Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brotherly Jazz

            Jazz groups consisting of brothers are a common trend in jazz.  Whether or not the biological bond leads to a more creative environment, I wouldn’t dare to say.  What I will say is that these brotherly groups have contributed to some of the most renowned recordings, compositions, and live performances in jazz history.

            Perhaps one of the most well known families in jazz today is the Marsalis family.  Branford, Wynton, Jason, Delfeayo, and Ellis Marsalis III are the sons of Ellis Marsalis Jr.  Ellis Jr., an accomplished jazz pianist and music professor himself, passed on the candle to his four sons.  All four sons have successful careers all their own, independent of each other.  However, the four brothers have played together on occasion and continue to carry on their father’s legacy.  Wynton, a trumpeter, has become a leading figure in jazz academia and performance.  He is currently the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and a very accomplished performer.  Branford is most noted for his work as a jazz saxophonist and for starting the record label aptly named Marsalis Music.  Delfeayo has a successful career as a jazz trombonist while Jason, the youngest of the four, is an accomplished drummer.  The four brothers do not usually tour together but have at times collaborated on selected projects.  Most recently they recorded Music Redeems, a live engagement at the Kennedy Center to benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.  In 2003, the family recorded the album Marsalis Family: a Jazz Celebration.  However, the earliest version of the group appeared in 1982 with the album entitled Fathers and Sons, though Jason and Delfeayo were too young to be included.
            Another famous brother based group is the Brecker Brothers.  Saxophonist Michael and trumpeter Randy teamed up in the 1970s and recorded throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s.  They both embarked on separate careers as well.  Randy was an original member of the group Blood, Sweat, and Tears, while Brecker can be heard on numerous mainstream jazz and mainstream rock recordings.  Michael also was a member of the Saturday Night Live Band in the early 1980s.  The brothers also recorded together as the Brecker Brothers as well as sidemen for each other’s solo groups.  Unfortunately, the jazz community lost Michael Brecker to a form of leukemia on January 13, 2007.  Randy Brecker is still performing and carrying on the legacy he started with his brother.

           Stepping back a few more years, the Adderley brothers appear on the scene.  Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and his brother Nathaniel became figures in the jazz scene as early as 1955.  As the previously discussed brother groups have also done, Cannonball and Nat led separate careers as well as careers together.  Cannonball started his first quintet in the early 1950s with his brother.  However, it was not until after Cannonball’s stint with Miles Davis that Cannonball gained the acclaim that allowed his second attempt at a quintet with his brother to flourish.  Cannonball Adderley died at the young age of 47 of a stroke.  After his brother’s death in 1975, Nat continued his career performing and recording with many notable figures in jazz.  Like his brother, Nat also suffered from a long battle with diabetes.  On January 2, 2000, he passed due to complications from the disease.

The name Jones is a highly celebrated name in jazz.  Elvin, Hank, and Thad Jones are most often celebrated as musicians for their solo careers.  Elvin, a drummer, is remembered for his work with figures like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner, and Wayne Shorter.  Hank’s piano work with Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Lester Young, and Wes Montgomery earned him the reputation as one of the most celebrated musicians in jazz.  Thad Jones was probably most known for his work as a composer, arranger, and band leader. His first major step in his career was as a trumpeter and composer/arranger for the Count Basie Orchestra.  He went on to form his own group, the Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra.  Hank and Elvin played together on albums with other noted artists, but the three brothers did not record all together until 1958.  Nevertheless, they recorded quite often in other bands as sidemen on the same albums.  Elvin Jones died on May 18, 2004 of heart failure in New Jersey.  Thad passed on August 21, 1986 at his home in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Hank Jones died most recently on May 16, 2010 in a hospice facility in Manhattan.
One of the most influential brother groups in jazz was comprised of the Heath brothers.  Jimmy (tenor saxophone,) Albert “Tootie” (drums,) and Percy (bass) formed the Heath Brothers band in 1975.  It lasted for roughly three years until Tootie left in 1978.  Percy and Jimmy continued the group with Akira Tana as Tootie’s replacement.  In 1982, Tootie returned to the group.  Jimmy and Tootie continue the group today, hiring sidemen on an as needed basis.  Percy Heath, an early member of the Modern Jazz Quartet, passed away of bone cancer on April 28, 2005, two days short of his 82nd birthday.  One of the last times the three brothers were recorded together was on a DVD Brotherly Jazz: The Heath Brothers in 2004.  While Jimmy and Tootie continue playing together, they also perform separately.  Both brothers also lead their own careers as educators.  Tootie Heath is currently the producer and leader of The Whole Drum Truth, a jazz drum ensemble.  Jimmy has his own big band that he continues to tour with, performing his compositions and tunes that span the history of jazz.
            Jimmy Heath can be seen during a six day engagement at the Blue Note Jazz Club from October 23rd through the 28th.   Mr. Heath will be celebrating his 86th birthday on October 25th during his stint at the “Jazz Capital of the World.”  His stay will feature Heath’s performance of his own compositions framed and supported by the masterful playing of the Jimmy Heath Big Band.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Marcus Strickland Interview

