Tag Archives: gretchen parlato

This Week’s Jazz Internet Wrap-Up

Esperanza Spalding got nudged further into the mainstream by earning herself a sizable chunk of real estate in the NY Times Fashion supplement, T. What’s it like to rock a $14K de la Renta?

NPR helped Bernie Worrell funk his way through “All The Things You Are.” What would Bird say?

Pi Recordings got a well-deserved moment in the sun with a Times biz profile. If it ever goes sour for Yulun and Seth, they could perhaps sell their entire imprint on Craig’s List, like Black Jazz was trying to do. Nate offered a little Pi interview lagniappe on his blog.

Speaking of Pi, Fieldwork (Iyer/Lehman/Sorey) packed The Stone for four sets. Told you they’d be good. Don’t miss Liberty Ellman on Saturday.

Darcy James Argue launched the site for Brooklyn Babylon, his multi-media collaboration with visual artist Danijel Zezelj. It unites projected animation, live painting, and an original score performed by Argue’s ever-impressive big band, Secret Society.

A Blog Supreme reported on the Jazz Audience Initiative’s provocative finding about the demographics of jazz ticket-buyers. Kids & kash are the koncerns.

Chris Barton says that the Joni/jazz affair in L.A. was a success in the large. I would like to have seen Kurt Elling bounce through “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines.”

Jason Crane’s 301st Jazz Session show connected with the inimitable Jamie Saft, who explained his ravishing New Zion Trio disc, working with Zorn, and getting a great sound in the studio. No mention of Spanish Donkey‘s disturbing grandeur Here’s a chunk of their world debut.

Kurt Gottschalk threw us to Dangerous Minds who threw us to a very cool, and very percussive, Sun Ra clip.

Herbie Hancock announced a solo tour, featuring both electric and acoustic keybs. In a new interview, he recalls when Miles made him take up the Rhodes.

The Voice interviewed Jenny Scheinman about her Mischief & Mayhem group, and she told ’em about feathers falling out of the sky. I went to the show and clocked these three high points. Josh Jackson and company went to the show and brought it to the planet in real time (and archived time). Fred Kaplan went as well; seems he truly enjoyed himself.

In the midst of what’s been kinda/sorta deemed a vibraphone resurgence, Roy Ayers talked about Lionel Hampton. And in the midst of mucho pop competition, Christian McBride’s big band disc was the only jazz title to be included in Billboard’s Fall Album Preview.

Nate Chinen guided us in the right direction vis a vis New York jazz options during the next seven days.  He also reflected on some of the music that changed his life.

@peterhum found a restaurant called Thelonious Monkfish and @destinationout and others messed around with the #jazzrestaurants meme for a bit. A certain gentleman might have won with “Lenny White Castle.”

A new short-form documentary about David S. Ware was announced. “I work on concepts,” says the saxophonist. He also plays “My Ship” quite nicely. Doc hits  right here on August 30. New solo disc Organica, comes out on AUM Fidelity on October 25.

Terrell Stafford was applauded by his Temple bosses for helping kids on the edjumacation trip. A simple spin through this baby right here would teach young trumpeters a thing or two as well.

David Amram talked about French horn, pennywhistle and poetry. Speaking of poetry, Crane was inspired by Cervini.

We were reminded of the precious little time left for the streaming of the Robert Glasper /Darcy James Argue show. And there’s only 10 days left to get Steve Swell’s latest project off the ground.

Tom Hull applied a grade to a long list of new discs. I agree with him on the Eliane Elias title (not the “pale and purple” part, the guitar and percussionist part), but I would have nudged Chris Dingman’s disc a tad higher. Phil Freeman scrutinized the SFE’s extended work on Clean Feed, Positions & Descriptions.

@geniusbastard reminded his twitter stream that Kind of Blue dropped on August 17.  I played “Blue In Green” for the 12,134th time, and asked people to weigh in on their favorite moments from the disc.

Destination Out dropped some rare Jeanne Lee into our pockets. You do know they have tons of great FMP titles, right?

Jazz Times had Randy Brecker choose 10 key Lee Morgan tracks. Yep, he chose a Beatles tune.

Ted Gioia reminded us about Mingus’ thoughts on cat poop. Eat that chicken?

Mike Pride’s new edition of From Bacteria To Boys got a pat on the back from the Times.

Nat Hentoff talked BeanTown roots in Jazz Times.

Bruce Forman knows how to substitute a chord and how to twirl a lasso. Wonder if Bucky Pizzerelli can handle a six-shooter? We know these guys can.

McCoy Tyner was reported to be returning to Cape Town. After playing the NYC Blue Note, of course.

The Konceptions series at Korzo in Brooklyn kept on being excellent.

Red Barat’s “Chaal Baby” is used as the music bed in the new season of Its’ Always Sunny in Philadelphia promo clip.

The Monk Institute stressed their upcoming bash. All hail Aretha! This San Diego piano whiz is involved. Speaking of young talents

Eugene Holly wrote up the Mosaic MJQ box. Mr Whitehead had something to say about it recently, too.

