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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Village Voice > His Own Worst Critic Sonny Rollins's best album in nearly three decades is the healing force of the universe

His Own Worst Critic
Sonny Rollins's best album in nearly three decades is the healing force of the universe
by Francis Davis
August 29th, 2005 5:31 PM

Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert

John Updike still hasn't solicited my advice (start work on Rabbit Has Arisen pronto), but during a phoner in 1992 Sonny Rollins asked if I could recommend a good young drummer. I immediately suggested Reggie Nicholson—whom Rollins said he'd coincidentally just hired, strictly on a trial basis, on somebody else's recommendation. Nicholson "supplied color and audible snap even on ballads and followed Sonny unerringly through a dozen or so choruses of 'Long Ago and Far Away,' " I reported in the Voice, following Nicholson's debut with Rollins in Philadelphia. "It looks like Rollins has finally found himself a drummer." I should have paid closer attention to Rollins's mood backstage after the gig. "Wow, the set really turned a corner during your fours with the drums on the Jerome Kern song," I gushed. "Well, something happened then," he replied—and like a fool, I assumed he was agreeing with me. Maybe my rooting interest clouded my judgment, or maybe all Rollins wanted by that point was a compliant timekeeper, not someone who returned his jabs like Max Roach in the '50s. Nicholson finished the tour, then never heard from Rollins again.

It's become a commonplace of jazz criticism to note that Rollins's studio recordings since the 1970s have barely hinted at the rapture he can induce in concert on any given night. Yet I can't count the number of times I've seen him bring an audience to its feet only to sense great displeasure in his performance from his own body language—these are nights a seasoned Rollins watcher knows there won't be an encore no matter the sincerity of our demand. Rollins may be his own worst critic in more ways than one, which is why many of us didn't dare hope for too much when it was announced earlier this year that he was auditioning concert tapes he'd recorded himself, along with those sent to him by a private collector, and had chosen a 2001 Boston show as his first live release since 1986's G-Man. Without a Song, recorded less than a week after 9-11, finally shipped yesterday, and—forget G-Man —it's Rollins's mightiest effort since Don't Stop the Carnival almost 25 years ago.

No, it isn't the Sonny Rollins album we've been dreaming of for decades, and I don't need him or anybody else to tell me why. Complaining that trombonist Clifton Anderson and pianist Stephen Scott aren't in Rollins's league hardly seems fair, because who is? Anderson has developed a burly, ingratiating presence, and Scott skips along nimbly in octaves on "Where or When" and the title track, even if I could do without his Jarrett-like singing along. The problem is the string-of-solos format: When Rollins goes first, everything else is anticlimactic, and when he goes last, as is more often the case, the wait seems forever—you wish he'd give trombone and piano their own features and grab the spotlight. Why have Bob Cranshaw play electric bass if all you ask him to do is walk? The constant buzz is a distraction, and an upright would blend more handsomely with the wood in Rollins's cello-like lower register.

Adding Kimati Dinizulu's hand percussion to Perry Wilson's traps doesn't intensify the groove: With both of them going at it, the rhythm section just sounds busy. And Rollins's opening head arrangements of four standards, including "Why Was I Born?" and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" (routines, bands used to call them), are superfluous time killers. Better he should just come out blowing—we'd recognize the tunes from his spontaneous embellishments.

Why am I so wild about Without a Song, then? First, no recording since his RCAs in the '60s has more faithfully captured Rollins's sound—on "Global Warming," the program's requisite calypso, his tenor saxophone is a steel drum and its spreading low notes shake your insides. Then, too, even though our national unity after 9-11 now seems a quaint memory, along with that sense of being more sinned against than sinning, maybe I'm responding to the emotionalism of the occasion, just as Rollins and the Boston audience did. In Downbeat a few months after the attacks, a fellow critic I won't embarrass by naming speculated, "while it's still too early too tell what the long-term effect on cultural expression will be . . . there's hope that substance will win out over fluff, that relevance will count for more than entertainment for its own sake, that emotion will triumph over self-serving technique, that art will trump commercialism." Trust Downbeat to wonder if a national tragedy will be good for jazz. Rollins, who lives in Woodstock but was in his penthouse pied- six blocks away from the towers when the planes hit, and who had to be guided downstairs by rescue workers the following day, after the building lost power, wasn't making any promises. "Maybe music can help," he says at one point. "I don't know. But we have to try something."

Rollins's quotes from other songs can be a tip-off to his frame of mind, and the ones that jump out here—"This Is My Lucky Day," "The Farmer in the Dell," and "Oh! Susanna" not once but twice—are ebullient. The last five minutes of "Global Warming"—all Sonny, with Anderson and the rhythm section vamping—are pure bliss, and so are Rollins's games of catch-up on "Why Was I Born?" and "Without a Song," whose melodies he stutters into abstraction, holding the beat in abeyance, before resolving the tension with legato outpourings on the turnarounds. Virtuosity on this level is always thrilling, but when the need arises, it can also be a balm.

Without a Song is reportedly the last album Rollins owes Milestone, his label since 1972, under the terms of his current contract. Concord Jazz now owns Fantasy, Milestone's parent label, and if Rollins no longer feels any loyalty and decides to leave, Blue Note and Verve figure to be right there waiting. A major would spring novel ideas on him, and this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. A tussle with Ornette Coleman, Lee Konitz, or David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp? An album of Billie Holiday songs with Bill Charlap? A Stephen Foster project? Taping all of his concerts and choosing the best material for release, forgoing the studio altogether? I've got plenty of ideas. Including this hot young drummer I know.

CHICK COREA'S HISTORIC "RENDEZVOUS IN NEW YORK" :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Posted by: editoron Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 04:03 PM
CD Releases 10-DVD Box Set Celebrates Career of Legendary Jazz Pianist and Composer

"CHICK COREA: RENDEZVOUS IN NEW YORK" is set to be released on DVD for $99.99 (MSRP) on September 20 by Image Entertainment. This elegantly packaged 10 volume premium box set captures the sweep of Corea's illustrious, limit-stretching four decade career as he brings together world-renowned artists from his groundbreaking past and present ensembles in a musical reunion of unprecedented proportions. This monumental live concert package, shot in stunning 24p High Definition TV and Digital Surround Sound, was produced during the recording of the Grammy-winning double album, "Rendezvous In New York" (Stretch/Concord Records and Universal International), over three consecutive weeks at New York's famed Blue Note jazz club.

The project was directed by David Niles and produced by Ideal Entertainment in association with Colossalvision and Chick Corea Productions. States producer Jon Shapiro, "Our firm specializes in mainstream music and motion picture productions so a project like this was a challenge given the extraordinary artistry and the intimate club environment, yet an incredible honor to be working with Chick and so many talented musicians. From a marketing standpoint, the box set offers something for every jazz enthusiast or music fan and will be solidly positioned at retail for the holidays. It will make a great gift."

"CHICK COREA: RENDEZVOUS IN NEW YORK" captures the prolific pianist and composer in concert for 21 consecutive nights with an impressive roster of musicians familiar to jazz fans worldwide. Offering an unprecedented musical retrospective of classic and contemporary jazz, mixing duos and trios, quartets and ensembles, Corea reunites nine different bands he's led beginning with his first trio of 39 years ago! Career retrospectives are often the province of jazz festivals such as Montreal, JVC NY and Monterey, and performing art center subscription series such as JALC, SF Jazz and Ravinia. But those are usually condensed snapshots; while a consecutive three-week run in a jazz club is more than ambitious, it's virtually groundbreaking and has never been done by an artist of Corea's stature. The box set contains each of the nine bands' performances on an individual DVD with remarks by Corea, and includ! es a bonus DVD, "RENDEZVOUS IN NEW YORK - The Movie", narrated by Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day) which also includes footage of Chick and his fellow band members off stage for rare, intimate reflections on musical partners and creative collaborations.

"CHICK COREA: RENDEZVOUS IN NEW YORK" features duets with long-time collaborators:

o Gary Burton
o Bobby McFerrin
o Gonzalo Rubalcaba
..and trios featuring:
o Chick Corea Akoustic Band (with John Patitucci and Dave Weckl)
o "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" Trio (with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes)
o Remembering Bud Powell Band (with Terence Blanchard, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, and Roy Haynes) well as ensemble performances by:
o Chick Corea & Origin (with Avishai Cohen, Jeff Ballard, Steve Wilson, Steve Davis, and Tim Garland)
o Chick Corea New Trio (with Avishai Cohen and Jeff Ballard)
o Three Quartets Band (with Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd, and Eddie Gomez).

Chick Corea has performed on over 100 albums during the course of his career, with 45 Grammy nominations and 12 Grammy Awards, including Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for "CHICK COREA: RENDEZVOUS IN NEW YORK", of which Billboard Magazine said, "...each (of Corea's collaborations) provides another window into the pianist's boundless ingenuity." Jazz Review hails "Rendezvous In New York" as "one of the most exceptional shows one could hope to see... proof on all fronts that Chick is the ever-evolving genius, whose fire continues to burn".

For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to:

Diana Krall Awarded Order of Canada :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Diana Krall Awarded Order of Canada :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Diana Krall has beened named an Officer of the Order of Canada. And Ranee Lee has been named a Member of the Order of

Other notables;
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, Member Of the Order of Canada
Comedian Steve Smith, Member of the Order of Canada
ABC World News anchor Peter Jennings Member of the Order of Canada

The award was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and
service. It is Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement and has three
levels - Campanion, Officer and Member.
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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Boston Globe > First Carl Smith built an archive of Sonny Rollins recorded live. Then he decided to capture the magic himself.


