The New York City Jazz Record

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After celebrating the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald this year, 2019 promises a raft of similar festivities around the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nat King Cole. Jazz at Lincoln Center and Smoke are getting the party started early with events in tribute to the pianist-vocalist and we are pleased to take that opportunity not only to put Cole on the cover but also dedicate this issue to vocal jazz. There are features on Shelley Hirsch (Interview, performing at Areté Gallery and Issue Project Room), Champian Fulton (Artist Feature, appearing at Birdland Theater, Blue Note and Mezzrow), Lauren Newton (Encore) and Leon Thomas (Lest We Forget), plus a front-loaded CD Review section (pgs. 14-19). And since it is December, we present our jazzy gift guide, full of books, DVDs, boxed sets, novelty items and holiday CDs.

There is another, more personal milestone we are celebrating with this issue. We close 2018 with our 200th issue. Since 2002 we have presented nearly 1,000 profiles, over 250 festival reports and 1,500 concert reviews and approaching 11,000 album reviews. Whether you have been with us since the beginning or just picking us up for the first time, we greatly appreciate the support of you, our dear reader, and wish you and yours a happy holiday season.

On the Cover: NAT KING COLE

By Ori Dagan; photos by William P. Gottlieb.Collection of Library of Congress

When on my last recording I decided to pay tribute to Nat King Cole, I was asked "Why Nat?", prompting me to reflect on all my sentimental reasons. Too young. His output unforgettable but really bordering on unbelievable. Genius jazz pianist turned chart-topping pop star? Like his sound, this legacy was all his own and he made it all look and sound easy. In less than a quarter of a century, Cole recorded over 100 songs that became hits on the pop charts, on paper a nearly impossible feat for an African-American in the '40s-50s. Tributes to Cole are at Smoke Dec. 7th-9th with Allan Harris and The Appel Room Dec. 14th-15th with Sachal Vasandani.

Interview: SHELLEY HIRSCH

By John Pietaro; photo by William Wolfgang Daniel

Shelley Hirsch is a Downtown original. The vocalist was one of the framers, conjuring and creating with the renegades of New York's '70s-90s arts underground. Though still centered in NYC, her career has consistently extended well beyond Houston Street through collaborations with John Zorn, Butch Morris, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, David Moss, Ikue Mori, Jin Hi Kim, Phill Niblock, David Weinstein and an expansive array of others. Hirsch is at Areté Gallery Dec. 11th in duo with Anthony Coleman and Issue Project Room Dec. 15th in duo with Marcia Bassett.

Artist Feature: CHAMPIAN FULTON

By Marilyn Lester; photo courtesy of the artist

Pianist/vocalist Champian Fulton has, in her own words, reached a milestone in her career. She's just released a new album, The Stylings of Champian, her 10th in a dozen years. That kind of output would be remarkable for any artist, but for this 33-year-old it's tremendous; consider that she embarked on this path at 21, playing with the same band since age 19. Fulton is at Blue Note Dec. 9th, Birdland Theater Dec. 23rd and Mezzrow Dec. 30th. See Calendar.

Encore: LAUREN NEWTON

By George Grella

Singer Lauren Newton has been living and making music in Europe for so long she speaks English with a pronounced German accent. Born and raised in Oregon, she studied as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon in the mid '70s, where a "program offered students [a chance] to go to Europe and live with local families and soak up local culture," she explained on a recent phone call. "The year I went I was fortunate to go to Stuttgart." There, in 1977, she earned a degree in Vocal Performance from the Stuttgart School of Music. Then she "started performing jazz, new music, liturgical music" as part of church services, "and local 'rock-jazz' as they called it. I became known as the crazy singer who doesn't know any words."

Lest We Forget: LEON THOMAS

By Mark Keresman

Every jazz era has its singers, closely identified with musical styles and trends, representing and sometimes transcending the times. During the postbop, avant garde and fusion periods (circa 1966-80) were vocalists who utilized their voices in the manner of instrumentalists—these include Andy Bey, Sheila Jordan, Flora Purim and Leon Thomas. The latter (1937-1999) could vocalize in a massive, masculine tone like blues shouter Big Joe Turner; make with yodels, glottal-stops and glissandos; intone syllables, vowels and primal sounds; and be mellow and suave, meditative and comforting. Whichever approach, Thomas was always distinctive and memorable.

