Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (On The Cover) has recently released a new album and a book of interviews with jazz elders. Both share the title Griot, apt for a music whose proliferation is most honestly and effectively done through word of mouth or, say, word of instrument, the famed "university of the bandstand". For a music rooted so deeply in history, in interpretation, in the parsing of what has come before in order to create that which will come, the lessons passed down by the musical griots are found in every note played on all the bandstands in the world.
All of our features, Pelt, drummer Billy Drummond, guitarist Ava Mendoza, bassist Herb Bushler and the late saxophonist Harold Land are of the lineage of their respective instruments but, if one remembers the childhood game of telephone—kids in a circle whispering a phrase to one another—the message changes with each person, the lineage is never a line, not even a branch from a tree. How jazz has developed and will continue to develop is too complex to assign hierarchy. For every elder who took a new player under their wing, a younger musician changed an established musician's way of thinking. Musicians are the sum of their influences yet that mathematical term does not fully express how abstractly that absorption happens.
The griot tells a tale to those who will listen. That tale will make its passage, changing along the way. Jazz is that tale, a never-ending story still being written.
On the Cover: JEREMY PELT
By Marilyn Lester; photos by Ra-Re Valverde / courtesy of the artist
Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is something of a Renaissance Man, a composer, recording artist, producer and educator whose pursuit of knowledge and learning has led him in many directions. Pelt has released over 18 leader dates and appears on over a 100 releases as a sideman. Most recently, his conversations with living (and now historic jazz figures) are compiled in a new book, Griot: Examining the lives of Jazz' great storytellers Vol. 1, along with a HighNote album of the same name,
which combines music with audio clips of some of the book's interviewees. It's a project that Pelt says, "I knew I had to write." Pelt is at Dizzy's Club Oct. 28th-30th.
Interview: BILLY DRUMMOND
By Tyran Grillo; photo by Roberto Cifarelli / courtesy of the artist
Billy Drummond took an interest in the drums as soon as he could pick up a pair of sticks. He seems predestined to have made a humble home for himself in the pantheon of the instrument, playing on over 350 recordings alongside such pillars as Horace Silver, Bobby Hutcherson and Sonny Rollins, among many others. His 1995 leader date, Dubai, was named a New York Times #1 Jazz Album of the Year. Before and since then, Drummond has contributed to projects too numerous to mention in full, including his "Freedom of Ideas" quartet, which is preparing to step into the studio. Drummond is at Mezzrow Oct. 1st with Peter Zak, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning Oct. 2nd with Danny Simmons, The Jazz Gallery Oct. 28th with Jay Clayton and Smalls Oct. 29th-30th as a leader.
Artist Feature: AVA MENDOZA
By George Grella; photo by Niclas Weber / Monheim Triennale
Ava Mendoza is not cutting back. Even with forced public inactivity through much of the 2020-21 pandemic, the guitarist/singer/composer can be heard on many recent recordings...That range, certainly, and maybe the inner drive, could stem from Mendoza's unique entry into the world of jazz (or at least jazz adjacent) and improvising music.
Encore: HERB BUSHLER
By Anders Griffen
Herb Bushler was one of the busiest bassists in New York from the mid '60s into the '80s. With a classical background, he discovered jazz at the dawn of the '60s and worked with prominent artists while becoming very busy in the recording studio business.
Lest We Forget: HAROLD LAND
By Mark Keresman
Harold Land was an ace tenor saxophonist who, while never becoming a real star, made his mark as a reliable, first-rate master of his craft. He made several fine albums under his own leadership but is perhaps best known for his membership in the seminal Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet... More recently, an excellent collection of archival recordings has come to light courtesy of the redoubtable Reel To Real label: Westward Bound! collects material recorded at Seattle, Washington's The Penthouse in 1962-1965.
(this month's performance/streaming venues in parentheses):
Joanie Pallatto—My Original Plan (featuring Fareed Haque) Southport (Pangea)
Ron Carter—Foursight - Stockholm Vol. 2 In + Out (Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning; Birdland; Dizzy's Club)
Jeff Lederer Sunwatcher—Eightfold Path Little (i) Music (Bar Bayeux; Bar Lunàtico)
John Blum/Jackson Krall—Duplexity Relative Pitch (Michiko Studio)
Alex Norris—Fleet from the Heat SteepleChase (Smalls)
Jessica Ackerley/Daniel Carter—Friendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel 577 Records (Bushwick Public House; Downtown Music Gallery)
Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew Miller—In Harmony Resonance
Francesco Cafiso—Irene of Boston E Flat
Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders/The London Symphony Orchestra—Promises Luaka Bop
Timo Lassy—Irene of BostonTrio WE Jazz
Pasquale Grasso—Solo Ballads Sony Masterworks (Mezzrow; Dizzy's Club)
Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog—Hope Northern Spy (The Bell House)
Henry Fraser/John McCowen/Sam Weinberg—Thip Tripticks Tapes (The Vale in Prospect Park; Barbès)
Sam Weinberg/Henry Fraser/Weasel Walter—Grist ugEXPLODE (The Vale in Prospect Park; Barbès)
Henry Fraser/Sam Weinberg—Bust Renfusa (The Vale in Prospect Park; Barbès)
Joey DeFrancesco—More Music Mack Avenue (Dizzy's Club)