Art Blakey, Nina Simone, George Wein & More: The Week in Jazz

The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top.



New Music from Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers on Blue Note: On November 2, Blue Note Records will release First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings. This is a thrilling unreleased live recording of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers from their highly successful first tour of Japan, featuring one of the group’s most iconic lineups with the legendary drummer alongside Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt. The set will be released in deluxe 2-LP/2-CD editions with elaborate booklets, rare photos, a historical essay and new interviews with Wayne Shorter, Don Was and more. Pre-order First Flight to Tokyo here.


Vinyl Me, Please Celebrates Philadelphia International Records with Massive Box-Set: Vinyl Me, Please will release a massive vinyl box-set celebrating the legacy of seminal soul, R&B, gospel and doo-wop label Philadelphia International Records, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. VMP Anthology: The Story of Philadelphia International Records tells the label’s story through eight essential albums and is accompanied by lots of goodies, including an original 26-page listening notes-and-photos booklet, plus a four-part podcast series. The first edition of this commemorative Anthology is limited to just 1000 pressings. Find out more here.


Legendary Music Impresario George Wein Dies: Legendary music impresario George Wein passed away on September 13, aged 95. According to a statement from his family, Wein died peacefully in his sleep. Wein is credited for setting the standard for outdoor music festivals as the co-founder of the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. He was also instrumental in the foundation of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1970. He once said: “Creating festivals made a major impact on society in general because you couldn’t draw large crowds indoors. At Newport, we were soon drawing crowds of 10,000 and there weren’t halls that could hold that many people.” In addition to being an impresario, Wein was also a musician/producer and released his self-titled debut in 1955 via the Atlantic label, as well as subsequent albums with various incarnations of “All-Stars” ensembles.


Upcoming Nina Simone Greatest Hits and Remixes Set: Verve Records will release a new collection of Nina Simone’s greatest hits and remixes on October 29. Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits and Remixes gathers some of her most iconic hits and includes seven remixes by some of the hottest DJs worldwide. The first single is a dancefloor-ready remix of her timeless classic title track, “Feeling Good,” by English producer Joel Corry, who has worked with the likes of Charlie XCX, Ed Sheeran and David Guetta. Pre-order Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits and Remixes here.


Reservoir Announces Global Deal with Joni Mitchell: Independent music company Reservoir Media, Inc. has announced a new deal with music icon Joni Mitchell. The deal sees the company become the worldwide administrator of her illustrious publishing catalog. The Canadian artist/songwriter has drawn from various genres throughout her career, including folk, pop, rock, classical and jazz, to produce generation-defining music. “I am so proud to welcome Joni Mitchell to our Reservoir family,” says Reservoir Founder & CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi via an official statement. “Joni is a musical pioneer and a once-in-a-lifetime creator, and we look forward to safeguarding her catalog and championing her legacy.”


Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack Returns to Cassette Tape: Vince Guaraldi Trio’s timeless soundtrack to the enduring 1965 PEANUTS TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, makes its return to cassette tape for the first time in three decades on November 5, courtesy of Craft Recordings. This collectible, silver-colored cassette is limited to 5000 units worldwide and you can pre-order it HERE. The cassette serves as a companion piece to the recently-announced “Silver Foil” vinyl edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which reimagines the album’s classic white cover with a silver foil jacket and will be available on October 1.


Ben Sidran Book on Jewish Contributions to American Popular Music, Updated and Revised: A revised and updated edition of Ben Sidran’s There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream is out now on Nardis Books. The book takes readers on a wild ride through American popular music, discovering the voices, sounds and sentiments of Jewish immigrants and revealing how popular music defined the American Dream. This revised and updated edition touches on the advent of Trump, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, streaming services and their impact on the Jewish experience. It also includes a preface by Howard S. Becker. Order There Was a Fire here.


Fazer Share New Menacing Video: Munich-based, post-rock infused jazz quintet Fazer have shared a menacing and captivating video for their new song, “Grenadier.” You can watch it via the player below. The video was written and directed by Johannes Brugger, who shares via a press release: “I wanted to experiment with dreamlike narrative elements.” “Grenadier” is also FAZER’s first single since signing with City Slang.


