Stafford does a noble service taking some of Lee Morgan's works and fashioning them into an indestructible portrait of the various shades of Lee. Stafford manages to capture the life and spirit of one of the great trumpet composers of the last century. A lovely album of a lovely man.
Over the past several decades, trumpeter Terell Stafford has built a solid reputation based on the fact that he is a thoroughly accomplished musician who has been heard in the bands of Bobby Watson, Matt Wilson, The Clayton Brothers, and Dana Hall. Although he has digested the complete history of the jazz trumpet cannon, Stafford remains his own man with a style and approach that is squarely his own. This fact is important because in endeavoring to pay tribute to the iconic Lee Morgan, Stafford does not merely copy. He honors Morgan's legacy while speaking in his own voice.
Stafford has assembled a varied and sagacious collection of numbers clearly associated with Morgan. He makes these pieces his own not by grafting on new structures or dramatically altering the forms. Instead, the trumpeter uses the inspiration of these classics to deliver his own stories. From out of the gate, "Hocus Pocus" announces that the fiery personality of Morgan himself is injected in Stafford's own approach to the material.
The original "Mr. Kenyatta" comes on more like a boogaloo than this new version. Stafford puts more of a bossa groove onto the number. Tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield speaks with authority and full-bodied tone, his sinewy closing line then picked up by Stafford to launch his own solo. Bruce Barth barrels along nicely with some two-fisted runs. "Petty Larceny," which Art Blakey fired up to perfection on his own The Freedom Rider LP, also seems more cooled out here, although Stafford worries a six-note phrase in the best Morgan tradition.
Lee Morgan’s status as one of hard bop’s masters of the trumpet is beyond question, but his gifts as a composer have perhaps never been given their due. Fellow brass man Terell Stafford’s tribute collection, BrotherLee Love, produced by bassist John Clayton, stands as a corrective to this slight, its foregrounding of Morgan originals providing an enjoyable reminder that there is much more to Morgan’s songbook than just “The Sidewinder.”
Seven of the album’s nine tracks are Morgan compositions, and from the vigorous samba beat of “Mr. Kenyatta” to the slow-boil balladry of “Carolyn,” Stafford’s quintet runs the gamut of rhythmic and melodic riches. Stafford and tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield turn the melodic line of “Petty Larceny” into a skirling blues fanfare, and Dana Hall’s pops-and-snaps drumbeats are just the ticket for the aggressive bebopper “Stop Start.” Stafford, fortunately, is never content to merely copy Morgan’s vibe. He rips through the changes with the grit and speed of his honoree, but his playing has a warmth and generosity all its own, particularly on the album’s sole standard, Alex Kramer’s playfully seductive “Candy” (Stafford breaks out the mute for this one). “Favor,” Stafford’s compositional contribution to BrotherLee Love, is like fine whiskey, mellow but with bite; pianist Bruce Barth’s bluesy block chords give it just a touch of churchiness.
Stafford and Warfield blend beautifully as melodic accompanists, the latter’s solo on “Yes I Can, No You Can’t” exuding a suave, masculine grace. Barth, Hall and bassist Peter Washington understand exactly what blues-driven jazz like this needs from its rhythm section and acquit themselves beautifully. (Washington’s elastic behind-the-beat solo on “Hocus Pocus” is an album high point.) BrotherLee Love is just the kind of tribute Morgan would have appreciated: Like the man himself, it cuts the BS and gets down to business.
Lee Morgan, the trumpet champ from Philadelphia with his fiery and exuberant style, is celebrated by Terell Stafford on his latest album. Even though Morgan died at the young age of 33 (he was shot dead by a woman friend in a New York nightclub), his output remains vast and influential. His early style is probably best compared to that of Clifford Brown, but most of his later Blue Note albums show his own originality in playing and writing as he became more soulful with each record, starting maybe with his most memorable and also successful song, “The Sidewinder”, which was released by Blue Note on the album of the same name in 1964.
Terell is using one track from this particular album as his opener: “Hocus Pocus” is finest hardbop material, both in its original recording with an astounding Joe Henderson tenor sax as well as in this new recording which features Tim Warfield on sax. A bright and fancy opener which also showcases pianist Bruce Barth with a swinging solo and Peter Washington on bass chiming in.
Lee’s album “Search For The New Land” was recorded in 1964 and released two years later and had Wayne Shorter on sax and Herbie Hancock on piano. From that album, Terell uses “Mr. Kenyatta” and keeps the thrilling staccato lines alive in a sparkling interpretation. “Petty Larceny” is a song that Lee wrote during his stint with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and is featured on Blakey’s 1962 release “The Freedom Rider”. Both Bruce and Terell are featured here with sprighly solos and imaginative approaches.
