Europe is home to a thriving jazz scene and each year boasts an impressive number of fabulous jazz festivals which enable people of all ages to get involved with this popular and engaging music genre. With this in mind, here is my first-hand guide to some of the best jazz festivals to attend in Europe next year.
Houston-native trumpeter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Leron Thomas has been around the block quite a bit, and he certainly has had a busy year so far. His vocals have charmed the pants off folks singing alongside Zara McFarlane on "Angie La La" off If You Knew Her from earlier this year, and his work with Jason Moran in the Fats Waller Dance Party and Moran's latest album, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller has been nothing if not eye-opening to how talented this man is. His voice and his horn exude a warmth and sweetness that should be celebrated all on its own. Now Thomas is doing so with the release of his new EP, Take It…. On it, Thomas is going a more experimental route, weaving and mashing his smooth voice with layers of sounds and electronic touches. It's so much more than a jazz release.
Get read for the sophomore release from the jazz not-a-supergroup (because they're modest like that) James Farm of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. Their 2011 debut release on Nonesuch was a bunch of fun and great first outing for this group. Now they've gotten together for their second release with a new bunch of composition from the quartet. This time around, the band moves less from a conceptual idea of a collective to more of a pronounced idea of what this specific band is. In a music of collaboration, it's good to know these specific ties are binding to make this particular sound. Every one of these dudes in this quartet is a monster on his instrument and a moving composer, so it'll be exciting to hear what's next to come from James Farm. City Folk available for pre-order now at the Nonesuch website, and when you pre-order the album, you can download the first single, "Two Steps" written by Matt Penman. In the meantime, check out a stream of "Two Steps" after the jump.
I was rather distraught at the timing of this week's show. Last week at 9:50pm as my show was winding down, Joe Sample passed away at his home in Houston, Texas. I knew my next show would be all Joe Sample as tribute, but then I remembered Jazz'SAlive was the following weekend, and then Steve Coleman was named a MacArthur fellow, and The Bad Plus are still coming to town. The business of being a journalist has gotten in the way of the weekly schedule. I'll definitely do a Joe Sample tribute show as soon as I'm able, but for this week's show, there's still some business of current events and the usual newness I have to settle.
The Line-Up for 19 September 2014
I had reservations at first. Any album that integrates a string section must do so with care. Are the strings the main attraction? An accent? A layer of a greater sound or something flashy that pulls away from the central musician? Most importantly, when adding strings, is this album going to get Capital S Serious? Yet one run through 26-year-old saxophonist Mario Castro's new album, Estrella de Mar, dispelled all worries. The album features his quintet, a group of string musicians, and a cadre of contributors who fully wring everything out of his compositions to marvelous effect.