Piano Pioneer Irène Schweizer Flies Again

Source: Village Voice.

Her dozens of recordings — most of them on Zurich’s phenomenal Intakt label, on whose board she resided until last year — make clear just how much she venerates the jazz tradition. In the midst of wide-ranging improvisations, you’ll catch flashes of the past, expertly deployed. Sometimes short flourishes will display the grounded rhythms of pre-war stylings like ragtime, boogie-woogie, or swing, but she’s just as likely to pound out block chords in the manner of McCoy Tyner or the delicate melodic flourishes of a Satie miniature.


The Musical Legacy of Italian Film Composer Ennio Morricone

English: Ennio Morricone at the Cannes film fe...

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

In popular culture, the name “Ennio Morricone” summons up images of cowboy hats, cheroots, and swarthy, dusty men dying in extreme close-up while a whistle sound dramatically pierces the background. Bang! Bang! Strum. Aaaaaaaaah! Clint Eastwood squints.

Morricone’s work for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western films is justly famous, but it’s only the very tip of an enormous mutant iceberg of musical genius. As an Italian film composer, Morricone worked within a huge number of cinema genres including Westerns, giallo, horror, and mainstream Hollywood productions like The Mission. His hugely influential compositions mix elements of classical music, jazz, and the avant-garde. Contemporary acolytes include artists from Radiohead to John Zorn to Jay-Z.

How Henry Threadgill Spends His Sundays 

Source: The New York Times.

For decades, Henry Threadgill, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer, has been racking up critical accolades, not to mention fans, with his jazz-influenced compositions. On Sept. 23, he will introduce a new work at Lincoln Center: “Dirt, and More Dirt,” which was inspired by the longstanding conceptual-art piece in SoHo, the New York Earth Room. For most of his adult life, Mr. Threadgill, 73, has been a resident of the East Village, estimating that he has lived on almost every street in the neighborhood since moving there in 1975. He currently shares a two-bedroom apartment with his wife, Senti, an administrator at New York University, and his daughter, Nhumi, a college student.

BassDrumBone and the New Haven Jazz Renaissance

Source: All About Jazz.

When they first began playing together in New Haven, Connecticut in 1977, the trio BassDrumBone—bassist Mark Helias, percussionist Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson—were called OAHSPE. The name, which is supposed to mean “sky earth and spirit,” came from the “new bible” purporting to be the words of “Jehovih and his angel ambassadors” [sic] which had been channeled by New York City dentist John Newbrough in 1880-1881. (If for no other reason, this text is remarkable for having been one of the earliest examples of automatic writing created on a typewriter, the machine having only recently become commercially available.)

Josh Berman Profiled

Source: Chicago Reader.

hicago cornetist Josh Berman works at a measured pace. Though he’s ubiquitous on the local scene, having played in countless bands and programmed the Sunday-night jazz and improvised-music series at the Hungry Brain, he’s been extremely judicious about recording with his own projects. As a bandleader, he’s made just three albums. “I spend a lot of time at home working on shapes, ideas,” Berman says. “I like playing a lot, but at the same time I like to develop things at home, think about it, and work it out on the horn—and then kind of bring it out. There’s a part of me that wishes I could make a new record every six months, but I think I need to do it my way.”

Kirk Knuffke Profiled

Source: Village Voice.

Jazz musicians still in their thirties and unbound by bebop ancestor worship, like the cornetist Kirk Knuffke and his loose circle of current and former Brooklynites (Mary Halvorson is the only one you’ve heard much about so far), don’t speak of playing standards anymore, even when that’s what they’re doing. They do “covers,” usually on concept albums or as entire concert programs. The material at hand might be Satie, Eighties pop, or a Methodist hymn — doesn’t matter, as long as the players fully immerse themselves in it. Jazz standards are a protected species, of course, and those by Monk and Ellington, in particular, still pass smoothly from generation to generation. But even when interpreting the canon, these intuitive postmodernists attempt to widen it — and to question how what’s already enshrined in it relates to them, instead of the other way around.

Louis Moholo-Moholo Profiled

Louis Moholo

Source: Chicago Reader.

Some days, Louis Moholo-Moholo must feel like the last man standing. Every single one of the 77-year-old drummer’s original compatriots has died—the same musicians with whom he cut his teeth in South Africa, fighting against the oppressive weight of apartheid. Many of them, Moholo-Moholo included, emigrated to Europe in the mid-60s—just as free jazz and improvised music reached escape velocity—and eventually established a new home in London. Some colleagues, such as saxophonists Nik Moyake and Kippie Moeketsi and trumpeter Mongezi Feza, died long ago; a rash of deaths beginning in the 1980s took the rest, including pianist Chris McGregor, bassists Harry Miller and Johnny Dyani, and alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, who succumbed to liver disease in 1990. The fact that none of Moholo-Moholo’s colleagues lived to 60 is no coincidence—life as a creative musician in South Africa was hard on a body.