Joe Louis Walker
7:30pm - $25
Joe Louis Walker is a true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter. Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner, has toured extensively throughout his career, performing at the world's most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans. His latest, highly-acclaimed album Everybody Wants A Piece, from Mascot/Provogue, cements his legacy as a prolific torch bearer for the blues. Looking back on his rich history, Walker shares, "I'd like to be known for the credibility of a lifetime of being true to my music and the blues. Sometimes I feel I've learned more from my failures, than from my successes, but that's made me stronger and more adventurous, and helped me create my own style. I'd like to think that when someone puts on one of my records they would know from the first notes, `That's Joe Louis Walker.'"
Born in San Francisco on Christmas Day his parents were both from the South and they brought their love of blues with them when they headed west. Joe's dad played blues piano, and his mom played B.B. King records. Walker picked up the guitar as a child, and by the time he was 16 was regularly backing touring blues artists rolling through town. San Francisco's music scene was quickly becoming a melting pot of blues, jazz and psychedelic rock, and Walker was right in the center of it. As a 16-year-old, Walker was the house guitarist at San Francisco's famed musical playground, The Matrix, where he played with or opened shows for everyone from Lightnin' Hopkins to Jimi Hendrix to Thelonious Monk. He was also a regular at The Fillmore West. The blues legends Walker accompanied shared not only musical knowledge but also their personal wisdom with the teenage up-and-comer. Fred McDowell, Ike Turner, Albert King, Freddy King, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Lightnin' Hopkins and many others taught, fed, and chastised the youngster.
Inspired by what he learned, Walker developed his own fiery, melodic, and always unpredictable guitar attack. Walker met guitarist Michael Bloomfield in 1968 and the two became fast friends. Bloomfield helped push Walker's blues in a more rock-fueled direction, and he became the single biggest influence on Walker's sound. The two shared an apartment for years and remained close friends until Bloomfield's death in 1981. From 1975 to 1985, prior to joining Alligator Records in 2012, Walker released 23 albums and toured the world virtually non-stop. He has garnered four Blues Music Awards and has been nominated a whopping 52 times. He holds an international reputation as one of the blues' most prolific and talented stars. He's also recorded as a guest with some of the blues world's best-known artists, including appearances on Grammy-winning records by B.B. King and James Cotton.
In 2013 The Blues Foundation inducted Walker into The Blues Hall of Fame. "I am honored to be in the company of the great artists already inducted," Walker said at the time. "I hope to live up to the honor." Joining the ranks of previous inductees, including B.B. King, Hound Dog Taylor, Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Howlin' Wolf and other blues greats, while still at the peak of his musical powers is, according to Walker, "a dream come true."
With each subsequent release Walker's audience continues to grow as his touring schedule expands. He's played all over the U.S. and Canada, major European festivals including The North Sea Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Notodden and Montreux, as well as festivals in Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Ireland, Turkey and Brazil. Now, with Hornet's Nest, Walker is excited about bringing even more people to his music. "Blues is a big tent," he says, "morphing into a bigger tent. Young folks like good blues when they hear it, and I'm here to make sure they want to listen."
NPR Music has called Walker "a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues," and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. However, at this stage of his life, Walker profoundly shares, "I'd really like to inspire younger musicians to carry on the legacy of blues/roots music - but play and do it your way - don't be afraid to mix it up. There's no right or wrong way, just the way you wanna express yourself. And above all, ENJOY YOURSELF."
7:30pm - $28
Musical innovation is no easy feat. It not only requires an innate talent, but also a devotion to the art that is not blinded by the commercial glare of the popular culture. Ralph Towner is such an innovator on the modern musical landscape, his ideas ever fresh, though they span a career of more than forty years.
Best known as the lead composer, guitarist, and keyboardist for the acoustic jazz ensemble "Oregon", Towner has also had a rich and varied solo career that has seen fruitful and memorable musical collaboration with such great modern musicians as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Egberto Gismonti, Larry Coryell, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, and Gary Peacock.
Towner was born in Chehalis, Washington on March 1st, 1940 into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player. Towner and his siblings were raised in a nurturing and empowering environment that encouraged free musical experimentation and expression. In 1958, Towner enrolled in the University of Oregon as an art major, later changing his major to composition. He soon thereafter met bassist Glen Moore who would become a lifelong musical partner in the band Oregon.
It was about this time that Towner discovered the early LPs of Bill Evans, whom Towner emulated and whose influence he began to incorporate into his own piano style and composition. It was not much longer until Towner also bought a classical guitar on a lark and became entranced enough with the instrument that the early 1960s saw him heading to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit. In 1968 Towner moved to New York City and immersed himself in the New York jazz scene, eventually landing a position with the Paul Winter Consort where the friendships and musical partnering with Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott were forged, a musical chemistry which was destined to alchemize into the band Oregon. Paul Winter also bestowed Towner with his first 12-string guitar. Towner has since coaxed the 12-string into imbuing his work with such a characteristic uniqueness that most jazz fans, given the two keywords "12-string" and "jazz" would immediately blurt the name Ralph Towner.
Towner's working relationship with producer Manfred Eicher of ECM Records began in 1972 and would provide a forum for his growth as a leader and collaborator with other jazz giants, all while concomitantly breaking open musical frontiers with Oregon throughout the intervening years. ECM's roster of low-volume acts was decidedly contrary to the amplified popular zeitgeist of the era, and provided Towner an opportunity to connect and create with some of the more iconoclastic and innovative artists of the musical culture in the 1970s. Towner's ECM years also saw his most minimalist, yet most bold, endeavor. "Solo Concert", released in 1980 on ECM, was conceptually elemental, a solo live guitar recital. Yet, no one to date had ever synthesized classical contrapuntal composition with improvisational and oddly-metered jazz like this before, especially in such a risky arena as a live performance. Such solo work would later become Towner's signature on recordings such as "Ana" and "Anthem", or augmented only by Gary Peacock's bass on "Oracle" and "A Closer View".
Like any true artist, however, experimentation with technology was simultaneously and paradoxically leading Towner away from this bare-bones approach to composition and performance in 1983 when he began to incorporate the Prophet 5 keyboard synthesizer into his compositions, both with Oregon and his ECM recordings. The Prophet 5 afforded an entirely new dimension to his writing, as well as to the brazen and quirky character of the "free-form" improvisatory pieces for which Oregon had become infamous.
Just as Towner's solo career has seen evolution, his partnership with Oregon would likewise undergo transformations as one might anticipate that any enduring relationship might do. Sadly, in 1984, percussionist Collin Walcott and manager Jo Härting were killed in Germany in a collision involving Oregon's tour bus. Towner and McCandless escaped serious injury in the back of the vehicle. The emotional scars would however be deep, and it at first seemed doubtful that Walcott's critical contribution to Oregon's musical tapestry, lost so tragically, could ever be resurrected by any replacement. Time would luckily find that the intent of Oregon's musical message was vehement enough to again find spontaneous expression after grief. Two subsequent world-class percussionists of a like mind, and gifted with rhythmic virtuosity, Trilok Gurtu in 1992 and Mark Walker in 1997, would share in and expand on Oregon's vision. That vision would explode in an epic way in 2000 upon release of "Oregon in Moscow", an orchestral double-CD recorded with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, earning the ensemble four Grammy nominations.
Towner's creativity and virtuosity into the new millennium retain all the vitality of his younger years, even now into his 70s. Always in service to the music, he continues to have a knack for fostering new musical relationships with those who share a mission to synergize art into a sum greater than its parts, recently and most notably with Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel and Australian guitarist Slava Grigoryan, a trio colloquially known as "MGT." Likewise, his later jazz duos with Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu and Argentine clarinetist Javier Girotto have reaffirmed his unique niche in the international world of improvisational jazz. Ralph Towner has come full circle with the 2017 release of "My Foolish Heart," his 26th recording for ECM records, and an homage to the jazz pianist who inspired Towner on his original quest for compositional innovation, Bill Evans.
New Black Eagle Jazz Band with guitarist Duke Robillard
7:30pm - $22
The New Black Eagles return to the Regattabar with a slightly different sound. For over forty years, from Symphony Hall to Singapore, the band has delighted audiences worldwide with its infectious, soulful and uplifting style of traditional New Orleans jazz.- and now they've added award-winning blues guitarist Duke Robillard to the group! Paying homage to the greatest musicians of the early jazz era- Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington -the band has developed its own eclectic sound, incorporating spirituals, 1920's and 30's popular music and even some songs recorded by Elvis and Bob Dylan!
Widely-recognized as one of the premier traditional jazz bands in the world, the Black Eagles have been featured in numerous prestigious jazz festivals, including the Newport, Kool, JVC, Tanglewood, Edinburgh, and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festivals. With a Grammy nomination to their credit, a vast repertoire, seven inspired musicians, and a highly entertaining stage manner, it's no wonder that the New York Times has noted that the Black Eagles are "So far ahead of other traditional bands...there is scarcely any basis for comparison."
Avishai Cohen Quartet
7:30pm - $28
FEATURING: AVISHAI COHEN, TRUMPET
FABIAN ALMAZAN, PIANO
BARAK MORI, BASS
ZIV RAVITZ, DRUMS
When describing trumpeter Avishai Cohen, The Guardian said "every generation of jazz trumpeters revisits the legacy of Miles Davis in their own ways, but the Israeli rising star Avishai Cohen's version of the journey has been particularly skillful." In 2017, a year after his impressionistic, award winning, and critically-lauded ECM debut Into The Silence, Cohen's sophomore release for ECM Cross My Palm With Silver introduced audiences to a new collection of pieces highlighting his exceptional quartet. The adroit interplay of Cohen's live band allows Cohen to soar, making it clear why the pure-toned trumpeter is one of the most talked-about jazz musicians on the contemporary scene.
Cohen is globally recognized as a musician with an individual sound and a questing spirit, an ever-creative player-composer open to multiple strains of jazz and active as a leader, co-leader and sideman. Aside from the acclaimed work with his quartet over the last several years, and previously his trio work under the moniker Triveni, the trumpeter has also recorded and toured the world as part of the Mark Turner Quartet, the SFJAZZ Collective, Jazz100 (with Danilo Perez, Chris Potter, etc.) Zakir Hussain, and the 3 Cohens Sextet - with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval. Cohens forthcoming electric project BIG VICIOUS, featuring two guitarists and two drummers, has already won audiences over at international festivals. Named as the Artistic Director of the International Jerusalem Festival in 2015, Cohen has also been voted a Rising Star on three consecutive occasions in the DownBeat Critics Poll.
Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow
7:30pm & 10pm - $35/30
Fri - Sat | -
Andando el Tiempo features new music of wide emotional compass by NEA Jazz Master Carla Bley, and underlines her originality and resourcefulness as a jazz composer. "Saints Alive!" sets up animated conversations between the three musical participants with striking statements from Steve Swallow's bass guitar and Andy Sheppard's soprano sax. The stately "Naked Bridges/Diving Brides" draws inspiration from Mendelssohn and the poetry of Paul Haines. And the powerful three part title composition - which addresses the trials and tribulations of recovery from addiction - moves through sorrow to hopefulness and joy. The trio with Sheppard and Swallow has been an ideal vehicle for Carla's writing for more than 20 years and also provides one of the best contexts for her unique piano playing. Like the critically lauded ECM album Trios (2012), Andando el Tiempo was recorded at Lugano's RSI Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher.