Pianist Keith Jarrett, one of the most important figures in jazz of the last 50 years, has been curiously invisible since his last performance in February 2017 at New York's Carnegie Hall. He has now revealed the reason for his silence in a New York Times interview with Nate Chinen: Jarrett suffered two strokes in 2018 that have likely permanently derailed his ability to perform in public.
Jarrett, 75, told Chinen that since being afflicted by the strokes in February and May of 2018, he is partially paralyzed on his left side. The second stroke resulted in a 10-month stay in a nursing facility. Jarrett has since relearned to walk with a cane but has only occasionally attempted to play the piano; in a recent attempt, he discovered that he had forgotten some staple tunes of the bebop repertoire.
"I can only play with my right hand, and it's not convincing me anymore," Jarrett told Chinen. "I don't know what my future is supposed to be, [but] I don't feel right now like I'm a pianist."
Chinen also conducted the most recent JazzTimes interview with Jarrett, in 2017. At that time, the pianist discussed a late-1990s struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome that had nearly destroyed his career. "I just found myself too tired to do anything I normally do. I thought I was dying," he said. "I didn't know if I'd play again." In that case, Jarrett recovered sufficiently to launch a renaissance in 1999.
Jarrett's newest release, the forthcoming Budapest Concert, documents a solo performance from his 2016 European tour. It will be released October 30 on ECM Records. Keith Jarrett (photo: Woong Chul An)
READ THE FULL JazzTimes ARTICLE
What a pick-me-up this album is. Released as the days darken, literally and metaphorically, it's a real joy – a transport of delight to dappled squares in Paris or Lisbon, or a street party in Rio. Sunset in the Blue is billed as "an orchestral celebration of Melody Gardot's jazz roots" but the abiding sound that remains in the mind's ear after the album's finished is that of a jazz guitar, played with a bossa nova rhythm.
This is Gardot's fifth album in twelve years, a mix of standards and originals in which her voice is close-miked and properly out front in the mix.
Most of the set was recorded pre-lockdown in LA's famed Capitol Records Studios with a creative team that included Larry Klein and Vince Mendoza, trumpeter Till Bronner and guitarist Anthony Wilson among the players. "From Paris With Love" features some forty musicians from around the world who answered Gardot's call, made on 1 May, International Jazz Day, for a virtual orchestra to play away the lockdown blues. All were paid according to union scale and the result is musically rewarding – shout-outs to the pianist and solo fiddler. "Ave" finds Gardot born aloft above orchestral cross-rhythms, while "Moon River" takes us back to the Audrey Hepburn original, a lazy arch-top guitar with strings and percussion in the background. Gardot's vocal is of course not tentative – she is no Holly Golightly after all! "Fall in Love too Easily" is really rather exquisite. The physical album contains a bonus track, "Little Something", a duet with Sting.
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With the abundance of jazz and blues that slides into my mailbox every week, it's sometimes easy to forget the bustling and beautiful American piano that much of our musical heritage comes from. Don't let words like "heritage" discourage you from diving deep into her boundless piano energy… her performance of Harry Thacker Burleigh's 5:07 "Troubled Water" (based on "Wade In The Water") is full-bodied and moving… this is one of the tunes I believe will be getting some HUGE amounts of airplay on all types of stations around the globe!
I'll tell you right now, you've never heard a more invigorating performance of "Down By the Riverside" than Jeni gives you… she presents some very unique stylings with her keyboard, too.
Of the eighteen enchanting songs presented, I found the 6:40 opener, "Deep River", to be my choice for personal favorite… Jeni's piano covers all the bases… jazz, blues and even Tchaikovsky in one stunning performance of Margaret Bonds beautiful song!
I give Jeni a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) score of 4.98. Get more information on the Zoho Music page for the release. Rotcod Zzaj
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Ron Davis. Piano player, composer, band leader, Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourite, BBC Radio 3 repeat guest, solo artist, critics choice has released; SymphRONica - UPFRONT. Ron and his band of award-winning musicians have kept people listening, loving and coming back for more.
Ron's music blends genres and pushes boundaries. It builds on his jazz and classical training, influenced by world music (klezmer, Hungarian, Italian, Brazilian, Latin). He seeks new textures, new forms, new compositions, new formations and new ways of presenting his signature sound. The music is diverse in a characteristically Canadian way. Ron is the founder of SymphRONica, the creative project that combines jazz, world, groove, pop, classical music and a stellar group of Canadian musicians into a mix that can be found nowhere else. In Ron's words "Just as Toronto is a city composed of many people from many places, SymphRONica is composed of a group of musicians from diverse backgrounds, and every one of them plays with intense passion and pleasure together." SymphRONica is genre-defying – no one else is combining a jazz ensemble with full symphony orchestras or string quartets.
Davis spoke with 97.3/107.9 Estero Bay Radio's ( CA ) Abe Pearlstein about the new recording and his great career. Listen to the attached interview.
As we near the election, with hope of setting the country on a better path, tensions are high. We are worried that if things go wrong, as they did in 2016, that the country might never recover, that this horror show might become our permanent identity. And meanwhile, most of the things we would turn to in times of crisis – family gatherings, concerts, baseball games, theatre – are not available to us, making everything even more difficult and dire. But fortunately musicians continue to release albums that speak to the better parts of us, to what humanity remains inside, uniting us in a real way. Here are some brief notes on a few new jazz releases you might be interested in.
Accomplished classical pianist Jeni Slotchiver presents the work of several American composers on her new release, American Heritage, an album of solo piano pieces. The music includes spirituals, blues, and folk, all performed with passion and heart. This is a beautiful and moving album, and in a time of division and hatred in our country, it provides a welcome look back at some of the diverse composers who have added to the great musical culture of our nation, and might help to restore some pride in our history. Composers whose work is featured here include Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Margaret Bonds, Harry Thacker Burleigh, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Florence B. Price, Robert Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still and Frederic Rzewski. A lot of the music chosen for this release will be familiar to you, and Jeni Slotchiver gives it a fresh life. This album was released on October 9, 2020.
SEE Michael Doherty's Music Log PAGE
JUNO and SOCAN Music Award winner Laila Biali celebrates Canadian icon Joni Mitchell's birthday with an intimate cover of Mitchell's beloved song, "Both Sides Now". Biali's stripped down approach illuminates poignant lyrics that speak to the heart. Multi-award winning singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali has performed on prestigious stages from New York City's Carnegie Hall to Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Known for her signature sound that "masterfully mixes jazz and pop" (Washington Post), Biali has received top honors including a 2020 SOCAN Music Songwriting Award plus the 2019 JUNO (Canada's GRAMMY) for Vocal Jazz Album. She has also toured with pop icon, Sting, and hosts a national radio show on CBC Music. Be sure to check out Laila's Quarantunes Series, and head to Both Sides Now to pre-save your copy now!
Biali is KBOG'S favorite songstress. SEE THE KBOG: Bandon OR PAGE
For her latest studio album, pianist Hélène Grimaud travels to Salzburg where she creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the eternal Mozart and the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937). Hélène has long had a passion for Silvestrov's music, which some call post-modernist or even neoclassical. The composer's own words hint at why this is for her so intriguing: "I do not write new music. My music is a response to and an echo of what already exists."
In selecting the music for this album, Hélène has carefully chosen music by Mozart that fits into an overall dramaturgy: from Mozart's famous unfinished D minor Fantasy, Helene transitions seamlessly into the great D minor concerto K. 466 - one of the most popular amongst Mozart's 27 concertos (and one of only two in a minor key). The C minor Fantasy here signals "the end of Mozart" and a new beginning: The Messenger starts with a theme reminiscent of Mozart, and like a messenger, creates a connection between the present and the world that existed before. Melancholy and hope, sadness and exuberance can be felt emanating from both Mozart's and Silvestrov's works. The Messenger, one of Silvestrov's most performed works, is dedicated to his wife Larissa Bondarenko, who had recently passed away. The Two Dialogues with Postscript that serve here as an epilogue, leave the outcome open, leading the way to Schubert, Wagner and beyond.
"When I first heard it, I was mesmerized," is how Grimaud describes the first time she heard Valentin Silvestrov's music. ECM Records founder Manfred Eichner gave her a CD of Silvestrov as a birthday present, and she was hooked. Grimaud talks about her newest album (of over 20!) with 90.5WUOL: Louisville KY - Daniel Gilliam. LISTEN
WaterTower Music is pleased to announce today's release of the 62-track Lovecraft Country (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series), featuring music from the first season of Lovecraft Country, which airs on HBO/ HBO Max, and is Based on Matt Ruff 's novel of the same name.
Inspired by the ground-breaking mission of NASA's Juno space probe and its ongoing exploration of Jupiter, Juno to Jupiter is a multi-dimensional musical journey through electronic, progressive, ambient, techno, orchestral, and vocal music.
