As the summer descends with its full fury, the city becomes less and less dressed as a futile means by which to beat the heat. And the more exposed people are, the more we appreciate the beauty in our diversity. The same can be said for the diversity inherent in jazz. Ask 10 people to describe the stereotypical jazz musician and you'll probably get 10 completely different portraits.
And so it is with our diverse coverage this month. Guitarist Charlie Hunter (On The Cover) was born in Rhode Island but grew up in California and was baptized in the fire of the jazz fusion and acid jazz worlds. He continues his remarkable solo residency at Rockwood Music Hall this month. Drummer Victor Lewis (Interview) is an Omaha native but has been the epitome of the hip New York jazz cat since the '70s. Lewis can be found around town this month at Jazz at Kitano, Somethin' Jazz Club, Village Vanguard and Birdland. Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs (Artist Feature) is from Indiana but made his name in Boston with the irreverent Fully Celebrated Orchestra. Hobbs presents the final concerts at Douglass Street Music Collective with a variety of bands. Freda Payne (Encore), a proud Motor Cityer, may be best known as an R&B singer (and actress) but her jazz roots run deep, as heard on her 1963 debut for Impulse Records and her latest album, celebrated this month at B.B. King's Blues Bar. And while drummer J.C. Moses (Lest We Forget) of the Steel City had a relatively short career, he made the most of it by significant work with Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Archie Shepp. And let us never forget the pride of Norwalk, CT, pianist/composer Horace Silver (fêted at Blue Note Aug. 19th-24th), who died last month and who we celebrate with a two-page spread of remembrances. And finally, the international variety of jazz comes courtesy of our Label Spotlight on the Budapest Music Center's BMC imprint and Festival Reports from Montréal (that city's eponymous festival and month-long Suoni Per Il Popolo programming).
We'll see you out there (sweating)...
On the Cover: CHARLIE HUNTER
By Brad Farberman; photo by Andrew R. Bender
Calling Charlie Hunter's music simple feels insincere. Originally from the Bay Area but a resident of the East Coast since the late '90s, the guitarist, whose Les Claypool-produced debut album, Charlie Hunter Trio, was released in 1993, plays a seven-string, which allows him to play bass lines and either solo or deliver melodies simultaneously. But in 2014, the guitarist's world is a portrait of guilelessness. His latest recording project, on which he is accompanied solely by drummer Scott Amendola, is a quartet of EPs each devoted to a great band or artist: The Cars, Hank Williams, Duke Ellington and Cole Porter. And in September, the duo of Hunter and vocalist Dionne Farris will release DionneDionne, an LP of songs associated with Dionne Warwick. The past two decades have seen Hunter leading trios, quartets and even a quintet, but now he's down to a pair of two-person organizations and a repertoire of classic tunes. For Hunter, 47, moving forward means chipping away, not building out. Hunter plays solo at Rockwood Music Hall Aug. 15th.
Interview: VICTOR LEWIS
By Anders Griffen; photo courtesy of Joanne Klein
Victor Lewis is well known for his drumming alongside Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson, George Cables, Kenny Barron, Stanley Cowell, Charles Tolliver, Eddie Harris, Bobby Watson, David Sanborn, Earl Klugh, Carla Bley and Abbey Lincoln, among many others. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, he first performed at the age of 14, went on to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln big band and did significant professional work in Nebraska and in Minneapolis before finally coming to New York and dedicating himself to jazz. Lewis is at Jazz at Kitano Aug. 2nd with Tony Hewitt, Somethin' Jazz Club Aug. 9th with Will Mac, Village Vanguard Aug. 19th-24th with George Cables and Birdland Aug. 26th-30th as part of a Charlie Parker tribute.
Artist Feature: JIM HOBBS
By Ken Waxman; photo by Peter Gasnnushkin
Boston-based alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs has no problem with having his improvising and compositions celebrated—or fully celebrated—during four nights at Douglass Street Music Collective (DSMC) this month, but he maintains his music is still evolving. "I've always believed that the music is supposed to progress and that's the musician's responsibility," says Hobbs, 47. "Music shouldn't be confined to a museum re-enactment." Known as a member of the trio or quartet called the Fully Celebrated Orchestra (FCO), Hobbs has always followed his own path, although chance and coincidence have also played a part.. Hobbs is at Douglass Street Music Collective Aug. 20th-23rd with various groups.
