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Saxophonists

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Tuesday 11/19/2019 Show: Eric Alexander

 

Photo: Eric Alexander | Credit: Antonio Porcar for HighNote Records

Program note: We’re back on air after having the station’s fund drive and programming disrupted by an attempted shutdown by a faction of the Pacifica Network’s national board. WBAI now has an even more urgent need for donations and monthly subscribers to help it recover. We ask that you give anything you can right now and would appreciate that you name our show when doing so. The money goes to support the station’s operating expenses: we don’t get anything from this. Thanks in advance.

The next show will air on Tuesday November 19, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. In this installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl,” we will continue to honor Harold Mabern by recognizing his favorite student: tenor saxophonist, composer and instructor Eric Alexander.

Eric Alexander started out on piano as a six-year-old, took up clarinet at nine, switched to alto sax when he was 12, and converted to tenor when jazz became his obsession during his one year at the University of Indiana, Bloomington (1986-87). At William Paterson College in New Jersey he advanced his studies under the tutelage of Harold Mabern, Joe Lovano, Rufus Reid, and others.

Alexander has appeared in many capacities on record, including leader, sideman, producer as well as composing a number of the tunes he records. By now, Alexander has lost count of how many albums feature his playing; he guesses 80 or 90. While he has garnered critical acclaim from every corner, what has mattered most has been to establish his own voice within the illustrious bop-based jazz tradition.

Alexander’s most recent release is “Leap of Faith” (Giant Step Arts, 2019). “Eric Alexander with Strings” is scheduled to release December 6, 2019 on HighNote Records.

(Bio adapted from Alexander’s website.)

We will also briefly talk to Diane Armesto, the Executive Producer of “Eric Alexander with Strings.”

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Web Extra:

Watch Alexander and pianist Mabern’s rendition of “Embraceable You” with the New York All Stars in this live clip.

Tuesday 2/12/2019 Show: Camille Thurman

Photo: Camille Thurman | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

Program note: we’re in a new weekly Tuesday night slot from 10-12 midnight!

The next show will air on Tuesday February 12, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with saxophonist, flute player, composer, clarinetist, bandleader and educator Camille Thurman.

Acclaimed by Downbeat Magazine as a “rising star” singer with “soulful inflection and remarkable, Fitzgerald-esque scat prowess” and hailed by All About Jazz as a “first class saxophonist that blows the proverbial roof of the place”, Camille Thurman has been amazing audiences throughout the world with her impeccable sound, remarkable vocal virtuosity and captivating artistry. Many have praised her vocal abilities to the likeness of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter. Her lush, rich & warm sound on the tenor saxophone has led others to compare her to tenor greats Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon.

An accomplished performer, educator and composer, Thurman has worked with notable Jazz and R&B icons such as George Coleman, Roy Haynes, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis & the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Buster Williams, Charles Tolliver, Jack DeJohnette, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jon Hendricks, Harry Connick Jr., Audra MacDonald, Diana Krall, Pattie LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Louis Hayes, Russell Malone, Nicholas Payton, Jacky Terrasson, Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, Lalah Hathaway, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu among others.

Thurman has performed at the Kennedy Center, Rose Theater, Alice Tully Hall, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, The Library of Congress, the Sydney International Women in Jazz Festival, the Tomsk International Jazz Festival, the International Fano Jazz Festival and many other prominent jazz venues and festivals around the world. She has performed and toured throughout China, Africa, South America, Europe and Central America with her band. A 2018 season highlight includes performing with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra for the world premier of the historic work “The Every Fonky Lowdown” as a featured vocalist.

Thurman is a recipient of the Martin E. Segal –Lincoln Center Award for Outstanding Young Artists and was a runner up in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition. SF Jazz named Camille as one of “10 Rising Female Instrumentalists You Should Know” and she was featured in a ground breaking New York Times article recognizing women jazz musicians. She was a two-time award winning recipient of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award and a winner of the Fulbright Scholars Cultural Ambassador Grant to Nicaragua and Paraguay. In 2018 she along with the Darrell Green Trio was selected by the U.S. State Department to tour 5 countries in Africa as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador. Her compositions were featured and performed by her quartet in the ASCAP/ The Kennedy Center “Songwriters: The Next Generation” showcase. Camille has appeared on BET’s Black Girls Rock as the saxophonist & flutist in the All Star Band.

[(Bio adapted from Thurman’s website)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Web Extras:

ReadThurman’s commentary on her experiences with sexual harassment in music at the Musician’s Union Local 802 blog.

Watch Thurman perform “Change of Mind” in this live clip from 2012.

Watch the trailer for Thurman’s 2018 Waiting for the Sunrise album

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Tuesday 1/22/2019 Show: Joey DeFrancesco

Photo: Joey DeFrancesco

Program note: we’re in a new weekly Tuesday night slot from 10-12 midnight!

The next show will air on Tuesday January 22, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with organist, trumpeter, vocalist and tenor saxophonist Joey DeFrancesco.

Raised in Philadelphia, this is where the foundation of his musical roots in Jazz, Blues and other musical art forms were born. To hear Joey DeFrancesco today, his music embodies the traditional art form infused with a distinct modern approach, just part of what makes his music unmistakably his own.

Joey DeFrancesco’s emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance. Organ jazz had all but gone into hibernation from the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s until DeFrancesco reignited the flame with his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie speaker cabinet. The son of “Papa” John DeFrancesco, an organist himself, the younger DeFrancesco remembers playing as early as four-years-old. Soon after, his father began bringing him to gigs in Philadelphia, sitting in with legendary players like Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones, who quickly recognized his talent and enthusiasm. With a natural gift for music, DeFrancesco also swiftly picked up on the trumpet after a touring stint with Miles Davis as one of the two youngest players ever recruited for any of Davis’ ensembles.

DeFrancesco has recorded and/or toured with his own groups as well as numerous renowned artists that include Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, James Moody, John Scofield, Bobby Hutcherson, Jimmy Cobb, John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, David Sanborn and many more. The four time Grammy® Award-nominee, with more than 30 recordings as a leader under his belt, has received countless Jazz Journalist Association awards and other accolades worldwide, including being inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame in 2014, the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame in 2016 as well as topping the Critics Polls in DownBeat Magazine eleven times over the past fifteen years and the Readers Polls every year since 2005. DeFrancesco also hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM Radio’s Real Jazz channel titled “Organized.”

In 2018, DeFrancesco toured in support of his Grammy nominated record, Project Freedom, as well as select concert dates celebrating the collaborative recording with iconic recording artist Van Morrison, titled You’re Driving Me Crazy.

DeFrancesco’s latest “In The Key Of The Universe” will be released on March 1, 2019 on Mack Avenue Records.

[(Bio adapted from the Oberlin College website)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Joey DeFrancesco will be at the Jazz Standard on Wednesday February 27 in a release event for “In The Key Of The Universe” with previous Suga’ guest Billy Hart on drums and Troy Roberts on tenor saxophone.

Web Extras:

Watch DeFrancesco perform “Blues for Bobby C” in this live clip

 

Watch DeFrancesco with guitarist John McLaughlin in this live clip

 

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Tuesday 1/8/2019 Show: Gary Bartz/Winter Jazz Fest

Photo: Gary Bartz | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

Program note: We’ll be moving to a weekly slot on Tuesday nights from 10-12 midnight starting on January 8!

The next show will air on Tuesday January 8, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with composer, soprano and alto saxophonist and educator Gary Bartz. This is a rebroadcast that originally aired on December 19, 2010. It also continues our coverage of the 2019 Winter Jazz Fest.

A native of Baltimore, Gary Bartz ventured to New York City to attend the Juilliard School in 1958. At the time, performers such as Thelonius Monk, Ornette Coleman, and Miles Davis were playing at Birdland and the city’s other premiere clubs every night, and Bartz regularly snuck in to see them.

In the 1960s, Bartz joined the Max Roach/Abbey Lincoln Group and the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, quickly earning a reputation as the greatest alto saxophonist since Cannonball Adderley. In 1965, after meeting the group at his parents’ nightclub, Bartz joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and recorded Soulfinger, his recording debut. Around the same time, he began working with McCoy Tyner, and their relationship deepened the influence of John Coltrane on Bartz.

