In this month's Artist Feature on saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, who continues his busy schedule as a leader and sideman throughout town, he offers his thoughts on the elders who have preceeded and embraced him and other young musicians: "I respect their journeys, their lives and commitment." So it is fitting that this up-and-comer shares space in this issue with a luminous roster of elders. 92-year-old vocalist Tony Bennett (On The Cover) could have his age reversed, given how perpetually youthful and hip to the times he continues to be in this, his eighth decade as a performer. He plays Radio City Music Hall and is also honored by the Jazz Foundation of America at its A Great Night in Harlem. 80-year-old vibraphonist Mike Mainieri (Interview) has been a professional musician for almost as long, starting out
a child performer and continuing in both the jazz and rock spheres, most notably with the Steps Ahead band; that group is honored by the NYU Jazz Orchestra at Blue Note with Mainieri as guest of honor. And 86-year-old drummer Billy Kaye (Encore), whose resumé is a Who's Who of Jazz, continues to be active, leading a weekly jam session at Fat Cat.
On the Cover: TONY BENNETT
By Andrew Vélez; photos by Mark Seliger (courtesy of RPM Productions) and Bryan Adams/Trunk Archive
Born into a working class Italian family, Astoria native Anthony Dominick Benedetto is the embodiment of the Great American dream. At 92, he is the pre-eminent singer of the 20th and 21st centuries, embraced and beloved by audiences of all generations. The winner of 19 Grammy awards, he has sold more than ten million records just in the past decade. Bennett is at Radio City Music Hall Apr. 13th and honored as part of the Jazz Foundation of America's Great Night in Harlem at the Apollo Theater Apr. 4th.
Interview: MIKE MAINIERI
By Jim Motavalli; photo courtesy of the artist
Even if you don't know the name, you probably have a record featuring vibraphonist/arranger Mike Mainieri. Those Steps and Steps Ahead albums? He founded the band. Do you own Paul Desmond's Summertime, Kenny Burrell's A Generation Ago Today, Art Farmer's Big Blues with Jim Hall, Pat Martino's Starbright or any Buddy Rich albums from the late '50s-early '60s? That's Mainieri. He played dates—at a very young age—with Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and Wes Montgomery. Mainieri was also a ubiquitous pop music studio denizen. After turning 80 last July, Mainieri is still working. A family issue sidelined him for a couple of years, but now he's back at it full time, still vigorous and full of ideas. Mainieri is at Blue Note Apr. 29th.
Artist Feature: JAMES BRANDON LEWIS
By John Pietaro; photo by R.I. Sutherland-Cohen
James Brandon Lewis, 35, remains sufficiently spry to maintain the "Young Lion" status attributed to him by those elders, yet he's increasingly viewed as a galvanizing force. His career highlights have been substantial thus far but with each passing year there comes an expansion of Lewis' presence as a saxophonist, composer, activist and conceptualist. To many, he stands among the torch-bearers in a long line of tenor giants. Lewis is at El Barrio Artspace Apr. 14th, Joe's Pub Apr. 19th with Carl Hancock Rux and Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Apr. 28th.
Encore: BILLY KAYE
By Russ Musto
"A gig is a gig is a gig. That was the expression they used to say," Billy Kaye remembers and at 86 the drummer has had more than his share. Kaye is at Fat Cat Mondays.
Lest We Forget: DON SHIRLEY
By Mark Keresman
Don Shirley, who died six years go this month at 86, was a pianist who strode between the jazz and classical worlds. But in the first half of the 20th century opportunities in the latter sphere for an African-American musician were limited. Shirley established himself as a soloist leading small groups, performing a mélange of classical, jazz, gospel, show tunes and pop music of the day.
Record Label Spotlight: DRIFF
By Eric Wendell
With 16 CD releases and two digital downloads, Driff showcases the adventures of Jorrit Dijkstra and Pandelis Karayorgis and the different endeavors to which their minds are privy. With the label "transatlantic improvised music" serving as the masthead of their carefully curated music, Driff showcases a shared passion for ever-evolving jazz traditions.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Joshua Redman—Come What May Nonesuch (Blue Note)
Friends & Neighbors—What's Next Clean Feed (Shapeshifter Lab)
Yotam Silberstein—Future Memories Jazz and People (Dizzy's Club)
Chicago Edge Ensemble—Insidious Anthem Trost
The Bridge Sessions 09—Stroboscope Bridge Sessions
The Thing—Again Trost
Paal Nilssen-Love—New Japanese Noise PNL (244 Rehearsal Studios)