Monday, April 12, 2010

Meet Two Of My New Friends, Ruslan Sirota and Giovanni Russonello

I've been chatting with piano player Ruslan Sirota, one of the nicest musicians ever, whose debut CD is being released this summer. Ruslan has been playing with Stanley Clarke (who produced the CD) for 4 years, and Clarke as well as Chick Corea guest on it.

My computer is currently a hot mess, and I can't watch videos on it. So I asked another new friend (and soon-to-be-partner on DCJazzShows) jazz writer Giovanni Russonello, to watch the video — a duet with Ruslan and Chick Corea, and share his thoughts. Here's Gio's response:
Yo Maryam,

So this video is pretty great. It's a simple acoustic piano duet between Ruslan and Chick Corea, and they definitely complement each other beautifully. Ruslan is a beautiful pianist, his playing not quite as intense as Chick's. He has the ability to imitate and echo Chick's signature style -- crackling and popping with excitement, notes like beads of water flying off a saucepan. But he calms things down too, sometimes even guiding Chick into a lower, more undulating pulse. All around, it's great shit -- you'd definitely know this was a Chick performance, even without the video, but Ruslan showcases his own abilities in both supporting and leading roles.

Here's the video:

Follow Ruslan Sirota on Twitter: @ruslanpiano

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Updates from Christian McBride

You probably already know about Christian McBride's new show on Sirius XM, which debuted April 3rd. From All About Jazz:
The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian, which will premiere on Saturday, April 3 at 1 pm ET as part of SIRIUS XM's celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, will be recorded in front of a live audience at various jazz clubs across the country and will feature onstage dialogues and musical duets between McBride and his special guest artists. The first episode, featuring legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea, was recorded at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.
Today, Christian told me that later this year he'll be releasing a CD of duets, and that of the 15 tracks on the CD, 13 have been recorded. The last two are top secret ;-)

This CD will feature duets with George Duke, Sting, Regina Carter, Chick Corea, Angelique Kidjo, Eddie Palmieri, Roy Hargrove and many others. Christian also told me he'll be releasing a recording of his big band, due out next year. Listening to Kind of Brown has me fiending for more music from Christian, and I'm so looking forward to these recordings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

City Paper's Michael West on Christian Scott's "Yesterday You Said Tomorrow"

Washington City Paper's Michael West, in the comments section on Lerterland, David Adler's blog:
But yeah, I prefer to focus on YYST, which I believe to be the first great album of 2010.
» Full blog post here

Rapper Nas' father is jazz coronetist Olu Dara

Who knew? From Wikipedia:
Olu Dara Jones (born Charles Jones III in Natchez, Mississippi on 12 January 1941) is an American cornetist, guitarist and singer. He first became known as a jazz musician, playing alongside avant-garde musicians such as David Murray, Henry Threadgill, and Art Blakey.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DC's Club Bali

Club Bali at 14th & T in DC is one of the places Keter Betts talked about a lot in the conversations we had in 2005, when we were set to work on a project together. He said Club Bali was the spot for a time, where everyone played and everyone went. He told me he played there with Ella, and it seemed as if he really enjoyed the time he spent there.

It's crazy to think that in the early 1980s when I worked at Charlie's Georgetown, a jazz club where Keter often played, it never occurred to me that he was someone who had actually played at Club Bali. But that's probably true of many of the artists who performed at Charlie's.

Here's some cool historical information about Club Bali, and some amazing photos.

How artists and tweeps can work together (or Atane's piece on Regina Carter's new album, Reverse Thread)

The Twitterverse moves at breakneck speed and sometimes events take shape and move forward before you've even had a chance to process what's going on.

That's what happened when Regina Carter's team contacted me with show information for Regina's March performance at Black Rock Center for the Arts, to post on my DC Jazz Shows blog.

I told them about our network of jazz lovers and jazz supporters on Twitter, and how we tweet and retweet information about the music, the musicians, performances, releases, etc. I pressed my case to receive a copy of the new CD in order to have a review written. They were in short supply of physical copies, so I was not able to get one, but I was able to get access to the songs online. Because of Atane Ofiaja's love for African music (it's what he and I bonded over), and because of his wealth of knowledge of hidden African musical history, I knew I wanted him to write the review. Thankfully, he graciously agreed to write it.

It's good. I hope you'll read it — Album Spotlight: Regina Carter – Reverse Thread

Atane posted the review on his own blog The Sophisticated Audiophile; I wrote about and linked to his review from the DC Jazz Shows; and I'm writing about it once again here. Atane tweeted a link to his review. I retweeted it. Others in our network will also retweet it. I'll also be submitting Atane's review to, where jazz tweeps have met up to promote jazz-related content. And through all of this, we, the real fans of this music, get to participate in getting it the exposure it deserves.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Persistence of Dreams

I stumbled into a dream when I was a kid. 14 years old, playing percussions, got to audition for Duke Ellington School for the Arts. I got in. First girl drummer. Wallace Roney was in my band class. Debbie Allen was teaching dance there. Totally creative environment. I loved it.

But I and many other students were turned away from our dreams by unscrupulous people. I was suckered into walking away from the one thing I cherished.

1990, motherhood, my son is born. I never pushed him towards music, just tried to expose him. But since the age of 14 he's pursued it with such amazing intensity, I'd swear those unfulfilled musical dreams were birthed into him.

By 6th grade (his 2nd year of playing) he could read more music than I ever could. And by 7th grade, it was obvious something was up with that kid. He had the goods. He really had potential. He had a couple of odd traits — memorizing pieces of music after he saw them a couple of times, and also a strong interest in what was going on around him musically. He would come home going on about what the flutes were doing in a particular song, or about the clarinet parts. And, this was classical music. He's never had a strong interest in classical. But he put himself into it completely, even though he was dying to play jazz in those days.

That told me the kid was really a musician. He could have done what I did in band class at those ages — tune out. He didn't. And today at 20, he's still the same way. Puts himself into every piece he plays.

And the dream that I walked away from at 14, continues.