Fighting history and myth re racial politics in jazz

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I completely disagree with the point of Randall Sandke's bookWhere the Dark and the Light Folks Meet: Race and the Mythology, Politics, and Business of Jazz. Rather than celebrate a century of inter-racial collaboration modeling society's progress on civil rights, instead Sandke proposes that a cabal of journalists, scholars and left-leaning "activist" producers exaggerated black musicians' centrality while downplaying white Americans' contributions to jazz. He thinks white musicians deserve more attention and credit, if jazz is a true … [Read more...]

American Bandstand loved Captain Beefheart

In 1966, long before the original Hairspray, black and white teens danced together to the bass overdrive and deep croak of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Today blues lovers, avant-gardists and fans of dada, surrealism and abstract expressionism mourn and celebrate the Captain, aka Don Van Vliet. If you don't believe people jitterbuged to "Diddy Wah Diddy," watch the clip. And thanks to Jim Macnie for bringing it to my attention.  howardmandel.com Subscribe by Email | Subscribe by RSS | Follow on Twitter All … [Read more...]

James Moody, bop saxophonist, flutist, humorist: 3/25/25 – 12/9/10

Sad news: Jazz giant James Moody died of pancreatic cancer today, age 85. This is confirmed on Moody's own website. A brilliant improviser who emerged from Dizzy Gillespie's big band to join the young turks of bebop (Monk, Bags, Klook, Blakey) in the late 1940s, he became internationally admired for his tenor sax and flute mastery and on-stage good cheer, as when he'd sing both male and female parts to "Moody's Mood for Love," his etched-in-gold solo given lyrics by his pal Eddie Jefferson. … [Read more...]

Seasonal electricity: jazz “fusion” in NYC

Fusion, fission, energy and virtuosity reign supreme over coming holiday weeks as jazzers beyond genre constraints fill New York clubs. Starting tonight (Dec. 9) double-necked guitar madman Dave Fiuczynski fires up Iridium with ripping alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and jam-band idol John Medeski on keybs; jazz sambas and tangos, ex-Milesian Mike Stern and smooth trumpeter Chris Botti, soul-drench organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and the Bad Plus follow. Details here, at my new column for City Arts-New York. And below -- Fuze, vocalist Dean … [Read more...]

More on McFerrin, and the voices of New York

I already posted about Bobby McFerrin's Jazz at Lincoln Center performance of VOCAbuLarieS, his uplifting choral suite co-composed by Roger Treece -- but my new column in City Arts-New York goes further, noting other singers giving voice to Thanksgiving and other warm sentiments. And slightly belated happy birthday to Sheila Jordan, who recently celebrated her 82nd year performing at the Jazz Standard. She's a peach, and having her with us is something to be thankful for . . .  hhowardmandel.com Subscribe by Email | Subscribe by … [Read more...]

Announcing eyeJAZZ.tv & Happy 45th b’day AACM

eyeJAZZ.tv, a wave of guerrilla video music-news clips being initiated by the Jazz Journalists Association, has posted its first example -- my brief production from last week's 45th birthday concert of the AACM featuring composer-saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, flutist and AACM chair Nicole Mitchell (no relation) and saxophonist Ari Brown, at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. … [Read more...]

Bobby McFerrin: Don’t worry, just sing

Vocalist extraordinaire Bobby McFerrin, composer-conductor Roger Treece and 40 voices including the Danish "rhythm choir" Vocal Line performed pieces from the album VOCAbuLarieS at Jazz at Lincoln Center Friday and Saturday night, establishing a high standard for contemporary vernacular choral music and breaking down the 4th wall between artists and audiences. It was a deeply satisfying, beautiful and joyous show. … [Read more...]

Launch of the Jazz Forward Coalition

A new business-focused collaboration, the Jazz Forward Coalition, announces itself: An influential Midwestern jazz presenting organization, a jazz-speciality public relations firm, a major jazz website, a long-surviving independent record company and Pittsburgh-based strategic marketer firm joining forces to "raise jazz's profile by enhancing it's vitality and cultural relevance." Well, that's how musicians try to do it. Can an industry-oriented cadre succeed? Read more in my article at JJANews.org. howardmandel.com Subscribe by Email … [Read more...]

AACM at 45: “Creative Musicians” span generations, U.S., globe

The AACM -- Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians -- continues after 45 years to encourage highly original, edgy and exciting artists -- as I detail in my new City Arts column. Examples in New York City: reedist/composer Henry Threadgill's Zooid performs tonight and tomorrow at Roulette; trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's 22-piece Silver Orchestra and the duo of keyboardist-singer Amina Claudine Myers and drummer Reggie Nicholson are the bill for the AACM-New York''s concluding concert of its fall 2010 season on … [Read more...]

CareFusion drops jazz fest sponsorships

CareFusion, a global corp. specializing in hospital equipment, has ended its two-year sponsorship of George Wein's New York Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival, a day after reporting the retirement of its Chairman and CEO David L. Schlotterbeck, and the first quarter financials of its 2010 fiscal year. The company announced steep revenue losses and plans to cut 5% of its workforce last August; in October, CareFusion recalled 17,000 Alaris PC infusion units, cited by the FDA as a product the use … [Read more...]

Randy Weston, Giant Standing

Pianist, composer, ensemble leader, now autobiographer -- at age 84, Randy Weston is a huge and undiminished presence. Read my column in City Arts New York about how he's just published African Rhythms, his life story, is signing it at Tribecca Performing Arts Center (NYC)  Oct. 30, and leads his 22-piece orchestra at that same venue in a 50th anniversary concert of his 4-part suite Uhuru Afrika, (lyrics by Langston Hughes) on November 13.  howardmandel.com Subscribe by Email or RSS All JBJ posts … [Read more...]

Surprises and stalwarts in an NYC jazz weekend

Five acts, all jazz headliners, in 3 hours at the Jazz Foundation of America's Loft Jazz Party, plus Chicago drummer-composer Mike Reed's thrilling People, Places & Things quartet and alto saxist Darius Jones' trio at Drom in the East Village -- bountiful blues, soul, swing, groove, creativity, tradition, big names and newcomers in NYC on Saturday and Sunday. It's like this all the time in the jazz capital of the universe, but good not to take it for granted. … [Read more...]