Monday, February 5, 2018

Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield & Joe Cohn: Strings Attached live in NY, Feb 9 & 10

4 Good Reasons to Catch Strings Attached at the Jazz Forum on Feb. 9 & 10: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield, Joe Cohn!
Presented by Charles Carlini.

Meg Okura prepares the release of two new albums

Visionary violinist and composer Meg Okura will be releasing two new albums in the coming months. She, along with Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, will be releasing "NPO Trio Live at The Stone" on Chant Records on March 15th. On May 13th, which is Mothers Day, Meg along with the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble featuring Tom Harrell will release "IMA IMA." The latter will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.

Okura ushers in the Spring season with two new recordings: "NPO Trio Live at The Stone," the debut album from NPO Trio, which features Okura on violin, alongside Sam Newsome on soprano saxophone and Jean-Michel Pilc on piano, out Friday, March 15, and "IMA IMA," which features The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble with Tom Harrell out Sunday, May 13.

While "Live at The Stone" introduces the impressive tightly-knit trio, who as a group weave through musical idioms of jazz and classical - from impressionism to minimalism, blues to free jazz, "IMA IMA" successfully blends the musical cultures of East and West for a new and exciting direction in modern jazz expression. With this highly-anticipated double release, Okura showcases both her truly versatile musicality. "IMA IMA" will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.
Newly established avant-garde and world music label, Chant Records is excited to announce the arrival of NPO Trio with the release of "Live at The Stone," which was recorded by the trio, led by Meg Okura during her residency at The Stone in the East Village, New York in April of 2016. Following the 2017 release of a duo album by Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, Magic Circle, the duo multiplied its dimensions by adding the violinist to their line-up. NPO Trio is now a dynamic group of like-minded friends celebrating freedom of expression through music and sounds. Although the music presented by these three is improvisational, listeners will also hear hints of familiar melodies including well-known Yiddish songs and even excerpts of John Coltrane.

Okura explains that she has always felt emotionally connected to Yiddish melodies. The melodies are always sad and happy at the same time (typically a minor melody with major chords), just like the Japanese expression of happy sad. Reminiscing upon her childhood, Okura recalls consoling herself by truly believing that, "...sadness is absolutely necessary for me to experience true happiness in the future. And everytime I hear Jewish songs, it reminds me of my childhood."

The entire concert at The Stone consisted of three extensive improvisational parts. The first part, which is 38 minutes in total, is divided into 6 shorter segments, each given individual titles for the purpose of this album. The melody often quoted during these first six tracks is a famous Yiddish song by Mark Warshawsky (1848-1907), "Oyfn Pripetchik". The song is about a rabbi teaching his children about the value of education and perseverance. It also mentions exodus, reminding us of the sacrifices made by our ancestors, which presents us with the freedom we have today. Track 7, "Unkind Gestures" is a shorter improvisation, which pays homage to John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
With unique instrumentation including Shinobue (Japanese flute) "IMA IMA" brings together some of New York's finest jazz artists including Sam Newsome, Pablo Aslan, Brian Marsalsa, Anne Drummond, Brian Marsella and Riza Printup as well as special guest trumpeter Tom Harrell. Hailed by the New York Times as "vibrant" and "sophisticated", Okura's Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble presents "IMA IMA" as a celebration of womanhood, particularly motherhood.

Meg Okura became an Ima (meaning mother in Hebrew) seven years ago, so along with being a tribute to Okura's grandmother, who recently passed away, it is only fitting that "IMA IMA" will be released on Mother's Day this year. Okura explains that although many refer to this period of time as an interruption, she prefers to regard it as a constant state of disruptions.  "The earliest compositions on this album being the ones from my pregnancy period only support that claim. However, I do not believe motherhood has had a negative impact on my music."

Okura explains that disruptions forced her to think more creatively and resourcefully, and so inevitably made her music stronger. It inspired the Japanese native towards integrity, and excellence in her composition, improvisation and performance. Being anything other than the first-rate was not acceptable. "The last thing I wanted to do as a mother was to use motherhood as an excuse for not being able to achieve excellence."

Ima Ima -(L'dor Vador) by The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Anonymous. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page:


Formerly a concert violinist, Okura made her U.S. solo debut at the Kennedy Center with the late Alexander Schneider's New York String Orchestra. She then moved to New York City and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in classical violin from The Julliard School.  Advancing her career as a jazz violinist while at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, Okura was soloist and the concertmaster for the orchestra backing up Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, and Terence Blanchard, under the batons of music icons as Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jack Elliot.

Okura quickly became one of the most sought-after violinists on New York City's music scene, appearing on dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Heidi Grand-Murphy, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, Jeremy Pelt, Ziggy Marley and many more. She has toured internationally with the late Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Tom Harrell, appearing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl and at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world. In 2016, Okura held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her 10 different groups.

Recipient of numerous grants and awards including Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Manhattan Community Arts Fund (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum), and most recently, New Music USA Project Grant, Okura has also composed/ arranged for several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series), as well as, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.

She has herself also appeared on many movie soundtracks as a violinist, and erhu player, has been featured in three Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai, Wintuk and Corteo), and has collaborated and performed with Oscar nominee actor and Columbia recording artist Terrence Howard. For the past ten years, Okura has also been a member of a Jewish/Middle Eastern band "Pharaoh's Daughter" led by ex-orthodox singer-songwriter and cantor Basya Schechter.

Jazz Club of Sarasota announces "World of Jazz" for 38th Sarasota Jazz Festival, March 7-10

Jazz, the uniquely American musical art form, was born in New Orleans in the early 20thcentury and nurtured on a lively diet of music from around the world--the blues of the American South, rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean, classical music from Europe and France, and more. It’s entirely fitting, then, that the Jazz Club of Sarasota --one of the most active jazz societies in the nation-- will present “A World of Jazz”for its 38thAnnual Sarasota Jazz Festival.

The four-day event, from March 7-10, 2018, will feature14 musicians from seven nations in four concerts, over a dozen locally based musicians for a Pub Crawl by Trolley, and the French art film Django.

In addition, at one of the concerts the Club will present its highest honor, the Satchmo Award, to a musician for “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.” Festival activities will be presented in various Sarasota venues including Marriott’s new Art Ovation Hotel, downtown Sarasota night clubs and Burns Court Cinema. Live jazz will fill the lobby before each concert, and four special VIP receptions—for those who purchase VIP ticket packages--will add to the luster of this star-studded festival.

“We’re pleased to recognize the global impact of jazz, and we’re especially honored that the celebrated Ken Peplowski, one of our audience favorites, is the festival’s music director,” said Peg Pluto, Jazz Club president. “We’re also delighted that our vice president, Ed Linehan, is managing director for the festival. Ken and Ed have both worked with our festivals before so we know we’re in good hands.

“In keeping with our theme, Ken will present the world of jazz as interpreted by internationally respected musicians and fast-rising young stars from around the world,” Pluto said. “Many of them have never played together before, and they may never share the same stage again. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Acclaimed reedman Peplowski, based in New York, will both direct the international cadre and frequently join them on stage. “These accomplished performers will play the universal language of jazz, an American language that everyone now speaks,” he said. “They’ll draw on musical influences from their homeland countries—Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States—to present the exciting sound of what jazz has become today.”

Ken has designed a playbook of two sets for every concert, each with a differentmix of performers. “We’ll present unique combinations of musicians for every set with a fresh sound for each segment,” he said. He’ll also add another treat: “After each concert, we’ll bring back all of the evening’s musicians for an All-Star jam session number or two—an improvised finale that takes us right into the very essence of jazz.” 

Peplowski has been highly praised and frequently honored. “Ken Peplowski is arguably the greatest living jazz clarinetist,” said Russell Davies of BBC2. Will Friedwald(The Wall Street Journal)wrote, “Mr. Peplowski sounds the way (Benny) Goodman might if he had kept evolving … polishing his craft . . . into the 21stcentury.”

Among other credits, Ken has been a featured performer at practically every significant jazz festival, was music director of the Oregon Festival of American Music for eight years, has backed dozens of major performers, and has recorded some 50 CDs as a soloist and nearly 500 more as a sideman. He has also been a frequent performer for the Jazz Club of Sarasota, often with Dick Hyman, and in 2014 received the Club’s highest honor, its Satchmo Award, for his “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.” (Other Jazz Club Satchmo winners since 1990 have included Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dick Hyman, Branford Marsalis and Family, Four Freshmen, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, and Wycliffe Gordon.)

