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John H. Armwood Jazz History Lecture Nashville's Cheekwood Arts Center 1989

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Joshua Redman's language: printer friendly version

Joshua Redman's language: printer friendly versionJoshua Redman's language
By Mike Zwerin Bloomberg News

PARIS You would think that anybody smart enough to graduate summa cum laude from Harvard would know better than to choose to be a jazz musician.

Although Joshua Redman was a hot tenor saxophone player in high school in Berkeley, California (his father, Dewey Redman, was also a hot tenor man), he did not grow up dreaming about being a musician. The valedictorian of his high school graduating class, he won a scholarship to Harvard, graduated summa cum laude in 1991 and was accepted to Yale Law School.

To pass the summer between college and graduate school, he entered the Thelonious Monk Foundation's saxophone contest, and, lo and behold, he won. It was beyond him. He had been chosen.

Redman's Elastic Band has just released a recording called "Momentum" on the Nonesuch record label. Using an organ trio format (plus guests including Flea, the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) with flowing, deceptively simple blue-noted melodies on top, this is a 21st-century version of the electric, funky, backbeat jazz that Miles Davis began to scout out in 1970.

"In the army, there's always one guy 20 or 30 yards up ahead who makes sure the coast is clear," Davis's ex-drummer, Tony Williams, once said. "Then he waves to the other guys that it's safe to move up. Miles was the point man who took all the heat. There are no more point men."

The 36-year-old Redman is a word man. "Language is an exciting thing to me," Redman said in an interview. "I am always running up against the limits of my own language. I am always searching for the right way to express things.

"Sometimes I qualify everything so much that I end up not saying anything," Redman said. "I'm not a writer, but I feel like I have to choose my words carefully. When I started with e-mails, I felt like I had to write essays - complete sentences, caps, proper punctuation."

The sort of musician who writes his own album notes, Redman quickly became a straight-ahead star who defended the acoustic Broadway song-form tradition. His 1998 album "Timeless Tales (For Changing Times)" included the standards "Summertime" and "How Deep Is the Ocean." In the notes, he wrote that the album was about "infinite possibility" and "ageless beauty."

"The conception of timelessness is very different from the concept of nostalgia," he explains. "And classic does not necessarily mean conservative. Basically, what I'm saying is that timelessness is modern.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

NPR : Jazz Pianist Jason Moran

NPR : Jazz Pianist Jason MoranJazz
Jazz Pianist Jason Moran

Fresh Air from WHYY, June 27, 2005 · He's been awarded the 2005 Pianist of the Year award by the Jazz Journalist's Association, and he also received the first ever 2005 Playboy Magazine Jazz Artist of the Year. His new album is called Same Mother, which reflects the 30-year-old musician's current interest in the blues. He's also known for transforming hip-hop standards into jazz classics and reinventing the notion of "gangsterism." Moran is collaborating with performance artist Joan Jonas on a project called "The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things," which will premiere at Dia Beacon in New York this fall.

Washinton Post > PERFORMING ARTS> Harry Connick Jr. And Branford Marsalis


Tuesday, June 28, 2005; C14

Harry Connick Jr. And Branford Marsalis

At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on Sunday night, Harry Connick Jr. coined a phrase to describe one of the more crowd-pleasing aspects of his performance with saxophonist Branford Marsalis: "Total goofus." And that was before things got really silly.

At one point, for reasons too convoluted to explain, pianist Connick described his shock at discovering that Liberace was a terrific jazz musician. Marsalis, none too impressed, then asked if his New Orleans chum also knew any good John Tesh stories. That triggered an impromptu performance of the theme from "Entertainment Tonight," and the laughter in the hall didn't subside until the last note faded.

It wasn't all fun and gamesmanship, though. Connick and Marsalis recently recorded an album of duets called "Occasion," which revealed their rapport in both subdued and spirited settings. The concert was laced with tunes from the album, including the ruminative ballad "I Like Love More," the lighthearted "Spot" and the tenor-sax blues "Good to Be Home."

When the tempo picked up, Connick alluded to the duo's Crescent City roots with syncopated runs, rhythmic fits and starts and thumping chords. Marsalis, who underscored the mood with his piping soprano and robust tenor, evoked a particularly festive mood on the Mardi Gras-inspired "Light the Way." The more abstract pieces, on the other hand, often found the two musicians in quiet sync, anticipating or echoing each other's moves with ease and wit. Despite some tentative moments, the duo capped their brief summer tour -- three performances in all -- on a high note.