By Geoff Edgers, Globe Staff | August 28, 2005
Carl Smith wore a plaid shirt that night, the dark pattern hiding the $700 microphones sewn into the fabric. He bought four seats in the second row of the Berklee Performance Center, and told his son and two friends to merely pretend to clap. Their presence would provide a sound buffer for his digital recorder.
It was Sept. 15, 2001, and Smith's mission was to capture jazz legend Sonny Rollins as he's rarely heard on record -- live and uninhibited.
As the lights dimmed, the retired Maine attorney placed the machine, just slightly bigger than an iPod, in his lap to monitor noise levels. Rollins opened the 80-minute first set with ''Without a Song," from his famous 1962 album, ''The Bridge." When Rollins approached the front of the stage, the horn was no more than eight feet from the hidden microphone. At intermission, Smith watched security eject a man trying to record the show. But the 62-year-old grandfather would not be caught.
After the concert, driving home, Smith used an adapter to connect the Digital Audio Tape machine to the car stereo.
''We got it," he remembers telling the others. ''It sounds wonderful."
Four years later, after a steady campaign to earn Rollins's trust, Smith is moving closer to his greater goal, which is to reveal a different side of the last living jazz giant. On Tuesday, Fantasy Records releases ''Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert," a CD documenting the show that took place four days after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
Not only is this the first of Smith's live recordings to go on sale, it also signals a breakthrough in the once icy relationship with the Rollins camp, which has historically frowned on collectors.
And for jazz fans, the release offers a tantalizing proposition that cuts to the heart of the Rollins conundrum. His greatness, some contend, is best heard during his live shows. But of the few Rollins concerts legitimately released, none captures the energy and excitement of the jazz improviser on a great night.
''The best of Carl Smith's stuff is staggering," says Stanley Crouch, the writer who long urged Rollins to trust Smith. ''It actually creates a kind of a reevaluation of what we consider musical creativity. When you hear this, these chumps in hip-hop and rock, they're jokes compared to Sonny Rollins."
A sound collection
Carl Smith, now 66, doesn't call himself a bootlegger. The Sept. 15 concert would be just one of four he recorded between 2001 and April 2003. His main job is serving as a self-appointed archivist who has, over time, acquired more than 350 live recordings of Rollins. They range from a 1949 tape of a 19-year-old Rollins trying a sax at Seymour's Record Shop in Chicago to a concert this past June in Rochester, N.Y.
Smith is part of a small, passionate group of fans who believe that Rollins is at his best on stage, particularly when he doesn't think somebody is recording him.
Hence, the surreptitious tapes. The archive is in Smith's house, which is next to a golf course in South Portland. The space is as neat as an operating room. Correspondence with collectors is filed alphabetically, his list of recordings organized by date.
The Harvard graduate has been a practicing attorney, real estate developer, and, since the early '80s, one of the owners of a high-end stereo company, Transparent Audio. But these days, he's become the ultimate superfan, with the time, money, and ambition to serve his hero. And he doesn't want a cent for his efforts.
There is more than a hint of the obsessive streak that drives all collectors. As a lifelong fan of Bud Powell, Smith acquired every known recording of the late jazz pianist then wrote and paid to publish a book, ''Bouncing With Bud," to document them.
His Rollins fixation began in 2000 on the night Smith saw him in concert for the first time. Going in, Smith respected the artist without feeling particularly passionate about him.
''We got there and about five minutes into the concert I was absolutely transfixed," says Smith. ''I turned to the guy next to me and said, 'We are in the presence of greatness.' And I meant not past greatness. What I was hearing then, in the year 2000, was beyond what I had ever heard before. It was truly a life-changing experience. I went home from that concert as if I had stumbled upon a continent nobody knew about."
As soon as he got home from that first show, Smith sent out e-mails to the network of collectors he had developed during his Powell phase. Send me anything you've got on Rollins, he wrote. Within two months, Smith had 50 tapes. They kept coming. Those he couldn't convert -- such as 11 reels of New York club dates from the early '70s sent by Florida collector Martin Milgrim -- Smith paid to have copied by a local studio.
He also had Bob Ludwig, the Portland-based sound engineer famous for his work with Bruce Springsteen and virtually every modern-day hit maker, remaster a 1980 performance tape from Sweden. The results were stunning, and encouraged Smith to take the next step.
''I wanted to capture the best possible audience recording that had ever been done," Smith says.
During the spring of 2001, Smith chose his target: He would come to Berklee to tape Rollins's September show.
None of this would have pleased Sonny Rollins -- had he known about it. His wife and manager, Lucille, also had strong feelings about bootlegs.
''My wife's reaction was that somebody's taking your work," Rollins said in a recent phone interview from his home in upstate New York.
From the start, Smith had tried to get his message to Rollins, contacting Fantasy Records, Rollins's label, to let it know he would give Rollins the archive so it could be released. He never heard back. So Smith started lobbying different critics. He e-mailed Gary Giddins, an accomplished author and columnist who had pleaded with his readers to see Rollins live. He contacted Crouch, the MacArthur ''genius" grant winner and confidant of Wynton Marsalis.
Smith made each of them sets of highlight discs. Could they help get this stuff released?
Crouch, who was working on a New Yorker profile of Rollins, flew to Maine to hear some of Smith's stash. When he returned, he talked to Rollins.
''I just told him that he was an honest man," Crouch says. ''It was kind of hard for Sonny to believe because, like most musicians of his generation, he's accustomed to people just trying to cheat him. Sonny has no precedent for this. See, it's not like here are a bunch of Carl Smiths running around."
Giddins didn't feel comfortable advocating for Smith with Rollins. But he would write about him. Last August, in Jazz Times, Giddins featured Smith in a column called ''The New Benedettis," referencing the Charlie Parker fan who recorded the late saxophonist's solos during the '40s.
The move backfired. Right after the column, Lucille Rollins sent Crouch an e-mail, which he forwarded. Lucille chastised Giddins for calling Smith ''noble." She warned Smith that she would have people looking for him at concerts, and his tapes would be confiscated. Disappointed, he hung up his microphone.
''I didn't want to do anything to upset the Rollinses," says Smith. ''I went back to just collecting."
Meeting obligations
Last winter, life changed for Sonny Rollins. Lucille, who had been ill, died of complications from a stroke in November. The studio album he had promised Fantasy wasn't done. Smith still doesn't know how or why Rollins came to approach him. But one day, Richard Corsello, Rollins's engineer, contacted Smith. He asked for his tape of the 2001 Berklee show. Rollins was thinking of fulfilling his contract with a live recording.
For Rollins, the performance had been a dramatic experience. When the planes hit the World Trade Center, he was only six blocks away in his Manhattan apartment. Coming downstairs, he saw people on the street starting to panic. He headed back inside and began to practice. The next morning, National Guardsmen came to get Rollins. He clutched his saxophone as he walked down 39 flights of stairs. He did not want to go to Boston.
''I felt shaken up," he says. ''I had gulped a lot of toxic fumes when I stupidly tried to practice that day. I was unsteady on my feet. I was just mentally and physically out of it. But my wife convinced me we should do it. I felt a little rough but once I'm playing, that usually takes precedence over everything else."
Today, the saxman and the archivist are both pleased the concert recording is being released. But neither claim it is Rollins's best.
For the musician, a notoriously tough judge of his own work, there's more practicing to do and future gigs, including next weekend's performance at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox. For Smith, there's the growing relationship with Rollins, who he recently visited in upstate New York to begin talking about future projects.
And there's always the next day's mail, which thanks to word-of-mouth brings new treasures -- a 1978 set from a shrink in Switzerland, a Chicago concert from an English translator in Norway.
On a recent weekday, Smith shares one of his latest finds. He's just had lunch at a favorite spot, on the Portland waterfront.
He pops a CD into the car stereo and the melody starts. Smith pulls into a parking space so he can concentrate. With Casco Bay before him, he turns up the volume knob until the sound of the saxophone fills his Chevy Impala. Carnegie Hall, 1989, he announces. The bootleg recording, which arrived from Belgium this summer in a padded envelope, has never been released to the public.
On the CD, Rollins shares the stage with Branford Marsalis, the former Sting sideman. But this is no friendly duet. On ''Three Little Words," Rollins turns the gig into a ''cutting contest," buzzing the younger player with a series of intense solos. Giddins, writing in the Village Voice, would describe Rollins's playing that night as ''the thunder of Mount Sinai."
''Branford's doing all right," says Smith, starting to narrate the almost 14-minute performance. ''But you'll see what happens when Sonny comes back."
About six and a half minutes in, that moment arrives.
Smith smiles. ''He's just getting started."
I have seen Sonny Rollins perform many times but one performance stands head and shoulders above the rest. It was a performance in Brooklyn, New York at "The East", a black nationalist cultural center which was located off of Fulton Street at 10 Claver Place in the Bedford Stuyversant neighborhood circa 1972-1973. Rollins was on fire that night. It seemed like he was spitting sparks out of his horn on his tune "The Cutting Edge". The audience was on its feet screaming, like they were at an old fashioned, country church revival meeting. I saw Sonny Rollins' greatness that night and I will never forget it -- John H. Armwood

Prestige Records Celebrated Release of "Basquiat Salutes Jazz" :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Prestige Records Celebrated Release of "Basquiat Salutes Jazz" :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Prestige Records Celebrated Release of "Basquiat Salutes Jazz"
Posted by: editoron Sunday, August 28, 2005 - 04:13 PM
Jazz News Brooklyn-born graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was one of the most talked about painters of the 1980s. His canvases portrayed a vibrant merging of African-American culture and hip-hop with wry social commentary. An exhibit of the wunderkind's work opened to rave reviews at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Downtown Los Angeles in July. Basquiat found deep inspiration from music, in particular bebop pioneers like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Breaking from tradition, these music innovators forged a daring new style of jazz that offered greater freedom of expression, much like Basquiat did to reinvent modern painting with his unbridled and anarchic art. Today, "Horn Player, " "Charles The First, " "Trumpet, " Discography One, " and "Discography Two, " all paintings which pay homage to the jazzmen to whom Basquiat felt most connected, are considered among his most compelling works.

To celebrate the release of "Basquiat Salutes Jazz, " a collection of twelve bebop-era tracks that feature many of the artist's heroes and creative muses, Prestige Records hosted a party at MOCA on Saturday, August 27. DJ Viktor Duplaix performed, playing a selection of classic tracks from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Charlie Byrd, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, and Sonny Rollins, all of which are featured on the new CD.

When Basquiat passed from a heroin overdose at the age of 27, in 1988, his father Gerard found over 3, 000 mostly jazz LPs in his son's loft. "Basquiat Salutes Jazz" was created with the help of the painter's father, and the package include many of his most popular, jazz-inspired works, making it easier for the listener to draw parallels between the canvasses and the music.

International Herald Tribune > Gruissan: A perfect blend: Jazz, wine and a château: printer friendly version

Gruissan: A perfect blend: Jazz, wine and a château: printer friendly versionThe International Herald Tribune

Gruissan: A perfect blend: Jazz, wine and a château
By Mike Zwerin Bloomberg News

It so happened that toward the end of July, the trumpet star Roy Hargrove was resting up at Château le Bouïs in southern France for a few days in the middle of a long road trip, between a concert in Cognac and a festival in Baalbek, Lebanon.

Located in Gruissan, south of Narbonne, Château le Bouïs consists of a vineyard, winery, guest house, restaurant and jazz club. It is owned and operated by Alexis Rey and Albane de Keroüartz, a talented and energetic French couple. They have named a line of red, white and rosé wines after their children Hélie, Némo and Zoé. Hargrove is a musician with a large sound in the tradition of Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis.

The word "Bouïs" comes from the ancient Occitan language and means swamp. The Romans produced wine in what was then a swamp on what is now the French Mediterranean coast, not far from the Spanish border. More than 100,000 bottles of the wine, a Corbières, are produced a year and sold mostly in the triangle reaching from Toulouse to Perpignan to Marseille.

At the château, there are two swimming pools, several sculpted courtyards, a two-hectare, or 4.9-acre, pine-studded park and good food and wine. What should look old is impeccably maintained, and what needs to be new is new. But the most unique thing about it is its jazz soul.

Rey and de Keroüartz bought the place in 2001, and the first thing they did was replenish the earth, which had been neglected. "There were no more earthworms in the soil," Rey said. "You need earthworms to make nice grapes. You need nice grapes to make good wine. There's a lot of wind, and it's very sunny and close to the sea. It produces a thick strong wine with a lot of texture. It's expensive to make good wine around here, but I cannot make a wine I don't want to drink."

Rey was born in Paris, he "sailed lots of boats for many years," he played polo and he studied hotel administration at Cornell University in New York State. Living in Madrid and Paris, he produced institutional films for corporations, and when that was over, he said, he did not want to live in a city any more.

Rey and de Keroüartz, who adore rebuilding ruins, met in the Dordogne region, where they made over an old farm and bred horses before constructing their compound in Gruissan. It includes their spacious home built in what had been a 17th-century barn. The three tastefully renovated suites in the guest house rent at 140, or $170, per night, and each can hold a family of three or four.

Seven people work full time at le Bouïs, and there are as many as 25 working on Fridays for the weekly jazz concerts. The concerts do not begin until 10:30 p.m., after dinner, because, Rey said: "The French take eating too seriously to listen to music at the same time. We serve up to a hundred dinners. But some Fridays it's not full at all. It's a risk. I can't pay huge fees; we do jazz for the pleasure, not the money." He added: "Musicians can stay on here for a few days, we are more than happy to do that. There are jam sessions, when people come by with their instruments and play together."

Although his two-day visit to le Bouïs was private (it was not a Friday night), Hargrove was approached by two teenage music students from Gruissan, who, introducing themselves with timidity and charm, asked him if he would jam with them. One was a pianist, the other a drummer.

There is a strong jazz tradition in southern France, where many musicians would rather remain local than move away from the nice part of the world they live in. Rey programs the concerts, and he sends hundreds of e-mails announcing them. While he says he's proud of providing a sort of home for the many good players in the region, he also acknowledges that the château's jazz connection helps its wine stand out from the competition.

After fetching his trumpet from his room, Hargrove was soon playing a succession of easy standards like "Summertime" with the youngsters. They had a lot to learn; there were wrong notes and dropped beats. Yet they were having so much fun playing with Hargrove that it didn't matter.

The trumpeter kept it simple - he remained in his soulful lower register, he did not run fancy chords or double-up the time. He made sure that everybody always knew where "one" was. It was generous of him. There were maybe 20 people in the audience.

After Rey made a midnight-hour call for rhythmic support, Hélène Danto, a fine bassist and a new mother who was staying with her parents in Gruissan, arrived, and the jam session went on until 3 a.m. By the end, the ambience could be described as warm and cool at the same time. There was a kind of relaxed empathy that was close to the heart of what jazz is supposed to be all about.

It made you want to celebrate by ordering another bottle of Hélie, Némo or Zoé. It might be called corporate synergy.

NPR : Keter Betts, Reflecting on a Life in Jazz

NPR : Keter Betts, Reflecting on a Life in JazzKeter Betts, Reflecting on a Life in Jazz

Listen to this story...

Morning Edition, August 8, 2005 · Jazz musician Keter Betts died Saturday in Maryland. He was 77. His bass could be heard on more than 100 albums, including three solo efforts. In 2003, he spoke with NPR for the series Musicians in Their Own Words.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Globe and Mail: Dazed by Dizzy

The Globe and Mail: Dazed by DizzySkip navigation

Dazed by Dizzy- By GENE LEES

Saturday, August 27, 2005 Page D8

Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie

By Donald L. Maggin

HarperCollins, 422 pages, $37.95

When the Second World War ended, what was deemed a revolution came to jazz. Primarily the inspiration of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, it had an enormous and disorienting effect on jazz musicians and fans alike. Some loved it, some hated it; among the latter were Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong, whose animus lay in the fact that they not only couldn't play it, they couldn't even understand it. Contemptuously called "Chinese music" by some, it wasn't helped by the nickname attached to it: bebop, a term that trivialized the music and, to an extent, still does.

So, for that matter, did the nickname given to John Birks Gillespie: Dizzy. His friends, for the most part, called him Birks. He was an extraordinarily funny man, more so onstage than off, where he was, for the most part, thoughtful and serious, and inordinately kind and generous with his knowledge, the great teacher. He once told me, "I don't know that I know that much, but what I do know, I'm willing to share."

He was occasionally -- by younger and militant black musicians -- called an Uncle Tom, but that he was not. He simply loved to be the merry Andrew on stage, not as sycophancy, but because he liked to make people laugh. He once told me, "If making people laugh makes them more receptive to my music, then I'm going to do it, and I don't care what anyone says."

By those who knew him well, he was more than liked, more than respected: He was loved.

For all the deserved reverence accorded Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, I believe that Dizzy was the greatest jazz musician who ever lived, and one of the greatest musicians of any kind who ever lived. Dizzy was pure genius, equally dazzling in his powers of invention and execution.

But when in high school in St. Catharines, Ont., I heard my first Parker-Gillespie record -- it was Salt Peanuts, a classic example of the hilarious Dadaism Dizzy scattered to the winds -- I thought they were crazy. Some of my friends, however, did not, especially a young trumpet player, Kenny Wheeler, who went on to become a major figure on his instrument and as a composer. If Kenny took Bird, as Parker was called, and Dizzy seriously, I felt it behooved me to find out what he heard in them. When it hit me, it hit me hard.

Reflections on these and collateral matters have come with the issue within weeks of two things. One is a Gillespie-Parker CD of material largely unissued and unknown, drawn from a concert they did in New York's Town Hall on June 22, 1945, with Al Haig on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach or (on two tracks) Sidney Catlett on drums. The CD is on Uptown Records (P.O. Box 394, Whitehall, Mich., 49461, U.S.A.), and that so monumentally important a record could be issued by an almost unknown label, when the major labels are doing almost nothing to the arts but damage, is a tragedy. The other is a biography by Donald L. Maggin, Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie.

It contains some good stuff, especially Maggin's exploration of Dizzy's brutalized childhood and roots, going back to the Yoruba people of Africa. British writer and musician Alyn Shipton's 1999 biography Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie did not uncover this much of Dizzy's family background. He avoided technical discussions the reader would not understand. Maggin does address them, and the result is dismaying. It lies in the author's ignorance of music, music theory and music history. Maggin is neither a journalist nor a musician. In fact, he is a creature of politics; he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee during Jimmy Carter's presidency.

There are two (at least) cardinal sins a writer can commit: One is to assume knowledge of the subject in the reader; the other is to assume lack of it. Maggin manages to commit both in the same book.
The centre of the problem is Chapter 11, in which Maggin presumes that every reader is ignorant of harmony and must be taught its essence. It is, of course, a study in which musicians often invest years. And he knows little about it. The chapter is written like pronouncements from Olympus. I had the feeling all the way through that someone had tried to explain the subject to him, probably with a tape recorder running, after which he dutifully transcribed it. So I did some checking.

