If you haven’t been to AccuJazz.com in a while, you’ll notice a handful of recently-added channels now being offered for your listening pleasure. In the past month or so, we’ve added five channels to the already possibly overwhelming array of AccuJazz listening options. Read about all five below.
The AACM is the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and if you don’t know what that is, there’s an award-winning, 690-page book that can fill you in. If you don’t have the time for that, however, let me give you the short version: in 1965 a group of experimentally-inclined, Chicago-based jazz musicians founded the organization to promote and present their distinctly un-commercial music to the Chicago and the world. Founders and early members included such avant-garde jazz legends as Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Wadada Leo Smith and the Art Ensemble of Chicago (pictured).
Over the decades, the influence of the AACM has grown far beyond what the founders likely imagined and dozens more musicians have been admitted as official members. Our channel is playing hundreds of tracks by AACM-affiliated musicians, ranging from classic Art Ensemble recordings to brand new music by AACM Vice Chairperson Mike Reed. If your ears are in need of a trip away from the ordinary, hop on this channel.
MJF 2011 is the newest member of our festival channel category, and the one that probably should have been created first; MJF is the world’s biggest jazz festival. It attracts millions (yup, you read that right) of fans every summer to see concerts by the biggest names in jazz as well as plenty of rock, pop and R&B acts. With so many artists performing at the fest, it wasn’t hard for me to hand-pick a pretty great mix of music for the channel, from cutting-edge young musicians like Darcy James Argue to Gen-X stars like Brian Blade to all-time legends like Dave Brubeck.
Unfortunately, the fest already happened, so you’re out of luck if the great mix on our channel triggers an impulse to hop on a plane to Montreal for this year’s fest. But you’ll be able to keep listening to the channel, which is almost as good… right?
Mixing jazz with music from around the world is nothing new, but in the last few decades, there has been an increasingly greater output of music that references different “world” music and jazz at the same time. Foreign elements in the music might be as small as adding an unusual ethnic instrument like an Oud to an otherwise conventional improv setting or as considerable as basing the whole piece on ancient Indian beat cycles.
I found a great deal of music in the AccuJazz collection that fit squarely into the “world fusion” category: not mainstream jazz, not jazz-rock fusion, but definitely jazz of some sort. You’ll hear examples of this beautifully unique music by artists like Vijay Iyer, Fareed Haque, Miguel Zenon and many others.
It’s no mystery that many great musicians, in jazz and virtually every other style, grew up playing in church. For a lot of those musicians, their music never quite left the church. There’s a long tradition of jazz musicians re-interpreting hymns and spirituals like “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Wade in the Water.” Our channel features great versions of this timeless music from musicians like Charles Lloyd, Cyrus Chestnut, John Scofield and Hank Jones. But there are also some original, faith-centric, compositions by musicians like Terence Blanchard, Brian Blade and Deanna Witkowski.
A few minutes with this channel and you will be convinced that jazz is most definitely not the devil’s music. Rev. Ronald V. Myers even found a Bible verse that establishes a precedent for Christian jazz: Amos 6:5.
Composers: Wayne Shorter
I get requests for new artist-based channels pretty often, but it’s a rare musician who has composed enough timeless music that the legions of cover versions, in addition the the originals, can make up an entire listenable channel. Wayne Shorter, in addition to the other five jazz composers already honored with their own channels, is one such musician. Generally regarded as jazz music’s greatest living composer, Shorter has been producing his distinctive brand of post-bop jazz for five decades. He is still making exciting, urgent new music with his excellent quartet, proving an exception to the rule that septuagenarian jazz masters often become little more than pale imitations of their younger selves.
The channel features over 60 different artists digging in to Shorter’s material, including plenty of recordings under Wayne’s own name. He is also heard as a sideman with groups like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the Miles Davis Quintet and Weather Report. Listeners will hear plenty of takes on “Footprints,” Wayne’s most oft-covered tune, but keep listening for lesser-played but equally-genius compositions like “Black Nile,” “Night Dreamer,” “Juju,” and “Fall” (one that shows up surprisingly often).