Tag Archives: jazz

Groundbreaking Violinist Didier Lockwood Dies at 62

French progressive rock and jazz violinist Didier Lockwood died February 18, 2018 in Paris. He was known for his virtuosity and experimentation on the electric violin.

Didier Lockwood was born in Calais, France in 1956. He grew up in a family of artists. His father was a school and violin teacher, his mother an amateur painter, and his elder brother Francis, a talented pianist very attracted to jazz. Didier fell in love with the violin and entered the Conservatory at the age of six.

In addition to going to school and participating in swimming competitions, the young violinist attended the Conservatory and received daily private classes.

Didier Lockwood joined the Lyric Orchestra of the Théâtre Municipal de Calais at 13 years old. He was 16 when he was doubly rewarded for his efforts and his virtuosity by winning the First Prize of violin of the National Conservatory of Calais, as well as the SACEM First National Prize of contemporary music.

The young violinist admired classical music and its eminent composers. However, a new passion soon developed: improvised music and jazz. At 17, he chose the legendary progressive music band Magma rather than attending the Paris Conservatory.

In 1973, he made his debut with Magma, along with drummer Christian Vander. Lockwood recorded two albums with Magma: Theatre Du Taur Concert (1975) and Live/Hhaï (1975).

In 1976, Lockwood joined Zao, a progressive band created by two former members of Magma. He participated in two albums, Kawana (1976) and Live! (1976).

Jazz became his next focus in 1978. Lockwood worked with well known French jazz musicians: André Ceccarelli, François Jeanneau, Didier Levallet and Henri Texier.

During the 1980s, Lockwood carried out all sorts of jazz projects, ranging from string trios and quartets to solo and fusion groups. He also collaborated with UZEB, Gordon Beck, Martial Solal and Michel Petrucciani.

In 1994, he celebrated his 20 year career anniversary. The following year, he made his first American album: New York Rendez-vous.

In March 2000, he released, Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli, which received many awards since its release: Diapason d’Or, Choc Jazzman, and Selection FIP.

In the spring of 2001, Didier created, along with Indian dancer Raghunath Manet and percussionist Ri Murugan, the show Omkara, a musical encounter between jazz and Indian music.

In 2003 Lockwood released a double album titled Globe-Trotter, featuring solo and quartet performances.

In 2005, Lockwood and Caroline Casadesus, created a new show, the Jazz and the Diva that brought together jazz and classical music.

In 2009, Didier released Lockwood Brothers with his brother Francis.


Didier Lockwood


After several years touring Europe alongside Mike Stern, Billy Cobham, John Abercrombie and Victor Bailey, he reformed the Didier Lockwood Group (DLG), with Jean-Marie Ecay, Paco Séry and Linley Marthe.

Didier Lockwood received numerous accolades and awards, including Les Victoires de la Musique, le Django d’or, le Prix de la Sacem et de l’Académie du Jazz and Knight of the Legion of Honor and Officer of National Merit and Arts and Letters.


Artist Profiles: Joe Zawinul

Joe Zawinul

Few keyboardists in jazz history matched the creativity and eclecticism of Joe Zawinul. He was a true innovator in the world of jazz and one of the originators of today’s world fusion sounds.

Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932, in Kirchbach, a small village near Vienna. His first instrument was the accordion. At the age of 12, he started to learn the piano, which became his main instrument. After World War II, Zawinul continued his musical education at the prestigious Vienna Conservatory. He moved to the United States in 1959 on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

In the United States, he inevitably became involved in jazz, playing as a sideman to artists such as Slide Hampton, Dinah Washington, and Cannonball Adderley. He met and collaborated with Miles Davis while the latter was moving into his electric era and was essential in the outcome of Bitches Brew (1970), Davis’ first electric project.

After releasing his debut solo album on Atlantic in 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter put together one of the most important jazz groups of the 1970s, Weather Report. Drawing on the power and theatricality of rock and R&B, while maintaining allegiance to jazz and the pure spirit of improvisation, they were pioneers of the fusion movement of that decade while carving out their own unique niche.

Even though band members came and went, Weather Report’s spirit prevailed over the course of 17 albums, including the groundbreaking Black Market and the enormously popular Heavy Weather, which included Zawinul’s infectious song “Birdland.” That song, in versions by Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones, won separate Grammy awards in three successive decades. Weather Report itself won a Grammy for its live album, 8:30.

In 1985, after he and Shorter finally agreed to go in separate musical directions, Zawinul continued to create adventurous new grooves in the group known as Weather Update and then the Zawinul Syndicate, whose albums included My People in 1996 and the two-CD, World Tour in 1998.

Other special projects included an adventurous solo electronic album, Dialects (1986), and work as producer and arranger on Salif Keita’s landmark album, Amen (1991). Meanwhile, as another side project of his creative life, Zawinul also pursued classical composition, writing his ambitious Stories Of The Danube in 1993 and working with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda. His special solo project “Mauthausen,” released in Europe in 2000, is a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, and was performed on the site of the Austrian concentration camp after which it is named.

Zawinul had honorary doctorates from Berklee School of Music, and is the official Austrian goodwill ambassador to 17 African nations. In January 2002, Zawinul received the first International Jazz Award, co-presented by the International Jazz Festival Organization and the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2002, he released the CD Faces & Places.

The live album Vienna Nights came out in 2005.

Zawinul was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards, ranging from synthesizers to samplers. He incorporated global sounds into his keyboards, developing cutting edge world fusion.

Joe Zawinul died in Vienna on 7 August 7, 2007.


To You with Love (Strand, 1959)
Money in the Pocket (Atlantic, 1966)
Rise & Fall of Third Stream (Vortex, 1968)
Zawinul (Atlantic, 1971)
Dialects (Columbia, 1986)
The Immigrants (Columbia, 1988)
Black Water (Columbia, 1989)
Lost Tribes (Columbia, 1992)
My People (ESC, 1996)
Stories of the Danube (Polygram, 1996)
World Tour (ESC, 1997)
Mauthausen – Vom großen Sterben hören (ESC, 2000)
Faces & Places (ESC, 2002)
Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate – Vienna Nights – Live at Joe Zawinul’s Birdland (Heads Up, 2005)
Brown Street (Heads Up, 2006)
75 (Heads Up, 2008)

ECM Announces Thomas Strønen’s New Album Lucus

Thomas Strønen Time Is A Blind Guide – Lucus

ECM Records has announced the release of Time Is A Blind Guide – Lucus, a new album by Norwegian drummer and composer Thomas Strønen. The Lucus release date in January 19, 2018.

Lucus includes Ayumi Tanaka on piano; Håkon Aase on violin; Lucy Railton on cello; Ole Morten Vågan on double bass; and Thomas Strønen on drums and percussion.

Buy Lucus

Kit Downes To Release Obsidian

Kit Downes – Obsidian

British organist Kit Downes is set to release a new album titled Obsidian (ECM records) on January 19, 2018. Obsidian features Kit Downes on church organs and Tom Challenger on tenor saxophone.

In November 2016 producer Sun Chung followed Downes to three English churches: the Snape Church of John the Baptist, Bromeswell St Edmund Church and Union Chapel Church in Islington, London. Downes played the church organs in these very different acoustic spaces. Most of the album is solo organ work. He is joined on one piece, “Modern Gods” by saxophonist Tom Challenger.

Buy Obsidian

Keith Emerson at the Piano

Keith Emerson – Emerson Plays Emerson (The Right Honourable Recording Company, 2017)

Emerson Plays Emerson is a piano album by progressive rock legend Keith Emerson. The album, originally released in 2002, was out of print and a collector’s item until.

The new edition is a remastered version approved by the estate of Keith Emerson.

On Emerson Plays Emerson you’ll find a set of piano tunes that represent various influences. There are classical music-inspired pieces, jazz, joyful honky tonk and cinematic works.

This album primarily focuses on solo piano tracks so you won’t find Emerson’s other side: organ and electronic keyboards.

The CD booklet includes notes in English, German and Italian.

Emerson Plays Emerson showcases the talent and musical background of one of the greatest keyboardists in recent rock history.

Buy Emerson Plays Emerson

Jazz Guitar Maestro John Abercrombie Dies at 72

John Abercrombie


Acclaimed jazz guitarist John Abercrombie died on August 22, 2017 after a long illness.

John Laird Abercrombie was born on December 16, 1944 in Port Chester, New York. In a press release, ECM Records’ Tina Pelikan wrote: “He will be much missed, for his sensitive musicality, his good companionship, and his dry humor which enhanced many a session. He leaves behind an extensive discography which will be studied as long as people continue to play jazz guitar.

John made his first recording for ECM, the appropriately-titled “Timeless”, in the summer of 1974, with his lifelong friend Jack DeJohnette on the drums, and Jan Hammer on organ. Over the next four decades, he was active as leader, co-leader and sideman on dozens of ECM projects. A creative writer of jazz tunes, John also loved to play freely as much as he loved to play standards. Many of his albums combine all of these resources, unified by his fluid, silvery tone and improvisational eloquence. In conversation he would speak of his enduring fondness for Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery, primary influences, and also of the liberating examples of Ornette Coleman and Jimi Hendrix; Bill Evans’s sense of lyricism was also of crucial importance to him.

