Jazzmobile Sessions are now in session at The InterChurch Center (61 Claremont Ave.), on Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Featured guests will be Camille Thurman & the Darrell Green Quartet.
If for some reason you have yet to see Thurman perform, please don’t miss this opportunity. The young tenor saxophonist, composer and vocalist is fierce; her riffs, the melodies in her deep smoky sax tone will have you in rapture. She swings originals, touches standards and a ballad or two. Just in case she doesn’t dazzle you with her horn then she’s back singing and scatting. No, singing isn’t something she just added to her repertoire, she sings. During our last interview in South Africa, she noted, she loves singing but the saxophone is still first. Most scatters vocalize from mid-range but Thurman scats in a high register.
Guitarist/singer George Benson and trumpeter/mumbles singer Clark Terry were encouraged to add singing to their performance by their friend and mentor Louis Armstrong during one of their regular visits to his home in Queens. Thurman came upon her singing quite by accident. She started singing at the early age of four. Years later when she received her first saxophone, a 1967 Selmer Mark VI, she began practicing her saxophone solos by singing and scatting the notes. She didn’t realize what she was doing until an instructor at Jazz in July Camp informed her. Thurman is a jazz double threat so be ready. She has her own style, her own sound. She was outstanding with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and her solos were improvisational magic. Maybe a permanent chair is on the horizon.
Drummer Green adds intensity to the quartet. He is anchored in the jazz tradition but like many musicians he retains elements of his gospel and classical heritage. He has an inventiveness and rhythmic style which leans towards Elvin Jones.
For ticket information visit the website Jazzmobile.org.
Arts for Art, the non-profit organization located on the Lower Eastside known for its most creative avant-garde festival and concerts, returns with its Family Friendly series FreeJazz on Saturday afternoons Dec. 11 & 18, at the Clemente (Kabayitos Theater, 107 Suffolk St.) with additional dates to be announced (Tickets $15/set | Livestream: $5/set). Both the 2 p.m. & 3:30 shows will be interactive. The 2 p.m. show will focus on children’s activities like drawing, dancing, and other interactions led by the artists. December 18 features a special holiday-themed performance with baritone saxophonist and composer Dave Sewelson, founding member of the Microscopic Septet. The series will also include two evenings of music at the Lower East Side club Nublu (151 Avenue C near 9th Street), on Dec. 15 & 22.
At Nublu on Dec. 15 (7 p.m.), Arts for Art will begin with a special quartet led by the multi-instrumentalist and composer Cooper-Moore. The musicians are guitarist Brandon Seabrook, keyboardist Mara Rosenbloom, the imaginative drummer Michael TA Thompson, and Cooper-Moore will break from his piano to play the bass diddley-bow. At 8:30 p.m. the record release gig for bassist, composer, poet and activist William Parker and dancer, choreographer, producer and jazz activist Patricia Nicholson’s “No Joke!,” out now on Esp-Disk. This latest release features an all-star cast with tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, the consummate violist Melanie Dyer, drummer William Hooker, and Nicholson’s free flowing spoken word about what must be said out loud (8:30 p.m.).
On Dec. 22, a double bill featuring Joe McPhee’s trio with Michael Marcus and Jay Rosen, and vocalist Fay Victor’s trio with the outrageous trumpeter Jaimie Branch and the prolific guitarist Melvin Gibbs. Tickets are $20 | Livestream: $10.
For tickets to attend in-person or watch the livestream for all Arts for Art events, see artsforart.eventbrite.com.
The Artists Space on the Lower Eastside was the site for the memorial celebration (12/5/21) held in honor of the genius Milford Graves, who transitioned on Feb. 21, 2021, at age 79. The term genius is somewhat over used today but when referring to Graves the word could very well be an understatement of his contributions to the world. He was a drummer/percussionist, Professor Emeritus of the Black Music Division at Vermont’s Bennington (where he taught for 39 years), researcher/inventor, visual artist/sculptor, gardener/herbalist, data sonification and martial artist. As a martial artist he eventually invented his own style called Milford Graves “Yara.”
His later work focused on the exploration of the music of the human heart (heartbeat) and the connections between music and medicine. When diagnosed with amyloid cardiomyopathy in 2018, his art and research provided pioneering insights.
His friend and fellow musician Hugh Glover offered opening comments. He reflected on their meeting at John Coltrane’s funeral in 1967. Glover described Graves’ performance at the funeral, “Milford’s sound was so uplifting it felt like we were floating in God’s kingdom.” He recalled Graves saying, “William Parker’s bass playing is a layer behind a heartbeat.” In closing Glover noted, “Never underestimate the global impact of Milford.” Performances included such all-star configurations as friend and fellow musician saxophonist John Zorn, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, and drummer Kweku Sumbry; and an improv movement by his granddaughter Tatiana Graves-Kochuthara. His close friend and bandmate, bassist William Parker & Friends; performance with Yara practitioners; and percussionist Neil Clarke and drummer Andrew Cyrille. Videos reflecting his various ideologies included “Graves in the Garden” (he called it his Global Garden), “Milford Graves on BaBi” and “Milford Graves on minor tones.” The native of Queens granddaughter Tatiana stated, “My grandfather was the rock of our family. He was always there for all of us.”
The percussionist Neil Clarke met Graves while studying African percussion with Chief Bey during the 1970s. Even then he said during our recent phone interview, “Milford was held in high regard among the African drummers/percussionists.” He was playing Latin music and African music before he committed to avant-garde. “You see the tree, its branches and leaves but not the seed and the root,” said Clarke. “Milford was coming from the roots of Africa from the beginning. He didn’t talk that much about it, he just did it. He took the African vocabulary and applied it to the free jazz sound.”
Graves has shared such a wealth of knowledge in so many fields, he opened the door for extended exploring and discovery. His treasure chest of music are gems to be cherished and listened to over and over again, each time hearing something new.
Graves noted during a tour of Japan, “I play music to live better.”