main: July 2008 Archives

Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophonist, b. Chicago 4-24-28, d. at his home in the French countryside,  7--27-08 -- such bare facts don't say much about the music this man could wring from his instrument, back when jazz giants entertained the earth. From his pro emergence at age 15 in 1945 well past the mid '60s, when Griffin relocated to Europe due to tensions in the U.S. and civilization abroad -- he stood fast and tall for vigor and rigor, sophisticated lyricism and humor, impassioned drive, true blue grit, the spirit of collaborataion  -- attributes audiences shouldn't take for granted.
July 30, 2008 3:59 PM | | Comments (2)
P.S. to yesterday's musings re the BBC Jazz Awards: the Guardian's blog posting on the Awards show (which featured performances by Return to Forever, Tommy Smith, singer Ian Shaw and Jeff Beck with Jamie Cullum and Kyle Eastwoood jamming on "Let The Good Times Roll", plus presentations by Sir George Martin, among others) mentions that this event can be heard (free, online) through midnight Wednesday, July 30.
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July 24, 2008 10:36 AM | | Comments (0)
An international wrinkle on jazz awards: The British Broadcasting Company on Monday night announced 11 winners of the BBC Jazz Awards, Reunited fusion quartet Return to Forever won for "lifetime achievement," bassist Charlie Haden received the "international award," Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine were given the "gold award." But who are these other honorees with little reputation in the States. Are they better known throughout Europe? What are we missing?
July 23, 2008 9:51 AM | | Comments (1)

According to Slate (formerly, Salon's) tech writer Farhad Manjooreviewing the iPhone makeover and cool third-party programs that optomize its potential, the expense and hassle of securing the new device is worthwhile if only for mobile access to   The personally-programmed radio site has captivated me, too -- Pandora's Music Genome Project reliably streams known and unknown music I like -- jazz-beyond-jazz -- on my B **tches Brew "station" in surprising juxtapositions and successions. Virtually free, nearly boundless music exploration at one's fingertips!

July 20, 2008 1:25 PM | | Comments (4)
As an enclave of the newly gilded during the Gilded Age, the town of Newport, Rhode Island was   somewhat privileged by its relative isolation. The easiest ways to get to this promontory during the 1890s may have been by making a fortune in railroads, or by yacht -- the old town (dating from 1639) has long been considered sailing capitol of the U.S. In some circles, though, it's better known as home to the Newport Jazz Festival starting in 1954.

In its early years the Newport jazz fest broke some race, class and entertainment barriers, but during the past decade it's become cost-prohibitive for New York jazz fans who can hear most of the acts without leaving town and paying exhorbitant rates for the weekend's lodging. So this year, the festival fights back with chartered buses offering day trips starting in and returning to Manhattan or Brooklyn for a single fee that includes price of the entry ticket. 
July 15, 2008 5:20 PM | | Comments (2)
So Boston Globe staffer Jeremy Eichler has enlisted his infant son Jonah as a test subject for early musical perception and education. Why limit the kid's choices to Mozart and Schoenberg? How 'bout some good ol' American prime Louis Armstrong, introducing the concepts of improvisation and swing? 

July 14, 2008 8:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Do-it-yourself public sound installations are serendipitous surprises: Former Talking Head David Byrne wired the Battery Maritime Building to emphasize its haunted house groans and creaks, and it's further improved by human agency. A few hundred yards away, chimes are planted amidst the shrubbery. Leap on them.
July 11, 2008 5:59 PM | | Comments (4)
Loud, fast and chopsy -- that was the definition of "jazz-rock fusion" assumed by panelists (including me)  in a Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Matters public panel discussion of "Fusion at 40" held in conjunction with the headline appearance of  Return To Forever at the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

RTF -- introduced by pianist Chick Corea in 1974 to comprise guitarist Al DiMeola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White -- is a banner act at jazz fests most everywhere this summer. This lineup is together for the first time since 1983, its tour promoted as a 25-year anniversary and accompanied by a two-cd retrospective album (Return To Forever The Anthology) which has gangstered much jazz magazine coverage. RTF meets the loud, fast and chopsy criteria, sorta. But the supergroup was born several minutes past fusion's finest hour, and its members' collaboration honestly shows their age.
July 7, 2008 11:32 AM | | Comments (7)



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