Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Lou Caputo's Not So Big Band live in NY!

Join us for another spectacular evening of swinging jazz you’ll never forget this coming Tuesday evening, March 5 at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium in the New York City Baha'i Center at 53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway), when saxophonist Lou Caputo brings his swingin’ Not So Big Band to the stage.  There are 2 shows:  8:00 and 9:30 p.m. The ensemble was voted Best Big Band/Jazz Orchestra last December in the 40th Annual Jazz Station Awards, conducted by Brazilian historian Arnaldo DeSouteiro. 

Lou Caputo, a native of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been a professional musician for over thirty years. He has done almost every kind of job that a musician can be asked to do. A multi-instrumentalist (saxophones, clarinets and flutes) he has performed in show bands with the likes of Lou Rawls, Frankie Valli, Shirley Basey, Jack Jones, Bobby Short, Frankie Avalon, and a host of others. As well as the many of the famous Motown acts like the Temptations and the Four Tops. Aside from this he has performed along side of Salsa legends like Candido, Bobby Sanabria and Lou Perez.

However, playing jazz is really closest to Lou’s heart.  He has had the opportunity to perform with people like trumpeter Richard Williams, pianists Duke Jordon and Jaki Byard, drummers Walter Perkins and Mousey Alexander (in his short-lived big band), vocalist Joe “BeBop” Carroll and Dakota Staton, bassist Chris White (including a Carnegie Hall appearance).  He has spent time in the Glen Miller band under the direction of Clem DeRosa as well as the Harry James Big Band.  He has had the good fortune to record with jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor on guitarist Ray Rivera’s album Night Wind

Lou has had the pleasure of performing in the Richie Cole Octet.  Another high point is playing Birdland with the Ellington Band under the direction of Paul Ellington and Jack Jeffers.  Through the years Lou has appeared in many of the area’s leading jazz clubs as both a leader and side man.  He also played for former President Bill Clinton on the occasion of Clinton’s 50th birthday.

Admission is 15.00, 10.00 for students.
Tickets will be sold at the door, or call 212-222-5159 for reservations and information.
For more about the NYSAJE and other acts at "Jazz Tuesdays", check out www.jazzbeat.com   
Jazz Tuesdays
in the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium
The New York Baha'i Center
53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway)
Two shows: 8:00 and 9:30 p.m.
Jazz Tuesdays is funded in part from the Wilbur, Dorothy & Frances Rose Davis Family Fund, the Hunt Family Fund, the DeChristopher Family Trust, and Dr. Margie Baker, Jazz Vocalist & Educator

R.I.P.: Ira Gitler

R.I.P.: Ira Gitler, aged 90. Born on December 18, 1928 in Brooklyn, NY; died February 23, 2019 in NYC, NY.

One of the all-time most important jazz writers. I had the honor to work with Ira on several projects. He wrote liner notes for albums I produced (among them Ithamara Koorax's "Love Dance" and "Bim Bom - The Complete João Gilberto Songbook") and we were the writers invited to do the liner notes for the CTI/Rudy Van Gelder CD Collection issued in Japan in 2009.

For me it was a dream come true, 'cause I grew up reading "The Encyclopedia Of Jazz In The Seventies" that he co-wrote with Leonard Feather, another brilliant jazz historian, as well as 700-plus of notes he wrote for CTI (Tamba 4, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Nat Adderley, J.J. Johnson & Kai Winding, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard), Prestige (Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Chet, Getz, Sonny Rollins, Mal Waldron, Phil Woods, Dexter Gordon), Blue Note (Art Blakey, Horace Silver etc), Candid (Claudio Roditi), Metronome, New Jazz, Atlantic, Savoy, Muse etc.

