Jazziz -Earl Klugh

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Jazziz Magazine Featuring Earl Klugh



Digital Edition
Earl Klugh
october 2013
Nylon Beauty
On Hand Picked, Earl Klugh is
at the top of his game. By Bill
About Time
Steve Gadd and the fine art of
keeping it simple. By Ted Panken
6 october 2013 jazziz Cover by Tanner Photography; photo by Sandee O
Earl Klugh
october 2013
Earl Klugh

@TequilaAvion #choosepleasure
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George Duke has gathered a myriad of
funk, jazz, gospel and R&B talents on
DreamWeaver. Guests include Christian
McBride, Rachelle Ferrell, Lalah Hathaway,
Jeffrey Osborne, BeBe Winans, and Perri’s Lori
Perry, among others. “Ball & Chain,” features
a duet with Duke accompanying the late R&B
singer Teena Marie – one of the last tracks she
The Line contains explosive rock
energy paralleled with high-level nuanced
chamber ensemble playing, highly
wrought compositions that are balanced
with adventurous no-holds-barred
improvising. This project explodes with
rock and jazz influences through engrossing
improvisational instrumentals, includes 12
original compositions and contributions from
various members of the group.
Jeff Lorber, heralded as “one of the founding
fathers of fusion” (Keyboard), returns with
nominated power trio the Jeff
Lorber Fusion, featuring bassist/ co-
producer Jimmy Haslip and saxophonist Eric
Marienthal. Hacienda spotlights eleven
tracks, including a brilliant take on the Frank
Zappa composition “King Kong.”
20-Time GRAMMY
winner Chick Corea
returns with his highly anticipated new band.
The Vigil also features guest appearances
by Stanley Clarke and Ravi Coltrane.
Yo is a finely crafted blend of traditional
acoustic instruments with elements of
cutting-edge electronica – a mesmerizing
musical alchemy that pays homage to Cuba’s
African roots.
Master guitarist Earl Klugh has been lauded
as a prodigy, groundbreaker, and one of
the true statesmen of contemporary jazz.
Klugh’s highly-anticipated Concord debut,
HandPicked, is a self-produced solo
album with guests Bill Frisell, Vince Gill and
Jake Shimabukuro.
www.raycharles.com www.concordmusicgroup.com





Prelude 16
Dave Holland marks 40 years of
recording; Erik Friedlander plays
through sorrow; Mark Dresser
mixes it up, virtually; and two
albums emerge out of Africa.
Auditions 48
Reviewed: Jim Black, Paolo
Fresu Devil Quartet, Wadada Leo
Smith & TUMO, Oliver Jones,
Alex Sipiagin, and Chick Corea.
Dave Holland
10 october 2013 jazziz Photo by Drew Goren
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THE 13

Ernie Adams
John Allred
Shelly Berg
Alonzo Bodden
Randy Brecker
Ann Hampton Callaway
Bill Charlap Trio
Clayton Brothers Quintet
Freddy Cole Trio
Kurt Elling Quartet
Robin Eubanks
John Fedchock
David Finck
Chuck Findley
Bruce Forman
Nnenna Freelon
Wycliffe Gordon
Jimmy Greene
Jeff Hamilton
Niki Haris
Antonio Hart
Tamir Hendelman
Dick Hyman
Tommy Igoe Sextet
Sean Jones
Tony Kadleck
Tom Kennedy
Joe LaBarbera
Christoph Luty
Dennis Mackrel
Manhattan Transfer
Marcus Miller Quartet
Lewis Nash Trio
Dick Oatts
Ken Peplowski
Houston Person Quartet
John Pizzarelli Quartet
Gregory Porter Quartet
Poncho Sanchez
Arturo Sandoval
Gary Smulyan
Cedar Walton
Walt Weiskopf
Jennifer Wharton
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Back in the Game
One rainy morning in November 2011, days
after losing his wife to a long battle with breast
cancer, cellist and composer Erik Freidlander
jumped on a bike to deliver his daughter’s
forgotten lunch. On his way, his wheel skid across
the sidewalk and he fell, tearing the UCL of his
thumb. He couldn’ t work for three months. “I
think when you’re younger you think, ‘Oh, I’ll
have my rightful share of disagreeable events, but
you know, it’s all apportioned,’” Freidlander ex-
plained recently in a tea shop near his apartment
in Manhattan. “But it’s not that way. Sometimes
you get whacked a couple of times.”
With no upcoming performances to distract
him, Friedlander went into a period of hiberna-
tion, which ended with a sudden jolt in July 2012,
when he looked at his summer calendar and
realized: “I’ve got to do something. It’s time.” He
picked up the phone and called pianist Sylvie
Courvoisier and percussionist Ikye Mori. “I felt
like the music I would write was going to involve
a lot of space and room. They’d be perfect for
that. And I wanted the feminine energy.” With
Courvoisier and Mori onboard, Friedlander
booked a studio, giving himself four weeks to
compose. “It’s always two steps forward, one step
back, three steps to the side. I was trying to iden-
tify this feeling I had — a little bit of moving on, a
little bit of looking back, a little bit of mourning.”
The result of Friedlander’s latest efforts, the
spare and resonant Claws and Wings (SkipStone
Records), was released in early October. The
album is dedicated to his late wife, Lynn Shapiro,
an award-winning choreographer and writer.
Friedlander found the title in one of his wife’s
poems, and thought it fitting. “Life has a little claw
and a little wing,” he says. “You have to have a
little of both.” Each track title also evokes Shapiro
in some way. “Frail as a Breeze” is a phrase drawn
from her poetry; “Cheek to Cheek” references one
of her favorite ways of showing intimacy; “Swim
with Me” is both a tribute to her love of swimming
and, says Freidlander, “an invitation to her to come
swim with me. I’m not religious, but I imagine her
in this better place, away from suffering.”
For the accomplished cellist, the album also
represents a re-engagement. “You are so tunnel-
visioned by the sickness and the descent into death
that you remove yourself from life,” he says. “Then
you turn around and realize that life keeps going.
You are either in it or you’re not.” —Casey Donahue
jazziz october 2013 19
20 october 2013 jazziz Photo By Cherie Nutting
Out of Africa
The Master Musicians of Jajouka have long entranced Western
artists looking for sonic transcendence. Writer William
Burroughs and The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones are just two
seekers who found rapture in the sounds emanating from Jajouka,
a village tucked in the Djebala foothills of Morocco’s Rif Mountains.
Following a tradition that dates back more than 1,000 years, the
Master Musicians continue to ply their craft, studying from child-
hood the sophisticated, dronelike music which is played on drums
and reed and string instruments.
While the Master Musicians were once supported by sultans,
and have since gained worldwide acclaim, their enterprise to
preserve their music incurs expenses beyond their means. And so,
an all-star group of admiring jazz, rock and world musicians have
combined their talents with the Masters’ on the recently released
recording The Road to Jajouka (Howe). Proceeds from album sales
will benefit the Jajouka Foundation (Jajoukafoundation.org).
Produced by drummer Billy Martin and featuring keyboardist
John Medeski; saxophonists Ornette Coleman and John Zorn;
guitarists Marc Ribot and Lee Ranaldo; bassists Chris Wood, Flea
and Bill Laswell; and drummers Martin, Mickey Hart and Aiyb
Deng, the recording places the ancient devotional music in a
modern context. Yet the trance-inducing Jajouka sound remains
at the heart of the project. Bachir Attar, whose family is tied
to the very origins of the music, leads his fellow Jajoukans and
also performs on the double-reed ghaita, providing an album
highlight during his duet with Coleman.
