• Cecile McLorin Salvant, Helen Sung from the Mary Lou Williams Festival at the Kennedy Center

    June 24, 2013. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    McLorin Salvant at the Kennedy Center, photo by Margot Schulman
    McLorin Salvant at the Kennedy Center, photo by Margot Schulman

    For her voice, dramatic ability and grace, 2013 was the year of Cécile McLorin Salvant at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, May 16-18 in Washington, DC.

    Cécile sang music from WomanChild, just out from Mack Avenue, and added a couple of pieces by women including this one by Blanche Calloway -- "Growlin' Dan." The pianist is Aaron Diehl.

    But he handles my affairs like a real good man .. talkin' about Growlin' Dan .. and Cécile doesn't just sing it, she puts her own spin on it.

    WBGO listeners, note this opportunity:

    Cécile’s New York CD release party for WomanChild is Tuesday, June 25, and it's part of The WBGO Jazz Series at 54 Below. WBGO members can receive a discount here. You must see her!

    You may have heard underwriting spots from Mack Avenue for WomanChild on JazzSet. Thanks to the label for the support!

    Until Cécile's performance, it seemed as though this year's "Mary Lou" (as a friend calls the festival) was shaping up as the Year of the Bandleader. Helen Sung, Regina Carter and Nicole Mitchell's bands were especially strong.

    Helen Sung and Seamus Blake, photo by Margot Schulman
    Helen Sung and Seamus Blake, photo by Margot Schulman

    Helen Sung's arrangement puts the Tango by the Spanish composer Albeniz over a steady bass figure à la "Poinciana" (Ahmad Jamal) and "Sister Cheryl" (Tony Williams).

    This band smiles all around. The saxophonist is Seamus Blake, with Brandon Lee on trumpet, Ben Wolfe on bass, and Donald Edwards on drums. Here's "Shall We Tango."

    In an earlier version of this post, the audio was an excerpt of "Shall We Tango," but blog reader Dan Blake requested the complete performance, featuring Seamus Blake.

    I hope to be back with another post from the Mary Lou, soon!

  • J.P. Jofre, Bandoneon! Coming to JazzSet

    April 11, 2013. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Hear J.P. Jofre with Strings on JazzSet .. Sunday, April 14, at 6pm and Wednesday, April 17, at 6:30pm.

    Juan Pablo Jofre lives in New York, but he's from San Juan, Argentina. A lover of heavy metal - Metallica even - he traded his drums for a bandoneón. In his home country, he studied with two protégés of Astor Piazzolla (1921-92), the creator of the New Tango. Piazzolla himself had lived in New York, and he loved to play with jazz musicians as well.

    The bandoneón is a remarkably empathetic instrument. When the player trembles, so does the sound he is producing on the bandoneón. To play it requires a dancer's sense of balance. Toward the end of the video above, J.P. pulls far left and right, then signs off with a smile. His brief at-home recital/demo is exclusively for JazzSet.

    Below, Jofre is onstage with I Solisti di Perugia, the string orchestra, in the fabulous Morlacchi Theater at the Umbria Jazz Festival. The music: tango! We have highlights from the concert on JazzSet.

    13 04 11 Jofre 2012 3_Morlacchi

  • JazzSet Will Be at the Caramoor Jazz Festival

    July 26, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Photo: R.J. DeLuke

    Saturday, July 28, we will be at Caramoor, the outdoor performing arts center near Katonah, New York, for the 19th Annual Caramoor Jazz Festival. Yes!! Please come by and say HELLO.

    Beginning at 3 o'clock with The Cookers, we're laying down tracks for a Labor Day special and future JazzSets .

    Trumpeters David Weiss and   Eddie Henderson and saxists Craig Handy and Billy Harper play that beautiful four-horn harmony of  The Cookers, “a supergroup,” just home from a tour of the Northwest. They open the day.

    The line-up features two winning voices – Gretchen Parlato (above), this year’s Jazz Journalists Association Female Singer of the Year, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, who received the award in 2011. Both Dee Dee and Gretchen spent July touring Europe, so stepping onto the Venetian Theater stage should ease the transition home for each.

    Photo: Mark Higashino

    And not one but two NEA Jazz Masters are on the program. Kenny Barron plays solo piano , and drummer Roy Haynes leads his Fountain of Youth Band. Barron will probably wing it. As he told George Kanzler in this month’s New York City Jazz Record, "I rarely do set lists. It works out better for me. Every time I try and do one I’m always sorry I did it. . . . I like to read the audience, see who’s out there" and choose accordingly. "That’s not pandering, it’s just realizing who you’re playing for."

    Pianist to pianist, in a recent interview with Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus, Fred Hersch said, "Kenny Barron is like a combination of Tommy Flanagan and McCoy Tyner." Can't do better than that!

    And Roy Haynes is likely to get up and dance. We’ll make that a radio highlight. JazzSet’s Grammy Award winning Technical Director Duke Markos is recording and mixing in Surround Sound. We thank the Caramoor Jazz Festival for supporting WBGO and JazzSet programming from Caramoor.

    The Venetian Theater at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
    From the back of the audience toward the stage ihe Venetian Theater at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts .. Photo: Gabe Palacio