Avishai Cohen (bassist) has a new album coming out on Blue Note titled Duende, releasing May 21st. In preparation for that, a video for the song "Soof" has hit the web. Here it resides, all ready for your eyes and ears. Enjoy.
One of my favorite people on Twitter to follow is a guy named Chris Watkins. Watkins attended Morehouse College and graduated a year after I did. Those of us from the Atlanta University Center who know Watkins endearingly refer to him as a villain for his tendency to be generally contrarian in any discussion and for other villainous activities that would be improprietous to say in this space. His diatribes on my hometown San Antonio Spurs (which as a person who's mostly indifferent to sports, I have little to say to him on the matter), relationships, religion, hip hop, and practically anything else have always been altogether amusing over the years and the slander he spreads on Twitter are a welcome reminder of times past. However it's his constant discussions on the continued relevance of historically black colleges and universities that have always struck a nerve; despite the discomfort I feel when he says our shared collegiate experience was altogether irrelevant, it's difficult to gloss over his nuggets of truth in his words, which is largely why his lack of a filter is such an inspiration (at least for those who can handle it). Watkins periodically posits that HBCU's are steadily becoming unnecessary because other institutions are less discriminatory in regards to admissions and that those blacks who are likely to succeed from a college education would not necessarily have needed such a specialized education to guarantee such success in life. When he says such things, it's hard to disagree with him unless there are certain intangibles that he's failing to take into consideration. While I'm certain that I would have gained many of the same skills at any other school, I still valued the sense of community I got from Morehouse and the rest of the AUC-- being surrounded by other black people and learning from our similarities and our differences without having to worry about the racial issues outside the luxury of such a bubble. That educational setting is important, at least it was to me. To a certain degree, I feel I'm right. To another degree, I'm confident that Watkins is right. This is a matter where objectivity can only go so far, but it's hard to believe that some folks in an academic setting won't feel a certain degree of disillusionment. Some schools, even with the same goals in mind, aren't the best fit for some people. As the jazz internet is coalescing around the relevance and restorative elements of a jazz education, the parallels between these ideas are pretty apparent.
It's been a pretty long wait but finally the word is out-- Darcy James Argue's Secret Society's sophomore album, Brooklyn Babylon, based on the multimedia performance the group put on with visual artist Danijel Zezelj, is slated to start recording this June and is set to release April 2013 on New Amsterdam Records.
We've seen this pattern before. Vijay Iyer puts out a spectacular trio album and then other live tracks start to float around in its wake, not quite making the cut of the album but considered unofficial bonus tracks. This time around, "Hood", a tribute to house music producer Robert Hood, was recorded in London on May 1 of this year for a session on BBC Radio 3 airing June 11th, and we've got the SoundCloud stream from BBC Radio right here.
Malaysian born bass player and composer Linda Oh's second release as a leader is coming out very soon, on the 22nd of May, on Greenleaf Music. The quartet is composed of acclaimed sidemen, including Dayna Stephens on saxophone, extremely versatile drummer Rudy Royston and Fabian Almazan on keys. The group works audibly harmoniously well, in terms of dynamics and feel. Vocalist Jen Shyu contributes a deeply melodic lead to the fifth track, "Thicker than Water".