Jazz News & Notes: Wayne Shorter & Joni Mitchell honored; International Guitar Competition; Christopher Hollyday; music or basketball?

Helping jazzers in need: Wayne Shorter, 86, and Joni Mitchell, 71, were honorees at the Jazz Foundation of America’s third annual benefit in L.A., presented by Quincy Jones on Sunday night Herb Alpert‘s Vibrato Bar and Grill. The event raised more than $165k to help needy musicians. Chaka KhanWendy & Lisa (of the old Prince & the Revolution), and actor Rita Wilson were among the featured performers. The band, led by drummer Steve Jordan, variously included bassists John Patitucci and Larry Klein (one of Joni’s ex-husbands), saxophonist Antoine Roney, guitarist Ray Parker Jr., percussionist Alex Acuna (Shorter’s former Weather Report bandmate), pianist Patrice Rushen, and New Orleans pianist-singer Davell Crawford. More here

wayne shorter

Six-string showdown: 12 young guitarists are competing to win the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz’s International Guitar Competition. Semifinals are Dec. 2 at the Smithsonian, with a judges panel including Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Stanley Jordan, and Russell Malone; three finalists will play the Kennedy Center on Dec. 3, in a concert with saxophonist Bobby Watson, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and others. Winner gets $30k and a Concord Music recording contract. Guitar was last the focus of the event — formerly the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2005. Nate Chinen reports.

Remember teen sax prodigy Christopher Hollyday? He’s back, and releasing music after a long hiatus mostly focused on teaching and studying.

We talking music or basketball?  “An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Salt Lake City Tribune has a full-time jazz reporter. It in fact has two reporters who cover Utah Jazz, the local basketball team.” (reported by the Financial Times, and tweeted by Daniel Brogan: correction of the year?). Here’s a good place to note that few daily newspapers still employ full-time arts reporters — music or otherwise. Yet some of those papers will still have a zillion sports reporters available to cover every time a local NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL athlete farts. Boo.


College jazz bands — Reviews round-up by Ken Franckling (JazzTimes)

Encouraging to know that college jazz programs continue to document their achievements via full recordings. For JazzTimes mag, Ken Franckling recently reviewed releases by several university big bands. Check ’em out:



Jazz News & Notes: New Cafe Bohemia; Ronnie Scott’s 60th; RIP, Fred Taylor; “Baby, It’s PC Inside” …

Cafe Bohemia, the Reboot: The celebrated NYC jazz club (’55-’60), home to performances by Miles Davis, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, and Charles Mingus, among many others, is back. The new/old venue, downstairs at the Barrow Street Ale House in the West Village, will be home to jazz, blues and folk shows programmed by managing partner Christine Santelli, also a notable singer & songwriter. Venue eventually will offer live music six nights a week.

Ronnie Scott’s 60th: Van Morrison, Brit saxophonist Courtney Pine and other celebrated musicians gathered Wednesday at the Royal Albert Hall for a concert honoring the iconic London jazz venue.

RIP, Fred Taylor: The veteran Boston-area jazz promoter and producer died at age 90.  JazzTimes obit here.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”: The PC remake by John Legend & Kelly Clarkson is the yule tune that you didn’t know you didn’t want: Classic original > “woke” revision.


Gerry Gibbs & Thrasher People, “Our People” — my review for JazzTimes

“Five musicians, 40 instruments, 19 interrelated compositions, five consecutive days in a Queens home studio, 66 minutes of music: By the numbers alone, Gerry Gibbs’ latest batch of original tunes is quite a feat. The sprawling disc, something of a followup to the drummer/composer’s 2017 salute to Weather Report, has Gibbs and Alex Collins, the pianist/saxophonist from that disc, joined by bassist Gianluca Renzi, flutist Mayu Saeki, and vocalist/percussionist Kyeshie Gibbs.”

Full review   

Happy Jazzoween!

Best Halloween-themed jazz album cover of all time?

For 1958’s “Blues for Dracula” (Riverside), Philly Jo Jones’ debut album as a leader, the drummer led a sextet including tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, cornetist Nat Adderley, and trombonist Julian Priestley.

Joining Jones in the rhythm section were pianist Tommy Flanagan and bassist Jimmy Garrison.

Scott Yanow, in the All Music Guide: “Drummer Philly Joe Jones’ debut recording as a leader, made shortly after he left Miles Davis’ Quintet, starts out with his amusing but overly long monologue on “Blues for Dracula,” during which he does his best to imitate Bela Lugosi. The remainder of the set (which has been reissued on CD) is more conventional, with fine playing from cornetist Nat Adderley, trombonist Julian Priester, the great tenor Johnny Griffin, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and the drummer/leader. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Ow” and Cal Massey’s “Fiesta” are heard in lengthy versions on the worthwhile but not overly essential release.

Al Foster, “Inspirations & Dedications” — my review for JazzTimes

“Only 16 when he started playing trio gigs with the likes of Larry Willis and Eddie Gomez, drummer Al Foster has spent six decades as a not-so-secret special groove ingredient enlivening performances and sessions by a long list of heavy hitters. For Inspirations & Dedications, a rare outing as a leader, Foster deploys his working quintet on two pieces by mentors, and 11 originals honoring family members and a friend.”

Full review

Bob Sheppard, “The Fine Line” — my review for JazzTimes

“As a first-call L.A. saxophonist, Bob Sheppard has famously toured with Steely Dan, played with loads of notable jazzers and marquee-name pop stars, and has appeared on—by one count—more than 100 movie and TV soundtracks. Between supporting others and teaching, Sheppard has only been able to record a handful of albums as a leader in nearly three decades. That’s hard to believe, given the polished, musically fertile The Fine Line, a provocative collaboration with Dutch bassist Jasper Somsen. Joined by pianist John Beasley, drummer Kendrick Scott, and several guests, Sheppard and Somsen take on a mix of lively originals and freshened-up standards.” 

Full review