Jazz in Nashville? Well, yes.

F1F658D0-9D60-4AE7-825E-524C2408CF24.JPG25EDBA6B-DAA6-4E6C-8D30-41C9816C60B4.JPGNashville, of course, is ground zero for country music — at least, for most of the country music that lands major radio airplay.

But Music City long has been home to lots of superb players who are also accomplished jazz cats. In recent years, that list has grown to include the likes of saxophonist Jeff Coffin, guitarist Larry Carlton, banjo man Bela Fleck, bassist and Belmont prof Roy Vogt, and friends and former Florida residents Jeff Berlin, the virtuoso bass guitarist, and Mike Pachelli (with whom I’ve played on several occasions over the years).

Rudy’s Jazz Room is the (relatively) new jazz spot in town, and I’m happy I got a chance to stop in on Monday night, for the weekly performance by Charles Treadway‘s organ trio, with Nashville guitar cat Pat Bergeson (Lyle Lovett, Suzy Bogguss, and the late Chet Atkins) and, on this gig, drummer Jordan Perlson.

The three, playing on a slightly elevated stage in front of a red curtain, turned in a set of jazz standards, blues, fusion, boogaloo, and old school R&B/funk that ranged from mellow to swinging to absolutely schmokin’.

Their repertoire, easy to love, included Duke Ellington’s “Reflections in D,” Benny Goodman’s “Don’t Be That Way,” Duke Pearson’s “Idle Moments” (popularized by Grant Green) and three written by and/or associated with noted B3 men — Dr. Lonnie Smith‘s “The Man From Toledo,” Bobby Pierce’s “To Newport With Love” and Jimmy McGriff’s “Healin’ Feeling.” Pretty sure I was hearing their creative take on the Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love” on the way out.

Rudy’s is a comfortable, beautifully appointed place, with cleverly named specialty drinks and good food — I had the gumbo. Photos, posters and other artwork related to jazz icons including Miles, Monk and Louis Armstrong adorn the walls. And ornate lantern-style lights hang from the bare, industrial-looking low ceilings.

I’ll be back one day, I hope.

Grammy jazz nominees: Wayne Shorter, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, more

Most of the Grammy noms are a bunch of meh, IMO. Guess I’m not the target audience.

Kudos to the jazz nominees.
The albums by Wayne Shorter, Redman/Miles/Colley/Blade, Eddie Daniels, and Eddie Daniels landed on the Top 10 list I submitted to JazzTimes mag and elsewhere.

At least two Florida connections:
Scotty Barnhart, director of Count Basie Orchestra (best large jazz ensemble album) is the longtime jazz trumpet prof at FSU. 
And celebrated pianist Brad Mehldau (best improvised jazz solo) is a Jacksonville native.
———————————–
Best Improvised Jazz Solo:
“Some Of That Sunshine” — Regina Carter, soloist
“Don’t Fence Me In” — John Daversa, soloist
“We See” — Fred Hersch, soloists
“De-dah” — Brad Mehldau, soloist
“Cadenas” — Miguel Zenón, soloist

Best Jazz Vocal Album:
“My Mood Is You” — Freddy Cole
“The Questions” — Kurt Elling
“The Subject Tonight Is Love” — Kate McGarry With Keith Ganz & Gary Versace
“If You Really Want” — Raul Midón With The Metropole Orkest Conducted By Vince Mendoza
“The Window” — Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album:
“Diamond Cut” — Tia Fuller
“Live In Europe” — Fred Hersch Trio
“Seymour Reads The Constitution!” — Brad Mehldau Trio
“Still Dreaming” — Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade
“Emanon” — The Wayne Shorter Quartet

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album:
“All About That Basie” — The Count Basie Orchestra Directed By Scotty Barnhart
“American Dreamers: Voices Of Hope, Music Of Freedom” — John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists
“Presence” — Orrin Evans And The Captain Black Big Band
“All Can Work” — John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble
“Barefoot Dances And Other Visions” — Jim McNeely & The Frankfurt Radio Big Band

Best Latin Jazz Album:
“Heart Of Brazil”— Eddie Daniels
“Back To The Sunset”— Dafnis Prieto Big Band
“West Side Story Reimagined”— Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
“Cinque”— Elio Villafranca
“Yo Soy La Tradición” — Miguel Zenón Featuring Spektral Quartet

And congrats to the writers nominated for their work on liner notes:

  • ALPINE DREAMING: THE HELVETIA RECORDS STORY, 1920-1924
    James P. Leary, album notes writer (Various Artists)
  • 4 BANJO SONGS, 1891-1897: FOUNDATIONAL RECORDINGS OF AMERICA’S ICONIC INSTRUMENT
    Richard Martin & Ted Olson, album notes writers (Charles A. Asbury)
  • THE 1960 TIME SESSIONS
    Ben Ratliff, album notes writer (Sonny Clark Trio)
  • THE PRODUCT OF OUR SOULS: THE SOUND AND SWAY OF JAMES REESE EUROPE’S SOCIETY ORCHESTRA
    David Gilbert, album notes writer (Various Artists)
  • TROUBLE NO MORE: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 13 / 1979-1981 (DELUXE EDITION)
    Amanda Petrusich, album notes writer (Bob Dylan)
  • VOICES OF MISSISSIPPI: ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS DOCUMENTED BY WILLIAM FERRIS
    David Evans, album notes writer (Various Artists)

Here’s the full list of Grammy nominees. 

The 61st Grammy Awards will be broadcast on Feb. 10.

 

Best Jazz Discs of 2018

My favorite jazz releases of 2018 (as submitted to JazzTimes mag and elsewhere), listed alphabetically:

Kenny Barron Quintet Concentric Circles (Blue Note)

Eddie Daniels Heart of Brazil: A Tribute to Egberto Gismonti (Resonance)

 

Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart Toy Tunes (Pirouet)

 

Chris Lightcap Superette (Royal Potato Family)

 

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas/Sound Prints Scandal (Greenleaf)

 

Nolatet No Revenge Necessary (Royal Potato Family)

 

Joshua Redman/Ron Miles/Scott Colley/Brian Blade Still Dreaming (Nonesuch)

 

Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)

 

Antonio Sanchez (featuring WDR Big Band) Channels of Energy (CamJazz)

 

Wayne Shorter Emanon (Blue Note)

Gasparilla Music Festival 2019: Gary Clark Jr., Infamous Stringdusters, Avett Brothers, Tribal Gold, the Pharcyde, Tank and the Bangas, more.

gasparilla 2019

Several impressive picks just announced for the eighth annual Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa, including rising-star Austin blues man Gary Clark Jr., Americana exponents The Infamous Stringdusters and the Avett Brothers (love ’em but they seem to play our market every six months), country-rock act Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, New Orleans Suspects spinoff band Tribal Gold (the Suspects with Big Chief Juan Pardo & The Golden Comanches), the Pharcyde, and Tank and the Bangas.

Tampa’s long-running Grateful Dead tribute group Uncle John’s Band “will perform the Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks Vol. 1 live album, which was actually recorded at the since-demolished Curtis Hixon Hall way back in 1973,” Ray Roa writes in Creative Loafing/Tampa.

Also on the bill: Laurie Berkner, Jared & the Mill, Parrotfish, Sugar Rush, Mr. Tommy, and The Florida Gospel Music & Arts Fellowship Choir with Dr Kevin B. Parrott.

I’d love to see more jazz, blues, and jazz-funk artists — national and local — on the bill. Maybe those types of acts will be added later.

How about some of the following, all of whom know how to connect with younger audiences? Snarky Puppy, Vulfpeck, MMW, John Scofield, Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Dirty Loops, Jacob Collier, Christian Scott, Marquis Hill, Kamasi Washington, Ambrose Akinmusire, Soulive, Dr. Lonnie Smith.

GMF takes place March 9-10 at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa.

The Onliest Monk — Happy 101st!

Here’s a belated birthday toast to Thelonious Monk, who was born Oct. 10, 1917. Monk’s music, in its brilliance, quirkiness, humor and rootsy jazz soulfulness, remains an inspiration.

Hard to believe that it’s been 22 years since I helmed a Monk tribute disc, “Monk in the Sun,” featuring a long list of Tampa Bay area-based artists. I’ll forever be grateful to bass guitar wizard Jeff Berlin, and the late, great Nat Adderley and Kenny Drew, Jr., along with many other terrific but lesser known artists, for participating in the project. And to Tom Morris at the old Morrisound studio for their support.

Monk in the Sun

We received some local airplay, on WUSF, 89.7 FM, and WMNF, 88.5 FM and sold some CDs locally (but not enough to cover what we — me and Ronny Elliott — paid to make the project a reality).

I always wondered what impact it might have had if we had been able to make a larger promotional effort, particularly in terms of seeking national radio airplay. I suppose it could be reissued, at least as a digital download. But dealing with all the permissions, etc, from musicians, and all the copyright issues feels daunting. And it would take $$$$. Would it be worthwhile?

