Jazz in Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

GREGORY PORTER INTERVIEWED (2014): Grammy jazz gentle giant

7 Apr 2014  |  7 min read

Gregory Porter is a big man with a soft voice. The former linebacker from San Diego slipped sideways into music with the assistance of a mentor Kamau Kenyatta, got a part on Broadway in the cast of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues and recorded two albums for small labels which were both nominated for jazz Grammys. Then in January this year he finally got the award when his debut album... > Read more

Liquid Spirit

Various Artists: The Best of Blue Note (Blue Note/Universal)

31 Mar 2014  |  1 min read

As mentioned previously, the Blue Note jazz label is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary with large reissue programme of remastered classic albums on vinyl (100 over the coming 15 months or so) and also looking to raise the profile of its artists both old and new. This double disc brings old and new together across 22 tracks (see full listing below) in a chronological collection whch... > Read more

Afro Blue

10 CLASSIC BLUE NOTE COVERS (2014): Making the music look good

24 Mar 2014  |  5 min read

As you read this, the Blue Note record label is celebrating it's 75th anniversary. The label synonymous with classic jazz -- which went some way to defining the way people understood jazz in the Fifties and Sixties -- has been going since 1939 when its founder Alfred Lion recorded pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis in a New York studio. At the end of that year Lion was joined by his... > Read more

Right Now

Jonas Kullhammar Quartet: Lat Det Vara (moserobie.com)

10 Mar 2014  |  1 min read

I cannot tell a lie, I bought this for the cover when I spotted it in a record store in the old town of Stockholm . . . but am delighted I did. At the time I didn't even know it was a jazz album, let alone one by a guy who has won a stack of awards in Sweden and been nominated for Swedish Grammys.  I had not previously heard of tenor player Jonas Kullhammar or his quartet however... > Read more

Julaftonsfan (extract only)

Phil Davison: Straight, Bent and Uncut (iTunes)

31 Jan 2014  |  1 min read

When Adolphe Sax invented the instruments in the mid 19th century which bear his name, he could hardly have predicted just what musical diversity this family of horns would encompass. As an orchestral instrument it moved into dance bands, swing, allowed for the beautifully melodic tones of Lester Young, the furious experimentalism of Charlie Parker and the spiritual searching of John... > Read more

Brazil Nuts

MURRAY McNABB INTERVIEWED (1947-2013): The new man with the courage to make himself new

17 Nov 2013  |  9 min read

The plan would have been timely: a concert acknowledging the half century he’d known and played in bands with drummer Frank Gibson. But then everything changed. “They gave me a year, that was a year ago,” said 66-year-old keyboard player and composer McNabb about the cancer diagnosis he received. “So I’m going downhill gradually, losing weight. It’s... > Read more

Nick Granville Group: Refractions (Rattle Jazz)

14 Nov 2013  |  1 min read

Some months ago New Zealand guitarist Nick Granville answered our Famous Elsewhere Jazz Questionnaire on the strength of what was then his forthcoming album Refractions. Well, that album has now arrived so we direct you back to his answers here because it also gives you a potted biography of his creativity and past work, which means we don't have to do it again now. At that time... > Read more

Ornette-Ology

The Swallow Quintet: Into the Woodwork (ECM/Ode)

25 Sep 2013  |  <1 min read

On paper, all the ingredients are in place here where the seniors - - the wonderful bassist Steve Swallow and extraordinary composer Carla Bley -- are united with the new generation: guitarist Steve Gardenas, tenor player Chris Cheek and drummer Jorge Rossy. But here Bley -- who plays organ rather than piano -- is almost inconsequential. So -- while this is the respectful career... > Read more

Suitable For Framing

JOEY DeFRANCESCO INTERVIEWED (2013): Always going to be this way

16 Aug 2013  |  4 min read

At his home in Phoenix, you might guess Joey DeFrancesco has a very large and crowded trophy room. For six years from 2003 – when he was just 32 – he topped the Downbeat poll as the best jazz organist, and other accolades (like Grammy nominations) just keep coming. Today, and he is still only 41, he seems like a senior statesman in jazz. But that's what happens when you... > Read more

Cobra

MIKE STERN INTERVIEWED (2013): Guitar to the stars . . . and Miles beyond

5 Aug 2013  |  9 min read

Guitarist Mike Stern spent time in Miles Davis bands in the early Eighties at a time when Davis – having been absent from the scene – was making yet another comeback. You'd think that would be a wonderfully big tick to have on your CV – and as Stern says below, he loved the experience – but at the time most people, especially critics, were damning. After the... > Read more

Jean Pierre (extract only)

