jazz

Billy Taylor - July 24, 1921 - December 28, 2010

Dr. Billy Taylor, a Jazz pianist, composer, educator and broadcaster who encompassed that rare combination of creativity, intelligence, vision, commitment and leadership, qualities that made him one of our most cherished national treasures, died in New York on December 28, 2010.  He was 89 and lived in Riverdale, New York.

The cause was heart failure, according to his daughter, Kim Taylor-Thompson.

The distinguished ambassador of the jazz community to the world-at-large, Dr. Billy Taylor's recording career spanned over six decades. He also composed over three hundred and fifty songs, as well as works for theatre, dance and symphony orchestras.

Among his most notable works is "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free", achieving great popularity with Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Nina Simone covered the song in her 1967 album Silk and Soul, and the song continues to be recorded by many artists worldwide, most recently by Levon Helm.

Playing the piano professionally since 1944, he got his start with Ben Webster's Quartet on New York's famed 52nd Street. He then served as the house pianist at Birdland, the legendary jazz club where he performed with such celebrated masters as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Starting in the 1950s, Billy Taylor ked his own Trio, as well as performed with the most influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century.

After many years of recording for leading record labels, in 1989, Taylor started his own "Taylor Made" record label to document his own music, releasing four albums, and in the late 90s, "Soundpost Records," releasing his two final recordings.

Dr. Taylor was not only been an influential musician, but a highly regarded teacher as well, receiving his Masters and Doctorate in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and serving as a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University.

He also hosted and programmed such radio stations WLIB and WNEW in New York, and several  award winning series for National Public Radio. In the early 1980s, Taylor became the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning.

Dr. Billy Taylor was one of only three jazz musicians appointed to the National Council of the Arts, and also served as the Artistic Advisor for Jazz to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he developed one acclaimed concert series after another including the Louis Armstrong Legacy series, and the annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.

With over twenty three honorary doctoral degrees, Dr. Billy Taylor was also the recipient of two Peabody Awards, an Emmy, a Grammy and a host of prestigious and highly coveted prizes, such as the National Medal of Arts, the Tiffany Award, a Lifetime achievement Award from Downbeat Magazine, and, election to the Hall of Fame for the International Association for Jazz Education.

Dr. Taylor's survivors include his wife, Theodora and his daughter, Kim Taylor-Thompson.  A son, Duane, passed away in 1988.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem Jan. 3 - Jan. 9, 2011

The electric bass was actually Christian McBride’s first instrument. He began playing at age 8 when Jaco Pastorious was the bass guitar's standard bearer, having created masterpieces with the group Weather Report as well as his eponymously titled first solo recording. Jaco Pastorious transformed the bass guitar into an instrument of fine art, and there are few better, if any, to discuss Pastorious than McBride. This will be a night to remember - whatever you do, make it to this free class, and bring a friend.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Jazz for Curious Listeners
Christian McBride Hosts: My Musical Heroes
7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300
Christian’s Subject: Jaco Pastorious, Electric Bass Innovator
Friday, January 7, 2011

Signed to Sony Classical at the age of 17, Eldar has since established himself as one of the most brilliant and virtuosic solo jazz pianists of his generation. The possessor of a unique style, this is a rare solo performance in New York City. Along the way, Eldar’s had the good fortune to work with masters such as Dr. Billy Taylor, Dave Brubeck, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, among others. The performance space is a wonderful place to hear acoustic music – no microphones, just a lot of wood to give the sound depth and warmth. This is a wonderful way to break in the New Year with live music!

Harlem in the Himalayas
Eldar, Pianist
7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door |
For tickets: RMA Box Office or call 212-620-5000 ext. 344

Al Di Meola Visits Strawberry Fields

On 'Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody,' out March 15th on Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group, bona fide guitar hero and virtuoso of the highest order Al Di Meola teams up with members of his World Sinfonia ensemble, jazz bass great Charlie Haden and GRAMMY-award winning Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba on a hauntingly beautiful and deeply moving version of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” that imbues the classic pop tune with profound feeling, and shows how dazzling Di Meola's electric guitar can be even when delicately restrained.

