Playing riots and jam sessions to save a city

 THE TABOR, BALTIMORE — Every member of the Clarence Ward III Jam Sessions band said basically the same thing: The music saved their lives. “I would probably be in trouble honestly; I’d probably be running the streets if I didn’t have music at an early age,” said saxophonist Sam King, who was headed to college…

Why do what’s already been done?

Mathias Eick’s unusual style of jazz is both haunting and rocking, meditative and mesmerising. And his story about how he came to it is the essence of jazz: He rejected his father’s classical jazz style and struck out to create something new!

“I thought improv was impossible”

THE BLACK CAT, SAN FRANCISCO — What do you do when you’re only 11 years old, you think improvisation is impossible, and your teacher tells everyone in the class to stop playing until you do a solo. It was a make-or-break moment for young Irwin Hall, but it set him on the course to become…

If Sting married Roberta Flack & had an affair with Rickie Lee Jones …

THE 55 BAR, NYC — “I call my music ‘urban folk and jazz’. And when people ask ‘What’s that?’, I say if Sting married Roberta Flack and had an affair with Rickie Lee Jones, I’d write the music,” jazz singer extraordinaire KJ Denhert told me. “That’s the music that I write. “I first picked up a…

Outrageous, explosive, pounding piano

THE ZINC BAR, NYC — Eric Lewis opens by obscenely dissing jazz great Keith Jarrett. Then he reaches INSIDE the piano to bang, scrape, and pluck the strings. Lewis opens with a shocker: “The thing about Keith Jarrett is that, like a lot of those other guys, they do a lot of creative stuff, but…

Matt Pavolka’s super intense Horn Band

SMALLS JAZZ CLUB, NYC — For a very mild-mannered guy, Matt Pavolka writes some pretty intense music. And his band members, also very easy-going between sets, play with  equal intensity and passion, producing sounds that provoked lots of audible “wows” in the audience. When these guys play, they command the complete attention of their audience.   Matt’s…