A former editor of DownBeat, Ira also wrote the lyrics to Horace Silver's "Filthy McNasty", recorded by Eddie Jefferson) and produced countless reissues. The dream of all the great jazzmen was to have an album annotated by Ira Gitler! He loved jazz and lived jazz 24 hours a day. When died this Sunday, he was listening an Art Tatum record and wearing a DownBeat T-shirt.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Fusion CD of the Month - "Vasil Hadzimanov Band: Lines In Sand"

Fusion CD of the Month
Vasil Hadzimanov Band: "Lines In Sands" (MoonJune MJR095)
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

MIROSLAV TOVIRAC - bass guitar
BOJAN IVKOVIC - percussion, vocals

with special guests:
MARTA HADZIMANOV - lead vocal (4)
DEAN BOWMAN - lead vocal (8)

Recorded by MARKO PERIC at Binta Sound Studio and at German Ambassador's Residence, in Belgrade, Serbia, November 2017.

International release on MoonJune executive production by LEONARDO PAVKOVIC for MOONJUNE RECORDS.
Supported by GDI For The Arts and PergamentStudio.rs
Artwork and design by DEJAN MANDIC.

Special thanks to Igor & Branka Djuricic, Boran Loncaric, Predrag Ilic, Aleksander Ilic, nenad Kostic, H.E. Axel, Natalie Dittman, Leonardo Pavkovic, Marko Peric, Igor Vincetic, Rastko Obradovic, Dean Bowman, Marta Hadzimanov, Dejan Mandic, Svebor Sakic, Fedja Franklin.
Vasil Hadzimanov's sophomore effort for MoonJune Records, "Lines In Sands," puts all of the virtuoso Serbian keyboardist's considerable talents -- as a composer, arranger and player -- on full display. Adeptly synthesizing his ethnic jazz roots with jolting doses of rock, R&B, funk, avant garde, psychedelia, trance, electronica and more, the band step up their game: producing a sparkling, delightfully zealous musical hybrid which transcends categorization.

Punctuated by fiery improvisations, tight syncopations and a flowing, organic interplay, Vasil and his fellow maestronistas deliver the goods in this sizzling set. (... even paying homage to the label's founder Leonardo Pavkovic, with the wonderfully crafted second piece, "Mr. MoonJune.") Augmented by performances that are brilliant in substance, conception and cohesiveness, Hadzimanov's keyboard work is both sumptuous and towering, throughout.

The resulting product is crisp and dynamic: with a succinct focus, and execution that never lacks for soul, conviction or inventiveness. Thoroughly engaging, this is an essential work for fans of great keyboards, rich textures and adventurous sonic excursions, as well as dense ensemble work. Expounding on the unpretentious, groove-oriented style introduced on their first effort for MJR – 2016's critically heralded, "Alive" (featuring innovative NYC saxman, David Binney) -- "Lines In Sands" has a little bit of everything: a highly ambitious undertaking, witnessing the Balkan legend and band at their most potent and formidable.
A name synonymous with Serbian jazz, Vasil Hadzimanov -- voted "Best Keyboardist of 2018" in the 40th Annual Jazz Station Awards -- is a contemporary pianist, composer, arranger, and educator whose lineage is intrinsically linked with ethnic Balkan music and cultural heritage. Ever the innovator, Vasil's musical vision and ambitions are complimented by an equally boundless work ethic.

Cultivating a passion for jazz and other creative forms of music, while first learning his craft as a budding youth, Vasil eventually found his way to the US -- specifically, Boston: where he attended the Berklee College of Music, graduating in 1995. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his homeland and formed the Vasil Hadzimanov Band: a band which continues to grow in popularity and notoriety -- still playing concerts, clubs and festivals, while having amassed seven critically acclaimed albums during a more than twenty-year run.

From their first release, 2001's "11 razloga za...", through 2018's "Lines In Sand," their sound is defined by its sheer ambitious, adventurous nature and stylistic diversity, and multiple elements and influences which greatly eclipse the jazz genre. In addition to the band's catalog, Hadzimanov also recorded a trio album -- 2011's "El Raval," with Martin Gjakonovski on bass and Aleksandar Sekulovski on drums.

