Author Archives: Mel

Two Quick Hits: Eddie Daniels/Roger Kellaway and Florian Hoefner

Two new releases cover an old but still fresh performance by a classic quartet featuring Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway at the Village Vanguard, and a solo excursion on the shores of Newfoundland by pianist Florian Hoefner. Continue reading

Interview with Pianist/Composer Omar Sosa: Messages from Spirit, Light, and the Ancestors

Omar Sosa

Back in 2004, when Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa released his masterwork, Mulatos, I described him as the otic equivalent of the Very Large Array, and as the years have progressed, his ears have only gotten bigger. They suck in electronic and acoustic sounds from North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Arabia, and Asia, which he weaves into organic sonic tapestries on the warp of Afro-Cuban–inflected jazz, often in collaboration with artists from around the world.

This week he brings his Quarteto AfroCubano—his musical home base, if you will, featuring Cuban saxophonist Leandro Saint-Hill, Mozambican electric bassist Childo Tomas, and Cuban drummer Raul Pineda—to the Outpost. I had the opportunity to interview him a couple of weeks ago. His positive energy is infectious, both on the phone and at the piano. He spoke with great animation and frequent laughter on topics ranging from his musical mission to his latest recording (the sublime Transparent Water, reviewed here) to the profound influence of Thelonious Monk.

Our edited conversation, along with details about the upcoming concert, follows. Continue reading

Saxophonist Glenn Kostur Celebrates Excellent New Album with CD Release Party

Glenn Kostur Group (from left to right): Jim White, drums; Erik Applegate, bass; Dana Landry, pianos; Steve Kovalcheck, guitar; and Glenn Kostur, saxophones.

It may take you a while to get past “That’s the Way of It,” the opening track of saxophonist Glenn Kostur’s new album, The Way of It (Artist Alliance Records), because you may keep hitting the repeat button. An optimistic blues shuffle with a hard bop edge, this Kostur original has a punchy head that can bubble up out of nowhere while you’re loading the dishwasher or daydreaming at a red light, and set your head to bobbing.

It’s an excellent start to this welcome collection of 10 mainstream tracks—6 originals and 4 standards—with Kostur on bari and tenor, backed by Steve Kovalcheck (guitar), Dana Landry (pianos), Erik Applegate (bass), and Jim White (drums). Kostur will celebrate the album’s release in concert at the Outpost this Thursday with these same sidemen, as well as special guest vocalist Hillary Smith. “That’s the Way of It” could well open the set, so don’t be late. Continue reading

Pianist Fred Hersch’s Memoir, ‘Good Things Happen Slowly,’ Presents an Open Book on the Musician and Man

Fred Hersch. Photo by Steve J. Sherman.

In his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz, award-winning pianist and composer Fred Hersch chronicles his ongoing journey of self-discovery both as a musician and a man. In particular, it’s the account of a gay man coming to embrace his sexual identity amid cultural upheaval and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, and struggling to align his artistry with his self in the testosterone-heavy atmosphere of the New York jazz scene. It’s not always a pretty story—Hersch addresses his shortcomings and weaknesses with the same honesty he applies to his strengths—but it is often fascinating. Continue reading

Jazz Reaches Out: New Releases from Under One Sun and David Lopato

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Jazz is an omnivorous music. It has munched on classical, rock, funk, Cuban, and a host of other musics from around the globe, transforming them and itself in the doing. Two new releases, Gendhing for a Spirit Rising from pianist David Lopato and Under One Sun from the eponymous group founded by saxophonist/composer Billy Drewes and percussionist Jamey Haddad, take different routes to making global connections for jazz. Continue reading