James on Jazz

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Bill Cosby May 31 performances at Orchestra Hall to be rescheduled



Not unlike, some of the jazz artists that Bill Cosby admires, who have mastered their own personal sound and genius approach to improvisation, he, too has mastered those same skills associated with the art of making people laugh with him, and at the same time made that art form look deceptively simple. His prowess as an all-around entertainer is undeniable, so when he comes to town, it’s usually considered a must-see occasion. The 76-year-old veteran comedian, actor, author, and avid jazz supporter was scheduled to bring his signature style of stand-up comedy to Orchestra Hall for two solo shows on Saturday, May 31, but according to a May 14 press release from Orchestra Hall, the shows were cancelled by the performer due to lower than anticipated ticket sales. The intention is to reschedule in the future. Since his 1963 appearance on The Tonight Show, he has entertained audiences with his roles in I Spy, The Electric Company, and the iconic Cosby Show. Continue Reading →

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Shades of Blue, Madlib Invades Blue Note available on vinyl May 27th

Shades of Blue – Madlib Invades Blue Note (originally released June, 2003) will be re-released on newly remastered vinyl on May 27th as part of Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative. “Two years ago, we decided to begin remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor, we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues. Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes… Continue Reading →

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Minneapolis musician selected for Doris Duke Artist Award

Minneapolis native, New York-based pianist and composer Craig Taborn among 13 jazz artists to receive 2014 Doris Duke Foundation awards


Earlier this week, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced the first-ever recipients of the Doris Duke Impact Awards and the third group of individuals to receive Doris Duke Artist Awards. According to the press release, “both awards are part of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, a special ten-year initiative of the foundation to empower, invest in and celebrate artists by offering flexible, multi-year funding in response to financial challenges that are specific to the performing arts. Doris Duke Artist Award recipients receive $275,000, and Doris Duke Impact Award recipients receive $80,000. Since commencing in April 2012, the program has awarded a total of $18.1 million to artists in the fields of jazz, dance and theater.” The 2014 jazz related award recipients are:
2014 Doris Duke Artist Awards

Oliver Lake
Steve Lehman
Roscoe Mitchell
Zeena Parkins
Craig Taborn
Randy Weston

2014 Doris Duke Impact Awards

Muhal Richard Abrams
Ambrose Akinmusire
Steve Coleman
Ben Monder
Aruán Ortiz
Matana Roberts
Jen Shyu


Pianist and composer Craig Taborn is multi-talented in the realms of straight-ahead and free jazz. Continue Reading →

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This weekend, it’s jazz-related concerts galore!

Brooklyn-based ensemble Red Baraat makes its debut at Orchestra Hall on Friday, April 25 at 8 pm. Critics have described their performance as “a shot of pure adrenalin.” Established in 2008, Red Baraat is an eight-piece band from Brooklyn, New York. The brainchild of Sunny Jain, the group has been celebrated worldwide for its live performances of original sound — a blending of North Indian bhangra rhythms, New Orleans brass band, jazz, go-go, brass funk, and hip hop. Sunny Jain is known as a rising star in the jazz world. Continue Reading →

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Hometown talent José James returns to the Cedar

José James and Kris Bowers return to the Cedar Cultural Center on Monday, April 21. Consider this an invitation to enjoy more new music from two young and gifted musicians with new albums.


But this is not just a fantastic reintroduction of two talented artists. It’s a fantastic way to explore music from two men who are potentially on their way to becoming huge influential musicians in the future.  



In January 2013, James played an album-release show with Bowers on keys, but this time around, the Minneapolis-born, Brooklyn-based vocalist will play a pre-album release show to support his upcoming June 10 release, While You Were Sleeping on Blue Note Records, with Bowers opening the gig. His new album is Heroes + Misfits on Concord Records. Continue Reading →

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Lewis, Pizzarelli and McFerrin take over Orchestra Hall

When you’re in the business of moving people–and I mean by way of live musical artistry, it’s never an easy task. If the goal is to have an unforgettable experience with an audience that occurs in the now and that takes people places that they’ve never been before, then Orchestra Hall has arranged something extra special for music lovers this weekend. Pianist Ramsey Lewis along with guitarist John Pizzarelli take the stage on Friday, April 18 at 8 pm to perform a special Nat King Cole tribute, and vocalist Bobby McFerrin performs with his band that includes his daughter, vocalist Madison McFerrin, on Saturday, April 19 at 8 pm. Both Grammy Award-winning artists, Lewis and McFerrin enjoy ever-evolving careers and music making that continues to attract diverse audiences around the globe. They have also, in their own distinct ways, altered the musical landscape with their unmatched virtuosity and masterful creativity for decades. Continue Reading →

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Get ready for a carnival of musical delights.



Heading into this weekend and the next, an assortment of upcoming jazz related shows are set to take place at the Dakota. Get ready for a carnival of musical delights. Actually, it was trumpeter Russell Gunn who was to help kick things off at the Dakota last night, along with his quartet and vocalist Dionne Farris, but the gig was postponed. Farris and Gunn have a new live album, Dionne Get Your Gunn, which Farris released on her independent label, Free and Clear Records.  

One of my all-time Gunn favorites featuring him on electric trumpet and flugelhorn is his Live in Atlanta: Ethnomusicology, Vol. Continue Reading →

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Memorable musical moments from 2013


People have a huge thirst for connection. How well a song or an experience stays with you can be as easy as answering the question, does this art have resonance, or not? If I were to put together a musically inspired compilation of this year’s wide sampling of recorded music that I’ve heard and the live music that I’ve experienced this year, it would include an amazing group of talented artists who continue to challenge themselves as they give us something creative and personal. As I surf the memories of my mind from this year I can’t help but start at the beginning. To kick off 2013 in spectacular fashion was Minneapolis native and Blue Note Records artist Jose James who performed music
from his album No Beginning No End. Continue Reading →

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Marcus Roberts Trio performing at the Dakota










On Wednesday, November 6, for two sets only, the Marcus Roberts Trio returns to the Dakota stage to bring its well-known one-of-a-kind virtuosity to local audiences. And for a group that was founded in 1995, they’ve come a long way in 18 years. If you’ve been lucky enough to witness this trio in action over the last few years, consider yourself well aware of what these sets might be like this time around. If you’re planning to see Roberts for the first time, prepare to thoroughly enjoy yourself. This concert will no doubt be one of the best presented by the Dakota this year. Continue Reading →

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New music, new events and a dedication for 2013


Welcome to 2013. “When you’re moving in the positive, your destination is the brightest star,” Stevie Wonder sings, and so there it is, the goal for 2013. Looking ahead, here are some news items to help usher in your 2013 in a terrific and positive way. Plus, my top albums of 2012.  

It’s Miller Time — sort of

“Miller Time” premiered Sunday, January 6, on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Continue Reading →

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