Jazz is a pretty small niche in the music industry and free improvisation and new music, often considered as jazz in this country is a very small subset indeed. Damon Smith has found a way to excel and thrive in a very small puddle. As well as being a virtuoso bassist, his Balance Point Acoustics label features a who’s who of musicians play in that genre.
Although I’ve been listening to improvised music for years my conversation with Damon opened up a whole new avenues for appreciation a whole new ways to think about sound and composition.
We talked about:
His recent move to the Boston area via Houston and San Francisco
I had the pleasure in early October of this year to see the Francisco Pais Quintet play the Jamestown Arts Center. Although he has four albums out, his music is a new discovery to me even though he only lives across the bay in Newport, Rhode Island. The show was the first of a series of shows in New York, Rhode Island and western Massachusetts promoting his new album Verde.
A guitarist, singer and songwriter/composer Pais plays sophisticated modern jazz that is flavored with rock, blues, brazilian and the music of his native Portugal. The show focused on his instrumental works and his band (mostly from New York) had a chance to blow. The show closed with the premier of a video of his song Million Galaxies Away produced by Newport videographer Sky Sabin.
We talk about Verde, the video, his influences, and instruments. Unfortunately the show that we talk about at Sandywoods was canceled and is being rescheduled for early 2017.
Special thanks to photographer Erin X. Smithers for letting me use her work for this post. She has a wonderful blog with radio host Eric Jackson at: followthesoultrane.com
This is the second time that I’ve had the chance to talk to Wadada Leo Smith. A trumpeter and composer, an early member of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and a distinctive and powerful voice in jazz and creative music for over 50 years.
Although his music is often described as Avant Garde it is rooted in the blues and has soul or as he would probably say it comes from the soul. He talks about his new album America’s National Parks not necessarily as the physical National Parks but as cultural and natural resources to be preserved and renew the nation. We also talked about his creativity, how he works and his upcoming projects.
Eric Hofbauer tends to release his work in bunches and in series. He has two new albums out this fall on his own Creative Nation label. The first is his fourth solo guitar albumGhost Frets, dedicated to his close friend and guitar collaborator Garrison Fewell who recently died of cancer. It is performed on his hollow body Guild with no amplification. The second, Three Places in New England is the third in his Prehistoric Jazz series recorded with his quintet. In this series he deconstructs composed classical works to incorporate improvisation within their structure, not just playing over changes but in the spirit or “dna” of the work.
October also saw the release of a music book for advanced students: Prof Hof’s Thirty Nearly Impossible Études for Guitar Duo. The name says it all.
This is the second time I’ve had the chance to talk with Eric. He is a virtuoso who has developed a very personal style and approach to music.
The first time I saw the Tim Ray Trio perform was as a part of Greg Abate’s quartet at Chan’s in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. They played a set as a trio before Greg came on. What I was impressed with the most was the way that they played together as a group, always listening and interacting to each other.
The trio consists of Tim Ray on Piano, John Lockwood on bass and drummer Mark Walker. Their new album, Windows is the first album that Tim has released with a traditional jazz trio since the 1990s. He also performs and records with Tre Corda a trio featuring cello and trumpet and has an album of solo piano (his second) coming soon.
Like most people I listen to most off my music digitally now. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been putting my scattered CD collection together and listening to a lot of things that have been out of circulation for a while. I have been truly amazed by how many things that Christian McBride has played on.
Outside of being a virtuoso bassist with his own recording career he as played as a sideman on an incredible cross section of the most creative music of the last 25 years. He also plays the role of jazz ambassador and curator with radio shows on both NPR and SiriusXM.
Most recently he has been named the Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival.
We talked about balancing his workload, Newport, George Wein, Chick Corea and his upcoming projects.
Music used in this podcast: Christian McBride – Tango Improvisations (featuring Chick Corea) – Conversations with Christian
Christian McBride – Tones for Joan’s Bones (featuring Chick Corea) – Number Two Express
Christian McBride – Sand Dune – Live at the Village Vanguard
Christian McBride – Boogie Woogie Waltz – Live at Tonic Christian McBride & Inside Straight – The Movement Revisited – People Music
Reed player Dave Liebman has a career spanning over 50 years. The discography on his website lists 512 albums as a leader and with others. Starting in New York City in the 1960s he is a former sideman of Elvin Jones and Miles Davis. Although he plays tenor saxophone and flute there was a long part of his career where played exclusively soprano saxophone.
We talked about his early free playing with Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland (he has recently been in the studio with them again), his teaching perspective and his Expansions Group that will play at the Newport Jazz Festival this year.
Music used in this podcast: The David Liebman Group – The Puzzle
Dave Liebman – First Visit
The David Liebman Group – Hat TrickThe David Liebman Group – Samsara
The David Liebman Group – Sivad
Some people are just easy to talk to and wander into interesting topics without much prodding, one of these people is Jon Lundbom. This is part two of our conversation from last January. Jon has released two EPs this year (Make the Magic Happen and Bring Their ‘A’ Game) in what will be a series of four, eventually to be released as a boxed set.
We talk about live albums, interpreting Wiccan music, recording in series, Ornette Coleman and recording new music.