By Chris J. Walker 

the word contemporary


Daniele Vitale & Allie Sherlock | Sax e Voice in Dublin


Mae.Sun’s music defies categorization, incorporating elements of meditation, spirituality, jazz and fusion. Before adopting the Mae.Sun moniker, the artist recorded under her birth name Hailey Niswanger, was a Mary Lou Williams Saxophone Competition Winner at 19, graduated from the Berklee of Music and played flute on Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning all-women The Mosaic Project. Since 2016 Mae.Sun has composed music for three albums and performed tracks from them at Just Jazz, her first official concert since the shutdown.

Enlisted for the outing were Mark de Clive-Lowe-keyboards, Horace Bray-guitar, Antoine Katz-bass and Greg Paul-drums. Sun began with meditative singing and jazzy flute while her cohorts supported with atmospheric and edgy layers. She continued singing while transitioning to hard-hitting fusion, boasted by flaying guitar runs and waves of soprano saxophone with effects. Electric piano winded things down and provide a cosmic backdrop for flute and ethereal singing/chants.

Suite-like ebb and flow segments cascaded throughout the evening as the bandleader, mostly singing and playing flute with backing crew would build with intensity and then descend. All the while, they intermixed waves of soulfulness, jazz, fusion and celestial grooving resembling her contemporary Elena Pinderhughes’ work with Herbie Hancock for a 45-minute block featuring Volume 1.

To break things up Sun conversed with host Leroy Downs midway about her music, background and outlook. Her stated objectives were to be musically boundless, mindful and connected to nature. Getting back to performing she showcased Volume 2, with muscular and soulful tenor saxophone playing. Some effects were included, along with a heaping dose of funk and some enchanting singing that was equally compelling.

Included was Bray’s searing guitar work and de Clive-Lowes multi-layered keyboards with the rhythm players driving contributions? Overall, Mae.Sun’s show was epic and established she’s a force to be reckoned with, even surprising Downs. For more info go to: and

Keyboardist/composer/arranger Billy Childs is a four time Grammy Winner, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and the Music Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Additionally, he has composed numerous commissioned works for symphonies around the country. Essentially, he is best known for pastoral music that intersects with jazz, classical, poetry and spoken word.

Childs, though, occasionally likes to cut loose and play in settings that includes funk, fusion, Latin, world with adventurous jazz rudiments. At The Baked Potato he showcased selections from his last two albums Acceptance and Rebirth, playing a Fender Rhodes keyboard and worked with his Electric Band. It was comprised of Josh Johnson-reeds, Joshua Crumbly-bass and Christian Euman-drums.

They got down to business with “Dori” a high-energy number dedicated to Dori Caymmi that resembled early Return to Forever with Johnson superbly soaring on flute. “Dance of Shiva” was explosive and more fusion oriented as Childs wailed away, with an underlying influence of Indian raga rhythms and saxophone in the forefront. “This Moment” dating back to the ‘90s was a relaxing, melodic and somewhat contemporary sounding breather after all the intense interplay. It was garnished with soprano saxophone and a lightly funky bass solo.

The title track from Rebirth revived the earlier energy with the band and especially the leader firing away to fever pitch during the extended piece. A short respite came after that in the way of Childs soft keyboard playing before things ramped back up for a selection that had more aspects of classical than all the others, yet was still powerful.

The finale for the evening was “Leimert Park” homage to one of Childs’ favorite areas in LA. It was vibrant, vigorous and jam-like as the players zestfully grooved away much to the audience’s delight. An encore was not necessary or requested. For more info go to: and


The word world in blue colors and green colers

The music influenced by the legendary Django Reinhardt, the first European jazz star, and Le Hot Jazz were showcased at the Torrance Cultural Center through The Django Festival Allstars. The mostly French musicians included violinist Pierre Blanchard, accordionist Ludovic Beier, guitarist Samson Schmitt, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Philip DouDou Cuillerier and bassist Antonio Licusati. They charmed the audience with their distinctive blend of French jazz and gypsy music, transporting everyone back in time to Europe during the ‘30s and ‘40s.

The lead guitarist’s jubilant original “Attitude Manouche,” strongly resembling Reinhardt with high-flying picking and strumming, led things off. With the audience snapping their fingers the violinist’s classic French themed “Troublant Romeo” followed and was propelled by solos from violin, guitar and accordion. “Late Train” by Beier was fast-paced with the musicians playing zealously and conjured up scenes from a vintage film, possibly a comedy.