Marcus Strickland and his quartet kick off a heavy week of music at the Blue Note tonight. We caught up with Marcus to discuss his musical upbringing, how he approaches leading his band, and why he enjoys playing with his brother.

Tell us a little bit about how you got into music and when you decided you wanted to make it your living.

Music was always playing in my household, thanks to my father. And there was only one classification of music in our home, GOOD music. My brother and I wore holes into the backseat of our parents Toyota because we were always bobbing our heads to Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Parliament, etc... So it wasn't a surprise that we, at the age of 11, chose band as our extracurricular class. From the moment my band teacher introduced the saxophone I was in love with how it looked and sounded. The joy that filled my heart after two weeks of blowing hard to finally produce a sound was so profound that I think right then and there I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Football, car designing, and track all fell to the side because they had no chance against how much music compelled me.

Talk to us about the musicians who will be joining you on Monday evening. How did this group form? What makes these musicians special to play with?

I couldn't have asked for a more fitting band. Our sensibilities are quite compatible, and that's what I felt when I first met each of them on the New York City scene (Exception: I met my brother in the womb, LOL). We are all musicians who developed a sound that is outside the vacuum of limitations. At times I feel we all form a quite dynamic sampler of world music. My twin brother, E.J. Strickland, is an extremely versatile drummer. He is immediately able to shape and propel each piece from the first time he plays it, and it doesn't hurt that he is an amazing songwriter too. David Bryant's piano playing is provocative and sets the mood of any given tune we are playing. His ears and rhythmic flexibility make his sound the perfect environment for my sound. The bass is an instrument that requires a groove master at its helm, and that is what Ben Williams is. He always makes the bass lines I write into his own manifestation with incredible creativity. We are all rhythmic boxers on stage, jabbing n' ducking at spontaneous occurrences - playing with these guys is guaranteed fun for all.

Discuss your approach as a bandleader. On your bio it states that you try to adhere to Art Blakey’s saying, “Leave the band alone!” How does this influence the way you compose and arrange for the group?

When writing a song or rehearsing my band, I always try to leave room for each person's personality and ability to shine. I don't like to instruct and if I do it's very minimal. I just make sure I get incredible musicians, and I trust that whatever they don't understand immediately (which is rare) they will eventually hook up on the bandstand or in the studio. I want all of us to shine, my concept is not self-serving. This is what I feel Art Blakey meant when he said "Leave the band alone". Art also felt that if the band doesn't make any mistakes the music is being played too carefully, so I adopted that approach to band leading as well.

How is it playing with your brother? You are both band leaders and play in each other’s groups. Do you each contribute compositions and arrangements to both groups or does it depend on who is leading?

Ever since E.J. and I first started playing music we were experiencing the same thing with each other. We often played duo, sax and drums, while growing up - so it is not a surprise that both of us are very rhythmic and interactive with each other and all others. Every now and then I play a tune of E.J.'s in his band that I feel would fit with my band too. So I sometimes ask politely if I could add choice songs of his to my band's repertoire, very rarely though. Despite our blood connection we have different yet compatible approaches to songwriting and band leading.

What are your plans for the upcoming future? Any new records or collaborations we should know about?

