Jazz at 100 Hour 98: Highlights of Jazz in the Late 2000s

Esperanza Spalding

This is the 98th of 100 programs in the Jazz at 100 series. The programs have chronologically followed the history of recorded jazz and, as we approach the present, the question of historical perspective becomes relevant. Just how well can we predict what will endure? What will have lasting importance?

We are in the midst of a five-program series featuring one selection per year, starting in 1990, in an attempt to forecast the answers to these questions. Our methodology owes much to a 2001 Gary Giddins essay, “Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap (1945 – 2001).” Jazz in the late 2000s, in this hour of Jazz at 100.

2004. Maria Schneider. “Three Romances Part 1: Choro Dançado.
A consistent critics’ favorite, Maria Schneider has broken new ground by crowd-funding her releases through Artist-Share. Concert In The Garden, was, according to Brian Morton and Richard Cook, “the great achievement of her career so far, a flowing, sometimes enigmatic, more often uplifting set that finally brings together all of Schneider’s strengths … the ‘Three Romances’ which make up the middle of the record, with wonderful wordless vocalizing from Luciana Souza, are remarkable … A contemporary masterpiece.” Concert in The Garden won the 2005 Grammy for the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album and was the Downbeat Jazz Album of the Year.

Three Romances Part 1: Choro Dançado. Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra.
From Concert In The Garden. 3/8 – 3/11/2004

2005. Ornette Coleman. “Matador.”
In October of 2005, the great alto innovator Ornette Coleman recorded his last release (his first in a decade). The live recording was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music and was the Downbeat Jazz Album of the Year.
Sound Grammar … features a quartet with his son Denardo on drums and two bassists—Gregory Cohen (picking); and Tony Falanga (bowing). The two-bass dynamic creates a texture that feels viscous and frictional at the same time, a perfect backdrop for the saxophonist’s piercingly resonant tone, which finds the “sound of expressed reality.” … It’s an unmistakable sound: every human joy and heartache—and every emotion in between—blowing out of an alto saxophone.” – Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

Matador. Ornette Coleman Quartet
(Ornette Coleman-as/vln/tp, Gregory Cohen-b, Tony Falanga-b, Denardo Coleman-d/per). From Sound Grammar. 10/14/2005

2006. Sonny Rollins. “Someday I’ll Find You.”
Only slightly less rare than an Ornette Coleman release was a studio recording from Sonny Rollins and in 2006 he released Sonny Please, perhaps the best of his late career (so far).

“Rollins was always more venturesome than most of his contemporaries. On [Sonny, Please] he’s more intrepid still than a vast majority of musicians half his age. Qualities that have long defined his playing-the questing lyricism, the physical and emotional tenacity, the Shakespearian imagination-remain objects of wonder … If any track here gets to the marrow, it’s his performance of ‘Someday I’ll Find You,’ a Noel Coward tune that Sonny must know better than the back of his hand. Rollins takes small liberties with the melody, playing it mostly straight with just the faintest hint of a smile.” – Chris Kelsey, JazzTimes

Someday I’ll Find You. Sonny Rollins Sextet
(Clifton Anderson-tb, Sonny Rollins-ts, Bobby Broom-g, Bob Cranshaw-b, Steve Jordan-d, Kimati Dinizulu-per). From Sonny, Please. 12/20/2005 – 3/2006

2007. Charles Lloyd. “Rabo de Nube.”
Charles Lloyd was a tenor sensation in the 60 ’s, sat out the ‘70s, recorded sporadically in the ‘80s and returned to recording and touring with a vengeance in the 1990s. His 2007 live recording, Rabo de Nube, was the first with his quartet for the next decade – pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland. The recording was one of the best in a deep discography and a huge critical success, winning the Jazz Times Jazz Record of the Year.

Rabo De Nube. Charles Lloyd Quartet
(Charles Lloyd-ts, Jason Moran-p, Reuben Rogers-b, Eric Harland-d/per). From Rabo De Nube. 4/24/2007

2008. Bill Frisell. “Struggle.”
By 2008, Bill Frissell had been on the scene for 25 years and had earned a reputation as the most recorded guitarist in jazz. His work on other artists projects and respectful attention to American roots music has obscured his substantial chops as a composer. The 2008 recording History Mystery is dominated by his compositions. “With a wealth of through-composed material featuring Frisell’s astute arrangements in a near-chamber music context, the guitarist’s effortless mastery of real-time processing is still a strong textural component … Still, for the first twenty minutes of the first disc, from the brooding waltz-time of ‘Imagination‘ to the faux-Jewish ambience of ‘Probability Cloud,’ ethereal angularity of ‘Out of Body‘ and blues-tinged ‘Struggle‘ … Frisell deftly combines oblique yet attractive writing with rhythm-centric passages that tread a fine line between detailed structure and collective spontaneity.”– John Kelman, All About Jazz

Struggle. Bill Frisell Octet
(Ron Miles-cor, Greg Tardy-ts/cl, Bill Frisell-g, Jenny Scheinman-vln, Eyvind Kang-vla, Hank Roberts-cel, Tony Scherr-b, Kenny Wollesen-d). From History, Mystery. 2008

2009. Esperanza Spalding. “Winter Sun.”
Esperanza Spalding was the bass player in Joe Lovano’s highly regarded Us Five quintet, recording on the Folk Art, Bird Songs and Cross Culture discs, all the while recording on her own projects for small labels. Her breakthrough came on her third release Chamber Music Society, described by Ernest Barteldes (All About Jazz) as “… a highly intriguing set that blends her classical training with jazz, pop and soul tendencies. This might seem to be a risky endeavor, but not for Spalding, who not only keeps an open mind, but a radar-like ear that is able to absorb many sonic influences and still make them her own. Evidence of this is ‘Winter Sun,’ [an] original composition that has elements of soul and jazz without too many complications. Here, she is supported solely by her trio and some multilayered backing vocals, before taking an unexpected bass solo that comes just as the tune might have headed in a pop direction.” In 2011, Esperanza Spalding became the first jazz artist ever to win the Grammy for the Best New Artist.

Winter Sun. Esperanza Spalding Septet
(Leo Genovese-p/key/melodica, Entcho Todorov-vln, Lois Martin-vla, David Eggar-cel, Esperanza Spalding-b/voc, Teri Lyne Carrington-d, Quintino Cinalli-per). From Chamber Music Society. 10/08 – 10/10/2009

2010. Jason Moran. “Big Stuff.”
The 2010 release Ten marks the tenth anniversary of one of the most accomplished piano trios in jazz, that of Jason Moran on piano, Tarus Mateen on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. ‘Big Stuff,’ a Leonard Bernstein composition, recorded by Billy Holiday in 1946, has Moran playing with Art Tatum and Fats Waller on his mind – a great example of the trio playing “in the tradition.” The disc also includes tributes to Monk, Andrew Hill and Jaki Byard, mainstays of modern jazz, while maintaining the strong voice of a mature trio. Ten was the Downbeat 2010 Jazz Album of the Year.

Big Stuff. Jason Moran Trio
(Jason Moran-p, Tarus Mateen-b, Nasheet Waits-d). From Ten. 6/22/1010

Ornette Coleman passed away at 85 in 2015, but Charles Lloyd, currently 80, and Sonny Rollins at 88 continue to be vital contributors. Maria Schneider, Bill Frisell, Esperanza Spalding and Jason Moran promise to be bringing us compelling music for some time to come.

Recordings.
Maria Schneider. Concert In The Garden. Artist Share AS 0001
Ornette Coleman. Sound Grammar. Sound Grammer SG 11593
Sonny Rollins. Sonny, Please. Doxy Records DR9730
Charles Lloyd. Rabo De Nube. ECM 2053
Bill Frisell. History, Mystery. Nonesuch 435964
Esperanza Spalding. Chamber Music Society. Heads Up International HUI 31810-02
Jason Moran. Ten. Blue Note ‎509994 57186

Resources.
Barteldes, Ernest. Esperanza Spalding: Chamber Music Society. All About Jazz. August 3, 2010. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/chamber-music-society-esperanza-spalding-heads-up-international-review-by-ernest-barteldes.php
Conrad, Thomas. Maria Schneider: Concert In The Garden. Jazz Times. October 1, 2004. https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/maria-schneider-orchestra-concert-in-the-garden/
Giddins, Gary. 2004. Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century. New York, NY. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 118. Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap (1945 – 2001)
Kelman, John. Bill Frisell: History, Mystery. All About JKazz. June 13, 2008. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/bill-frisell-history-mystery-by-john-kelman.php
Kelsey, Chris. Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please. JazzTimes. January 1, 2007. https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/sonny-rollins-sonny-please/
McClenaghan, Dan. Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammer. All About Jazz. September, 10, 2006
https://www.allaboutjazz.com/sound-grammar-ornette-coleman-sound-grammar-review-by-dan-mcclenaghan.php
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Maria Schneider. Concert In The Garden

Annotated playlists and streaming links for all the Jazz at 100 broadcasts: Jazz at 100

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