Archive for jazz arts initiative

A “Blowin’ Session” in the QC

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives!, Unsung Saxophone Masters, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2019 by curtjazz

Jazz lore is filled with stories of the “Blowing Session”; where the great instrumentalists who played the same instrument, would gather on a stage and demonstrate their prowess. Usually this would begin with the basic head arrangement of a well known standard and from there, the combatants would take things to the next level, in their solos, each vying to outdo the last. Often, these were friendly completions; other times, if some of the cats had “beef” with each other, this could be a battle nearly to the death.

Sometimes, the cats would take these battles to the studio. There, we would get a mixed bag; the constraints of studio time costs and realizing that the results would have to fit onto at least one side of an LP, could dampen some of the fancier flights. However, we still have some classic and near classic recordings, and many of these, to no surprise, involved tenor saxophone players. I’ll drop a list of some of the best at the end.

Right now, you need to know about a little bit of the revival of that tradition that will be happening in Charlotte, NC on January 17 – 19, in Jazz Arts Initiative’s THE JAZZ ROOM. We will have have some of the finest tenor players from the area, coming together to do battle. Each will appear with our all-star rhythm section (Lovell Bradford – piano; Aaron Gross – bass; Malcolm Charles – drums) and in various combinations on stage together. The musical sparks are bound to fly!

Juan Rollan

Over the weekend, our lineup will change from night to night and it includes the following sax masters: Chad Eby; Greg Jarrell; David Lail; Brian Miller; Juan Rollan; Annalise Stalls and PhillipWhack

Chad Eby

The accompanying clips are samples of a few of our tenor masters, smokin’ their way through some of their prior gigs. Now, image what we will get when we bring all of these ingredients together.

Phillip Whack

Two sets nightly, from Thursday, January 17 – Saturday, January 19, means you will have six opportunities to be a part of JAI’s Tenor Madness. Thursday and Friday, the times are 6:00 pm and 8:15 pm; Saturday sets are at 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm. THE JAZZ ROOM is located at The Stage Door Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. I will be your MC for all sets but please don’t let that stop you from coming!

Annalise Stalls

Tickets are a true bargain! $14 in advance and $16 at the door, until there are no more. To get them, go to CarolinaTix.org

For further info about Jazz Arts Initiative, visit their website thejazzarts.org

Oh yeah, I did promise a list of recordings that include some great tenor battles. Here are five to get you started, in no particular order:

Boss Tenors – Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt [Verve]

A Blowin’ Session – Johnny Griffin (w/ John Coltrane & Hank Mobley) [Blue Note]

Tenor Conclave – Al Cohn; Zoot Sims; Mobley; Coltrane [Prestige/OJC]

Tenor Madness – Sonny Rollins (w/Coltrane on the title track) [Prestige/OJC]

Alone Together – Tough Young Tenors (Walter Blanding Jr.; James Carter; Herb Harris; Tim Warfield; Todd Williams) [Antilles/Verve]

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, 11/17: Joe Henderson Tribute – Featuring Dave Finucane

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, JazzLives! with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2016 by curtjazz

joe-henderson_jazzlives225On this week’s edition of JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, on Charlotte Community Radio (CLTCRadio), we will honor the music of a tenor saxophone giant, who only truly received the appreciation that he deserved during the final decade of his career; Joe Henderson.
Our broadcast tribute will air one day before a live tribute to the Mr. Henderson’s music will begin, in The Jazz Arts Initiative’s JAZZ ROOM, on Friday, November 18 and Saturday, November 19. Durham, NC based saxophonist/educator Dave Finucane will be the headliner.

joe-henderson-1
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that there are no second acts in American lives. Mr. Fitzgerald never met Joe Henderson. Mr. Henderson first came to prominence in the jazz world in 1963, with the release of his debut album, Page One, on Blue Note Records. The album featured two compositions that would become jazz standards: “Recorda Me” and “Blue Bossa”, which was written by Henderson’s frequent early musical partner, trumpeter Kenny Dorham. The next three years would see Henderson release four more albums on Blue Note that became jazz classics: Our Thing, In ‘n Out, Inner Urge and Mode for Joe.

joe-henderson-2
A 1967 move to Milestone records was not as fruitful. After moderate success with his first LP, The Kicker, Joe received little notice as a leader, for the better part of the next twenty years. Ironically, it was the revival of the Blue Note label in the mid 80’s that spurred renewed interest in Joe Henderson; as he recorded a live trio set at the Village Vanguard, boldly titled The State of the Tenor, which took the resurgent straight-ahead jazz world by storm. Verve records took notice. They signed Henderson in 1992 and promoted him heavily in a series of “songbook” projects, which highlighted the music of Billy Strayhorn, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Miles Davis among others. The albums, which were critically and commercially successful, re-established Joe Henderson as one of the premiere saxophonists in jazz, a place he occupied until his death in 2001.

dave-finucane

Dave Finucane

Dave Finucane is co-founder and director of the Durham Jazz Workshop. He graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and since he has been teaching in New York and the NC Triangle region. Dave is currently on faculty at Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill, teaching jazz improvisation and jazz saxophone. He performs extensively in the NC triangle and has recorded an excellent album, titled Valerie’s Song. He has also been a sideman on at least a dozen recordings.

Be sure to join me on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, as we honor the musical legacy of Joe Henderson and play tracks from Dave Finucane’s album Valerie’s Song; Thursday, November 17; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

And don’t miss Dave Finucane as he pays tribute to Joe Henderson, in the Jazz Arts Initiative’s THE JAZZ ROOM. Friday, November 18, at 6 pm & 8:15 pm and Saturday, November 19, at 7 pm and 9:15 pm. For ticket information, visit www.thejazzarts.org

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

JAZZ LIVES!!! 10/20/16 – Trumpet Tribute (featuring Kenny Dorham)

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Jazz in Charlotte, Obscure Trumpet Masters, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by curtjazz

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, October 20: Trumpet Tribute – featuring Kenny Dorham

kennydorham_unamasOn this week’s edition of JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, it will be all about the trumpets.

With the birthdays of Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie all taking place this week, plus the Grammy winning jazz trumpeter Ashlin Parker, paying tribute to the underappreciated trumpet master Kenny Dorham, in The Jazz Arts Initiative’s JAZZ ROOM this Friday and Saturday, it is a perfect time for a Trumpet Tribute, from 6 pm – 9 pm, Thursday on CharlotteCommunityRadio (CLTCRadio).

He was a trumpet player of exceptional gifts; a composer of jazz classics, such as “Blue Bossa” and a better than average vocalist. Nevertheless, McKinley Howard “Kenny” Dorham (1924-1972), often gets lost among the glut of trumpet stars of the 1950’s and 60’s. He was a member of Art Blakey’s original Jazz Messengers and he replaced Clifford Brown in Max Roach’s group after Brownie’s tragic death. Dorham’s recordings as a leader are some of the most enduring of the era, including Afro Cuban, Quiet Kenny, ‘Round About Midnight at the Café Bohemia and Una Mas. He also made memorable music as a sideman, especially with his frequent musical partner, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Together, they made three classic Blue Note albums over a two year period, under Henderson’s name: Page One; Our Thing and In ‘n Out.

ashlin-parker

Ashlin Parker

Charlotte native Ashlin Parker plays with large and small ensembles nationally and internationally. His solos have been described at various times as being lyrical or fiery, with throaty growls or “brilliant vibrato,” and with lightning staccato runs or “superb legato” phrasing.  When part of a front-line, Ashlin can bring energy, bite, and zest to a performance through engaging in “fine counterpoint duets” or spirited trading with other horn players.  His newest ensemble, the Trumpet Mafia, is considered “an immensely talented band.”

Ashlin shared in the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s album, Book One.  Following Book One, Ashlin has recorded with numerous artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, Dmitry Mospan, James Partridge, Terence Blanchard and Jason Marsalis. Ashlin has been teaching various aspects of jazz, including improvisation, theory, repertoire, arranging, and performance preparation in private lessons, courses, summer institutes, jazz camps, and master classes for more than ten years.  He has been leading the jazz trumpet studio in the Music Department at the University of New Orleans since January 2011.

Be sure to join me on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, as we honor the musical legacy of Kenny Dorham and play the music of Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove and  Ashlin Parker; Thursday, October 20; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

Don’t miss Ashlin Parker as he pays tribute to Kenny Dorham, in the Jazz Arts Initiative’s THE JAZZ ROOM. Friday, October 21, at 6 pm & 8:15 pm and Saturday, October 22, at 7 pm and 9:15 pm. For ticket information, visit www.thejazzarts.org

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airs 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.

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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)

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!!!

CurtJazz’s Best Jazz Albums of 2015

Posted in Best Jazz Albums of 2015, Jazz in Charlotte with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2015 by curtjazz

Well, well ,well…What a difference a year makes…

Eugenie Jones | Come Out Swingin'Last year this time we jazz lovers were once again fending off the usual spate of “Jazz is Dead” announcements from various “serious” publications and also from a satirical “writer” named Django Gold, who thought it would be funny to pen an article, purporting to be Sonny Rollins, claiming to hate jazz.

Now, perhaps because jazz has proven to have more lives than Freddy Krueger, there have been in the past couple of months, an article in The Washington Post and an article/pictorial in Vanity Fair, celebrating jazz and [gasp], the young musicians that represent its future.

This kind of national-level publicity, along with what is happening on  local scenes (such as right here in Charlotte, NC, with the Jazz Arts Initiative, led by my friends, drummer Ocie Davis and flutist Lonnie Davis) has given my cynical middle-aged heart, a smidgen of hope for what is ahead for the music that I love.

I was also greatly encouraged by the tremendous crop of first-rate jazz recordings this year. A major contributor to this is that the jazz world has all but broken free of looking for the approval of the major record label conglomerates. For new jazz recordings, indie labels and self releases have become the rule, not the exception. In fact on my list, only six of the 25 albums have some sort of tie to what would be considered a major label.

And the music itself, cuts across a spectrum of styles, influences and even chronological ages – from vocalists Cecile McLorin Salvant who is 26, to the legendary Tony Bennett, still relevant and vital at 89; from instrumentalists such as Albert “Tootie” Heath, the youngest of The Heath Brothers, at 80; to the exciting twenty-somethings who lead some of the tracks on the wildly creative compilation, Supreme Sonacy, Volume 1.

Yes friends, jazz is still very much alive and kicking some butt. And without further ado, here is a list of 26 recordings that kicked my butt in 2015, in alphabetical order by album title. As usual, we will follow this list with discussions and clips from each of the albums over the next few days. In each title is embedded a link to a place to purchase the CD or download of each recording.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Glorious Kwanzaa and Happy New Year, everyone!

A Room of Our Own in Charlotte

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2013 by curtjazz

The Jazz Room - Spring 13In the dozen or so years that I’ve called Charlotte home, the city’s relationship with the music I love has been at best, tenuous. Big name artists will come to town occasionally for a night, on their way to somewhere else. There have been several clubs that have used the word “jazz” in their name but how much actual jazz was performed in them was often limited. I think that those involved liked the idea of being a “jazz club” and the aura of coolness that went with the moniker but most of the time what you got when you walked through the doors was rehashed instrumental funk and loud, second-rate R&B groups.

Meanwhile most of us lovers of traditional jazz were left to either wait for the headliners to pass through or support these local so-called jazz clubs, hoping to be thrown an occaisonal bone for our patience. All the while wishing to have a room of our own, where we could hear the jazz of Miles, Diz, Monk and Newk.

Thanks to Lonnie Davis and the great people of the Jazz Arts Initiative (JAI) of Charlotte, our patience has been rewarded.

Last month the JAI premiered “THE JAZZ ROOM”, which for now is occurring on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at the Stage Door Theater; a black box space in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte’s Uptown business district. Through the magic of stagecraft, the space is transformed into an elegant jazz club, complete with candlelit tables in the front of the room and general admission seating toward the rear. The concerts begin at 6 pm, allowing those who are getting off from work in the area to come in after a hard day, have a drink and hear some great jazz played by some of the finest musicians that this region has to offer. Tickets for each event are currently a very reasonable $10.

The Jazz Room - Spring 13

The series got off to a great start in April with pianist Chad Lawson paying an outstanding tribute to the music of Bill Evans before a sold out and very enthusiastic audience. The series continues on May 21 with trumpeter Mark Rapp leading a quintet, playing the music of Miles Davis. This performance is already nearly sold out. The next two dates have also been announced with trombonist Tyrone Jefferson in a tribute to Slide Hampton on June 18 and saxophonist Tim Gordon honoring Dexter Gordon (no relation) on July 16th.

Jazz Room 3

Would we like for THE JAZZ ROOM to be open more than once a month? Of course; but let’s face it, you’ve got to crawl before you walk or run. Any kind of jazz series, contemporary or traditional, is a tough sell in this economy so building an audience incrementally is a wise business model. Right now it seems as if Ms. Davis and the JAI may be onto something which will work in the long run and we Charlotteans who love jazz are very, very grateful. Kudos to Lonnie, Ocie, Glyn and all of those in the leadership of the JAI.

By the way the onstage MC at THE JAZZ ROOM is a grizzled veteran jazz radio DJ/magazine columnist/blogger named Curtis Davenport. Please try to forgive his corny jokes; he writes his own material.

For more information on the JAI and THE JAZZ ROOM, visit the JAI Website. To purchase tickets for any of the upcoming JAZZ ROOM events, go to Carolina Tix.