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2019 Winter Jazz Fest

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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.

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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 12/23/2018 Show: Billy Hart

Photo: Billy Hart | © Girard Turner, 2017

The next show will air on Sunday December 23, 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, drummer/percussionist and educator Billy Hart. It also kicks off our coverage of the 2019 Winter Jazz Fest.

Billy Hart was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Jazz was in his blood. His family lived five blocks from the Spotlite Club, where the underage drummer pressed his ear to the window to listen to the Coltrane-Adderley-Evans edition of the Miles Davis Sextet, and the Lee Morgan-Benny Golson edition of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. His father, a mathematician and “an intellectual cat who demanded respect and knew a lot about a lot,” was a staunch Ellington fan; his paternal grandmother had played piano for Marian Anderson and knew William Grant Still. His mother was devoted to Jimmie Lunceford; his maternal grandmother—who bought him his first “good drum set for a gig with a good bebop band”—was a friend of D.C. tenor hero Buck Hill, who turned Hart on to Charlie Parker, and hired him at 17 for nine months of weekend gigs at a spot called Abart’s, where fellow McKinley High School students Reuben Brown and Butch Warren joined him six nights a week as the house rhythm section.

Hart matriculated at Howard University as a mechanical engineering major, but left when Shirley Horn, who had hired him out of Abart’s, took him on the road. Hart credits her with teaching him to play bebop at a simmer, not a roar. He also learned Brazilian rhythms from the source on early ’60s sub jobs at Charlie Byrd’s Showboat Lounge with Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and Bola Sete.

Hart apprenticed with Washington, D.C. native sons like Jimmy Cobb, Osie Johnson, Ben Dixon, Harry “Stump” Saunders and George “Dude” Brown. Through local connections, he had backstage access to the Howard Theatre, where he analyzed such master New Orleanian drummers as Idris Muhammad (the Impressions), Clayton Filliard (James Brown), Ed Blackwell and Earl Palmer (Ray Charles). In 1967, he occupied the drum chair in the theater’s house band performing with The Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave, Patti Labelle, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles among others.

He was also a sideman with Jimmy Smith (1964–1966), and Wes Montgomery (1966–1968). Following Montgomery’s death in 1968, Hart moved to New York, where he recorded with McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul, and played with Eddie Harris, Pharoah Sanders, and Marian McPartland.

In 1969, Hart joined Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking Mwandishi band and remained there for four years recording three trend-setting albums. From there he joined McCoy Tyner’s band (1973–1974) and also performed with Stan Getz (1974–1977), and Quest (1980s) in addition to extensive freelance playing and recording (including recording with Miles Davis on 1972’s On the Corner).

Howard classmate Marion Brown introduced Hart to Sunny Murray and Rashied Ali. Hart increasingly self-identified as an experimental musician, drawing on their example in a trio with Joe Chambers on piano and Walter Booker on bass. Later, during mid and late ’60s stopovers in Chicago with Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery and Eddie Harris, he attended to the “textural, timbral approaches” of AACM drummers Thurman Barker, Steve McCall and Alvin Fielder. He applied those lessons during two years with Pharoah Sanders, a period when, via percussionist Mtume, he received the sobriquet “Jabali” (Swahili for “wisdom”). Hart’s mature tonal personality—advanced grooves drawing on “some knowledge of African and Indian music, and all the American traditions”—emerged during his years with Hancock’s Mwandishi band and subsequent tenure with McCoy Tyner.

Hart drew on all these experiences in conceptualizing Enchance, his debut album as a leader and subsequently, Oshumare (1985), Rah (1987), Amethyst (1993) and Oceans of Time (1997). On each record, he assembled idiosyncratic virtuosos from different circles, each signifying a stream of cutting-edge jazz thought. Functioning more as a facilitator than a stylist, he meshed their distinctive personalities, generating fresh ideas through intense drum dialogue. Each date has a singular quality, as though Hart had conjured a unitary vision out of various strains of the zeitgeist.

Hart currently leads the Billy Hart Quartet featuring Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson and Ben Street. They have recorded three CDs, the most recent, One is the Other, is on ECM Records.

(Bio adapted from The Cookers’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.

The Billy Hart Quartet is scheduled to appear as part of the Winter Jazz Festival NYC on the ECM Records Stage at Le Poisson Rouge during the Saturday, January 12, 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 a preview of Hart’s All Our Reasons 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.

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