The basic story behind drummer Rudy Royston's first album sounds like that of many sidemen in jazz. He moved to the New York area. His talent got him into bands led by higher-profile artists like Bill Frisell, JD Allen, Ben Allison and Dave Douglas. And when it came time to document his own composing and arranging, he could rely on the network he had tapped into. Douglas issued Royston's album 303 earlier this month on his own record label, Greenleaf Music.
Alto saxophone phenom Grace Kelly has recorded with icons Lee Konitz and Phil Woods and is a seasoned road warrior with tour dates around the world. And she's till in her early 20s. She recently added vocalist to her resume.
Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:05 pm
From the outside looking in, it may seem as if jazz recordings have slowed to a flurry. But it's really more like a blizzard, with dozens already coming down in the new year — including new efforts from big names like Pat Metheny, Danilo Pérez and Brad Mehldau. Before we're snowed under, here are a few others worth hearing.
Frank Wess' new album, Magic 201, is a sequel to last year's similar helping of ballads and midtempo strollers, Magic 101. The new album is very nearly every bit as good, and made a little more poignant by Wess' death just before Halloween. On his last session as a leader in 2011, he was still sounding strong at 89.
This past week, the bassist and vocalist Mimi Jones released three albums at once. They weren't all her music, but they were her work: As the founder and producer of the record label Hot Tone Music, she brought all three albums to fruition.
Fifty years ago, on Feb. 12, 1964, Miles Davis led a band through one of the most exciting gigs to ever take place at New York's Philharmonic Hall. The show was a cultural event: a benefit for voter registration in Louisiana and Mississippi at the high point of the the civil rights movement, and an unofficial homage to John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated a few months before.
Pianist Cedar Walton rode high on the cresting wave of '60s hard bop. He performed with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and in Lee Morgan's band, and was house pianist at Prestige Records. Walton died in August 2013.
In this 1980 session, he performs his tune "N.P.S." and duets with host Marian McPartland in "Lover Man."
Duke Ellington added more than 3,000 songs to the American music vault before his death in 1974. He also started composing what he hoped would be a great American street opera — which composers have spent 40 years adapting, trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus.
But before you imagine soothing arias or boisterous trills and vibrato, let me stop you: Ellington's opera is very much a work of jazz.
On this episode of Piano Jazz, composer and keyboardist Herbie Hancock stops by in a program recorded in 1987. The ever-inventive Hancock sticks with the acoustic piano for this set of solos and duets with host Marian McPartland. Hancock performs a mix of his originals — "Dolphin Dance" and "Still Time" — and standards including "Limehouse Blues," "It Never Entered My Mind" and "That Old Black Magic."