Opening the concert was a remarkably interactive quartet led by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon. A native of Puerto Rico, Zenon devoted the set to tunes from his band's most recent recording, "Jibaro." Referencing Puerto Rican folk melodies and dances with inherent appeal, the pieces were enlivened by Zenon's keening tone, pianist Luis Perdomo's dissonant attack, bassist Ben Street's nimble phrasing, and drummer Henry Cole's exceptional speed and polyrhythmic finesse.

-- Mike Joyce

Home of the Groove: Naughty But Nice

Home of the Groove: Naughty But Nice Naughty But Nice

The booklet

"One Naughty Flat"(Roy Montrell)
AFO Executives, from New Orleans Heritage Jazz, Opus 43, recorded 1963


Back in the late 1980’s, I got the chance to buy a sealed, four LP box set put out by Harold Battiste in 1976 that contains jazz recordings from 1956 to 1966 by him and other founders or close associates of AFO Records in New Orleans. The groups included are the Ellis Marsalis Quartet (Marsalis, Nat Perilliat, Marvin Smith, and James Black), the Original American Jazz Quintet (Mr. Battiste, Alvin Batiste, Marsalis, William Swanson, and Ed Blackwell), and The AFO Executives (Battiste, Alvin ‘Red’ Tyler, Melvin Lastie, Peter ‘Chuck’ Badie, John Boudreaux, and vocalist, Tami Lynn); as well, other musicians sit in on various cuts. Compiled from the original master tapes and released on his own Opus 43 imprint packaged with a somewhat confusing, but ultimately informative booklet (pictured above), this set reveals the serious jazz chops of these players, many of whom made their living at the time playing R&B in the studio, on the road, and in clubs. Of those noted here, Blackwell, Marsalis, Black and Alvin Batiste went on to more or less full-time jazz careers.

The story of AFO (All For One) Records is too involved to rehash here. You can learn more at the link I’ve got below. But, suffice it to say that the label was established in the early 1960’s in the Crescent City by musicians for musicians in an effort to cut themselves in on some of the real record business money that, as session players, leaders, arrangers, producers or songwriters, they did not get. The aggregation was comprised of some of the premier players in town, headed by Harold Battiste, who was a top local producer and arranger. With the dream realized, some great records were made (you can find the R&B sides on Ace’s Gumbo Stew CD series), including one big hit, “I Know”, by Barbara George. But the non-utopian realities of the record business rose up to snuff the entire enterprise and by 1964 it was over, with many of the principals having relocated to Los Angeles.

Our cut from this project, “One Naughty Flat”, composed by guitarist and AFO co-founder Roy Montrell, is a hip, upbeat little number that is closer to R&B than the more serious jazz of the other groupings. The AFO Executives mixed R&B and jazz on a variety of tunes, using Tami Lynn’s vocal prowess on many to good effect. On this instrumental, drummer John Boudreaux supplies a fine funky second line feel to the tune, while Harold Battiste turns out some tasty solos on alto sax, with Red Tyler taking the tenor break in the middle. Chuck Badie plays the acoustic bass; and Melvin Lastie is on the trumpet/cornet. I’m a big fan of this tune, which Mac Rebennack covered on organ around this same time on an AFO side that was never released (it's on one of the Gumbo Stew CDs). The title is an inside musician’s joke, referring to the song’s key of F, which only has one of those nicely naughty flats in it.

To learn more about Harold Battiste, many of the musicians, and AFO, visit the AFO Foundation site. He's got this set still for sale, I think, plus CD compilations, too.

posted by Dan Phillips @ 11:21 AM

New York Daily News - World & National Report - Jazzman, doc are indicted

New York Daily News - World & National Report - Jazzman, doc are indictedJazzman, doc are indicted

A Manhattan federal grand jury has indicted a New York jazz musician and a Florida doctor for plotting to open an Al Qaeda terror training camp in the U.S., prosecutors said last night.

Tarik Shah, 42, and Dr. Rafiq Sabir, 50, were charged with conspiring to provide material support to Al Qaeda.

If convicted, they each face 15 years in prison. They were to be arraigned today.

"We still have two people accused of a manufactured crime," said Shah's attorney, Anthony Ricco.

Sabir's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Shah was arrested when FBI agents raided the Bronx brownstone where he lived. Sabir, a Columbia University-educated physician, was nabbed at his home in Boca Raton, Fla.

The busts culminated a lengthy probe in which they allegedly swore allegiance to Osama Bin Laden during a meeting with an FBI undercover agent posing as an Al Qaeda recruiter.

They were introduced to the undercover agent by a federal informant.

Shah is a popular bass player at local jazz clubs, a martial arts expert and the son of a former aide to Malcolm X. He allegedly scouted a Long Island warehouse to use a terror training camp.