In 1970, Bartz received a call from Miles Davis, who asked Bartz to perform with his band at the historic Isle of Wight Festival. In the same year, Bartz also formed his own group, Ntu Troop, after the Bantu word for “unity.” Ntu blended soul, funk, African folk music, hard bop, and avant-garde jazz on such albums as I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies, based on the poetry of Langston Hughes, as well as Music is My Sanctuary, Love Affair, Another Earth, and Home.

Overall, Bartz has recorded more than 40 solo albums and over 200 as a guest artist. More recently, he released Coltrane Rules: Tao of a Music Warrior, Live at the Jazz Standard Volume 1 and Volume 2, and several others, on his own label, OYO, which is named for the Nigerian tribe and the acronym “Own Your Own.” He was also spotlighted in the “Blindfold Test” section of DownBeat magazine in January 2008, and he continues to perform with McCoy Tyner in such cities as Tokyo and Los Angeles.

Bartz is a Professor of “Jazz” Saxophone at Oberlin College and Conservatory.

(Bio adapted from the Oberlin College website)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Gary Bartz will appear as part of the Winter Jazz Festival NYC in celebration of the 50th anniversary celebration of his release of “Another Planet” on Thursday, January 10, along with Pharoah Sanders at Le Poisson Rouge. The 2019 WJF runs through January 12 at several venues in downtown Manhattan and includes a series of talks. See the full lineup and details on their website.

Web Extras:

Watch Bartz in this live clip from 1974

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 1/6/2019 Show: Marcus Strickland

Photo: Marcus Strickland | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

Program note: We’ll be moving to a weekly slot on Tuesday nights from 10-12 midnight starting on January 8!

The next show will air on Sunday January 6, 2018 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with composer and reeds player (tenor, alto and soprano saxophone and bass clarinet) Marcus Strickland. It also continues our coverage of the 2019 Winter Jazz Fest.

Saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Marcus Strickland is a charter member of the 21st century jazz vanguard. Similar to the torrent of artists that appeared on the jazz landscape in the early ’80s to pull jazz out of the grasp of the Fusion Era, Strickland, his identical twin brother E.J. Strickland (drummer), and artists such as Jeremy Pelt and Robert Glasper breathed new life into jazz early in the new millennium, often erasing the boundaries between it and other musical genres, from hip hop to funk to soul.

During a five-year stint with venerable drummer Roy Haynes, Strickland released two albums on the Fresh Sound New Talent label. At Last was released in 2001, followed by Brotherhood in 2003. Both albums featured precocious peers (Pelt, Glasper, bassist Brandon Owens) playing a lyrical, fiery, contemporary jazz. For the next three years, Strickland toured with artists such as Jeff “Tain” Watts, Haynes, and Dave Douglas, while also holding down dates with his own band. In 2006, he independently released Twi-Life, an adventurous double album on his own label Strick Muzik. It received much critical praise and proclaimed him “Best New Artist” in the JazzTimes Readers’ Poll. In 2007, the Twi-Life group released a live album entitled Open Reel Deck on Strick Muzik. The album featured Lage Lund on guitar, Carlos Henderson on electric bass, and E.J. Strickland on drums, as well as trumpeter Keyon Harrold, the hip-hop-tinged poetry of Malachi, and one track with pianist Jon Cowherd. The album displayed the curious side of Strickland’s compositional skills through funk, hip-hop, Afrobeat, rock, ska, and jungle grooves. Strickland was voted “Rising Star, Soprano Saxophone” in Downbeat Magazine’s 2008 Critic’s Poll. He released two albums in 2009 — Of Song on the Criss Cross label and Idiosyncracies on his label under the new name of SMK. Of Song, with brother E.J., Ben Williams, and David Bryant, was a more straight-ahead set, whereas Idiosyncracies featured Strickland’s increasingly daring compositions. Throughout his career, Strickland has worked with a variety of artists, including Mos Def, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, the Charles Tolliver Big Band, and Tom Harrell, among others.

In 2011, the saxophonist independently issued the half-studio/half-live double-disc Triumph of the Heavy, Vols. 1 & 2. One disc offered a concert portrait of his longtime trio with drummer E.J. and bassist Ben Williams, while the studio portion was a quartet with pianist David Bryant added.

