Cameron Graves, Planetary Prince Album Release, The Troubadour

March 16, 2017 The “world famous” Troubadour is not the first venue that comes to mind for boundary morphing contemporary piano driven ensemble jazz. But then, the L.A. based collective known as the West Coast Get Down, has yet to do anything by the books. It’s been a heady 2017 already for these dudes coming on the heels of bassist Miles Mosley’s headlining date at the El Rey in January, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr.’s album release party at the Teragram a few weekends back and saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s post-Epic musical and visual installation for the Whitney Biennial in NYC. Last week, it was pianist Cameron Graves turn to front this band of one/band of many, for the drop of his stellar CD, “Planetary Prince” on Mack Avenue Records (disclaimer, more astronomical adjectives could follow). Like Mosley before him, Graves got a well deserved shout out as one of 10 new artists you need to know this year by Rolling Stone, and for good reason IMHO. My ears have been pretty stuck on “Planetary Prince” the past few weeks. With eight tracks covering almost 80 minutes and the shortest clocking in at 7:28, there is an emotional arc to each built […]
May 27
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Reflections and Musings of a Jazz Fest Photographer

The 44th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a few weeks past and my rear view reflections only seem to sweeten the experience. This Jazz Fest, my 10th overall, is best summarized by an exchange between two Festers NOLA bound from NYC by train, one a dear friend, composer and 3-timer, the other a vet from a krewe known for their affection for Fezs (yeah, you heard that right). “Hope to see you next year”…. “You will, and every year after that until I die.” What Rolling Stone calls the “greatest music event on the planet” inspires such pure devotion. 60+ acts a day, 12 stages and tents, 7 days (no repeats, Coachella, you listening ACL?). Most of my time these days is in the pit or hustling from one stage to the next, trying to burn more calories than I eat while keeping up with artists and bands older and younger than I am (not in my 40s anymore). Fest photographers do not get to enjoy whole sets. Far from it. With 3 and outs for most big names, as well as other random acts, and much ground to cover, the feast becomes a mountain of nibbles […]

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Jack DeJohnette, Catalina Bar and Grill

May 15, 2012 It’s been said that Los Angeles is a tough jazz town. New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago all have thriving jazz scenes in vibrant urban settings. Los Angeles, with its diasporadic lifestyle and geography, requires the jazz enthusiast to turn seeker. Rarely are things stumbled upon. The displacement of the Jazz Bakery last year was another (temporary) blow, so with a few newcomers and a handful of others who keep the faithful coming, Catalina’s Bar and Grill has always loomed large. For good reason. When jazz royalty pays a visit, the devoted must rise. Such is the case with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Jack DeJohnette spending the better part of a week here, and two shows nightly at 6725 Sunset Boulevard. This is a constellation of VSOP proportions. I’ve posted on the life altering effect RTF had on my young and evolving mind, when the reunion tour hit the Greek last September. The chance to see Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke in a straight ahead trio with the soon to be 70 Jack DeJohnette was/is not to be missed.   Drumming greats must share some cosmic mixologist. The elixir that keeps Roy Haynes swinging in his […]

Return to Forever IV, Greek Theater

September 20, 2011 There are only so many seminal musical moments in one’s life, and the first time I saw Return to Forever live was one of them.  I felt as if my head cracked open and exploded from the inside.  But I digress. As a teen of the 70s, I was drawn (without explanation) to artists signed to Manfred Eicher’s ECM (e.g., Edition of Contemporary Music) label.  It wasn’t just the stunning zen like imagery on the cover of every pressing.  And I was probably still too young to fully appreciate the unprecedented freedom Eicher the producer afforded his international roster of artists any time they entered the studio.  Still, something about the utter musical liberation completely unmoored from tradition and the mainstream got its hooks into me.  Even if some of the music was so arcane and outside to my ears, I took pride in my ability, if not patience, to expose myself to such intellectual pursuits that aimed straight for the head.  I didn’t read Kerouac or Ginsberg (at least until later), I listened to Jan Garbarek and Terje Rypdal.  This from a kid who had been spinning Zeppelin, the Allmans, the Who, the Stones and anything […]