If jazz is inherently, wonderfully, about uncertainty, about where that next note is going to come from and how it will interact with all that happening around it, the same can be said for a career in jazz. To become part of this music is to spend the rest of your life inhabiting a Robert Frost poem, making choices both consciously and without realizing, following muses down any number of roads, less traveled or otherwise.
Bassist Barre Phillips (On The Cover) didn't set out to create the solo bass genre in 1968 yet he is rightly revered for that innovation by all those who have followed in his musical footsteps. Last year he released End To End (ECM), what he believes will be his final solo album; he celebrates it with an unaccompanied recital at Zürcher Gallery. A chance cab ride has led to a 47-year membership in The Manhattan Transfer for Janis Siegel (Interview) and a fine solo career; Siegel continues her monthly "Vocal Mania" series at Birdland. And the jazz path of pianist Simon Nabatov (Artist Feature) traced a route from Moscow to New York to Cologne; he returns to one of his homes to play at 244 Rehearsal Space.
On the Cover: BARRE PHILLIPS
By Andrey Henkin; photos by Peter Gannushkin
The solo bass recording has been a touchstone of Phillips' nearly 60-year career. He has come back to the format intermittently, in between myriad projects generating a discography of over 200 sessions and counting. And in November 2018, he released End To End, a 50-year bookend to Journal Violone and as intensely personal and beautiful a statement as one will likely hear. Phillips plays solo at Zürcher Gallery May 20th and is also at Ibeam Brooklyn May 25th.
Interview: JANIS SIEGEL
By Jim Motavalli; photo by Janis Wilkins (courtesy of the artist)
Janis Siegel joined vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer in 1972, staying through two personnel changes, including the death of founder Tim Hauser in 2014, and has made a dozen solo albums. What unites all her work is a love of singing, especially four-part harmony, and that devotion is on display at Siegel and Lauren Kinhan's monthly Vocal Mania series, the logical extension of a lifetime of singing. Siegel is at Birdland Theater May 28th.
Artist Feature: SIMON NABATOV
By John Sharpe; photo Ursula Zeidler (courtesy of the artist)
It's no surprise to learn that pianist Simon Nabatov was a child prodigy. He brings breathtaking finesse to everything he touches. And since leaving the Soviet Union in 1979 at 20, he has touched on a staggering range, equally at home in modern jazz, free improvisation, the canons of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols and Brazilian music. That's not to mention his own works, which defy easy classification. Nabatov is at 244 Rehearsal Studios May 23rd.
Encore: MULATU ASTATKE
By Mike Cobb
This writer first heard Mulatu Astatke on Volume 4 (1969-1974) of Francis Falceto's Éthiopiques series. Here was something at once familiar in its instrumentation and yet otherworldly in terms of its modality and tone. Astatke is at Le Poisson Rouge May 17th-18th.
Lest We Forget: DANNY BARKER
By John Pietaro
Danny Barker, a New Orleanais born Jan. 13th, 1909, watched the music develop from a most hallowed vantage point. He was the grandson of Isidore Barbarin, leader of the Onward Brass Band, which spawned legends King Oliver and Louis Armstrong. A tribute to Danny Barker is at The Appel Room May 31st-Jun. 1st featuring Don Vappie.
Record Label Spotlight: PFMENTUM
By Robert Bush
A cursory glance at the fulsome website of trumpet/electronics provocateur Jeff Kaiser's pfMENTUM record label reveals the following mission statement: "Dedicated to creative music—and the musicians who make it." Artists performing this month include Larry Roland at El Barrio Artspace May 5th and Scholes Street Studio May 10th; Dave Sewelson at Downtown Music Gallery May 5th with Jesse Dulman; Mike Baggetta at Nublu May 8th with Fumi Tomita; and Gerald Cleaver at Ibeam Brooklyn May 17th with Igor Lumpert, Soup & Sound May 22nd with Aruán Ortiz and 244 Rehearsal Studios May 23rd with Simon Nabatov.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Alister Spence and Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe—Imagine Meeting You Here Alister Spence Music (The Stone at The New School)
Yuko Yamaoka—Diary (2005-2015): Yuko Yamaoka Plays the Music of Satoko Fujii Libra
John Pizzarelli—For Centennial Reasons: 100 Year Salute to Nat King Cole Ghostlight (Café Carlyle)
Denny Zeitlin—Wishing on the Moon (Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola) Sunnyside (Mezzrow)
Carol Sudhalter—Live at Saint Peter's Church Alfa Projects (Flushing Town Hall; Sankofa Aban Bed & Breakfast; Sunnyside Reformed Church)
Chris Potter—Circuits Edition (Jazz Standard)
Emmet Cohen—Dirty in Detroit (Live at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café) s/r (Birdland)
Woody Shaw—Live in Bremen 1983 Elemental Music
Angles 3—Parede Clean Feed
Møster—States of Mind Hubro
Sigurd Hole—Elvesang Elvesang
Akiko Tsuruga/Jeff Hamilton/Graham Dechter—Equal Time Capri (Dizzy's Club)
Thomas Heberer—X Marks The Spot OutNow (Bushwick Public House; El Barrio Artspace)
Nate Wooley—Columbia Icefield Northern Spy (Bushwick Public House)
Andrew Lamb—The Casbah of Love Birdwatcher (Zürcher Gallery)
Jeremy Pelt—Jeremy Pelt The Artist HighNote (Jazz Standard)
Eddie Prévost/Evan Parker—Tools of Imagination Sluchaj Fundacja! (Zürcher Gallery; The Jazz Gallery)
Chet Baker/Paul Bley—Diane SteepleChase
Jeremiah Cymerman—Decay of the Angel 5049 Records (Areté Gallery)
Mary Stallings—Songs Were Made to Sing Smoke Sessions (Smoke)
Linda May Han Oh—Aventurine Biophilia (National Sawdust)
André Carvalho—The Garden of Earthly Delights Outside In Music (The Owl Music Parlor)
Ed Palermo—A Lousy Day in Harlem SkyCat (Iridium)
Joe Lovano—Trio Tapestry ECM (VIllage Vanguard)
Camila Meza & The Nectar Orchestra—ámbar Sony Music Masterworks (Rockwood Music Hall)
Melissa Aldana—Vision Motéma (Jazz Standard)
Swiss Jazz Orchestra & Guillermo Klein—Eponymous Sunnyside (Smalls; Bar Lunàtico)
Green Zone—Thinking in Stitches Case Study (Happylucky no.1)