John Abercrombie


John Abercrombie led a number of very fine bands, and he was particularly proud of his last quartet with Marc Copland on piano, Drew Gress on double bass, and Joey Baron on drums. This quartet released two albums, “39 Steps” and “Up and Coming”, the latter just released in January 2017.



Highlights in his recording career were many and include the Gateway trio albums with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, the duo albums with Ralph Towner, the Special Editions albums (with DeJohnette, Lester Bowie and Eddie Gomez), Jan Garbarek’s “Eventyr”, Charles Lloyd’s “The Water Is Wide”, Collin Walcott’s “Grazing Dreams” (where John and Don Cherry play together), Enrico Rava’s “The Pilgrim and the Stars”, Kenny Wheeler’s “Deer Wan” … the list goes on.

John died peacefully at Hudson Valley Hospital outside of Peekskill, NY, in the presence of his family.”


Bill Frisell’s Harmony Project to Perform at Carboro ArtsCenter

Acclaimed jazz guitarist and innovator Bill Frisell is set to perform on Thursday, September 14th in Carrboro, North Carolina with his Harmony Project.

The ensemble put together by Frisell includes vocalist Petra Haden, cellist Hank Roberts, and multi-instrumentalist Luke Bergman. Harmony is described as an evocative trip through the landscape of American music of the last century.

More details at: artscenterlive.org/events.

Ancestor’s Tale

Ut Gret – Ancestor’s Tale (AltrOck Productions, 2014)

Ancestor’s Tale is the fourth album by American progressive music band Ut Gret. The ensemble’s sound is characterized by the combination of prog rock instrumentation and various wind instruments such as the bassoon and clarinet. It’s a mix of avant-garde jazz, free form improvisation, chamber music and Canterbury-style progressive rock.

Ut Gret intertwines structured musical works with unexpected experimental improvisation.

The lineup on Ancestor’s Tale includes Joee Conroy on electric guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, fretless bass; Steve Roberts on organ, electric piano, mellotron, marimba, vibes, samples; Jackie Royce on bassoon, flute, contra-bassoon; Steve Good on clarinet, bass clarinet; Gary Pahler on drums; Sydney Simpson: double bass; Cheyenne Mize on vocals, violin; and Gregory Acker on flutes, percussion, digeridoo, baritone saxophone.

The CD booklet includes fascinating artwork and descriptions of the musical pieces.

Buy Ancestor’s Tale in the rest of the world

Buy Ancestor’s Tale in Europe

Artist Profiles: John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin

In a career that has spanned over 4 years John McLaughlin has been part of or led some of the most important movements in jazz and music. His compositions are now being treated with the reverence of classical music pieces and being interpreted the world over musicians of many varied genres.

John McLaughlin was born January 4 1942 in Doncaster, Yorkshire in England. The guitarist is well known for his eclectic taste in music. McLaughlin was a child when he first fell in love with jazz and the blues and he was just 11 years old when he began studying and playing the guitar.

The 1960s found him playing jazz rock and blues in his native England where he worked with Alexis Korner and Ginger Baker among others before moving to New York at the end of the decade.

McLaughlin had a busy year in 1969. He recorded his debut album Extrapolation and started working with two seminal voices in early fusion: Tony Williams (who employed McLaughlin and organist Larry Young in his trailblazing group Lifetime) and Miles Davis. Never afraid to forge ahead Davis had done a lot to popularize cool jazz and modal post-bop in the past and he continued to break new ground when he introduced fusion on his 1969 sessions In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew both of which feature McLaughlin’s playing. The guitarist was also featured on 1970’s A Tribute to Jack Johnson another Davis gem of the time.

Like bebop in the 1940s and modal jazz in the early 1960s fusion was controversial. Jazz purists felt that rock and funk rhythms had no place in jazz but thankfully McLaughlin disagreed and let his musical instincts guide him.

After participating in Davis’ and Williams’ groundbreaking fusion combos McLaughlin founded an influential group of his own in 1971: The Mahavishnu Orchestra fusion’s first super group. The Mahavishnu Orchestra created music that still has a unique influence today. The band included some of the finest contemporary jazz instrumentalists of the time: violinist Jerry Goodman (later Jean-Luc Ponty), keyboardist Jan Hammer (later Gayle Moran and Stu Goldberg), bassist Rick Laird (later Ralphe Armstrong) and drummer Billy Cobham (later Narada Michael Walden). The Mahavishnu Orchestra combined electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.



By the time Mahavishnu broke up in 1975 it had recorded several classic albums for Columbia (including Birds of Fire, Between Nothingness and Eternity, The Inner Mounting Flame, Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyond) and gone down in history as one of the 1970’s most influential fusion ensembles.


