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Jazz Stories

228 stories found. Showing page 1 of 8.

Tributaries: Jazz Fest looks back to greats, known and less-so

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/1/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Pianist Horace Silver hasn’t performed in public for years. Betty Carter, Pepper Adams, Clifford Brown, Ray Brown and Donny Hathaway have been dead as long as a half-century. But their music — and thoughts on their music — will be at center stage over the weekend of the Detroit International Jazz F...[MORE]

Jazz Fest staying power: How Barry Harris and Roy Haynes found their niches

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 9/1/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Pianist Barry Harris and drummer Roy Haynes have things in common. Both octogenarians, major jazz figures for more than a half-century, are still going strong. Last month, Harris, 80, released Barry Harry Live in Rennes. At 85, Haynes hasn't released a disc in three years, but the last one was a doo...[MORE]

More festive listening: With chops, Grammy awards even, if not the biggest names

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/1/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

The the Detoit Jazz Fest headliners are among some of the biggest names in jazz, blues and R&B, staring off opening night Friday with headliners Take 6 (featuring pianist Mulgrew Miller) and Tower of Power (at the Chase Main Stage, at Cadillac Square, starting at 6). Subsequent days deliver the ...[MORE]

Jam on: An old jazz tradition is still all the rage

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 8/4/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

These days you can find a jam session around Detroit every night of the week. From Monday nights at the Jazz Loft in Greektown to Sunday night at the Cadieux Café, there's always someplace you can bring your ax or your ears. It may not be quite a return to the glory days when Sonny Rollins an...[MORE]

Sheila & her ‘left-hand man’: Latest Sheila Landis-Rick Matle disc showcases a creative partnership in progress

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 7/7/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Jazz vocalist Sheila Landis loves to sing. There's no better way to summarize her. During an interview at the Rochester Hills home she shares with her longtime guitarist-collaborator-beau, Rick Matle, she sings the answers to several questions, belts verses from her blues song in progress ("Tal...[MORE]

Studies in cool: Salim Washington on Miles, Trane, South Africa and coming home to Detroit

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 4/7/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Salim Washington was hooked on music as a kid in Detroit, and, since then, the music has taken him to South Africa and South America, Northern Ireland and Paris, not to mention spots along "the underground 'chitlin circuit.'" In addition to his records as a leader and sideman, 2008 saw the...[MORE]

HereSay: Chatting with Tower of Power saxman (and native Detroiter) Emilio Castillo

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 3/17/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Emilio Castillo spends about 175 days a year on the road with Tower of Power, a 42-year-old musical institution based in the Bay Area, where Castillo grew up after leaving Detroit as a kid. We caught up with him by phone at an airport, en route to a New Orleans gig where he'd no doubt play "Wha...[MORE]

Revival meetings: Drummer RJ Spangler convenes the musical generations

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 2/24/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

It's Wednesday night at Cliff Bell's jazz club. Drummer RJ Spangler's regular organ-jazz jam session is under way. Spangler sits behind his drums flanked by guitarist Paul Carey and a nervous young trombone player. Spangler calls a post-bop tune, and he wants the young buck to take the first solo. T...[MORE]

Blowing again: Saxophonist Scott Petersen rebuilt his chops - after getting his new lungs

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 2/17/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Tenor saxophonist Scott "E-Dog" Petersen is a glass half-full, not-half-empty, kind of guy, but the optimist's outlook was hard to maintain last year. A double-lung transplant may have saved his life — after cystic fibrosis had devastated the lungs he was born with — but he ...[MORE]

Moody's mood: Saxophonist James Moody will never stop performing the song that put him on the map

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 1/13/2010

Types: Music, Jazz

Come out to hear saxophonist James Moody and you know he'll play that song.  "I can't stop playing it. It wouldn't make sense. The song is why people come to my shows," Moody says over the telephone when asked if he ever gets sick of playing "Moody's Mood for Love." It's the son...[MORE]

High profiling: Meet Ralphe Armstrong, sideman to the stars

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 12/9/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

There's a moment on saxophonist James Carter's 2004 album Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge where bassist Ralphe Armstrong steals the show. It's on the well-named "Foot Pattin'." After a quartet of tenor saxophone solos — by Carter, David Murray and the since-departed greats Franz Jack...[MORE]

Hanging around the scene: An obsessed photographer, eye-candy for crate diggers and a thousand lyrics

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 11/25/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue 1957-1965 by Sam Stephenson Alfred A. Knopf, $40, 270 pp.  Sounds like a novel plot, doesn't it? In the late '50s, a world-famous (and drug-addicted) photographer retreats to a Manhattan building at the artsy in...[MORE]

Keepin' in stride: Pianist Taslimah Bey's ragtime crusade

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 10/28/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

Entering pianist Taslimah Bey's Rochester Hills townhouse, you'll immediately notice two things. There's a handsome portrait of Harry P. Guy, a largely forgotten ragtime pianist, composer and arranger from Detroit. And there's an antique Star brand piano in Bey's living room. Ragtime giants such as ...[MORE]

The jazz age: A roundup of redoubtable recordings

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/30/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

Gretchen Parlato In a Dream Obliqsound There's been plenty of buzz preceding this disc. Parlato won the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition and self-released a wonderful, self-titled debut disc. Now her sophomore effort on a "real" label delivers on the expectatio...[MORE]

Family affair: Tracing generations of jazz at this year's fest

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/2/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

The Detroit International Jazz Festival celebrates its 30th Labor Day weekend with a tagline of "Keepin' Up With the Joneses" and a theme of jazz families. Most notably, there's Hank Jones, the survivor of a mighty Pontiac bop triumvirate that comprised him and his late brothers Thad and E...[MORE]

Where jazz meets hip hop: Detroit-born Karriem Riggins grooves at the corner

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/2/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

A scene out of hip-hop history circa 1996: The venue is the 1,500-capacity House of Blues in Chicago, modeled loosely after a Prague opera house, a joint that's hosted artists from Aretha to the Who. But tonight it's a cavalcade of hip-hop stars. Lauryn Hill of the Fugees is there. De La Soul is the...[MORE]

The last king of swing: Gerald Wilson paints his hometown in sound

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/2/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

There's a Detroit in Gerald Wilson's head, and it's so vivid to him, that he can make you feel it as he talks, even though his Detroit is frozen in the 1930s, when he arrived here as a teenager busting out of the South.  He makes you feel it in another way, in the six-part suite that makes up his n...[MORE]

Life lesson: A tribute to Eric Dolphy — years in the making

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/2/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

Nearly a half century ago, an aspiring musician of 20 or so introduced himself to one of his heroes after a set at Detroit's famed Minor Key Lounge. When the young guy said that he'd begun flute lessons, the hero graciously handed his instrument over and said play. A half-hour's lesson ensued: How t...[MORE]

Jazz fest highlights: Some high notes among fest offerings

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 9/2/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

Praise for the elders: At 93, Hank Jones (Friday, 7:15 p.m.) is the sole surviving and eldest of three jazz greats from one extraordinary Pontiac family. Fittingly, a grand master among jazz pianists of any style, Jones is the first major performer of the festival. He'll be featured in a meet-the-ar...[MORE]

Bass line: From the great Ray Brown to the Grammy-winner John Clayton and beyond

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 8/19/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

John Clayton is too modest a musician to boast about his considerable accomplishments. The bassist has seven Grammy nods in various categories. In 2007, he won for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist for his work with Queen Latifah. And he's likewise handled arranging for the likes...[MORE]

High flutin': Alexander Zonjic's musical journey — and why he says purists are too hard on smooth jazz

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 7/8/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

As the story goes, in 1973, Alexander Zonjic was a twentysomething aspiring rock guitarist with dreams of selling out arenas some day. All that changed one fateful day when a stranger on the street sold him a secondhand flute.  "When I saw the flute in the case, I fell in love with it. I asked...[MORE]

Rebuilding Joan: How jazz vocalist Joan Belgrave got her groove back

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 6/10/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

About thirty years ago, jazz vocalist Joan Bow moved from Ann Arbor to California on a dream and a big fat lie. The 20-year-old University of Michigan student told her folks she was going for an extended vacation, sure that they'd try to dissuade her if they knew she intended to make it as a singer....[MORE]

Big dreams have led him to a big band: How Scott Gwinnell got his orchestra

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 4/22/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

Ask a jazz musician with Steve Wood's stellar credentials — and a reputation as a saxophone sage — why he plays with the Scott Gwinnell Orchestra gig after gig, year after year, and you'll get a sense of what makes the band so great for listeners too. "First of all, Scott's writin...[MORE]

'Mother of the band': Marion Hayden has a philosophy of the bass

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 2/18/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

A few Saturdays ago, bassist Marion Hayden's 12-year-old son Michael sat at a desktop computer in the combination rehearsal space and living room of the family's arts and crafts-style home in Highland Park. Hayden's upright acoustic bass was propped against a wall next to a framed drawing of H...[MORE]

Talking about his music: Vijay Iyer: Indian music, jazz and pop reconfigured

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 1/21/2009

Types: Music, Jazz

"I'm interested in what happens when the traditions collide, I love to be at that juncture," pianist Vijay Iyer said the other day, in a conversation that ranged from his doctoral research to a new tune that draws on the work of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Actually, a lot...[MORE]

Band of gypsies : Hot Club puts its stamp on the tradition of Django Reinhardt

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 12/17/2008

Types: Music, Jazz

On a recent Saturday afternoon, guitarist Evan Perri rested on a sectional sofa that consumed most of his bachelor pad in Grosse Pointe Park. Perri fiddled with the strings on his new acoustic guitar while discussing his fascination with the late Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and the ...[MORE]

The son of 'Big T': Joe Lovano on influences from Dad to the Motor City

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 11/5/2008

Types: Music, Jazz

Saxophonist Joe Lovano is a workhorse indeed. He's just released Symphonica, his 27th album as a leader and his 20th for the Blue Note label. This year he's co-led the SF Jazz Collective and Tenor Summit, along with saxophonists David Leibman and Ravi Coltrane. His touring with his new band has take...[MORE]

Marsalis does Brazil

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 10/22/2008

Types: Music, Jazz

Like his brother Wynton, Branford Marsalis is known for recording both jazz and classical. But Branford is quick to point out his limitations. He's up-front about not being "in the upper tier" of classical performers, and notes that his current 27-city, 30-day tour with Philharmonia Brasileira...[MORE]

'Definitions have vanished': Ann Arbor's Edgefest pushes the boundaries of music

By W. Kim Heron

Published: 10/15/2008

Types: Music, Jazz

"Rest and unrest derive from illusion," guitarist David Torn intones repeatedly against a droning background on his latest recording, Prezens (ECM). Then he moves to a second line to repeat, what sounds like: "Definitions have vanished." It's an almost too-obvious footnote to the collage of so...[MORE]

'This man is still the bomb': Larry Smith, keeper of the bebop flame, is lighting up the stage again

By Charles L. Latimer

Published: 10/22/2008

Types: Music, Jazz

Alto saxophonist Larry Smith lounges on a secondhand green leather sofa in his 15th floor apartment off Jefferson Avenue. He's looking out at the picturesque view of Lake St. Clair. Atop the glass coffee table is a half-empty pack of cigarettes, a soup bowl nearly filled with ashes and butts, ...[MORE]

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