• Either/Orchestra Ethiopian/Jazz on JazzSet

    February 17, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Listen Sunday, February 19, at 6pm and Wednesday at 6:30, for "The Collected Unconscious" -- a three-way suite composed by Russ Gershon for the Either/Orchestra, six horns and four rhythm players from Boston. The music dances between Ethiopian song styles of the mid 20th century, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean grooves provided by the E/O's Brazilian pianist, Venezuelan drummer and Dominican percussionist. Sounds crazy? Well it isn't. It's ingeniously full of melodies and changes and subtleties and hooks, as it works on your ears, heart, feet and burrows into your subconscious.

    In the spring of 2011, funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign, the E/O performed in the capital, Addis Ababa, and other provincial cities, deepening its relationship with the music and musicians. Then in November, as part of a short regional tour here in the Northeast, E/O brought this alluring new music to Tishman Auditorium at the New School, and now JazzSet brings it to you in Surround Sound .

    One of the best New York concerts of 2011, wrote the blog lucidculture.wordpress.com.

    Horns L to R: Charlie Kohlhase, Hailey Niswanger, Russ Gershon, Joel Yennior, Tom Halter, Dan Rosenthal .. Gilson Schachnik, piano; Rick McLaughlin, bass; Pablo Bencid, drums; Vicente Lebron, percussion .. Photos by David Tallacksen
    Horns L to R: Charlie Kohlhase, Hailey Niswanger, Russ Gershon, Joel Yennior, Tom Halter, Dan Rosenthal .. Gilson Schachnik, piano; Rick McLaughlin, bass; Pablo Bencid, drums; Vicente Lebron, percussion .. Photo by David Tallacksen

    Here's an additional tune, not in the JazzSet show. Composer Nerses Nalbandian, the Ethiopian national maestro, was of Armenian descent. To complete the circle, Nalbandian loved Xavier Cugat and Ray Charles! Check him out.

    Either/Orchestra plays "Mambo #1."

  • Mingus Orchestra, this week on JazzSet

    February 9, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Listen for the Mingus Orchestra .. Sunday, February 12, at 6pm and Wednesday, February 15, at 6:30 .. on WBGO Jazz 88.3/wbgo.org and at your convenience any time this week at wbgo.org/jazzset.

    Last February at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan, blues, gospel shouts, and fight songs filled this sacred space. Wait til you hear bassoonist Michael Rabinowitz wailing on "Noddin Ya  Head Blues," John Clark's French horn on "Haitian Fight Song," Frank Lacy reciting from the Book of Ecclesiastes on "Ecclusiastics," Boris Kozlov bowing his bass on "Meditations for Moses." All composed by the great  Charles Mingus (1922-79).

    Thanks to Shannon Manning
    Thanks to Shannon Manning

    Above, Gunther Schuller conducts the Orchestra  in  "Noon Night" and "Taurus in the Arena of Life," two lyric tone poems. "I fought my whole life to bring composition and improvisation together on an equal level," Schuller says in an interview in allaboutjazz.com. "That's what Third Stream [music] is about and in many cases that has happened. . . . If there ever was a Third Steam composer, his name was Charlie Mingus."

    On President's Day weekend at Jazz Standard all weekend and on Sunday, up at Manhattan School of Music, you can hear more Mingus. High school students compete to play his demanding music with accuracy and passion. During this JazzSet, we'll hear more about that from co-producers Sue Mingus of Let My Children Hear Music, Inc., and Justin DiCioccio of MSM, and Jazz House Kids in Montclair, NJ -- winners last year and finalists in 2012. There's more about the fourth annual Mingus Competition here.

    12 02 09 MingusCompetition

    Let My Children Hear Music, Inc., and JazzSet thank the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • Steve Wilson with Strings on JazzSet

    February 7, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Remember this? A classic LP, tracks often heard to this day on WBGO.

    12 02 02 Charlieparkerwithstrings

    Wednesday, February 8, at 6:30 .. Steve Wilson with Strings plays  the original parts from the 1950 release Bird with Strings. Altoist Steve re-imagines the music at the Kennedy Center, now on JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. Here's a 30-second sample of this jazz-and-classical combination:

    DSC_0059Photo by Sue Lyn Schramm

    One highlight is "Ezz-thetic" by composer and music theorist George Russell for Ezzard Charles, the African-American boxing champion from the late 1940s into the '50s. When Charles beat Jersey Joe Walcott and then Joe Louis, he was the world heavyweight champ. Ezzard Charles was a noted bass player, as well; he jammed at Birdland back in the day. Wilson says the modern-sounding "Ezz-thetic" is "really a peek into what might have been the next musical step in Charlie Parker's development." Parker died in 1955, leaving the future an open question.

  • Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra on JazzSet

    January 27, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Last weekend at two concerts, the pianist and his big band celebrated its first decade. Congratulations!

    THIS weekend, they're on JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater -- Sunday, January 29, at 6pm and Wednesday, February 1, at 6:30.

    Tired of winter? Join the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for an hour at Newport .. photo by Lena Adasheva

    Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times, "[The orchestra's] 18-piece lineup preserves the sound of the great old Latin dance bands, a demanding repertory in itself. But Latin jazz in New York City has always had a progressive, experimental side . . . . [and] The orchestra continues that mission, welcoming new compositions that fling wild dissonances and abstruse rhythms into the mix. It also embraces music from across the Americas, old and new, playing all of its diverse material with the same precision and fire it brings to a mambo workout."

    Jon Faddis is a special guest for Calidoscopio and Exuberante, two movements from "Three Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods" by Chico O'Farrill, Arturo's father.

    12 01 26 Arturo Faddis

    Forty Acres and A Burro, the latest ALJO album, is Grammy-nominated. Awards to be announced on February 12.

  • Mark Turner, David Virelles, Ben Street, the late Paul Motian on JazzSet

    January 20, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Photo by John Rogers for NPR Music
    Photo by John Rogers for NPR Music

    Mark Turner's woodwind-like tenor tone spans atall range, and he sidesteps onto the rungs as he climbs and descends. There’s a piece by Monk and another by Bud Powell, but the heart of this set is a pair of flowing, conversational, improvisatory pieces – “Wasteland” by Turner leading to “Etude” by Motian (bassist Ben Street’s choice). Pianist David Virelles, born in 1983 in Santiago de Cuba, adds a fresh slant.

    Listen on WBGO 88.3 this Sunday, January 22, at 6pm and Wednesday, January 25, at 6:30.

    Thanks to Josh Jackson for documenting this Mark Turner Quartet,  one of drummer Paul Motian's final nights in his favorite room, the Village Vanguard. Hear why -- oh those cymbals -- on this week's JazzSet.

    There's more about the show andweb extra music at jazzset.npr.org.