Brooklyn Jazz Underground

The Brooklyn Jazz Underground, a newly formed collective, is an association of independent bandleaders with a shared commitment to improvised music. Through cooperative effort, members of the BJU strive to create greater awareness of their work.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

AAJ article by Alexis Cuadrado

I wrote this article about the BJU for the January issue of the Allaboutjazz magazine. Hope you find it interesting.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BJU in the WSJ

BJU member Alan Ferber was featured in today's Wall Street Journal in Martin Johnson's article on the new Brooklyn jazz scene. An excerpt:

There is so much above-ground jazz activity in Brooklyn now -- the Park Slope scene has emerging parallels in Williamsburg, Fort Greene and Beford Stuyvesant -- that a new collective has dubbed itself the Brooklyn Jazz Underground. The organization comprises 10 bands, led by on-the-rise players, who have pooled their resources for promotion and used outlets like to gain exposure for their music.

The Brooklyn Jazz Undergound had its launch last week at Smalls in Manhattan, but the spirit of the organization is firmly rooted in Brooklyn. All of the members reside there, and they wanted to give a nod to the vitality of the scene.

"Brooklyn represents an aesthetic that we all embrace in our own music -- that of fearless experimentation and open-mindedness," wrote Alan Ferber in an email. "Whenever I walk into a Brooklyn jazz club, I know that I have to check my preconceptions at the door and enter expecting to hear anything. It's very exciting and consistently inspiring.

BJU in DownBeat

BJU members Sunny Jain and Tanya Kalmanovitch are featured in Dan Ouellette's column "The Question" in the February 2007 issue of DownBeat. The question in question is this: "What album from the last decade is a must-listen for jazz elders?" Here's what they said:

Sunny Jain: Rez Abassi, Bazaar (Zoho). Rez was born in Pakistan, raised in Los Angeles, lives in New York now and is part of the thriving South Asian jazz scene that's exploring the natural marriage of Indian music and jazz, given each style's deep appreciation of improvisation. Indian music has been a part of jazz for a long time, but Rez is bringing a different slant and new dimension to it, having grown up in the U.S. He's bringing his culture fully into his music instead of just inserting his cultural heritage. He's got tabla and mridangam players and an Indian vocalist, and his guitar playing is a hybrid of rhythmic concepts steeped in the South Indian tradition. Listening to what Rez is doing opens a window on a global subculture of music.

Tanya Kalmanovitch: Benoît Delbecq Unit, Phonetics (Songlines). Benoît is a French pianist who studied with Muhal Richard Abrams. He's special in the way he synthesizes so many elements in his music - modern jazz, world jazz, classical - and structures improvisation and straddles the gulf between that and the notes on a page. Benoît represents a progression in jazz. He has a distinctive and idiosyncratic approach, such as intuitively playing free chromatic melodies that float over hip polyrhythmic, odd-metre grooves. Plus, in his band he has [saxophonist] Mark Turner, who brings his own contemporary sound to the mix. I've subbed on viola in Benoît's group. I come from a classical background, so we share a common vocabulary, but the way he thinks about jazz allows for so many voices. Playing with him helped me find my voice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Podcast #2 is up.

Podcast #2 is up, as this post's title imaginatively suggests. Bassist/composer Anne Mette Iversen is interviewed by drummer and grapefruit connoisseur Ted Poor. Check it out right now by clicking here or download it very soon on iTunes!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ted Poor: A quick note of eating half a grapefruit

I live in the northern hemisphere and therefor when I eat half a grapefruit, I eat it in a clockwise direction. My suggestion is after loosening each segment with a sharp knife, choose your favorite segment (largest or most enticing) and begin eating one segment to the left of your prized segment (readers in the souther hemisphere should begin to the right of their segment and eat in a counter-clockwise direction). This technique will leave you with the most cherished segment for last. Common knowledge? For some, yes; but vital, all the same.

Alan Ferber: Fat Cat closed...but not for good, hopefully!

Fat Cat is closed, but does anybody out there know why? I've been told that it has to do with a problem with their gaming license, which obviously has nothing to do with the music (so not to worry, jazz didn't kill this club). I don't have any details beyond this, other than that it's apparantly supposed to re-open when they get there gaming license straightened out. Please chime in if you have more details.

Anne Mette Iversen: Some philosophocal thoughts for the new year!

I was lucky to receive a grant to a free stay at an Art & Science Residence, the old convent, San Cataldo, located a few miles from Amalfi, in the mountains, on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The residency was for 4 weeks (month of November) and provided an outstanding chance of being semi-isolated and having every minute of the day free to compose; to study and write new music.

Apart from myself, 10 other people had received stays there; interesting, exiting and very nice people who work in various fields such as literature, history, art-history, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, writing (authors), business and law. We were all working on specific projects and enjoyed exchanging experiences and learning about each others fields.
In fact it was of equal inspiration to me; the beauty of the surroundings, the aesthetics, the landscape, the quite and undisturbed settings and our little community, i.e. to learn about subjects that does not have an immediate presence in my daily jazz-life.

In other words, it was a very stimulating experience to discover that my personal inspiration with regard to composing came from new and unexpected sources. That I can draw from a much broader spectrum of life when searching for inspiration. In many ways this makes my life feel richer. Does one really have to stay a "jazz-nerd" and fulfill a stereotype of what a jazz-musicians interests are, to be a great musician?
I don't think so.

Modern life is specialized, but it seems as if that time is over where you can do well by just being great at one specific thing. Throughout history there are numerous examples of great artists who have studied and build significant knowledge in fields that were not immidiate related to their art. Leonardo Da Vinci was one, and many of the ancient Greeks.
And I learned that many of my fellow residency-guests have an extremely wide and broad knowledge about many a subject, and that it only reinforces their expertise in their own field.

Why should we musicians not be able to do the same? It is only a matter of training and habits, - our brain has the capability.

It is my personal goal for 2007 to look closer towards other branches of interests, maybe particularly in the field of humanities, and then let us see if that will make the new year any different.

- Anne Mette