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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Miles Davis: The Cellar Door Sessions 1970

Miles Davis: The Cellar Door Sessions 1970

Posted: 2005-12-20

By Greg Masters

Miles Davis
The Cellar Door Sessions 1970

For devotees of Miles Davis’s so-called “electric period,” the full release of the music recorded live in December 1970 at the Washington, DC club The Cellar Door has long been something of a holy grail. A healthy sampling was released in 1971 on Live-Evil providing evidence that more of this sound existed. The possibility that more from this lineup was in the vault gave hope to at least many of the baby boomers I keep in touch with. With the release of the 6-CD box set The Cellar Door Sessions 1970, all the anticipation is rewarded beyond measure.

The music on these CDs has continued to evolve even from the heights of the four extraordinary studio LPs Miles Davis recorded in the previous 18 months: In a Silent Way (rec. February 1969), Bitches Brew (rec. August 1969, double LP) and A Tribute to Jack Johnson (rec. April 1970). Besides being a live date, the ensemble here was made up of a different cast of characters. Those earlier “electric” albums are masterpieces partly because the musicians were pushed to the extremes of their creative artistry, they were of a caliber that could provide surprises, and because producer/collaborator Teo Macero took the session tapes and chiseled into form the rehearsed tunes and hours of spirited improvising.

Here, on the live dates, the musicians fill hour-long sets by stretching out some of the material previously worked out in the studio. Teo is at the controls again, manning the recorder at the club, but this time without his post-session work of crafting the material into a collaged suite. This is a strictly live recording, excellent sound quality, with only a few insubstantial edits.

Miles is forging something extraordinary here. Without concession to audience expectation, he’d been using club dates to grow his sound. Never one to repeat himself, his concept by this time clearly was not to present tunes. While the repertory across the six CDs consists of eight composition—10 sets were recorded over four nights and six complete sets are presented here—each piece is a springboard from which to invent, unfettered by the restraints of chord changes or the need to serve a melody. Miles is leading the ensemble into free territory. There’s no room for show biz slickness or pandering for dramatic effect. Miles is a patient listener and steps back to allow the other soloists to ignore 12-bar convention and reach full articulation. This is artistry of the highest order, creative expression at its most sophisticated.

The one-hour sets appropriate elements from funk and rock, but this is an entirely new uncategorizable beast—an amalgam of funk, rock and traditional jazz. The music is unlike anything. Comparisons are futile. It’s even a stretch to say the music is an extension of what Miles himself had been creating in the studio. It’s essentially a small group format, but is as far from conforming to a traditional jazz audience’s expectations as the listening experience at the Fillmore East is from that at the Village Vanguard.

Occasionally, a head statement will be played in unison by Miles and saxophonist Gary Bartz, with the rest of the band filling in the chordal progression, but that melodic phrase is merely a concession to the audience’s need for something familiar to tether their experience to.

Keith Jarrett’s playing on Fender Rhodes is perhaps the greatest prize from the set. The timbre of the electronic keyboard might grate some listeners after a while, but his explorations transcend the funk/rock indications defined by Jack DeJohnette’s solid 4/4 time-keeping and electric bassist Michael Henderson’s precise vamps. Jarrett’s keyboard utterances push into territory too colorful to be constrained by pulse. When the other musicians drop out to allow his cadenzas to go where they may, particularly during four “Improvisations,” Jarrett takes advantage, maximizing the electronics to novelty effect, but more importantly, using the full range of the keyboards (he’s also playing a Fender electric organ at times). His improvisations have more complicated intentions than the prescribed boundaries of the tunes’ formal structure. When freed from the rigor of the funk/rock requirements, there’s a chance for the expression of more complex emotions and an exploration instead of a proclamation.

Gary Bartz was a logical choice for the sax spot. He was already empathetic with the stripped down funk direction. He’d held sax chairs with Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner and Max Roach through the 60s, but in 1969 formed the NTU Troop in which he brought a funk groove to prominence. On this date, his melodious, refined and well- shaped runs up and down the horn unfurl into elegant Baroque-like solos and tender the oftentimes raucous activity swirling around him.

Although Miles is hitting high notes throughout the four-day gig, his playing is not as refined and virtuosic as it was on the prior year’s studio sessions, or as commanding as on the live sets at the Fillmore East and Fillmore West from earlier in 1970. Rather than proclaiming his statements with rolling, melodious passages that ride the churning ensemble as in those earlier dates, here his trumpet sound stabs to emphasize the rhythmic focus.

“The one-hour sets appropriate elements from funk and rock, but this is an entirely new uncategorizable beast . . .”

Miles doesn’t play notes to display his virtuosity or even to define a melody. He uses the notes to communicate intimate feelings ranging from longing to his assertive strut. His soloing through the wah-wah pedal conjures intangibles into form, evokes hints and variations of the head, and steers the ensemble to the briefest of unison passages. When Miles switches from playing through the wah-wah pedal to begin a new phase of a solo on open horn, it’s a dramatic sensation like a change of key.

Miles allows it to happen and the musicians are up to the challenge. These guys are as attuned to each other as a flock of birds in flight.

Michael Henderson holds the whole package together. His touch is certain yet warm and rounded. His sense of timing is impeccable. His notes define the pulse of eternity. His electric bass playing not only gives structure, but at times contributes a playful attitude to the proceedings.

Electric guitarist John McLaughlin is only on discs 5 and 6, but his searing solos, even as he searches for a way into the ensemble sound, add an element of fearful grace. It’s the sound of lightning brought indoors.

Airto Moreira’s palette of percussive effects (including vocalizing), integrate rain forest influences and colors with decorative aural embellishments.

The reason the set is not simply a funk session is owing to the drumming of Jack DeJohnette. While he serves the time-keeping function of laying down a groove, his sensible propulsion continuously urges the band forward with rolls, cymbal work and a bass drum foot that releases a surge of adrenalin with each pounce. His energetic but precise rococo accompaniment sets a high standard that compels the other musicians to match his intensity and service.

In addition to the nearly six hours of music, over three hours of which has never been issued officially, the box contains photos and essays by each of the band members, all expressing enthusiasm for the gig and grateful that the music is finally getting a chance to be heard.

Every moment on these discs is killer. This band is at its peak and the intensity never wavers. This music is clearly not for everyone, but I envy the uninitiated listener with an open ear for whom these sets are a first exposure to Miles’s electric music.


The Red Light is Off: A Chat With Michael Henderson, 7/16/05

“It never stopped,” says Michael Henderson, electric bassist, referring to his career after six years with Miles Davis from April 1970-December 1976. “I’ve played with just about everybody on the planet—Snoop Dog, LL Cool J, Carl Thomas, Mob Deep. I’ve been having a great time.”

This is a man who has nearly 50 platinum records. Miles Davis plucked him out of Stevie Wonder’s band when he was 19. But, he says, he was already “a hardened criminal of music at 13.” He’d played in Detroit with the Motown session musicians who’d later come to be called the Funk Brothers. He was with Stevie Wonder for five years (including an appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show in 1967), and at the same time backed Aretha Franklin. There were also dates with The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, James Jameson (they recorded together on Marvin Gaye’s “You’re the Man” from 1972), Earl Van Dyke (called the father of the Motown rhythm section) and others.

After he left Miles, he had a hit in 1975 with “Valentine Love,” his song for drummer Normon Connors on which he sings a duet with Jean Carn. In 1976, the gold album You Are My Starship, under Connors’ leadership, had a number of hits including, “We Both Need Each Other,” a duet with Henderson and Phyllis Hyman, and the title cut featuring Henderson. Henderson also recorded and did arrangements for The Dramatics and Jagged Edge among others.

He sounds a bit peeved when referring to press at the time Miles recruited him which referred to him as a 19-year-old session player. “How serious is Stevie Wonder?” he posits. “Stevie is as serious as Miles, maybe even more. People say that Michael Henderson was the devil that changed Miles Davis’s music, but they didn’t know I came from greatness in Detroit. I came up with people who worked with Paul Chambers. Look at the musicians. How serious is Motown?”

When I tell him how blown away I am by the music on The Cellar Door Sessions 1970, which chronicles a four-day engagement with Miles Davis at a Washington, DC club, he says that wasn’t even the greatest moment for the band. “Any date before that would blow your hair out.” He singles out a date at Paul’s Mall in Boston, circulated on a bootleg recording.

Speaking of the Cellar Door gig, he says it was a little-bitty club. “We just played unabashed, no hiding anything. We went for it. It’s hard, brash, outgoing, ferocious. We knew we were doing something great.”

It was raining the first few nights of the gig, he remembers, and the club was not full. But, he says, those who were there enjoyed what they were witnessing. Miles, he adds, paid the band out of his pocket.

Nobody played that kind of music, he says. “In this modern age, at sessions, guys stop being creative. If they play too much they want to get paid for it. When the green light goes on, you play what you’re required to play.”

“There was no green light for us,” he says, “no red light. Guys just don’t do that anymore.” He offers some advice for today’s musicians, at least for those with creative ambition: “A lot of guys need to forget about the red light, forget about getting paid.”

Henderson reveals one more moment from his time with Miles: “When the album [A Tribute to] Jack Johnson was about to come out, I told Miles, ‘They don’t put our names on the albums in Detroit.’ I demanded they put our names on the record ‘What You See Is What You Get’ from The Dramatics. The other musicians were afraid that Berry Gordy wouldn’t like the fact that they were moonlighting. But I was a bad ass. I told Miles and Miles called Teo and told him to put the names on the cover.” First versions of the LP include personnel credits on the front. “I raised hell. I’m a fighter. That’s why Miles hired me.”

He states that he’s been in the studio lately with two battery mates from Miles’s mid-70s band—electric guitarists Reggie Lucas and Pete Cosey. He’s also touring a band called Bass Players’ Ball with Ray Parker Jr. on guitar (another teenage sensation on sessions for Holland-Dozier-Holland before playing on Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book and Innervisions albums, and later under his own name, Ghostbusters) and George Johnson of the Brothers Johnson on bass.

“These are not just session guys,” he says. “These are session guys with million selling records.”

He adds that he’s recorded a lot of music that is still in the vault, including his tune, “You Are My Starship,” recorded with Keith Jarrett, Al Foster, Mtume and Reggie Lucas, and “Treat Me Like a Man,” which he wrote for The Dramatics, with Jarrett and Al Foster.