Di Meola's laid-back interplay with Haden's acoustic bass, Gonzalo Rubalcaba's piano, Peter Kazsas' drums and Gumbi Ortiz and Mino Cinelu's percussion creates a wistfulness appropriate to John Lennon's hazy memories of a garden near his childhood home.

Hear Al Di Meola's "Strawberry Fields" from 'Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody' on Huffington Post here.

Charmaine Clamor Delivers Something Good to NYC

Celebrated by The New York Times as “a gifted vocalist” and by The Los Angeles Times as “one of the important and original new jazz singers of the decade,” Pinay Pride Charmaine Clamor, the Queen of Jazzipino, returns to New York for a special CD Release concert on JANUARY 8, Saturday, 7PM at the TRIAD THEATER on 72nd and Broadway. The Triad hosted last year’s successful New York City Fil-Am JazzFest, headlined by Ms. Clamor.

General Admission ($27) and a limited number of VIP Tickets are available online through BrownPaperTickets here.

Ms. Clamor, the 2009 Filipinas Magazine Entertainer of the Year, brings her 6-piece “Killin’ Sweehearts” band in support of their 4th U.S. album, Something Good. The album, heard locally on WKCR, WBAI, and WNYC is on the JazzWeek World Music radio chart – Clamor’s third straight album in the World Music Top-20.

Recognized by Jazz Times as the reigning Queen of Filipino Jazz, Ms. Clamor blends jazz with music of her beloved home country, the Philippines. She sings in both her adopted tongue of English and her native language, Tagalog, creating new (and swinging!) arrangements of beloved Filipino love songs such as “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” “Ikaw,” and “Dahil Sa Yo.”

Born in a developing country where accessible clean water is scarce, Charmaine has fostered a passion for the planet, focused on clean water conservation. In the 3-song Mother Nature Suite on Something Good, Charmaine pays respect to the planet. Charmaine’s devotion to a cleaner, healthier earth extends to her work with the Sierra Club Water Committee and Food & Water Watch. Clamor does not stop there, though. With the CD tray for Something Good manufactured from potato, the packaging for the album is 100% recyclable!

Finding harmonic similarities between the traditional spiritual song “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and the traditional Filipina Visayan folk lullaby “Ili-Ili,” Clamor combined the two to create the haunting and stirring “Motherless Ili-Ili.” She will unveil the song on January 8 and will be available for autograph signing and photographs immediately after the concert.

Charmaine’s musical journey began at age 3, entertaining passengers in the back of buses traveling to Manila, in her homeland of the Philippines. A licensed physical therapist for 6 years, performing music whenever she could, Clamor soon realized she had to follow her artistic calling. But creating, developing and mastering one musical genre has never been enough for the brilliantly eclectic Clamor. Her global recognition reached new heights in 2010 when Charmaine was the only Filipina to appear on the David Byrne/Fatboy Slim concept album, “Here Lies Love” (Nonesuch), about the life of Imelda Marcos, the eccentric former First Lady of the Phillipines.

Charmaine’s previous releases include Searching for the Soul, Flippin’ Out, and My Harana: A Filipino Serenade. Whether it’s jazz, world, soul, funk, pop, swing, blues, folk or jazzipino, Charmaine Clamor always delivers Something Good. In New York on January 8, she intends on proving it.

WHAT: Charmaine Clamor, Queen of Jazzipino in Concert
WHEN: January 8th (Saturday), 7PM sharp; Doors open at 6:30PM
WHERE: Triad Theatre, 158 W. 72nd Street (at Broadway)
TICKETS: $27 available at: www.Brownpapertickets.com/event/135499
MORE INFO: http://www.CharmaineClamor.com

Roy GAINES “Tuxedo Blues” Blues Award Academie' Best Blues Album

Roy Gaines & His Orchestra recorded their first CD “Tuxedo Blues” (Black Gold Records) in 2009 at Capitol Records, and has performed at local venues and events in 2010 including the Central Ave Jazz Festival, The Typhoon Restaurant and the Catalina Jazz Club.  The motto of this 17-piece orchestra is “Dress the blues up”.

Tuxedo Blues has been aired on KKJZ 88.1 FM by Helen Borgers, who also wrote the liner notes.  The blues we hear on this disc have been arranged for a swingin’ big band that could be performing at the elegant ballrooms of the most prestigious hotels.

