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Bob Belden unveils dark narrative of Manhattan on second Animation project “Transparent Heart”

Following on the heels of Animation’s 2010 RareNoiseRecords debut, Asiento, and 2011’s Agemo, saxophonist-composer-bandleader Bob Belden tells his own story on Transparent Heart. With his new Animation lineup consisting of young musicians hired from his alma mater, the University of North Texas (23-year-old keyboardist Roberto Verastegui, 24-year-old bassist Jacob Smith, 29-year-old trumpeter Pete Clagett and 20-year-old drummer Matt Young), Belden unveils a dark narrative as heard through the musical diary he has composed over 29 years of living in Manhattan. 
An imposing electronic noir masterwork, Transparent Heart travels from Belden’s initial awestruck impressions of New York City (“Terra Incognito”) to his feelings of foreboding (“Urbanoia”) and hope (“Cry in the Wind”) as a city dweller on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, to the pervasive angst of post-9/11 Manhattan (“Seven Towers,” “Provocatism”). He also addresses the mass exodus of artists from the city (“Vanishment”) and concludes his musical memoir with the clash of the social classes manifested in the Occupy Wall Street movement (“Occupy!”). Belden has concocted a powerful, provocative suite of music that is charged by the intensely driving, highly intuitive playing of his young energetic Animationband mates. 
“This record is not a jazz record, it’s about my life in Manhattan,” says the Grammy Award-winning composer-arranger-producer in a news release. “In essence, the music on Transparent Heart is a reflection of the lingering tension since 9/11. It’s an honest look at Manhattan through music.”
The concept for Transparent Heart has been in the making for more than 30 years. “I first visited Manhattan in 1979 when I was with Woody Herman’s band. I’ll never forget seeing the dark shadows, steam rising from the streets, crowds of strange people lingering in Times Square well past midnight, all the tall buildings and how they created a post-gothic canyon effect,” Belden said. “That’s ‘Terra Incognito,’ a term used by local residents to describe Central Park above 96th street. Darwinistic Urban Gentrification. The uncertain outcome of riding the subway late at night. Alphabet City. Bonfire of the Vanities. AIDS. Subway Gunman. Guardian Angels. Central Park jogger. Preppie murder. Sparks Steakhouse. That’s ‘Urbanoia.'”
“Cry in the Wind,” with Clagett’s muted trumpet carrying the melancholy theme reflects another Manhattan experience, “One night from inside my ground-floor studio apartment I heard the voice of a woman crying for help faintly mixed with the sound of the wind and rustling tree leaves. Bringing my phone outside, I saw this woman who had just been stabbed, and called 911. She reached up, grabbed my hand, and didn’t let go until the ambulance got there. I helped this woman live because I cared. This tune is about hearing the cries in the wind of extreme loneliness and helplessness that are heard all the time throughout the city.”
The darkly propulsive title track echoes the hard-hitting production that Bill Laswell brought to Herbie Hancock’s 1983 hit single “Rock It.” To listen to Transparent Heart is to think about Manhattan’s self-reflective nature exemplified by extreme conflicts between physical/corporatist and social/humanist structures and the perpetual sense of energy that is created and dissipated illogically in light and shadow. 
“Seven Towers” is Belden’s reaction to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. As Belden reflects, “9/11 is a reaction to the power and influence that capital, centered in Manhattan and symbolically the World Trade Center, has on parts of the world, in the form of abject terrorism. I watched it happen from Chambers street in Lower Manhattan. This tune recreates my own autobiographical timeline of 9/11. It starts with the NORAD radio broadcast finding out a plane hit the North Tower; followed by the NYPD and NYFD responding. It’s very haunting. I believe that this moment has defined the course of history for Manhattan as well as the world at large. This album is offered in deep respect to those who lost their lives that morning of September 11, 2001, and to the families that have to live with this loss forever.”
“Provocatism” reflects the immediate aftermath of 9/11. “People fled the city as companies anticipated an economic downturn, laying off thousands upon thousands of workers. For years there were constant alerts, color-coded like a crayon book. Many small business, dependent on the World Trade Center complex, died after 9/11-replaced by the ubiquitous chain store, coffee shop, and branch-bank. The intense build up of the New York Police Department to the point of having one of the largest standing armies in the world, placing citizens under surveillance on the streets and in the subways-‘stop and frisk’ developed from this Quasi-military policing initiative.”
  
