To jazz lovers the name of saxophonist and flutist Jeff Coffin should not be new. In addition to his 14 years spent as a member of Bela Fleck’s band, Coffin has worked with others like Dave Matthews and spent a lot of time working in studios for artists like Delbert McClinton, Brooks & Dunn and Marc Broussard. For this three-time Grammy winner, Coffin’s newest recording is a two-disc set gathered from live concerts in Illinois and Texas with his musicians while on tour in 2010 and 2011.
Founder and Director of the Program in Jazz Studies, and Associate Director of the Program in Musical Performance at Princeton University, Anthony Branker also directs ensembles and teaches courses in jazz theory, improvisation and composition, jazz performance practice in historical and cultural context, jazz composition, and jazz history. A U.S. Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn, Estonia, Branker has previously been a member of the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, Rutgers University, Hunter College, Ursinus College, and the New Jersey Summer Arts Institute.
Philippines born, Boston raised, now New York based guitarist, composer, arranger, producer and teacher Ron Jackson has spent time playing with a number of different artists. Among these are James Spaulding, Taj Majal, The Boys Choir of Harlem, Cecil Brooks III, Jimmy McGriff, Cissy Houston, Ralph Peterson, Russell Malone, Larry Coryell, Don Braden, Benny Golson, Randy Weston, Ron Carter, and Oliver Lake, to list just a few.
Bassist, cellist and composer Buell Neidlinger, born in 1936, came up by playing with Herbie Nichols, Oran “Hot Lips” Page, and Vic Dickenson, among others. With his apprenticeships done, Neidlinger started working with artists like Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Rex Stewart and for seven years with pianist Cecil Taylor. After a stint in Sir John Barbirolli’s Houston Symphony, Neidlinger returned to New York in 1965 to work with composers like George Crumb and John Cage. Further work included time with the Berkshire Music Center Orchestra, one Igor Stravinsky’s chamber ensembles, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A move to California in 1971 to teach at CalArts led to eventually joining the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and work in West Coast studios.
Music is a funny business. There are so many incredibly talented musicians that never get the respect they are due, and conversely there are a number of musicians of rather average ability who get way more than there 15 minutes of fame. On the front end of that equation is the incredibly talented jazz pianist Sir Roland Hanna.
Rick Braun, in October 2011 issue of JazzTimes magazine, admitted what those who are in the smooth jazz business end have known for a while, notably the demise of commercial radio and its commercial music business. He admits the good side of this is that, “there’s no pressure on the artists to come up with radio-play hits anymore.” With both of the above facts now in play, there has been a mad scramble going on among record companies and artists.
Vocalist Tony Adamo’s new CD, What Is Hip?, is a funkified and deeply rhythmic locked affair with some of the best musicians of the day. Put together by master guitarist and producer Jerry Stucker, this horn-laden album reminds one of the early days of Tower Of Power (TOP) brought up to date by modern sensibilities. Some of the big names assisting Adamo include master drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist and Headhunter Bill Summers, trumpeters Mic Gillette, Henry Hung, and Eddie Henderson, as well as TOP bari saxophone soul man Stephen “Doc” Kupka and keyboardist Rodney Franklin.
After a number of recent recordings that were average at best, George Benson has released his best recording in well over a decade. Guitar Man reminds everyone that George Benson used to be considered the finest guitarist of his generation. An exceptional melodic improviser of the highest level and refinement, Benson plays his heart out, and the result will most certainly be one of the top 10 discs of not just this year, but probably this coming decade.
Zagreb Croatia native, pianist and composer Matija Dedic earned a collegiate degree from the Jazz Academy in Graz, Austria. Dedic comes from a musical family; his father received musical awards and his mom sang with Louis Armstrong and Phil Woods. Some of Dedic's piano teachers have included jazz stalwarts Hal Galper and Barry Harris. Among the musicians Dedic has played with are Benny Golson, Kenny Burrell, Roy Haynes, Alvin Queen, Lenny White and Larry Grenadier. As a composer Dedic has written for television, the theatre and some Croatian pop artists. M.D. in NYC is his second release as a leader.
There have always been bands of superstar jazz musicians. Usually put together by a producer, witness the Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Deron Johnson & Najee Live At The Greek tour, or a record company, witness the 1970s CTI label-mate concerts, but a band of superstars who come together on a regular basis is almost unheard of. That has all changed with the SF Jazz Collective.