Jazz Beat: Marcus Roberts, Geri Allen, Burgher Jones ...

Sources say pianists Roberts, Allen have been dropped by their labels.

Pianists Marcus Roberts and Geri Allen either already have been or will soon be dropped by their labels, according to industry sources. However, no one at either of their respective labels, Columbia Records and Verve, would confirm the moves. A source at Columbia said it would release two completed Roberts records in the fall, The Last Slow Dance, a collection of original material, and Cole After Midnight, a collection of Nat "King" Cole and Cole Porter tunes. Roberts and Allen were unavailable for comment. ...

Burgher "Buddy" Jones, who played bass in big bands behind singers Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra and toured with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, died of pancreatic cancer June 9 at his home in Carmel Valley, Calif. He was 76. A native of Hope, Ark., Jones attended the University of Kansas, where he met and befriended saxophonist Charlie Parker. Jones worked as a consultant with Lenny Niehaus and Clint Eastwood on the movie "Bird," a biography of Parker. In 1996 Jones was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. ...

Hot-selling pianist David Benoit of Here's to You Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! fame, will be the featured guest artist at the Asia America Symphony's last concert of the season June 24 at Royce Hall, University of California at Los Angeles. Maestro Heiichiro Ohyama will conduct. ...

Jazz singer Dakota Staton, 68, is recovering from a stroke at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, the New York Post reported. She was stricken June 15 and opened her eyes for the first time Monday (June 19), according to the Post. Staton was scheduled to perform at New York's Blue Note this week. On Monday (June 26), the club will host a benefit for Staton, featuring singers Abbey Lincoln, Carrie Smith, Etta Jones, Baby Jane Dexter and Gloria Lynne. For more information, call the Blue Note at (212) 475-8592. ...

An all-star tribute to the late swing and bop trombonist Al Grey will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (June 25) in New York's St. Peter's Church. Grey died in Phoenix on March 24. He was 74. Performers at the tribute will include trumpeter Clark Terry, pianist Norman Simmons, singer Jon Hendricks, drummer Max Roach and the Trombone Choir, which consists of Steve Turre, Slide Hampton, Benny Powell, Curtis Hasselbring, and Ryan Porter. Speakers will include vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, bassist Milt Hinton, writer Ira Gitler and festival impresario George Wein. ...

Pianist and jazz educator Billy Taylor, 78, has won the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Award, which carries an unrestricted prize of $25,000. Taylor will receive the award at a Sept. 18 gala event at New York's Supper Club. All proceeds from the event will go toward student scholarships at the conservatory's schools. "In addition to his prolific and distinguished career as a composer, performer, author, broadcaster and educator, Dr. Taylor is an ambassador of jazz," said conservatory President David Rivel. "From his early days as house pianist at Birdland to his founding of the Harlem-based Jazzmobile, as well as his work as a recording artist and communicator, Billy Taylor's passion and dedication exemplify the very essence of this award." ...

Deluxe packager Mosaic Records has released two new box sets that provide a glimpse into the dramatic stylistic innovations that occurred in jazz after World War II as swing bands gave way to small combos. The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman, a six-disc set, features the Second and Third Thundering Herd years between 1948 and 1956. These bands include the "Four Brothers" — saxophonists Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and Serge Chaloff. The other set, The Complete Blue Note Horace Parlan Sessions, is a five-CD package that looks at the hard-bop pianist's first record dates in the early 1960s. Horace Parlan, who was a fixture in bassist Charles Mingus' band for two years starting in 1957, made his first record for Blue Note, Movin' and Groovin', in 1960. This set contains all his sessions for the label and features players such as guitarist Grant Green and saxophonists Booker Ervin and Stanley Turrentine. ...

Japanese composer Satoko Fujii combines her Japanese jazz orchestra, East, with her American one, West, for a double CD called Double Take, on East Works. Fujii, a nominee for Best Composer at Saturday's Jazz Journalist Awards, releases the set on July 11. Her American orchestra has in its section New York players such as slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein, saxophonist Chris Speed and drummer Aaron Alexander. ...

Clarinet ace Don Byron has just completed his third studio date for Blue Note, and not surprisingly for the musical adventurer, it's a sharp departure from his last project, which was a fairly straight-ahead jazz affair. On the still-untitled forthcoming album, Byron explores the concept of modern art songs, from operatic pieces to modern show tunes to R&B classics. An interesting array of singers join Byron, including Cassandra Wilson, Canadian cabaret sensation Patricia O'Callahan and art-jazz vocalists Mark Ledford and Dean Bowman. The material ranges from Wilson's interpretation of Steven Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch" to a duet with Ledford and O'Callahan on Stevie Wonder's "Creepin' " to Byron's instrumental reworking of Puccini's famous aria, "Nessun Dorma." Release date is Oct. 10. ...

Jazz guitar legend Larry Coryell performs in San Francisco on June 24 with some Indian music masters: sarodist Aashish Khan, flutist Ronu Majumdar and percussionist Swapan Chaudhuri. The show is at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. For information, call (415) 978-2787....

Saxophonist Joe Lovano is ready to hit the studio to record Trio Fascination, Edition Two for Blue Note. Edition One from 1998 featured one trio — Lovano with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Elvin Jones — but the forthcoming disc will offer four radically different trios. Joining Lovano will be bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Idris Muhammad, saxophonist Billy Drewes and drummer Joey Baron, pianist Kenny Werner and harmonica player Toots Thielemans and trumpeter Dave Douglas and bassist Mark Dresser. Look for an early spring release. ...

The Montreal Jazz Festival's free outdoor schedule has been announced: 350 free shows on 14 stages on and around the Place des Arts/Complexe Desjardins esplanade. The festival runs June 29–July 9, and the outdoor musical crossfire includes ska, Cuban, klezmer, '30s swing, flamenco and blues, often in the same concert series. Artists include serious American klezmer combo Brave Old World (June 30), Morocco's Mel M'Rabet synthesizing Andalusian and Arab music (July 1) and former Lou Reed bassist Yossi Fine's Ex-Centric Sound System (July 6). Seven genuine Louisiana-bred bands, including Rockie Charles (June 29–30), The New Birth Brass Band (July 3–4) and the Sweet Petunias (July 8) lay down grooves from the Louisiana stage. The jazziest series goes on at the Contact stage, including two-night stands by pianist Andy Milne's Cosmic Dapp Theory (July 2–3) and the Jazz Mandolin Project (July 8–9). For more information, see www.montrealjazzfestival.worldlinx.com. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report


VMAs 2018