Roy Campbell’s Akhenaten Ensemble at The Stone November 25th

November 24, 2008

On Tuesday, November 25th at 10:00 p.m., trumpeter/composer Roy Campbell will perform music from his March 2008 release, Akhenaten Suite (Arts for Art/Aum Fidelity), at The Stone in New York.  His Akhenaten Ensemble will feature Billy Bang (violin), Bryan Carrott (vibes), William Parker (bass) and Zen Matsuura (drums). 

Critics called Akhenaten Suite “a major statement ” (Ed Hazell, Signal to Noise), “a thoroughly refreshing album on several counts” (Bill Shoemaker, PointofDeparture.org) and “a fully formed suite, one which is worth repeated listening sessions” (Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz.com).  “Campbell’s is a disciplined band serving composition and improvisation with great maturity,” added Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise, “and Akhenaten Suite is a finely written and performed work from an artist in his prime.”


Michael Musillami Trio + 3 To Make New York Debut, Record New CD in Early 2009

November 20, 2008

 

On Saturday, January 31st, guitarist/composer Michael Musillami‘s newest ensemble, the Michael Musillami Trio + 3, will make its New York debut at Cornelia Street Cafe.  The group will be performing new original music, which it will then record the following day for its forthcoming May 2009 release on Playscape Recordings.  The Michael Musillami Trio + 3 augments Musillami’s longstanding core trio, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich and vibraphonist Matt Moran.

“Guitarist Musillami is really on a roll lately, documenting a number of high quality sessions on his Playscape label,” declared Cadence reviewer Jason Bivins.  Critics called his latest, 2007’s The Treatment, featuring his trio with violinist Mark Feldman, “scintillating and provocative” (Bill Milkowski, Absolute Sound), “an intensely rewarding and conceptually promising avenue for the future of jazz” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “as convincing a statement of what’s still possible with the instrumentation as anything I’ve heard in years” (Brian Morton, PointofDeparture.org).  It was also included in best-of-the-year lists in AllAboutJazz.com, Cadence, Coda, the Hartford Courant, Jazz Review and the Village Voice.

Musillami himself has been called “a superior guitarist” (John McDonough, DownBeat), “an adroit and creative musician” (Michael J. West, JazzTimes), “a fine composer of notable original music” (Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide) and “a modern-day jazz master” (Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal).  “His compositions develop in leisurely style from quiet simplicity to intricate complexity,” explained Jack Massarik in Jazzwise, “and the ensemble playing is civilized, sophisticated and clean.”  The Boston Phoenix‘s Jon Garelick adds,  “Musillami sounds familiar—this is swinging jazz guitar, after all—but not quite like anyone else.”

In a career that spans more than 25 years, Musillami has worked extensively as a performer, bandleader/composer and educator.  In addition to his flagship trio with Fonda and Schuller, which has performed in the U.S., Canada and Europe and released three CDs since 2002, he has earned critical notice as the leader of groups ranging from duo to octet featuring such prominent collaborators as Cameron Brown, Thomas Chapin, Drew Gress, Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin and Matt Wilson.  He is also the longtime Director of Jazz Studies at The Hotchkiss School and founder/director of the acclaimed Playscape Recordings label, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2009.


More Superlatives for the Mary Halvorson Trio’s New CD, Dragon’s Head

November 19, 2008

In the November issue of the French jazz magazine, Jazzman, guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson‘s new CD, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records), received the publication’s highest rating, CHOC (five stars). Reviewer Thierry Lepin called it “La révélation de l’année,” which translates to “The revelation of the year.”

On November 18th, in a guitar-themed post on his blog, Jazz Beyond Jazz, Howard Mandel also recommended Dragon’s Head, writing, “Mary Halvorson is the freshest, busiest, most critically acclaimed guitar-slinger out of downtown Manhattan/Brooklyn right now, a former student and current band member of Anthony Braxton’s at the hub of a circle of ultra-smart, almost 30-year-old players prodigiously contributing to each other’s projects.”

He added, “On Dragon’s Head, in transparent collaboration with upright bassist John Hebert and coloristic drummer Ches Smith, she taps a surprising range of ideas and moods, lyrically but also ironically, turning without warning from dry understatement to unabashed noise, hyper-folksiness to intellectualism, plain-spokenness to interesting abstraction, with unusual if unshowy chops.”