There's a whole lot in store for my audience and those who will join the fun. I have plans in the near future to revive my Twi-Life project with a very fresh approach and some special guests. Every project I do is of course the most up to date version of me, so I am always exciting to get it on wax, plastic and bytes. My latest recording with my quartet Triumph of the Heavy, Vol 1 & 2 has a whole pile of music on it - 2 discs, 17 tracks. So, my output has always been extremely generous. I also have plans to showcase my skills as a producer now that more opportunities are arising. Many great things on the horizon, you'll see!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

JJ Sansaverino Interview

Fresh off five weeks of worldwide touring, JJ Sansaverino brings his Nu Jazz band to perform at the Blue Note stage tonight. We caught up with JJ to talk to him about his musical beginnings, what we can anticipate for his show at the Blue Note, and what his hopes are for the future.

BLUE NOTE: Tell us a little bit about how you got started in music and when you decided you wanted to pursue it professionally.

JJ: I grew up in a musical family. My Grandfather was a very well known singer in the Lower East side. My Grandmother sang opera and studied at Juilliard. My uncles sang in a Doo Wop band called Memories and performed for years around NY. So I became interested as a young boy. By the time I was 16, I knew I wanted to play professionally.

BLUE NOTE: It says on your bio that while attending the Berklee School of Music, you came to NYC every weekend to perform. I assume this must have been fairly stressful. Can you talk about your experience at Berklee and why you decided to attend even though you were returning to NYC so frequently?

JJ: I was performing regularly in NY before college, so it was important for me to continue playing around the Village while I was studying. To keep my name in the circuit. I chose an Arranging major at school so I was writing scores for small to big bands constantly. I needed an outlet to play my guitar. The traveling wasn't stressful to me because the bus ride was therapeutic, to be alone, think, and listen to music.

Berklee was a great experience. To have endless musicians and outlets available was awesome. The facilities and resources were amazing. I left because I missed playing live and traveling constantly. I returned because I still had much more to learn. It really gave me the opportunity to learn composing and arranging for strings, horns, and bigger ensembles.

BLUE NOTE: How did your band Nu Jazz form? Talk a little bit about the other musicians in your group and what we can expect from your performance at the Blue Note. Do you usually come in with a set list or do you tend to draw on the audience to dictate song selection?

JJ: Nu Jazz was created when I had the opportunity to work with one set of musicians regularly. Ze Luis Oliveira is my dear friend and a wonderfully blessed musician. He plays woodwinds and percussion. He co-produced my CD Sunshine After Midnight with myself and Alex Valenti. Etienne Lytle is an extremely talented keyboardist. We have been playing together for years. Thomas Gooding is my bassist. We have been traveling the world for years. Courtney Williams will be playing drums. We have worked together for years and he is playing for Eric Brown, who has a previous commitment. Courtney is an extremely energetic drummer who makes great solso. All of these guys are wonderful people and very talented musicians. It's an honor to be on stage with them.

As far as a set list, lately I have been making one in advance because I am trying to present more of a show instead of going song by song.

You can expect a very high energy show, with a blend of many genres. Lots of emotion and heart and soul. For our second show at 10:30 I will have a lot of special guests sitting in with us.

BLUE NOTE: You fuse a lot of different genres into your music. Can you talk about your influences and how they influence your unique sound? How would you describe your music?

JJ: I have been touring the world for 22 years, the last 12 with reggae legend Maxi Priest so reggae music is part of me. Jazz is the umbrella of many genres that I fuse including Latin, R&B, and good old rock guitar. The music carries so much emotion, that at different times different sounds, textures, and styles need to be used. I think my love of these genres helps give me a unique sound.

I have been influenced by many greats such as Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, George Benson, and Jimmy Hendrix as well as many R&B singers.

BLUE NOTE: You have garnered much critical acclaim and have achieved a great deal in your career thus far. What would you still like to accomplish? What can we expect from you in the upcoming future?

