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.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:24 pm
By Matt Fleeger
The Chicago-based record label Thrill Jockey, led by founder Bettina Richards, has been presenting music on its own terms since 1992. Like any great independent label, it's difficult to identify the core "sound" of its releases, but its fans can easily identify its curatorial spirit. This is by design. "The way I listen to music, there are no categorical limits," Richards says.
The saxophonist Dayna Stephens, originally of the San Francisco Bay Area, has built up an impressive educational pedigree: Berkeley High, Berklee College of Music, the Thelonious Monk Institute's masters program. But he's really flourished by backing up greats like Kenny Barron and Idris Muhammad, and being a first-call player on both the East and West Coast. Blessed with a warm, enveloping tone, he's made two records as a bandleader, including this year's Today Is Tomorrow.
Pianist, composer and teacher Pete Malinverni is a multifaceted player known for his attention to melody and delicate phrasing. Spiritual influences radiate throughout his arrangement of "Deep River," and Malinverni and host Marian McPartland end a delightful hour as they join together in a performance of the Harold Arlen standard "Get Happy."
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.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 8:30 am
Bassist Omer Avital came from Israel to New York in the early '90s and found himself among the top tier of straight-ahead modern jazz performers. The time in the big city led him to re-investigate his roots — his parents are from the Arab-speaking world — and in 2002, he returned to Israel to study traditional music and oud. Since returning, he's remained a monster bass player, but has also integrated his Middle Eastern musical interests into his composing.
Ethiopia enjoys a rich tradition of enticing music, filled with asymmetric rhythms set to a haunting, five-note scale and sly double-entendre lyrics in the Amharic language. It's a shame that, for Western listeners, a full, clear picture of Ethiopian music has been elusive.