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Metropolitan Room / Hot House Jazz magazine 2017 award ceremony.

Hot House Awards 2017 Highlights


Download Hot House Pdf Here:  January 2018 Hot House Jazz Guide



Guests: Camila Meza and Dayna Stephens

Camila and The Nectar Orchestra will join Buika at Town Hall on Jan. 12 and Dayna will join Kenny Barron at the Vanguard the week of Dec. 12 and will perform with his own Tripdagon trio at the Atrium at Lincoln Center Jan. 28.

Featured artists on Ringtones for Jones' Phones: Ambrose Akinmusire, Becca Stevens and Nicholas Payton

Bandstand Bro-down interview excerpt: Tia Fuller

Jeremy Pelt

Winning Spins by George Kanzler

Two typical characteristics of trumpet players today are that they often double on the fuller, deeper-toned flugelhorn and that they can usually be found as part of a frontline of two or more horns in small groups. The two trumpeters whose new albums comprise this Winning Spins do double on flugelhorn, but their CDs are unusual in that both appear as the lone horn player with a rhythm section, a setting that puts the horn player squarely out front as the dominant solo voice.

Make Noise!, Jeremy Pelt (HighNote), is the latest CD from a trumpeter who emerged three decades after Tom, but stands firmly in the modern, post-bop mainstream. Boasting a brighter tone than Tom, with a crackling bite to it, Jeremy also features his horns with a rhythm section. But his includes Afro-Latin percussionist Jacquelene Acevedo as well as drummer Jonathan Barber, bassist Vicente Archer and pianist Victor Gould.

The album is also a fully unplugged affair, with no electronics or over-dubbed horns. Seven of the eight pieces are originals by Jeremy, the one exception is the modal-like ballad “Digression,” by Simona Permazzi, with one of Jeremy’s most lyrical flugelhorn solos.

Like Tom, Jeremy favors an open horn, although one of the most enticing numbers is the congas-driven “Chateau d’Eau,” with Jeremy seductively employing a tight Harmon mute. Jacquelene opens the album with a percussion prologue to the title track, propelled by the kind of jangly sprung rhythms that characterize open-ended, post-swing 21st Century jazz, Jeremy wrangling variations on a thematic phrase in his mercurial solo.

“Evolution,” prefaced by a two-minute solo by Jonathan, finds Jeremy’s flugelhorn soloing over snappy, broken rhythms and spattering piano chords. On those two pieces and “Cry Freedom,” Jeremy’s playing sparkles with a fiery drive, but he is also capable of lovely, tender moments. His solo on the heartbeat tempo “Prince” is richly melodic and the flugelhorn ballad “Your First Touch…,” with its whispered cymbals, brings out his most lyrical playing.

Crashing percussion and drums hint at salsa rhythms on the energetic closer, “Bodega Special,” Jeremy, on trumpet, engaging in a solo duet with Jacquelene, and Danny unleashing his most impressive solo as a shaker provides the pulse over roiling rhythms.

Jeremy Pelt brings the Make Noise! band to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Jan. 30-31. He can also be heard in alto saxophonist Vincent Herring’s band at Birdland, Jan. 23-27 and with Warren Wolf and Ray Angry, at the Blue Note, Jan. 22.

Photo Credit:  Ra Re Valverde

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Roberta Gambarini

Roberta Gambarini’s Masters Class by Stephanie Jones

Feeling the weight of a microphone in her hand, Roberta Gambarini finds herself on the bandstand between James Moody and Clark Terry. Bars fly by. Hearing both master players spontaneously interpret in real time, she trades along with them and works to internalize what they’re offering.

“I thought, ‘Wait a minute, let me grasp that,’” she says, recalling the moment she realized the life lesson she’d been given that day. “Everything I think I’ve learned, or I am learning—everything I assimilated—I got by listening to the masters of this music.”

For most of her life, Roberta has been listening to the music’s masters. In Torino, Italy, her parents’ appetite for live and recorded music created a daily soundtrack that led a young Roberta first to the clarinet, then to Milan to pursue her career as a singer.

While playing clubs in Northern Italy, she took every opportunity to hear her heroes play live. But as she began developing her sound more seriously, Roberta found living abroad presented certain challenges. “The main reason I wanted to come to the U.S. is because I wanted to have a less sporadic contact with these masters,” she says. “I wanted to be able to talk to them and ask them questions.”

After Roberta took third place in the Thelonious Monk Competition in 1998, she got her wish, and began playing alongside such artists as James Moody, Jimmy Heath and Benny Carter, whom she considers her first real mentor. “I was very fortunate and blessed. In many ways it’s not only musical, but I was honored by their friendship; I received a lot of advice on life. I wouldn’t be doing what I do if I hadn’t listened to all of these masters.”

Eighty-nine years old when they met, Benny already had ended his tenure as a working musician on the road but, according to Roberta, his contribution continued to inspire her. “We’d talk about music,” she says. “He gave me a lot of suggestions. He’d advise me on repertoire; he’d show me charts and arrangements.”

Carter’s influence left a lasting impression on Roberta as she worked through her own repertoire and arrangements. But she cites Connecting Spirits (Groovin High, 2015), her recent recording with Jimmy Heath, to whom she refers in reverence and affection as “Master Heath,” as her most comprehensive lesson on how to deliver a melody.

“Jimmy’s one of the greatest composers of all time,” she says. “So Master Heath influenced me not only under the aspect of playing the horn—although he did, of course, he’s one of the greatest voices of the saxophone—but it’s singing his music that really changed, and is changing my way of feeling the melody. With these masters, every moment is learning; and it’s not only learning about one thing, it’s learning about everything.”

Roberta seems to choose words that reflect tremendous gratitude in every anecdote she recounts. Detailing her experiences with some of the most influential artists of her career, she pauses at the late Hank Jones, one of the more softly sung heroes of the music. “Everybody who plays with him experiences this sort of mystical feeling,” she says. “The sound of Hank Jones’ touch is different than any other piano player’s. We all know he had incredible control of dynamics. It’s not only that. It’s kind of a mysterious quality in that his piano sound, even when he would touch one note, was very rich in harmonics. There was a certain acoustic of resonance to the Hank Jones’ touch that did not depend on the actual physical instrument that he was playing. He could play any piano and out would come that sound—the Hank Jones sound.”

Jones revealed to Roberta his conception of the piano as its own complete symphony. Hearing him play out that metaphor in live performance has stuck with her and helped shape the way she listens. “It would just hit you physically in a way that your ears and your mind—and your heart, of course—would start hearing in a deeper and more vertical way,” she says.

Describing Jones’ expression as “discreetly daring,” Roberta has begun to internalize, from their exchanges, what it means to “serve the music.” And serving the music she loves most requires what Roberta has learned from Dizzy Gillespie through pianist Mike Longo—a concept she can summarize in three words: “rhythm, rhythm, rhythm.”

“If we’re talking about time, we’re talking about the founding elements of music,” she says. “Time, in Black American music, comes before everything. For example, you can play a solo of all pitches that are carefully chosen to sound in a certain pleasing way in relation to the harmony, but if there’s not coherence and the right time-feel, it’ll sound bad. The other way around is true, too. You can play a solo that has a few ‘wrong’ notes, but if the time is right, it’ll sound good.”

Among other 2018 projects, an upcoming record with Cyrus Chestnut and an exploration of Cuban bolero repertoire are keeping Roberta busy reviewing past masters’ classes. But of the information, advice and life lessons she’s processed over the years, one that stays at the forefront is the lesson she learned on the bandstand all those years ago: “When you’re on stage, you don’t have time to stop and reconsider. You have to grasp it. Just by being in the middle and listening in the moment and having to react on the spot—that’s what makes you grow.”

Roberta Gambarini is at the Blue Note Jan. 29-31.

Photo Credit:  Angela Sogi

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David Williams

Another Reason To Celebrate by Elzy Kolb

Right place, right time

Trinidad-born bassist David Williams didn’t plan to move to New York. But while living in London in 1969, he spent a couple of weeks in the Big Apple, visiting family and checking out the music. Among his listening goals was to hear bassist Jimmy Garrison with the 360-Degree Music Experience, including Beaver Harris and Grachan Moncour III. But to his disappointment, the legendary bassist, known for his work with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, was a no-show two nights in a row. David seized the moment, and got the go-ahead to sit in. “I didn’t know the tunes, but I had good ears, and really enjoyed playing with them,” he recalls. As he packed up to leave, Beaver uttered a simple statement that David calls “the sweetest words I ever heard”—“See you tomorrow night.”

