Jenny Scheinman, JVC Jazz Festival-Newport, Jon Faddis
January 1, 1970This weekend I'm missing the Newport Jazz Festival for the first time in three years. The Globe wasn't willing to pay for a hotel tonight, and I wasn't willing to accept the alternative I was offered: to go down for just one day — Sunday — and put in a 12- to 14-hour day for the couple of hundred bucks it would have paid me. If I'd have gone down for one day, it would have been today, when several of the acts I was most interested in seeing are scheduled, among them the all-star McCoy Tyner septet celebrating the Impulse! record label and Jenny Scheinman's quartet with Jason Moran. Scheinman was the topic of yesterday's column, and she is worth paying attention to all the time — but even more so in the company of Moran, one of the most significant talents of their generation.
The postponed column on Jon Faddis from last week also ran this week, on Wednesday. I caught him at Scullers on Thursday, and he and his wife invited me to come back with my wife and son last night. I did so, and Laurelyn Faddis took a few shots of the three of us with Jon, which should eventually turn up on the newsletter page. At one point, Jon was blowing a lullaby to Abe from a few feet away. He also played a little snippet of something more boppish against Kim's belly, for the benefit of the baby inside. To be honest, Abe didn't really dig the concert itself. He was mesmerized by the first tune, but from that point on began complaining that everything was too loud. His idea of a good time was to go outside with me and go up and down the stairs and escalator leading into the club.
The Calendar pick was Newport, naturally enough. And right at the moment I've got a touch of regret that I'm not in the car headed there. There's always great music to be seen, and it's always a great hang. But I've got family stuff going on at home this weekend. So maybe it's for the best.
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Violinist Scheinman charts a new course with pianist
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | August 11, 2006
When violinist Jenny Scheinman opens the Waterside Stage at noon tomorrow at the JVC Jazz Festival-Newport, she'll be debuting new music written specifically for her big-name, short-term sideman, Jason Moran.
Scheinman's past couple of CDs, "Shalagaster" and last year's "12 Songs," earned spots on several critics' year-end lists of best albums for their soulful, lyrical mix of jazz, folk, blues, classical, and other influences. But this month will be the first time she'll have Moran backing her on piano. Tomorrow they'll have bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jim Black joining them, and Thursday, Scheinman, Moran, and drum legend Paul Motian start four nights together as a Scheinman-led trio at New York's Jazz Standard.
Scheinman, 33, was scrambling to get ready for a quick trip to Lisbon last week, where she would join an expanded version of the Rova Saxophone Quartet in a performance of music from John Coltrane's famous late-period album "Ascension." But she paused to discuss her latest project by phone from her Brooklyn apartment.
"As I'm talking to you, I'm surrounded in sheet music," Scheinman says. "I'm trying to write out all this new stuff I've been writing with Jason in mind. I'm sort of also working toward making a new record in the fall, hopefully with Jason. And so I have like 15 new tunes or something. We're not going to fit in 15 tunes [at Newport], but we'll do some of them."
Scheinman confesses to having been unfamiliar with Moran's work before joining him last year as a last-minute fellow special guest at a Christian McBride concert. The all-star band that night had the audience up and dancing to a wonderful yet "somewhat static" groove, she said. Then Moran's turn came to solo, and he thoroughly changed the dynamic.
"Jason got up and just put these billowy, cool chords over everything," Scheinman recalls. "It was so surprising, and it just changed the whole night. I was lucky I got to play after him — he gave everybody possibilities. It was totally beautiful."
Not long afterward, Scheinman saw Moran perform with clarinetist Don Byron and drummer Billy Hart in Byron's Ivy-Divey trio. "Billy Hart and Jason Moran were amazing together — totally playful and strong," she says. "And Jason has such a tremendous sound. I was riveted."
Those two concerts inspired Scheinman to acquire all of Moran's albums, and eventually to send him some of her own work and ask if he'd like to collaborate on something. When he agreed, she set up the Jazz Standard dates.
In a sense, their pairing marks a flip-flop of their usual roles. The Ivy-Divey group and a stint with Greg Osby early in his career aside, Moran has generally led his own dates, fronting his group the Bandwagon. Scheinman has been most widely heard backing others. She tours occasionally with Madeleine Peyroux, turns up on two tracks on Norah Jones's "Fly Away With Me," and plays in an assortment of Bill Frisell-led groups. (One of them, Frisell's Unspeakable Orchestra, will bring her to Berklee Performance Center in November.)
Leading bands at higher profile venues like Newport and the Jazz Standard is a step up for Scheinman, and Moran jumped at the chance to join her. He relishes the challenge.
"How can you take all of this stuff that you've learned from Jaki Byard and Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill, and incorporate it into Jenny Scheinman's music? Which at times can be folkie," Moran says. "Which at times can be — you know, it kind of runs across the gamut of what the landscape of pastoral sound can be, but in a contemporary way. That's what I'm going to really enjoy working with."
Scheinman says some of the pieces she's writing are closer to straight-ahead than her previous work, because of Moran. Others will stretch him. "There are three or four cartoony pieces in the set," she says, "plus one absurd march currently titled `Blues for Istanbul' — a tricky head with a fast and angular melody over steady marching fifths, [and] an intangible harmonic center. I think it will sit well with his palette."
There are also two gentle pieces she calls "akin to a Chopin prelude," which exploit Moran's undervalued ability to play soft.
"With certain other contemporary pianists," says Scheinman, "I would fear that these songs would go into the schmaltz zone, into a world of bittersweet nostalgia. I've never heard Jason go there — he is able to access sweetness without nearing any cloying or mushy quality."
© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Calendar Jazz Picks
Sat 8/ 12 - Sun 8/ 13 JVC Jazz Festival-Newport
For Adams State Park, Newport, R.I. 866-468-7619. 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. $70 festival weekend, $65 advance; $5 children under 12, free under 2. Repeats Sun.
