On JAZZ LIVES!!! May 26: LIVE Atlanta Jazz Festival Preview Show

Posted in Atlanta Jazz Festival 2016, JazzLives! with tags , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2016 by curtjazz

Johns Press PassI’ve covered the Atlanta Jazz Festival (AJF) since 2011 for Jazz Inside Magazine and for my own CurtJazz.com blog. And this year will be no exception. So, on the next edition of JAZZ LIVES!!!, Thursday, May 26th on Charlotte Community Radio from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, I will feature tracks by the artists who are scheduled to appear at this year’s AJF.

The AJF is the largest free jazz festival in the Southeast. It has been a part of The ATL’s Memorial Day Weekend celebration since the late 70’s. And beginning this Friday, May 27th, the 39th edition of the AJFwill kick off in its usual location, Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. It runs through Sunday, May 29th.

Performances will take place on three separate stages: the Locals Stage will feature Atlanta area favorites such as vocalist Alex Lattimore and pianist Joe Alterman. The International Stage will have well-known jazz headliners from outside of the U.S., such as Caribbean trumpeter Etienne Charles and renowned Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias. The Main Stage features its usual combination of up and coming stars and legends, with super group Next Collective, Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter and the venerable saxophonist Benny Golson leading a very impressive lineup.

Alex Lattimore

Alex Lattimore

My May 26th show is designed to get those heading to the festival in the mood for the great weekend of music ahead. But be warned – with the great cuts I plan on playing and with Atlanta being a short car ride away from Charlotte, you may be inspired to change your weekend plans and join us in Piedmont Park. If you do, stop by and say “Hello”!


JAZZ LIVES!!!
with CurtJazz, airing LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm viaCharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

On JAZZ LIVES!!! Thursday, May 19: Lonnie Davis of the JAI

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Jazz in Charlotte with tags , , , on May 18, 2016 by curtjazz

 Lonnie DavisA New Orleans native, who has called Charlotte home for the past decade, Lonnie Davis and her husband, Ocie, have been credited by many with turning Charlotte into one of the fastest growing local jazz scenes in the U.S.

As president of the Jazz Arts Initiative (JAI), Lonnie has been instrumental in the creation of programs that educate local students; such as the Youth Jazz Workshops, the Jazz Arts Music Camp and the Jazz in Schools program. And, with the JAI’s highly acclaimed, regularly sold-out monthly series; The Jazz Room @ The Stage Door Theater; Lonnie and Ocie have created an oasis for parched jazz fans from around the country, who now call the Queen City home.

Already, in this season, The Jazz Room’s seventh, there have been acclaimed tributes to Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan as well as Jazz Room at the Symphony, a thrilling jazz meets classical performance with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, that brought the Knight Theatre audience to its feet.

Lonnie Davis will join me during the second hour of JAZZ LIVES on Thursday, May 19, to talk about upcoming performances in The Jazz Room, such as bassist Tim Singh and the QC Latin Jazz Orchestra, paying tribute to Tito Puente (Friday, May 20). She will also share information about exciting upcoming JAI educational events, like the Jazz Arts Music Camp, in June, with guest artist in residence vibraphonist/drummer Jason Marsalis. And since we do celebrate the music of living jazz artists on JAZZ LIVES!!!, Lonnie and CurtJazz will discuss and play, music by some of the great musicians who call the Carolinas home.

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airing LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via CharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

 

(Photo of Lonnie Davis, courtesy of Southern Living.com)

Atlanta Jazz Festival 2016 – Of COURSE I’ll Be There!

Posted in Atlanta Jazz Festival 2016 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2016 by curtjazz

Atlanta Jazz Festival - red logoI know that I’ve usually posted a few AJF related items by this point, with the Festival coming in two weeks but it’s been a very busy year. But don’t mistake my relative silence for absence. Of COURSE the CurtJazz crew will be there, in Piedmont Park this Memorial Day weekend – diggin’ the music, chatting with the artists and reporting back on what’s happening.

So in the spirit of better late than never, here’s this year’s full lineup for the 39th Atlanta Jazz Festival, from Friday, May 27 – Sunday, May 29. I’ll be following up over the next two weeks with individual reports, as usual. Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 27 (Main Stage Only)

next collective

Next Collective

Saturday, May 28 

Main Stage

Jamison Ross

Jamison Ross

International Stage

etienne charles1

Etienne Charles

Locals Stage

 

Sunday, May 29

Main Stage

Eugenie Jones

Eugenie Jones

International Stage

Eliane Elias 3

Eliane Elias

Locals Stage

Right Back Where We Started

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives!, The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by curtjazz

Before writing reviews, before the “Browsing the Bins” column, before Live365 and Curt’s Cafe Noir and before this blog, there was live jazz radio… The mid-90’s as a jazz DJ on what was tCurtis with Birdhen WPBX, on the East End of Long Island, was the best gig of my life, of any kind, one I reluctantly gave up, when I moved south almost sixteen years ago. As I signed off in October 2000, I always knew that I would be back one day. I just didn’t think that my son, who was less than a month old when I left, would be ready to start driving when that day came!

