Mon, 15 September 2014
The William Way LGBT Community Center, with generous support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, is proud to launch the official website for OutBeat: America's First Queer Jazz Festival. Tickets for the festival, which is set to take place from Thursday, September 18 to Sunday, September 21, are now available for purchase at OutBeatJazzFest.com, including VIP Weekend Passes, Standard Weekend Passes, and Individual Tickets. Check out the website for an updated schedule with exciting new headliners.
The Jazz world has notoriously lagged behind other musical communities in welcoming LGBT artists. Whether it was the machismo of male instrumental soloists or the femme fatale persona adopted by so many female singers, there seemed little room for the gay man or woman in jazz.
Things changed slowly. To quote from a particularly on-point article from JazzTimes in 2001:
Political correctness may keep most educated liberals from calling anyone a “faggot” anymore, but how much have attitudes really changed? Some attention was drawn to the question in the ’90s, when three outstanding jazz musicians—pianist Fred Hersch, vibraphonist Gary Burton and singer-pianist Andy Bey—all came out publicly as gay men. Patricia Barber, a much-heralded singer-pianist and an open lesbian, showed her nerve by recording Paul Anka’s love song “She’s a Lady” on her 1998 album Modern Cool. Two years earlier came Lush Life, David Hajdu’s biography of arranger-composer Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), one of the very few openly gay jazzmen of his (or any) time. Duke Ellington, his creative partner, called Strayhorn “my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine.”
More than a dozen years later, there is a full-fledged weekend festival celebrating LGBT performers, and the event looks like a doozy. Kicking off the festival on Thursday, renowned pianist Fred Hersch will be interviewed by New York Times music critic Nate Chinen, followed by a special kickoff reception and fundraiser, all taking place in the centrally located William Way Center in Philadelphia's Gayborhood. On Friday, the Fred Hersch Trio will perform as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's popular "Art After Five" series. The evening will conclude with "Lush Life: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn," a showcase of Philadelphia's finest musicians, vocalists, and poets celebrating the life of Duke Ellington's longtime collaborator, pianist, composer, and arranger, Billy Strayhorn.
Saturday will begin with a pre-concert discussion with singer/pianist Patricia Barber and drummer Bill Stewart, moderated by JazzTimes' critic John Murph. Stewart's quartet will perform following the discussion at The Painted Bride Art Center. Also performing that evening is Grammy® Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington at Chris' Jazz Café with material from her Money Jungle project.
The first of its kind festival will culminate on Sunday with a marathon event at Philadelphia's Union Transfer. Performers will include Carrington, Barber, Andy Bey performing solo, Jennifer Leitham Trio, Dena DeRose Trio, the music of Drew Paralic, David Coss Quartet, Ben Flint and more.
OutBeat would once again like to thank the William Way LGBT Community Center and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and would also like to welcome our new sponsors and partners: JazzTimes, Philadelphia Gay News, Coors Light, Brooklyn Brewery, Union Transfer, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Painted Bride Art Center, Alexander Inn, and Sonesta Hotel. “Philadelphia has enjoyed a legacy of being a great music city. We’re also a city that affirms the lives of LGBT people,” says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Hosting the first LGBT jazz festival in North America provides an opportunity to showcase the rich and vibrant culture of our city. We’ll be celebrating all of this for 4 days in September with OutBeat. I hope to see you there!”
Category:general -- posted at: 1:44 PM
Wed, 10 September 2014
Gerald Wilson, conductor, bandleader, composer, educator, and multi-instrumentalist, passed away in his Los Angeles home on Monday, September 8, 2014 after being diagnosed with pneumonia two weeks earlier. He was 96-years-old. Wilson is survived by his wife Josefina; son Anthony; two daughters, Jeri and Nancy Jo; and four grandchildren. Funeral arrangements and a memorial service are pending.
"Gerald Wilson, who I considered a good friend, was one of the most versatile of men," says Gretchen Valade, owner of Mack Avenue Records (Wilson's label since 2007). "He was a composer, had a wonderful band and still remained humble and gentle. The Mack Avenue family will miss him dearly."
Wilson's accomplishments and contributions to the current state of jazz are countless, however several awards support such a bold claim. Most notably, Wilson was an NEA Jazz Master (1990); recipient of a NARAS President's Merit Award; winner of multiple DownBeats's Critics Polls and Jazz Journalists Assocation Awards; a NAACP Image Award nominee; and an eight time Grammy® Award nominee. After a 30-year career in music education at UCLA, he was awarded a Teacher of the Year award in 2008 for his mentoring of countless young musicians. Washington's Smithsonian Institute also houses an archive of his life's work.
Despite earning such accolades throughout his career, Wilson's road to success wasn't always easy. He struggled through more than nine decades of opposition to contribute to the fight for civil rights and to share his passion for music with the world. Born in 1918 into a hotbed of racial tension in Shelby, Mississippi, Wilson was sent by his mother to live with family in Detroit where his musical talents afforded him the rare opportunity to attend the performing arts school, Cass Tech High School -- a high school that was second only to Julliard at the time. As Wilson would tell you, this is where his musical career truly began. After serving time in the Navy during World War II, reaching commercial success in the late 40's and marrying his soulmate, Wilson's passion for cultural immersion came to life both emotionally and creatively.
Having been one of the first musicians to pioneer the use of eight-part harmonies in compositions, Wilson has contributed both compositions and arrangements to musical icons including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, and many more. Wilson was also honored to receive an invitation from Zubin Mehta to compose a number for the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra. This would be followed later in life by additional commissioned works from both the Monterey and Chicago Jazz Festivals.
Wilson's passion to incorporate his art into his selfless crusade for civil rights was paramount in his life and has touched the lives in countless cultures and countries around the world and yet when you asked this humble legend about his great successes, Wilson would respond with sincere humility, "I just try to be a person worthy of being a part of this great art form."
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00 AM
Fri, 29 August 2014
I received this email from the band Afro-Semitic Experience, and watned to share their words and music with you all:
The Afro-Semitic Experience is saddened by the events in Ferguson, Missouri. We mourn the killing of Michael Brown and we are troubled by the violence that has been inflicted upon the community. We are reminded once again that the Civil Rights movement is far from over and that this nation is in need of an ongoing dialogue on race, bigotry and unity in the community. As musicians there is only so much we can do. But do it we shall. We are healers.
And so we share this link to a piece dedicated to healing. Healing in Ferguson. Healing in the United States of America. Healing wherever there is strife of any kind. Plea for Peace.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30 PM
Thu, 21 August 2014
Fifty years ago today, Anthony Williams recorded his debut album as a bandleader. However, he was no rookie.
Williams began playing professionally at the age of 13 with saxophonist Sam Rivers in Boston, Massachusetts, and Jackie McLean hired Williams when he was 16. At 17 Williams became the core of Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet.
Williams, now a veteran at the age of 18, led two sessions at Rudy Van Gelder's Studio for Blue Note on August 21 and 24. On the 21st, he brough old friend Rivers in to play sax, and bassists Richard Davis and Gary Peacock to play bass. Herbie Hancock (piano), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) and Ron Carter (bass) would replace them on the 24th.
The results was music that was far removed from anything he had played before. I would hesitate to call it "free jazz", but clearly the influence of Peacock's boss Albert Ayler was in the room that day. "Tomorrow Afternoon", with the pulse of two basses and Williams' polyrhythms, was a peak at where jazz was headed, and headed soon.
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00 PM
Sat, 16 August 2014
It's summer in New England, so why not some summer themed music for these lazy, hot days? Today is August 16th, the feast day of Saint Roch, the patron saint of Dogs, so why not celebrate the "Dog Days"?
The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.
The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to procession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog (Sorry Angus and Hamish, my two miniature dachshunds)) at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
Podcast 442 features the following uninterrupted music:
Marc Johnson - "Summer Running" from The Sound of Summer Runnning
Bob Curnow's LA Big Band - "Every Summer Night" from Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays
Sarah Vaughan - "Summertime" from Sings George Gershwin.
Sonny Stitt - "Summer Special" from My Mother's Eyes
The Rippingtons featuring Russell Freeman - "Summer Lovers" from Topaz
Quincy Jones - "Summer in the City" from You've Got It Bad, Girl
Michael Franks - "You Were Meant for Me" from Dragonfly Summer
Bob Baldwin - "Summer Breeze" from Cool Breeze
Phil Woods, Antonio Hart and Vincent Herring - "The Summer Knows (Theme from 'Summer of '42')" from Alto Summit.
Steve Reid -"Warm Summer Rain" from Water Sign
Amy Cervini - "Once Upon a Summertime" from Digging Me, Digging You
Hiromi - "Summer Rain" from Another Mind
Wed, 13 August 2014
“Swinging, grooving, clean and tricky playing. This is the group that, once you’ve heard them, you’ll realize they always needed to exist. Unique, original, exciting. And simply killing in the best sense.”- Dave Douglas on The Westerlies.