Encore: FREDA PAYNE
By Alex Henderson
In the R&B world, Detroit native Freda Payne is best known for her 1970 smash "Band of Gold"—which was written and produced by the famous Brian Holland/Lamont Dozier/Eddie Holland, Jr. team and went down in history as a definitive example of Motor City soul. Payne had other major R&B hits as well in the '70s, including "Bring the Boys Home" (a protest against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War), "Cherish What Is Dear to You" and "Deeper and Deeper". But those who know a lot about Payne's history realize that vocal jazz and jazz-influenced traditional pop are also important parts of her history. Payne is at B.B. King's Blues Bar Aug. 9th.
Lest We Forget: J.C. MOSES
By Clifford Allen
John Curtis "J.C." Moses was born in Pittsburgh on Oct. 18th, 1936 and is part of a lineage of Steel City drummers including thunderous bebop pioneer Art Blakey, splashy, loose Beaver Harris and (unrelated) Joe Harris.
Megaphone: The Sounds of Liberation: Modernists, Dissidents and the Music
By John Pietaro
Art cannot help but be political—and art at its most fearless was always a Left-wing thing. The conscience of the revolutionary artist, the cultural worker, engages in actions within creativity. Pietaro is at El Taller LatinoAmericano Aug. 16th as part of Dissident Arts Festival, Ibeam Brooklyn Aug. 26th and ABC No-Rio Aug. 31st.
Record Label Spotlight: BMC RECORDS
By Ken Waxman
Although it may seem far-fetched to compare any firm involved with creative music to a vertically integrated conglomerate, Budapest Music Center (BMC) and BMC Records (BMCR) are in a small way a variant of this model. That's because BMCR, which has released almost 200 CDs since 1997, is just one part of BMC.
In Memoriam: HORACE SILVER (1928-2014)
Remebrances of the pianist/composer by Randy Brecker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Billy Cobham, Ronnie Cuber, Lou Donaldson, Dave Douglas, Barry Harris, Vincent Herring, Ahmad Jamal, Bennie Maupin, Larry Ridley, Sonny Rollins and Charles Tolliver.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Mary Halvorson -- Ghost Loop For-Tune (Cornelia Street Café; The Stone; Barbès)
Brian Questa -- jazz Booty Fold by Fold Music
People -- 3x A Woman: The Misplaced Files Telegraph Harp
Billy Hart -- One Is The Other ECM (Birdland; Smoke)
Steve Lehman -- Mise en Abîme Pi (The Stone)
Peter Epstein -- Polarities Songlines (Ibeam Brooklyn; Branded Saloon; Dominie's Astoria; Brooklyn Conservatory of Music)
Gregory Porter/Donald Smith/Mansur Scott/Paul Zauner's Blue Brass -- Great Voices of Harlem PAO (Central Park Summerstage)
Bunny Berigan -- Swingin' & Jumpin' (Broadcasts 1937-39) Hep Jazz
Clarice Assad -- Imaginarium Adventure Music
Felipe Salles -- Ugandan Suite Tapestry
Romero Lubambo -- Só - Brazilian Essence Sunnyside (Dizzy's Club)
Pete Rodríguez -- Caminando con Papi Destiny (Damrosch Park)
Alan Chan -- Shrimp Tale Crown Heights Audio Network (ShapeShifter Lab)
Burton Greene -- Burton's Time CIMP (Spectrum)
Burton Greene -- On Tour ESP-Disk (Spectrum)
Vanessa Perea -- Soulful Days ZoHo (Dizzy's Club)
Jared Gold -- JG3 + 3 Posi-Tone (Jazz Standard; Bar Next Door)
Farmers by Nature -- Love and Ghosts AUM Fidelity (ShapeShifter Lab)
Darius Jones/Matthew Shipp -- The Darkseid Recital AUM Fidelity (ShapeShifter Lab)
Wayne Escoffery -- Live at Firehouse 12 Sunnyside (Jazz Standard; Blue Note)
Sarah Vaughan -- Sophisticated Lady: The Duke Ellington Songbook Collection Pablo-Concord