Hartford Courant Writers Review Jamie Baum Septet Performance at Firehouse 12

November 17, 2008

Jamie Baum by Enid Farber

Jamie Baum by Enid Farber

Hartford Courant contributors Richard Kamins and Chuck Obuchowski each weighed in on the November 14th performance by the Jamie Baum Septet at New Haven’s Firehouse 12.

On his blog, See! Hear!, Kamins called the concert “a sweet treat for lovers of creative music.”  He added, “Flautist-composer Baum, a native of Fairfield, writes serious and intricate pieces that have moments of breath-taking beauty and intense rhythmic fire.  All in all, a great evening of music in a great venue.”

Obuchowski, reviewing for the print edition, was similarly impressed, writing “Flutist Jamie Baum returned to her home state Friday for an exultant performance at New Haven’s Firehouse 12. The Fairfield native led her septet on an alluring voyage through a musical landscape teeming with possibilities…her pieces sounded playful and punchy, thanks to the admirable improvisatory skills of her band mates.”


Firehouse 12 To Present Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings November 21st

November 17, 2008

On Friday, November 21st, cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum and his improvising chamber jazz ensemble, SpiderMonkey Strings, will present the New Haven premiere of his innovative secular oratorio, Madeleine Dreams, at Firehouse 12.  Inspired by the novel Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt), a 2004 National Book Award finalist written by his sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, the piece draws text from the book while further exploring its theme of “the logic of dreams.”  SpiderMonkey Strings, which takes its name from two mythical tricksters, Anansi the Spider of West Africa and the Monkey King of China, features Kyoko Kitamura (vocals and electronics), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

“Cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum is at the forefront of a younger generation of creative musicians in New York,” writes AllAboutJazz.com’s John Sharpe. “He combines thrilling improvisation with stealthy composition, unconfined by genre.”  Other critics agree, calling him “one of the most exciting figures in jazz’s new power generation” (Steve Dollar, Time Out Chicago), “a strong cornetist and serious-minded composer with experimental tendencies” (Nate Chinen, New York Times) and “an agile and creative improviser who sounds like no one but himself” (Chris Kelsey, JazzTimes).  Jazzwise reviewer Kevin Le Gendre adds, “Bynum is thinking outside of the jazz box without getting trapped inside another in the process.”

Bynum’s expansive resume includes a wide variety of work with both his contemporaries and legendary figures alike, most notably the iconic saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, with whom he has performed and recorded extensively over the past decade.  His most recent recordings as a bandleader include The Middle Picture (Firehouse 12, 2007), featuring his trio/sextet, and True Events (482 Music, 2007), a recording of cornet/percussion duets with Fujiwara that veteran jazz writers Howard Mandel, Brian Morton and K. Leander Williams, among others, included on their top 10 lists for the year.  In addition to leading his own bands, Bynum is a member of such groups as Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge and the large ensembles of creative music legends Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor.  He is also a curator for the annual Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) in New York and a partner in the Firehouse 12 Records label.  

2008 Fall Jazz Series Schedule:

09/19: Steve Lantner Trio 
09/26: Conference Call  
10/03: Ned Rothenberg’s Sync
10/10: Shakers n’ Bakers   
10/17: Josh Roseman’s Execution Quintet
10/24: Bad Touch
10/31: Magic 
11/07: George Schuller’s Circle Wide
11/14: Jamie Baum Septet
11/21: Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings
12/05: The Flatlands Collective 
12/12: Donny McCaslin Trio

Tickets and more information available at:
http://firehouse12.com/performance_space_calendar.asp


Taylor Ho Bynum Tour Moves to Boston Sunday Night

November 15, 2008


Sunday, November 16th at 3:00 p.m.
Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings
Hammond Performing Arts Series
The Boston Center for the Arts (BCA)
539 Tremont Street in Boston, MA (South End)
MBTA: Green Line (Copley); Orange Line (Back Bay); Bus #43

Taylor Ho Bynum, cornet; Kyoko Kitamura, voice and electronics; Jason Kao Hwang, violin; Jessica Pavone, viola; Tomas Ulrich, cello; Pete Fitzpatrick, guitar; Joseph Daley, tuba; Luther Gray, drums

Cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum will follow-up his two-night stand at New York’s Jazz Gallery with a free Sunday afternoon concert at the Boston Center for the Arts featuring his improvising chamber ensemble, SpiderMonkey Strings.