Directly or indirectly, the music of another African country,
Mali, has been incalculably influential on Western culture via the
blues. The region has been beset with violent upheavals in recent
years, which has resulted in economic hardship, particularly for
musicians who depend upon tourism to make a living. California/
New Orleans-based blues harmonica player and vocalist JeConte
has convened a group of African musicians, The Mali Allstars, on
a truly engaging benefit CD titled Mali Blues, the proceeds from
which will benefit the nonprofit Soulnow (Soulnow.org).
With a core group of JeConte; harmonica player and rhythm
guitarist Boubacar Sidibé; lead guitarist and n’goni (traditional string
instrument) player Adama Dramé; percussionist Mahamadou Koné
and bassist Sekou Bah, the Allstars welcome a host of fellow African
musicians, as well. JeConte offers a joyous shout-out to the embattled
country on “Nous Aimons le Malí” (We Love Mali), and the powerful-
voiced Khaira Arby is spellbinding on the impassioned plea “Le
Monde Pour la Paix” (The World for Peace), which also features expert
string work from guitarist Vieux Farka Touré and n’goni master
Bassekou Kouyate. Blues, Afro-pop and mesmeric indigenous music
make for a heady, harmonious blend. —Bob Weinberg
Photo by Peter Gunnushkin jazziz october 2013 23
Real Jazz, Virtual Venues
Most people probably don’t associate jazz with cutting-edge
communications technology. But for the past few years, bassist
Mark Dresser (pictured above) has been using telematic perfor-
mance to collaborate in real time with musicians all over the world.
Dresser began using the technology in 2007, a few years
after he had accepted a teaching position at the University of
California, San Diego. “My natural community of collaborators
had dramatically changed, and I was finding myself going to
New York almost monthly,” he explains. “Also, the pragmatic
realities of traveling with a bass since 9/11 have gotten exceed-
ingly more complicated.”
The foundation of the system is audio networking software
called JackTrip. Developed by cellist and frequent Dresser col-
laborator Chris Chafe, director of Stanford University’s Center for
Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, JackTrip delivers mul-
tichannel, uncompressed CD-quality audio over high-bandwidth
networks. Dresser has access to the University of California’s high-
bandwidth network, but he’d like to see the technology become
more widely available to musicians everywhere.
Despite that limitation, the musicians in his telematics com-
munity is impressive and growing, including pianist Myra Melford,
flutist Nicole Mitchell and drummer Matt Wilson. Dresser and
company toured, virtually, in April, playing three consecutive
concerts from San Diego with musicians and audiences in three dif-
ferent locations (Amherst, Massachusetts; Stony Brook, New York;
and Zurich, Switzerland).
Telematics has also had an effect on how Dresser approaches
his studio work, including Nourishments (Clean Feed), his excel-
lent new record with a quintet featuring saxophonist Rudresh
Mahanthappa. Several songs developed through telematic col-
laboration. “A piece like ‘Canales Rose’ was able to evolve over time,”
Dresser says. “When you’re able to rehearse and work on music in
stages, there’s a certain kind of development that you’re able to get
going on that you might not do if you’re going to New York, then
say, ‘Here’s a few tunes, let’s play,’ and then record. As a tool it’s
allowed me to compose differently and to perform differently.”
Dresser is preparing for his next telematics performance on
December 15 at New York University. Joining him will be trombonist
Ray Anderson and composer Sarah Weaver. They’ll be performing
with flutist Anne La Berge in Amsterdam, saxophonist Franziska
Schroeder in Belfast and flutist Matthias Ziegler in Zurich.
Along with expanding his community of collaborators, Dresser
ultimately believes telematics can be a whole new category of
performance itself. “This form is inherently audio-visual, and
there is the potential for it to be some kind of hybrid performance.
It’s not just another venue. It has the potential of becoming a form
that in and of itself is friendly to this community of improvisers/
performers/composers.” —John Frederick Moore
24 october 2013 jazziz
Prismatically Speaking
It’s not surprising that Dave Holland found himself listening
to a lot of Jimi Hendrix while preparing to record Prism (Dare2
Records); since this project would reunite the bassist and com-
poser with six-string ace Kevin Eubanks, he was trying to get into
a guitar frame of mind. And what better place to start than with
Hendrix? Besides, Holland,
who recently turned 66, had
spent a memorable studio
session in 1969 jamming with
the guitar god, along with
guitarist John McLaughlin
and drummer Buddy Miles.
Holland admires the “feel
and freedom” of Hendrix’s
music and his band’s ability
to “push the boundaries of
improvisation.” Holland
himself has been pushing
musical boundaries since
the beginning of his career,
first in London’s progressive
jazz scene, then later with
the likes of Miles Davis,
Sam Rivers and Anthony
Braxton. In fact, Prism marks
the 40th anniversary of his
debut recording as a leader,
Conference of the Birds, with
Braxton and Rivers.
Prism is also “the first
recording I’ve done almost
ever without a horn player,”
says Holland. Instead, his
latest working band — also
named Prism — began with
Eubanks, whom Holland
had played with extensively
in the ’80s and ’90s, but
who had been unavailable
in recent years due to his
commitments as bandleader
for The Tonight Show with
Jay Leno. When Eubanks left
Tonight, Holland recruited him, keyboardist Craig Taborn and
drummer Eric Harland, and Prism was born.
Everybody in the band contributed compositions to the new album
(three from Eubanks, two from the others). As with any Holland al-
bum, there are strong grooves throughout, from Eubanks’s rock-tinged
opener, “The Watcher,” to denser counterpoint from Taborn (“Spirals”)
and Holland (“A New Day”) to an upbeat call-and-response number
from Harland (“Choir”). And there’s Holland’s slow blues, “The Empty
Chair,” perhaps the most specific reference to Hendrix on the CD.
Holland says the group coalesced around a common
rhythmic and harmonic language. “But I think what I enjoy
is that the pieces the other musicians brought in are pieces
that I would never have thought of writing. I don’ t want a
band where everyone’s playing the same style. The multi-
dimensional aspect” — the prismatic facets — “of the different
approaches is what makes the music rich.”
As for his own compositions, Holland says, “I’ve always
tried to write music for the people I play with. That’s been my
motivation from the beginning.” With the right musical set-
ting, his bands can push those boundaries, as well as capture
that intangible “feel” he hears in Hendrix’s music. “It’s trying
to convey emotion and story in the piece as well — a spirit that
will give it life.” —Jon Garelick
©2013 JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery LLC. All Rights Reserved. JUSTIN, JUSTIN LOGO, ISOSCELES, and JUSTIFICATION are registered trademarks of JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery LLC. JV9130
What could the wines of JUSTIN Vineyards possibl y have in common with the great Bordeaux wines of Margaux
and Saint-Émilion? The answer is, quite a lot: from Paso Robles’ limestone-rich soil and ideal microclimate,
to the wine itself, intense yet elegant and well worth aging. However, what sets JUSTIN apart from its
Old World counterparts is price. Thanks to our Paso Robles location, we can create superb wines for
a fraction of the cost of Bordeaux of equal quality. To which we say, vi ve la dif férence!
©2013 JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery LLC. All Rights Reserved. JUSTIN, JUSTIN LOGO, ISOSCELES, and JUSTIFICATION are registered trademarks of JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery LLC. JV9130
What could the wines of JUSTIN Vineyards possibl y have in common with the great Bordeaux wines of Margaux
and Saint-Émilion? The answer is, quite a lot: from Paso Robles’ limestone-rich soil and ideal microclimate,
to the wine itself, intense yet elegant and well worth aging. However, what sets JUSTIN apart from its
Old World counterparts is price. Thanks to our Paso Robles location, we can create superb wines for
a fraction of the cost of Bordeaux of equal quality. To which we say, vi ve la dif férence!
sionist George Jinda. The pair have long
since parted, but Minucci recruited
A-list players including keyboardist Jay
Rowe, bassist Jerry Brooks and drum-
mer Lionel Cordrew. All are on hand
for the new release, which spotlights
Minucci’s often-exotic compositions
and remarkable playing. Minucci also
features standout contributions by
violinist Karen Brigg, pianist Lao Tizer
and vocalist Xu Feiyu. On “Till the End of
Time,” our selection, the guitarist offers
some intriguingly bent, bluesy notes, as
well as agile lead lines that call to mind
Wes Montgomery. Brooks and drum-
mer Omar Hakim maintain a slinky
backbeat, and saxophonist David Mann
blows unison lines and a fiery, albeit
too-brief solo to close out the tune.
for their read of “Wave,” included here.
