Jazz beyond Jazz: October 2008 Archives

A talker and listener, actor-dj-writer-oral historian, good humored realist and pragmatic idealist, Studs Terkel (1912 - 2008) stands as an American cultural patriot, who enjoyed as rich if not untroubled a life as genuinely democratic artist might hope for over the course of the 20th century -- earning Roger Ebert's thumbs up as greatest Chicagoan. Studs was hugely enthusiastic about music, loving blues as well as jazz, gospel, rootsy folk, the Great American Songbook, the soundtrack of the labor and Civil Rights movement, classical stuff too -- taste way above and beyond genre. May we sometime soon see his like again.
October 31, 2008 6:36 PM | | Comments (1)
Globalism held its head high at the tenth annual Ponta Delgada Jazz Festival last week. Five nights of concerts performed by an international coterie of improvisers in the superb acoustics of a nicely modernized old center-city theater for a stylish, educated audience didn't seem a cultural far cry, though they were held in the capital of the Azores, the mid-Atlantic archipelago 700 miles from mainland Portugal.
October 30, 2008 10:03 AM | | Comments (1)
My focus shifts to the mid-Atlantic: for the next week I'll be hearing newly honored NEA Jazz Master Lee Konitz, pianist Joachim Kuhn, the Hot Club of Portugal Septet, reedist Marty Ehrlich's Rites Quartet and a band led by NYC multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter at the 10th annual Festival de Jazz de Ponta Delagada -- where I'm also delivering a talk on "Jazz Now -- and It's Future" (during which I will tell all). Ponta Delgada is the largest city in the Azores, islands 700 miles west of Lisbon with a lengthy history as a port between Europe and the Americas. Reports from there to follow -- and if you happen to be in the vicinity, please say hello.

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October 21, 2008 8:25 AM | | Comments (0)
A reader asks: "Could you please post the name of the [Ornette] Coleman song sampled for that sketch" on Steven Colbert's Comedy Central show of October 9?

Colbert pulled one of his trademark reverses, ridiculing the vast emptiness of smug superiority by goofing on a 10-second snatch of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musician's live recording Sound Grammar. Research suggests the excerpt Brother Steve C swung along to so sillily before remarking, "God, that's unbearable. Ergo it must be good!" was from the first track on the album, "Jordan" (named for Coleman's cousin and longtime consigliere James Jordan, former director of the New York State Council on the Arts' music program). It seems to occur about 4 minutes 50 seconds in, at the climax of a duet of acoustic bassists Greg Cohen and Tony Falanga, driven by drummer Denardo Coleman.

Listening again, I admit an error: I don't think Ornette's playing violin on this, but rather it's the interaction of the two bassists, bowing very high and walking very fast, without him on violin or sax. To hear OC's violin in its first bloom and full glory, check out "Snowflakes and Sunshine" from his 1963 album Live at the Golden Circle, Vol. 2; for an early example of his harmolodic string concept, there's "Dedication to Poets and Writers" from Ornette Coleman, Town Hall 1962

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October 16, 2008 3:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Presentations of jazz that break all sorts of bounds, pushing far beyond stale conventions -- jazz beyond jazz -- are so prevalent in Manhattan that the energy expended just being on the scene can leave me too drained to report on the good stuff. Five shows in the past month -- Dee Dee Bridgewater's Mali project at the Blue Note, Myra Melford's new quartet at Roulette, Richard Bona and Lionel Loueke in the Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center, James "Blood" Ulmer with Vernon Reid's neo-blues band at the Jazz Standard and an evening celebrating the AACM chronicle and music of George E. Lewis at the Kitchen -- while different as can be, barely hint at the range of what's happening here and now.
October 14, 2008 1:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Steven Colbert plays a pointed dance on the funny-bone, but misled his "nation" unintentionally at least once  last night in the segment "Who's Not Honoring Me Now." At 12 minutes into the show, he sniffed at the MacArthur Foundation's award of a $500,000 fellowship to saxophonist Miguel Zenon, tongue-in-cheeking "Never give money to a jazz musician -- they'll just blow it on heroin and berets." 

Then he listened to a moment of Zenon's mellifluous style, boppin' along to it. But: "It's not genius level jazz if it sounds like music," Colbert went on; "Ask Pulitzer Prize-winning saxophonist Ornette Coleman." Ten seconds of Ornette, from his Pulitzer-Prize winning album Sound Grammar. "God, that's unbearable. Ergo, it must be 'good.'"

Slight correction: the "unbearable" excerpt featured Ornette playing violin, which even for fans of jazz beyond jazz can be an acquired taste. That's okay, we know the truth, as opposed to the truthiness, of this bit. Colbert loves jazz -- enough to make fun of it. 

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October 10, 2008 5:48 PM | | Comments (3)
A major international jazz festival right now in Washington D.C.? How odd: Is it the End of Times? Are we fiddlin' while Rome burns? Or could it be a new beginning? 

Ignore the credit crisis, the vp debates, end-game positioning by the One and the Other, Rosh Hashanah and Eid, Cubs and White Sox both in the playoffs -- here's the under-promoted but highly impressive fourth annual Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, Oct. 1 - 7! Balancing Kennedy Center concerts with "jazz in the 'hoods"  (club and arts center gigs mostly but not only NW), sophisticated globalism with emerging artists, the best of student and local ensembles (Berklee College of Music Latin Jazz All-Stars at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts) as well as a free Sunday afternoon marathon featuring blues songster Taj Mahal, incomparable pianist McCoy Tyner, hot-hot singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, bravura bassist Christian McBride and trombonist Conrad Herwig's Latin Side Project on the National Mall . . . If it didn't take months to organize events on this scale, one might suspect the DEJF is a convenient circus to distract us from uproar, uncertainty, faith-based initiatives and existential dread.
October 1, 2008 2:37 PM | | Comments (1)
The Portland Jazz Festival, pronounced dead on September 8 due to the pullout of Seattle-based title sponsor Qwest Communications, now rises from its ashes on the wings of Alaska Airlines and an advisory board of local businesses and individuals. According to a press release issued today by PDX Jazz, the fest's umbrella organization, "the 6th Annual Alaska Airlines Portland Jazz Festival presented by The Oregonian A&E will take place, as scheduled, Februrary 13-22, 2009." The 10-day fest's theme will be the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. Does this suggest corporate and community support for jazz is available -- if you know where to find it?
October 1, 2008 9:44 AM | | Comments (2)



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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Jazz beyond Jazz in October 2008.

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