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The Lead Sheet: Top 5 Jazz Stories This Week

Trumpeter Ted Curson, depicted here on the cover of his album <em>Urge</em>, died last Sunday morning.
Fontana Records
Trumpeter Ted Curson, depicted here on the cover of his album Urge, died last Sunday morning.

Autumn Leaves edition.

  • RIP Uncle Ted: The trumpeter Ted Curson died last weekend, the New York Times has confirmed. Curson is remembered for his brief association with Charles Mingus, but also carved out a long-lasting career as a composer/bandleader in his own right. In 1964, after the passing of Eric Dolphy, he made an album called Tears for Dolphy, one of his best — we consider his life (and music) now in memoriam. Here's an October 2006 story on where he was at age 71. [JazzTimes: Ted Curson: More Than A Survivor]
  • Cecile McLorin Salvant: At the 2010 Monk Competition, a 21-year-old Cecile McLorin Salvant, only a few years into studying jazz singing, took home the first prize with a confident display that involved no scatting and a lot of gumption. A few years later — still very new to jazz singing — she has returned to the U.S. and is preparing to release her debut album. Ben Ratliff heard her recently and tracked her down for a conversation which touches on her provocative repertoire, her "outsider" stance on blackness in America and how new she is to it all. I'm ready for this record. [The New York Times: A Young Vocalist Tweaks Expectations]
  • Modern Jazz History: In the early 1990s, a group of young musicians coalesced in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, to organize around promoting original compositions. It was a different scene then, where the false dichotomy of "uptown" and "downtown" scenes allowed little space for their middle ground, and they worked hard at booking shows, making (pre-Internet) newsletters and generally raising awareness that they existed. The Jazz Composers Collective is now defunct, but you know some of its members as bassist Ben Allison, or pianist Frank Kimbrough, or saxophonist Ted Nash. A reunion festival hits this week in New York, and Time Out New York has a nice piece; the Wall Street Journal does too but it's behind a paywall. Or, our friends at The Checkout had them into the studio to talk and play. [WBGO's The Checkout: Jazz Composers Collective Studio Session]
  • Eye Of The Hurricane: Hurricane Sandy hit downtown New York City hard, flooding parts of lower Manhattan, swamping the subways and knocking out utilities for nearly a week. That happens to be where many of the city's big jazz clubs are too, which form the "core infrastructure of jazz in New York." Nate Chinen surveyed the road to reopening and the city's sense of "uh, is it OK to see music again?" [The New York Times: Back in the Groove After the Storm]
  • Miles Davis, 1985: Miles Davis was always a candid interview subject. As unearthed by The Guardian and the archive Rock's Backpages, he certainly was in 1985 — around the time of You're Under Arrest — when he spoke to an NME writer for a career-spanning talk. Highlights include: opinions on a young Wynton Marsalis, modern standards, the "greediness" of Bird and Coltrane (he gives an alternate explanation of Charlie Parker's nickname) and clothing choices. This is a fun one. [The Guardian: From Rock's Backpages: Miles Davis]
  • More Stories

  • Another candid Branford Marsalis interview, this time from JazzTimes. Special online extended cut. He even talks about this article (I think) on A Blog Supreme. Nicholas Payton had some words in response.
  • Sonny Rollins on meeting Charlie Parker, as interviewed by Branford Marsalis.
  • A touching story about 94-year-old Bebo Valdes and Chico and Rita, the acclaimed animated film based loosely on his career.
  • Interview with Mat Domber, late proprietor of Arbors Records, a largely traditional jazz label. Among other things, it goes into why the trad jazz scene today is often largely white, on and off stage.
  • A writeup of a panel discussion at Harvard which brought together WGBH's esteemed jazz DJs and other folks on the state of the music.
  • Harrison Bankhead, a bassist in Chicago, released a nice debut album in 2010. He's 57. Here's a short profile from Michael Jackson.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers radio announcer is also a jazz DJ in town.
  • Olu Dara in a commercial for The Gap. That's the headline for jazz people anyway.
  • Elsewhere at NPR Music:

  • Omer Avital and Band of the East in concert.
  • Greg Tardy in concert with quintet.
  • JazzSet features Dee Dee Bridgewater herself.
  • Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz features Pete Malinverni.
  • Diana Krall is interviewed briefly about her new album.
  • Samuel Yirga's Ethiojazz record is reviewed on Fresh Air.
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.