Aside from VHB, Vasil is also performing with Dusan Jevtovic's No Answer Trio (with Asaf Sirkis), Bojan ZuIlfikarpasic, Trio Sveti (with Marko Djordjevic and Branko Trijic), Toni Kitanovski Trio, Bace Quartet (with Theodosii Spassov, Bachar Khalife and Ace Petrov), Csaba Toth Bagi Balkan Union, ‘Misko Plavi Trio and others. Hadzimanov’s sound is reminiscent of the late, great Austrian master, Joe Zawinul, at times. That influence is often realized, also, stylistically, in his uninhibitied, but tastefully articulated phrasing and passages.

A most enterprising, intrepid soul, Vasil has expanded his compositional and performing output to including scoring, directing and performing in numerous movies, documentaries and TV shows in the region. Reflecting a deep respect to his native musical traditions, his style often intertwines genres and subgenres with classic Balkan motifs -- producing music which often defies categorization.

His commitment to continually challenging himself and his fellow musicians is reflected in the freshness and vitality which has accompanied any of the numerous projects in which he has directed and/or contributed. Vasil Hadzimanov is a vital musical voice: a maestro performer, accomplished composer and a true, uncompromising torchbearer -- building upon a rich musical pedigree, while shrugging off clichés and expressive limitations.

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month - "Kevin Hays & Chiara Izzi: Across The Sea"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Kevin Hays & Chiara Izzi: "Across The Sea" (Via Veneto Jazz/Jando Music VVJ 128)
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Jando Music & Via Veneto Jazz
Executive Producer: Enzo Capua
Post-Production: Matt Pierson
Engineered by Chris Allen @ Sear Sound (New York City, NY)
Cover: Riccardo Gola
Photo: Michele Petruzziello
Artwork: Enzo Criscione

Featuring: Kevin Hays (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano), Chiara Izzi (vocals), Rob Jost (acoustic & electric bass, French horn), Greg Joseph (drums), Rogerio Boccato (percussion), Chris Potter (tenor & soprano sax), Grégoire Maret (harmonica), Nir Felder (acoustic & electric guitar), Omer Avital (oud)

Jando Music and Via Veneto Jazz are proud to announce the release of "Across the Sea," the new collaborative album from award winning singer-songwriter Chiara Izzi and internationally acclaimed pianist and vocalist Kevin Hays. "Across the Sea" is brought to fruition by bassist and French hornist Rob Jost and drummer Greg Joseph, in the company of very special guests, Chris Potter on saxophone, Grégoire Maret on harmonica, Omer Avital on oud, Nir Felder on guitar and Rogério Boccato on percussion.

A work of ingenuity, imagination and passion, "Across the Sea" is a visionary journey between jazz and pop, America and Italy, dream and lyricism. The multi-lingual, pan-stylistic 10-tune recital comprises well-wrought original pieces and lyrics by each protagonist and highly personalized interpretations of songs from composers and songwriters who both artists love and admire. Izzi and Hays will celebrate this release at Birdland Jazz Club on February 28th at 5:30pm.

Producer Enzo Capua was first introduced to the talent of Chiara Izzi at a festival in Rome, many years ago. Although envisioning and encouraging a prosperous career for her, Capua had never imagined that he would not only reconvene, but collaborate with his fellow Italian artist years later in New York City. Rounded-out by pianist Kevin Hays and producer Giandomenico Ciaramella – a producer true to his noble spirit and amazing instinct, as admired by Capua – this quartet is the result of two fortuitous encounters which fate had wisely planned over time: that of two musicians so distant and yet so inexorably close, and two producers joined by their visceral passion for the art of sound.