In addition to Peplowski, several other musicians will make encore appearances with the Jazz Club of Sarasota. These include Houston Person, saxophone; Diego Figueiredo, guitar; and Jeff Hamilton, drums.

The festival’s house band is the Scandinavian Jazz trio:
Writer/musician/composerKristian Leth(Denmark), drums; a DanishAcademy Award-nominated film composer and Grammy-winning recording artist who has written, performed andproduced scores for TV series, films and commercials.
Hans Backenroth (Sweden), bass; acclaimed as “one of the best bass players Sweden has developed—ever!” (Arne Domnérus, Swedish jazz legend).
Ole Kock Hansen(Denmark), piano; “one of the most significant artists in modern Danish Jazz” (Wikipedia).

“Some of our festival musicians currently reside in the United States as well as abroad. We’ve hand-picked performers who beautifully understand and represent the musical influences they bring from their countries of origin,” Peplowski said.

In addition to the Scandinavian Jazztrio, festival musicians (in alphabetical order) are:
Ehud Asherie,piano, Israel; “a master of swing and stride” (New Yorker); a jazz pianist who integrates the New York piano tradition with his inventive style.
Graham Dechter, guitar, U. S.; honored in the DownBeat Critics Poll as "Rising Star Guitar" (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017)
Sinne Eeg, vocalist, Denmark; considered the preeminent jazz vocalist in Scandinavia.

Diego Figueiredo,guitar, Brazil; a fast-rising star among the world's greatest jazz guitarists; plays with an infectious, joyful feeling.
Jimmy Greene,saxophone, U.S.; GRAMMY Award-nominated saxophonist, composer, and arranger.
Jeff Hamilton, drums, U.S; known for his versatility as a drummer, composer, arranger, and educator; leads his own trio and performs with other respected groups including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
Chiara Izzi,vocals, Italy; described by JazzTimesas “a talent to be heard, admired and anticipated.”
Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, U.S.; featured by Nat Hentoff in The Wall Street Journal; voted "Rising Star - Trumpet" for five years byDownBeat and the Jazz Journalists Association.
Houston Person, saxophone, U.S.; a “rock-solid, full-toned” musician, recording artist and winner of the Eubie Blake Award and the 2016 Jazz Station Awards.
Akiko Tsuruga, organ, Japan; called “Queen of the Organ”; winner of the 2017 Hothouse Magazine Jazz Award for Best Organist. 5, 2017).
Sinne Eeg, vocalist, Denmark; considered the preeminent jazz vocalist in Scandinavia.

Festival Schedule
TROLLEY rides from5:30 p.m.; JAZZ at downtown CLUBS from6-10 p.m.
Jazz lovers and club-hopperswillboard trolleys for the 20th consecutive Jazz Pub Crawl by Trolley, riding to downtown nightclubs where over 50 local musicians will swing the night away. Trolleys will run continuous loops of the venues throughout the evening. A wristband, available from the Jazz Club office* or at the trolley parking location, is required for admission to the trolley and all clubs. This is a separately ticket event, not included in Festival VIP or Combo Tickets.Wristband are$20 in advanceand $25 on the day of the event.

THURSDAY EVENING,MARCH 8: CONCERT and other events, Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N. Palm Avenue

5-7:30, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;6-7:30, VIP RECEPTION;7:30 p.m., CONCERT;10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS.
Co-Hosts: Ken Peplowski and Mike Cornette, director of jazz & on-air host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa
1st Set:Scandinavian Jazztriowith special guest vocalistSinne Eeg.
2ndSet:Scandinavian Jazztriojoined byJimmy Greeneon saxophone andJeremy Pelton trumpet. Featured performances bySinne Eeg,vocals, andKen Peplowski,reeds.
Finale:All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians

10 a.m.-10:45, LIVE GYPSY JAZZ; 11 a.m., 2017 FILMDJANGO
Keven Aland(violin) andJon McLaughlin(guitar) of the Hot Club of SRQ present a Gypsy Jazz performance to set the mood forEtienne Comar’s film Django. This new film, called “a plucky historical drama that leverages a famous musician into a story about fighting fascism,” will be screened with English subtitles. The “dazzling biopic,” which had its world premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, depicts the struggles of the famous French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in German-occupied Paris.
Seating is limited:ALL guests must make reservations. Contact the Jazz Club office* for reservations and tickets. Admission: FREE for holders of VIP Festival Passes; $10 for Jazz Club members; $15 for nonmembers.

FRIDAY EVENING, MARCH 9: CONCERT and other events, Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N Palm Avenue
5-7:30, JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;7:30 p.m., CONCERT;10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS
Co-Hosts: Ken PeplowskiandWhitney James, jazz vocalist; on-air jazz host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa
1st Set:Diego Figueiredo, guitar; Chiara Izzi, vocals; Jimmy Greene, saxophone.
2nd Set:Scandinavian Jazz trio; Houston Person, saxophone; Graham Dechter, guitar.
Finale: All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON, March 10: CONCERTand other events,Art Ovation Hotel,1255 N Palm Avenue12:30-2, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;2 p.m., CONCERTCo-Hosts: Ken Peplowski and  Kayonne Riley, general manager, WUCF 89.9 FM, Orlando; host of “Middays with Kayonne Riley Mix-and-matchconcertwith Scandinavian Jazztrio; Graham Dechter, guitar; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Houston Person, saxophone; Diego Figueiredo, guitar; Chiara Izzi, vocals; Ehud Asherie, piano; and Ken Peplowski, reeds.

SATURDAY EVENING, March 10: CONCERT and other events,Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N Palm Avenue
5-7:30, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;7:30 p.m., CONCERT; 10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS
Co-Hosts: Ken Peplowskiand Bob Seymour, retired director of jazz and on-air host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa; honorary member, Jazz Club of Sarasota Board of Directors
1stSet:Kristian Leth, drums; Hans Backenroth, bass; Ehud Asherie, piano; and Ken Peplowski, reeds
Presentation of the Jazz Club’s highest honor, the Satchmo award, to honor a person selected by the Jazz Club for “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.”
2ndSet:Jeff Hamilton, drums; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; Graham Dechter, guitar; and Houston Person, saxophone.

Festival Finale: All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians
Sarasota Jazz Festival ticket prices peak at $49, with discounts available for Jazz Club members and through several combination packages including a VIP ticket that includes admission and preferred seating for all concerts and four private receptions. Prices for the movieDjangoand the Jazz Pub Crawl are lower. Contact the Jazz Club* for Jazz Pub Crawl wristbands ($20/advance; $25/at event), information about the movie, VIP Combo Ticket Packages, and other options. To purchase general admission tickets for single concerts ($39/member; $49/nonmember), contactbrownpapertickets.comor800.838.3006.

The Jazz Club of Sarasota, founded in 1980, is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz, America’s original musical art form.The Club has provided over 50 jazz-related events annually for more than 37 years. Chief among them is the highly respected Sarasota Jazz Festival, including the 38thAnnual Festival set for March 7-10, 2018. In addition to producing numerous jazz events, over the years the Club has granted more than $200,000 in scholarships to aspiring young jazz musicians.

*Jazz Club of Sarasota: For more information visit,, or phone941.366.1552 (Wednesday throughFriday9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Monday-Friday during Festival Week).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"For Lew," CD Tribute to Lew Soloff by Bill Warfield Big Band, Due March 9