The musicians on Transparent Heart are the most talented of their generation, performing complex operatic improvisations, sounds, and textures. They are serious musicians deep into the subtle and not-so-subtle nature of this music. That they are virtually unknown to the jazz public is a blessing, as you will hear them tabula rasa, with no conditions on what to expect. From this point on you will expect greatness from each one of them.
For Belden, Transparent Heart is a musical tool to get people to think about social issues. “Music must be returned to its place as a social engineer; provoking thought amongst society. This record is not about tunes, solos, and arrangements, it’s a way of telling a story that has something to do with my life, OUR lives, and for anyone who has ever landed with excitement, wonder, fear, and hope on this tiny island off of the coast of the United States. It’s not being a musician, but rather a citizen.”  For more information on Animation, go to rarenoiserecords.com.

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NEA Jazz Master Bobby Hutcherson returns with “Somewhere in the Night”

New York City is the jazz capital of the world and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center is one of the music’s greatest venues. On October 10, 2009, over the course of two sold-out sets, legendary vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson recorded what would become Somewhere in the Night. The album, which is being released on Kind of Blue Records on Sept. 25, 2012, also features the Joey DeFrancesco Trio — guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Byron Landham as well as its organist namesake.
Of the organist, Hutcherson says in a news release, “One thing about Joey, he knows how to play. He doesn’t play at the same volume all the time. He can play very soft and then he can increase his volume a lot. Because of that, he’s very aware of what volume to play with the vibraphone. Even while he’s soloing, he plays at different volumes. It makes it really good, you know.” 

He continues, “Although he’s full of ideas, he never gets in the way because he sure is very good at tempo. And I don’t mean tempo as speed … I mean tempo as being able to understand what he’s playing at any speed, you know, the tempo of life. He paces his notes, so they don’t come out cluttered. He understands how to deliver a certain thing, and that’s an important thing to do.”
Somewhere in the Night manages to capture the live energy of a band in top form. The opening track “Teddy”, written for Hutcherson’s youngest son, sees the vibes master build a mammoth improvisation that builds in intensity and tempo, while “Little B’s Poem”, written for Hutcherson’s oldest son and the composer’s most famous work, is given new life nearly fifty years later by rephrasing the melody into a vamp that leads into a spectacular group improv.
Hutcherson pays tribute to his late mentor, Milt Jackson, on the legend’s “SKJ”, and displays his virtuosity on Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane”. Coltrane’s “Wise One” was the title track of a previous Kind of Blue release by Hutcherson and is reinterpreted here thanks to DeFrancesco’s accompaniment. The organist leads with an improvisation before Bernstein and Hutcherson contribute their touching statements on the melody.
Hutcherson says of the title track of the album, “every time I play with Joey, we play that. I always love to hear Joey and listen to his bass line. Yeah, and that tempo, there’s a longing feeling in it.” Both Hutcherson and DeFrancesco showcase their ballad chops on Ned Washington and Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart”. The vibraphonist says, “it’s good to think about the song, singing the lyric, because you know the instrument should be something of a voice. It should be an extension of it. The things that you listen to that really grab you right away are things that make you feel like it’s human.” 

Hutcherson, a California native and long time resident of Half Moon Bay, spent his formative years in New York, arriving there more than 50 years ago. Hutcherson has put his stamp on jazz both as a leader and as a sideman on classic records such as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch and Jackie McLean’s One Step Beyond. Among the constant gigging and studio sessions, Hutcherson recorded two albums in the mid-sixties pairing vibes with the Hammond organ, a popular combination of the era. Grant Green’s Street of Dreams (1964) and Big John Patton’s Let ‘Em Roll (1965) went largely overlooked but saw Hutcherson’s melodious sound combine with the Hammond to produce a blanket of silky resonance. Forty years would pass before the vibraphonist reteamed with the B3 on Joey DeFrancesco’s Organic VibesSomewhere in the Night continues the relationship between the two musicians. 