Strickland signed to Blue Note in 2015. He contributed a reading of Janet Jackson’s 1986 hit “Let’s Wait Awhile” with vocalist Christie Dashiell. In the spring of 2016, Strickland released Nihil Novi, his full-length debut as a leader for the label. It was produced by Meshell N’Degeocello and featured an entirely new band called Twi-Life (from his 2006 album title) with trumpeter Harrold, bassist Kyle Miles, drummer Charles Haynes, organist Mitch Henry, and keyboardist Masayuki Hirano. The album also featured all-star contributions from vocalist Jean Baylor, bassist Pino Palladino, drummer Chris Dave, guitarist Chris Bruce, and pianist Robert Glasper (the latter played on the Twi-Life album). Two years later, Strickland’s group issued its sophomore Blue Note date, People of the Sun. Self-produced, the band’s personnel shifted a bit with Ghanaian born, U.S.-based percussion master Weedie Braimah. The single “On My Mind” featured guest appearances by Bilal, Pharoahe Monch, and Greg Tate.

(Bio adapted from Allmusic)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life is scheduled to appear as part of the Winter Jazz Festival NYC at the Mercury Lounge during the Friday, January 11, Marathon Night. The 2019 WJF runs from January 4-12 at several venues in downtown Manhattan and includes a series of talks. See the full lineup and details on their website.

Web Extras:

Watch Strickland and Twi-Life in this clip from the 2015v BRIC Jazz Fest

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 3/18/2018 Show: Lakecia Benjamin

Photo: Lakecia Benjamin | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

The next show will air on Sunday, March 4 2018 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast presents an interview with primarily alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator Lakecia Benjamin. In addition to discussing points in Ms. Benjamin’s career, we will also discuss the upcoming RISE UP release on Ropeadope Records.

Charismatic and dynamic saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin’s electric stage presence and fiery sax work, has shared stages with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Macy Gray and many others, brings the soul and funk up to a fever pitch in a show that’s guaranteed to keep crowds dancing day or night. Though her own music with her band Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad is immersed in the vintage sounds of James Brown, Maceo Parker, Sly and the Family Stone and the Meters as well as classic jazz, Benjamin’s soaring, dance floor-friendly grooves take the classic vibe to a whole new level. The constant throughout it all is Benjamin’s summery, sultry alto saxophone, adding something special on every cut – be it a smoldering late-night ambience, an erudite, forceful jazz intensity or the tight funk multi-horn harmony sections that pepper the proceedings throughout.

A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia Benjamin has become one of the most highly sought-after players in soul and funk music. She first picked up the saxophone at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, after which she joined the renowned jazz program at New York’s New School University. By that time, she was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, which led to gigs and tours with a wide array of artists such as Rashied Ali, the David Murray Big Band, Vanessa Rubin and James “Blood” Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, the Roots, and Anita Baker.

Currently, Benjamin is a featured musician for Gregory Porter as well as a featured musician and arranger for comedy star Craig Robinson and the Nasty Delicious. (Robinson, best known for his work on TV’s The Office as well as such popular films as Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine, tours regularly with the Nasty Delicious band serving as the main foil in his popular comedy act). Benjamin has also had the honor of performing at the White House at President Obama’s inaugural ball. She’s performed on four continents and her extensive recording credits include saxophone and arrangements for Santigold, Maurice Brown, the Clark Terry Big Band, Krystle Warren and TalibKweli, among others.

(Bio adapted from Benjamin’s website.)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Lakecia Benjamin will be at Joe’s Pub on Wednesday March 21 at 9 PM with an album release party for RISE UP.

Web Extras:

Watch the music video for “Take Back” from Benjamin’s RISE UP.

Watch Benjamin and her Soul Squad band perform “Smile” in this live clip.

 

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 12/10/2017 Show: Shabaka Hutchings

Photo: Shabaka Hutchings | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

The next show will air on Sunday, December 12, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.orgThis broadcast starts the first of our Winter Jazz Festival preview programs with tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings.


Shabaka Hutchings is a saxophonist, bandleader, and composer. A significant part of the 21st century jazz and improvised music scenes, he has led his own groups, worked with Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors, been a member of the Heliocentrics, and played on albums by everyone from Mulatu Astatke to Melt Yourself Down.

Hutchings was born in 1984 in London. He moved to Barbados at the age of six, began studying classical clarinet at age nine, and saxophone a year later. After returning to the U.K., he was granted the title of BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist in 2010, allowing him to undertake numerous commissions, as well as broadcast performances on radio (including those of his own group, Sons of Kemet). In July 2013, Hutchings received a commission from the Leasowes Bank Music Festival to write a piece for clarinet and string quartet. He performed this piece with the Ligeti String Quartet to rave reviews. Sons of Kemet released their debut album, Burn, and won the 2013 MOBO Award for Jazz Act of the Year. Hutchings was nominated for Jazz Musician of the Year in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. The following year, he was invited by Marshall Allen to join the Sun Ra Arkestra. He performed with them and recorded a session for the BBC’s Radio 3, and was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Composer Award.

In January of 2015, Hutchings traveled to South Africa to record a project with native jazz musicians. He also received a commission from the London Sinfonietta to write a “note to the new government” and was Associate Artist for the Spittalfields Summer Festival. The second Sons of Kemet album, Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do, was released in September on NAIM, and an electronic trio project, the Comet Is Coming featuring Hutchings, Dan Leavers, and Max Hallett, released its first EP on the Leaf label in October. The following spring, the group released its full-length Channel the Spirits to massive critical acclaim and a Mercury Prize nomination.

Hutchings was also a core member of percussionist/producer Sarathy Korwar’s group for the acclaimed Day to Day. It featured the modern jazz and electronics group performing with the Sidi Troupe of Ratanpur, and was recorded in India and London. The album was released on Ninja Tune during the summer of 2016. Wisdom of Elders, the album by Hutchings’ South Africa project Shabaka and the Ancestors, was issued by Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label in the early fall 2016.

(Bio adapted from Allmusic.)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Shabaka Hutchings will be at the 2018 Winter Jazz Festival with The Comet is Coming at Le Poisson Rouge on January 10 and with Shabaka and the Ancestors on one of the festival’s Marathon Days on the 12th or 13th: date time TBA. Keep an eye on the Winter Jazz Fest website for details and follow our On the Bandstand segment for announcements.

Web Extras:

Watch Hutchings play “Mzawandile” live with Shabaka and the Ancestors at New York’s 2017 Winter Jazz Fest.

Watch Hutchings jam with Kamasi and Ricky Washington in this clip from the 2017 Gent Jazz Festival.

Watch Hutchings play “The Final Eclipse” with The Comet is Coming.

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 10/15/2017 Show: Rudresh Mahanthappa

Photo: Rudresh Mahanthappa @ New York’s Vision Festival | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

The next show will air on Sunday, October 15, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator Rudresh Mahanthappa. We’ll start the show with a brief check in with BRIC Jazz Festival co-organizer Brice Rosenbloom for a preview of this year’s schedule.

Few musicians share the ability of Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. The saxophonist/composer hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form reflecting his own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American. Just as his personal experience is never wholly lived on one side of the hyphenate or the other, his music speaks in a voice dedicated to forging a new path forward.

One of Rudresh Mahanthappa’s projects titled Bird Calls (2015), which was named #1 album of the year by both Downbeat and NPR Music’s Jazz Critics Poll. This 21st Century tribute to Charlie Parker, which Downbeat Magazine recently named Best Album of 2015, includes a stellar band of pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist François Moutin, drummer Rudy Royston, and 20-year old trumpet prodigy Adam O’Farrill. The 2013 album Gamak featured guitarist David “Fuze” Fiuczynski, whose own microtonal vocabulary opened new possibilities for Mahanthappa’s compositional imagination, alongside bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss. The 2010 release of Samdhi (ACT Music + Vision), a multi-cultural ensemble that advances Mahanthappa’s blend of jazz and Indian music with modernist electronic music, was described by JazzTimes as “a landmark convergence of styles that didn’t lend itself to easy analysis… new music of this caliber hasn’t been attempted before.” Other projects run the gamut from the cross-generational alto summit Apex featuring Bunky Green; trios MSG and Mauger; the quintet Dual Identity co-led with fellow altoist Steve Lehman; and Raw Materials, his long-running duo project with pianist Vijay Iyer. Mahanthappa was enlisted by Jack DeJohnette for the legendary drummer’s new working group, while a collaboration with the renowned Carnatic saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath resulted in Mahanthappa’s critically- acclaimed 2008 CD Kinsmen (Pi).