Bill Warfield Big Band For LewBill Warfield's career as a trumpeter was launched the moment he heard Lew Soloff's immortal solo on the Blood, Sweat & Tears hit "Spinning Wheel." "It just completely knocked me out," says Warfield, who was 18 at the time and gigging as a pianist, having given up hope of earning a living as a horn player due to dental problems. "I'd never heard anything like it. I decided at that point that I wanted to play the trumpet again."
Eventually, Warfield would get to know, study, and record with Soloff, who died in 2014 at age 71. Warfield's latest album, For Lew, set for release on March 9 by Planet Arts Records, is a tribute to his late mentor, colleague, friend, and inspiration. Compiled from material Warfield recorded with his big band between 1990 and 2014, the album includes ten selections that first appeared on New York City Jazz (1990), The City Never Sleeps (1994), A Faceless Place (2005), and Trumpet Story (2014). Two of the tracks are previously unreleased.
"Lew was such a warm, supportive human being," Warfield says of Soloff. "When he died, it took me a week to get over it. I patterned my playing after him. I wanted to do the gigs he did. I wanted to sound like him. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be him. I patterned my whole career after that guy. He was a little nerdy guy who would put a horn in front of his mouth and became Superman. He was the guy who got me to take my writing seriously. On the second record I used him on, I used a few other people's charts. Then he pulled me to the side and said, 'Look, your writing is really special. You shouldn't include anybody else's stuff on your records.'"  
Bill Warfield 
Five tunes on For Lew are Warfield originals; six arrangements are his. While drawn from four different sessions, each made up of different players, every track is an all-star affair. Soloff is the soloist on one track, "Salsa En Mi Alma," and is heard playing lead trumpet on that song and two others. In addition to Warfield, who solos on three tracks, other world-class instrumentalists among the disc's collective personnel are trumpeters Randy Brecker and John Eckert; trombonist Matt Havilan; saxophonists Dan BlockAndy FuscoBob HanlonRich PerryChris Potter, and Walt Weiskopf; pianists Ted Rosenthal and Joel Weiskopf; guitarists Vic Juris and Dave Stryker; bassist Mike Richmond; and drummers Tim Hornerand Bob Weller.
Warfield followed Soloff's advice and over the past quarter century has created a canon of music for large ensemble that showcases his distinctive composing and arranging style. He counts Hank Levy, Fred Lipsius, Dick Halligan, Mike Abene (who would produce his first two big band albums), Michel Colombier, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, and Bob Brookmeyer, along with Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Webern, Prokofiev, and other classical composers, as influences on his arranging style.

Bill WarfieldBill Warfield was born in Baltimore on March 2, 1952. He took up trumpet in the fourth grade because, he says, "it looked cool. Because it only had three buttons, I thought it would be easier to play." By the time he was 14, he played Saturday mornings with the orchestra and brass ensemble at the Peabody Conservatory Preparatory School and Saturday afternoons with the Maryland Youth Symphony, as well as with a teenage soul band called Nina and the Marcels.
After recovering from a car accident in which he lost his front teeth, he studied for four years at Towson State with Hank Levy, an arranger noted for his charts for Don Ellis and Stan Kenton who was a key early influence.
Warfield moved to New York City in 1980 and began subbing in the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, playing and arranging for the Bill Kirchner Nonet, and copying music for Lester BowieJoseph Jarman, and others, while earning a master's from the Manhattan School of Music. He toured Europe with Ornette Coleman, having been recommended by Lew Soloff.
Warfield has spent three decades as an inspiring music educator. After stints at the Dalton School in New York, Brooklyn College, Towson State University in Maryland, and the University of North Florida, he joined the faculty at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, in 1996. He continues to teach and direct the jazz program there three days per week.
The other four days are usually spent in back in Manhattan, where he currently directs four bands: the New York Jazz Repertory Ensemble, the New York Jazz Octet (which includes tenor saxophonist Don Braden and pianist Kenny Werner), the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra, and the Bill Warfield Big Band.
The Bill Warfield Big Band will be performing two sets (7:00pm/8:30pm) at the Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village to celebrate the release of For Lew

Photography by John Abbott

Friday, February 2, 2018

Book/DVD of the Month - "O Que É Morar No São Francisco"

Book of the Month:
"O Que É Morar No São Francisco" (Instituto Arquibrasil)
Rating: ***** (book & DVD movie)

Written by Danielli Costa Wal & Key Imaguire Junior
Film Director: João Marcelo Gomes
Concept by Danielli Costa Wal
Director of Cinematography: Renata Correa
Original Soundtrack by Enrico Gianotti

For additional info about this haunting project:

DVD of the Month - "André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi: Miramari"

DVD of the Month
André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi: "Miramari" (Estúdio Monteverdi) DVD + CD
Rating: ***** (musical performance, audio & video quality)

Produced by André Mehmari
Music Directors: André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi
Video Director: João Marcello Zanogni (aka João Marcelo Gomes)
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by André Mehmari
Director of Photography: Otávio Sosa
Camera Operators: Fernando Chamelet, João Marcello Zanogni & Otávio Sosa
Garphics: Lumen Design
Liner Notes: Guinga
Featuring: André Mehmari (acoustic piano) and Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet)