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Listening Session with Branford Marsalis

Publication: Duke Performances The Thread
Author: Darren Mueller
Date: January 16, 2012

Journalist John Feinstein once described legendary UNC coach Dean Smith as the “most competitive human being” he had ever met. Smith was so competitive, Feinstein said, that he’d even compete in an interview. The same could be said of saxophonist Branford Marsalis, another local legend, who joined Duke Performances Director Aaron Greenwald for a listening session at Durham’s Motorco Music Hall on January 12. Always happy to express an opinion, Marsalis is a lightning rod for criticism as a result of his unapologetic stance on the contemporary state of jazz.

Throughout the night, Marsalis showed that he doesn’t mind talking about difficult subjects. “Most people that I know,” he said, “are comfortable when they can predict the outcome of the conversation. See, I’m the opposite of that. I find that boring. I want someone to come and tell me I’m full of crap and then I can defend it. I enjoy arguing. I enjoy it because it’s challenging. What gets accomplished when people just agree? But I don’t enjoy screaming, I enjoy arguing.”

As Marsalis told the audience, this comes from his upbringing in a competitive musical family. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 03:09pm

Jazz musicians continue John Coltrane's legacy

Publication: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 Author: Calvin Wilson
Date: January 14, 2012

Of all the saxophonists who have found their sound in jazz, few have been as influential as John Coltrane. Almost 45 years after his death, his music continues to enjoy mainstream popularity, and his name retains its cultural capital. Recently, a commercial for an updated cellphone boasted its ability to “play some Coltrane.”

 Coltrane became famous as a bebop practitioner, but he became legendary as an avant-garde visionary. Along the way, he served as sideman to fellow legends Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, and established a quartet — with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones — that set a standard for jazz artistry.

Two saxophonists who have taken the legacy of “Trane” to heart are coming to St. Louis. His son Ravi Coltrane will lead a quartet at Jazz at the Bistro this week. And Branford Marsalis, who covered Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” on the album “Footsteps of Our Fathers,” will perform with pianist Joey Calderazzo on Jan. 22 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

“It’s hard to imagine jazz without John Coltrane,” Ravi Coltrane said. “Just like it would be hard to imagine jazz without Charlie Parker or Miles Davis. Because they weren’t just great players who existed in one or two periods. They were part of the progression of jazz — the moving of it, the shifting of it, the changing of it.”

The music of John Coltrane, Marsalis said, “is very similar to Beethoven’s music. On the face of it, it’s not very hard at all. No tricks, no secrets. Yet there’s a large amount of passion that you have to bring to the music to make it work. And he’s certainly had an influence on me as a player.”
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 12:06pm

For jazz pianist Joey Calderazzo, improvisation is the thrill of the hunt

Publication: Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Walter Tunis
Date: January 15, 2012

In describing Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, the recent album of piano and saxophone duets he recorded with longtime bandmate Branford Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo seemed almost dismissive.

Like most of the recordings he has been associated with — be they solo projects or the numerous works  undertaken during the past 12 years with  Marsalis’ extraordinary jazz  quartet — Calderazzo views Mirth almost  exclusively in the past tense. The jazz process for him involves immersing himself in the music, seeking something applicable from it that can benefit his playing, then moving on. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 12:31pm

STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Mirth and Melancholy with Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo

Publication: St. Louis Jazz Notes
Author: Dean Minderman
Date: January 15, 2012

To see Dean’s video picks, visit his original blog post here.

 This week, our video spotlight shines on saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo, who will be in St. Louis for a duo performance on Sunday, January 22 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

In June of last year, Marsalis and Calderazzo released Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, a duo CD on the saxophonist’s Marsalis Music label. This tour essentially is a followup to that recording, which received favorable reviews such as this one from Jazz Times’ Jeff Tamarkin and this one from AllAboutJazz.com’s Mark F. Turner. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 17th, 2012 — 11:32am

Miguel Zenón Tops Rhapsody Poll

Publication: Rhapsody.Com
Date: January 11, 2012

Miguel Zenón’s Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook earned the #4 spot for 2011’s jazz Record of the Year  in Rhapsody’s first annual Critics’ Poll, which included votes from over 120 national writers. Alma Adentro also topped the list as the Best Latin Album. 

