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 Wednesday, 01 October 2014
Interviews
Ringing Dave King: The drummer talks about his new album, “I’ve Been Ringing You” PDF Print
Written by Pamela Espeland   
Tuesday, 13 November 2012

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Dave King©John Whiting
 

Dave King played back-to-back CD release concerts at the Artists’ Quarter on Friday and Saturday (Oct. 19-20), had a tooth pulled on Sunday, and left Monday for London, the start of a nine-city European tour behind the new Bad Plus CD, Made Possible. Still, he found time on Sunday evening to talk by phone about I’ve Been Ringing You, his new album on Sunnyside.


King made Ringing You with pianist Bill Carrothers and bassist Billy Peterson. King and Carrothers have recorded together before (Shine Ball, 2007, and The Electric Bill, 2002), but King had never played a note with Peterson until the day they all convened at a Minneapolis church and laid down the new tracks.
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Bop's Boswell: Robin D.G Kelley's Thelonious Monk Biography PDF Print
Written by Maxwell Chandler   
Saturday, 31 July 2010
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Robin Kelley has written what, without any trace of hyperbole, can be called the definitive biography of Thelonious Monk (Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, 2009). Stripping bare the many apocryphal stories which surrounded this eccentric genius, the reader is left with a compelling and accurate account of an important original. The following interview with Kelley tells the story of the biographer as well as his subject. 

MC: When did the idea to write a book on Monk come about, and how long after you had the idea did you start? 

RK: I've loved Monk's music since my teenage years.  My step-father at the time was a jazz musician and I was pretty much a self-taught piano player.  He introduced me to Monk, and with that a life-long fascination with the man and his sound.  I never thought I'd actually write anything about him until 1995, when I came down with some mysterious virus and had to be hospitalized over a weekend.  The shock of that experience made me think about my own mortality and what I really want to do before I expire, as it were.  I had already written two books about social movements in the U.S., inspired by critical political questions I and perhaps my generation were concerned about.  But in my hospital bed I asked myself, if I had one more book to write, something for me, what would it be?  Thelonious Monk.  So the seeds of the actually book go back fifteen years. 

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Catching Up With Bill Berg, Drummer for Flim & the BB’s PDF Print
Written by Jeff Timbs   
Monday, 03 May 2010

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Bill Berg

Following is an interview conducted recently with Bill Berg, the original drummer for the Flim & the BB’s. The former bandmates (Flim Johnson, Dick Oatts, and Billy Barber) were not available for this interview. 
 

Hi Bill, so what are you working on these days? 

Bill Berg: We're all busy working musicians. I've just been so busy with my music career, actually working on both coasts, so not much free time. 

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Offering “Sounds With Love and Intention”: An Interview With Matt Wilson PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Friday, 26 March 2010

“It will swing, breath, align, collide, shout, whisper and will make you laugh, cry and be happy that you made it out to share the moment with us!” – Matt Wilson (on his upcoming gig at the Artists Quarter) 

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Matt Wilson©Andrea Canter

He is frequently at the top of critics and listener’s polls for his exploits at the trapset, and his ensembles are among the most highly regarded in modern jazz. Matt Wilson is still in his 40s but his resume and accolades read like those of a wizened jazz titan. In addition to appearances with such luminaries as Dewey Redman, Janis Siegal, Cecil McBee, Fred Hersch, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Sheila Jordan, Lee Konitz, Rufus Reid, Joanne Brackeen, Denny Zeitlin, Myra Melford, Frank Kimbrough, Deana DeRose and Charlie Haden, Wilson’s leadership of his Quartet and Arts & Crafts ensemble have earned him many “rising star” and “drummer of the year” honors. A recent visit to the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul with Arts & Crafts provided an opportunity to catch up with one the busiest and most prolific artists on the scene today. 
 

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Talking with Evan Christopher PDF Print
Written by Pamela Espeland   
Friday, 19 March 2010

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Evan Christopher©John Whiting

Think “clarinet” and “New Orleans” and a certain sound may come to mind: sweet, quavery, old-timey Dixieland. I once thought of the clarinet as an instrument that had seen its day in jazz, making rare appearances for color and nostalgia. And then I heard Evan Christopher play. 

During my first encounter with the Creole-style clarinetist, an impromptu set at the Dakota Jazz Club http://www.dakotacooks.com/ in Minneapolis in 2008, he stole the show from Irvin Mayfield, who usually keeps a pretty firm grasp on such things. I heard Christopher again at Chickie Wah Wah in New Orleans in March 2009, where he has a regular gig on Monday nights, and back at the Dakota in October, where he played for more than two hours to a packed house with no break. Each time I came away knowing I had heard something old and something new.  

