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Up for a Grammy award, Arturo O'Farrill still fights for eliminated Latin jazz category

Publication: New York Daily News
Author: Monika Fabian
Date: December 7, 2011

An outspoken critic of the Grammys’ controversial decision this year to eliminate 30 awards categories was graced with a nomination last week by the host organization, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

“I’m extremely proud,” said bandleader and pianist Arturo O’Farrill, whose album “40 Acres and a Burro” has a bid for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

However, he still opposes the elimination of the Best Latin Jazz Album category, calling it “horrific.”

“To compete with big, big, big names is very healthy, but it doesn’t bode well for us [Latin jazz musicians],” said O’Farrill, winner of the 2008 Best Latin Jazz Album award and a four-time nominee.

“A lot of what happens is brand awareness,” he added. “It would be an amazing vindication of our artistic integrity and the academy’s position of it leveling the playing field if any of the Latinos had a real shot at winning.”

Also competing for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album — the only category in which Hispanic artists were nominated that did not involve Latino/Mexican/World Music — is Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who saw in the academy’s restructuring a chance for Latin artists to gain more widespread jazz cred. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 12:14pm

Harry Connick, Jr. Trio: The Happy Elf

Publication: JazzWeekly.com
Author: George Harris
Date: December 8, 2011

There’s just something about Harry Connick Jr. that you just gotta love. He’s got great musical instincts, and a heart for service, as he’s shown by his unrelenting assistance for NO post Katrina. Here, he’s put together a disc that serves as a companion to his children’s book, just in time for the Christmas Season. The disc begins with Connick telling the story from the book, with background music supplied by himself and his regular team of Arthur Latin/dr and Neal Caine/b. After that, it’s strictly instrumentals, with the remaining dozen tunes spotlighting Connick’s clever writing skills, as well as his impressive chops. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 12:55pm

Saturday's Best Bet: Branford Marsalis Quartet in concert

Publication: Syracuse.com
Author: Mark Bialczak
Date: December 8, 2011

Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis opens OCC’s arena

Ten, 20, 50 years from now, Branford Marsalis will always be the answer to this trivia question:

Who is the first national artist to perform in the SRC Arena?

The Branford Marsalis Quartet plays in the new place on the campus of Onondaga Community College Saturday night. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 12:27pm

Best jazz albums of 2011

Publication: Stanford Daily
Author: Alexandra Heeney
Date: December 7, 2011

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy”–Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo
Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo’s much-anticipated duo album of original music is absolutely marvelous, with a mix of foot-tapping numbers like “One Way” and beautiful ballads like “The Bard Lachrymose.” The result is a wonderful album that shows off what a jazz duo is meant to do.
Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 12:09pm

Marsalis at the MFA

Publication: Boston Globe
Author: Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein
Date: December 8, 2011

Grammy-winner Branford Marsalis was at the Museum of Fine Arts last night for the first of two performances of “A Language Beyond Language,’’ a program that includes a talk and concert with his piano-playing pal, Joey Calderazzo . The duo has a new album, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy,’’ which features a cover shot in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing. Last night’s event was sold out. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 11:09am

It's beginning to swing a lot like Christmas

Publication: Chicago Tribune
Author: Howard Reich
Date: December 6, 2011

It’s a Christmas miracle: Holiday music that’s actually worth hearing.

For reasons unknown, several major jazz artists have released seasonal recordings that don’t merely recycle music we’ve already been inundated with in the shopping mall. The best of these albums transcend cliché:

Harry Connick, Jr. Trio: “The Happy Elf” (Marsalis Music): Singer-pianist Connick penned the songs for the stage musical “The Happy Elf,” and here he reformats the score for a noble purpose: introducing young listeners to jazz. Connick narrates the tale in the opening track (which runs a little over 10 minutes), his jazz trio swinging in the background. After that, the album offers 12 tracks of unadulterated instrumental jazz, the music at once subtle and sophisticated enough for the connoisseur yet easily accessible to uninitiated ears. If young people are wooed by Connick’s opening recitation, perhaps they’ll let the record keep spinning. Here’s hoping. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 6th, 2011 — 04:59pm

Good Tidings to You: DownBeat’s Holiday Music Roundup

Publication: Downbeat
Date: December 5, 2011

Read the rest of Downbeat’s picks for holiday music here.

Harry Connick Jr. Trio: Music From The Happy Elf (Marsalis Music)
Music From The Happy Elf is a twofer. If you’ve got young children or grandchildren, The Happy Elf starts off with Connick reading his children’s story about Eubie, the happiest elf on the North Pole, with a sweet backing track by his trio. After that, you’ve got 13 Connick-penned tunes with some nice improvisation. With Neal Caine on bass and Arthur Latin on drums, the trio works out jazz instrumental versions of music written for the stage musical version of the book. And, for the first time, the music and the story are available in one neat holiday package. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 6th, 2011 — 01:22pm

Jazz notes: Sinatra at Count Basie, Billy Hart, Los Mas Valientes, Branford Marsalis

Publication: Star-Ledger
Author: Tim Wilkins
Date: December 6, 2011

Marsalis at Kean
Branford Marsalis’ concert on Friday at Enlow Recital Hall of Kean University is the best of both worlds: It presents the tenor saxophonist in the comfortable company of his longtime quartet, with Eric Revis on bass, Justin Faulkner on drums and Joey Calderazzo on piano, but Marsalis and Calderazzo will also perform as a duo (as they appear on their 2011 CD, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy”). Marsalis is a musical modernist who values lyrical content in jazz, as well as classical music: The CD contains homages to Brahms and Prokofiev. Read more »

NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2011: Complete List

Publication: NPR.org
Date: December 5, 2011

The title of the article says it all- Miguel Zenón’s Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook is listed as one of NPR’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2011. Check out the full list here.

Submitted by Courtney on December 6th, 2011 — 10:16am

'The Happy Elf’ song now a children’s book Read more: The Herald-Sun

Publication: Durham Herald-Sun
Author: Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan
Date: December 3, 2011

“Eubie, Eubie, Eubie.” So says Santa Claus to his elf that breaks North Pole rules – but all for the good of children at Christmas.

Musician, singer, composer and actor Harry Connick Jr. can add picture book author to his list of talents with the new children’s book “The Happy Elf” (Harper Collins, $17.99).

It’s a fun Christmas story about Eubie’s love for Christmas, so much so that he must find a way for children on the naughty list in Bluesville to move over to the nice list. It turns out unburnable coal looming over the town brings the blues to Bluesville, but Eubie has an idea of how to shine and spruce it up. He used his elf hat to transport himself, which is against North Pole rules, but all in the name of kindness.

It’s a sweet story aimed at children ages 4 to 8, but this reviewer’s 3-year-old loved it, too, every bit of the story as well as the illustrations by Dan Andreasen. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 5th, 2011 — 05:18pm