I’ve been a fan of Miles Okazaki since the first note of his album Mirror gracefully filled my ear-lobes lifting me to another musical atmosphere. I find that Miles Okazaki’s music – more so than any other contemporary jazz musician – is accepted by almost anyone who hears it no matter their affiliation or taste. I attribute this to the purity of the concepts and focus on aural pleasure. In this piece, Okazaki and his ensemble embrace the inherent joy of listening to music by taking a melodic structure and spinning a remarkably complex and unpredictable web. Here is a teaser for his new album Figurations. This album was released May 8, 2012 and is a live recording featuring an ensemble of improvisational masters including saxophonist Miguel Zenon, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Dan Weiss.
In music built heavily on structure — mixed meter, long lines, counterpoint — the trick is to make it flow and sound natural, connected to the body. That’s what this quartet does, and each part of “Figurations” is elegant, precise, dramatic and well played. . . It’s a cerebral but warm record, and each part sounds wholly different from the last. Mr. Okazaki plays here with the saxophonist Miguel Zenón, the bassist Thomas Morgan and the drummer Dan Weiss. They’re equals in the project, inhabiting the music. Watch this band.
Thanks to the NPR blog a blog supreme I came across this podcast the Jazz Session.
A little bit of background on the blog and its creator Jason Crane.
Since its inception in 2007, there have been more than 1.7 million downloads of The Jazz Session episodes. The Jazz Session focuses on in-depth interviews with jazz musicians, along with occasional interviews with producers, authors and others in the jazz world. The show’s mission is to chronicle the lives and opinions of musicians who make creative improvised music, without regard to artificial genres or labels. Every episode of the show is available here at thejazzsession.com for free. You can also subscribe for free via iTunes or an RSS reader.
Jason Crane was born in 1973 in Lenox, Massachusetts, home of Tanglewood and former home of the famed Music Inn and the Lenox School of Jazz. He began his career as a soprano sax player in jazz, latin jazz and funk bands in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and on Hilton Head Island. Jason also worked as an on-air host for KUAT and KUAZ in Tucson, AZ; as a news announcer for Bloomberg Radio in Tokyo, Japan; as Tokyo business correspondent for NPRâ€™sMorning Edition; and at WXXI in Rochester, NY. From 2001-2004, Jason was station manager and jazz host atJazz90.1 in Rochester, NY. In 2005, Jason hosted The Jason Crane Show, a progressive political talk show on Rochester’s Air America affiliate.
Ok, If you are familiar with Reggae and Dub than you know this is a classic but it doesn’t matter. It’s a classic for a reason and always worthy of mention. Jackie Mittoo is to Reggae and Dub what Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Larry Young, Chick Corea, and the like, are to Jazz. He was THE Keyboardist. This album shows why. The way he paces his playing, knowing precisely when to come to the forefront or disappear into the back. Keep in mind how when he disappears into the back he is actually still right in the front. He has this insane ability to make you think he’s not playing anymore.
This track showcases his moody and distant washes as well as his knack for some good old finger dancing magic.
In 1987, Miles Davis was invited to a White House dinner by Ronald Reagan. Few of the guests appeared to know who he was. During dinner, Nancy Reagan turned to him and asked what he’d done with his life to merit an invitation. Straight-faced, Davis replied: “Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the president?”
Jeremy Taylor & Friends // Reggae Interpretation of Kind of Blue (Recorded in 1981. Released in 2009)
Jeremy Taylor, a music professor at NYU and jazz musician himself had this to say in his 1979 book, “A Space Between:”
My first trip to Jamaica (May 1977) was the most eye-opening musical experience of my life. I met so many incredible players who had been brushed off by the snobby musical establishment…..I had to find a way to showcase their unparalleled talent in a different medium and this was the spark that lit the fire to create this reggae tribute to Miles Davis’ best selling jazz album of all time.
Now, I normally regard albums like this as throw-away camp but in this case it’s truly a great album and it really showcases the talent these Jamaican musicians had and still have.
So, for those Jazz fans completely unfamiliar to Reggae this is a perfect place to start.
*Note: The heavy vinyl crackle passes after about 30 seconds
Just some amazing Public Murals from the U.S and Europe.
Car Park // Neptune Hotel // Bergen, Norway
A mural painted on the wall of the underground car park of the Neptune Hotel in Bergen, Norway. This one is Billie Holliday, it’s a reversal of the iconic Gottlieb pic from the American jazz magazine ‘Downbeat’, published in February 1947. Visible to guests only, by loan of an access key from Reception.
Ridge on the Rise // Eric Okdeh // Philadelphia, Pa
This story – telling mural – includes Cecil Moore, people at the wall of Girard college, Pearl theatre where jazz greats like John Coltrane performed. In the mural, the art deco façade of the long gone theatre contrasts with the forbidding ten foot stone wall that still encloses the grounds of Girard College, location of the landmark civil rights struggle.”