The New York City Jazz Record

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On Mar. 12th, 1987, Congress officially designated March as "Women's History Month". Since that time, 124 women in 84 countries have been Heads of State but, ironically, not in the U.S. But, in 2021, we celebrate this Women's History Month having come the closest with recently elected Vice President Kamala Harris. Of course, American history is often two steps back for every step forward so this may not signal a substantive, longterm change. Still, any progress these days feels monumental.

Jazz has been somewhat ahead of the curve, with substantial, longterm contributions from women throughout its history and continuing even more verdantly in the present day. We dedicate this March 2021 issue to a wide range of female practitioners: tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana (On The Cover), who was the first woman to win the Thelonious Monk competition; pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn (Interview); vibraphonist Patricia Brennan (Artist Feature); percussionist Marilyn Mazur (Encore); and pianist Dorothy Donegan (Lest We Forget); plus a special section of CD Reviews (pgs. 12-20), focusing on an international and multigenerational cast of women in jazz.

There is an old couplet: "Man may work from sun to sun / But woman's work is never done." At the time of its writing this referred to menial housework. Now it can be appropriated to mean that there is much to be done and many milestones to reach with plenty of obstacles still littering the path. While Congress was well-intentioned, every month should celebrate the contributions of women in all fields.

On the Cover: MELISSA ALDANA

By Jim Motavalli; photos by Jack Vartoogian

Imagine Chile-born tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana as a racecar driver, hitting her stride on the Mulsanne Straight at the 24 hours of Le Mans, ahead of all the competition, when all of a sudden the red flag comes out. The race is stopped! Something similar to that happened to Aldana when COVID restrictions were imposed. The Berklee graduate and Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition winner (in 2013, when she was 24) was teaching (at the New School), recording (five albums so far) and touring prolifically until last spring. Aldana live-streams at Bar Bayeux Mar. 3rd and Smoke Mar. 12th-13th.

Interview: SUSAN ALCORN

By Tyran Grillo; photo courtesy of the artist

Throughout a career spanning more than four decades, Susan Alcorn has upended expectations of what the pedal steel guitar can do... This set her on a path of deep self-examination and rethinking of musical paradigms, eventually leading to solo performances in which boundaries were a thing of the past. Equally informed by classical, jazz, country, South American protest songs and folk music, Alcorn feeds on the nutrients of the creative spirit to cultivate her own across a woefully misunderstood fretboard. Alcorn live-streams Mar. 3rd at Fire Museum.

Artist Feature: PATRICIA BRENNAN

By John Sharpe; photo courtesy of the the artist

Before everything ground to a halt as the pandemic hit, the presence of vibraphonist Patricia Brennan on the bandstand was a sure indicator of both adventure and quality. She graced outfits as diverse as John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble, the Anna Webber/Angela Morris Big Band and Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus as well as at the more intimate end of the spectrum with Matt Mitchell's Phalanx Ambassadors and Tomas Fujiwara's Seven Poets Trio. But she's not been idle since, juggling a busy but fulfilling teaching schedule with the release of her leadership debut album Maquishti.

Encore: MARILYN MAZUR

By Anders Griffen

Marilyn Mazur is a unique artist: percussionist, composer, vocalist, dancer and multi-instrumentalist who has pioneered her own path. In a fantastic career spanning almost 50 years, over 200 album credits and numerous awards, she has worked with a variety of artists, including Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Gil Evans, John Tchicai, Jeanne Lee, Irène Schweizer, Lindsay Cooper, Jan Garbarek, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Eberhard Weber, Dino Saluzzi and Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra, among many others.

Lest We Forget: DOROTHY DONEGAN

By Alex Henderson

Dorothy Donegan was never easy to categorize. During her long career, the native Chicagoan pianist performed everything from boogie woogie, swing, blues, bop and stride to European classical music. But whatever she played, Donegan was a virtuoso.

Record Label Spotlight: CARRIER

By Kurt Gottschalk

Categorizing the unclassifiable is a fool's errand, to be sure, one upon which the channels of music production and distribution—marketers and distributors to broadcasters and journalists to merchants and streaming algorithms—largely rely. It's a model that rarely reflects consumer preference and which forces the avoidance of genre to be considered a niche. There are, of course, enterprises resisting the confines of race, region and definition of style. Carrier is one such endeavor.

CD Reviews

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

  1. Keir Neuringer/Shayna Dulberger/Julius MasriDromedaries II Relative Pitch (Roulette)
  2. Owl Xounds Exploding GalaxyThe Coalescence ESP-Disk
  3. Amirtha Kidambi/Lea BertucciEnd of Softness Astral Spirits (Roulette)
  4. Sonic TwistUnity Muse-Eek (Streaming)
  5. Hailey BrinnelI'm Forever Blowing Bubbles Outside In Music (Streaming)
  6. Mary HalvorsonArtlessly Falling Firehouse 12 (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  7. Elisabeth Harnik/Michael ZerangDream Disobedience Not Two
  8. Futari (Satoko Fujii/Taiko Saito)Beyond Libra
  9. Birgit Ulher/Franz HautzingerKleine Trompetenmusik Relative Pitch
  10. Roseanna VitroListen Here Skyline
  11. Patty WatersAn Evening in Houston Clean Feed
  12. Yelena EckemoffAdventures of the Wildflower L&H Productions
  13. Hedvig Mollestadekhidna Rune Grammofon
  14. Claire DalyRah! Rah! Ride Symbol
  15. Ann BurtonEarly Blue: 1958-1968 (Treasures of Dutch Jazz) Nederlands Jazz Archief
  16. Marilyn Crispell/Eddie Prévost/Harrison SmithConcertOTO Matchless
  17. Yuma Uesaka/Marilyn CrispellStreams Not Two
  18. Lina AllemanoGlimmer Glammer (Solo Trumpet) Lumo
  19. Susana Santos SilvaThe Same Is Always Different s/r
  20. Jane Ira Bloom/Mark HeliasSome Kind of Tomorrow Radio Legs
  21. Anna WebberRectangles Out of Your Head
  22. Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka ReidShards and Constellations Intakt
  23. The Tiptons Sax Quartet & DrumsWabi Sabi s/r
  24. 3D Jazz TrioI Love To See You Smile Diva Jazz
  25. ArtemisEponymous Blue Note
  26. Lisa HiltonMore Than Another Day Ruby Slippers Productions
  27. Jihye Lee OrchestraDaring Mind Motéma
  28. The Composers' Orchestra Berlin/Hazel LeachVanishing Points (Plays The Music of Dirk Strakhof) JazzHaus Musik
  29. Gina SchwarzPannonica Cracked An Egg
  30. Sarah BernsteinExolinger 577 Records
  31. Ig HennemanSolo Songs For Instruments Wig
  32. Mia ZabelkaMYASMO Setola di Maiale
  33. Bill FrisellValentine Blue Note (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  34. Ron MilesRainbow Sign Blue Note
  35. Júlia KarosiWithout Dimensions (featuring Ben Monder) Double Moon-Challenge
  36. Rob Burke/Ben Monder/Tom RaineySlip Sliding (with Ben Grayson) FMR (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  37. Ben Monder/Tony Malaby/Tom RaineyLive at the 55 Bar Sunnyside (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  38. Bobby WiensTalking Drums Cellar Music (Streaming)
  39. Dave StrykerBlue Soul (with Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band) Strikezone (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  40. Dave StrykerBaker's Circle Strikezone (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  41. Melvin SparksI'm Funky Now Westbound-Tidal Waves Music
  42. Ivar Grydeland/Henry KaiserIn The Arctic Dreamtime Rune Grammofon (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  43. Olie Brice, Binker Golding, Henry Kaiser, N.O. Moore, Eddie PrévostThe Secret Handshake With Danger, Vol. One 577 Records (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  44. Vinny Golia, John Hanrahan, Henry Kaiser, Wayne Peet, Mike WattA Love Supreme Electric (A Salvo Inspired by John Coltrane) Cuneiform (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  45. The Nels Cline SingersShare The Wealth Blue Note (Alternative Guitar Summit)
  46. Marshall Allen, Roscoe Mitchell, Milford Graves, Scott RobinsonFlow States ScienSonic (Edgefest)
  47. Emmet CohenFuture Stride Mack Avenue (Streaming)
  48. Michael FeinbergFrom Where We Came SteepleChase (Soapbox Gallery)
  49. Randy PorterUnsung: Porter Plays Frishberg HeavyWood Music
  50. Peter Brötzmann/Paul G. SmythTongue in a Bell Weekertoft
  51. Peter Brötzmann/Maâlem Moukhtar Gania/Hamid DrakeThe Catch of a Ghost i dischi di angelica
  52. Joachim Kühn & TrummerschlunkPlaying Probabilities ACT
  53. Joachim KühnTouch The Light ACT
  54. Julius HemphillThe Boyé Multi-National Crusade For Harmony mbari Production Company
  55. Mike WestbrookParis ASC
  56. Mike WestbrookLove and Understanding (featuring John Surman) My Only Desire
  57. Leon Lee DorseyThank You Mr. Mabern JazzAvenue1
  58. Kirk KnuffkeTight Like This SteepleChase
  59. Ian Hendrickson-SmithThe Lowdown Cellar Music

...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