Granted, this year's JVC Jazz Festival-Newport kicks off tomorrow night at the Newport Casino, inside the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Bellevue Avenue, with a double bill pairing Jane Monheit with the John Pizzarelli Big Band, touring behind its new album, "Dear Mr. Sinatra." But the fullest Newport experience happens Saturday and Sunday, when a steady stream of stars keeps the music flowing on three competing stages. Just a few of Saturday's highlights include main-stage acts George Benson, Al Jarreau, the Robert Glasper Trio, and the McCoy Tyner Septet (Tyner, above) performing "The Story of Impulse Records." Sunday's headliners include Dr. John, Chris Botti, the Bad Plus, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. But that just scratches the surface. For the complete schedule, visit www.festivalproductions.net.
Thurs 8/ 10 Jon Faddis Quartet Trumpet virtuoso Faddis's new album, "Teranga," is his first small-group effort in 15 years, and it's a gem. Joining him to promote it over two nights at Scullers is the rest of Faddis's working quartet: pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and drummer Dion Parson. Scullers, Doubletree Guest Suites, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. 617-562-4111. 8 & 10 p.m. $22, $62 with dinner. Repeats Fri at 8 & 10:30 p.m.
Fri 8/ 11 Charlie Haden Quartet West 20th Anniversary Bass great Haden is a sideman extraordinaire, but the quartet he put together after moving back to Los Angeles in the 1980s is something special, too, a group that explores decades-old American popular music, much of it film-related. Pianist (and standout composer) Alan Broadbent and saxophonist Ernie Watts have been with Haden throughout; Rodney Green mans the drums. Regattabar, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Cambridge. 617-395-7757. 7:30 & 10 p.m. $26. Repeats Sat.
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With horn in hand, Jon Faddis is back in jazz's forefront
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | August 9, 2006
Jon Faddis seems to spend more time directing orchestras these days than he does playing trumpet. Which makes the release this summer of his album "Teranga" — and the tour supporting it that will bring him to Scullers tomorrow and Friday — something special.
Faddis, 53, burst onto the jazz scene nearly 35 years ago and was hailed as a second coming of Dizzy Gillespie. He was a just-out-of-high-school kid who joined phenomenal technique with an amiable, audience-friendly personality. No less an authority than Gillespie himself declared Faddis "the best ever — including me!"
Faddis's trumpeting is no less phenomenal now, but his directing various large ensembles — he currently leads the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble — limits his opportunities to show it off.
"As my wife tends to remind me," Faddis says during a recent tour stop in Atlanta, "one of the things that I do when I'm leading a big band is I tend to shine the spotlight on other members, more so than myself."
Faddis is far more comfortable in the spotlight now than he used to be. After roaring through apprenticeships in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra and groups led by Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, and Gil Evans, Faddis spent most of his 20s supporting himself as a studio musician. This was in the late '70s and early '80s, a period in which work was scarce for most young straight-ahead jazz players. But Faddis says he could have been an exception.
"I was actually approached by [legendary producer] Norman Granz to put together a group and to go on the road," Faddis says. "But I think more than anything it was my own fear — or fears, plural — that kept me from going out and getting my own group and trying to live up to all of the pressures I felt at the time of being the next trumpet player. And studio music was, I guess, a pretty convenient escape from that."
So instead of taking on the role Wynton Marsalis would assume a few years later — the young man with the horn calling people back to undiluted jazz — Faddis began popping up in low-profile roles on high-profile albums by the likes of Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross, and Billy Joel, among many others. His horn was heard, too, on "The Cosby Show" theme, the soundtracks to the Clint Eastwood films "The Gauntlet" and "Bird " and on countless commercials.
A White House appearance with Gillespie in 1982 brought Faddis's attention back to live performance and, within a year, he was leading a combo that included saxophonist Greg Osby and pianist James Williams. His work leading big bands began with a celebration of Gillespie's 70th birthday in 1987, which eventually led to a decade-long run leading the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the group that in 2003 evolved into the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra.
Faddis maintained a quartet all along. For the past several years it's consisted of pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and drummer Dion Parson. But he hasn't put out an album with one since 1991. The decision to shift gears and record "Teranga," Faddis says, is "not a conscious move to do more small-group playing, but it's a more conscious move to do something in my own direction, do more of my own music."
Hazeltine, for one, is glad to see Faddis doing so. "I've always encouraged him to play his original material," says Hazeltine, who's been playing with Faddis for about a decade. "He's got a lot of great compositions lying around."
All but one tune on the new disc are written by Faddis. They include a graceful waltz dedicated to jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker and his ongoing struggle against a life-threatening illness (``Waltz for My Fathers & Brothers"), a song paying tribute via high-note trumpet pyrotechnics to "some very, very important women in [Faddis's] life" ("The Hunters & Gatherers"), a bebop burner honoring Faddis pal and pianist Kenny Barron ("The Baron"), a ballad with guest guitarist Russell Malone celebrating Faddis's wife ("Laurelyn"), and a blues, featuring the comic mumbling of guest trumpeter Clark Terry ("The Fibble-Ow Blues").
Guest percussionists Abdou M'boup and Alioune Faye join the quartet for the album's West African-accented title track, whose meaning Faddis finds particularly significant.
"It's more than just a word," he explains. "It's a Senegalese way of life. It's sort of, I guess, a great manifestation of the golden rule. It's something started by the mothers in Senegal, ensuring that their children will not ever be without, or wanting. And the way it works is that if strangers come and ask for a favor or anything, you take them in and treat them as family. And that will ensure that when their children are somewhere else, they can be taken in and treated as family."
© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company