For a change of pace, sweet sounding mostly guitar and violin driven ballad “Lovely Wife” by Schmitt was soothing, and drew sighs from the audience when its title was announced. Also varying the program and amusing the audience was “Carnegie Hall,” sung in English and amazingly scatted by Cuillerier. It was a concert highlight and even included him getting everyone doing call and response singing and scatting, which at times was playfully challenging. Additionally, Beier was featured on chromatic harmonica for “Around Toots,” his sentimental tribute to the late master harmonica player Toots Thielemans.

Winding down the enjoyable affair were tasteful tunes, breezy “Nocturne,” and exotic high-flying “Balkanic Dance.” It was the most gypsy sounding of all the pieces played, featuring frantic interplay to spur a standing ovation. The encore “Pat’s Waltz” was also gypsy-like and chocked with energetic and delectable playing. From start to finish, the group was a pure delight. For more info go to: and


the word blues


Kingfish Ingram Eric Gales dual
at John Coltrane Festival 2021


Text Special Mention

Santa Monica’s Broad Stage celebrated its first week of live concerts after the COVID-19 shutdown with a bang, featuring Duets—Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés & Joe Lovano. They were also concluding the last night of their month-long tour, which coincidentally was Reeves’ 65th birthday. The “jazz heavyweights” began the concert with pianist Valdés playing a solo medley of tunes that included an astounding version of “People (Who Need People)” that would have even blown Barbara Streisand away, and “St. Louis Blues.” The latter selection vividly showcased his beyond belief stride piano mastery and uncanny improvisation to draw exuberant audience reactions.

Afterwards, Lovano on saxophone joined Valdés for a savory rendition of “Body And Soul.” It mostly featured Lovano who coolly stretched out, while the pianist stalwartly supported and inserted a short, but notable solo. The duo was all business and only spoke to the audience to introduce each other. They continued intermingling with touches of Afro-Cuban, bebop, bossa nova and straight-ahead. Valdés additionally performed more solo interpretations that intermixed standards and classical selections. They occasionally overlapped and at times were performed at a very accelerated cadence.

As expected, Reeves made up for her band mates’ loquaciousness during the second half of the program. She initially sang “Stella by Starlight” a cappella, with her high notes going into the upper stratosphere and alternately she closed with super low bass notes as Valdés supported. They continued with “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” with the singer scatting away in both English and Spanish to rev up the audience, while the pianist injected Afro-Cuban riffs. For a change of pace they spaciously rendered “My Foolish Heart.”

Lovano returned to the fold with classic “Caravan” elevated by Reeves scatting, the saxophonist’s soulful solo and Valdés driving rhythms. Another vintage favorite, “Besame Mucho,” also received the singer’s charming spin, with her band mates complimenting with palatable playing and solos.  However, “Blue Monk” put a serious bebop cast on the show with Reeves doing her strongest scatting, with Valdés and Lovano figuratively donning their “pork-pie” hats.

From a lyrical standpoint the singer went into orbit with evergreen “Summertime” and compelled the audience to sing choruses and give a standing ovation. Appropriately, “A Time For Love” was the encore to conclude a truly enchanting evening. Hopefully, a recording of the trio will surface in the near future.

The Branford Marsalis Quartet in concert is always a joyous affair. Band mates, reedist Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner’s camaraderie was evident. They were often laughing and clowning with each other, while still laying down some serious numbers. At The Soraya after the bandleader told a couple of jokes the group embarked with the pianist’s swashbuckling number “The Mighty Sword.” It featured his and Marsalis’ high-energy playing and fiery interaction with the others.

Afterwards, the musicians downshifted to the amiable ballad “Conversation Among The Ruins” also by pianist. Laden with his and Marsalis’ elegant soprano saxophone playing it noticeably moved the audience. Vintage 1920’s piece “When I Take My Sugar to Tea” went in a very different direction that coolly swung, while also providing opportunities for bass and drums to shine, along with Marsalis on tenor saxophone and Calderazzo on piano.  Somewhat between the ballad and playful romp, in terms of tempo and mood, was somber “A Thousand Autumns” that mostly spotlighted the bandleader and his pianist’s mesmerizing interludes.

For pure fun, New Orleans trad classic “Royal Garden Blues” penned by Clarence Williams (grandfather of Clarence Williams III of Mod Squad and Purple Rein fame) opened things for spirited interplay and hot tradeoffs amongst the band. Somewhat related to it was ‘30s depression and enduring song “Sunny Side of The Street” featuring Marsalis’s astounding clarinet playing, which could have easily been the show closer. Nonetheless, the bandleader and crew carried on with a modern burner to garner a very enthusiastic standing ovation.

