Taiko Saito, Charlie Watts, George Benson & 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.



Rhino Launches New High-Fidelity Vinyl Series: Rhino has launched a new series of exclusive, high-end and limited edition vinyl reissues, Rhino High-Fidelity. The series kicked off this month with the reissue of John Coltrane’s 1964 Coltrane’s Sound album, including notes and images from the master ts along with an archival essay by producer Tom Dowd. Each Rhino High-Fidelity release is limited to 5,000 individually numbered copies and comes with high-quality glossy covers and tip-on jackets, evoking the old-school aesthetics of the golden age of vinyl.

Dave McMurray and Jamey Johnson Animated Video: Saxophonist Dave McMurray and vocalist Jamey Johnson have released the official music video for their epic new rendition of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s “To Lay Me Down.” The visual telling of Hunter’s lyrics was animated and directed by Brooklyn visual artist Andrew Benincasa. The song appears on McMurray’s new album, Grateful Deadication 2, where the saxophonist reimagines the songs of the Grateful Dead and that we included in our list of new albums released last month (May 2023) that you need to know about.

First Ever Charlie Watts Jazz Anthology: BMG will release the first ever extensive jazz anthology of Rolling Stones drum giant Charlie Watts on June 30. Available both in double vinyl and double CD editions, Anthology draws on a near 20-year period in the musician’s substantial catalogue of jazz recordings in various configurations, including quartet, tentet and orchestra. It also comes with liner notes by music journalist and broadcaster Paul Sexton, the author of Charlie’s Good Tonight: The Authorized Biography of Charlie Watts.

New Music USA Launches New Music Inc: New Music USA launched New Music Inc, an incubator program designed to help small-budget, artist-led music organizations generate new ideas, strategies and collaborations at pivotal stages in the group or collective’s development. This program is now open in Baltimore, Chicago and New York City, and will provide participating organizations with financial support, coupled with hands-on skill-building in a cohort environment intended to foster collective learning and collaboration within and between the three cities. More here.


New Albums

Alune Wade, Sultan (Enja): France-based, Senegalese bassist/vocalist/composer Alune Wade released the socio-politically engaged Sultan, his fifth album, on May 6 via Enja Records. The record offers a melting pot of sounds, marrying African music traditions with Wade’s passion for jazz, highlife and Afrobeat. It also features several high-profile collaborators and guests, including Lenny White, Harold López-Nussa, Christian Sands, Leo Genovese and more.

Buster Williams, Unalome (Smoke Sessions): Legendary bassist/composer Buster Williams celebrates 80 years along a path to musical enlightenment on his stunning new album, Unalome. Released on February 24, the record features vocalist Jean Baylor, saxophonist Bruce Williams, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, pianist George Colligan and drummer Lenny White.

Sun Ra Arkestra, Living Sky (Omni Sound): Living Sky is a new album by the Sun Ra Arkestra, featuring a mix of classic repertoire and more recent vintage pieces penned by the ensemble’s musical director, 98-year-old alto saxophone icon Marshall Allen. Released on October 7, 2022, Living Sky is the Arkestra’s first album outing since their 2021 GRAMMY-nominated Swirling and features a total of 19 musicians, including a string section.

Elvin Jones, Revival: Live at Pookie’s Pub (Blue Note): Revival is a previously unissued 1967 live recording capturing legendary drummer Elvin Jones’ emergence as a bandleader at a little-known New York City jazz club. Recorded shortly after Jones left John Coltrane’s band in 1966, this thrilling hidden gem from the Blue Note archives features him alongside saxophonist Joe Farrell, pianist Billy Greene and bassist Wilbur Little.


Live Music and Festival News

2023 Jazz in June at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre Center: The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey, opened the latest iteration of its long-running Jazz in June series with a performance by Samara Joy on June 2. The festival will include six events over three weekends, including by such performers as Chucho Valdés and Paquito D’Rivera, Maria Schneider, Joey Alexander and Melissa Aldana. More here.

Garrett Saracho Special En Medio Performance in Los Angeles, July 15: Garrett Saracho will perform his 1973 album, En Medio, in its entirety for the first time ever on July 15 as part of Grand Performances’ free outdoor concert series at the California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. The show will be the first time that Saracho has performed any music from En Medio on stage since shortly after its original release. The album itself will be reissued on vinyl for the first time on July 7 via Impulse/UMe.

George Benson Live at Montreux 1986 Out Soon: On July 14, Mercury Studios will issue a recording of George Benson’s 1986 performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Live at Montreux 1986 captures the guitarist/vocalist onstage, performing a program of classics from across his careet up to that point and covers. While the DVD of the performance was released in 2005, this marks the first time the 2-CD portion has been available in the marketplace.

Taiko Saito Wins Jazzpreis Berlin 2023: Berlin-based marimba and vibraphone virtuoso Taiko Saito has been awarded the Jazzpreis Berlin 2023 from Der Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) and the City of Berlin. The prize will be awarded during a concert on July 3 in Studio 14 of the rbb and the concert will be broadcast on the rbbKultur radio station. Saito’s new solo album, Tears of a Cloud, was released on April 28 via Trouble in the East Records.

2023 NN North Sea Jazz Festival Lineup: The NN North Sea Jazz Festival has announced its full lineup, which features a host of international stars from the worlds of jazz, blues, soul, pop and beyond. The program includes performances by Stormzy, Little Simz, Lizzo, Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Seal, Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Gregory Porter Jill Scott and Artist in Residence esperanza spalding, among many others. The festival will occur at the Ahoy Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, July 7-9. More here.

Featured photo by Cristina Marx/Photomusix.

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