View more great pictures from the awards NYC Jazz Fans Decision 2017 ceremony!

 
 
 
 

Metropolitan Room / Hot House Jazz magazine 2017 award ceremony.

Hot House Awards 2017 Highlights

 

Download Hot House Pdf Here:   November 2017 Hot House Jazz Guide

 

 


Fay Victor Roswell Rudd

Voice and ’bone

“This is my favorite story of my musical life,” singer Fay Victor announces as she launches into the tale of how she met trombonist Roswell Rudd. Their long friendship began with a comment from her mentor, pianist Misha Mengelberg. As they discussed Fay’s interest in the music of Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk, Misha declared, “This is a really good time for you to get in touch with Roswell.” 

Fay recalls, “It was so out of the blue, I was taken aback. I was nervous; I thought, ‘Should I bother the great Roswell Rudd?’ I didn’t even have a demo at that time.”

She took a chance and sent an email and the trombonist responded immediately. In the decade since their first contact, there have been hundreds more emails, conversations and regular meetings for the two and lots of hours spent together playing tunes by Monk, Nichols and others.

The result? A new CD, Embrace (RareNoise), with pianist Lafayette Harris and bassist Ken Filiano joining Roswell and Fay. The project “gently evolved over a couple of years,” she notes. “We spent a lot of time feeling out what’s right, then when we got to the studio it just flowed. I can’t overstate the luxury of the time we had, getting this together over years.”

Embrace includes tunes by Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Charles Mingus and Roswell’s life partner, Verna Gillis, among others. It will be out in time for the trombonist’s 82nd birthday on Nov. 17. Celebrate a day early at a birthday tribute concert honoring Rudd (aka “The Incredible Honk”) at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Nov. 16. Special guest NEA Jazz Master saxophonist Archie Shepp joins Fay, Lafayette and Ken in presenting material from the new album. Also on hand to join in the festivities: Trumpeter Steven Bernstein and SexMob (saxophonist Briggan Krauss, drummer Kenny Wollesen, bassist Mark Helias); Trombone Tribe (Josh Roseman, Art Baron, Greg Glassman, Ray Anderson, Deborah Weisz, Steve Swell and Bob Stewart); and other Roswell friends and collaborators such as Terry Adams, Emily Haines, Sheila Jordan and Heather Masse.

Fay plans to release a live recording of Herbie Nichols’ compositions in 2018. “For understanding Herbie Nichols, the best person on the planet is Roswell Rudd, he’s an incredible resource. I thought it would be a dream to play with Roswell, which I never expected—I thought talking to him would be a lot,” she reveals. Roswell attended one of Fay's Herbie Nichols project gigs in 2013: “I’m honored to say he loved it and thought Herbie Nichols would have been proud to hear the avenues I pursued with the music.”

In addition to the Roswell birthday tribute, you can catch Fay at The Stone Nov. 4 and at the 55 Bar Nov. 30.

Photo Credit:  Richard Koek

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Todd Coolman

Todd Coolman: In Pursuance of Swing by Michael G. Nastos

Bassist Todd Coolman has no problem being identified as a cool cat in music, just based on his surname. Great branding aside, he is one of the more in-demand sidemen in mainstream jazz and has been for many years. An accomplished performer and sometimes bandleader, with two books about his noble upright instrument to his credit, Todd is known in the industry as one of the very best, though he rarely rates high in critics' polls. But those who use, employ and love his style and ability don't have to be convinced how talented he is.

As a two-time Grammy Award winner, contributor on many recordings, and someone who is the epitome of dependable, Todd has graced many straight-ahead projects with class, verve and dignity. He has a small but potent discography as a leader, including the trio date Tomorrows (BRC International), Lexicon featuring the late Joe Henderson (Double Time Records), and the ArtistShare Perfect Strangers. And he recently made available an online tutorial video and instructional course Jazz Acoustic Bass Playing for the Novice.

In NYC since 1978, the Gary, Ind. native has played with some of the true greats in jazz including James Moody, Gerry Mulligan, Horace Silver, Benny Golson, Tommy Flanagan, Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Lionel Hampton and Benny Goodman. Aside from his clear artistry, Todd is a distinguished professor of music at SUNY Purchase and the Skidmore Jazz Institute; also a lecturer, clinician and researcher, he received his doctorate at NYU in 1997.

When asked about the origins of his name he says, "Our family records are very incomplete, likely destroyed in one European war or another. We believe the surname Coolman is an Ellis Island derivative. Likely stated as 'Kuhlmann,' it may have then been entered into the record as, 'Coolman.' The name Coolman has been in my family as far back as we have been able to trace it."

