• 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

  • Berklee, NPR Music, and WBGO to broadcast and webcast second season worldwide

    October 10, 2012. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    WBGO, NPR Music, and Berklee College of Music are teaming up to present a second year of The Checkout – Live at Berklee. The series brings critically acclaimed, New York-based Berklee alumni back to their alma mater for concerts in the Red Room @ Cafe 939. The shows will be webcast live worldwide in high definition over NPRmusic.org and in New York over WBGO-FM as a special edition of The Checkout, the acclaimed multimedia show featuring what’s new on New York’s jazz scene. They will also be archived, and available for on-demand listening, at NPRmusic.org, and WBGO.

    Chihiro Yamanaka
    Chihiro Yamanaka

    Year two of The Checkout – Live at Berklee will debut with pianist and composer Chihiro Yamanaka’98 on October 18. The series continues with saxophonist and composer Dayna Stephens’01 on November 15, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw’00 on February 7, 2013, and tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III ’02 on March 7, 2013. Concerts and broadcasts will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET. Tickets to the live performances at the Red Room @ Cafe 939 are $10 for the general public and $5 with a Berklee ID. Tickets are available at cafe939.com.

    “Boston is a major incubator for jazz, and this series aims to underline that fact,” said Josh Jackson, host and producer of The Checkout. “WBGO and The Checkout are delighted to return to Berklee. We look forward to showcasing these young talents as they pursue their artistry and inspire future generations.”

    Chihiro Yamanaka is one of the most exciting jazz pianists and composers of her generation, and is the leader of the Chihiro Yamanaka Trio. 2012 has been a milestone year: she performed in the Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center, in a concert featured on JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, at the Iridium Jazz Club and Dizzy's at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, at the Regattabar in Boston, and in a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. Yamanaka’s new CD, Reminiscence is her second U.S. release. Reminiscence reached the #1 spot on the Japanese jazz charts and won the Nissan Presents Jazz Japan Award for Album of the Year.