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Craig Taborn: Back Home With “Golden Valley Is Now” PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Saturday, 13 March 2010

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Craig Taborn©Andrea Canter
The Dave King for Two Days weekend at the Walker Art Center (March 12-13) presents the percussion titan with seven projects, ranging from his decade-long associations with the Bad Plus and Happy Apple (which will combine briefly as The Bad Apple) to free improv ensemble Buffalo Collision, rock-ish band Gang Font, and two new bands, Golden Valley is Now and Dave King Trucking Company. It’s a reunion for Dave and cohorts, particularly an opportunity to play again with his Golden Valley childhood pals, Reid Anderson and Craig Taborn. Of course every time the Bad Plus comes to town, Dave and Reid are together on the band stand. More rare is the reunion with Taborn, whose infrequently active Junk Magic ensemble includes King. A veteran of tours with James Carter, Roscoe Mitchell and Tim Berne early in his career, now engaged in projects with Chris Potter’s Underground, William Parker and Gerald Cleaver, and an upcoming piano duo with Vijay Iyer, Craig returns “home” hot off a solo piano tour in Europe. It’s a welcome opportunity to catch up with one of the world’s leading voices in keyboard wizardry, and Downbeat Magazine’s 2009 Critics’ Poll top “Rising Star” on electric keyboards.

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New and Notable
Tri-Fi's "Staring Into the Sun": Contemporary and Personal
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

ImageOriginally coming together as the rhythm section for vocalist Curtis Stigers, pianist Matthew Fries, bassist Phil Palombi and drummer Keith Hall branched out on their own ten years ago as "Tri-Fi," and are now celebrating a fifth recording,  Staring Into the Sun (2014). "We knew we had a special musical connection and wanted another outlet to develop our own music as a trio: music that is contemporary and personal, while still deeply rooted in the tradition of the classic piano trios," they explain in the album's liner note. They have met their goal on each outing, but perhaps never more elegantly than on Staring Into the Sun, which they funded through Kickstarter.

The album includes ten tracks of all original compositions, six from Fries and two each from Palombi and Hall. They start of with Fries' "Open Water," a lightly swinging, upbeat tune that introduces the telepathic communication among the trio. Palombi's solo brings a bit of apprehension, yet still hopeful. The bassist contributes a more joyful solo to Fries' festive "Circle Dance." The pianist's "Clockwork" is reminiscent of compositions for Lynne Arriale, as he engages himself in two and even three-way conversations like a mini-travelogue, while Hall's continual punctuations keep your ears wondering, what's next? Fries describes his "Airstream" as optimistic, and it is indeed upbeat, laid-back, playful and bluesy, like Keith Jarrett on a bright day; Palombi adds a bouncy solo. One of the album's most exquisite tracks, Fries'  swaying "The Night Watch"  has an old fashioned ballad feel, while Hall kicks up some fine sonic dust.


Phil Palombi contributes the beautiful "Cielo," featuring bass and piano in counterpoint, generating a pastoral ambience. Palombi's title track starts with a distant drum rumble and sparse piano lines, then builds momentum like an adventure tale, while the bassist's solo adds fine details to the storyline.  With "Song for Butterfly," Drummer Hall provides delicate patterns in a slow meandering ballad, with Palombi setting a steady pulse from the deep end of the bass. Hall's "Josie Bebop" --dedicated to his daughter--is as loose and playful as his previous composition was delicate.


The album closes with Fries' "Compassion," starting with Hall's regal percussion as if a funereal ballad, as if written to honor a friend or mentor's recent passing. Palombi's mournful solo is one of the album's instrumental highlights. This track--indeed the entire album-- is as good an example of trio communication as one can find in the modern piano trio canon, with each instrument contributing significantly to the impact of the whole. The pieces just fit together perfectly.


Staring Into the Sun is available from CD Baby or the Tri Fi website (tri-fi.com)


 
New and Notable: Chip Stephens Trio, "Relevancy" (2013, Capri Records)
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

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Relevancy
I first heard Chip Stephens and his amazing piano playing on a deliciously groovy two-disc CD of famed trombonist Curtis Fuller, titled I Will Tell Her (2010), which I reviewed for L.A. Jazz Scene and Jazz Police website as well.  What stood out about Stephens' playing on several selections from this CD were his amazing, incredible piano runs and his beautifully full chordal voicings.

That work is continued on his latest CD, Relevancy, one of the best, in my opinion, from 2013.  His trio is made up of bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Joel Spencer, all sturdy and excellent performers who have been working together a number of years.  There are eight tracks on this CD -- three original by Stephens and five other very well picked selections.  One of my favorites is Stephens' “C Hips Blues,” ten minutes of some great chords, piano lines and groovy solos from all of the trio members.    Two more originals (and excellent) are “A Day in May,” and “Somewhere Before the End.”  Two better known tunes are “34 Skidoo” (by Bill Evans) and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Like Someone in Love.”  The CD begins with a perky number by Carla Bley, “Syndrome,” that gives the trio a real workout and defines each musician’s strength, especially in their solos.    This CD is one that affords the listener lots of exceptional jazz from Chip Stephens Trio from Capri Records: www.caprirecords.com

Reprinted from L.A. Jazz Scene, July 2014 issue

 
 

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