New hope in New Orleans, new albums, new books, and all that jazz

A quick scan of jazz news confirms pop-oriented jazz is still the name of the game, and new albums and books attempt to keep up with the trends in the jazz world. Here’s an update and sampling of what’s happening.


News from Marsalis Music: Ellis Marsalis Center for Music

The Ellis Marsalis Music Center was conceived by New Orleans natives Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis and constructed by New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity as a cornerstone of its post-Katrina effort. The New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village provides a home for artists and the sounds that have helped to shape the world of music.

The 17,000-square-foot center includes a 170-seat performance space, recording facilities, computer center, listening library, dance studio, classrooms, and teaching facilities for individual and group instruction, and is also a gathering place for the community.

The music center is located in the Upper Ninth Ward on eight acres of land. The Musicians’ Village includes 72 single-family homes, five elder-friendly duplexes and a toddler park, as well as the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, named in honor of the New Orleans native and living legend, jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the Marsalis family.

Young people in the Ninth Ward and the city’s low-income communities have limited access to music education. The center is addressing that need.


More from Marsalis Music

Four MFs Playin’ Tunes is now available for pre-order. To pre-order this new Branford Marsalis Quartet album now and have it shipped or delivered to you on release day, August 7, 2012, visit iTunes, Amazon, or


Bassist/bandleader Marcus Miller at the Dakota Sept. 11-12 

Marcus Miller’s upcoming CD includes original compositions and interpretations of songs by War, Janelle Monáe, Ivan Lins, and the Jackson 5.
Photo courtesy of Concord Music Group

Marcus Miller recently attended an unveiling of a Miles Davis postage stamp in Los Angeles. At the unveiling of the stamp created by Eduardo H. Ruiz Jr., Miles Davis’ daughter Cheryl Davis, as well as musicians and friends of the Davis family, attended the U.S. Postal Service dedication before a concert at the Hollywood Bowl on June 27.

Miller is a two-time Grammy winner who has returned to compose and explore new music for his new album, Renaissance, with a new band of young musicians. Set for release August 7 on Concord Jazz, Renaissance includes eight original compositions with interpretations of songs by War, Janelle Monáe, Ivan Lins, and the Jackson 5.


More from Concord Jazz

Norman Brown and Gerald Albright are two well-known names in contemporary instrumental pop. They have teamed up to deliver the new album 24/7 from Concord Jazz. The album features Brown and Albright along with keyboardist Herman Jackson. Brown and Albright present soulful contemporary R&B. The title track features vocals by Gerald’s daughter Selina Albright.

University of California Press book addresses big  jazz questions

Now here’s what should be an interesting read: Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries, edited by David Ake, Charles Hiroshi Garrett and Daniel Goldmark.

What is jazz? What is gained — and what is lost — when various communities close ranks around a particular definition of this quintessentially American music?

Jazz/Not Jazz explores some of the musicians, concepts, places, and practices that, while deeply connected to established jazz institutions and esthetics, have rarely appeared in traditional histories of the form. David Ake, Charles Hiroshi Garrett and Daniel Goldmark have assembled a stellar group of writers to look beyond the canon of acknowledged jazz greats and address some of the big questions facing jazz today.


Aaron Neville album of classic doo-wop set for fall release

Iconic soul/R&B vocalist Aaron Neville has announced a deal with EMI’s Blue Note Records and will release a full-length album this fall. According to a press release, the record, produced by Keith Richards and Blue Note Records President Don Was, is a collection of classic material from the doo-wop era.

“Aaron Neville is one of the most expressive and soulful artists of all time… It’s such a thrill to hear him sing,” Was says. “His vocals have a way of reaching into your heart and stirring something really deep inside. It’s a huge honor to welcome him to Blue Note Records and to be involved, along with the legendary Keith Richards, in the production of this album.”

All of the tracks were hand-picked by Neville himself. “When I was a kid, doo-wop was like medicine to me,” Neville explains. “I didn’t care what else was goin’ on in the world as long as I could sing along with Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels, the Flamingos, the Clovers, Sonny Til and the Orioles, Clyde McPhatter — I was like a kid in a candy store.”


Next up

The James Carter Organ trio will be at the Dakota on July 29, performing sets at 7 and 9 pm.


Robin James welcomes reader responses to