Resources:

“After Midnight: Thelonious Monk at 100” (Tom Vitale, NPR, 2017)

“At 100, Thelonious Monk Gets a Hero’s Celebration” (Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, 2017)

“Celebrating 100 Years of Thelonious Monk” (Paste magazine, 2017)

 

Missing Jaco

Jaco Pastorius died 31 years ago today. He and Stanley Clarke were the two bassists who had the greatest influence on how I thought about approaching the bass guitar, particularly during my college years.

Here he is, below, turning in a typically brilliant performance on a 1976 trio date in Berlin with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff and drummer Alphonse Mouzon (all three have passed away).

I always like to remind folks: Jaco didn’t die because of a fight, or because he was a “tragically doomed artist.” He was murdered by a beefed-up nightclub manager who pounded Jaco’s head on the pavement (as Pat Metheny reminded me once during an interview, and as recounted in Bill Milkowski‘s authoritative bio).

Jaco went into a coma for several days, and then died of a brain hemorrhage. Luc Havan, the man who killed the world’s greatest bass guitarist, was convicted of manslaughter and served only a few months in jail

I well remember when I heard about Jaco’s death — it really shook me up. I was in the newsroom at the Lakeland Ledger, where I worked as an arts/entertainment reporter, and I read it on (I think) the AP wire. I regret that I didn’t attend his funeral.

Sadly, I never got to see Jaco in person. I came close, in the summer of 1985, when I went to a Paul Butterfield show in NYC that was to feature Jaco. He didn’t make it to the concert. I recall that the concert promoter announced that he wouldn’t make it and offered to refund tickets for those who didn’t want to stay for the show (they got a sub, apparently). I was annoyed at Jaco’s no-show so I took the refund and left. I was living in Manhattan at the time, during my one-semester stint in grad school at NYU.

Want to understand more about who Jaco was, and why he mattered? Read the above mentioned bio, and check out “Jaco: The Movie,” the 2014 documentary produced by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo.

Long live Jaco!

 

 

Wayne Shorter Rides Again, Via His Sprawling “Emanon”

Few veteran (read: older) jazzers find their way into the pop culture conversation as effortlessly and effectively as Wayne Shorter, the saxophonist/composer probably best known for his work with Miles’ Second Great Quintet and electric-jazz giants Weather Report.

The former group, with the two joined by the rhythm section of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and the late Tony Williams, remains a standard bearer, in terms of what jazz is about, and what jazz can do. And the latter, with Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius and others, still stands as one of my two favorite fusion bands.

And so it goes with “Emanon” (Blue Note), Shorter’s just-released sprawling set featuring three discs of music and a related graphic novel. Call it Shorter as superhero, as his brilliant quartet, with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, alone on some tracks and elsewhere joined by the 34-piece Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

It’s an ambitious collection of music, drawn in part from Shorter compositions that first appeared on the group’s “Without a Net” album, released in 2013. Bottom line: Inspired compositions and arrangements, high-level group interplay, surprising improvisations. Jazz for now, jazz for the future.

In the music’s sweep and grandeur, there’s something cinematic about these pieces. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising — Shorter is a major film buff, as I learned during a wide-ranging interview with him long ago for the Tampa Tribune, advancing his quartet’s appearance at Tampa Theatre. Our talk constituted one of my most memorable interviews with a musician, during my days on staff with daily newspapers.

“Emanon” (read as “no name” backwards) has all the right publications paying attention — even Rolling Stone, which seldom pays attention to jazz these days, and the New York Times, which notably has cut way back on its jazz coverage. My full review of the CD will appear in a forthcoming issue of Relix magazine.

Some “Emanon” reviews and features:

With ‘Emanon,’ Jazz Elder Wayne Shorter Grandly Sweeps the Stars — NPR.org (Nate Chinen)

Wayne Shorter Unveils a Sprawling Multimedia Opus on ‘Emanon’Rolling Stone (Hank Shteamer)

Wayne Shorter, Jazz’s Abstruse Elder, Isn’t Done Innovating Yet New York Times (Giovanni Russonnello)

With ‘Emanon,’ Legendary Saxophonist Wayne Shorter Finds a Way to Marry Comic Books and JazzLos Angeles Times (Sean J. O’Connell)

At 85, Wayne Shorter is Still Pursuing the UnknownBoston Globe

‘Emanon’ by Wayne Shorter: Grand Ambitions on Full DisplayWall Street Journal