For the encore Marsalis’ Quartet juxtaposed seductive bossa ballad “You Never Come to Me,” and NO trad groove “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it.” The 90 year-old song, also written by Williams and popularized by country icon Hank Williams had the audience clapping along.

Daring, sensitive, history-minded and highly emotive singer Janis Mann continued her Jazz Muse Concert Series at The Village recording studios with pianist Laurance Hobgood. Hobgood is known for being a superb and inventive player, along with having a long tenure as Kurt Elling’s pianist and Music Director. Supporting Mann and Hobgood for the special gig were Mike Gurrola-bass and Roy McCurdy-drums. McCurdy now a professor at USC was lauded throughout the show for his impressive credits that go from Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley and Billy Eckstien, to Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson and many others.

Prior to Mann coming on stage, the pianist dazzled the audience with a savory and high-flying introductory number sturdily sustained by McCurdy and Gurrola that was far from being ordinary. Upon the singer’s arrival she launched into sentimental, yet upbeat band grooving original “All My Tomorrows.” Mann admitted she hadn’t performed the song since its recording date in 2008. From there singer quickly segued into her and pianist Kenny Werner’s highly emotively sung ballad “Inside a Silent Tear” that included inventive piano accompaniment.

From a livelier perspective was a peppy version of Shirley Horn’s “Sharing The Night With The Blues” adorned with Mann’s peppery tonality and the trio’s high-spirited playing. Mann took a break afterward while the trio played Hobgood’s thematic and classically fused “Prayer For Man.” The singer rejoined the players to do Stevie Wonder’s similarly oriented “All in Love is Fair” with a strong jazzy feel to draw above average crowd response.

For the second half of the program Hobgood played another original, gospel and hard bop flavored “The Road Home,” which he recorded with Charlie Haden and later dedicated to him. Mann began by returning to Horn’s songbook with “Maybe September,” sung and played with a light bossa feel. For something different, Mann and Hobgood as a duo performed a jazzy version of the ‘60s pop hit “Wichita Lineman.” Additionally, the singer did Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw it Away” as a pulsating duet with McCurdy.

Back with full trio they did hip and swinging standard “What’ll I do?,” along with ballad “Never Let Me Go” and worked out with the band, featuring all of them soloing. Wrapping up the two and a half hour long concert was sweetly sung and well-timed ballad “You Taught My Heart to Sing.”

In attendance for the concert was none other than Ruth Price, who understandably made Mann a little anxious. Price, in passing said the Jazz Bakery’s Movable Feast Series will be returning soon. Mann’s next Jazz Muse Concert Series at The Village will be Janis Mann & Ernie Watts with Alan Pasqua, Darek Oles, and Peter Erskine on December 11th. For more info go to:

The renowned Count Basie Orchestra with Lizz Wright at the Soraya honoring Ella Fitzgerald presented an interesting proposition, which most likely didn’t satisfy fans of either entity. According to the program notes written by Kirk Silsbee they had previously performed together three times. That prior history should have helped make the outing go smoother.

Basie’s Orchestra now in its 86th year and 37 without the bandleader after his death in 1984, is well honed and very consistent, regardless of any personnel changes. Trumpeter/Music Director Scotty Barnhart has been an orchestra member since 1993 and its leader since 2013. The work done by the orchestra with a long list of great singers, and musicians even just as an instrumental group, is beyond reproach and a model for big bands around the world.

Wright a deeply rooted and very spiritual singer, who started singing in church with her preacher/Music Director father is drenched in traditional gospel music. As a result of her upbringing, she favors stir-stirring songs with depth, whether traditional spirituals, gospel, R&B, folk or even rock. She however, is not a jazz or supple singer, and definitely doesn’t scat or hit any high notes.

As expected the orchestra, which included LA bassist Trevor Ware, blazed away powerfully and swung hard, yet were also refined. Strong performances and solos were featured for numbers “This Could be The Start of Something Big,” longtime favorite “Blues in Hoss’ Flat,” Quincy Jones’ “I Needs to Be Bee’d With” and ballad “The Midnight Sun Never Sets.”

Rip-roaring versions of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Doodle Oodle” and “Basie Power” were also performed. Not to forgotten was “April in Paris” probably the Basie Orchestra’s most popular tune, occurring midway in the program. For the encore Sammy Nestico’s whirling “Wind Machine” was whipped up to satisfy the audience.