Larry Applebaum gave Gretchen Parlato a run around the course. She did just fine. Howard Reich went to see Donald Harrison mess around with Bird. He did just fine.

Terence Blanchard talked Spike Lee and Clifford Brown. And then he told the L.A. Weekly his five fave film soundtracks. Can you guess the top dog?

Improvisers from the Pine Tree State brought Ellington to the hinterland. Maybe Bill McHenry will work some Duke into the set when he plays at the Barncastle, in Blue Hills, Maine, tonight. He’s joined by RJ Miller and fried shrimp addict, Jamie Saft. Did they get free rooms?

Ted Panken celebrated Mal Waldron’s birthday by sharing archival interviews. The beauty of the pianist’s music piqued Hank Shteamer’s interest and he evoked Ethan Iverson’s poetic investigation of his hero’s work. Here’s  one by Mal I’ve always liked.

Ian Patterson dug deep into trumpeter Cuong Vu. He asked about Pat Metheny, but not about that Jackson Browne cover.

I dropped a stream of Bill Frisell doing “Revolution” from the upcoming All We Are Saying. I also spent time having AccuJazz’s AACM channel wash over me. I forgot that they can claim two Mitchells.

George Colligan reflected on working with Gary Bartz.  Earlier in the summer an elated Bill Frisell, part of McCoy Tyner’s ensemble that particular week, said to me, “I get to work with Gary Bartz!!”

Alex W. Rodriguez put his writing career on hold and ponders how the jazz corner of Blogville has changed in the last two years.

Nicolas Payton wanted us to watch Miles having it out with Harry Reasoner. Harry: “Are you anti-white?” Miles: “Not all the time.”

Hear And Now: Keller, Caves, Cook and Le Noise

Vivian Girls is a trio that has helped bring shrugged-off vocals, Spector-esque echo, and Shaggs-like naïveté to the forefront of the Brooklyn indie scene. The band revels in all things rudimentary, casting their bubblegum tunes in a dreamy haze. On the new Share The Joy (Polyvinyl) things are stretched a bit. Vamps are extended, strums are repeated, and it’s not long before a contoured drone emerges and the forlorn emotions explode (“No, you’ll never be in his arms again!” shouts singer Cassie Ramone at one point). Call ‘em a postmodern Shangri-Las with a My Bloody Valentine crush.  Next week they’re out schooling the West Coast.

Kinda rustic, mostly acoustic, the Cave Singers’ music boasts a pastoralism that has a slightly eerie feel – yes, Bon Iver has cast a shadow in many places. Maybe bassist Derek Fudesco, late of Pretty Girls Make Graves, wanted to retreat from the squall his old band was known for. The new No Witch (Jagjaguwar) is a smidge more aggressive than its predecessors, but the droning riffs and backwoods vocals still forward an utterly inviting, if slight ominous, tone. See “Haller Lake” for details, and expect some Bert Jansch mysterioso at different junctures along the way.


Gretchen Parlato applies herself to every aspect of a groove, one reason why she woos so many new fans with each gig. The jazz vocalist’s win at the 2004 Thelonious Monk competition promised a lot, and she has fulfilled on the expectations, flexing her improviser muscles and taking musical chances (it’s not every singer who jumps into Ellington’s “Azure” and Wayne Shorter’s “JuJu”) rather than simply following the path of a saloon singer. On the new The Lost and the Found (Oblique) she gets rather dreamy, making Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years” seem like jazzy pillow talk and bringing Miles’ “Blue In Green” into a hothouse atmosphere.

There’s a cool transition taking place in Wye Oak‘s songs these days. Ebbing are the spectral drones that have something to do with ancient rural music, tones that were intact around the time of 2008’s If Children. If you heard that disc you might know what I’m talking about, that blend of Sandy Denny and the Raincoats that was meshed into the Sonic Youth atmospherics the band are still refining, even on the new Civilian (Merge). This is good. It means Jenn Wasner and Andrew Stack are a moving target: unsettled, curious, and rather fascinating.

I like the bandito masks on the threesome that grace the cover of Keller WilliamsThief (Sci Fidelity). But the wry guitarist-vocalist needn’t allude to burglary to explain his new disc of cover songs. It’s more like he’s just borrowing these tunes for a few minutes. Of course, the Williams wit is in full play here. Thief takes on the Dead’s “Mountains of the Moon,” Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy,” and Amy Winehouse’s signature tune, but they’re all being played bluegrass style. It’s a nifty little dalliance for the jam band scene’s most inventive singer-songwriter, who must be going through a  Kris Kristofferson phase (the disc includes two tracks by the country music veteran). Maybe it’s supposed to be a bookend for Williams’ new tots album, Kids (Sci Fidelity), which also give him a chance to flaunt that famous silly side on subjects ranging from soapy baths to car seats to mommy’s flatulence.

