Monday, December 24, 2012

The Ones That (Almost) Got Away + Remember

Invariably, I forget to list a CD (or 4) among my "Favorites" because it was loaned to someone and not returned or I moved it out of one pile into another (my desk can take on the form of an archaeological dig, at times) or, most often, I forgot.

Such is the case with the delightfuand irreverent mini-CD from trombonist/composer Jacob Garchik.  Clocking in at just over 28 minutes, "The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album" (Yestereve Recordings) is a funky exploration of faith, belief, and social responsibility that will rock you to the core.  Garchik overdubs sousaphone, baritone horn, slide trumpet and alto horn to aid and abet his trombone.  What you get is a healthy dollop of New Orleans, trad jazz, James Brown, the blues, shades of Jewish liturgical music, dance music and much more.  If you have yet to partake in this sweet slice of earthy and earthly delights, go to

I did not have the opportunity to review "By A Little Light" (Greenleaf Records), the 4th CD from bassist/composer Matt Ulery. Blending classical elements with jazz and folk music, this music enters one's brain and won't let go.  This music is not geared towards one audience; instead, it's a deeply personal experience with the composer speaking through various soloists, including pianists Rob Clearfield or Ben Lewis and violinist Zach Brock (whose 2012 CrissCross CD "Almost Never Was" deserves to be noticed as well).  Ulery also contributes a fascinating group of lyrics, most sung by Grazyna Auguscik (the composer sings harmony as well as takes the lead on 1 track.)  This 2-CD set will continue to grow on you as you listen because the music is so smart and there is so much going on (without the songs ever feeling cluttered.)  To find out more, go

Pianist Luis Perdomo, who can often be seen and heard pushing, prodding and propelling the music of saxophonist Miguel Zenon, released 2 CDs in 2012.  "Universal Mind" (RKM Music) received numerous good reviews (deservedly so) but it was "The Infancia Project" (CrissCross Records) that really shook the house.  With a quintet featuring tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, percussionist Mauricio Herrera and the splendid rhythm section of Ignacio Berroa (drums) and Andy Gonzalez (bass), Perdomo plays original music plus classics from Miles Davis ("Solar"), Ornette Coleman ("Happy House") and Bud Powell ("Un Poco Loco") and plays them all with such joy and verve that it's hard not to get hooked.  It's a special pleasure to hear the woefully under-appreciated Mark Shim flying over the fiery rhythm section.  To find out more, go to

The trio of Sam Rivers (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, piano), Dave Holland (bass) and Barry Altschul (drums) reunited in 2007 to perform for WKCR-FM's Sam Rivers Festival.  They had not played together in over 25 years and hit the stage for 2 continuous sets of totally improvised music.  "Reunion: Live In New York" (Pi Recordings) is the document of those 2 sets.  Mr. Rivers was 83 &2/3rds years old at the time of this concert (he died the day after Christmas in 2011) and, dear me, sounds as vibrant, creative and full of fire as he did during the Trio's time together in the 1970s.  Holland and Altschul are equal partners in this venture, giving this music a foundation that "frees" Mr. Rivers to go wherever his spirit takes him.  Delightful, challenging, raucous and impressionistic, this "Reunion" is a great union of the "spirits."  Go to for more information.

I must admit to missing "The Jazz Session", Jason Crane's wonderful podcast that he shut down in late October of this year. He seems to be in good mental shape and there's hope he will return to his journalistic endeavors but his podcast still can (and should) be accessed at   It remains a pleasure to read the writings of Peter Hum, Doug Ramsey, Nate Chinen, Ethan Iverson, David Adler,  Patrick Jarenwattananon at NPR's "A Blog Supreme", and other fine jazz journalists who all write with great passion and understanding of the music and its role in this country and the world.  And, if you need to explore the "freer" side of music, "Chilly Jay Chill" and "Prof. Drew LeDrew" of the blog "Destination: OUT" continue to teach and preach the joys of great improvisational music.

It's been 11 days since the horrific events in Newtown, CT, and we are still reeling from the aftershock. There are plenty of words being thrown around about gun control, mental health issues, and school security; one hopes that real progress can be made to make such incidents as the ones in Columbine, Virginia Tech and Newtown as rare as possible.  Madness abounds (and seems to be worse when guns are involved) and, while we reel from all these horrible events, we lose sight of the fact that millions of children go to bed hungry every night, that their parents can not find meaningful work and that educational systems around the country are struggling to keep these young students from succumbing to fatigue and burnout.

In the meantime, there are numerous ways to remember the victims of the December 11, 2012 shooting.  If you wish to remember and support the family of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene (pictured above), the daughter of Nelba Marquez and saxophonist/educator Jimmy Greene, you can do so by going to   And, then, you should call your legislators, speak to your community leaders and become an activist for change in this nation.  We'll never completely stop violent attacks on innocent people (freedoms such as we in the United States often come with wretched side-effects) but we can and should help bring about an end to hunger and recognize the need for better education for all of our young people.

1 comment:

  1. As always, my friend, thank you. And Happy New Year!