Moraes’ and Orta’s sparkling opening
statements ride Ousley’s and Araya’s
insistent groove, while Rose Max’s velvety
vocals effortlessly surf the rhythmic tide
and gentle swells of brass and strings.
Contemporary-jazz guitarist Chieli
Minucci recently
celebrated his
30th anniversary
recording under the
Special EFX rubric.
As evidenced by his
latest CD, Genesis
(Shanachie), the
group has undergone significant person-
nel changes over the decades, having
started out as Minucci’s duo with percus-
Following her 2009 Burt Bacharach Songbook
CD, vocalist Carol
Duboc returns to
music of her own de-
vising on Smile (Gold
Note). The Kansas
City, Missouri, native
first established
herself as a composer,
penning songs for R&B singers Patti Labelle,
Chante Moore and Stephanie Mills, but
revealed jazz roots on her own 2001 release
With All That I Am. On Smile, Duboc displays
her prowess in the contemporary-jazz idiom.
Well-crafted original material draws from
bossa nova and samba rhythms in a way that
will sound familiar to fans of Michael Franks
or Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen. And she’s
certainly in great company here. Duboc once
again calls on flutist Hubert Laws, who ac-
companied her on her Bacharach CD, and re-
cruits top session players including keyboard-
ist Jeff Lorber, bassists Brian Bromberg and
Jimmy Haslip, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and
percussionist Luis Conte. The singer’s cool,
understated vocals deftly ride the swaying
rhythms of the clever “Elephant.” Included
here, the song makes use of the “pachyderm-
in-the-room” metaphor to describe a couple’s
unaddressed difficulties.
smith in his own right. For HandPicked,
Klugh, who turns 60 in September, dips
into the songbooks of The Beatles, The
Eagles and The Everly Brothers, as well
as Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi
and Rodgers and Hart. He also penned
three tunes for the session, including
the sprightly “In Six,” included here.
Klugh conjures the shimmer of moon-
light, as his fingers deftly dance to the
rhythms he pulls from his strings.
Costa Rica has been much in the public
eye these days,
its burgeon-
ing economy
by a visit from
President Obama
earlier this year.
More evidence
that the verdant nation is growing in so-
phistication is the increased prominence
of its Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. In
March of this year, 72 members of the
symphony collaborated with a contin-
gent of South Florida jazz musicians
on Bossa Nova Sinfónico: Recordando a
Antonio C. Jobim, which captured their
performance at the Teatro Nacional in
San José. Pianist Michael Orta, bassist
Jamie Ousley and drummer Carlomagno
Araya form a core rhythm section
behind vocalist Rose Max and guitarist
Ramatis Moraes, the South Floridians
teaming up with the Costa Rican orches-
tra on a set of standards by Brazilian
maestro Jobim. Conductor and arranger
Jeremy Fox assures that the intimate
acoustic music is never overpowered by
the orchestra. Rather, brass, strings and
woodwinds add color, texture and cin-
ematic sweep to Jobim gems. The group
borrows a Claus Ogerman arrangement
32 fall 2013 jazziz Photo by Tanner Photography jazziz fall 2013 33
Acoustic-guitar virtuoso Earl Klugh
once again show-
cases his warm
tone and ar-
ticulate fingering
on HandPicked
(Heads Up), a
quietly radiant
set of jazz and
pop gems played solo and in collabora-
tion with guests. Duet partners include
fellow six-stringer Bill Frisell, ukulele
ace Jake Shimabukuro and guitarist
and vocalist Vince Gill. In a career
spanning more than 40 years, Klugh
has recorded with the likes of George
Benson, Return to Forever and Bob
James. Besides his dazzling technique,
the Detroit-born guitar great is known
for his interpretations of melodies from
the jazz and pop worlds, even as he’s
established himself as a fine song-
ÐOrquestaSinfónicaNacional deCostaRica
“Wave” Bossa Nova Sinfónico: Recordando a
Antonio C. Jobim [Centro Nacional de la Musica]
ÐChieli Minucci andSpecial EFX
“Till The End of Time” Genesis [Shanachie]
ÐEarl Klugh “In Six” HandPicked [Heads Up]
OVictor Espinola
“Somewhere in Mediterranea”
Army of Angels [Harpara Music]
ONanami Morikawa and Phillip Strange
“UMMG” Open Spaces [New Truth]
OAndrew Neu “Date Night”
Everything Happens for a Reason [CGN]
ÐPalo! “Tabaco y Ron Pa’ Mi Santa”
This Is Afro-Cuban Funk [Rolling Pin Music]
OJeff Lorber Fusion “Corinaldo”
Hacienda [Heads Up]
OPatrick Lamb “Sweet Tea”
It’s All Right Now [Patrick Lamb Productions]
OBikini Jazz “No Se Puede Vivir sin Coger”
La Receta de la Felicidad [self-released]
OEric Hansen “Back in the Groove”
String Theory [Hansenhaus]
OCarol Duboc “Elephant”
Smile [Gold Note Music]
ORandy Brecker/Włodek Pawlik
“Night in Calisia” Night in Calisia [Summit]
Disc 1
If you purchased this magazine without the CDs or would like additional copies, e-mail [email protected]
or log onto www.jazziz.com.
ÐOrquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica ÐChieli Minucci and Special EFX ÐEarl Klugh OVictor Espinola ONanami Morikawa and Phillip Strange OAndrewNeu ÐPalo! OJeff Lorber Fusion OPatrick Lamb OBikini Jazz OEric Hansen OCarol Duboc ORandy Brecker/Włodek Pawlik
FALL 2013
Fall Into JAZZIZ Nightlife
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of the print editions of JAZZIZ Magazine. For this issue, we’ve made Disc One a compilation of music by artists who have appeared at
JAZZIZ Nightlife, this magazine’s sister nightclub, in Boca Raton, Florida. Disc Two features fresh jazz froma diverse range of artists.
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Earl Klugh
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On Hand Picked, Earl Klugh is at
the top of his game.
By Bill Milkowski
Photos by Tanner Photography
jazziz october 2013 29
30 october 2013 jazziz
In the middle of a Saturday night engagement at a packed Blue
Note nightclub in New York City in early August, Earl Klugh
interrupted his regular set of potent smooth-jazz anthems like
“Dr. Macumba” and “Cabo Frio” to introduce a young talent from
the audience. A lean, 16-year-old acoustic guitarist named Matt
Wong took the stage and joined Klugh for a relaxed rendition of the
wistful Tin Pan Alley tune “Blue Moon,” which went over well with
the audience. Then Klugh and his band left the stage, giving up the
spotlight to young Wong, who performed a dazzling rendition of
the 1968 Mason Williams instrumental “Classical Gas.”
That kind of generosity and selfless mentoring is rare. But the very
same thing happened to Klugh, who turned 60 in September, when he
was an aspiring 16-year-old guitarist working in a Detroit music store.
That’s where iconic jazz saxophonist, world-music pioneer and fellow
Motor City native Yusef Lateef first discovered Klugh and plucked him
out of obscurity to appear on his 1970 Atlantic album Suite 16. It was
Klugh’s first time in a recording studio, and he appeared on just one
track, a soulful rendition of The Beatles’ tune “Michelle.” The follow-
ing year, guitarist George Benson took the gifted 17 year old under his
wing, recruiting him to play on his second CTI album — 1972’s White
Rabbit — and, subsequently, to tour.
