Ninety years ago near the village of Katonah, N.Y., art lovers Walter and Lucie Rosen bought Caramoor, a wooded estate, and built a home for their collection of painting and sculpture. Every room was a gallery, including their favorite, the Music Room; after they lost their only son in World War II, they presented a small concert series there to honor him. So began the transformation of Caramoor from a private home to an arts center and treasure for Westchester County, north of New York City.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:33 am
It's New Year's Eve at The Blue Whale, a "live jazz + art space" in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 2009 by singer Joon Lee, this is a listening room. There's food at the bar, poetry (Rumi!) on the ceiling, and wall-to-wall people. The Blue Whale has been sold out for days, and the phone keeps ringing off the hook because everybody wants to be on the air, cheering for Billy Childs live on NPR's Toast of the Nation.
Dee Dee Bridgewater's smile says it all: she's singing this week on JazzSet from the Caramoor Jazz Festival.
All summer, Caramoor presents chamber music, opera, Latin music, a resident orchestra and more — rain or shine. And it did rain in 2012, though the audience stayed dry under the Venetian Theater roof with Bridgewater and her awesome band.
There are three stages at the Newport Jazz Festival. At least two are always running simultaneously. Given the surfeit of options, it's rare to hear a complete set. The question begins to nag: Should be we somewhere else? And away you go, leaving a work in progress to make sure you don't miss one getting underway.
But sometimes if you choose a spot on the lawn and stay put, the juxtaposition of two bands delivers a fine festival experience. Sunday morning, August 5, 2012, on the Quad Stage is such a time.
As we re-release these two sets from Newport, saxophonist John Ellis (leader of one, player in the other) is leading workshops in Portugal and Italy. Darcy James Argue has released a studio recording of Brooklyn Babylon, and his Secret Society tied with the Maria Schneider Orchestra for the Big Band of 2013 in the just-out DownBeat Critics Poll.
From their spirited night of Chick Corea music alone, it's clear how Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap love to play amongst horns and a rhythm section. Yet when they face each other at two pianos, with a wink and a nod, they do it all themselves.
Now on JazzSet, it's Rosnes on the left, Charlap on the right and — in Charlap's words — "a unique sound that is the sum of both of us."
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:34 am
Catherine Russell is a lady born to music. Her father, Luis Russell (1902-63), was Louis Armstrong's orchestra leader beginning in the mid-1930s. Her mother, Carline Ray, is a bassist, singer, great all-around musician and a member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the 1940s all-woman band that swung as hard as the men. "This Daughter of Jazz Is One Cool Cat," reads the headline of Nat Hentoff's profile for The Wall Street Journal.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:36 am
From January 1992 to September 2001, Branford Marsalis set the JazzSet pace, hosting 39 new shows a year (now we do 26) from the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band; festivals in Iowa City, Telluride, Pasadena, Mount Hood, Montreal and Brevard, N.C.; the new music festival in Groningen, the Netherlands, and the Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba; clubs from Yoshi's in California to Sculler's and the Regattabar in Boston. WGBH producer Steve Schwartz sent us lots of Boston sets during that first decade, all of them much appreciated.
Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 4:10 pm
The Litchfield Jazz Festival leads off with a weeks-long camp for high-school students and New York's finest musicians on the faculty, then climaxes with a two-day festival. This year it's August 11-12 in Goshen, Conn., but here we have two sets from the 2010 festival, featuring two groups with young leaders.
Chihiro Yamanaka and Jane Bunnett come to the Kennedy Center from Japan and Canada, respectively, and each has a compelling story.
Jane Bunnett is from Toronto, yet for more than 30 years, she's championed Cuban music and musicians. She's made dozens of trips to the island, studying and working, bringing instruments to schoolchildren, and inviting players to return to Canada with her and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer.