Frank Zappa, Isaiah J. Thompson, Santana & 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.



GoFundMe for Airto Moreira’s Rehabilitation: A GoFundMe campaign has been launched on behalf of legendary master percussionist/drummer Airto Moreira for help with his physical rehabilitation. The campaign page makes references to Moreira’s deteriorating health, the total burden of medical and rental costs, as well as the lack of medical insurance, which are rapidly becoming unsustainable for him and his wife, vocalist Flora Purim. Click here to visit the official GoFundMe page and donate.

Upcoming Compilation of Rare and Unreleased Frank Zappa Recordings: Frank Zappa’s rare recordings, believed to have been planned for a potential sequel to his iconic Hot Rats album, have been unearthed from the vault and compiled as a new collection. Produced and compiled by Ahmet Zappa and Joe Travers, Funky Nothingness will be released on June 30 via Zappa Records/UMe in a variety of formats, including a three-disc expanded Deluxe Edition that presents the eleven-track album on Disc 1, along with two discs of outtakes, alternate edits, unedited masters of songs from the era, plus several epic improvisations and other bonus material.

London Brew Mini Documentary: UK-based collective London Brew recently released a new album inspired by Miles Davis’ iconic recording, Bitches Brew. The group released a mini-documentary, discussing what Miles Davis and Bitches Brew meant to them, how the group of some old friends and new acquaintances came together, and what drove them to pursue this project. Watch the mini-documentary via the player below.

New Dr. John Montreux Jazz Festival Compilation: On June 2, BMG and The Montreux Jazz Festival will release a collection of Dr. John’s finest performances at Switzerland’s fabled Montreux Jazz Festival between 1968 to 2012. Beautifully restored and remastered, Dr. John: The Montreux Years will be available in multi-format configurations, including superior audiophile heavyweight vinyl, high-quality CD and HD digital. The release is part of the ongoing The Montreaux Years series.

Isaiah J. Thompson Wins the 2023 American Pianists Awards: The American Pianists Association has announced Isaiah J. Thompson as the winner of the 2023 American Pianists Awards. The announcement was made after the final round of performances on April 22 at Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis. Thompson was selected from a field of five finalists and will receive career support valued at more than $200,000, including a cash prize, two years of career assistance, a media and performance tour and an artist residency at the University of Indianapolis.


New Albums

John Pizzarelli, Stage & Screen (Palmetto): Guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli celebrates the 40th anniversary of his debut recording with Stage & Screen. This is an inviting new album featuring classic songs from Broadway and Hollywood. The record showcases Pizzarelli with his trio, featuring bassist Mike Karn and pianist Isaiah J. Thompson.

The Heavy Hitters, The Heavy Hitters (Cellar): Pianist Mike LeDonne and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander co-lead a sextet album titled The Heavy Hitters, featuring some of the most established players on the jazz scene today. The album, available now, showcases the group’s deep knowledge of the jazz tradition, to which they add a classy, life-affirming 21st-century touch, on nine original and vibrant compositions that call upon the timelessness of that old Blue Note sound.

Jacob Young, Eventually (ECM): Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young offers a broader view of his compositional pallet on Eventually, his first guitar trio album. A work of gentle lyricism blending a wide variety of styles, the record features Young alongside bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Audun Kleive.

Delfeayo Marsalis Uptown Jazz Orchestra, Uptown on Mardi Gras Day (Troubadour Jass): NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis pays tribute to his hometown on his new album, Uptown on Mardi Gras Day, released on February 3. The album features the close-knit ensemble of gifted New Orleans musicians that make up the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, as well as guest appearances by Branford Marsalis, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Glen-David Andrews, Dr. Brice Miller and Tonya Boyd Cannon.


Live Music and Festival News

New Shakti Album and Touring Schedule: Shakti, the global fusion group born of the musical and spiritual brotherhood between guitarist John McLaughlin and percussionist Zakir Hussain, will celebrate their 50th anniversary with an upcoming new album and tour. This Moment, featuring new compositions and performances, will be released on June 23 via Abstract Logix. The group’s extensive touring schedule, including their first U.S. tour in 18 years, will kick off in Boston on August 17. Click here for the full schedule.

Santana North American Tour: Carlos Santana will hit the road with his band across North America this summer for the 1001 Rainbows Tour, kicking off in Newark, New Jersey on June 21. Click here for all tour dates. Throughout the tour, Santana will perform high-energy, passion-filled songs from their fifty-year career, including fan favorites from Woodstock to Supernatural and beyond. Listen to our recent interview with Santana and Michael Shrieve on 50 years of their landmark album, Caravansarai, via the player below.

28th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival, May 11-13: Jazz at Lincoln Center is hosting its 28th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival on May 11-13 in New York City. The event features 15 finalist high school-aged jazz bands from across the country, as they perform and compete at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall. The competition and festival are the culmination of the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program, which aims to inspire the next generation of jazz musicians and enthusiasts.

9th Chicago Jazz String Summit, May 12-13: The 9th Chicago Jazz String Summit will once again present live performances showcasing jazz, improvised and experimental music by internationally celebrated string players on May 12-13. Founded by cellist/composer Tomeka Reid, this year’s event will take place over the course of two evenings at Constellation Chicago. “The purpose of this project is to bring more exposure and support to string players who are forging paths and boldly basing their musical life, outside of the prevailing classical path, in the area of jazz, improvised and creative music.” More here.


Featured photo courtesy of uMusic.

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