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 Monday, 21 April 2014
Interviews
Ringing Dave King: The drummer talks about his new album, “I’ve Been Ringing You” Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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” Print E-mail
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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Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Somewhere (2013, ECM)
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

ImageI didn't get a chance to listen to Somewhere until well after its release. Now I can't stop listening. It's telling that the latest album from what has been commonly dubbed the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio was released under the three names, highlighting the nature of the thirty years' collaboration among three of the most singular talents in jazz. Somewhere marks the trio's first release since recording material in 2001 that found its way onto three albums released between 2004-2009. And at that, the "new" release was recorded in 2009, live at the KKL Luzern Concert Hall in Switzerland. But it was definitely worth the wait as Somewhere proves the trio's lack of recent discography reflects no loss of empathy or ingenuity as they cover familiar standards from Miles Davis and Harold Arlen and a pair from West Side Story, as well as two from Jarrett himself.

An intertwining of Jarrett's "Deep Space" with Miles' "Solar" starts with Jarrett's solo explorations, hollow-toned sonic crystals a la Marilyn Crispell, the trio sliding delicately into "Solar" as if the intro belonged there all along. Jarrett's right hand and left hand seem to come from different minds before the trio adds a measure of swing, Peacock adding a large helping of propulsive basslines, DeJohnette taking rhythm for a ride. Jarrett has never been more dazzling. "Stars Fell on Alabama" is simply luxurious, Jarrett elegant, Peacock complimenting every note. There's traces of Monk (especially "I Mean You") throughout the trio's playful arrangement of Arlen's "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," as each musician inserts his own quirky rhythmic alterations. (And was that really a snippet of the Andy Griffith Show theme song?)

The two Leonard Bernstein tracks give the Trio their centrifugal force, with "Somewhere" (and Jarrett's addendum "Everywhere") stretching out to nearly 20 minutes of exquisite interplay. There's so much going on worthy of comment, from Jarrett's circuitous but upwardly mobile blues to DeJohnette's a-fib heartbeats to the slowing pulse of the coda. "Tonight" is far more upbeat, even swinging, Jarrett joyriding over the highway driving of bass and drums. The Van Heusen/Mercer chestnut, "I Thought About You," closes the set, showcasing the improvisational talents of the Trio, Jarrett throwing in a side of Gershwin along the way to a sumptuous finish.

Prone to tantrums and meltdowns in live performance, Keith Jarrett still remains arguably the artist best suited to the spontaneity of live interaction, and the trio of Jarrett, Peacock and DeJohnette the epitome of collaborative improvisation. And Somewhere should be heard "Everywhere."

 
Dave Douglas Quintet Moves Back and Forth in "Time Travel" (2013, Greenleaf Music)
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

ImageIn 2013, Dave Douglas went 50/40/20: The prolific composer and bandleader turned 50 and released his fortieth album as a leader over the past 20 years. And with his current quintet (saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston), Douglas seems to have found a way to pull together his full multi-band, multi-sonic musical resumé. Sort of a follow-up to 2012's Be Still (same band sans vocalist, more hardcore modern jazz sounds), Douglas wanted "to find something that's in-between soloing and trading and playing together." Over the seven new Douglas compositions, he found something that, rather than "in-between" the group and individual, is a collaborative family where the individual serves the whole, the whole serves the individual. And it all serves the listener extremely well, with echoes of Mingus, Monk, Ellington and even Maria Schneider.

As she does throughout, Linda Oh sets a dramatic pulse on the opening "Bridge to Nowhere," the harmonic dialogue among sax and trumpet playfully dissonant as the music takes off in quirky directions. Oh and Royston make a formidable team, keeping it together while also willing to push it to the edge. Mitchell and Irabagon bring a Monk factor into sharp focus in their solos. The horns darkly introduce the more delicate title track -- perhaps this is a Sci Fi time machine? Bass and drums keep the band lurching forward on a trip that crosses alternately rugged and neatly terraced terrain as well as time. The topography--shallow pools and deep crevices--is particularly cultivated by Royston's daring imagination. "The Law of Historic Memory" is a more regal ensemble trip, Oh and Mitchell seeming to direct from darkness toward a slowly revealing light, the horns more controlled, seeking a companionship in melody and harmony that is ultimately uplifting.

"Beware of Doug" provides a feisty, tumbling dose of New Orleans as if Mingus was directing a high-wire act. It's a raucous romp for Douglas and Royston, while Irabagon and Mitchell do their own bit of time traveling before Oh launches as exciting and essential a solo as any on the album. Or so it seems until she again takes charge with a bouncy monologue on the aggressive nod to Dave's home in the "Garden State." Spare piano, dark bass and tingling cymbals set up a nursery-rhymish pairing for the horns on "Little Feet," augmented by Mitchell's solo spin. The majestic horn harmonies elevate "The Pigeon and the Pie," Irabagon and Mitchell offering perhaps the most elegant solo passages of the set. If Maria Schneider wrote for small ensembles, she might encounter this track along her journey. Time Travel can move back or ahead, and the Dave Douglas Quintet manages to balance their direction without losing a second of motion.

 
 

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