Saturday, February 12, 2011

CD of This Week + You Learn So Much From Listening

I have not been able to resist playing the new CD by composer and multi-reed player Ben Kono (pictured left) since it first arrived last week.  "Crossing" (1918 Records) will be available in early March and, if you are a fan of music that transcends labels and genres, this program is hard to resist.  The ensemble features drummer and conceptualist John Hollenbeck  (Kono plays in JH's Large Ensemble), bassist John H├ębert, pianist Henry Hey and guitarist Pete McCann - the music they perform (all original pieces) is intriguing, tone poems that slip easily into the mind, sounds that challenge and soothe the listener. Over the course of the 9 pieces, Kono plays oboe, English horn, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone and shakuhachi; yet, the CD never feels like a technical tour-de-force ("see what I can do" sort-of show.)
In the case the name looks familiar, Kono has worked in the reed section of Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, the Ed Palermo Big Band, Gotham Winds, and the Schumacher/Sound Assembly.  He's performed in Broadway "pit bands" and with artists as diverse as Hugh Jackman, Patti Austin, Liza Minnelli, Michel Legrand, and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. 
More to come on this most excellent recording.  In the meantime, go to www.benkono.com where you can learn much more and hear pieces from "Crossings."


I reviewed the new CD by Jerome Sabbagh (pronounced "Sah - bog") several months ago.  "I Will Follow You" (Bee Music) features the saxophonist with guitarist Ben Monder and drummer extraordinaire Daniel Humair in a series of original pieces and free improvisations.  The musical adventures grow on the listener and what might sound disjointed at first blush takes on shape with repeated listens.

Jason Crane chats with Sabbagh on the latest "The Jazz Session" podcast.  Listen here to learn how 3 musicians who had never played together before created their own world from trust, experimentation and talking to each other.

Wayne Shorter played in New York City this week with his cohorts of the past decade, they being Danilo Perez (piano), John Patitucci (bass) and Brian Blade (drums.)  In honor of the event and the 10th anniversary of the Quartet, Shorter recorded a far-ranging interview with WBGO's Josh Jackson for "The Checkout" and, believe me, the chat is so worth checking out.  To do so, click here
On the same program, Jackson chats with Either/Orchestra founder, composer, arranger, saxophonist and social secretary Russ Gershon. The E/O is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has performed concerts in its native Boston, MA and, now, New York City, that feature the current 10-person lineup and a plethora of alumni (including Miguel Zenon, Matt Wilson, John Medeski and others.)  The band does not tour much outside of the Boston area - click here to listen to the interview.
Gershon also had a good, long, sit-down with Jason Crane - give it a listen here.

Finally, when you visit "The Checkout" and "The Jazz Session" and enjoy the contents, understand that these journalists and musicians work very hard - they need more than moral support and applause (good things to get, indeed.)  Be monetarily supportive when and where you are able. 

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