Donald Maggin took two or three lessons from Jill McManus, a respected New York pianist with a background as a journalist at Time magazine. Mike Longo, who played piano for Dizzy over a period of 20 years and was his close friend, gave Maggin several dissertations, which he taped, on bebop harmony and the change from what had gone before. After these lessons, he presumes to teach us about the harmonic innovations of Gillespie and Parker, which are not innovations at all.

Dizzy once talked with critic and journalist Doug Ramsey about this. Ramsey recalled, "I asked him how harmony changed in the transition to bop, and he said that bop harmonies were not new, that the chord applications he, Bird, Bud Powell and the others used had all been done by Stravinsky, Bartók and Ravel. I believe he also mentioned Shostakovich. He said that what really changed with bop was rhythm, and that rhythm -- he didn't use the word 'swing' -- was the most important element in jazz."

Maggin creates the impression that what was done in bebop was unprecedented. Not true, and the "technical" chapter on this subject is, as one musician put it, "eerily naive." The more significant revolution is, as Dizzy said, rhythmic. It was disconcerting when you heard it for the first time, those displacements, phrases starting and stopping in unexpected places.

Maggin writes passages which, after reading them, Allyn Ferguson, film composer and former composition teacher at Stanford, called "gobbledegook." In the egregious Chapter 11, Maggin tells us tthat "the early bebop players loved to spin out lines [his italics, not mine] of notes, melodic statements of odd lengths that ignored the boundaries of bars." So did Artie Shaw and, as Shaw once told me, "In the Mozart A-major quintet, I can show you a phrase that's 11 bars long followed by one that's nine, and they're completely organic."

About the flatted fifth chord that Parker and Gillespie liked, and which mid-1940s lay writers loved to make fun of, Maggin says, "Dizzy discovered the magic of the interval in 1938. . . . The flatted fifth divides the octave exactly in half; for example, a G-flat is equidistant from the two Cs that frame its octave." Oh wow! And did you know that the Earth isn't flat?

The flatted fifth is used mainly in dominant chords. Maggin doesn't mention that a G-7 flat five actually contains not one but two tritones. I guess he never noticed.

If you are a lay reader and don't know what a tritone is, but you are familiar with the West Side Story score, try singing the song Maria. It begins with a tritone: "Mah-reeeeee . . ." The tritone -- once known as "the devil in music" and forbidden in early polyphony -- was not infrequent in the arias of Mozart. And composer Hale Smith assures me that the minor seventh flat-five chord, sometimes called half-diminished, supposedly pioneered by Thelonious Monk (and one of the most poignant chords in all music), also goes back to Mozart.

Maggin gets all bent out of shape over the chromaticism of bebop, again suggesting (by omission of any mention of precedents) that it was introduced by Parker, Gillespie, et al. Apparently he has never heard of Bizet's Variations chromatiques de concert, or Bach's Chromatic Fantasy, written in 1720. Guitarist Jimmy Raney once showed me in a piece of Bach's, a perfect tone row à la Schoenberg, using all 12 tones without a repeat, and that's about as chromatic as you can get. In the early part of the 14th century, the full chromatic scale was discussed by theorists, and it was introduced by Adrian Willaert (1480-1562) and his pupil Cypriano de Rore (1516-65).

Much of the rest of the book recounts material we have already heard, and we can certainly do without yet another resurrection of the story that Charlie Parker saw a dead chicken on the road ahead, stopped, picked it up and cooked it, thereby acquiring the name Yardbird, then Bird. It isn't even certain that the story is true.

Toward the end of the book, Maggin falls into eye-glazing accounts of record dates, personnel and itineraries.

But the problem with biography is that it is subjective, even when written by the most disciplined scholar -- which Maggin is not -- and no form of it is more subjective than autobiography, which is inevitably self-protective. Since much history depends on autobiography, and since much information is lost forever anyway, we are compelled to genuflect to Voltaire's aphorism that history is an agreed-upon fiction. I don't think Dizzy's own autobiography, To Be Or Not To Bop, can be considered reliable. If nothing else, his humility and deference to Parker makes some of it questionable. The disservice done by Maggin's book is that it will be quoted by future writers.

Charlie Parker has been accorded more honour than Dizzy, but Dizzy was the great teacher and disseminator. Parker died young of his narcotics habit and drinking. It is easier to praise those who seemed to be miserable than those who lived well, and they make for more dramatic movies, such as Bird (about Parker), Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday) and Lenny (Lenny Bruce). Dizzy lived well, with his loving wife Lorraine, into a goodly age, and died with friends such as trumpeter Jon Faddis at his side, and one of his records, an excellent compendium of his mature work called Dizzy's Diamonds, playing near his bed.

But if you want to know what the mid-1940s furor was about, get the Town Hall record. I consider it a major piece of musical documentation.

Dorothy Parker once wrote of a book that it should not be casually tossed aside: "It should be thrown with great force." One is tempted to say the same of Maggin's biography.

Well, it's not quite that bad.

Four times winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, Canadian author Gene Lees has written 16 books on music, including biographies of Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman and, most recently, Johnny Mercer. He lives in California.

Friday, August 26, 2005

D.C. Jazz Band Leader Charlie Hampton, 75, Dies

D.C. Jazz Band Leader Charlie Hampton, 75, DiesD.C. Jazz Band Leader Charlie Hampton, 75, Dies

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 26, 2005; B04

Charlie Hampton, 75, the last leader of the house band at the Howard Theater and a mainstay of the Washington jazz community for decades, died Aug. 17 at Crescent Cities Center, a Riverdale nursing home. He had Alzheimer's disease.

A talented all-around musician who performed professionally on piano, flute, clarinet and four kinds of saxophones, Mr. Hampton -- known to his colleagues as "Hamp" -- was a skilled arranger, composer and conductor who led bands in Washington for more than 40 years.

In 1964, the owner of the Howard Theater, Morton Gerber, chose Mr. Hampton from the saxophone section to replace Rick Henderson as leader of the theater's resident orchestra. One of the reasons Mr. Hampton was selected, Gerber later said, was that he didn't make derogatory comments about other candidates for the job.

For seven seasons, Mr. Hampton led the 16-piece band at the Howard, then in its final years as the leading entertainment showcase of Washington's black community. His days began with morning rehearsals, included at least four performances in the afternoon and evening and often didn't end until the final curtain fell well after midnight.

"The band used to do an opening of jazz tunes," he told The Washington Post in 1984. "It was fantastic, the balcony and everything was filled."

Mr. Hampton and his band, a racially integrated ensemble that included many of the region's finest musicians, had to be ready to perform anything from headlong swing to intricate jazz to the popular R&B and funk music of the day. Capable of working quickly and gifted with an unerring musical ear, he wrote arrangements for many leading performers.

Among the hundreds of noteworthy singers and musicians he worked with at the Howard were Sarah Vaughan, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Bobby Darin, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Billy Eckstine, Pearl Bailey, Otis Redding and the Temptations.

"Sometimes they would come in with no music," recalled Steve Novosel, who played bass in the Howard Theater band when Mr. Hampton took over as director. "He would sometimes have to arrange for the band with an hour's notice."

Mr. Hampton joined the Howard Theater saxophone section in 1957 and seldom left Washington after that. He never recorded an album as a leader, yet he was well known to other prominent musicians. In a 2001 article for Regardie's magazine, he recalled that his band opened a concert at Lorton Correctional Complex that was headlined by Duke Ellington.

"When we played the last song," Mr. Hampton said, "Ellington came over . . . and said, 'I don't know what to play. You already played everything.' "

Charles Hampton was born Feb. 8, 1930, in Greenville, S.C., and by 16 he was playing saxophone in his father's swing band. In the late 1940s, he came to Washington to attend Howard University, where he studied classical music and played clarinet.

"Man, they were tough," he recalled of his Howard teachers. "I wanted to improvise on a tune, and they told me, 'Mr. Hampton, you want to go and improvise on Beethoven? You are at the wrong school.' "

He later graduated from the old Modern School of Music in Washington and played in an Army band from 1953 to 1957. While in the Army, he studied at the Mozart Conservatory in Salzburg, Austria, and learned to do orchestrations.

After the Howard Theater stopped presenting live music in 1970, Mr. Hampton began a long career as a music teacher at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a maximum-security psychiatric hospital in Jessup. He staged monthly talent contests for his students, who were escorted to his class by armed guards, and planned the music for Sunday church services at the hospital, often performing himself.

Although he appeared most often as a pianist in local clubs, Mr. Hampton considered the alto saxophone his primary instrument. He modeled his style after that of bebop pioneer Charlie "Bird" Parker, whom he resembled.

"Charlie Hampton was the spitting image of Charlie Parker," said Novosel, who first worked with Mr. Hampton in 1962. "He could have been his twin brother. He played the saxophone like an angel, and some guys even called him 'Bird.' "

Over the years, he appeared at the White House, twice led concerts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and was a fixture at the Blues Alley, Twins and One Step Down jazz clubs. He continued to perform until December 2001.

Mr. Hampton lived in Northeast Washington before moving to his sister's home in Riverdale in the past couple of years. His marriage to Shirley Harris ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children, Ronald Lamont Hampton of Riverdale and Beverly Crowder of Washington; two sisters, Virginia Joy Williams of Laurel and Mildred Ann Ellis of Glenn Dale; a brother, William Henry Hampton of Greenville; and five grandchildren.

Some of his fellow musicians said they believe Mr. Hampton would have been recognized as one of the top saxophonists of his time had he settled in the jazz capital, New York.

"If Charlie had gone on, he would have been right at the top," singer Dick Smith said. "He was a great musician."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Simply, the best

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Simply, the bestSimply, the best

Joyce Wein's life & death area model for all of us to follow

Joyce Alexander Wein, wife of jazz impresario George Wein, was laid to rest last week in New York at a very unusual funeral. What one comes to expect at a funeral for someone connected to jazz is a lot self-aggrandizement in which the speakers reveal more about their obsessions than they do about the one considered the dearly departed.