Klugh, who looks today like he hasn’t gained a pound since the
release of his self-titled debut album in 1976, will never forget those big
breaks given to him at the beginning of his career, which is why he’s
paying it forward now. “I look back on everything that I’ve done, and
it makes you feel good when you can pass it on,” he says in a reflective
tone. “Because I know how I felt when I was that age. Any little bit of
help or inspiration that you can give a kid is well worth it. So I enjoy it.”
Of course the Grammy-winning guitarist had other mentors
along the way, notably the late, legendary guitarist Chet Atkins,
whom Klugh continues to credit in the liner notes of his albums.
As he wrote about Atkins in the thank-you section of his lat-
est CD, the brilliant solo-guitar outing, Hand Picked (Heads Up
International): “The luckiest day of my life was seeing you on The
Perry Como Show! You changed my life!”
It was not only Atkins’ six-string mastery but also his wide
stylistic range that fascinated the 13-year-old Klugh when he first
caught the Country Gentleman in 1967 on his parents’ television
set. “I was already playing finger-style guitar,” he recalls. “I had
been taking formal lessons with a guitar teacher in Detroit who
was a big Chet fan. So when I finally saw him on TV, I instantly
related to him because he played with a thumb pick and fingers.”
After that Perry Como show, Klugh went out and bought his first
Atkins album, 1966’s It’s a Guitar World, which included versions of
Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” and The Beatles’ “For No One.” “At that
point, Chet was definitely my guitar hero,” Klugh says. “It was just
amazing what he was able to do. A lot of it was just the technical
aspect of playing the guitar, but a lot of it for me was that Chet was
able to play so many styles of guitar and play them all extremely
well. So I got into different styles of guitar playing just from listen-
ing to his recordings, which I stocked up on over the next several
months after buying that first one. I’d just sit in my room and drop
the needle on all that vinyl, trying to learn those licks.”
Eleven years later, in 1978, Klugh appeared with Atkins and
George Benson on a memorable “Soundstage” television special
that aired on PBS. Together the three distinctive six-string stylists
ran down an eclectic program which included Luiz Bonfa’s haunt-
ing Brazilian number “Manha de Carnaval,” Don Gibson’s loping
country tune “Oh Lonesome Me,” the classic jazz jam vehicle
“Cherokee” and a rendition of John Philip Sousa’s anthemic “Stars
and Stripes Forever.” “That show was really well received,” Klugh
recalls. “It really blew up out of nowhere and gave a big boost to
my career at that point.”
Atkins’ influence is traceable through all 30 of Klugh’s record-
ings as a leader, right up to Hand Picked, which debuted at No. 1
on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. Unfortunately, much of
Klugh’s work on past albums has been marred by vanilla arrange-
ments seemingly intended to appease rather than challenge his
audience. Listeners who prefer more daring and provocative fare
have accused Klugh of being a poster boy for smooth jazz, a sub-
genre of jazz derisively dismissed by its critics as “happy jazz,” “hot
tub jazz” or “sonic pablum.” But a guitarist with serious chops has
always lurked just beneath the glossy surface of Klugh’s albums.
That musician comes fully to the fore on Hand Picked, the third
solo-guitar outing of Klugh’s career.
Recorded primarily at his home studio in Atlanta, Hand Picked
showcases Klugh’s signature contrapuntal style on renditions
of standards like Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” Burt
Bacharach’s “Alfie” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s gorgeous ballad
“But Beautiful.” You can hear a touch of the Chet Atkins bounce
on “Lullaby of Birdland,” a jazz standard composed by another of
Klugh’s early mentors, the great British pianist-composer George
jazziz october 2013 31
“ I look back on
that I’ve done,
and it makes
you feel good
when you
can pass it
on. Because
I know how
I felt when I
was that age.”
32 october 2013 jazziz
Shearing, who took the 21-year-old guitarist on his first European
tour in 1974. There’s also a stirring treatment of Vince Guaraldi’s
1963 instrumental hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” which, interest-
ingly enough, was included as a solo piece on It’s a Guitar World, the
first Atkins album that Klugh bought, back in 1967.
Elsewhere on the album, Klugh engages in intimate duets with
special guests Bill Frisell (“Blue Moon”), Vince Gill (an intimate take
on The Everly Brothers’ hit “All I Have to Do Is Dream”) and ukulele
virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro (a scintillating version of The Eagles’
“Hotel California”). As the album title suggests, all of the guests
were hand-picked. “I’ve known Bill for some years now,” Klugh says.
“We did a ‘Night of Guitars’ show together with guitarist Russell
Malone at The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh in
2007, and we had such a great time. I think we prepared about 26
or 27 tunes for that gig, and ‘Blue Moon’ was one that I remember
sounding really good. I felt a very close affinity with Bill that
evening. He’s one of a kind — a great player, a great person and a
really wide-open musician. And when I discovered that he only had
a very narrow window of opportunity to record for this project, I
flew to Seattle to meet him, and we ended up recording in Portland.
I wanted to make it comfortable for everybody on these duet pieces,
so I ended up going to where they lived. So with Jake, whom I had
met on a boat cruise some years ago, we recorded in Los Angeles.
And with Gill, who I met at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival in
2010, I flew to Nashville to record at his home studio.”
Klugh adds that the Gill session was especially resonant. “Vince
and I are both huge fans of Chet Atkins,” he explains. “We have
both played with him and admired him so much. But what I didn’t
know until later on is that Chet actually played on the original
Everly Brothers version of ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream.’ That really
brought everything full circle, and I was so delighted to hear Vince
sing on the last part of the tune. That was a big surprise.”
Both Gill and Klugh appeared again at Clapton’s most recent
Crossroads Festival, held this past April at Madison Square Garden
in Manhattan. Klugh says that his connection to Clapton dates to
1986, when they met in Tokyo. “Back in those days I had a very big
career in Japan. My band had a three-week engagement at one of
the big clubs in Tokyo, and as we were checking in at the hotel to get
everything settled with the rooms and everything, I happened to
notice Eric Clapton standing there in the lobby. And he came right up
to me and said, ‘Excuse me, but are you Earl Klugh?’ He asked where
I was playing, and when I told him about this gig we had for the
next three weeks, he said, ‘That’s great! I’m going to start bringing
my band down there. That’s what we like to do after the show. We
go watch music.’ Eric’s band had a week or so at a major arena in
Tokyo, and when they were done with their show they would come
down and catch our last set. So we got to know each other pretty
well back then, and we’ve remained in touch over the years. Now his
Crossroads Festival is a chance for us to get together.”
When we spoke on the phone the week after his Blue Note
engagement in New York, Klugh was preparing for his own
upcoming festival, the fourth annual Weekend of Jazz, set to take
place in early November at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South
Carolina. Guests this year include Al Jarreau, Burt Bacharach,
Euge Groove and Spyro Gyra. Klugh will perform solo pieces from
Hand Picked at the festival and also appear with his working
band: saxophonist Tom Braxton, keyboardist David Lee, bassist
Al Carter and drummer Brian Otis. In April, Klugh will appear
at another festival he runs, the annual Weekend of Jazz at the
Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.
Klugh says he’s excited about playing in Colorado Springs because
there he’ll perform in a duet setting with jazz singer Nneena Freelon.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve probably done four or five shows
with Nneena, just guitar and voice,” he says. “I always like to do that
because it’s challenging. A lot of times when you have a really good
singer like that, it kind of takes you into some other places. When
you’re playing with a rhythm section, it’s kind of standard fare. But
she’s such a great singer that you can go almost anywhere and she
never slips up. I enjoy that kind of spontaneity.”
