Billy Bang – 1948-2011

April 14th, 2011

Billy Bang, a violinist whose gritty, expressive and spirited playing earned admiration in contemporary jazz circles, died on Monday at his home in Harlem. He was 63. The cause was complications of lung cancer, said Jean-Pierre Leduc, his friend and agent.

Billy Bang in performance at the 2007 Earshot Jazz Festival

Photos of Billy are from his performance at the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle October, 2008.

Prominent as a bandleader and a sideman throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Mr. Bang achieved his most substantial success with the 2001 album “Vietnam: The Aftermath,” which featured music inspired by his time serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, played with peers who had also served. The album — and a 2005 sequel, “Vietnam: Reflections,” which included Vietnamese musicians — in turn inspired “Redemption Song,” a 2008 documentary film about him.

Continue reading at The New York Times.

James Moody 1925-2010

December 9th, 2010

International jazz star and acclaimed saxophonist, flutist, composer and band leader James Moody died today in San Diego. Above picture was made at the Earshot Jazz Festival in 2008 when he played with the SJRO and came out on stage with Bill Cosby.

“Mr. Moody died at 1:07 p.m. at the San Diego Hospice, according to his wife, San Diego Realtor Linda McGowan Moody, who was by his side. His death came after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

“He couldn’t have gone more peacefully,” said Mrs. Moody, who on Monday had her husband moved from their San Carlos home to the San Diego Hospice.”

Continue reading at San Diego Union-Tribune

Movie Music

December 13th, 2008

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Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra West, Wednesday, November 5, King Cat Theater

For a Seattle photographer, this was so much fun to watch and photograph this group play to these old movies. I wish they had a regular gig doing this.

New York-trumpeter Steven Bernstein conducts his fine nine-piece band, which typically explores the largely-lost music of the bluesy, loose-territory bands. Tonight he performed in accompaniment to three Laurel and Hardy silent films on the screen behind him at the King Kat Theatre and he and the band had a lot of fun with it as did the audience. The Laurel and Hardy films were classic treasures. Steven Bernstein likes to have his cake and eat it too. The Grammy-nominated trumpeter is one of the hardest-working musicians to come out of New York’s “downtown scene.” He recently released three critically-acclaimed CDs on John Zorn’s Tzadik label and has had his music featured on MTV, Saturday Night Live, and National Public Radio. His ensemble, the Millennial Territory Orchestra, is an outgrowth of his immersion in the sound of the Midwestern swing bands from Robert Altman’s movie Kansas City. The ensemble was formed in 1999 for a series of midnight shows at New York’s Tonic nightclub, and they subsequently spent a year and a half in residency at the Jazz Standard. The group, a collection of distinctive musical personalities, recently released its debut recording, MTO Vol. 1, on Sunnyside Records. This is sure to be an edge-of-your-seat performance, featuring swing band adaptations of several rock and soul genre classics, led by this wonderfully “left of center” musician.

Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography and wedding photojournalism is ranked among the best Seattle wedding photographers.

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Redux – Ravi Coltrane

December 13th, 2008

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Ravi Coltrane Quartet Thursday, October 30, Triple Door

Ravi played so sweetly I just had to post another photo of him. In retrospect it was one of the really grat shows of the 2008 Earshot jazz Festival for me.

Like his legendary father, John Coltrane, tenor and soprano saxophonist, bandleader, and composer Ravi Coltrane is dedicated to walking his own musical
path. Considered one of the driving forces in modern jazz today, Coltrane was initially influenced by soul and funk music, R&B, classical music, and film scores before beginning formal musical studies at the California Institute of the Arts in 1986.
After meeting drummer Elvin Jones in 1991, Coltrane relocated to New York, where he performed with a variety of players, including Rashied Ali, Kenny Barron,
and Steve Coleman. He toured regularly with Coleman and appeared on several of Coleman’s albums before producing his first CD, Moving Pictures, in 1997. Since then, Coltrane has produced five more albums, including Legacy, a four-disc, thematic study of his father’s career; Translinear Light, a collaborative project with his mother, pianist Alice Coltrane; and In Flux, featuring pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer E.J. Strickland – his primary ensemble since 2003.
In addition to working and touring with his band, Coltrane launched his own recording company, RKM Music, in 2002. He has also performed with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, and Branford Marsalis, among others.

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in jazz photography, photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations. He is also a Seattle wedding photographer with a subtle, unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning wedding photojournalism ranking him among the best Seattle wedding photographers.

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Roosevelt H.S. & Sean Jones

November 27th, 2008

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Sean Jones playing with the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band

Another photograph from the Earshot Jazz Festival 2008. The reigning champion of Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition, the Roosevelt Jazz Band opened the Earshot Jazz Festival at the Triple Door to a completely packed house Saturday night October 18th celebrating Seattle’s place in the great continuum of jazz.

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography and wedding photojournalism ranked among the best Seattle wedding photographers.

