Fay Victor Makes Some Of PopMatters.com’s Best Jazz Of 2009

December 16, 2009

Will Layman and Andrew Zender joined forces for this year’s edition of PopMatters.com’s The Best Jazz of 2009 feature, choosing 14 recordings divided into three categories: New Piano Trios, New Groups/New Sounds and Tradition Reinterpreted.

The third category is where you’ll find our own Fay Victor, whose release, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music), made the cut on a best-of list that also includes critical favorites from Ben Allison, John Hollenbeck, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman and Henry Threadgill among others.

“She is arguably a contemporary version of Betty Carter or Abbey Lincoln,” they write, “yet she is new, too. Although she’ll have some listeners scratching their heads as she lets her story-songs meander, others will find completely irresistible her style of coiling up a melody and letting it spiral out into unpredictable directions.”

In his review earlier this year, Zender also noted Ms. Victor’s “challenging and rewarding world of captivating vocal work and stirring spontaneity,” calling her “a musician and composer who is rewriting the rules of vocal jazz.”


Fay Victor Ensemble Tonight At Roulette (NYC) + Sunday At The Rotunda (Philly)

October 1, 2009

Vocalist/composer Fay Victor and her longstanding quartet, The Fay Victor Ensemble, will celebrate their new release, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music), tonight at Roulette in New York.

A second CD release show will follow at The Rotunda in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Critical praise for the disc, and Ms. Victor’s innovative approach to creative improvised music, continues to roll in.

“Fay Victor’s second recording of original material, The FreeSong Suite, peers into the NYC-based vocalist’s challenging and rewarding world of captivating vocal work and stirring spontaneity,” explains PopMatters.com’s Andrew Zender, “further augmenting [her] status as a musician and composer who is rewriting the rules of vocal jazz.”

“Each piece on The FreeSong Suite gradually unfolds, emerging from a tapestry of improvisation to reveal precisely executed transitions, grooves and ensemble passages,” writes AllAboutJazz-New York‘s Wilbur MacKenzie. “Victor scats, vocalizes, chips, mumbles and sings bluesy chromatics or angular displays of dexterity, delivering the unexpected with beauty, depth and innovation.”

The Jazz Session‘s Jason Crane adds, “Vocalist Fay Victor will amaze you. Her voice is strong and expressive, and her musical conception is unlike anything I’ve heard recently. Or maybe ever. From free improv to the blues to alt-rock and back again, The FreeSong Suite is easily one of my top 10 records of 2009.”

Learn more at http://fayvictor.wordpress.com


PopMatters.com + The Wire Review The Fully Celebrated

August 13, 2009

PopMatters.com’s Scott Hreha and The Wire‘s Philip Clark both weighed in on The Fully Celebrated’s most recent release, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity), in reviews published this week.

Overall, the arrangements musically capture the latent humor in Hobbs’ song titles and showcase the trio’s incredible rapport.  Together, they’re able to shift on a dime from groove to freedom and back again, falling in and out of time as if affected by a constantly shifting series of magnetic fields.
Whether experimental or unadorned, the album’s production feels like a natural extension of the trio’s talent—something that forward-thinking jazz groups have been chasing since the 1960s, yet is rarely achieved.  This, together with the solid musical performances by Hobbs and his cohorts, makes Drunk On the Blood of the Holy Ones a potent concoction that will hopefully raise the “fully celebrated” of the band’s name from tongue-in-cheek irony to reality.

“Overall, the arrangements musically capture the latent humor in [Jim] Hobbs’ song titles and showcase the trio’s incredible rapport,” Hreha writes. “Together, they’re able to shift on a dime from groove to freedom and back again, falling in and out of time as if affected by a constantly shifting series of magnetic fields… a potent concoction that will hopefully raise the ‘fully celebrated’ of the band’s name from tongue-in-cheek irony to reality.”

Clark adds, “It’s kind of annoying when someone’s been making great music since 1987 but you’ve only just found out. His sharp intensity and machine gun attack when approaching abstract funk has obvious roots in Ornette’s 1980s Prime Time principles…but Hobbs’ immersion in reggae and dub soon asserts itself. ‘Reptoid Alliance’ is peppered with saxophone multiphonics that hit on the backbeats, as he grinds against bassist Timo Shanko’s and drummer Django Carranza’s funk groove.”


iC Media Poll Results: Part 2

July 20, 2009

Print publications

Today we explore the results from the second of five sections of our recent survey of 50 prominent jazz writers and editors.

