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Winter Jazzfest 2016

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January 10, 2016 Show: James Blood Ulmer

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Photo: James “Blood” Ulmer at the 2014 Vision Festival. | Joyce Jones. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Some Rights Reserved.
 
The next show will air on Sunday, January 10, 2015 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 will feature an interview with composer, guitarist and Blues man James Blood Ulmer, who is one of the artists lined up to be featured during the 2016 Winter Jazz Festival. This program will close out our series focusing on the festival, which starts on January 13.
 

 
James “Blood” Ulmer is one of the few exceptions — an outside guitarist who has forged a style based largely on the traditions of African-American vernacular music. Ulmer is an adherent of saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman’s vaguely defined Harmolodic theory, which essentially subverts jazz’s harmonic component in favor of freely improvised, non-tonal, or quasi-modal counterpoint. Ulmer plays with a stuttering, vocalic attack; his lines are frequently texturally and chordally based, inflected with the accent of a soul-jazz tenor saxophonist. That’s not to say his sound is untouched by the rock tradition — the influence of Jimi Hendrix on Ulmer is strong — but it’s mixed with blues, funk, and free jazz elements. The resultant music is an expressive, hard-edged, loudly amplified hybrid that is, at its best, on a level with the finest of the Harmolodic school.
 
Ulmer began his career playing in funk bands, first in Pittsburgh (1959-1964) and later around Columbus, OH (1964-1967). Ulmer spent four years in Detroit before moving to New York in 1971. He landed a nine-month gig at the famed birthplace of bop, Minton’s Playhouse, and played very briefly with Art Blakey. In 1973, he recorded with the ex-John Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali and his Quintet on the Survival label. That same year, he hooked up with Ornette Coleman, whose concept affected Ulmer’s music thereafter. The guitarist’s recordings from the late ’70s and early ’80s exhibit a unique take on his mentor’s aesthetic. His blues and rock-tinged art was, if anything, more raw and aggressive than Coleman’s free jazz and funk-derived music (a reflection, no doubt, of Ulmer’s chosen instrument), but no less compelling from either an intellectual or an emotional standpoint. In 1981, Ulmer led the first of three record dates for Columbia, which helped to expose his music to a wider public. Around this time Ulmer began an association with tenor saxophonist David Murray, bassist Amin Ali, and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson. As the Music Revelation Ensemble, this intermittent assemblage (with various other members added and subtracted) would produce a number of intense, free-blowing albums over a span of almost two decades.
 
Ulmer’s work has varied in quality over the years. In 1987, with the cooperative group Phalanx (George Adams, tenor sax; Sirone, bass; and Rashied Ali, drums), Ulmer drew successfully on the free jazz expressionism that made his name. His ’90s recordings with the Music Revelation Ensemble showed him still capable of playing convincingly in that vein.
 
Ulmer dug deeply into an investigation of the blues as the century turned. First he recorded Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions with guitarist Veron Reid both performing and producing. The album also starred veteran Ulmer sideman Charles Burnham on violin. In 2003, Ulmer issued No Escape From the Blues, recorded at Electric Lady studio. A thoroughly psychedlic funky take on the genre, Reid and Burnham were present in the same roles once more, and old friend Olu Dara stopped in to contribute as well. In 2005, Blood released Birthright, on Joel Dorn’s Hyena label. It is easily his most intimate recording. Completely solo in the studio (Reid once again produced), it contains ten orignals and two covers of classic reportoire and takes Blood’s blues journey to an entirely new level.
 
Bio adapted from Allmusic.
 
Ulmer will take the stage during the first of the marathon nights at the Winter Jazz Festival on Friday, January 15, 9:00 p.m. at the New School Auditorium, 66 West 12 Street.
 
This program is engineered, produced, hosted 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 2016 Winter Jazz Fest runs from January 13-17 at several locations in Greenwich Village. See the full schedule and artist lineup at their website. Head on over to our blog for previews, our annual cheat sheet to selected acts, and a full review when it wraps up.
 
Web Extras
 
Watch Ulmer perform live at the 2015 Skopje Jazz Festival.
 

 
Watch Ulmer perform “Are you Glad to be in America” live.
 

 
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 12/27/15 Show: Winter Jazz Fest/ Julian Lage

Julian_Lage
Photo: Julian Lage. | Mike Bouchard via Flickr. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Some Rights Reserved.
 
The next show will air on Sunday, December 27, 2015 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 will feature an interview with composer and guitarist Julian Lage, who is one of the artists lined up to be featured during the 2016 Winter Jazz Festival held in January. This program is a second in the series that Suga’ will focus on the 2016 Winter Jazz Festival.
 

