Click it! —-> We’re ALL Fans! <---- Click it!
Click it! —-> We’re ALL Fans! <---- Click it!
Greetings readers. A somewhat frigid night here in the DC Metro area. I hope those in similar weather conditions are keeping warm.
The other day I perused this category and took a listen to Julian Lage. I had never heard of this nominee until this the nominees list came out, and was pleasantly surprised to find him as a guitarist. Being a child prodigy, musically, is nothing new at all, but being prodigious in a number of different genres and combining them into one style is no so commonplace. Receiving accolades from various music luminaries at such a young age is also uncommon. Being a guitarist, I’m naturally biased to him as a nominee (this goes for Mike Stern as well). What I found myself thinking about his style of music was…it didn’t quite match what I thought a contemporary jazz album should sound like. Lage’s style, to me, has somewhat heavy folk influences across the board and my experience with contemporary jazz, listening to it for 30+ years, doesn’t quite jive what that (I lend the same mindset to Mike Stern’s “Big Neighborhood” with the rock influences, as well). As I listened to the tracks from his most excellent release, Soundpoint, I became increasingly impressed by each song, particularly his rendition of Miles Davis’ “All Blues”. Equally impressive is the height of musical stature that he’s grown into, by not only releasing a Grammy nominated album, but already (by age 21) being a sideman to jazz great Gary Burton. Here’s Julian discussing Soundpoint, released on Emarcy Records:
To me, Soundpoint is a collection of very well done, intricate arrangements and performances that encompasses the mastery of his instrument. I find it interesting that the selections themselves find themselves in this category, but I enjoy them nonetheless. I wonder if he will, in the future, perform his arrangements with a larger electric ensemble or continue bring his compositions in a group such as this. In any event, it will be a welcome addition to my collection
Julian Lage Online
Good evening readers. It’s Friday night, a little after 10pm and I’m finally settled down in the studio after a LONG work week. Hope this blog post finds you well. Stefon Harris and Blackout is a group of young, very talented jazz musicians that have been nominated in Category 44 – Best Contemporary Jazz Album, for their release, Urbanus. As I listen to the CD in the background, I think of the category they’re nominated for, and the category keyword that remains most descriptive is the adjective contemporary. Take a listen to Stefon discuss the essence of Urbanus, the second CD as the group, Blackout
Stefon Harris, is what is known in the jazz genre as a “young lion”, due to, of course, his age in comparison to the age of legendary jazz musicians who have achieved what he is doing, but at a later age. I first discovered Stefon by his second CD, Black Action Figure, which was released in 1999 on Blue Note Records. I’ve always liked the vibes (Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, etc), and to hear a fresh new, and young vibraphonist on the scene was akin to cool water and I’ve been a fan ever since. Fast forward to the more recent recordings from the group, Blackout, He is associated with the subgenres hard bop, post bop and progressive jazz, but infuses comtemporary stylings into his music. He’s quoted in the December 2009 issue of Ebony Magazine as saying “There is a misunderstanding of what jazz is…jazz is incredibly pliable..our music is about the here and now; it is not about the past. People think we’re mixing jazz and hip-hop, but I think that this is what jazz is now. My music is indicative of my generation… and old school artists and fans should embrace all jazz forms”.
I, especially as a musician, agree full circle with that. I’m definitely liking this release, and see Stefon Harris as being on of the primary vibraphonists on the jazz scene for years to come.
Stefon Harris & Blackout
Stefon Harris – Vibes/Composer
Marc Cary – Keys
Ben Williams – Bass
Terreon Gully – Drums
Casey Benjamin – Alto sax
I trust this post finds you well AND in good spirits. Here we are approaching the end of another year…December 2009. While we are close to that end, it’s conversely just the beginning (again) for the annual Grammy Awards…The 2010 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, to be exact. I was chosen to provide the official podcast for the nominees in the Jazz category last year and I am extremely honored to be picked by The GRAMMYs to be the official community blogger for this year’s award category of Jazz. Honored in that this genre represents the indigenous music of America…born and raised here. Even so much so, that the drumset, an instrument so foundational to the genre, was originated in the US.
Jazz, in itself, has taken an evolutionary journey. While the foundations of classical jazz, hard bop, bebop, ragtime, etc are very much alive, there have been many sub genres culminating from the formation of what I like to call jazz hybrids…neo-jazz, nu-jazz, hip-hop jazz, acid jazz, jazz fusion etc. While we do and will always have jazz purists, the evolution of this great musical art form remains to breath life into generation after generation of music lover.
Tomorrow, December 2 at 9pm ET/PT, The GRAMMYs Nominations Concert LIVE! will air on CBS. Hosted by LL Cool J, the show will have a host of phenomenal performances, along with the category nominee announcements. I can’t think of a better kickoff to the greatest and most respected music awards show ever.
This year, The GRAMMYs have fully embraced and leveraged social media to the greatest possible extent, Facebook and Twitter, being among the two major entities. This, I am sure, is just the beginning of what’s store.
The GRAMMYs theme this year is â€œWeâ€™re All Fansâ€ , a mindset and mantra, if you will, that says EVERYONE, from the professional agency columnist to the everyday listener, is a fan of the universal language of music. The GRAMMYs blogger community Twitter link is where you’ll be able to catch not only my thoughts on the jazz nominees but other chosen community bloggers that were given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the nominees they are covering up until the award ceremony itself Sunday, January 31, 2010.
There are some exciting things in store between now and then, so let’s get ready for the ride. Again, I express my sincere thanks to The GRAMMYs for choosing me to represent the bloggers worldwide to represent and cover the nominees in the category of jazz, You know I’ll be keepin’ it jazzy from “hear” on out!