Download Hot House Pdf Here:  February Hot House Jazz Guide


Haruna Fukazawa

Winning Spins By George Kanzler

What’s notable about the two albums here is that both are distinguished by excellent ensemble execution, appealing arrangements, cogent solos and way-above-average originals. They also feature front lines that deviate creatively from the usual quintet arrangement: Sax and guitar on one; two flutes or flute and soprano sax on the other.

Departure, from Haruna Fukazawa (Summit), is her first album released in the U.S. It features the Japan-born, New York-based flutist’s quintet, with Steve Wilson on reeds, David DeMotta on piano, Bill Moring on bass and Steve Johns on drums. Haruna and Wilson—who is always an asset, share a number of engaging solos. Her creative arrangements maximize the possibilities of the instrumentation, as when she plays alto flute and Steve joins in on soprano sax. 

She’s especially adept at reimagining standards. Charles Trenet’s “I Wish You Love” follows an arc that rises from the verse voiced by arco bass and flute through the rhythm section-backed chorus from flute on the first 16 bars, soprano sax on the bridge, and flute and soprano on the final 8 bars. Solos from flute, soprano and piano follow over burgeoning rhythms, a climactic shout ensemble interlude and reprise of the melody. On Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” the refrain is largely carried by David as the flutes supply backgrounds and harmonies. Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard’s “Alice in Wonderland” is a trio of flutes and bass, alto flute providing counterpoint to the lead, walking bass backing the flute solos.

Haruna makes astute use of broken and suspended rhythms, kickers and turnarounds to enliven three of her originals, including the scintillating album opener, “Contact” and “Cat’s Meeting,” with a flute-drums dialogue over accelerating tempo. The third, “No Fine Weather,” features chattering drums, rhythm breaks and impressive solos from Haruna, Steve and David. Except for crashing piano chords in the refrain, “Bassi Blues” is a nod to

Haruna’s American teacher, Frank Wess, whose flute was prominent in the New Testament Count Basie Orchestra. The track includes both flute and alto flute solos, with a “Count/Bass/Eee” piano phrase prominent.

This album affirms that a flute-led group can be as viable as more conventional front lines.

Haruna Fukazawa focuses on the music from Departure at the Blue Note’s Sunday Brunch on Feb. 16.

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Emmet Cohen

Hot Flashes By Seton Hawkins

The year 2020 promises to be a remarkable one in the career of pianist and composer Emmet Cohen. As he enters his 30s, Emmet has seen his career evolve from that of a rising star to that of a leading talent in his field. As his star rose, Emmet also distinguished himself as an artist deeply dedicated to establishing ties with and celebrating the legacies of jazz’s masters, touring with legends like Benny Golson, Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath and more. Indeed, Emmet has taken this celebrating of jazz’s traditions even further, launching the Masters Legacy series in 2017, featuring live performances, interviews and recordings with some of the music’s luminaries. Volumes three and four of the series, released in late 2019, find Emmet paired with Benny Golson and Tootie Heath on volume three and with George Coleman on volume four.

While jazz’s history was shaped by an apprenticeship model in which younger artists joined the touring bands of elders to learn the craft, recent decades have seen a steep decline in this approach, making Emmet’s efforts all the more crucial. “There are fewer musicians these days who were close to the source, who worked with Louis Armstrong or interacted with Charlie Parker,” he explains. “That’s so valuable, and I don’t think it can be exactly captured in a traditional educational setting. We need to spend time around the jazz masters, the artists in their 70s and 80s.”

The Masters Legacy series Emmet launched embraces this mission, as each album not only pairs Emmet’s band with a guest appearance by a jazz master, it also includes lengthy interviews and oral histories to document the life and music of the master. “It was so important for all of us to be around the jazz masters more and learn from them,” he explains. “So the goal was not only to bring myself closer to the source of this music, but my entire generation, the musicians of my time.”