JJ:  I feel so blessed to be here in this world to do good. God has given me so much talent, but most of all the ability to be able to reach audiences and people. I have traveled the world extensively and have seen how much joy myself and fellow musicians have given people. I have currently been on the road this tour for 5 weeks, traveling to London, St Maarten, Sri Lanka, Anguilla, Vancouver, Seattle, Arizona, New York, Qatar, Dubai, California, Florida, and more. Last year we were in Africa, Guam, Spain, Japan and other great places. My ultimate goal is to continue to record my music and tour to support it. It is very important for me to be God's messenger and deliver musical blessings to the world while caring for my family.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

SoNuvo Interview

This Saturday, August 4th SoNuvo will play the Late Night Groove Series. We had an opportunity to catch up with them.
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4091/5099849414_4f74093ba7_z.jpgBlue Note: What should we expect this Saturday?

SoNuvo: This Saturday will be a celebration of the trio getting back together and playing again.  We've all been busy with other projects and traveling so we all had put SoNuvo on the back burner.  We're pulling out all the stops for this performance with special guests, new original songs, and new arrangements of some classics.

BN: Where does this name, SoNuvo, come from?

S: The name SoNuvo is a combination of "son" which is a prefix for sound, and "nouveau" which means new.  We thought of a ton of names and struggled to find one that both our American friends and French friends could pronounce.  It was a harder task than you might imagine.

BN: How was your tour de France? Did it influence the dynamic of the group?

S: While we were in France we grew exponentially as a group.  We had been spending a lot of time together in NY, performing weekly at Bubble Lounge, Chez Oskar and BXL, but in France we had time to workshop new material and hone our live show.  We found that aside from our musical roles in the band, we each had our role in our little family.  The personal rapport we built comes across in the musical performance and I think that people can see and hear it.

BN: Seth and Jerome have had a long history of playing together. How did Marie join the group? 

S: Jerome and I started playing together when we were about 15 years old in Cleveland, and continued playing in  different bands together here in NY, starting with Lee Hogans's band Pursuance.  Marie was a special guest at one of the Pursuance hits at Club Groove and I was blown away.  She had such an amazing harmonic and rhythmic sense, the likes of which I had never heard in a vocalist before or since, and such a great vibe and presence.  We started working on duets and thought that with the addition of Jerome we could have something really special.  The result was an environment for all of us to be featured and truly collaborate.  That's how I remember it, at least.

BN: Speak of past performing experiences and accolades and how that has affected the group. (2012 Montreux Jazz Voice Competition finalist, drumming with Sonny Rollins) 

S: All of our musical performances are a learning experience and affect the following performance.

BN: What should we be looking forward to with SoNuvo?

S: Well, we have a couple special guests that we'd like to keep as a surprise.  It's going to be a lot of fun and a very interesting and memorable experience for everyone who attends. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Honey Larochelle Interview

This Saturday, July 14 Honey Larochelle will play the Late Night Groove Series. We had an opportunity to catch up with Honey.

Blue Note: What can the Blue Note audience expect from your show Saturday?

Honey Larochelle: A high energy night full of warm edgy soul, reminiscent of the greats we all love... and a beautiful reunion of all-star musicians.

BN: What upcoming projects are you working on?

HL: My first full length album is finally underway and due out late September. I also have a couple side projects that will be pleasant surprises for folks, but I'll save those for later ;)

BN: What do you like about playing Blue Note and NY audiences?

HL: I love Blue Note and NY audiences because there's always a mixture of tourists and local fans, so there's a really diverse and exotic blend of listeners and cultures all together under one roof speaking the same universal language.

BN: What have you been listening to lately - where are you looking for inspiration?

HL: I just got back from a week tour of Brazil, so that has certainly inspired me a lot. I've been listening to a lot of samba and bossa nova.

BN: How does your diverse background play into your music?

HL:  Well my music is also quite diverse, so I think it plays a big part. But whether I'm writing hip-hop, dub step, jazz, or funk or sing-songwriter it all fits under the soul umbrella.

