News on Essence Fest, Marsalis, Finn Brothers
Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton, Gladys Knight, the O'Jays, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Kenny Lattimore, Chante Moore, the Ohio Players, Freddie Jackson and Sinbad are among the first artists confirmed for the 2004 Essence Music Festival. The event will be held July 2-4 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
Discount ticket packages are available through Jan. 31, offering 10% off $45 and $55 seats. For more information, visit the event's official Web site .
-- Bill Holland, Washington, D.C.
Although jazz statesman Wynton Marsalis has not recorded a small-group date since 1999's "Marciac Suite" (Columbia), that will change in 2004. Last year he delivered the big-band/symphony orchestra CD "All Rise" (Sony Classical), and on March 9, Marsalis returns to a more intimate quartet setting for his Blue Note Records debut "The Magic Hour," an eight-song collection of originals.
The trumpeter says his last album "was such a huge piece involving more than 200 people that I wanted my next recording to be with a smaller group. I wanted to state my basic program about jazz music with the quartet."
-- Dan Ouelette, N.Y.
The Finn Brothers have completed work on their second studio album. According to the band's official Web site, the tandem of Neil and Tim Finn recorded 15 songs for the as-yet-untitled album, which was produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie).
Song titles include "Anything Can Happen," "Homesick", "The Land Torments The Sea" and "Edible Flowers", the latter of which was featured on Neil's "Seven Worlds Collide" live album and DVD. The brothers, who worked together in Split Enz as well as Crowded House, are expected to tour behind the album next year.
-- Jason MacNeil, Toronto