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brainkiller

Brainkiller, whose recent album “Colourless Green Superheroes” is pretty great.

 

I’ve been writing at a decent clip this month, with pieces now online at the IASPM-US website and the Ethnomusicology Review Sounding Board. Check ‘em out:

Music Scenes: Creating Space for Creative Music at LA’s Blue Whale for IASPM-US

CD Review: Book of Omens and Colourless Green Superheroes and

Book Review: People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now! for the Ethnomusicology Review Sounding Board

Next up: I’m flying to Chile on Thursday to start a month of fieldwork in South America. Wish me luck on the next step of this adventure—and let’s hope that it generates lots more writing in the near future!

 

Tigran Hamasyan, photo by Rob Gaudet for blue whale

Tigran Hamasyan, photo by Rob Gaudet

On Wednesday night, I finally made it back to my favorite LA jazz club, blue whale. Pianist Tigran Hamasyan was playing a solo show, and I knew that it was going to be something that I’d regret missing. So I carpooled with two friends, Alyssa Mathias and Kristin Gierman, to check it out—and we sure weren’t disappointed! Rather than write a straight-ahead review, though, I thought I’d try something different: an improvised concert review. So after the set, I fired up my audio recorder in the car, we asked each other questions about the set, and I transcribed the result. Check it out after the jump, lightly edited, minus our typically Angeleno debate over which freeways to take home: Read the rest of this entry »

Hitomi Oba, Dominic Thiroux, and Jessica Jones at Blue Whale

Jessica Jones, Hitomi Oba — Blue Whale — 7/24/12

By Alex W. Rodriguez for LA Weekly West Coast Sound

This was is my first piece for LA Weekly — and what a great set to review! Jones and Oba, her former student, brought all original music and sounded fantastic. It also featured a cameo from Ambrose Akinmusire, another former student of Jones, who sounded amazing even as a last-minute addition.

The most recent example of me parting with money in exchange for music

This weekend, NPR Music intern Emily White wrote a well-meaning (and well-written) reflection on her relationship to music — namely, the fact that she never purchased any, given the free and easy access with which she has grown up.

I, too, have purchased little music since my regular trips to the Used Jazz CD shelves at Everyday Music in high school, unless you count pre-ordering a few things through Kickstarter campaigns (the latest of which, Darcy James Argue’s new record, has four hours left and has reached its goal!) In fact, I think the last piece of music that I directly purchased was Argue’s previous album, back in 2009.

But that’s largely because I have had the good fortune of falling into the jazz journalism world, where I am given promotional copies of music for review. Given the excellent stuff that comes across my desk, I am rarely compelled to reach out and buy more.

But this strongly-worded and well-argued rebuttal to Emily’s confessional has me thinking a little bit more closely about the ethics of my music listening habits. And with your help, I’d like to publicly lay out a set of guiding principles for my future listening, and check back later to see whether or not I was able to live up to my aspirations:  Read the rest of this entry »

Fred Wesley at the Oceanside Jazz Festival

In case you were wondering, Fred Wesley still knows how to get down. At the tender age of 68, the Funkiest Trombonist of All Time overcame a long cross-country flight and a bout with acute bronchitis to serve as the guest artist for the Oceanside Jazz Festival, an all-day celebration of local college and high school jazz ensembles.

I drove down to Oceanside to catch the final concert, which featured the Mira Costa Jazz Collective and Mira Costa Oceanside Jazz Orchestra (operating under the clever acronym MOJO) directed by Steve Torok with Wesley as the guest soloist.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Wendel Frame

Saxophonist Ben Wendel

I had the pleasure of returning to the Blue Whale this weekend, this time to check out the second night of the release party for saxophonist Ben Wendel’s new CD, “Frame.” It’s a great disc, featuring some of Wendell’s stellar contemporaries such as pianist Tigran Hamasyan, drummer Nate Wood, keyboardist Gerald Clayton and bassist Ben Street. Hamasyan and Wood were on hand for this gig, along with Adam Benjamin on keyboards,  Larry Koonse on guitar, and Dave Robaire on bass.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kim Richmond, Photo by William Claxton

After a few months in Los Angeles, I am finally figuring out where the jazz is happening — it’s not like New York, where you can just see who’s playing at the Jazz Gallery or Village Vanguard on a given evening. But after digging the scene at the Blue Whale a few times — including a fantastic show by the Alan Ferber Expanded Ensemble earlier this month, which I wrote about for WBGO — I have started to get the hang of it out here.

One advantage of checking out a big band concert is that it brings a whole bunch of great players together for one evening — just following a few of them has led me to some cool gigs. One of those musicians is trombonist Joey Sellers, who also happens to have just released a fantastic solo trombone record, entitled “What The . . . ?” (Yes, a solo trombone record: that’s how much of a badass this guy is.)  Read the rest of this entry »

At the Portland Jazz Festival, Delicate Issues and Joyful Audiences

By Alex W. Rodriguez for A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Big Band Is Both Masterful and Innovative

By Alex W. Rodriguez for the Star-Ledger

One of the December rituals in the jazz writing community is for each individual writer to produce a list of “Top 10 CDs of the Year.” Although I find this process to be terribly self-indulgent, ascribing import to the writer that he or she may or may not deserve, I have also found the process of thinking back on the year through the lens of the musical soundtrack that accompanied it quite enjoyable.

So I give you, o faithful readers, the Official Lubricity First Annual List of Arbitrary Length Detailing a Number Of Excellent Jazz Musical Products To Which I Have Enjoyed Listening During The Past Year:

Read the rest of this entry »

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