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“Jazz is a good barometer of freedom… In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that man people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.” -Duke Ellington
 
 Thursday, 24 April 2014
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Latin Meets Jazz: Miguel Zenón With the JazzMN Orchestra on April 26th E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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Miguel Zenon ©Andrea Canter
 

“This young musician and composer is at once reestablishing the artistic, cultural, and social tradition of jazz while creating an entirely new jazz language for the 21st century.” -- MacArthur Foundation, 2008.

Saxophonist, multiple Grammy-nominee, and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón will play with the acclaimed JazzMN Orchestra for their season finale on Saturday, April 26, 7:30 pm at the Hopkins High School Auditorium. Earlier in the day (1-2 pm), Zenón will present a free public clinic at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, sponsored by JazzMN.


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Thirteen Jazz Artists Receive 2014 Doris Duke Awards E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
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Craig Taborn © Andrea Canter

Minnesota native pianist/composer Craig Taborn is among the recipients of 2014 Doris Duke Artist Awards! The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced today the first-ever recipients of the Doris Duke Impact Awards and the third group of individuals to receive Doris Duke Artist Awards. Both awards are part of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, a special, ten-year initiative of the foundation to empower, invest in and celebrate artists by offering flexible, multi-year funding in response to financial challenges that are specific to the performing arts. Doris Duke Artist Award recipients receive $275,000, and Doris Duke Impact Award recipients receive $80,000. In addition to Taborn, other jazz musicians receiving Artist Awards are Oliver Lake, Roscoe Mitchell, Randy Weston, Steve Lehman and Zeena Perkins. Seven jazz artists received Impact Awards, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Coleman, Ambrose Akinmisure, Ben Monder, Aruan Ortiz, Matana Roberts, and Jen Shyu. Others from the Twin Cities, Ranee Ramaswamy, founder and co-director of Ragmala Dance and Emily Johnson, director of the Catalyst dance company, also received Artist Awards, and puppet theater artist Michael Sommers of Open Eye Figure Theater received an Impact Award.

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Take a "Ghost Tour" With Graydon Peterson at Jazz Central, April 23rd E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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Graydon Peterson©Andrea Canter
 

One of the busiest and most forward-moving jazz artists in the Twin Cities, bassist Graydon Peterson has appeared on stage with a long list of area instrumental and vocal artists, with visiting touring artists, with larger ensembles like Snowblind, and as leader of his own Quartet. More recently focusing on compositions and arrangements for his bands, Graydon has launched a new trio, Ghost Tour, coming about monthly into Jazz Central Studios with an emphasis on new works from Peterson, guitarist Park Evans and drummer Adrian Suarez. You can take the Ghost Tour this Wednesday, April 23 at 8:30 pm.

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The Wallace Roney Quartet at the Jazz Showcase 4/24-27 E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   

"The older you are, you do become a better player. The reason is that, not only on the knowledge side, you get older and your body can control things better. The more time you spend with your instrument, the better control you have over it. The more life you live, the more you can bring to your art." - Wallace Roney

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Wallace Roney © Andrea Canter
An acclaimed protégé of Miles Davis, Wallace Roney faced criticism early in his career for his significant similarities to his mentor in tone and expression. His latest recordings and three Grammy Awards have served to dispel accusations of mimicry, proving that the stylistic affinity is in no way a cover for any shortcomings or lack of individuality. On tour with his quintet, Roney will perform at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Thursday, April 24th through Sunday, April 27th.
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LA Beat: Avery Burdette and Ron Levy Trio at the Tee Room, Newport Beach E-mail
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

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Avery Burdette with the Ron Levy Trio, L-R: Merola, Burdette, May and Levy. (Photo: Carolyn Yarnell)
 

Some of the best jazz in Orange County can be found at several venues there.  The Tee Room in Newport Beach, located on Newport Beach Golf Course,  is one of these beautiful venues, offering jazz on Monday evenings.  Vocalist Avery Burdette and the Ron Levy Trio perform on the second Monday of every month.   Our visit Monday, March 10, 2014, was productive and included dinner and a show for $20.00 per person – a very reasonable bargain!

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A Drummer's Vision: Matt Slocum and "Black Elk's Dream" (2014, Chandra Records) E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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Black Elk's Dream
 

Twin Cities native and alum of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, drummer Matt Slocum has established himself as one of his generation's most effective composers and bandleaders.  With composition grants from the American Music Center, the Puffin Foundation, Meet the Composer Foundation and more, Slocum gained high praise for his first two recordings as leader, Portraits (2009) and After the Storm (2011), both on the Chandra Records label. Where Portraits featured a trio of rotating horns to augment the rhythm section, the second release focused on the core trio, both boasting long-time collaborators Gerald Clayton (piano) and Massimo Biolcati (bass). Yet central to both recordings were Slocum's magical compositions - lyrical voicings, assertive rhythms, subtle shadings and bold statements, reflecting not only the drummer's talents as a drummer, but the skills as writer and arranger that set him apart from most of his peers, regardless of instrument. Returning to the quartet and quintet format, with frequent collaborators Walter Smith III and Dayna Stephens rotating on saxophones, Slocum brings us a new project inspired by the visionary Native American leader Black Elk and the book Black Elk Speaks, appropriately titled Black Elk's Dream (Chandra Records, 2014).

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Kendra Shank and John Stowell 's Musical Experiments and "New York Conversations" (2014, TCB) E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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New York Conversations
 

Acclaim for Kendra Shank’s unique approach vocal jazz has grown steadily over the past decade, including the designation “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” in the Downbeat International Critics Poll. Initially working as a folksinger, the California native studied with muse Jay Clayton in Seattle, gigged with Bob Dorough, and caught the ear of the late Shirley Horn, who co-produced Shank's debut recording, Afterglow (1994). Two recordings followed her move to New York, Wish (1998) and Reflections (2000), the latter with pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Tony Moreno, who have been regular bandmates ever since. Her more recent releases have taken her music in almost opposite directions: A Spirit Free (2007) revealed her sharp edges in reinterpreting the music of Abbey Lincoln, while Mosaic (2009) revealed the softer contours of a more personal, perhaps freer spirit. Her latest projects have brought more accolades to the elastic improviser, who has been described as a performer with a “unique and immediately identifiable sound and style” (Don Heckman, LA Times), as “a singer with a sound” (Abbey Lincoln) who “phrases inventively, whether crisp and sizzling or sensuously smoky” (Patricia Meyers, Jazz Times). No doubt New York Conversations (TCB), Kendra's new recording with long-time cohort, guitarist John Stowell, will further cement her standing as one of the true innovators in modern vocal jazz.

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No More "Bluesette": Toots Thielemans Announces Retirement E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

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Toots Thielmans©Andrea Canter
 

"I can say without hesitation that Toots is one of the greatest musicians of our time. On his instrument he ranks with the best that jazz has ever produced. He goes for the heart and makes you cry. We have worked together more times than I can count and he always keeps me coming back for more…” -- Quincy Jones, Liner Notes, Q’s Jook Joint, 1995

Toots Thielemans, perhaps the greatest jazz harmonica player of all time, has announced his retirement at age 91. Jazz Times reported that Thielemans feels he can no longer perform at a high level and “does not want to disappoint my fans.” He was recently forced to cancel two concerts due to health issues.

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