THE DATE IS SET!!!

Thursday, May 12; 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT). The premiere of my new radio show “JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz” on Charlotte Community Radio. The show will be a continuation of the passion that developed in me during the twelve years of Curt’s Cafe Noir – jazz by active musicians.

We will play jazz from across the spectrum, from modern to bop to swing to avant-garde. So, what will all of the artists have in common? They are all still living and playing great jazz.

I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it – For jazz to survive in the 21st century, we have got to open our ears to some of the great young musicians who are bringing some fresh ideas from their own 21st century experiences. This means that on JAZZ LIVES!!!, we will play Sonny Rollins AND Kamasi Washington. We will play Kenny Barron AND Robert Glasper. We will play Dave Holland AND Esperanza Spalding. And you will definitely hear from Mimi Jones and the marvelous ladies of Hot Tone Music.

Hot-Tone-Music-to-Release-CDs-By-Bassist-Mimi-Jones-Saxophonist-Camille-Thurman-Drummer-Shirazette-Tinnin

(l to r) Camille Thurman; Mimi Jones and Shirazette Tinnin

And, thanks to the tireless efforts of people like my friends Ocie and Lonnie Davis and the Jazz Arts Initiative, Charlotte is gaining a national reputation for producing some terrific young jazz players. So expect to also learn more about some of the QC’s contributions to  jazz’s future, like Eleazar Shafer, Phillip Whack, Harvey Cummings II, Tim Singh; Troy Conn and Tim Scott, Jr. And a few amazing talents even younger than those I just mentioned, such as Sean Mason and Veronica Leahy.

tim scott, jr

Tim Scott, Jr.

We are also blessed to have a studio that will be big enough for interviews and live performances and we plan to take advantage of that space for chats and mini concert sets with some of the greats and soon to be greats who live in or visit the Charlotte area.

All we ask from you is to give us a listen. And let us know what you think – on Facebook (CurtJazz Radio); on Twitter (@curtjazz); or on Instagram (curtjazz).

To hear JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz and all of the great programming that Charlotte Community Radio has to offer, just click this link http://charlottecommunityradio.org/
We will also be available via Mixlr (http://mixlr.com/)

More to come over the days leading up to our premiere. Watch this space!!!

“Goodbye” – Jazz Musicians We Lost in 2015 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by curtjazz

As the year comes to a close, let’s remember a few more of the jazz  musicians that passed away this year. Instead of my insufficient words, we will let their artistry speak for them:

Mark Murphy (Vocals)

Lew Soloff (Trumpet)

Clark Terry (Trumpet, Vocals)

Allen Toussaint (Piano, Vocals, Composer)

Phil Woods (Saxophone)

We will be playing the music of these great artists throughout January 2016 on Curt’s Cafe Noir. Click HERE to listen.

 

“Goodbye”: Jazz Musicians we lost in 2015 – Part 1 of 2

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by curtjazz

As the year comes to a close, let’s remember a few of the jazz (and influential blues) musicians that passed away. Instead of my insufficient words, we will let their artistry speak for them:

Bob Belden (Saxophone, Composer, Arranger, Producer)

Marcus Belgrave (Trumpet)

Ornette Coleman (Saxophone)

Wilton Felder  (Saxophone, Bass)

B.B. King (Guitar, Vocals)

We will be playing the music of these great artists throughout January 2016 on Curt’s Cafe Noir. Click HERE to listen.

Best Jazz Albums of 2015: A Closer Look – Part 2 of 5

Posted in Best Jazz Albums of 2015 with tags , , , , , , on December 29, 2015 by curtjazz

 

The  next five albums in our Best of 2015 include a second album from a singer-songwriter who lays waste to the sophomore jinx; a couple of albums from saxophonists demonstrating that hip-hop influenced jazz is coming into its own and in impressive fashion; another in a long line of excellent albums from one of the best under 40 jazz pianists around, and a striking second album from a veteran trumpeter, coming 15 years after his first.

