Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 20, 2011  |  5 comments
David Murray doesn’t play with a big band much these days, but he’s got one at Birdland in midtown Manhattan through Saturday, so if you’re in the area, check it out.

In the mid-1990s, Murray fronted a big band every Monday night at the Knitting Factory in TriBeCa (in addition to the various quartets and octet he played with all over the city). Then he moved to Paris and experimented with African and Caribbean music, but when he comes back to New York, he usually returns to his distinctive style of jazz.

He started Wednesday night’s early set with an original, “Hong Kong Nights,” and the band unleashed that special Murray sound from the first downbeat: the reeds blowing a lush harmony, the horns a clipped counterpoint, while Murray tapped into some hidden rhythm of the universe with a Ben Webster tone, a Sonny Rollins cadence, capped occasionally by an Albert Ayler outer-orbit flurry—lyrical and frenzied all at once.

The magic unfolded again, later in the set, with his arrangement of Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge,” proving once again that Murray is one of the era’s great modern balladeers.

Fred Kaplan  |  May 04, 2017  |  0 comments
When David Murray decamped to Paris 20 years ago, the New York jazz scene lost its most distinctive voice: a tenor saxophonist who fused the hefty romance of Ben Webster, the improvisational zest of Sonny Rollins, and the avant skybursts of Albert Ayler. Now he's back, living in Harlem, playing at Manhattan's Village Vanguard (this week, through Sunday) with new and old bandmates, and sounding as lush, adventurous, and shiversome as ever.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jul 10, 2007  |  0 comments
David Murray has a new jazz album out. A decade or two ago, this wouldn’t be worth a shrug (though it would be worth a trip to Tower); he came out with two or three jazz albums every month. Those of us lucky to live in New York could also go see him lead his big band at the Knitting Factory every Monday night and see him play in a half-dozen other bands, as leader or sideman, at clubs all over the city. Then, in the mid-‘90s, he fell in love with a French woman, moved to Paris, broadened his musical palette (playing with Guadaloupean drummers, for instance)—all to nourishing effect, but the few times each year when he returned to New York and hooked up with a jazz quartet or octet again, it was a nearly always a spine-tingling experience (yes, a clich, but it really was).
Fred Kaplan  |  Jul 11, 2011  |  4 comments
Trumpeter-composer David Weiss calls his quintet Point of Departure, an intriguing but risky move from the get-go. That's the title, after all, of Andrew Hill's 1964 Blue Note masterpiece, one of the most appealingly adventurous sessions in post-bop jazz. In short, Weiss has set the bar high. The startling thing is, he clears it.

The band's new CD, Snuck Out (on the Sunnyside label), is a terrific album, one of my very favorites so far this year. Its melodic lines swirl in catchy cascades without quite settling into melodies. Its free-style rhythms are tethered to a structure of harmony while floating clear of strict chords. The music's tight, loose, catchy, elusive, knotty and limber, all at once. The musicians (in addition to Weiss, J.D. Allen on tenor sax, Nir Felder on guitar, Matt Clohesy on bass, Jamire Williams on drums) are first-rate. The sound, engineered by Paul Cox, is crisp and airy.

Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 06, 2007  |  First Published: Dec 07, 2007  |  1 comments
I’m making my way, too slowly, through the latest set of Naxos’ “Jazz Icons” DVDs, taken from TV broadcasts of great American jazz musicians on European tours in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Some time ago, I wrote about Charles Mingus: Live in ’64 (a terrific companion piece to his CD, Cornell 1964, recorded just before and released just last year). Tonight I watched Dexter Gordon: Live in ’63 & ’64, and recommend it highly, too.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 20, 2008  |  3 comments
Last Friday at the Jazz Standard, I saw clarinetist Don Byron play compositions from his 1996 Bug Music, maybe his greatest album, certainly one of the most exciting jazz albums of that decade. It features music from the ‘30s by John Kirby, Raymond Scott, and Duke Ellington—an era largely neglected by jazz musicians and historians.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 01, 2012  |  4 comments
Donald Fagen isn't exactly a jazz musician, but he is a musician who plays jazz and whose music is suffused with a jazz sensibility, whether on his own or as co-leader of Steely Dan, so here we go. His 4th solo disc, Sunken Condos (on Reprise), is one of his best and maybe the best-sounding since the Dan heyday . . .
Fred Kaplan  |  Feb 17, 2010  |  12 comments
It’s been nearly a week since PBS’ broadcast of the White House concert of music from the civil-rights era, and its sounds and images keep popping up in my brain.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 08, 2016  |  1 comments
Tonight (Tuesday, November 8), at the Jazz Standard in New York City (116 East 27th Street), the 7:30 set, along with Brooke Gladstone (co-host & managing editor of public radio's On the Media and, as it happens, my wife), I'll be announcing election updates and analyzing results between tunes (by Ted Nash's Presidential Suite big band).
Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 14, 2010  |  First Published: Oct 15, 2010  |  7 comments
For some time now, I’ve been urging (begging) the audiophile vinyl-reissue houses to focus on Duke Ellington’s great 1950s albums on the Columbia label, and finally Pure Pleasure Records has done it.
Fred Kaplan  |  Aug 28, 2007  |  6 comments
I’ve listened several times these past few weeks to Erik Friedlander’s new CD, Block Ice & Propane (on the Skipstone Records label), a haunting, sprawling, majestic piece of Americana. The album is subtitled “Taking Trips to America: Compositions and Improvisations for Solo Cello,” and that sums it up. The cellist’s father is the master photographer, Lee Friedlander. When Erik was growing up, Lee would spend summers driving a 1966 Chevy pickup truck around the country, taking pictures, and he’d take the family along: he and his wife in the front, often blasting the radio, Erik and his sister in the thin shelled-box camper up above, watching the clouds and the road markers flash by. Block Ice & Propane—named after the old techniques for keeping food chilled and gas stoves lit—is a remembrance of those summers, an elegy for innocent adventure, a musical road trip in its own right.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 18, 2015  |  0 comments
Oscar Pettiford is one of the least-remembered great jazz musicians, a pioneer of bebop who played bass with the top bands of the 1940s, switched to cello after an arm injury at the end of the decade, then plowed on at the top of his game till he died in 1960. The cello never ascended to the mantle of standard jazz instruments (which may account for Pettiford's unjust obscurity), but Erik Friedlander stands as its greatest champion, so no wonder that, for his 18th album as a leader, at the age of 55, he's finally recorded a tribute to the master.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 16, 2016  |  3 comments
Last year, Sony released The Complete Concert by the Sea, not just a remaster of Erroll Garner's classic 1955 live album but two extra discs containing the entire, unexpurgated concert, from start to finish casting new light on the pianist's sparkling wonders. It turns out that Garner's agent, Martha Glaser, who died a few years ago, had socked away thousands of tape reels of music—live concerts, studio sessions, rehearsals—and now her niece, Susan Rosenberg, who inherited the estate, is going through the cache, with the aid of a professional archivist. The first bounty of their labor is Ready Take One—previously unknown studio recordings of Garner and his trio from 1967–71.
Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 24, 2009  |  2 comments
It’s rare that a live concert captures the mind-bending joy of mainstream post-War jazz. (Recitals of the bebop repertory tend toward the worshipfully literal, like museum pieces.) But just such a rare experience was had last night at Smalls, the convivial (and, yes, small) jazz club in the West Village, where pianist Ethan Iverson played standards with a trio that featured Albert “Tootie” Heath on drums.
Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 11, 2014  |  1 comments
Friday night, I saw one of the finest, most intimate jazz sets I'd seen in a while: Ethan Iverson and Ron Carter playing duets at Mezzrow, a small new jazz club in Manhattan's West Village...

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