Get tickets here

Monday, July 9, 2012

Another Vision of Ástor Piazzolla

Jazz educator Ed Tomassi defines new music styles as cohesive blends of past genres. Ástor Piazzolla's compositions capture this ideal. Using traditional tango as a backbone, Piazzolla infused elements of jazz and baroque music to create what has been coined nuevo tango. Carlos Kuri, author of Piazzolla: la música límite, notes that "Piazzolla's fusion of tango with this wide range of other recognizable Western musical elements was so successful that it produced a new individual style transcending these influences."
Piazzolla's compositional beauty has been noticed by listeners and performers. This success has influenced a variety of musicians to interpret Piazzolla's music. Notable albums include Al Di Meola's Di Meola Plays Piazzolla (1996), the Assad brothers' Sergio & Odair Assad Play Piazzolla (2001), Gary Burton's Astor Piazzolla Reunion (1998) and Libertango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla (2000). Musicians like Chick Corea and Gustavo Casenave have played Piazzolla's music at the Blue Note.

Nine-time GRAMMY award-winning clarinetist and composer, Paquito D'Rivera brings his tribute to Ástor Piazzolla next weekend at the Blue Note. D'Rivera will be performing from July 10 - 15.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sonnys in Jazz

There is a peculiar phenomenon among jazz musicians, especially saxophonists. Players like William Greer, Conrad Clark, Edward Stitt, and Cornelius Fortune share a commonality. They are a fraction of the community of jazz musicians nicknamed 'Sonny.' Saxophone giants include Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Criss, Sonny Simmons, Sonny Red, Herman "Sonny" Blount (Sun Ra), and the Coltrane-inspired Sonny Fortune. Fortune joined McCoy Tyner's group for over two years. With Fortune's contributions on Tyner's albums Sahara (1972), Song For My Lady (1973), and Song of the New World (1973), Fortune cemented his reputation as an instrumental innovator on alto and soprano saxophones. Come see Sonny Fortune, a living legend among nicknamed greats, at Blue Note on Monday, July 9 at 8 & 10:30pm.

Tenor Battles - An Ongoing Tradition

Tenor Titans Ralph Lalama and Billy Drewes continue the ‘tenor battle’ tradition as a part of Blue Note’s Sunday Brunch Series, Sunday, July 8 at 12:30 pm.

In a Bret Primack interview, Sonny Rollins explains this tradition in reference to his composition "Tenor Madness", featuring John Coltrane. 
“In those days we used to always have... tenor battles. It’s an old tradition.” Rollins clarifies that these duels are not out of animosity, but out of camaraderie and mutual respect. This tradition dates back to Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, the earliest primary influences of the tenor saxophone. When Lester Young joined the Count Basie Orchestra, Basie's wife took Young to record stores, encouraging him to check out Hawkins' recordings. Young's sound and approach was so revolutionary and different than Coleman Hawkins they were able to complement each other in duet. In 1957 Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt went head-to-head over rhythm changes on "Eternal Triangle". Al Cohn and Zoot Sims battled with a cool vibe on "Lover Come Back to Me.Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray showed that the West Coast can play bebop with "The Chase" and "The Hunt."  Gene Ammons’ Boss Tenors recordings with Sonny Stitt represent this tradition in a swinging bop form. For a modern approach, Jerry Bergonzi's  "On Again, Off Again" on Alex Riel's UnRiel (1997) features Michael Brecker and Jerry Bergonzi going at it.

Ralph Lalama and Billy Drewes are both influential New York tenor players. Lalama has won three GRAMMYs and released many albums as a leader. Drewes has over 100 recording credits to his name and has shared the stage with the finest in jazz. Both are members of the Vangaurd Jazz Orchestra.

This Sunday, July 8 at 12:30pm enjoy brunch and witness Billy Drewes and Ralph Lalama battle, continuing a respectful and exciting tradition.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


The Late Night Groove Series has been going for over a decade now, featuring illustrious artists such as DJ Logic, Ledisi, Maya Azucena and many more. This Saturday, May 26th, features guitarist Will Bernard.  We had a chance to catch up with Will:

BLUE NOTE:  What's in store for us Saturday when you play the Blue Note?  Mostly tunes from your new release Outdoor Living?

WILL BERNARD:  I am bringing Tony Mason on drums, Ben Stivers on Piano and organ and Jeff Hanley on Bass.  We will be playing songs from a few of my albums but mostly the new one, Outdoor Living.  I am excited to play with this line up. It's the first time playing with this combination of folks. I have played with all of them many times in other situations. The great thing about these musicians is that you can go in practically any musical direction.