And, my Miles fanatic friends on the Web will salivate over this tidbit: He says he has a black and white video shot live at a gig in Philadelphia in 1970 that documents the Miles band which a few months later played The Cellar Door. “That band was more incredible each night,” he says.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ralph J. Gleason Celebrates Duke Ellington: "Love You Madly / A Concert Of Sacred Music At Grace Cathedral" on DVD :: : The Number One J

Ralph J. Gleason Celebrates Duke Ellington: "Love You Madly / A Concert Of Sacred Music At Grace Cathedral" on DVD :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Ralph J. Gleason Celebrates Duke Ellington: "Love You Madly / A Concert Of Sacred Music At Grace Cathedral" on DVD
Posted by: editoron Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 07:07 PM
CD Releases Two Emmy-Nominated Duke Ellington Programs On DVD For First Time Offer Rare Slice Of Jazz History: Ralph J. Gleason Celebrates Duke Ellington: Love You Madly / A Concert Of Sacred Music At Grace Cathedral

NEW YORK -- Eagle Rock Entertainment, the leading independent source for high quality music audio/visual programming, in cooperation withJazz Casual Productions, Inc., will release Duke Ellington: Love You Madly/ A Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral. Now available on DVD for the first time ever are these two Emmy-nominated programs from producer Ralph J. Gleason: a 1965 documentary that explores the life and legacy of Ellington, perhaps the greatest single American composer, and the September 1965 commissioned premiere Ellington's Concert of Sacred Music at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral.

Ellington considered the Concert of Sacred Music “the most important statement (the) orchestra had ever done.” Footage of the concert has been long sought after by Ellington enthusiasts and jazz fans in general. He assembled the program for the consecration of the Grace Cathedral, which was finally ready after decades of stop-start reconstruction following San Francisco's 1906 earthquake.

Presented here for the first time since its broadcast 38 years ago, the Concert features choice selections from the maestro' s catalog--”Come Sunday,” “Ain't But the One,” “David Danced Before the Lord With All His Might,” and a tune composed specifically for the church's consecration, “In the Beginning, God.” It was immediately hailed by the jazz cognoscenti as one of Ellington's greatest achievements.

Shot in and around the Bay Area in 1965 and originally broadcast on NET (the precursor to PBS), Love You Madly portrays Ellington in his autumn years, as he prepares for his benchmark Concert of Sacred Music and plays with his band at the Monterey Jazz Festival, at San Francisco's Basin Street West and recording sessions. We see him playing piano with and conducting his band through selections from his hallowed songbook--which ultimately was the purest expression of his mtier.

Duke also ruminates on the composing process that produced “Sophisticated Lady” and “Take the A Train” as well as his extended piece “Black, Brown and Beige.” Peers like Earl “Fatha” Hines and Dizzy Gillespie each attest to Ellington's greatness in the film. The interviews are conducted by Ralph J. Gleason, a world renowned jazz critic and lifelong devotee of Ellington, who would go on to co-found Rolling Stone magazine, and champion the likes of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

Only Louis Armstrong could possibly rival Ellington as a seminal figure in jazz music. He is without peer as a jazz composer: he used his long-running band as a laboratory by which largely improvised music could be forged into large-scale compositions incorporating uniquely American elements. The son of a White House butler, Edward Ellington (born 1899) formed his first band, the Washingtonians, in 1917, and upon moving to New York City, first recorded in 1924. Ellington and company were at the forefront of swing music in the 20s and 30s, cutting immortal recordings like “It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got that Swing),” “Mood Indigo,” “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” and “Creole Love Call” while in residence at Harlem's Cotton Club.

Ellington's recordings were seldom out of the top ten during the 30s, and by the early 40s, his organization was enhanced by arranger/co-composer Billy Strayhorn, saxophonist Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton. The end of the swing era left Ellington largely unaffected, as he continued to tour and began to compose large-scale pieces, like 1943's “Black, Brown and Beige.” After a brief dip in the 50s, his tours extended into Europe and his second career scoring films, like 1958's Anatomy of a Murder, burgeoned.

Through the 60s until his death in 1974, Ellington's work rate never slowed-- he toured the world and conceived and enacted new compositions at a furious pace. His legacy as a composer and bandleader is one that will likely never be surpassed.

Eagle Rock Entertainment is one of the leading independent sources for music audio and audio/visual programming, which it releases worldwide on DVD, CD and other formats, as well as through channels such as television and VOD. Eagle Rock's mission is to bring music fans high quality music audio and audio/ visual content from the broadest range of artists, with superior production, sound and high definition visuals, as well as other historically significant releases. Eagle Vision's extensive catalog covers every genre of music, and includes the Classic Albums documentary series, which tells the stories behind some of the greatest albums in rock history, and Live at Montreux, which features performances from top artists at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival.

The company's record imprints include frontline artist label Eagle Records, and the hard rock/heavy metal label Spitfire Records. Eagle Media releases a variety of comedy, television and fact-based programming. Eagle Vision, Eagle Records, Eagle Media, Eagle Eye Media and Spitfire are imprints of Eagle Rock Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S., which is a part of Eagle Rock Entertainment, Ltd. The company's North American headquarters are in New York City. Its corporate headquarters are in London, with offices in Toronto, Paris and Hamburg.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Jazz great's sax auctioned off :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Jazz great's sax auctioned off :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Jazz great's sax auctioned off
Posted by: editoron Thursday, December 08, 2005 - 08:25 PM
Jazz News Paris - Jazz great Sidney Bechet's soprano saxophone sold at auction in Paris on Wednesday for more than $140 000.

The instrument, which Bechet used to compose many of his standards, inspired the highest bid among 32 pieces up for sale at the Hotel Drouot auction house. The total selling price, including fees, was $140 900, the auction house said.

A hand-written love letter from the New Orleans jazzman to his wife, Jacqueline, sold for $2 817. Golden cuff links decorated with the initials "SB" went for $2 957.

Daniel Bechet, a drummer who lives in France, organised the auction to finance a foundation dedicated to his father's memory in the south of France. Born in New Orleans in 1897, the clarinet and saxophone player died in France in 1959.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Print Story: Auctioneers to Offer Bechet Items on Yahoo! News

Print Story: Auctioneers to Offer Bechet Items on Yahoo! News Auctioneers to Offer Bechet Items

Tue Dec 6, 3:17 PM ET

Sidney Bechet's clarinet, soprano saxophone and love letters were scheduled to go on the auction block Wednesday.

Among the 32 pieces up for sale at the Hotel Drouot auction house: the fake leopard-fur jacket Bechet often wore onstage, estimated at $11,800.

Bechet's musical instruments were expected to bring in about $47,000 each, while golden cuff links decorated with the initials "SB" were estimated at $1,700.

Fans could also purchase Bechet's letters to his wife, Jacqueline, and a plaster mortuary mask modeled on the musician's face after his death in 1959.

Auctioneer Olivier Collin du Bocage said he had talked about the sale with film director-clarinet player Woody Allen, who named one of his daughters Bechet in honor of the jazz great.

Daniel Bechet, a drummer who lives in France, organized the auction. He will finance a foundation dedicated to his father's memory in the south of France from the profits, the auction house said.

Born in New Orleans in 1897, Bechet died in France. He composed the famous "Petite Fleur" and performed with artists including Louis Armstrong and Josephine Baker.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Inaugural Bali Jazz Festival overcomes terrorist bombing, plays as scheduled with a message of peace :: : The Number One Jazz News Resou

Inaugural Bali Jazz Festival overcomes terrorist bombing, plays as scheduled with a message of peace :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Inaugural Bali Jazz Festival overcomes terrorist bombing, plays as scheduled with a message of peace
Posted by: editoron Monday, November 21, 2005 - 12:40 AM
Jazz News KUTA, Indonesia - The inaugural Bali Jazz Festival came close to “point zero” after terrorist bombings killed 20 people here seven weeks ago. Sponsors and performers cancelled, tourist numbers plummeted, and dogs and security guards became the new welcoming face of the tropical island.

But the three-day festival featuring performers from 10 countries debuted on schedule Nov. 18 - two days after police named three captured men as suspects in the attacks.

Festival organizers regrouped to focus on issues far exceeding typical first-time challenges. The actual location wasn't finalized until two weeks before the event, for instance, and many of the remaining bands didn't want to play opening night.

Total attendance for the 40 concerts on two stages at the Hard Rock Hotel was light, with officials lowering an initial goal of 15,000 down to 2,000. That may have been furthered dampened - literally - by heavy rain the final two days. But they also called their effort part of the healing process and hope positive reaction from participants serves as a foundation for future years.

“We kind of knew that this was not going to be a big knockout in terms of turnout and all that,” said Gita Wirjawan, chairman of the festival's advisory board. “But in terms of what we're doing for Bali and what we're doing for country we couldn't have asked for more.”

None of the dozens of performers and listeners interviewed expressed safety concerns, even as the U.S, Australia and the United Kingdom was issuing fresh travel warnings following the discovery of a Web site detailing tactics for killing foreigners in Indonesia. Canadian pianist Ron Davis said it's an honor playing somewhere with so many languages and cultures, much like his homeland.

“We will go back to Canada and tell people what a beautiful country this is,” he told fellow musicians, event organizers and dignitaries during a performance with his trio at a pre- festival gala dinner. “There is nothing to be afraid of.”

The words “bird flu,” incidentally, weren't mentioned by anyone despite a recent barrage of worldwide headlines due to recent deaths here and elsewhere in Asia.

Plans for a free, five-stage outdoor festival were scrapped after the bombings, with the Hard Rock Hotel accepting the event at the last minute. While a fitting setting for a tourist island venue, including a sand beach and pool in front of the main outdoor stage, it meant admission fees, limited capacity and struggling for advance publicity.

“Everybody was saying we are crazy because this is a very short time,” said Agus Basuni, the festival's artistic director. “Even the professionals were saying we cannot make it.”

Most listeners were locals, with few calling themselves hardcore jazz fans, but Paolo Precchia, on a business trip from his home of Napoli, Italy, was among those making an extra effort to hear what he called “very special music” by Indonesian performers.

“I was coming here anyhow, but when I learned about the festival I adjusted the days,” he said during an opening night concert at the Hard Rock Cafe stage. He said he was planning to return for at least one of the two remaining nights to hear the Indonesian world/fusion band Saharadja, a personal favorite.

The Oct. 1 suicide bombings occurring almost simultaneously at three restaurants revived fears sparked by a 2002 bombing in Bali that killed 202 people. Police captured suspects believed to be involved in planning the recent attack during a Nov. 9 raid in Batu, East Java, and are seeking further suspects.

Even before the attack there seemed to be skepticism among music association representatives about a festival in Bali, said Eric Bonhomme, Saharadja's band manager. The country already hosts two annual jazz festivals and there is little interest in the genre among the general population.

