In the News
Year in Music 2019: The Year in Jazz, Blues, R&B and Soul
The array of talent that appeared here in 2019 bodes well for the future
Nashville’s appeal as a destination for topflight jazz and blues performers may never have been higher than it was in 2019. From giants like Ahmad Jamal and Herbie Hancock to established younger talents like James Carter and Gerald Clayton, there was no shortage of great national jazz talent coming to town. The same was true of blues stalwarts, from elder statesman Buddy Guy, who made his annual Ryman appearance, to the exciting youngster Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and the no-less-remarkable Gary Clark Jr.
The arts nonprofit FMRL, founded by longtime Nashville promoter Chris Davis, continually presents national and international avant-garde and experimental musicians, some of whom use jazz in their work — like Jamal R. Moore or the trio of Larry Ochs, Nels Cline and Gerald Cleaver, two acts that played here this year. FMRL also helps build a local audience for regional and local musicians. Several veteran R&B and soul artists made Music City stops this year too, among them Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, funk icon George Clinton, and the great singer and songwriter Valerie Simpson.
There continues to be an array of options for fans whose tastes aren’t strictly confined to pop, rock, country or Americana. Beyond the jazz shows you’d expect at Rudy’s Jazz Room and the Nashville Jazz Workshop (and in the Schermerhorn’s ongoing jazz series), there were often great jazz, blues or soul shows at City Winery and Marathon Music Works. Several such shows came to venues that don’t routinely feature them, like the Ryman, Exit/In and 3rd and Lindsley. While celebrating its 19th anniversary, the Nashville Jazz Workshop prepared for a move to Buchanan Street in the new year. The remodeled church facility will provide more space for their vital classes and music curriculum, as well as their regular concerts.
The city’s jazz talent continued to be well-represented elsewhere, with The Beegie Adair Trio making what’s become its annual appearance at Carnegie Hall — something you probably would not have imagined 10 years ago. Something else you might not have expected: The National Museum of African American Music, set to open on Lower Broadway in the summer. There’s already loads of buzz regarding this museum, and given Nashville’s legacy in jazz and blues (as well as gospel, R&B and soul), its opening looks to be the next important step in the local history of these musical traditions getting the attention it deserves.
It continues to take concerted effort to keep music that isn’t mainstream alive in an era when only a tiny fraction of this nation’s cultural output gets wide exposure. The Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society’s Great Albums Concert Series, the blues and R&B jams at Carol Ann’s Home Cooking Cafe, WFSK-FM’s 24/7 jazz programming, and Greg Pogue’s Nashville Jazz show on Acme Radio all continue to do this vital work to maintain some diversity on our cultural landscape.
The array of wonderful jazz, blues and R&B musicians living in our area is astonishing. When people like George Benson or Buddy Guy select local studios and artists to produce and play on their LPs, it’s a reflection of the city’s immense talent pool. Complaints are lodged year in and year out regarding what isn’t available or doesn’t happen here for jazz and blues artists. But those who’ve been around town a while can attest that things have improved a great deal in recent years, and the future looks even brighter.
December 19, 2019, Nashville Scene, Ron Wynn
Introducing The Sanborn Sessions – Episode 1: Kandace Springs
JAZZIZ is proud to partner with six-time GRAMMY Award-winning saxophonist David Sanborn to present Sanborn Sessions, a gathering of top artists from a variety of genres to explore the essence of music and being a musician through song and conversation. With no script or studio audience, Sanborn Sessions allows viewers to become voyeurs — flies on the wall — as renowned artists show up to Dave’s home studio to hang out and play music.
Season One guests include Kandace Springs, Michael McDonald, Terrace Martin, Brian Owens, Bob James, Jonatha Brooke, Charlie Hunter, and Cyrille Aimee. Dave’s house band rounds out the show with Ben Williams on bass, Billy Kilson on drums, Andy Ezrin on keyboards, Jon Herington on guitar, and Alice Soyer on vocals. Subscribe now to see new content as it releases.
The Sanborn Sessions kick off with the eminently talented vocalist Kandace Springs, whose unique combination of jazz, soul, hip-hop and R&B reflects the musical melting pot of her native Nashville. Springs, a Nashville resident and Nashville Jazz Workshop alumna, released her self-titled debut EP on Blue Note Records in 2014, followed by the critically acclaimed Soul Eyes in 2016 and Indigo in 2018. She’s collaborated with musicians from across the musical spectrum, from jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard to rapper Ghostface Killah. She has even performed on stage with pop icon Prince, who reached out to her on Twitter after hearing her cover of a Sam Smith song online.
Like what you hear? Subscribe to The Sanborn Sessions on YouTube. December 3, 2019, JAZZIZ Magazine
Rachael Price, a Nashville native and Nashville Jazz Workshop alumna, is gearing up for her new fall tour when she calls me to discuss her new LP Rachael & Vilray, her first side-project away from Lake Street Dive. The album is, on one hand, a departure from the Americana/pop styles of Lake Street Dive; on the other, a return to the jazz and swing music that inspired her to pursue a musical career growing up.
“I started out singing this music when I was very, very young,” she tells Billboard. “I was really into big band musicals.”