The Count Basie Orchestra with Wright served up a cool and sultry version of “I Got Rhythm,” easy flowing, luscious “S’Wonderful,” syrupy and stripped down “Embraceable You” and band-pulsating “Who Cares.” She elegantly sang “Give Me The Simple Life” and classical themed “My Man’s Gone” from Porgy And Bess. “Love You Madly” was the most lively sung song of the program and velvety sung “They Can’t That Away From Me” concluded her part of the concert. Wright sung well, but not in a jazz context Most notably, there was no mention of Fitzgerald, the lady of honor. In the audience were Frank and Don Foster, Wayne Bergeron and Dick Nash. For more info go to:, and

Since coming in second at the 2015 Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition, singer Veronica Swift has been steadily rising artistically. She has drawn acclaim for her major label recordings, Confessions (2019) and This Bitter Earth (2021). Additionally, tours and performances with high caliber artists like Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Jazz Orchestra, Chris Botti and Benny Green have definitely put her on the radar of the jazz world. The 27-year old, born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia by musician parents, pianist Hod O’Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasia, was literally born into jazz and recorded her first album when she was nine.

In concert at Segerstrom Center For The Arts’ Samueli Theater, Swift was a human dynamo who kept her backing trio, Mathis Picard-piano, Philip Norris-bass and Dylan Elise-drums on their toes. In a little over an hour she covered a wide and diverse swath of music. Included were a hard-driving and scat-laden version of Bob Dorough’s “You’re The Dangerous Type,” standard “Getting to Know You” as a revved up serenade that included call and response with the bassist. Mel Torme’s searching ballad “Stranger in Town” revealed the singer’s sensitivity. Her pianist’s deft touch evolved into an exciting version of “I Don’t Want to Cry Anymore” and blew the crowd away.

Slightly diverging from jazz, Picard dazzled solely with his classical chops for Chopin’s “Fantaisie-Impromptu.” Swift joined in for vaudeville torcher “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” that was derived from the classical composition.  Swift went even further out when guitarist and friend, Alex Heffron joined in for ballad “The Nearness of You.” The song quickly transformed into driving pop fueled by blistering guitar and then transitioned into theatrical number “Hey Big Spender” and R&B hit “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” with the band singing the chorus.

Going even further out was cabaret-rock group Dresden Dolls’ “Sing” featuring its drummer Brian Viglione sitting in and wearing his trademark derby. Topping things off was raucous “Keep Yourself Alive”—channeling rock icons Freddy Mercury from Queen and Janis Joplin. Definitely not what those coming to hear jazz expected, but Swift clearly has the talent, energy and confidence to pull it off. Her future is very bright and will be interesting. For more info go to: and


Niki and Larry Steen with Tom Zink
Holiday Redux

Instagram Live Friday

Multi-Grammy Award Winner Marcus Miller and Entertainment Cruise Productions Launch New Original Streaming Concert Series
Saturday Night with Marcus Miller & Friends, with the Iconic George Benson as a Special Guest and Guest Bandmembers Patrice Rushen and Joey DeFrancesco

Concerts available on demand

Harlem Jazz Museum



107 Suffolk Street
New York, NY, 10002

Van Gelder Studio, the legendary recording studio home to hundreds of jazz icons from John Coltrane to Herbie Hancock, has announced the launch of “Live from Van Gelder Studio,” a new virtual music series that will stream live from

Live from Van Gelder Studio is expected to continue through 2021 with a 10-show immersive and interactive program. The series will feature talent from original seminal recordings joined by multi-generational artists who will pay tribute to important records that were originally put to tape within the four walls of the studio. Tickets can be purchased directly on the site for $15. 2021 shows will be announced in the near future.

Performances will be live streamed using a new technology built from the ground up that is true to the Rudy Van Gelder sound. It will allow audiences to fully experience the unique studio and its sound in their homes. Upcoming experiences will be crafted to make the audience and musicians feel like they are at an actual live performance.

Live from Van Gelder Studio is created and produced by a team of jazz industry veterans including:

• Five-time Grammy Award-winner Don Sickler, who produced many Van Gelder-recorded artists including Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Cindy Blackman Santana.
• Phil Coady, producer of The Ultimate Blue Train, which was created while he was the lead producer in the Microsoft MS4Music Group and where he and Van Gelder first connected.
• Sam Kaufman, who as a talent agent worked with Van Gelder-recorded artists including Ray Charles, Pharoah Sanders and Jason Moran.
• Maureen Sickler, distinguished associate and long-time assistant engineer for Van Gelder, who now carries on the traditions forged in their 30+ year collaboration.

Live from Van Gelder Studio

Adam Hawley 
Back on FB Live: Adam will be back at the same time, same place this Mondays at 7pm PST/10pm EST.  He’ll be back with your requests, do another show-and-tell on his studio and recording process, and we’ll definitely see an encore performance from his wife and vocalist extraordinaire Kat Hawley.
Just go to his Facebook page!