The Westerlies are a New York based brass quartet comprised of four friends from Seattle, Washington. Avid explorers of cross-genre territory, Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Zubin Hensler (trumpet), Andy Clausen (trombone) and Willem de Koch (trombone) are a collectively run ensemble dedicated to the cultivation of a new brass quartet repertoire that exists in the ever-narrowing gap between American folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock.
After three years of getting prestigious gigs at the Shapeshifter Lab and Earshot Jazz Festival, the Westerlies were invited to perform the music of Wayne Horvitz at The Stone in May 2013. The project was later recorded during the The Westerlies annual residency on Lopez Island, WA and has been released to critical praise as their debut album Wish The Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz (Songlines Recordings).
I spoke with Andy Clausen as he returned to New York City prior to the band’s August tour of the West Coast. An avid explorer of cross-genre territory, drawing inspiration from folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock, Clausen has performed with new music mavericks Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz, pop sensation Feist and the avant-jazz saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo. Hailing from Seattle, Clausen relocated to NYC in 2010 to begin his studies at the Juilliard School under the guidance of master trombonists Conrad Herwig and Steve Turre. Podcast 441 features our conversation along with four tracks from the new CD, and a bonus - a track from Neil Welch, who Andy identifies as a Seattle talent to watch.
Tue, 12 August 2014
The “Business of Jazz” grows increasingly thornier at almost every turn these days. One of the bright spots in the demise of major label signings and sold recording budgets is the ability of artists to take control of their projects and reach out to their fans for support, both artistic and financial.
PledgeMusic is one such “crowdfunding site”, a direct-to-fan music platform bringing artists and fans together to share in the experience of music as it happens. By making a contribution, fans can receive goodies that range from signed CDs and bonus download tracks to an Executive Producer credit.
Veteran pianist Kevin Hays has brought the recording of his latest project The New Day Trio to the fans via Pledge Music. Considered to be among the most inventive pianists and improvisers of his generation, Hays has released over a dozen albums as leader, and has been featured on over 60 recordings as a sideman. He has worked with some of the most prominent and influential musicians in Jazz including Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Benny Golson, Roy Haynes, Chris Potter, Al Foster, Joe Henderson and Joshua Redman. His albums have made several best-of lists including The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Times, Musician Magazine and he is a winner of the French Charles Cros Coup de Coeur Award.
Kevin’s latest trio finds him moving to Fender Rhodes as well as his ubiquitous piano. He is joined by Rob Jost on bass and Greg Joseph on drums, along with guests like harmonica great Grégoire Maret and guitarist Tony Scherr. After developing the material he plans to record for this new CD both through touring and a 2 year residency at NYC's 55 Bar, the trio will unveil a new set of Hays originals and arrangements of songs by Johnny Cash, 'Sugarman' Rodriguez, Charlie Parker, and others. The group is in the homestretch of a PledgeMusic campaign to help fund this new recording and with over 80% of their goal met and just days remaining, they are scheduled to head into the studio later this week.
Podcast 440 is my conversation with Kevin as he readied himself for a few last gigs before digging in to record. We discussed crowdfunding and his New Day Trio, as well as his upcoming dates with Brad Mehldau in Brazil. Musical selections from the new session are of course unavailable, so the interludes for this podcast come from previous Hays CDs, including "The Run" from Go Round; the Hays tune “Elegia” from his collaboration with Mehldau Modern Music; and the title track from You’ve Got a Friend.
Mon, 4 August 2014
A lifelong champion of jazz, Bruce Lundvall had been president of the legendary jazz label Blue Note since 1984, and had previously been president of Columbia Records and Elektra Records, where he founded the jazz-oriented Elektra Musician imprint. During his career, he not only signed standout talent but also staged unlikely events, including the renowned three-day Havana Jam festival featuring Columbia's top pop and jazz artists as well as superb Cuban artists in Cuba's capital 35 years ago. He also celebrated the relaunching of the formerly dormant Blue Note Records in 1984 by staging a "miraculous" all-star jazz concert in New York's Town Hall.
Lundvall, who has become disabled because of Parkinson's disease, has moved into a full-time senior assisted living community, Brighton Gardens of Saddle River, not far from his home in New Jersey. Unable to go see the jazz artists he knows and loves, he has come up with a plan to bring them to him and his new community.
On August 24, 2014 a top-tier cast of stars that Lundvall has assembled will perform at the Sunrise Senior Living Jazz Festival at Brighton Gardens of Saddle River, New Jersey from 2:00 - 8:00PM. Saxophonist Joe Lovano will be leading his nonet (which includes vocalist Judi Silvano), Dianne Reeves will sing, and Chucho Valdés, one of jazz's greatest pianists, will be performing solo. One of the highlights of the afternoon will be pianist Bill Charlap's interpretations of Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein compositions and piano duets with his wife Rene Rosnes. Charlap will be joined by Javon Jackson, Nicholas Payton, Ravi Coltrane, and the great rhythm section of Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Special festival guest will be local jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli who will perform with his longtime duo mate, guitarist Ed Loeb.
All artists performing are playing pro bono, with proceeds from ticket sales going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease. Tickets will be $150. In addition, a special donation of $200 will include VIP seating at the concert in the front row, meet and greet with musicians after the show, cocktails and an autographed copy of the biography, Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear.
A raffle for autographed photos of celebrities will also take place. Complimentary beer and wine will be served. At intermission, there will be a complimentary hour-long tapas party for concertgoers.
Tickets are on sale now at Ticketbud.com. For more information, please contact Victoria Priore Cain · 201-818-8680 Director of Sales, Brighton Gardens Sunrise Senior Living, NJ.
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49 PM
Fri, 1 August 2014
Today would have been Jerry Garcia’s 72nd birthday, and like so many other fans, I'll spend a few moments contemplating his music. Maybe a few "Scarlet Begonia/Fire on the Mountain" and "Dark Stars" are in the cards. Definitely a "Bird Song."
Named after composer Jerome Kern, Garcia was a student of American music, whether it was bluegrass, show tunes or the blues. Jerry had a love of jazz, and while the Dead themselves did not dip into the jazz canon all that often, Jerry’s side projects gave him a chance to show his jazz chops. Click here to listen to a recording of Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove” from the 1998 release So What from Garcia and mandolin player David Grisman. Other members of the band were Joe Craven on percussion, Matt Eakle on flute and Jim Kerwin on bass.
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40 AM
Thu, 31 July 2014
“I'd put him on the Mount Rushmore of New Orleans drummers, along with Smokey Johnson, Johnny Vidacovich and Herlin Riley." -- George Ingmire, DJ, WWOZ New Orleans.
Idris Muhammad, one of the most versatile and funky drummers of the past fifty years, has died at the age of 74. His cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but friends noted that Muhammad had been receiving dialysis treatment in New Orleans — where he had returned from New York City to retire back in 2011.
Born Leo Morris in New Orleans, the young man was mesmerized by the chants and rhythms of the Mardi Gras Indians. By the time he was 16, he had played the drums for Fats Domino's 1956 hit, "Blueberry Hill," and later played with the Hawketts (led by Art Neville) on their iconic anthem, "Mardi Gras Mambo."
After he relocated to New York (and then Europe), he discovered the Islam faith and changed his name to Idris Muhammad. It was his mastery of those rhythms – slinky, funky, martial, liquid – that made him a master session musician. Over five decades, he logged hundreds of recordings and thousands of performances with the likes of soul artists like Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, and Roberta Flack; jazz mainstays like Pharaoh Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, and Joe Lovano; and most recently, as a member of saxophonist Big Chief Donald Harrison's tribe.
But for me, it was his recordings with saxophonist Lou Donaldson, aided by ultra-funky guitarist Melvin Sparks, which were his finest moments. The genre of “jazz-funk” or “acid jazz” was an amalgamation of jazz, R&B and funk, and no one could handle the drum kit like Idris Muhammad. He anchored Donaldson’s band from 1965 to 1971, supplying the beat for classics like “Alligator Boogaloo”, and“Everything I Do Gon' Be Funky (From Now On)." He loaned his talents during the seventies to the likes of George Benson, Gene Ammons, Paul Desmond, Leon Spencer and Sonny Stitt. He remained in demand through the next twenty years, recording with Randy Weston and
He released 13 albums under his own name, most notably 1974’s Power of Soul which brought Randy Brecker, Grover Washington Jr., Bob James, Joe Beck, Gary King and Ralph MacDonald together for sessions produced by Creed Taylor. Check it out and see why no one did it better than Idris.
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25 PM