May is special around the Jazz Record office. It is our birthday month, another chance, after our January Best Of issue, to reflect on the year that has passed. But, to belabor a point that has been made endlessly, the past year has had little to celebrate. With this issue, we have now published 14 digital-only editions; what was first a stop-gap measure has become the norm, just like leaving the house without a mask seems like a dream. Things seem to be improving: vaccines are available; the weather is warming up, allowing for shows to take place outside; NYC regulations have been relaxed and some clubs are reopening...as gently as a flower opening for the first time of the season. But—and this is a Sir Mix-a-Lot-sized but—this is not the time to stop being vigilant, lest we end up right back where we were a year ago, a terrifying thought.
Most of our features and CD Reviews are reflective of the current state of semi-lockdown: violinist Mark Feldman (On The Cover), saxophonist Mark Shim (Artist Feature) both have live-streaming events this month. So too does saxophonist/flutist Carol Sudhalter (Interview) but she also performs en plein-air. There are numerous concerts scheduled at various parks throughout the city, so dust yourself off and go support musicians who have missed audiences as much as audiences have missed them.
On the Cover: MARK FELDMAN
By Michael Cobb; photos by Luciano Rossetti
Violinist Mark Feldman has worked with some of the biggest names in jazz and with musicians outside of jazz including country artists and indie-pop rockers. Feldman recently released a solo album, Sounding Point (Intakt), overdubbing himself for a multi-layered string experience. Feldman live-streams May 12th at Soapbox Gallery.
Interview: CAROL SUDHALTER
By Jim Motavalli; photo by Gus Philippas / courtesy of the artist
When baritone saxophonist/flutist Carol Sudhalter arrived in New York from her native Boston circa 1978, she settled in Queens, which could boast of being homebase for Louis Armstrong and numerous other jazz musicians. Sudhalter formed the Astoria Big Band in 1986 and has kept the group going ever since. The group, with original arrangements by some top names, has gotten more than 20 grants from the Queens Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Sudhalter also leads the monthly Louis Armstrong Legacy Jazz Jam at Flushing Town Hall. Sudhalter live-streams May 12th at Flushing Town Hall and is at Sunnyside Reformed Church May 29th.
Artist Feature: MARK SHIM
By George Grella; photo by Doerte Fitschen-Rath / Studio DF 6
Mark Shim is one of the most unique and exciting players on the contemporary jazz scene, with a sound that carries a powerful sheer effect and ideas about improvisation pushing at the edges of modern jazz from the inside out. Shim live-streams May 12th at Bar Bayeux.
Encore: MIKE WESTBROOK
By Francesco Martinelli
In an amazing bout of creativity and endurance English composer and bandleader Mike Westbrook, who turned 85 in March, provided listeners all over the world with a precious selection of films documenting his 50+ years of activity with the Mike Westbrook Jazz Motion Picture Show, available on his website.
Lest We Forget: GEORGE OTSUKA
By Alex Henderson
Japanese drummer Keiji "George" Otsuka, who was 82 when he died in Tokyo on Mar. 10th, 2020, had a career spanning over 60 years and was known not only for the high caliber of Japanese musicians he employed, but also for all the American and Europeans who hired him when they were in Japan.
Record Label Spotlight: CADILLAC
By Mark Keresman
Cadillac specializes in, mostly but not entirely, styles of jazz too chancy for mainstream concerns and provides a daïs of sorts for some of the UK's—and beyond—jazz makers.
(this month's performance/streaming venues in parentheses):
Sana Nagano—Smashing Humans 577 Records (Streaming)
The 8-Bit Big Band—Backwards Compatible TeamChuck (Sony Hall)