Friday, May 27, 2016

Abiding in the jazz festivals coming to Colorado in summer 2016

Dick Gibson, the mastermind of the 1960s and ’70s jazz parties in Aspen, looks over an album by Ralph Sutton, one of guest musicians at the festival, in this Aug. 12,1964 file photo. George Crouter, Denver Post file

May 26, 2016 / UPDATED: 1 day ago

There are numerous returning jazz-focused mountain festivals scheduled for the summer season. The tradition and energy of the beloved Dick Gibson high-altitude jazz parties of the ‘60s abide.

27th Annual Estes Park Jazz Festival, June 4-5: It’s impressive how this small town has managed to stage a weekend-long series of concerts for more than a quarter of a century while keeping to admission price down to zero. Plenty of Colorado talent returns to Performance Park Amphitheater, including Max Wagner and Greg Gisbert, and they always manage to bring in a nationally known act. This year it’s vocalist Vanessa Rubin. The following weekend, on June 11, there will be a “Big Band Bash” at the same location. Get the lineup at

2016 Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience, June 24-July 2: At perhaps the Colorado mountain jazz festival with the highest profile, the headliners at Aspen’s Benedict Music Tent include bassist Marcus Miller and keyboard legend Booker T. on the instrumental side, and soulful pop vocalists Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson will help bring in the crowds. Singer Gregory Porter will appear at the JAS Café on June 23. Tickets and lodging packages are available at

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Tim Berne/Steve Byram

Tim Berne/Steve Byram: Spare review – torrential collision of music and images
 They wrote the book … Steve Byram, left, and Tim Berne Photograph: Wes Orshoski

im Berne’s avant-jazz – a sound like a roomful of simultaneous conversations – fuses a funky rootsiness, the speediness of postbop and intricate compositional designs that often have more in common with contemporary-classical music. The New York saxophonist/composer has wryly described his aesthetic as “crude elegance” – which is a pretty apt term for this limited-edition book. Between its frugal, brown-card covers, the book unites illustrator Steve Byram’s jagged drawings, Berne’s photography of hazy faces and lowering skies, and a live recording by the latter’s formidable Snakeoil group.

The torrential, free-jazzy urgency of this recording presents a different Snakeoil from its more restrained sessions for ECM, with Berne on alto sax mixing gliding lyricism with raw-nerve howls and dry-hinge squeals, and pianist Matt Mitchell delivering some enthralling unaccompanied freebop. For the influential Berne’s many fans worldwide, this will be a real collector’s item.


Marcus Strickland's Twi-Life

A bit jazz-lite … Marcus Strickland

Marcus Strickland's Twi-Life: Nihil Novi review – shrewd grooves thanks to Meshell Ndegeocello

Florida-born saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life projects go back to a 2006 collaboration with his like-minded associate Robert Glasper on piano, the starting point for his natural-sounding fusions of classic horn-driven hard bop with the grooves and vocal phrasing of modern R&B and hip-hop. Telling ingredients here include Keyon Harrold’s expressive, 1980s-Miles trumpet sound, producer Meshell Ndegeocello’s shrewd use of overdubs, synths and cross-idiom mashups, eloquent sometime Yellowjackets singer Jean Baylor, and trenchant guest contributions from Glasper and the drums phenomenon Chris Dave. The synthed horn harmonies and vocal chants of Tic Toc have a sensuous hipness, Strickland’s rich tone and taut phrasing energise the street-sharp The Chant and the brief Mingus neatly mingles funk and a languid jazz swing. But the song lyrics are unremarkable and the confiding spoken-word declarations veer to the cheesy. It’s a bit jazz-lite, but may be an attractive mix from the R&B angle.


Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny

 Cuong Vu Trio. Photograph: William Poor

Vietnamese-American trumpeter and singer Cuong Vu was a key figure in Pat Metheny’s noughties groups, and he credits the guitarist’s Travels album with turning him on to a musical career in the first place. On the second of Nonesuch’s two May releases featuring Metheny the star reverses the roles, guesting with Vu’s long-running trio of Stomu Takeishi on bass and Ted Poor on drums, on five Vu originals plus his own brooding then exultant Telescope and the melodically foxy Tune Blues.

Vu’s group can play like a free-rhythmic avant-rock trio, explore pensive improv worlds in which trumpet lines of a Dave Douglas-like flexibility roll and tumble amid battering drumming and bass-guitar throbs and growls (as in Acid Kiss), adopt an Ornette Coleman-like melodic skip, a warmly brassy tenderness, or build anthemic harmonies to huge, wailing thrashes like the 10-minute Tiny Little Pieces. Metheny enters completely into the exploratory spirit, and gives Vu’s intriguing music a fresh dimension and creative support.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

DownBeat - Classic Interviews

Phil Is Now: Out Of The Woods - Published 1/23/1957
Phillip Wells Woods is a lean 25, with the appearance of an Alan Ladd, and an alto that talks more like a cross between Bogart and Gérard Philipe. Woods, who won a 1955 DownBeat Jazz Critics Poll New Star award, recently left Dizzy Gillespie’s …  
Ornette Coleman: The First Beginning - Published 7/21/1960
In the recent fuss and furor over Ornette Coleman, a good many persons have been making hasty leaps for the tailgate of what might turn out to be a bandwagon. But as Ralph Gleason pointed out recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, Coleman, at the e …  
Bob Belden’s Spanish Key - Published 3/1/2011
It’s a sunny, spring day in May in midtown Manhattan that begins a week of recording. And everybody’s waiting for Rabih. 
From the podium, the leader croons, ““I’m in the oud for love.” 
With these words of wit that typically …  
Jazz On Television In 1965 - Published 5/6/1965
For the record—and in the interest of enlightening posterity and giving credit that is seldom acknowledged—it should be said that the last few weeks of 1964 and the first couple of months of 1965 were a fruitful period of television jazz.…  

Eli Degibri

Standard Bank Arts