Melanie Charles, Enrico Rava, Kenny G & 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 Music USA and Berklee to Launch Major Program for More Inclusive Jazz Future: New Music USA is joining forces with the Berklee Institute of Jazz & Gender Justice to launch the Next Jazz Legacy Program. This three-year initiative is focused on cultivating a more inclusive future for jazz that will increase opportunities for women and non-binary musicians. Six unsigned instrumentalists and improvisers will be selected for the inaugural program. They will benefit from a comprehensive package including a $10,000 grant, a one-year performance apprenticeship, a two-track mentorship program, promotional opportunities and more. More here.


Melanie Charles Shares New Single: Melanie Charles has unveiled her rendition of Betty Carter’s “Jazz (Ain’t Nothing But Soul),” from her first major-label full-length, Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women, set for release on November 12 via Verve. Charles explains via a statement that the song “reminds us that despite the virtuosity Black American Music requires, it is quite simply for and by the PEOPLE. It’s speaking and walking your truth.” Pre-order Y’all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women here.


New Nippon Columbia City Pop, Funk and Soul Compilation: Nippon Columbia will release a new 18-track compilation of late ’70s and ’80 city pop, funk and soul on December 10 on vinyl, CD and digital. The selection, drawn from its vaults, is curated by DJ Notoya, who explains via a statement that “I focused more on the slightly more underground tracks from the era, rather than the bigger, well-known releases. For me, that was a more fun and satisfying approach.” Pre-order Tokyo Glow here.


New York Premiere for New Gospel Documentary: Stay Prayed Up will have its New York premiere at the 2021 DOC NYC Festival on November 10-28, following its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this year. The documentary is a look at octogenarian Lena Mae Perry and the gospel group she has led for nearly 50 years. Watch the trailer for Stay Prayed Up via the player below. The film is directed by D.L. Anderson and Matt Durning. Tickets here.


Kenny G New Album and HBO Documentary: World-renowned saxophonist Kenny G will release New Standards, a new album of original compositions inspired by the jazz ballads of the ’50s and ’60s, on December 3 via Concord. Pre-order it here. This 11-song collection is released in conjunction with a new HBO documentary titled Listening to Kenny G, which will be released in early December as part of the Music Box series created by Bill Simmons.


Kenny Neal Inks Record Deal with Ruf Records: Acclaimed blues guitarist Kenny Neal, one of today’s most vital modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues has inked a record deal with Ruf Records. “Kenny is a unique talent, whose accomplishments are incomparable,” says label president Thomas Ruf. “We are thrilled to have him on the label.” Neal’s new album, Straight from the Heart, is set to drop on May 6, 2022.


Album Announcements

Theon Cross, Intra-I (New Soil/Marathon): Musician/composer and core Sons of Kemet member Theon Cross expands the sonic possibilities of tuba playing on via ten sonically divergent and bass-rich tracks on Intra-I, released on October 29. Entirely made from sounds taken from the tuba and the first Cross full-length to also feature vocals, Intra-I is described via a press release as “an uplifting celebration of Black music, synthesizing the diversity of [Cross’] musical art and experience to deliver an essential message to a world gripped by tribulation. Order it here.


Edward Simon, Solo Live (Ridgeway): Solo Live is the first-ever unaccompanied album by acclaimed Venezuelan pianist/composer Edward Simon, offering interpretations of classic and original tunes. The program was recorded at Oakland’s Piedmont Piano Company on his 50th birthday in 2019 and marks Simon’s 15th release as a leader. Solo Live is available now via Ridgeway Records.


Enrico Rava, Edizione Speciale (ECM): Italian-born European jazz great Enrico Rava released Edizione Speciale, a live album recorded at the Middelheim Festival in Antwerp, Belgium, which finds him performing with a young team of improvisers. Repertoire includes material from the trumpeter/flugelhornist’s early to later recordings and fresh takes on “La valse des lilas” and Cuban song “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás.” Order Edizione Speciale here.


Nicole Henry, Time to Love Again (self-released): Vocalist Nicole Henry performs an eclectic mix of jazz standards and reimagined pop tunes alongside a top group of South Florida musicians on her eighth album, Time To Love Again. Released on October 15, the new full-length is a formidable showcase of her sweet yet powerful voice that has made her a favorite with audiences and critics alike.


Live Music and Festival News

2021 EFG London Jazz Festival, November 12-21: The 2021 EFG London Jazz Festival is set to take place at a number of venues throughout the British capital city on November 12-21. Vijay Iyer, Charles Lloyd, Dianne Reeves, Dave Holland and John Scofield, and Julian Lage and just some of the names scheduled to perform at this year’s edition. Among the highlight events, a star-studded celebration of Tony Allen’s music at the Royal Festival Hall on November 13 and the opening night’s vocal gala with Guy Barker leading the festival’s 40-piece Jazz Orchestra on November 12. Find out more here.


Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Hero Trio with Princeton’s Small Group I, November 6: Rudresh Mahanthappa’s internationally acclaimed Hero Trio with bassist François Moutin and drummer Rudy Royston will perform a concert with Princeton’s Small Group I at Princeton’s Alexander Hall on November 6. Tickets and more info here. The concert is presented by Jazz at Princeton University, helmed by the trailblazing saxophonist/composer, which will also be presenting concerts by faculty members Trineice Robinson-Martin, Matthew Parrish and Darcy James Argue this season. More here.


Flushing Town Hall Celebrates 15 Years of NEA Jazz Masters Concerts, November 12: On November 12, New York’s Flushing Town Hall celebrates 15 years of its tradition of welcoming to its stage renowned NEA Jazz Masters with a special star-studded performance honoring the music of two of the greatest pianists/composers in jazz history, Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver. The concert will be in-person and livestreamed and will feature five distinguished NEA Jazz Masters: Jimmy Owens, Kenny Barron, Sheila Jordan, Billy Hart and Donald Harrison. They will be joined by Kenny Davis and a special surprise guest artist. Tickets here.


NY’s Chelsea Table + Stage Announces Hurricane Ida Relief Fund Series: New York’s Chelsea Table + Stage has announced a special partnership with Jazz Foundation of America for a unique concert series to benefit the Hurricane Ida Relief Fund. The series will take place every Wednesday in November at 7 p.m. and will highlight noted jazz masters and rising talent, including Brandee Younger, Donald Harrison, Cyrus Chestnut and Raul Midón. Full lineup and tickets here.


24th Annual Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour Announced: Saxophonist Dave Koz will return to the road this holiday with his 24th annual Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour with guitarist/singer Jonathan Butler, trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Richard Elliot and vocalist Rebecca Jade. The tour will see them performing fresh renditions of Christmas classics and hits from their respective careers. It is set to kick off on November 26 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Click here for the full itinerary.


Marisa Monte Announces Her Biggest U.S. Tour to Date: Brazilian singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Marisa Monte is set to embark on her biggest tour of the United States to date. The tour is set to begin on March 4 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and is scheduled to run through March 27. Click here for more tour details. Monte’s new show is based on her Portas album, released earlier this year on her own label Phonomotor and distributed by Sony Music.


Pieces of a Dream Release New Album and Announce 45th Anniversary Tour: R&B/jazz fusion group Pieces of a Dream released Fired Up!, their 25th new recording, on October 15 via Shanachie. The album also features a few special guests like Justin Lee Schultz, Alexander Zonjic and B.K. Jackson. Order it here. The band, including founding members drummer Curtis Harmon and keyboardist James Lloyd, will also be celebrating their 45th anniversary with a string of tour dates. Keep an eye out for upcoming tour dates here.


Brooklyn Conservatory of Music House Party 2021, November 4: The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (BKCM) will host a fundraising indoor-outdoor House Party featuring a diverse array of more than 100 performers. The events will take place on November 4 in and around the BCKM building and surrounding streets, including a Lincoln Place mainstage. The funds raised will support BKCM’s programs, including the community programs Music Partners and Music Therapy. More here.


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