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Jazz Artist Interviews (709)

Get up close and personal with your favorite jazz artists!

I have always thought that Randy Crawford was the most undiscovered smooth jazz vocalist in the U.S. Most smooth jazz radio stations do not play her releases and I can't understand why they don't. She has always been the most consistent vocalist in the genre today, yet has a stronger following outside the United States. She has already recorded some classic smooth jazz tracks like the cover of Bob Dylan's, "Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door," with David Sanborn, "Street Life," with Joe Sample and the Cr …
Jay Graydon is a much-celebrated artist wearing many hats, producing a staggering body of work that encompasses a full spectrum of disciplines in the music industry. This body of work transcends rock, pop and jazz with equal vigor and success. Mr. Graydon has been awarded two Grammy wins and ten more nominations for songwriting, performance, arranging, engineering and production duties. While somewhat an enigma, Jay is like a cat with nine lives, always re-inventing himself while landing on his …
29.01.2011

Kaïssa Doumbé

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Every once in a while, it’s interesting, and gratifying, to interview an artist who seems to be on the verge of discovery by the larger listening public. Such a person is Kaïssa Doumbé. Since she is known professionally and to her devoted listeners as Kaïssa, many people don’t even know her last name. Furthermore, American audiences may not even be able to understand the words she sings. But they do know that she reaches out to embrace universal topics that instinctively touch her them with …
All music derives from song, the voice, being the first instrument of all, and jazz is no exception. Jazz Musicians seek their own sound, a distinctive quality, a recognizable character, a voice, with much the same meaning as that given to it by poets. So, its not surprising that Janis Siegel one of the most distinctly compelling jazz singers on the scene, with a quality that can’t be bought or borrowed, faked, or sold. Start with Carole King and Gerry Goffins’ "Go Away Little Boy." Add …
New York City was the attraction that tenor/soprano saxophonist, Marcus Strickland, was drawn to like a magnet. Relocating from his hometown in Miami, Florida, New York dangled the proverbial jazz carrot that would further his musical education and place him smack-dab in the heart of America’s jazz scene. Since moving there in 1997, Strickland has be seen at notable jazz spots around town, like the evening I saw him at the Blue Note playing with Tom Harrell. Marcus immediately caught my attentio …
Pianist Lynne Arriale believes "singing to oneself is very important to have a vocal quality to the music, but more than a vocal quality, a heart connection." It is this heart connection she is delivering to her audiences in live performances, and in her trio’s new release Inspiration on TCB records. Critics dubbed her "the new queen" of the Montreux Jazz Festival after her performance there in 1999. Her technique may dazzle, but her ability to connect with and hold an audience is what se …
A famous trumpeter once said, "The first thing we must keep in mind about a musician is that the music he plays is a reflection of his true self." His music may not be what you, the listener, think he is, but truly, he can no more escape himself through his playing than we can escape the contingent world in which we are placed. A good example is Mike Longo; His music reflects his true character. Listening to his music tells you he is uninhibited, outgoing, gregarious, funny, and at the same …
A single label can’t confine Claire Ritter. She’s a pianist and a composer and a teacher. Her music isn’t strictly jazz, nor is it purely classical. It’s her own 'Ritter'ary style. While most artists are satisfied with releasing their CDs one at a time, Ritter goes against convention and gives us two. She recently released both "River of Joy," a largely solo piano project, and "Castles in the Air," an ambitious multi-instrumental recording, featuring bassist Steve Swallow among others. B …
Peter Martin wears a lot of hats these days. The 30-year old solo artist, composer, leader, and New Orleans-based pianist for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, has just released, "Something Unexpected," his debut CD for the MaxJazz label. Martin has worked with are Wynton Marsalis (in the Lincoln Center group), Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman and Nicholas Payton. He is currently on tour with Dianne Reeves’ group. "Something Unexpected" was recorded live at Jazz at the Bis …
29.01.2011