Removed from the stereotypical conventions of smooth jazz
— whether solo, duo or with a full band — Klugh’s nylon-string
virtuosity continues to shine through with warmth and soul. s
Five Good Klughs
Earl Klugh set the template for smooth jazz with his pleas-
ant recordings throughout the ’70s. Four decades later, he’s
still cranking out soothing sounds. Of his 30 releases, these
five are especially outstanding. —BM
s Finger Paintings (Blue Note, 1978) — This is the album that in-
troduced two popular smooth groove tunes, “Dr. Macumba” and
“Cabo Frio,” which the guitarist still includes in his set list today.
Also included is an instrumental cover of Orleans’ soft-rock hit
“Dance With Me” and a full-band version of Klugh’s lovely “This
Time,” which he reprises as a solo piece on Hand Picked.
s Late Night Guitar (Blue Note, 1980) — Klugh’s nylon-string
guitar is surrounded by a full orchestra on several pieces on this
easy-listening set, including lush treatments of “Mona Lisa” and
“I’ll Never Say Goodbye.” But the real gems here are his beauti-
ful, unaccompanied renditions of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,”
“Laura” and “Tenderly,” which hint at solo outings to come.
s Two of a Kind (Blue Note/Manhattan, 1982) — The second
encounter between Klugh and pianist Bob James (a follow-up
to 1979’s One on One) is grounded by drummer Harvey Mason,
and includes such buoyant numbers as Klugh’s “Where I
Wander” and Mason’s upbeat “Whiplash.”
s Collaboration (Warner Bros., 1987) — Pupil and teacher team
up on this Tommy LiPuma-produced smooth funk-jazz offering
that pairs Klugh’s finger-style acoustic with George Benson’s as-
tonishingly fluid guitar lines and wordless vocals. The rhythm
tandem of drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Marcus Miller
keeps everything in the pocket here while the two principals fly.
s Naked Guitar (Koch, 2005) — Klugh’s second solo-guitar
outing, a Grammy-winner, includes eloquent readings of “The
Summer Knows,” “All the Things You Are” and “Moon River,”
as well as a lovely bossa nova rendition of The Beatles’ “I
Want to Hold Your Hand.”
Claret_InTheMix.indd 1 8/21/12 4:49 PM












36 october 2013 jazziz

38 october 2013 jazziz
The only drum solo on Gadditude (BFM Jazz), Steve Gadd’s first
studio leader date in a quarter-century, occurs at the six-minute
mark of the album opener, “Africa,” a smoky modal number.
Actually, Gadd doesn’t so much solo as emerge from the ensemble
in dialogue with Larry Goldings’ percussive vamp on Hammond
B-3, intensifying, but barely embellishing, the crisp, swirling 7/4
groove that has heretofore propelled the flow. For the remainder
of the session, Gadd draws from his exhaustive lexicon of beats
— New Orleans march figures, tangos, shuffles, waltzes, straight-
eighth feels and a touch of 4/4 swing — to personalize nine songs
either composed or brought in by Goldings, trumpeter Walt Fowler,
bassist Jimmy Johnson and guitarist Michael Landau, all of whom
appear on the album and all of whom Gadd has played with during
the past decade in James Taylor’s working band.
“I didn’t do it intentionally or think about it beforehand,” Gadd
says of animating his of own session by assuming a supportive
role, as has famously been his default basis of operations since
becoming a fixture in the New York City studios in the early ’70s.
“I think a drummer’s goal is to allow other people to sound their
best, to have space to shine and create. Some situations favor an
energetic approach, interacting more with the solos. Other times,
people are playing over the groove, and it’s better to stay out of the
way. For me, the better solos happen when the groove gets strong
and the intensity is where it should be. Then it feels natural.”
As the album’s producer, Gadd opted to not position the drums
prominently in the final mix. “I want the mixes to sound dynamic
and balanced, so you can feel our intent, not to get everything so
in your face that it highlights what I’m doing,” he explains. “If I’m
playing soft, I’d rather you hear it soft and place everything around
it. Then the music is speaking, not just one instrument.”
Gadd has actualized these aesthetic principles with extraordinary
consistency on the 750 sessions — some 230 of them during the ’70s
— listed on his web discography. During that decade, his ingenious
figures stamped hits by such pop icons as Paul Simon (“50 Ways to
Leave Your Lover”) and Steely Dan (Aja). His inexorable pocket was
integral to the feel of the jazz-funk supergroup Stuff, and his explosive
straighahead skills were displayed with a succession of high-profile
jazz and fusion acts — Steps, with Michael Brecker and Mike Mainieri;
Chick Corea (The Leprechaun and My Spanish Heart); the Brecker
Brothers (Don’t Stop the Music) — and on several dozen CTI dates.
During the ’80s, Gadd, already a key influence for a generation
of aspirants, performed on over 150 recordings. He toured exten-
sively, both as a high-profile sideman and as leader of the Gadd
Gang, with former Stuff bandmates Cornell Dupree and Richard
Tee and with acoustic bassist Eddie Gomez. He began playing with
Taylor in the early ’90s. Later in the decade he toured and recorded
with Eric Clapton and spent consequential bandstand time in a
short-lived, gloriously creative trio with the French pianist Michel
Petrucciani and bassist Anthony Jackson.
“I admire musicians who constantly try to raise the bar for
themselves,” says Gadd, whose latest work as a producer and musi-
cian includes If You Believe, his second eclectic, erudite collaboration
with marimbist Mika Stoltzman; an as-yet untitled encounter
with conguero Pedrito Martinez that is scheduled for a late 2013
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40 october 2013 jazziz
release; and the third recording in three years by the Gaddabouts,
a Gadd-directed backup band for singer-songwriter Edie Brickell.
Less omnipresent in the studios than before, he recently augmented
his c.v. on dates with Clapton, Italian pop singer Pino Daniele, and
Kate Bush. When we spoke in late August, Gadd was preparing for
shows in Japan and California with Quartette Humaine, a band
co-led by Bob James and David Sanborn — on whose recent release
Gadd played — and with his own Steve Gadd Band, booked for post-
Gadditude appearances in Korea, Japan and California.
“I don’ t think of it as my band,” Gadd says of his latest leader
endeavor. “Of course I put it together, and I’m in a position to
make suggestions and some final decisions. But it’s always a
group. People brought in tunes, and I picked the ones that I liked
best and thought we could have fun playing. Then we worked
them out by trial and error.”
Gadd’s assertion to the contrary, he has, as Goldings notes, “a
very convincing way of putting his own spin on something.” As
an example, the keyboardist mentions Gadd’s treatment of Keith
Jarrett’s “Country,” a ballad first recorded by Jarrett’s “European
Quartet” in 1978. “Steve likes to experiment with time signatures
and feels, and after a day of playing sort of as-is, in 4/4, he suggest-
ed we try it in three,” Goldings recalls. “He didn’t know the song,
wasn’t tied down to it, and wanted to do something different.”
Goldings describes another typical Gaddian turnabout, this one
occurring during a 2008 recording date for James Taylor’s Covers.
“One song we’d played for years had an iconic drumbeat, a heavy
tom-tom thing, and we listened back to the live version. But when
we started going for takes, Steve immediately went for his brushes,
almost the opposite thing, done beautifully, in this understated
way. Nobody said a thing. It just worked. … I think he has a sound in
his head, and he knows how to create it instantaneously. It’s one of
the mysterious things about him.”
Gadd’s biography — documented in dozens of articles and hun-
dreds of YouTube videos — is well-known. A native of Rochester,
New York, he’s held drumsticks literally since he learned to speak.