Hailed by the New York Times as possessing “a roving intellect and a bladelike articulation,” Mahanthappa has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, and numerous commissions. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year four of the past five years in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Polls and for five years running by the Jazz Journalists’ Association. In April 2013, he received a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, one of the most prominent arts awards in the world. In 2015, he was named a United States Artists Fellow.

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition has been hailed by The New York Times as “a trio equally grounded in folk tradition and jazz improvisation, propos[ing] a social pact as well as a musical ideal.” The ensemble’s three formidable talents — Mahanthappa on alto saxophone, Rez Abbasi on guitar, and Dan Weiss on tabla — first documented their group conception in 2008 with Apti, which won praise from The Guardian for its “irresistible urgency.” Agrima, the long-awaited follow-up, finds Mahanthappa and the group expanding aesthetic horizons: adding a modified drum set, incorporating effects and electronics, and working with a broader audio canvas overall.The core of the band’s sound, the vibrant presence of Indian rhythmic and melodic elements in a charged, modern improvisational framework born of the New York jazz scene, remains firmly in place. The scheduled release date is October 1 as a digital download for $2.50.

(Bio adapted from Mahanthappa’s official website.)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition is scheduled to appear as part of the BRIC Jazz Festival on Saturday, October 21.

Web Extras:

Watch Mahanthappa and the Indo-Pak Coalition in this 2010 live clip from the Flushing Town Hall.

Watch the video preview of the Indo-Pak Coalition’s Agrima.

Watch Mahanthappa and pianist Vijay Iyer in this live clip from the 2007 JVC Jazz Festival in New York.

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 7/23/2017 Show: T.K. Blue

Photo: T.K. Blue | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

The next show will air on Sunday, July 23, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.orgThis broadcast features leader, composer, arranger, alto and soprano saxophones, flute, mbira, sanza, and lukembi player T.K. Blue.

T.K. Blue, also known as Talib Kibwe, was born in New York City of a Trinidadian mother and Jamaican father. T.K. began playing music at the age of 8 years old on trumpet. After two years his interest shifted to academic and athletic endeavors… He returned to his musical studies in High School while playing the flute.

He took lessons from Billy Mitchell, the legendary tenor saxophonist with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie, eventually pursuing music as a career after receiving a full academic scholarship to New York University, where he began playing soprano & alto saxophone. He earned a bachelor’s degree in both music and psychology. T.K. Blue went on to earn a master’s degree in music education from Teacher’s College at Columbia University.

After touring with Abdullah Ibrahim for three years, T.K. Blue moved to Paris, France to quench his cultural thirsts. Living in Paris afforded Blue numerous opportunities in traveling and performing in Africa.

T.K. Blue toured Europe with Sam Rivers and his eleven-piece saxophone choir called The Winds Of Manhattan. This group did a recording for Black Saint Records in Milan, Italy.

In Paris, T.K. connected with a group from Senegal called Xalam. He toured and recorded with Xalam for three years with the culmination in a feature film by Michel Blanc called Marche A’ L’Ombre.

In Paris T.K. Blue recorded his first project as a leader called Egyptian Oasis. This recording garnered many great reviews and eventually led Blue to tour Africa on three occasions for the USIA State Department, where he visited over 25 countries.

T.K. Blue met the great, iconic pianist during his stint with Abdullah Ibrahim. NEA Jazz Master Dr. Randy Weston was living in Annecy, France at this time. T.K. re-established his working relationship with Dr. Weston after moving to Paris. He went on to become Randy’s chief saxophonist/flutist, arranger, and musical director for over three decades. This union led to countless tours, recordings, concerts, clinics, radio, and television appearances.

T.K. Blue is the musical director and arranger for Dr. Randy Weston.