Sabir vowed he would treat wounded jihadists on a trip to Saudi Arabia, prosecutors said.

Robert Gearty

Monday, June 27, 2005 Roy Haynes Quartet/ Ed Thigpen Sextet, Jazz Winnipeg Festival, June 25, 2005 Roy Haynes Quartet/ Ed Thigpen Sextet, Jazz Winnipeg Festival, June 25, 2005Roy Haynes Quartet/ Ed Thigpen Sextet, Jazz Winnipeg Festival, June 25, 2005
Posted by Triniman on June 26, 2005 10:24 PM

Fountain of Youth
Roy Haynes
Music from Dreyfus
Release date: 24 February, 2004

Roy Haynes and Ed Thigpen are two of the most respected, longest-playing jazz drummers in the world. Haynes, born on March 13, 1925 (80) and Thigpen, December 28, 1930 (75), both received the kind of adulation and applause reserved for living legends.

The most sterling example of talent for me, came from pianist Kasper Villaume. This guy was reminded me of Michael Kaeshammer, by his ability to pick out the most appropriate, sparkling notes, to match the mood of the moment. Obviously a performer more than just a musician, Villaume acknowledged that audience's applause time with huge smiles. I have one of his CDs on order and I would not be surprised if he decides to lead his own band full-time and leave the spotlight of playing with Ed Thigpen's band. Some of the compositions played inclueded Shake It Out, Thaddeus, It Might As Well Be Spring, and Fast Train.

The group, known as the Scantet, was rounded out by Jens Winther (trumpet), Tomas Franck (tenor sax), and Jesper Bodilsen (bass), all established Scandinavian players. Poney-tailed Franck reminded me of the look of Bleeding Gums Murphy.

Dressed in what almost looked like golden pajamas, Roy Haynes also received a thunderous applause when he walked on stage. He gave a more hyperactive performace than his younger colleage, Ed Thigpen. Armed with a younger ensemble, including dreadlocked sax player Marcus Strickland, Haynes put on a flashy show, full of energy. Before speaking with the audience, he grabbed the microphone and began to tap out a rhythm, and then engaged the audience to participate, getting the men and ladies to play different parts.

Marcus Strickland didn't crack a smile until much later on when Haynes made a joke, but he played superbly and was the most notable musician to me. Pianist Martin Bejerano and bassist John Strickland both met every challenge with the type of dexterity and control fitting of experienced soloists and recording musicians.

You can imagine the audiences response when he came back on stage at the very end for the final bow and announced that not only was he close to tears for the incredible adulation shown by the audience, but that he turned 80 years old this past March!

Fountain of Youth/Roy Haynes Out of the Afternoon/Roy Haynes The Roy Haynes Trio/Roy Haynes Trio with Danilo Perez And John Patitucci Question and Answer/Pat Metheny with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes #1/Ed Thigpen Scantet Mr Taste/Ed Thigpen 117 Ditmas Avenue/Kasper Villaume Trio Jazz in Concert/Jens Winther

Sunday, June 26, 2005 | Jazz guitarist Billy Bauer dies aged 89 | Jazz guitarist Billy Bauer dies aged 89Jazz guitarist Billy Bauer has died aged 90 in Long island.

William Henry Bauer was born on the 14 November 1915 in New York City, New York, and by the 1940's he was an established guitarist - played with some of the biggest names in Jazz. In the latter part of the decade, Bauer performed with Lennie Tristano and Charlie Parker and, although he never studied with them, they encouraged him in his improvisational style - fast and dynamic.

He played with the Jerry Wald band before joining Woody Herman in 1944 as a member of the 1st Herd. And in 1946 went on to play with Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Jimmy Heath Honored by Usdan Center August 3 :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Jimmy Heath Honored by Usdan Center August 3 :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Jimmy Heath Honored by Usdan Center August 3
Posted by: editoron Monday, June 20, 2005 - 11:38 PM
Jazz News Tenor saxophonist, composer, conductor and educator Jimmy Heath, whom Miles Davis called “One of the thoroughbreds,” will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday August 3 from Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, America’s premier summer arts day camp, at their 2005 Gala in Huntington, Long Island.
A frequent guest teacher at Usdan Center since the late 1980’s, he joins fellow guest teacher Dr. Billy Taylor, a previous honoree, in receiving the award. In addition, a Distinguished Alumni Award was presented in 2003 to jazz singer Jane Monheit. Other Lifetime Achievement Award winners include Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn, opera star and President of the Harlem School of the Arts Betty Allen and philanthropist Mrs. Avery Fisher.