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Sean Jones

November 25th, 2008

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Sean Jones playing at the Triple Door with the Roosevelt H.S. Jazz Band on the opening nght of the Earshot Jazz festival Oct 18th 2008.

Over the course of his first three albums for the Mack Avenue Records label, trumpeter Sean Jones has revealed himself as among the most immensely expressive, versatile and gifted players of his generation. With each new project, the Warren, Ohio native has peeled back another layer to show us a fresh peek at his soul. His 2004 solo debut, Eternal Journey (recorded when he was 25) introduced Sean as a deft expresser of modern bop for the 21st century via originals and standards in a quintet format. His sophomore effort, Gemini, found him deftly mixing soul and funk flourishes with bop, proving he was not adverse to more contemporary textures. His last album, Roots, reflects his love of the music of the church, which he grew up singing as a child.

Now with his fourth and equally impressive release Kaleidoscope, Sean Jones adds another hue to his ever-expanding musical palette – showcasing the voices and song selections of an amazing assemblage of five top-flight singers: Gretchen Parlato, Carolyn Perteete, Sachal Vasandani, J.D. Walter, and contemporary gospel powerhouse Kim Burrell. Most of them are unknown to the majority of listeners…but not for long if Sean can help it.

“The concept of this record basically happened during a break in the sessions for Roots,” Sean shares. “(Producer) Al Pryor said it would be cool if I recorded with some vocalists next time. I was open to that, but I didn’t want to do a typical vocal record. I didn’t want that soft, run-of-the-mill love song thing you hear on the radio. And I didn’t want to grab a bunch of stars just to sell records. I wanted to create a document celebrating the vocalists of my generation – a hard-hitting project that would allow me to superimpose my sound on top of their dynamic styles.”

The instantly striking aspect of this concept is the utter generosity and deference Jones gave to both his guest vocalists and band members. “This is a collaborative project,” he states. “I believe that there is power in numbers and power in a generation, not in individuals. When I look at jazz and music in general, combined forces are much more effective than one person trying to make their testament alone. True, I am soloing on every song and there is space for me to shine but, I was more concerned with celebrating these gifted composers and vocalists. I titled the album Kaleidoscope because these artists represent the colors of my generation. And I see myself as a thread among them.”

Kaleidoscope’s opening number, “Allison,” sets the stage for Jones’ arresting first vocal forays. The piece opens as a soft, floating instrumental gradually building in intensity then introduces J.D. Walter singing a soaring wordless vocal reminiscent of the work of the pan-cultural Pat Metheny Group. “That tune is a mood,” Sean says, “a bridge built to prepare listeners for what they’re about to hear – a fresh segue from everything I’ve already done.” Regarding the title, Sean adds, “Everyone in the studio knew an Allison so we called it ‘Allison’ – a universal thing.”

The final piece is a rolling and tumbling composition of vitality from the pen of Sean’s right hand – pianist Orrin Evans – titled “The Sluice” and featuring the explosive drumming of Obed Calvaire. “A Sluice is a pathway that brings the good water from one source to another,” Sean explains. “Orrin and I dedicate that song to Professor Ralph Bowen, through whom a continuum of nothing but the good stuff flows whenever he plays.”

The same can be said of Sean Jones, a player whose style reflects Clifford Brown for technical facility, Freddie Hubbard for flowing, lyrical lines, Woody Shaw for his intervalistic approach, and Miles Davis for leadership in forward thinking and contouring the music of the eras around his singular style. Indeed, it was after a teacher gave Sean – then a fifth grader – copies of Davis’ albums Kind of Blue (1959) and Tutu (1986) that he was hooked on trumpet immediately. Lessons learned under Professor Bill Fielder were of infinite guidance to young Sean as were high school studies with Esotto Pellegrini, which led to Sean earning an undergraduate degree in classical trumpet.

Notes on Sam and his  album from Sean Jones’ website www.seanjonesmusic.com

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography and wedding photojournalism ranked among the best Seattle wedding photographers.

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Anton Goudsmit

November 21st, 2008

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Anton Goudsmit takes off at Tulas last month during the Earshot Jazz Festival playing with Eric Vloeimans Fugimundi

One of Europe’s most gifted trumpeters, the Dutchman performed Sunday night at Tula’s with his wonderful trio Fugimundi, featuring Anton Goudsmit who was astounding on guitar and Harmen Fraanje on piano. They ranged from cutting-edge jazz to hymns all presented with virtuosity, warmth, and wit. What a really special treat, and still ranks as one of my favorite performances of the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival.

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography and wedding photojournalism ranked among the best Seattle wedding photographers.

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Marcin Wasilewski Trio

November 11th, 2008

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Looking back over the festival photos, I want to post some additional pictures from concerts that there are lots of good photographs but there was  little time or room to post more than one or two on the night of the performance.

