Frank Zappa, Bonobo, Charlie Parker & 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 Frank Zappa Documentary: A new documentary on the legendary Frank Zappa is scheduled for an November 27 release. Simply titled Zappa and directed by Alex Winter, the documentary offers insight on the life and art of the artist via a wealth of unseen archival footage and home movies as well as exclusive interviews with some of his closest collaborators, friends and family. Watch the trailer via the player below.

Keith Jarrett Announces He May Never Perform Again: Pianist Keith Jarrett has announced that he is unlikely to perform again after suffering two strokes in 2018, which left him temporarily paralyzed. Jarrett is known as one of the greatest pianists of his generation and particularly renowned for his stunning solo piano performances. Last month, ECM released a document of his solo piano performance in Hungary from 2016, Budapest Concert.

New Book Explores U.S. Jazz Clubs of the ’40s and ’50s: Jeff Gold offers an unprecedented look inside U.S. jazz clubs from the ’40s and the ’50s in his upcoming book. Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s is out via Harper Design on November 17 and explores a seminal period in jazz culture, including how they broke racial barriers. The book also draws on an incredible trove of unseen photos and memorabilia as well as exclusive interviews with Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones and Dan Morgenstern, among others.

Dumpstaphunk Share New Song and Video Ahead of Presidential Election: Ahead of the Presidential election, New Orleans funk ensemble Dumpstaphunk shared a new take on their 2016 song “Justice,” featuring Trombone Shorty and Chali 2na. “Justice 2020” is accompanied by a video illustrating the long battle for social justice in the U.S. via archival footage from the past four years and precedes the band’s new album, which will be released in spring 2020.

Female Jazz Pioneer Viola Smith Dies: Viola Smith, one of the first professional female drummers, passed away on October 21. She was 107 years old and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the time leading up to her death. Smith was a trailblazer, active from the 1920s to the 1970s and well-known for her work in orchestras, swing bands and popular music. She shared the stage with such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb, and in 1942 penned an article on Down Beat titled “Give Girl Musicians a Break!” where she argued that women could play just as well as men.

Whitney Houston Makes History: Whitney Houston’s second album, Whitney, was recently certified RIAA Diamond, making her the first black recording artist in history to achieve three RIAA Diamond albums. Whitney was originally released in 1987 and features one of her most beloved hits, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” The much-missed vocalist’s other two albums to have received the RIAA Platinum Award are Whitney Houston (1985) and The Bodyguard (Soundtrack) (1993).

Concord Theatricals Shares Final Video Celebrating Irving Berlin’s Top Hat: Concord Theatricals shared the final video of their series celebrating the 85th anniversary of Irving Berlin’s musical film Top Hat (1935) starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The new video features a modern rendition of “Cheek to Cheek” performed and arranged by Judith Hill, with a brand new choreography from Chloé Arnold performed alongside Maud Arnold.

ALA.NI Shares New Video: ALA.NI has shared the video for the Adrian Younge-produced version of her Amazon Original song, “Lament for Emmett Till.” The song raises awareness for The Emmett Till Foundation, which she is an ambassador of and which supports the campaign to seek justice for Emmett Till, whose racially-motivated murder occurred in 1955.


New Release Cheat Sheet

Charlie Parker, The Mercury & Clef 10-Inch LP Collection (Verve/UMe): On December 18, Verve/UMe will release a new collection of Charlie Parker’s five 10-inch LPs for Mercury Records and Clef Records from the early ‘50s. These albums are housed together for the first time and all but Bird and Diz from 1952 have been out of print on vinyl since their original releases. They are presented here with newly restored audio, housed in faithful reproductions of the original packaging and also containing an expansive booklet. Preorder here.

Patrick Cornelius, Way of the Cairns (Whirlwind): Way of the Cairns is a new album by saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, released on October 30 via Whirlwind and conceptually inspired by his experiences of hiking in Maine’s Acadia National Park. The record also finds him alongside Michael Janish, Paul Wiltgen and Kristjan Randalu, with whom he has toured and performed for 14 years and shared what he defines as “some of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had.”

Lee Ritenour, Dreamcatcher (Mascot/The Players Club): Lee Ritenour has released “Charleston,” the second single off his upcoming solo guitar album, Dreamcatcher, due out on December 4 via Mascot Label Group/The Players Club. Dreamcatcher also marks Ritenour’s first studio album in five years and includes 12 tracks, conjuring eclectic moods and ranking amongst his most melodic ever.

Chet Baker and Wolfgang Lackerschmid, Lackerschmid/Baker: Quintet Sessions 1979 (Dot Time): Dot Time has announced the release of Lackershmid/Baker: Quintet Sessions 1979, a collection of recordings by trumpeter Chet Baker and vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackershmid alongside a stellar rhythm session made up of Larry Coryell, Buster Williams and Tony Williams. The album includes two previously unreleased tracks and follows the reissue of Baker and Lackershmid’s Ballads For Two from earlier this year. It will be released as part of Dot Time’s Legends Series on CD/digital (November 13) and vinyl (January 8).

Bonobo, Black Sands (Ninja Tune): Simon Green, a.k.a. Bonobo, has announced a 10th-anniversary vinyl reissue for his fourth studio album, Black Sands, the nu-jazz classic originally released in 2010. This limited 2-LP edition will be pressed on red vinyl and feature new cover artwork as well as a print of the original artwork. It will be released on December 4 via Ninja Tune.


Live Music and Festival News

Toshi Reagon Post-Election Concert: New York’s The Public Theater and Joe’s Pub will present a post-election concert featuring singer/songwriter/guitarist Toshi Reagon and her band. The concert will be streamed live from Joe’s Pub on November 4 via YouTube. It will subsequently be available via Joe’s Pub’s YouTube channel and The Public Theater’s website through December 16.

The Hudson Jazz Festival Returns: The Hudson Jazz Festival of Hudson, New York, will run from November 13 through December 20 and take place at Hudson Hall as well as virtually. The six-week extravaganza’s lineup will feature some of the contemporary jazz scene’s most standout musicians, including Brandee Younger, Marcus Strickland, Orrin Evans and more. Free talks and parallel events are also planned to celebrate the enduring vision of Alice and John Coltrane.

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