Sun Ra Arkestra, Dinner Party, Thelonious Monk & 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.


Jazz School: Education News

Quincy Jones Launches New Initiative to Bring Jazz, Soul, Gospel and Blues Awareness to Schools via Quest TV: Quincy Jones has launched a new initiative to bring jazz, blues and gospel music awareness into American schools with Qwest TV, the streaming channel dedicated to all things jazz, soul and funk launched in 2017. Plans have been set in place to distribute carefully curated, culturally significant and powerful musical performances to students and educators free of charge from September of this year. Jones said via a statement: “We’ve got to believe that we are multicultural miracles, and we at Qwest TV want all of you to embrace and celebrate that. The future is a bright, beautiful mix of colors, and we hope that many will join us by taking action in all fields of society, to lay the groundwork for a positive future for the kids of tomorrow.”



Unheard Live Thelonious Monk Recording Out in July 31: Palo Alto, a previously unheard recording of a 1968 high school performance by Thelonious Monk, will be released on July 31 via Impulse! The recording documents a concert that took place as racial tensions rose across the country and as Monk accepted the invitation of a high school student named Danny Scher, who had dreamt of bringing the iconic jazz giant to his hometown. Palo Alto features him playing some of his finest compositions with his touring band at the time, featuring among others, longtime collaborator Charlie Rouse. Palo Alto marks Monk’s posthumous album debut for Impulse! You can listen to its first single, “Epistrophy,” via the player below.

Jazz South Launches Jazz South Commission Program: Jazz South, which supports the development of jazz across the South of England by working with artists, promoters and educators, has announced the launch of Jazz South Commission. This is a new three-part program offering over £30,000 towards commission projects for artists working in jazz and improvisation in the Jazz South Region. These will be digitally broadcast in late 2020, generating inspiration and new material for live performances and touring in the future. Online applications are now open and the deadline falls on July 31. Click here for more information.

Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder Form New Supergroup: Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder have joined forces to create a new supergroup named Dinner Party. Together, they will release their self-titled debut album on July 10 via Sounds of Crenshaw/EMPIRE, featuring cover art by Kamasi’s sister, artist Amani Washington. The news comes with the release of the first single from the project, “Freeze Tag,” which you can listen to via the player below.

First Sun Ra Arkestra Studio Album in Over 20 Years Out Soon: Strut has announced that it will be releasing the Sun Ra Arkestra’s first studio album since 1999’s Song of the Sun. The title of the record has yet to be announced but the news with a first taste of the record. “Seductive Fantasy” a fresh take on a composition originally recorded by the pioneering jazz collective for 1979’s On Jupiter. It is accompanied by an abstract animation music video directed by Canadian recording artist Chad Van Gaalen.

Charles McPherson Explores the Relationship Between Jazz and Dance Artforms in New Project: Bebop luminary Charles McPherson explores the exciting relationship between jazz and dance artforms on his new project, Jazz Dance Suites, due out September 25 via Chazz Mack. The album captures the saxophonist’s collaboration with the San Diego Ballet and is inspired by McPherson’s own daughter, Camille, a soloist in her 8th season with the prestigious dance company. Joining McPherson on these suites are: Terrell Stafford, Lorraine Castellanos, Jeb Patton, Randy Porter, Billy Drummond, David Wong and Yotem Silberstein.

Alan Braufman to Release First New Album Under His Own Name Since 1975: Saxophonist/flutist/composer Alan Braufman is set to release his first album under his own name since 1975. The Fire Still Burns features pianist Cooper-Moore, saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, drummer Andrew Drury and bassist Ken Filiano, and it is due out August 28 via Valley of Search. You can listen to its lead single, “Sunrise,” via the player below.


The Gig: Live Music & More

Rafiq Bhatia Performance @ National Sawdust’s Digital Discovery “Festival,” July 6: Guitarist/composer Rafiq Bhatia will be participating in National Sawdust’s Digital Discovery “Festival” of streamed performances from venue alumni on July 2 at 6 p.m. ET. His avant-garde performance will be streamed on the venue’s website, and it is a collaboration with video artist Sara Sheikh Bridge, during which he will overlay four versions of himself to create one set. The project is titled 400th, in tribute to one in every 400 New Yorkers who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Festival Guide

Inaugural Wellness Music Festival, Saint Lucia, Postponed to 2021: The inaugural edition of the Wellness Music Festival in Saint Lucia has been postponed to September 20-26, 2021, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Headliner Dee Dee Bridgewater has been confirmed for next year. “We firmly believe in the unique combination of wellness and music, and the current crisis that has recently engulfed the world has only served to reinforce our commitment to this concept,” comments Wellness Music Festival co-founder, Mayank Patel. “As Plato said – ‘Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.’”


New Release Cheat Sheet

Bobby Watson, Keepin’ It Real (Smoke Sessions)

Hard bop “messenger” Bobby Watson returns with a brand new album, Keepin’ It Real. The new release marks the debut of a new incarnation of his Horizon quintet, performing an exciting program of original compositions and covers.

Derrick Hodge, Color of Noize (Blue Note)

Visionary artist Derrick Hodge’s Color of Noize is a riveting melting pot of influences. The album is entirely made up of original compositions and is his first to feature a live band playing throughout.

Maceo Parker, Soul Food – Cooking with Maceo (Funk Garage/Mascot Label Group)

Maceo Parker returns with his first studio album in eight years. Soul Food is a celebration of the Mississippi territory’s polyglot music tradition, featuring covers and Parker originals, as well as several acclaimed New Orleans musicians.


Features image by Amani Washington.

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