As we look over the backgrounds of our big three features, we are moved at how jazz is, at its core, about diversity, communication and the positive effects of people coming together for a greater good. Pianist Frank Kimbrough (On The Cover), from the battleground state of North Carolina, celebrates another of the state's famed sons with Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk (Sunnyside), presented this month at Jazz Standard. Saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh (Interview) has spent his career developing what he calls "Chromodal Discourse", incorporating classical Iranian music with jazz; he performs at The Jazz Gallery in four sets of duos. Pianist Eri Yamamoto (Artist Feature), born in Japan but in NYC for the past 23 years, mixes the traditions of her native and adopted homes with Goshu Ondo Suite presented at the Studios of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
All this demonstrates that art is capable of bridging myriad cultural divides facing our society today. But it takes more than buying a CD or attending a concert. Nov. 6th is the most crucial election in a generation. If we have any hope of salvaging the United States' moral position in the world, then voting is no longer a luxury but a final stand against darker days.
On the Cover: FRANK KIMBROUGH
By Donald Elfman; photos by Chris Drukker and Marielle Solan
The very notion of recording the complete compositions of one of the vital figures in jazz history—pianist Thelonious Monk—seems, no is, an ambitious and bold undertaking... Pianist Frank Kimbrough and his brilliant quartet were up to the challenge and the result, Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk (Sunnyside), sparkles with authenticity, dedication and love. Kimbrough's Monk Project is at Jazz Standard Nov. 27th-28th.
Interview: HAFEZ MODIRZADEH
By Jim Motavallo; photo by Radoslaw Kazmierczak
Hafez Modirzadeh is Professor of Music and Co-Director of the Jazz and World Music Studies program at San Francisco State University, the faculty of which he joined in 1998. He's also a working jazz saxophonist, dedicated to exploring his Iranian musical heritage and integrating it into his jazz playing. Modirzadeh's albums as a leader include Post-Chromodal Out!, In Convergence Liberation and the Radif Suite with Amir ElSaffar (all on Pi Recordings). His compositions have been supported by two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (in 1989 and 1991), Other Minds and Djerassi Resident Artists Program. A 2004-05 sabbatical took him to Andalusia, Spain on a Fulbright scholarship, where he studied and lectured on flamenco music and its relation to jazz. He remains a determined internationalist and musical integrator. Modirzadeh is at The Jazz Gallery Nov. 9th-10th.
Artist Feature: ERY YAMAMOTO
By Marc Medwin; photo by Jimmy Katz
Eri Yamamoto's enthusiasm is quietly infectious as she describes the impetus for her large-scale composition, to be performed this month at the Studios of the Paul Taylor Dance Company. "I've absolutely loved the musical associations I've made since I moved to New York. I get to play with wonderful people in all kinds of places, often with my trio but also in other combinations. Over the last couple years, I have felt the desire to put my energies into something bigger…" Yamamoto's Goshu Ondo Suite is at Studios of the Paul Taylor Dance Company Nov. 17th-18th.
Encore: PETER LEITCH
By Ken Dryden
After several decades of building an impressive discography as a guitarist, leader and composer, Peter Leitch nearly lost his life in a battle with lung cancer diagnosed five years ago. Now in remission, Leitch is upbeat and productive, though he no longer can play the guitar... While illness curtailed his performing career, once his recovery was underway, Leitch found that his interest in music was still strong. Leitch's New Life Orchestra is at The 75 Club Nov. 30th-Dec. 1st.
Lest We Forget: JOE WILLIAMS
By Ori Dagan
Smack dab in the middle between the kingdoms of blues and jazz, Joe Williams was undeniably regal. On the surface, his bass-baritone is an instrument of immense power and astonishing range; its uniquely blue-colored tone—somewhere between cobalt and sapphire—alone could leave a listener breathless. A tribute to Williams by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with guest Milton Suggs is at Rose Theater Nov. 3rd.
Record Label Spotlight: UNSEEN WORLDS
By Eric Wendell
"Our motto is groundbreaking, yet accessible, avant garde music," says Tommy McCutchon, founder of the New York-based label Unseen Worlds. Since its inception in 2006, Unseen Worlds has eschewed the notion of genre and focuses instead on the idea of avant garde music that traverses categorization in a way that is agreeable yet dynamic in execution.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Elliott Sharp -- Transmigration at the Solar Max Intakt (Roulette)
Scott Hamilton -- Live at Pyatt Hall Cellar Live
Jon Batiste -- Hollywood Africans Verve (VIllage Vanguard)
Peter Zak -- One Mind Fresh Sound (Fat Cat; Smalls; The 75 Club)
The Bad Plus -- Never Stop II Legbreaker (VIllage Vanguard)
Myra Melford's Snowy Egret -- The Other Side of Air Firehouse 12 (Dizzy's Club)
Jazz Rock Experience -- Let Yourself Go Sonorama
Kimmig-Studer-Zimmerlin String Trio -- In Hellen hat[now]ART
Simon Nabatov String Trio -- Situations Leo
Violet Sp!n -- Sp!n Unit
Tyshawn Sorey -- Pillars Firehouse 12 (Dizzy's Club; The Jazz Gallery; Korzo)
Felipe Salles -- The Lullaby Project (And Other Works for Large Ensemble) Tapestry (The Jazz Gallery)
James Francies -- Flight Blue Note (Jazz Standard)
Josh Sinton Predicate Trio -- making bones, taking draughts, bearing unstable millstones pridefully, idiotically, prosaically Iluso (Greenwich House Music School)