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Vijay Iyer, Capturing Your World In the Moment

Written by
Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH
Interview by
Jonathan Wertheim
Staff Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @rtbjazz

It's pretty difficult to picture a time in which pianist Vijay Iyer hasn't emanated calm. In every interview, tweet, and essay, Iyer has always shown a depth of wisdom and serenity, even when his music can at times portray an immense freneticism, especially in his most recent album on the ACT label, Accelerando. It is only upon tapping this wisdom can one find that his calm in contrast with his ever-present potential for frenzy is always rooted in his ability to capture the moment.

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Nicholas Payton Is Chillin' On Our Nutz: How One Musician Misrepresented the Facts And Bullied the Jazz Narrative Off Course

Jonathan Wertheim
Staff Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @rtbjazz

Author's Note: This is my last feature-length piece as a staff writer for Nextbop before taking an extended break from jazz.

Payton's Black American Music, or BAM, has been a lot on my mind since hitting the jazz internet headlines last year; I got caught in one of Payton's rhetorical catch-22's and wrote several angry posts about him at my blog.

This piece, which I thought about, rewrote several times, and researched very seriously, is an effort to get the conversation about the terminology of jazz back on track by reminding those of us in its community what the basic tenets of the BAM argument are, and the flaws that appear when they are examined.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at jon.wertheim@gmail.com, or go to Rehearsing The Blues, where this piece is excerpted, and leave a comment. I welcome your input.

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Relevant to His Time: An Interview with Robert Glasper

Jon Wertheim
Staff Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @rtbjazz

Some conversations bore me. Some don’t. But few are interesting enough that I’ll sit hunched over a cell phone for fifteen minutes, holding a microphone up to the earpiece, and then spend half an hour trying to decipher the grainy voice on the tape for just a few pages of type. This one was.

We could have just written a review of Robert Glasper’s new album, Black Radio, recorded for Blue Note with his Experiment (and a series of distinguished guests including Erykah Badu, Musiq [Soulchild], Ledisi, Lupe Fiasco, Yasiin Bey [ Mos Def], and others). But Glasper has a strong voice, and not just on the piano, so we decided to let him speak for himself about the thoughts that occupy the mind behind the record.

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For Your Consideration: Portico Quartet - 'Portico Quartet'

Jon Wertheim
Staff Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @rtbjazz

It's processed. It's ambitious. It's not exactly jazz - or dance music, or pop, or hip hop. It's like Kneebody on Ritalin, or Kenny G with chest hair and an attitude.

And is it good? Yes. Yes, it is.

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For Your Consideration: Terell Stafford's 'This Side of Strayhorn'

Jon Wertheim
Contributing Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @rtbjazz

The Nextbop staff is compiling their lists for the best albums of 2011. The first round of our voting ends today, but voting has not yet closed. Here we will do the closest Nextbop does to reviewing albums and attempt to persuade the rest of the staff to change their lists.

2011 has produced some amazing records, and not only in the field of jazz. However, few other genres have seen as much controversy in the last few years as has jazz music. 2011 has turned out to be little different from 2010 or 2009 in this regard: Nicholas Payton has been talking about "Black American Music" and the "slave term" jazz like a trumpet-playing Malcolm X (before he went to Mecca); Wynton Marsalis has added another chapter to the JALC discussion by opening a new club in a luxury hotel in Qatar; and the Robert Glasper school of hip-hop/jazz fusion has continued to stir up conversation about the role of hip-hop and rap in the jazz tradition (a conversation that has been recently and neatly pondered by Patrick Jaranewattananon at NPR's A Blog Supreme).

I'm not here to talk about any of that, or at least not directly. Before I get to my main point, in fact, I'd like to say that while I was disappointed both by Nicholas Payton's way of talking about his hobbyhorse and some of the response to it, I think that the discussion is at least important to have in the back of our minds (although I agree wholeheartedly with Anthony Dean-Harris's recent analysis on this site). I also have decided, as an early New Year's resolution, not to give a flying f*** about JALC's involvement, or lack of it, with the reality of the jazz community of 2011. And, finally, I love hip-hop and think it has every right to influence, and be influenced by, jazz.

With that out of the way, here goes: If I had to advocate one record as the best jazz record of 2011 (and I am, though I'm not being forced to), I would nominate Terell Stafford's This Side Of Strayhorn, released on the MAXJazz label earlier this year.