Jason Moran: Genius and/or very hard worker

The MacArthur Fellowship to pianist/composer/bandleader Jason Moran follows from that Foundation's ongoing trend to give $500,000 no-strings-attached to musicians who've demonstrated accomplishment and seem to promise more. Here's my City Arts-New York column  re what Moran's done and how things have changed since Monk, Bird, Dizzy et al brought modernism to jazz, without any dream of non-profit or governmental financial support.howardmandel.com Subscribe by Email or RSS All JBJ posts … [Read more...]

Manhattan music “loft” Roulette takes big chance on Brooklyn

Roulette, since 1978 a formerly humble Manhattan-based presenter of avant-garde "intermedia," has signed a 20-year lease on a former YWCA art deco 600-seat theater in Brooklyn. This  Next weekend (Oct. 7, 8, 9) is the space's three-night benefit "Easy Not Easy," assigning emerging (read: little known) artists presumably simple scores by such its longtime stalwarts as Pauline Oliveros and John Zorn. Read more all about it in my column in City Arts - New York . . . howardmandel.com Subscribe by Email or RSS All JBJ posts … [Read more...]

Jazz elders cast giant shadows

Why isn't the amazing current generation of creative (jazz) musicians better known? Maybe because major artists of the not-so-distant past are practicing the art form at splendid peaks, overturning clichés about dwindling powers of octogenarians. Read my column in City Arts New York for a report that touches on Sonny Rollins, Roy Haynes and Muhal Richard Abrams, who tower over the start of the fall 2010 season.  howardmandel.com Subscribe by Email or RSS All JBJ posts … [Read more...]

If videos of Sonny are removed, will the legend grow?

Gone from Youtube are two brief but vivid excerpts from Sonny Rollins' 80th birthday concert at the Beacon Theater on Sept. 10 -- one showing the great tenor saxophonist in duet with percussionist Sammy Figueroa, the second documenting the surprise, climactic contributions of Ornette Coleman to the set, and Rollins' inspired improvised responses. What a shame! -- from at least one perspective. Or should those visuals never have been made public without the artists' permissions?  … [Read more...]

Video for fans of Sonny Rollins & harmolodics

Too good to not post: Ornette Coleman was surprise guest with Sonny Rollins at his fast-become-famous Beacon Theater 80th birthday party on September 10 (backstage there was birthday cake shaped like a saxophone, made of marzipan). Note SR's quote at about 10 minutes in of "I'll Take Manhattan," which he certainly did. [[As of 9/15/2010 this video has been removed from Youtube by it's "user." Research will follow.  … [Read more...]

Sonny @ Beacon bootlegged video clip

A bootlegged video excerpt of Sonny Rollins at the Beacon Theater, 9/10/2010 is available on youtube -- the sound doesn't do him justice, and I don't intend to encourage unauthorized video, but it is out there to give the world a brief idea of last night's concert. On the other hand, Bret Primack, the Jazz Video Guy, has been working long and hard on, for and with Sonny, and I embed below a clip from the end of a performance of "Tenor Madness" from Antibes, 2005, which is auhorized to be on the … [Read more...]

Sonny the sax king

At age 80, Sonny Rollins is indisputably the greatest living jazz tenor saxophonist, proved last night throughout a 2-hour set at New York's sold-out Beacon Theater in which harmolodic sage Ornette Coleman sat in, backed by drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Christian McBride, on "Tenor Madness."  "Sonnymoon For Two". Rollins was hunched and hobbled when he came onstage, but once he started blowing he stood upright and blasted his big bold sound with energy that brooked no diminishment of strength or inspiration, bending only to fire … [Read more...]

Daley bad for Windy City’s music?

Contrary to my paean to Richard M. Daley's support of Chicago's music and arts, Chicago Tribune rock-crit Greg Kot writes of the Mayor's treatment of the local music scene as a "second class citizen." It's true the City has messed with club venues -- Marguerite Horberg of  established the multi-genre Hot House years back and now runs the progressive culture initiative Portoluz regaled me last weekend with tales of fire inspectors evacuating theaters mid-show over petty infractions and other harrassments; Kot reminds us of Chi's … [Read more...]

Mayor Daley’s music and arts

Shocking news from Chicago: Richard Daley won't be mayor for life. Yet he's the Windy City's most significant patron of culture, leaving a legacy that ought to -- that is, should, and might -- survive him. Which was unexpected when he succeeded Mayor Harold Washington in 1989, but clear from my visit to Labor Day weekend's 32nd annual Chicago Jazz Festival. … [Read more...]

Jazz festival weekend: Is anybody counting?

Can we guestimate how many listeners will be out hearing jazz this Labor Day weekend, at festivals free and/or famous around the U.S.? Chicago, Detroit, Tanglewood, Aspen, Vail, Los Angeles, Washington DC (well, Herndon VA), Philadelphia, San Jose, Macinac Island (Michigan) Indianapolis, St. Louis, Wilmington and Bethany Beach (Delaware), San Diego, Tucson, (see also the Latin Jazz fest, Sept 10 -11),  Albuquerque. and Charleston all have concerts, street fairs and other celebratory activities based on or including jazz in its … [Read more...]

Little known great jazz in Chicago’s neighborhoods

The Jazz Institute of Chicago's annual club tour is an urban presentation innovation and a treat, revealing an unheralded depth of local audiences, entrepreneurs and artists. On Wednesday night, Dudley Owens blew tenor sax with the largest sound I've heard maybe ever, in combo with an older pianist (sorry I didn't get his name) who played as no one ever told him he couldn't, turning the keyboard inside-out. They completely refreshed the Billie Holiday standard "All of Me" at a friendly, funky hangout called City Life Cocktail Lounge on East … [Read more...]

Twitter campaign #jazzlives after one year

#Jazzlives -- the Twitter campaign aimed at demonstrating that there is a big and enthusiastic audience for live jazz -- is one year old. What has it wrought? First: What is #jazzlives and how does it work? To participate in the campaign, audience members at live jazz performances "tweet" - write a post on their Twitter account-- about who they heard and where they heard them, including "#jazzlives" in the total 140 characters. You can view all #jazzlives posts as a "stream" on various websites and blogs, including this one. You can … [Read more...]

Jazz discoveries abound! Soundscape, Creative Music Studio, Varese

Amazing, historic, never-before-public recordings from an under-documented, under-appreciated but highly developmental era of jazz and new music comes to light! Complete sets and interviews from the international stars who gave birth to world jazz and downtown improv at the Manhattan arts loft Soundscape will be broadcast by WKCR-FM  and archived online starting Sept. 6 -- and are also at the core of the subscription-based CMS Archival Project, recently launched by the Creative Music Studio (Woodstock, NY, circa 1971 - '84). And … [Read more...]