As his career continues to develop, Emmet will increasingly find himself in the role of mentor, and as such he’ll be tasked with imparting these same lessons to younger artists, a notion he is actively contemplating. “I try to hire younger people in my band and pass on what I can,” he explains. “But I am still learning. What I found by working with the jazz masters is that they are so open to learning from anybody. That’s the key to being a jazz musician: You have to stay open, and you have to stay accessible.”

Following a lengthy bout of touring, Emmet returns to New York for a trio run at the Village Vanguard. While the drum chair is held by longtime collaborator Evan Sherman, the bass role is filled by one of jazz’s most enduring legends: Ron Carter. “I find that in working with each jazz master you learn a new lesson from them. Ron Carter is a lesson in stoicism, professionalism and preparation. He is the most focused jazz musician I’ve ever been around. He has such attention to detail, and he tries to make the music new and fresh every single night. He’s always stretching.”

Emmet Cohen performs at the Village Vanguard Feb. 18-23 with his trio. To learn more about the dates, or to find out more about the Masters Legacy series, visit

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Dave Liebman

Dave Liebman: Soprano sax in the City By Eugene Holley, Jr.

Soprano saxophonist, composer, educator and NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman cut his teeth in ensembles led by Miles Davis and Elvin Jones in the 1970s. “I chose the soprano because I thought I could find something that could be Dave Liebman,” he says, “rather than Dave Liebman through Wayne Shorter, Miles or Coltrane.”

He succeeded, creating his own distinctive soprano sax sound. That’s no small feat, when you consider that the benchmarks of the instrument are John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Steve Lacy.

The 73-year-old’s powerful, poetic and piercing saxophone can be heard on the more than 200 recordings he has to his credit as a sideman and leader. That sound is the centerpiece of Dave’s latest CD, Earth, with his group, Expansions, consisting of pianist Bobby Avey, saxophonist Matt Vashlishan, drummer Alex Ritz and bassist Tony Marino.

Earth is the final installment of a four-album opus that started in 1997 with Water, featuring Pat Metheny, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart. Air followed in 2006, with engineer Walter Quintus; then Fire in 2016, with Kenny Werner, Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland.

On Earth, the emphasis is on color and texture, along the lines of 20th-century classical music. The recording’s selections evoke different aspects of the planet. “Concrete Jungle” calls to mind the city’s hustle and bustle, while “Sahara,” represents the power of the sun. “Earth Theme” conjures the planet’s birth, and “Volcano/Avalanche” reminds us of the Earth’s shifting and turbulent landscape.

“This recording is a continuation, in that my compositions, which comprise this record, and the other three—Air, Fire and Water—come from impressions of these elements,” Dave says. “For example, ‘Sahara,’ one of the titles on the new record, evokes a picture of the music. I would have really been a film scorer, because [I see music] visually: You say red to me and I see it visually in its different facets, and it translates over to the horn.”

Another difference on Earth is the fact that Dave—unlike at the start of the elements recordings—is now an elder statesman and mentor. “Matt and Bobby studied with me and my wife, who teaches ear training in the Poconos,” the saxophonist says. “They’ve been a part of my tribe, and I knew what they could do. The thing is, when you’re the oldest guy in the band—in terms of experience—you bring that to the stage, and they’re thirsting for that. They want to know how I think about music. Mentoring is a great thing.”

Mentoring is something Dave had an abundance of, having worked in Miles Davis’ ’70s ensembles. He recorded on the trumpeter’s seminal albums On the Corner and Dark Magus, and with Elvin Jones on several of the drummer’s recordings, including Genesis and Live at the Lighthouse, during the same period. “Elvin did not call out a chord, or say that bar 13 is an E-flat7,” Dave says. “He didn’t say much, and neither did Miles, because he had his reputation, personality and power behind him. He was legendary, and Elvin was, too. He was like a father to me, with his sense of humanity, and the way he treated people. He was a big personality, with a big smile; Miles would turn his back [to the audience] and go back to his dressing room.”

