Wadada Leo Smith, Artemis, 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 Wadada Leo Smith 80th Birthday Celebration Video: Trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith shared a special 80th birthday celebration video performance as a thank you to all the fans who appreciate his music. The performance features him alongside Pheeroan akLaff on drums, Erika Dohi on piano, and Lamar Smith on guitar. Pianist/composer Sylvie Courvoisier contributes a separate video. Watch it via the player below.


Reservoir Acquires Rights to the Catalog of Fred Parris, Founder of The Five Satins: Reservoir has acquired a stake in the publishing catalog of Fred Perris, the iconic writer/lead vocalist/founder of the historic doo-wop group, The Five Satins. Parris is best-known as the writer/lead singer of “In the Still of the Night,” originally released in 1956. On the deal with Reservoir, Parris said, “I am extremely pleased to make this agreement with […] the Reservoir team, and I’m thankful for all their enthusiasm. I know they genuinely care about my work and are avid supporters.”


The Blues Foundation Announces Judith Black as New President and CEO: The Blues Foundation has announced the appointment of Judith Black, whose marketing and communications career spans over 30 years, as its new president and CEO, effective January 1, 2022. Black stated, “I am honored and thrilled to serve as CEO for the Blues Foundation. I grew up in a household where the blues was celebrated and its history embraced. I look forward to drawing from my own family legacy, knowledge of this community and depth of business experience in advancing the mission of the organization.” The Blues Foundation’s mission has been to preserve, celebrate, and expand awareness of the Blues genre.


Limerick Jazz to Host Young Irish Jazz Musician Competition: Limerick Jazz will host the first-ever Young Irish Jazz Musician 2022 in association with Improvised Music Company. Apply here. Finalists will perform in front of a panel of judges in the University Concert Hall of Limerick, Ireland, on April 10. The chosen winner will have the opportunity to record with a professional ensemble and receive a bursary to take part in an international summer school.


Album Announcements

Blue Lab Beats, Motherland Journey (Blue Note): Fast-rising London-based duo Blue Lab Beats continue to refine their jazztronica sound on their forthcoming Blue Note debut, Motherland Journey, due out February 25. This 17-track collection is the duo’s largest project to date and emerges from a two-and-a-half-year-long work. It showcases a fusion of genres and influences the duo picked up over this period. Pre-order Motherland Journey here.


Kenny G, New Standards (Concord): World-renowned saxophonist Kenny G released a new collection of original compositions inspired by the jazz ballads of the ’50s and ’60s on December 3 via Concord. “For this album, I wanted to try to recreate those ‘sounds’ but do it my own way, which for me meant that I would have to compose the songs myself,” says Kenny G. “So I set out to compose and perform songs that capture the ‘heart and soul’ of those beloved Jazz Standards and to record them ‘my way.'” Order New Standards here.


Pete Malinverni, On the Town – Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (Planet Arts): Pianist Pete Malinverni pays tribute to iconic composer Leonard Bernstein on his new album, On the Town, due out January 14 via Planet Arts Recordings. The LP finds him reinterpreting nine Bernstein favorites along with a new Malinverni original, all performed with his all-star trio featuring bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Pre-order it here.


Harold Mabern, Mabern Plays Coltrane (Smoke Sessions): Smoke Sessions released a vibrant, previously unheard recording of the late, great Harold Mabern performing the music of John Coltrane. Mabern Plays Coltrane features an all-star quintet and is culled from the final three nights of a three-week residency from 2017-2018 at Smoke’s annual year-ending John Coltrane Festival. The album also features liner notes from the piano great’s son Michael Mabern and dedication from his daughter Roxanne Mabern. Order Mabern Plays Coltrane here.


Live Music and Festival News

Fred Hersch Album Release Concerts at the Village Vanguard: Fred Hersch will celebrate the release of his new album, Breath By Breath, with album release concerts at New York’s Village Vanguard on January 4-January 9, 2022. Tickets here. Breath By Breath is inspired by Hersch’s longtime practice of mindfulness meditation and is performed by a jazz trio with a string quartet. It will be released on January 7 via Palmetto. Pre-order it here.

Photo by Erika Kapin.


Twelve Musicians Encounter Bertoia at Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas: The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas, will present “Sculpting Sound: Twelve Musicians Encounter Bertoia.” This is a series of six concerts bringing together twelve musicians to explore the expressive range of Harry Bertola’s sounding sculptures. The concerts will take place on February 22-27, and complement the exhibition “Harry Bertola: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life.” More here.


Pyroclastic Showcase at Winter Jazzfest Marathon: Pyroclastic Record, the non-profit label founded by pianist/composer Kris Davis, will host a Pyroclastic Records Showcase on January 14-15, 2022, as part of New York City’s Winter Jazzfest Marathon. Concerts by the Kris Davis Diatom Ribbons, Searching for the Disappeared Hour, Chris Lightcap’s Superette and the Eric Revis Quartet will take place at the Jazz Gallery. Tickets here.


Artemis Announce London Concert, February 20: Artemis – the all-female supergroup with Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Nicole Glover, Noriko Ueda and Allison Miller – will be performing at London’s Cadogan Hall on February 20. They will present music from their self-titled album debut, released last year via Blue Note Records. Tickets here.


10th Annual San Jose Winter Fest, February 11-27: The Annual San Jose Winter Fest will return with its 10th edition of curated concerts across eight venues of the South Bay region on February 11-27. Performers include La Santa Cecilia, The Cookers, Marquis Hill New Gospel Revisited, Harriet Tubman and more. There will also be tributes to Wayne Shorter and the late great Dr. Lonnie Smith. More acts will be announced at a later date. Click here for tickets and more information.


JAS Experience Labor Day Weekend Headliners Announced: Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) has announced that Stevie Nicks, Chris Stapleton and Leon Bridges will be the headliners of its 2022 Labor Day Experience, which will take place at Snowmass Town Park in Aspen, Colorado, on September 2-4, 2022. Three-day early bird passes are now available here. Daily schedules and opening acts for the annual events will be announced at a later date.


Maurice “Mobetta” Brown at Black Cat Jazz Supper Club: Trumpeter/producer/rapper Maurice “Mobetta” Brown will headline a special four-day New Year’s Eve run of shows at the Black Cat Jazz Supper Club in San Francisco, California, on December 29, 2021-January 1, 2022. Brown will be performing with his all-star band while Executive Chef Yainiel Negrón will curate a four-course holiday tasting meal. Tickets here.

Featured photo by Dominik Huber.

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