Matt Bauder is a saxophonist who plays with a full, fluid sound that also features that breathy whisper reminiscent of Gene Ammons or Ellery Eskelin. In 2011, Downbeat stated that "he has a gift for isolating a musical language, mastering it and then introducing a personalizing twist." This is exactly what he has done with his two newest bands, Hearing Things and Day in Pictures. Also an active sideman, Matt might be the first musician to play with both Anthony Braxton and Arcade Fire.
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This is a special podcast series where we will take a closer look at just one album. Over the next four episodes, we’ll dive into trombonist and composer Alan Ferber’s latest release, Roots and Transitions. I’ll talk with Alan, along with members of his nonet about the process of composing and recording the album.
In June of 2013, Alan received a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America to compose an hour long suite of music for the nonet that he has led for over ten years. A few months later, he and his wife Jody welcomed the birth of their son Theo. The culminating suite of music, Roots and Transitions, is inspired by the first few months of Theo’s life--during which he shifted quickly between periods of calm, or “rootedness,” followed by periods of rapid change, or “transitions.” Alan employed these concepts throughout the album.
Renku, the long standing trio featuring Michaël Attias, John Hebert and Satoshi Takeishi, showcases collaboration and a true band sound. Their new album Live in Greenwich Village was recorded over two nights at the Greenwich House.
Each member of Renku integrate their sound. They improvise collectively but always sound like they have complete trust and comfort in whichever direction someone decides to take the composition they are playing. To me, this music features some of the best qualities that improvisation can promote - empathy, bravery, and joy.
All of these traits could also describe Michaël Attias as an improviser. He’s a dynamic saxophonist whose playing is melodic and loose. He can access both a quiet, focused sound followed by a full and aggressive sound often in the same melody. His improvisations are captivating and fresh and sound at the same time new and old. In this conversation, we talk about the origins of Renku, the time he spent growing up in Paris and Minneapolis, and the changing landscape of New York City.
Allison Miller is a malleable drummer and composer whose playing is not overtly showy but features deep and sophisticated groove. Her drumming brings to mind Questlove and John Bonham filtered through jazz music. Her band Boom Tic Boom recently released their fourth album Otis Was A Polar Bear on Royal Potato Family. It features most of my favorite musicians including Jenny Scheinmann on violin, Kirk Knuffke on cornet, Ben Goldberg on clarinets, Myra Melford on piano, and Todd Sickafoose on bass. These musicians each have a distinct sound on their instrument and are willing to take risks. The album is infectious and joyful which is no surprise since it is influenced by the birth of Allison’s daughter Josie.
Saxophonist and guitarist David Crowell has played with the likes of Phillip Glass and the Bang on a Can All Stars. He’s also an acclaimed composer whose chamber works have been played at some of the best new music festivals across the country. I first experienced his music in a dingy Williamsburg bar with his band Empyrean Atlas. They draw on minimalism and afro-pop to create a infectious swirling kind of groove that sounds like nothing else you have ever heard before. The recently released their second album Inner Circle.
Saxophonist Michael Blake seems to change his approach on every album he makes. No matter if that context is avant-garde, electronic, or swing, what shines through is his distinctive saxophone voice and compositional style. Michael’s saxophone playing can be soulful or technical and fully embraces spontaneity and interaction. He is surely one of the most underrated saxophonists on the scene today.
In 2013, he received the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works grant and started working on his most straight ahead album to date. Tiddy Boom is a hard swinging tribute to tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. Michael filtered the contrasting styles of each saxophonist through his own voice to compose a suite of brand new music that is both old school and timeless. This is the best example to date of Michael throwing down on the saxophone!
JP Schlegelmilch plays piano, keyboards, and accordion in a number of projects that draw on jazz, rock, folk, and classical music. In a world of so-called “bands” where members are replaced for every gig, he has had a remarkable streak of playing in truly collaborative, leaderless ensembles. Old Time Musketry just released their second album, Drifter, on NCM East (You can download a track off this album on our second mixtape!) NOOK self released their second album, Recrystallize. He's also a part of a brand new band called Hearing Things that just got back from a tour opening for Will Butler (of Arcade Fire.)
Be sure to check out Old Time Musketry at their record release show Sunday, April 5th at Cornelia Street Cafe.
For our fortieth podcast, our guest is trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle. You may have heard him playing trombone with this likes of Maria Schneider, Sufjan Stevens or DAVID BOWIE. Still, It’s his own creative music that has us buzzing. His latest project, Catharsis, features horns, acoustic bass, and drums. For their sophomore release titled Into the Zone he decided to add vocals due to what he describes as the “natural, brutally honest nature of the human voice.” His compositions draw on singable melodies and subtly complex harmonies to create a band sound that you can’t help but enjoy.
Saxophonist Marike van Dijk grew up in the Netherlands with a father who was an Olympic speed skater. From him, she learned about persistence and moving forward. Using these lessons, she expanded the scope of her compositions for her new album, The Stereography Project. She channels her experiences playing straight ahead jazz, modern classical and punk rock into a large ensemble that features five horns, a string quartet, a rhythm section and vocals. The results are magical. On the pod, we talk about saxophone, her approach to composition, and robots.
Be sure to check out her record release shows on Sunday, March 15th at St. Peter's Church and on Sunday, April 5th at ShapeShifter Lab.
This week on the pod, I’m joined by John McNeil, Jeremy Udden, and Aryeh Kobrinsky of the band Hush Point. They recently released the follow up to 2013’s self-titled debut titled Blues and Reds on Sunnyside Records. For the past few years, they've been developing a band sound based on communication, interaction, and swing. The New York Times describes their newest album as “…surprising music, much of it a kind of x-rayed blues language” We talk about how they have evolved as a band, their collaborative process, and how John McNeil deals with born again christians.