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 →
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 →
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 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 →
Vijay Iyer Sextet: Mark Shim, Steve Lehman, Stephan Crump, Tyshawn Sorey, Graham Haynes, Vijay Iyer. Photo by Lynne Harty.
Fred Hersch. Photo by Mark Niskanen.
Bill Evans Trio: Eddie Gomex, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Evans. Photo by Giuseppe Pino.
Two pianists famed for their touch and lyricism, Fred Hersch and the late Bill Evans, have new releases coming. Hersch’s brand-new solo album, Open Book, available September 8, provides a musical complement to his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, which will see bookstores on September 12. The tapes of the Bill Evans release, Another Time: The Hilversum Concert, surfaced only last fall. Recorded in the Netherlands on June 22, 1968, and available September 1, the album is only the third known recording of the short-lived and very distinctive trio featuring Eddie Gomez on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Vijay Iyer’s reputation rests on an intellectual rigor married to a passionate and progressive heart, along with serious chops, and his new sextet release, Far from Over (available August 25), manages to be invigorating, complex, and accessible all at once. Continue reading →