Jazz in Elsewhere

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BRANFORD MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2009): Putting the past to bed

23 Nov 2009  |  8 min read  |  1

Branford Marsalis, who played in bands with Sting and helmed his own Buckshot LeFonque -- which had a stab at the hip-hop-to-bebop territory -- is these days dismissive of his brief skirmishes with popular music. He’s back playing jazz and much prefers it. The audiences may be smaller but he gets to play exactly what he wants, can look himself in the mirror and the feedback is better.... > Read more

Branford Marsalis: Roused About

TERJE RYPDAL, ECM GUITARIST (2009): The career, and careering across the disc

2 Nov 2009  |  3 min read  |  1

Like many artists on the ECM label, the Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal is largely faceless: you could have listened to his albums for decades as I have done and still pass him in the supermarket and not recognise him. By my count he’s done about 20 albums under his own name on ECM, and appeared on almost as many others as one of those sidemen-among-equals on projects ECM... > Read more

Rypdal and Bjornstad: The Pleasure is Mine, I'm Sure (from Life in Leipzig, 2009)

Stefano Bollani: Stone in the Water (ECM/Ode)

25 Oct 2009  |  <1 min read

After the superb duet album The Third Man with trumpeter Enrico Rava, this one by pianist Bollani (with bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund) was always going to attract the attention of Elsewhere. But while this is beautifully realised piano trio work -- sensitive, considered, quiet and often quite elegant -- it rarely excites, takes the listener in an unexpected or unfamiliar... > Read more

Stefano Bollani: Dom de iludir

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM/Ode)

5 Oct 2009  |  <1 min read

The previous album posted at Elsewhere by this oud player, Le Voyage de Sahar, was one of the best in his long career and -- as with Le pas du chat noir of 2002 -- confirmed that he was craeting his own genre, a kind of Middle Eastern chamber jazz for oud, piano and accordion. There was a cool stillness about Le Voyage de Sahar and that mood carries over into this album with a very... > Read more

Anouar Brahem: The Lover of Beirut

Steve Kuhn: Mostly Coltrane (ECM/Ode)

21 Sep 2009  |  1 min read

Even those jazz listeners not usually drawn to the sound and style of many albums on the ECM label would find the pedigree of the players here, and the topic of their conversation, mighty appealing: pianist Kuhn actually played with John Coltrane for two months in 1960 when he (Kuhn) was 21; the drummer here in this acoustic group is the great Joey Baron (the bassist is David Finck, both... > Read more

Steve Kuhn Trio: Central Park West

MURRAY McNABB'S ASTRAL SURFERS ALBUM (2009): Keyboardist . . . to the stars

11 Sep 2009  |  3 min read  |  1

Long experience and years of disappointment have taught me that very few among this country’s more established jazz musicians listen to much beyond their own doorstep or record collection. Standards rule, okay? Perhaps if you’d been at it for as long as these musicians -- with the so few rewards, financial or by way of public interest -- you too might retreat into yourself and... > Read more

Murray McNabb Group: Snake

GREG HEATH IN LONDON 2009: Kiwi jazz in another climate

21 Aug 2009  |  2 min read  |  1

Saxophonist Greg Heath has been in London for two decades now, so you’d have to have a long memory to recall him alongside Rick Bryant in the early 80s as a member of The Neighbours – a band with a revolving door membership anyway. In ‘84 Heath picked up a grant to study at the New South Wales Conservatorium (where another expat jazz musician Mike Nock has had a long... > Read more

Greg Heath Quartet: No Time to Reason

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

17 Aug 2009  |  1 min read

With the reunion of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin; bassist Stanley Clarke back with another trio album with pianist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White; Clarke, Corea, White and guitarist Al Di Meola returning as another Return to Forever; and other Seventies fusion artists on the trail again it looks like that whole movement has been rehabilitated. The nu-fusion from some these people isn't as... > Read more

Miroslav Vitous Group: Variations on W Shorter


9 Aug 2009  |  2 min read

When Chick Corea and John McLaughlin’s Five Peace band played in Auckland in February of 2009, I noted these players – in the vanguard of jazz fusion in the 70s – had re-invented it for a new audience: gone were the faster-than-thou solos which guitarist McLaughlin once inflicted (notably with his intense Mahavishnu Orchestra) but also by engaging in genuine musical dialogue... > Read more

JAZZ IN PRINT: A selection of useful biographies and references in jazz

2 Aug 2009  |  4 min read  |  1

Stastics are easy to refute. Current research shows 87.5 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot, right? But some stats aren’t worth the trouble of arguing over. So let’s not dispute whether jazz commands about two per cent of its hometown market in the US (as Ken Burns said at the time of his insightful if controversial Jazz doco-series) or three per cent as Martin... > Read more

Charles Mingus: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

JAZZ: A FILM by KEN BURNS (DVD): The never-ending story

20 Jul 2009  |  3 min read

The cartoon shows two old guys in the television room of a resthome. One says, "There's nothing left to live for." The other replies, "Yeah, there is. I'm watching the Ken Burns’ series on jazz and want to find out how it turns out." The joke - if there is one - is we all know how jazz turned out: the once universally popular music divided and subdivided into... > Read more

Duke Ellington: Blues for New Orleans (1970)

HORACE SILVER, JAZZ PIANO LEGEND: Fifty years of Peace, in our time

19 Jul 2009  |  3 min read  |  1

When I was at school, my dad wasn’t concerned about what marks I got. All he wanted to know was, ‘Where were you in the class?’ He figured while 82 per cent sounds impressive, if everyone else got in the 90s then you were in the bottom. That isn’t quite so impressive. The only thing worth knowing was the comparison. Well, comparisons are odious but inevitable.... > Read more

Horace Silver: Peace (1959)

JOHN COLTRANE AND MILES DAVIS: Genius at work and playing, 1955-61

15 Jul 2009  |  3 min read

For two people about to write themselves into music history, their credentials were not promising. Only a few years previously, the trumpeter was so hooked on heroin that he was almost unemployable and would often fail to show for concerts. The other was a little-known saxophonist whose career was sound but unspectacular. He had played in Dizzy Gillespie's small ensemble which had... > Read more

John Coltrane and Miles Davis: Two Bass Hit

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

14 Jun 2009  |  4 min read

At 77 and with a career of almost six decades behind her, Cleo Laine admits she is slowing down a little. But not much. This year she is fully booked and that includes dates in Australia and New Zealand, as far as it is possible to get from her stately home in Buckinghamshire where she lives with her husband of 46 years, John Dankworth. Although widely recognised as a Britain’s... > Read more

DUKE ELLINGTON: A genius, but not that great?

30 May 2009  |  2 min read

Few statements about music can be delivered unequivocally, but here's one: Edward Kennedy Ellington was one of the greatest composers of last century. And of all time. And no discussion need be entered into. Other than to observe he didn't "compose" in the traditional sense: most of his best-known songs were written with collaborators, his instrument was an orchestra, and his... > Read more

Duke Ellington: Blues for New Orleans (from New Orleans Suite, 1970)

Diana Krall: Quiet Nights (Verve/Universal)

21 May 2009  |  1 min read

Popular though she might be, Canadian Krall (interview here) has been considered something of a lightweight jazz chanteuse and it has perhaps only been live when her piano playing comes into its own. But her 2004 album Girl in the Other Room (many of the lyrics co-written with her new husband Elvis Costello) was a great leap forward into more demanding material. On a first listen to this... > Read more

Diana Krall: Walk On By

JACQUES LOUSSIER AT 75: Bach and all that jazz

16 May 2009  |  2 min read  |  1

Jacques Loussier, who popularised jazz back when television was broadcast in black and white, says his career came about by accident. Half a century on from his first album and four decades-plus since his Play Bach series screened across the world in prime time, he still pays classical music in a jazz manner. “The people at the record company [Decca] said, ‘What can you... > Read more

Jacques Loussier Trio: Invention for Two Voices No. 8

Candy Dulfer: Funked Up Chilled Out (Heads Up/Elite)

8 May 2009  |  <1 min read

Consumer law revolves on the principle of "fitness for purpose" and you won't catch this saxophonist out on that score: this double disc is as it says on the cover, one disc of funked up and the other of . . . Well, it's all very Seventies however and "funked up" means disco-flavoured cuts and the "chilled out" isn't so much chill-out room music but sultry... > Read more

Candy Dulfer: Anything You Need (from Chilled Out)

DIANA KRALL INTERVIEWED (2000): Blonde ambition

26 Apr 2009  |  5 min read

Grammy-gathering jazz pianist and chanteuse Diana Krall is shameless about her musical taste. She's about to go on stage in Philadelphia with Tony Bennett, but is confessing about the music she's listening to on the tour. Not unexpectedly, she rattles off a few by jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Ella Fitzgerald, namechecks Johnny Mathis a few times, then ...... > Read more

Diana Krall: I've Got You Under My Skin

Broadbent, Gibson, Smith: Together Again (Ode)

26 Apr 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

The title of this album might better be Together Again . . . At Last because it has been far too long since LA-based pianist/composer Alan Broadbent and bassist Putter Smith recorded with Auckland drummer Frank Gibson.  (It might not seem that long because their Over the Fence album of 1990 was reissued on Ode two years ago.) That said, they fit seamless together once more on this... > Read more

Broadbent, Gibson, Smith: Continuity