The music harkens back to the days when Roy was part of a touring program, on the same bill with Count Basie’s Orchestra and Jimmy Rushing, under the influence of impresario John Hammond.  But the music transcends any one era.   Roy puts everything he has into everything he does.  And he is a visionary.  His plans for the evolution of this music – where it will be heard, played and grown – are exiciting.  Today a homage to Count Basie, tomorrow Duke Ellington.  Beyond – who knows?   One thing is for sure, it will be a class act!

Melissa Nadel @ The Blue Note | 12/25

An angelic voice and impressive talent, singer/songwriter Melissa Nadel, will be returning to the Blue Note stage to perform on Saturday night, December 25th at midnight.  Bring your family and friends after your holiday festivities to top off the night.  She will be debuting some new material of hers, and there will be a few Christmas surprises for you as well.. it's a show not to miss!

Melissa is a young, exciting artist who infuses Jazz and Pop to create a genuinely refreshing and original sound.  Her style is versatile and tasteful.  Whether she's behind the piano accompanying herself or center stage fronting her band, her live performances are engaging and filled with emotion.  Her debut CD, WHAT MATTERS, co-produced by Charles Fambrough and herself, is available on iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon, etc.  It is also being distributed in Japan through Vivid Sound Corporation and receiving great reviews.  Melissa is currently preparing to get back into the studio to begin working on her highly-anticipated second album.

TURDAY NIGHT, DECEMBER 25 @ MIDNIGHT
LATE NIGHT GROOVE SERIES
BLUE NOTE JAZZ CLUB
131 W. 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012
Reservations Recommended
212.475.8592
$12

Melissa Nadel - vocals/piano
Patrick Firth - piano
Brian Killeen - bass
Adam Stoler - guitar
Jordan Perlson - drums

Alan Hampton Announces More Dates & Shares Tracks

Making the leap from sideman to solo artist, Alan Hampton's debut LP The Moving Sidewalk has been set for release on March 15, 2011 on MRI Associated Labels.
The full length album effortlessly showcases his tender, ashy voice shimmering over lush string trios, Dr. Who synthesizers and finger-picked acoustic guitars all performed by many of Brooklyn's finest musicians. For a preview of what to expect, grab album track "Change Your Mind."
After performing around the world with artists including Gretchen Parlato, Sufjan Stevens, Clare and the Reasons, Robert Glasper and Elizabeth & the Catapult, Hampton announces a NYC Pre-Release Party and national dates to celebrate and debut The Moving Sidewalk.
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Alan Hampton Tour Dates
Jan 3 - Joe's Pub - NY, NY
CD Pre-Release Party
Jan 26 - GIG on the Strip - San Antonio, TX
Jan 27 - Dunn Brothers - Dallas, TX
Jan 29 - Momo's - Austin, TX
Jan 30 - Block 7 - Houston, TX
Feb 10 - Olin Center - Lewiston, ME    Bates College
Feb 12 - Vermont Jazz Center - Brattleboro, VT    
Feb 18 - Riverside Fine Arts Association - Jacksonville, FL    
Apr 7 - Reggatta Bar - Boston, MA
Apr 22 - Wichita Jazz Festival - Wichita, KS    
Apr 23 - Wichita Jazz Festival - Wichita, KS

w/ Gretchen Parlato

Eric Comstock & Randy Napoleon Release Bittersweet

The pianist & vocalist Eric Comstock, a star of the Off-Broadway hit OUR SINATRA known for his pop and jazz interpretations, and guitarist Randy Napoleon, currently of the Freddy Cole Quartet, have collaborated on a uniquely intimate voice/guitar CD, "Bitter/Sweet", on Harbinger Records.

Co-produced by Comstock and Katherine Miller, "Bitter/Sweet" features songs by Rodgers & Hart, Jobim (with a lyric by the late Susannah McCorkle), Lane and Lerner, Billy Strayhorn, Henry Mancini, Billy May, Paul Weston and others from the American, Brazilian and English songbooks, all arranged by Comstock and Napoleon. Standards such as "I Have Dreamed," "This Can't Be Love," "Gone With the Wind," "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," and "If I Had You" are joined by such rarities as Roger Schore's lyric to Strayhorn's "Ballad for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters". The album also includes "Two for the Road," on which Comstock is joined by his wife, celebrated vocalist Barbara Fasano. Comstock’s other CDs include “No One Knows”, “Young Man of Manhattan” and “All Hart”, and he is profiled in Will Friedwald's new book "The Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers" (Pantheon, 2010). Napoleon's arrangements are heard on Cole's Grammy-nominated salute to Billy Eckstine, "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B."

