Artist Profile

John Cage’s Historical Niche, a Legacy in Letters 

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English: Farah Diba greets John Cage and Merce...

Source: The New York Times.

While the radical composer John Cage (1912-92) was alive, it seemed easier to dismiss him as an irritating crackpot than it does now. In death, Cage has only grown. His paintings, his philosophy, his anarchism are better known; it’s far easier to find recordings of his music; he’s much watched on YouTube. We can now see — witness his recurrent appearances in Alex Ross’s superb history “The Rest Is Noise” (2007) — that no study of 20th-century music is complete without Cage. He’s most famous for his all-silent three-part 1952 composition “4’33” (a reference to its duration in minutes and seconds): An end to conventional music, it became a beginning for Cage, opening up the possibilities of sound and noise.

Brooklyn Blowhards Profiled

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Source: The New York Times.

On Saturday afternoon Jeff Lederer could be found caterwauling with his tenor saxophone in an unlikely but meaningful setting: the grave of Herman Melville, in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. What brought Mr. Lederer there was the same confluence of interests that had created Brooklyn Blowhards, his newest band.

Performing near Melville’s granite headstone, he and the band put those interests front and center, tearing through a handful of rugged old sea chanteys, like “Haul in the Bowline,” and a few turbulent anthems by the 1960s free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. If there’s a thread that ties all of that material together — while also roping in the great sweeping froth of “Moby-Dick” — it’s the byproduct of Mr. Lederer’s artistic temperament, which runs both frolicsome and determined.

Ethan Iverson on Albert Ayler at 80 

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Source: DO THE M@TH.

The definite Ayler performance may be the medley at Coltrane’s funeral with Don Ayler, Richard Davis, and Milford Graves. There isn’t even any blowing, except that near the end Ayler repeatedly screams to profoundly eerie effect as his brother sounds the last trump. I first heard a bootleg of this many years ago, then it came out on the deluxe Revenant set, now it’s just up on YouTube. On Albert Ayler’s 80th birthday there is no better use of six minutes of your time than dialing this up, closing your eyes, and mourning our humanity.

The Tranquility of Miles Davis’s Electric Period

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Source: The Atlantic.

We are currently fascinated—and Cheadle’s film is part of this—by Miles’s electric period, 1968 to 1975. Last year, two books were published about Bitches Brew, the churning, chthonically powerful double album of Afro-rock improvisations that Davis released in 1970: George Grella Jr.’s Bitches Brew, and Victor Svorinich’s Listen to This: Miles Davis and Bitches Brew. This year’s contribution to Miles studies is Bob Gluck’s The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles, which locates the music of his electric epoch within a historic continuum of exploratory jazz.

Myra Melford Interviewed and Profiled

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Source: Ottawa Citizen.

Since the early 1990s, Melford, now 59, has recorded prolifically and collaborated with equally open-minded musicians such as drummer Matt Wilson, trumpeter Cuong Vu and clarinetist Marty Ehrlich. She’s won awards, including a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.

As part of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, Melford plays the NAC Back Stage on June 23 with her latest project, a quintet that she calls Snowy Egret after from the bird that once captivated her in a powerful dream.

The band plays Melford’s original music — of course. In it, there can be hints of blues or skittery, edgy melodies, lyrical moments or passages of fierce aggression. The music can be wide open and spacious or brashly rhythmic in a way that can be both complex and earthy. The influence of different world musics can be heard.

Kidd Jordan Profiled

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Kidd Jordan playing saxophone at Luscher Schoo...

Source: The Boston Globe profiles saxophonist Jordan in anticipation of tonight’s performance in Somerville.

If you’ve never heard of New Orleans saxophonist Kidd Jordan, who’ll perform at separate Somerville venues Friday and Saturday, discard two assumptions arising from his name and hometown. First, he’s no kid; Jordan turned 81 on May 5. Second, he doesn’t specialize in traditional jazz or other genres typically associated with New Orleans. Kidd Jordan is a master of free jazz, even if that’s not necessarily his own term for it.

Peter Brotzmann Profiled

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A shot from a 2006 performance by Peter Brötzm...

Source: CityBeat.

Since emerging from Germany in the 1960s, Peter Brötzmann has become one of the titans of avant-garde Jazz. A tenaciously forceful master of saxophone, clarinet/bass clarinet and tárogató (a Romanian or Hungarian woodwind), over the years Brötzmann has played with American explorers of often-improvised new Jazz like Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Sonny Sharrock, Anthony Braxton and Andrew Cyrille.