Bennie Maupin, GRAMMYs, Nina Simone & 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.



2024 Jazz GRAMMY Award Winners: The 66th Annual GRAMMY Award winners were announced at a ceremony held at the Arena in Los Angeles, California, on February 4, hosted by Trevor Noah. This year’s winners in the jazz categories include Samara Joy, Nicole Zuraitis, The Count Basie Orchestra, Miguel Zenón and Luis Perdomo, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Click here for the full list of jazz winners.

Nina Simone Album Available for the First Time in Digital Format: Verve Records has announced the release of Nina’s Back, the 1985 album that Nina Simone recorded after a break and time spent living in Barbados and Liberia. Featuring several memorable original compositions and finding the artist accompanied by a band with horns and backup singers, Nina’s Back will be available digitally for the first time on March 15. The announcement is accompanied by an official animated visualizer for the album track “For a While,” which you can watch via the player below.

Upcoming Tasha Cobbs Leonard Book: Tasha Cobbs Leonard will release her debut book, Do It Anyway: Don’t Give Up Before It Gets Good on May 7 via WaterBrook. The book finds the Gospel artist revealing a new side of herself for the first time, sharing very personal moments of unforeseen challenges like infertility, weight struggles, grief and debilitating depression to demonstrate the transformative power of resilient faith and perseverance profoundly.

Isaac Hayes Vinyl Reissue: Craft Recordings has announced the March 1 release of an audiophile pressing of Hot Buttered Soul, the 1969 hit record by singer, songwriter, producer and actor Isaac Hayes. The record is highly regarded for pushing the boundaries of soul music and setting Hayes on the path to superstardom via tracks like “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic,” plus ambitious renditions of the Bacharach/David classic “Walk on By” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Hot Buttered Soul marks the sixth reissue in Craft’s Small Batch vinyl series.

Photo: Craft Recordings.

JJA’s Seeing Jazz Series Now on YouTube: The Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) has posted its 15-episode playlist, Seeing Jazz: Music Photography Master Classes, on YouTube. The series features complete archival editions of JJA’s interactive Zoom salons in which photojournalists discuss their artistic and professional practices, as well as their backstage secrets. Watch them here. A new season of the Seeing Jazz sessions will begin with Seattle-based Lisa Hagen Glynn on February 24. Click here for registration.

Two New Gordon Grdina Albums: Guitarist and oud master Gordon Grdina will release two new albums on February 16 via Attaboygirl Records. Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow with Fathieh Honari is a showcase for Grdina’s deft oud work, conceived as a means of bridging the worlds of Arabic, jazz and improvised music with a cord quartet. Duo Work is a multi-directional collaboration between Grdina’s electric and MIDI guitars and the virtuosic drummer Christian Lillinger.


New Albums

Gerald Cannon, Live at Dizzy’s Club – The Music of Elvin & McCoy (Woodneck): Recorded at the famed Jazz at Lincoln Center venue Dizzy’s Club, bassist Gerald Cannon’s latest album honors two musical giants, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, with whom he played alongside for many years. The album features a lineup of musicians who also shared the stage with these two giants, including Dave Kikoski, Lenny White, Joe Lovano, Sherman Irby, Eddie Henderson and Steve Turre.

Ethan Iverson, Technically Acceptable (Blue Note): Technically Acceptable is a far-ranging new project that finds pianist and composer Ethan Iverson helming two different trios, one with the bass/drum team of Thomas Morgan, the other with Simón Wilson and Vinnie Sperrazza. The album features a striking set of new Iverson originals, plus singular new versions of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight,” the latter featuring Rob Schwimmer on theremin.

The 8-Bit Big Band, Game Changer (Teamchuck): The 8-Bit Big Band, under the director of Charlie Rosen, return with their fourth full-length album. Released on November 10, Game Changer features reimagined classics from the soundtrack of such videogames as Super Mario 3D World, Final Fantasy 7, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and other classics across major platforms in the key of jazz.

Keyon Harrold, Foreverland (Concord Jazz): Trumpeter/composer Keyon Harrold creates a vivid tapestry of melody, harmony and instrumental improvisations across ten timely and timeless originals exploring themes of empowerment, positivity, love, loss and vulnerability on his new album. Foreverland also includes contributions from a high-octane lineup of special guests, including Common, Robert Glasper, PJ Morton, Jean Baylor, Chris Dave and Greg Phillinganes.


Live Music and Festival News

All-Star Cancer Research Benefit Concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center, February 6: The Nearness of You concert to support cancer research at the Columbia University Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICC) will return at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in New York City on February 6. Honoring the memory of saxophonist Michael Brecker, the benefit concert will feature performances by Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Christopher Cross, Dianne Reeves and Branford Marsalis. The musical director is Will Lee with an all-star band featuring Randy Brecker and Steve Gadd, among others. More here.

Afropop Worldwide Announces Camp Afropop 2024: Music Masters Collective and Afropop Worldwide have announced the inaugural edition of Camp Afropop, a three-day event celebrating the music of Africa and the African diaspora that will take place on May 28-31 at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, New York. The lineup includes Natu Camara, Pedrito Martinez, Bakithi Kumalo, Yacouba Sissoko and Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe. More here.

Bennie Maupin Performs Jewel in the Lotus at The Ebell of Los Angeles, February 9: Saxophonist and clarinettist Bennie Maupin will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his seminal ECM release, The Jewel in the Lotus, by performing the album live at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles, on February 9. Tickets here. A groundbreaking fusion recording made in collaboration with legendary jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Buster Williams, The Jewel in the Lotus will also be reissued on vinyl later this year as part of ECM’s Luminessence series.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet Present Deep River at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, February 22-24: American choreographer Alonzo King and his company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet will make their Lincoln Center debut with Deep River on February 22-24. A collaboration featuring vocalist Lisa Fischer and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz and MacArthur Award winner Jason Moran, Deep River melds dance with spiritual music from the Black, Jewish, and Indian traditions, and invites audiences to consider the physical beauty and majesty of humanity as the pinnacle of creation. More here.

Photo: Lincoln Center.

New World Symphony’s “I Dream a World: Mary Lou’s Harlem,” February 4-25: New World Symphony’s third annual “I Dream a World” festival will return to Miami from February 4-25 with a series of programs honoring the life and world of pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams. Curated in collaboration with Dr. Tammy Kernodle, the multi-disciplinary festival titled “Mary Lou’s Harlem” will feature a roster of acclaimed artists, such as Aaron Diehl and Carmen Lundy, celebrating the lasting legacy of women credited for shaping modern jazz. The festival will also feature the world premiere of Williams’ “History: A Wind Symphony,” an unfinished work recently discovered in the archives at Duke Festival, re-orchestrated by composer and Duke University professor Dr. Anthony Kelley. More here.


Featured photo by Toussaint Maupin.

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