During the entire quarantine period, Qwest TV also broadcasts a flagship program from its catalog every day at 9pm (CET) / 3pm (EST), available from the platform’s Facebook and YouTube accounts. Among the Qwest TV gems, Internet users will discover next week:
For more information on Qwest TV, visit

Provides five free services:

1. A searchable archive of thousands of carefully hand picked and annotated jazz videos

2. A free Video-of-the-Day service. Love jazz? We deliver a great jazz video to your mailbox every day. You can subscribe here free.

3. The Internet’s only free up-to-date world-wide directory of jazz clubs, jazz festivals, jazz radio stations, and jazz organizations.

4. A podcast series, unique in jazz, that features in-depth interviews on the history – and future – of jazz with jazz scholars, educators, and presenters.

5. One of the most detailed educational resources available anywhere on the music of Cuba and other Latin countries and their under reported, and often under appreciated, impact on jazz past, present and future.


Symphonic Jazz Orchestra

What is Jazz Concert Presentation

New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation Departments feature an array of livestream and virtual concerts

My Music Master Class

Jazz Education Network
1440 W Taylor St #1135
Chicago, IL 60607
United States 

January 5-8, 2022 • Dallas, TX


Guitar legend Kenny Burrell took a fall two years ago. He is still recovering and on sabbatical from UCLA. Essentially, he is still unable to play and/or teach. Help is needed and welcomed. Here’s the link for donations setup by his wife Katherine:


1000 Watts aims to raise $100K through sale of 1000 artworks created as musicians improvise, captured on film by legendary photographer/filmmaker Danny Clinch – funds to be distributed to jazz artists in need.

1000W is a multi-dimensional project that centers on 1000 ink washes, painted with Japanese Sumi ink and water on paper. They will be released in five series of 200. The first two hundred are available now. Each series will include a few curated groups. 1-200 features a group of four, two groups of twelve, and a group of thirty. A short digital film capturing the painting of each group will be included with the purchase. The films will be scored by jazz trumpeter Antoine Drye. Drye is a creative partner on the project, as the ink washes are created in conversation with improvisational jazz. The interaction between the painter and an assemblage of featured musicians, curated by and including Drye, will be featured in live performances of 1000W.

Footage of an overhead camera capturing the works as they are created will be projected for the artists and the audience to see. Each artist’s work informs the other. The music and the art are created in real-time, in the same moment. A film, produced and directed by Danny Clinch, will chronicle the entirety of the project. Clinch will draw from the overhead footage, live performances, and studio visits. In addition to the film, an album featuring the music produced in these sessions will be released at the conclusion of 1000W. 1000W seeks to raise $100,000 for the jazz community, which has been especially hard hit during the Covid pandemic with the prolonged closure of most live performance venues. $100 from the purchase of each painting will go directly to musicians in the jazz community.

Bruce Forman, John Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton record their mentor’s original instruments!

Reunion: Revisiting The Poll Winners!

DENISE PERRIER (The Voice With a Heart)
After a 60-plus yeer career that took her around the country and the world, Denise is producing a “legacy” album. It will include songs that have been especially important in her life. Denise hopes to have the CD finished this summer. We will keep you in the loop and please accept our sincerest thanks for helping.

To finance the project, several of her friends and colleages have set up a GoFundMe account with a $10,000 goal. If you would like to contribute, please go to
To send a check, please contact Catherine:
For more info:

Under director of music programs Mitch Glickman, Jazz at LACMA and Beyond Symphonic Jazz are celebrations of L.A.’s finest jazz musicians and has featured such legends as Wayne Shorter, John Clayton, Johnny Mandel, Kenny Burrell, Les McCann, Billy Childs, Arturo Sandoval, and Ernie Watts. Jazz at LACMA concerts are broadcast on KJazz 88.1 FM every Sunday evening from 7-9 pm that includes an interview with the featured performer and Beyond Symphonic Jazz every Monday 9- 11 pm. The archives are available for two weeks following the broadcast.

December Special Guests for JAZZ AT LACMA

Dec 05          Phil Ranelin & Friends “Forever Bird”
Dec 12           Leslie Bee
Dec 19          Larry Nash & the Jazz Symphonics
Dec 26          12th Annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award honoring Quincy Jones

December Special Guests for Beyond Symphonic Jazz

Dec 06         Clarice Assad

Dec 13          Jeremy Levy

Dec 20         Eddie Daniels

Dec 27         David Newman

For more info go to:

Any information to be considered for this column can be sent to: