By John Ephland
Today’s music world is as diverse as the climates and geography we experience. And yet, more and more of the world’s cultures are intermingling, to the point that, as with “world music,” today’s jazz cannot help but be influenced by sounds from around the globe. European experimentalism, with classical overtones, continues to influence the music of young pioneers like saxophonist Ken Vandermark, whose avant-meets-free jazz is tempered by the works of such notable contemporaries as saxophonists Mats Gustafsson, Evan Parker and Peter Brotzmann. Other, more traditional young musicians that continue to forge their own identities include pianists Jacky Terrasson, Benny Green and Brad Mehldau, saxophonists Joshua Redman and David Sanchez, and drummers like Jeff “Tain” Watts and Billy Stewart.
The age-old tradition of mentoring continues apace with artists like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis bringing along a whole crew of acolytes for his own small groups as well as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which he heads up. Musicians who have come under his wing, or who have benefited from their association with Marsalis, include pianists Marcus Roberts and Eric Reed, saxophonist Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, trumpeter Marcus Printup and vibraphonist Stefon Harris. Bassist Dave Holland has also been a fine recruiter and nurturer of young talent over the years, employing, among many others, saxophonist/M-Base artist Steve Coleman, saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibist Steve Nelson and drummer Billy Kilson. Other great mentors of young talent have included pianist Chick Corea, drummer Elvin Jones and the late singer Betty Carter.
As jazz moves into the future, the potential for creativity is great, as talent is expressed and nurtured along disparate lines, and as collaborative efforts between jazz genres is encouraged. Saxophonist Chris Potter releases somewhat mainstream recordings under his own name while recording with another great mentor, the avant master drummer Paul Motian. Likewise, legends can meet under the same banner from different worlds of jazz, as with the recent recording with Elvin Jones, saxophonist Dewey Redman and pianist Cecil Taylor.Previous