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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 — 11:31am

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 — 10:32am

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 — 10:26am

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 — 03:58pm

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 — 11:05am

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 — 10:35am

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 — 11:41am

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 — 12:22pm

Live preview: Branford Marsalis

Publication: Time Out New York
Author: Hank Shteamer
Date: December 16, 2011

Chances are your parents know who Branford Marsalis is. A trivial point? Maybe, but it’s still not something you could say about many living jazz artists aside from Branford’s trumpet-playing younger bro, Wynton. What can be frustrating is that Branford the celebrity—one fourth of a postcard-perfect Big Easy musical brood, featured commentator in Ken Burns’s Jazz opus, and former sidekick to both Sting and Jay Leno—tends to obscure Branford the artist. This concert is a good occasion to celebrate the latter, a saxophonist who released Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, one of 2011’s most captivating albums in any genre.

To peg that record—a series of duets with pianist Joey Calderazzo, who joins Marsalis for half of this performance—as jazz would sell it way short. Songs gets its mirth out of the way quickly with “One Way,” the bluesy romp that opens the disc; from there, it’s on to roughly 40 minutes of melancholy: seven extraordinarily patient, uncommonly moving examples of what you might call improvisation-driven chamber music. Sometimes mournful (Calderazzo’s “La Valse Kendall”), sometimes eerie (Wayne Shorter’s “Face on the Barroom Floor”), sometimes just plain wrenching (“Hope,” also by the pianist), the set leaves you feeling spent, amazed and anxious to proselytize the virtues of the real Branford Marsalis.

Appropriately, the second pianist appearing alongside Marsalis at tonight’s all-instrumental “A Duo of Duos” program is Harry Connick Jr., another player whose pop fame (see When Harry Met Sally) overshadows his hard-earned, wide-ranging virtuosity. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 20th, 2011 — 10:09am

2011 jazz round-up

Publication: Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches
Author: Hank Shteamer
Date: December 19, 2011

To check out Hank’s full list of picks for the best jazz of 2011, visit his blog here.

1.Branford Marsalis/Joey Calderazzo Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music)

As you can see from my 2011 jazz halftime report, published back in June, this one grabbed me early on. Now that the year is winding down, I’m happy to report that it didn’t let go. There’s no embeddable stream of this record, but I implore you to sample it here, especially the tracks “Endymion,” “Face on the Barroom Floor” and “La Valse Kendall.” When mentioning my interest in this album to friends, I’ve received a few raised eyebrows, which pains me. As I discuss in a Time Out NY preview of Marsalis January 9, 2012 “A Duo of Duos” gig at Jazz at Lincoln Center (during which he’ll perform with both Calderazzo and Harry Connick, Jr., the latter of whom won’t be singing), Marsalis’s celebrity still overshadows his art. It’s a trite point at this stage, but the prejudices persist: He’s the saxophone player your mom likes.

And I’m not trying to say that moms wouldn’t love Songs of Mirth and Melancholy. But what I am trying to say is that this is an extremely deep record. There’s so much grace and poetry to this session. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 20th, 2011 — 10:32am