A document of our time, as well as an exploration into a celebrated career, Venezuelan pianist and composer, Edward Simon joins us.
Now based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but long associated through his work with the all-star SF JAZZ Collective, Simon is celebrating over 30 years in music with his Ridgeway Records release, 25 Years.
His work has found him collaborating with prominent jazz, vocals, and chamber groups, such as Gretchen Parlato, Imani Winds, Mark Turner, David Binney, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade. The latter of which includes celebrated trio recordings along with John Patitucci.
We spoke with Edward about his two-disc career retrospective, as well as his newly announced role as Associate Artistic Director with the Ridgeway Arts organization (a producer of this podcast).
At the time of our conversation, the country was several months into the shelter-in-place effects of COVID-19; where musicians in particular were some of the first to lose prevalent sources of their financial living. Along with renewed light shone on familiar issues of racial injustice, the black lives matter movement, and escalated political divisiveness, it was only natural that some discussion swayed into addressing the systemic indignities more often directed towards people of color in the U.S.; implicitly, and/or overtly.
Tracks featured throughout Episode #019:
Another archived discussion, this time with a jet lagged (at the time of meeting in March of 2018) Romain Pilon. The french guitarist began his journey in Southeastern France at the base of the Rhone Alps; now Paris based.
A Parisian in New York for a short while, he preceded his big apple residency with matriculation through Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
Credited as performing with Christian Scott, Esperanza Spalding, Warren Wolf, and Lionel Loueke, Pilon also has a number of recordings under his leadership featuring key collaborations with modern saxophone colossi Seamus Blake, Ben Wendel, and Walter Smith III.
While the conversation preceded, a collaboration with Jeff Denson and Brian Blade yielded the trio recording, 'Between Two Worlds' released on Ridgeway Records in 2019. Much of which features Pilon's masterful and subtly sophisticated compositions.
We speak with Romain about his formative years, alumni friendships, performance highlights, and his series of mini-lessons as found on YouTube and Instagram.
Much of the music featured throughout the episode is culled from Romain Pilon's 2018 release, 'Copper' that was released shortly before our meeting.
Tracks featured throughout Episode #018:
We're back! Well, we actually never went away, but instead took a rather long pause.
We have much to share with you in respect to guests we were able to connect with since we last left off. So we have plenty to catch you up on!
Take a listen and we'll fill you in.
As you get through the episode, we also bring you some small detail about several of the more recent Ridgeway Records releases. This is something that we intend to periodically check-in on with you.
Jeff Denson | Romain Pilon | Brian Blade - Between Two Worlds
Never Weather - Blissonance
Negative Press Project - withIN
Tracks featured throughout Episode #014:
As a complement to our two part conversation with New York Based, Bassist, Composer, Recording Artist, and Educator, Ben Allison, with his permission, we are providing a special peek into a portion of a discussion held at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, California.
This preceded a performance of material from his new recording with the Think Free Band entitled ‘Layers of the City’; now available.
Also in the room was his touring band for the occasion, Steve Cardenas on Guitar, Allan Mednard on drums, and Kirk Knuffke on Cornet.
Tracks featured throughout Episode #012 Part 3 of 3:
We continue with Part two of our discussion with New York Based, Bassist, Composer, Recording Artist, and Educator, Ben Allison.
In Part one we discussed the process leading up to the recording of the new album, stylistic choices made, curators of taste, the Salsa scene of Newhaven Connecticut, Production techniques, the visceral experience of music and physical product, becoming an entrepreneur, cultural diplomacy through music, and finally,
turning audiences on to jazz through dialog and live performance.
We resume our discussion with Part two to further unbox Ben’s viewpoint on the intrinsic value of music, the importance of copyrights, the benefits of an extended career in jazz, touring life, advocacy and engaging with politicians, and how that is channeled into his creative process.
We also reference a conversation surrounding Ben’s personal approach to composing, and how it yielded some of the tunes on his new recording, ‘Layers of the City’.
Tracks featured throughout Episode #012 Part 2 of 3*:
*All from Ben Allison recordings except where otherwise noted
New York Based, Bassist, Composer, Recording Artist, and Educator, Ben Allison has a career that spans several decades.
Ben has established himself at the forefront of modern jazz and creative music. A disciple of the jazz canon, rock, folk, 20th Century Classical music, and improvisational music from around the world, he firmly believes in the notion that the tradition of jazz is to move the music forward.
He was a founding member of the Jazz Composers Collective that produced more than 100 performances in New York and abroad, new music, and annual concerts in the region for 11 seasons.
One could add one time club owner (Kush), and now producer, record label owner, and artist advocate activist to his CV, with that last part highlighted by virtue of Ben's position as current President of the Board of the New York chapter of the Recording Academy.
With more than 11 recordings out under his various group configurations, such as Ben Allison and Medicine Wheel, Peace Pipe, and Think Free bands, he is now releasing his second recording on his Sonic Camera label imprint, with ‘Layers of the City’. A set of new compositions featuring Ben with Guitarist, Steve Cardenas, Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, Pianist Frank Kimbrough, and Allan Mednard on Drums.
We spoke with Ben about his new recording, composing process, audience engagement, leanings toward activism and advocacy, worldview, and development as a recording artist.
With such a rich and densely packed career, we couldn’t possibly fit it into a brief discussion, so we have broken our conversation into several parts.
Tracks featured throughout Episode #012 Part 1 of 3:
We continue Part Two of our conversation with Bulgarian born guitarist and composer, Hristo Vitchev.
While in Part One we highlighted his acclaimed 2 Disc release, “In Search of Wonders”, not to mention a foray into Hristo’s love of metal guitar and music in his youth, in Part Two, we continue the discussion into how he channeled his business acumen in the music industry through foundational marketing strategies and early adoption of social media tools to become a recording artist, label owner, clinician, and internationally touring musician.
Hristo offers his experience as a virtual master class for those aspiring to be bandleaders and touring recording artists.
What happens when you transport a Bulgarian born, metal loving guitar player to San Jose, CA by way of Venezuela and "small-town" Utah? You get impressionistic jazz composer, bandleader, and guitarist, Hristo Vitchev.
Making the San Francisco Bay Area his home, Hristo can be found producing a prodigious amount of recordings with longtime collaborators in his own, Hristo Vitchev Quartet. With a variety of Duet and Quartet recordings under his belt on the label, First Orbit Sounds, that date back to 2009, one can explore his steady output.
In 2016, he released an ambitious double CD entitled “In Search of Wonders” to acclaim, and features a quartet of musicians that highlights easy interplay as a result of their long-time association.
We made this discussion a two-parter. In Part One, we explore Hristo's journey from Bulgaria to establishing his prolific Quartet out of the San Jose State Jazz Program, with stops at jam sessions along the way, restaurant casuals, and having his dreams dashed at a Death Metal show.
Immediately available is Part Two- a BONUS EPISODE that provides a virtual master class on building one's career in jazz as a bandleader, including foundational marketing strategies, Social Media tools, running a record label, and managing overseas tours.
Tracks Featured Throughout Episode #010:
Vocalist and Composer Tammy Scheffer visited On The Scene SF/O in Berkeley, CA. One of the foremost creative voices on New York City’s vibrant jazz scene, Scheffer is an increasingly difficult musician to classify. She has found equal cohorts in modern jazz, progressive rock, acoustic music, and solo, duo, or trio vocals and looping projects.
Born in Belgium and raised in Israel, she studied music at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music before moving across the globe to attend the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Tammy Scheffer Sextet’s 2010 recording, ‘Wake Up, Fall Asleep’ was selected directly by renowned saxophonist Greg Osby for release on his Inner Circle Music label.
She also has a healthy list of work available for viewing on YouTube ranging from VideoSongs with Israeli Prog Rock Keyboardist, Eyal Amir and Project RnL to her own solo and ensemble projects.
Most recently she has released an exciting and innovative EP with the jazz and rock driven trio, Morning Bound, comprised of Tammy on vocals and loops, Panagiotis Andreou, Bass and Vocals, and Ronen Itzek, on Drums.
Tracks Featured Throughout Episode #009:
Warren Wolf took a break from a week long series of classes, workshops, and performances with the SF Jazz Collective in Sonoma to speak with OTS SFO. Best known for his work on Vibraphone, he has also performed or recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Bobby Watson, Nicholas Payton, Tia Fuller, Terri Lynn Carrington, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and many more.
Wolf grew up in Baltimore, MD., and trained on vibraphone, marimba, drums, and piano beginning at age three. After attending prestigious regional arts schools, he went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and quickly became a fixture on the performing and recording scene there.
He came to prominence as a member of bassist/composer Christian McBride’s “Inside Straight” band. Most recently, he has been a member of the SF Jazz Collective and was featured on live recordings from the Collective’s last two seasons, and will be performing and recording in support of the new season addressing the music of Miles Davis.
We spoke about the above, along with family, career, fitness, and his secret desire to become a professional wrestler. He also released his third recording for Mack Avenue with an all-star line up entitled "Convergence".
EDITORS NOTE: The song "King of Two Fives" was originally released in error to read "Kind of Two Fives" through digital media.
Vadim Neselovskyi joins us this time. The Ukrainian pianist reveals his process as composer, solo performer, and bandleader, to arrive at dazzling displays of virtuosity and memorable melodicism.
His skills as an improvisor and composer continues the thread of his own mentors, and collaborators, in the field: Vibraphonist, Gary Burton, and Pianist, Fred Hersch.
A Professor at Berklee College of Music, Vadim still enjoys a full schedule of collaboration and performances throughout the world. While fervent duets with Bassist, Jeff Denson, or Flugelhorn player, Acardy Shilkoper, can be heard on his itinerary, it is his trio, 'Agricultural Dreams', with Isreali Drummer, Ronen Itzik, and Bassist, Dan Loomis, that he is most excited to present. A new recording with the trio can be expected in 2016/17.
A tireless performer, educator, and beloved figure throughout the jazz community, Saxophonist, Dayna Stephens, has established himself as a distinct voice amongst his generation.
His stage and studio experiences span across contemporaries and legends, including Taylor Eigsti, Julian Lage, Gerald Clayton, Linda Oh, Aaron Parks, Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens, Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, and many more.
Dayna recently overcame a rare kidney disease after securing a transplant in 2015. He discusses this and other topics of everyday performing, composing, leading and creating in the jazz idiom.