Take Five: A Weekly Jazz Sampler

5 Bands To Discover At Winter Jazzfest

fromWBGO

Sameer Gupta sews together sounds from all over the world with Namaskar. i i

Sameer Gupta sews together sounds from all over the world with Namaskar. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Sameer Gupta sews together sounds from all over the world with Namaskar.

Sameer Gupta sews together sounds from all over the world with Namaskar.

Courtesy of the artist

No one questions New York's jazz intensity. When several news outlets — online and printed — make it their mission to document everything improvised in the city, you know you've hit the jazz jackpot.

Parsing through the concert listings can be daunting, but choosing one event to attend on Jan. 8-9 is easy. In the heart of the West Village, there's a music cornucopia that best encapsulates the New York scene: Winter Jazzfest. With five stages and more than 60 bands, the festival highlights mostly emerging talent, with big names such as Don Byron and Nels Cline sprinkled in, and occurs during the 2011 APAP Conference. This is where artists, managers, agents and most importantly music presenters converge on America's music capital to showcase and discover new talent. This is where concert tours are born.

Related: WBGO's Josh Jackson previews the Winter Jazzfest with Patrick Jarenwattananon on The Checkout.

5 Bands To Discover At Winter Jazz Fest

Sameer Gupta

  • Album: Namaskar
  • Song: Salaam

Percussionist Sameer Gupta is cut from a global cloth. Born in India, raised in the U.S. and Japan, and now residing in New York, Gupta sews together sounds from all over the world. He plays a half-standard drum set with half tabla percussion, weaving in swing with Indian raga. His heritage is clearly apparent on his second release, Namaskar, which means "give respect" in Sanskrit. The album pays homage to the Golden Era of Bollywood:  "Salaam" is featured in the 1980 classic film Dostana. Like his music, his band is a mix -- a blend of American and Indian musicians. In this track, jazz pianist Marc Cary gives an inspired performance on Fender Rhodes. --Simon Rentner, WBGO

Namaskar is available from Motema Music.

Aaron Goldberg

  • Album: Home
  • Song: I Mean You

Pianist Aaron Goldberg is better known as a sideman than a leader; he's put in lots of time with masters of the modern mainstream like Joshua Redman, Wynton Marsalis and Kurt Rosenwinkel, among many others. But occasionally his grace and virtuosity are showcased in front of his own groups, generally anchored by his core trio. (Winter Jazz Fest attendees will be treated to Eric Harland, a Tilt-A-Whirl of a drummer, playing his role.) On his latest album, Home, Goldberg's band turns melodic and balladic when it wants to, or suggests Latin grooves, or becomes a hyperkinetic post-bebop hydra. The take on "I Mean You," by Thelonious Monk, shows off the latter nicely. --Patrick Jarenwattananon

Purchase Featured Music

Song
I Mean You
Album
Home
Artist
Aaron Goldberg
Label
Sunnyside
Released
2010

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The Cycle of Love

Maurice Brown

  • Album: Cycle Of Love
  • Song: Fly By Night

Sometimes, and probably more often than not, modern jazz just needs to feel good. This is the approach of Maurice Brown, a trumpeter bred in Chicago, who lived in New Orleans and found sanctuary -- after Hurricaine Katrina -- in the city of New York. His band, the Maurice Brown Effect, signifies his musical journey across America, picking up saxophonist Derek Douget in the Big Easy and pianist Chris Rob in the Windy City along the way. The Cycle of Love revels in the many moods of falling into an intimate relationship -- the excitement, the dreaminess, the routine, and even the disappointment. "Fly by Night" captures the bliss. --SR

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Fly By Night
Album
Cycle Of Love
Artist
Maurice Brown
Label
Brown Records

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

Johnny's Dream Club

Johnny's Dream Club

  • Album: Johnny's Dream Club
  • Song: Ciudad

The generally progressive tilt of Winter Jazz Fest extends to Latin music, as well. Witness Juan-Carlos Formell and Johnny's Dream Club, a group that's bred a different strain of Afro-Cuban jazz. Loud, rambunctious dance music this is not: It centers on Formell's acoustic guitar and wistful, almost spoken singing. His tunes feel like a sort of original folk music, seemingly tossed off with casual mastery, but they wouldn't be what they are without studied jazz improvisers, some of whom are from Formell's native Cuba. The net result is seemingly meant to evoke a hazy dream, an imagined memory of a Havana long ago -- the key word is "imagined," but it's no less arresting for it. --PJ

To purchase this album, visit Amazon MP3 or iTunes.

Isla

Portico Quartet

  • Album: Isla
  • Song: Line

Sounding like soprano saxophonist Paul Winter meeting minimalist composer Steve Reich, Portico Quartet exudes a feeling of airiness and wonderment. The group features Jack Wyllie on saxophones and electronics, Milo Fitzpatrick on double bass, Duncan Bellamy on drums and piano, and Nick Mulvey on percussion and hang drums. The hang -- a steel drum from Switzerland shaped like a UFO -- induces the state of elation. The London group tries to harness what it describes as "world music from the future," a contemporary sound that cannot be easily traced to a specific genre or discipline. Isla features tunes that slowly build in atmosphere and drama: "Line" begins with a sparse rhythmic pattern and progressively layers in complexity. --SR

Note: After publication of this article, Portico Quartet canceled its appearance at Winter Jazz Fest.

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Line
Album
Isla
Artist
Portico Quartet
Label
Real World Records
Released
2010

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

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