The New York City Jazz Record

The City's Only Homegrown Jazz Gazette!

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Consider that every month should be Black History Month, just as every month should be Women’s History Month, and every day should be Earth Day. Although February and March are annually designated as Black History Month and Women’s History Month, respectively, shouldn’t recognition and celebration of the contributions from these two groups be every day of the year? The focus on them over the next two months certainly serves as a good reminder to appreciate, honor and better balance racial and gender equality, for the record. With that said, in this, our “Black History Month Issue”, we acknowledge and feature two elders of the music, both septuagenarians: percussionist Kahil El’Zabar (Cover) and violinist Charlie Burnham (Encore). El’Zabar speaks to jazz’ African roots with every breath and beat he takes and makes. Founder of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (EHE) 50 years ago, he celebrates the occasion with a new EHE album and global tour, including a stop in NYC. Burnham has had an unassuming but long and distinguished career himself, and in just about every context you can imagine, from work with Doug Hammond and James “Blood” Ulmer to Steven Bernstein, Cassandra Wilson, Living Colour and Martha Redbone. It will be hard to miss him in the city this month as he has at least a half-dozen live appearances. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris (Interview) has graduated from up-and-comer to professor, with years on faculty at Manhattan School of Music to, more recently, a new position at Rutgers. He reconvenes his Blackout group at The Apollo, the quintessential hub that has historically played such a central role as a significant outlet for African American artistic creativity since the ‘30s. Drummer/percussionist/electronicist Val Jeanty (Artist Feature) speaks to her Afro-Haitian roots while having bolstered projects by everyone from Wallace Roney to Kris Davis and the stunning new collective Nite Bjuti. This month Arts For Art presents her in duo with the organization’s founder/dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, as part of its “Out Music Festival: The Future is Pissed!”. In addition to our forward section of album reviews dedicated to Black History Month (see pgs. 14-21), we remember the earliest roots of jazz in America with a feature on pianist Jelly Roll Morton (Lest We Forget), who himself claimed to have invented jazz and was, at the very least, one of the music’s first great arrangers. A revival of the 1992 Broadway production Jelly’s Last Jam, inspired by Morton’s life story, tells a fable of American history and legacy and returns to the stage at New York City Center for a short run this month through early March. Jazz is American History. American History is jazz. And what better way than to celebrate, through Black History Month and each and every month thereafter. Onwards and outwards and see you out at the shows....

On the Cover: KAHIL EL’ZABAR—Ethnic Heritage Ensemble’s Golden Anniversary

(by George Grella; photos by Ave Pildas Photography and @Christopher Andrew, Stoptime Live)

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has been at the cutting edge of modern jazz over the course of six decades, renewing the blues and jazz with the panoply of African American musical innovations that are part of founder Kahil El’Zabar’s experience. El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary concert is at Brooklyn Music School (presented by Blank Forms) Feb. 9.

Interview: STEFON HARRIS—Blackout Vibes to AI

(by Daniel A. Brown; photo by Denika Peniston)

If wisdom includes the ability to convey deep, meaningful knowledge, Stefon Harris is a wise soul indeed. In the past three decades, the multiple Grammy-nominee has established himself as a respected vibraphonist, leader, composer, collaborator and educator. For his upcoming NYC performance at the Apollo, he’s now combining those experiences on the cutting edge of AI technology. Stefon Harris’ Blackout is at The Apollo’s Victoria Theater Feb. 18.

Artist Feature: VAL JEANTY—Afro-Electronica Soundscaper

(by Terrell Holmes; photo courtesy of artist/Face painting by Serge Kponton)

A singular DJ, percussionist and sound designer, Val Jeanty has a unique style and concept that has made her highly in demand in jazz, visual art, spoken word and drama. She’s not only worked with Wallace Roney, Yosvany Terry, Terri Lyne Carrington and others in ensemble settings, she’s also a member of two avant garde groups: Diatom Ribbons, which she co-founded with pianist Kris Davis, and Nite Bjuti, a trio that examines the African diaspora from nontraditional historical and musical perspectives, with bassist Mimi Jones and vocalist Candice Hoyes. Jeanty is at Theater for the New City (part of Arts for Art’s Out Music Festival) Feb. 2.

Encore: CHARLIE BURNHAM—Watch Out for the Wah-Wah

(by Tristan Geary; photo courtesy of artist)

Now 73, violinist Charlie Burnham’s decades of experience have afforded him fluency in many musical languages and has led him to work with diverse ensembles and musicians, from Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra to the proto-punk ensemble The Kropotkins to James “Blood” Ulmer to Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones and many more. Burnham is at Owl Music Parlor with Brandon Ross and Pheeroan akLaff Feb. 2, Theater for the New City (part of Arts for Art’s Out Music Festival) in duo with gabby fluke-mogul Feb. 3, Downtown Music Gallery with patrick brennan’s String Party Feb. 6, and Sunny’s Bar with Smokey’s Roundup Feb. 7, 14 and 28.