Terje Rypdal: Melodic Warrior (ECM/Ode)

24 Jul 2013  |  1 min read

We put this album here under "Jazz in Elsewhere" simply for the convenience of those who know Norwegian guitarist Rypdal's long career in that idiom. But a quick glance at the other performers -- the Hilliard Ensemble and a couple of orchestras -- tells you there is something a whole lot more ambitious going on. Rypdal -- who brings his glorious sustain and delay style to... > Read more

Song of Thunders

Ornette Coleman: Friends and Neighbors (Flying Dutchman/Border)

5 Jul 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

The day I interviewed Ornette Coleman -- the composer/jazz musician I place above all others for captivating and unpredictable music-- the stars seemed in a peculiar and happy alignment. I rarely get my photo taken with any musician I meet -- in fact I have one of me with an Elvis impersonator, I forget which, and that's it -- but on this day we were to meet in a photographer's studio near the... > Read more

Friends and Neighbors (vocal version)

JAZZQUAKE HITS CAPITAL: Dotting the ts and crossing the iiiis

24 Jun 2013  |  6 min read

Sometimes in an interview it is useful to ask the stupid questions, the ones the subject has long since ever had to answer and so is often caught off-guard, has to think, has to define an idea they have taken as a given. So when, in what he knew to be the final days of his life, I spoke with Murray McNabb I asked him a simple question: “Why jazz?” He laughed and without... > Read more

All the Acids of the Future

MURRAY McNABB (1947-2013): The new man with the courage to make himself new

13 Jun 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

The plan would have been timely: a concert acknowledging the half century he'd known and played in bands with drummer Frank Gibson. But then everything changed. “They gave me a year, that was a year ago,” says 66-year old keyboard player and jazz genius McNabb about the cancer diagnosis he received, “So I'm going downhill gradually, losing weight. It's getting hard to... > Read more

Missing You (1987)

Ketil Bjornstad: Songs from the Alder Ticket (ECM/Ode)

9 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

An interesting one which plays off the synaesthetic relationship between the arts and the performer. Bjornstad is a Norwegian novelist and his trilogy about a piano student Aksel Vinding allowed him to consider how the emotions and storyline could be also realised in music. A long established classical pianist himself with a number of albums on ECM -- with the likes of guitarist Terje... > Read more

Evening Voices

JACK DeJOHNETTE (2013) From the Sixties into his 70s

5 Jun 2013  |  4 min read

If you got togther any group of contemporary jazz drummers -- "a violence of drummers" perhaps? -- it would be the rare figure in their midst who didn't name Jack DeJohnette among their top five influences. Born in August 1942, DeJohnette has enjoyed a career which spanned what was called the avant-garde (with Roscoe Mitchell, Richard Abrams and others in his hometown of Chicago),... > Read more

Riff Raff

Samsom Nacey Haines: Cross Now (Rattle Jazz)

27 May 2013  |  2 min read

In a recent conversation with keyboard player Murray McNabb and drummer Frank Gibson -- who have played together for 50 years and founded the seminal New Zealand jazz bands Dr Tree and Space Case -- the topic turned to the problems for younger players today. Not enough live work and no residencies came up immediately. No place for musicians to work things out in the crucible of the... > Read more

. . . with eyes averted

Michael Formanek: Small Places (ECM/Ode)

3 Apr 2013  |  1 min read

A 2010 album from a band lead by bassist Michael Fomanek -- the excellent The Rub and Spare Change -- brought an unexpectedly vigorous, Downtown NYC sound to the ECM label. It seemed a rare one in the label's often poised, sometimes emotionally distant but always interesting roster. Perhaps after being stung by the critical and listener reaction to bands like the post-punk jazz of Lask... > Read more

Slightly Off Axis

Nathan Haines: Vermillion Skies (Warner)

29 Mar 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

Following his highly successful, back-to-origins Sixties-framed album The Poet's Embrace, saxophonist Nathan Haines here not only continues in a similar vein but expands the parameters of his writing (the ballad Lady Lywa is instantly memorable and a real highpoint of economy and craftsmanship) and works with a large ensemble on a stately reworking and expansion of JJ Johnson's midnight ballad... > Read more

Lady Lywa

ALBARE INTERVIEWED (2013): Has career, will travel

29 Mar 2013  |  5 min read

Melbourne-based guitarist Albare – born Albert Dadon – has made quite a journey through jazz. It has involved more than a few countries, time away from playing as director of the Melbourne International Jazz festival for nine years, and now being signed to the very credible Enja label. Albare, born near Rabat in Morocco, makes his first tour to New Zealand in early April... > Read more

Cut to the Chase