Michel Legrand, The Roots, Wynton Marsalis: 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

InterSchool Orchestras of New York to Celebrate Tuba Pioneer Howard Johnson: InterSchool Orchestras of New York (ISO), which creates opportunities for school-aged children in New York City to make music together through a tiered system of four orchestras serving beginners to pre-conservatory-level players, has announced its 2019-2020 celebration, “A Tribute to Howard Johnson,” will take place at the Kaufman Music Center’s Merkin Hall in New York City on September 18. The special event will honor the musical legend and tuba pioneer, who has played alongside luminaries in multiple genres in his five-decade career. The event will also feature Grammy-winning musician Taj Mahal and the students of ISO.


The Roots Classic Album Reissue Out July 12: Geffen/Urban Legends will reissue The Roots’ sixth album, 2004’s The Tipping Point, in honor of its 15th anniversary. The LP, named after Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 pop-sociology classic in which he explores how minor movements and behaviors can proliferate, was where the group honed their sound and messaging, and has been noted by music writers for exhibiting and emphasizing soul, jazz and funk influences within hip hop music. Originally released on Geffen Records, The Tipping Point has been reissued as standard black double vinyl as well as on translucent gold limited-edition colored vinyl, to be released July 12.

New Patrice Rushen Vinyl Compilation Out Soon: Strut Records will release a new Patrice Rushen vinyl compilation on July 19. The new 3xLP collection is titled Remind Me: The Classic Elektra Recordings 1978-1984, and documents the highlights from the prolific R&B singer and producer’s peak years of commercial success, including her hit “Forget Me Nots.” It also features some of the leading musicians in Los Angeles of the time, such as saxophonist Gerald Albright, drummer “Ndugu” Chancler and bassist Freddie Washington, among others.

The Gig: Live Music & More

Michel Legrand Celebration in London This September: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra will celebrate the life and career of pianist/composer Michel Legrand in a special concert taking place on September 20 at the Royal Festival Hall in London, United Kingdom. Legrand died unexpectedly on January, aged 86, and had been scheduled to perform with the Orchestra in the autumn. The show on September 20 will also feature singers Alison Moyet and Maria Friedman, plus contributions from the likes of Quincy Jones and Sir Michael Caine. Proceeds from the event will go to a music charity.

The Festival Circuit

42nd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival Headliners Announced: The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival has announced the headliners of its 42nd edition, which will take place in Cork, Ireland, on October 24-28. The line-up will include Grammy Hall of Famer Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Kurt Elling and Fred Hersch. There will also be headline performances from jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra and Northern Ireland’s famous Dr. Linley Hamilton Quintet. Further artists and events will be announced over the summer.

New Release Cheat Sheet

Blind Lemon Jazz, After Hours (OFEH)

Singer/songwriter James Byfield, a.k.a. Blind Lemon Pledge, is best known for his work in the blues and Americana genres. Here, he expands on the influences of such Great American Songbook composers as The Gershwins, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter and more, to present his own unique ride through the sound of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s era. Fronting an eponymously named quartet helmed by the keyboard and arrangement skills of Ben Flint, and beautifully voiced by alto Marisa Malvino, he presents on After Hours a set of new, stylistically diverse and thematically rich original compositions.


Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis & St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Conducted by David Robertson, Wynton Marsalis’s Swing Symphony (Blue Engine)

Wynton Marsalis’ third symphony, Swing Symphony, is his musical meditation on American ideals inspired by such composers as George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein, among others. Commissioned in 2010 by four different orchestras – the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic – and has since been played all over the world. This new album of the same name captures a performance of this at once invigorating and elegiac work performed in 2018 by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro David Roberston, in front of a sold-out crowd in St. Louis’s Powell Hall. It is described as its definitive performance.


Peter Eldridge and Kenny Werner, Somewhere (Rosebud)

Singer/songwriter and musical alchemist Peter Eldridge teams up with piano legend Kenny Werner on his latest album, Somewhere. This new LP also includes a 20-piece string orchestra conducted by cellist Eugene Friesen, and a sound that pairs timeless romanticism with sophisticated modern harmony in a program of classic standards and clever originals, to serve as an antidote to the tumultuousness of current times. “We live in incredibly strange times,” says Eldridge via a press release, “so this music is trying to offset that and help people feel a few moments of hope. We hope it offers a balm to the spirit.”

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