Welcome to Boston Jazz Scene

Welcome to the Boston Jazz Scene web site--the place to find out what happened, what is happening, and what is coming in jazz and other improvised music in Boston and surrounding communities. The most recent post is listed below this information. Words listed below the Topics heading to the right refer to information you can find here about jazz and other improvised music, the arts in general, food, and travel in and near Boston.

If you click on the Scheduled Jazz Highlights topic, you will see a selection of upcoming jazz gigs that we think are particularly noteworthy.

If you click on one of the History - Jazz Journal topics, you will see a selection of journal entries covering performances and relevant events that have taken place in Boston since the 1970s.

If you click on the History - Major Contributors topic, you will see a list of Bostonian musicians who have made significant contributions to the development and evolution of jazz in Boston and elsewhere.

If you click on the Images - Musicians topic, you will see a selection of photos of current and former Boston area jazz musicians and significant visiting jazz musicians. If photos of musicians are displayed on this page and you click on Older Posts at the bottom of this page, you will see earlier image pages eventually going back to page 1.

If you click on the Images - Venues topic, you will see a selection of photos of current and former Boston area jazz venue locations.

If you click on the History - Jazz Timeline topic, you will see a brief list of significant events in the development and evolution of jazz in Boston beginning with the first groundwork in colonial America.

If you click on the Essays on Music topic, you will see essays about the development of jazz and other music since the late nineteenth century and particularly the evolving context in which the music has been and continues to be created.

If you click on one of the Travel options, you will see a variety of information that may be of interest to people visiting Boston (or even some people who live here).

Monday, April 9, 2018

Upcoming performance highlights

Among the more attractive performances scheduled in the near future in the Boston area are the ones listed below.  With the exception of some gigs that feature Magazine Cover (MC) groups (which can range in quality from very good to terrible), the gigs listed below are ones that I wish I could attend.  And—if time and circumstances permit—I will be there.  

4/14 - Plane Crash at 8 p.m. (PA) – Visitors with roots in California and Chicago join solid rhythm section locals for a quintet version of Plane Crash.  This is a fascinating mix of musicians likely to create unexpected sound combinations.  They include Henry Kaiser, Weasel Walter, Vinny Golia, Damon Smith, and Ra Kalam Bob Moses.  It happens at the Lily Pad ($15)…

4/14 – The Makanda Project featuring Chico Freeman at 7 p.m. (MP/PA) – We never get enough opportunity to catch the work of Chico Freeman, and here he is.  He will be supported by the terrific Makanda Project under the direction of John Kordalewski.  It happens at the Bruce Bolling Building, 2300 Washington Street, Dudley Square (617-997-9884)...

The “Jazz Along the Charles” fest needs bands – Celebrity Series and friends are looking for amateur and professional jazz ensembles consisting of one to five musicians to perform music composed by musicians with Boston roots (e.g., James Taylor and Gary Burton).  Applicants will be assessed and 25 ensembles will be selected to perform on stages set up along the Charles River.  All bands will perform the same compositions (to expose strolling audience members to each band’s unique qualities) and one original composition.  All performing musicians will be paid.  Applications must be completed and submitted by 4/16.  The festival is scheduled to take place 9/23/18.  Complete information can be found at the Jazz Along the Charles site…

4/19 – Charlie Kohlhase's Explorers Club and Danny Kamins at 8 p.m. (PA) – Charlie brings along Jeb Bishop, Seth Meicht, Daniel Rosenthal, Josiah Reibstein, Eric Hofbauer, Aaron Darrell, and Curt Newton.  As a bonus Danny Kamins from the Lone Star State will lead a trio (with Josiah Reibstein and Luther Gray).  All this music happens at the Outpost…

4/24 - The Mike Turk Quartet at 7:30 p.m. (MP) – For decades Mike Turk has been the man to go to for jazz harmonica in New England.  On this gig he brings with him Joe Barbato, Bruce Gertz, and Peter Moutis.  It happens at the Sahara Club…

4/26-29 – The Arlington Jazz Festival (MP) – The fest presents a variety of ticketed and free events and this year features bass guitarist John Patitucci.  Details are available at the festival web site

5/3 – The Karuna Duo at 8 p.m. (PA) – These veteran percussionists from Chicago--Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph--are well-connected musically.  They do not visit here very often in recent years, so here’s your chance.  It should be a fine time at Third Life Studios ($20)…

Key codes: The abbreviation in parentheses following the name of the event or band/musician performing indicates roughly the type of music that you can expect if you go to the gig.
MC= Magazine Covers.  These musicians/bands are popular with jazz fans and therefore often find their photos on the covers of jazz magazines.  This type of band may or may not be any good qualitatively.  However, many fans like to know “what’s hot.”
MP=Mainstream/Post-Bop.  This is the music that most people think of today when they think of jazz.  It runs the gamut from Parkeresque bebop and Websterish ballads to the post-bop work of people such as Bergonzi and Lovano.
PA=Post-Ayler.  This is Anthony Braxton’s term for all the adventure that came out of Ayler, Ornette, Cecil and others (including Mr. Braxton, of course).  In some ways it is the most diverse jazz and jazz-rooted music being performed today, including everything from near zero dB whispers (e.g., undr, John Tilbury) to eardrum demolishing walls of sound (Keith Rowe, a ton of stuff from Japan) to performances built on combinations of composed and improvised material (Liberation Orchestra, Charlie Kohlhase’s ensembles) to completely improvised offerings (Evan Parker, Laurence Cook).
S=Swing.  It don’t mean a thing…  Maybe “nothing” means “anything” if you are a fan of swing.  Sadly, fine swing music seems to be approaching extinction, at least in the Boston area clubs.  The reasons are obvious and elusive.  The great names of Swing (such as Lunceford and Barnet) have passed on and taken almost all of their band mates with them.  In addition, in spite of the fact that some of the finest music of the swing era was produced by the combos of Goodman and Basie (among others), people continue to think of swing in terms of large (and therefore economically untenable) ensembles.  You can find it happening in some dance halls, but mostly at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.  For years such names as Whitney, Winniker, and Hershman have held the fort in the Boston area.  But you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled. 
T=Two-beat/Trad.  Some of the finest contemporary two-beat jazz anywhere has been nurtured and grown in Eastern Massachusetts since the 1970s.  Everyone knows about the New Black Eagles, and a host of other musicians are held in equally high esteem around here.  Some of the better-known are Jimmy Mazzy, Stan McDonald, Jeff Hughes, and Guy Van Duser.  Unfortunately for city dwellers, two-beat jazz (and, to a lesser extent, the blues) has moved to the suburbs.  But the best of it is worth the drive.