Record Label Spotlight: PM RECORDS

By Jim Motavalli

The genesis of bassist Gene Perla's PM record label, which has released many groundbreaking postbop and fusion records (with a special concentration on the music of drummer Elvin Jones and Stone Alliance) goes back to the early '70s. Artists performing this month include Gene Perla at Bard Graduate Center Gallery Dec. 5th and Dave Liebman at Smalls Dec. 6th with Michael Feinberg.

Special Feature: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Jazz suggestions for boxed sets, books, DVDs, CDs and miscellaneous gifts.

CD Reviews

(this month's performance venues in parentheses):

  1. Karrin Allyson -- Some of that Sunshine Kasrecords (54 Below)
  2. Helen Sung -- Sung with Words (A Collaboration with Dana Gioia) Stricker Street (Jazz Standard)
  3. Cécile McLorin Salvant -- The Window Mack Avenue (Jazz Standard)
  4. Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams -- Vanished Gardens Blue Note (Rose Theater)
  5. Kyoko Kitamura's Tidepool Fauna -- Protean Labyrinth s/r (Spectrum)
  6. NES -- Ahlam ACT
  7. Noa Fort -- No World Between Us Fortisima Music
  8. Lynn Cassiers -- Imaginary Band Clean Feed
  9. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra -- Una Noche con Rubén Blades Blue Engine (Rose Theater)
  10. Daryl Sherman -- Lost in a Crowded Place Audiophile (Saint Peter's Church; Mezzrow)
  11. Danny Bacher -- Still Happy Whaling City Sound (54 Below)
  12. Madeleine Peyroux -- Anthem Verve
  13. Kurt Elling -- The Questions OKeh
  14. Judi Silvano & The Zephyr Band -- Lessons Learned Unit
  15. Benny Green -- Then and Now Sunnyside
  16. Jeff Rupert/Veronica Swift -- Let's Sail Away Rupe Media (Rose Theater; Birdland)
  17. Nancy Harrow -- Partners BenFan Music
  18. David Virelles -- Igbó Alákorin (The Singer's Grove) Vol. I & II Pi/El Tivoli Music (Village Vanguard; Le Poisson Rouge; The Jazz Gallery)
  19. John Scofield -- Combo 66 Verve (Blue Note)
  20. The Humanity Quartet -- Humanity Cellar Jazz (Smalls; Zinc Bar; Birdland; Smoke; Village Vanguard; Walkers; Jazz Standard)
  21. Bill Stewart -- Band Menu s/r (Blue Note; Cornelia Street Undergound)
  22. Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet -- Time Like This Intakt (Korzo; Greenwich House Music School)
  23. Alexander von Schlippenbach/Aki Takase -- Live at Café Amores NoBusiness
  24. Dave Ballou & BeepHonk -- The Windup Clean Feed (Korzo; Greenwich House Music School)
  25. Bill Stevens -- Connections MilesSmiles (Tomi Jazz)
  26. Mary Halvorson/Bill Frisell -- The Maid with The Flaxen Hair: A Tribute to Johnny Smith Tzadik (Rose Theater; Roulette; Cornelia Street Underground)
  27. Donny McCaslin -- Blow Motéma (Jazz Standard)
  28. Wayne Horvitz -- The Snowghost Sessions Songlines (Roulette)
  29. Wayne Horvitz -- Those Who Remain National Sawdust (Roulette)
  30. Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman/Hilliard Greene/Federico Ughi -- Telepatia Liquida 577 Records (Shapeshifter Lab)
  31. Daniel Carter/Hilliard Greene/David Haney -- Live Constructions Slam (Shapeshifter Lab)
  32. Listening Band -- Eponymous 577 Records
  33. Myriad3 -- Vera Alma
  34. Quartette Oblique -- Eponymous Sunnyside
  35. Elio Villafranca -- Cinque ArtistShare (Harlem Stage Gatehouse)