By age 7, the year he received his first drum set, he was tap danc-
ing publicly. While Gadd was still in grammar school, his father,
a drug salesman, and uncle, a semi-professional drummer who
taught him the rudiments, brought him to Sunday matinees at
the Ridgecrest Inn, a small club that hosted Dizzy Gillespie, Art
Blakey, Max Roach, Oscar Peterson, Carmen McRae and others as
they traversed the northeast circuit.
“You could sit next to the bandstand and watch them play,” says
Gadd, who also recalls the frequent presence of childhood friends Chuck
and Gap Mangione. “Sometimes they’d let the kids sit in. When I was
in high school, there were organ clubs that booked Jack McDuff, Groove
Holmes, George Benson and Hank Marr. You could sit in with them. I
loved that music. All this time, I was taking lessons, doing drum corps,
playing with the high-school concert band and stage band.”
In 1963, Gadd enrolled at Manhattan School of Music. After
two years, he transferred to Rochester’s Eastman Conservatory.
“Eastman had more orchestras and wind ensembles, so I had more
playing opportunities,” he recalls. “In Rochester, I started working
six nights a week with different bands so I could support myself
through college.” Upon graduation, Gadd, hoping to avoid combat
duty in Vietnam, auditioned for and was accepted in the Army
Field Band at Fort Meade, Maryland, where he spent the next three
years, the final two of them propelling a Woody Herman-Buddy
Rich-styled big band. “There were great writers who wrote new
arrangements every week for us to sight read,” he recalls. “I couldn’t
have gotten that kind of education anywhere else.”
The Good Life
In Paul Simon’s excellent film, One Trick Pony, which was
released in 1980, Steve Gadd plays Danny Duggin, a hard-
drinking, pot-smoking, cocaine-snorting, wisecracking, bad-
ass drummer. He’s acting, and acting well, but the character
reflects his lived experience.
“Those were the party years,” Gadd says of the ’70s and ’80s.
“Before the shit hit the fan and everyone went over the top
with it, we had a ball. We didn’t know you could get addicted
to this stuff. When I first started getting high, it was like I was
trying to stay awake so I could play with these different people
I’d always wanted to play with. Then at some point it got dark.
I went from using so I could work with these people to working
to use, and I didn’t even know when it changed. It got more
about the drugs than it did about the music.”
Now “in recovery” for about two decades, Gadd opines that
his sobriety is apparent in both his playing and his state of mind.
“I did things then that I can’t even remember doing,” he says.
“The things that I’m doing now are more a part of my life because
I feel like I’m there for them. I’m not totally numbed-out.”
Part of the routine that Gadd adopted after getting sober
in his 40s is regular exercise. At the beginning, he spent a lot
of time in the gym, doing both resistance and cardio training.
But now, especially when on the road, he concentrates on
cardio. “I prefer getting out of the room and jogging rather
than going into another small room in the hotel and using
machines,” he says. “It’s nice to be outside and get some air.
The resistance is important, but I don’t do as much weights
now as I used to. If I had time, I would.
“Playing big venues with loud bands is a workout. You
have to be in shape. The only way to really be ready for a gig
like that, endurance-wise, is to exercise. You can’ t practice
full-out for two-and-a-half hours. But if you run for 30 or 45
minutes or an hour, it helps you stay fit for that situation.
Walking my dogs is also good exercise.”
At 68, Gadd anticipates playing at a high level into his 80s.
“You have to realize that your body isn’t made of steel, and
you’ve got to eat for fuel, not necessarily just things that taste
good,” he says. “That can lengthen your quality of life. It could
affect how you play, too. We get old, but the body is pretty
resilient. It responds when you take care of it. How you treat
people, how you enjoy yourself, how you play music — how
you do everything — is all connected.” —TP
42 october 2013 jazziz
Gadd’s blend of formal education and practical experience helps to
explain his ability to elicit maximum results with a minimum of flash
and make a newly encountered piece of music sound like he’s been
playing it for years. “I came to New York having fun playing different
styles of music,” Gadd says. “I loved the kind of playing Tony Williams
and Jack DeJohnette did, but in New York I heard Rick Marotta, who
played simple but with a really deep groove. I didn’t understand that
kind of simplicity, but it challenged me. So I worked just as hard at
playing simple as playing complicated and playing fusion. Different
people were typecast as funk drummers, Latin guys, jazz guys. But I
didn’t like categories. As long as it was good music, I loved it.”
“I feel Steve came a lot out of Elvin [Jones] and applied it to fusion,”
says modern-day drum avatar Eric Harland. “It isn’t so much about
chops but the feel of the drums — solid, like earth.” Harland referenc-
es a YouTube video of a “drum battle” between Gadd, Dave Weckl and
Vinnie Colaiuta that concluded a 1989 Buddy Rich memorial concert.
“Chops-wise, Steve couldn’t compete with Dave and Vinnie. They
get around the drums like water. But when Steve comes in, he lays
down a groove that you swear you can hear people start screaming.
It was so moving, he didn’t need to play anything else. That comes
from within, like some samurai kung-fu shit, where you break the
laws, not with your body but your mind. In his minimalism, you get
the same feeling as if you’re watching a drummer do everything hu-
manly possible. That’s what I think amazes us. How did he make that
feel like I’m listening to Trane playing all the baddest shit or Tony
Williams playing the most incredible things, all over the drums?”
“Steve is all about the time,” says James Genus, fresh from playing
bass alongside Gadd nightly while touring with Quartette Humaine.
He describes Gadd’s feel as “in the middle or slightly behind the beat,
depending on what the music calls for. He can play with a click track
and make it swing — precise, but not rigid, with a human, natural
quality.” Sanborn elaborates on the observation: “At a turnaround or
some other point in a tune, he’ll speed it up or slow it down a bit, just
to make it breathe. But he never loses the pulse of where the click is.”
“Steve seems into understatement more than ever,” Goldings
says, and the drummer agrees. “I probably played busier when I was
younger,” Gadd says. “My goal was to give whoever hired me what
they wanted, so I’d get called back. I’d try busier fills — sometimes
they’d like it, sometimes it was too much. But it wasn’t about ego.
It was about trying to make the thing as good as it could be. It’s
challenging and fun to not just go up there and play everything
you know, but leave some room.”
Reflecting on their 39-year professional relationship, which
began with the 1974 CTI date One, Bob James observes that Gadd’s
approach has remained remarkably consistent. “Steve is a vir-
tuoso player, but he keeps his playing simple. To me, the virtuosity
comes across more in the fact that he plays every note just in the
right place, the right pocket.” As an example, James cites “Follow
Me,” from Quartette Humaine, on which Gadd keeps “the freight
train rolling through the different time signatures that appear in
practically every measure, making the rest of us feel as comfort-
able as it would have felt in 4/4 time.”
James also recalls Gadd’s legerdemain on a “repetitive, modal,
atmospheric” number called “The River Returns,” on the keyboard-
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ist’s 1997 album Playin’ Hooky. “He played one of his classic brush
beats that seemed to make everybody play better,” James says. “It
felt great, but I couldn’t figure it out until I listened to the drum
track during post-production and looked at the console needle that
shows volume levels. Slowly, imperceptibly, over five minutes, it
became louder and more intense. You could have made an amaz-
ing graph of its crescendo.”
Gadd’s dynamic control in live performance fascinates Sanborn,
who points to the peculiar bandstand sensation of “knowing that
Steve is hitting hard, but never feeling that the drums are too loud —
in fact, sometimes the opposite. He has an uncanny ability to blend
the sound of his drums with the group. He always does that unex-
pected thing that you never saw coming, always knows where he is
and what to do. You never feel he’s showboating.”
“I’m always aware of dynamics and space,” Gadd says. “It’s
not fun for me to start out at level 10 and stay there. It affects my
endurance. It affects the creativity. Without dynamics, you give
up the element of surprise. Starting simply gives you someplace to
go — you can explode, then get soft again. Using space can make
the notes that you play more interesting.”
