Tag Archives: jazz

Paul McCartney’s Latest

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: The beginning of Paul McCartney’s new album of classic standards begins with a swinging, jazzy prelude to “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” It sounds like the beginning of any martini party playlist, soon to be followed by the voices of Ella, Louie, Billie, Dean, Frank, or Peggy. Yet then, we hear the soft, whispering tones from the aging voice of a rock and roll legend, and the tone shifts

DAVE TOMAR: Paul McCartney looks increasingly like somebody’s grandmother. So it’s fitting that he should make a record my grandmother would love. This is no insult. My grandmother has great taste. Continue reading

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WBGO’s New Transmitter

AKIE BERMISS: For any jazz-lover in the New York City with his or her salt, WBGO 88.3FM is an old friend. For solid, mainstream jazz, it’s the place to be and has been for over 30 years.

CHRIS PUMMER: By itself at new radio transmitter sounds like a pretty reasonable investment. If you consider that as a non-commercial radio station, WBGO’s role is also as a curator of a musical form that is vanishing from commercial radio, then spending this money ensuring that people of almost all ages and economic standings can listen seems like a very good investment. Continue reading

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Amy Winehouse Perspectives

DAVE TOMAR: Kurt Cobain once wrote a song called “I Hate Myself and Want To Die.” I won’t bother telling you how the rest of that story goes. Suffice it to say though that in the annals of popular music history, those who succumb to the withering pressures of fame, addiction and depression rarely do so without first telegraphing us their intentions. Continue reading

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Double Portrait: Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes

AKIE BERMISS: As an ardent jazz fan, I have but one dirty secret: I hate piano duos. I know piano is like the mayonnaise on the sandwich of jazz… and being a piano player, you’d think I’d be all about piano duos. The more pianos the merrier! But the truth is, I’m not usually a big fan of huge piano sounds. Its so easy to over-power all the other instruments with a piano (especially in a recording environment) and sometimes the unambiguous harmonic landscape can be musically frustrating. Sometimes you just want the piano player to lay out and let the other instruments develop a dynamic.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Unlike Akie, I have no objection to the double-piano setup. I tend to think of it as akin to the writing found on Perpetual Post-divergent viewpoints on the same theme or idea. And Double Portrait is a glorious example of the form- a true musical marriage, apparent in every track on the album. Continue reading

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Hank Jones Tribute

HOWARD MEGDAL: The passing of Hank Jones is a sad one from a musical perspective alone. Jones, who died last Monday at 91, was productive right up to his passing. Few artists can claim to release ten albums after age…

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New Brad Mehldau Album

AKIE BERMISS: Jazz can be an esoteric music style. Especially in the last few years, its become harder and harder to find jazz albums that can reach across to the public at large. So frequently the instrumentation, the musical material and even the recording/mixing techniques demand a certain amount of study and familiarity from the listener. And so there are very few jazz artists who, when they release a record, have the potential to affect music across several lines of genre and taste. But if I had to pick one it’d be Brad Mehldau.

HOWARD MEGDAL: For me, Brad Mehldau often found a sweet spot between what is customarily thought of as jazz and classical music, with many little highlights throughout this album. Continue reading

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Jazz Musician Life Skills

TED BERG: After I made dinner for my wife a few months ago — I don’t even remember the meal — she asked me how I made it without the recipe and had it come out so good. I was flattered, of course, but I told her my confidence in the kitchen stemmed from my training as a jazz musician, because cooking is all about improvising.

AKIE BERMISS: There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think to myself how lucky I am to have my jazz training. And its not because I’m making good money and living high on the hog — I am , most assuredly, not — but because it has given me a rather specialized set of skills for dealing with many of daily life’s little tragedies and triumphs. Continue reading

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Nellie McKay’s New Album

AKIE BERMISS: I didn’t know very much about Nellie McKay before her latest album, Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute To Doris Day. I do know Doris Day, however. The singer who is made so many songs famous 40s and 50s. She sang, she danced, she acted the part — and she was marvelous. Curiously, there are not many Doris Day-like female roles around these days (not without having a sardonic subtext usually) and so, in many respects, she was the last of her kind. The last perfect, virginal ingenue of Hollywood’s golden era.


HOWARD MEGDAL:
I can’t remember the last time I was as excited to discover an artist. Nellie McKay will feature prominently in my 2010 playlists, and Normal as Blueberry Pie is a worthy addition to her music, which I have been discovering in reverse order or release dates. Continue reading

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