The standard “Candy” was recorded by Lee on his 1958 Blue Note album of the same name and here, the tempo is coming down to a bluesy wail with ample accompaniment by the rhythm section which also includes drummer Dana Hall. As in the original recording, Terell is doing this dreamy version without the sax.
“Yes I Can, No You Can’t” is from Lee’s album “The Gigolo” (1965) and sort of a second “The Sidewinder” with its boogaloo patterns and is another fine example for the fiery and soulful Morgan side. The album stays consistently swinging and bouncing, like on “Stop Start” (recorded in the late 60s for an album called “The Procrastinator” which was posthumously released) with fascinating parts by both Bruce and Dana or on “Speedball” with cleverly and deftly executed solos by all involved, especially Peter on bass. Another beautiful ballad, “Carolyn” (from Hank Mobley‘s “No Room For Squares” album) and a 12-minute plus original from Terell, “Favor”, round out this smart and sexy album which was brilliantly produced by John Clayton.
What's wrong with people? Here is a perfect little movie with a compelling story, interesting characters, and craftsman-like camera work, and it grosses less than $100K? I recommend you see it and discover a subtle film with a lot of the right touches. It just hit Netflix this week.
Saw this masterful film in San Juan about "el clan Puccio", a real family in the 80's Buenos Aires that commits sequestrations for their own personal gain. Fascinating to see what families will do to justify a life style. Highly recommended when it reaches our distant shores.
Last Friday evening I was fortunate enough to see "El Club" at the AFI Latin Festival-this engrossing film of dark and harrowing violence unlike anything you'll see in more popular American films deals with tradition and culture at its very worst. A must see for any serious aficionado of high calibre cinema.
The 2015 Oscar race for best foreign language may be among the most keenly contested of this year's Academy Awards, but in Pablo Larraín's superbly tough parable of Catholic faith, guilt, sin and redemption "The Club" we already have a very early front-runner for next year's race.
This tart, smart and consistently surprising blend of ultra-serious material and darkly comic execution looks set to catapult director and co-writer Larraín – whose three previous films addressed the impact on Chile of dictator Augusto Pinochet - into the front rank of international arthouse filmmakers. Larraín's 2006 debut "Fuga" made few international waves, but his loose trilogy — comprised of "Tony Manero," "Post Mortem" and "No" — earned significant critical acclaim, even if they now appear, in retrospect, as an extended bout of throat-clearing as prelude to this gem.
Entirely set in a remote, picturesque coastal fishing-village, "The Club" focuses on a humdrum-looking house where four grey-haired priests reside under the watchful eye of Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers). The exact nature of this place "of refuge and prayer" only gradually becomes apparent, following the arrival of a fifth resident, Father Lazcano (Jose Soza). Barely has he set foot in the house than a specter from Lazcano's past, the deeply troubled Sandokan (Roberto Farias) shows up on the doorstep, loudly and graphically accusing Lazcano of pedophile abuse. The priests' reaction sets in chain a series of events which brings sharp-eyed Jesuit investigator Father Garcia (Marcelo Alonso) onto the scene – guaranteeing that nothing will ever be the same again.
"The Club" is a bold and bracing allegory of a church tainted by scandals – most notably pedophile sexual abuse by priests and related cover-ups – and undergoing painful but overdue reform under the current pontiff. Indeed, given His Holiness' flair for publicity and embrace of modernity, it's no stretch to imagine the picture becoming compulsory viewing for all bishops across the planet. But theists and atheists alike will respond powerfully to Larraín's grasp of character, dialogue and narrative development, in a story (co-written with Daniel Villalobos and Guillermo Calderón) whose dramatic convolutions may skirt credibility towards the latter stages but whose finale concludes matters in a persuasive, wickedly witty and provocative manner.
Sometimes listening to Julia Holter is like watching a film of a dream: gauzy, beautiful, the set immaculately dressed and the light in the golden hour haloing the characters’ emotional highs and lows. At other times, her music is like dreaming of a film, something half-remembered or only eerily discernible, as if you’re falling asleep in front of the TV as snatches of a classic romance flit around amid your own concerns and passions. Her style is rooted in her classical training, composition degree, and highbrow references, but has always been generous with its visceral delights.
While still dreamlike, Have You in My Wilderness, Holter’s fourth album, is something clearly felt — the ocean spray on the warm breeze, the sun baking exposed limbs, a hand glancing across your skin before drifting away. Her first three albums each felt thematically tied together in smart, artful packages based on preexisting literature and film: Tragedy ran on Euripedes, Ekstasis worked with modern poetry, and Loud City Songrotated around 1958 romantic musical Gigi. The choice of personal pronoun in this album’s title feels designed, as the songs no longer hinge on an external source. Her previous work didn’t necessarily require any outside reading to unlock its pleasures, but Have You in My Wilderness cuts extraordinarily quickly to the core.
That immediacy doesn’t mean that Holter sings in absolutes or has left behind her poetic ambitions. Rather, the dreams, passions, and uncertainties are drawn in sensory experience and backed by breathing, vibrant warmth. Opener “Feel You” examines the seeming oxymoron of that sumptuous gray area beautifully. She grounds the song in the rainy days of Mexico City, but then fills that physical space with questions (“Can I feel you? Are you mythological?”) and charming confusion (“When the cab pulled up, I laughed/ I forgot where I was going”). The harpsichord, swooning strings, and staccato percussion shift and swell like the tide as Holter walks along the beach and takes in the dizzying sights.
Though not always concretely named, there’s something coastal and aquatic about Holter’s Wilderness throughout. Her vocals are frequently poured through a layer of thin reverb and the instrumentation pulses like waves. The songs’ fusion of classical instrumentation and jazz flourishes, of smoke and romance, of sophistication and warmth makes them feel like a set of postcards from the Mediterranean with stories of love and loss scribbled across the back.
The trio, comprised of Wenzl McGowen (23, saxophone/contrabass clarinet), Mike Wilbur (23, saxophone) and James Muschler (24, drums), have earned a strong following from playing on the MTA’s platforms over the past 2 1/2 years. They’ve also begun to attract the attentions of the wider music world. Last year, the band was spotted by Mike Doughty (formerly of ’90s band Soul Coughing and now a solo artist) who liked them so much, he asked them to open for him on a national tour.
“They were obviously driven,” Doughty tells The Post. “I thought they’d decline [the tour] because there were insanely long drives between each show. But they blew every audience away.”
Since then, Moon Hooch landed a management deal, had a successful residency at Williamsburg’s Knitting Factory and, tomorrow night, the band will open for the electronic jam-band Lotus at Best Buy Theater for what will be their biggest NYC gig to date. It’s a far cry from their humble beginnings at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Greenwich Village, where the members met and started playing around the city.
“The first time we played together was in the summer of 2010 in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” McGowen explains with a unique accent that derives from growing up all over Europe. “That was pretty much just jazz, but I noticed we got more of a reaction and made much more money if we played dance music.”
After the museum, they realized they could play for a captive audience in the subways.
Quickly developing a knack for catchy melodic hooks and funky rhythms while leaving room for plenty of jazzy improvisation, the instrumental three-piece quickly hit their first milestone that very same summer by getting banned from the Bedford Avenue subway stop. “There was a Modest Mouse concert, which got rained out in Williamsburg,” recalls Muschler, who was raised in Cleveland. “So there were a ton of people who wanted to see music but couldn’t, and because of that, we ended up with a huge crowd. It was actually pretty dangerous. People were dancing on the yellow lines, and so the cops said we were a hazard. But we made $350 each that night.”
It’s easy to understand how they could create such a commotion.
Like any subway performer or act worth their salt, Moon Hooch knows that weekends are the best time to hit the platforms, and always draws quick responses.
The cheers rang loud and long for Joey Alexander after he had played his last delicate piano chord in a recent sold-out set at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan.
Beaming at his standing ovation, he stood between his bassist and his drummer, intent on taking a group bow. The scene was sweetly comical: The top of his head barely grazed their chests.
Which only made sense, given that Joey, jazz’s latest media star, is 11 years old.
This was far from his first turn in the spotlight. He became an overnight sensation — not too strong a term — with his guest performance a year ago at a Jazz at Lincoln Center gala, which won him rave reviews. His debut album, “My Favorite Things” (Motéma), is out this week, and he is booked for a series of notable appearances in the coming months, including one at the Newport Jazz Festival in August.
Discovered in Jakarta, Indonesia, about three years ago, Joey moved with his parents to New York last year, with the help of jazz luminaries like the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who called him “my hero” on Facebook and with whom he now shares a manager.
It’s all part of the improbable life of a child prodigy. Joey may be the most talked-about one that jazz has seen in a while, though he is hardly alone. There’s José André Montaño, a 10-year-old blind pianist from Bolivia; Kojo Roney, a 10-year-old drummer who had a concert residency last month in Brooklyn; and Grace Kelly, 22, an alto saxophonist who made her first album at 12. The list goes on, with some prodigies developing major careers and others falling short of their early promise.
It is natural to harbor mixed feelings about this phenomenon, and for a critic it’s all but imperative. The acclamation given to musical prodigies usually involves some mix of circus-act astonishment and commodity futures trading. All the attention lavished on them can distort the ecology of an art form, even while bringing encouraging news about its survival. And, as with any celebrated young talent, there is a question of intention: Who benefits most from the renown these performers receive? Is there a way to marvel at mind-blowing precocity without stunting an artist’s development?
Joey looked like a cherub several years ago when his reputation began to build in jazz circles: small in stature, with a thick mop of black hair over a face that still showed traces of baby fat. He is taller now, though the sight of him at a grand piano can still be disconcerting, especially when you hear what he plays.
How strange that this creative adaption of On The Road with top acting performances by a suite of well regarded actors, superb cinematography, and a precise and sensitive soundtrack could only garner $750K in box office in the US. Proves something is inherently wrong with our country and its warped interest in fast cars and guns. A depressing reality about a film that tells a post WWII story of optimism and search.
Red flags immediately go up whenever a filmmaker embarks on adapting a beloved classic. Walter Salles' long-gestating big screen treatment of "On the Road" provides the latest example: Years in development, the nearly-two-and-a-half hour treatment of Jack Kerouac's seminal novel of the Beat Generation invited immediate skepticism. Kerouac's autobiographical look at his close group of friends and their journeys around the country in the late 1940s has become so closely identified with his prose that any attempt to replicate it would automatically create a certain distance from the material -- or it seemed. As it turns out, "On the Road" does the trick well enough. Overlong and unfocused in parts, Salles' adaptation nonetheless holds together about as well a movie can when the odds are so heavily stacked against it. Like Salles' "The Motorcycle Diaries," the movie avoids falling apart from the outset by not taking the material for granted. Salles, working from Jose Rivera's screenplay, begins with a pensive snapshot of Kerouac alter ego Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) in the middle of his cross-country journey, hitching a ride and enjoying the open road. The atmosphere of his travels comes first, establishing the book's searching nature ahead of its loose plot. From that early point, "On the Road" adopts a serious, low key approach to establishing Sal's world to keeps the characters grounded. From its introductory scene, "On the Road" flashes back to five months earlier, when the New York-based Sal accepts an offer from his pal Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) to visit him in Denver. It's there that he meets Dean's enthusiastic lover Marylou (Kristen Stewart), to whom Sal finds himself increasingly drawn over the course of the movie. Joined on occasion by the Allen Gingsberg-inspired Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge), the motley crew spends most of the movie raising a ruckus in small towns, getting hammered, having threesomes and talking about life. "The only people that interest me are the mad ones," says Dean. As the comparatively shy Sal looks up to his friend to follow that logic, "On the Road" enlivens their adventures with a steadily engaging mood. But that owes more to ingredients that make the movie durable in individual moments than anything from the original book. The filmmaker's use of handheld camerawork, a jazzy soundtrack and all around committed performances help "On the Road" remain steadily watchable even as it meanders through a problematic middle section. Which is not to say its flaws are invisible: Tangents involving a visit the group pays to William S. Burrough (Viggo Mortensen, making a minor cameo appearance), and the marital issues that Dean faces with his estranged wife Camille (Kirsten Dunst, in the Carolyn Cassidy role, fairly bland), drag the material in aimless directions. "On the Road" suffers from a deadening effect as it moves along to no particular conclusion other than Sal's decision, around 1950, to finally write his book. By its end, "On the Road" has made a case for how it can work as a movie and why certain aspects of it never can. In essence, the movie is about the book rather than a fleshed-out realization of it. Setting aside the novel's legacy, however, "On the Road" successfully showcases its main performances. Riley stands out in the Kerouac role, which has a certain soulfulness that echoes his breakthrough turn in Anton Corbijn's "Control." Hedlund is sufficiently overconfident as Moriarty, but Riley's true counterpoint in the story comes from Stewart's achievement as the giddy, pleasure-seeking Marylou, a credible performance made particularly noteworthy for her current fame in the "Twilight" franchise; frequently going nude, speaking up and dominating most of her scenes, she buries her movie stardom with this refreshingly non-commercial gig. In fact, the engine of "On the Road" largely stems from its lack of commerciality. It's usually a bad sign when any movie resorts to putting a writer in front of his typewriter as his prose takes the form of voiceover narration. But "On the Road" only does that near the very end, when it must inevitably arrive at the creation of the text. Before that point, Salles manages -- as he did with "The Motorcycle Diaries" -- to render most of the prose in experiential terms. In the process, the film gets weighed down by the idealism of the original work, but that's also exactly what allows it to convey the novel's sentiments. Criticwire grade: B HOW WILL IT PLAY? IFC Films picked up U.S. distribution rights ahead of the movie's premiere in competition at Cannes, where it received a mixed response from critics but played well enough to suggest it has potential for respectable theatrical returns when it opens later this year, although it may not continue that momentum into awards season.