More than any other living jazz musician, the alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman seeks inspiration in unlikely places. So it wasn’t all that odd to find him here on a recent Saturday, scouting locations at Bartram’s Garden, the nation’s oldest botanical garden, near the southernmost bend of the Schuylkill. Mr. Coleman, one of the most rigorously conceptual thinkers in improvised music, was considering potential sites for a pair of major outdoor performances, on June 21, the summer solstice, and Sept. 23, the fall equinox. Those celestial dates, like the arboreal setting, represent an alignment of his interests. Some of them, anyway.
From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
The Rova Saxophone Quartet came together in 1977 and performed its debut concert in February 1978 at a music festival at Mills College in Oakland, California. The group’s lineup — Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Bruce Ackley, and Steve Adams — has been the same since 1988, when Adams replaced Andrew Voight. Rova’s emphasis over the years has been on composition, mostly from its members but also from a distinguished list of composers who have written new-music works, including free-jazz pieces, for the quartet. Rova has made a place for itself at a point where those two categories overlap, making it at once adventurous and experimental.
The AACM has long offered sustenance and support to musicians steeped in jazz tradition yet unwilling to be confined by it. Through a half-century, the organization has grown from a collective of ambitious Chicago musicians to an engine of creative inspiration and practical outreach that has touched nearly all corners of modern music.
From the Morning Star:
Smith was born in Leland, Mississippi, in 1941 and took up drums, French horn and mellophone as a boy before settling on trumpet. He played in R’n’B groups before becoming an early member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), then formed the Creative Construction Company while sojourning in Paris with revolutionary musical confreres, violinist Leroy Jenkins and saxophonist Anthony Braxton.
From Newcity Music:
Silently, the musicians in the Chicago-born Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) stand and face east before a single note is expressed. This, according to Muhal Richard Abrams, the Association’s co-founder, is because all life originates in the east. If any evil energies exist in a performance space, the musicians must wear war paint and masks for protection. This tradition has characterized AACM presentations since 1965.
From the Detroit Free Press:
More than any other Detroit jazz export of his generation, drummer Gerald Cleaver has earned his reputation on the cutting edge. The secret to his originality? Well, the first thing he will tell you is that he’s not trying to do anything new.
To put it another way, Cleaver sees the big picture, and he’s interested in everything except novelty.
“I’m just continuing in my personal fashion with what I grew up with,” said the 51-year-old drummer. “I think that’s all anybody really does. No matter what I’m playing, I’m looking for a connection to infinity. I think getting preoccupied with creating something new handicaps you from actually doing it.”
From The Sacramento Bee:
Meaning no disrespect to jazz lovers the world over, locally based guitarist and composer Ross Hammond will tell you he’s not really a jazz artist even though that’s how he usually is identified. Hammond’s well-regarded recordings are mostly reviewed by and featured in jazz-based media, so you might think he doth protest too much. The perception will adjust somewhat as Hammond releases a solo acoustic guitar album called “Flight” on April 14. He will celebrate the release with shows in Sacramento on April 12-13.