Nasheet Waits, Tierney Sutton
January 1, 1970Back to a basic pace this week: the column and the Calendar Jazz Picks.
Jazz Notes this week was a profile of drummer Nasheet Waits, who was in town last night for a duo concert with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann but whose primary gig is with Jason Moran's Bandwagon trio. Waits is the son of the late drummer Freddie Waits, and grew up in Greenwich Village hanging out with another couple of talented musicians named Eric McPherson and Abraham Burton. The three of them still spend a lot of time together in the music studio Waits inherited from his dad.
The pick this week was Tierney Sutton, one of a handful of talented singers this week (another with a new CD out is Jacqui Naylor), a week that has Madeleine Peyroux at the Berklee Performance Center on Tuesday.
I hope to actually catch some of this stuff. Today I'm regrettable missing the BeanTown Jazz Festival, which has some real jazz for a change this year (thanks in part to pressure from New England Jazz Alliance president Ron Gill). Friends are visiting from Chile, and I've got an extra assignment for the Globe due next week. It's hardly the first time I've missed something for lack of time — it happened just this week with Danilo Perez's sets at Regattabar Wednesday and Thursday and a performance by Dave Holland and Steve Nelson at New England Conservatory on Wednesday.
Anyway, back to work for me. Enjoy what's below.
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Beat goes on in Waits family
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | September 23, 2005
Nasheet Waits is proving to be his father's son.
His dad, Freddie Waits, was a much-in-demand drummer until his death at age 49, having backed everyone from Motown talents Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye to major jazz figures such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, and McCoy Tyner. The elder Waits was an original member of Max Roach's all-percussion ensemble M'Boom and was close enough friends with Roach for Nasheet to consider "Uncle Max" a sort of godfather.
Now Nasheet, 35, is finding himself in similar demand. He's the drummer in Jason Moran's Bandwagon and has played the same role for six years in a trio led by Fred Hersch. The venerable pianist and composer Andrew Hill uses Waits on various big band and small ensemble projects. Tonight Waits will be playing a concert with free-style saxophonist Peter Brötzmann at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Waits wasn't thinking of becoming a professional musician early on. He was attending Morehouse College in Atlanta when his father took ill and thinking he'd become a teacher or writer. "I wound up majoring in history and psychology at Morehouse for a couple of years," says Waits, from the Greenwich Village music studio he inherited from his father. "And then, after my father's passing — he passed in '89 — I moved back up to New York."
Waits began private lessons with drummer Michael Carvin, and Roach gave Waits work as a roadie, eventually letting him ease his way into performing with M'Boom.
Waits's best-known association is with bassist Taurus Mateen and Moran, musicians his own age who first came together as a unit backing people not much older: Greg Osby and Moran's college roommate, Stefon Harris. But Waits works with musicians of his father's generation as well. The Hill connection came from Hill's catching Waits at a Jackie McLean set, where Waits was subbing for his childhood buddy Eric McPherson.
"He's been a pleasant surprise," says Hill of Waits. "Prior to Nasheet, I've played with young drummers, but they haven't made the connection from the past to today." Waits's pedigree may have something to do with his feel for jazz tradition, says Hill, who recorded with Freddie Waits back in the day. "I can't say it's genetic, but possibly due to the fact that he heard his father with other musicians."
Waits and Brötzmann made their connection at a jazz festival in Berlin, where Waits had two gigs the same day — one with Hill's big band and one with Moran's trio. After the Moran set, Brötzmann approached Waits about playing together, and a couple of months later they did so the first time in Chicago.
The Brötzmann-Waits collaborations are entirely improvised, says Waits, but "it's not as wild or as unconventional as you might think. I'm hearing song forms within that freedom, and I'm hearing things that he's doing, ways that he's developing his ideas."
The frenzy of Brötzmann's playing often disguises it, but his music reaches back to jazz's beginnings, according to Waits.
"He was playing a lot of things that Earl 'Fatha' Hines taught him, in one way or another," says Waits of previous concerts with Brötzmann. "He's coming out of that tradition. Many times we'd be playing things, and he'd be, 'No, think Dixieland.' There's definitely a link to tradition with the people who are serious about the music. Peter is definitely one of those people."
Nasheet Waits performs at 8 tonight at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 955 Boylston St. Tickets $10 ($8 students). Call 617-628-4342 or visit www.icaboston.org.
Jazz on the march: New Orleans native Donald Harrison, who lost his home to Hurricane Katrina, will march in the City of Boston's 375th anniversary Grand Parade on Sunday with the 14-piece New Orleans Resurrection Brass Band, a group of Berklee College of Music alumni, faculty, and students. The parade will begin at 1 p.m., following Boylston Street from Massachusetts Avenue to City Hall, with a 3 p.m. concert afterward featuring Harrison and fellow New Orleanians Nicholas Payton, Christian Scott, and Kevin Mahogany, along with the Resurrection band and Kendrick Oliver and the New Life Jazz Orchestra. Berklee recently created a New Orleans Visiting Artists Fund to bring musicians displaced by Katrina to campus to share their experiences with students, faculty, and the wider Boston community.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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Calendar Jazz Picks
Scullers, Doubletree Guest Suites Boston, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. 617-562-4111. 8 and 10 p.m. $20, $60 with dinner.
Tierney Sutton (right) may not be the best-known jazz singer in town this week — that would be Madeleine Peyroux, who is coming to the Berklee Performance Center on Tuesday — but she may be the purist. Her repertoire is chockablock with jazz standards by the very composers who set those standards: names such as Rodgers, Hammerstein, Hart, Berlin, Gershwin, and Arlen - but also instrumental standard-setters such as Wayne Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bill Evans. She approaches those familiar tunes, whether singing or scatting, as a jazz artist must, putting her own unique stamp on them and never quite taking them through the same was twice. Sutton has held her working band of pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Kevin Axt, and drummer Ray Brinker together for six CDs, since recruiting them from Jack Sheldon's big band a dozen years ago. Their sixth, "I'm With the Band," was recorded live at New York's Birdland over two nights in March (with Trey Henry taking over on bass on some tunes), was released late last month and seems to be doing its part toward boosting Sutton's renown. That's her on the cover of the current issue of Jazziz magazine.
Fri 9-23 Peter Brötzmann-Nasheet Waits Duo The Boston Creative Music Alliance kicks off its fall season with veteran avant-garde saxophonist Brötzmann paired with one of the jazz's finest young drummers, the latter best-known as a cog in Jason Moran's Bandwagon. Institute of Contemporary Art, 955 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets available in advance from Twisted Village, 12 Eliot St., Cambridge, 617-354-6898, or at door the night of the concert. 617-628-4342. $10, $8 students.