In 1989 Tina Turner sang, "You're simply the best, better than all the rest." While we don't care for this sappy love song, the sentiment moves us as the calendar page turns to a new year and we take a moment (and centerfold) to remember the best jazz had to offer in 2017. Peruse our various categories and see what you may have missed (pgs. 26-27). And speaking of being missed, we include a comprehensive list of those jazz folk who passed last year as well as a special In Memoriam CD Review section (pgs. 12-13).
And like a much hipper Tina Turner sang in 1970, "Big wheel keep on turning." 2018 is upon us with a new crop of jazz to plow through like Nor'easter's worth of snow. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey (On The Cover), already fascinating in 2017 and selected as one of our Musicians of the Year, will continue to grow thanks to his newly minted status as a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and numerous shows around town this month. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (Interview) kicks off the new CD season with a release mini-stand at Dizzy's Club. And baritone saxophonist Claire Daly (Artist Feature) continues to be timeless with a pair of concerts this month.
On the Cover: TYSHAWN SOREY
By Robert Bush; photos by John Rogers and courtesy of John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
To say that multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey is on a roll could just be the understatement of 2017. He released his highly acclaimed Verisimilitude (Pi) and began working as an assistant professor at Wesleyan University last fall; one month later he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Award known as the "Genius Grant". It's a fitting moniker; almost everyone he's collaborated with raves about his staggering musicality. Sorey is at Birdland Jan. 9th-13th with Vijay Iyer, Le Poisson Rouge Jan. 16th solo as part of Winter Jazzfest, The Stone Jan. 20th and National Sawdust Jan. 31st.
Interview: JEREMY PELT
By Russ Musto; photo by Sally Pritchard/JALC
41-year-old trumpeter Jeremy Pelt has been hailed as one of the most powerful voices on his horn today. The California native earned his stripes on the New York scene at the turn of this century playing with the Mingus Big Band shortly after his move from Boston, following his graduation from Berklee College of Music. While his subsequent work as a sideman with mainstream masters like Louis Hayes and Cedar Walton placed him squarely at the forefront of the hardbop trumpet lineage, his own work as a bandleader and composer has shown him to be all that and much more. Over a dozen albums under his own name clearly demonstrate a creative spirit who can not be so easily categorized. Pelt is at Smalls Jan. 5th-6th as part of The SmallsLIVE Collective, Blue Note Jan. 22nd with JAZZ-AGEDDON, Birdland Jan. 23rd-27th with Vincent Herring and Dizzy's Club Jan. 30th-31st with his quintet.
Artist Feature: CLAIRE DALY
By Ken Dryden; photo courtesy of the artist
With her big sound and strong soloing, Claire Daly has long been one of the most acclaimed baritone saxophonists around. Daly is at New York City Baha'i Center Jan. 16th with her quartet and Downtown Music Gallery Jan. 21st with the Zodiac Quartet.
Encore: RHODA SCOTT
By George Kanzler
In the early '60s, Rhoda Scott led a trio that was popular on the urban jazz club (aka "chitlin' club") circuit in the metro-New Jersey-New York area. Scott's Lady Quartet is at Dizzy's Club Jan. 15th.
Lest We Forget: ORAN "HOT LIPS" PAGE
By Marilyn Lester
Trumpeter Oran Thaddeus Page, nicknamed "Hot Lips", lived up to his moniker in every way. (Oxford Dictionary now defines hot lips as "an energetic or exciting jazz trumpeter.")
Record Label Spotlight: JACC
By Stuart Broomer
Little more than a decade ago, Portugal, isolated at the southwestern fringe of Europe, had a low profile in jazz and improvised music. Today the situation couldn't be more different. A few musicians of the very first rank have emerged from the country and two record labels launched in Lisbon in 2001 have likely produced larger catalogues in their fields than any other labels in the same time period. Clean Feed, devoted to free jazz, and Creative Sources, focusing on free improvisation, are both approaching the 500-disc mark. One might imagine that would pretty much exhaust the Portuguese capacity for challenging recordings, but others have emerged in their wake, most notably JACC. Artists performing this month include Jeb Bishop at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center Jan. 8th and Sara Serpa at New School 2nd Floor Theater Jan. 12th as part of Winter Jazzfest.
Special Feature: BEST OF 2017
Our selections for the finest from 2017 in a wide variety of categories.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Larry Coryell's 11th House -- Seven Secrets Savoy Jazz
Benjamin Herman/Peter Beets/Han Bennink/Ruud Jacobs -- Quartet-NL ICP/VPRO
Steps Ahead -- Steppin' Out (with WDR Big Band Cologne) Sunnyside
Muhal Richard Abrams -- Volume 2: The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Black Saint/Soul Note-CAMJAZZ
Eric Alexander -- Song of No Regrets HighNote (Smoke; Birdland)
Monty Alexander -- Here Comes The Sun MPS-Edel (Birdland)
Miklós Lukács/Larry Grenadier/Eric Harland -- Cimbalom Unlimited BMC Records (Village Vanguard; Grace R. Rogers Auditorium)
DEK Trio -- Construct 1: The Stone Audiographic
Ken Vandermark/Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar -- Escalator Not Two (The Stone)
Made to Break -- Trébuchet Trost
JD Allen -- Radio Flyer Savant (Jazz Standard; Weill Recital Hall)
Eddie Daniels/Roger Kellaway -- Just Friends (Live at the Village Vanguard) Resonance (Mezzrow; Jazz at Kitano)
André Lachance -- The Orange Challenge s/r
Jeonglim Yang -- Déjà Vu Fresh Sound-New Talent
Or Bareket -- OB1 Fresh Sound-New Talent
Kenny Werner -- Animal Crackers Pirouet (Jazz at Kitano)
Tom Harrell -- Moving Picture HighNote (VIllage Vanguard)
Lauren Kinhan -- A Sleepin' Bee Dotted i (Sheen Center)
Amy London -- Bridges FiveCat (Minton's)
Michele Franzini/Roberto Mattei/Rudy Royston -- Roots 'n' Rain Abeat (Weill Recital Hall; Bar Next Door; Zinc Bar)
Anat Cohen -- Happy Song Anzic (Rose Theater)
Dr. Lonnie Smith -- All In My Mind Blue Note (Jazz Standard)
Gard Nilssen -- Live in Europe Clean Feed (Winter Jazzfest)