Jazz happenings: new releases, old favorites and more

Immanuel Wilkins’ “The 7th Hand” came out Jan. 28
Blue Note Records

On Jan. 25, NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson celebrated his 93rd birthday. The saxophonist from Philadelphia is a prolific composer with many jazz standards to his credit such as “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” “Stablemates,” “Whisper Not,” and “Along Came Betty,” among others. 

In a Twitter appreciation tweet, a fellow saxophonist—the legendary Charles Lloyd— wished the maestro a happy birthday and said: “Your music, mind, and words have been an inspiration to those of us who follow in your wake.” 

Jazz trumpeter Duane Eubanks also celebrated a January birthday. He released his album “Things of that Particular Nature” on Jan 20, 2015. It’s an oldie but a goody and I highly recommend it. The standout track, “Dance with Aleta” is dedicated to his beloved wife. 

In other jazz news, an expansive Bill Frisell biography, “Beautiful Dreamer” was announced by Guitar World magazine. I recently listened to his duo album with bassist Thomas Morgan, entitled “Epistrophy (Live at the Village Vanguard)” from 2019. Both Frisell and Morgan just won a Jazz Journalists Association Award for best duo, which is well-deserved. 

I was sad to hear that longtime LA Times jazz writer Don Heckman passed away in November 2020. The jazz community only learned of his passing recently. The JJA (Jazz Journalists Association) posted the news of his passing. He wrote about music for almost 15 years. I met him at a jazz club in L.A. in the early 2000s. Heckman was 89 and weeks away from his 90th birthday. He had Alzheimer’s. 

Another saxophonist making news is Kenny Garrett. His album, “Sounds from the Ancestors” has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album (Instrumental). The NAACP Image Awards will air on February 26 in Los Angeles. The show will be a two-hour live television special on BET.

I was happy to learn that Hank Mobley’s masterpiece, “Soul Station ” is back in stock after being re-pressed. It’s an all-analog 180g classic vinyl edition from Blue Note Records. 

Saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, saxophonist Melissa Aldana, and pianist Ethan Iverson all have new music coming out from Blue Note Records in the coming months, so 2022 is off to a great start. Also, the 6 LP Tone Poet vinyl box set “Round Trip: Ornette Coleman on Blue Note” comes out on Friday, Jan 28. 

Wilkins’ new album is “The 7th Hand” and it also comes out on Friday, Jan 28. 

He will tour the U.S. with stops in NYC, SF, LA, and DC. A European tour is planned for him in March. Wilkins played with vibraphonist Joel Ross at the Walker Art Center last year. 

Speaking of vinyl, if you’re a vinyl fan, you’ll be happy to know that Mack Avenue Music has released “Oscar Peterson: A Time for Love, Live in Helsinki 1987.” Fans get three translucent LPs full of magical live music, and fantastic sound quality.  

Great news! The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival taking place April 29 to May 8 just announced its music line-up. Some of the artists performing at this year’s festival include Lionel Richie, Willie Nelson, Erykah Badu, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Newport All-Stars Celebrate George Wein, Nicholas Payton, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, Don Vapple & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, and many, many others. 

Weekend passes and VIP packages are on sale now. To view the full line-up and purchase tickets visit, nojazzfest.com.