Dave took the best of Davis’ and Jones’ leadership styles and created many ensembles and recordings covering a wide range of genres. His albums as a leader include First Visit in 1973 and Lookout Farm in 1974. In 1981, he co-founded Quest, a supergroup that was composed of pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Ron McClure and drummers Billy Hart and Al Foster.

Five years later, Dave left New York and moved to Stroudsburg, in Pennsylvania’s Poconos, where he lived for 32 years. The area was a haven for many jazz greats including Phil Woods, Urbie Green and Steve Gilmore. “My wife knew that area, and we were done with New York,” the saxophonist says.” I had been in the city my whole life.”

The release of Earth coincides with Dave’s move back to the city, and is a reminder of his time in the country. “These four elements—fire, air, water and earth—are a picture of my reflections on my Stroudsburg years,” he says. “We moved back to New York because we had our time out there. We brought up our daughter, and we were able to make a scene there. And not to be morbid, but if I began in New York, I’m going to end in New York.”

Dave Liebman’s Expansions performs at Deer Head Inn Feb. 21, The Side Door Feb. 22, and Dizzy’s Club Feb. 28- March 1.

Photo Credit: Ray Cho

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Marilyn Crispell

Another Reason To Celebrate By Elzy Kolb

Keyed up

Pianist Marilyn Crispell has all-star improvisational music credentials stretching back to the ’70s. Over the decades she’s gigged and recorded with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Davis, Steve Lacy, Gerry Hemingway, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian, Henry Grimes, Joseph Jarman and a host of others. Her playing has been documented on dozens of albums as a leader or collaborator, as well as an appearance on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz.”

Marilyn hasn’t had a regular band in years, but she certainly hasn’t been idle. She’s stayed busy with solo keyboard projects and “playing with people who invite me.”

Joe Lovano is among those extending invitations. Marilyn has been touring with the saxophonist and appears on his 2019 recording Trio Tapestry (ECM), with drummer Carmen Castaldi rounding out the threesome. “The music sounds different from the record when we play it live,” she muses. “Manfred Eicher produced it and he has different concepts of recorded versus live music, which led to interesting ideas for arrangements.”

Trio Tapestry ranked high in the 2019 NPR Jazz Critics Poll, as did The Adornment of Time (Pi), on which Marilyn pairs with drummer Tyshawn Sorey. “Tyshawn had a residence at the Kitchen for several nights and asked me to play one night. The setting was very theatrical, in a way. He wanted the room to be completely dark, with just very low red lighting. The atmosphere influenced the music, which was totally free,” she explains.

In just the past year or so, Marilyn has demonstrated her versatility on other albums, including Dreamstruck (Not Two), with her frequent collaborators, drummer Harvey Sorgen and bassist Joe Fonda. “We’re playing compositions and free stuff. There’s an element of not knowing what’s going to happen,” which the pianist thrives on.

On Dream Libretto (Leo) Marilyn is joined by violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch and keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum on a five-part composition. “I had been wanting to put this out for five years. There’s a memorial piece for my parents and others,” Marilyn notes. Seven piano and violin duets round out the album.

The Woodstock-based pianist doesn’t play the Big Apple too often, “Travel gets complicated,” she notes. But this month she joins Trio 3 at Jazz Standard on Feb. 22 for an evening of music. Whoever coined the phrase “power trio” could have been talking about the collaboration of bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Andrew Cyrille and saxophonist Oliver Lake, aka Trio 3. Marilyn’s Feb. 22 Jazz Standard gig with the threesome is part of Trio 3’s four-night run, featuring a different pianist each evening; other sets include (Feb. 20), David Virelles (Feb. 21) and Jason Moran (Feb. 23).

Her collaboration with Reggie, Andrew and Oliver stretches back over several decades and various ensembles and configurations, including frequent outings as a quartet. This time, “Reggie called me out of the blue, I was so happy. I’ve missed playing with them very much. I think it’s the first time the four of us have gotten together in 20 years. I’m sure we’ve all changed in that time musically, but I expect it to be like getting together with old friends. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s exciting,” she says.

