Of the many laudable qualities of jazz, possibly its most notable is a courage to explore boundaries. Born out of its original free spirit and now supported by a knowledgeable (if lamentably small) fan base, modern jazz musicians can inhabit multiple sub-genres and flavor their work with a number of outside influences, all without being explicitly crossover.
For our last issue of the 2000s, in anticipation of a new decade full of promising and stimulating jazz, we include features on three musicians who exemplify this credo. Bassist Christian McBride (On the Cover) is equally comfortable swinging hard on upright as he is getting funky on electric, all with a wide array of ensembles. This month, he gives a series of lectures at the Jazz Museum in Harlem. Drummer Joey Baron (Interview) can be found playing one week with John Zorn and then the next with Jim Hall, always supportive but always himself. This month, he gives a rare solo performance at Roulette. And guitarist Peter Bernstein (Artist Feature), who performs around town in December with his usual alacrity, has always been one of the more unique voices on his instrument, happily blurring boundaries.
Similar lessons can be drawn from Ambrose Jackson (Encore), who worked in both the repertory and free jazz traditions of the trumpet; FMP Records (Label Spotlight), which keeps creating new aesthetics within the world of European jazz, and Hawaiian Tropic Zone (Club Profile), a rare convergence of swimsuits and jazz.
In addition to this lofty concept, this Holiday issue includes a more commercial section on recommendations for gift purchases, our usual bumper crop of CDs to keep you occupied on cold winter nights and a slew of performances for those chilly nights on the town.
Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and, of course, Happy Listening from us at AllAboutJazz-New York to you...