For the month of March, Blue Note jazz club (131 W. 3rd St.) will present an engrossing lineup of inventive musicians; on March 10-15 New Orleans native trumpeter, composer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.
Somewhere within the deep roots of Africa, his ancestors in New Orleans, the sounds of his generation, and the hipness of NOW, Scott originated “Stretch Music.” He says this new organic genre attempts “to stretch” jazz’s rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic conventions to encompass as many other musical forms, languages and cultures as possible. Jazz is progressive and Scott’s explorations are keeping the artform on the fast track.
Scott always in-tuned to America’s inadequacies released three albums, collectively titled “The Centennial Trilogy (Ropeadope/Stretch Music)”, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recordings of 1917. The series included; “Ruler Rebel,” “Diaspora” and “The Emancipation Procrastination.”
Two shows each night at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. For reservations visit the website bluenotejazz.com.
The most intriguing drummer of this generation, Will Calhoun will enjoy a double engagement at the Blue Note on March 16-18 with his Totem Ensemble and returns on March 23-25 with Will Calhoun Mali Project featuring Cheick T’diane Seck.
At the beginning of our late-night phone interview Calhoun noted, “I don’t believe in styles of music.” Which is perfectly reasonable for someone who has won two Grammy Awards as a member of the rock band Living Colour and played with the Rolling Stones. He’s played with Public Enemy, his favorite hip hop group, “I know all their songs verbatim,” said Calhoun. “They are brilliant like Miles and Coltrane, and so necessary in this country.” He noted playing with singer/songwriter Carly Simon was educational, “she gave me some good tips.” He played with African hunters in the bush with Cheick T’diane Seck. “Playing with the Hunters wasn’t easy it is very traditional it took me three years before I finally was accepted to play with them,” said Calhoun. “They play from a spiritual base which is an organic form of the blues.”
Calhoun opens with his Totem Ensemble featuring pianist Orrin Evans, saxophonist Greg Osby, bassist Melvin Gibbs with special guests, vocalist guitarist/vocals Jean Paul Bourelly and Hassan Hakmoun on gimbri and vocals, on 3/18 vocalist/rapper Pharoahe Monch.
“The Totem Ensemble is funk, swing, blues and avant garde,” said Calhoun. “Hassan is bringing straight-up Gnawa traditional music with some Chicago and desert blues. These are elements that aren’t blended together enough.” Hakmoun was the first to invite the drummer to Africa where they played the Gnawa Festival in Morocco. “That trip changed my life, I learned so much more about the music,” stated Calhoun.
Totem Ensemble has a core base but is open to personal changes and new suggestions. “Pharoahe’s verses are going to be Africanized,” says Calhoun. “I want to have fun with this.”
Will Calhoun Mali Project featuring Cheick T’diane Seck with bassist Matt Garrison, guitarist Dave Gilmore, vocals Vivian Sessums with special guests Seck on keyboards and vocals, Famoro Diabate on balafon, Yacouba Sissoko on Kora and Moussa on Ngoni.
“Seck’s music is bananas,” says Calhoun. “Twenty years ago Max Roach told me he is the most knowledgeable cat on Black music in the U.S. and world music from Angola to Gnawa. “We will be playing a West African tribal thing and Mali blues,” states Calhoun. “I discovered some beats in Africa that hasn’t even been played here yet it’s ancient but new.”
With his crazy dexterity and that huge yellow drum kit will be glowing in a blaze of fiery music. This engagement also celebrates Calhoun’s 20th anniversary playing at the Blue Note. In 2000 (Feb. 28-29) he recorded his first jazz CD at the club entitled “Will Calhoun Live at the Blue Note.”
Two shows each night at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. For reservations bluenotejazz.com.
NEA Jazz Master, Grammy Award winner and drummer Roy Owens Haynes celebrates his 95th birthday at the Blue Note on March 19-22. For this celebratory engagement you can be sure a host of outstanding musicians will be stopping by to wish the master drummer happy birthday and perhaps sit-in.
Haynes came to Harlem in 1945 on a one-way bus ticket from the bandleader Luis Russell, who wanted him as a member of his 18-piece band playing at the Savoy Ballroom. From that moment Haynes never looked back. He became the drummer’s drummer, who for seven decades became an innovative force changing the scenic landscape of drumming forever while influencing generations of musicians and singers around the world. Haynes was born in Boston, MA on March 13, 1925.
The way we mere mortals idolize and speak of our iconic jazz legends is the same way they spoke of him. Charlie Parker called him his favorite drummer; Max Roach said (to Charlie Parker before leaving his band) “Hire Roy Haynes.”; John Coltrane, “Roy Haynes is one of the best drummers I ever worked with.”; Sonny Rollins “Roy should be immortalized. I can dig his statue somewhere like the one of Sidney Bechet in Antibes.”; Lester Young “You should be called the Royal of Haynes.”
This will surely be a magical moment. Two shows each night at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. For reservations call 212-475-8592 or bluenotejazz.com.
Allan Harris is a born New Yorker residing in Harlem but they love some Harris with the honey-smoked velvet voice in Miami, Florida. So much so the managing director of South Miami Dade County Cultural Arts Center Eric Fliss stated during Harris’s introduction, “Allan has become such a favorite next time he will have to appear in the larger room [which seats 1,000].”
For this one-night stand, Harris pulled gems from his acclaimed Nat King Cole Tribute accompanied by his intuitive trio pianist Jim Gasior, bassist Dion Kerr, and drummer Lucas Apostoleris. He joyfully journeyed through tunes like “Unforgettable,” “Only A Paper Moon,” to which Apostoleris infused a Latin beat, taking it back to the days of the cha cha cha. “Nature Boy” the hit ballad was converted into an up-tempo swing tune allowing the trio to show off. Kerr bellowing an extensive solo, melodic swing from Apostoleris and Gasior had a little Count Basie tinkle that glowed on every song.
Harris is a saloon singer similar to Bobby Short, Jimmy Rushing and Frank Sinatra. He understands song construction and how it relates to expressing a vivid story, sparking audiences to dance, sing or stand in the corner crying in a bourbon glass. Harris has a stage presence that would cause the legendary Louis Armstrong to smile from his heavenly bandstand. During an interview some years ago the NEA Jazz Master trumpeter Clarke Terry shared how he and George Benson often visited Armstrong’s house in Queens, NY. That is where he informed the young musicians, they needed to add singing and humor to their repertoire. Well, Harris adds witty humor to his act and often plays guitar during his singing. Not to mention his Cross That River Project that gallops down the western music trail.