April 1, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
Listen now to WBGO's broadcast of guitarist Matthew Stevens' Quintet live from the Berklee College of Music's Cafe 939 in Boston on Wednesday, April 2 at 8 p.m.
Every month, WBGO brings Berklee alumni back to their alma mater to present the fruits of their labor. This concert features Gerald Clayton on piano, Vicente Archer on bass, Eric Doob on drums and Paulo Stagnaro, percussion.
The Toronto-born Stevens' newly-formed group is slated to record Stevens' debut as a leader for Concord Records in May. He is a featured member of trumpeter Christian Scott's quintet, and performs with bassist Esperanza Spalding and many others.
Read Lara Peregrinelli's interview with Stevens and profile of his new group and repertoire for NPRMusic's A Blog Supreme, click here.
© 2014 WBGO
February 3, 2014. Posted by Chris Dennison.
Argentine composer Guillermo Klein’s stateside visits have been rare treats since 2000, when he left New York for his homeland and beyond. Klein is back – enjoy this video of Klein's performance, from our live audio and video broadcast of the event on January 29.
Klein peformed music he wrote to perform for this homecoming with members of his signature large ensemble, Los Guachos, which includes fellow Berklee alums trumpeter Richard Nant and bassist Fernando Huergo, as well as saxophonist Bill McHenry and drummer Jeff Ballard. They were joined by current Berklee students, whom Klein coached over Skype, to form a 14-piece group.
Klein combines elements of Argentinean folk traditions with contemporary jazz and an attitude that embraces freedom. He draws from a sonic palette which may surprise the jazz ear: these include effects-laden guitars, unexpected combinations of human voices, and even whistling, as on his piece “Fiu” from his 2005 album Una Nave.
Klein’s ability to compose fluid pieces with changing time signatures is particularly striking: he utilizes unpredictable rhythmic elements and odd meters, which he traces in part to his childhood in Argentina, where the hemiola, or “3 against 2” pattern, is a common element.
This tension in time can be heard on “El Rio” from Una Nave, and also on “Miula,” from the 2008 album Filtros. Even when a piece has a straightforward organization of beats, Klein’s interlocking polyrhythmic phrases create emotive tensions and releases. However, his pieces generally maintain consistent grooves, making them sound natural and highly accessible despite their rhythmic complexity.
While the rhythmic elegance of Klein’s music is remarkable, his range in melody and harmony are equally impressive: he composes energetic, jagged, angular piano lines, as on “Argentina” from Una Nave, as well as passages of rich, subtle beauty, as in the restrained melody of “Yesu” and the harmony of “Louange à l'éternité de Jésus,” both from Filtros.
With so few performances stateside in recent years, Guillermo’s Berklee homecoming this Wednesday is not to be missed. Enjoy, and join us for our live broadcasts of the best new jazz from Berklee's Café 939 in Boston every month!
© 2014 WBGO
December 10, 2013. Posted by Chris Dennison.
Alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius is that rare thing: a true jazz composer. His works are more than jumping-off points for improvisers, as we heard on Dec. 11, when he premiered a new suite from the Berklee College of Music's Café 939 in Boston.
Click on the links below to hear or watch our live broadcast of this event.
“On a lot of great music that I’ve loved over the years in the jazz lexicon, the tune itself is kind of an afterthought,” says Cornelius. “I wanted to take the opposite approach, and write songs that I end up walking around whistling.”
The musicians Cornelius assembled for this premiere are, like himself, Berklee alums. They include Jason Palmer on trumpet, John Ellis on tenor sax, trombonist Nick Vayenas, guitarist Miles Okazaki, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Peter Slavov, and drummer Kendrick Scott. Many of this tightly-knit group of musical forward thinkers have appeared on Cornelius’s albums, and vice versa.
The suite is inspired by When We Were Very Young, the 1924 debut in a book of poetry by A.A. Milne of a friendly bear named Winnie The Pooh.
Winnie has gone on to great fame, and is beloved to children around the world. These include Cornelius’s own toddlers, James and Isabella,who he says inspired him to write the work, a commission for Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation.
Fatherhood has also inspired him to explore new directions in his music, he says, which in the past hewed towards the hard-driving and intricate hard bop lines of one of his sax heroes, altoist Cannonball Adderley.
“Being a father has definitely mellowed a lot of the more aggressive tendencies in my personality… and it’s heightened the more sentimental aspects,” says Cornelius. “It absolutely has influenced the way I hear music and what kind of music I want to write.”
This sea change can be heard on tracks such as “Bella’s Dreaming” a beautiful ballad with a lullaby feel from his third album, 2011’s Maybe Steps. The album is dedicated to Isabella, who was a newborn at the time.
Cornelius’s most recent album, 2013’s Infinite Blue with pianist Frank Kimbrough and drummer Jeff Ballard, features eight original, expertly composed, catchy tunes. While these include introspective tracks such as “In The Quiet Moments” and “Waiting,” it also includes fiery, up-tempo burners like “Puzzler.”
“When it’s time to swing hard, that’s when Cannonball comes out,” he says.
Enjoy our broadcast of While We’re Still Young, in which Cornelius takes his love of melody and extends it into the realm of long-form composition, for the love of Pooh.
© 2013 WBGO