Dates for Jazz Connect Conference at APAP|NYC 2013 announced

On January 10-11, 2013, in New York City, the Jazz Connect conference will bring together a broad range of elements and constituencies of the jazz community in a series of workshops, panels, plenaries and special events, all dedicated to expanding the worldwide audience for jazz. Organized by JazzTimes and the Jazz Forward Coalition and supported by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), this hands-on interactive conference aims to share best practices, provide tools to empower individuals and organizations, and establish a voice for jazz.
  
The jazz industry and community has been looking for a time and place to aggregate since the spring of 2009 when the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) folded. Various entities have been convening around APAP|NYC, the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, but until now there has not been an overall tent for the entire jazz community to share its resources and collective power.
  
An initiative to create a stand-alone jazz confab began with APAP|NYC 2012, with multiple sessions over the course of six days, including: an all-day DIY seminar hosted by JazzTimes, a welcoming address, a series of pecha-kucha presentations (short visual presentations) from innovators in the field, three panels at APAP and a culminating town-hall session presented by the Jazz Forward Coalition. The Jazz Connect organizing committee decided to adapt the model further to create a focused event dedicated to the jazz community in 2013.
  
Peter Gordon, co-founder of Jazz Forward Coalition, president of Thirsty Ear Recordings and one of the conference’s organizers, sees the gathering as a well-timed opportunity for jazz to shape its future.

 “Though we live in uncertain times, market disruption is also market opportunity,” he says in a news release. “As the music industry positions itself to be part of the massive reorientation of how people discover, consume and experience music, jazz is left to decide whether to be part of the revolution or be left behind. We have assembled a vast number of thought leaders to guide, cajole, shape and give inspiration for jazz culture to thrive in the coming years-mapping a strategy to take jazz from an often marginalized genre to a well-known powerhouse.” 
  
The 2013 Jazz Connect Conference will have two full days of panels, workshops and presentations, featuring artists and professionals from all over the globe. Lee Mergner, publisher of JazzTimes and also an organizer of the conference, says that although the industry has changed since the days of the JazzTimes Convention and the IAJE Conference, the importance of bringing people together to discuss issues and best practices remains. “We’ve seen a real seismic change in the jazz industry, with more artists, organizations and companies operating with less resources,” says Mergner. “It’s become a much more DIY genre, and now more than ever, jazz people need to get together face-to-face in order to deal with all the challenges they face-from new models for touring to the effect of changing technologies.”
  
The Jazz Connect conference, held during the day at the Hilton New York Hotel and Sheraton New York Hotel, will also feed into the nighttime performances of Winter Jazzfest. “It’s important that the jazz community connects with the world at large, whether that be general music listeners or the mainstream media,” explains Mergner. “Winter Jazzfest has become a hotbed for both new and established artists to showcase their performance chops. And it’s attracted new and younger audiences to the music.”
  
In addition to the two full days of sessions preceding APAP|NYC, Jazz Connect will assist with programming of sessions during APAP|NYC 2013 addressing issues related to the community of arts presenters about how they interact with the jazz genre.
  
“One of our missions is to be a convener of the various performing arts,” says Mario Garcia Durham, president and CEO of APAP. “APAP|NYC has hosted similar platforms for theater and dance in the past, and we are dedicated to be a support system for jazz, one of the country’s classical art forms and a unique expression of American identity. The 2012 Jazz Connect gathering was a stellar success, and we want to continue to support jazz professionals and practitioners.”
  
Admission to the Jazz Connect conference is free. The Jazz Connect conference is organized by a committee of industry professionals, including Marty Ashby, Sara Donnelly, Erika Floreska, Peter Gordon and Lee Mergner.
  

Singer-Songwriter Abiah releases “Life as a Ballad” on August 28

Photo credit: Matt Furman

Ever since the untimely departure of Luther Vandross, the American pop scene has been absent of a Black American male balladeer possessed of chops beyond belief, staunch lyricism and emotional maturity. Abiah (pronounced Ah-bee-yah) more than adequately answers the call of that absence with an album and a presence that is sensuous, soulful, honest, grown-up and quite passionate about restoring vocal excellence to the contemporary airwaves.

Who is Abiah? These are the bare facts: he is a seasoned balladeer possessed of a five-and a half octave range; an established vocal coach and former Universal Republic recording artist; and he is of Ghanaian, Cuban, Native American descent, though raised in Rochester, NY.

While that background remains a part of his roots and identity, 2012 marks a musical, professional and personal evolution for the singer-songwriter. Previously known as “Jeremiah” in the music world (full name Jeremiah Abiah, the latter of which means ‘God is my father’), Abiah sets forth his highly anticipated sophomore album, Life as a Ballad, reflective of a long journey towards his intensely personal sound and overall musical growth – consisting of nine self-penned originals.

Growing up in a musical home – his mother an accomplished concert pianist – induced a love for learning about the nuances of the singer’s art and craft that found him studying at the Eastman School of Music as a young teen where he studied with legendary chanteuse Renee Fleming’s mother, Patricia Alexander. Afterwards came enrollment at Syracuse University and The New England Conservatory for operatic training. Abiah‘s pre-undergraduate obligations were completed while on the road, where he quickly found work as a backing vocalist for George Michael and while in college he also landed a steady gig with Yolanda Adams.

“There was a moment when I thought I had lost my voice. “I was experiencing growing pains which were hard to decipher at first but eventually they helped me to trust my heart, sound and aesthetic again. I thought I would never record again. I even toyed with the idea but the music perpetually tugged at me. Changing my stage name was the impetus of a new beginning,” says Abiah in a news release. “This is how Life as a Ballad was born as I dealt with the idea of finding beauty in the dark, that glimmer of light when all hope seemed lost.”


A move to New York City in the early 2000s saw Abiah “hitting the pavement hard” and eventually playing Central Park SummerStage and the world renowned Blue Note on a regular basis; though a turning point came when Abiah started gaining the attention of major labels. As is frequently the case for ambitious but not yet quite industry-savvy young artists, Abiah‘s fledgling recordings fell through the cracks. An entire album, brought to the verge of a major label deal, got shelved because the song the major label executives favored most was the only one not produced by a very major and deservedly much lauded producer.

“I’m not opposed to major labels. I just believe an artist needs to keep his finger on the pulse of everything. It’s hard to be artist and business, but it is necessary,” says Abiah. “Initially I was angry and came out pointing fingers, but the healthier aspect became, what did or didn’t I do? Taking that responsibility has given me power and greater perspective.”

This recording is the result of Abiah‘s steady and patient march over a decade in New York, finding the perfect songs and session mates to support his vision. Like any astute young artist in pursuit of a unique bespoke career path, Abiah wisely sought out collaborators who were of highly skilled and veteran pedigrees, and of course, simpatico. Notable among those collaborators are very well regarded young pianist Robert Glasper, who is Abiah‘s cousin who he met in earlier days while they cut their musical teeth in the New York’s music landscape. Marvin Sewell, the album’s stellar guitarist, has been a frequent flyer in Cassandra Wilson’s ensemble since the late 1990s as well as Jack DeJohnette.


Free jazz saxophonist Ivo Perelman releases two albums on June 12 on Leo Records

Ivo Perelman. Photo credit: Peter Gannushkin

Deep into a period of startling creative output, tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman now releases not one but two recordings – both of which underscore his mastery of free improvisation and his command of his instrument’s hidden resources; and each of which embroiders a thread from his voluminous past catalog.


On The Passion According to G.H., Perelman has recorded with the Sirius Quartet; this remarkable string ensemble comprises top-drawer classical musicians who also have the rare ability to improvise at the level demanded by Perelman’s concept. In so doing, Perelman recapitulates his previous foray into string-quartet music (The Alexander Suite from 1998), but brings the potential of this collaboration to new heights of development. Despite the fact that sizable passages sound pre-composed, with the string quartet seeming to frame or echo the saxophone solos, the album is entirely improvised by all five musicians. As veteran jazz writer Neil Tesser says in the liner notes, “. . . Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this album is this: not one note of it was written in advance.”

The uncannily cohesive nature of the music would seem to belie that claim, but, as Perelman explains, “Sometimes, I would start playing; or I would say to them, ‘OK, you start’; or we would start together – or we would say, ‘Well, the tape’s rolling, we should play.’ Not all musicians are born for this; some are born to interpret Mozart, and that’s a wonderful gift, too. But these are highly skilled conservatory musicians who are also mad improvisers.”
Meanwhile, the simultaneous release of Perelman’s trio album The Foreign Legion spins arich tapestry from another, more recent thread. On it, Perelman continues the invigorating and illuminating project in which he partners with various combinations drawn from his acclaimed working quartet (pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Joe Morris, and drummer Gerald Cleaver). Like the previous Family Ties, this new album features two-thirds of that band’s rhythm section – but not the same two-thirds. Cleaver remains on drums, but for The Foreign Legion, with pianist Matthew Shipp taking his place in the trio.

The result is a wildly different sound and substance from the previous disc. As Perelman has explained, “I was so pleasantly surprised [with the quartet] … I decided I want to explore my relationship with each member of the band. I realized that I was dealing with a quartet; but I was also dealing with a trio, and a duo, and another duo – it would become a different band each time one player would drop out for a while. Each occupies such a deep space that when he’s missing, it opens everything up so much.”

Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, Perelman was a classical guitar prodigy who orbited a series of other instruments before finally gravitating to the tenor saxophone. His initial influences – cool jazz saxophonists Stan Getz and Paul Desmond – could hardly have presaged the galvanic, iconoclastic improvisations that have become Perelman’s stock-in-trade. But those early influences helped shape the romantic warrior at the heart of his most heated musical adventures.
In 1981, Perelman entered Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he focused on the mainstream masters of the tenor sax, to the exclusion of such pioneering avant-gardists as Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, and John Coltrane – all of whom would later be cited as precedents for Perelman’s own work. He left Berklee in 1983 and moved as far from Boston as possible – to Los Angeles, where he studied with mainstream vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, at whose monthly jam sessions Perelman discovered his penchant for post-structure improvisation. “I would go berserk, just playing my own thing,” he explains now.
Emboldened by this approach, Perelman began to research the free-jazz saxists who had come before him. In the early 90s – shortly after recording the first of the nearly 40 albums now under his name – he moved to New York, a far more inviting environment for free-jazz experimentation, where he lives to this day.
Critics have lauded Perelman’s no-holds-barred saxophone style, calling him “one of the great colorists of the tenor sax” (Ed Hazell in the Boston Globe); “tremendously lyrical” (Gary Giddins); and “a leather-lunged monster with an expressive rasp, who can rage and spit in violence, yet still leave you feeling heartbroken” (The Wire). The Passion According to G.H. and The Foreign Legion bring to 18 the total of albums Perelman has recorded for the Leo label.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra to conclude 10th anniversary season on May 10-11


According to a news release, Arturo O’Farrill’s Grammy Award-winning ensemble, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, will conclude its 10th Anniversary season with a celebration titled, “Música Nueva 5: Big Band Poetry Jam & Beyond” at Symphony Space in New York City. 

Performance times are at 8 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2012, and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2012, at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street in New York City.
The program will celebrate the Nuyorican Poetry movement and the Latino community, and the artists will mix the classic sound of mambo, boogaloo, and salsa with hip-hop, acid jazz, and alternative improvisation. 

Additional guests for the evening include poet and curator Angel R. Rodríguez, Sr., as well as Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda and turntablist DJ Logic. Spoken word artists include Sandra María EstevesTato LavieraOdilia Rivera SantosCaridad “La Bruja” De La LuzCirca ’95 (PattyDukes & RephStar), and Christopher “Chilo” Cajigas. The arrangers for the two-night engagement include O’Farrill, Todd BashoreAdam KromelowJason LindnerAdam O’FarrillJay Rodríguez, and Bill Ware. 

