Monday, December 14, 2009

Notes from the Net: Miles Davis re-examined, Clark Terry honored, Grant Green reissued, plus news, reviews, interviews, and more.

Here's the latest compilation of assorted news briefs and links related to jazz, improvisation, and creative music in St. Louis, including news of musicians originally from the Gateway City, recent visitors, and coming attractions, plus assorted other items of interest:

* The new 70-disc Miles Davis mega-box set collecting all of the trumpeter's work for Columbia/Sony Music is out, and David Was, jazz fan and one of the principals in the group Was (Not Was), reviews it for NPR here. Meanwhile, the major museum exhibit honoring Davis continues in Paris; here's a review from the New York Times by Yasmin Ryan, and here's an article from the UK newspaper the Guardian about Davis' enduring affection for all things Parisian.

Over on this side of the Atlantic, Chris Smith of the Winnepeg Free Press reviews The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music by British writer Richard Williams. (And speaking of Kind of Blue, here are some transcriptions of Davis' playing on that classic album. )

Meanwhile, Canada's National Post has published an article wondering if we have "too many Miles," asserting that "the forward-looking musician still has us looking backwards, which only makes jazz seem more like a retrospective art form." Closer to home, Christopher McRae, a graduate student at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, recently presented a one-man show about Davis called “Miles Away From ‘The Cool’” inspired in part by a gig Davis had played long ago at Carbondale’s Tuscan Lodge.

* Turning to news of other St. Louis natives, trumpeter Clark Terry will be among the artists to receive the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award during Grammy week in January. Other recipients will include Michael Jackson, Leonard Cohen, Bobby Darin, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Loretta Lynn, and Andre Previn. The awards also will be acknowledged during the Grammy ceremony on January 31.

* The new vinyl reissue of Grant Green's Matador is reviewed for here by Matt Marshall, who calls the 1964 recording teaming Green (pictured) with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Bob Cranshaw "nothing less than Green's best album."

* Opening the "coming attractions" file, singer/pianist Jamie Cullum will release a single from his new CD/DVD The Pursuit in January, then tour the UK for the first time in five years before heading stateside for a series of dates that will bring him to our town's Roberts Orpehum Theatre on March 14. Cullum also recently made the news when he busked with his band in London's Covent Garden in aid of Crisis, a charity that aids the homeless.

* Guitarist Pat Metheny will release his new CD Orchestrion in January, and will follow up with a 37-city North American tour that will bring him to St. Louis' Touhill Performing Arts Center on May 8. The CD and tour showcase the concept dating back to the late 19th century of using mechanical devices to play actual orchestral instruments.

Metheny’s version of the Orchestrion includes "several pianos, drum kit, marimbas, “guitar-bots,” dozens of percussion instruments and even cabinets of carefully tuned bottles." The CD features five new original pieces showcasing the instruments as they are "struck, plucked, and otherwise played via the technology of solenoid switches and pneumatics. " For more Metheny, check out this review writtn by Ed Murray for Popdose of Richard Niles' new book The Pat Metheny Interviews.

* Here's a review of bassist John Patitucci's latest trio album Remembrance written for by J. Hunter. Patitucci will be in St. Louis at the end of April to play at Jazz at the Bistro.

* The Independent Ear has an interesting interview with multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart, who will be in St. Louis on Saturday, January 30 for a duo performance with Zimbabwe Nkenya presented by New Music Circle at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

* Catching up with news of some recent visitors, singer Kurt Elling, who was here in St. Louis earlier this month to perform at the Bistro, has earned his ninth career Grammy nomination for his CD Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman.

* Saxophonist Najee, who was here last weekend for a concert at the Ambassador, will play the national anthem on Christmas Day for the NBA's Orlando Magic.

* Here's another review of Dr. Lonnie Smith's latest CD, The Art of Organizing, this time from the prolific Tim Niland's blog Music and More. Smith has played the Bistro with saxophonist Lou Donaldson and in March of this year with his own trio.

* Saxophonist Larry Ochs, who was here in October at the Sheldon Concert Hall with his group Sax & Drumming Core, recently made the international news when he aroused the ire of a Spanish concertgoer who proceeded to call the cops, claiming that Ochs and his group weren't playing jazz.

* Closing out with some items of more general interest for jazz fans, the new issue of Bill Shoemaker's webzine Point of Departure now online.

* Saxophonist and radio host Dave Koz says it's time to stop mourning the demise of the smooth jazz radio format.

* Finally, Newsweek's music critic Seth Colter Walls is getting a bit of blogospheric buzz with a year-end piece examining the state of jazz, saying that "It's time, finally, to separate the question of "Is today's jazz good?" from the question "Is today's jazz popular?" and concluding that "this music deserves wider hearing, and greater coverage."

He adds that "jazz's economic status isn't a hideous reflection of poor aesthetic health. But even if jazz is finally buried in that (expanding) graveyard of former mass-culture obsessions, that doesn't mean the music isn't still happening, or that it isn't still perfectly capable of talking to us at an individual level. As long as they don't starve to death, committed jazz musicians will be there for you, the forbidding economics of their pursuit be damned. And even if no one you know is talking about what they're playing, be wary of any strangers who tell you they aren't swinging anymore." Read the whole thing here.

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