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Tag: Jazz

Mardi Gras: Pete Fountain

Pete Fountain is how I first learned of the existence of New Orleans. When I was a little kid, my grandpa took me to hear Pete Fountain and Al Hirt in concert. Then I got a double-cassette collection of Pete’s music and fell in love. I’ve heard a lot of great music from the Crescent City since then, but Pete will always have a special place in my heart for being first. Here’s my favorite Pete Fountain performance:

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Record Of The Day: A.R.C by Chick Corea/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul


A prose poem by Chick Corea covers the back of the record sleeve.
A prose poem by Chick Corea covers the back of the record sleeve.

This band features three-fourths of the band Circle (the missing member is Anthony Braxton). Right out of the gate, the trio is forceful and free-flying in their take on Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti.” And then on the next track, it’s “gaze into one’s soul” time on Corea’s “Ballad For Tillie.” A fun outing by three supremely talented players.

Note: Listen to my 2012 interview with Barry Altschul.

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I just recorded my first interview since last summer

Rudresh Mahanthappa_Cover_Art Tonight I interviewed saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa about his forthcoming album Bird Calls. The album comes out on Feb. 10. It features Matt Mitchell on piano, Francois Moutin on bass, Rudy Royston on drums and Adam O’Farrill on trumpet. You’ll hear the interview soon on The Jazz Session. On Wednesday I’m going to interview Peter Apfelbaum. And then Akua Dixon next week. And then…lots more people.

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POEM: napkin poem


napkin poem

how many times in how many bars
on how many napkins
text bleeding into the cheap paper
better suited for soaking up
condensation and mistakes
the band is playing “A Felicidade”
we are talking but not talking
text and subtext and saxophone
trying to avoid monkey clapping
loose lips sink ships

/ / /

28 February 2014
Zola, State College

Never heard “A Felicidade”? Enjoy.

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POEM: whale song

A poem inspired by a conversation with saxophonist Sarah Manning..

/ / /

whale song

she goes each day to the ocean
to look for the whales, she says
that’s why she stays
despite the pull of the opposite shore
the all but inescapable magnet
tugging on the keys of her saxophone

of a morning she is crouched there
at the boundary, eyes narrowed
searching for shadows on the surface
a spray of spout-water above the waves

one day she knows she will hear them singing
on that day she’ll put lips to reed
feel the air move from her lungs
and she’ll join them in their song


stone #24 (another stone in Japanese)

Listen to this poem in Japanese using the player above.

This one was harder for me to write than yesterday’s and I’m a bit less certain that I’ve accurately conveyed the meaning.

/ / /

Miles Davis わ “All Blues” を弾きます

Miles Davis plays “All Blues”
it’s the right idea but things aren’t that bad

/ / /

part of a river of stones

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POEM: in which we cross east 27th street at high tide

Listen to this poem using the player above.

I went to see Jeff “Tain” Watts, Robert Hurst and Steve Coleman tonight at Jazz Standard. I ended up chatting with Coleman and John Szwed, author of the definitive book on Sun Ra. I put into this poem bits of our conversation, song titles and phrases inspired by the setting and performance.

in which we cross east 27th street at high tide

ancient ways, gold days & spaceways
with an iced tea & a side of fries

how’s the weather in Bahia?
here in New York the street-corner
gutter is a river with no ferry boat

so we turn the string bass on its side
use the bow as a paddle
& since Michael isn’t around
Robert rows us ashore

to the warm lands
where we will know despair no more

(catch the Hail Mary as it spills from her lips)

“how ’bout a hand for the band, the guys?
it ain’t me — we’d play all night”


stone #11

Listen using the player above.

/ / /

Gerald Cleaver is in my ears
talking about Uncle June
and the Great Migration

I’m making a smaller journey
home from the post office
where I checked for word from you

/ / /

part of a river of stones


The Jazz Session #55: The Wee Trio


Jason Crane interviews vibraphonist James Westfall, bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Jared Schonig, known collectively as The Wee Trio. Their first record, Capitol Diner Vol. 1 (Bionic Records, 2008) features original music, jazz standards … and Nirvana. The trio explores the music they love through the lens of collective improvisation, and the results are fresh, fun and worth repeated listening. Find out more at

Listen to the show.

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New episodes of The Jazz Session: Fly and Barbara Dennerlein


Jason Crane interviews the members of the trio Fly: bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Jeff Ballard and saxophonist Mark Turner. Fly is very much a collective effort — the group operates with a leaderless philosophy in which everyone contributes equally. As a result, the trio has come up with some fresh and exciting sounds as they try new combinations and new ways to balance their respective instruments. All three musicians are very much in demand as sidemen, too. A full transcript of this interview is available at



Jason Crane interviews organist Barbara Dennerlein about her pipe organ recording Spiritual Movement No. 2 (Bebab Records, 2008). The album was recorded at one of Germany’s most famous churches in front of a very appreciative audience. In this interview, recorded before a concert in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Dennerlein discusses jazz on the pipe organ; why organists should use their feet; and how she adapts to the challenge of seldom having her own instrument on stage.


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The Jazz Session is back!


THE JAZZ SESSION #52: MARILYN CRISPELL. Jason Crane interviews pianist Marilyn Crispell about her album of solo piano pieces, Vignettes (ECM, 2008). Crispell made an early name for herself with Anthony Braxton, and she’s since amassed an impressive list of recordings that include composed and freely improvised pieces. In this interview, Crispell talks about the nature of improvisation, the particular challenges of solo playing, and the joys of Woodstock, NY.

Listen to the show at

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NYC Second Line

My very good friend Satoru Ohashi is playing trumpet in this video, recorded Nov. 30, 2008 in New York City:

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