For a full list of the winners and commentary regarding this year’s poll, please visit the Rhapsody.com blog. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 12th, 2012 — 11:26am

Beacons of song: Marsalis/Calderazzo/Connick

Publication: Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches
Author: Hank Shteamer
Date: January 9, 2012

“If you give a soloist an open solo for thirty seconds, he plays like he’s coming from the piece that you wrote. Then he says, ‘What the hell was that piece I was playing from?’ And the next thirty seconds is, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll play what I learned last night.’ And bang! Minute two is whoever he likes. Which is probably Coltrane.”—Bob Brookmeyer (RIP), quoted in Ben Ratliff’s The Jazz Ear

I think about this quote a lot when I’m hearing jazz live. Often it’s because I’m thinking how much Brookmeyer’s cautionary anecdote applies to the situation at hand. Last night, thankfully, this was not the case.

The show was Branford Marsalis’s “A Duo of Duos” at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room (TONY preview here), during which he dueted first with Joey Calderazzo—his partner on 2011’s Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, over which I’ve already gushed extensively—and second with Harry Connick Jr., the latter of whom didn’t sing. So these were pure saxophone/piano duos, with Marsalis switching between tenor and soprano. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 10th, 2012 — 04:58pm

Alma Adentro featured in New York Times Popcast

Publication: New York Times
Date: December 28, 2011

Listen to this week’s New York Times Popcast for a discussion on 2011’s best in jazz. Miguel Zenón’s latest album, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook is featured. Direct link here.
  

Submitted by Courtney on December 29th, 2011 — 12:05pm

Best jazz CDs of 2011

Publication: Mercury News
Author: Richard Scheinin
Date: December 28, 2011

Miguel Zenón: “Alma Adentro/The Puerto Rican Songbook” (Marsalis Music). The most gorgeously fluid alto saxophonist to come along in a while, Zenón is our Cannonball Adderley. This album is state-of-the-art romanticism, with an edge.

Click here to read Richard’s other picks for the best jazz of 2011. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 29th, 2011 — 11:35am

Miguel Zenón, The Puerto Rican Songbook

Publication: Voice of America’s Jazzbeat
Author: Diaa Bekheet
Date: December 26, 2011

To listen to Diaa Bekheet’s interview with Miguel Zenón, please visit the Voice of America website here.

One of the great jazz albums of 2011 is Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook. It’s a brilliant idea by acclaimed saxophonist Miguel Zenón to preserve the early 20th century’s jazz heritage of his native Puerto Rico. The album is modeled on The Great American Songbook, which features an entire century of American music from such masters as Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein and others. Zenón follows the footsteps of such great American composers and songwriters to offer the jazz public some of the 20th century’s best songs that represent the sounds of Puerto Rico. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 27th, 2011 — 12:41pm

Went on a bender, wrote a year-ender (My best-of-2011 jazz lists)

Publication: Ottawa Citizen Jazzblog
Author: Peter Hum
Date: December 20, 2011

Top jazz CDs of 2011:

1. Milestone, Adam Cruz (Sunnyside)
2. When the Heart Emerges Glistening, Ambrose Akinmusire (Blue Note)
3. Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, Miguel Zenón (Marsalis Music)
4. A Night at the Village Vanguard, Bill Carrothers Trio (Pirouet)
5. Graylen Epicenter, David Binney (Mythology)
6. Waking Dreams, Chris Dingman (Between Worlds Music)
7. Lines of Oppression, Ari Hoenig (Naive)
8. Verge, David Braid (Independent)
9. Suno Suno, Rez Abassi’s Invocation (Enja)
10. James Farm, James Farm (Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, Eric Harland) (Nonesuch)

To read Peter’s picks for live performances, honourable mentions, piano-centric albums, Canadian jazz CDs, and noteworthy debut CDs, please visit his Jazzblog. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 21st, 2011 — 01:22pm