Modern Touring Jazz Artists/Ensembles
October 24, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for modern jazz artists that tour and fit my preference for jazz. A lot of the jazz I like most is played by greats who are no longer with us. I'd love to go see some great live jazz but just don't really know where to start.

I LOVE live jazz and want to know what modern artists I should keep my eye out for. At this point I just happen across live jazz concerts and rarely set out to see specific artists (with the exception of Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra). I'd like some suggestions on modern jazz artists/ensembles to check out based on the albums I've listed below.

Old stuff I like:
Lee Morgan - Sidewinder, Tom Cat, The Gigolo
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Buhaina's Delight, The Witch Doctor, Indestructible, Mosaic
Kenny Dorham - Afro-Cuban
John Coltrane - Coltrane, Blue Train
Kai Winding - Nuf Said
Sonny Clark - Sonny's Crib

Some modern stuff I like:
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra - They Came to Swing
Wycliffe Gordon - Bone Structure
James Carter - Chasin' the Gypsy
Jam Miami - A Celebration of Latin Jazz
Kansas City Soundtrack

I'm a trumpet player, but I love love love listening to great trombone and baritone sax players as well. I'm mostly looking for 50s/60s style combo jazz. I gravitate towards hard bop as well as Latin. Most modern artists/ensembles I've heard on disc just sound too polished, so it would be nice to hear something a little more raw.

Album recommendations would also be welcomed.

I've had a look at these five threads, but am looking for something a little more specific, so I figured I'd ask.
posted by bwilms to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Rather than offer specific recommendations, allow me to point you to the resources I use to find new jazz artists and shows:
Smalls Jazz Club in NYC hosts an incredible database of artists and audio files recorded at the club. Select an instrument, then choose an artist. To the right of the bio, you'll see a 'audio archive' module--select a date to listen to tracks and full sets. Most of the artists are actively touring, so you can head over to the calendar at and search for upcoming shows near you. Happy hunting!
posted by prinado at 2:46 PM on October 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Two of my faves: Trombone Shorty and Dave Sharp. Dave Sharp's music has a lot of latin and afro-beat but both of these are horn and rhythm driven.
posted by leslies at 3:04 PM on October 24, 2010

How about Steven Bernstein or Ken Vandermark? Bernstein is a trumpet player and Vandermark is a baritone sax player. I've seen Bernstein live a couple times and I think he does the kind of thing you're looking for.
posted by pinetree at 6:43 PM on October 24, 2010

Charles Lloyd's Rabo de Nube... brilliant and don't miss a chance to see him live.
posted by braemar at 7:17 PM on October 24, 2010

Somewhat shameless yet relevant self promotion filter:
Mr Junior Mance (recently turned 82) knew personally and played with many of the musicians you have mentioned. He has a working Quintet that works regularly around the country (especially in NYC). Its Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, Piano, Bass Drums.
[Full disclosure: I play baritone sax in his quintet] Check his website for more stuff. Its a bit more 'bluesy' than what you have listed but worth checking out.

If you're interested in baritone players in the hardbop/postbop style you outlined, I'd really recommend checking out Frank Basile. He's a monster, and specializes in that stuff. Many of the great baritone players around are listed on [again, full disclosure I run most of that site... I'm shameless but I do hope this info helps]

New York City: The club Smalls definitely has a lot of great live performances in that vein. Its somewhat more varied, but Fat Cat has a lot of great hard bop music too. Live music 7 nights a week, all night, cheap cover etc. Both have websites where you can see who's playing ahead of time. You can also check out The Garage in the west village. It has live music 7 nights a week and most of it is pretty killin.

As far as other groups playing now, and people you should absolutely catch while you still can: Lonnie Smith [organ]'s group, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter (not really this type of music, but amazing. Utterly raw and beautiful), Jim Hall if you can catch him - he doesn't perform much anymore, James Moody, and all of the other Jazz legends still around.

Eric Alexander [Tenor Sax] isn't my cup of tea, but based on your tastes he might do it for you. Check out the whole crowd up at Smoke in NYC - Jim Rotundi, Kenny Washington Et al.
posted by alhadro at 9:16 PM on October 24, 2010

Also, definitely check out Peter Bernstein as pinetree mentioned, and Bill Charlap. Phil Woods too if you can catch him. Ok, better stop here, this could go on for a while.
posted by alhadro at 9:33 PM on October 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the resources and recommendations. This is certainly enough to keep me busy and to get familiar with more modern artists. Many thanks!
posted by bwilms at 3:59 AM on October 27, 2010

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