"Across the Sea" displays an alluring serendipity between Izzi and Hays. As Capua recalls, the synergy between the duo was so lucidly evident during both the creation and recording stages of the album – “so intense is their harmony, so strong the unity of purpose, so rapid is the intuition that these two musicians share”. Hays recognizes Izzi’s sense of sincerity and honesty – “She has an inner strength that I think is rare.” Delivering a vocal that carries a warm, Mediterranean quality, Izzi acknowledges that Kevin’s playing brings out her best assets as a storyteller, singer, musician, and human being. The pair’s compelling predominance of melody, osmosis between vocals and keyboards and the amazing confluence of their singing voices, is eminent on this new album.

The French horn in the emblematic Henry Mancini musical poem “Two for the Road”, the ancestral oud in the classic Miles Davis tune "Nardis" (an old favorite of Bill Evans which became “Tierna Nardis” afterYanina Lombardi added Italian lyrics), the punctual and decisive harmonica on Pat Metheny and Hays’ “James”, the caressing guitar in the Izzi-penned “Circles of the Mind” and the sinuous saxophone in the pair’s original “Viaggio Elegiaco”, and specially Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner's haunting ballad "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" (rediscovered by Diana Krall & Claus Ogerman in 2008 on the "Quiet Nights" album) are just a few examples of what this converging work has to offer.

While each of the compositions of course, have form which the pair respects, the music resembles a live conversation with continuous inputs, which makes the dialogue more interesting, unpredictable and fresh every time.

Described by Jazz Times as “a talent to be heard, admired and anticipated”,Chiara Izzi has developed a unique sonic interpretation of a fusion of different genres, including jazz, pop and Mediterranean sounds. Following her international debut performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition in 2011, at which Quincy Jones awarded her, the vocalist recorded her debut album Motifs (Dot Time Records). “Sister you are very, very talented. You should go to the U.S.," Jones encouraged Izzi at this early point in her career. Izzi moved to New York and has since performed at The Blue Note NY, The Iridium, Apollo Theater, Aspen Jazz Festival, Jazzahead, Smalls, as well as the Italian Embassy in Washington DC.

She has graced the stage with some of the finest musicians, including Leon Parker, Aaron Goldberg, Bruce Barth, Eliot Zigmund, Warren Wolf, Anthony Wonsey, among many others. The Italian singer has received remarkable appraisals from Bobby Watson, Benny Golson, Kevin Hays, Eliot Zigmund, Joel Frahm,Aaron Goldberg, David Kikosky, Greg Hutchinson, Jonathan Kreisbergand Dado Moroni.

Having released 15 recordings as a leader, Kevin Hays has received critical acclaim from publications such as The New York Times, Downbeat Magazine and Jazz Times, as well as a “Coup de Coeur” from the Académie Charles Cros (France). A prolific sideman appearing on over 60 records, Kevin’s long list of notable musical associations include records with Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton, and Al Foster. The New Day Trio is Kevin’s latest project with bassist Rob Jost (Bjork, Tony Scherr) and drummer Greg Joseph (Steve Kuhn, Art Garfunkel). Developing over a 2 year residency at New York’s 55 Bar alongside tours across the US and Europe, the trio emphasizes lyricism with a musical scope bridging Hays’ love of jazz, classical, blues, soul, folk and rock music.

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month - "Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj"

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month 
Brittany Anjou: "Enamigo Reciprokataj" (Origin CD 82774)
Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Composed, Arranged & Produced by Britanny Anjou
Recorded by Tom Tedesco and Andy Taub
Mixed by Dan Brantigan
Mastered by Kevin Reeves
Cover Painting: Anya Roberts-Toney's "In The Room Women Come And Go"
Design & Layout: John Bishop
Original Cover Concept: O. Horvath

Pianist-composer Brittany Anjou blends the influences of a wide range of jazz and classical piano, and a fascination with the Esperanto language, on her stunning debut "Enamiĝo Reciprokataj," set for a February 15 release on Origin Records. A trio album featuring bassist Greg Chudzik and drummer Nicholas Anderson (as well as two tracks with special guests, bassist Ari Folman-Cohen and drummer Ben Perowsky), it also includes 10 original compositions, highlighted by an eponymous five-part suite that showcases both Anjou's ambition and her originality.

"Enamiĝo Reciprokataj" (pronounced En-ah-mee-joh Reh-sih-pro-kah-tye) translates into English as Reciprocal Love -- or, alternately, as Mutual Breakdown. "[It's] a double entendre about improvisation and the push/pull of relationships," Anjou writes. She also refers to multiple levels of relationships: "It represents the enigma improvisers face to spontaneously fall in love with their instrument/the sound/the situation/each other," she says. "And additionally, to convince an audience to fall in love with their love."

If the concept sounds somewhat esoteric, the music itself is anything but. The album's bookend tracks, "Starlight" and its reprise "Reciproka Elektra," alternate instantly compelling, electronically processed washes with warm and confidently swinging piano-trio melodies. Each of the suite's five parts comprises an expressive, hook-filled tune and improvisation set to a joyful dance of a rhythm, from the whirlwind "Reciprokataj I: Cyrene (Flight of the Butterfly)" to the 5/4 bounce of "Reciprokataj IV: Olive You." Even the grim determination Anjou presents on "Reciprokataj V: Flowery Distress" is offset by Folman-Cohen and Perowsky's irrepressibility.

The album also honors Anjou's most important pianistic influences. Her phrasing and chord voicings channel the respective spirits of Oscar Peterson and Red Garland; in addition, she separates the parts of the suite with songs that directly pay tribute to favorites Ahmad Jamal ("Snuffaluffagas") and McCoy Tyner ("Hard Boiled Soup"). "All of the music celebrates my love affair with great jazz pianists," she says.

Anjou's use of Esperanto is not incidental: with "Enamiĝo Reciprokataj," she begins a planned trilogy of albums based on the concepts and structures of world languages. (The next two installments will center on Dagara and Arabic, respectively.) "To me, Esperanto is a romance," she says. "The language mirrors jazz improvisation . . . . Jazz and Esperanto are both contemporary languages of the last century, and both promote intercultural dialogue, democracy, and self-expression."
Brittany Anjou was born in 1984 in Minot, North Dakota, moving to Seattle as a very young child. Her mother was a pianist, flutist, and music teacher, and Brittany began playing piano herself at age five. Her mother also played a lot of jazz recordings around the house, and at 12, hearing a solo by the Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez, Brittany was inspired to begin studying jazz.

As a high school student, she joined and toured with Seattle's Roosevelt High School Jazz Band, meeting and performing with Wynton Marsalis in New York. Attending the Stanford Jazz Workshop at 16, she worked with Clark Terry, who became her idol. It was around that same time that Anjou began composing -- including much of the material that eventually became Enamiĝo Reciprokataj.

Arriving in New York to study music at NYU, Anjou studied with Stefon Harris, Tony Moreno, and Sherrie Maricle, as well as with Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer at School for Improvised Music. She also studied classical music in Prague with composer Milan Slavický, and West African gyil music in Ghana with master player Bernard Woma and his protegees. She has since performed in 13 countries on three continents with a number of ensembles including the New York Arabic Orchestra, the Shaggs, Bi TYRANT, and the LARCENY Chamber Orchestra (founding and leading the latter two).

Anjou began performing selections from Enamiĝo Reciprokataj while living in Prague in 2005 and continued honing it thereafter, including in a well-received performance with Bi TYRANT at New York's Zinc Bar during the 2018 Winter Jazz Festival. In the fall of 2018, she returned to Kuwait to teach piano and jazz ensembles as part of a nine-month residency at the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center opera house, in an experimental music program, the first of its kind in the country.

Brittany Anjou will perform CD release concerts at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC, on Mon. 2/25, with Chudzik and Tinnin. Anjou will also be playing with the Women in Jazz Organization collective at Jazzahead (Schwankhalle), Bremen, Germany on Sat. 4/27.
Photography: Jeff Chase
Web Site: brittanyanjou.com