Founded in 2002 by O’Farrill to perform the full repertory of big band Afro Latin jazz and commission new works to advance this culturally rich genre, the ALJO was a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2002 to 2007. In 2007, the ALJO left Lincoln Center to pursue the twin goals of developing new audiences for big band Afro Latin jazz and of creating a robust educational program for young performers. O’Farrill founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance that same year to pursue both the performance and educational aspects of this uniquely pan-American art form.
The ALJO is currently in its fifth season in residence at Symphony Space, and it continues to tour nationally and internationally to critical acclaim, performing over the past several years at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Boston Symphony Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival, The Joyce Theater (with Ballet Hispanico), Megaron Concert Hall (Athens, Greece), and the Taichung Jazz Festival (Taichung, Taiwan), among countless other venues. The ALJO received a Grammy nomination for its 2005 album, Una Noche Inolvidable (Palmetto), and in 2009 earned a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album for its release Song for Chico (Zoho). The Orchestra’s newest album, 40 Acres and a Burro (Zoho), was a 2012 Grammy nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.


 

Ruby Dee to perform on Mother’s Day at the Apollo Theater in Harlem

Ruby Dee

The Dallas-based Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) is presenting Ruby Dee at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 13, 2012. Dee will perform in a special evening of spoken word at the historic Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street in Harlem, N.Y. 


“Ms. Dee is a shining example of African American culture and history,” says TBAAL Founder and President Curtis King in a news release. “It excites me to see her still performing so masterfully, and I am certain the audience will be just as excited to be in the presence of one of our country’s foremost living legends.”
 
The legendary actress was raised in Harlem and began her career there as a member of the American Negro Theatre. Over the years, Dee has appeared in such stage productions as “South Pacific” (1943), “Anna Lucasta” (1944), “Purlie Victorious” (1961) and “Checkmates” (1989). However, it’s her 1959 portrayal of Ruth, the long-suffering, inner-city wife of Sidney Poitier’s character, in the original Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” that made her a star. It ran on the great White Way for two years and was then made into a 1961 film for which Dee won a National Board of Review Award as Best Supporting Actress.
 
In the ’60s, Dee co-starred in several television series ranging from dramas to the primetime soap opera “Peyton Place” and the daytime soap, “Guiding Light.” In the years since, she (often with her late husband, actor Ossie Davis), has appeared in dozens of motion pictures such as Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and episodic television shows like “Golden Girls.” She’s earned seven Emmy Award nominations, including a win for a 1993 performance on Burt Reynolds’ “Evening Shade” sitcom and for a 1991 role in the telefilm, “Decoration Day.” Dee’s 2007 role as Mama Lucas in the 2007 film, “American Gangster,” starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, earned her an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress.  In 2004, Dee and Davis were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, and she shared a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album with Ossie Davis for “With Ossie and Ruby: In this Life Together.” 



Tickets are available online at www.Ticketmaster.com or by calling the Apollo Theater Box Office at (212) 531-5305

Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall & Trombone Shorty to perform at the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival

Esperanza Spalding,
Credit: Carlos Pericás

Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall and Trombone Shorty will be performing at the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, scheduled on Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1, 2012, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 108 Avenue of the Pines in Saratoga Springs, NY.

ESPERANZA SPALDING – Just one year after taking home a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category, the bassist/vocalist performed a beautiful rendition of “What a Wonderful World” alongside the Southern California Children’s Choir at the 2012 84th Oscar Academy Awards in Los Angeles on February 26. She will perform on June 30.
 Diana Krall,
Credit: Courtesy of Artist
DIANA KRALL – The world-renowned artist and and one of the best-selling jazz vocalists of all time recently appeared with Paul McCartney on the 2012 Grammy Awards telecast in Los Angeles on February 12.  She will perform on July 1.
TROMBONE SHORTY – The New Orleans native trombone/trumpet phenomenon recently participated in a PBS televised performance at The White House as a part of the Black History Month celebration in Washington, D.C., on February 21.  Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will perform on July 1.


Trombone Shorty,
 Credit: Jane Richey
For more information on the 35th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, go to http://www.spac.org/jazzfest/.

CBS to feature Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra this weekend

Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra 

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra will be featured on a CBS Evening News national broadcast at 6:30 p.m EST Saturday, Feb. 4 (alternate air-date is 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5). Check your local CBS listings here.
The network will broadcast an interview with O’Farrill, which was recently filmed at Birdland in New York City. Topics of discussion will include the O’Farrill family, nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance and its resident Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, educational outreach, Cuba, and the recent Grammy category cutbacks.  Performance footage of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s recent 10th anniversary benefit at Symphony Space and a recent performance at Birdland will also be broadcast. 

Pianist Monty Alexander celebrates 50 years in music with two-week engagement at Blue Note

Monty Alexander Photo by:  Alan Nahigian

In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has distinctively bridged the worlds of jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica. With over 70 albums to his name, Alexander celebrates his 50th year in music with an ambitious, two-week engagement at New York’s Blue Note, on Monday, February 20 through Sunday, March 4.


 Alexander will present the engagement in two parts: Part 1 – The Full Monty: 50 Years in Music! (February 23 – 28) and Part 2 – Jamaica Meets Jazz – A One Love Celebration (February 29 – March 4). The featured body of work and lineup will vary throughout the engagement, with each evening focusing on a project from Alexander’s extensive career (six projects total will be presented throughout the engagement). Special guests throughout the two weeks include Russell Malone, Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Pat Martino, Freddie Cole, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ernest Ranglin, John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton, and Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar, among others.


“I derive great personal joy and satisfaction from being able to present music that can bring out people of all persuasions and life styles,” says Alexander in a news release, “from Kingston, Jamaica to New York and the rest of the world – that’s my Harlem-Kingston Express train. That is what this Blue Note booking is all about.”
Part 1 of the engagement will kick off on February 20 with a performance by one of Alexander’s working ensembles, Harlem-Kingston Express, featuring special guest, guitarist Ernest Ranglin. They will perform music from their Grammy Award nominated debut, Harlem-Kingston Express: Live! (Motéma Music – released in June 2011).
On February 21 and 22, Alexander will bring back his long-standing Triple Treat project. Originally consisting of guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown (a group that toured and recorded together throughout much of the 80s), Alexander will reinvigorate the trio in a program titled “Triple Treat Revisited,” featuring one of the “living descendants” of Brown, bassist Christian McBride, as well as guitarist Russell Malone, who appeared on Brown’s last recording, along with Alexander.
Alexander’s Uplift! trio project (stemming from the March 2011 Jazz Legacy Productions release of the same name) will perform on February 23 and 24, featuring organist Lonnie Smith and guitarist Pat Martino respectively. On February 25 will showcase Ivory & Steel, a project that reflects the music of Trinidad and the steel drum tradition (much like the Iron & Steel group Alexander led in the 70’s and 80’s).  
With “A Night at Jilly’s” on February 26, Alexander will honor the first jazz club he performed in when he arrived to New York City from Jamaica in 1963 – Jilly’s. It was here that Alexander began to establish himself on the U.S. scene. During his three year’s at the club, he had the privilege of accompany the great Frank Sinatra.  Special guests for the evening will include vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater and Freddie Cole.
Closing out Part 1 of Alexander’s engagement will be “The Montreux Alexander ’76 Trio Reunion” on February 27 and 28, dedicated to one of the pianist’s most celebrated albums, Montreux Alexander: The Monty Alexander Trio Live! at the Montreux Festival. The show will feature the original trio, with bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton.
Alexander goes directly to his Jamaican roots with Part 2 of the engagement. On February 29-March 2, Alexander will present “Monty meets Sly & Robbie,” performances with drummer Sly Dunbarand bassist Robbie Shakespeare. Sly & Robbie are two of reggae’s most recognized trailblazers and collaborated with Alexander on his album, Monty Meets Sly & Robbie. The pianist will conclude the engagement by bringing back his Harlem-Kingston Express group for two final nights on March 3 and 4. Special guests for these performance dates are TBA.  

Alexander has been on the express track and now, in this 50th year of phenomenal musicianship, he shows no sign of slowing down. In 1961, the urban sophistication of jazz and the American songbook, and an invitation to accompany none other than Frank Sinatra, lured the teen prodigy Alexander away from Jamaica and the art form most associated with that nation. The move led to an extraordinary career in jazz, reggae and popular song including collaboration with greats such as Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby and Bobby McFerrin.