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AlexMarina_233

Playing Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” to my beautiful bride Marina.
Photo by Greg Cohen

The last time I posted here, over six months ago, I wrote:

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!

I’ll say! But more than just writing, I have been incredibly fortunate to start this new chapter in my life with projects that incorporate many aspects of what I enjoy, including writing but also music, teaching, improvising, reading, making new friends, and—most important of all—the love of my life, Marina.  Read the rest of this entry »

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!

 

Kid Ory

As the quarter gets underway again here at UCLA, I have added a new wrinkle to my academic grind: being a Teaching Associate for the Department of Ethnomusicology’s undergraduate survey course, Jazz in American Culture.

In fact, this is the first time that I have actually sat in on an old-school undergraduate jazz history survey, so I am learning a lot about how certain stories about jazz are told and retold. The real fun, though, lies in being able to supplement the text with some of my own perspectives during the two discussion sections that I lead on Fridays. As an experiment, I have been posting links and outlines on the course website, which are also viewable to the public. Tomorrow, the topic is early jazz in Los Angeles:

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 »

Tomorrow night, I will be driving down to Oceanside to see perhaps the greatest living trombonist, my childhood trombone hero Fred Wesley, sit in as a guest artist for the Oceanside Jazz Festival. I’m looking forward to checking out the vibe, and hearing what Fred has to offer the next generation of potential funkateers.

Tickets are still on sale — do you really want to miss a chance to hear a living legend doin’ it to death?

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 »

Reed-Gordon Duo to play at Rutgers-Newark

by Alex W. Rodriguez for the Star-Ledger

Listings for this week include Wcliffe Gordon (above) with Eric Reed, Vic Juris and The Count Basie Orchestra. Gary Burton at the Blue Note is the best reason to cross the Hudson. Leave a comment if you make it to any of the shows — I’ll be on campus for the Reed-Gordon duo for sure, I probably listened to their first duo record We 1,000 times as a high school sophomore.

McGuinness’ Big Band Wows Blue Note

By Alex W. Rodriguez for the Star-Ledger

This weekend, I’m hanging out at Fort Adams State Park with the WBGO/WGBH/NPR Music team, broadcasting this year’s Newport Jazz Festival. Day one is over, and I talked with NPR’s Patrick Jarenwattananon last night for a recap. You can check that out over at A Blog Supreme.

We’re back in action again today, with the Ben Allison Band rocking the stage as we speak (UPDATE: the weekend is over, but you can see our day two recap at A Blog Supreme.) Tune into WBGO.org until 7:30 this evening for more great music, and also dig the NPR Music coverage, where most of what we record is being archived for your listening (and re-listening) pleasure by the NPR Music team.

For the trombonists in the listening audience, I especially recommend tuning in for Conrad Herwig‘s Latin Side of Herbie at 5:20 PM. As many of you know, Herwig has been my teacher and mentor at Rutgers since last year. As a bonus, you’ll get to hear me talk with Josh Jackson on the air to introduce the set. To hear my dulcet tones in action, tune in a little after 5 and catch the (sure to be wild) ending of Ken Vandermark’s Powerhouse. Josh and I will be on to introduce Conrad shortly thereafter.

Thanks to a tweet by freeform, I was just hipped to this recent article in the Wall Street Journal by jazz writer Larry Blumenfeld about New Orleans wunderkinds Christian Scott and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. It’s well-done, so give it a read.

… done yet? OK, now for my take: I can see where Blumenfeld is coming from, citing their similar New Orleans musical pedigrees and holding them up as exemplars of young musicians expanding the style and reaching out into new, albeit different, musical horizons.

But having just listened through both of their most recent CDs — Andrews’s Backatown and Scott’s Yesterday You Said Tomorrow — in the past month or so, I don’t believe that the comparison holds up upon closer examination. Maybe it’s just my bias towards kickass trombonists, but if anything these two are a study in contrasts in how to leverage a privileged New Orleans musical heritage. Read the rest of this entry »

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