Tag Archives: John Hebert

TAPESTRY: A MUSICAL LANDSCAPE featuring AFRICVILLE STORIES and A SALUTE TO MOTOWN

Sometimes you measure the worth of an enterprise not by the names of the players on the bill — but by the hearts of the people behind the players.

It’s in that spirit that I call your attention to the Jazz Performance and Education Centre (JPEC) of Toronto, Canada.

Raymond and Rochelle Koskie saw that their beloved city had no full-time jazz venue, and in 2008, got people together — musicians, business people, and arts professionals, all passionate about jazz in Toronto — to create a solution, that city’s own version of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

“This first-class, multi-purpose facility will feature performances by top local, national and international jazz talent; educational programming in which fans of all ages can learn about jazz; recording facilities; and a Hall of Fame and Archives which will encompass and preserve Canada’s outstanding jazz heritage and tradition. The facility will enhance Toronto’s reputation as one of the best cities in North America in which to experience live jazz.”

Starting in 2009-2010, JPEC held a Jazz Gala, featuring Archie Alleyne (drums), Peter Appleyard (vibes), Guido Basso (trumpet and flugelhorn), Arlene Duncan (vocals), Michael Dunstan (vocals), Molly Johnson (vocals), Jackie Richardson (vocals) and Joe Sealy (piano).  They have held concerts featuring Oliver Jones, Dianne Reeves, Ingrid Jensen, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Bill Charlap/Renee Rosnes.  They’ve hosted lectures by local musicians and writers.  In 2010-11, five concerts featured Fred Hersch and Norma Winstone, Lee Konitz, Robert Glasper, and Seamus Blake.  The next year’s concerts offered Lionel Loeke, Lucien Ban and John Herbert, Tom Harrell, Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo.

On February 23, 2013, the JPEC will hold its fourth Gala — TAPESTRY:

JPEC_1_2

I encourage you to attend, to support this enterprise, to follow your curiosity. Even if the names on the program aren’t familiar, the desire to bring jazz — living and creative — to a major city is worth investigating.  Learn more here.  And, yes, such endeavors cost money — but they might be the answer to the possibly bleak future of jazz performance in major cities as one can imagine it in twenty-five years, given the current facts.

May your happiness increase.

RICH AND SPACIOUS: “POUND CAKE”: KIRK KNUFFKE, TED BROWN, JOHN HEBERT, MATT WILSON

One of the pleasures of the year just ended was meeting and hearing cornetist Kirk Knuffke for the first time.  This happened at a December 2012 concert for tenor saxophonist Ted Brown’s eighty-fifth birthday, but the pleasure of Kirk’s music has continued long after the concert ended — through his recording session with Ted, issued as POUND CAKE on Steeplechase Records.

POUND CAKE Kirk KnuffkeOn this CD, Kirk and Ted are joined by two other subtly eloquent players, string bassist John Hebert and drummer Matt Wilson.  It is a spare but richly resonant quartet of equally musical voices in deep conversation. A number of the compositions are Ted’s — BLIMEY, DIG IT, JAZZ OF TWO CITIES, SLIPPIN’ AND SLIDIN’, FEATHER BED, JAZZ OF TWO CITIES, but they are heard afresh. Tristano’s LENNIES, two of Kirk’s originals, SWIVEL and ARRIVE, sit neatly next to the classic GEE, BABY, AIN’T I GOOD TO YOU? and the Lester Young blues which gives this CD its name (“pound cake,” in Lester’s slang, was your girlfriend).

It’s hard to describe the music, except to say that it dramatizes in sweet ways the continuum of improvised music of the last hundred years: at times I thought of Lester Young’s Keynote quartet with Sidney Catlett, then the early Mulligan quartet, all the way up to Ornette and Don Cherry.  Seamless, personal, and flowing.

Good-natured music without being trivial or jokey: listening to the title track, I thought that these four players had managed to summon up Lester’s ebullience and sadness — parallel and simultaneous — without smudging either expression.  I had already known how lyrical Ted was and is, but encountering the other players on this CD is a real pleasure.  Matt Wilson now belongs to the expanding category of “modern” drummers who make beautiful sounds, who are incapable of being tedious or formulaic.  Every touch of the stick or brush brings joy.  John Hebert is both a powerful eloquent soloist and an old-fashioned string bassist in the great tradition who, like a swing Atlas, can hold the globe on his shoulders.  But Kirk . . .ah, Mr.Knuffke!  I have admired cornet players all my life: Bobby Hackett and Ruby Braff first — sweet sound-painters.  Kirk eschews the broad strokes that some other brass players love in favor of a sweet apparent indirection that is (whisper this) always on target.  His notes seem like the dots in an impressionist painting; the listener wonders, “What does he have in mind?  Where is he going?” and then, two minutes later, we hear that the sly Mr. Knuffke has created an entire world of sound for us while appearing to be simply ambling.

Here’s a sample of Kirk, Ted, Matt, and bassist Chris Lightcap from that wonderfully illuminating concert in December 2012:

DIG IT.  I do; you will.

May your happiness increase.