The New York Times returns from SXSW and makes a proclamation: one of the festival’s most impressive “baby bands” was The Joy Formidable. The Welsh threesome likes its squall supersized, so The Big Roar (Canvasback/Atlantic) is certainly an appropriate title for their new disc. Like Paramore’s Haley Williams fronting My Bloody Valentine, TJF’s Ritzy Bryan leads her team through epic explosions that are charged by the action of drummer Matt Thomas, who Rolling Stone has compared to Keith Moon. Yes, he’s a master of hyper-pummel. “We do lean towards a slightly metal aesthetic when it comes to drums,” says Bryan, “which makes it very loud and heavy and all the things we want to be as a live entity.” Here’s a power trio that sculpts its dynamics from both Anthrax and Sonic Youth; no wonder The Big Roar takes over a room when it’s properly cranked up.

The most imaginative artists have ways of transforming the commonplace – like Brad Mehldau momentarily respinning “Martha, My Dear” as a jittery minuet. The celebrated pianist is one of the young masters working in jazz these days. On the new Live in Marciac (Nonesuch) he proves just how long his reach is. A double-disc (+DVD) of solo inventions recorded live at the French jazz festival, it captures a performance that gracefully switches gears a number of times. In an excursive rhapsody, the pianist moves from “My Secret Heart” to “Exit Music (For A Film)” to “Lithium.” Mehldau has made hay with pop tunes at various career junctures. But here it’s the originals that do most of the seducing.

An Horse does a lot with a little. A pummel here, a clang there and all of a sudden there’s lots of liftoff for the Australian duo of singer/guitarist Kate Cooper and drummer/singer Damon Cox. On the new Walls (Mom & Pop) there are several moments that streamline the rather gnarled stuff the band built its rep on. That kind of smoothing out has only refined the music’s impact however. “Trains and Tracks” is a gallop that manages to take off with a wonderful swooooosh. How it gets from horses to jet aircraft I still haven’t been able to decipher.


Elizabeth Cook wants to deliver the booty, but demands that her man put down the beer beforehand. Sometimes the suds get in the way of the lovin’, and Cook, a superb country singer, ain’t shy about canceling the wild thing if her guy’s a bit groggy. Or so says “Yes To Booty” from Welder (31 Tigers). Elsewhere, the hottie with the enticing nasal voice also has no problem jump-starting a date night with her spouse by adapting the ancient role of girlfriend. Tight jeans, different hairstyle, and no talk of the day-to-day bugaboos that chip away at the lusty side of romance – it all adds up as a chance to relax a bit.  Cook’s an expert at scrutinizing such domestic scenarios. She offers snapshots of a mom’s funeral, a sister’s junk use, and the attractions of a ne’er do well boyfriend who drives her around in an El Camino. And she’s good at pining. “I’m Beginning To Forget” has  made it to my boo-hoo playlist.

Working through a mysterious vibe, Brooklyn’s Callers are fetching because of what they don’t reveal. Their music might be a dissonant murmur of guitar strings, a flourish of tom-tome pummels, or a crushing cloud of silence. All this gives singer Sarah Lucas plenty of elbow room. She came up not in rock bands but in choirs, singing gospel music, and she has a voice like a trumpet, as clear as the music she applies it to is hard to nail down, especially on the newish Life of Love (Western Vinyl). Maybe this will help: At the record’s center is an update of Wire’s “Heartbeat.” It’s gnarled and glistening and fascinated with itself. “I am mesmerized by the sounds of my own beat” sings Lucas with a Phoebe Snow clarion vibe. She’s a siren, twisting her voice in enough ways to help ensnare all who pass her way.

You come across a song named “Godley Intersex,” and you basically assume it’s by Prince. After all, the R&B rapscallion has long conflated the deity and the dirty stuff. But On False Priest (Polyvinyl) Of Montreal boss Kevin Barnes gets awfully Purple himself, and he sounds rather convincing doing so. Or at least amusing. “Godley Intersex” is one of the record’s high points. The band’s perpetual morphing as been a positive evolution for the most part, with Of Montreal moving away from a thin indie sound that was too twee for its own good to a beat-savvy groove thing that places motor mouth fabulousness next funky-butt godliness. Barnes got producer Jon Brion to bolster his designs and keep a reign on the extradelica, and since he’s a master at both, False Priest became a sensual surprise that tickled longtime Of Montreal fans and newcomers alike.

“Walk with me,” invites Neil Young at the start of his latest disc, Le Noise (Reprise). It’s occasionally been a tough road for longtime fans of the veteran rocker, but those who have hung tough have been treated to some of the most visceral and eccentric performances the music has to offer. The 65-year-old is awash with ideas, and puts project after project into motion as if whimsy was his only guide. The new disc finds Young simultaneously working both trad and experimental modes. He performs confessional and observational tunes alone on guitars, but producer Daniel Lanois twiddles enough knobs to effectively psychedelicize the resulting sound, looping, chopping and stretching Young’s voice and instruments. As he moves through the program, which recalls his early days of paranoia, our government’s obsession with war, and the ecological grave we’re digging for ourselves, he takes on the role of a fearless doer, whose warts-and-all approach still has a visceral kick and a sonic palette like no other.