 “The rest is history,” he notes with a chuckle.                                           

David didn’t return to London; he went on to play with a roster of jazz giants including Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Abbey Lincoln, Stan Getz, Kenny Barron, Frank Morgan, Hank Jones, George Cables, Abdullah Ibrahim, David "Fathead" Newman, Sonny Fortune, John Hicks, Louis Hayes, Jackie McLean and Clifford Jordan. But David’s favorite gig, and longest lasting by far, was 33 years as pianist Cedar Walton’s bassist of choice. “He was at the top of my list of heroes, an American treasure,” David explains. He spent so much time listening intently at Walton’s gigs, that Cedar’s longtime bassist Sam Jones told the pianist, “If I’m away, call this guy.”

Besides Cedar’s lyrical playing and his gift for writing infectious tunes that instantly became jazz standards, David notes that he was a generous leader, more likely to feature his sidemen than to step into the spotlight himself. “He was always encouraging; he’d say if we looked good it made him look good.” Besides being a musical mentor, Cedar’s worldview also made quite an impact on the bassist. David points out that the bandleader focused on the rewards of playing, rather than on receiving awards.

“What we feel from the audience, what we get back from the listener mattered more to Cedar than getting an award,” David says. “That was so profound.”

Cedar also shared with David that his early goal was to “get” the music, but he eventually realized the opposite had happened: The music “got” him instead.

“Once the music gets you—you submit to it—it’s such a journey. It’s different from just trying to get it,” the bassist observes. “It’s wonderful, it becomes natural to be open and to give. I can’t think of a more rewarding way to live and to get—you get back so much.”

Join David Williams, saxophonist Vincent Herring, pianist David Hazeltine and drummer Willie Jones III in celebrating the 84th anniversary of the birth of NEA Jazz Master Cedar Walton at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, Jan. 18, the day after Cedar’s birthday. “I’ll be in good company that night. We all miss him. We’re hoping friends will come by and hang and maybe bring an instrument or two,” David hints.

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Jay Clayton

Another Reason To Celebrate by Elzy Kolb

A way with words

Singer Jay Clayton and pianist, composer and arranger Kirk Nurock don’t have to struggle to find common ground. The two trace their collaborations to the 1970s. “I heard about Kirk’s Natural Sound choir, and I went over to talk to him about improvising with voice; I didn’t know he played piano till then,” Jay recalls. The two began working together almost immediately, as documented by a YouTube video of “My Funny Valentine,” made at the Kitchen in 1978, and they have made several albums together since then.                           

The two are also both fans of poetry in general and Emily Dickinson in particular, as evidenced by their newly released recording, Unraveling Emily (Sunnyside), blending Jay speaking and singing with Kirk’s compositions and musical montages. “Through the years I’ve played with different poems by E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson and others. I sing freely and make a song out of them on the spot,” Jay explains. “Kirk has been composing and setting Emily to music for a while. Whatever you hear of me on the recording is improvised, it was all done live. I didn’t use my delay; Kirk combined multiple recordings to make these sound montages.”

Kirk plays a “detuned” piano on the CD, inspired by seeing Dickinson’s piano during a visit to her house in Amherst, Mass. “That was a great idea of his; I’m sure her piano sounded like that—untuned,” Jay muses, “Like a church piano, they never tune them.”

Jay starts her part of the process by studying the poems, and once they’re soundly committed to memory, “I just go for it and see what comes out. That’s one of my favorite things—exploring on the spot is fascinating and challenging. People have talked for years about where does word and music meet. It comes out of the message of the poem, so it’s better if you have it memorized.”

During the recording, “For a little while I became Emily. It’s a little bit of an art piece—you have to listen to it from the beginning, we put a lot of thought into the flow of it.” One piece, “I May Remember Him,” sounds like a classic jazz standard. “That’s the way Kirk wrote it,” Jay explains. “We decided, ‘Let’s see what happens if we swing it.’”

Jay and Kirk celebrate the release of Unraveling Emily at Mezzrow, Jan. 23; the duo will also perform fresh approaches to standards and perhaps debut an original composition or two. “This will be a reunion for us, we haven’t played live together for years. We’re just conceptualizing the gig right now. I don’t know if I’ll use Loop Station, but I might, especially on the opening piece, ‘Still We Know,’ which is a collage of her sayings,” Jay says.

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Julius Rodriguez

Fresh Takes by Nick Dunston

Julius Rodriguez is a one-of-a-kind. Although he’s just started at The Juilliard School, he’s been gigging in New York since his early teens, in high demand as both a drummer and a pianist. On his beginnings on both instruments, Julius recalls “I’ve always just played both. I’d never noticed it as uncommon to play two instruments because that’s how I learned. I love drums and piano so much that as a child I’d always find a way to fit in practice on both. Early on, my parents had to push me to practice piano, but whenever I wasn’t at the piano, I was at the drums. Nowadays, I try to keep it pretty equal.”

In addition to his accomplishments as an instrumentalist, Julius is also an experienced composer. On his discipline, he says “Composition gives me the chance to work on how I want to present myself musically. I look up to people like Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and even Stevie Wonder in the way their compositions are extensions of their musical personality.”

The Julius Rodriguez Quintet is at Jazz Forum Jan. 19-20.

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Luis Perico Ortiz

The Latin Side Of Hot House by Tomas Peña

Luis Perico Ortiz: Hasta Siempre

In the past 55 years, Luis Perico Ortiz has influenced the world of salsa and Caribbean music as a trumpeter, composer and arranger for Tito Puente, Machito, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Rodriguez, the Fania All-Stars and Johnny Pacheco, along with dozens of his own projects. As an educator, he has raised the level of jazz and Caribbean music education in his native Puerto Rico for more than two decades.

During his time in New York from 1970 to 1993, Luis played trumpet with a wide variety of artists including Blondie, David Bowie, Dionne Warwick, Engelbert Humperdinck, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, Barry Manilow and The Supremes.

Luis was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1949 and grew up in nearby Santurce in a musical environment. When his parents took notice that he was interested in music, they enrolled him in the prestigious Escuela Libre de Música Puerto Rico. Later, Luis studied at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, where he participated as a soloist in the Puerto Rico Symphony under the direction of Pablo Casals. Also, he is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico.

Shortly after moving to New York City to pursue his studies, he formed a band and, to date, has recorded 24 albums as a leader including the salsa classics Sabor Tropical (1983) and Cafe con Leche y Dos de Azucar (1996) among others. He also formed a company to create radio and television commercials for major corporations including McDonald’s and Kodak.

In 1993 he returned to Puerto Rico and established Luis Perico Ortiz Productions. Between 1993 and 1999 Luis performed and toured the world extensively. Also, he was named musical director of the Church of the Nazarene, where he established the Harmony School of Music, which specializes in meeting the needs of Christian record companies and in 2004 he produced the first Gospel Salsa Festival.

His current teaching credentials include musical advisor of the School of Fine Arts in Carolina, Puerto Rico and director of the Big Band Jazz Orchestra of the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico, where he teaches jazz performance and Caribbean music and leads a jazz ensemble of his own.

This month, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts celebrates his life and music. Luis describes the premise for Hasta Siempre, A Musical Journey: “I want to thank Lehman Center for allowing me to present the show with the elegance the public deserves. Also, I want everyone to know that it is much more than a salsa concert. Over the course of three hours, with intermission, I’ll perform a wide variety of music with a trio, quartet, big band and salsa orchestra,” he says. “Joining me will be Johnny Kenton, Roberto Lugo and Domingo Quiñones. Hasta Siempre spectacularly combines my trajectory with the beauty of Latin American music and culture. Also, it strives to inspire the youth. In my heart, I know my music will live on because I did it with passion and a great sense of responsibility.”

Hasta Siempre, A Musical Journey, a celebration of the music of Luis Perico Ortiz is on Jan. 20 at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts.


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