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Metropolitan Room / Hot House Jazz magazine 2017 award ceremony.

Hot House Awards 2017 Highlights


Download Hot House Pdf Here:  February 2018 Hot House Jazz Guide



Guests: Camila Meza and Dayna Stephens

Camila and The Nectar Orchestra will join Buika at Town Hall on Jan. 12 and Dayna will join Kenny Barron at the Vanguard the week of Dec. 12 and will perform with his own Tripdagon trio at the Atrium at Lincoln Center Jan. 28.

Featured artists on Ringtones for Jones' Phones: Ambrose Akinmusire, Becca Stevens and Nicholas Payton

Bandstand Bro-down interview excerpt: Tia Fuller

Steve Davis

Winning Spins by George Kanzler

Bebop and hard bop and Maurice Ravel may not seem to have much in common, but the two trombonists presented in this Winning Spins have taken them on as subjects: Ryan Keberle in a collaborative project revolving around a Ravel suite; Steve Davis leading a sextet/quintet centered on bebop and hard bop. Both trombonists also demonstrate their compositional talents and creativity on these two very different projects.

That era also provides the basis, in its bebop and hard bop, for Think Ahead, Steve Davis (Smoke Sessions), by a trombonist who has assembled a sextet/quintet in the prototypical model of a small band as it evolved in those years.

Steve includes two standards, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and “Love Walked In,” the first as a Sinatra-tempo ballad, the second taken at a hard bop quick step. Also included is Tony Williams’ hard bop driver “Warrior,” with a percolating solo from Steve, and Bobby Hutcherson’s jazz waltz, “Little B’s Poem,” taken at a quickened tempo and spotlighting saxophonist Steve Wilson’s flute.

Seven of the tracks showcase leader Steve’s penchant for writing solid tunes often with catchy themes, or strategies like bright turnarounds. The latter, on “Atmosphere,” kicks off assertive solos from both Steves (Wilson on flute) as well as tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene and pianist Larry Willis. The pianist contributes a strong solo voice throughout, particularly impressive on “Evening Shades of Blue,” a samba/bossa that belies the color in the title. Steve explores a once-popular offshoot of hard bop, the boogaloo, on “A Little Understanding,” his heraldic trombone solo sandwiched between preaching alto and tenor sax statements.

This album was recorded on Martin Luther King Day last year and a highlight is Steve’s tribute to the American icon. “Mountaintop” rides on a brisk hard bop riff, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash creating a driving groove for Steve and Jimmy who trade solos in diminishing segments, ending in climactic tandem. The closer, “Farewell, Brother” is dedicated to Steve’s brother Peter, who died just days before this recording. It’s a long form piece in the tradition of Benny Golson’s writing, with Peter Washington’s bass featured as well as the horns in a fittingly moving finale.

Steve Davis leads a JJ Johnson Say When All-Star Tribute with a sextet at Smoke, Feb. 16-18 and appears with Larry Willis on piano and Peter Washington on bass at Mezzrow Feb. 23-24.

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Nadje Noordhuis

Another Reason to Celebrate by Elzy Kolb

Two for the show

Indigo, trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis’ new duo album with multi-instrumentalist James Shipp, went through multiple changes in the five years from conception to release, including multiple rerecording and overdubbing sessions, and attempts to mix remotely by email.

 “Indigo was originally just trumpet and vibes, then the album became this whole other thing as we added synthesizers and different layers. James made a wearable synthesizer—he played vibes with one hand and synthesizer bass with the other. He looked like a mad scientist. Our simple duo changed into this crazy thing as we altered the sound. The music had its own idea of what it was, and we had to run after it to make it happen,” Nadje explains. “I studied sound as an undergrad, and am always really aware of it. I love ECM records for their pristine quality. If the sound is not there, I’m really unhappy. If I’m not happy with the trumpet sound, I don’t want my name on it.”

Though the process sounds stressful, the end product doesn’t. “Hopefully it’s celestial, transformative music that’s transporting. It’s full of nice twinkly, happy sounds, which we seem to go for,” she says, but there’s one exception. “James has this hysterical, zany side. On ‘Mercy Dance’ we added effects like distortion and flanging, and when we finished we wondered, what just happened? We started twinkling and pretty and went to the dark side!”

Nadje and James celebrate the release of Indigo (Little Mystery) at Subculture, Feb. 19. Also on tap that night is the New York debut of material Nadje wrote for her quintet, which includes James on synthesizers and percussion, Maeve Gilchrist on harp, Jesse Lewis on guitar and Ike Sturm on bass.

“We play the melody together and solo together—it’s an open dialogue in a way. There’s no swing, no hard bop in this music, it’s more coming out of a European jazz vibe, with some excitement, some edge to it—think of the energy we can create with all the effects and the silly things. Everyone has pedals and technology at the ready,” she notes. “It’s traditional and acoustic, with an added layer, a mix of ancient and modern.”

Photo Credit:  Mireya Acierto

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Andrea Brachfeld

Another Reason to Celebrate by Elzy Kolb

New directions

Flutist and composer Andrea Brachfeld retired from teaching a couple of years back, and has been enjoying the luxury of having time to think, finding that her less structured schedule encouraged her to re-examine her goals and motivations for playing music. “That’s hard to do if you’re constantly working, it’s hard to make time to think,” she points out. Not having a day job fueled her “constant quest for authenticity and truth. To have the same goals as I had in my 20s, 30s, 40s would mean I haven’t grown at all.”

Andrea, who studied flute with Jimmy Heath, feels drawn to bringing more recognition to the flute as a unique voice, strong enough to stand on its own. “Playing flute is enough. You don’t have to play 15 different instruments, though that’s quite a feat. People always ask if I sing or play any other instruments. My destiny is playing the flute, and I’m honoring that,” she says.

Her period of introspection also triggered a burst of creativity, yielding a generous batch of new compositions. The new music reflects Andrea’s recent mood of introspection. “I hope this work I’ve done on myself can be translated into music that will reach people. Now’s the time to go outward, to bring what I’ve learned inside to a more social level,” says Andrea, noting a renewed desire “to reach as many people as possible through music.”

Andrea has been rehearsing the new compositions with her Insight band—consisting of pianist Bill O’Connell, bassist Harvie S and drummer Jason Tiemann, which has been together for about a year. “We came together as part of the process of my wanting to have great musicians who are into improvisations and listening to each other. There are not too many restrictions, the music can go anywhere,” the flutist notes. “All the music I’ve ever played comes into the music I play now.”

Andrea and Insight introduce the new music, written with the support of a Chamber Music America new jazz works writing and recording grant, at a premiere concert at the Columbia University Faculty House on Feb. 25. She will also perform next month at Jazz Forum’s Brazilian Music Sundays series March 18.

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Scott Tixier

Fresh Takes by Nick Dunston

Violinist Scott Tixier seems to be everywhere at once. Whether he’s playing with Stevie Wonder or Kenny Barron, or even working with Hans Zimmer, he still maintains a creative, fruitful career as a composer and bandleader. “Working with some of my heroes has been revealing and has enhanced my creative energy, not only as a musician, but as a human being on so many levels. It might sound a little cliché, but all of those experiences enrich my vision and push me outside of my comfort zone, beyond my fears where there is only room for music.”

The violin in jazz has a rich history and Scott is contributing generously to the lineage. When dealing with critics who have preconceived opinions against the instrument, however, he says “those opinions usually come from uneducated folks and I can only encourage them to dig further so they can open their horizons and range. Every instrument has its own and each individual deals with unique challenges. The question is ‘Do you need music in your own life?’  Or ‘Can you live without music?’ The rest is accessory no matter what other people think about what you do.”

Scott Tixier plays at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on Feb. 26.

Photo Credit:  Jacques Lorgnon

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Edmar Castaneda

The Latin Side of Hot House by Tomas Peña

The Columbian/Venezuelan Connection

What happens when two highly imaginative virtuosos—one an unparalleled Colombian harpist, the other a highly decorated Venezuelan cuatro player—convene at the musical home of John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie? The answer will reveal itself when Jorge Glem joins Edmar Castañeda's quartet this month.

Born in 1978 in the city of Bogota, Edmar took up the harp as a teenager in order to play the folkloric music of his homeland. Shortly after moving to New York in 1994 he discovered the freedom and sophistication of jazz. With no precedent for the harp in the jazz world, Edmar studied the trumpet by day and experimented with his newfound knowledge on the harp at a restaurant gig by night. It was mentor Paquito D' Rivera who discovered the young harpist, took Edmar under his wing and introduced him to the New York jazz scene.

To date, Edmar has released four highly acclaimed albums as a leader and more recently, a duo with the Japanese pianist Hiromi titled, Live in Montreal (Concord Music Group). Also, he has worked with guitarist John Scofield, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, bassists Marcus Miller and John Patitucci, Brazilian pop and jazz great Ivan Lins and collaborated and shared the stage with a who’s who of world-class musicians.

Jorge Glem is lesser known in the United States but no less formidable. The Latin Grammy award winner's universal approach to the four-stringed instrument transcends conventional genres and fuses jazz, salsa, bluegrass, rock and pop. Also, he has recorded three highly acclaimed musical productions of his own, toured the world and collaborated with Paquito, Etienne Charles, Ruben Blades, Calle 13, Guaco and Carlos Vives among others.

Personally and professionally Edmar and Jorge have a lot in common. Both were mentored and ushered into to the jazz community by Paquito. On a broader scale, Colombia and Venezuela share many of the same rhythms, instruments and folkloric traditions. So much so that, according to Edmar, “the harp and cuatro go together, like brother and sister.”

The duo met in New York about three years ago and the connection was instant. Also, both are fluent in the language of jazz and their unique approach to their instruments has taken them out of the shadows and into the light.

At Dizzy's, Edmar is joined by the drummer David Silliman, the trombonist Marshall Gilkes and vocalist Andrea Tierra. Repertoire-wise, audiences can expect music that spans the depth and breadth of Latin America and original compositions such as For Jaco, which explores bassist Jaco Pastorius’ use of harmonics. Also, the gig is about "exploring the possibilities and sharing the vibe," Edmar says. "Jorge and I are passionate players. Onstage, we give 100 percent. Expect a musical explosion!"

Edmar Castañeda Quartet featuring Jorge Glem performs at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Feb. 27-28

Photo Credit:  Diana Bejarano

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