The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds of Fire


The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Between Nothingness and Eternity


The Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame


The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Apocalypse


The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Visions of the Emerald Beyond


In 1973 collaborated with Carlos Santana on the album Love Devotion Surrender dedicated to their guru at the time Sri Chinmoy. They covered John Coltrane pieces including the classic “A Love Supreme” (with chanting) and several Mahavishnu compositions.

In 1975 McLaughlin did the unexpected by founding Shakti an acoustic group that employed traditional Indian musicians including tabla player Zakir Hussain violinist L. Shankar (Ravi Shankar’s nephew), T.H. Vikku Vinayakram (ghatam) and earlier Ramnad Raghavan (mridangam). The group released Shakti with John McLaughlin and A Handful of Beauty.


Shakti – Shakti with John McLaughlin


Shakti – A Handful of Beauty


Shakti underscored the guitarist’s interest in India’s music culture and religion. Shakti reminded listeners that McLaughlin was as appealing on the acoustic guitar as he was on its electric counterpart and proved that he wasn’t about to confine himself to playing any one style of music exclusively.

Indeed McLaughlin was heard in a variety of musical settings in the 1980s everything from a brief Mahavishnu Orchestra reunion in 1984 to an acoustic guitar summit with Al DiMeola and Flamenco legend Paco de Lucia in 1982 (The Guitar Trio) to a classical album with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988. At the same time McLaughlin was also at the forefront of technology using the first guitar synthesizers.

McLaughlin was no less eclectic in the 1990s when his Verve projects ranged from 1993’s acoustic Time Remembered: John McLaughlin Plays Bill Evans (a tribute to the late pianist) to sessions featuring organist Joey DeFrancesco (1993’s Tokyo Live) and an acoustic McLaughlin/DiMeola/de Lucia reunion in 1996.

It was in 1997 that McLaughlin reunited with Zakir Hussain and a reconfigured version of Shakti for several U.K. concerts that were documented on Verve’s two-CD set Remember Shakti. In the subsequent years John has releasedAfter the Rain with Elvin Jones and a career retrospective titled The Promise as well as the live The Heart of Things and most recently Industrial Zen.

In 2005 he created a revolutionary guitar instructional DVD This is the Way I Do It that has met with universal praise. Today he continues on his musical journey by once again delving into yet another musical form that combines all of his past experience with as of yet unlearned knowledge.

I’m a guitar player that’s what I am primarily that’s what I’ll always be‘ McLaughlin has been quoted as saying. ‘(And) I’m an eternal learner. I don’t want to stop learning because I feel that no matter what I’ve done; I’m really just beginning again. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning.’

In 2010 he received the reputable German jazzahead! Award. The award honors the activities of artists in the vibrant and distinct musical language of jazz.

In 2015 McLaughlin released Black Light featuring 8 original McLaughlin compositions including a tribute to his departed colleague collaborator and friend Paco De Lucia, with whom McLaughlin had intended to compose an album’s worth of new material just before De Lucia’s untimely passing. McLaughlin returned to acoustic guitar for a tribute to his friend titled “El Hombre Que Sabia”.

The rest of Black Light is electric showcasing McLaughlin’s band the 4th Dimension, “my three favorite musicians,” said McLaughlin. The 4th Dimension is composed of multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe on electric bass and drummer Ranjit Barot.

website: www.johnmclaughlin.com

Masterful Final Act for 11th House

Larry Coryell’s 11th House – Seven Secrets (Savoy Jazz, 2017)

Seven Secrets brought together the seminal 11th House fusion band, one of the finest jazz-rock bands in the 1970s. Unfortunately, Larry Coryell died in February 2017 so it’s probably the last album Coryell made as band leader. Equally sad is the passing of Alphonse Mouzon, who died two months earlier, in December 2016.

The lineup is impressive, featuring the original 11th House musicians plus Larry’s son, guitarist Julian Coryell.

Fusion sounds great with guitars and keyboards. If you add a brass instrument, the trumpet works the best and this is what you get here. Along with superb solo and rhythm guitar, the album features masterful trumpet virtuosity. And the rhythm section is equally impressive, featuring creative drumming and bass lines.

The material ranges from cutting edge jazz-rock fusion to irresistible funk jazz pieces showcasing the talent of all the musicians.

The lineup on Seven Secrets includes Larry Coryell on electric and acoustic guitars; Julian Coryell on electric guitar; Randy Brecker on trumpet; John Lee on bass; Alphonse Mouzon on drums and keyboards. The only guest is Dennis Haklar on acoustic guitar on one piece.

Seven Secrets is an exceptionally good fusion album by two generations of remarkable musicians.

Buy Seven Secrets