Stand-up albums be damned, this is true comedy at its finest. Yes, H. Jon Benjamin is trying his hand at the piano in the form of an--er--avant-garde jazz album entitled "Well I Should Have." Released via Sub Pop Records, he doesn't even know how to play. Mind you, that detail may not even matter.
Genre fusion clearly knows no bounds in the 21st Century. In 'Luys i Luso' ('Light from the Light'), jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan is peeling back the layers of the Soviet Union and "a hundred years of atheism" to reveal the most ancient, and so far, stagnant, motifs of Armenian hymns.
Emanuele Torrente has a musical mind, at least that's the way he likes describe it. The Italian born classical guitarist has very definite ideas where about where music is going and where he feels it should be going. An accomplished musician as well as composer and musical theorist, Maestro Torrente has a new album Musical Mind, which you can download from his site. Classicalite caught up with him to talk about the album and music in general.
In conjunction with the art exhibit 'The Freedom Principle,' the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is presenting an impressive lineup of jazz performances, premieres and multimedia events.
Thelonius Sphere Monk III has made a compelling argument for the entire genre of jazz. He feels that jazz can pedal it's way into the mainstream via the similar "bells and whistles" that make other forms of music inherently popular.
For those of you in New York still fretting over your New Year’s Eve, fear no more: Party experts Gemini & Scorpio pull out all the stops for a gorgeous, immersive production of the classic fairy tale “The Snow Queen” in Brooklyn, complete with circus artists and dancing through the wee hours. Dubbed "The Court of the Snow Queen," fierce snow queen Ali Luminescent will hold a menagerie of entertainers hostage for her pleasure. Gemini & Scorpio promise the event will “whirl with the creatures and spirits of winter, their talents a spectacle commanded by her whim.” The theatrical party will feature classic and modern hits in live jazz and swing music style by the Retro Remix Orchestra, aerial and contortion performers, face and body painting, large-scale art, and a snowy photo booth. On the Gemini & Scorpio website, the description for the spectacle is as follows: “The Queen has enchanted and stolen a mortal boy, Kai. But his beloved, Gerda, has summoned all the power of fire to win him back and defeat the Queen. Who will triumph in this battle for the human heart?”
Groundbreaking blues singer Mamie Smith has finally been given a headstone thanks to a writer and fan’s fundraising campaign. Michael Cala started the campaign while doing research for a book on Smith, the first black vocalist to record a blues song. Through his research, he realized that Smith had been lying in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Staten Island, New York. "This is our way of acknowledging how one woman threw open the doors," Cala said, adding, "Thousands upon thousands of blues and jazz recordings ... may never have been made without Mamie." The fundraiser was so successful that he bought a $2,800 stone and donated $3,000 to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Park cemetery, which had been hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, for maintenance of other gravestones.
Tony DeSare, originator of the Sunday Night Bemelmans series, has announced an extended Sunday night residency at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, in New York City. As a vocalist and pianist, DeSare has reached critical and popular acclaim for his performances throughout the United States and all over the world and was named a rising star male vocalist in "Downtown" magazine's recent Critics’ Poll. He also has three top 10 "Billboard" jazz albums and has been featured on the "CBS Early Show," NPR and "The Today Show." DeSare is also an accomplished, award-winning composer, having written the theme song for the motion picture "My Date with Drew" and the 20th Century Fox film "The Tooth Fairy" along with several broadcast commercials. His compositions include a wide-range of romantic, funny and soulful tunes that can be found on his top-selling recordings as well as on his YouTube page, which has accumulated nearly 1 million total views. He has also made numerous symphony appearances this season, including The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, the Dallas Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and The Philly Pops.
2014 has been the year of the tribute album and the 2015 Grammy voters have taken notice. This year's jazz Grammy selections have shown what an important part the tribute album plays to the music lover.
Juilliard Jazz will be presenting “Lightning, Thunder and Fire: The Sophistication of the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers” featuring Juilliard Jazz Ensembles on Dec 9.
The nation’s oldest community music school, Third Street Music School Settlement, will be celebrating its 120th anniversary with a special annual holiday concert at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Students of all ages will be performing traditional carols, orchestral classics and modern holiday hits. The performance will showcase the school’s rock and jazz ensembles, choirs, orchestras and jazz big band, as well as dancers who will be performing different selections from "The Nutcracker."
Jazz music to jazz fans oft seems irreproachable, especially in the context of the most recent Sonny Rollins article by Django Gold in The New Yorker. The article, "Sonny Rollins: In His Own Words" wasn't side-splittingly funny, just a mild stab at the jazz heavyweight. And yet, fans of the Rollins man were inept at lightening up.
The 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival runs from August 28-31 at Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center. Headliners include Terence Blanchard, Rufus Reid, Gary Burton, Dave Holland, Cécile McLorin Salvant and the Sun Ra Arkestra.
Sean Jones, who played lead trumpet with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for six years, was recently named chair of the Berklee College of Music Brass Department.
Stay tuned to Classicalite, as the 2014 Jazz Award finalists will be announced in early February.