  36. Dmitry Baevsky/Jeb Patton -- We Too Jazz&People (Smalls)
  37. Gabriel Zucker -- Weighting ESP-Disk (Spectrum; Areté Gallery)
  38. Kirk Knuffke/Steven Herring -- Witness SteepleChase
  39. Pierre Dørge -- Soundscapes SteepleChase
  40. Wendy Eisenberg -- The Machinic Unconscious Tzadik (Nublu 151; The Owl Music Parlor)
  41. Wendy Eisenberg -- Its Shape Is Your Touch VDSQ (Nublu 151; The Owl Music Parlor)
  42. Winged Serpents -- Six Encomiums for Cecil Taylor Tzadik
  43. Alister Spence/Satoko Fujii -- Intelsat Libra (The Stone at The New School)
  44. Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda -- Mizu Long Song (The Stone at The New School)
  45. Mahobin -- Live at Big Apple in Kobe Libra (The Stone at The New School)
  46. Brandon Lopez -- Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis Astral Spirits (Museum of Arts and Design)
  47. John Zorn -- In a Convex Mirror Tzadik (The Stone at The New School)
  48. Neal Kirkwood -- Blue Inventions s/r (Third Street Music School Settlement)
  49. Brubeck Brothers -- TimeLine Blue Forest
  50. Cyrus Chestnut -- Kaleidoscope HighNote (Smoke)
  51. Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra -- Fandango at the Wall: A Soundtrack for The United States, Mexico and Beyond Resilience Music Alliance (Birdland)
  52. Jacob Sacks -- Fishes Clean Feed (Roulette; Smalls)
  53. Samo Salamon/Tony Malaby/Robert Dani -- Traveling Moving Breathing Clean Feed (55Bar; Roulette; Bar Lunàtico; Bushwick Public House; Balboa; Smalls)
  54. Chris Lightcap -- Superette Royal Potato Family (Korzo)
  55. Ben Wendel -- The Seasons Motéma (Jazz Standard)
  56. Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Joshua Abrams -- Ithra Aerophonic (Spectrum)
  57. Tomeka Reid/Kyoko Kitamura/Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris -- Geometry of Caves Relative Pitch (Spectrum)
  58. Adam Kolker/Russ Lossing -- Whispers and Secrets Fresh Sound (Bushwick Public House; Balboa; Smalls; Ibeam Brooklyn)
  59. Mark Wade -- Moving Day s/r (Flushing Town Hall)
  60. Chris Beck -- The Journey A.W.M.C (Smoke)
  61. Andrew Rathbun -- Character Study SteepleChase (Cornelia Street Underground)
  62. John Zorn -- The Garden of Earthly Delights Tzadik (The Stone)
  63. Curtis Fuller -- In New Orleans Progressive
  64. Harold Mabern -- The Iron Man: Live at Smoke Smoke Sessions (Fat Cat; Dizzy's Club; Smoke)
  65. PUI4 -- A Pearl in Dirty Hands AUT
  66. Ingrid Laubrock/Tom Rainey -- Utter Relative Pitch (Cornelia Street Underground)
  67. Kenny Werner -- The Space Pirouet (Jazz at Kitano)
  68. Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band -- Melody Reimagined: Book 1 Basin Street (Dizzy's Club)
  69. Jake Ehrenreich (with Roger Kellaway Trio) -- A Treasury of Jewish Christmas Songs s/r
  70. Joey Alexander -- A Joey Alexander Christmas Motéma
  71. Duchess -- Harmony for the Holidays Anzic

...and Plenty More!

Look for other sections like In Memoriam, On This Day, In Print, On DVD, VOXNews, NY@Night, Recommended New Releases, Birthdays, and our invaluable Event Calendar.

Thanks so much for reading The New York City Jazz Record, the city's only homegrown gazette devoted to the music.

All the best,
Andrey and Laurence