Barry Schrader and Wadada Leo Smith's Chinese philosophy

Well-known composer Barry Schrader and the no less famous Ishmail Wadada Leo Smith presented their new project, "Wu Xing - Cycle of Destruction" in Los Angeles on November 18.
This project is based on the Chinese philosophy 'Wu Xing' (Five elements). In this philosophy the world consists of five elements - metal, wood, earth, water and fire; the process of the splitting and destruction of these elements occurs in this order. The themes within the project match up with the elements.
Schrader is known for his electronic music and it features prominently in this work, but his partner is associated with his interest in ethnic music and his successful recording in the Tzadik, Impulse, ECM and Shanachie studios. The co-authors are a true unit in the "Wu Xing - Cycle of Destruction" project.

Thelonious Monk Institute goes to Vietnam

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the rapprochement between the USA and Vietnam, the State Department and the US embassy in Hanoi, with other organisations, mounted a cultural programme which included a tour by a large group of American jazz musicians, from November 22 - 30, under the direction of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Research Institute.
Led by Herbie Hancock, the jazz group included Hancock's old friend, legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter, vocalist Nnenna Freelon and eight young musicians. They gave a concert for VIPs in Ho Chi Minh city, master classes for students at the local conservatoire and a concert in the Ben Than theatre. The jazzmen then undertook a similar programme in Hanoi.
The cooperation between the Monk Institute and the State Department began in 1995. At that time YUSIA sponsored a competition organised by the Monk Institute over 6 weeks in Africa. Representatives of the Institute visited India and Thailand in 1996 and Chile, Argentina and Peru in 1998. In 1998 American jazzmen gave a concert at a summit of the heads of government of North and South America countries. The cooperation continues into the twenty-first century: in recent years there have been visits to Egypt and France among other countries.

'Berlin Voices' in Baku

The German jazz group, 'Berlin Voices', gave their closing concert on 23rd November in Baku Jazz Centre. Popular in Europe, their visit to Azerbaijan began on 20th November and three concerts were arranged for this, their first visit to Baku.
The group consists of four soloists and three instrumentalists. It was good to have free entrance to all the concerts. 'Berlin Voices' Baku tour ended with a concert for businessmen and politicians.
The visit was organised with the support of the Siemens company and the German embassy in Baku. 'Berlin Voices' are popular both in their own and in other European countries and our own jazz fans gave them a sincere welcome, as they played to full houses. They are often on tour and in jazz festivals as well as playing in government-organised events.
They came to Baku as part of the programme, 'Made in Germany'. Some critics assessed 'Berlin Voices' thus: "Their presentation is different in its originality and individual approach. Two men and two women, four voices, combine successfully." The group's members include Esther Kaiser and Sarah Kaiser, who have toured with the Berlin Opera Ensemble, and Mark Secara and Kristofer Benn, two highly acclaimed singers on the German jazz stage.

Concert by French Accordionist Richard Galliano in Kiev

In Kiev, 3rd December, the famous French accordionist Richard Galliano gave a concert in the Coffee/Book shop 'Babuin'. It was his third performance in the capital of the Ukraine; Galliano first delighted the jazz lovers of the Ukraine in 2004, and his second appearance in the city was on December 5th 2004 at the National Philharmonia. He is one of the most popular accordionists in the world; in France he is called "The holy monster of jazz".
In 'Babuin' he presented an acoustic jazz programme, including pieces from his 'Passatoria' and 'New York Tango' albums together with music from his favourite director Federico Fellini's films and Astor Piazzolla's works.

Nino Katamadaze and 'Insight' Play in Kiev

A festival of modern Georgian music took place from December 9 - 11 2005 in Kiev. The festival, called 'Live Borjomi Sound', featured three of the most original groups known outside Georgia: Nino Katamadze and the 'Insight' group, 'Zumba' and '33-A'. According to information from the JBKB advertising agency, this event was the culmination of the year of Georgia in the Ukraine, sponsored by the Georgian embassy in the Ukraine.
The festival headliner Nino Katamadze was once more in Kiev having caused sensation on her previous visit. She was performing for the first time in such a large venue as the Philharmonia's 'Column' salon. Nino's music is an emotional synthesis of classical jazz improvisation with authentic Georgian music. This top musician's vocals, is sometimes likened to velvet, and sometimes to a wave drawing out the audience's highest feelings and creating its own special mood.
The other invited groups, 'Zumba' and '33-A', brought a real Georgian temperament to the festival, a sense of freedom and sincerity.

Richard Bona Plays the Festival, 'Jazz in the Old City'

One of the most interesting jazz bass guitarists of our time, Richard Bona, played in Moscow at the 2nd International 'Jazz in the Old City' festival in Moscow. The opening ceremony was on 3rd November, in the capital city and then moved on to St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk and Khanti-Mansiysk and finished, on 26th November, in Ekaterinburg. Together with Russian musicians were performers from Turkey, the Ukraine, France, Georgia and the USA.
Only two acts played on the opening day, but what acts they were!
Nino Katamadze's big 'Insight' group, the "World Music Band", played a selection of the favourite numbers of Muscovite music lovers. There followed onto the stage a musician whose name is listed among the world's top musicians. Although he was second in order, his playing was by no means inferior to that of the first act. In his time inspired by Jaco Pastorius, some indication of this bassist's impact is given by the list of musicians who wanted to work with him: Joe Zawinul, Joni Mitchell, Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin among others. Bona was in Russia for the first time and all who encountered his work considered it a miracle.
With his black, Cameroon skin and white teeth he exuded a French charm. He spoke in English, but thanked his audience in Russian and sang in one of the languages of his native continent. Bona's singing style is sometimes reminiscent of Santana, other times of the "Baobab" orchestra. He improvises his guitar style like McFerrin, but remains modest despite his pre-eminence. Quite the opposite; his polished performance produces music at once perfect and light. Keeping to jazz traditions, his musicians showed their talent in successive solos. Bona, in his turn, played his bass with passion, entrancing the audience and drawing smiles of pleasure from his fellow musicians. During the set of 90 minutes Africa was glimpsed mysteriously through a Euro-American mirror; jazz, in its own way, giving another life to African music.

Richard Underhill's New Album

On 15th November Canadian saxophonist released his new album, 'Moment in Time'. The former leader of the "Shuffle Demons" group, this musician from Toronto, successfully continues his solo career.
His previous release, 'Tales from the Blue Lounge' (2003) received a 'Juno' - the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy. In 2004 Underhill entered the Guinness Book of Records with his PR-project. He assembled 900 saxophonists in a Toronto square and they all played the piece, 'Theme from Hockey Night in Canada'.
The new album is recorded in the typical manner of post-bop, Joe Lovano or Brad Mehldau style. Young Cuban pianist Luis Guerra, tenor saxophonist Bob Brough, bassist Mike Milligan and drummer Joe Poole and other guest musicians supported Underhill on this album.

South African Jazz in California

In the historically native land of jazz, its devotees develop the talent of musicians from Africa as well as from Europe. On 7th November, a troop representing South Africa descended upon Santa Monica, California under the banner 'Jazz Safari'. The main act of this day-long, mini-festival was 'The Rashid Lanie Jazz Trio', led by composer and keyboardsman Rashid Lanie. Together with their own compositions, they played music by South Africans Hugh Masakela, Abdulla Ibrahim and other well-known jazz musicians.
The performance of 15 year old Ada-Ann Esplin was also warmly received. This young musician is a winner of a prestigious international vocalists' competition. Prominent percussionist Leon Mobley also played in 'Jazz Safari'.

Keith Javors joins 'Artistshare'

Pianist, composer and teacher Keith Javors has joined respected musicians Maria Schneider, Jim Hall, Jane Ira Bloom and Billy Childs who are working with the 'Artistshare' group. This new union will produce, on 28th July 2006, a new album, 'Free'; this will be his 4th album. His previous project, 'Mo' City Jungle' was released by Zoho Records in 2004. He has already worked with George Coleman, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Lovano and Terrell Stafford and played successfully in a number of prestigious jazz festivals such as, in Europe, Montreux, Vienna and the North Sea Festival. Keith's new album, 'American Music Project', shows his talent in addressing different styles from Detroit onwards.