After moving back to NYC, T.K. debuted as Dr. Weston’s musical director during the recording of Spirit Of Our Ancestors on Verve Records. This project featured many jazz giants: Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Idrees Sulieman, Benny Powell, Billy Harper, Dewey Redman, Alex Blake, Jamil Nasser, Idres Muhammad, Big Black, and Azzedin Weston.

While residing in Paris, T.K. Blue was blessed to meet the incredible poet Jayne Cortez in London during an international book fair organized by the late writer and activist John La Rose. He went on to become a member of Cortez’s backup band called the Firespitters, which recorded and toured internationally.

Blue has taught at Long Island University, but left the music faculty in 2014 to concentrate on performance, adjudication, clinics/workshops, and lessons for his private students.

T.K. Blue signed a new recording contract with Dot Time Records and his new CD is titled Amour.

(Bio adapted from http://www.tkblue.com/biography)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

T.K. Blue will be at Harlem’s Farafina Café on July 24. He’ll also be in Brooklyn on July 28 at Medgar Evers College’s Jazzy Jazz series for a free outdoor performance. He leads a quartet for the Jazzmobile series in Harlem on August 1 and appears at Jazzmobile’s popular Grant’s Tomb concert on August 23.

Web Extras:

Watch T.K. Blue in this 2017 live clip.

Watch T.K. Blue play the blues standard “Stormy Monday” with Nazzz Jazz in this 2014 live clip.

Watch the video preview for T.K. Blue’s Amour release.

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 6/25/2017 Show: James Brandon Lewis

Photo: James Brandon Lewis @ the Cell Theater | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.

The next show will air on Sunday, June 25, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This week’s show features an interview with up-and-coming saxophonist James Brandon Lewis.

Visionary composer and tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis’s bravest, yet most palpable artistic feat, Days Of FreeMan, opens with a poignant and profound introductory monologue from a maternal sage. She says, “The best thing of living is living who you are. You can’t be somebody else; you gotta be what God gave you to be and who you are. You look in the mirror and see yourself and say ‘I’m James Brandon Lewis.”’Next, bass and drums congeal around the sapphire melodic motif of “Brother 1976,” recalling one of those jazzy jewel-like hooks from a 1990s Native Tongue hip-hop jam. The effect is like 1990s hip-hop’s fascination with jazz being spit back by a prodigious jazz innovator. Welcome to Days Of FreeMan.

James Brandon Lewis is one of the modern titans of the tenor. He’s received accolades from mainstream cultural tastemakers such as Ebony Magazine who hailed him as one of “7 Young Players to Watch,” and earned the respect of a diverse cross section of esteemed artists. James has shared stages with such icons as Benny Golson, Geri Allen, Wallace Roney, Grammy® Award-winning singer Dorinda Clark Cole, and the late “Queen of Gospel Music,” Albertina Walker. In bold contrast, James has also worked with such intrepid artists as Weather Report bassist Alphonso Johnson, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver, Charles Gayle, Ed Shuller, Kirk Knuffke, Jason Hwang , Marilyn Crispell, Ken Filiano, Cooper Moore, Darius Jones, Eri Yamamoto, Federico Ughi, Kenny Wessel, Marvin “Bugalu” Smith, and Sabir Mateen. In addition, he has collaborated with the dance company CircuitDebris under the direction of Mersiha Mesihovic. James attended Howard University and holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.

Currently, James resides in New York City where he actively gigs as a sideman and leads his own ensembles. In NYC, he is a co-founder of “Heroes Are Gang Leaders” with poet Thomas Sayers Ellis—a collective of poets and musicians—and he is a member of the collective “Dark Matter,” a conceptual musical collaboration exploring that which is invisible but is detected by it’s gravitational effects. Outside NYC, James is an active national and international touring artist with a highly respected profile. Some career highlights are playing such esteemed festivals as Winter Jazz Festival /Sony Okeh records Showcase with William Parker and Gerald Cleaver; The Eric Dolphy Festival with an ensemble featuring Grachan Moncur III, Richard Davis, Andrew Cyrille, Angelica Sanchez , Ted Daniel , and Alfred Patterson; and Princeton University as part of Fred Ho’s “Journey to the West,” an interdisciplinary dance and music project.

