April is Jazz Appreciation Month, culminating on Apr. 30th with International Jazz Day,
a chance to celebrate the worldwide impact this music has had, often serving as a political statement in despotic regions. Our enthusiasm has, however, been dampened with the preliminary White House Budget, which seeks to cut off funding for, among many other worthy (and hardly expensive in the grand fiscal scheme) programs, the National Endowment for the Arts. Readers know this organization for its annual Jazz Master Fellowships, awarded to those who have shaped the music's history. Now it is distinctly possible that the 2017 class, the 35th edition, will be the last, victim of a president who clearly believes the only thing the United States has that is worth exporting is military strength (and his hotels and golf courses).
Perhaps this budget will not come to pass in its current form. Maybe individual donors will step up their efforts to support the arts. This could even lead to a long-needed discussion within certain circles about the value—not monetary, not branding, not egotistical—of the arts to this country, its various communities and the world at large. What will not change, however, is a president so primitive, so unconcerned with anything lofty, so disgusted by anything he cannot understand, that he would poach American arts (and science and education and health and community development) so he can have an aircraft carrier named for himself.
On the Cover: HAROLD MABERN
By Ken Dryden; photos by Alan Nahigian
Upon meeting Harold Mabern, one is struck by his large frame and huge hands, more like a football player than a jazz musician. But once Mabern sits at the piano, his energy and readily identifiable sound make it clear he chose the right career. The longtime Brooklyn resident has an expansive discography in addition to many acclaimed albums as a leader. Mabern's outspoken enthusiasm about life, music and interacting with other players is equally invigorating. Mabern is at Fat Cat Apr. 12th, Smoke Apr. 14th-16th and Smalls Apr. 19th.
Interview: GREG COHEN
By George Kanzler; photo by Dovile Sermokas
Bassist Greg Cohen is one of the most versatile musicians on the scene today. Before he moved to Germany, where he is a full professor at the Jazz Institute Berlin, he could be heard regularly in the Big Apple with both Woody Allen and Eddy Davis' New Orleans Jazz Band and John Zorn's Masada. And he was a member of the late Ornette Coleman's last working bands. Among his early credits, after high school in Los Angeles, was a long stint with singer Tom Waits' band. He was also a regular at the trad-jazz-leaning New Jersey Jazz Society's events for years (he lived in New Jersey). Cohen is at The Stone Apr. 4th-9th.
Artist Feature: STEPHAN CRUMP
By Ken Waxman; photo by Lena Adasheva
Bassist Stephan Crump declares that Sep. 11th, 2001, when he witnessed the destruction of World Trade Center from his Brooklyn apartment, changed his life. "My music wasn't the same after 9-11," he recalls. "After it happened I spent a lot of time improvising on my electric piano. I needed new rules to express my thoughts." The thoughts have since been expressed in mature compositions, culminating in last year's highly-praised Rhombal quartet session, dedicated to his recently deceased brother Patrick. Crump is at Korzo Apr. 4th with his Rosetta Trio and Cornelia Street Underground Apr. 20th with Ingrid Laubrock and Cory Smythe.
Encore: RENÉ McLEAN
By Alex Henderson
René McLean has played with a long list of jazz giants over the years but if there is one association that the New York City-based saxophonist is known for above all others, it must, of course, be his father, alto saxophonist Jackie McLean.
Lest We Forget: THE JAZZ EPISTLES
By Andrey Henkin
South Africa's Apartheid period (1948-94) was a loathsome continuation of the European colonialism that led to U.S. slavery centuries earlier. There too did jazz flourish—or perhaps force itself, weed-like, through what few cracks could be found—starting with the country's earliest indigenous bebop band The Jazz Epistles. Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa and Abdullah Ibrahim reunite as The Jazz Epistles at Town Hall Apr. 27th.
Record Label Spotlight: AEROPHONIC
By Ken Waxman
Saxophonist Dave Rempis doesn't disagree when it's suggested his Chicago-based Aerophonic imprint can be characterized as a "vanity project". "Sure, it definitely is," agrees the alto, tenor and baritone saxophonist. "I've put out 17 releases since mid-2013, all of which I feel proud. But we're at a point where no one else is going to do that, particularly with that type of quantity. So if I want to get my work out, it's on me to do it. If that makes it a vanity label, then so be it." Dave Rempis is at The Owl Music Parlor Apr. 29th.
In Memoriam: LARRY CORYELL
Remembrances of the late guitarist by John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Gary Burton, Philip Catherine, Billy Cobham, Stanley Cowell, Al Di Meola, Bireli Lagrene, John Lee, Pat Martino, John McLaughlin, Bob Moses, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, John Scofield, L. Subramaniam, Ralph Towner, Miroslav Vitous and Lenny White.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
SFJAZZ Collective -- The Music of Michael Jackson (And Original Compositions): Live SFJAZZ Center 2015 SFJAZZ (Miller Theater)
Judy Niemack/Dan Tepfer -- Listening to You Sunnyside (Jazz at Kitano)
Leap of Faith Orchestra -- Supernovae Evil Clown (Downtown Music Gallery)
Greg Murphy -- Summer Breeze Whaling City Sound (Lorenzo's; Paris Blues Harlem)
Rich Halley/Carson Halley -- The Wild Pine Eagle (Korzo)
Rich Halley -- The Outlier Pine Eagle (Korzo)
The Three Sounds -- Groovin' Hard (Live at The Penthouse 1964-1968) Resonance
Matt Baker -- Almost Blue Jazzelm Music (Birdland)
Knuckleball -- Eponymous Gold Bolus
Peter Knight -- Way Out West Jazzhead
Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell -- Førage Screwgun (Roulette)
Dewa Budjana -- Zentuary Favored Nations
Bobby Avey -- Inhuman Wilderness Innervoice Jazz (Greenwich House Music School)
Michael Dease -- All These Hands Posi-Tone (Dizzy's Club)
Randy Weston -- The African Nubian Suite African Rhythms (Jazz Standard)
Iconoclast -- Driven to Defiance Fang (Michiko Studio)
Dave Douglas/Susie Ibarra/Marc Ribot -- New Sanctuary Trio (Paperback Series Vol. 5) Greenleaf Music (The Stone)
Dave Douglas -- Serial Sessions 2015 (Paperback Series Vol. 6) Greenleaf Music (The Stone)
Ella Fitzgerald -- Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Books Verve
Kneebody -- Anti-Hero Motéma (Le Poisson Rouge)
Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures -- Glare of the Tiger Meta/M.O.D. Technologies (Brooklyn Conservatory of Music)
Blaise Siwula/Luciano Troja -- Rags to Ragas No Frills Music (Scholes Street Studio; The Owl Music Parlor; ShapeShifter Lab)
Sam Newsome -- Sopranoville s/r (440Gallery)
Mike McGinnis -- Recurring Dream Sunnyside (Jazz Standard)
Linda Oh -- Walk Against Wind Biophilia (Jazz Standard)