Comstock and Napoleon first worked together at a concert for Lincoln Center's American Songbook in 2003, and felt it was time to record the duets they have performed in concert halls and festivals around the country in the years since. Napoleon says, "This is one of my favorite musical combinations. Whoever first carved a guitar out of a block of wood must have had a singer in mind -- guitar and voice are that natural together. Eric is also a first-rate pianist and accompanist, so I was particularly honored when he asked me to record with guitar and voice alone."

Comstock adds, "We live in a noisy world, and Randy and I are trying to show that whatever is worth saying musically can be said softly and slowly. This album is an antidote to stress, and Randy and I are extremely proud of it."

Comstock returns to the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room with Barbara Fasano on January 4th in a new show entitled, "HELLUVA TOWN: A  New York Soundtrack", featuring an idiosyncratic  mix of songs from Broadway and Hollywood, the pop singer-songwriters, and the jazz songbook.  Performances of "HELLUVA TOWN", which continue through January 15th, 2011, are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 8:30pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 and 11pm.

Joe Deninzon's Exuberance

Progressive jazz violinist Joe Deninzon, is honored to announce the release of EXUBERANCE. Recorded with bassist Robert Bowen, and guitarist Stephen Benson, EXUBERANCE is the essence of three musicians in a room, playing live with no overdubs or production; a completely raw experience.

The group draws influences from jazz stylists including the gypsy explorations of Django Reinhardt and the hot swing of violinist Stephane Grappelli along with rock and pop standards of the past 40 years including songs by Steely Dan, Alice in Chains, Jimmy Webb and Radiohead.  A few choice covers by Radiohead (“The Tourist”), Alice in Chains (“Heaven Beside You”), Steely Dan (“Bodhissatva”) and Fat's Waller's “Jitterbug Waltz” show just how wide the group's range goes.

One of the group's original songs, “Sun Goes Down” (featuring Luba on lead vocals), has been featured in the independent film, “What's Up Scarlet?” and a recent winner in the Jazz category of the Billboard and John Lennon International Songwriting Contests.

The album is also a tribute to Robert Bowen, who was killed when a car struck him as he rode his bike in Manhattan late August.  Live, the band performs with bassists who were friends with Robert, plus drummer Luciana Padmore (from Joe's band Stratospheerius).  The group has donated some of its earnings and CD sales to Robert's children.

Best known for his work on the 7-string electric violin and lead singing with the rock group Stratospheerius, Joe Deninzon plays acoustic violin in this Trio.  Joe has performed as a solo violinist with the New York City Ballet, and on album or in concert with Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Jane Monheit, Everclear, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Smokey Robinson, and Les Paul.  A 10-time BMI Jazz Composer's grant recipient and a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, his original music has been used on CMT, MTV VH1, Comedy Central, National Geographic, the Travel Channel and the History Channel.

Pretty Lights New Video | New Years in Chicago

Pretty Lights is showing no signs of slowing down as the year winds to an end- this morning, PopMatters premiered his new video for “Future Blind,” which can be found on Spilling Over Every Side, his second (of three!) EP’s of 2010. Pretty Lights will also be performing two shows at Chicago’s Congress Theater during his New Year’s Eve run, 12/30 & 12/31. Supporting the shows will be Major Lazer and Michael Menert on the 30th, and Holy Fuck and Tobacco on the 31st.

Besides releasing his trilogy of EP’s this year, Derek Vincent Smith (accompanied by live drummer Adam Deitch) has been busy touring the U.S. and Europe, including many festival appearances and sold-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic. The super-producer has come to be known for his genre-bending beats, which seamlessly blend electronic elements with funk, jazz, hip-hop and classic soul.

Combine that with his elaborate, visually-stunning live shows, and you can see why he has captured the attention of music fans worldwide. He also recently surpassed one million album downloads through his website, where he distributes all of his music for free (although his material is available on iTunes as well).