After a year of mostly bad to terrible news, we try to cheer ourselves up by presenting our annual Best of 2018 in jazz spread (pgs. 26-27). As the cold weather finally hits, it warms us up to to think of all the great albums and shows that filled 2018. We hope some of your own favorites are here as well as some new discoveries as we plunge into 2019. Of course our enthusiasm is tempered when we also consider all those lost from the jazz world over the past 12 months, including the tragic death of Roy Hargrove, to whom we dedicate two pages of remembrances from friends and colleagues. The complete list of jazz passings is on pg. 12.
But jazz hasn't maintained its stranglehold on 1.2% of the music market by wallowing in the past for too long. We celebrate those who have been doing it a long long time (like drummer Jimmy Cobb, our cover feature, who has a 90th birthday celebration at Jazz Standard this month, or trombonist Dick Griffin, our Interview, who fêtes former boss Rahsaan Roland Kirk at Sistas' Place) and those newer to the game (saxophonist Anna Webber, our Artist Feature, celebrating her Pi Recordings debut at The Jazz Gallery, or Dan Peck's Tubapede imprint). And who knows what CDs or shows in this month's edition will be on our Best of 2019 list.
On the Cover: JIMMY COBB
By Russ Musto; photos by Jack Vartoogian
"Miles used to say, I was just around all these people and the music just crept into my body," NEA Jazz Master drummer Jimmy Cobb notes with a characteristic chuckle from his second home in upstate New York, where he spends much of his time when not at his Harlem residence or out on the road, as he has been doing for nearly 75 years. Cobb's 90th Birthday Celebration is at Jazz Standard Jan. 31st-Feb. 3rd.
Interview: DICK GRIFFIN
By Anders Griffen; photo by Peter Gannushkin
Dick Griffin is a composer, educator and trombonist who has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz and soul, as well as appearing with several symphony orchestras. Known for his time with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra, he also worked with Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and Isaac Hayes, among many others. Griffin has developed a personalized technique he calls "circularphonics", in which he combines circular breathing with multiphonics. Later in his career, Griffin became an accomplished painter. He is currently working on a series about race focused on the color red. Griffin is at Sistas' Place Jan. 26th.
Artist Feature: ANNA WEBBER
By John Sharpe; photo Liz Cosack/Courtesy of the artist
If there were a prize for avoiding the obvious, then New York-based Canadian saxophonist/flutist Anna Webber would be a prime contender. Whether composing or playing, she takes the road less traveled, as amply evidenced by the two outstanding albums from her Simple Trio with drummer John Hollenbeck and pianist Matt Mitchell. Next month, Webber releases a new disc on the influential Pi Recordings imprint, which both expands her range and dials up the intrigue several notches further. Webber's sextet is at The Jazz Gallery Jan. 28th.
Encore: JAMES NEWTON
By John Pietaro
The ghost of Eric Dolphy looms large. Nearly 55 years after his untimely passing, the global jazz community remains fascinated with this giant of the music, of conceptions far afield. Not the least among his followers is flutist James Newton, who has always attested to Dolphy as the force that led him to the instrument. Newton is at Varis Leichtman Studio at Jazz at Lincoln Center Jan. 25th as part of "Eric Dolphy: Musings on a Musical Prophet".
Lest We Forget: MOONDOG
By Marilyn Lester
In the early '70s, the blind "Viking" who stood on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street in Manhattan seemed to be just another New York eccentric. Most had no clue about his identity. Little did they know he was Louis Thomas Hardin, Jr. aka Moondog, a minimalist jazz composer who'd been fêted by royalty, hailed as a creative genius and endorsed by some of the world's greatest musicians and composers. And under his robes, as he stood, Moondog was composing music with a Braille slate and puncher—compositions he would later have transcribed into charts and scores. Ghost Train Orchestra plays Moondog Jan. 5th at SubCulture as part of Winter Jazzfest.
Record Label Spotlight: TUBAPEDE
By Stuart Broomer
The label is the work of tuba player Dan Peck, a conduit for his own music and projects—definitely—but also an expression of a musical philosophy, one that seems to embrace the special possibilities when an instrument is taken to extremes. Artists performing this month include Joe Moffett at St. Lydia's Jan. 17th and Dan Peck at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Jan. 13th and St. Lydia's Jan. 17th.
In Memoriam: ROY HARGROVE
Remembrances of the trumpeter from Carl Allen, Terence Blanchard, Marc Cary, Lezlie Harrison, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Sean Jones, Victor Lewis, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Justin Robinson, Don Sickler and Bobby Watson.
Special Feature: BEST OF 2018
Our picks for the best in jazz from the past year: Albums, Concerts, Musicians, Venues, Labels, Unearthed Gems, Latin, Vocals, Large Ensembles, Boxed Sets, Original Album Artwork, Live albums, Solo albums, Tributes, Debuts, Reissues and Books.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Fred Hersch -- '97 @The Village Vanguard Palmetto (VIllage Vanguard)
Frank Kimbrough -- Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk Sunnyside (The Stone at The New School; Bar Lunàtico; Birdland; Mezzrow)
Miles Okazaki -- WORK (The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk) s/r (Winter Jazzfest)
Butcher Brown -- Camden Session Gearbox (Blue Note; Winter Jazzfest)
Tia Fuller -- Diamond Cut Mack Avenue (Winter Jazzfest)
Eric Dolphy -- Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions Resonance (Jazz at Lincoln Center)
Sound & Fury -- Thundering of Dawn Karkia Mistika
Lisbon Freedom Unit -- Praise of our Folly Clean Feed
Francesco Cafiso -- We Play For Tips E Flat
Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell -- Lebroba ECM (Zurcher Gallery; The Appel Room; Roulette)
Antonio Sanchez & Migration -- Lines in the Sand CAMJazz (Highline Ballroom)
Ben Goldberg/Kirk Knuffke -- Uncompahgre Relative Pitch (Winter Jazzfest)
Brian Chase/Rob Reich/Ben Goldberg -- Title of Work Bag Productions (Winter Jazzfest)
John Medeski's Mad Skillet -- Eponymous Indirecto (Winter Jazzfest; National Sawdust)
Jeb Patton -- Tenthish, Live In New York Cellar Jazz (Blue Note)
Shai Maestro -- The Dream Thief ECM (Winter Jazzfest)
Mathias Eick -- Ravensburg ECM (Winter Jazzfest)
John Bailey -- In Real TIme Summit (Smalls)
Rhythm Future Quartet -- And Friends Magic Fiddle Music (Winter Jazzfest)
Hamid Drake/Ralph M. Jones/Adam Rudolph -- Karuna Meta (Winter Jazzfest)
Yoni Kretzmer's New Dilemma -- Months, Weeks and Days OutNow (Bushwick Public House)
Eddie Palmieri -- Full Circle Uprising Music-Ropeadope (Blue Note)
Eddie Palmieri -- Mi Luz Mayor Uprising Music-Ropeadope (Blue Note)
Misha Piatigorsky -- No Moon At All s/r (55Bar; Zinc Bar; Birdland; Russian Samovar)
Christian McBride -- New Jawn Mack Avenue-Brother Mister Productions (Brooklyn Bowl)
Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Mark Feldman/Jason Hwang -- Strings 1 Leo (The Jazz Gallery; The Stone at The New School)
Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Hank Roberts/Ned Rothenberg -- Strings 2 Leo (The Jazz Gallery; The Stone at The New School)
Yuhan Su -- City Animals Sunnyside (The Cell)
Ann Hampton Callaway -- Jazz Goes to the Movies Shanachie (Birdland)
Mulatu Astatke & His Ethiopian Quintet -- Afro-Latin Soul Worthy-Strut
Beaver Harris + Don Pullen 360° Experience -- A Well Kept Secret Shemp-Corbett vs. Dempsey
Cecil Taylor -- Conversations with Tony Oxley Jazzwerkstatt
Bob Dorough -- But For Now Enja
Ingrid Laubrock -- Contemporary Chaos Practices Intakt (The Stone at The New School)
William Parker -- Flower In a Stained-Glass Window & The Blinking of The Ear Centering (The Stone at The New School; Bowery Poetry Club; Bushwick Public House; Nublu 151)
Peter Evans/Cory Smythe -- Weatherbird More is More/Tundra (Roulette)
Various Artists -- A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper Impulse (Winter Jazzfest)
Lisa Hilton -- Oasis Ruby Slippers Productions (Weill Recital Hall)
Tessa Souter -- Picture in Black and White NOA (Mezzrow; 55Bar)
EJ Strickland -- Warriors for Peace Jammin'colorS (Jazz Standard)
Akira Sakata/Simon Nabatov/Takashi Seo/Darren Moore -- Not Seeing Is A Flower Leo
Kelly Green -- Volume One s/r (Birdland Theater)
Frank Morgan/George Cables -- Montreal Memories HighNote (Dizzy's Club)
Stan Getz -- Live in Paris (1959) Fremeaux & Assoc.
Anthony Coleman -- Live at Pinelina Dnevna Soba Klopotec (The Stone at The New School)
Phillip Johnston & The Coolerators -- Diggin' Bones Asynchronous
Phillip Johnston -- The Adventures of Prince Achmed Asynchronous
Andy Milne & Dapp Theory -- The Season of Being Sunnyside (Dizzy's Club)
...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.