Thursday, November 19, 2009

Searching For A Joyful Noise? This Girl Has Got It!

First up this morning from The Wall Street Journal, an exciting and inspiring little piece on a young Jazz woman from the legendary writer Nat Hentoff (a prolific writer who for fifty years wrote for The Village Voice, among other publications.)

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

For more than 60 years, I've seen recurring obituaries of jazz. The threnodies are being prepared again—in the National Endowment for the Arts' latest survey on public participation in the arts and with such questions as "Can Jazz Be Saved?" in which widely respected music critic Terry Teachout wrote regretfully in this paper last summer, "I don't know how to get young people to listen to jazz again."

Both the survey and Mr. Teachout's column attracted rebuttals in print and on the Internet, of course. But the most exhilarating one I've heard is musical— "Confeddie," the debut CD of 19-year-old alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, and a work with the joyous feeling of the first day of spring. More remarkable, Ms. Niswanger is still a student, at Boston's Berklee College of Music. It's an institution that continues to have many active jazz professionals among its alumni. She wrote all the arrangements for "Confeddie" in collaboration with three impressive Berklee students: Michael Palmer, Greg Chaplin and Mark Whitfield Jr.

This self-produced, self-released quartet session, which is available on, has such a vibrantly building thrust of swinging surprises that listening to it I was suddenly a Boston teenager again fantasizing, as I played my clarinet, that one day Duke Ellington would call and say, "We need a sub for Barney Bigard tonight. Can you make it?"

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