By Larry Appelbaum
2015 was a banner year for Dianne Reeves, winning a Grammy for Beautiful Life and receiving her honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School. She spent a good part of the past 12 months working on her follow-up Concord disc and touring both stateside and abroad. We met for this session during her summer stop at the Alfa Jazz Festival in Lviv. Eager to hear her thoughts on a handful of recent releases, we also served up collaborations between Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington, her cousin George Duke with Kamasi Washington, Portland-based singer Nancy King with bassist Glen Moore, and an oddly awkward Carmen McRae curiosity with Ben Webster from 1958.
On April 12, 2016, I interviewed composer, arranger and bandleader Maria Schneider during her weeklong residency at the Library of Congress. We discussed her creative process, how she met and began working with Gil Evans, artists rights in the digital marketplace, crowdfunding and commissions, her setting of poems by Ted Kooser and her collaboration with David Bowie.
I recently dug up, dusted off and added some photos to this old report on my State Department-sponsored lecture tour to Ukraine back in 2004. Subsequent visits have shown interesting things still happening there, so I offer this post for the sake of context and warm memories.
On Oct. 2, 2016, in the midst of his first American tour, British singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Jacob Collier stopped up to WPFW-FM for a bit of a chat on my radio program. We discussed a number of issues including his relationships with Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones, his wildly popular YouTube videos, artist rights in the digital world and how he created his recently released debut recording “In My Room” entirely in his room at home.
A wide-ranging, revealing, pre-concert interview with clarinetist Eddie Daniels and pianist Roger Kellaway at the Library of Congress, Feb. 25, 2011. Lots of great information, knowledge and fascinating stories I’d never heard before.
Benin-born, New York-based guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke returned to DC in late April to play the White House for International Jazz Day. He seemed to enjoy the challenge of this listening session, even taking notes about unfamiliar artists Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sonny Sharrock for follow-up research. The music world was still reeling from the sudden passing of Prince the week before, so we included a track from The Artist in order to learn about his reputation in Africa. Loueke continues to tour internationally behind his recent live trio recording, GAÏA (Blue Note).
“Junior’s Jam” (from Miles Ahead Soundtrack, Columbia/Legacy). Glasper, Keyboard, Keyon Harrold, trumpet, Marcus Strickland, saxophone; Burniss Earl Travis, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums. Recorded in 2015.
I was recently interviewed about the state of jazz by culture journalist Bjarke Due Gunslev for the Danish newspaper Information. For reasons of space, he only used a few quotes in the final piece. I’ll now post below the entire interview we did in English via email, then at the bottom is the final article in Danish.
– Are there in your opinion criteria that has to be met for it to make sense to define a piece of music as jazz?
For me, there are traditions you can point to, or trends that emerge over time, but there’s no checklist or rulebook that says jazz must conform to one theory, aspect, formula or principle, and I’m glad there isn’t. That would be boring; the sort of thing rigid, humorless people dwell on. You might say such an attitude goes against the sprit or soul of jazz. Or, to borrow a term from the moldy figs of the 1960s, that paint-by-numbers approach is “anti-jazz.”