Kansas City Star on jazz tribute shows

Click the link to read the whole thing. I love the last line of the quote.

Too many jazz tribute shows leave little room for innovation – Kansas City Star:

“Concert and club presenters sometimes fret that jazz doesn’t bring in crowds like it used to. But is booking tribute shows the way to bring the crowds back or to build a new audience for the future?

Some tribute shows make a populist appeal. (Hear the Sinatra hits! Hear swing played the way it used to be played!) Some try to serve as gateways to greater jazz appreciation. (Celebrate the 80th anniversary of the classic recordings by Blind Willie Dunn’s Gin Bottle Four! Hear an evening of Wayne Shorter’s music played by people whose fees are lower than his!)”

(Via @accujazzradio.)

Are The Meters jazz?

It was my turn to cook dinner for the family tonight. I had my iPod on shuffle, and “People Say” by The Meters was playing while I waited at the Taco Bell window for our food. The lady (shift manager at Taco Bell) stuck her head out and said, “oooh, you listening to some jazz tonight?” All I could muster in response was, “yeah, well, some Meters.”

Prior to that moment, jazz and The Meters occupied fairly different parts of my genre consciousness, but maybe they are pretty much the same thing to the general public.* That made me wonder, “are The Meters jazz?” What does it mean if they are? What does it mean if they aren’t? Does it matter?

I consider myself a jazz musician essentially (at least when I am forced to chose a side in the genre wars), AND I play in George Porter’s band, The Runnin’ Pardners.** George is one of The Meters, and we play some of those tunes. I don’t suffer any existential angst while doing that, it is actually quite fun. Does the word jazz even mean anything any more (did it ever)? To the lady at Taco Bell, The Meters sounded like jazz, I hold up Ornette Coleman as one of my favorite jazz musicians, yet I am sure it would be quite easy find someone to tell me that neither of those are jazz (or even very close to jazz).

Does genre segregation help us find other music we will like, or does it saddle us with unnecessary (and counter-productive to musical enjoyment) expectations, or both? No conclusions yet, just thinking out loud (or at least in writing).

* I have long maintained that genre segregation is bad, and will write at length about it at some point.

** BTW George Porter & the Runnin’ Pardners are playing Aug 6 in NOLA and AUG 8 near Denver, come say “Hi!”

Low notes at the HiHo on Wednesday July 22

I just got this note from bassist Bill Hunsinger:

Hello Jeff, Tell all bass players and hipsters that “Contra Contra Contra” (Bill Hunsinger, Jeb Stuart) w/guest Steve Bertram on bassoon & contrabassoon will be playing. Also new Dry Bones Trio (my group w/Rob Cambre) w/Simon Lott.

I’m not sure that all that many hipsters or bass players read SMB, but those of you that do have been duly notified. Any non-hipster, non-bass player types that are reading this should probably make an effort to check it out as well. Good musicians usually lead to interesting music.

Wednesday, July 22, at the HiHo Lounge on St Claude Ave (a block off of Elysian Fields) in New Orleans.

Lucky 7s review in Jazzman

If I don’t take bad reviews too seriously, then I shouldn’t get TOO excited about really good reviews, but I like this Jazzman review of Pluto Junkyard.


Born in 2006 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the resulting migration of some New Orleans musicians to Chicago, Lucky 7s is a collaboration between mainstays of the Chicago creative scene (including trombonist Jeb Bishop, cornetist Josh Berman, and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, all of whom are active in the scene around Ken Vandermark and Rob Mazurek) and trombonist Jeff Albert, together with his New Orleans rhythm section of bassist Matthew Golombisky and drummer Quin Kirchner.

The music starts off in somewhat familiar territory: sinuous melodies dressed up in virtuosic arrangements, with particular emphasis on expressionistic brass outbursts, while a dreamlike vibraphone, supported by a fluid, constantly swinging rhythm section, opens new harmonic perspectives. But the record — whose dramatic progression is masterfully conceived — quickly frees itself from a certain distanced postmodernism that has become common today, in favor of honest, unpretentious jazz playing.

Recapitulating, in a very personal way, not just the entire history of modern jazz (from free jazz to the “loft generation”) but also the various readings of that history that musicians like Tim Berne and Ken Vandermark have contributed over the last twenty years, Lucky 7s create kaleidoscopic, brilliant music that is both sophisticated in its constant formal transformations and immediately accessible, due to its emotional commitment and the exemplary technical ability of each of the players. Brimming with intelligence, life, and emotion throughout, this recording is a deep breath of fresh air.

Hart McNee (1943 – 2009)

I got this email from Benjamin Lyons this morning:

Hart McNee May 5, 1943-July 14, 2009

Our dear friend Hart McNee passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family and friends, after a long illness.

There will be a memorial at 5 PM this Saturday, July 18 at the Sound Café (corner of Port and Chartres Streets) and there will be a second line in Hart’s honor to be scheduled in the fall.


Hart was a truly beautiful person and musician. He was always a joy to be around, and never lacked a smile. The last time I saw him he was starting to show outward signs of his illness, but was happy and laughing and still the life of the party. He will be dearly missed.

This past december Hart played an Open Ears show. He played bass flute for the entire gig. It was great. Check out the audio here.

new eMusic album scheme

eMusic has started a policy that makes many albums cost 12 credits, regardless of the number of tracks (they used to just count tracks instead of “credits”). That is cool if it is an albums with 17 tracks, but a drag if the album has only 7 tracks. They also now have some tracks that are album only (oddly mostly tracks over 10 minutes, much like iTunes).

So if you want to take advantage of the new catalog and get some old Columbia sides, like I Sing The Body Electric maybe, the numbers break down like this.

Old way: 7 tracks for 7 credits, which cost you roughly $0.30 each. You can choose which tracks you do or don’t want.

New way: 6 tracks for 6 credits, which cost you roughly $0.50 each, and an additional 6 credits if you also want “Medley” which is track 5. If you want “Medley” at all you must buy the other six tracks. I’m not sure that there is anything special about “Medley” other than the fact that it is 10:40 long.

It seems that most of the “album only” stuff is about the length of the track. If someone can explain to me how this is better, I might not cancel my subscription when it runs out next month.