• Essentially Ellington 2009

    May 19, 2009. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    This year's 14th annual Essentially Ellington Band Competition and Festival did not dissappoint.  As usual, it brought America's brightest talent to the jazz's biggest stage, and the usual top high schools -- Garfield and Roosevelt from Seattle -- placed first and second, respectively.  The biggest surprise came from Wisconsin's Eau Claire Memorial High School, who placed 3rd, the highest in the school's history.  Here is my report. - Simon Rentner

  • William Paterson University Jazz Septet

    May 8, 2009. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    William Patterson University Jazz Septet

    April was Jazz Appreciation Month, and each year WBGO listeners have the opportunity to hear the next wave of greats before they grace New York’s notable jazz clubs. WBGO features top school ensembles live in our studio for Next Generation JAMs.  WBGO's Program Director Thurston Briscoe chooses school bands based on the caliber of musicians and teachers in the program. “There are a number of jazz musicians known to all of us who came out of, or are teaching in one of these schools,” he says.

    The first student jazz ensemble to perform during Next Generation JAMs was the William Paterson University Jazz Septet under the direction of Mulgrew Miller and David Demsey. The William Paterson University Jazz Studies Program, founded in 1973 by music faculty member Martin Krivin and trumpeter/arranger Thad Jones, emphasizes small-group playing and improvisation. Influential jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller is their Director of Jazz Studies.

    Click below to hear the live broadcast with Michael Bourne.

    Musicians featured:
    Eric O’Donnell, trumpet (Akron, OH)
    David Pollack, alto saxophone (Trenton, NJ)
    Joseph Schmidt, tenor saxophone (Mt. Airy, MD)
    Jordan Piper, piano (Bellingham, WA)
    Adam Lomeo, guitar (Utica, NY)
    Sam Trapchak, bass (Detroit, MI)
    Nathan Webb, drums (Newton, KS)

  • Zakir Hussain ... Russell Malone

    May 1, 2009. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Photo by Stephanie Berger - All Rights Reserved
    Photo by Stephanie Berger - All Rights Reserved

    A friend told me we must go see Zakir Hussain, Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer at Zankel Hall at Carnegie. I love Zankel Hall with its blond wood sleek lines.  On this occasion, center stage, there was a riser with a colorful rug and numerous hand drums, tablas from India, simple but beautiful.

    This three-piece group has made a CD with the Detroit Symphony (not out yet), but April 28 at Zankel was its first live performance, Bela said from the stage. If you feel fear, it’s us, he said. He must be joking.

    Bela plays the banjo, which begs the question, how far can this take him? His melodies sing. His drones and figures glow. And when he works a sequence up the neck at top speed, he is amazing. Hussain – sitting in a yoga-like position throughout – is fingers and drums, making melody all the time. Galloping raindrops. One move – he draws the inside of his left wrist forward across the drumhead to make a tenor rub sound in offbeats. I got hooked on it. You cannot get enough. This was my introduction to Edgar Meyer. His bass sings with the flexibility of a cello. Anything he does – plucking or bowed – seems effortless. All three players share that quality.

    The first half of the show was magic – a series of different pieces, seductive or stunning,  each ending slightly before I wanted it to. No one was reading music. In the second half, the concentration was less intense, and some humor. There was a canon, a round between Edgar and Bela (played from a score) with Zakir doing his thing throughout. There was a Hussain “solo” piece. And for the encore, I swear they played “Jordu” by Duke Jordan! If I am mis-identifying that piece, someone please chime in. I’d love to hear from others.
    Read more