Goodbye, Clark Terry

cterry

So sad to hear of the passing of the great Clark Terry, although he has been ill and in failing health for a long time.

Terry was a superb trumpeter and flugelhorn player, a technically brilliant instrumentalist, sublime improviser and high-impact teacher whose playing always exuded real joy, and great and infectious good humor. A veteran of the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands, he was also part of the “Tonight Show” band; he was the first black musician on staff at NBC.

I was a teenager when I first heard and met Terry, playing with the house trio at the old  Buena Vista Village lounge near Disney World. I treasure the elaborate autograph he gave to me, writing his name and a little trumpet figure in red ink on the inside of a double-record live recording on the Pablo label.

Terry’s sound was instantly recognizable — that lilting, effervescent tone, those speedy lines, witty quotes, and musical jests. His collaborations with Oscar Peterson were among Terry’s best work, IMO.

As it’s Oscars night, I’ll recommend a documentary ignored by the Oscars, the very moving “Keep on Keepin’ On.” It’s an account of the ailing Terry’s friendship with young blind pianist Justin Kauflin. It doubles as a tale of friendship and an overview of Terry’s remarkable rise from poverty to a position as one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians.The film was directed by Alan Hicks, a drummer and a former student of Terry’s.

Clark Terry was a great musician, and a great man. He won’t soon be forgotten.

Tampa Jazz (& More) Calendar: Snarky Puppy Leads a Parade of Great Tampa Bay Area Shows

The great, artistically and physically expansive jazz/funk/fusion band Snarky Puppy, with blue-chip funky jammers The Motet, leads a parade of great jazz (& more) shows slated to play the Tampa Bay area in coming weeks and months.

Snarky Puppy, touring in support of last year’s “We Like It Here,” plays Monday night (doors at 7:30) at the State Theater in St. Petersburg.

Also noteworthy, and headed our way:

Friday, Jan. 9 — Marcia Ball with Lipbone ReddingSkipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 10 — Denise Moore And Then Some – Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 11 — Valerie Gillespie Quintet with John DePaola: Tribute to Cannonball and Nat Adderley — (Tampa Jazz Club concert) HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City, 3 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 13 — Lettuce — State Theatre, St. Petersburg, doors at 7 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 16 — Voice of the Wetlands Allstars: Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Waylon Thibodeaux, Johnny Vidacovich, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with Galbraith Group — Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 17 — Sunshine Blues & Music Festival: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, Grace Potter, Dickey Betts & Great Southern, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo), Rebirth Brass Band, Matt Schofield, Sean Chambers – Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg

Tuesday, Jan. 20 — Greensky Bluegrass with The Last Bison — State Theatre, St. Petersburg, doors at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 20 — Eliana Blanchard & Bryan Hughes with Helios Jazz Orchestra — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 22 — Jazz Pianist Stan Hunter: A Celebration (with Patrick Bettison, LaRue Nickelson, Alejandro Arenas, and Joe Bencomo — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31 — Galactic with Monophonic — State Theatre, St. Petersburg, doors at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6 — Eric Lindell with Anson Funderburgh — Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7 — Jonny Lang – Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 14 — Whitney James’ Jazz Valentine (with Jeremy Powell, LaRue Nickelson, Alejandro Arenas and Mark Feinman — Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 15 – George Porter, Jr. with Walter Wolfman Washington – Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa, 5 p.m.

Feb. 25 – St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: James Varnado Jazz/Funk Band – ARTpool courtyard, 7:30 p..m.

Feb. 26 – St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Shawn Brown Trio – Palladium Theater, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 27 – St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: The Claudia Quintet - SPC Music Center, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 28 – St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Kevin Mahogany & Helios Jazz Orchestra – SPC Music Center, 7:30 p.m.

March 1 – St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Post-Festival Jazz Jam – Manhattan Casino, 6 p.m.

March 1 — Dave Stryker – (Tampa Jazz Club concert) HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City, 3 p.m.

 

 

 

Down the Road: Jazz Fest in New Orleans

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – Jazz Fest, for short — remains an amazing, incomparable blast of jazz, blues, funk, gospel, world music, zydeco, Cajun, and pop/rock.

Having attended umpteen times, and written about the event and its performers for Billboard, Jazziz, JazzTimes, DownBeat, the Tampa Tribune and other publications, I can report that the fest is really the only one of its kind in the world, a unique mix of New Orleans and Louisiana music/culture with music from beyond the region. I last attended in 2010, and with any luck may return this year.

The fest, held over the course of two weekends at the Fair Grounds Race Track, for 2015 is slated for April 24-May 3.

The always hotly anticipated announcement of the lineup likely will take place in mid-January. Last year’s announcement came on Jan. 14. Latest speculation is that this year’s will come on Jan. 15.

Anyone considering attending, though, need not wait for the announcement before making plans — you can’t go wrong attending either weekend.

For all the details on the fest, check out the official site. And for the most comprehensive guide on how to “do” Jazz Fest, check out Swagland.

And for a quick look back at an earlier edition of the fest, check out my 2006 review for Billboard.

The Unstoppable Christian McBride — Remembering His Vanguard Show

Huge tone, impeccable technique, compositional acumen, big personality, ambition — just a few of the traits that have driven bassist Christian McBride’s success as a recording artist, bandleader and, lately, NPR show host.

In coming weeks and months, he’s leading his trio — with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. — at venues all around the United States, and taking his big band to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola for a weeklong stint at the end of March.

It’s unlikely that I’ll make any of those shows, but I’m still feeling the afterglow of the McBride performance I caught last month at the Village Vanguard in New York. I caught the late show on Tuesday, Dec. 2, a cold and rainy Manhattan night, and the first evening of McBride’s week there with his Inside Straight group, to be followed by another week with his trio.

Here’s what I wrote about the show, for Relix magazine (click here to go straight to the mag), along with the iPhone pic I shot that night:

“It’s been quite some time since we’ve played together,” Christian McBride said, on opening night of the bassist’s weeklong stint with his reunited Inside Straight band. “It’s like putting on your favorite shoes.” Whether walking his upright or leaning in the direction of funk or Latin grooves, McBride led saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Carl Allen through an engaging set that indeed sounded like they picked up right where they had left off before turning their attention to other projects.

The quintet, playing for a packed house of reverential listeners at the Village Vanguard, the holiest of the holiest of New York jazz venues, largely drew from the group’s sophomore CD, People Music, released in 2013. Alto saxophone and vibes sounded the melody of McBride-penned opener “Listen to the Heroes Cry,” with Wolf, during his solo, throwing in a reference to Nat Adderley’s “Work Song” and the bassist alternating short bluesy stabs with speedy runs; the tune closed with a long outro, group improv and fade out.

McBride and Allen excelled at crafting dynamic rhythmic sculptures that drove the band on two other pieces from the 2013 release — Wolf’s churning “Gang Gang,” featuring barn-burning vibes and drums turns, and Wilson’s delicate, soprano-led ballad “Ms. Angelou.”

The set’s second half ventured in some different directions, starting with the Caribbean and New Orleans grooves of a piece with vibes and alto on the front line. McBride played a bowed solo on a relaxed, expansive version of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” and the five turned up the intensity on Freddie Hubbard’s “Theme for Kareem” (heard on the group’s 2009 Kind of Brown CD), with the leader shifting into full doghouse-bass mode at the song’s start. McBride, also leader of a trio and big band, and host of NPR’s “Jazz Night in America,” shines regardless of the setting.

 

 

 

NPR Music’s Best Jazz of 2014: Steve Lehman, Wadada Leo Smith, Ambrose Akinmusire, more

New releases by saxophonist Steve Lehman, trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Ambrose Akinmusire, and saxophonist Sonny Rollins topped the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll (I voted), organized by longtime jazz writer Francis Davis.

Also in the top 10: Releases by Mark Turner, Marc Ribot, Jason Moran, Brian Blade, Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, and Jane Ira Bloom. A wide swath of critics — 140 — were polled for their choices, and they nominated more than 700 albums for honors.

John Coltrane’s “Offering” was named best reissue, with best vocal album award going to Andy Bey, best debut to drummer Jeff Ballard, and best Latin to pianist and bandleader Arturo O’ Farrill.

For Davis’s thoughts on the Top 10 recordings, along with audio clips, and links to all of the voting data (including my ballot) assembled by Tom Hull, click here.

Best Jazz of 2014: Tom Harrell, Chick Corea, Frank Kimbrough, Snarky Puppy & more

In 2014, Jazz meant a profusion of intriguing and sometimes provocative releases by veterans (Tom Harrell) and young stars (Ambrose Akinmusire) alike, the music as the nominal subject and/or driving force of the score in several films (“Whiplash,” “Low Down,” “Birdman”), and several unfunny satires of jazzers, followed by dust-ups in the jazz community (the Sonny Rollins “interview” in the The New Yorker, etc.).

Full-time institutions of jazz — namely Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and SFJAZZ in San Francisco — continued to flourish, with many, varied events, as did several competitions (Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition), and a profusion of festivals in the United States and abroad, although some of the festivals continued to lean heavy in the pop/rock direction while de-emphasizing their middle name.

Jazz clubs in NYC are still going strong, and still at the heart of the jazz world, as I was reminded during visits to the venerable Village Vanguard (for Christian McBride’s Inside Straight quintet; see my review) and Birdland (for Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, with my friend and former bandmate Jonathan Powell on trumpet; see my review). There are dozens more great venues, of course, in NYC.

More great jazz was released than one person could hear, of course. Here are 10 stand-outs, in a list I was asked to contribute to JazzTimes, NPR Music, the Jazz Journalists Association. and elsewhere.

TOP 10

tom harrell trip

1. Tom Harrell, “Trip” (HighNote)

2. Chick Corea, “Trilogy” (Concord)

3. Frank Kimbrough, “Quartet” (Palmetto)

4. Snarky Puppy, “We Like It Here” (Ropeadope)

5. Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9, “Viper’s Drag” (Impulse)

6. Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, “Landmarks” (Blue Note)

7. Ambrose Akinmusire, “The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint” (Blue Note)

8. Stanton Moore, “Conversations” (The Royal Potato Family)

9. Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood, “Juice” (Indirecto)

10. Keith Jarrett-Charlie Haden, “Last Dance” (ECM)

HISTORICAL/REISSUES

1. Charlie Haden and Jim Hall, “Charlie Haden-Jim Hall” (Impulse)

2. John Coltrane, “Offering: Live at Temple University” (Impulse)

3. Miles Davis, “Miles at the Fillmore — Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3″ (Columbia/Legacy)

4. Jaco Pastorius, “Modern American Music … Period! The Criteria Sessions” (Omnivore)

5. Thelonious Monk, “Paris 1969″ (Blue Note)

VOCAL

  • Tierney Sutton,  “Paris Sessions” (BFM Jazz)

DEBUT

  • Ben Flocks, “Battle Mountain” (West Cliff)

LATIN

  • Arturo O’Farrill, “The Offense of the Drum” (Motema)

 

Tampa Jazz Calendar: Gary Smulyan at USF, O Som Do Jazz at HCC Ybor, Helios Jazz Orchestra and Whitney James at Palladium, more

Some impressive additions here, including brilliant baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, at the next Monday Night Jazz Series concert at USF …

Sunday, Sept. 28 — O Som Do Jazz, HCC Mainstage Theatre, Ybor City (Tampa), 3 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 29 — Monday Night Jazz: Gary Smulyan with USF Jazz Ensemble 1 and USF Jazztet, USF Concert Hall, Tampa, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 30 — Helios Jazz Orchestra with Whitney James, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 16 – Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Earth, Wind & Fire, “Changing Keys” Tribute, Buster Cooper Quartet, Coachman Park, Clearwater, 4 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 17 — Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Spyro Gyra, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Theo Valentin, Al Downing Jazz All-Stars, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 18 — Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Dr. John, Marcia Ball/Terrance Simien, Belinda Womack, Julie Black, TomKats Jazz Orchestra with Katt Hefner, 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 19 — Clearwater Jazz Holiday: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Trombone Shorty, Spirit Family Reunion, Crash, REH/CJH Youth Jazz Band, 2 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 24 — Pieces of a Dream, Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg, 8 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 27 — Monday Night Jazz: The Music of Horace Silver with USF Faculty Jazz Ensemble (Jack Wilkins, Tom Brantley, Matt McCarthy, LaRue Nickelson, Mark Neuenschwander, Chris Rottmayer, Ric Craig), USF Concert Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 14 — Diana Krall, Capitol Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 18 — Gregory Porter, Straz Center, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: James Varnado Funk Band

Thursday, Feb. 12 — Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Straz Center, Tampa, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 — Ramsey Lewis and Philip Bailey, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 — Rene Marie, Straz Center, Tampa, 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 26 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Shawn Brown Trio

Friday, Feb. 27 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: John Hollenbeck and The Claudia Quintet

Saturday, Feb. 28 — St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Helios Jazz Orchestra

Have info on jazz shows? Send details on concerts (not club listings) to jphilipbooth@hotmail.com