The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will collaborate with saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter and his quartet at Carnegie Hall on February 1. Together they will play compositions by Shorter arranged for orchestra as well as Beethoven’s Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus and Ives’ Symphony No. 3, The Camp Meeting.
Founded in 1972, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has previously collaborated with the late Ravi Shankar, Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau. Shorter, who will turn 80 next year, joined with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other world-class orchestras in 2007 to unveil a new symphonic repertoire including reworkings of earlier compositions and newly composed material. Since then, Shorter has worked extensively in classical music. The Wayne Shorter Quartet is composed of Shorter, drummer Brian Blade, bassist John Patitucci and pianist Danilo Pérez.
To calculate our Top 50 releases of 2012, available now in our January/February 2013 issue, we asked our contributors to submit ranked lists of 10 new releases and five historical/reissue releases consisting primarily of music recorded more than 10 years ago. CDs and box sets released between Nov. 1, 2011 and Nov. 1, 2012 were eligible. Some albums may have slipped through the cracks, however, as official release dates shifted or weren’t available. Certain critics chose not to disclose their ballots here; others made submissions and revisions after the calculations deadline. THE EDITORS
From our January/February 2013 Year in Review issue, out now. Voting conducted online at JazzTimes.com. Winners appear in bold; runners-up are un-bolded and listed in order of number of votes. Readers were asked to consider artists’ achievements and music, book and film releases dating Nov. 1, 2011 through Nov. 1, 2012.
Best Improvised Jazz Solo
“Cross Roads” Ravi Coltrane, soloist Track from: Spirit Fiction [Blue Note]
“Hot House” Gary Burton & Chick Corea, soloists Track from: Hot House [Concord Jazz]
“Alice in Wonderland” Chick Corea, soloist Track from: Further Explorations (Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian) [Concord Jazz]
“J. Mac” Kenny Garrett, soloist Track from: Seeds From the Underground [Mack Avenue Records]
“Ode” Brad Mehldau, soloist Track from: Ode (Brad Mehldau Trio) [Nonesuch]
Best Jazz Vocal Album
Soul Shadows Denise Donatelli [Savant Records]
1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project Kurt Elling [Concord Jazz]
Live Al Jarreau (And the Metropole Orkest) [Concord]
The Book of Chet Luciana Souza [Sunnyside Records]
Radio Music Society Esperanza Spalding [Heads Up International]
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Further Explorations Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian [Concord Jazz]
Hot House Chick Corea & Gary Burton [Concord Jazz]
Seeds From the Underground Kenny Garrett [Mack Avenue Records]
Blue Moon Ahmad Jamal [Jazz Village]
Unity Band Pat Metheny Unity Band [Nonesuch]
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans Gil Evans Project [ArtistShare]
For the Moment Bob Mintzer Big Band [MCG Jazz]
Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) Arturo Sandoval [Concord Jazz]
Best Latin Jazz Album
Flamenco Sketches Chano Domínguez [Blue Note]
¡Ritmo! The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band [Clare Fischer Productions/Clavo Records]
Multiverse Bobby Sanabria Big Band [Jazzheads]
Duos III Luciana Souza [Sunnyside Records]
New Cuban Express Manuel Valera New Cuban Express [Mavo Records]
Best Pop Instrumental Album
24/7 Gerald Albright & Norman Brown [Concord Jazz]
Impressions Chris Botti [Columbia]
Four Hands & a Heart Volume One Larry Carlton [335 Records, Inc.]
Live at the Blue Note Tokyo Dave Koz [Just Koz Entertainment]
Rumbadoodle Arun Shenoy [Arun Shenoy Music Publishing]
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Christmas Michael Bublé [143/Reprise]
A Holiday Carole Carole King [Hear Music]
Kisses on the Bottom Paul McCartney [Hear Music]
Best Instrumental Composition
“December Dream” Chuck Loeb, composer (Fourplay) Track from: Esprit De Four [Heads Up International]
“Mozart Goes Dancing” Chick Corea, composer (Chick Corea & Gary Burton) Track from: Hot House [Concord Jazz]
“Music of Ansel Adams: America” Chris Brubeck & Dave Brubeck, composers (Temple University Symphony Orchestra) [BCM&D Records]
“Overture, Waltz and Rondo” Bill Cunliffe, composer (Temple University Symphony Orchestra) [BCM&D Records]
“Without a Paddle” Bill Holman, composer (Tall & Small) Track from: High on You [Bosco Records]
Best Instrumental Arrangement
“Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Ellington” Michael Philip Mossman, arranger (Bobby Sanabria Big Band) Track from: Multiverse [Jazzheads]
“How About You” Gil Evans, arranger (Gil Evans Project) Track from: Centennial - Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans [ArtistShare]
“Irrequieto” Bob Mintzer, arranger (Bob Mintzer Big Band) Track from: For the Moment [MCG Jazz]
“A Night in Tunisia (Actually an Entire Weekend!)” Wally Minko, arranger (Arturo Sandoval) Track from: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You) [Concord Jazz]
“Salt Peanuts! (Mani Salado)” Gordon Goodwin, arranger (Arturo Sandoval) Track from: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You) [Concord Jazz]
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)
“City of Roses” Thara Memory & Esperanza Spalding, arrangers (Esperanza Spalding) Track from: Radio Music Society [Heads Up International]
“Look to the Rainbow” Gil Evans, arranger (Gil Evans Project and Luciana Souza) Track from: Centennial - Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans [ArtistShare]
“Out There” Shelly Berg, arranger (Lorraine Feather) Track from: Tales of the Unusual [Jazzed Media]
“Spain (I Can Recall)” Vince Mendoza, arranger (Al Jarreau And The Metropole Orkest) Track from: Live [Concord Records]
“Wild Is the Wind” Nan Schwartz, arranger (Whitney Claire Kaufman And Andrew Playfoot) Track from: The Greatest Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin [LSO Live]
Best Blues Album
33 1/3 Shemekia Copeland [Telarc International]
Locked Down Dr. John [Nonesuch]
Let It Burn Ruthie Foster [Blue Corn Music]
And Still I Rise Heritage Blues Orchestra [Raisin' Music]
Bring It on Home Joan Osborne [Saguaro Road]
Additional Nominations of Interest
In the Best R&B Album Category
Black Radio Robert Glasper Experiment [Blue Note]
In the Best R&B Performance Category
“Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)” Robert Glasper Experiment Featuring Ledisi Track from: Black Radio [Blue Note]
In the Best Traditional R&B Performance Category
“Lately” Anita Baker [Blue Note]
“Real Good Hands” Gregory Porter Track from: Be Good [Motema Music]
In the Best Album Notes Category
Piazzolla in Brooklyn Fernando Gonzalez, album notes writer (Pablo Aslan Quintet) [Soundbrush]
In the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical Category
The Absence Moogie Canazio & Al Schmitt, engineers; Bernie Grundman, mastering engineer (Melody Gardot) [Verve/Decca]
In the Best Surround Sound Album Category
Modern Cool Jim Anderson, surround mix engineer; Darcy Proper, surround mastering engineer; Michael Friedman, surround producer (Patricia Barber) [Premonition Records]
In the Best Long Form Music Video Category
Radio Music Society Esperanza Spalding Pilar Sanz, video director; Esperanza Spalding, video producer [Heads Up International]
Smooth Music News (Smooth Jazz Network)
Legendary guitarist George Benson is in the studio working on his next album - a tribute to his favorite artist, Nat 'King' Cole. George is recording the set with a full orchestra and has invited his fans to participate in the making of the album via the group pledgemusic.com. Benson also participated in a new book from author Julia Crowe entitled My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords from 70 Legendary Musicians. The forward of the book is handled by The Police guitarist Andy Summers and includes stories from Benson and musicians like Jimmy Page, Les Paul, Pat Metheny and Melissa Etheridge, among many others. Coming up later this month, George will be the special guest for the Smooth Jazz Cruise, performing in the port destination of Cozumel, Mexico January 17-18 and January 24-25, 2013.
Soul-funk icon Chaka Khan will be celebrated at the 2013 BET Honors event in Washington, DC on January 12. BET Honors highlights top-performing African Americans in the areas of music, entertainment, literature, education and service. Actress Halle Berry, music executive Clarence Avant, basketball star Lisa Leslie and Pastor T.D. Jakes will also be celebrated at the gala, hosted by actress Gabrielle Union and airing on BET on February 11. Meanwhile, Chaka is working on her new album, Icon, and will release the first single this month called "It's Not Over." She says the project contains eight new tracks and "all of them are going to be inspirational, fundamentally, but they’re going to be rock, world, funk, jazz, opera." She plans to release songs from the album throughout 2013 and promises other icons will be joining her on the set.
Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award nominee, Vanessa Williams is returning to Broadway in the American classic The Trip to Bountiful. She joins Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad and Academy Award nominee Cicely Tyson. The show is being staged at the Stephen Sondheim Theater with previews beginning on March 31 and the opening set for April 23. Williams appeared onstage in Sondheim on Sondheim in 2010 and was nominated for a Tony for her role as the Witch in the revival of Into The Woods in 2002. Vanessa will also be appearing on the big screen in Tyler Perry's new film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, opening March 29.
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As we wrap up 2012, I’d like to take some time to remember some of the wonderful contributors to jazz that passed away in 2012. Here is a short list of some of the great musicians we lost over the last year, and as always, feel free to share your memories of these musicians, or any musicians that passed away that aren’t on this list.
Dave Brubeck, 91
(From the HARTFORD, Conn. AP) – Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck, whose pioneering style in pieces such as “Take Five” caught listeners’ ears with exotic, challenging rhythms, passed away December 5th. Brubeck had a career that spanned almost all American jazz since World War II. He formed The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and was the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine – on Nov. 8, 1954 – and he helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and ’60s club jazz.
Pete Cosey, 68
(From the Chicago AP) – Pete Cosey, an innovative guitarist who brought his distinctive distorted sound to recordings with Miles Davis, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, died May 30th. In the 1960s, Cosey was a member of the studio band at Chess Records in Chicago, where he played on Waters’ “Electric Mud” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Howlin’ Wolf Album.” Cosey also worked with Etta James and Chuck Berry. Cosey ended up playing on many of Miles Davis’ boundary-pushing recordings in the 1970s, including “Dark Magus,” ”Agharta” and “The Complete On the Corner Sessions.”
Clare Fischer, 83
(From the Los Angeles AP) – Clare Fischer, a Grammy-winning composer who wrote scores for television and movies and worked with legendary musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, died January 26th. An uncommonly versatile musician, Fischer worked as a composer, arranger, conductor and pianist for more than 60 years. He is best known for his arrangements for Prince, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Branford Marsalis, Raphael Saadiq, Usher and Brandy.
Von Freeman, 88
(From the Chicago AP) – Earle Lavon Freeman, a tenor saxophonist and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, passed away August 11th, remembered as a jazz great who made every song his own with a husky, melodic sound. Freeman never became of a major star but was highly regarded as a musician by other jazz practitioners. Miles Davis reportedly wanted him in the 1950s, but Freeman refused to leave his native Chicago for most of his career, taking only the briefest trips out of the city to perform.
James “Red” Holloway, 84
(From the Morro Bay, Calif. AP) – James “Red” Holloway, a noted saxophonist who played with the greats from the big band era through bebop, blues, R&B and modern jazz, died February 25th in California. During a career that spanned nearly seven decades, Holloway’s versatility and driving swing style kept him much in demand. He performed with legends such as Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin.
Etta James, 73
(From the Los Angeles AP) – Etta James, the feisty R&B singer whose raw, passionate vocals anchored many hits and made the yearning ballad “At Last” an enduring anthem for weddings, commercials and even President Obama, died January 20th. James performed well into her senior years, and it was “At Last” that kept bringing her the biggest ovations. The song was a perennial that never aged, and on Jan. 20, 2009, as crowds celebrated that – at last – an African-American had become president of the United States, the song played as the first couple danced.
Ravi Shankar, 92
(From New Delhi AP) – From George Harrison to John Coltrane, from Yehudi Menuhin to David Crosby, his connections reflected music’s universality, though a gap persisted between Shankar and many Western fans. Shankar died December 11th. As early as the 1950s, Shankar began collaborating with and teaching some of the greats of Western music, including violinist Menuhin and jazz saxophonist Coltrane. He played well-received shows in concert halls in Europe and the United States, but faced a constant struggle to bridge the musical gap between the West and the East. To later generations, he was known as the estranged father of popular American singer Norah Jones.