This shot of the Marcin Wasilewski Trio performing at the Triple Door Saturday, November 1, at the Triple Door is one of the first that came to mind. As Earshot Jazz Magazine described them:

“One of the most refreshing ensembles in contemporary jazz, the piano trio of Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and Michal Miskiewicz have come a long way since its formation in Poland fifteen years ago. Having developed at the young age of sixteen what would be a long-standing relationship with compatriot and acclaimed-trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, Wasilewski, and his trio, has exhibited incredible growth that has been tangible nearly every step of the way. Contributing greatly to several of Stańko’s most sublime records, and now seeking success as an autonomous unit, the Wasilewski Trio is a force on the international jazz scene, and it is certain to bring something remarkable to Seattle.
As Wasilewski reported to All About Jazz, “The music is always evolving; I don’t know when it will stop, but I hope never.” Similarly, Stańko testified that “in the entire history of Polish jazz we’ve never had a band like this one. They just keep getting better and better.” Indeed, with invigorating energy, demonstrated sensitivity and communicativeness, and a great love for adventure, the Wasilewski Trio comes to Seattle at the peak of its power – thus far.”

 

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in portrait photography, jazz photography, and photojournalism for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography.


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Toumani Diabaté

November 10th, 2008

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Toumani Diabaté Sunday, November 9, Triple Door

And so we went to the Triple Door tonight for the final concert of the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival and oh what a concert it was. Toumani Diabaté put on an ethereal performance sending the packed SRO house way out to another star system. Earhot Jazz Director John Gilbreath said later that he had never seen the Triple Door when it was so packed and yet so quiet. Everyone fell under the spell of Toumani and his magical kora. Near the end of the performance he stopped and thanked everyone and begged John to bring him back to Seattle yet again. Then he explained how to play a kora: its easy he said and not as hard as a piano. You just use four fingers – one thumb for bass, one for melody and two index fingers to improvise. “If you can play one song you are a master” he explained.

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The kora, a 21-string harp from West Africa, may strike American ears as an uncanny ancestor of a wide range of popular music from this continent. Toumani Diabaté, a virtuoso from Bamako, Mali, has done as much as any player of the instrument to bring its delights to audiences around the world.

Diabaté is from a long line of Malian griots – traditional bearers and interpreters of the country’s ancient court music and history. In fact, he can trace his family’s involvement in music back 71 generations.

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Diabaté’s the Best Of Toumani Diabaté stands out from his many other albums as the first internationally-released compilation of music by an individual kora player. In recent years he has collaborated with the likes of Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, Ballake Sissoko, Salif Keita, and Ali Farka Toure. With Farka Toure, he recorded a set of duets, In the Heart of the Moon, which won the Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2005.

Diabaté aims to open up the kora tradition to a wide variety of influences. He counts, among his inspirations, many kinds of music, including icons of American music such as Elvis, James Brown, and Louis Armstrong to name but a few.

Photographs by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in portrait photography,  jazz photography, and photojournalism  for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography.


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Bill Smith

November 9th, 2008

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Composer Bill Smith plays clarinet in the stars of the Space in the Heart: a jazzopera Friday, November 7 & Saturday, November 8, PONCHO Concert Hall, Cornish College

Space in the Heart, composed by Bill (William O.) Smith from an original libretto by Peter Monaghan and directed by Jim Horne, is not your usual musical fare. A “jazzopera” for trio and three vocalists, it tells an archetypal American tale of desire, desperation, and despair.

Smith is a renowned clarinet virtuoso, composer, and frequent collaborator with Dave Brubeck, who has long pursued a blending of jazz and new-music styles. Space in the Heart is inspired in part by the early operas of such composers as Claudio Monteverdi, with their uncluttered plots and staging, and very much by the jazz tradition. Smith’s aim has been to “achieve a new kind of opera that is simple and clear with maximum freedom for the instrumentalists, who largely improvise,” he says.
In the work – seven dramatically-sung scenes with abstract instrumental interludes
– a model astronaut, besotted with the captain of her mission, and stunned by what she learns during a space flight (that Venus is in fact not the Planet of Love), vies with a rival for the captain’s heart. The work crystallizes around classic themes – romantic love, covetousness, violence – but also such scientific realities as Venus as an acrid orb.

The score is for three outstanding vocalists and a jazz trio (including a drummer who doubles expertly on French horn). As for the plot: it may recall various actual events, but the fiction here is despite those, not directly based on them.

Featuring the Bill Smith Trio (Bill Smith, clarinet and piano; Brian Cobb, bass; Greg Campbell, drums, percussion, and French horn) and singers
Becca Friedman, Maria Mannisto, and Jordan Petersen. Directed by Jim Horne.
Presented as part of the Cornish Music Series with the support of 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Jack Straw Productions, and Artist Trust.

Click here for the complete schedule for the rest of the upcoming shows at the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival

 

Photographs by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in portrait photography, jazz photography, and photojournalism for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography.


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