sophistication. This is one of Allyson's great achievements, and it is the result of working for more than a decade with an ensemble of fearless and powerfully committed jazz virtuosi. Together, they have developed a powerful and flexible language and style unique among current groups.

1650 BROADWAY (Corner of 51st)
NEW YORK, NY 10023
RESERVATIONS: 212-582-2121