This was so different that it seemed a high point in the culture of our time because the ceremony and the speakers gave vent to their affection for a black woman who was so far outside the stereotypes that burden the educated, the middle class and the sophisticated black people who rise to positions of authority or prominence. They are too often considered inauthentic unless they cannot speak the English language or seem no more sophisticated than a badly cooked pot of chitlins or some low-grade corn bread.

Born in 1928, Joyce Alexander Wein was from the black middle class of Boston. When she married her Jewish husband in 1959, he was the one who rose socially and developed layers of taste and understanding from her, which is so often reversed in the conventional tale of the Jewish guy who marries the black woman and educates her in the finer things of life.

Joyce Alexander had graduated from high school at 15 and from college as a chemistry major four years later. She loved literature, knew much about painting and was not a woman who suffered either the limited expectations or the racism of her time in silence. As is traditional at jazz funerals, there was a level of integration that we see too little of when great souls are lost in the worlds of literature, dance, theater, concert music and film. As one person pointed out, the gathering was integrated in the way that Joyce Wein's personality and intellect were integrated. She was everything that she liked - the joy and variety of jazz, the sweep of literature, the craft of painting, the nuance of cuisine, the discipline common to all people of achievement, the dignity of the species and the great sense of humor that we Americans all know in our very special way.

Jazz has always celebrated the individual at the same time as it ultimately values group cooperation, and it has been on the front line of integration in the most important ways. In the world of jazz, one gets recognition not for one's color or background but for what one can create alone and in combination with others.

Joyce Alexander Wein represented the best of jazz and the best of American womanhood because she never took a backseat to anyone. She sat in the front and brought as many people to the first row as she could whenever she could. That was her greatness, and that was what she stood for, because she believed much more in fairness than in favors. She was a model for our nation.

Originally published on August 21, 2005

St. Louis Jazz Notes

St. Louis Jazz Notes

Still more jazz blogs you may enjoy

Live Music Blog: Synthesizer Creator Robert Moog 1934-2005

Live Music Blog: Synthesizer Creator Robert Moog 1934-2005ug 23, 05
Synthesizer Creator Robert Moog 1934-2005

Edgar Winter, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Devo, Kraftwerk, P-Funk, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer, Gary Numan, They Might Be Giants and Bernie Worrell: These are just some of the many acts that wouldn’t be what they are today without the man below, Robert Moog.

I’m almost guaranteeing an impromptu Moogfest sometime soon. So stay tuned for any announcements. Rest in synthesized peace, Mr. Moog.

See also: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer

The New York Times’ obit:

Robert Moog, the creator of the electronic music synthesizer that bears his name and that became ubiquitous among experimental composers as well as rock musicians in the 1960’s and 70’s, died on Sunday at his home in Asheville, N.C. He was 71.

The cause was an inoperable brain tumor, discovered in April, his daughter Michelle Moog-Koussa said.

At the height of his synthesizer’s popularity, when progressive rock bands like Yes, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Emerson, Lake and Palmer built their sounds around the assertive, bouncy, exotically wheezy and occasionally explosive timbres of Mr. Moog’s instruments, his name (which rhymes with vogue) became so closely associated with electronic sound that it was often used generically, if incorrectly, to describe synthesizers of all kinds.

More recently, hip-hop groups like the Beastie Boys and rock bands with more experimentalist leanings, from They Might Be Giants to Wilco, have revived an interest in the early Moog synthesizer timbres. Partly because of this renewed interest, Mr. Moog and his instruments were the subjects of a documentary, “Moog,” which opened in the fall of 2004. In an interview last year with The New York Times, Hans Fjellestad, who directed the film, likened Mr. Moog to Les Paul and Leo Fender, who are widely regarded as the fathers of the electric guitar.

“He embodies that sort of visionary, maverick spirit and that inventor mythology,” Mr. Fjellestad said at the time.

Mr. Moog’s earliest instruments were collections of modules better suited to studio work than live performance, and as rock bands adopted them, he expanded his line to include the Minimoog and the Micromoog, instruments that could be used more easily on stage. He also expanded on his original monophonic models, which played only a single musical line at a time, creating polyphonic instruments that allowed for harmony and counterpoint.

Even so, by the end of the 1970’s, Mr. Moog’s instruments were being supplanted by those of competing companies like Arp, Aries, Roland and Emu, which produced synthesizers that were less expensive, easier to use and more portable. (Those instruments, in turn, were displaced in the 1980’s by keyboard-contained digital devices by Kurzweil, Yamaha and others.)

In 1978, Mr. Moog moved from western New York to North Carolina, where he started a new company, Big Briar (later Moog Music), that produced synthesizer modules and alternative controllers - devices other than keyboards, with which a musician could play electronic instruments. His particular specialty was the Ethervox, a version of the theremin, an eerie-toned instrument created by the Russian inventor Leon Theremin, in the 1920’s, that allows performers to create pitches by moving their hands between two metal rods.

It was the theremin, in fact, that got Mr. Moog interested in electronic music when he was a child in the 1940’s. In 1949, when he was 14, he built a theremin from plans he found in a magazine, Electronics World. He tinkered with the instrument until he produced a design of his own, in 1953, and in 1954 he published an article on the theremin in “Radio and Television News,” and started the R. A. Moog Company, which sold his theremins and theremin kits.

Mr. Moog was born in New York City on May 23, 1934, and although he studied the piano while he was growing up in Flushing, Queens, his real interest was physics. He attended the Bronx High School of Science, and earned undergraduate degrees in physics from Queens College and electrical engineering from Columbia University.

By the time he completed his Ph.D. in engineering physics at Cornell University in 1965, his theremin business had taken off, and he had started working with Herbert Deutsch, a composer, on his first synthesizer modules. Mr. Moog was familiar with the huge synthesizers in use at Columbia University and at RCA and that European composers were experimenting with; his goal was to create instruments that were both more compact and accessible to musicians.

The first Moog synthesizers were collections of modules, connected by electronic patch cords, something like those that connect stereo components. The first module, an oscillator, would produce a sound wave, giving a musician a choice of several kinds, ranging from the gracefully undulating purity of a sine wave to the more complex, angular or abrasive sounds of square and sawtooth waves. The wave was sent to the next module, called an A.D.S.R. (attack-decay-sustain-release) envelope generator, with which the player defined the way a note begins and ends, and how long it is held. A note might, for example, explode in a sudden burst, like a trumpet blast, or it could fade in at any number of speeds. From there, the sound went to a third module, a filter, which was used to shape its color and texture.

Using these modules, and others that Mr. Moog went on to create, a musician could either imitate acoustic instruments, or create purely electronic sounds. A keyboard, attached to this setup, let the performer control when the oscillator produced a tone, and at what pitch.

“Artist feedback drove all my development work,” Mr. Moog said in an interview with Salon in 2000. “The first synthesizers I made were in response to what Herb Deutsch wanted. The now-famous Moog filter was suggested by several musicians. The so-called A.D.S.R. envelope, which is now a basic element in all contemporary synthesizers and programmable keyboard instruments, was originally specified in 1965 by Vladimir Ussachevsky, then head of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. The point is that I don’t design stuff for myself. I’m a toolmaker. I design things that other people want to use.”

University music schools quickly established electronic music labs built around the Moog synthesizer, and composers like Richard Teitelbaum, Dick Hyman and Walter Carlos (who later had a sex-change operation and is now Wendy Carlos) adopted them. For most listeners, though, it was a crossover album, Walter Carlos’s “Switched-On Bach,” that ushered the instrument into the spotlight. A collection of Bach transcriptions, meticulously recorded one line at a time, “Switched-On Bach” was meant to persuade casual listeners who regarded synthesizers as random noise machines that the instrument could be used in thoroughly musical ways. The album’s sequels included the haunting Purcell and Beethoven transcriptions used in the Stanley Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange.”

Rock groups were attracted to the Moog as well. The Monkees used the instrument as early as 1967, on their “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd.” album. In early 1969, George Harrison, of the Beatles, had a Moog synthesizer installed in his home, and released an album of his practice tapes, “Electronic Sound,” that May. The Beatles used the synthesizer to adorn several tracks on the “Abbey Road” album, most notably John Lennon’s “Because,” Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and Paul McCartney’s “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

Among jazz musicians, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer and Sun Ra adopted the synthesizer quickly. And with the advent of progressive rock, in the early 1970’s, the sound of the Moog synthesizer and its imitators became ubiquitous.

In 1971, Mr. Moog sold his company, Moog Music, to Norlin Musical Instruments, but he continued to design instruments for the company until 1977. When he moved to North Carolina, in 1978, he started Big Briar, to make new devices, and he renamed the company Moog Music when he bought back the name in 2002. He also worked as a consultant and vice president for new product research at Kurzweil Music Systems, from 1984 to 1988.

His first marriage, to Shirleigh Moog, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Ileana; his children, Laura Moog Lanier, Matthew Moog, Michelle Moog-Koussa, Renee Moog and Miranda Richmond; and five grandchildren.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jazz got a bad rap in its time, too :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Jazz got a bad rap in its time,

Jazz got a bad rap in its time, too :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Jazz got a bad rap in its time, too
Posted by: editoron Sunday, August 21, 2005 - 10:40 AM
Guest columnist

A leading African-American newspaper published a series of articles assailing black musicians for holding back the race. The music “is killing some people,” the paper claimed. “Some are going insane; others are losing their religion.” The artists under attack were not rappers such as 50 Cent or Ludacris, but Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

“The young girls and boys who constantly take jazz every day and night are absolutely becoming bad, and some criminals,” the (New York) Amsterdam News wrote in 1925.

There is a long but little-known history of African-American leaders denouncing black popular music as self-destructive and an impediment to integration, a history that continues in the current campaign against rap. This is unfortunate, because rap, like older forms of black popular music now considered to be “America’s classical music,” is distinctive and important because it differs from the norms of “respectable” culture.

Last month, when Lil’ Kim was sentenced to prison for lying to a grand jury about a shooting, her raps were also indicted as an obstacle to black progress. “Her music is laced with lyrics that glorify promiscuous sex and gratuitous violence,” wrote DeWayne Wickham, a nationally syndicated columnist and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “She is a Pied Piper of the worst kind — a diva of smut.”

The criticisms of Lil’ Kim were launched amid an anti-rap movement that began in March, soon after shots were fired by the rival entourages of 50 Cent and the Game outside a New York radio station. Al Sharpton demanded that the Federal Communications Commission ban violent rappers from radio and television, and he launched a boycott against Universal Music Group, which he accused of “peddling racist and misogynistic black stereotypes” through rap music.

Sharpton expressed special concern about white perceptions of African Americans. Rappers and their corporate supporters “make it easy for black culture to be dismissed by the majority,” he said, and the large white fan base “has learned through rap images to identify black male culture with a culture of violence.”

Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition signed on to the boycott, as did Princeton Professor Cornel West, who issued a statement claiming that music companies and rappers made it easy for whites to “view black bodies and black souls as less moral, oversexed and less intelligent.”

These critics argue that the “damaging” images of African-Americans in rap discourage whites from opening the door to full citizenship. Yet a consideration of the troubled relationship between civil-rights leaders and black popular music in the past might give pause to the opponents of contemporary rap, and, for that matter, to the proponents of integration. In fact, blues, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and rhythm and blues were all denounced by advocates for racial integration, and for the same reasons rap is now under attack.

In the 1920s, several civil-rights leaders were so concerned about the sexual and violent content of popular blues and jazz songs that they established a record company to “undertake the job of elevating the musical taste of the race.” Promoted by W.E.B. DuBois and A. Philip Randolph, two of the most important civil-rights leaders of the 20th century, Black Swan Records pledged to distribute “the Better Class of Records by Colored Artists,” which meant recordings of “respectable” European classical music.

Civil-rights leaders similarly opposed the next creations of African-American musicians: rock ’n’ roll and rhythm and blues. In the 1950s, Martin Luther King Jr. told African-Americans to shun the new music, which, he said, “plunges men’s minds into degrading and immoral depths.” Likewise, Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which produced a great portion of the civil-rights leadership, condemned rock and R&B for their overt sexuality and their “degrading portrayal of Negro womanhood.”

This history suggests that the cause of integration has always been at odds with what is now widely hailed as America’s most important contribution to world culture. Many scholars argue that the creators of jazz, blues, rock and R&B were great because of their willingness and ability to work outside European cultural forms and to speak about elements of the human condition that white artists would not, such as sex and violence.

Those who attack the latest form of black popular music for the sake of racial unity and “respectability” might stop to consider which side, in the history that will be written of this time, they wish to be on.

Mr. Russell is a professor of history and American studies at Barnard College in New York. He wrote this column for the Los Angeles Times.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 President's Challenge charity concert to feature jazz piece by Thai king
By Channel NewsAsia's Indo-China Correspondent May Ying Welsh

BANGKOK : A charity jazz concert, which will feature a piece composed by the King of Thailand, is heading to Singapore.

It will be part of the annual President's Challenge fund-raising drive.

Called "Jazz to Say Thank You", it will also pay tribute to Singapore President S.R. Nathan's fund-raising efforts.

Jeremy Monterio is the Singaporean musician behind the concert.

The Singapore charity gala will feature world-renowned jazz musician Jeremy and 14 other Singaporean jazz enthusiasts.

In their repertoire is a piece specially composed by the King of Thailand.

Jeremy said: "I picked this song because I just like the harmony. It has a very natural flow, he writes very lilting melodies."

Jeremy admits he may have to give up his title as the "King of Swing" to someone a little more royal.

"He is the real king of swing," he said.

The Thai King is a huge jazz fan and an accomplished saxophonist, who has jammed with giants like Count Basie and Benny Goodman.

He is also a prolific composer.

Jeremy added: "I think he is a wonderful composer and what I like about his melodies is that it can be translated into so many different arrangement styles, it can be played like a ballad or it can be done as a Bossa Nova."

Singapore's ambassador to Thailand Chan Heng Wing had worked with Jeremy for two years to arrange a similar concert in Bangkok.

But the Thai King never got a chance to see the concert due to the tsunami disaster.

Now, President Nathan and Singaporeans who have booked their tickets will be treated to the royal performance instead. - CNA/de

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Musician Theodore Harris dies at 70:- - Entertainment News -

Musician Theodore Harris dies at 70:- - Entertainment News - News >> Entertainment

Musician Theodore Harris dies at 70:-
DETROIT | August 17, 2005 10:11:48 PM IST

Theodore Harris Jr., a pianist and saxophonist whose work ranged from Motown to bebop, died of prostate cancer in a Detroit hospital at the age of 70.

Harris worked with Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, the Temptations and the Supremes. He was one of the greats in the Detroit jazz scene, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a 1993 interview, Harris said his musical course was set at the age of 7 when he first heard Duke Ellington.

That's my life, Harris said at the time. That's all I ever wanted to be.

Harris also was an arranger, bandleader, composer, conductor instrumentalist and educator.

His most lasting contribution may be the New Breed Bebop Society Orchestra he formed in 1983 for kids coming home every day with their instruments and no place to play them after they leave school.

The upcoming Detroit International Jazz Festival during the Labor Day weekend will be dedicated to Harris, who died Monday at a Detroit veterans' hospital.

Michael Brecker needs help :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily

Michael Brecker needs help :: : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily Michael Brecker needs help
Posted by: syoshiion Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - 03:03 PM
Jazz News Here is the mail from Susan Brecker, Michael's wife;

Dear Family and Friends,

My husband, Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), and it's critical that he undergoes a stem cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match. Michael's doctors have told us that we need to immediately explore ALL possible options. This involves getting as many people of a similar genetic background to be tested.

There are some important points to understand concerning this process:

1. The screening involves a blood test only. It can be done very quickly either at a marrow donation center or at a LOCAL LAB. The cost is anywhere from $40 to $75 and your insurance may cover it. (In NYC, you can call Frazier, at the NY Blood Bank, at 212-570-3441, and make an appointment for HLA typing. It costs $40.00.) Check with your local blood bank, or go to to find the donor center nearest you.

2. Your blood typing information can be posted on the international registry, if you choose, where it would also be available to others in need of a transplant. BEING ON THE REGISTRY DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO DONATE, it just means that you may be ASKED to do so. You can take your name off the registry at any time.

3. Should you be selected as a potential donor for Michael, please understand that there have been tremendous advances in bone marrow transplants and the term itself can be misleading. Bone marrow donation is no more invasive than giving blood. Stem cells are simply harvested from your blood and then transplanted to Michael.

4. A match for Michael would be most likely to come from those of Eastern European Jewish descent. If you or anyone you know are in this category please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately, you would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many more who are in a similar situation as my husband.

5. You are now part of our internet-based drive for donor testing. If everyone who receives this can motivate a bunch of their friends to get tested, and those friends then forward this email to get their friends to get tested, we will have rapidly expanded the pool of potential donors. I urge all of you to get tested AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Any local blood center/Red Cross center can assist in organizing a drive for Michael, although it would be desirable if you can get a large group, e.g. a synagogue, to sponsor it. Should you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Michael's management office at 212.302.9200 or

Thank you so much for your love and support.

We are so grateful.

Susan xo

Jazz festival fixture Joyce Wein dies

Jazz festival fixture Joyce Wein diesJazz festival fixture Joyce Wein dies

By M. Catherine Callahan/Daily News staff

Some area residents are among the music and art lovers around the world mourning the death of Joyce Alexander Wein, a biochemist, philanthropist and art collector best known as the wife and business partner of George Wein, the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival.

Joyce Wein died Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital after battling cancer. She was 76.

"I will remember her as the lady behind the genius," local singer Saucy Sylvia said Tuesday.

Sylvia and her husband, Mike Mureddu, have known the Weins for decades and last saw them in October 2004 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, at the unveiling of a bronze sculpture celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival. Rep. Paul W. Crowley, D-Newport, led the effort to create the bronze piece, which depicts George Wein sitting at a piano and salutes the producer/musician as someone who "propels the genius in others and so finds his own."

Crowley said Joyce Wein's face lit up when she saw the piece, which was created by Boston sculptor Robert Shure.

"You could tell when you were around them that they were a couple very deeply in love," Crowley said of the Weins, who were married in 1959. "She was a beautiful woman. She struck me as a very articulate, very well-read person."

Jean Babcock of Portsmouth and Joyce Wein, then Joyce Alexander, were classmates at Simmons College in Boston. Babcock studied nursing and Wein studied chemistry, graduating in 1948 at the age of 19. She had a career as a biochemist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and later at Columbia Medical School in New York before she married Wein and became his partner in the production of the Newport Jazz Festival, the Newport Opera Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Hampton Jazz Festival and the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France.

Babcock said she last saw her college classmate at a mini-reunion held in Mystic, Conn., several years ago. Wein entertained her sisters from Simmons with stories about the early days of the music festivals she and her husband produced.

"She was a great gal and she was lots of fun," Babcock said.

In 1963, Joyce and George Wein joined Pete and Toshi Seeger to found the Newport Folk Festival.

"She was so loved in Newport ... everybody loved her in Newport," George Wein said about his wife during a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. "When we had the folk festivals, she organized the feeding, the meals, for over 100 people. She organized the sleeping, booked the hotels and all the other places everybody used to stay.

"She was involved with everything we did up there," Wein continued. "She made friends in the community, where we needed friends."

Emily Oxx and her husband, retired Newport police officer Charlie Oxx, were among those Joyce Wein befriended in Newport. The Weins rented the cottage located behind the Oxxs' home on Eustis Avenue in the early days of the festivals; in later years, performers often stayed there.

Joyce Wein had little time to spare, Emily Oxx recalled, but occasionally the two women chitchatted over cups of coffee in Oxx's kitchen.

"She was out all the time; we never had a chance to establish a close relationship," Emily Oxx said. "But it was pleasant, a very nice friendship. I liked her tremendously. She just had a lovely, charming way."

Gordon Sweeney and Leon S. Jackson have been backstage fixtures at the jazz and folk festivals for decades. Both said they were fond of Joyce Wein and saddened by news of her death.

"Back in the old days, after the shows were over, she hosted a late-night supper for the staff and the crew," Sweeney said. "She was a very good hostess."

Jackson said Wein was a compassionate woman who afforded many "little kindnesses" to those associated with the festivals. She was concerned about people's comfort and made sure there was always plenty of fresh water and good food for the performers and the staff to enjoy throughout the day, he said.

He recalled the year she asked him to pick up baskets of sweet, local corn and to cook it backstage so that the musicians and crew could help themselves throughout the day.

"She was a very warm and considerate person," Jackson said. "She touched a lot of hearts."

Funeral services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in New York City.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Brubeck and Marsalis Perform at Festival
Associated Press Writer

August 16, 2005, 4:19 PM EDT

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Dave Brubeck and Wynton Marsalis have often crossed paths over the years, but at this year's JVC Jazz Festival-Newport, the two jazz stars finally got a chance to perform together.

On Saturday, Marsalis' quintet played a set of tunes from last year's album, "The Magic Hour," and the trumpeter returned on the festival's closing day to sit in with Brubeck's quartet for two tunes.

Marsalis' trumpet warmly caressed the George Gershwin ballad "Embraceable You" -- enhanced by Brubeck's sensitive piano accompaniment. And they surprised the audience by closing the set not with the Brubeck quartet's signature tune, "Take Five," but with a rollicking version of the Duke Ellington Orchestra's theme, "Take the `A' Train."

That drew a standing ovation from the crowd filling the field in front of the main stage set against the stone walls of the 19th-century Fort Adams, punctuated by horn blasts from fans in their boats anchored in Narragansett Bay.

"We've seen each other a lot of times, but it's the first time we had played ... and it was great," Marsalis, 43, told The Associated Press after Sunday's set. "Nobody really plays like Dave now. ... It was warm and down-home and just felt good.

"I've always loved Dave as a man and as a musician ... he's always just a gentleman, a man with a dignity."

The 84-year-old Brubeck, who has performed at the Newport festival more times than any other musician over the past half-century, said he and Marsalis found an instant rapport.

"We immediately gelled and we both were hearing things together and feeling the beat together," said Brubeck, who is composing the missing portions for four sections of Mozart's "Mass in C Minor" on a request from the Pacific Mozart Ensemble. "We both had a wonderful ball ... it was a fun, enjoyable musical experience."

Abstracts of Papers

Abstracts of Papers “John Coltrane in Rudy Van Gelder's Studio"

Names & Numbers, no.33 (April 2005): 2–7; no.34 (July 2005): –


In September 2004 the New York City auction house Guernsey’s asked me to serve as a historical consultant, cataloguer, and writer in preparation for its first jazz auction, to be held February 20, 2005, at the new jazz venue at Lincoln Center. The auction embraced materials from the estates of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Benny Goodman, Eric Dolphy, and Gerry Mulligan, as well as items from Louis Armstrong in the possession of his manager Oscar Cohen (who became president of Associated Booking Corporation following Joe Glaser’s death in 1969), and various images and a trumpet from a living musician, Clark Terry.

Early in December 2004, as Guernsey’s head Arlan Ettinger related it to me, Naima Coltrane’s daughter Saida* (also known as Antonia Andrews) and Saida’s brother Jamail Dennis were delivering paper items to the auction house: musical manuscripts in John Coltrane’s own hand; a letter from Bill Evans to John Coltrane just after Evans quit Miles Davis’s sextet; a postcard from Wayne Shorter, in Marseilles, to Mr. and Mrs. J. Coltrane (“Europe is a drag. I mean really. Just another gig and a place to practise and/or rehearse.”); Shorter’s hand-drawn portrait of Davis; and so forth. At this point, Jamail said to Arlan, “Oh, we have some tapes. Would you be interested in them?” “TAPES?!,” replied Arlan.

During the last three weeks of 2004 I had the unbelievable privilege of identifying and cataloguing the contents of digital copies of 35 reel-to-reel tapes, the contents of which proved to be mainly unreleased recordings by John Coltrane for Impulse! Records at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, from 1962 to 1964. I submitted my essay to Guernsey’s the evening of January 2, 2005. Coincidentally the following morning Guernsey’s phoned to report that attorneys for the Impulse! label had just threatened a lawsuit if the reels were not withdrawn from the auction. This was done, and accordingly the essay that appears below was withdrawn from the auction catalogue. Two home-made tapes, respectively of Ornette Coleman (tape AA28) and Bill Henderson (AA32), remained in the auction, since both were private recordings and hence neither evoked a contractual dispute.

Hopefully Arlan Ettinger can broker some sort of deal that eventually will lead to these recordings becoming available to the jazz public. In the meantime I find myself in a position to make rather monumental additions and corrections to existing Coltrane discographies.

The tapes were badly disordered, with wrong reels in the wrong boxes, misidentification in listings of contents on the tape boxes, and mislabeling of the boxes. In the essay that follows, “AA” refers to Guernsey’s arbitrary in-house cataloguing of materials received from Saida (i.e., Antonia Andrews). “JD” refers to materials received from Jamail Dennis. Headings such as “Tape 7 of 1962” refer to labels that Saida put on the tape boxes. These labels proved often to be incorrect or out of order, but I have given them nonetheless, because they are attached to the artifacts. In nearly all instances, Rudy Van Gelder may be heard giving tape master numbers, titles, and take numbers. Of course his announcements from the control booth take precedence over any other sort of ad hoc cataloguing of these materials. In numerous instances where variant titles occur or where an entirely unreleased session has now emerged, Van Gelder’s numbering accords with tape master numbers given in David Wild, The Recordings of John Coltrane (Ann Arbor, MI: 2nd. ed., 1979). Consequently I am deeply indebted to David for the extent to which his work has enabled me to sort out these tapes.

Jazz88 FM - The World's Premier Jazz Radio Station, NYC and NJ

Jazz88 FM - The World's Premier Jazz Radio Station, NYC and NJ"Bird" in Charlie Parker Festival, Aug. 27th & 28th

Jimmy Heath at the Charlie Parker Jazz FestivalYou wouldn't expect that someone as influential as Charlie Parker started his career dodging flying cymbals. But that's what happened when he brought his new style to a KC jam session hosted by drummer Jo Jones in 1936. The young saxophonist hit the bandstand with an urgency one gets when finally getting at-bat in the neighborhood baseball game. What came out of Parker was definitely left-field - impossibly quick horn runs weaved together into one peaked and valleyed solo. Jo Jones wasn't digging it. Many people weren't digging it. To make his discontent known, Jones took off one of his drum cymbals and hurled it at Parker's feet, loudly shutting him up. The young saxophonist left the club that night with a resolve to master his homepsun style. He went into the shed as Charlie Parker, and emerged as "Bird".

Kenny Garrett at the Charlie Parker Jazz FestivalNo one person has single-handedly forced an innovation in jazz like Charlie Parker. His mastery of the saxophone and musical vision planted the seeds for an entire style of jazz we now know as Bebop. And on the weekend of August 27th and 28th, musicians from modern day beboppers to hip-hoppers will take the stage in Harlem and the East Village at the 13th Annual Charlie Parker Festival to honor the man affectionately known as “Bird”.

Saturday’s program will commence in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, and will feature the sounds of Bobby Watson and Horizon, Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, Hiromi and Soweto Kinch with special guest Abram Wilson. It promises to be a day filled with the wide musical spectrum that Bird was influential in - straight ahead sounds from Bobby Watson (a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the late ‘70s and early 80's), an explosive combination of nine saxophones with rhythm section in the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, piano prodigy Hiromi and the unique jazz-meets-hip-hop cross section that is Soweto Kinch. Sunday kicks-off in Tompkins Square Park with jazz pianist Geri Allen, followed again by Odean Pope Saxophone Choir. Later in the day Sunday, The John Hicks Trio will bring their hard-bop, swing and free jazz style to the Festival with guest David “Fathead” Newman and the Cindy Blackman Quartet will close out the day with her fierce drumming and aural sensibility. Both days are free and open to public. Complete festival information is available at

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ynetnews - Culture - Sax player Johnny Griffin set for visit

Ynetnews - Culture - Sax player Johnny Griffin set for visitSax player Johnny Griffin set for visit

Well-known jazz musician, who has played with everyone from Art Blakey to Thelonius Monk, to perform six shows in Tel Aviv club
By Meirav Yudelovitch

Renowned American jazz saxophonist Johnny Griffin is set to come to Israel in September for six shows at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayil high-tech office neighborhood.

