Beyond jazz, in and to Jordan

Jordan's capitol Amman isn't an obvious hot spot for jazz, yet I found interest, knowledge and exciting players during my visit there a couple weeks ago -- from which I'm barely recovered.  A couple of postings and I hope a video of bass guitarist Yacoub Abu Ghosh's band from its weekly Tuesday night gig at Canvas will follow. For now my video on Petra, my brother and sis-in-law as guides to an ancient city carved from rosy mountain rock, where taxes on caravans coming through their pass supported a culture of some … [Read more...]

UNsafe concert: Threadgill, La Barbara, ACO dare to fail

"Playing It UNsafe" is how the American Composers Orchestra characterizes tonight's concert of works by Henry Threadgill, Joan La Barbara, Sean Friar and Laura Schwendinger at Zankel Hall, NYC. Afraid of classical musicians improvising? Multi-layered "sound paintings" of multi-tracked voice, electronic ambiance and instrumentalists sitting in the audience? Symphonic and light collaborations? Then walk on the wild side -- or at least watch the fine videos by Jeremy Robins -- like the two of Threadgill explaining his … [Read more...]

President Obama digs Sonny Rollins

President Barack Obama paid beautiful lip service to great American artists and arts yesterday, conferring the 2010 National Medal of Arts and Humanities on heroes including Sonny Rollins, age 80. "I speak personally here," said the president at 3 minutes, 30 seconds into his address, alluding to authors, poets, historians, "because there are people here whose works shaped me. I've got these thumbworn editions of these works of arts, and these old records from when they were still vinyl, Sonny, before they went digital, that helped inspire me, … [Read more...]