With the summer dispersing, it’s fast leaving us with just memoires of those wonderful outdoor jazz concerts that featured the sounds of nature with Gotham’s chirping bird solos and those long improvised notes of the crickets that sometimes persisted for hours.
Nicholas Payton, a former young gun who has since developed into an established marksman explorer, will perform at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St.) on Oct. 2 and 3. The New Orleans native will continue his push of the Black music-jazz curriculum in a trio setting featuring the bassist Peter Washington and the drummer Carl Allen.
Payton, the noted trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, will lead the charge, playing keyboards—something that he is doing more often—and adding his vocals to the journey. This engagement is a CD release celebration of his latest recording “Letters,” published through his label, Paytone Reords.
There are 26 tracks on this new double album listed from A to Z. He plays the keyboards and spends time on acoustic and Fender Rhodes piano and the Hammond B-3 organ. “Letters” features his working musicians, the bassist Vicente Archer and the drummer Bill Stewart.
His life’s work is to dismantle the status quo and subvert mediocrity by giving rise to quality. His previous albums hold this concept to be true. Nicholas travels his own path from trios to quintets, to big bands exploring the music of Miles Davis on his version of “Sketches of Spain.”
While it is somewhat difficult to detect the sound of today’s jazz musicians, Payton is one of those with a distinct sound. As he continues his path, that sound becomes ever more evident and pronounced along with his composing and arranging skills.
There will be two sets at 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. For more information, visit www.BirdlandJazz.com or call 212-581-3080.
The monstrous tuba has been trying to earn its reputation in the jazz world ever since some decades ago in New Orleans when it was the rhythmic bottom for marching bands and funeral marches. It still isn’t considered that hip by most, but a few musicians have found the nerve to play this large instrument in this ongoing jazz forum.
One of those carrying on the tradition and who has made the tuba more hip is Bob Stewart. Oct. 10, he will celebrate his third annual Bob Stewart Tuba Competition at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, located at 58 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
The event runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with master classes for strings and woodwinds led by Stewart on tuba and Curtis Stewart on violin. At 6:30 p.m., the Tuba Competition begins. The competitors will include Jose Davila, Steffen Granly and Clark Gaton.
After the competition there will be performances by Stewart and First Line Band and the PUBLIQuartet.
Over the past 40 years, Stewart has established himself as both an innovative tuba player and jazz educator. In addition to embracing the tuba’s historical position as the original bass instrument in jazz, Stewart’s reintroduction of the tuba into a contemporary band setting has encouraged many tuba players and band leaders to explore the possibilities.
As a band leader, recording artist and featured soloist, Stewart’s playing has been featured on over 80 recordings. He has performed and recorded with an eclectic group of musicians such as Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Carla Bley, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Lester Bowie, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Arthur Blythe, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, David Murray, Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin.
When Stewart is performing, oftentimes you can catch him on the Lower East Side, the mecca of the avant-garde devotees. Although Stewart plays in the jazz tradition, he often places his tuba and music into the outer limits of avant-garde.
Stewart also works with Jazz at Lincoln Center as an educational consultant and an advisor to the Rhythm Road project, and has helped to create the curriculum for the Middle School Jazz Academy. Stewart has also won the national Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition while directing the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts & Music and Art Jazz Ensemble.
In 2012, Stewart established the annual Bob Stewart Tuba Competition to inspire tuba players to lead their own ensembles, helping to establish a new tuba repertoire.
Seeing the large, python-like instrument they call a tuba in such capable hands and in competition should be a great learning experience and joy. After all, how often does one get to see a tuba in motion? It is still a rare experience in the world of jazz.
For more information and ticket prices, call 718-622-3300.