The alto saxophonist and composer Cannonball Adderley made the majority of his noted albums on the Capitol and Riverside record labels. During his early association with Miles Davis as a member of the Davis sextet, he appeared on the influential records “Milestones” (1958) and “Kind of Blue” (1959). He recorded one album for Blue Note Records “Somethin’ Else!” (1958). The album became a jazz collector’s item and a rare moment where Davis appeared as a sideman with pianist Hank Jones, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Blakey.
Adderley’s distinct sound came from his playing music from the total Black experience. His music was deeply entrenched in the jazz tradition with blues and soulfulness in every note. That jazz soul sound was a staple during the late 1950s and 60s with Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson, Hank Mobley and Stanley Turrentine, it was a period on the tail-end of the big band era and folks were still inclined to dance to a soulful tune that just happened to be jazz.
The new Collective, Something Else!, will take off September 6-10 at Birdland Jazz Club & Birdland Theater (315 West 44th Street) with two sets each night. The all-star collective will feature alto saxophonist Vincent Herring, tenor saxophonist James Carter, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, guitarist Russell Malone, pianist Dave Kikoski, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Johnathan Blake.Their repertoire will include classics like “Moaning” by Bobby Timmons, “Song for my Father” and “Filthy McNasty” by Horace Silver, “Blues Walk” by Lou Donaldson and “I’m Not So Sure” by Cedar Walton along with new arrangements from the rhythmic soul moving spirits of an earlier grooving era plus original compositions in the same genre.
For tickets visit the website birdlandjazz.com or call 212-580-3080.
Over the years Jazzmobile, the Summerfest mecca has assembled some of New York City’s finest concert performances from Barry Harris to Carmen McRae, Dizzy Gillespie to Sarah Vaughan and Max Roach. Most recently, Jazzmobile produced another great concert featuring vocalist, songwriter, and arranger Jazzmeia Horn. She was incredible and her Big Band Noble Force were in a moment of critical swinging in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. She literally WOWED the audience. It was a performance where afterward you ask, “dam was she really that good.” Yes, she was. This was my first-time seeing Horn perform after hearing and reading all the hoopla and accolades for a few years now. Although I have listened to her two CDs. “A Social Call” (Prestige Records 2017), “Love & Liberation” (Concord Jazz 2019) and her most recent “Dear Love with Her Noble Force” (Empress legacy Records 2021) performing material from the three albums.
She is one of the few female singers who performs and records with her own big band Noble Force in the tradition of Count Basie and Jimmy Lunceford, which means swinging is a must. The Noble Force anchor is the most sought-after baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall, who leads his group Overt Negritude, as well as having played with Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor and his big band, The Roots, Arturo O’Farrill and the hip hop band Nickel & Dime Ops.
She brings a fresh element to the female singing pool. She understands the true concept of vocalese. Her vocal instrument can rise a few octaves. That evening her notes sailed to the clouds, reminding me of the Ella Fitzgerald TV commercial “Is it live or Memorex!” Her choice of traveled songs, as well as her original compositions like ‘Strive to be Free” are for now covering rhythmic mid-rage and blending high notes with a good sense of timing and phrasing. She is a bright comet flying across the sky, don’t let her out of your sight, you want to keep an ear on her.
The keyboardist, singer and songwriter Bernard Wright transitioned from this earth on May 19, 2022. Recently, a joyous funky celebration of his life “The Light of Bernard Wright” was held at Manhattan’s City Winery. The tribute featured many of Wright’s fellow musicians from Queens, as well as those many musicians he influenced over the years, like the popular jazz-pop oriented ensemble Snarky Puppy represented by three members. Hosts for the evening were WBLS-FM radio personality Fred “Bugsy” Buggs and rapper Doug E. Fresh who were both friends and worked with Wright in his earlier years.
The 1980s Queens-based funk group The Jamaica Boys with former members drummer Lenny White, guitarist Spaceman Patterson, and bassist Marcus Miller (Wright was also a member) were funking it up. The guitarist Eddie Martinez flew in from Portland to play with his Queens buddies bassist Barry Johnson and guitarist Steve Horton all former members of Twennynine, White’s (1979) group following his memorable stint with Return to Forever.
Some of the many performers included singers Nona Hendryx, LaLa Cope, Cindy Mizell, Barry Johnson, Calvin Yarbrough & Alisa Peoples; keyboards Bobby Sparks and Alex Bugnon; saxophones V. Jefrrey Smith and Ed Jackson; and trumpeter JS Williams. Wright’s inspired career included his songs and recordings with such groups as Cameo, Pieces of a Dream, Bobby Brown, Lenny White, Marcus Miller and Miles Davis. “He is in a class by himself,” said Miller. Musicians performed the many songs Wright wrote over the years. “His influence on us was so profound,” noted Snarky Puppy.
Wright was born and raised in Queens, New York which was an incubator for young musicians during the 1970s and 80s. At age 13, he toured with drummer Lenny White and he played with trumpeter Tom Browne at age 16 (both musicians are natives of Queens). “He was like a son to me,” said White.
You can call it the sound of Queens but remember it was the soul of Bernard Wright that played a major role making that sound so prolific in the 1970s through the 1980s.
The highlight of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival was the legend, avant garde pioneer Archie Shepp, who during the early ’70s, made it a point of playing the fiery hollin shouts of the raging Black Power Movement. His Impulse! albums “Things Have Got to Change” (1971), “Attica Blues” (1972) followed by “Cry Of My People” (1973) were great examples of those times that remain today’s most relevant struggle.
As the NEA Jazz Master was escorted to the Tompkins Square Park stage it was easy to see his 85 years had slowed him down a bit. However, once seated with his trusty tenor in hand he was ready to groove, like Serena he did not disappoint. Yes his rapid riffs were slower, binding notes and flying chords were less but his big tone that roar of echoing soul in early years that made your toes curl was still totally present. His deep bluesy melody that grabs your heart was in full force. Of course, his inventive collaborators of pianist Jason Moran and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant brought together another dimension to the art of jazz. This trio is the closest on the bill of what Charlie Parker was about as a creative innovator. Moran plays everything from stride piano to avant garde classical music and hip hop. Salvant is another young vocalist on the rise, a flying comet across the sky. She is constructing her own jazz house similar to Abbey Lincoln’s blueprint. Her repertoire consists of originals and well-traveled songs that she transforms into 21st century novellas. Her lyrical storytelling is captivating. Her vocals were the perfect accompaniment for Shepp’s brash deep notes and Moran’s unassuming melodies.
It’s surprising the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival didn’t have any of the many great NYC alto saxophonists headlining. How is it possible to have a Charlie Parker tribute and no altos, it’s like birds singing and no birds. Musicians performing should at least play one Bird tune as a tribute to the jazz innovator. Or play all Parker music, many younger people aren’t really familiar with his music so it would be a plus. Just saying!!