"Tradition!" bellowed Chaim Topol as Tevye the milkman in Fiddler on the Roof. Though he was singing about the various inhabitants of his village, the sentiment can be applied to jazz in all its myriad forms. Every person taking up an instrument is both weighed down and uplifted by that tradition. It is what they do with it that advances the art form, keeps it relevant (if not solvent) and attracting further players who, in turn, will push it forward.
Our features this month all do their part in celebrating jazz history. Preservation Hall Jazz Band (On The Cover) are crucial to the life of New Orleanais jazz but have also expanded their reach to the primordial depths of jazz history; the band performs as part of Central Park SummerStage this month. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini (Interview) has been continuing the work started by legendary singers decades ago yet bringing her own voice to varied contexts. She is at Blue Note for four nights. And composer/bandleader Darcy James Argue is the heir to Gil Evans and Duke Ellington, adding modern urgency to the big band format and beating the economic odds. See him and his Secret Society large ensemble at Jazz Standard.
On the Cover: PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND
By Marilyn Lester; photos by Linda and Jack Vartoogian
Sustained longevity in the jazz world is a feat achieved by a relative few. Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB), with roots reaching back to the '50s, celebrated its 50th Anniversary from 2011-12 with several major projects, including a concert at Carnegie Hall. Under the leadership of Ben Jaffe, PHJB is moving forward robustly into its next half-century. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is at Central Park Summerstage Aug. 8th.
Interview: ROBERTA GAMBARINI
By Ori Dagan; photo courtesy of the artist
Torino, Italy-born, Brooklyn-based, two-time Grammy-nominated jazz singer Roberta Gambarini is a sophisticated talent whose musicianship shines bright and clear. Her style is drenched in influence—be it a sudden swoop à la Sarah Vaughan or the riveting rubato of Carmen McRae—but most crucially, she is not an imitator, but a genuine disciple of her idols. There are no gimmicks, merely great ears, sensitive heart, immense talent and decades of dedication. Gambarini is at Blue Note Aug. 23rd-26th.
Artist Feature: DARCY JAMES ARGUE
By George Grella; photo by Lindsay Beyerstein
Jazz is so economically precarious that every new musician or group making a go of it has an edge of unlikelihood about them. Take that situation and extrapolate it to an 18-piece big band and that makes Darcy James Argue's career so far vastly more unlikely. Yet he formed and has run (both musically and administratively) his Secret Society big band since 2005 and in objective terms his career is thriving. Argue's Secret Society is at Jazz Standard Aug. 29th.
Encore: RICKY FORD
By Russ Musto
Back in the latter part of the '70s Ricky Ford established himself in the jazz world as the premier "mainstream" saxophonist of his generation; a lone young lion—practically a pride of one—blowing roaring tenor in the manner of Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins at a time when few young African-Americans were coming on to the jazz scene playing in the tradition. Ford is at The 75 Club at Bogardus Mansion Aug. 3rd-4th.
Lest We Forget: JOE SHEPLEY
By Anders Griffen
Joe Shepley was one of the most in-demand studio and live trumpet players from the '60s-00s. He did endless jingles and movies and worked with too many artists to name. He imbued the trumpet with childlike enthusiasm and steadfast positivity.
Record Label Spotlight: WEEKERTOFT
By Stuart Broomer
Weekertoft, the label created by London-based guitarist John Russell and Dublin pianist Paul G. Smyth, just emerged in 2016, but it's the product of a much longer history.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Harold López-Nussa -- Un Día Cualquiera Mack Avenue (Jazz Standard)
Tony Allen -- The Source Blue Note (Le Poisson Rouge)
Aruan Ortiz -- Live in Zurich Intakt (The Stone at The New School)
Alan Braufman -- Valley of Search India Navigation-Valley of Search (The Greene Space; National Sawdust)
Matteo Liberatore -- Solos Innova (Downtown Music Gallery)
Woody Shaw -- Tokyo '81 Elemental Music
Woody Shaw/Louis Hayes -- The Tour, Volume Two HighNote
Alister Spence -- Not everything but enough Alister Spence Music
Håvard Wiik -- This Is Not A Waltz Moserobie
Kjetil Mulelid -- Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House Rune Grammofon
Peter Brötzmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm -- Ouroboros Astral Spirits (The Stone at The New School)
Tim Daisy's Fulcrum Ensemble -- Animation Relay
Fred Lonberg-Holm -- Bow Hard at the Frog Corbett vs. Dempsey (The Stone at The New School)
Jesse Dulman -- Live at Downtown Music Gallery RR Gems (Downtown Music Gallery)