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The prospects weren't promising—a rare combo mix, mostly original tunes, relatively unknown musicians, and a Scandinavian recording label. Shudder. The last group of young Northern Europeans I'd heard had me torn between boredom and suicide. Surprise! The trio sound works, the originals are strong, the musicians are first class, and the audio quality is just fine.

 

2011 Tanglewood Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival, September 2-4

Judy Carmichael's Jazz Inspired with actress Blythe Danner and special guests from the worlds of Jazz, Broadway, and Hollywood to take place September 3 at 2pm

Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, and Lizz Wright Featured in Sing the Truth with all-star band Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, James Genus, Munyungo Jackson, and Romero Lubambo on September 4 at 8pm

A Latin Jazz Tribute to Cachao with Federico Britos Sextet and John Santos Sextet to take place September 3 at 8pm

Coast to Coast Septet featuring NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb with vocalist Mary Stalings and the Mingues Orchestra with conductor NEA Jazz Master Gunther Schuller to Perform September 4, at 2pm

Festival Opens with Ulysses Quartet (6:30 pm) and the Robin McKelle Quartet and Michael Kaeshammer Sextet (8pm) on September 2

2011 NEA Jazz Masters Life award provides additional Festival Activities including Interviews with Jimmy Cobb and Gunther Schuller (9/3. At 4:15pm), Screening of Charles Mingus "Epitaph" (9/3, at 4:15pm), and Master Class with Jimmy Cobb and Coast to Coast Septet (9/4, at 12:30pm)

Taking place in conjunction with the annual Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival, the Wine and Food Classic returns to Tanglewood September 1-4

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.

 

Alto saxophonist and composer Libby Richman's abilities are easily seen in her winning two Meet The Composer grants and one New England Foundation On The Arts grant. Originally from Indiana, she earned her degree from the University of Massachusetts and now lives and works in the New York area. Among the artists she has worked with include The Duprees, The Earls, Leslie Gore, The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Martha Reeves and The Shirelles. Open Strings is Richman's third release as a leader.

 

NEW YORK, N.Y – Conversation overheard at the Rose Club of the Plaza Hotel, New York City, between a fifty-something guy with a suit jacket speaking to a pretty, twenty-something girl in a short black cocktail dress, setting up a mixer, speakers, lights and microphone: Guy – “I’m a road manager for rock & roll bands and I have never seen anybody as dressed up as you setting up gear.” Girl – “Yeah well, that’s what jazz in New York City will get you.” New York City; the Big Apple, the old New Amsterdam, the Place To Be in music and art, is now and probably forever will be Jazz Central. And now bassist extraordinaire Robert Hurst brings his quartet to play four shows at Jazz Standard, one of New York City’s premier jazz establishments. Joining Hurst at these shows will be Lawrence Fields on piano, Rafael Statin on saxophone, and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums.Watts is widely hailed in jazz circles as the only drummer to appear on every Grammy Award winning record by both Wynton and Branford Marsalis. “Tain” has also manned the drum kit behind George Benson, Betty Carter, and Alice Coltrane, among many others. Pianist Fields and saxophonist Statin balance the youthful side of the jazz equation with the veterans Hurst and Watts. Statin, a 21 year old wunderkind, hails from Hurst’s hometown of Detroit, Michigan, attended the Detroit School Of Arts and played with the Detroit Symphony Jazz Orchestra while still in high school. Influenced by everyone from John Coltrane to Kenny Garrett and everything from blues, gospel and funk to Asian-Japanese music, Statin brings a wealth of experience to the quartet that belies his age. Fields, a native of St. Louis, is a graduate of the Berklee College Of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he played stand-out shows with the 2006 Berklee Monterey Quartet in that California city’s far famed jazz fest. It is a natural for Hurst, a tenured associate professor in the Department of Jazz and Improvisation at the University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to bring these young musicians into his band. Robert’s career has long included an educational aspect, teaching younger players by experience and example what a life in jazz on the road has taught him. Jazz Standard, located at 116 East 27th Street (between Park and Lexington), presents an extraordinary mix of world-class entertainment, pitch-perfect sound and warm hospitality. One of Jazz Standard’s innovations is an earlier start time for sets – 7:30 pm – in order to cater to New York City’s vibrant after work scene. Another enticing feature of Jazz Standard is the award-winning barbecue of upstairs restaurant Blue Smoke that is served at the club, along with their signature specialty drinks, beer, wine and cocktails. The Robert Hurst Quartet will appear Tuesday and Wednesday August 2nd and 3rd, with two shows nightly at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. More information can be found and ticket reservations can be made at www.jazzstandard.com. Admission is $25. For more information on Robert Hurst, please visit www.roberthurst.com Media contact: Mark Gurley, President M&M Booking Ph: (347) 223-8323 Email: markbooksjazz(at)gmail.com # # #

Harmonica master Toots Thielemans deserves all the accolades and honors a giant in the jazz field has earned when they reach the level of old-guard master. His sound is just as distinctive, as pure, as vibrant and as alive as when he was a young firebrand playing an instrument more associated with honky-tonks and low class dives than the sweetness that jazz represents. That Thielemans has single-handedly made the harmonica his own within the world of jazz could only be due to the fact he is, both harmonically and rhythmically, rooted in the tradition of the music. In addition, the ease of his melodic grace is both effortless and transcendent of any preconceived conceptual ideas anyone might bring to bear in association with the harmonica. In Theilemans' hands, the instrument is, in its own right, a clear representative of the best jazz has to offer.

Tributes have become staples of the jazz industry. On this 2011 effort, laudable Italian pianist Roberto Magris pays homage to late, great hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan who died from a gunshot wound in 1972 at New York City's Slugs jazz venue. The trumpeter's stylistic fusion of R&B and groove-oriented patterns set his craft apart from many peers, in addition to his fluidly melodic phrasings and largely memorable compositions. Here, Magris leads a young band, featuring renowned jazz drummer, Albert "Tootie" Heath (Heath Brothers).

 

The Jazz Cruise 2012 is getting ready to sail, Jan. 20 through Feb. 5. The Cruise has bern heralded as having the finest lineup of  "Straight-Ahead" jazz performers ever assembled.

Sunset Jazz at Newport, featuring straight ahead jazz performed by top jazz performers, begins July 6 and will continue for 11 summer Wednesday nights at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel in Southern California.