In that overcrowded arena known as “female jazz singers”, Seattle-based Eugenie Jones manages to stand apart from the crowd. Where many will make a passing nod to jazz and then run to the relative safety of R&B and Pop; Ms. Jones has planted herself firmly as a jazz singer. While most will also stick to the safety of covering well-worn standards, Ms. Jones has filled both of her outstanding albums with her own engaging compositions. This fact alone differs differentiates Eugenie, as she is one of the very few African-American women singer-songwriters in jazz today. And finally, the lady can sing as well as she can write, which makes the deeply personal Come Out Swingin’, a refreshing slice of adult oriented mind candy. Eugenie Jones has released two first-rate albums in the last three years and she is an intelligent, thoughtful composer in the tradition of Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone. Fans of true jazz singing, it’s time for you to sit up and take notice.

Let me start by stating that this album is “funky like nine cans of shaving powder” (with much respect to the Ohio Players).

On this, his third album, tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis delivers copious doses of pure groove. Like his previous acclaimed disk, Divine Travels, Days of FreeMan is a trio date; and oh what a trio it is! Lewis is joined by Rudy Royston on drums (he seems to be everywhere these days) and an unappreciated “free funk” master, the great Jamaaladeen Tacuma, on bass. To prep for this project, Mr. Lewis spent hours shedding with the albums of KRS-One, Tribe Called Quest, Don Cherry and Medeski, Martin & Wood, among others. His concept was to have his sax act not as a singer but in the role of a hip-hop MC, while Tacuma and Royston dropped killer beats behind him. And it works! The album is in parts jazz, funk, hip-hop, avant-garde and so much more. Mr. Lewis takes what was Miles striving to accomplish with On The Corner and updates it for the 21st century. Days of FreeMan is wondrously creative and stankingly funky, at the same time.

  • The Epic – Kamasi Washington (Brainfeeder)

Kamasi Washington has had quite a year. His saxophone work on hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar’s groundbreaking album To Pimp a Butterfly, has led to Washington being hailed as “The John Coltrane of Hip-Hop”. He followed that triumph with the release of his own debut album, a 3 CD set, appropriately titled The EpicIt has achieved the rare feat of captivating traditional jazz fans and hip-hop fans alike.   What makes this music spectacular is the wide musical palette it touches. Washington uses multiple bassists and drummers on some tracks as well as a 32 piece orchestra and a 20 voice choir. The sound is understandably big at times, reminding me of Max Roach’s and Donald Byrd’s acclaimed voice choir albums of the sixties. It is also beautifully intimate, especially when Washington or trumpeter Ingmar Thomas take the lead on some of the ballads. And despite the album’s length, it rarely feels like excess. It sounds like an extremely talented young cat, laying down the ideas that he has been storing up for years. The Epic is raw, soulful, beautiful and well worth your time.

Orrin Evans seems to have staked out an annual spot (or two) on our Best Of list. The reason is simple – he is one of the best jazz pianists around, under the age of 40. Whether in big band, small group or trio settings like this one, Mr. Evans swings hard and makes you listen when he solos. Evans is also continuing to grow as a composer, with a triumvirate of his pieces, the reflective, “Ruby Red”, the angular, breathless “Tsagli’s Lean” and the soulfully cool “Professor Farworthy”, standing apart as highlights of this album. There’s also the welcome presence of guitarist Marvin Sewell on a couple of  tracks, including a fine take on “A Secret Place” that does justice to the late Grover Washington, Jr. The Evolution of Oneself is another strong addition to the discography of an artist who has never made an album that was not worth repeated listening.

Full disclosure – Larry Young’s Unity is one of my “desert island” discs. So although I wasn’t very familiar with trumpeter Alex Norris and his work before Extension Deadline, he and his group had my attention from the opening notes of the title track. A Maryland native, Mr. Norris has been on the scene for a couple of decades, working mostly in the Latin Jazz field. His work as a leader has been fairly limited. His last album under his own name, A New Beginning, was released in 2000. On this album, he is joined by saxophonist Gary Thomas, George Colligan on the organ and Rudy Royston (yes, him again!) on the drums. Don’t be confused by the group’s name. This is not an organ blowing session, out of the Earland/McDuff  school but some damn fine post bop. There are seven hard-driving originals, including “What Happened Here?” which sounds like a lost track from Unity and one cover, a pretty version of Bobby Hutcherson’s “Little B’s Poem”, which gives Norris a chance to display his lyrical side. This excellent album caught me by surprise but I’m glad I noticed. I just hope that Alex Norris won’t wait another 15 years before fronting a session.

Tracks from these and all of the other albums in our Best of 2015 list can be heard on our 24/7 streaming station, Curt’s Cafe Noir, from now through most of January 2016. Click HERE to listen now.

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