Monday, July 14, 2008

things that have caught my attention of late

Ok. So blogging has really suffered in the last few months as work has completely occupied my life and when not working I opt to do NOTHING. Also I've been comtemplating life, death and the unknown quite a bit. but here is a list of completely beautiful and interesting things that I've come across in the last few weeks and months:

a stunning video of the great and truly underappreciated pianist Larry Willis by Bret Primack (aka jazzvideoguy).

a truly nerdy (though enthralling) blog post on ear training by Dave Douglas on the Greanleaf Music Blog. (photo credit: Jimmy Katz)

a live concert review of one of the world's greatest yet virtually unknown bassists, (a true pioneer of the solo upright bass). One of the records I'm working right now is by one of Rabbath's best pupils, Renaud Garcia-Fons. The CD/DVD Arcoluz will be out in the states on Sept. 23.

another classic Ben Ratliff review of the NY show by Japanese psych-rockers, Boris. I could have seen this band in DC or Philly last week and I missed both opportunities. Silly me.

a great and somewhat unexpected piece on composer Claude Thornhill by Tom Nolan in the Wall Street Journal.

a great Seattle-based folk rock band called Fleet Foxes have been making the rounds on the blogosphere lately and into my computer (I recently bought the self-titled full-length debut on iTunes) and this excellent concert review by Amanda Petrusich, the NY Times latest addition to their critical music writing staff.

the NY Times Popcast is one of my favorite weekly treats. It used to just be the critics reading all four weekly CD reviews in their own voices with musical interludes, but these days they pick two out of four (not sure how they decide) and they also add an artist of the week; usually an interview conducted by utility man Ben Sisario or pop editor Sia Michel).

several weeks ago, Howard Mandel made a post on his thoughtful ArtsJournal blog, JazzBeyondJazz which is an idea I've thought about for a long while, "Where's Tivo for live performance?"

a very controversial subject - how the black community treats jazz today. this is a blog post I forwarded around to a lot of people. Chances are if you're in the jazz world in some way and I know you, you probably already saw this. I feel pretty strongly about this topic as does the post's author, John Murph (a frequent critic for JazzTimes, DownBeat and other music magazines), since jazz (in my opinion) is truly a music borne of the African diaspora in North America and the Caribbean (though many would argue with me on this). The title is somewhat contentious but I think it makes a good point. In the end, he recommends some worthy young artists to check out.

two years after our office helped launch her career with her debut recording Junjo, bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding has made the rounds not only in newspapers and magazine covers, but on national late night television for her Heads Up release, Esperanza (a record I do not care much for since I know what she's capable of. The label is trying very consciously to cross her over into pop stardom, which in all honesty, she was bound for given her good looks and prodigious talents as a musician and storyteller). Here, NPR covers her. She deserves all the success she has had - she is a remarkable human being. And the SF Chronicle ran a nice feature by Lee Hildebrand.

the NY Times Magazine reported back in May on the prodigiously talented Arcade Fire contributor/one-man-band, Owen Pallett (aka Final Fantasy).

a gig review by blogger Kellen Yamanaka of an LA gig I wish I could have made - by my main man and client Jeff Gauthier (pronounced GOAT-ee-yay). His new disc on Cryptogramophone, the label he founded, is brilliant and is called House of Return. Buy it - it's got Nels Cline!

I wish I could have made this hit by drummer Al Foster at the Village Vanguard. Al has the biggest smile I've ever seen when playing. And the way he tilts his cymbals is completely unmistakable. If you saw the kit set up, you'd know it was Al's kit. He also seems to have taken to leading his own small groups showcasing young talent over the last 20 years (though very under the radar). Here he brought out the impressive Israeli saxophonist Eli Degibri, bassist Doug Weiss and ubiquitous NY pianist Gary Versace (pronounced ver-sayce, unlike the Italian designer).

a nice feature on Monk Competition winner, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (pronounced ah-kin-moo-sir-ee) by one of my favorite Bay Area writers, Rachel Swan. Ambrose grew up in Oakland, CA, the son of a single mother who worked for the Oakland Police Department!

a thoughtful feature on current jazz records by Marcus Crowder in the SF Bay Guardian.

a nice radio piece by WNYC cultural critic Siddhartha Mitter on the music of the Mississippi Delta.

NY Times obit for legendary organist Jimmy McGriff. And for Sauter-Finnegan co-leader Bill Finnegan. Rest in peace fellas.

Pitchfork's Joe Tangari reviewed the latest from my favorite current jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer (who has a newly redesigned website and a week of performances coming up July 31 - August 3 at Jazz Standard in NYC).

Ok that's enough for one night. There was more but it can wait.


Chip Boaz said...

Dr. Jazz - I love that Larry Willis video - thanks for posting it! I've enjoyed Larry's work since hearing him on the Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band album Crossroads. He's quite a musician that does deserve more attention - thanks for pointing him out!

I also love Renaud Garcia-Fons. I caught a video of him on YouTube at some point and replayed it several times. He's unbelievable! I'm looking forward to hearing his album . . .

rachelswan said...

Thank you for posting the Ambrose article. I finally gave the album another listen after several months and I still dig it. Real Fresh Sound.