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Posts Tagged ‘Hot Club of Detroit’

New York Finger Lakes Wine Country

Two weeks of touring the east coast with the Hot Club of Detroit, two conferences, and multiple video and print assignments for Wine and Jazz Magazine have helped me to stay warm so far in 2011, but I’m glad to be back at the blog. And I want to share with you an idea for a project I’ve begun that I’m particularly excited about.

Readers of this blog know that I like to drink local. Over the holidays, I sipped the 06 Chardonnay from Wyncroft — a Michigan winery — while dining at Michael Simon’s “Roast,” in downtown Detroit. It was there that I came to the decision to turn my focus on wine at this blog, Wine and Jazz Magazine, and any other publications that may welcome my writing, to the wines and the people behind them from the much talked about regions of Michigan, Ontario, and New York.

Why?

Because I feel a connection with those regions: I was born and raised in Michigan, my family has a summer home in Ontario, and I currently live in New York. It feels natural for me to want to drink and learn everything I can about these wines and their regions. I’m sure many of you will agree that these emerging wine regions are exciting to watch develop, but at the same time you may feel the wines lack value for what they are. But, would you order a bowl of minestrone in New England because it was a little cheaper than the clam chowder? No, you’d order the chowder. And you could probably find a low priced wine from Chile or the Southern Rhône Valley while dining at a restaurant in Napa, but would you really choose that sleeper of a wine over a locally produced gem to save a few bucks? Not if you’re at my table.

(I know I just basically, like, compared Michigan to the Napa Valley, but I don’t care.)

“The best Michigan wines are among the finest in the country,” wrote wine educator Kevin Zraly in his book, American Wine Guide. And, in my opinion, the same goes for the best wines from New York, and our neighbor to the north.

And the enthusiasm for this project from the producers I’ve reached out to from these regions has been overwhelmingly positive. Check back soon for reviews of wines from Peconic Bay, a Long Island winery; Heron Hill, a Finger Lakes Winery; and Wyncroft, a Michigan winery whose wines have made their way on to the menus of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s, and Iron Chef Michael Simon’s Roast.

I have trips planned to visit each of these regions this summer, and look forward to reporting on the wines and culture I experience while there. And by no means will I totally abandon reporting on wines from the rest of the world. Next month I will be speaking at a jazz conference at the University of Burgundy, and traveling with me will be my friend and colleague, sommelier Anthony Minne. He and I will be sure to share our wine-and-music-trouble-causing-adventures from Paris and Burgundy with you.

In the mean time, I urge you to seek out the crisp, mineral driven red and white wines from Michigan, New York, and Ontario. And if you do try one, drop me a line at paulbradymusic@gmail.com, or leave a comment here to let me know how you liked, or hated it.

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Anat Cohen

Saxophonist/Clarinetist Anat Cohen claims making good music is all about being yourself.

I first discovered the music of Anat Cohen right around the time I moved to New York City through a 2008 article in JazzTimes. The article was titled New Visionaries, and featured profiles on Esperanza Spalding, Mathias Eick, Robert Glasper, Aaron Parks, Christian Scott, Marcus Strickland, and Cohen. I never thought that the above article would start a chain reaction which would put me in the kitchen of Cohen’s west village apartment drinking espresso last week. But I suppose the story of my coffee date with Cohen goes back even further to Chicago where I first met the guitarist Howard Alden.

Woody Allen’s 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, about a fictional guitarist who worshiped Django Reinhardt, played a significant part in my becoming a jazz musician. I loved the film’s soundtrack and began taking jazz guitar lessons, while teaching myself Reinhardt’s style. Though it was Alden — who played the guitar parts for the film — who I first began to copy when I transcribed his solo from “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” which I then played pretty much note for note on my audition for DePaul University’s school of music. Years later in 2007 I was able to sneak backstage at Chicago’s Symphony Center where Alden was performing with Dick Hyman, to corner him for an autograph. A few months after, Alden would perform with the jazz group of which I’m a member, the Hot Club of Detroit, and I’m happy to say that we’ve enjoyed a working relationship, and a friendship, ever since.

It was at Alden’s New York City apartment where I first learned he had a performing relationship with Cohen, shortly after I had read the JazzTimes article mentioned above. The two of them have performed in a number of the same circles over the years, including their regular working duo. This spring, we featured that duo as special guests with the Hot Club of Detroit for a couple shows, and last Saturday we performed with Cohen at a jazz festival in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Stopping by her place last week to drop off some music, I asked if I could come back the next day to pick her brain on the record making process, and talk about her latest album, “Clarinetwork: Live At The Village Vanguard.”

Brady: I think of your album “Notes From the Village” as a decisively modern jazz album, but it’s also just flat-out fun, which is what keeps bringing me back to that record. It makes me feel good. What was your philosophy going into making that record?

Cohen: I like that you say it makes you “feel good,” because that’s my philosophy in general. It wasn’t like that was my philosophy going into the studio; to make an album that makes you “feel good,” because basically it was a very rushed process. My second and third records, “Poetica” and “Noir”, were recorded in 2006, and suddenly it was 2008 and I had been playing all kinds of music with my quartet for a couple of years, and I wanted to capture that live feeling of what we had been doing on stage. So I checked to see if the guys were available, and if a studio and engineer was available, and I thought, wow, everyone is available, now I have to go into the studio and do it! I figured we would play some material that we had been performing live, and come up with some new stuff for the album. My compositions on the album were completed for the album. The idea was not to try to limit the guys with a certain number of choruses, or to over produce, or worry about the lengths of tracks, but to try to keep the freedom going. You know how some people have this whole concept that tracks on albums should be five minutes maximum, otherwise they won’t be played on the radio. But the truth is jazz won’t be played on mainstream radio anyway, and people who like jazz will play a track even if it’s 12 minutes. So it really doesn’t matter. I mean, it’s nice to have a couple of short tracks, but as far as the music, I wasn’t worried about the length. So we rehearsed, and added some repertoire. We talked about playing the Sam Cook song “A Change is Gonna Come,” and Jason (Jason Lidner, piano) and Daniel (Daniel Freedman, drums) went home together to one of their places, and they called me and said, “We got, we got it!” So they came up with some ideas too. It was very much group work. Jason contributed his arrangement for “Siboney,” by Ernesto Lacouna, which is really nice. It’s a Cuban song, but it has a lot of reggae, and a lot of different rhythms that are not really Cuban. So I think we captured some of the live spirit, and everyone plays excellent on the record. It was really fun. (more…)

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Stéphane Derenoncourt

Wine maker Stéphane Derenoncourt bleeds Bordeaux, but with his Napa Valley wines he allows the fruit to do the work.

I met my friend Ben Wood for a wine tasting on Tuesday at The Ten Bells, a wine bar on New York ‘s lower east side. Ben is a wine buyer at 67 Wines and Spirits, but he’s also a jazz guitarist. We recently became acquainted through our mutual interest in wine and the music of Django Reinhardt. Ben and I just finished up a two week residence subbing for the French guitarist Stéphane Wrembel, performing at the Empire Rooftop, a Columbus Circle hotel rooftop lounge. And a post gig excursion for a glass of wine resulted in what was for me an interesting jazz and wine coincidence. But first, the tasting.

We attended Stéphane Derenoncourt’s most recent New York tasting of his Napa Valley wines — his first American bottling. We tasted his single vineyard 06 and 07 Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. (more…)

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