Happy Holidaze

At the very end of the month I’m premiering my first suite of big band music, Bud Powell in the 21st Century, at the winter Umbria Jazz Festival. It’s a kind of “concerto” for a quintet of Ingrid Jensen, Dayna Stephens, Ben Street, Lewis Nash, and myself plus local horn players. Sincere thanks to Carlo Pagnotta, Enzo Capua, and Manuele Morbidini for the gift of this project. Thanks also to Darcy James Argue, who gave me a quick lesson in orchestration and Finale wrangling, and Brian Krock, who did the editing.

On February 28th I’ll be doing the same program with an all-student orchestra at NEC in Boston.

As DTM readers know, Hall Overton is my main man, and in some ways I emulate Overton’s arrangements of Thelonious Monk for my big band version of Powell, at least to begin with. (Halfway through the charts I start letting my hands go a little bit.) After all, Bud’s music is so great, how can we improve it? There are three pieces I regard as the most significant piano improvisations in the idiom made when Powell was a leader in the studio, “Cherokee,” “Tempus Fugit,” and “Celia.” I’ll play the Bud solos on the first two and the saxes have Bud’s flawless chorus “Celia.” The core quintet will play more or less exact versions of the only original pieces Bud wrote for horns (the session with Fats Navarro and Sonny Rollins) interspersed with original music, and there is a glamorous french horn feature on “I’ll Keep Loving You.”

(DTM: Bud Powell Anthology.)

Tuesday December 18 at 10:30 I’m at Korzo with Dayna Stephens, Ben Street, and Eric McPherson playing my tunes and a standard or two. 9 PM is Jim Carney with Ravi Coltrane, Chris Lightcap, and Mark Ferber.

Wednesday 19 I’m a sideman with Kyle Nasser’s group with Rich Perry, Pablo Menares, and Jeff Hirshfield at Cornelia St. Cafe.  Perry and Hirshfield are a little bit the “elders” here, I’ve always admired their playing and am really curious to see how this goes…

After this week Korzo is no longer going to be hosting Jim Carney’s Konceptions series; Cornelia St. is closing next month. We all pray that more venues open and flourish for the thousands of great jazz musicians in this city.

New pages this year on DTM:

Received Wisdom

McCoy Tyner’s Revolution

Chamber Music and Piano Practice

Glenn Gould plays William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons (and Sweelinck)

Interview with Cécile McLorin Salvant

Interview with Joanne Brackeen

Interview with Bill Frisell

Other places:

Writings at the Culture Desk of the New Yorker  (Wayne Shorter, Doctor Who, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi, Vicky Chow, Michael Gordon, Carla Bley)

NewMusicBox:  The Syncopated Stylings of Charles Wuorinen

“Artist’s Choice” ECM streaming playlist

I think this is it on DTM until January: I gotta practice “Tempus Fugit” and “Cherokee.” Thanks for reading and listening.

Drum Poetry

I saw a great set of Peter Bernstein, Doug Weiss, and Leon Parker at the Village Vanguard tonight. I was particularly curious to hear Parker, who had moved away from New York for a time and just came back a year or two ago. He was kind of everybody’s favorite enfant terrible when I first got to town in the early 90s before vanishing to Europe for over a decade.

Well, Parker hasn’t lost a step. I loved watching him play a set of standards with two other world-class musicians. It was a relaxed and beautiful vibe.

Parker doesn’t use a high-hat. Very odd. He also just has one cymbal, and usually plays with matched grip. Looking at his kit before hearing him play, it would be easy to suspect he simply isn’t a straight-ahead jazz drummer, but more of a world beat or European conceptual type.

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It’s an idiosyncratic set up but Parker’s a real swinger of the old school. His beat is precise, essentially metronomic, but it also has the roundness of placement that separates the groovy from the stiff. Perhaps Ben Riley is a reference for that driving, singing ride cymbal of Leon Parker.

Nothing Parker plays is that unusual, really, but the orchestration of the kit is by necessity unique. Parker has also allowed in non-straight ahead influences: mallet techniques from concert percussion and groove music from the planet at large. He’s certainly got enough power to play with anybody but in this situation he was restrained and tasty. A lesson all the way around.

It’s really a blessing to have Parker back on the scene. Peter Bernstein and Doug Weiss both sounded just great as well. Tonight was a kind of trio tribute to Jim Hall, tomorrow they start with Sullivan Fortner for the rest of the week. Essential NYC jazz of the best kind.

 

 

Upcoming

This week: Mexico w. Billy Hart featuring Dayna Stephens and Ben Street: Thursday in Mazatlan, Saturday Mexico City, Sunday Cuernavaca. Thank you DeQuinta Producciones!

December 5: The Year in Jazz: A Critics Roundtable led by Nate Chinen at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and also featuring Kira Grunenberg, Matthew Kassel, and John Murph.

And a couple of gigs in NYC:

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London Overview

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  1. “Ethan Iverson in London”
  2. “And on the Third Day” by Michael Gibbs
  3. “Afterglow” by Marian McPartland
  4. Early British Syncopation (Percy Grainger and Constant Lambert)
  5. Raising Hell with Henry Purcell

Bonus track: Time Tunnel.

I’d like to thank Richard Williams, whose blog The Blue Moment is a model of its kind. Richard will be joining me onstage Saturday as part of the “composers” night to discuss some of the many things I’m leaving out of this three-day overview. Richard also suggested “Doxology” for a John Surman piece — great suggestion!

Also thanks in advance to my collaborators Brigitte Beraha, Mandhira de Saram, Cath Roberts, Dee Byrne, Kim Macari, Olie Brice, Laura Jurd, Peter Wareham, Tom Herbert, Sebastian Rochford, Adam Fairhall and Alexander Hawkins,

OK, I’m headed to the plane. If you are in London this weekend, do come out! It’s going to be a one-time only event!