A jazz trio and Minnesota music supergroup, The New Standards features singer and pianist Chan Poling of The Suburbs, singer and bassist John Munson of Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare, and vibraphonist Steve Roehm of Electropolis and Billy Goat. With a repertoire composed largely of holiday classics and unexpected covers of contemporary pop and rock favorites, the band has long been a must-see live, but it's also hit the studio a handful of times, releasing albums in 2005 and 2008.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:00 am
By Grant Jackson
Piano Jazz swings in the holiday season, as Marian McPartland and her guests from seasons past, present and future share favorite memories and unique musical performances of Christmas classics and original holiday tunes.
Had you been watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno one Monday night last March, you might have seen pianist Robert Glasper leading his Experiment band from the NBC studios in Burbank, Calif. Had you preferred the Late Show with David Letterman, you might have seen bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding front a horn-heavy ensemble at the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:23 am
At the opening of his 2009 Newport Jazz Festival appearance, Dave Brubeck said, "A few concerts ago, we were in Washington, D.C., and [it] was Duke Ellington Month. So every church, joint and street corner were doing Duke Ellington, and I said to myself, 'He was my mentor, he helped me get started. Why don't I do some Ellington?' [And I said to the guys], 'Follow me, and I'll think of tunes as we go along.'"
Dave Douglas has been an important player in the jazz world for more than two decades, producing a broad body of work as both a trumpet player and a composer. His newest album, Be Still, has a bittersweet backstory: It contains his arrangements of several hymns that his dying mother asked him to perform at her funeral service.
There's a certain intensity of spirit in jazz and improvised music, to the point where it occasionally aligns with religious worship. You especially see it around Christmastime, when certain musicians who happen to be Christians purpose their craft in observance of the season.
Of course, sometimes jazz musicians just like playing familiar songs.
Here are five records, all from 2012, which run the gamut of Christmas jazz. From deep meditations on the holiday's narrative to more offbeat ways to get into the spirit, inventiveness isn't a scarce resource this winter.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:32 am
The energy in the room is palpable, as Wynton Marsalis launches into "Dipper Mouth Blues," a tune named for King Oliver's trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. "New Orleans Bump" features the whimsical clarinet of Victor Goines.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 12:41 pm
Take a group of heavyweight jazz masters — the kind who helped to make the classic records that defined the modern idiom — and put them together on stage: Of course there'll be fireworks. But the all-star collection known as The Cookers has cohered into a band which has toured for five years now, and released three albums of mostly original compositions. Their latest, 2012's Believe, proudly captures this band's meat-and-potatoes spirit, and brings some deserved attention to its members' storied and ongoing careers.
On a new box set from mail-order house Mosaic Records, Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65, the jazz legend's bands usually number between five and eight players. The bassist often made those bands sound bigger. He'd been using midsize ensembles since the '50s, but his new ones were more flexible than ever, light on their feet but able to fill in backgrounds like a large group.