Album Announcements

Staci Griesbach, My George Jones Songbook (self-released): Vocalist Staci Griesbach reimagines the music of George Jones in the key of jazz on her new album, My George Jones Songbook, released on September 10. The 14-track recording, released on the year of the country icon’s 90th birthday, is Griesbach’s third album showcasing the Great American Songbook of Country Music in the style of jazz, following tributes to Patsy Cline and Shania Twain. Order it here.


Kirk Whalum, How Does Christmas Sound? (Artistry/Mack Avenue): Acclaimed saxophonist Kirk Whalum revisits tracks from the Christmas canon and lesser-known gems with a more introspective, spiritual sound on How Does Christmas Sound?, out now on Artistry/Mack Avenue. This is his second Christmas-themed full-length album, following his GRAMMY-nominated 2001 LP, The Christmas Message. Order How Does Christmas Sound? here.


Satoko Fujii, Piano Music (Libra): Piano/composer Satoko Fujii, a major voice in avant-garde music for years, released her bold new experiment with sound collage and prepared piano on September 17. Order it HERE. Piano Music follows a string of fascinating and diverse records Fujii has been releasing in 2021, one of which is a live trio recording titled Moon on the Lake, which was one of the focal points of our recent conversation with her for our JAZZIZ Travel series. You can listen to that interview via the player below.


Pasquale Grasso, Pasquale Plays Duke (Sony Music Masterworks): Guitar virtuoso Pasquale Grasso celebrates the legacy of Duke Ellington on his latest album, Pasquale Plays Duke, released on September 17 and out via Sony Music Masterworks. The record, which follows a string of Solo Ballads EPs released in the first part of 2021, features him alongside bassist Art Roland and drummer Keith Balla, plus special guest vocalists Sheila Jordan and Samara Joy. Order it here.


Live Music and Festival News

BRIC Jazzfest Announces More Artists for 2021 Lineup: Roy Nathanson, Hailu Mergia, Linda Diaz, Stast Thee Boss and Sasha Berliner are just some of the names to have been added to an already stacked lineup for this year’s BRIC Jazzfest. The three-day jazz music marathon will take place at Brooklyn’s BRIC House and return as an in-person event on October 21-23. This year’s lineup is co-curated by artist Madison McFerrin along with Executive Producer Lia Camille Crockett and Winter JazzFest Founder Brice Rosenbloom. Click here for more information and tickets.


Hiromi to Perform Silver Lining Suite at NYC’s Sony Hall, October 7: Hiromi’s piano quintet will perform Silver Lining Suite at New York City’s Sony Hall on October 7. Tickets here. Silver Lining Suite is the pianist/composer’s forthcoming 2-LP release, inspired by the emotional toll of the pandemic and offering a breathtaking blend of jazz invention and classical composition. The suite is performed on the record alongside a string quartet. Pre-order it here.


DC Jazz Festival Crowns Two DCJazzPrix Winners: The Giveton Gelin Quintet and Dayramir Gonzalez & Habana enTRANCé were announced the co-winners of the 6th annual DCJazzPrix at the recently-concluded DC Jazz Festival. The award is the DC Jazz Festival’s international competition created to recognize and support top rising jazz band talent. This year, the tie earned both winning groups a $15,000 cash prize and year-long associations with the DC Jazz Festival, including a paid 2022 DC Jazz Festival mainstage engagement.

Photo by Justin Featherstone.


12th Montclair Jazz Festival Sets Up Grand Finale: The 12th annual Montclair Jazz Festival in Montclair, New Jersey, was spread out over the course of three months and will culminate in a grand finale week, the final event of which will take place on September 25. Headliners include Christian McBride, Billy Hart, The Baylor Project, Alicia Olatja, Emmet Cohen, Zaccai Curtis, Camille Thurman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, the Jazz House Collective and Danielle Ponder. The concert series is produced by JAZZ HOUSE KiDS and curated by its Artistic Director Christian McBride. Click here for more.

Featured image courtesy of Verve Records.

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