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.”

Firehouse 12 To Present The Steve Lehman Trio October 9th

September 9, 2009
Photo by Dominik Huber

Photo by Dominik Huber

On Friday, October 9th, New Haven’s Firehouse 12 will present innovative saxophonist/composer Steve Lehman‘s only area performance this year as part its fifth annual Fall Jazz Series. Lehman, who grew up in Hartford before earning two degrees at Wesleyan University during studies with Anthony Braxton and Jackie McLean, will be performing selections from his latest release, Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings). Originally composed for his octet, the music, which daringly integrates elements of spectral harmony into jazz, has been meticulously arranged for this acoustic trio featuring bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Damion Reid.

“With Travail, Transformation, and Flow,” writes the Washington City Paper‘s Michael J. West, “alto saxophonist Steve Lehman makes a rare offering to the jazz world: a thoroughly alternative principle of improvisation. Lehman’s deeply compelling harmonies and textures sound noticeably different from anything before it, but the music doesn’t have the threat-to-everything-we-know-and-love trappings of prior upheavals. The mysterious and open-ended tensions on Travail are a powerful lure into an advanced and challenging set of music that firmly establishes Lehman as a major force in jazz’s avant-garde without taking the music too far out for comfort.”

Critics have called him “an inspired talent” (John Fordham, The Guardian) and “one of the rising stars in modern creative jazz” (Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com), noting that “Steve Lehman is thinking about jazz in a new way” (Will Layman, PopMatters.com) by opening “his own corridor of exploration” (Nate Chinen, New York Times). L.A. Weekly‘s Chris Barton adds, “Lehman’s heady excursions remain unique and engaging to the listener whatever your knowledge of musical theory.” In addition to leading his own bands, Lehman is a member of such prominent creative music ensembles as the Anthony Braxton 12+1tet and Fieldwork. He is also an instructor and departmental fellow at Columbia University, where he is a doctoral candidate in music composition. Learn more at http://www.stevelehman.com

2009 Fall Jazz Series Schedule:

09/18 :: Brandon Ross & Blazing Beauty
09/25 :: Matt Wilson Quartet
10/02 :: Mauger: Rudresh Mahanthappa/Mark Dresser/Gerry Hemingway
10/09 :: Steve Lehman Trio
10/16 :: Gretchen Parlato Band
10/23 :: Whirrr! The Music of Jimmy Giuffre
10/30 :: Taylor Eigsti Trio
11/06 :: ODE: Larry Ochs/Trevor Dunn/Lisle Ellis/Michael Sarin
11/13 :: The Peter Evans Quartet
11/20 :: Darius Jones Trio
12/04 :: Mary Halvorson Quintet
12/11 :: Amy Cervini Quartet
12/18 :: Daniel Levin Trio

Tickets and more information available at:

Eri Yamamoto And The William Parker Quartet Among Soundcheck’s Top 15 Jazz CDs Of 2008

December 23, 2008







Will Layman, jazz critic for WNYC’s Soundcheck, has named two AUM Fidelity releases to his Top 15 Jazz CDs of 2008 list, Eri Yamamoto’s Duologue and the William Parker Quartet’s Petit Oiseau.

PopMatters.com Reviews The William Parker Quartet’s Petit Oiseau

December 19, 2008

PopMatters.com jazz critic Will Layman dedicates half of the December edition of his monthly Jazz Today column to the latest William Parker Quartet release, Petit Oiseau (AUM Fidelity).

In his review, posted yesterday, Layman credits Parker’s quartet with creating “stunning new music,” calling it the veteran bassist/composer’s “most accessible and irresistible band.”

Petit Oiseau was released in October of this year,” he writes, “and it extends the quartet’s reach and proves how extraordinary the range of a piano-less group can be in jazz. It is more than one of the finest discs of 2008. It is a stellar piece of work, a mind-bender and a finger-popper at once. Always free but always soulful, the band suggests that it has no limitations.”

Earlier this week, Petit Oiseau was ranked number five on the site’s list of the Best Jazz of 2008.