The Lead Sheet: Top 5 Jazz Stories This Week : A Blog SupremeRIP Ted Curson, a new jazz singer, the Jazz Composers Collective's modern history, Hurricane Sandy and downtown New York and Miles Davis in 1985. Plus: a Branford Marsalis interview, Arbors Records' Mat Domber, and what the Pittsburgh Steelers radio announcer does in his spare time.
RIP Uncle Ted: The trumpeter Ted Curson died last weekend, the New York Times has confirmed. Curson is remembered for his brief association with Charles Mingus, but also carved out a long-lasting career as a composer/bandleader in his own right. In 1964, after the passing of Eric Dolphy, he made an album called Tears for Dolphy, one of his best — we consider his life (and music) now in memoriam. Here's an October 2006 story on where he was at age 71. [JazzTimes:Ted Curson: More Than A Survivor]
Cecile McLorin Salvant: At the 2010 Monk Competition, a 21-year-old Cecile McLorin Salvant, only a few years into studying jazz singing, took home the first prize with a confident display that involved no scatting and a lot of gumption. A few years later — still very new to jazz singing — she has returned to the U.S. and is preparing to release her debut album. Ben Ratliff heard her recently and tracked her down for a conversation which touches on her provocative repertoire, her "outsider" stance on blackness in America and how new she is to it all. I'm ready for this record. [The New York Times:A Young Vocalist Tweaks Expectations]
Modern Jazz History: In the early 1990s, a group of young musicians coalesced in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, to organize around promoting original compositions. It was a different scene then, where the false dichotomy of "uptown" and "downtown" scenes allowed little space for their middle ground, and they worked hard at booking shows, making (pre-Internet) newsletters and generally raising awareness that they existed. The Jazz Composers Collective is now defunct, but you know some of its members as bassist Ben Allison, or pianist Frank Kimbrough, or saxophonist Ted Nash. A reunion festival hits this week in New York, and Time Out New York has a nice piece; the Wall Street Journal does too but it's behind a paywall. Or, our friends at The Checkout had them into the studio to talk and play. [WBGO's The Checkout:Jazz Composers Collective Studio Session]
Eye Of The Hurricane: Hurricane Sandy hit downtown New York City hard, flooding parts of lower Manhattan, swamping the subways and knocking out utilities for nearly a week. That happens to be where many of the city's big jazz clubs are too, which form the "core infrastructure of jazz in New York." Nate Chinen surveyed the road to reopening and the city's sense of "uh, is it OK to see music again?" [The New York Times:Back in the Groove After the Storm]
Miles Davis, 1985: Miles Davis was always a candid interview subject. As unearthed by The Guardian and the archive Rock's Backpages, he certainly was in 1985 — around the time of You're Under Arrest — when he spoke to an NME writer for a career-spanning talk. Highlights include: opinions on a young Wynton Marsalis, modern standards, the "greediness" of Bird and Coltrane (he gives an alternate explanation of Charlie Parker's nickname) and clothing choices. This is a fun one. [The Guardian:From Rock's Backpages: Miles Davis]