When playing live, Gadd adds, he tries “to reach an agreement
with the sound guys to keep a balance in the monitors so that other
people on the bandstand can hear you when you’re playing soft.” He
continues: “When you feel you’re not being heard, the tendency is
to play loud, and the music goes right out the window. When guys
who can play can hear each other, the magic can take over. The more
you trust the sound, the more chances you take, and it can evolve
into something a little different every night. Of course some music
is meant to be played hard, at a louder volume, where you can get
away with just a strong backbeat. It’s all about communicating, and
understanding where you want to go with the music. You can’t give
up on it. You’ve got to keep always trying.”
If a musician’s sound mirrors their personality, then Gadd’s
results-oriented, team-first approach is of a piece with Goldings’
assessment that he is “very down to earth.” “Steve is one of the great
joke-tellers, and he puts a fantastic amount of detail and personality
into telling them,” Goldings says. “Perhaps that’s consistent with
the amount of subtle detail in his playing. He’s also very warm, and
sensitive to your moods. I had some personal things happen on the
road, and every other day or so he’d ask me how things were going.
I really appreciated that he wasn’t afraid of going there. He kind of
cuts through the bullshit.”
Indeed, Gadd showed similar concern for me when I called
him an hour before our scheduled interview to ask if we could
push back our conversation so that I could rush my just-injured
cat to the vet. He immediately assured me that he was available
all day and urged me to take my time. “You’ve got to take care of
your animals,” he said, noting that he himself “likes to hang out”
with his five dogs: two English bulldogs, a 90-pound American
bulldog-pit bull mix, a Yorkshire and a Morky (part Maltese,
part-Yorkshire). “Man, I love those guys,” he said. Five hours later,
at the conclusion of our discussion, Gadd said, “I’d like you to call
me and tell me how your cat is.”
Is it a stretch to extrapolate Gadd’s empathetic reflex to his
bandstand comportment? Perhaps. But it certainly doesn’t hurt. s
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Dave Koz & Friends
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Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot
Morris Day & The Time
Jonathan Butler • Yellowjackets
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The New Jazz Culture
With your subscription
you’ll receive…
• 2 CDs in EVERY Print Issue packed with wonderful
music from bright young stars like Hiromi and Michael
Bublé to legends like Sonny Rollins and Chick Corea.
• More pages than ever in the quarterly print magazine, filled with
beautiful art, photography and colorfully crafted stories about the music.
• Every MONTH you get a NEW interactive magazine — our Digital
Editions — that let you flip through pages, listen to hundreds of songs
and watch videos.
• Every DAY you can check out JAZZIZ Daily for updates and news about
the jazz world.
CALL NOW 1-800-742-3252 or
EMAIL [email protected]
“JAZZIZ is part of a new jazz culture,
a culture it helped create.”
—Successful Magazine Publishing
Over the past 30 years JAZZIZ has
earned its reputation as the undisputed
authority on jazz and style.
JAZZIZ Magazine is delivered in print, on disc and
online for subscribers only.
Join us today.
The New Jazz Culture
percussive accents with occasional bombas-
tic surges. With Fresu’s elegant, crystalline
tone leading the way, the Devil Quartet
mines a range of sonic emotions. On the
whole, the performances radiate an inher-
ently joyous spirit that underscores the trio’s
success in achieving an original and highly
inviting group sound. —Mark Holston
Jim Black
(Winter & Winter)
When approaching albums by drummer-led
ensembles, most
of us reflexively
assume the result
will be dominated
by rhythms, with
melody and har-
monics placed in
secondary positions.
But that’s definitely not the case with
Antiheroes, the latest from Jim Black and
his whimsically dubbed band AlasNoAxis.
Black’s beats establish a foundation, but
these eight numbers are fully realized
offerings that are more about patient, vivid
exploration than relentless forward motion.
Black clearly has tremendous confidence
in his AlasNoAxis mates: saxophonist/
longtime cohort Chris Speed, plus the
Icelandic twosome of guitarist Hilmar
Jensson and bassist Skúli Sverrisson (both of
whom likely felt very much at home while
cutting these tunes in a swimming-pool-
turned-studio on the outskirts of Reykjavik,
Iceland). As evidence, consider “Antihero,”
the elegiac opener. The piece begins with
the gentlest of plucking by Jensson and
Sverrisson, enhanced by Speed’s sympathet-
ic echoing. In the meantime, Black provides
the subtlest support imaginable, waiting
nearly two full minutes before producing
anything even resembling a backbeat. But
by lying back, he allows the piece to ripen
into a gorgeous and moving evocation.
There’s more drive at the heart of “Super
K’s” — appropriate given that it’s dedicated
to Kazu Makino, singer for the indie-rock
combo Blonde Redhead. Still, the tom-heavy,
distortion-friendly, stratosphere-scraping
momentum established by the players re-
tains shape and substance. The same is true
of “Marguay,” arguably the most aggressive
song here (Sverrisson’s burbling at its mid-
point is particularly thrilling), and “Square
Pegs,” which is characterized by lurching
shifts in dynamics. Yet the more deliberate
efforts — the witty, noirish “Tockle,” the
undulating “Much Better Now,” the strangely
episodic “Meowchless” — linger the longest,
covering so much territory that they encour-
age a listener to get totally, gloriously lost.
As a bandleader, Black puts the whole be-
fore the individual, and his selflessness pays
dividends, turning Antiheroes into a triumph
of upended expectations. —Michael Roberts
Oliver Jones, featuring Josée Aidans
Just for My Lady
(Justin Time)
Pairings of jazz and classical musicians
— pianist Claude
Bolling and flautist
Jean-Pierre Rampal,
guitarist Bill
Frisell and soprano
Renée Fleming, for
instance — have
produced memo-
rable recordings over the years. Such is
the case with pianist Oliver Jones and
violinist Josée Aidans. Jones, 79, who
comes from the same geographic and
musical place as Oscar Peterson, was
honored earlier this year when his visage
appeared on a Canadian postage stamp.
Aidans, a fellow Canadian, is a classically-
trained, non-improvising pop violinist
who spent several years accompanying
singer-songwriter Claude Dubois.
In typical Jones fashion, Just for My Lady,
the pianist’s 29th release on Justin Time
Records, swings from the rafters, with
48 october 2013 jazziz Photo by Roberto Chiovitti
Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet
Italy has produced an impressive crop of
young jazz trumpet-
ers in recent years,
among them Fabrizio
Bosso, Dominick
Farinacci and Paolo
Fresu. All can shift
easily from one
music idiom to the
next, tapping the essence of everything from
Euro-style acid jazz to Chet Baker-informed
balladry along the way. On Desertico, Fresu
and his Devil Quartet project a wide range
of moods on an 11-track program that slowly
but surely captures the listener’s attention via
evocative slow- and medium-tempo themes
and structurally complex arrangements.
The set’s two non-originals, The Rolling
Stones’ “Satisfaction” and the 1930s stan-
dard “Blame It On My Youth,” demonstrate
the quartet’s versatility. “Satisfaction,” a
surprising addition to a program that focuses
mostly on lyrical playing and understated
rhythmic settings, allows the quartet to
confirm its pop credentials via Fresu’s
processed effects and the rhythm section’s
ferocious attack. In contrast, “Blame It On My
Youth” — on which Fresu opts for a frosty,
muted sound — is rendered in a relaxed,
reverential fashion that underscores the
group’s mainstream jazz capabilities.
The rest of the program falls somewhere
between these two stylistic extremes.
Throughout, guitarist Bebo Ferra demon-
strates his strength as both an accompanist
and a lead voice. His solo on “La Follia
Italiana,” which begins as a lithesome ballad
before evolving into a rhythmically hot-
wired masterwork, is one of the date’s most
memorable. Bassist Paolino Dalla Porta and
drummer Stefano Bagnoli stand out as well.
