Kamasi Washington and The Mountain Goats to play 2016 Noise Pop Music Festival in SF


Kamasi Washington, 34, is a saxophonist and composer who is carrying the spiritual jazz torch pioneered by the likes of John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Albert Ayler, and Stanley Cowell. But his sound is not a retro trip. Washington, who has also played with Flying Lotus, Snoop Dogg, Herbie Hancock, and Kendrick Lamar, recently released his three hour album, aptly titled Epic. It's an immersive, post-post-bop modal groove that is utterly and entirely contemporary. Dig the performance above, recorded this summer for NPR's Jazz Night in America.

I was thrilled when our friends at San Francisco's Noise Pop Music Festival announced that Washington will be part of this year's killer lineup for the musical extravaganza taking place February 19-28 at clubs around the city. So far, the schedule also includes performances by The Mountain Goats, Parquet Courts, Vince Staples, The Cave Singers, Caucus, The Thermals, Film School, Diane Coffee, Wild Ones, Beacon, Astronauts, Etc., Palehound, and Heartwatch.

More details: Noise Pop Music Festival

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Groove to the deepest, most beautiful jazz you've probably never heard


Strata-East Records was a pioneering record label founded in 1971 that went deep down the post-bop, spiritual jazz path most famously explored by John Coltrane on his iconic 1964 work "A Love Supreme." Strata-East was a radical label, featuring radical sounds by the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, label founders Charles Tolliver and Stanley Cowell, Clifford Jordan, Pharaoh Sanders, Cecil McBee, Sonny Fortune, Shirley Scott, and other greats.

I'm just beginning to check out the history, edges, and intersections of the jazz genre(s), and I had never heard of Strata-East until I visited San Francisco's legendary Groove Merchant record store several weeks ago. I told proprietor Chris Veltri that I love "A Love Supreme," Alice Coltrane, and Pharaoh Sanders, and asked where I should go next. Without missing a beat, he answered Strata-East. And now I can't get enough. My primers are Andy Thomas's excellent article "A Guide to Strata East," the killer compilation Soul Jazz Loves Strata East (from top-shelf reissue label Soul Jazz), and DJ Gilles Peterson's incredible Strata East Mix, celebrating a Strata-East Live event that took place in London earlier this year. Listen to Peterson's mix below:

(illustration above from Peterson's event poster) Read the rest

When Miles Davis named his album Bitches Brew

Miles Just Called

"Please advise."

A letter sent to Columbia Records art director John Berg and others by Teo Macero, producer of Miles's revolutionary 1970 jazz fusion album. Below, a live performance of the title track "Bitches Brew."

(Thanks, Jordan Kurland!)

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Listen: Movits! Swedish dancehall/swing/hiphop jazz


Sweden's MOVITS! (presently touring the USA) plays music they call Ă„ppelknyckarjazz ("Apple swiper jazz") that combines big-band swing with hip-hop that's infused with dancehall reggae-style rapping and declaiming (in Swedish). Read the rest

Listen to some fresh avant-jazz from Brian Ellis Group!


Dig this far out avant-jazz/electronic madness from San Diego's Brian Ellis Group that the record label, El Paraiso, rightly says should be filed in the same crate as "Miles Davis, Tortoise, Marion Brown, Joe Henderson, Can, and Donald Byrd." Read the rest

"The Lick," it is everywhere


Doo ba dih bee dWee doo daah. Read the rest

Ska is the mother of reggae


Public Radio International aired this short audio piece on ska, the musical form that took off in the early 1960s, blending Jamaican jazz with American soul and rhythm and blues, and influenced numerous excellent bands, from The Clash and The Specials to No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Read the rest

Rad jazz cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"


The Sunji Lee Quintet plays Nirvana. Far out! Read the rest

Amazing photos of jazz legends


Photo and print dealer Limited Runs is touring a fantastic collection of jazz photos from the archives of Metronome, an influential music magazine that published from 1881 to 1961. Read the rest

Ornette Coleman, avant-garde jazz pioneer, RIP


Saxophonist Ornette Coleman, whose avant-garde jazz compositions birthed the free jazz movement of the 1960s and beyond, has died. He was 85. Read the rest

Night Swimming: swinging new album from Halifax's Gypsophilia

I've loved all three of their previous album, but this one's even better -- listen for yourself! Read the rest

Spontaneous jam: USMC & HS marching band, Mardi Gras

Matt sends, "video I caught of a spontaneous jam session that happened in front of me at Mardi Gras 2015: A USMC band and a bunch of high school band members met in the streets and suddenly launched into 'St. James Infirmary.'" Read the rest

Watch robots generate improvisational jazz music and dance


Robotic musicianship doctoral candidate Mason Bretan at Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology filmed this intriguing robotic jazz performance with three Shimi robots and a larger Shimon robot. It really gets cooking about a minute in and when Shimon gets a marimba solo. Read the rest

Electroswing Ella Fitzgerald's "Air Mail Special"

The Club Des Belugas Remix of Ella Fitzgerald's classic Air Mail Special turns one of the greatest scat tunes of all time into an amazing electro-swing song, with an unexpectedly fitting rhumba beat. Read the rest

Kickstarting Skyliner; a graphic novel memoir about jazz behind the Iron Curtain

At 81, Polish illustrator Andre Krayewski has adapted his memoir about being a jazz fan in Stalinist Poland into a graphic novel, and his son Ed has translated it to English. Read the rest

"In The Mood" for three ukes

Byntje Music's rousing arrangement of Glenn Miller's "In The Mood" for three ukuleles. The YouTube post includes links to tabs so you can play along. (via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

Oscar Peterson gives a piano lesson (1979)

In 1979, jazz legend Oscar Peterson -- called "the Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington -- gave Dick Cavett a lovely TV piano lesson. (Thanks, Gareth Branwyn!) Read the rest

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