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If you are working with an art form or if you are working with the music, you have to respect where it came from. Where it was at that moment and where you think it could go. - Sathima Bea Benjamin
 Saturday, 30 May 2015
Steve McQuarry Pays Tribute to Carla Bley at SFJazz, June 5 E-mail
Written by Ken Vermes   


Carla Bley (Photo: Redferns)

San Francisco pianist Steve McQuarry and his bands will present a tribute to pianist, arranger and composer, Carla Bley, on Friday, June 5 (8 pm) in the Miner Auditorium at SFJAZZ.  McQuarry has been preparing for this event for some years. In 2013, as he prepared to write a piece for a horn-led group, he began studying Bley's 4 x 4, recorded in Oslo in 1999 and released on the ECM label in 2000. Intrigued, the pianist tried contacting Bley and instead found that her daughter, Karen Mantler, responded to those interested in her mother's music. In December 2013,  McQuarry received a box filled with manuscripts, including hand-written original scores with penciled notes by Bley. With this treasure trove of material, the idea of a real tribute concert began to emerge, one that would feature Steve’s groups, the Mandala Octet and the Mandala Orchestra.

Listen to His "Tall Tales": New Release From Dean Granros, at the Icehouse June 1 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   


Guitarist Dean Granros has been at the center of the Twin Cities' modern jazz/improvised music scene for more than four decades. He frequented the stages of old Blue Note in North Minneapolis, the Extraordinaire, and the Downtowner; was a co-founder of one of the Twin Cities seminal experimental jazz groups, "The Whole Earth Rainbow Band" (1970), and created and wrote for "Lapis," a 1970s ensemble dedicated to exploring composition with structured improvisation. Other significant credits include 8 years with high energy post-bop band, Kamanari; co-leading progressive and virtuosic improvising trio F*K*G (with Dave King and Scott Fultz); touring and recording with George Cartwright's Curlew and Gloryland Ponycat; a stint of weekly gigs at the Artists Quarter with How Birds Work; playing with Anthony Cox in Siamese Fighting Fish, and more recently, leading "AntiGravity,” which explores new directions in  improvisational composition.

Jazz on Fire: Weekend of Improvising Bands at the Black Dog, May 29-30 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

Chris Bates (Heart of Usher, Dave Martin Trio, Atlantis Qt)©Andrea Canter

The Black Dog in St. Paul's Lowertown offers an eclectic line-up of music every night, but in the past year has become one of the metro's "go-to" venues for modern jazz. In addition to Steve Kenny's "Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog" series, one can find such artists as Dean Magraw, Davu Seru, Donald Washington, Chris Olson and more scattered throughout the monthly schedule. This weekend, the Black Dog presents a modern jazz extravaganza, starting Friday night (May 29) with the Heart of the House of Usher (the rhythm section with guests) followed by teen bassist Charlie Lincoln's "prodigy power jazz hoodlums," Physical Memory Dump. On this weekend's "Saturday Night Jazz," the double header includes guitarist David Martin's band followed by one of the most lauded modern jazz ensembles in the region, the Atlantis Quartet.  Give your ears a good massage and plan to hear two unforgettable nights featuring a long list of the area's top improvisers.

"Jazz and the Music of the Americas" Anchors 2015 Healdsburg Jazz Festival E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   


It’s no longer a well-kept secret that the northern California town of Healdsburg holds one of the finest small jazz festivals in the nation. Tucked into the picturesque vineyards of Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Russian River in Sonoma County, Healdsburg welcomes a diverse array of internationally acclaimed and locally prominent musicians every summer, scattering performances around restaurants, hotel lobbies, small theaters and winery grounds, usually over the course of ten days. With two weekends of prime-time performances and a week of engaging jazz related activities in-between, the 2015 festival gets underway this weekend, with music and more, May 29-June 7, curated by long-time Artistic Director and festival founder, Jessica Felix.

Real Jazz, Free Music: It's Happening in Detroit, September 4-7 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   


"This weekend, for me and everyone I've spoken with, was the epitome of how a jazz festival can feel, with an entire city and international audience bringing their love and positively together with an expansive family of musicians... and it was all real jazz." — Benny Green

"So often I have heard the complaint from fellow critics and assorted curmudgeons: ‘Why can’t an American city put on a festival as efficiently run, impressive and FREE as the Montreal International Jazz Festival?’ Note to colleagues: It’s already happening in Detroit.” — Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

If Detroit is not the first American city you think of in terms of civic pride, cultural offerings and jazz centric music.... maybe you need to reconsider. At least you need to reconsider your plans for Labor Day Weekend 2015. The 36th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival will showcase Motor City at its best, September 4-7 in the heart of downtown Detroit (Camp Mauritius) and along the river front (Hartt Plaza), boasting Artist in Residence Pat Metheny on all four stages (JP Morgan Chase Main Stage, Carhartt Amphitheater Stage, Mack Avenue Waterfront Stage, and Absopure Pyramid Stage) along with an impressive list of headline artists. As always, the DJF will include a "Homecoming Series" of native Detroiters, exciting new artists, legends, and student ensembles, all presented through coordinated programming that provides unique musical experiences that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world--and it is all free!

George Cables Trio at the Village Vanguard, 5/26-31 E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
George Cables ©Alan Nahigian

Jazz pianio legend George Cables is a significant voice in modern jazz. In addition to composing and arranging for his own albums, George Cables has contributed to recordings by Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson and many others. He is noted for his fresh Interpretations of classic compositions and for his innovative style of writing. He will appear with his trio feturing Victor Lewis and Essiet Essiet at the Village Vanguard on Tuesday, May 26th through Sunday, May 31st.
Spotlighting Women in Jazz: The 2014 Wall Street Jazz Festival E-mail
Written by Sheila Horne Mason; Photographs by Kevin R. Mason   

Wall Street Jazz Festival

Marking the end of summer 2014, the 11th Annual Wall Street Jazz Festival was held on Saturday, August 30.  The festivities took place on a beautiful evening in the picturesque town of Kingston, in upstate New York. Earlier in the day, the sky had been overcast, but luckily, the rain that had been threatening never appeared, and the weather was perfect for this wonderfully laid-back festival.  People packed the sidewalks and the blocked-off section of Kingston’s Wall Street, shopped at the boutiques, ate at the restaurants and delicatessens, and enjoyed a great evening of free music, whether they were relaxing to the groove or dancing in the streets!

The aim of the festival, from its inception, has been to spotlight women in jazz. The festival slogan is, “Where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women!” Because all the music was presented on one stage, people had the chance to visit with friends between sets, grab snacks and drinks, and generally chill out, without missing any of the music.

Steve Johns' "Family" (StrikeZone, 2015) E-mail
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

 “Steve Johns is a master drummer and bandleader. His bass playing son Daryl Johns and saxophonist wife Debbie Johns are amazing.  Stellar debut and Steve proves drummers are musicians, and pretty good producers too.  Great musical family.” --Lenny White

“A tight knit modern quartet with great feel, original tunes, arrangements and soloists.”  --Randy Brecker


Master drummer Steve Johns has been in the creative jazz world for better than three decades.  He met his wife, tenor and soprano saxophonist Debbie Keefe Johns, at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1979.  They started out their career journey in New York City and both have many, many memorable credits.  Their new CD Family is a celebration to capture their music as a family before son Daryl, an upcoming dynamic bassist, goes off to studies at the Manhattan School of Music.  Daryl Johns plays both acoustic and electric bass.   They are joined by special guests, guitar great Dave Stryker (who produced the CD) on five tracks and electric guitarist Bob Devos on four tracks. 


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