Before & After: Igor Butman

Listening With Russia’s Jazz Ambassador

 

Tenor saxophonist, bandleader and entrepreneur Igor Butman occupies a unique place in Russian jazz circles for his considerable musical skills, media visibility and savvy political connections. The St. Petersburg-born Berklee graduate is not only recognized as the most famous Russian jazz musician in the world today, he also runs a successful record label, operates two jazz clubs and provides artistic direction for a jazz festival.

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Before & After: Jimmy Heath

IMG_9105You can learn a lot about jazz hanging with Jimmy Heath. The saxophonist, arranger and bandleader has worked with nearly every important jazz musician of the post-war period, and his many compositions, including the jazz standards “Gingerbread Boy” and “C.T.A.,” are performed and recorded around the world. The Philly-born, NEA Jazz Master spent many years teaching, and he’s shared a lifetime of behind-the-scenes stories in his recent autobiography, I Walked With Giants. He is still actively playing and recording, and his latest release with his younger brother Tootie is The Heath Brothers: Endurance (JLP). This B&A was conducted in front of a live audience at the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.

1. James Moody

“I’m In The Mood For Love ” (from The Very Best of Prestige). Moody, alto sax; Leppe Sundwal, trumpet; Thore Swanerud, piano; Yngve Akerberg, bass; Jack Noren, drums. Recorded 1949. Continue reading

Before & After: Sonny Rollins

Molde Sonny Rollins

At age 81, Sonny Rollins shows no signs of slowing down. He still records and tours internationally, keeping his musical tools sharp and his ears open. Though adulation makes him uncomfortable (of late, he humbly refers to himself as “a musical primitive”), Rollins has received nearly every important accolade in the world of music and the arts, including two Grammys, the Edward MacDowell Medal, Sweden’s Polar Music Prize and the NEA Jazz Masters Award. On March 2 he received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama at the White House. (Kennedy Center Honors, what are you waiting for?) Rollins latest release is his second volume of Road Shows recordings on his Doxy label.

In July of 2010, I caught up with the celebrated saxophonist in Norway at the 50th anniversary of the Molde International Jazz Festival, where he performed an outdoor concert for thousands of dancing, rain-soaked fans. At his hotel, we took a few minutes to enjoy the panoramic view of the fjord, and then sat down to listen.

1. Coleman Hawkins
“Picasso” (from The Jazz Scene, Verve). Hawkins, tenor saxophone. Recorded in 1948.

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Before & After: Vijay Iyer

© Larry Appelbaum

At the 2007 Vancouver Jazz Festival, Vijay Iyer gave an afternoon workshop on his compositional approach and took a break before his evening concert to listen to some music and share his comments.

 

 

1. Thelonious Monk
“It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” (from Plays Duke Ellington, Riverside). Monk, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums. Recorded in 1955, reissued 2007.

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Before & After: Paquito d’Rivera

1. Charlie Parker with Machito and his Orchestra
“Mango Mangue” (from Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve). Recorded in 1948. Charlie Parker, alto saxophone solo

BEFORE: (immediately starts singing along with the intro) C’mon in, Bird. I think that’s Mario playing the lead alto in the orchestra. I never get tired of listening to this. My father was a personal friend of Mario Bauzá, and he always told me Mario went to the States and made it big there. He also said Bauzá was an alto saxophonist and clarinetist in Cuba, and learned the trumpet only after he came to the States. Of course that’s Mango Mangue. Continue reading