Modern jazz lost one of its greats a few days ago. Take some time to search the web to read about pianist Chick Corea’s amazing, 60-year career. Like all jazz greats, Corea collaborated with many, many fellow artists, and in his case a who’s who of the genre. Below are just a few – and I’m leaving out his jazz fusion defining work with Miles Davis!
One of his earliest collaborations was on Stan Getz’s 1967 album, Sweet Rain. The album represented a move in a modern jazz direction for Getz following years of bossa nova innovations. Corea not only played on the album, but wrote two of the tracks, including “Windows”. Here are Getz and Corea performing that song live in 1972, featuring bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Tony Williams.
In that same year of 1972, Chick formed the band Return to Forever with Stanley and others. They recorded two albums that year, the second of which featured “Spain”, perhaps Corea’s best known composition. Here is a live performance of the song from 1975 featuring several of that year’s DownBeat magazine’s best jazz musician poll winners. OMG. Stanley Clarke, George Benson on guitar, Hubert Laws on flute, Lenny White on drums, and listen to what Bill Waltrous can do on a trombone (2:40)! (you may have to do a “double click” to get to this video, but it’s worth it).
Chick’s collaborations with vibes master Gary Burton spanned over 40 years. Their first album together was 1973’s Crystal Silence, and their last was 2012’s Hot House (see this post from a few years ago). Here’s an intimate two-song set from the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series, starting with “Love Castle” from their 2008 collaboration The New Crystal Silence, and the title track from the original Crystal Silence.
In December 2019 the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz held its International Guitar Competition in Washington D.C. The Institute, named for Thelonious Monk until this past year, has held competitions going back to 1987 honoring young singers and musicians. This year’s winner was 30-year old Russian phenom Evgeny Pobozhiy.
A few years ago Evgeny recorded this performance of his composition “the Aether”. Joining him were two fellow Russian jazz artists and Italian bassist Federico Malaman.
In this more recent recording of his composition “Calumet”, Evgeny starts to show off his chops at about 2:00. Later in the track you’ll hear a sax solo by Brandon Fields, a session man who’s played with dozens of stars from Ray Charles to Stanley Clarke to Earth Wind and Fire.
In this video we add another young jazz powerhouse, 24-year old bassist Mohini Dey from Mumbai Oh my goodness. Rolling Stone wrote Mohini up as an artist to watch in 2012 when she was 15.
And check out this amazing duet with the aforementioned Federico Malaman.
Over the past few years I’ve come across a few artists that have taken places among my favorites. So this week I’m checking out what’s new with Lake Street Dive, Snarky Puppy and Chris Thile.
In an amazing convergence, Chris Thile performed with Snarky Puppy at a recent live show. Chris jumps in to play jazz mandolin at about 2:30. You’ll hear Snarky Puppy’s band leader Michael League say, “We got six minutes, Chris Thile you got four-and-a-half!”. Suitable homage from one supremely talented musician to another.
Chris also dropped by the Steven Colbert show where he played his Punch Brothers song “My Oh My” with Jon Batiste & Stay Human. You don’t often get to see Stay Human play a full song, so check out their work including Batiste’s fantastic piano accompaniment. You’ll see why Thile exclaims “This band!”.
Lake Street Dive’s members seem to have taken time over the winter for some side projects. Listen to Rachel Price tap into her jazz roots with a 1930’s Gershwin Brothers tune, in a duet with Brooklyn-based guitarist/singer Vilray.
And LSD’s base player, song writer, backing singer and all around super talented Bridget Kearney put out her own album “Won’t Let You Down” a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the video from “Wash Up”.
Garbage released “Strange Little Birds” on June 10th. It’s the band’s first album since 2012 and only their second since 2005. “Empty” is the first track with an official video, and if you like Shirley Manson and the band’s original sound as much as I do you’ll really enjoy it. To compare it to their earliest days, watch “Only Happy When it Rains” from their eponymous 1995 debut. Fun fact to know and tell: one of the band’s founders is drummer Butch Vig, a record producer prior to forming the band best known for producing Nirvana’s “Nevermind” in 1991.
While Hiatus Kaiyote doesn’t have the 20-year history of Garbage, they go further back than that in gathering their musical influences. The Australian quartet formed in 2011 and draw on soul, R&B and jazz fusion. They’ve already been nominated twice for the Best R&B Performance Grammy. Here are those two nominated tracks: “Nakamarra” from their first album “Tawk Tomahawk” and “Breathing Underwater” from their second album, last year’s “Choose Your Weapon”. Actually, the Grammy nominated version of “Nakamarra” included a verse by Tribe Called Quest co-founder Q-tip – you can hear it here at 2:30. Thanks for introducing me to the band, Victoria!
Been covering a lot of jazz so far this year, but there’s so much good stuff out there!
Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011, an unusual feat for a a singing, songwriting, bass-playing jazz artist. She beat out Justin Bieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons, and Florence + The Machine that year – gives you a feel for the impression she made to stand out in that decidedly non-jazz company.
Spalding released her fifth album “Emily’s D+Evolution” on March 4th. It was co-produced by Tony Visconti who also co-produced David Bowie’s “Blackstar” (see our recent post). The psychedelic visuals for the album’s first track “Good Lava” go with its progressive rock/jazz vibe, and you know you want to see her in concert after watching the live video for the album’s second track “Unconditional Love”.
While the new album shows off her eclectic side, Spalding’s career features plenty of straight jazz sensibility as well, winning her praise from the likes of Gary Burton, Pat Matheny, and Joe Lovano. Here she is playing live at the White House earlier this year, and a couple of years ago with Herbie Hancock at the Kennedy Center Honors, singing Sting’s “Fragile”