The jazz program at Usdan Center began in 1986, Chaired by Dr. Billy Taylor. Guest teachers have also included Marian McPartland, Jon Faddis, Clark Terry and the noted jazz educator Justin Di Cioccio (Assistant Dean of the Jazz Division at Manhattan School of Music). Now led by John Leddy, the program features complete musical instruction and performance experience by three jazz ensembles covering grades 4 to 12.

The Usdan Center Gala begins at 5 PM at the Center’s magnificent 200-acre woodland setting at 185 Colonial Springs Road in Wheatley Heights (a part of Huntington), with a buffet dinner in a flowing white tent followed by ceremonies and special student performances at the Center’s 1,000-seat McKinley Ampitheater. Patron tickets are $125.00. Usdan Center (, named by Time Magazine “One of the most unique camps in America,” has introduced the visual and performing arts to more than 40,000 young people ages 6 to 18 from throughout the Tri-State area, many on scholarship. Its other alumni include actress Natalie Portman and singer Mariah Carey. For Gala information and tickets, call Patrice Frank at (631) 643-7900 Dizzy Gillespie said “All I can say is, if you know Jimmy Heath, you know Bop.” The 78 year-old saxophonist, the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers (Percy Heath/bass and Tootie Heath/drums), has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last 50 years, from Gillespie and Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis. One of Heath’s earliest big bands (1947-1948) in Philadelphia included John Coltrane and Benny Golson, and Charlie Parker and Max Roach sat in on one occasion.

Jimmy Heath has performed on more than 100 record albums, and has also written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and have been recorded by other artists including Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie J.J Johnson and Dexter Gordon. He has won over 50 awards, including Grammy nominations, honorary doctorates, and jazz society and community honors and tributes (including a Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra 75th Birthday Tribute). In 2001 he was declared an American Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. He continues to perform and to conduct workshops throughout the world.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Quietly Commanding and Subversive by Stealth - New York Times

Quietly Commanding and Subversive by Stealth - New York Timesune 20, 2005
Quietly Commanding and Subversive by Stealth

At first it was good enough that Wayne Shorter started a new working band. Four years later, it's even better to see how confidently it has evolved. At Carnegie Hall on Friday night, in a double bill with Dave Holland's quintet at the JVC Jazz Festival, Mr. Shorter's quartet commandeered a pretty remarkable act of floating.

I have it on good authority that he played five distinct songs, but they flowed into each other, and more songs materialized during the process. During one new piece, "Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean," the band spent some time making a collective reference to one of his standards, "Footprints." It wasn't programmed, like listening to a record; it was more like watching a sped-up picture of weather patterns.

That's not to say it was close to formless. It was its own form, and so full of the sound of the individual players that it resisted overall characterization. John Patitucci, the bassist, plays with a strong tone, and chose his places carefully; he set up one clean, uncrowded ostinato after another, with just a couple of notes.

The drummer Brian Blade pierced the air here and there with abrupt fills, while indicating the pulse with fine detail. The pianist Danilo PĂ©rez ranged the most widely, playing what was basically improvised impressionist classical music for long stretches, very loosely attached to rhythm. And Mr. Shorter played his strange, beautiful, broken shapes.

One of the hardest things to do in jazz is to play commandingly while playing softly. (There is a tradition of this, including players like Lester Young, Count Basie, Hank Jones and Billy Higgins; it began to thin in the 1960's.) It takes a secure band, and the knowledge that moderation can be subversive. Mr. Shorter's set, including four pieces from his new live album "Beyond the Sound Barrier," occasionally went to extremes, rising to exclamation points or dipping into the strange sound of nothing. But mostly this was a consistently quieter, more rustling performance than the album suggests, suiting itself to the heavy-echo sonic qualities of Carnegie Hall, leaning toward mallets instead of drumsticks, and the soprano saxophone instead of the tenor.

A Shorter set carries its structure deep inside, in some unseeable place. Everyone seems to be soloing all the time, and there are no beginnings and endings. By contrast, Mr. Holland's music has an exoskeleton. His quintet, which followed Mr. Shorter's band, was a song-by-song proposition, with Mr. Holland going about it the old-fashioned way: making announcements, pointing out the featured soloists.

The band has a strong attachment to odd-meter rhythms, and generally makes them feel natural - though sometimes one has to resist an urge to count beats per measure, which is a pleasure-killer. And it seems sometimes that communication among band members happens almost despite the formal qualities of the rhythm.

Generally it doesn't matter much because the band is so well-integrated and practiced. But for whatever reason, Friday's show wasn't close to the band at its best, showing neither the glassy precision nor the cathartic ensemble action of which it is capable.