Playing the bass was decided for him by a middle school orchestra teacher. "I had made a perfect score on a so-called, 'musical aptitude test' we were all given in seventh grade," he recalls. "As a result, I was assigned to the orchestra because the belief was that stringed instruments were generally more challenging and difficult to learn than wind instruments for young people in that age group. I had the largest hands of anyone in my class; the teacher observed that and suggested I play the bass. I took piano lessons briefly at the age of 8 or so, but opted to play Little League Baseball instead."

Regarding the importance of great jazz bass players, Todd states the obvious. "There are practically too many to mention. But in my earliest experience with the bass, I was initially inspired by Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford and Red Mitchell, and Ron Carter. I could easily add scores of names to that list today."

When asked how or if his experience in symphonic or classical music factors into his thinking and style he says, "I believe it does. My undergraduate degree is in classical performance and I have played in many symphony orchestra settings." Regarding the rarely explored bowed or arco technique he says, "I really don't do enough of it, even though I feel I am capable and enjoy the musical possibilities bowing the bass presents. But the mere existence of your question will have me going back to the practice room in a few minutes to address that very situation!"

As far as a format preference of trio, small, larger ensemble or big band, he says, "I would imagine it's all good; it is all good. It really depends on who your cohorts are. I can say that if I had to pick just one setting, I think the piano trio with drums, or trio with piano and guitar are my favorite. I feel my strength is in enabling others to realize their fullest potential. I am not necessarily a musician who, 'makes things' but I aspire to be a musician that 'makes things better' for my being there and contributing what I can to the whole. I actually love being a sideman. It is very satisfying in very subtle ways. My love of the music exceeds any personal goal."

As an ever-evolving musician, Todd strives for perfection based on new horizons. "I am interested in adapting my Trifecta Trio music from my latest recording titled, Collectables (Sunnyside Records) to include a string orchestra with harp. Other than that, I remain enthralled with and will continue to pursue the endless mystery called 'swinging.'"

Todd Coolman performs at Mezzrow Nov. 17-18 with guitarist Peter Bernstein and pianist David Hazeltine. He conducts the Purchase Jazz Orchestra at SUNY Purchase on Nov. 27.

Photo Credit:  John Abbott

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Dee Dee Bridgewater

Winning Spins by George Kanzler

Recordings from the middle of the last century, as heard on LPs and on the radio, are the inspiration and template for recording by a couple of our best jazz singers from two generations. Although they were born 21 years apart, the songs they perform on this month's Winning Spins were first heard during their youth and teen years.

For a more personal take on the past, though still heavy into homage, we turn to Memphis…Yes I'm Ready, Dee Dee Bridgewater (OKeh). While Dee Dee sometimes faithfully follows the original template of the soul records she heard on WDIA, even going to the Royal Studio in Memphis that produced many of the Stax label hits featured here and recording with a core of Memphis-based musicians with classic soul organ-keyboards-electric bass groundings, she also puts her own spin on some of the songs.

Her "Don't Be Cruel" conjures up a very different rhythm from the famous Elvis Presley version, with a smack backbeat and with musical director of the project Kirk Whalum to the fore on tenor sax. A shuffle beat and rolling groove change the dynamic of "Hound Dog," Dee Dee's vocal evoking the title with a growl, her ending a long, improvised talk-sung coda.

Dee Dee says she heard all the music on the album while listening to late night radio as a teen and some songs adhere closer to the original recordings, incorporating a chorus, sometimes heard first, answered by Dee Dee's vocals, as on Barbara Ma-son's 1972 hit "Yes, I'm Ready." The chorus, a gospel-inspired component appropriated by soul music, is an integral part of this album, enhancing such Motown hits as "Giving It Up" and "I Can't Get Next to You" as well as Stax classics like "B-A-B-Y" and "The Sweeter He Is."

One of the pleasures of this album is hearing so many soul classics revived with such passion by a veteran jazz singer. She also records some classic blues including the 1940s standard, "Going Down Slow," pared down to just vocal and keyboard and guitar, as well as B.B. King's signature song, "The Thrill Is Gone," with Dee Dee fully unfurling her powerful voice. She also channels Otis Redding's emotional heft on "Try A Little Tenderness" and caps it all off with her own tenderness on the spiritual "Take My Hand Precious Lord."

Dee Dee Bridgewater sings with the Memphis Soulphony at the Blue Note, Nov. 21-26.

Photo Credit:  Fran Kaufman

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