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NYC’s hot Winter Jazzfest

Publication: Jazz Beyond Jazz
Author: Howard Mandel
Date: January 14, 2013

The second weekend of January is now the fullest on NYC’s jazz calendar, with continuation of the high energy, two-night showcase Winter Jazzfest in multiple Greenwich Village venues, and aspirational ensembles elsewhere playing (they hope) for booking agents and curators attending the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters convention. Having responsibilities of my own Friday and Saturday after the Jazz Connect conference (held in conjunction with APAP), I had to limit my actual listening — but took in the start of pianist Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express plus tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life, the Revive Big Band, singer Claudia Acuña and solo saxophonist Colin Stetson as well as vocalist Macy Gray with saxman David Murray’s Big Band at Iridium in midtown.



Ms. Acuña, who preceded Stetson at the Bitter End — best known as a folkie hangout — is a beguiling Chilean-born- and-raised vocalist and songwriter. She sings mostly in Spanish, which I don’t speak, but her voice is warm, her delivery is artful and confident, her stage manner casually dramatic and very inviting. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on January 15th, 2013 — 09:42am

Winter Jazzfest: A New-World Meshing of Pop and Folk

Publication: New York Times ArtsBeat
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: January 12, 2013

Day 2 of Winter Jazzfest began, for me, with Claudia Acuña at the Bitter End, reharmonizing “You Are My Sunshine” for a standing-room crowd. I feel as if I’m still digesting last night’s offerings, including a brilliantly indeterminate set by the bassist Eric Revis, the pianist Kris Davis and the drummer Andrew Cyrille; and a midnight set by Nasheet Waits’s Equality, featuring the pianist Vijay Iyer. I tumbled into bed this morning at 3:30, and spent most of the day looking forward to more of the same.

Ms. Acuña’s set, or what I heard of it, was propulsive and polished, a new-world amalgam of pop harmony and folk rhythm. The strongest creative force in the band was the guitarist Mike Moreno, who fashioned a spectacularly fluent solo over a Gary McFarland tune. But there was a general cohesion among the band that resonated clearly with the crowd.

Submitted by Courtney on January 14th, 2013 — 10:14am

iTunes Best of 2012

We are so pleased to announce that iTunes picked the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s Four MFs Playin’ Tunes as the Best Instrumental Jazz Album of 2012! Find Four MFs and other iTunes Best of 2012 picks here.

Submitted by Courtney on December 17th, 2012 — 03:21pm

Branford Marsalis: Confident MF Playin’ Tunes

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: R.J. DeLuke
Date: December 10, 2012

Musicians evolve, and so do bands, if they’re allowed to stay together long enough to develop their musical relationships—that certain chemistry. Such is the case with Branford Marsalis, the outstanding saxophonist who has been through so much in his storied career. It’s also the case with his band, which he has kept together, with few personnel changes, for more than a decade. They are a tight unit that continues to ripen. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 10th, 2012 — 10:07am

Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis lead tribute to the late Bob French

Publication: The Times-Picayune
Author: Keith Spera
Date: December 5, 2012

Among other, sometimes less flattering designations, Bob French was considered the unofficial mayor of the Musicians’ Village. In November, he also became the first of its residents to die.

On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 4, Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis and their manager, Ann Marie Wilkins, the trio who championed the construction of the Musicians’ Village after Hurricane Katrina, hosted a private memorial concert for French, the longtime leader and drummer of the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band and an especially colorful WWOZ-FM deejay.

Over the decades, French mentored scores of young musicians, including Connick and Marsalis. After their success and fame had far surpassed that of their mentor, they returned the favor. Read more »