James is deep in an intrepid artistic continuum that explores identity and spirituality through challenging and awe-inspiring concepts and epiphanic playing that melds formalistic technique, bold exploration, and strains of gospel and blues. Each new James Brandon Lewis release presents a rich dialogue with his audience that is both fiery and cerebral. For his third album, Days Of FreeMan, he uses ideas from 1990s hip-hop to masterfully weave together threads of cultural identity, cross-generational identity, and personal reflection.

“I didn’t grow up a hip-hop head, but where I grew up in Buffalo, New York, on Freeman Street, the sound of 1990s hip-hop was ubiquitous,” James says. “I decided to go back and explore that time through music.”

Days Of Freeman is imaginatively organized in chapters with classic hip-hop style breaks and interludes functioning as chapter breathers. Like the cross-cultural and generational mosaic on Freeman Street proper, the album invites the listener into many dialogues. It is a nod to 1990s hip-hop, and explores rhyme-scapes and the musical conventions of that golden age of hip-hop in a revolutionary way. The album also explores hip-hop as a culture through taking inspiration from the original four pillars of hip-hop: dance, rapping, graffiti, and DJ-ing. Days Of FreeMan also loosely functions as a memoir with an underlay of nostalgia for the carefree boyhood days of fly nicknames, basketball, and those first encounters with the transformative power of music. Adding to the power and emotionality of this thread on growing up, are pontifications on love, identity, and God peppered throughout the album, culled from informal conversations James recorded with his grandmother, Pearl Lewis. James’s immersive creative process to realize his vision for Days Of FreeMan include poring over hip-hop documentaries for up to eight hours a day, and dissecting albums by KRS-One, Digable Planets, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A Tribe Called Quest, Medeski, Martin & Wood, along with fearless jazz trumpeter Don Cherry’s 1985 album Home Boy and Lauryn Hill’s 1998 masterpiece The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.

How all of this preparation plays out musically is stunning. For years instrumentalists held fast to the lofty notion of “singing through the instrument,” but on Days Of FreeMan, Lewis aspires to MC through his tenor. The album’s title track perfectly captures the clipped cadence of a master MC with speech-like phrases and a long flowing solo that conjures up a blazing freestyle battle rap session. “Black Ark” traces the legacy of hip-hop from the balmy and pioneering dub explorations of Lee “Scratch” Perry in Jamaica (“Black Ark” is the name of his famed studio) to the burgeoning sounds of hip-hop blaring out in the Bronx. On “Lament for JLew,” in five vigorous minutes James ties together the dual lineages of classical music to hip-hop and classical music to rock using original classical-flavored motifs to illustrate the overlaps.The second to last track of Days Of FreeMan is the political and timely “Unarmed With A Mic” and is a reminder of hip-hop’s power as a form of protest music. On this track Lewis plays with seething sentimentality. The album concludes with “Epilogue,” a reprise of the infectious melody of the opening track “Brother 1976.”

On the album Lewis is accompanied by former Ornette Coleman Prime Time bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and Bill Frisell and Ravi Coltrane drummer Rudy Royston. Both took the weighty undertaking of album deeply, researching 1990s hip-hop jams for inspiration and vision. Their attention to the vocabulary of the era Lewis sought to explore, and their panoramic musicality and sympathetic musical skills, match James’s artistic ideal to authentically and thoroughly fuse genres and cultures without pandering to trends in jazz-groove records. The record also features a guest spot from the gifted freestyle rapper Supernatural on the track “Days Of FreeMan.”

Days of FreeMan has turned out to be one James Brandon Lewis’s most ambitious works, and, interestingly enough, his most accessible. Reflecting on this intriguing duality he says: “The artist is charged with taking creative risks, but the universe lined up this time and I was able to connect with my audience conversationally.”

The James Brandon Lewis Trio’s latest release No Filter (BNS Records, 2016) is considered “an edgy but short LP which pays respect to early 90’s hip hop, experimental jazz, and groove” by All About Jazz.

(Bio from Lewis’s website)

This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

James Brandon Lewis will be at Scholes Street Studio in Brooklyn NY on July 1.

Web Extras:

Watch the video preview of Lewis’s Days of FreeMan release.

Watch  the James Brandon Lewis Trio play live in this short clip.

Watch  Lewis play with Heroes are Gang Leaders in this live clip.

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

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