“The thought was there not much hope,” he said. “But if you just do what people say is possible then you never experiment and you never discover what is possible yourself.”

The festival lost sponsors and its biggest international names, including the James Taylor Quartet and Harvey Mason, after the bombings. Wirjawan, runs J.P. Morgan's operations in Indonesia, was brought in a few weeks before the festival for his organizational experience - and much-needed financial contacts.

“I called a lot of friends,” he said. “If you look in the festival book maybe 80 percent of those (sponsors) are my friends.”

Others also rallied to assist what officials were already calling the country's first music festival organized through community work.

“After the blasts all the restaurant and hotel associations in Bali pledged their support to us,” Basuni said.

Officials are already talking about next year's festival - and this time planning is scheduled to start within a couple of months. Reviving the multiple open-stage setting and bringing in well-known international performers are among the top priorities. Wirjawan, who lists luring pianist Bob James among his goals, said he hopes given Bali's popularity as a tourist destination that within five or 10 years a festival comparable to large-scale events such as the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands might be possible.

“If we do this well these people will go home and say good things about us, and we can only do better - unless have another bomb explosion,” Wirjawan said. - Reviews - Wynton With Strings - Reviews - Wynton With StringsWynton With Strings

(Frederick P. Rose Hall, Rose Theater, Lincoln Center; 1,231 capacity; $130 top)

A presentation of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Opened Nov. 17, 2005. Reviewed Nov. 18. Closed Nov. 19.

Wynton Marsalis Quintet with Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Robert Sadin.
Musicians: Marsalis, artistic director/trumpet; Walter Blanding, tenor sax; Dan Nimmer, piano; Carlos Henriques, bass; Ali Jackson, bass.


(Frederick P. Rose Hall, Rose Theater, Lincoln Center; 1,231 capacity; $130 top)

A presentation of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Wynton Marsalis Quintet with Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Robert Sadin. Musicians: Marsalis, artistic director/trumpet; Walter Blanding, tenor sax; Dan Nimmer, piano; Carlos Henriques, bass; Ali Jackson, bass. Opened Nov. 17, 2005. Reviewed Nov. 18. Closed Nov. 19.


There comes a time in the career of every jazz musician when he wants to explore the romanticism of playing to the lush accompaniment of a string section. Celebrating 25 years as a premier soloist, Wynton Marsalis embraced the luxurious cushion of strings for a three-night stand at the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The result found a jazz giant nestled in a comfort zone.

Marsalis first traversed the terrain with his own "Hot House Flowers" and "The Midnight Blues," but there was a new maturity and a weathered sense of emotional candor in his playing here. His phrasing and rhythmic structure is always changing. He explores the color patterns of a ballad with a knowing sense of insight and grace. He must hear the lyrics in his head, enabling him to reveal the deep hurt of a torch song with knowing insight.

The repertoire leaned toward the big hurt, beginning with Richard Rodgers' "It Never Entered My Mind." With a tone that was crystal clear and luxuriously bright, plus poised phrasing, Marsalis quickly set the pace for a sweet evening of melancholia. With "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home," his muted wah-wahs recalled legendary Ellington trumpeter Bubber Miley.

Walter Blanding, whose sweeping tenor added a velvety carpet for Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," provided seductive counterbalance. Blanding also played "Just Friends" as a gentle jump tune, accenting the dry austerity of a crisply muted Marsalis.

The string section, under the dancing direction of conductor Robert Sadin, provided a cushiony blanket for the ballads and the exotic arrangement of Juan Tizol's "Caravan." Bolstered by a well-tailored rhythm section, Marsalis took a wistful desert journey.

Jule Styne's "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" best summed up the concert's mood. Punctuated with brittle, high-register short takes, the Marsalis horn proved one could be both wry and puckish when telling a sad tale.

Carlos "Patato" Valdes' Birthday Tribute featuring Candido & Nicky Marrero at Satalla November 25 :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource

Carlos "Patato" Valdes' Birthday Tribute featuring Candido & Nicky Marrero at Satalla November 25 :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Carlos "Patato" Valdes' Birthday Tribute featuring Candido & Nicky Marrero at Satalla November 25
Posted by: editoron Monday, November 21, 2005 - 08:02 AM
Jazz News ”Carlos Patato Valdes is arguably the most melodic of all congueros. The inventor of the tuned conga drum, he sings on his instrument like no other percussionist” ~All About Jazz
New York, NY - November 2005 - Cuban percussion pioneer Carlos “Patato” Valdes celebrates his birthday with a little help from his friends on Friday, November 25 at Satalla World Music Club, 37 West 26th Street, NYC at 7:30 pm and 10 pm. Special guests include Candido Camero, Nicky Marrero and Sonny Bravo. Tickets for this 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. event, produced by Charles Carlini of the Carlini Group, are $22.50 in advance or $25 at the door. Purchase your tickets online today at

A true Cuban legend who has lived in New York since 1954, Patato is considered by many to be the greatest living Cuban conga player and a man who has influenced an entire generation of percussionists. Patato is a master conguero who has played with every giant in the history of salsa and jazz including Machito, Cachao, Mario Bauza, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Tito Puente and Quincy Jones.

For over 60 years Carlos “Patato” Valds has demonstrated how a musician can combine technical skill with superb showmanship. His conga playing demonstrates the fusing of melody and rhythm, and his understanding of rhythm is rooted in dance. His use of melodic percussion was well ahead of his time, and required advances in drum technology; during the late 1940's he helped develop the first tunable congas. Now in his 70's, and still going strong, Valds is considered one of the greatest conga players ever to tap the skins. He has played with most of the great figures in the Latin Jazz movement of the 1950s, including a lengthy stint with Herbie Mann's groundbreaking septet and multiple recordings with Tito Puente. He is also the man who gave Brigitte Bardot a mambo lesson in “And God Created Woman.”

Come celebrate with this living legend in an intimate birthday celebration at Satalla, the day after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2005

James Blood Ulmer's Birthright Wins Blues Album of the Year in DownBeat 2005 Readers' Poll :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The

James Blood Ulmer's Birthright Wins Blues Album of the Year in DownBeat 2005 Readers' Poll :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily James Blood Ulmer's Birthright Wins Blues Album of the Year in DownBeat 2005 Readers' Poll
Posted by: editoron Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 10:28 PM
Jazz News New York, NY -- Earlier this year, the legendary American music iconoclast, James Blood Ulmer, released his first ever solo recording, Birthright. The album, which features Ulmer alone on vocals and guitar, quickly drew critical acclaim, garnering praise from the likes of national publications such as DownBeat, Guitar Player, Jazz Times, Jazziz, Living Blues, No Depression and Rolling Stone, while newspapers including the Chicago Sun Times, Minneapolis City Pages, Seattle Post Intelligencer and The Washington Post declared it one of this year's most important blues records. Now, James Blood Ulmer's Birthright has been voted “Blues Album of the Year” in DownBeat Magazine's 70th Annual Readers Poll. The poll, based solely on votes by DownBeat's readers, validates the critical praise Birthright has received by reflecting the opinion of the fans. It's a well-deserved honor for an artist whose music has undergone a creative renaissance and commercial rediscovery in recent years. Long regarded as one of the most inventive guitarists of his generation, Ulmer's reputation has slowly morphed from avant-garde jazz visionary to an elder statesman of the blues. In fact, Ulmer covers all this ground and more.

Produced by Vernon Reid, the 12-track Birthright is far and away the most stark and deeply personal work of Ulmer's career. Based primarily on original material, songs like “Geechee Joe,” “Take My Music Back To The Church,” “Where Did All the Girls Come From” “The Evil One” and “White Man's Jail” deal directly with Ulmer's upbringing in segregated South Carolina and his migration North as a working musician. Ulmer continually confronts the church, trying to make amends with his past. Raised a strict Baptist, his career in secular music was long viewed by his parents as the devil's work. It's fascinating to watch Ulmer's public struggle unfold through these songs. On Birthright, Ulmer also tackles two classics of the blues' idiom, “Sittin' On Top of the World” and “I Ain't Superstitious,” and completely reinvents them with his idiosyncratic guitar tuning and guttural vocal moan that harkens back to the blues most primitive origins in Africa, yet simultaneously sounding amongst the most modern blues of the day. The album is rounded out by two instrumental pieces, “Love Dance Rag” and “High Yellow,” which are gloriously free and abstract guitar meditations.

Birthright was released on the heels of two full-blown James Blood Ulmer blues albums: Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions & No Escape From the Blues: The Electric Lady Sessions. Ulmer was joined on these dates by a seven piece band, including producer and guitarist Vernon Reid. They found Ulmer interpreting some of the genre's most classic material. It was Reid's assertion that Ulmer wasn't merely playing the blues, but that he'd actually lived the life of the characters in those very songs. Despite the success of those two albums, when it came time for a follow up, Ulmer insisted that the music be stripped bare and that he deliver his own personal revelations and stories through original songs. Thus Birthright was born.

2005 was one of the busiest years in recent time for Ulmer. It saw him perform numerous dates around the world, including a string of blues festivals this past summer. He'll finish the year with a solo performance at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan on November 30th, while laying low for the majority of December to work on new material. Plans are already underway for the follow up to Birthright, however, tour dates are stacking up for 2006, including extended tours of Europe and a seven night stand at New York City's Jazz Standard in March. This special hometown run will feature a different side of Ulmer's music each night, ranging from his solo blues to the Odyssey Blues Band (with Charlie Burnham & Warren Benbow) to his power trio Man Vs. Machine (with Calvin G. Weston & Jamaladeen Tacuma) to the Memphis Blood band. With the recent DownBeat “Blues Album of the Year” honors, Ulmer is sure to find a growing audience for Birthright's powerful and riveting songs. And word is sure to spread further and wider about James Blood Ulmer, an artist who nearly 50 years into his career is creating his most vital and important music yet.

