Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jazz artists you probably don't know

When Ken Blanchard invited me to contribute to this blog, I wasn't sure how I could best add to his expertise of hard-bop jazz and his fine insightful writing. After thinking hard about how I could add something of interest and value, it came to me. As host of a jazz radio program and podcast In The Groove, Jazz and Beyond, I am in a unique position of receiving hundreds of CD submissions from little known independent jazz artists. Believe me, these CD's can run the gamut from amateurish to some really fine creative musicians and composers. My contribution to SDP Jazz Notes will be to bring you the best of these indie-jazz musicians and composers.

In the changing landscape of the record industry, major labels no longer will take risks as they had in the past. They have completely forsaken the jazz genre and will only sign performers that fit the proven formula of popular, gimmicky, sexy acts that will bring a sure return on their investment. A major record company will no longer promote a creative musical art form that has a limited appeal to a more mature discriminating audience. In this environment will we ever see a new innovative talent sell millions of records, like in the past with Billy Holiday, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis? In my opinion those days are behind us.

The best of new post-modern jazz artists that push the genre in new directions can only be heard on college, community and public radio stations. It can be heard live in hip jazz clubs in cities like New York and Chicago or summer jazz festivals. I try to provide a forum for these artist on my radio show and podcast In the Groove Jazz and Beyond. My latest show featured several such jazz-men, and I would like to introduce three of them here.

Albert Rivera from Brooklyn NY is a hard-driving tenor sax player and composer who as member of an inner-city high school band won a scholarship to the Litchfield CT band camp that opened his eyes to the world of jazz, from which he has studied since. Recently he has played the NY city jazz club circuit and is gaining great notoriety. His fine CD is titled Re-introduction.

Luques (bass) and Zaccai (piano) Curtis grew up in the Hartford, Connecticut area where at very early ages were being noticed by jazz musicians in CT and NYC. They have performed with jazz greats such as Gary Burton, Jerry Gonzalas and the Fort Apache Band, Christian Scott, and many others. Their latest project, Insight, led by pianist Zaccai has a distinct Latin flavor yet swings with its hard-bop influence. The CD is A Genisis.

Mike DiRubbo was born and raised in New Haven Connecticut and studied music at the Hartt School of Music under the tutelage of jazz great Jackie McLean. Listening to DiRubbo on alto sax, there is no doubt of the masters heavy influence on his student. Mike DiRubbo's latest CD, New York Accent, Live at Kitano's also features the great piano playing of Harold Mabern.

You can hear these great artists and some others on my recent podcast Hartford-New York City Connection. If you dig what you hear, I urge you to purchase their music. Show these cats your support. It's really hard to make a living in jazz these days and the support for the music and the musicians is needed for jazz to survive.

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