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 Thursday, 24 April 2014
Interviews
Interview With Candy Dulfer Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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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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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