Dalla Porta’s Afro-Caribbean, tumbao-style
ostinato lines propel many of the tracks
while Bagnoli balances crisp, minimalistic
Paolo Fresu
and pianist extraordinaire Jones, jazz is
every bit as close to perfection as it needs
to be. —James Rozzi
Alex Sipiagin
From Reality and Back
The latest studio recording by Alex Sipiagin
offers good news, bad
news and better news.
The good? For
From Reality and
Back, the trumpeter/
composer has at-
tracted absolutely
stellar accompanists.
The bad? Given the presence of big names
such as bassist Dave Holland, pianist Gonzalo
Rubalcaba (the man behind the 5Passion
imprint) and, by way of a tune written specifi-
cally for the project, guitarist Pat Metheny,
many listeners may be less interested in the
leader than in the supporting cast.
The better? Sipiagin manages not only
to keep pace with his more prominent
contemporaries, but he’s able to hold
center stage in their presence, enhancing
his own stature in the process.
Of course, Sipiagin is hardly a novice. He’s
recorded more than a dozen albums as a leader
and played alongside jazz icons (Michael
Brecker) and pop legends (Eric Clapton). Those
experiences serve him well on what’s arguably
his highest-profile effort to date.
Examples abound. “Around the Bend”
may feature gorgeously simpatico rhythms
courtesy of Holland and drummer Antonio
Sanchez, but it soars thanks to the contrast
between Sipiagin’s rich soloing and the
spikier lines of tenor saxophonist Seamus
Blake. “With the Tide” finds Sipiagin build-
ing on thrillingly exploratory Rubalcaba
passages, while the contrapuntal intricacies
of “End Of…” show off Sipiagin’s structural
verve and his way with a hotter tempo. And
“Chain Reaction” earns its moniker thanks
to a brassy riff that ratchets up the velocity
all the way to, and through, the finish line.
50 october 2013 jazziz
strong support from bassist Eric Lagacé and
drummer Jim Doxas. Atypical is the inclu-
sion of Aidans, whose silky tone and jaunty,
light touch evoke memories of violin lumi-
naries Stéphane Grapelli, Stuff Smith and
Johnny Frigo. With all of her “improvised”
solos hand-written by Jones, Aidans sounds
like a bona-fide jazz musician. Her pop
leanings have helped her perfect certain
techniques inherent to jazz violin, perhaps
best described by Stuff Smith himself: “You
can slur like a trombone, play staccato like a
trumpet or moan like a tenor.”
With a repertoire comprised mostly
of Jones originals (his three-part “The
Saskatchewan Suite” is a highlight) and
standards (“Lady Be Good” remains the es-
sential tour de force for jazz violinists), Jones,
Aidans and company produce a lengthy
and joyous set, indeed. Their medium and
uptempo swing numbers are charming,
their ballads beautiful.
Jazz has been described as “the imper-
fect art.” But in the hands of bandleader
Mack Avenue Records is proud to present the scintillating debut release by its very own
SuperBand, an all-star ensemble comprising many of the label’s most acclaimed artists. Recorded
live at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival, it documents the SuperBand’s debut performance.
The SuperBand is Gary Burton, Kevin Eubanks, Tia Fuller, Sean Jones, Cécile McLorin Salvant,
Evan Perri and Alfredo Rodríguez—all supported solidly by the rhythm section of Carl Allen,
Aaron Diehl and Rodney Whitaker.
MAC1076 MASB Horizontal Jazziz ad_02.pdf 8/19/13 2:52:16 PM
jazziz october 2013 51
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right for you. Lyric, Distributed by Phonak, LLC ©2013. All rights reserved. Jazziz Fall 2013
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Chick Corea
The Vigil
(Concord Jazz)
The Vigil is the latest title in 72-year-old
keyboardist Chick Corea’s extensive discog-
raphy. It’s also the name of his latest band, a
collective of mostly
far younger musi-
cians that on this
record includes bass-
ist Hadrien Feraud,
drummer Marcus
Gilmore, saxophon-
clarinetist Tim Garland, guitarist Charles
Altura, percussionist Pernell Saturnino and
Corea’s wife, vocalist Gayle Moran Corea.
Periodically, Corea’s restless spirit seems
to demand that he surround himself with
younger players to help him remain on the
cutting edge of jazz. Even so, it’s been years
since he had a stable band of youngsters to
interpret his high-intensity compositions.
On The Vigil, both they and a couple guests
rise to the challenge with aplomb.
Many songs, including the opening
“Galaxy 32 Star 4,” contain blistering
unison lines that hearken back to Corea’s
work in the early 1970s with Return to
Forever. In addition to the rock grooves,
disparate and effective Afro-Cuban
grooves permeate much of the repertoire.
As with nearly all of Corea’s music — from
solo piano pieces to large orchestral
works — the mechanics are always front
and center, at times causing a yearning
for more subtle moments. Still, The Vigil
is a well-balanced program of seven cuts,
including the beautifully flowing waltz
“Royalty” and the lovely bossa number
“Outside of Space” (featuring Gayle
Moran Corea’s lone appearance on the
album). The 18-minute “Pledge for Peace”
is a live acoustic tribute to the prayerful
endeavors of John Coltrane, appropriately
spotlighting guests Ravi Coltrane on tenor
saxophone and longtime Corea collabora-
tor Stanley Clarke on upright bass.
At times during the proceedings, Corea
nods to fusion bands Weather Report and
The Yellowjackets. His inclusion of Garland’s
forward-leaning playing adds an earnest
jazz feel to what largely seems like a Return
to Forever update. Yet, as always, Corea’s
compositions maintain a distinct sense of
theatrical bravado, incorporating the intri-
cate dramatic flourishes that have become
his hallmark. —James Rozzi
52 october 2013 jazziz Photo by Maarit Kytöharju
“Son, Uvedeny Posle (Dream Seen Later),”
from Metheny’s pen, is, in some ways, a mod-
est endeavor compared to Sipiagin’s composi-
tions. But the simplicity of its melody draws
out the trumpeter’s finest solo — one that’s
beautifully balanced, ripe without bursting.
This is an album that will make
Sipiagin’s name a lot easier to remember
next time around. And that’s the best
news of all. —Michael Roberts
Wadada Leo Smith & TUMO
Occupy the World
Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith’s
previous record was
a stunning four-disc,
tribute to various
milestones and heroes
of the civil rights
movement. Though
his latest effort — a
collaboration with the 21-member Nordic
improvising collective TUMO — has no unify-
ing theme and stretches over merely two discs,
Smith’s work is no less intense and inspiring.
Smith’s blend of free jazz and contem-
porary classical music unfolds in chapters.
“Crossing On a Southern Road,” dedicated
to the late saxophonist and Smith’s close
friend Marion Brown, suggests a journey
that’s nostalgic, bittersweet and more than
a little treacherous. “Occupy the World for
Life, Liberty and Justice,” inspired by the
worldwide Occupy movement protests
that began in 2011, is by turns somber and
celebratory, contemplative and bombastic.
Smith injects surprising juxtapositions
into his arrangements. Dissonant strings
and horns glow underneath a swinging
rhythm on “Mount Kilimanjaro”; electric
guitars provide a spiky edge to “Crossing On
a Southern Road.” And for all the complexity,
Smith makes great use of silence. Along with
providing relief from so much tension, those
empty spaces allow soloists or the entire
ensemble to begin building to another cli-
max. Smith himself takes advantage of these
interstices to craft beautiful, yearning solos
on “The Bell – 2” and “Occupy the World.”
Like all of Smith’s best work, this
outing is dense, challenging and utterly
profound. Just sit back and revel in his
genius. —John Frederick Moore
Wadada Leo Smith
The Shops at Boca Center on Military Trail
[email protected]

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