John Medeski, the keyboardist of the jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood will soon be releasing his first solo album, A Different Time, in the early part of April. He’ll be releasing the debut under the Okeh imprint which will mark the historic comeback of the label which was a one time home to jazz greats and pioneers Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, King Oliver, and Sidney Bechet amongst others. When asked about his creative process whi le working on this album Medeski said, “it was a little scary to put this out because it’s so meditative and contemplative.” In comparison to the other work of the Jazz Trio, Medeski’s solo project promises to be much more introspective. For more information on the upcoming album and tour dates please visit www.johnmedeski.com
Donald Byrd, the jazz trumpeter who’s influence spanned numerous generations of Black musical expression, passed away on February 4th in Dover Delaware at the age of 80. Amidst the 40’s and 50’s Byrd played on more than 50 albums and was a key contributor in the evolution of “Hard Bop.” When asked of Byrd’s influence, fellow trumpeter Nicholas Payton said, “he was a lyrical player, a very economical player, a very thoughtful player…he was one of the real melody-makers at that time” In the early part of the 60’s Byrd released A New Perspective an album which spiked his popularity. It featured a gospel choir on the album at a time when he felt as if Jazz was losing touch with the Black community; A New Perspective was credited with closing that gap. To read more about the life and times of the legendary Donald Byrd visit NPR by clicking the link below
Africasacountry.com recently sat down with South African Jazz Sensation Shane Cooper.. Shane Cooper is a bassist and electric music producer featured in bands like Babu as well as the Kyle Shepherd Trio. And recently awarded the Stanard Bank Young Artist Award in the Jazz category. To read about Cooper’s insights into South African Jazz hit the link below.
On March 12th the Pat Metheny Group will be releasing their latest concert DVD entitled, “We Live Here – Live in Japan.” This video features footage footage from the landmark concert the trio performed in Japan during their “We Live Here” tour following a previous hiatus by the group. To see the lineup of features as well as the track list check out the link below:
NPR Recently did a piece on the late J-Dilla and the influence that he had on not only Hip-Hop but Jazz as well. J-Dilla’s influence is attributed to his use of samples from across numerous genres of music, most of which Jazz. His sampling has been attributed to bringing contemporary jazz and its artists closer to the mainstream as the two genres intertwine. Jazz drummer Karriem Riggins was quoted saying, “Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams and Miles [Davis] they’re all in the same category to me.” What set Dilla apart was his incredibly extensive vinyl collection which ranges across multiple genres and musical disciplines. To read more on J-Dilla and his contributions to Hip-Hop, Jazz, and more click the link below
Jane Monheit will be releasing, ”Heart of the Matter,” her 11th CD on April 17th. On the forthcoming project Monheit pays homage to a variety of musical legends across genres, some of which include The Beatles, Buffy St. Marie, and Ivan Lins. Monheit even goes so far as to feature her take on the Sesame Street classic, “Sing” as the outro for her album. Monheit’s upcoming album features a variety of performers including pianists Michael Kanan and Gil Goldstein and guitarist Romero Lubambo amongst others. For more info on Ms. Monheit’s upcoming album release and the tour that will accompany hit the link below
On February 2nd, My Bloody Valentine dropped, “mbv” their first album in 22 years. Fans took to the internet to download the long awaited comeback album. Amongst those who eagerly awaited the release were some of NPR’s own writers and contributors. To read about their experiences giving MBV its first spins hit the link below.
Last Monday marked the grand opening of the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco, California. On January 23rd some of the genres biggest names came together to commemorate the opening of the SF Jazz Center roughly 30 years after the organization hosted its first concerts. Some of the artists on hand included Esperanza Spalding, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Bobby Hutcherson, Mary Stallings, John Handy, Pete Escovedo, and Eric Reed. In case you missed it NPR has posted an audio recording of the entire concert, give it a listen by clicking the photo below
NPR recently reviewed Heavy Flowers, the U.S. debut release by Johannes Sigmond who goes by the moocher “Blaudzun.” The CD features a range of folk music sounds which NPR attributes to Sigmond’s voice which at one moment can favor a falsetto sound but also has the, “capacity for bigness, muscularity.” Click the photo below to check out Sigmond’s U.S. debut before it drops tomorrow in stores nationwide.
1993 was a groundbreaking year in music thanks to the likes of Snoop Dogg, Queen Latifah, and a Tribe Called Quest, amongst others. These influential artists and groups released albums which virtually shaped a completely new sound and it’s because of them that NPR has dubbed 1993, “Rap’s Greatest Year.” 20 years later many of these albums are still in rotation and NPR has begun there series about Rap’s Greatest Year with the Album that started it all, The Chronic by Dr. Dre. The Chronic served as a voice for Black America at the time, a people who were still up in arms following the race riots that descended on LA following the acquittal of the four police officers responsible for the beating of Rodney King. It featured a variety of sounds; tracks like, “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” were meant to speak on the trying times while others like, “Let Me Ride” were there to provide an emotional release. For more information on this first installment in NPR’s Rap’s Greatest Year series click the image below
2013 looks to be an incredibly promising year for artists and fans across all genres. To help you navigate the upcoming albums Spin Magazine recently released their 50 albums you must listen to in 2013. Some of the standouts on the countdown included Major Lazer the up and coming pop-hop group as well as David Bowie and Azalea Banks the British rap star who recently graced the cover Spin Magazine. For a complete rundown of who to listen for in 2013 check out the link below
The talented Diane Reeves is set to kick off her upcoming international tour with a performance at Carnegie Hall. Reeves will be accompanied by a talented assortment of musicians including keyboardist Peter Martin, guitarist Romero Lumbabo, bassist Reginald Veal, as well as special guests Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and George Duke to the stage. During the tour she’ll be making stops in Geneva, Brussels, and Toronto before returning to the US and performing in Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
If January is any indication of the year to come in new music, we are expecting big things from some of our favorite artists. The year gets started with Ra Ra Riot, a band with ties to Syracuse, and the release of their third album “Beta Love”. The album promises “sweeping changes” to their signature sound according to band member Mathieu Santos. The album drops January 22nd. Click the pic to learn more.
Canadian twin sister duo Tegan and Sara will release “Heartthrob”, their seventh album at the end of January. The single “Closer” gives some indication that this effort will lean closer to pop than rock and that’s OK with us. They have an infectious sound that’s hard to shake once it’s in your system. Click the pick to learn more.