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Interviews
Interview With Candy Dulfer PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Monday, 03 September 2007
Candy Dulfer © Carin Verbruggen
Many labels have been applied to the music performed by Dutch alto saxophonist Candy Dulfer, including smooth jazz and funk, but it is perhaps the superlatives that her fans use to describe her music that is most accurate, words like unbelievable, wonderful, incredible and awesome.

 

Speaking to me on the phone from the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, where she was performing, Dulfer said, “I just make albums that I like, and if smooth [jazz] radio picks it up, then it is a great thing. I never want it to be the other way around, making music that hopefully radio will pick up. I don’t think that is being true to myself. A lot of people seem to like the relaxed stuff that I do.”

Equally telling are her comments concerning the success that she experienced early in her career, at age nineteen, with the debut CD Saxuality in 1990. More than one million copies of Saxuality were sold. “My main goal wasn’t to make a video (Lily Was Here, with Dave Stewart) or a hit album. My main goal was to be a little bit famous,” she says, sounding a lot like Billy Crudup’s character, Russell Hammond, in Cameron Crowe’s movie Almost Famous.

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Tippin’ On The Edge of Funk: Interview With j.dee PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Saturday, 18 August 2007

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Tippin’ On The Edge of Funk

Jazz saxophonist j.dee is one man you do not want to refer to as funky. He will also object if you say his music is smooth. So what is it with this cat from LA anyway? The sax man who is better known for his production and songwriting skills will tell you that his music is “tippin’ on the edge of funk,” and that just happens to be the name of his current CD.

“What I wanted to try and do is to be a little funkier than the mainstream smooth jazz artists are, but still be smooth jazz. I thought I would come up with a track that sounds kind of funky, with a funky melody, but still has the jazz overtones to it, that underline the little nuances that keep it in the jazz idiom,” says j.dee in talking about the title track, “Tippin’ On The Edge of Funk.”

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Interview with Rob Fried PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Monday, 30 July 2007
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Wind Song
To say that jazz bassist/composer Rob Fried thinks outside the box and that his music is complex would be enormous understatements. To say that his songs on the current album Wind Song leave you feeling relaxed and immersed in their many moods would be a truer statement. Unlike so many sophisticated writers whose music is wonderful, but sometimes leaves the listener mentally and emotionally exhausted, Fried seems to have a knack for creating music that, despite pushing the envelope, provides for listening enjoyment. To this end, he in part credits the instincts of the many talented musicians who appear on the Wind Song.

During my conversation with Fried, he spoke about his ambitious multi-CD project, of which Wind Song is the first in the collection. Wind Song as the title implies Fried set out to write charts that would leave the listener with a musical representation of wind. His future projects will recreate various elements of the earth such as earth, fire, water, metal and wood, through his charts. He says, “Imagine in your mind four circles or rings and each one of them represents a style of music. One of them represents jazz, another rhythm and blues, one world music—the music of Brazil, Cuba and Africa, and the final one represents ambient or new age music. All the circles intersect. The area where they intersect is where I dwell.”

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Interview with Gretchen Parlato PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
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Gretchen Parlato

Donning a blue wig, performing a whacky improvisation of a very senior citizen awaiting her boyfriend’s arrival, the absolutely comedic woman on the youtube video is obviously blessed with talent. "Miss MacKenzie’s" performance was repeated in part last Valentine’s Day as she delighted the patrons of New York City’s Cornelia Street Café. This time she had an accomplice in a jazz artist by the name of Dave Devoe. Miss MacKenzie is the alter ego of the very talented and equally beautiful jazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato, whose ethereal vocals have caused seasoned jazz musicians and singers to marvel at her seemingly endless musical gifts.

 

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Interview with Morrie Louden PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Sunday, 08 July 2007
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Morrie Louden

“To me the most amazing thing as a writer is to get a concept in your mind, have it come out through your fingers, find it on the piano, write it down, play it, have someone else hear the melody and get that same thought and same feeling that I had originally. That is the ultimate reward as a writer,” says the personable upright bassist and composer Morrie Louden.