George McRae

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"Give me a steady paycheck and I’ll be the happiest guy in the world." Those words are in the introduction to and the impetus for Chicago keyboardist George McRae’s record label (Affinity Jazz) and website www.affinityjazz.com. "The only way to truly follow my vision was to do it myself." On his second album "Being Here", McRae utilizes the Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, and Wurlitzer organs to create some funky, tight songs. It’s a surprisingly focused album for a sophomore release, especially fo …
Diane Schuur stands as one of jazz music’s top vocalists, her competition being no less than divas Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Since being discovered by Stan Getz at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1979, Schuur has built an impressive and inspiring career, including winning two Grammy Awards. Blinded at birth in a hospital accident, Schuur also received the prestigious Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award in 2000. For many of her fans, a highlight in her career is the s …
Nnenna Freelon’s profile has been on the rise among jazz listeners, as well as among the general listening public. Part of the reason may lie in the integrity that she projects through her music and her choice of songs. Another part of her growing popularity may lie in her interest in the universal themes all people share, such as spirituality, mutual respect and human growth, both physical and emotional. In addition, Freelon’s appearance with Take 6 during the 2001 Grammy Awards’ program ge …
New York has many fine guitar players. Mark Elf is one of the finest bop players on the scene today. His resume reads like a who’s who of jazz including work with Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath and others. Mark Elf’s string of six consecutive #1 recordings since 1997, have established him as a major player and composer. He is currently completing his eighth album as a leader on Jen Bay Records, a label he founded in 1995. I talked with him recently abo …
"Without some discomfort there is no growth." Witness an album like "Wide Open Spaces" and you'll know what this means. There's certainly no discomfort in listening to it. It’s an anthem to the restlessness that drives improvisational music to those unquantifiable, unexpected qualities that make it unique and alive, often surprising even its purveyors as they create it. Michael Formanek is a musician/composer first and bassist by choice. Or as he said, "It chose me." He has had the fortu …
If you want the "regular" with a side of cookie-cutter smooth jazz sorry, that’s one thing bassist David Dyson won’t serve you! The main ingredient this young talent pours in all of his work is a large dose of musical integrity. Sure integrity might feel good to the soul, but does it pay the rent? Well, it has been for over a decade as Dyson has worked with a range of artists including the legendary Chico Freeman, Walter Beasley, Pieces of a Dream, Me’shell N’degeocello and The New Kid …
Although, the average jazz listener might not recognize her name, pianist, producer and bandleader, Lesette Wilson, is a highly respected artist in the music business. Names like Me’lissa Morgan, Tom Browne and Genobia Jeter have all relied on her songwriting and producing talents. Other artists including Chaka Khan, Billy Ocean, Noel Pointer, Bobbi Humphrey and Stanley Turrentine have depended on her as a keyboardist and musical director for their concert tours. Still unfamiliar? Well, mayb …
Bill Charlap has been quietly and conscientiously paying his dues for years, accompanying the likes of Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Carol Sloane, Tony Bennett and Gerry Mulligan. With an unpretentious, swinging style that combines intricate delicacies with personalized interpretation, Charlap has shown respect for the origins of the materials he plays--that of the composers themselves. That makes sense when you consider that Charlap’s father was a composer himself. Moose Charlap wrote the scores …
29.01.2011

Wayman Tisdale

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Reaching the heights of success in two worlds is a feat that few people can accomplish while keeping a level head and staying true to themselves. On his aptly titled Atlantic Records album Decisions, Wayman Tisdale has reached that level and affirmed his position in the big leagues of jazz with the talent and heart to back him up. Tisdale, a former Phoenix Suns forward and 12-year NBA veteran, has traded in his hi-tops and hoops jersey for a life in recording studios and smokey jazz clubs. L …
The fact that Frode Gjerstad’s photo doesn’t automatically come to mind for those familiar with the free jazz family tree doesn’t daunt the affable Norwegian. Even in his own small country where the melodic work of international star Jan Garbarek is the norm, the fire breathing alto saxophonist was ignored for years. "Jan was the role model," says Gjerstad without a trace of bitterness. "I was a bit of a loner, I guess." But perseverance does sometimes pay off, and in 1997 Norway’s Jazz Feder …
On her new CD, singer Kitty Margolis draws listeners into her world. "Left Coast Life" (Mad-Kat Records) is Margolis’ fourth recording and her most personal to date. Using a mix of original songs, pop standards and unconventional covers, the San Francisco-based vocalist illuminates and celebrates the attitudes and characters found out West. "Jaded poseur modern cool," she writes in "You Just Might Get It. "Style over substance is the cardinal rule." Each song - whether its Frank Loesser’ …