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 Friday, 19 December 2014
Interviews
An Interview with Tierney Sutton PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Tierney Sutton © John Whiting
Most jazz ensembles or bands have one or two primary composers but not so with the Tierney Sutton Band as I discovered during my recent conversation with the lead vocalist Tierney Sutton. All five musicians and Sutton present ideas to the group and work collaboratively on original compositions and new arrangements for songs previously recorded by others.

“Everybody has veto power over something that we play or an idea that we have. All the (musicians) in the band are very creative and knowledgeable people. They are always striving to find something different than they have found before,” says Sutton.

“These guys play on a lot of great records with a lot of great players. Our drummer (Ray Brinker) played on Genius Loves Company the last album recorded by Ray Charles, (while) Kevin Axt has played with Natalie Cole and Chuck Mangione. All of these guys have played on a million rock, country, television and film projects. For them to come to the table and say, ‘I want to be part of something that is different than anything that I have played or heard,’ means that there is a lot of stretching that goes on,” says Sutton.

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Swinging With Elvin and a New Quintet: An Interview With Delfeayo Marsalis PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Thursday, 28 December 2006
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Delfeayo Marsalis

In January at the Blue Note in Manhattan, trombonist/producer/composer Delfeayo Marsalis launches a tour in celebration of his new recording, Minion’s Dominion (Troubadour Jass), a tribute to the late great drummer Elvin Jones. While the recording proved to be one of the last for Jones, the tour is the first for Marsalis’ new quintet, featuring Anthony Wonsey, Mark Shim, David Pulphus and Jeff Fajardo. A long-time member of the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, Marsalis is one of the most respected producers in jazz. The new recording and new tour provided an opportunity to ask Marsalis not only about his work with Elvin Jones but also about his views on playing and producing.

 

 

JP. Tell me about your work with Elvin Jones—when and how did you get involved with his Jazz Machine? Did you feel a special connection with him given that you both grew up within famed jazz families?
DM.
I was in London in 1993, playing with my own band. We were there a day early and I was able to sit in with Mr. Jones. Later in year he called me to play on a recording, and then he called and asked me to join the group [Jazz Machine]. We felt a connection having older brothers—Elvin was the youngest of ten and I am one of six. It [families of musicians] was probably important because we had a similar love for the music.
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Interview with Marcus Strickland PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Sunday, 24 December 2006
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Marcus Strickland © Jimmy Katz

“If you are a jazz musician at a concert and all you see in the audience are jazz saxophone geeks and nobody else then there is something wrong. You have missed the point,” says Marcus Strickland an accomplished tenor and soprano saxophonist and composer. “There should be doctors, lawyers and beauticians there. There should be people from all walks of life. Life is much grander than just jazz music,” he concludes.

 

Strickland was making the comments during our conversation at the end of October shortly after he returned from his most recent European tour. Strickland’s point was jazz artists need to view themselves as being part of a much broader musical landscape. He believes that artists who are serious about their craft will become in his words “experts in music.”

 

Through taking a closer look at other genres of music, Strickland says far reaching benefits will be realized. Artists will learn how to incorporate other instruments and vocal styles into their music. Moreover, he says, “There are very specific intentions behind other genres of music.” Those intentions may be to convey a story, express an ideology or particular sentiment. It is through listening to different styles of music that artists will be able to remain current with their music rather than retrospective.
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Interview with Roger Kellaway PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Tuesday, 12 December 2006
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Roger Kellaway © Kent Lacin
It is not very often that one has an opportunity to speak with a music icon as celebrated as Roger Kellaway and it is even less often that one gets to talk to him on his birthday (67th). I had the opportunity to do both recently and found the pianist/composer to be one of the more congenial people that I have spoken to inside or outside of the music industry. Kellaway took time to reflect about the relationships he has forged, time spent in the late sixties as the arranger and pianist for Bobby Darin, the numerous films he has scored and his forty-one year marriage to Jorjana.

 

 

Now entering his sixty-eighth year Kellaway is not a man stuck in the past but quite the contrary. He spoke of the need to ensure his own music and career is more firmly entrenched in the digital age. Inspired by Maria Schneider’s success in the digital age Kellaway says, “I am much more interested in it right now than I ever have been because I just don’t think there is any other possibility (for selling music on a large scale)”.
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Interview with Sherrie Maricle (Diva Jazz Orchestra / Five Play) PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Friday, 17 November 2006
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Sherrie Maricle © Paul LaRaia

“We are living with an attitude of gratitude and we perform that way,” says Sherrie Maricle. Based out of New York City, Maricle is the bandleader for The Diva Jazz Orchestra and drummer with her quintet, Five Play. Maricle is one of the most delightful and talented people that I have spoken to. She is engaging and genuinely grateful for the opportunities that have come her way. Early in her career she kept overcoming obstacles placed in her way because she is a woman musician in jazz. Her talent simply could not be denied.

I went to someone who knows Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra very well, the legendary Tommy Newsom (the Tonight Show, Benny Goodman, and Erich Kunzel). Newsom has worked on a number of the arrangements that the big band has performed and in 2004 the Diva Jazz Orchestra released the Tommy Newsom Tribute CD. Newsom had this to say when I spoke to him: “I was just talking to a friend of mine and saying that band plays with exuberance, with a flair that almost no other band has. I think they realize this is their shot. They give it their best every time. I have never seen anything like it.”

It seems wherever Five Play and the Diva Jazz Orchestra have performed they have drawn rave reviews from the critics for their energy and the passion with which they approach their music.

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Vinny Valentino Interview PDF Print
Written by Joe Montague   
Friday, 29 September 2006
ImageAlthough Vinny Valentino is a guitar virtuoso, his talent with six strings often overshadows his insight and genius as a composer. "I think that it is very difficult in our world to wear many different hats and for people to be accepting of those different hats. If you are a guitar player you are not really thought of as a great composer," says Valentino. He continues the thought with, "(Take) Pat Metheny, nobody really thinks of Pat as a great composer. Well I guess some people do but not as many as think of him as a great guitar player. George Benson is another one who is a great composer although he doesn't do it that often."

 

 

"In the piano world there are a lot more (composers). In terms of composition people view the piano as more of a tool for composing than they do the guitar. That may be another reason why those two (guitar and composition) don't necessarily go hand in hand," he says.

 

 

Valentino says, "In my opinion the greatest improvisers were also great composers no matter what instrument they played." He then goes on to list Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. "Composing and improvising go hand in hand," he says.
Read more...
 
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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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