This section, called Web and print habits, asked about the jazz-related publications, blogs and Web sites these professionals are reading, how they access them, and if what they read there impacts their own work.

As shown in the chart above, we first asked respondents to indicate which of the eight major jazz magazines they read on a regular basis. The list, which featured English-language publications only, included AllAboutJazz-New York, Cadence, DownBeat, Jazz Improv, Jazziz, JazzTimes, Signal To Noise and The Wire. We also made it possible for people to write-in any other publications as well.

The clear winner was AllAboutJazz-New York with 54.5%. The runner-up was Signal to Noise with 51.5%, followed by DownBeat and JazzTimes, which each scored 48.5%. The Wire (39.4%) and Cadence (18.2%) were next, while Jazziz and Jazz Improv each scored less than 10%.

One write-in vote each was cast for Cuadernos de JazzCoda, Improjazz, Jazz Journal and Ritmos del Mundo.

Print influence

We then asked if the coverage in these publications influenced the respondent’s own work (i.e. discovering new releases, coloring their judgement of artists/releases, etc.).

The results (above) were clear as 85.3% answered in the affirmative.

Web sites

Next we asked which jazz-related Web sites respondents visit on a regular basis, again spotlighting eight popular choices and giving people the chance to write-in any others they prefer.

AllAboutJazz.com was the clear favorite with 77.4%, with AllMusic.com finishing a close second with 61.3%. Next came Bagatellen with 32.3%, followed by Jazz.com and NPR Music, which each earned 29%. Avant Music News (16.1%), Jazz Corner (12.9%) and PopMatters (6.5%) also got multiple votes.

A significant number of write-in votes were cast for blogs, which we tackle in the next question, but Point of Departure was a popular choice (an admitted oversight on our part), as were Pitchfork and Dusted.

Web influence

Again, the majority (82.4%) indicated that the content of these sites influence their own work.

When tackling the subject of blogs, we asked respondents to list five of their favorites. Oddly enough, more than half skipped this question completely, and only 37.5% filled in all five slots. Some even dedicated one or more of the slots to expressing their dislike for reading and/or discussing blogs at all.

The calculations don’t apply to write-ins, but the most popular choices were Destination: Out, Do The Math, Free Jazz, Jazz Beyond Jazz, Lerterland and Secret Society.

Blog influence

But this time, when we asked if what they read on these blogs influenced their own work, only 44.4% said yes.

Blog access

When it comes to accessing the blogs they read, the Web is by far the most popular way with 94.1% giving that answer. Using a built-in blog reader in one’s browser and using a stand-alone RSS feed reader represented the rest of the vote with 8.8% each.

Twitter account

Finally, we asked if any of the respondents have a Twitter account.

Unlike with the blogs, everyone who took the survey answered this question, but only 35.3% said yes.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the third section of our survey, Personal Listening Habits, which features questions about writers’ interaction with jazz radio, their preferences for format (CD, MP3 and vinyl) when purchasing music for personal use, and the amount of music they purchase in a given year.

Please stay tuned!


Farmers By Nature Reviewed At PopMatters.com

March 19, 2009

Scott Hreha weighs in on the latest AUM Fidelity release, Farmers By Nature (AUM 053), in his review for PopMatters.com, posted March 18th.

He writes, “this 65-minute improvised set by drummer Gerald Cleaver, bassist William Parker and pianist Craig Taborn is a success of the highest order.  It’s an auspicious debut to say the least…establishing the trio as a powerful entity via the formidable amount of magic that transpires throughout the performance.”


Shakti Reviewed At PopMatters.com

February 19, 2009

“Words themselves seem unable to capture the spirit of free jazz or to describe the sound of the music, especially when performed by such a master as tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and his combo,” writes PopMatters.com’s Steve Horowitz in his review of Shakti (AUM Fidelity).

“The instrumentalists create with an insistent intensity as they journey to the singular aim of transcendence. The music comes across as imminent and immanent. Shakti operates as a call to remind people of their deeper essences.”


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