Snarky Puppy, Robert Johnson, Onyx Collective: 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

Philip Lima Named Assistant Chair of Berklee’s Voice Department: Berklee College of Music has named acclaimed baritone vocalist Philip Lima as assistant chair of the Voice Department. He is also currently serving as interim chair of the department while chair Anne Peckham is on sabbatical. Lima has sung in leading operatic roles and world premiered of operas by jazz greats Leslie Burrs, Nathan Davis, Mary Watkins and Larry Bell. “It’s so great to be with ‘my tribe’ of singers, and what remarkable singers–both faculty and students–they are. I appreciate the out-of-the-box decision-making of college leaders to let a central administrator move into academic leadership,” said Lima, who worked in Berklee’s Human Resources Department.


New Robert Johnson Documentary on Netflix: Netflix has produced a new documentary about the life of legendary Delta blues guitarist Robert Johnson. The film is called Remastered: Devil at the Crossroads, in reference to Johnson’s rumored deal with the devil at a crossroads in rural Mississippi. The documentary is directed by Brian Oakes and includes contributions from Keb’Mo’, Keith Richards, Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt. Watch a trailer via the player below.

New Short Documentary About Ira Gitler: Filmmaker Bret Primack directed Ira Gitler Lives!, a 30-minute documentary about jazz historian and journalist Ira Gitler who died on February 23, 2019. Ira Gitler Lives! is told in Gitler’s own words from a 2009 video interview Primack produced, and more recent interviews with such colleagues as Dan Morgenstern, Todd Barkan, Jim Eigo and more. Primack, who plans on presenting the film at jazz and film festivals later this year, calls Gitler his mentor and inspiration, and says he made the film “to reveal who Ira was, as a man, in addition to his work.”

New 420 Jazz Dispensary Playlist on YouTube: In honor of 420, Jazz Dispensary shared a new playlist on YouTube titled “Electric Relaxation,” featuring music by such artists as Gary Bartz, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, David Axelrod and Cannonball Adderley, and many more. The playlist, they explain, “opens the door to a world of laid-back, mellow grooves full of stereo-panning keys, floating synth pads, spiritual expansions and sonic meditation.”

Snarky Puppy Release First In Series Of Bonus Tracks From Immigrance Recording Sessions: Snarky Puppy will release a series of bonus and extended tracks from the recording session of their latest album, Immigrance. “During the Immigrance sessions, we recorded more songs than we could squeeze onto the album,” says bandleader Michael League. “So, over the course of the year, we’ll be releasing three brand new, full-length compositions by Bill Laurance, Marcelo Woloski, and Bob Reynolds, as well as extended versions of three of the album’s tracks.” “Embossed,” written by Snarky Puppy member Bill Laurence is out today and you can listen to it via the player below.

The Festival Circuit

Onyx Collective to Perform at NYC Red Bull Music Festival: The Onyx Collective, a jazz collective of artists and musicians founded by Isaiah Barr, will be performing at New York City’s 2019 Red Bull Music Festival on May 3. This year’s edition of the festival takes place at various venues across New York City between April 30-May 18. Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía will open the festival on April 30. Other artists scheduled to perform include Moor Mother, Teyana Taylor and JPEGMAFIA, among others.

Montreal Jazz Fest Announces Lineup for 40th Anniversary Edition: The Festival International de Jazz Montréal has announced over 150 indoor concerts for their 40th edition, which will take place on June 27-July 6. The lineup presents a healthy mix of living legends with young brilliant talents from all over the world. Artists scheduled to perform include Norah Jones, Melody Gardot, George Benson, Madeleine Peyroux, Ravi Coltrane, Dianne Reeves, Joshua Redman and many more. Tickets for these concerts go on sale today.

New Release Cheat Sheet

Laurence Hobgood, t e s s e t e r r a (Ubuntu)

Piano virtuoso Laurence Hobgood presents reinterpretations of diverse standards by such artists as Chopin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Sting and many others. Its title, t e s s e t e r r a, is an amalgam of the Latin term for Earth, “Terra,” and the Italian word for texture, “tessitura,” and perfectly defines a project that could be seen as a re-weaving of some of the world’s greatest compositions for jazz trio and string quartet. Hobgood’s orchestration definitely brings a classical element to the project, while the trio’s shining interactions represent the very idea that jazz improvisation is less about what’s being played and more about how it’s being played.

Laurence Juber, Downtown (HoLoGram Recordings)

Downtown is a new solo collection by acclaimed guitarist Laurence Juber, recorded in one intense afternoon session at Hollywood’s famed Capitol Studios, engineered by Al Schmitt. The album presents, along with one new bonus Juber original composition, a program of well-known standards plus beloved tunes from the Great American Songbook – such as “Lullaby of Birdland,” “A Foggy Day” and “I Can’t Give You Anything.” Each of these songs is reinterpreted in new, exciting Juber fingerstyle guitar arrangements with jazz-inspired improvisation blending influences from the U.S. and the sonic heritage of the guitarist’s native England.

Brian Krock, Liddle (Outside In Music)

Brooklyn-based musician, composer and arranger Brian Krock emerged as a new force in jazz with the self-titled debut of his big band, Big Heart Machine. On Liddle, he scales down the size of the band playing clarinet and saxophone alongside guitarist Olli Hirvonen, bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell, plus special guests pianist Matt Mitchell and bassist Simon Jermyn. However, the intensity of the sound remains the same; it is as aggressively invigorating as anything Big Heart Machine have ever done, carrying influences from Krock’s own power metal and prog roots.

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