Christian McBride, Charlie Parker, Record Store Day & 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.


Christian McBride to Release Album of 20-Year-Long Civil Rights Project: Bassist/composer Christian McBride is set to release his sweeping 20-year-long Civil Rights project on record on February 7 via Mack Avenue. The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons is a four-part suite conveying the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement through the words and writings of four of its icons. The piece was written for big band, small jazz group and gospel choir. It also features four narrators interpreting the roles of the four icons: Sonia Sanchez as Rosa Parks, Wendell Pierce as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Vondie Curtis-Hall as Malcolm X and Dion Graham as Muhammad Ali.

Record Store Day Announced 2020 Date: Record Store Day will take place on April 18 this year. The news came earlier this week via Record Store Day’s social media. Record Store Day is the annual internationally celebrated day of vinyl records dedicated to supporting local independent record stores. Last year’s jazz releases included records by Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock, Louis Armstrong and many more.

New Charlie Parker Box Set Highlights Jazz Icon’s Savoy Bebop Sessions: Craft Recordings is releasing a new set titled The Savoy 10-inch LP Collection, which spotlights Charlie Parker’s groundbreaking bebop sessions for the legendary jazz label, spanning 1944-1948. This deluxe, four-LP box set – also available digitally – features newly restored and remastered audio, faithfully reproduced artwork from the original 10-inch albums, plus a booklet containing vintage photos, rare ephemera and new liner notes from Grammy-winning journalist and author Neil Tesser. These historic recordings are reissued as part of this year’s celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Parker’s birth and feature such greats as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis, Bud Powell and Max Roach, among others. The Savoy 10-inch LP Collection is due out on February 27.

Blues Foundation Announced 41st Blues Music Award Nominees: The Blues Foundation has announced the list of 41st Blues Music Awards (BMA) nominees, and you can check out the full list here. The BMAs are generally recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians and are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members. The ceremony is scheduled to be held on May 7 at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Memphis, Tennessee.

Lakecia Benjamin Celebrates Alice and John Coltrane in Upcoming Album: Saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin celebrates the legacy of Alice and John Coltrane on her upcoming album Pursuance: The Coltranes. The album finds her leading a cross-generational ensemble of over 40 jazz musicians, including Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, Regina Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Meshell Ndegeocello, Steve Wilson, Marc Cary, Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Brandee Younger and Jazzmeia Horn, among many others. Pursuance: The Coltranes is co-produced by Reggie Workman and due out March 27 via Ropeadope.

Oded Tzur to Release ECM Album Debut: Tel Aviv-born tenor saxophonist/composer Oded Tzur, one of the most strikingly original musicians to have emerged from Israel’s creative jazz scene in recent years, is set to release his ECM debut album. Here Be Dragons finds him leading a quartet and bringing the sense of pitch fluidity and microtonal shading of Indian classical music into a jazz context. Three of the tracks on this album, including the title tracks, were composed by Tzur himself, and the LP was produced by ECM label head Manfred Eicher.

The Gig: Live Music & More

Legendary Count Basie Orchestra @ New York’s Birdland Jazz Club: The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra celebrates its 85th anniversary at New York’s Birdland Jazz Club on January 13-18. The orchestra was founded by the great Count Basie in Kansas City in 1935 and continues to swing to this day under the direction of Scotty Barnhart. The 18-piece band will be joined on-stage by guest vocalist Carmen Bradford on January 13 and 15, while John Faddis will take over as guest conductor on January 18.

Arturo O’Farrill Revisits Lalo Schifrin’s Visionary “Gillespiana Suite” @ New York’s Symphony Space: Pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill and his 16-piece Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra will perform Lalo Schifrin’s tango-inspired “Gillespiana Suite” for the first time in its entirety in over 25 years on January 17 and 18 at New York’s Symphony Space. “Gillespiana Suite” was written by Schifrin in the early days of his career for trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie and his orchestra. The event is part of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance’s 18th anniversary live performance season.

The Festival Guide

Playboy Jazz Festival, Los Angeles, June 6-7: The Playboy Jazz Festival returns to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on June 6-7. The festival is presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and will feature an exciting and diverse lineup. Performers already scheduled to appear include St. Paul and The Broken Bones, The Crosscurrents Trio (with Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain and Chris Potter), Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, The Isley Brothers and many more. A full lineup of talent will be announced on February 18, in tandem with the schedule for the complete Hollywood Bowl summer 2020 season.

New Release Cheat Sheet

Paul English, Girl in Green (Big Round Records)

Girl in Green is an unreleased album by pianist/composer Paul English, finally seeing the light of day almost two decades after it was originally recorded. The LP features never-before-heard arrangements of immortal classics and compositions by English, who leads a lineup of extraordinary players, including saxophonists David Liebman and Ed Calle, trumpeter Dennis Dotson, bassist Brennen Nese, drummer Mike Drake and percussionist James Metcalfe.

Moon Hooch, Life on Other Planets (self-released)

Brooklyn-based percussion-and-saxophone trio Moon Hooch deliver their rawest studio album yet. The energetic Life on Other Planets is a collection of material recorded via single-take performances and differs from their previous, heavily produced studio output. A brand new and exciting showcase for their music, which they call “Cave Music,” and blends jazz, punk, EDM, funk and other genres in a totally unique and explosive way.

Olivier le Goas and Reciprocity, On Ramp of Heaven Dreams (Challenge)

On Ramp of Heaven Dreams is French drummer/composer Olivier le Goas’ sixth album as a leader and the follow-up to his acclaimed 2016 album Reciprocity. Returning from the last album is guitarist Nir Feder, alongside pianist John Escreet bassist Lenny Grenadier. Both le Goas’ playing and compositional skills are on show on the new record, as well as his love of pleasing harmony and memorable melodies, with a couple of knowing winks to Pat Metheny along the way.

Featured photo by Andrew Lepley.

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