Two pieces stood out, happily, and both were new. One was "Easy Did It," with a long and impressively coherent soprano-saxophone solo by Chris Potter; the other was "Amator Silenti," written by the band's vibraphonist Steve Nelson, which busted open the stereotype of a Dave Holland Quintet piece. It had a sweet melody, and it was a ballad, with arranged but not contrived pauses and dropouts. Parts of it, in slow and fast tempos, were completely free.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Songwriter Oscar Brown Jr. dies

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Songwriter Oscar Brown Jr. diesSongwriter Oscar Brown Jr. dies

By Jon Thurber
Los Angeles Times

Oscar Brown Jr., a singer and songwriter whose work reflected the humor and hard truths of the black experience in America, has died. He was 78.

Mr. Brown died last Sunday of respiratory failure at a Chicago hospital, according to his daughter, Maggie Brown. She said her father was admitted to the hospital May 5 with a bacterial infection and underwent extensive surgery May 16 to try to stem the infection, but his condition deteriorated rapidly.

The multitalented Mr. Brown was a poet, actor and activist as well as a musician. In a New York Times interview years ago, he said he set out to "deliberately present the culture in which I'd grown up. I wanted to present a picture of black culture to anyone who could hear it."

And he did just that in his songs, plays and musicals, which all offered a strong sociopolitical point of view.

Released in 1960, his first album, "Sin & Soul and Then Some," was a hit. A mosaic of poetic and musical images, the album included his lyrical renditions to such popular jazz instrumentals as Nat Adderley's "Work Song," Bobby Timmons' soul-jazz tune "Dat Dere," and Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue."

It also included the "Bid 'Em In," a vivid re-creation of an auctioneer's call at a female slave sale. The album is considered a classic by critics and aficionados

In his hometown of Chicago, Mr. Brown was known in the 1960s for theatrical works that offered vivid impressions of urban life. In one instance, he helped quell gang violence by employing members of the notorious Mighty Blackstone Rangers in the revue "Opportunity Please Knock." He also created the musical version of "Big Time Buck White," which starred Muhammad Ali and had a brief run on Broadway.

Other theatrical works created during that time period included "Kicks & Co.," which was featured by host Dave Garroway on an entire segment of the "Today" show in what was in effect a backers' audition. The musical had a short run on Broadway.

Mr. Brown worked as an actor on such television shows as "Brewster Place," featuring Oprah Winfrey, and "Roc," starring Charles Dutton. Widely knowledgeable about jazz and blues, he hosted two programs on music: "Jazz Scene USA" in 1962 and "From Jumpstreet: The Story of Black Music" on PBS in the 1980s.

His songwriting brought acclaim from critics and leading artists of the day.

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry said Mr. Brown had "... a startling genius for rendering sense and nonsense into acutely succinct and brilliant summaries of life as we live it."

But Mr. Brown's work may have been too hip and authoritative for the music business. His albums never found a broad crossover audience and, by the mid-1970s, he was without a music contract. His career had gained new interest in the 1990s after Rickie Lee Jones covered his song "Dat Dere." In 1994, he recorded his first album in almost 20 years, "Then and Now," for Weasel Disc records.

For much of Mr. Brown's career, critics lauded his work and lamented his lack of popular recognition.

"He was a very riveting performer who could write about contemporary issues with a lot of bite and wit," Hentoff said. "I was always surprised that he never got the acclaim he deserved."

The son of a lawyer and one-time head of the local NAACP, Mr. Brown was born in Chicago on Oct. 10, 1926. From the early 1940s to the early '50s, he attended several colleges and worked in a variety of jobs, including advertising copywriter, real-estate agent and publicist.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois Legislature on the Progressive ticket in 1948 and hosted one of Chicago's first televised newscasts aimed at a black audience. He ran for Congress in 1952 and lost.

After all that, he spent two years in the Army. Although he had written poetry and songs over the years, he turned to professional songwriting only after his discharge in 1956.

His first recorded composition was "Brown Baby," written after the birth of his son, and recorded by Mahalia Jackson and Lena Horne.

In 1960, he collaborated with drummer Max Roach on "We Insist! Freedom Now Suite." That same year, he was signed to a recording contract with Columbia.

He wrote more than 500 songs and added lyrics to such jazz favorites as the Miles Davis composition "All Blues."

For much of his performing career, Mr. Brown worked with his wife, singer Jean Pace Brown, who survives him. In addition to his daughter, Maggie, who also performed with her father, Mr. Brown is survived by daughters Africa Pace Brown, Iantha Brown Case and Donna Brown Cane.

He also is survived by 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His son, Oscar Brown III, a bassist who performed with his father in the 1980s, died in 1996.