BN:  How were your recent gigs in NOLA?  You bringing some of the NOLA vibe back up north with you?

WB:  I always bring some of that Nola vibe with me.  It has become part of my way of thinking over the years.  I had a great time at Jazz fest in New Orleans this year.  I played every night at one place or another for a week and a half and really had a blast.  I have regular gigs I do every year there: Stanton Moore, Dr Lonnie Smith, Robert Walter and this time I got to do a gig with the great Kirk Joseph the Sousaphone player from Dirty Dozen Brass band.

BN:  Be honest.  Which is better - Berkeley or Brooklyn?

WB:  I love it in New York and I plan to stay here. The SF Bay Area is where I have spent most of my life and I still really love it. It's very manageable in a lot of ways. It's definitely a much slower pace though that's for sure. I think that's part of why I like it though...same with New Orleans.

BN:  What's up next for you?

WB:  Well I am mainly just in town for a while.  I am freelancing here in NY and playing gigs all the time all over the place.  I am constantly trying to evolve and keep expanding what I get into.  Although people mostly know me from playing the funk I have a lot of other sides that I need to cultivate more.  I will be going to Europe in the fall with my trio that is on the new record: Wil Blades and Simon Lott.  Wil is a really great B3 player from the Bay Area that is coming up quick. He is also touring with Billy Martin from MMW these days. Simon is a one of a kind drummer from Nola.

BN:  Last, but not least, how'd you get SO FUNKY?

WB:  That's a good one...well I got bitten by the funk, soul, R & B bug a very long time ago and I can't seem to get rid of it.  I grew up with that Bay Area thing...Tower of Power, Sly, etc.  I've had the good fortune to play gigs with guys from the Meters, the James Brown band, Booker T, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Idris Mohammad, Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore etc. That has been a great help as well. You learn a lot from playing with great musicians.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting To Know WAYNA - Late Night Groove Series vocalist, Friday April 6

In the video below, the incredibly talented vocalist WAYNA speaks about her upcoming Birthday Tribute to Billie Holiday at the Blue Note on Friday, April 6 at midnight. Click HERE for show information, and follow Wayna on twitter @WaynaMusic

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Getting To Know JUICEBOX - Late Night Groove Series band, March 24

THE LATE NIGHT GROOVE SERIES has been going for over a decade now, featuring illustrious artists such as DJ Logic, Ledisi, Maya Azucena and many more. The series also gives the spotlight to up and coming aritsts such as JuiceBox, who will play the Late Night Groove Series this coming Saturday night, March 24. We had a chance to catch up with bandleader and saxophonist Nick Myers:

Blue Note: What do you like about playing the Blue Note?

Nick Myers: The Blue Note is an amazing place to play.  You can feel the history of all the legendary musicians that have played there.  When I get up on stage I imagine all of the people who have influenced me playing on that stage.  I've seen so many concerts there and I feel a real connection to the music when I play there.  I was just at the club last week to see Eddie Palmieri and it was so inspiring!  This weekend when we are there I'll be thinking about that.

BN: What should someone who’s never seen JuiceBox before expect from your live show?

NM: If you haven't seen a JuiceBox show then you are missing out!  We are a real high-energy band and it would be impossible to leave without soaking up some of the positive vibe.  It's such a pleasure for me to play and direct this band because it is different every time.  All of the musicians are very talented and the music can really go anywhere.  Of course we remain true to the "Groove Series" name and all of the music we play usually has something you can dance to but the creative energy and space and that you can find just in dancing music is amazing.  Our vocalist Lisa Ramey brings so much positive energy as a front woman and it truly is something to see.  Sometimes I feel like I am an audience member myself!

BN: Will you guys be playing stuff from the upcoming record and when do you expect it to come out?

NM: Yes we will be playing new material that we are going to be recording.  The record should be coming out sometime in late April or May.  I really can't wait to hear how it comes out.

BN: How similar or different will your new record be to your first EP, “Half the Fat”?

NM: The new record will have a little different feeling from the EP.  We will be re-recording "Come True" but we have about 5-6 new songs that we have been composing and working on as a band for quite some time.  The whole group has evolved since the last recording and we have workshopped these songs through live performance.  I think that the new recording will have more definition and style since the group has naturally progressed since that time.

