The New York City Jazz Record

The City's Only Homegrown Jazz Gazette!

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2020 cannot be over fast enough. What started out as a promising year lurched to a bizarre, tragic and disgusting stop with the pandemic, police violence and the presidential election. Musicians found themselves gigless and tourless, forced to navigate the new reality of music through a screen or on a street corner. Even here at the gazette we transitioned to digital editions (who would have thought we could miss newsprint-stained fingers) in an uphill battle for survival. And even though the calendar may change, the problems and fear will remain in 2021. But, with the hopefulness of a New Year's Resolution or shiny new gym membership, there is cause for some optimism, as long as the painful lessons of the past year are not forgotten and those who believe in the beauty of art, the sanctity of citizenship and the need for community continue to act as agents of change.

We present this final edition of 2020 with our usual eclectic range of coverage: legendary alto saxophonist Charles McPherson (On The Cover); longtime cornet explorer Graham Haynes (Interview); up-and-coming alto saxophonist Alexa Tarantino (Artist Feature); two sides of the jazz coin in bassoonist Karen Borca (Encore) and trumpeter Bill Hardman (Lest We Forget); and historically-minded French imprint Frémeaux & Associés. And even if you cannot (or, rather, should not) gather with your loved ones this holiday season, you can still show you care by sending them something from our Holiday Gift Guide (mail it early as we all know what the post office is like these days).

We close by thanking musicians for persevering, clubs for reinventing, listeners for supporting and you, dear readers, for sticking with us. Best Wishes for 2021.

On the Cover: CHARLES McPHERSON

By Robert Bush; photos by Tariq Johnson & Antonio Porcar courtesy of the artist

2020 looked to be the year of alto saxophone icon Charles McPherson. The music world at large had finally seemed to be leaning toward a greater appreciation for the 81-year-old master...Last December he assembled a stellar band to cut his 30th album as a leader, Jazz Dance Suites, at the Van Gelder Studio. Then the coronavirus exploded and it all fell apart. An April debut with the San Diego Ballet was an early casualty; a European summer tour was next; an album release tour starting at Dizzy's Club in September was scrapped as well as a week-long artist residency at the Berklee College of Music. Not to mention a "Charles McPherson Day" in his hometown of Joplin. McPherson live-streams Dec. 19th at gmfjazzsummit.com/concerts-online-special-charles-mcpherson.

Interview: GRAHAM HAYNES

By Anders Griffen; photo Adriano Bellucci courtesy of the artist

Graham Haynes is a cornet player and composer who, for over 40 years, has been exploring and fusing together disparate musical influences including classical and electronic music, African, Arabian and South Asian music, drum 'n' bass, hip-hop and jazz. His father, Roy Haynes, is one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time. As a performer the younger Haynes has worked with Jaki Byard, Ed Blackwell, Butch Morris, David Murray, Vernon Reid, Bill Laswell, Steve Coleman, Cassandra Wilson, Meshell Ndegeocello and The Roots, among many others. He has nearly 200 album credits as a leader and sideman. While also working as an educator and lecturer, since 2000 his work has focused on chamber group composition and multimedia projects. He left his study of classical composition at Queens College in the late '70s to become a player and now he has come full circle as his lifelong study has led him to compose for the orchestra. Haynes live-streams Dec. 4th at roulette.org.

Artist Feature: ALEXA TARANTINO

By Russ Musto; photo Anna Yatskevich courtesy of the artist

Few decide what their life work will be before their tenth birthday. Even fewer are fortunate enough to have that youthful dream flourish into adulthood. Alexa Tarantino, one of those rare individuals, born on May 30th, 1992 in West Hartford, Connecticut, remembers, "I must have been probably a third grader and my parents took me to the local high school jazz concert and that's where I got the bug." The show was at what would be her future alma mater, Hall High School. She says, "Every March or so they put on a big show called Pops 'n Jazz and I saw Erica von Kleist play there and told my parents 'That's what I want to do.'" Tarantino live-streams Sundays at alexatarantino.com/projects/quarantine-concerts-with-steven-feifke.

Encore: KAREN BORCA

By Alex Henderson

The bassoon has never been a common instrument in jazz and most of the players who drew praise played it as a secondary instrument (Illinois Jacquet, Garvin Bushell, Frank Tiberi). Karen Borca has been making the bassoon her primary instrument for well over half a century, building an impressive resumé in avant garde through associations with pianist Cecil Taylor, alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, bassist Alan Silva, percussionist Paul Murphy and others. Borca live-streams Dec. 1st at artsforart.org/onlinesalon.html.

Lest We Forget: BILL HARDMAN

By George Kanzler

Many trumpet players who rose to fame from the mid '50s to the end of the 20th Century attended the famous finishing school known as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. But only one was a Jazz Messenger in three different decades, with tenures in the '50s, '60s and '70s, all documented on Blakey recordings. That was Bill Hardman, who is somehow overlooked in most rosters of the great hardbop trumpeters of the last half of the 20th Century. He shouldn't be.

Record Label Spotlight: FRÉMEAUX & ASSOCIÉS

By Marilyn Lester

Anyone who's ever experienced the vastness of a large department store such as Harrod's in London or Macy's New York will instantly recognize the metaphor when applied to French independent record label Frémeaux & Associés. The catalog offers a stunningly vast collection of reissued sound recordings, from soup to proverbial nuts.

Special Feature: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Recommendations for the jazz lover in your life (and/or yourself) such as jazzy holiday albums, books, boxed sets and miscellany.

CD Reviews

(this month's performance/streaming venues in parentheses):

  1. Mars WilliamsAn Ayler Xmas, Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC Astral Spirits/Soulwhat
  2. Warren WolfChristmas Vibes Mack Avenue
  3. 3D Jazz TrioChristmas in 3D Diva Jazz
  4. Christian McBrideFor Jimmy, Wes and Oliver Mack Avenue
  5. Count Basie OrchestraElla at 100: Live at the Apollo Concord
  6. Ab Baars/Joost BuisMoods for Roswell Wig
  7. Frode Gjerstad/Fred Lonberg-Holm/William Parker/Steve SwellTales From Fundacja Sluchaj (Arts for Art)
  8. Doug WebbApples & Oranges Posi-Tone
  9. Farnell NewtonRippin' & Runnin' Posi-Tone
  10. Brian CharetteLike The Sun s/r (Soapbox Gallery)
  11. Regina CarterSwing States: Harmony In The Battleground Tiger Turn/eOne
  12. Thelonious MonkPalo Alto Impulse
  13. Ricardo Grilli1962 Tone Rogue
  14. Juliet Kurtzman/Pete MalinverniCandlelight: Love in The Time of Cholera Saranac
  15. Joel RossWho Are You? Blue Note (Bar Bayeux; The Jazz Gallery)
  16. Conference CallPrism Not Two
  17. Guillermo Gregorio/Joe Fonda/Ramon LópezIntersecting Lives Fundacja Sluchaj
  18. Carlo Morena/Joe Fonda/Felix Lecaros HerreraStep In: Voilà la tendresse Not Two
  19. Gabriel LatchinI'll Be Home For Christmas Alys Jazz
  20. Randy Greer/Ignasi TerrazaAround the Christmas Tree Swit
  21. Nils LandgrenChristmas With My Friends VII ACT
  22. Tyshawn SoreyUnfiltered. s/r (Dacamera)
  23. Nate WooleySeven Storey Mountain VI Pyroclastic (Roulette)
  24. Orrin EvansThe Intangible Between Smoke Sessions (Smoke)
  25. Peter BrötzmannFarewell Tonic Trost
  26. Ingrid LaubrockDreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt (Music For Chamber Orchestra and Small Ensemble) Intakt (Roulette)
  27. Sylvie CourvoisierFree Hoops Intakt (Roulette)
  28. Cory SmytheAccelerate Every Voice Pyroclastic (Roulette)
  29. Dave BrubeckTime OutTakes Brubeck Editions (NJPAC)
  30. Dave BrubeckLullabies Verve (NJPAC)
  31. Noah KaplanOut Of The Hole Ezz-thetics
  32. Miles OkazakiTrickster's Dream Pi (SEEDS)
  33. Mark WadeSongs From Isolation AMP Music & Records (Flushing Town Hall)
  34. Multiquarium Big Band (feat. Biréli Lagrène)Remembering Jaco Naïve/Believe
  35. Guy MintusA Gershwin Playground Enja
  36. Erroll GarnerPlays Gershwin & Kern Mack Avenue-Octave Music
  37. Mark MastersNight Talk: The Alec Wilder Songbook featuring Gary Smulyan Capri
  38. Carmen StaafWoodland Newvelle (Bar Bayeux)
  39. 85bearsEponymous ears&eyes
  40. ThreadbareSilver Dollar NoBusiness
  41. Jason Stein/Adam SheadSynaptic Atlas ears&eyes
  42. Enrico PieranunziThe Copenhagen Concert Storyville
  43. Posi-Tone SwingtetOne for 25 Posi-Tone
  44. Art HiraharaBalance Point Posi-Tone
  45. Tony DavisGolden Year Posi-Tone
  46. Matt MoranReturn Trip Diskonife (Roulette)
  47. Hans Tammen/Jeremy Carlstedt/Stephen GauciStudio Sessions, Vol. 11 Gaucimusic (Experimental Intermedia)
  48. Dave DouglasMarching Music Greenleaf Music (Edgefest)
  49. Dave Douglas/Elan MehlerIf There Are Mountains Newvelle (Edgefest)
  50. Steve Cohn/Perry RobinsonFaces Tube Room
  51. Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe/Four Men OnlyComplete Recordings NoBusiness

...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