I interviewed composer and multi-instrumentalist Henry Threadgill on Oct. 28, 2013, the morning after his triumphant Zooid concert at the Library of Congress. We discussed his musical upbringing in Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the story of his life-changing experience in Vietnam, his groups Air and Zooid, and his approach to composition and improvisation.
Near the end of 2012, the Library of Congress acquired the papers of drummer, composer, bandleader, activist and educator Max Roach. The collection is massive, comprising more than 100,000 items including scores, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and business papers, in addition to audio and video recordings. To announce the acquisition, the Library invited the five children of Max Roach; Daryl, Maxine, Raoul, Dara and Ayo, along with Janus Adams Roach and poet Sonia Sanchez to help discuss and celebrate the legacy of Max Roach.
Iola Brubeck (b. Corning, CA, 1923, d. March 12, 2014) was a radio broadcaster, actress and journalist who studied at the College of the Pacific and married Dave Brubeck in 1942. She worked as Dave’s manager and publicist, wrote lyrics to many of his songs and collaborated with him on writing “The Real Ambassadors,” a musical theater piece starring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae.
Trumpeter Christian Scott on the final piece of his first set at Bohemian Caverns in Washington D.C. Band includes Lawrence Fields, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Jamire Williams, drums; Matt Stevens, guitar; Louis Fouché, saxophone. Aug. 16, 2012.
Along with Beyoncé Knowles, Robert Glasper and Jason Moran, pianist Helen Sung is among the celebrated alumni of Houston, Texas’ High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. After preparing for a classical concert career, Sung fell in love with jazz, graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute and went on to work with Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Regina Carter and T.S. Monk while also touring internationally with her own groups. We met for this midnight listening session following her quintet performance at the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival in May. Sung’s new recording as a leader, Anthem for a New Day, is her first for Concord Jazz.
1. Kenny Barron
“Triste” (from #Kenny Barron & The Brazilian Knights#, Sunnyside). Barron, piano; Lula Galvão, guitar. Recorded in 2012. Continue reading →
I love music, but with each passing year I grow less interested in ranking or rating it, for reasons I’ve explained here. Ambivalence aside, I still get year-end email and calls at the radio station asking for the list, and I’m always pleased that Francis Davis taps me for his jazz critics poll, now co-sponsored by NPR.
So that’s the context for this list of year-end favorites. It should go without saying that there was so much great music released in the past 12 months, I could have easily come up with a very different list based on impulse, urge or notion. Continue reading →