While much of a musician's time is spent in deep contemplation of their instrument(s), that work is only useful when brought into contact with others. That then informs the player further for the next round of exploration. And the cycle continues, endlessly, for a career.
We have several figures noted for their collaborations in this, our first issue of Fall. Guitarist Fred Frith (On The Cover) comes at it from all angles, whether it be bands, one-off meetings or longterm partnerships; hear some of them during his curated week at The Stone at The New School. Saxophonist Frode Gjerstad (Interview) does it on an international stage, going back to Detail in the early '80s to new partners in the new millennium; some are on display this month around town. Guitarist Amanda Monaco (Artist Feature) is project-oriented, whether with the all-female sextet Lioness or her Jewish music outfit The Pirkei Avot Project, which celebrates its second release this month at Drom. Multi-instrumentalist Howard Johnson (Encore) has done it for decades with an astonishing array of players; some will pay tribute at a concert this month at Merkin Hall. And trumpeter Booker Little (Lest We Forget) did it prolifically in the short time he had here on Earth; he will be tributed this month by FONT and Newvelle Live Festival.
On the Cover: FRED FRITH
By Kurt Gottschalk; photos by Peter Gannushkin
Fred Frith is a busy man. He came off a quick stint in Europe in June to return home to San Francisco and begin packing up his house. After a decade teaching at Mills College, he's retiring—but staying in the "thriving community of inspiring artists of all ages and their generosity of spirit" he's discovered in the Bay Area, he said. For the guitarist/composer with five decades of impressively varied work behind him, however, retirement means anything but slowing down. Frith is at The Stone at The New School Sep. 24th-28th.
Interview: FRODE GJERSTAD
By John Sharpe; photo courtesy of the artist
Saxophonist Frode Gjerstad almost single-handedly put Norwegian free jazz on the map. His expressive fragmented alto saxophone sound found its entrée to the wider European scene through Detail, a cooperative trio with British drummer John Stevens and South African bassist Johnny Dyani, plus trumpeter Bobby Bradford as an occasional guest. Regular trips to the U.S. led to a trio with William Parker and Hamid Drake. Never content to stay still, Gjerstad has widened his circle of collaborators to include a growing number of American and European innovators, including Steve Swell, Peter Brötzmann, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Paal Nilssen-Love, with the results documented in a mighty discography. Gjerstad is at 244 Rehearsal Studios Sep. 4th-5th, Everything Goes Café Sep. 6th and 6BC Garden Sep. 8th.
Artist Feature: AMANDA MONACO
By Jim Motavalli; photo by Jesse Winter/courtesy of the artist
"I'm kind of all over the place," says Amanda Monaco, the New York-based postbop guitarist and musical explorer. "I really like both melody and chaos and I incorporate them into everything I play. Within reason of course—you have to make sure it's appropriate." Monaco's Pirkei Avot Project Volume 2 is at Drom Sep. 11th.
Encore: HOWARD JOHNSON
By John Pietaro
In a career spanning 60 years, a musician goes through many life-changing experiences. When that musician is Howard Johnson, liberator of the jazz tuba and dynamic multi-instrumentalist, such experiences parallel the music's very growth. A tribute to Johnson is at Merkin Hall Sep. 18th.
Lest We Forget: BOOKER LITTLE
By George Kanzler
In one of the most marvelous yet terrible coincidences in the history of jazz, drummer Max Roach was the major collaborator with two of the greatest trumpet players of postbop jazz, but only enjoyed about three years with each of them, as they both died suddenly in their mid/early 20s. Clifford Brown was the victim of an auto accident in 1956 at 25; Booker Little died of kidney failure in 1961 at 23. A tribute to Little is at Jazz Standard Sep. 4th as part of Newvelle Live/Festival of New Trumpet Music.
Record Label Spotlight: BIRDWATCHER
By George Grella
The Birdwatcher Records label is a little over a year old—passing the fledgling stage—but is already notable not only for being one of the few non-profit record labels (in such company as New World Records and New Amsterdam) but for its unusual status of being an extension of a for-profit business, the Northern Spy label. Artists performing this month include Steph Richards at Nublu 151 Sep. 5th and Jessica Pavone at The Jazz Gallery Sep. 9th with Samantha Boshnack, both as part of Festival Of New Trumpet Music. Pavone is also at El Barrio Artspace Sep. 15th.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Duduka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves—Samba Jazz & Tom Jobim (featuring Maucha Adnet) Sunnyside (Dizzy's Club)