The group will be presenting the Boston premiere of Bynum’s innovative secular oratorio, Madeleine Dreams, which it will record at the end of the tour for its forthcoming 2009 release on Firehouse 12 Records.

Inspired by the novel Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt), a 2004 National Book Award finalist written by Bynum’s sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, the piece draws text from the book while further exploring its theme of the logic of dreams, a recurring thread in Bynum’s work as a composer.


Reminder: Taylor Ho Bynum’s November Tour Comes to New York’s Jazz Gallery Friday and Saturday

November 13, 2008

 

On Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th, cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum will perform with three of his own bands over the course of two nights at New York’s Jazz Gallery.  These performances are part of a larger tour celebrating both the release of the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s second recording, Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY 675), and the most recent performances of his secular oratorio, Madeleine Dreams, with his improvising chamber jazz ensemble, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings.  The latter will be recorded at the end of the tour for Firehouse 12 Records.

Bynum will kick-off his two-night stand on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. with an opening set by his longstanding trio, featuring fellow Boston natives, Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums).  His sextet, which on this night will augment his trio with Jason Kao Hwang (violin and viola), Matt Bauder (tenor sax and clarinet) and Evan O’Reilly (guitar), will then perform a 10:30 p.m. set featuring music from its latest CD.  The following night, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings will perform Madeleine Dreams, as well as other original material and music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra, at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m.  The group will feature Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums), with special guest, Kyoko Kitamura (vocals and electronics).

The Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s multiple guitar line-up was inspired by bands such as Miles Davis’ Dark Magus and Agharta groups, Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time and Henry Threadgill’s Very Very Circus.  Two chordal instruments, along with the rest of the flexible and unusual instrumentation, also allows Bynum to juxtapose independent sub-ensembles within a larger group (including the core trio), a compositional method inspired by the music of Charles Ives and Anthony Braxton.  Critics called the group’s 2007 debut, The Middle Picture (Firehouse 12 Records), “consistently compelling listening” (Time Out New York) and “the shape of jazz to come” (Philip Clark, The Wire), noting that the band “is like no other outfit around” (Brent Burton, JazzTimes).

Named after two mythic tricksters, Anansi the Spider of West Africa and the Monkey King of China, SpiderMonkey Strings has performed a diverse range of Bynum’s extended suites with a genre-defying spirit and distinctive sense of humor.  In March 2008, the group presented the world premiere performance of Madeleine Dreams at Roulette in New York before embarking on a tour of Belgium and The Netherlands.  The piece was inspired by the novel Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt), a 2004 National Book Award finalist written by Bynum’s sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, drawing text from the book and further exploring its theme of “the logic of dreams,” a recurring thread in Bynum’s work as a composer.  The band will document Madeleine Dreams in the studio on November 22nd after additional performances in Boston and New Haven as the follow-up to its 2003 debut, Other Stories [Three Suites] (482 Music).

“Cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum is at the forefront of a younger generation of creative musicians in New York,” writes AllAboutJazz.com’s John Sharpe. “He combines thrilling improvisation with stealthy composition, unconfined by genre.”  Other critics agree, calling him “one of the most exciting figures in jazz’s new power generation” (Steve Dollar, Time Out Chicago), “a strong cornetist and serious-minded composer with experimental tendencies” (Nate Chinen, New York Times) and “an agile and creative improviser who sounds like no one but himself” (Chris Kelsey, JazzTimes).  Jazzwise reviewer Kevin Le Gendre adds, “Bynum is thinking outside of the jazz box without getting trapped inside another in the process.”

Bynum’s expansive resume includes a wide variety of work with both his contemporaries and legendary figures alike, most notably the iconic saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, with whom he has performed and recorded extensively over the past decade.  Along with The Middle Picture, his most recent releases as a bandleader include True Events (482 Music, 2007), a recording of cornet/percussion duets with Tomas Fujiwara that veteran jazz writers Howard Mandel, Brian Morton and K. Leander Williams, among others, included on their top 10 lists for the year.  In addition to leading his own bands, Bynum is a member of such groups as Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge and the large ensembles of Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor.  He is also a curator for the annual Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) in New York and a partner in New Haven’s Firehouse 12 Records label.  Learn more at http://www.taylorhobynum.com


New Eri Yamamoto CD’s Reviewed at PopMatters.com

November 12, 2008

Will Layman’s joint review of Eri Yamamoto‘s recent releases on AUM Fidelity, Duologue and Redwoods, was uploaded today at PopMatters.com.