“I imagine we’ll all bring some of our own stuff, and maybe do some free playing. They asked me to bring in some music. I’ve never been a prolific writer, I prefer to improvise rather than write. But I’m pulling out some old tunes we used to play. It’s been a very long time.”

Keep an ear out for a variety of new projects Marilyn has in the works for 2020, among them: more touring with Joe Lovano, as well as the release of another recording with him later this year. She also has gigs lined up with Dave Douglas and Susie Ibarra, and a trio with Mike Formanek, as well as solo bookings and a trio recording as a leader. “I’ve been tying up a lot of loose ends. It feels like it’s going to be a productive time. I feel stirrings of thing wanting to happen,” Marilyn muses. “I feel like I have new energy for doing things lately. I was kind of burned out for a while.”

Photo Credit: Bart Babinski

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Kerry Politzer

Another Reason To Celebrate By Elzy Kolb

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Seeking out seldom-heard material and making it their own is an ongoing goal for many musicians who enjoy the thrill and challenge in expanding repertoires and musical horizons. Kerry Politzer may have discovered her melodic holy grail when she heard Brazilian musicians in New York playing compositions by Durval Ferreira.

Kerry recently released her sixth album, Diagonal: A Tribute to Durval Ferreira, on which she delivers a mix of tunes the Brazilian composer and guitarist wrote or co-wrote, along with three originals inspired by him. “He operated at the intersection between bebop and bossa nova. I wanted them to be in his style, with bebop-y melodies and Brazilian rhythms,” notes the Portland, Oregon-based pianist. Cannonball Adderley, Sarah Vaughan, Sergio Mendes and Leny Andrade, who recorded his compositions, Durval released only one recording as a leader. “It’s the most wonderful album, with a fantastic cast of musicians and performers,” Kerry says. “He always supported the careers of others. Durval was a sought-after accompanist and great producer rather than a renowned soloist.”

A performance and recording grant for a two-part Durval Ferreira tribute from Portland’s  Regional Arts and Culture Council supported the project, which presented a dual challenge. Kerry aimed to play a concert of the Brazilian composer’s works as close to the source as possible, and also reimagine his material for the recording. To prepare, Kerry—who recalls first seeing arrangements by the guitarist and composer in a workshop with percussionist Vanderlei Pereira—combed online archives such as for tunes Durval penned pre-1970, and transcribed 30 of them.

“For the first part of the project, I did a concert in Portland playing 16 of his tunes, close to his version. For the record, I wrote all of the arrangements, reharmonizing them, using new time signatures. I love Brazilian jazz and bossa nova and wanted to put my own spin on the material.”

She was accompanied in concert and on the album by her band Bossa PDX, which includes her husband, the noted pianist George Colligan, on drums. “We’ve played together since 2000. He’s always listening, he always seems to know what you need,” she says. Multi-instrumentalist John Nastos, guitarist Ben Graves, bassist Tim Carey and percussionist Simon Lucas are also Bossa PDX regulars.

On Diagonal, Kerry provides vocals on several of the 11 tunes. She sang on some of her previous albums, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. “I started taking singing lessons in Portland, and was emboldened to try again to do something with singing,” she says. “I love the Brazilian bossa nova vocal tradition. I love to listen to it, it’s soothing an uplifting to listen to and perform.”

Kerry heads east to celebrate the release of Diagonal at the Jazz Forum on Feb. 23; the gig also marks the New York debut of her originals written for the Durval tribute. Saxophonist Laura Dreyer, a long-time friend and colleague, joins her on the bandstand of the Tarrytown club. “We met in 1996, when we were both in Diva,” the pianist notes. “She’s an arranger and composer who has played a lot of Brazilian music. We’re bi-coastal collaborators, playing together in Oakland, Portland and New York.” Rounding out the quartet are bassist Eduardo Belo and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli.

Photo Credit: Beth Olson Creative

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Cyro Baptista

The Latin Side of Hot House By Raul Da Gama

Cyro Baptista: High Priest of Anthropophagia