February 10, 2010. Posted by WBGO.
For opposing high schools and geopolitical rivals, proximity may breed contempt. Thankfully, it's not true for pianist Gerald Clayton. He's the son of bassist John Clayton and the nephew of saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and he now plays in the Clayton Brothers family band. He also has his own trio; conveniently, all three members live in the same Harlem apartment building.
That trio made a sparkling debut album last year, Two-Shade, soon to be reissued on a major record label. And at the age of 25 — his bandmates hover around there, too — Clayton made his debut at the Village Vanguard this week. WBGO and NPR Music broadcast and audio/video webcast the trio's early set Wednesday night.
The ranks of young pianists are littered with technical virtuosos, but Clayton stands apart: He has touch, too. He's a warm and graceful player, with plenty of personal nuance; he would say that his style comes as much from gigging with West Coast bigwigs as from listening to a wide range of music. With him are fellow rising stars Joe Sanders on bass and Justin Brown on drums; also in their mid-20s, they're becoming some of the most in-demand musicians in New York.
Gerald Clayton grew up in the Los Angeles area; with his musical father and uncle, he was privy to the world of professional jazz musicians even before starting formal study. He took lessons at the University of Southern California, and later at the Manhattan School of Music. Before long, he was the pianist for trumpeter Roy Hargrove, a chair he held for several years.
Clayton met his bandmates in the Grammy Jazz Ensembles, a select group of all-star high-school musicians brought together to perform during the lead-up to the Grammy Awards. Last year, Clayton himself was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo ("All of You"), when Two-Shade was but a fan-funded independent recording. He didn't win, but he'll likely be back: He's presenting his own music this week at the Vanguard, which is a pretty high honor in itself.
- "Trapped In Dream"
- "Con Alma" (Dizzy Gillespie)
- "Casiotone Pothole"/"One Two You"
- "Sunny Day Go"
- "Two Heads One Pillow"
all compositions by Gerald Clayton, unless otherwise indicated
- Gerald Clayton, piano
- Joe Sanders, bass
- Justin Brown, drums
- Josh Jackson, producer and host
- David Tallacksen, mix engineer
- Josh Webb, recording assistant
© 2010 WBGO
February 5, 2010. Posted by Simon Rentner.
Baaba Maal produces a music festival – The Blues of the River – every year in his hometown, Podor, a small village on the northern tip of Senegal, West Africa. For the opportunity to meet Maal, I traveled over 10 hours by car from Dakar, and then waited an entire day for the chance to speak with him. My interview was only 20 minutes, but it was well worth it. My feature about his Blues of the River Festival aired on WBGO's Journal. If you missed it, click below. – Simon Rentner
© 2010 WBGO
February 5, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- each is a voice in the Christian McBride oratorio The Movement Revisited. I saw the performance on February 2 with the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra with Choir, McBride on bass and leading the orch, and arranger J. D. Steele conducting the choir. They are charismatic and so are the Juilliard performers who stirred the room (full house at The Peter J. Sharp Theater). And sent me running home to track down a couple of quotes. One is from Ali -- "better to be in jail fed than to be in Vietnam dead" (1966). And the other is the phrase "by any means necessary" from Malcolm X in 1965. In The Mvt Rev, the phrase is in the context of the clearly-reasoned Malcolm X speech. Yet the way I remember the 60s, that phrase stood on its own. Christian's music shifted from gospel for Parks to Coltrane-inspired for Malcolm to funk for Ali (where CMcB's bass & the orchestra took off) to a climactic anthem with a riff for King. The young man who recited the "I Have A Dream" speech truly shone. I think he is Corey Hawkins. Someone confirm that please. J. D. Steele, the prolific vocal arranger, is out of Minnesota and a great asset. There will be two pfmnces in Michigan -- February 13 in Ann Arbor with the U of M Jazz Ensemble, Christian McBride Band and Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra under the direction of Dennis Wilson, and February 14 at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, produced by the Detroit Jazz Festival.
© 2010 WBGO