Cory Smythe Profiled

Source: Citizen Jazz (rough translation from French):

If there is a musician who makes fun of styles, boxes and labels, it’s Cory Smythe. A celebrated virtuoso pianist, he has been heard as much in Darmstadt as in the Banff Center and seen alongside violinist Hillary Hahn and Tyshawn Sorey without having a feeling of bifurcation. Long considered a performer with an unlimited spectrum, with a penchant for contemporary music, he has for several years been a prolific and demanding composer, who owes as much to Anthony Braxton as to Iannis Xenakis and cites Alan Lomax in his records as well as Andrew Hill.

How South Africa’s Blue Notes Helped Invent European Free Jazz 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

In July of 1964, the members of the Cape Town-based band Blue Notes boarded a plane, headed for a gig at the world famous Antibes Jazz Festival in Juan-les-Pins, France. They were all leaving South Africa for the first time; most of them would never return. At the time, critics and audiences considered them the best jazz band in the country, but because the sextet was multi-racial they were hounded by the Apartheid state which made it illegal for its members to gather—much less perform—as a group. With passports secured, the escape to Antibes wasn’t just a career opportunity, it was an asylum from the institutionalized, racist nightmare of their homeland. For the history of improvised music, and for free jazz which came to embody the sound of global Black liberation, it also became much more. The legend that the Blue Notes would forge in Europe over the next quarter century—both as an ensemble and as individual players—constitutes one of the most under-appreciated legacies in jazz.

Alice Coltrane: A Partial Primer

Source: River Cities’ Reader.

On August 27, we celebrated what would have been Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s 83rd birthday. Though she passed away in 2007, the spirit of her music reaches more people now than ever before thanks to a series of high-profile reissue campaigns and dissemination across the Internet. Her catalog now enjoys widespread recognition as a massive influence on music of so many genres, within and outside of the realm of jazz – from hip hop (see: the production of her grand-nephew Flying Lotus), to ambient and drone music (see: the ocean of minimalist synth producers chasing the poise and grandeur of her harp-, synth-, and organ-focused work), to modern branches of spiritual jazz (see: Kamasi Washington, especially) to experimental music writ large.

Sally Gates Interview

Source: Chain D.L.K..

Shortly before Covid-19 took over our world and turned everything upside down, I met New York-based experimental guitarist and composer Sally Gates in late December 2019 for an interview for Chain D.L.K. after seeing one of her shows with Titan To Tachyons (her trio with Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski). I noticed her love for intense, rich guitar sounds, for improvisation, odd meters, and unconventional song structures, and I hoped to find out more about this talented and versatile guitarist. We talked about her background, her work in music and about her album production.

Many things have changed since then and I was keen to get back in touch with Sally for updates about her album and how she’s been doing since we last met. So, this interview is a mix of a portrait about Sally Gates from when we met in person in December 2019 and an email interview from mid-August 2020.

Sonny Rollins at 90: A Guided Tour of the Saxophone Colossus on Record, By Decade

Source: WBGO.

In Take Five, hear one sterling track for each decade of Sonny’s monumental career. What that means, of course, is that we’re spotlighting a total of seven tracks, spanning 55 years. They range from broadly celebrated to borderline obscure, but without any of the most obvious picks. (You already know where to find those.) And along with the music, enjoy a handful of photographs of recent-vintage Rollins by WBGO’s own Jonathan Chimene. Happy 90th birthday, Sonny! Here’s to all the beauty you’ve given us, and the sterling example you continue to set.

The Story of Caravan’s In The Land Of Grey And Pink

Source: Louder.

A four-piece from the sleepy cathedral city of Canterbury, decidedly English progressive rock band Caravan were major players in what came to be known as the Canterbury Scene. With three strong songwriters and two contrasting lead vocalists, Caravan had released two albums of highly original, inventive, accomplished and engaging music, yet outside the coterie of Canterbury Scene fans they remained largely unknown, their records acclaimed but not selling in numbers that would enable them to swap the out-of-date shelf at Tesco for the food hall at Harrods.

Jarrett Gilgore Interviewed

Source: Jazz Right Now.

Today, Heart of the Ghost releases a new record, their fourth, Live at Rhizome. Heart of the Ghost is a collaborative trio of alto saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore, bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Ian McColm. I had the pleasure of booking them for one of their first gigs at my loft concert series, New Revolution Arts, and have found the band riveting ever since. Prolific as ever, the band has released three previous records. I had the opportunity to speak at length with Jarrett Gilgore on Labor Day weekend in 2019 and then updated the interview recently. Gilgore is a refreshingly humble, yet intensely committed artist who has a transformative presence on the bandstand. He has a unique musical voice and is one of the visionaries of the Baltimore music scene.

Tropos Explores the Limits of Composition 

Source: JazzTimes.

In homage to Anthony Braxton, the collective of five New England Conservatory graduates called Tropos titled their debut release on Biophilia Records Axioms // 75ab. Besides acknowledging the saxophonist/composer’s 75th birthday this past June, and referencing his “Tri-Axiom” music, the title ties into the six interpretations of Braxton compositions on the album. It would be inaccurate to consider the quintet a repertoire band, though, and that’s not just because their lineup of voice, piano, saxophone, bass, and drums reshapes the music. The Braxton pieces follow five works written by members of Tropos, and together they reveal a group deeply focused on compositions and ways to improvise within them.

Women In The Ambient Music World 

Source: THE SLOW MUSIC MOVEMENT​.

The first time I seriously contemplated gender parity in music production was March 8th 2019, International Women’s Day. As a gesture of solidarity I thought I would “reflect on, highlight and celebrate some of the women that have enriched The Slow Music Movement with their talent, creativity and presence over the last year”, and compile a playlist consisting of a track from each female artist that I had supported that year. It didn’t take me as long as I thought it would.

The following year I thought I would update the list, again it wasn’t a lengthy enough process. After a quick calculation I approximated that roughly 15% of my daily recommendations were women, similar I guess to 2019.