 
Julian Lage is somewhat of a child prodigy — playing his instrument at the age of five and performing in public a year later. Shortly thereafter, Lage began playing with such renowned artists as Carlos Santana (when he was only eight years old!), Pat Metheny, Kenny Werner, Toots Thielemans, Martin Taylor, and David Grisman, among others, resulting in Lage being the subject of the 1997 Academy Award-nominated documentary film Jules at Eight. In addition to performing, Lage has recorded as a duo with Grisman (the 1999 release Dawg Duos), and contributed a fine cover of “In a Sentimental Mood” with Martin Taylor and David Grisman, to the 2000 compilation Acoustic Disc: 100% Handmade Music, Vol. 5. Lage has also appeared at numerous jazz concerts/festivals, including the St. Louis Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and even performed at the 2000 Grammy Awards. In 2009, Lage released his debut solo album, Sounding Point, on Emarcy. The album was widely celebrated as the arrival of a new and authoritative voice on the instrument.
 
This was followed by the concept offering Gladwell in 2011. He fronted a quintet that featured bassist Jorge Roeder, tenor saxophonist Dan Blake, cellist Aristides Rivas, and drummer/percussionist Tupac Mantilla.
 
Lage switched labels for the 2013 Free Flying release on Palmetto Records. It was recorded in duet with pianist Fred Hersch.
 
The duo format apparently agreed with Lage, though its focus shifted a bit. In 2014 he issued two such albums; the first was Avalon with guitarist Chris Eldridge. Produced by the Milk Carton Kids’ Kenneth Pattengale, it contained bluegrass, folk, jazz, and classic pop standards; the pair called it a “love letter to the acoustic guitar.” In late November, Room, with fellow jazz guitarist Nels Cline, appeared on Mack Avenue. Its focus was on a range of material, from intricately composed and complex works to free and spontaneous improvisations.
 
Lage’s most recent release is a solo guitar recording titled World’s Fair on Modern Lore Records in February 2015. Many of these selections will be played during his set as he opens for Channeling Coltrane: Rova’s Electric Ascension during the closing evening of the Winter Jazz Festival on Sunday, January 17.
 
This program is engineered, produced, hosted 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 2016 Winter Jazz Fest runs from January 13-17 at several locations in Greenwich Village. See the full schedule and artist lineup at their website. The next Suga’ show will feature our final installment of artists at the festival with guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer. Head on over to our blog for previews, our annual cheat sheet to selected acts, and a full review when it wraps up.
 
Web Extras
 
Watch Lage perform live at the 2012 Winter 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 and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 12/13/15 Show: Winter Jazz Fest/Brice Rosenbloom

Brice_Kamasi_475
Photo: Brice Rosenbloom (L) and saxophonist Kamasi Washington. | Joyce Jones. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Some Rights Reserved.
 
The next show will air on Sunday, December 13, 2015 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 will feature an interview with Brice Rosenbloom: organizer and producer of the 2016 Winter Jazz Fest held in January. This program kicks off a series of Suga’ Festival coverage.
 

 
In 2005, the Winter Jazz Fest was established to give greater exposure to Jazz in New York and beyond. What started as a one-night festival featuring 19 groups has grown into four-day festival that lights up 10 venues with 100+ acts.
 
Live music promoter and event producer Brice Rosenbloom is the Co-Artistic Director of Le Poisson Rouge and founder of the NYC Winter Jazzfest. His company, Boom Collective, presents hundreds of concerts a year in venues all over New York City.
 
As an active presence in New York’s vibrant cultural scene, Rosenbloom curated the intimate MAKOR music series beginning in 1999, nurturing developing artists. Rosenbloom then collaborated for a year working shoulder-to-shoulder with Wynton Marsalis to establish the launch season of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Rose Hall at the Time Warner Center.
 
From there Rosenbloom continued overseeing a myriad of bookings with artists at the iconic Knitting Factory in 2005. Rosenbloom was then inspired towards the creation of the NYC Winter Jazzfest, which he produces with concert promoter Adam Schatz.
 
Rosenbloom’s prolific booking expertise within clubs and concert halls is complemented by artistic curating credentials in the performing arts world, representing varied interests in jazz, world, experimental, rock, electronic, and emerging contemporary music.
 
We’ll talk festival history and the logistics of putting on the event, preview the next festival, and play music from some of the participating artists such as saxophonist Kamasi Washington (see our previous show on him), trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, and much more!
 
This program is engineered, produced, hosted 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 2016 Winter Jazz Fest runs from January 13-17 at several locations in Greenwich Village. See the full schedule and artist lineup at their website. The next two Suga’ shows will feature coverage of artists at the festival. Head on over to our blog for previews, our annual cheat sheet to selected acts, and a full review when it wraps up.
 
Web Extras
 
Watch the official Winter Jazz Fest 2015 recap video.
 

 
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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