Jamie Cullum, ECM, Avishai Cohen: 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.

Jazz School: Education News

New England Conservatory Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Its Jazz Department: The New England Conservatory (NEC) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking jazz department by hosting Jazz50, a year-long series of concerts and events featuring many of the school’s distinguished jazz alumni, faculty, students and special guests. The celebration will take place during the 2019-2020 academic year in Boston and New York City. NEC’s Jazz50 programs will include events featuring such artists as Antonio Sanchez, Ethan Iverson, Luciana Souza, Fred Hersch, Donny McCaslin and many more. “This anniversary provides us the opportunity to reflect on half a century of leadership in jazz education at New England Conservatory, and to celebrate the importance of jazz in both the history and future of American music,” says NEC President Andrea Kalyn.


Avishai Cohen to Release New Album on June 14: Highly-acclaimed Israeli bassist/composer Avishai Cohen is set to release his new album, Arvoles, on June 14 via Razdaz/Sunnyside. This is a new eclectic collection of original instrumental compositions and a traditional song, with traces of classical music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, bebop, swing, hip hop and more. “I see Arvoles as a new music,” explains Cohen via a press release, “it’s a reflection of my world over the last couple of years. Let’s just say the new work shows another part of my personality. If you listen to both records back to back, you’d get a pretty good idea of who I am as a man, a husband and a father.” Arvoles was recorded with drummer Noam David and pianist Elchin Shirinov, who will also be joining Cohen on the road for extensive worldwide touring that runs deep into 2020.

New ECM Vinyl Releases out This Week: ECM Records is releasing five best-selling from its back catalog on vinyl this week. These titles, from the ’90s and early 2000s, were previously only available on CD and through the digital domain. They are: Nils Petter Molvaer’s Khmer (1998); Charles Lloyd, Voice in the Night (1999); Jan Garbarek, In Praise of Dreams (2004); Manu Katché’s Neighborhood (2005).

The Gig: Live Music & More

London’s Ronnie Scott’s to Celebrate 60th Birthday with All-Star Gala: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, UK, is celebrating its 60th birthday with an all-star gala at the Royal Albert Hall on October 30, to coincide with the date the world-famous venue was opened in 1959. Star performers confirmed for the event include Georgie Fame, Van Morrison, Courtney Pine, Imelda May and Kurt Elling, among others. Proceeds from the show will go to Ronnie Scott’s Foundation, a music education charity that works with underprivileged children in the UK and abroad.

Gary Lucas Performs Celebrated Score for 1934 Chinese Classic Film: Guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas performed his celebrated guitar score for Wu Yonggang’s 1934 Chinese silent film, The Goddess, in the Holy Trinity Church in Cluj, Romania. The cine-concert was part of a China Focus strand of the 2019 Transilvania International Film Festival. Lucas played to a newly restored print of the film, courtesy of Kino-Lorber. his year also marks the 30th anniversary of Lucas’ live score for The Golem (1915), which the guitarist has performed in over 20 countries since debuting the work at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria in 1989 with his co-composer, keyboardist Walter Horn.

The Festival Circuit

Kauai Folk Festival Announces Lineup for Debut Edition: The Kauai Folk Festival has announced a full lineup of over 30 performers for its debut edition, which will take place in Kauai, Hawaii, on September 28-29. The headliners for this year are Americana legends Taj Mahal and Peter Rowan. The festival was inspired by the 19th-century royal Hawaiian courts, which encourages musical collaborations across cultures and genres, and showcases the heavy influence Hawaiian music has had on nearly every genre of popular American music. “There’s never been an event of this scale with this mission in Hawaii. We hope to encourage further fusion and influence at this beautiful site with some of the greatest musicians alive today,” says festival director Matt Morelock.

2019 Montclair Jazz Festival Lineup Announced: JAZZ HOUSE KiDS has announced the Montclair Jazz Festival 2019 line-up. The festival’s 10th-anniversary edition is set to take place this summer from July 26-August 10, and feature over 250 jazz musicians across its two marquee stages, seven venues in New York City. This year’s headliners include Bettye LaVette, Joey DeFrancesco, Mark Whitfield, Christian McBride, Eddie Palmieri, Mike Lee, JAZZ HOUSE Collective, and inspired performances by the more than 125 talented JAZZ HOUSE KiDS emerging musicians from across the country and internationally who attend the acclaimed JAZZ HOUSE Summer Workshop.

New Release Cheat Sheet

Brandee Younger, Soul Awakening (self-released)

Genre-defying harpist Brandee Younger’s fourth album, Soul Awakening, is a collection of eight unearthed gems surfacing years after they were originally recorded, that blend freewheeling improvisation and spiritual jazz with classical and experimental music. Produced by acclaimed bassist Dezron Douglas and featuring such first-rate musicians as saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and Antoine Roney, and drummers Chris Beck and E.J. Strickland, Soul Awakening includes some of Younger’s first compositions, as well as heartfelt tributes to jazz harp pioneers Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.

Jamie Cullum, Taller (Blue Note)

Five years since his last album, Interlude, musician/vocalist Jamie Cullum takes his music into new directions with his new LP, Taller. Its ten tracks – written and recorded at his home or in the studio of his longtime friend and collaborator Troy Miller – are perhaps his rawest and most intimate yet, marked by a refusal to be boxed into a specific style or genre. “I was really focusing on this being an album of my songs,” he explains. “I wanted it to be about my songs, about my writings … I wanted to put aside whether it was a jazz record, whether it was ticking this or that box. The songs would be king and they would be honest.”

Ron Carter and Danny Simmons, The Brown Beatnik Tomes – Live at BRIC House (Blue Note)

Bass legend Ron Carter and acclaimed poet/Emmy Award-winner Danny Simmons will release a new album together, The Brown Beatnik Tomes – Live at BRIC House, via Blue Note. The album documents a night of jazz and poetry that took place last autumn at Brooklyn’s house and is part of a project that began as a book, became an event and is now an album. Along with tracks where Carter’s raw-plucked bass lines meet Simmons’ hotly read poetry, The Brown Beatnik Tomes also includes Carter’s trio on a pair of instrumentals, and playwright/actor Liza Jessie Peterson.

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