Lest We Forget: JELLY ROLL MORTON—Jelly’s Jam

(by Francesco Martinelli; photo provided by The William Russell Jazz Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection, acquisition made possible by the Clarisse Claiborne Grima Fund)

Probably the first great arranger of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton’s legacy lives via the drama of his life. But with the passage of time, his work has been more fully recognized. In the later decades of the last century, Morton’s music was back in the spotlight and performance, movies and TV shows. Thanks to historian William Russell, Morton’s archive has been preserved and made publicly available. More than 80 years after his death, and after being accused of being a crackpot, Morton’s place in the history of jazz has finally been vindicated. Jelly’s Last Jam is at New York City Center Feb. 21 through Mar. 3; “Masters of Form: Duke, Jelly Roll and Mingus” is at Rose Theater Feb. 2-3.

Album Reviews: In Print, On Screen, Boxed Set, Drop The Needle Reviews, Globe Unity…

(In Print) And Did Those Feet... Six British Jazz Composers by Duncan Heining

(Jazz in Britain)

(In Print) Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal

(Inventory Press)

(On Screen) Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius

(Salina Star Route)

Abdullah Ibrahim - 3


Adam Schroeder & Mark Masters Celebrate Clark Terry - CT!


Alex LoRe & Weirdear - Evening Will Find Itself


Art Lande/Sam Williams - Portals

(Kilkhabart Music)

Blossom Dearie - Discover Who I Am (The Fontana Years)


Charles Mingus - Mingus Takes Manhattan: The Complete Birdland Dates

(New Land)

Dave Soldier/William Hooker - LeWitt Etudes

(Mahakala Music)

David Gibson - Fellowship


Douyé - The Golden Sèkèrè


Elias Stemeseder/Christian Lillinger - UMBRa


Elisabeth Harnik/Zlatko Kaučič - One Foot In The Air

(Not Two)

Emmett Cohen (feat. Houston Person) - Masters Legacy Series, Vol. 5


Evelyn Davis/Fred Frith/Phillip Greenlief - Hidden Danger Lets Me In

(Clean Feed)

Francisco Mela/Zoh Amba - Causa y Efecto (Vol. 2)

(577 Records)

Fred Frith/Susana Santos Silva - Laying Demons To Rest

(Rogue Art)

Frode Gjerstad/Matthew Shipp - We Speak

(Relative Pitch)

Geri Allen/Kurt Rosenwinkel - A Lovesome Thing

(Heartcore/Motéma Music)

Gianni Mimmo/Harri Sjöstrom - Wells


Graham Collier - Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69

(My Only Desire)

Harold Danko - Trillium


Harri Sjöstrom/Erhard Hirt/Philipp Wachsmann/Paul Lytton - Especially For You


Henry Threadgill Ensemble - The Other One

(Pi Recordings)

Horace Tapscott's Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra - 60 Years

(The Village)

Illegal Crowns - Unclosing

(Out Of Your Head)

Izumi Kimura/Gerry Hemingway - Kairos

(Fundacja Słuchaj)

Joel Ross - nublues

(Blue Note)

John Ellis Quartet - Bizet: Carmen in Jazz

(Blue Room Music)

Josh Sinton - Couloir & Book of Practitioners, Vol. 2

(Form is Possibility)

Madd for Tadd - Central Avenue Swing & Our Delight

(Tighten Up)

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden...


Mike McGinnis+ 9 - Outing: Road Trip II


Mulgrew Miller - Solo in Barcelona


Nick Dunston - Skultura

(Tripticks Tapes)

Nina Simone - You've Got To Learn


Oran Etkin - Open Arms

(GroundUP Music)

Petros Klampanis - Tora Collective


Rich Halley/Matthew Shipp/Michael Bisio/Newman Taylor Baker - Fire Within

(Pine Eagle)

Riley Mulherkar - Riley


Roy Eldridge Quartet/Ella Fitzgerald Quintet - In Concert


Sam Newsome/Jean-Michel Pilc - Cosmic Unconsciousness Unplugged

(Some New Music)

Stephen Gauci/Shinya Lin/Adam Lane/Kevin Shea - Live at Scholes Street Studio


Steve Slagle - EVENTS - Live! @ SFJAZZ


Tilo Weber - Tesserae

(We Jazz)

Tony Allen/Adrian Younge - JID018

(Jazz Is Dead)

Vijay Iyer - Compassion


Look for other sections like Festival Report, NY@Night, Label Spotlight, VOXNews, In Memoriam, Recommended New Releases 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.