Milan Records today announces the release of Luca Guadagnino's WE ARE WHO WE ARE (ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) featuring music by producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist DEVONTÉ HYNES.
So begins a liner note by Robin D.G. Kelley, Monk's definitive biographer, for "Palo Alto," a previously unreleased recording of that concert, out now. (The music is available on CD and vinyl through the Impulse! label, and digitally through Legacy Recordings.)
Since Monk's death in 1982, the influence of his compact yet essential body of compositions has grown with each passing decade; once considered radical, they are now elemental to modern jazz. Even so, Monk's piano playing-his jarring rhythmic displacements, clotted chords, flat-fingered runs and spiky dissonances on "Well, You Needn't" here, for instance-still sounds distinct. "Palo Alto" enlightens as it delights, opening a window into how Monk challenged his bands and himself, endlessly refreshing his unusual yet accessible compositions. Plus, it comes with a good story.
Mr. Scher, who would go on to a career as a promoter with rock impresario Bill Graham, was, in 1968, the red-headed kid who spun jazz records during lunchtime at "Paly," as his school was known. Having already presented pianist Vince Guaraldi, vocalist Jon Hendricks and vibraphonist Cal Tjader in fundraisers for the campus International Club, he hired Monk's quartet for $500. His motivation was pure: Along with Duke Ellington, who he'd later bring to the school, Monk was his idol. He sold concert-program ads along his paper route in predominantly white, upscale Palo Alto. He put up posters in mostly Black, less affluent East Palo Alto, where a campaign was afoot to rename the municipality Nairobi, after the capital of Kenya. He was no doubt aware of a larger context for such cross-promotion: the recent assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and the turmoil surrounding race.
What Mr. Scher likely didn't know is that Monk, who four years earlier had appeared on the cover of Time magazine, was deeply in debt (the pianist probably welcomed a chance to earn extra money in the middle of his two-week engagement at San Francisco's Jazz Workshop). Critics had begun turning on the pianist, acknowledging his importance yet calling his quartet "predictable" because he mostly stuck to his existing compositions while other marquee jazz stars, such as Miles Davis, restlessly transformed their music.
After the concert, Mr. Scher placed his reel-to-reel recording in a box, where it remained for decades. If not for a school janitor who agreed to tune the piano if he could record the show, this release wouldn't exist. It's not a perfect document-Monk's piano bench creaks through some passages-but the music sounds clear and affecting nonetheless.
Monk's quartet here-with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, his sideman for a decade by then, along with bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley, who joined Monk in 1964-was his most cohesive band, then at the height of its powers. Perhaps owing to the informal nature of the gig, the group seems particularly uninhibited. The music sounds ebullient.
Monk almost never began a set with a ballad, but he opens here with one of his own: "Ruby, My Dear," played at a medium tempo and punctuated by a succinct and deeply satisfying piano solo. Compared to "Live at the It Club"-a landmark album documenting this group four years earlier on a Los Angeles bandstand-the extended versions here of Monk's "Well, You Needn't" and "Blue Monk" sound looser, more creative. On "Well, You Needn't," Monk builds propulsion and drama with each chord, and Gales plays a long and playful bowed section. On "Blue Monk," the band seems less beholden to blues syntax than to organic call-and-response phrasing. "Epistrophy," which Monk co-wrote with drummer Kenny Clarke, exemplifies both the percussive nature of his pianism and his band's masterly sense of time.
The most gripping moments of this recording find Monk alone at the piano, playing songs he didn't write. On the Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields classic "Don't Blame Me," he grounds his left hand in stride-piano's bounce, rains down elegant arpeggios with his right and, in between, wrings maximum emotion from single notes. His closer, a solo rendition of "I Love You Sweetheart of All My Dreams," a 1928 song made famous by Rudy Vallee, lasts just one deeply affecting minute. As its final crashing chord evaporates into overtones the auditorium erupts in applause, to which Monk says, "We have to hurry back and get to work, you dig?"
And so he did. East Palo Alto didn't change its name. The identity of that Palo Alto janitor remains a mystery. Yet thanks to him and to this performance before an unlikely interracial audience in a high school auditorium, we have 47 minutes of rare pleasure, and a corrective to Monk's long-ago detractors. He never grew predictable. He just dug deeper into these tunes to innovate.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA. In a series of twists and turns, against a backdrop of racial tension and political volatility, that concert was recorded by the school's janitor. Palo Alto is now available physically on Impulse! Records and digitally on Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment.