Like a lot of jazz fans, I suspect, I was first drawn to the sound of the saxophone like that RCA dog to his master’s voice, my ears pressed against the bell of the horn courtesy of classic recordings by Pres, Bird, Trane, Rollins and Getz. And like a lot of jazz fans, I suspect, Read More
As the music critic Francis Davis writes in his Like Young: Jazz, Pop, Youth, and Middle Age , today’s business-as-usual jazz can hardly compete with rap when it comes to offering a young white audience a window on “black culture at its most esoteric and oppositional.” But the commercial drift away from jazz is more Read More
The boy bands, the Britney clones and even the original navel-barer-all started their slow parade to the digital bone yard this year. And that wasn’t the only reason to celebrate. There was a lot of good music released this year, much of it from a bunch of old warhorses who were big when analog was Read More
It was Meredith Monk as much as anyone who taught New Yorkers that it’s possible to open the mouth and make music without having to sing. In the mid-60′s, Ms. Monk was a recent Sarah Lawrence graduate of bohemian inclination when she discovered her gift for shattering singing and talking into its constituent molecules. Instead Read More
“World music,” a term for music made by everybody who doesn’t happen to look or sound like us, is a convenient but patronizing expression that comes in for a fair amount of high-minded abuse. But the release this month of a superb new album, Specialist in All Styles (World Circuit/Nonesuch) by the Senegalese group Orchestra Read More
Consider the odd case of Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Pulitzer Prize–winner and Ken Burns poster child, who over the past decade has consolidated his position as the official face of jazz at about the same rate that he’s been disappearing as an influential stylistic force within the inner sanctum of Read More
Ella Fitzgerald’s cut of “Fascinating Rhythm” was blasting through the hallways when 35-year-old jazz pianist Bill Charlap let me in the door of his cheerful wood-frame house in Maplewood, N.J.
“That’s a big entrance,” I said.
“Didn’t plan it, but it works,” replied the super-affable Mr. Charlap, who was nattily dressed in a cream-colored Read More
As the black-box density and sheer quality of their 1998 25 Years (Nonesuch) retrospective makes clear (10 CDs, no filler, no fat), the Kronos Quartet have built their very own musical world. The achievement has emboldened them to take an almost recklessly ambitious sweep through the old, pre-existing one. On their latest, Caravan (Nonesuch), this Read More
Graham Haynes is a pilgrim. The young cornetist always seems to be in search of some way to play music that’s rooted in jazz, relevant to current urban pop and consistent with his generally utopian, futuristic mindset.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Haynes has noodled with all manner of electronic music at one time or another. Read More
Listening to John Scofield’s 1998 collaboration with Medeski Martin & Wood, A Go Go (Verve), you might suspect that the veteran electric guitarist was putting a midlife crisis on record. Here was a guy who with saxophonist Joe Lovano had made some of the most well-regarded chamber jazz albums of the early 90′s, grooving away Read More