To paraphrase a koan, if summer came to the beach but there was no one there, would it have caused a suntan? Seriously—tragically—though, fall is upon us and New York City enters its seventh month of pandemic-related lockdown, with indoor live music a distant memory and changing regulations making its resumption a hazy vision into the future. And, if things weren't bad enough, added to the health concerns, economic meltdowns and cultural malaise, we now fully enter presidential election season, where promise is everything and promises mean nothing. But as trumpeter Nicholas Payton (On The Cover) says, "What we do in this moment, in these next couple of months, these next few years, is going to be the determining factor on the next 50 years. So
I think that it's really incumbent upon us and what we bring forth. The choice is up to us." Presidential elections are remarkably important in the best of times; with sickness, both bodily and spiritually, infecting our nation, the choices we make in November are even more significant than any in recent memory.
Maybe more jazz musicians should run for office. They know how to stretch a dime; understand the value of collaboration, of listening to what others have to say; are flexible within the moment; have a real grasp of history; come from disparate backgrounds; and have traveled the world, removing any nationalistic myopia from their vision. We could have done far worse than Dizzy Gillespie as president in 1964 and, frankly, anyone who has spent any time in a jazz group—putting aside ego for the greater good of music and revelling in the contributions of a kaleidoscopic populace—would be light years ahead of what we have now and, but for the grace of whatever you may believe in, could have for another four dark, dismal, divisive and death-ridden years.
On the Cover: NICHOLAS PAYTON
By Russ Musto; photo by Jimmy Katz, courtesy of the artist
"About as cool as a Black man in America could be," Nicholas Payton replies succinctly from his home in New Orleans when asked how he's been doing since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold. Payton played his last gig before a live audience on Mar. 7th in Colorado Springs with his group The Light Beings and has had every gig scheduled for the remainder of the year cancelled. But that hasn't prevented him from remaining productive. Since the lockdown began, he's been streaming live performances from various NOLA locations as part of his Blue Note at Home weekly residency. And he's released two new albums.
Interview: MAKAYA McCRAVEN
By Jordannah Elizabeth; photo by David Marques
Internationally acclaimed jazz drummer Makaya McCraven has released a new documentary entitled Universal Beings along with a new musical offering, Universal Beings E&F Sides. The documentary and music share the same title as his critically acclaimed 2018 album. The documentary brings an autobiographical tone to the musical project and allows listeners to experience a behind-the-scenes look at the travels and musical process of McCraven and his many collaborators including Jeff Parker and Brandee Younger. We had a conversation about his new music and doc, travel (pre-COVID-19) and race and gender in jazz and America.
Artist Feature: SUSANA SANTOS SILVA
By John Sharpe; photo by Peter Gannushkin
Stockholm-based Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva displays a relentlessly searching attitude and, as a result, has developed into one of the most daring European players, appearing with an increasingly starry circle of improvisers, including Fred Frith, Hamid Drake, Mat Maneri and Evan Parker. Though spending much of her time in free situations and collectives, she also leads the quintet Impermanence, which has just issued its second album.
Encore: SONNY GREENWICH
By Sylvia Levine
Guitarist Sonny Greenwich is among the pantheon of jazz players known and respected, almost revered, by fellow artists and serious listeners, but barely known to a larger audience. Now 84, Greenwich, it is true, never sought the spotlight and, except for brief periods, plied his trade in his native Canada.
Lest We Forget: CLIFFORD BROWN
By George Kanzler
Benny Golson's great jazz elegy makes it hard to forget trumpeter Clifford Brown. Most trumpeters worth their salt who have enjoyed jazz careers since Brown died in 1956 have recorded and/or performed "I Remember Clifford".
Record Label Spotlight: TROUBLE IN THE EAST
By Michael Cobb
Founded in late 2015, Trouble in the East Records is a musician-run label based in Berlin, Germany. The name is in jest to their former East Berlin origins and in earnest to the composition "Trouble in the East" by Ornette Coleman from his 1969 album Crisis. The concept was born out of a desire for independence as well as creating a platform to share with like-minded colleagues and friends.
In Memomoriam: ANNIE ROSS (1930-2020)
Memories of the late vocalist by Cheryl Bentyne, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Amy Cervini, Greg Cohen, Roberta Gambarini, Tardo Hammer, Michael Kanan, Amy London, Neal Miner and Roseanna Vitro.
Rachel Therrien—Vena Bonsai Music
Walt Weiskopf—Introspection s/r
Dena DeRose—Ode To The Road HighNote
Ran Blake/Frank Carlberg—Gray Moon Red Piano
Ran Blake/Christine Correa—When Soft Rains Fall Red Piano
Ken Vandermark—Consequent Duos: Series 2b: Joe Morris Artifacts
Ken Vandermark—Consequent Duos: Series 2c: Ikue Mori Artifacts
Ken Vandermark—Consequent Duos: Series 2d: Fred Lonberg-Holm Artifacts
Vincent Chancey—The Spell: The Vincent Chancey Trio Live, 1987 NoBusiness
Hermione Johnson—Tremble Relative Pitch
Hèctor Para—Frec [piano by Agustí Fernández] Sirulita
Ana Ruiz—And The World Exploded Into Love s/r
Martin Wind/Philip Catherine/Ack Van Rooyen—White Noise Laika