Louden who is the proud owner of an almost three hundred year old Pietro Rogeri upright acoustic bass describes how songs often come to him, “Sometimes I will grab a piece of paper and write down notes, or I will create a manuscript piece of paper and write out the notes so I won’t forget what is in my mind. It is amazing, I don’t know where they come from, it must be God because I can be doing just about anything, and a melody will come to me. I will run to a piano to try and find it. When I do (find the melody), oh man that is just the most wonderful thing in the world, to take a sound that is in my mind, find it musically and then put it across.”

It was with this same enthusiasm and flair for the creative that Louden approached his current CD Time Piece. Reflecting upon the title track he says, “That piece got its name because it literally represents pieces of time. I was very careful in writing that piece. I wrote sections in different periods of time because I did not want to rush it or force it. I had a vision of how I wanted this whole song to lay. It tells a story and there are many stories within that piece. The whole thing is an odyssey. It wasn’t the type of piece that I sat down and wrote in a day or week. It has definitive directions and sounds. If I knew it wasn’t a good direction, or it wasn’t everything that I wanted out of the sound, I would stop, and let it sit until the right sound came to me. I just wanted it to flow.”

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Interview with Wayne Escoffery PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Monday, 02 July 2007
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Wayne Escofferey © Nick Ruechel
Although his composition skills and his ability to master the tenor and soprano saxophones move him to the head of the class, Wayne Escoffery still relishes those opportunities to perform as a sideman with the ensembles of other leading musicians. It would be easy for a man with his stature in jazz music to be caught up in his own significant accomplishments, yet one never gets the impression from talking with Escofferey that he dwells on what has been, but instead spends more time thinking of ways to improve his craftsmanship.

In 1999, Escoffery moved from Boston, where he studied at the Thelonious Monk Institute at the New England Conservatory  of Music, to the Mecca of jazz music, New York City. Reflecting upon the past eight years and evaluating his career to date, he says, “I have had so many opportunities and they seem to keep coming. I am keeping my fingers crossed, because I am blessed to have some of these opportunities. I just hope to keep working more with my groups, and more as a sideman. I really think working as a sideman is important. There are still a lot of great musicians out here that I want to play with. I hope to continue doing what I am doing.”

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New and Notable
London/Meader/Pramuk/Ross: "The Royal Bopsters" (Motema)
Written by Kevin O'Connor   

 

ImageSometime after receiving my 11,932nd copy (unsolicited) of vocal jazz standards, I became a bit jaded. Be mindful this was the last time Bob Dole was on a Presidential ticket. While I would never discourage a musical venture of any kind, my tolerance for tuneless warbling through “I Thought About You” reached a saturation point long ago.  When a vocal venture makes it to the audition player, it’s usually because there’s a mitigating factor or two.

This is certainly true of a new release on Motema  Records:  Amy London, Darmon Meader, Dylan Pramuk and Holli Ross have recorded more than a tribute in The Royal Bopsters.  It’s a living, breathing participatory memento of new meets old.  No less than Mark Murphy, Bob Dorough, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross make appearances on what amounts to great choices of original and standard material--all done in the classic mode of bop singing exemplified by these giants of scat and song.

These are arguably the best of the surviving jazz vocalists from their era and they can still swing with the younger set, who gives them plenty of room. This quartet also shows strong potential in the Manhattan Transfer tradition.  Let’s hope they stay true to bop form, since top forty success is likely to elude most crossover acts these days.  

 
Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo: "Swing Zing!" (Self-Produced)
Written by Kevin O'Connor   

ImageA good guitarist can strum up a storm in any genre. A great guitarist can sound like a one-man orchestra who seems to effortlessly glide from style to style without giving much thought to idioms.  Such a player is Frank Vignola.  For decades, Vignola has been a master of all music, especially acoustic swing, classical and jazz. He flies under the radar with much of the mainstream in spite of or maybe due to these chameleon-like tendencies. 

His new CD Swing Zing doesn’t go too far in the direction of phase-shifting; it’s pretty much a swing affair. He has recruited Vinny Raniolo, who is more of a hollow-body Joe Pass denizen. As it turns out, this is a perfect complement to the Vignola whirlwind.

There are no jaw-droppers in the selection of material.  it’s the usual guitar-friendly standards like “Tico Tico” and “Sleepytime Gal.” Stop by for those, but stay for the musicianship.  Guests include:  Julian Lage, Bucky Pizzarelli and Gene Bertoncini.

 
 

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