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.
READ THE FULL artsdesk REVIEW
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
SEE THE Contemporary Fusion Reviews PAGE
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.
In 1968, Thelonious Monk played a high school, now everyone can hear it / The New York Times
Posted: September 16, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
52 Years Ago, an ambitious student named Danny Scher booked the jazz great at Palo Alto High School in Northern California. A recording of the event gathered dust for five decades.
In the late 1960s, a precocious student named Danny Scher was the elected social commissioner at Palo Alto High School in Northern California. His duties included organizing dances and assemblies, but Mr. Scher, who grew up playing in jazz bands, wanted jazz musicians to perform at the school, too. He convinced the vibraphonist Cal Tjader, the singer Jon Hendricks and the pianist Vince Guaraldi (of "Peanuts" fame) to play separate gigs in the school's spacious auditorium. Then he turned his attention to his idol, Thelonious Monk.
Monk, a pianist, was more than a decade past his most famous recordings and near the end of an unfruitful run at Columbia Records when his manager got the request from Mr. Scher. The jazz titan agreed to perform at the school on Sunday, Oct. 27, 1968. He was already scheduled to be in the area for a three-week stint at the Jazz Workshop, a club in San Francisco, so Mr. Scher had his older brother Les drive there and pick up the pianist and his band. There were no plans to preserve the one-off concert, but a school janitor asked Mr. Scher whether he could record the show if he tuned the piano.
Now, 52 years later, Impulse! Records and Legacy Recordings are releasing it as an album called "Palo Alto" that captures the 47-minute concert in full. The "Palo Alto" recording had collected dust in the attic of Mr. Scher's family home until he contacted Monk's son - the jazz drummer and bandleader T.S. Monk - about releasing it. Digitally restored and widely available for the first time on Friday, "Palo Alto" captures a band hitting a high note, even as Monk battled personal and professional turmoil.
Monk and his touring band - the drummer Ben Riley, the tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and the bassist Larry Gales - performed in Palo Alto as the city, like much of the United States, was gripped by tension. America was rocked by the war in Vietnam and the shooting deaths of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Locally, there was friction between residents of the mostly white Palo Alto and the mostly Black East Palo Alto, an unincorporated area with high unemployment rates. The residents of East Palo Alto didn't have voting power to govern their own town, and by 1968, local leaders established schools and other institutions to educate residents about Black culture.
The pressure came to a head in 1968, when a contingent of younger East Palo Alto residents started a campaign to rename the city "Nairobi," after the capital of Kenya. The Monk gig happened a week before the name change was up for a vote before the East Palo Alto Municipal Council. (It was defeated by a margin of two to one.)
In a Zoom interview, Mr. Scher said he was warned by the police department in East Palo Alto to not post fliers advertising the show there. "Wherever I saw a poster that said, ‘Vote yes on Nairobi,' I'd put up an ad, ‘Come and see Thelonious Monk at Palo Alto High School,'" he said. "The police would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, kid. Hey, white boy, this is not really a cool place for you to be, given what's going on. You're going to get in trouble here. This isn't cool.'"
But Mr. Scher had a show to promote: "I've got to sell tickets, and if you think I'm in trouble by being here, I'll be in even more trouble if the show doesn't do well."
Tickets were priced at $2 and weren't selling well, at least not initially. That's when Mr. Scher added two noted local bands as openers: the seven-piece Jym Marks Afro Ensemble and Smoke, an avant-garde free jazz band. Both groups had been popular in the Black community, and their presence might encourage the residents of East Palo Alto to consider coming to the show, Mr. Scher thought.
There was still skepticism, though. Aside from the thick racial friction, many people didn't think an artist as prominent as Monk would actually show up to play at a high school. Just two days before the gig, Mr. Scher called Monk at the Jazz Workshop to make sure it was still on. It's a good thing he did.
"I said, ‘We're really looking forward to seeing you at my school,'" Mr. Scher recalled. "He said, ‘What are you talking about?'" The student explained there was a contract, and tickets had been sold. Monk asked how he'd get to Palo Alto. "I said, ‘Well, my brother's old enough to drive to the city so he can come get you,'" Mr. Scher said. "And Monk said, ‘OK.' So I didn't think anything of it."
The show didn't sell out until Les drove through the parking lot, which was full of East Palo Alto residents, with Monk and his band. "I remember the bass sticking out of the window," Mr. Scher said.
On the surface, it would seem there's nothing exceptional about "Palo Alto," on which Monk plays his older music, including stately renditions of "Ruby, My Dear," "Well, You Needn't" and "Don't Blame Me," along with a piano cover of Rudy Vallee's "I Love You Sweetheart of All of My Dreams." But according to Robin D.G. Kelley, who wrote the definitive 2009 biography "Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original," the live recording catches the Monk quartet at a final creative high.
The "Palo Alto" recording had collected dust in the attic of Danny Scher's family home until he contacted Monk's son about releasing it.
The "Palo Alto" recording had collected dust in the attic of Danny Scher's family home until he contacted Monk's son about releasing it.Credit...Larry Fink
"It was a great band, and it was just about to break up, so this is one of the last recordings of this particular configuration," Mr. Kelley said in a Zoom interview. "You get a sense that Ben Riley and Larry Gales, they're playing as if it's their last concert. They know they're about to cut out, so they're going to come in there and just blow."
Monk spent much of 1968 struggling with health challenges that slowed his output and ultimately led to his isolation. Earlier that year, he'd suffered a seizure and ended up in a coma, which caused him to miss scheduled recording sessions. Indebted to his label, he hit the road early to handle financial obligations that arose during his illness.
The Palo Alto performance energized the pianist, then 51. "He was feeling real, real good, and you could hear it in his playing," T.S. Monk said in a Zoom interview. "For us jazz musicians, if you're working steady, that's when your thing really comes together," he said. "So he had been working steady with this group, and they were just on it."
For a few hours, the Palo Alto show united Black and white residents, who briefly set their differences aside to enjoy the music. "It was white, Black, young, old, high school, grandparents and parents at the end," Mr. Scher said. "To me, this was like pressing pause. It was like a time out. ‘Let's just all get along. Let's just hear some great music for a day.'"
The following March, Mr. Scher booked the pianist and jazz great Duke Ellington to perform with the California Youth Symphony at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif. Mr. Scher says he has it on tape, and that it's "never been released, or even really listened to, to speak of." Mr. Scher went on to become a top concert promoter after he graduated from Stanford University, spending two decades working for the well-known rock promoter Bill Graham - where he developed the Shoreline Amphitheater into a powerhouse venue - before he started his own promotion business and later moved on into real estate.
Following the Palo Alto gig, Monk released his last few studio albums on Black Lion Records, a British label, before fading into obscurity. He died from a stroke in New Jersey in 1982.
Jazz never let up its hold on Mr. Scher, whose ringtone is Mr. Ellington's "Take the ‘A' Train." The processional song at his wedding was "Sophisticated Lady," a jazz standard that Mr. Monk also performed in 1955. "In everyone's life, something comes along that speaks to them," Mr. Scher said. "And for some reason, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington just spoke to me. And even to this day, they speak to me."
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.