Podcast 943: A Conversation with Samara Joy
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
4M ago
On Straight No Chaser this week, we feature two promising young female vocalists and their most recent releases. Both Samara Joy McLendon and Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim have professionally dropped their last names. Both were winners of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition, in 2019 and 2021, respectively ( Tawanda’s competition was originally slated to be held in 2020 but delayed due to COVID). Both are following well-worn paths of singing standards and modern pop songs with small group backing. And the sky seems the limit for both. Samara's major label debut on Verve Records is Lin ..read more
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Podcast 942: The Return of The Headhunters - A Conversation with Mike Clark and Bill Summers
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
4M ago
Back in the early 70’s, drummer Mike Clark and bassist Paul Jackson were best friends, living in East Oakland, playing flatbed gigs at Black Panther rallies and generally raising hell. Cooking was not their forte, so the barbecue joint next door became a hangout. Mrs. Jones (of Everett and Jones) asked them to write a song to promote the spot, and they came up with the first version of  ‘God Made Me Funky.’ Bill Summers worked with Jackson at the local record store, and he jumped at an opportunity to open a show for Herbie Hancock in the Bay Area. He got the call to audition for Herbie’s ..read more
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Podcast 941: A Conversation with Bobby Watson
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
4M ago
Bobby Watson continues to carry the Hard Bop torch well into the 21st century. And he sounds as vibrant as ever on his latest release, Back Home in Kansas City (Smoke Sessions Records), which was released last month. He’s joined by some familiar faces – his longtime rhythm section of bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Jones along with two stars in their own right - pianist Cyrus Chestnut and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. The album is made up of Watson tunes old and new, as he finally got around to recording a few tunes that he had on the shelf. He has three contrafacts as well – his takes on cla ..read more
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Podcast 940: A Conversation with Marshall Gilkes
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
4M ago
Marshall Gilkes keeps one foot firmly in the world of jazz, and another in the classical world. On any given night in New York, you might find the trombonist playing with the New York Philharmonic, filling in a Big Band brass section, or soloing with a salsa band. He is in demand as part of the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the WDR Big Band, as well as the Slide Monsters Trombone Quartet, and leading his own projects This has led to his producing six critically acclaimed albums, along with his latest work, Cyclic Journeys (Alternate Side Records). Something of a throwback to the “Third Stream ..read more
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Podcast 939: A Conversation with Sammy Stein
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
5M ago
I enjoyed having author Sammy Stein on the podcast so much (check out Podcast 810), when I learned she had a new book out, I had to have her back. The Wonder of Jazz: Music That Changed the World is slim in size but not in scope, as she takes both the jazz newbie and the aficinado on a tour of jazz past, present and future. Backed with a long listening list, it represents the ideal read for those looking to get deeper into this great music. Early Christmas present anyone? Her previous book, All That’s Jazz (Tomahawk Press), received critical acclaim, and her Women in Jazz (8th House) gained th ..read more
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Podcast 938: A Conversation with Bruce Barth
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
5M ago
A pivotal member of New York's Jazz scene for 40 years, pianist Bruce Barth's inspired vision and generous accompaniment has always led to rich musical collaborations, none more so than with his working trio of many years with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Montez Coleman. Their collective voice found its perfect setting, which makes the release of Dedication a profound and emotion-filled moment, as Montez passed away 5 months after the recording session at the age of 48. Celebrating the joy and camaraderie Montez brought to their work, the thread of relationships, inspiration, g ..read more
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Podcast 937: A Conversation with Dafnis Prieto
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
6M ago
I must confess that any album that features Brazilian-born singer Luciana Souza is going to be on my radar immediately. A brilliant interpreter of both American and Brazilian pop and jazz classics, she collaborated brilliantly with Yellowjackets in 2018, and Vince Mendoza and the WDR Big Band Köln in 2020. Her latest collaboration is another smashing success. Grammy-winning Cuban-born drummer, composer, bandleader, and 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto wrote songs and lyrics for his latest album Cantar, (on his Dafnison Music label) a great vehicle for Luciana’s talents.  Priet ..read more
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Podcast 936: A Conversation with Tord Gustavsen
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
6M ago
“Musically, I have the very clear feeling that my stretching out and being creative has a much better chance of happening organically, avoiding alienation and stiffness, when done in energetic connection with my roots – with the sensuality and groundedness of the hymns and the spirituals and the lullabies.” – Tord Gustavsen   Piano players who record on ECM are in some heavy company. Many of the legends of the ivories – Jarrett, Corea, Bley, Iyer – have all had some of their finest work appear on the now legendary label. Tord Gustavsen seems to shrug off these rarified heig ..read more
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Podcast 935: A Conversation with Pasquale Grasso
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
6M ago
Following the success of his digital showcase series of solo guitar tributes to giants like Monk, Powell, and Ellington, Pasquale Grasso has cast his musical net a bit wider. His latst album, a trio recording from the Sony Music Masterworks release called Be-Bop!, is an often dazzling tribute to be-bop pioneers like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.  Backed by his working trio of bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla, the Grasso trio is in sync through super-up-tempo, challenging fare like “A Night n Tunisia.” “Groovin’ High,” “Cheryl,” “Ornithology," “Be-bop" and “Shaw ‘Nuff."&nbs ..read more
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Podcast 934: A Conversation with Dezron Douglas about Tomasz Stańko and more
Straight No Chaser Podcast
by Jeffrey Siegel
6M ago
Tomasz Stańko – one of Europe’s most original and beloved jazz musicians – was born on July 11, 1942, in Rzeszów, Poland, and he passed away in Warsaw on July 29, 2018. In many ways, his life traced the course of modern jazz in Europe, beginning with his tenure – when barely into his twenties – in the band of the great Polish composer-pianist Krzysztof Komeda, through his association as a leader with the iconic German art-house label ECM Records that would produce a dozen masterful albums up to his final release, December Avenue, in 2017.. To mark what would have been his 80th birthday ye ..read more
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