BN: What’s up next for JuiceBox?

NM: After the record comes out JuiceBox is working on a budding summer European tour.  We already have some dates on the books in Italy for a few cities and we look forward to finding some other places to play and promote our new album across the pond.  We are also hard at work on a music video that will feature the upcoming recording of our song "Can't Get Enough"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Late Night Groove Series: Marilyn Carino at the Blue Note March 2

Check out Marilyn Carino's video interviewing Dred Scott who will be performing with his trio and Ms. Carino at the Blue Note's Late Night Groove Series on March 2:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roy Hargrove Big Band Review, Wall Street Journal

Photo by Alan Nahagian

Roy Hargrove Big Band
The Blue Note 
131 W. Third St., (212) 475-8592 
Through Sunday

Does Roy Hargrove's career validate the entire "Young Lions" trend of the '80s and '90s? Or does it prove the opposite? The trumpeter was barely 20 when his first album appeared in 1989, and he was the most extreme of the young lions (who included Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman and Nicholas Payton) in other ways, too, especially in terms of the way his music seemed to be about sheer chops: playing faster, louder, higher and with amazing accuracy. Yet it wasn't until he reached his 30s and acquired a little more seasoning that Mr. Hargrove proved he knew what to do with all that technique. Currently leading his dynamic 19-piece big band the Blue Note, Mr. Hargrove is one of the most exciting and entertaining players you can experience right now—even when he's singing, an area where he has zero chops but warmth and soul to spare.

Back in the day, it was a given in the jazz world that when an instrumentalist/composer assembled a big band, he was trying to expand his artistic canvas as well as his audience; surely Dizzy Gillespie, the spiritual father of all modern jazz trumpeters, attained both ends with the many big bands he led over his long career. The orchestral format gave Gillespie greater scope both for more serious works, like "Perceptions" and "Gillespiana," and made him more of a pop star, particularly with crowd-pleasing antics like "He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped."

With Mr. Hargrove's big band, too, the stakes are considerably higher—and larger—than with a standard-sized combo. As his opening set on Tuesday, Mr. Hargrove played 10 selections, most of which are heard on his latest (and the big-band's first) album, "Emergence" (2009). Possibly the heaviest—and also, perhaps surprisingly, among the most entertaining—was Frank Lacy's "Requiem." It began and ended like a 1970s nod to classicism, in the vein of Woody Herman's treatment of Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," with an introduction that featured four flutes and baritone sax. Then, in the central melody, it got darker and heavier still, the deep, piercing sound of the trumpets and trombones recalling the horn writing on John Coltrane's "Africa/Brass" album. Bruce Williams played a Coltrane-esque solo on alto, even as pianist Sullivan Fortner seemed to be going out of his way to replicate the angular, spiky dissonances of McCoy Tyner.

Not everything the big band played was so ambitious. Mr. Hargrove opened with a light, rhythmic treatment of "The Lamp Is Low" (one of several band works that he's also played with his quintet), which turned Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante défunte" into an easy breeze, and thus made classical music and modern jazz accessible at the same time. "Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey" was a bright bouncer by baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall and "Brian's Bounce" was a choppy bopper of a blues that gave solo space to all the other trumpeters, including Greg Gisbert (from Maria Schneider's Orchestra) and Tonya Darby (of Diva).

Then there were two features for vocalist Roberta Gambarini: As always, the word to describe her is "flawless." She sings complicated orchestral parts with an ease that part-reading horn players must envy. She's always miraculously in tune, with a beautiful sound that's rich and full. Yet when she sings, I never feel like I'm listening to a human being—somehow perfection sounds incomplete. She shined in Spanish on "La Puerta" (it helps that I don't speak the language), yet on Cole Porter's "Everytime We Say Goodbye," she never gave the slightest indication that she might be the least bit sad about having to say goodbye.

The set's other vocal, by the leader himself, arrived on "September in the Rain." Over a Basie-style shuffle, Mr. Hargrove cannily essayed the melody on muted trumpet, which made it sound more voice-like. It's a perfect set up for his own vocal: As a singer, he can barely string two notes together, but he knows how to goose a crowd with some call-and-response scatting with the band (the kind that Dizzy learned from Cab Calloway), and darned if he doesn't make you feel good, even if it's September, even if it's raining, or even if it's a spate of tropical weather in early February.

- Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rachelle Ferrell at the Blue Note - Photo of the Day

Wonderful picture of Rachelle Ferrell from opening night at the Blue Note. She'll be here through February 5. Photo by Dino Perrucci.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monty Alexander Feb. 20 - March 4 Blue Note Celebration: The Official Video Trailer

Monty Alexander, who received his first Grammy nomination earlier this year for the Motéma recording Harlem-Kingston Express: Live, will celebrate 50 years in music and the 50th anniversary of Jamaica in a two-week star-studded run at the Blue Note. Part 1 of the event, titled “The Full Monty,” will begin with his current band The Harlem-Kingston Express with special guest Ernest Ranglin on February 20 and revisit a number of significant recordings and ensembles that are landmarks in his diverse musical career: Triple Treat Revisited with Christian McBride & Russell Malone (2/21 – 2/22); Uplift! Trio with guests Dr. Lonnie Smith (2/23) and Pat Martino (2/24); A Jazz Tribute to Trinidad with Othello Molineaux, Etienne Charles & Designer (2/25); A Night At Jilly’s with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Freddy Cole (2/26); and a special reunion of the legendary ’76 Montreux Trio featuring John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton (2/27 – 2/28). Part 2, titled “A One Love Celebration – 50 Years of Jamaica,” will feature Monty with the iconic Jamaican duo Sly & Robbie for three nights featuring special guest Shaggy (3/1 only), followed by a reprise of the Harlem-Kingston Express for two nights with reggae artist Diana King (3/4 only). WATCH THE OFFICIAL VIDEO TRAILER!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monty Alexander - Celebrating 50 Years in Music and 50 Years of Jamaica, Feb. 20 - March 4 at the Blue Note

Monty Alexander will return to the Blue Note from February 20 - March 4 for a special series of shows celebrating his 50th year in music and the 50th Anniversary of an independent Jamaica. Click on the posters to purchase tickets:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Song Of The Day: Diane Schuur & Ray Charles: "It Had To Be You"

Really looking forward to tonight's artist, Diane Schuur - our song of the day is a clip of Diane singing and playing "It Had To Be You" with the late great legend Ray Charles

Friday, January 20, 2012

Etta James, 1938 - 2012

The great Etta James passed away today and the world has lost a legend. We remember her performance here at the Blue Note in 2006 with fondness - what a voice.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wynton Marsalis on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today we celebrate what would have been the 83rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a true hero whose words of wisdom should not only be remembered, but put into practice throughout the world. Here, Wynton Marsalis makes his debut as a CBS Morning News correspondent in a personal tribute to Dr. King that is poignant, honest, and important:

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Indelible Festival at Highline Ballroom, Concha Buika at Carnegie Hall

We have plenty of great shows coming up at the Blue Note in this month, including McCoy Tyner, Kenny G, The Persuasions, Bill Frisell/Ron Carter/Joey Baron, and Diane Schuur, among others. But there are two shows that are happening outside of the Blue Note in the coming weeks that we want to let you know about:

1) TONIGHT: The Indelible Festival at the Highline Ballroom, produced by Jill Newman Productions.
Jill Newman Productions has put together a unique and diverse array of artists for tonight's show at the Highline to celebrate the life and music of Gil Scott-Heron, Gordon Parks, and living legend Jimmy Scott, including ?uestlove, Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), Gary Bartz, Jimmy Scott, Cecil Taylor, Bilal, Derrick Hodge, and more. Click here for tickets.   

2) JANUARY 21: Concha Buika with Chucho Valdes at Carnegie Hall.
One of the best shows of 2011 was Chick Corea's Flamenco Heart, a brand new group that featured, among others, the popular Spanish vocalist Concha Buika. "Buika," as she is affectionately known to her fans, will front Chucho Valdes' all-star group at Carnegie Hall on January 21. Click here for tickets.

          photo by Ernest Gregory