“The blues - ancient and modern, from Blind Willie McTell to Ornette Coleman - have always run deep in this South Carolinian's black rock and future jazz. But on Birthright, there is nothing but blues: just Ulmer's subterranean rock-slide moan and spider dance guitar improvisations, in stark, original memoirs...Ulmer has taken the long road home...But he sounds like he never left” - David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“The most authentic and important blues preacher since the Rev. Gary Davis. This album is a modern milestone in the story of the blues.” - Bill White, Seattle Post Intelligencer

“Ulmer's new CD, 'Birthright,' cements his standing as a leading interpreter of the blues. Reminiscent in spirit of blues legend Robert Johnson's seminal 1930s recordings, 'Birthright' offers a transcendent and edgy performance by the guitarist.” -- Andrew Schwartz, Washington Post

“The number of bonafide original contributions to the musical language of the blues in the last 30 years are as scarce as hair on a Mississippi bullfrog. Junior Kimbrough's All Night Long and Otis Taylor's Respect the Dead come immediately to mind. One must now add James Blood Ulmer's Birthright to this short list and it may be the most groundbreaking of all.” - Dave Rubin, Guitar Player Magazine

“James Blood Ulmer returns to the music of his forebears with a stunning testimonial to the spiritual, psychic, social and existential intensity that's been at the heart of the blues expression since the beginning and continues to inform the true living blues tradition. - David Whiteis, Living Blues

“...a solo delta blues disc that is both intimate and epic in scope, with 10 frequently extraordinary original compositions among its dozen songs. Ulmer's acoustic guitar playing is jagged, subtle, multi-textural, and unpredictable. His vocals are tremulous, conversationally grave, and emotionally forthright. Dovetailed together--song, guitar, voice--it was a resonant and arresting thing to listen to even before New Orleans was laid to waste.” - Britt Robson, Minneapolis City Pages

“Whether Ulmer has been reinvented or merely unmasked as a blues artist is immaterial. The genre has its most original voice since the rediscovery of R.L. Burnside. Let's pay attention.” - Lee Mergner, Harp Magazine

For more information on James Blood Ulmer, contact Kevin Calabro at HYENA Records: 718.369.6567 or

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jazz: World Saxophone Quartet/McCoy Tyner - First night reviews - Times Online

Jazz: World Saxophone Quartet/McCoy Tyner - First night reviews - Times OnlineJazz: World Saxophone Quartet/McCoy Tyner
Alyn Shipton at Barbican

Since his death in 1970 Jimi Hendrix has been fair game for jazz musicians to turn his music into the basis for something new. The legendary arranger Gil Evans was one high-profile example, and our own Brit-jazz group Acoustic Ladyland is another.

Yet in comparison with them, the high-energy, utterly committed tribute from the World Saxophone Quartet was the real deal. Hendrix pushed outrageous stagecraft farther than any other musician of his generation, and in the wild alto saxophone solos of Oliver Lake and Bruce Williams, constantly alternating between freedom and control, the Hendrix spirit was alive and kicking.

Opening with the four saxophones of Lake, Williams, Hamiet Bluiett and David Murray, the band showed how to create powerful excitement without a rhythm section. The music ebbed and flowed, Bluiett’s chunky baritone holding everything steady as the four horns mixed free solos and arranged passages of harmonic ingenuity with brilliant control.

Then they were joined by Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass and Lee Pearson on drums, plus the trombonist Craig Harris. On a searching exploration of Wind Cries Mary, Harris held in check his usual penchant for overlong solos, turning in some fine playing, and a beautiful recitation of the lyric, while Murray’s tenor gusted breathily through the ensemble. On Machine Gun, bass and drums came into their own, with Pearson’s show-stopping routine including playing with his arms crossed behind his back, balancing his sticks on his head, and thrumming out rhythms on the stage. Hendrix would have loved it.

It was a shame that this was the warm-up to a perfunctory set by a grand master in decline. McCoy Tyner is one of the great jazz pianists, with a technique to match Oscar Peterson’s and an inventiveness that made him John Coltrane’s quartet partner for several years. Here, in a bombastic set with the thudding drums of Eric Gravatt drowning out his occasional moments of inspiration, McCoy was a shadow of his former self, and an anticlimax after the WSQ’s coruscating showmanship.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Jazz HQ: Trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director Wynton Marsalis marks a quarter century at the vanguard.

Jazz HQ: Trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director Wynton Marsalis marks a quarter century at the vanguard. Trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director Wynton Marsalis marks a quarter century at the vanguard.

Wynton Marsalis (right) at the Higher Ground benefit concert in SeptemberFor 25 years, Wynton Marsalis has made his presence known in the world of jazz. As he has matured as a musician, he has also taken on more responsibilities. As an artist, Marsalis has honed his chops to a razor's edge. His dedication to America's original art form of jazz speaks volumes. Marsalis's commitment to improving people's lives through music and his contributions to the arts paint a portrait of his character and humanity. He is internationally respected as a teacher and as a spokesman for music education.

Last year's Grand Opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home on Broadway at 60th Street, was a highlight in his career. The creation of Frederick P. Rose Hall has solidified a permanent performance facility for jazz music, and Marsalis tied it all together.

As a jazz musician, composer, bandleader, advocate for the arts, and educator, Marsalis has helped propel jazz music to the forefront of American culture. In April 1997, he became the first jazz artist ever to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for his work Blood on the Fields, which was commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center. His work with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, as both music director and trumpeter, has included collaborations with the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, and the Orchestre Nacional de France.

As the Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, he's worked with everyone from the Library of Congress and the Apollo Theater to the New York City Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. An artist of great strength and fortitude, Marsalis's schedule has been magnified to include more ventures at Frederick P. Rose Hall, in addition to his international and national tours with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Born on October 18, 1961 in New Orleans, Wynton Marsalis is the second of six sons to Ellis and Dolores Marsalis. At six years of age, he was bitten by the stage bug when he performed traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band. Marsalis began studying the trumpet seriously at age 12 and played with local marching bands, jazz and funk bands, and classical youth orchestras.

In 1979 Marsalis entered The Juilliard School in New York City to study classical trumpet, but later that same year, he had the opportunity to sit in with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The rest is history. In 1980, he joined Blakey's legendary band and hit the road. In the years to follow, Marsalis was invited to play with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, Harry Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, and many more jazz legends.

Marsalis made his recording debut as a leader in 1982. Over the years, he has produced a catalogue of more than 40 jazz and classical recordings for Columbia Jazz and Sony Classical, which have won him nine Grammy Awards. In 1983, he became the first and only artist to win both classical and jazz Grammy Awards in one year, and repeated this feat in 1984. In 1999, he released eight new recordings in his unprecedented Swinging into the 21st series, which included a seven-CD boxed set of live performances from the Village Vanguard. Also in 1999, Marsalis presented All Rise, an epic composition for big band, gospel choir, and symphony orchestra, performed by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Kurt Masur along with the Morgan State University Choir and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. In 2003 Marsalis signed to Blue Note Records, and his debut CD, a quartet recording entitled The Magic Hour, hit the stores in March 2004.

This year alone, Marsalis has released the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra's A Love Supreme (Palmetto Records), as well as Wynton Marsalis--Amongst the People--Live at the House of Tribes (Blue Note Records). This recording features him in an octet setting, allowing him the freedom to step out of the unified orchestra arrangements. Critics have praised this release, recorded December 15, 2002.

For his many achievements, Time magazine selected Marsalis as one of America's most promising leaders under age 40 in 1995 and, in 1996, as one of America's 25 most influential people. He was also named one of "The Most Influential Boomers" by Life magazine.

But perhaps his greatest achievement was recently realized. As a native son of New Orleans, Marsalis was instrumental in organizing Jazz at Lincoln Center's September 17, 2005, Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert and Auction, which featured an array of legendary jazz artists and renowned actors. Hosted by Laurence Fishburne, the multi-hour program was televised nationally on PBS and BET Jazz, and broadcast on National Public Radio and XM Satellite Radio. Overall, the event raised more than $2 million which will help those individuals and families evacuated from the greater New Orleans area as they address immediate concerns related to housing, food, education, health care, and basic survival necessities

Marsalis continues to tour the world with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He continues to raise the roof at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. And he continues to raise the spirits of fellow Americans with his music and his words.

Scott H. Thompson is Assistant Director-Public Relations for Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Jazz News: Marcus Roberts Trio at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Jazz News: Marcus Roberts Trio at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Marcus Roberts Trio at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Posted: 2005-11-15

Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Performance Schedule for November 14-20

November 15-20: The Marcus Roberts Trio

AFTER HOURS With Pianist Dan Nimmer

Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz At Lincoln Center is proud to present the Winners of The ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards in “ASCAP Month of Mondays,” on five consecutive Mondays: Featured Artists are: Manuel Valera-November 28, Sherisse Rogers-December 5, Jason Goldman- December 12, David Guidi-December 19, and Maurice Brown-December 26 (New York, NY) November 14, 2005 - Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola -- located in The House of Swing, Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall - presents pianist Marcus Roberts with bassist Roland Guerin and drummer Jason Marsalis, with whom Roberts carries on and expands on the great lineage of the piano trio. The trio has been an inventive entity since 1995. Holding down the After Hours spot is the great up and coming pianist Dan Nimmer. On November 19 Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola hosts a Jazz Battle featuring trombonists Andre Hayward and Steve Davis and baritone saxophonists Joe Temperley and Gary Smulyan. November 14: Closed for Jazz at Lincoln Center's Annual Fall Gala

November 15-20 7:30pm & 9:30pm w/additional 11:30pm set on Fri-Sat The Marcus Roberts Trio Marcus Roberts (piano), Roland Guerin (bass), Jason Marsalis (drums)

The Marcus Roberts Trio was founded in 1993 when Roberts began to study the lineage of great jazz trios, including those of Nat “King” Cole, Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner, and Ahmad Jamal. Roberts first met young drummer Jason Marsalis in the mid-to-late 1980s, during his days in the Wynton Marsalis Septet. Jason was just 10 years old at that time. With the founding of the Marcus Roberts Trio, Roberts had the goal of creating a whole new style of jazz trio playing. After trying a series of drummers and bassists over a two-year period, in 1994 Roberts asked the 17-year-old Jason Marsalis to join his band. In early 1995, Roland Guerin played with Roberts for the first time and from the beginning, he made the trio sound complete. The philosophy and style of Marcus Roberts Trio has steadily evolved from that point.

November 15-19 11pm Tuesday-Thursday, 12:30am Friday-Saturday After Hours: Dan Nimmer Trio

Pianist Dan Nimmer is an old soul in a very young body. Just in his early twenties, he plays with the spirit, the passion and the soul of someone who has been on the planet much longer. Indeed, with his prodigious technique and his innate sense of swing, his playing often recalls that of his own heroes, specifically Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner and Art Tatum.

What is unusual in this world of ever-younger piano prodigies is that Nimmer is not really a product of the jazz academy, and his heroes are not the typical ones most fashionable with young players today. He is that rare combination of an innate musical gift with a deep sense and intuitive understanding of the jazz tradition. The only way it can be described is that when you hear him, it feels like your listening to an older player back in the halcyon days of jazz.

