Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Charlie Parker Interviewed by Paul Desmond

While digging through the John Coltrane archive last week for the 50th Anniversary of A Love Supreme, we also unearthed an interview of Charlie Parker by fellow alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. Recorded in 1954, a year before Parker passed, this rare footage gives us "the facts" behind Parker's prolific technique, and a greater perspective on his concept (bebop), which changed music in the 1940s.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Want more Coltrane? 3 albums to check out...

The 50th Anniversary of A Love Supreme, curated by Ravi Coltrane, closed out last night with 2014 MacArthur Fellow Steve Coleman & Five Elements. For those craving even more Coltrane after this past week's celebration, below are three albums you should definitely check out.

A glimpse of what's to come... John Coltrane's Quartet recorded Crescent in 1964, months before A Love Supreme. The Quartet's sound on both albums is strikingly similar, employing similar melodic and modal concepts, and the use of rubato. Selections off Crescent ("Lonnie's Lament," "Crescent," "Wise One") were performed throughout the 50th Anniversary week. Listeners might also find Crescent more immediately accessible than A Love Supreme

Joshua Redman remarked at the A Love Supreme Symposium: "Check out Transition after you've mastered A Love Supreme." Redman was speaking specifically about the use of harmonic and rhythmic tension and release in Coltrane's Quartet. Transition (1965) was recorded just months after A Love Supreme, and took tension and release even further. A fitting album title, as well.

Unlike Crescent and Transition, Offering (1966) was recorded nearly two years after A Love Supreme. It was released posthumously by John Coltrane on Resonance Records (2014), and features an entirely different group than the Classic Quartet (the group's core included Rashied Ali on drums, Alice Coltrane on piano, Sonny Johnson on bass and Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone and piccolo). If Crescent previews A Love Supreme, and Transition takes the sound even further, Offering is a snapshot of where Coltrane was heading right before his untimely death in 1967.

For a recap of the 50th Anniversary of A Love Supreme, search #ALoveSupreme50 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday, December 12, 2014

John Coltrane, in his own words...

John Coltrane rarely took interviews. As he admits in the one above, "I don't talk much, you know, but you've got me talking." Most jazz fans would immediately recognize Coltrane's unique sound on the saxophone. But this rare Coltrane interview gives fans something unfamiliar: the sound of his actual voice. Taped in 1965, right after the A Love Supreme Session, Coltrane opens up (to an extent) on truth and spirituality, as well as current events, such as the Vietnam War.

The 50th Anniversary of A Love Supreme at SFJAZZ, curated by Ravi Coltrane, goes all weekend long. Learn more at sfjazz.org.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

John Coltrane's "Psalm" like you've never experienced...

In the video above, John Coltrane's "Psalm" (A Love Supreme: 4th Movement) is synced with his A Love Supreme poem. Unbeknownst to many, Coltrane actually sounded out the words through his horn, placing the handwritten poem on a music stand in front of him, and playing it as if it were music. Coltrane vaguely alludes to this in the liner notes (which also includes the poem): "The fourth and last part is a musical narration of the theme 'A Love Supreme' which is written in the context." He also notes, "Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts, fears and emotions—time—all related... all made from one." For Coltrane, reciting the poem vocally, or through his horn, is ultimately one and the same. Syncing up the two (poem and music) conveys just that.

This week marks the 50th Anniversary of A Love Supreme. Learn more at sfjazz.org.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'A Love Supreme' 50th Anniversary

The iconic portrait… from John Coltrane’s 1962 session w/ Duke Ellington, taken by Bob Thiele. Thiele recounts:
"[Coltrane] wasn't smiling and he said, ‘Who took this picture?’ I figured 'My God, he’s going to kill me that these are so terrible.' But before I could say I took the picture, he said, 'This is the best picture of me, ever.'"

50 years ago today, John Coltrane's Quartet recorded A Love Supreme in just one session at Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. We celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Coltrane’s iconic album all week long (12/10-14), paying homage not only to the recording itself, but Trane's lasting influence on all music. Curated by son Ravi Coltrane, the week features author Ashley Kahn (A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album), saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianist Geri Allen, Turtle Island String Quartet, Steven Ellison, Nicholas Payton, Steve Coleman and Ravi himself!

You can find a wealth of news on the 50 year mark below:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Did you give today?

Today SFJAZZ joins the movement for a global day of giving. Supporting SFJAZZ brings concerts, classes and workshops to thousands of Bay Area jazz lovers. Whether it’s big or small, every contribution will help SFJAZZ and the community we serve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

High School All-Stars Alumni Interview: Omree Gal-Oz

November’s All-Star Alumni Interview is of a recent performer here at the Center: Omree Gal-Oz graduated in 2012 from Gunn High School, was a member of the SFJAZZ Combo as well as the Jazz Orchestra, and is now in his third year at USC’s Thornton School of Music. This past Saturday evening, SFJAZZ hosted a double bill in the Joe Henderson Lab featuring the current All-Stars Combo as the opening set, followed by a supergroup of All-Star Alumni as the second set. Omree was our alumni group’s piano talent, and if you were hoping to learn more about that man on the keys last weekend, here is your chance….

Omree performing in the Joe Henderson Lab on Saturday night as part of SFJAZZ's
Combo & Alumni Showcase

Did you start learning piano with jazz in mind? When did jazz come to the forefront for you?

"I started out playing classical piano but switched to jazz when I heard Art Tatum’s version of “The Man I Love” when I was about 12 or 13. I had always been familiar with jazz because my dad plays jazz guitar, but I had never heard anything like Tatum before. At that point I decided to start studying with a jazz teacher, who introduced me to Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Michel Petrucciani. Those were the first guys I ever really checked out. Between the ages of 12 and 15, I went through some jazz education programs, like the Stanford Jazz Workshop and the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop. When I was 15, I auditioned for SFJAZZ."

What is one of your most memorable experiences in the High School All-Stars?

"The SFJAZZ Education program is the foundation for my knowledge regarding modern music. Out of all of the great moments with the program, the outstanding ones were the workshops with the SFJAZZ Collective. Hearing the guys in the Collective talk about music revealed an entire world of musicianship that I was unfamiliar with beforehand. Their mastery of the art form has been a constant source of inspiration."

Do you have any creative projects that you are working on now, musical or otherwise?

"In terms of creative work, I’ve only been studying other musicians. Recently I’ve been working on Art Tatum and John Coltrane’s music. I’ve been looking into the music of others to see what I can learn from them, and to build a better understanding of the piano and music as a whole. I’ve been doing transcription projects in order to get into the details of what some musicians are doing; I recently posted a transcription of McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane’s playing on "A Love Supreme." I did this to see how McCoy approached voicings on that album, and to see how Coltrane responds to McCoy’s comping."

If you could only listen to one pianist's canon for the rest of your life, whose would you choose?

"If I could only listen to one pianist for the rest of my life, I would choose Herbie Hancock. He has produced music in many different eras (he’s still producing music today), and he was a sideman on incredible recording sessions. I really enjoy his playing with Miles’s 2nd Great Quintet, especially on My Funny Valentine, Miles Smiles, and Filles de Kilimanjaro. Of his own stuff, I’m constantly listening to Maiden Voyage, HeadHunters, Thrust, Man-Child, The Piano, and New Standard. Also, Wayne Shorter’s "Native Dancer" and "1+1" are both albums with great playing by Herbie."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Branford Marsalis: In My Solitude

Marsalis Music and OKeh Records have teamed up to release a recording of the solo "Sacred Space" performance given by saxophone great Branford Marsalis at San Francisco's iconic Grace Cathedral during the 30th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival on October 5, 2012.
Standing at the top of Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral has been a part of jazz history since it was completed in 1964 and consecrated by the legendary Duke Ellington with his Concert of Sacred Music, performed and recorded at Grace on September 16, 1965.

Concerts at Grace are an SFJAZZ tradition that goes back to the origins of the organization, and Branford joins the illustrious ranks of master saxophonists to perform in the space including Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Lloyd, Dewey Redman, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Yusef Lateef, and Joshua Redman.

Entitled In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral, Branford's new album captures the feel of the cavernous cathedral and its natural seven-second reverberation – an acoustic environment that Marsalis had to prepare for carefully. "Every room has a sound of its own. There’s a difference between playing in the Village Vanguard, and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and Royal Festival Hall in London; and there is definitely a difference playing in Grace Cathedral, with its seven-second delay. Playing solo interludes in other rooms where my quartet performs was not going to prepare me. I had to hear that Grace Cathedral sound in my head."
In My Solitude contains the complete concert, including a selection of originals and standards, a movement from a C.P.E. Bach oboe sonata, and a set of improvisations that blend harmoniously with the unique acoustic properties of Grace Cathedral.

The album is available as a download, on CD and on 180 gram vinyl.

Listen to a sample:

Read more at the Marsalis Music website: