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 Friday, 25 April 2014
Interviews
An Interview with Tierney Sutton Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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) Print E-mail
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 Print E-mail
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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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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