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“Jazz is not background music. You must concentrate upon it in order to get the most of it. You must absorb most of it. The harmonies within the music can relax, soothe, relax, and uplift the mind when you concentrate upon and absorb it. Jazz music stimulates the minds and uplifts the souls of those who play it was well as of those who listen to immerse themselves in it. As the mind is stimulated and the soul uplifted, this is eventually reflected in the body.” - Horace Silver
 Monday, 06 July 2015
Jim Rotondi Quintet Featuring Joe Locke 7/10-12 E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
Jim Rotondi © Andrea Canter

Trumpeter Jim Rotondi has been a major figure in the world of jazz for over 20 years, both in New York and on the international scene. His sound, soul, and sense of swing have been in demand as leader and sideman all over the world. Rotondi's quintet roster reads like a who's who of modern jazz greats featuring Joe Locke on vibraphone, David Hazeltine on piano, David Wong on bass, and Carl Allen on drums. Hear this stellar quintet at Smoke in Manhattan on Friday, July 10th through Sunday, July 12th with three sets nightly.
The "Pinnacle" of Jazz: Irv Williams Celebrates One More (Last?) CD, July 6 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

Irv Williams©Andrea Canter

“the coolest old guy or the oldest cool guy…” -- Pioneer Press

A number of years ago, tenor saxophone legend Irv Williams hinted at retirement in his liner notes for That’s All (2004), but clearly that was premature. Three CDs later, the then 88-year-old known fondly as “Mr. Smooth” issued a more dramatic hint with the release of Finality (Ding Dong Music) in 2008.  But apparently the title only referred to Irv’s feelings about recording sessions, not performing opportunities. In Spring 2011, Irv seemed more determined that we let him rest his chops, proclaiming the release of yet another CD (Duke’s Mixture) at the Dakota Jazz Club to be his “Retirement Party.” Shortly thereafter, he was back playing for the Dakota’s Friday Happy Hour with Peter Schimke.  Then came the May 2012 “Retirement Party” at the Dakota, followed by more happy hours, and a special guest performance in spring 2013 with Estaire Godinez at the Museum of Russian Art.  And still he held weekly happy hours at the Dakota, which in early 2014 saw a cast change -- now a trio with guitarist Steve Blons and bassist Billy Peterson. Irv had already laid down tracks for Pinnacle with Blons and Peterson, what he thought would be his final recording, but the release was delayed.
Vocalist Tammy McCann and Trio at the Pilsner Room E-mail
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

Tammy McCann and her Trio©Glenn A. Mitchell

Vibrant vocalist Tammy McCann completed her recent West Coast Tour on Saturday evening, June 13, giving a stellar performance at the Pilsner Room in Irvine, CA.  The Pilsner Room is a newer venue trending excellent jazz groups and performers.  It is connected to McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant at the same location.   

Summer Jazz Explosion - The Bay Area Festival Scene E-mail
Written by Ken Vermes   

Dafnis Prieto©Ken Vermes

It seems like only a few months ago that everyone was talking about the death of jazz and the end of the Bay Area urban music scene due to gentrification. There still are major problems on the club level, for sure, with soaring rents and a lack of excitement in some quarters. But in the midst of disintegration on that level of music, no one seems to have noticed that the Bay Area is growing into a region with one of the most exciting and varied group of music festivals in the world. From the North Bay’s Healdsburg Festival to a stunning show at the Yerba Buena Garden Festival to three thrilling shows at SFJAZZ to a very strong series starting at the Stanford Jazz Festival, there seems to be a new energy and a higher level of musical events in every corner of the Bay. And that doesn’t include the very strong San Jose Jazz Festival coming up in August and the Monterey Festival that closes the summer jazz events in September. Some recent highlights:

From the Ground Up and Into the Future In Memoriam: NEC Remembers Gunther Schuller E-mail
Written by New England Conservatory of Music   

Gunther Schuller (photo courtesy of New England Conservatory)

"The thing that may make me unique is that I have simultaneously had seven full-time careers in music over the last 50 or 60 years. That's more than Leonard Bernstein."-- Gunther Schuller

Ed. Note. French horn prodigy, NEA Jazz Master, composer, conductor and educator Gunther Schuller died in Boston on June 21 at age 89. Schuller is best known for bringing the worlds of classical music and jazz together, as well as establishing the first jazz program at a music conservatory. The following memorial piece is re-posted with permission from the New England Conservatory.

The TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival: Looking Back and Ahead E-mail
Written by Sheila Horne Mason; Photographs by Kevin R. Mason   

Dorthann Kirk

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has become a real hub for jazz lovers in the New Jersey/New York/Connecticut area. Recent events included a concert by singer Michael Franks and vocalist/guitarist Raul Midón; The Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens Final Concert; and Swinging on a Star: The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen, starring Broadway luminaries Norm Lewis and Rebecca Luker. NJPAC’s annual TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival has become one of their most acclaimed events. Named in honor of Newark's saxophone great James Moody, the third TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival was held at NJPAC and several other venues in Newark November 9-16, 2014. We're now looking ahead to the 2015 festival, to be held November 7-15.

Ornette Coleman: 1930-2015 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

Ornette Coleman (photo Jimmy Katz)

“Coleman was dancing in our heads—harsh yet jubilant, alienated yet benevolent…True, he challenged every pre-conception of Western music…but that was secondary to his magnanimous spirit, his blinding unison of purpose.” –Gary Giddens, Visions of Jazz

“Most people think of me only as a saxophonist and as a jazz artist, but I want to be considered as a composer who could cross over all the borders.” – Ornette Coleman

The father of "free jazz" and one of the most revolutionary musicians of all time, Pulitzer prize-winning saxophonist Ornette Coleman died on June 11 of cardiac arrest. In addition to the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his recording, Sound Grammar, Coleman was also honored as an NEA Jazz Master in 1984 and with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Two Surprising and Phenomenal Concerts Kick Off The Summer Season: SFJazz and Healdsburg Jazz Fest E-mail
Written by Ken Vermes   

Romero Lubambo and Luiciana Souza (photo - George Wells, Healdsburg Jazz Festival)

This summer in Northern California the festival season kicked off with two very special shows. The first was the Carla Bley Tribute at SFJazz (previously previewed on this site), and the second was an evening of back to back concert performances (Jazz in the Americas: Brazil) by Luciana Souza with Romero Lubambo,  and Trio da Paz with Kenny Barron, part of the opening weekend of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. These performances were not only exceptional in every way, but featured musicians who have not been seen nearly enough. These concerts demonstrated that exceptional programming and artistry still exist, and a listener with determination can catch such first class shows.

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