Seats are selling fast for this year’s all-star lineup! Three-day Arena Packages offer 13 headlining acts on the Jimmy Lyons Stage – the site of the historic Monterey Jazz and Pop Festivals! Friday includes Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra, Melody Gardot, and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. On Saturday, see Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Tony Bennett, Jack DeJohnette Special Trio featuring Pat Metheny & Christian McBride; and Bill Frisell. On Sunday, see Esperanza Spalding, Pat Metheny Unity Band, and Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Ambrose Akinmusire, Chris Potter, Benny Green, Lewis Nash, and more! You’ll also have weekend-long access to all seven Grounds Stages, with 78 additional musical events, conversations, international food, and family fun on the oak-studded Monterey County Fairgrounds!
See the lineup at: montereyjazzfestival.org
Manfred Eicher would probably cringe to hear it called a “package show.” Perhaps even more insulting to him would have been the term “Battle of the Bands.” But in retrospect, I think that’s exactly what was happening. In 1976, ECM Records put together a concert tour featuring several of its current acts. After individual sets of music from groups led by bassist Eberhard Weber, and by drummer Jack DeJohnette, plus a duo performance from guitarists Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie, the evening concluded with one of the label’s highest profile performers, vibraphonist Gary Burton. Some of the music was pretty dense stuff. I was familiar with Weber’s The Colours of Chloe LP, so I knew what to expect with his quartet, and I had followed Ralph Towner’s trajectory from the Paul Winter Consort to Oregon and solo and duet outings. I had been a longtime fan of Gary Burton, thanks to some of the upper classmen from college.
But even for the initiated, this was challenging material. And what I recall that night is not only the concentration needed to appreciate the music, but also how some audience members—while sincerely trying—were lost from note one. There were well-meaning but intrusive smatterings of clapping at strange times and other signs of bewilderment. It was as if there should have been a jazz appreciation seminar prior to the show.
First Metheny-led band in 30 years to feature sax
Pat Metheny and the Unity Band—Chris Potter on sax and bass clarinet, Antonio Sanchez on drums, and Ben Williams on bass—has released Unity Band on Nonesuch Records. The lineup is the first Metheny-led outfit in 30 years to include a saxophonist. The album features nine new Metheny compositions.
The group will tour the United States this summer and fall, with stops in 39 cities. The full schedule follows.
Pat Metheny Unity BandTour Schedule
Jul 29 Caramoor Festival Katonah, NY
Smooth Music News (Smooth Jazz Network)
Boney James has had a busy summer performing at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles in June and touring the U.S. to play for his fans far and wide. James has also been taking time in the studio to work on his next album, a follow up to his successful 2011 release Contact, which was his ninth CD to hit number one on the Billboard Jazz Chart.As with his previous efforts, Boney has invited some guest artists and friends to join him in the studio including Rick Braun, R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn and engineer Dave Rideau. No release date has been set as yet, but Boney promises the album has "serious old school flavor."
Director, producer and actor, Spike Lee is working on a documentary about Michael Jackson's Bad album which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. According to Billboard, Lee says the footage was a "treasure chest of findings." Adding, "We have footage in this documentary that no one's ever seen, stuff that Michael shot himself, behind-the-scenes stuff. We had complete access to the vaults of Michael Jackson. ... He wrote 60 demos for the Bad record. Only 11 made it. So we got to hear a lot of that stuff, too, so it was just a great experience." In honor of the 25th anniversary of Bad, the album is being re-released on September 18 and the set will include additional tracks, a DVD and bonus material. The documentary is due out later in the year, but no date has been set. Lee plans to host his annual birthday tribute in Jackson's honor on August 25 in Brooklyn, New York.
Alicia Keys gave her fans a taste of what's to come on her fifth studio album, due out later this year. The Grammy winning singer released an upbeat song called "New Day" on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/aliciakeys and also has an updated YouTube link for fans to follow, here www.youtube.com/user/aliciakeys/featured. Added bonus on the YouTube site is a video of Sade and Alicia performing together on "Stronger Than Pride" at Alicia's Black Ball 2010 event in New York City. The new album will be her first since the 2009 release The Element of Freedom.
Grammy award winning singer-songwriter, Van Morrison announced he's releasing a new album entitled Born to Sing: No Plan B, via Blue Note Records on October 2. The legendary singer is known for his classic hits "Moondance," "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Domino," among others. Blue Note President Don Was says Morrison is "one of the greatest singer/songwriter/musicians of all time." Van recorded and produced the album in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is on tour throughout the UK and Europe this summer including a performance at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in London tomorrow (June 29). His full tour schedule is available here: www.vanmorrison.com/live.html.
On September 25, Verve Records will release Glad Rag Doll, a new album by Diana Krall.
On September 25, Verve Records will release Glad Rag Doll, a new album by Diana Krall. The 47-year-old singer/songwriter calls the 11-track disc a "song and dance record." It’s hard to know yet exactly what she means by that, but what is known is that she sings a lot of old songs on the album while tickling the ivories of an 1890s Steinway upright. Joining her is a cast of stellar supporting players, including guitarists Marc Ribot, Bryan Sutton and Colin Linden; drummer Jay Bellerose; bassist Dennis Crouch; keyboardist Keefus Green; and multi-instrumentalist Howard Coward. T Bone Burnett, who produced the album, also contributes some guitar work.
Though the majority of the album’s tracks date to the first half of the 20th century, Krall and company did their best to avoid sounding musty. "We all just went in there as if the songs were written yesterday," she says. "I didn’t want to make a period piece or nostalgia record."
To get some sense of album’s sound and Krall’s intent, here’s one of its featured tracks, Fred Fisher’s "There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth the Salt of My Tears."
Photo credit: Mark Seliger
Resonance Records has released a crackerjack live performance of pianist Bill Evans
Resonance Records has released a crackerjack live performance of pianist Bill Evans, accompanied by bassist Eddie Gomez (pictured above with Evans) and drummer Marty Morell, recorded more than 40 years ago. Titled Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate, the music on the release’s two CDs comprises the entirety of two sets that the trio played at the Greenwich Village club on October 23, 1968. The performances were aired once on Columbia University radio station WKCR-FM, and haven’t been heard by anyone since.
"This gives people a good idea of what it must have been like to be in the room at the time and experience the music," says producer Zev Feldman. "We’ve done everything short of building a time machine."
The credit for the recording’s clarity and intimacy rests with George Klabin, then a 22-year-old recording engineer granted unprecedented access to the date by Evans’ longtime manager, Helen Keane. Jazz fans can be forgiven for being skeptical after countless long-lost jazz recordings have hit the market only to sound as if they were transmitted over the telephone via a bad connection on a stormy night. Klabin, however, positioned separate microphones on each member of the trio, yielding a pristine mix that’s the next best thing to being there.
"Being able to hear jazz up close, as I did in clubs, I was dismayed by what I heard on live recordings," Klabin recalls. "The sound was so often muddy and distant and not satisfying. I wanted to capture the intimacy."
The benefits of Klabin’s approach can be heard from the first notes of Evans’ delicate introduction to "Emily," which ring out with a hushed brilliance while the gentle murmur of diners can be heard unobtrusively in the background. "This release celebrates the memory of Bill Evans," Feldman says, "but it also celebrates the memory of Art D’Lugoff, who was a visionary and obviously one of New York’s greatest music impresarios, and the Village Gate as well, which, sadly, is no longer with us either."
At the time Klabin recorded these shows, Gomez was two years into what would become an 11-year stint in the trio, while Morell had joined the group within the past week. The trio had quickly found its footing, however, playing at the height of their powers individually and collectively. Throughout the two sets, Evans showcases his gift for interpreting standards, playing only one original ("Turn Out the Stars") over the 17 tracks.
Students of Evans’ music will be delighted to see that three pieces ("Emily," "Yesterdays," and "‘Round Midnight") are represented in both the first and second sets, offering a rare opportunity to compare the soloists’ diverging takes on the same tunes in a single evening. Also, as Feldman points out in his notes, several of the selections possess historic significance: Both "My Funny Valentine" and "Here’s That Rainy Day" (and possibly "Mother of Earl") mark Evans’ first documented trio performances of those songs, while "Here’s That Rainy Day" may be the first time Evans recorded that piece, period.
In addition to offering this vital concert for the first time, Feldman and Klabin have labored to surround the music with important context, assembling a package rich with photographs, information and reminiscences. Both Gomez and Morell offer heartfelt reflections of their time with Evans, while Klabin explains his methods in enlightening detail and Raphael D’Lugoff looks back at growing up in his father’s legendary venue. A younger Raphael can be seen in a family photo alongside his father and sister Sharon, one of several historical documents included in the package, which also features memorabilia from the club and the actual contract for the week signed by Evans. The liner notes also include an essay by pioneering jazz critic Nat Hentoff, an appreciation by the great vibist Gary Burton. These notes are lined with iconic photographs by Jan Persson, Raymond Ross, Herb Snitzer, Fred Seligo and Tom Copi.
The album is available in a 2-CD deluxe digi-pack with a 28-page booklet. Additionally, a limited first-edition pressing of 3,000 hand-numbered 3-LP 180-gram vinyl box sets is also available. The entire package will also be downloadable with an e-booklet (where available) for those who choose to purchase the album digitally.