In it he writes, “As ‘pretty’ as her playing often is, it is cloaked in the impulse of the moment. Whatever she has gleaned from Shipp and Workman, Bley and Parker—but also Monk and Powell and Tommy Flanagan—makes her playing suspenseful and just slightly dangerous. In my heart, it scores high. What a pianist: a little dangerous and a whole lot lovely.”


Firehouse 12 to Present the Donny McCaslin Trio December 12th

November 12, 2008

On Friday, December 12th, Firehouse 12’s 2008 Fall Jazz Series will conclude with a two-set performance by acclaimed tenor saxophonist/composer Donny McCaslin and his trio featuring bassist Hans Glawischnig (Ray Barretto, Stefon Harris, Miguel Zenon) and drummer Johnathan Blake (Tom Harrell, Russell Malone, Jaleel Shaw).  The group will be celebrating its debut release, Recommended Tools, McCaslin’s seventh recording as a leader and his first on frequent collaborator Dave Douglas’ label, Greenleaf Music.  The disc features nine original McCaslin compositions inspired by influences ranging from Bill Frisell to Hermeto Pascoal to Igor Stravinsky. 

“A brilliant take on the hallowed tenor trio tradition,” writes AllAboutJazz.com reviewer Troy Collins, “Recommended Tools is not only a high water mark for McCaslin, but one of the most beguiling records of the year.”  DownBeat‘s John Corbett agreed, writing, “It’s a terrific outing, with solid original material at the service of a ferocious player and a great rhythm section.  There’s nothing frivolous, no errors of judgment—just energizing jazz in a lean setting with lots to love.”  “McCaslin’s blowing may be brawny,” added Steve Greenlee in JazzTimes, “but it is equally thoughtful.  His work is blistering and beautiful, sometimes in the same moment.”

Inspired by his musician father, McCaslin began playing tenor saxophone at age 12.  Early in his professional career, following studies at the Berklee College of Music, he toured for four years with the Gary Burton Quintet before moving to New York in 1991, where he quickly found work with Eddie Gomez and the jazz fusion group, Steps Ahead.  He has since performed and recorded with a long list of notable bandleaders, including Pat Metheny, Danilo Perez, Maria Schneider, George Schuller and Luciana Souza among many others, though he is perhaps best known for his recent membership in the Dave Douglas Quintet.  In addition to his extensive work as an in-demand sideman, McCaslin has led his own groups for the past decade, recording for the Arabesque, Criss Cross, Naxos and Sunnyside labels.  

2008 Fall Jazz Series Schedule:

09/19: Steve Lantner Trio
09/26: Conference Call  
10/03: Ned Rothenberg’s Sync
10/10: Shakers n’ Bakers   
10/17: Josh Roseman’s Execution Quintet
10/24: Bad Touch
10/31: Magic
11/07: George Schuller’s Circle Wide
11/14: Jamie Baum Septet
11/21: Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings
12/05: The Flatlands Collective
12/12: Donny McCaslin Trio

Tickets and more information available at:
http://firehouse12.com/performance_space_calendar.asp


Mario Pavone is AllAboutJazz.com’s Jazz Musician of the Day

November 11, 2008

Bassist/composer Mario Pavone is today’s Jazz Musician of the Day at AllAboutJazz.com

His latest CD, Ancestors (Playscape Recordings), was released November 4th.

Critics have called it “an exemplary piece of writing, of arranging, of playing, and of recording and production” (Brian Morton, PointofDeparture.org), “a potent feat of extraordinary music making” (Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz.com) and “another dramatic springboard for his expansive creative talents” (Owen McNally, Hartford Courant).

His Double Tenor Quintet is currently gearing up for its European tour and will celebrate the disc in the States on January 7th at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club.  The group features saxophonists Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene, pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Gerald Cleaver.