Show dates are September 9-11. Griffin will be accompanied by pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Gil Natural and drummer Doug Sides.

Reps at Zappa Club said there have been many attempts to get Johnny Griffin to perform in Israel in the past, but for reasons known only to him, he never came.

"We really kept at him this time and put a lot of pressure on him in order to make it finally happen," a spokesman from the Zappa Club
said. "Griffin spoke about the Israeli Jazz scene with other artists like Ron Carter, who visited Israel recently, and was finally convinced to come.”

Griffin is considered one of the leading saxophonists in the world. He has played with famous musicians such as Joe Morris, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell, Kenny Drew and Theolonius Monk.

In 1963, Griffin fell in love with the Parisian jazz scene and decided to become a part of it. In the middle of the 1970s Griffin moved to the Netherlands, where he still lives today. - Thelonious Monk's son gets it right - Thelonious Monk's son gets it righthelonious Monk's son gets it right
Jazz drummer cherishes his father's legendary heritage.
By Tim Blangger
Of The Morning Call

August 15, 2005

Not surprisingly, the legend of the late jazz pianist, Thelonious Monk, played a major role in a concert led by his only son, T.S. Monk at Bethlehem's Musikfest on Thursday night.

Before a near-capacity audience at Moravian College's Foy Hall, Monk, a jazz drummer, played three of his father's tunes. He even began and ended the performance with his father's pieces, ''Evidence'' and ''Think of One.'' But Monk said ''Evidence'' wasn't the tune with which the sextet had planned to open the show.

Willie Williams, the band's tenor player, got lost in the confusing streets of Bethlehem and walked on stage as the band was a quarter-way through ''Evidence.'' Monk knows all too well about the confusing streets. He got lost when he last played the same Musikfest venue in 1994.

''Evidence,'' with its demanding structure, wasn't exactly the warm-up the band had wanted, but it seemed to work well enough and everyone took a solo, except Williams, of course.

The rest of the concert had much to do with T.S. Monk's own ideas of music. The tunes included a floating, funky tune, ''Ladera Heights,'' written by the band's trumpeter, Winston Byrd. The group also played a tune by Clifford Jordan, ''Higher Ground,'' but not before Monk told a story about how Jordan, a band leader, had given him a chance to play in the early '80s, a move that helped Monk transition back into jazz after spending about 20 years as a rhythm and blues musician.

Monk also mentioned the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the organization he founded to honor his father's music. The institute's annual music competitions and academic programs have been springboards for many musicians. The sextet's nimble pianist, Helen Sung, studied under the institute's University of Southern California program. And a young vocalist, Rachael Price, 19, whom Monk brought out for two numbers — his father's signature tune, '''Round Midnight,'' and ''You Hit The Spot'' — was the youngest-ever competitor in the institute's prestigious vocal competition.

The concert's end-piece, a sextet version of Thelonious Monk's ''Think Of One,'' also had a reference to the Monks, father and son. The piece was written for sextet, although it was often performed in a quartet setting. Also, a longtime collaborator with T.S. Monk, the trumpeter and arranger Don Sickler, did the arrangement for the sextet, basing it on the elder Monk's original piano solo.

Things were going well until the end, when the band missed a tempo change. Monk, seated behind his drums, yelled ''no!'' and the band started the last section again, getting it right the second time.

Thelonious Monk's legacy is in good hands.


Jazz Musician Chris Parker Receives Inaugural Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz Scholarship

Jazz Musician Chris Parker Receives Inaugural Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz ScholarshipJazz Musician Chris Parker Receives Inaugural Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz Scholarship

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Jazz drummer and guitarist Chris Parker has been selected as the recipient of the inaugural Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz Scholarship, a $5,000 tuition award presented by the Pittsburgh Jazz Society and Mellon Jazz as part of their support for jazz education in the Pittsburgh area.
Parker will receive his scholarship prior to the Mellon Jazz at South Park concert featuring internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Dave Burrell on Friday, August 19, 2005, at the South Park Amphitheater. Presentation of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz Scholarship will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by a performance by The Pittsburgh Jazz Society Student All Stars, a group which includes Chris Parker and is directed by Mike Tomaro, Director of Jazz Studies at Duquesne University and a member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society board of directors. Burrell's performance is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

A panel of nationally recognized jazz musicians and educators selected Parker on the basis of his scholarship application and accompanying audition tape. "His recording featured outstanding tracks on both drums and guitar, and solo performances that covered a broad gamut of jazz styles," said Tony Mowod, president and founder of The Pittsburgh Jazz Society. "We're delighted to be adding this promising young musician to the long list of jazz students who have benefited from the commitment of The Pittsburgh Jazz Society and Mellon Jazz to jazz education in the Pittsburgh area."

"Dave Burrell is a superb jazz educator and an accomplished composer and performer. His appearance at South Park as part of the Mellon Jazz-sponsored County Parks series provides the perfect setting for the presentation of this first Pittsburgh Jazz Society/Mellon Jazz scholarship," said Rose M. Gabbianelli, Mellon executive vice president and director of corporate affairs. "We're proud of Mellon Jazz's long record of support for jazz education, the Pittsburgh Jazz Society and concerts featuring great jazz performers."

Entering his sophomore year at Duquesne University this fall, Parker has studied drumming and percussion under a number of local jazz masters and percussionists from The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Majoring in guitar at Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music, Parker is studying with, among others, Mellon Jazz Community Awardee Joe Negri. Active in a number of jazz and classical ensembles at Duquesne, Parker performs with the Pittsburgh Jazz Society Big Band, and has been the drummer for the Duquesne University Jazz Ensemble since his senior year in high school. Parker, 19, is a 2004 graduate of Baldwin High School and is the son of Paul and Marci Parker of Whitehall.

A non profit 501(c)(3) all-volunteer organization, The Pittsburgh Jazz Society is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and perpetuation of all jazz through education, performance, partnering and community outreach for members and the general public. Mellon Financial Corporation's year-round celebration of jazz excellence, Mellon Jazz supports non-profit organizations engaged in live jazz performances and jazz education, and recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to each city's rich jazz tradition. More information on Mellon Jazz activities is available via the Mellon Jazz link at Both the Pittsburgh Jazz Society and Mellon Jazz are celebrating 19th anniversaries of support for jazz in the Pittsburgh area this year.

CONTACT: Tony Mowod of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society, +1-412-343-9555, ; or Ron Sommer of Mellon Financial Corporation,+1-412-236-0082, or

Web site:

Ottawa Citizen - network

Ottawa Citizen - networkCanada Post, Diana Krall help mark jazz icon Oscar Peterson's 80th birthday

John Mckay
Canadian Press

Monday, August 15, 2005

Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson smiles while being honoured by Canada Post on his 80th birthday. (CP PHOTO/Nathan Denette)

TORONTO (CP) - Metal and Punk Section Temporarily Closed, read the sign on the second floor of the downtown HMV record store Monday.

Indeed, the floor was given over to jazz for the afternoon, specifically a special 80th birthday tribute to Canada's legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Hundreds of fans crowded into the store to see Canada Post formally unveil its new Peterson stamp and Diana Krall and husband Elvis Costello offer their own unique tribute.

There was even a keyboard-shaped birthday cake with candles.

"I have always considered myself a person proud to be a Canadian," a soft-spoken Peterson told the crowd, sitting in a wheelchair on a makeshift stage. "But to have the honour of this stamp issued in my likeness goes beyond my wildest dreams."

For her part, Krall, arriving at the event after delayed flights from New York, was clearly tense singing and playing in front of her lifelong music idol.

"I'm so honoured and nervous," she admitted with a shaky giggle. "It's quite a recital!"

After relating how, as a teenager, she had first seen Peterson performing with Ella Fitzgerald and how it had changed her life, Krall performed a Peterson instrumental with lyrics penned specially by Costello.

"You inspire me to no end every day," she said afterwards. "God bless you and the day that you were born, and I thank you so very much for all that you have given us."

She then led the crowd in a jazzy rendition of Happy Birthday.

After the cake cutting, Peterson surprised everyone by playing a number he wrote entitled Requiem, which he called a tribute to the many jazz artists who have died in recent years.

The 50-cent stamp, an enlarged poster-version of which was unveiled and presented to Peterson to lengthy applause, bears a sepia-coloured photo of the smiling musician with a keyboard motif behind him. He was overheard to say he didn't have much room left on his wall for awards, but would definitely find room for this one.

Four million of the stamps and 500,000 souvenir sheets have been printed and went on sale immediately. Bob Waite, a senior vice-president at Canada Post, said it was a first.

"The Oscar Peterson stamp that we are about to unveil today marks the first time that a Canadian stamp pays tribute to a living Canadian," he revealed. "Now personally, I can think of no Canadian more deserving of this honour."

Looking dapper in a burgundy suit with a pink shirt, the clearly humbled piano legend also thanked Krall, whose talent he said he's always admired, "for gracing this event with her presence."

With posters of the likes of Krall and John Coltrane looking down from the walls, he went on to say he had always been proud of his country and of the jazz medium that had brought him success and recognition.

After a 50-year career in music, Peterson is regarded as one of the world's greatest jazz pianists.

He first learned music from his father, a West Indian immigrant who worked at CN Rail as a porter. Early breaks came when he won a CBC radio amateur contest, followed by appearances on the Happy Gang variety show.

Peterson was discovered performing in a Montreal club in the 1940s, played Carnegie Hall in 1949 and has performed with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. He's recorded more than 300 albums.

He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1984, has two Juno Awards and seven Grammys - including the 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award - as well as several honorary doctorates from educational institutions in both Canada and the United States.