50 years is a long time to do anything. Sure, Queen Elizabeth II's reign is approaching 70 years but she is mostly an anachronistic figurehead. Neither description applies to legendary producer Manfred Eicher (On The Cover), whose ECM Records celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. Over 30 artists, the smallest sliver of the imprint's roster, will come together at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater to fête Eicher, who continues to produce some of today's most compelling jazz, drawing from global talent young and old. Pianist Roger Kellaway (Interview) has been at it even longer, starting with Clark Terry in 1962 and through to his own albums, soundtrack recordings and collaborations; Kellaway starts his 80th celebration year with an upstairs-downstairs weekend at Birdland and Birdland Theater. It only seems like bassist Linda May Han Oh has been around forever, so quickly did she ascend to much-deserved acclaim as a leader and sideperson; she is at The Jazz Gallery for a weekend engagement. And representing bookends of the seminal career of Ornette Coleman are drummer Billy Higgins (Lest We Forget), member of the alto saxophonist's earliest bands, and guitarist Charlee Ellerbe (Encore), key member of Coleman's late-period ensemble Prime Time.
On the Cover: MANFRED EICHER
By Andrey Henkin; photos by Bart Babinski / ECM Records
To paraphrase Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter from Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, "To the public Manfred Eicher is ECM Records." Blue Note Records under founder Alfred Lion lasted 28 years. Riverside and Orrin Keepnews 11. Bob Thiele produced for Impulse! for 8. ECM Records as an expression of Eicher's vision has exceeded the sum of all three of those legendary imprints with no sign of slowing down. ECM Records at 50 is at Rose Theater Nov 1st-2nd.
Interview: ROGER KELLAWAY
By Ken Dryden; photo Jorjana Kellaway
A man of many musical hats, Roger Kellaway is best known for his brilliant jazz piano, extensive work writing, conducting and orchestrating for soundtracks and television and sessions with a variety of artists, from pop and folk to classical music. Once he arrived in New York, he became an in-demand freelancer and his star rose once he became a prolific contributor to film and TV. Kellaway is proud of his tenure as Music Director for vocalist Bobby Darin and has recorded two acclaimed tributes to him. In recent years, he has released several duo CDs with reed player Eddie Daniels. Kellaway is at Birdland Theater as a leader and Birdland as a guest of the Django Reinhardt Festival, both Nov. 15th-16th.
Artist Feature: LINDA MAY HAN OH
By Franz Matzner; photo by Shervin Lainez
Linda May Han Oh has risen to the top of the jazz scene as a prolific bass player. Oh is an exceptional human being, not solely because of her musical talents, which are legion, but also as a result of her dedicated engagement as a teacher and social activist. Oh is at The Jazz Gallery Nov. 29th-30th.
Encore: CHARLEE ELLERBE
By John Pietaro
As the Bern Nix Jazz Festival in Elizabeth, NJ wrapped on Sep. 28th, Charlee Ellerbe crouched at stage right, packing up his Steinberger six-string. "The truth is," he said sans irony, "I've never called myself a guitarist. This is a vehicle for the melodies, the arrangements I hear." Ellerbe, esteemed guest artist of this event honoring Ornette Coleman's Prime Time's other guitarist, who died in 2017, held the audience in a state of fixation as he crafted melodic assaults and agitational pulsations on this vehicle he played 14 years with Coleman, time with Sun Ra and for the Coleman memorial at Lincoln Center and beyond.
Lest We Forget: BILLY HIGGINS
By John Pietaro
In a career that forged the hardbop-to-free portal, Billy Higgins is recalled today as the first-call drummer in the period of jazz' most prodigious transition. A Higgins tribute led by Willie Jones III is at Dizzy's Club Nov. 14th-17th.
Record Label Spotlight: CATALYTIC SOUND
By Eric Wendell
Improvised music is a collaborative experience, musicians coming together without preconceived notions to create something from nothing. Sharing the fruit of such experiences has been the lifework of multi-instrumentalist Ken Vandermark. He and many of his contemporaries have taken the mantle and formed their own record labels in order to have control of their output and safeguard their survival. Vandermark took this idea to establish Catalytic Sound. Artists performing this month are Joe McPhee at 244 Rehearsal Studios Nov. 23rd; Ikue Mori at Roulette Nov. 5th; Luke Stewart at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center Nov. 19th as part of Celebrating Patricia Nicholson and Zinc Bar Nov. 26th with Avram Fefer; and Nate Wooley at Miller Theatre Nov. 14th, Issue Project Room Nov. 15th and St. Peter's Episcopal Church Nov. 23rd.
(this month's performance venues in parentheses):
Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan—Epistrophy ECM (Rose Theater)
Enrico Rava/Joe Lovano—Roma ECM (Rose Theater)
Avishai Cohen/Yonathan Avishai—Playing The Room ECM (Rose Theater)
Aimee Allen—WingsUncaged s/r (Club Bonafide)
Whit Dickey—Peace Planet/Box of Light AUM Fidelity (244 Rehearsal Studios)
Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba—Hallowed Advance Dance Disques (Zinc Bar)
Duke Ellington—Uppsala 1971 Storyville
Aki Takase—Hokusai Intakt
Andrea Keller—Transients Volume 1 s/r
Jo-Yu Chen—Savage Beauty Sony Music
Sarah Weaver/Gerry Hemingway—Reality Axis (for Solo Percussion) Sync Source (The DiMenna Center)
Rob Brown—From Here to Hear RogueArt (244 Rehearsal Studios; Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center)
Landline—Eponymous Loyal Label (Brooklyn Conservatory of Music)
Charlie Rauh—Hiraeth Destiny (Symphony Space)
Charlie Rauh/Cameron Mizell—What We Have In Common Destiny (Symphony Space)
Jeremy Carlstedt—Sound Escapes Carlsteady (Teatro Latea)
Stephen Gauci/Adam Lane/Kevin Shea—Studio Sessions, Vol. 2 Gaucimusic (Bushwick Public House)
Fleur Seule—Standards and Sweet Things s/r (Tavern on the Green; Birdland Theater; S.O.B.'s; The Django at The Roxy Hotel; Special Club)
Rez Abbasi—A Throw of Dice (by The Silent Ensemble) Whirlwind (Jazz Standard)
Mareike Wiening—Metropolis Paradise Greenleaf Music (The Jazz Gallery)
Ed Neumeister—One and Only MeisteroMusic (Jazz at Kitano)
Michael Leonhart Orchestra—Suite Extracts Vol. 1 Sunnyside (Jazz Standard)