JAZZ BATTLE - November 19 FREE AFTERNOON OF JAZZ AT DIZZY'S CLUB COCA-COLA WHO: Some of the hottest acts on the New York jazz scene including: Andre Hayward (trombone), Steve Davis (trombone), Joe Temperley (baritone saxophone) and Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone); each accompanied by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra rhythm section of Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass) and Ali Jackson (drums).

WHAT: Jazz Battles at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola are quickly emerging as one of the best ways to hear New York's most innovative jazz artists duke it out on stage. In addition to the free performances, there will be prizes and giveaways for audience members, as well as soda and snacks for sale.

WHEN: Saturday, November 19, 2005 Sets are at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm, doors open at 12:45pm, 1:45pm and 2:45pm. As space for this event tends to fill up quickly, all are encouraged to come early for each of the three rounds. Audiences must clear the club after each round in order for the next audience to be seated.

1pm - Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra Rhythm Section gets things warmed-up. 2pm - Andre Hayward (trombone) vs. Steve Davis (trombone) 3pm - Joe Temperley (baritone saxophone) vs. Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone)


November 21 - UPSTARTS! 7:30 & 9:30pm Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra

November 22-27 7:30pm & 9:30pm w/additional 11:30pm set on Fri-Sat ”Blowin' In From Chicago” featuring The Eric Alexander Quintet with Special Guest Von Freeman Boasting a warm, finely burnished tone and a robust melodic and harmonic imagination, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander brings a seasoned veteran's proficiency and poise to his latest recording, Nightlife in Tokyo. As on his four previous Milestone albums as a leader, the 34-year-old colossus-on-the-rise approached this new project with an assured and mature musical vision, gracefully sidestepping the novelties and trends that have come to the fore in so much contemporary jazz marketing. ”I'm not consciously trying to do things differently from record date to record date,” explains the Galesburg, Illinois native. “I'm just really adhering to formula of assembling good musicians that I'm comfortable playing with, getting quality material--a combination of originals and standards and perhaps some new arrangements on standard tunes--and trying to make the kind of recording that a jazz fan or musician can put on and enjoy listening to from start to finish.”

At age 16, Von Freeman played tenor in Horace Henderson's big band for a year. He was drafted into the Navy during WWII, and after his return to Chicago he played with his brothers George on guitar and Bruz (Eldrige) on drums at the Pershing Hotel Ballroom. Various leading jazzmen such as Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie played there with the Freemans as the backing band. In the early '50s, Von played in Sun Ra's band. Von's first venture into the recording studio was for Andrew Hill's second single on the Ping label. He did some recording for Vee Jay with Jimmy Witherspoon and Al Smith in the late '50s and appeared and was recorded at a Charlie Parker tribute concert in 1970. It was not until 1972 that Von first recorded under his own name with the support of Roland Kirk. His next effort was a marathon session in 1975 that was released on 2 albums by Nessa. Since then his recordings have included 3 albums with his son, tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman. Von Freeman is considered a founder of the Chicago school of tenor saxophonists along with Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin and Clifford Jordan. November 22-26 11pm Tuesday-Thursday, 12:30am Friday-Saturday After Hours: Bill Ware's Vibes Bill Ware (vibes), Brad Jones (bass), Jamie Aff (drums) ***Note: No After Hours Thanksgiving evening, November 24***

Coming Up At Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola:

Thanksgiving At Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola: A special la carte menu will supplement the usual offerings at this Jazz at Lincoln Center club, which will showcase a performance by the Eric Alexander Quintet. The Southern fare will include dishes such as deep-fried turkey with cornbread-andouille stuffing or grits, plus candied yams, collard greens, cranberries and gravy (seatings from 6 PM on; $30 cover charge, plus $17-$24 la carte entrees) - Zagat

November 22-26: After Hours: Bill Ware's Vibes

November 28 Upstarts! Manuel Valera -ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award winner November 29-December 4: David “Fathead” Newman and Cynthia Scott with the John DiMartino Trio

November 29-December 3: After Hours: Akiko Tsuruga Trio

Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz At Lincoln Center is proud to present the Winners of The ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards in “ASCAP Month of Mondays,” on five consecutive Mondays: Featured Artists are: November 28: Manuel Valera December 5: Sherisse Rogers December 12: Jason Goldman December 19: David Guidi December 26: Maurice Brown

December 6-11: Donal Fox: Monk and Bach Project Featuring Lewis Nash and George Mraz

December 13-18: Donald Harrison/Patrice Rushen Quintet featuring Christian Scott (trumpet), Vicente Archer (bass) and Carl Allen (drums)

High-resolution, downloadable photos available at:

About Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, one of the three main performance venues located in Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall. The intimate 140-seat jazz club is set against a glittering backdrop with spectacular views of Central Park that provides a hip environment for performance, education and other special events. The club also includes fine dinner, dessert and late night menus by New York culinary creators Great Performances and Spoonbread Inc. Jazz at Lincoln Center is a not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to jazz and advances a unique vision for the continued development of the art of jazz by producing a year-round schedule of performance, education, and broadcast events for audiences of all ages.

Jazz at Lincoln Center is a not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to jazz. With the world-renowned Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and a comprehensive array of guest artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center advances a unique vision for the continued development of the art of jazz by producing a year-round schedule of performance, education, and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. These productions include concerts, national and international tours, residencies, weekly national radio and television programs, recordings, publications, an annual high school jazz band competition and festival, a band director academy, a jazz appreciation curriculum for children, advanced training through the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies, music publishing, children's concerts, lectures, adult education courses, film programs, and student and educator workshops. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, Chairman of the Board Lisa Schiff, President & CEO Derek E. Gordon, Executive Director Katherine E. Brown and Jazz at Lincoln Center board and staff, Jazz at Lincoln Center will produce hundreds of events during its 2005-06 season. In October 2004, Jazz at Lincoln Center opened Frederick P. Rose Hall - the first-ever performance, education, and broadcast facility devoted to jazz.

For more information, please visit

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kenny Barron Trio | The Perfect Set: Live At Bradley’s II

Kenny Barron Trio | The Perfect Set: Live At Bradley’s IIThe Perfect Set: Live At Bradley’s II
Kenny Barron Trio | Sunnyside Records
By Michael McCaw

This music is immaculate. From the onset of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and the suspended feel pianist Kenny Barron generates in his unaccompanied opening statement, entrancing listeners with his eventual development of the chorus, you know you are hearing a modern master of the piano. Bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Ben Riley are not too shabby either. Performing and recording off and on since 1984, this trio creates music that is pure, honest, and forthright. Not to mention swinging, invigorating, and full of excitement and tenderness.

As Drummond and Riley join Barron a minute and a half into the fifteen-minute opener, they build momentum quickly, with Riley providing subtle yet driving support with brushwork that is recorded beautifully. Drummond walks up and down and provides a low-end counterpoint for Barron’s musings, and near the end he trades phrases with Riley that demonstrate their own simpatico. The beauty of Live At Bradley’s II, just like the first volume, is that while the material is worked at length and sometimes consists of standards that have been played and recorded countless times, each performance is immediate and original. As a listener, you don’t realize you are eight minutes in—you are amazed at the performance itself.

Since Kenny Barron’s first recording in 1974, he has continually refined his approach to the piano. Now as precise and elegant as ever, Barron plays and projects a sense of confidence and warmth that only a handful of today's musicians can communicate. And although he has long established his own singular voice, here Barron liberally applies his knowledge and love of Thelonious Monk that he has integrated over the years. From Monk’s own “Well you Needn’t” to his retooling of “Hackensack,” entitled “The Only One,” Barron shows off his admiration with flawless intonation and grace, never sounding like a copy, but a pianist who is indebted to an icon.

His solo feature, “Shuffle Boil,” seems to call back to James P. Johnson in a modern context, with some Monk thrown in as well. With both hands interlocking and separating into two different rhythms which sometimes form their own call and response figures, Barron demonstrates his vast abilities without sounding overly gregarious or showy.

It’s a shame that the club which produced this 1996 recording is now gone. Long a haven for intimacy, with a Baldwin piano bequeathed by Paul Desmond in his will, Bradley's required a quiet policy from patrons that would serve well in clubs everywhere. Nonetheless, here is another snapshot of another inspired performance. Dubbed “the perfect set” by engineer Jim Anderson, who has been recording jazz for over 25 years, this hour-long midnight set is well worth the nearly decade-long wait for its release. Hopefully the 2 am set Barron asks his listeners to stick around for after an inspired rendition of “Well You Needn’t” will be heard by the general public in a more timely manner.

Friday, November 11, 2005

OUPblog: What We Owe New Orleans

OUPblog: What We Owe New OrleansWhat We Owe New Orleans

by Gary Giddins, author of Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century and the forthcoming Intelligent Design

The waters that in the first days of September drowned New Orleans are the waters that established the incomparable city as a key port before the railroad replaced shipping as the primary vehicle of trade. They gave New Orleans a unique cultural character, blending elements of the continental United States with those of a Caribbean island. Cradled between the big dipper of the Mississippi and huge Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans was a locus for the slave trade and also known for cotton, sugar cane, and fishing. Yet to most of the world, New Orleans is chiefly associated with one export that it largely abandoned decades ago: a way of playing music called jazz.

You can still hear jazz, but aside from Preservation Hall, it had pretty much disappeared from the French Quarter, finding more hospitable bars and restaurants on the other side of Canal Street. There is an airport and a park named after Louis Armstrong, and an invaluable archive at Tulane, and Herman Leonard’s photographs are everywhere, but jazz always had an uneasy life there. They tore down Basin Street after the war and refused to preserve Armstrong’s home.

So, humanity aside, what do we jazz lovers specifically owe to New Orleans? Only everything.

It wasn’t the only place of genesis. The mobility of freed slaves after the Civil War guaranteed the spread of musical practices honed in the south. Ragtime prospered in St. Louis and the blues in Memphis. The journalist Lafcadio Hearn described syncopated black bands on the Cincinnati levees in 1876. Two decades later, W. C. Handy took his brass band on tour and recruited musicians in Philadelphia as well as in Southern cities. Handy insisted that some Negro songs “drifted down the river” from Ohio to Louisiana.

Still, the first true jazz ensembles emerged in New Orleans. From this bustling, highly musical, culturally manifold, multilingual port came the first important jazz band-leaders, composers, and soloists. They made their way to stations along the river and to nightclubs and recording studios, relaying their music across the nation and beyond its borders: Buddy Bolden, Freddie Keppard, King Oliver, Johnny and Baby Dodds, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Lonnie Johnson, Armstrong, and other illustrious names, not least the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the jokey white band that was the first to record and popularize jazz as the soundtrack for an era that took its name from the new music.

It had to be New Orleans. Jazz is city music, born of saloons, dance halls, street parades, picnics, advertising wagons, funerals, and parties. In an era when the South was almost entirely agricultural, New Orleans expanded as a lively metropolis with a distinctive architectural look, discrete neighborhoods, a level of sophistication associated with European capitols, and a taste for pleasure. Many citizens spoke French and Spanish, and infused the city with the culture of European Catholicism. While grand opera struggled to gain a foothold in New York and Boston, it thrived in New Orleans. Yet the same citizens who sponsored North American premieres of Rossini and Donizetti also celebrated Lent with the bacchanalian Mardi Gras.

Its attitudes toward race also differed with general practices in Protestant North America. Elsewhere in the United States, slaves were forced to accept most aspects of Western society, other than democracy and related constitutional rights. Slaves were required to learn English and become Christian, while overlooking fundamental ideas of Christianity that prohibit slavery in the first place. The goal was efficient interaction between slaves and masters. New Orleans, however, maintained a close connection to the busy and brutal slave trade in the Caribbean and South America, where the traffic in human beings was unrelenting, resulting in the retention of African languages, beliefs, music, and customs. These carried into New Orleans, where nearly half the population was black—enslaved or free.

By 1860, free blacks and Creoles of Color had acquired civic power; some even participated in the slave trade. That changed abruptly with the rancor of Reconstruction: the imposition of Jim Crow laws; the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision that essentially legalized segregation; the outbreak of lynching that so bloodied the soil not a thousand Katrinas could wash it clean. Even so, a despised minority, shunted aside into pockets of unimaginable poverty, created a cultural landscape made emblematic in music so vital that white newspapers editorialized against it (“The Mascot” raged in protest as early as 1890) even as white citizen rushed to hear and play it and be reborn in it.

New Orleans changed my life, in 1963, when I visited as a boy and heard a band led by Emanuel Sayles with George Lewis. It wasn’t just the music. The hotel had segregated toilets. The shop windows offered pickininny dolls and slave-trade souvenirs. But the ballroom where this concert took place was integrated, welcoming, enlightened—an oasis of sanity and decency. Years later, when I visited for research I went to interview a member of the Zulu Crewe, which hosted a neighborhood barbecue that evening and insisted I eat, drink, and meet practically everyone in the neighborhood, assuring me I was family. These are some of the people who didn’t have means to evacuate, people vilified by newscasters who condemned looting, but failed to ask why hospitals failed to clear out patients and newborns. This is the city that the president associated with his boozing days and the speaker of the house didn’t think needed to be rebuilt.

We are at war with terrorists, Iraqis, world opinion, nature, and ourselves, and losing on every front. If you want to know what it means to miss New Orleans, play “Potato Head Blues.” And shed another tear.

(Adapted from a piece that originally appeared in Jazz Times.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Duvall, Marsalis Among Arts MedalistsDuvall, Marsalis Among Arts Medalists

Duvall, Marsalis Among Arts MedalistsDuvall, Marsalis Among Arts Medalists

By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2005; Page C02

Actor Robert Duvall, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and country singer Dolly Parton are among the 10 recipients of the 2005 National Medal of Arts, President Bush announced yesterday.

Twelve National Humanities Medal honorees were named at the same time, including political scientist Walter Berns, professor emeritus at Georgetown University and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Eva Brann, a classics professor at St. John's College in Annapolis; and etiquette columnist Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners.

Actor Robert Duvall, one of 10 National Medal of Arts recipients. (Rebecca D'angelo)

The president is scheduled to present the awards in an Oval Office ceremony tomorrow morning, with a formal dinner that evening.

The arts and humanities medals are a coveted acknowledgment of groundbreaking work in arts and scholarship. The nominations are forwarded to the White House by the advisory councils of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.

"These individuals and organizations have all made significant and enduring contributions to the artistic life of our nation," said Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA.

This year's arts medal recipients also include Louis Auchincloss, who has written nearly 60 books and is a former editor of the Yale Literary Review; and James DePreist, a former associate director of the National Symphony Orchestra. Also on the list are jazz musician Paquito D'Rivera, animator and artist Ollie Johnston, choreographer and dancer Tina Ramirez, and Leonard Garment, a Nixon White House counsel and saxophone player who has written and spoken eloquently on the role of arts in society. The arts medal also goes to a group or organization that has set standards in its field; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest school of fine arts in the country, is being saluted in its bicentennial year.

The humanities honorees include Col. Matthew Bogdanos, who led the investigation into the 2003 destruction of the Iraq Museum, an effort that has led to the recovery of 5,000 artifacts. Historian John Lewis Gaddis, legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon, historian Alan Kors, art historians and appraisers Leigh and Leslie Keno -- familiar to a broader public from "Antiques Roadshow" -- and history and museum patrons Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman are also being recognized. The editorial team that is working on George Washington's papers at the University of Virginia and has completed 52 volumes also will be cited.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Taichung Jazz Festival to end on a high note :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Taichung Jazz Festival to end on a high note :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Taichung Jazz Festival to end on a high note
Posted by: editoron Friday, November 04, 2005 - 10:12 AM
Jazz News By David Momphard
Sheila Jordan will play th eTaichung Jazz Festival on Sunday.

The last notes of the Taichung Jazz Festival will sound over the weekend and given the acts scheduled to perform, they're going to sound great. In addition to the "future jazz" of Norwegian pianist, composer and producer Bugge Wesseltoft, visitors to this final weekend of the annual festival will be treated to "one of the jazz world's best-kept secrets," Sheila Jordan.

Already the festival has had the likes of Lou Rainone and his band take the stage, as well as other international acts like the Lewis Nash Trio out of New York and the Yoshiko Kishino Trio and Hip Swing out of Tokyo. They've been joined on stage by local outfits such as Metamorphosis Jazztet, Onyx and the Overtone Jazz Group.

Attendance at each of the festival's several stages has been enormous, according to the organizers.

Sheila Jordan is often referred to as one of the few true jazz singers alive who deserves the moniker. She can confound audiences with her unique style, which combines an emotional connection to the music with frequent and unexpected fluctuations in pitch.

Jazz Notes
WHAT: Taichung Jazz Festival
WHERE: Taichung Square, in front of Taichung City Hall (¥x¤¤¥«¥Á¼s³õ)

WHEN: Sheila Jordan, Sunday, Nov. 6 at 7pm
Bugge Wesseltoft, Sunday, Nov. 6 at 8:30pm

TICKETS: Admission to the festival is free of charge.
Audiences are encouraged to arrive early to get good seats.

She was born in Pennsylvania's coal-mining district in 1928 and raised in

poverty. By the time she was a teenager she was singing in clubs in Detroit and chasing a dream inspired by Charlie Parker.

But real fame has eluded Jordan. Although she has been listed in Down Beat magazine critics' poll as one of the top-five established artists every year since 1980, she has also been listed some nine times as a "talent deserving wider recognition."

Bugge Wesseltoft is the weekend's other headliner. A native of Norway,

Wesseltoft has earned a reputation as a left-of-center pianist, producer and composer. His "future jazz" sound was developed in the early 1990s and he's been likened to Miles Davis and Chick Corea.

Other acts to plug and play this

weekend include the Serge Forte Trio, Rhythm Clown, Steps Ahead and Jazzaholix. Visit for times and locations of all acts as well as additional information about this year's jazz festival.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New Pittsburgh Courier

New Pittsburgh CourierMellon Jazz presents Billie & Me

Tue Nov 1, 2005

PITTSBURGH – Mellon Jazz, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Three Rivers Arts Festival proudly present Billie & Me, an extraordinary tribute to the spirit and musical genius of legendary artist Billie Holiday.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m., the Byham Theater stage will be graced with a truly phenomenal line-up of some of the most inspirational women of our times: Rita Coolidge, Niki Haris, Joan Osborne, Dianne Reeves, Rokia Traoré, and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Tickets ($20, $34 and $42) are available at the Box Office at Theater Square, online at and by calling (412) 456-6666. WDUQ is the proud media sponsor of The Mellon Jazz Series.

The production, which debuted in front of sell-out audiences in London, combines live performances, readings and reinterpretations of Lady Day's repertoire with film and audio footage. Audiences will be taken on a journey from Billie’s beginnings growing up in the brothels of Baltimore, her early years performing for tips in the nightclubs of swinging Harlem, to the life of a hard-traveling musician with The Count Basie Orchestra and as a solo artist.

Billie & Me sets out to shine a positive light on one of the most influential figures in music and an icon of the 20th Century. While acknowledging the difficult life of a Black female artist making her way in the segregated, male-dominated world of the 1930s and ‘40s, the resulting concert reveals a far fuller profile of a complicated and fascinating woman. In short, an incredibly talented artist, band leader and composer -- a strong but flawed woman who lived the hard-working, hard-touring life of many jazz artists of the era (male and female). The result is a tribute to the single most important presence that haunts jazz singing even 45 years after her death, and a source of inspiration to generations of women since. Billie & Me makes a case for Holiday as a spokesperson for womankind and celebrates the legacy of a woman who lived the life she chose in a style she invented with a voice like no other.

“A reappraisal of Billie Holiday as a positive, complex, life-embracing genius rather than the usual tragic victim … a tour de force” (The Guardian, UK).

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ornette Coleman Concert :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Ornette Coleman Concert :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Ornette Coleman Concert
Posted by: paul@abcservices.caon Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 01:22 PM
Jazz Commentary Ornette Coleman - Toronto - Massey Hall
Oct. 29, 2005

Exceptional concert at Massey Hall last night. Ornette at 75 sounds like Ornette at 25. The same energy and intensity with innovations still flowing. Ornette was accompanied by bassist Tony Falanga, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Denardo Coleman. These incredibly talented sidemen added so much to the concert. For just over 2 hours non-stop we were treated to the shape of Jazz to come by a pioneer in free jazz. Tony Falanga’s, classical take on jazz using a bow and producing sounds that resembled an additional horn section was the perfect accompanist to Ornette, while bassist Cohen played a fast driving rhythm along with Denardo Coleman who maintained the beat at quadruple time.
Ornette also treated us to some trumpet playing as well as a violin solo, shades of Jean Luc Ponty. It was great to see the Toronto crowd give a standing ovation at the beginning of the concert as well as two standing ovations at the finale. I do not know how many concerts Ornette Coleman quartet is performing, but if you get the chance, do not miss this concert, you will be blown away.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hank Jones joins John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette for 'S Wonderful on 441 :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz Ne

Hank Jones joins John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette for 'S Wonderful on 441 :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Hank Jones joins John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette for 'S Wonderful on 441
Posted by: eJazzNews Readeron Friday, October 28, 2005 - 05:14 PM
CD Releases 441 RECORDS announces the release of ‘S WONDERFUL by The Great Jazz Trio on October 25, 2005. The Great Jazz Trio is pianist Hank Jones, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The album is a nine-track suite of jazz standards and songbook repertoire recorded at Avatar Studios in New York City in June 2004. The session was recorded live to 2-track in Direct Stream Digital format to yield the highest quality recording possible. ‘S WONDERFUL is the 28th release by The Great Jazz Trio since the group name was coined in 1975. Already receiving accolades from reviewers across the country, ‘S WONDERFUL guarantees to please with its incredible musicianship and interaction, superior sound quality, and satisfying new twists on old favorites.

The Great Jazz Trio now has a 30-year history of recording fabulous jazz performances and has earned a large following of admirers and fans. The “original” The Great Jazz Trio consisted of Hank Jones, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Over the years, The Great Jazz Trio featured some of the most unique and interesting combinations of superb musicians with Hank Jones at the center, including Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Buster Williams, Eddie Gomez and Al Foster. The previous trio with Richard Davis and Elvin Jones, Hank’s brother, in their session, dubbed the “Avatar Sessions,” recorded in May 2002, resulted in three albums, Autumn Leaves (441 Records), Someday My Prince Will Come (Columbia) and Collaborations (441 Records). ‘S WONDERFUL is the latest production of The Great Jazz Trio. This time, Hank is joined by John Patitucci on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums forming another dream team of jazz greats. At 85-years young (at the time of recording), Hank is still going strong and his energy is well matched to these younger, talented musicians.

In the spring of 1975, the “original” The Great Jazz Trio performed together for the very first time at the Village Vanguard for one week. That “dream team” of jazz giants came together at the urging of drummer Tony Williams. The group was billed as “The Great Jazz Trio,” a name that was coined by the late Max Gordon, owner of The Village Vanguard. When Max Gordon called Hank Jones to ask if he would perform with Ron and Tony, Hank got very excited. Hank had just finished a long stint as a studio session musician and the idea of playing with Ron and Tony, who are from different generations, intrigued him.

The trio got together again in May of 1976 to do a studio recording. The three got along so well that they decided to perform together again. The trio was booked at The Village Vanguard for a weeklong engagement in February 1977. The live recordings from the performance established The Great Jazz Trio as one of the premiere trios of jazz and resulted in three albums - At The Village Vanguard, At The Village Vanguard Volume 2 and At The Village Vanguard Again (all available from Test of Time Records).

The concept of The Great Jazz Trio is to surround Hank Jones with excellent musicians and feature all the players equally. If the musicians have not played with Hank Jones before, the mixture may prove even more interesting. This was and has been the goal for the project as pursued by Yasohachi “88” Itoh, the producer of ‘S WONDERFUL and most of The Great Jazz Trio recordings, including the very first one.

Itoh continued, “Shortly after the ‘Avatar Sessions,’ Elvin Jones sadly passed away. Selecting a drummer has always been an important element to The Great Jazz Trio following in the tradition that Tony Williams started. So we selected the most talented drummer playing today, Jack DeJohnette. Surprisingly, Jack had never played with Hank before and was eager to work with him. John Patitucci was a big fan of Hank’s so all the players fell into place. The session went very smoothly and everyone played off each other beautifully.”

The album starts with and features drumming by Jack DeJohnette in an up-tempo “‘S Wonderful.” Very well known songs that are not covered very often such as “Take Five” and “Moanin’” were tackled and given a new twist by the trio. “Sweet Lorraine” and “I Surrender Dear” were personal requests that Itoh made to the trio to record. Itoh always loved these songs as performed by Teddy Wilson and thought that Hank Jones had the velvet touch to bring these songs alive again. The album concludes with a most heartfelt rendition of “Green Sleeves.”

Sometime next year, the trio plans to tour if their schedule permits it. All three are very much in demand. Itoh commented, “It would be fitting for the trio to perform at The Village Vanguard. That is where The Great Jazz Trio started.”

Hank Jones has been very prolific as of late. Recently, he joined tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano on Lovano's release Joyous Encounter from Blue Note. Hank also just released For My Father from Justin Time. Hank is still full of energy at the age of 87. With stimulating partners such as John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette, Hank will likely keep playing long after he is 100.

About 441 Records

441 RECORDS is an innovative, independent record label featuring top quality jazz recordings. 441 RECORDS is located within Avatar Studios in New York City. For years, Avatar's management was astonished that dozens of great albums by world-renowned jazz artists recorded at Avatar Studios were never made available for sale in the U.S., yet did well in foreign markets. 441 RECORDS was established with a mission to market for the U.S. much of the aforementioned jazz music recorded or mixed at Avatar. The organization follows the classic model of a "boutique label," working very closely with artists from project conception to final product distribution. In April 2005, 441 RECORDS launched a new label imprint, Test of Time Records to reissue over thirty of the East Wind Masterpiece Collection line from Japan, which feature for the first time on Compact Disc some of the best sounding Jazz from the late ‘70s. This line includes the most comprehensive collection of The Great Jazz Trio recordings available today.
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Memorial to Jazz Great Illinois Jacquet :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Memorial to Jazz Great Illinois Jacquet :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Memorial to Jazz Great Illinois Jacquet
Posted by: editoron Friday, October 28, 2005 - 01:15 PM
Jazz News Memorial to Jazz Great Illinois Jacquet
Dedication Ceremony and Concert at The Woodlawn Cemetery
Sunday, October 30 at 2 pm

On Sunday, October 30th, at 2 pm, the memorial marking the final resting place of tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet will be dedicated at The Woodlawn Cemetery. Dr. Eugene Callendar of St. James Presbyterian Church will lead the ceremony. Phil Schaap, Curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center, will recount his memorable interviews with the jazz great. After the monument is unveiled Victor Goines, Artistic Director of Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School, will lead a ten piece jazz band in a celebration of the music of Illinois Jacquet. The public is invited to attend: admission is free.

Jean Baptiste Illinois Jacquet was born on October 31, 1922 in Broussard, Louisiana and grew up in Houston, Texas where he developed his famous “Texas Tenor” sound. At age nineteen he burst onto the jazz scene when he recorded his explosive “Flying Home” solo with the Lionel Hampton Band, spawning an entirely new style for the tenor sax. His historic solo, “Blues Part II,” with Jazz at the Philharmonic, expanded the upper register of the tenor sax, creating a blueprint for subsequent generations of saxophonists. He played with Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and created a sting of hits with his own record breaking small band. He performed until his death on July 22, 2004.

Leon Rader, a Russian born sculptor who specializes in custom memorial art, was commissioned to create the memorial. His studio, Art in Stone, is in Colma, California. Rader has produced public war memorials, received awards for his unique works of art and recently created the memorial for journalist Daniel Pearl. The nine-foot monument features Rader’s life sized etching of an Arthur Elgort photo of Jacquet playing the saxophone.. The 15,000-pound memorial sits on a piano shaped base, made of polished black granite from India. According to Rader, “The idea was to create a sculpture that told the story of Illinois Jacquet’s love of his music, his appreciation of his fans and his spiritual beliefs. I used stone from India, a country that he loved to visit and designed a work of art to compliment the beauty and history of Woodlawn and the neighboring memorials to Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington.”

Following the unveiling ceremony, a ten-piece band will play some of the memorable arrangements Jacquet recorded with his “small band” in the 1940’s. Joining Victor Goines will be Joe Temperley, Michael Dease, Freddy Hendrix, Lee Hogans, Ed Stoute, Fred Hunter and students from the Juilliard School. Illinois Jacquet received an honorary Doctorate of music from Juilliard in May of 2004. Later that year, the Illinois Jacquet Scholarship in Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School was established in his memory.

The Woodlawn Cemetery is located at Webster Avenue and E. 233rd St. and is easily accessible from Metro North, the Major Deegan, Bronx River Parkway and the IRT #4 Subway. For additional information and directions contact the Friends of Woodlawn at (718) 920-1469 or log onto .

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Trane still has steam; discs storm jazz chart

Trane still has steam; discs storm jazz chartOct. 27, 2005

Trane still has steam; discs storm jazz chart

By Chris Morris
In a surprising development, saxophone trailblazer John Coltrane accounted for two of the top three jazz albums last week, 38 years after his death.

The two-CD Impulse! set "One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note" entered at No. 3 on Billboard's top jazz albums chart for the week of Oct. 29. Sitting at No. 2 was Blue Note's recently released album by the Thelonious Monk Quartet with Coltrane, "At Carnegie Hall."

The Half Note album bowed with sales of 3,500 units (and sold another 2,400 in its second week), while the Carnegie Hall package has moved 44,000 to date. The latter title recently racked up an amazing 11-day run at No. 1 on's album bestseller list.

Both collections were hitherto unreleased officially. The Impulse! package -- a steaming 1965 live set at New York's Half Note club with his classic '60s quartet of McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones -- was much bootlegged among Trane aficionados; in the early '90s, Coltrane's son Ravi unearthed a pristine tape made for the musician by DJ Alan Grant. That tape is the source material for the present CD release.

The Monk/Coltrane Carnegie Hall album -- one of the few documents of the brief collaboration between two jazz titans -- had never been heard before. A Voice of America tape of the long-lost 1957 concert was found in the Library of Congress' holdings by researcher Larry Appelbaum.

High-quality unreleased material by Coltrane, who died of liver cancer in July 1967, has trickled out over the years. The lone live recording of his masterpiece "A Love Supreme" finally was issued officially by Impulse! in 2002. In July, Columbia/Legacy released a previously unheard 1956 concert by the Miles Davis quintet with Coltrane as part of a two-CD edition of Miles' Columbia debut "'Round About Midnight."

But the near-simultaneous release of the Half Note and Carnegie Hall sets made for a Coltrane event. "(The music) was not just ghettoized in jazz magazines," says Tom Evered, senior vp/general manager of EMI Jazz & Classics, Blue Note's parent division.

Ken Druker, vp of catalog development at Impulse!, says, "The (press coverage) involved in finding the Carnegie Hall tape drove it a little bit. Other than that, I think it is the legend. The (Coltrane) name seems to have magic to it. ... Aside from the magic of the name, there's the magic of the playing."

However, considering that the fare at the top of the current jazz chart is conservative material -- mainly by vocalists like Michael Buble, Madeleine Peyroux, Paul Anka, Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr. -- the immediate success of Coltrane's uncompromising music is somewhat unexpected. The Half Note performance, which finds Trane wailing in full-bore, free-blowing fashion, might be especially challenging for some.

But album annotator Ashley Kahn, author of a book on "A Love Supreme" and a forthcoming history of the Impulse! label, "The House That Trane Built," maintains that listeners have caught up with Trane: "It's a very universal, accessible sound, even though he's one of those guys who was very intense, and devoted to experimental, avant-garde sound."

The current spate of interest in Coltrane could go on, for the musician's family has uncovered even more unheard material. Kahn says: "There's a whole bunch of tapes that even the record label didn't know about. There is going to be a lot more stuff."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

35 Who Made a Difference: Wynton Marsalis

35 Who Made a Difference: Wynton Marsalis35 Who Made a Difference: Wynton Marsalis

In Katrina's aftermath, the trumpeter has rallied support for his native New Orleans

"We're blues people. And blues never lets tragedy have the last word." This is an utterly characteristic statement by Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter, composer and jazz impresario. He spoke those words in a television interview shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated his hometown of New Orleans. Within days he was playing in gigs to raise money for Katrina victims, including a huge benefit concert, "Higher Ground," produced by Jazz At Lincoln Center, of which he is the artistic director. It has raised more than $2 million. Bob Dylan once remarked that a hero was "someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom." By that measure, Marsalis is a hero bona fide.

From the time he first came to wide public attention at age 18 with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, in 1979, Marsalis has thought deeply about what it means to be a jazz musician. Although his brothers Branford, Delfeayo and Jason are musicians, and his father, Ellis Marsalis, is a prominent jazz pianist, Wynton had to come to jazz on his own terms. "When I was growing up," he once told me, "jazz music was just something that my daddy played that nobody really wanted to listen to. I didn't listen to it because it was 'something old.' A little later, once I started to want to check jazz out, I was really the only one I knew who wanted to play it."

After leaving Blakey's group, Marsalis spent a decade and a half touring with his small ensemble and, later, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, playing concerts, lecturing, visiting schools. His tours were part old-fashioned traveling lyceum, part portable revival meeting, and he planted the seeds of a new generation of musicians. They've had their careers, and often their lives, cultivated by Marsalis, who called them from the road, urged them to practice, suggested recordings for study and in time offered them gigs.

Marsalis has made some 60 recordings and written five books, and he has won nine Grammy Awards for his classical trumpet recordings as well as his jazz efforts. He was the first jazz composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Composition, for his oratorio "Blood On The Fields," in 1997. He has attracted more attention from the mainstream arts establishment than any jazz musician since Duke Ellington, and Marsalis has used the vast resources at his disposal to establish the premier jazz educational and performance venue in the world, Jazz At Lincoln Center, in New York City.

Of course, anyone in such a position attracts criticism the way a statue attracts pigeons. Unlike some who see jazz solely as a music for iconoclasts, Marsalis has advocated an approach based on a solid grasp of the music's history and traditions. Reviewers and musicians who disagree with him have sometimes been bruised by his bluntness. Yet the jazz world has gotten more used to Marsalis' large presence. While there are still some people who would carp if Marsalis gave eyesight to the blind, even his critics have conceded the value of the enormous public visibility and credibility he has brought to jazz music.

In his cosmology, Marsalis has always located not just the roots but the heart of jazz in New Orleans. He has been involved with summer programs for young musicians in the Crescent City and has privately helped individual musicians financially and professionally. The devastation brought to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina clearly has pained him deeply. He's involved in what promises to be extended wrangling over New Orleans' future, participating in planning meetings with political, business and civic leaders, all of whom have different visions of what a reconstructed city might become. Marsalis insists on including in that vision the city's poorest residents, so often the bearers of its musical, culinary and spiritual culture at the deepest level.

"We're not going to just fade away because of a crisis," Marsalis said in a September TV interview. "That's not in our nature." It’s certainly not in his. He has used his talents, and his understanding of the responsibility that goes with them, to become deeper, more human, more valuable.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NPR : Savoring Shirley Horn's Timeless Sound

NPR : Savoring Shirley Horn's Timeless SoundSavoring Shirley Horn's Timeless Sound

Listen to this story...

by Felix Contreras

All Things Considered, October 22, 2005 · Jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn's graceful career began in the 1960s, and lasted until her death this week at 71. Her voice and style put her in the ranks of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Innate Tempo Of Shirley Horn

The Innate Tempo Of Shirley HornThe Innate Tempo Of Shirley Horn

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 22, 2005; Page C01

No one mined the depths of a lyric the way Shirley Horn did, with a whispery voice that conjured cashmere and cognac. You could lose yourself -- you couldn't not lose yourself -- as the lifelong Washingtonian's dusky alto crawled unhurriedly through time-tested standards and rediscovered treasures, tapestries of song embroidered with her own crisp chords and subtly spun piano filigrees.

Horn's trademark: exquisitely slow tempo and sensitively savored lyric, effortlessly melded. Heart and soul expressed at a piano bench.

Shirley Horn (with bassist Ed Howard) rehearsing in her Upper Marlboro home last December for a Kennedy Center concert in her honor.
Shirley Horn (with bassist Ed Howard) rehearsing in her Upper Marlboro home last December for a Kennedy Center concert in her honor. (By Dudley M. Brooks -- The Washington Post)
/artsandliving Jazz Legend Shirley Horn
Shirley Horn, a Grammy Award-winning jazz balladeer and pianist, died Thursday Oct. 20 from complications of strokes and diabetes. Horn was a musical fixture in her native Washington before emerging as a national presence in her fifties and becoming one of the country's most revered jazz singers.
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Horn, who died Thursday night at 71 after a long illness, could swing a tune with the best of them, and often surprised fans when she did, but that approach simply didn't fit her temperament. Instead, Horn did ballads and cool, understated ruminations better than anyone except her first champion, mentor and lifelong friend, trumpeter Miles Davis. Both were masters of silence and anticipation, but even Davis teased Horn about her pacing. "You do 'em awful slow!" he once said.

Indicating the level of respect Davis had for Horn, the legend, then ailing, accompanied her on the title track of the 1990 album "You Won't Forget Me," the first time he'd recorded with a vocalist in four decades, and Davis did so in the long-abandoned lyrical style he'd defined in the '50s, shortly before he first discovered her. The two were talking about collaborating on an all-ballad album when Davis died the following year. Horn won her only Grammy for 1998's "I Remember Miles," dedicated to Davis.

Another sign of respect came from the great pianist Ahmad Jamal, who accompanied Horn on her penultimate album, 2003's "May the Music Never End." Jamal, one of Horn's early inspirations and models, and himself a master of minimalism, had, in his 55 years of recording, never accompanied a vocalist. But for the first time in her career, Horn was unable to accompany herself on record, the result of losing her right foot to complications from diabetes. It was a significant change, denying Horn use of her piano's expression pedal for controlling the instrument's sustain and quiet features that so defined her sound.

The last few years had been rough on Horn, as she dealt with arthritis and underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer. In June Horn suffered a stroke and had been hospitalized since.

Several years earlier, Horn had been forced to abandon the security of her piano bench and rethink her approach after her voice and piano could no longer be intimate extensions of each other. Last December, just before a brief appearance at a Kennedy Center concert honoring her, Horn seemed weary but as quietly determined as ever, insisting: "I've tried to keep things as level as possible through this whole thing. I'm cool. I know what I have to do: I'm never going to give up the piano, I'm never going to stop singing till God says, 'I called your number.' "

Horn was at times reflective, at times wry, and on occasion caustic and cantankerous. She expressed frustration with the music business, particularly that such pianist-singers as Norah Jones and Diana Krall didn't acknowledge her as the influence she clearly heard herself to be. Motoring around her house in a wheelchair dubbed "the Cadillac" (the fancier "Jaguar" was reserved for concerts), Horn would proudly point to assorted honors, including last year's Jazz Master award from the National Endowment for the Arts. But she also seemed frustrated, reduced to performing only a concert or two a month, backed by pianist George Mesterhazy. "I can't get into the music," she said. "I just get lost."

In recent concerts, she managed to find both humor and pathos singing Paul McCartney's "Yesterday," lending multiple meanings to the line "I'm not half the girl I used to be."

So much about Shirley Horn was glacially slow, from her delivery of a song to the acclamation that came late in her career. You can't really make time stand still, but Horn managed an approximation, insisting that ballads were meant to be played slow, the better to understand the power of the story being told and the emotion of the lyric under exploration.

Horn started studying piano and composition at Howard University's School of Music when she was 12, with dreams of a career in classical music. But the realities of racism in the '40s precluded that possibility, and by the late '40s she'd become immersed in the thriving jazz scene around 14th and U streets NW. Debussy and Rachmaninoff gave way to Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly, Erroll Garner and Jamal. The girl piano player began to make an impression in local clubs, but even after forming her first trio in 1954, Horn was not one to advance herself.

In fact, that Horn came to sing at all was part accident -- a patron bribed her to sing "Melancholy Baby" -- and part pragmatism: A club owner gave Horn a raise on the condition that she keep singing.

That Miles Davis became a fan via Horn's 1960 debut album, "Embers and Ashes," was part miracle: few copies were manufactured and they were hard to find. Yet Davis managed to and became smitten, playing it so much at home that his kids could sing along to it. A year later, he invited Horn to open for him at the Village Vanguard, though that opportunity almost passed. When he called her and made the offer, Horn didn't believe it was really Davis. She hung up. But Davis sent her a train ticket to New York, and she went.

It could have been a breakthrough moment, but in the end, it was only a moment. Quincy Jones, who was in the opening-night crowd, would produce a pair of Horn albums in the early '60s but miscast her as a stand-up singer, denying her the comfort of accompanying herself in the trio format in which she was so adept. "Nobody knows how to play for me except me," she would complain. "I need to hear my own chords and set my own tempo."

Wider recognition didn't arrive until 1986, when she signed with Verve and began a string of critically acclaimed albums that garnered nine straight Grammy nominations.

Horn never pursued a career with the single-mindedness of such peers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae or Betty Carter -- she simply wasn't as driven or hard-nosed or forceful. But Horn's records drew stellar guests, and she performed around the world as her health allowed. In the end, Shirley Horn's life was much like her song: She got as much music as possible out of every precious note, and in so doing made each note that much more precious.

Last December, looking back on her life, Horn suggested that she never had a choice in the matter: "I think when I was born, it's like God said, 'Music!,' and that was it. All my life, that's all I knew. It's in me, it's jammed up and it's got to come out."