August brims with more great jazz

Courtesy of Mack Avenue Records Billy Childs’ “Acceptance from Mack Avenue” is due out August 28.

The first weekend in August is usually the time the jazz community gathers at the Newport Jazz Festival. But since music lovers can’t be there in person due to coronavirus concerns, the music of previous concerts has been presented by Jazz Night in America.

Go to to check out The Modern All-Stars: A Newport Jazz Festival Special. Plus, hear sets from Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderley, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. It’s the next best thing to being there.

I’ll always have fond memories of the Newport Jazz Festival from 2005, too many to mention here and now. However, I’m looking forward to getting back to Rhode Island again soon for some new adventures.

Until we can all gather together again for beloved events to celebrate with our jazz artists, there’s still plenty of virtual experiences to be had.

The NEA Jazz Masters is the highest honor bestowed upon jazz artists. This year’s Jazz Masters include vocalist Bobby McFerrin, saxophonist/multi-reedist/composer Roscoe Mitchell, bassist Reggie Workman, and jazz advocate, producer, and curator Dorthaan Kirk.  Recipients will be celebrated with an online event on August 20.

“SFJAZZ is honored to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts to host the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters concert and festivities at the SFJAZZ Center,” said SFJAZZ Founder and Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline prior to the rescheduled event.

The NEA is co-presenting the concert with SFJAZZ. The event was originally set to take place at SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco on April 2, 2020. It was the first time since 2005 that the NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert was scheduled to take place in California.

The 2020 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert will be broadcast at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT via websites for SFJAZZ, the NEA, and NPR Music. For the online tribute, performers who will salute honorees include Terri Lynn Carrington (also musical director), Ambrose Akinmusire, Dee Dee Bridgewater, James Carter, Gerald Clayton, Vincent Davis, Lisa Fischer, Morgan Guerin, Oliver Lake, Jevon Madison, and Taylor McFerrin, Christian McBride, Kanoa Mendenhall, Junius Paul, and Steve Turre, plus the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars. The NEA website will have an archived version of the concert after the conclusion of the event.

Coupled with the fantastic online events, there’s always a variety of new albums to revel in from an array of artists to love and support.

Drummer Joe Farnsworth has a new debut release coming out on Smoke Sessions Records. He recently played music from the album, “Time to Swing” at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City. According to the club’s newsletter, the live-stream concert attracted an audience of 50,000 as pianist Mike LeDonne, and bassist Peter Washington and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who both appear on the new album, performed together on the bandstand along with Farnsworth.

It was indeed a time to swing. Pianist Kenny Barron also appears on the recording that’s due out September 18.

Another great album on the way is from the all-star collective known as Artemis that made an impression at the Newport Jazz Festival a couple of years ago. The self-titled album features vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, pianist and musical director Renee Rosnes, drummer Allison Miller, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and bassist Noriko Ueda, and is due out from Blue Note Records on September 11. Hear the adventurous track “Goddess of the Hunt” and pre-order the album on vinyl, CD or DL:

Pianist/keyboardist Billy Childs also has a new album, “Acceptance from Mack Avenue,” due out on August 28. On this album, he plays with core players saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawiscnig, and drummer Eric Harland.

Childs is well-known as a composer, arranger, and producer and all of that expertise shines on the track “Leimert Park,” a tribute to the Los Angeles neighborhood. On Mack Avenue’s website he states, “On my first Mack Avenue recording, “Rebirth” [Childs’ 2017 album which won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album], I wanted to return to a focus on my jazz piano playing,” recalled Childs. “Acceptance is an extension of that, and the musicians make it very comfortable for me.”