NEA Jazz Masters concert on ustream, NEA gives 1/4 mil for gigs

Last night's NEA Jazz Masters concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center was ustreamed -- for the first time allowing the world to see live, free and forever America's official ceremony knighting the duly experienced, accomplished and original wise-people who create and perpetuate America's living vernacular music. It was great to actually be there, too -- amid a throng of jazz's most powerful public and private supporters -- beside those who make the music, those who present, teach, promote, record, fund, think, write, broadcast, … [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...]

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...]

Midnight (EST) deadline, blues contest entries

Prizes of Jazz at Lincoln Center tix for this weekend and dvds of Wynton Marsalis with Willie Nelson for the best blues lyrics or prose poem will be determined at 12:01 tonight (11/11/09). Several stunning (!?!) efforts have been received -- via the comments box below -- but I'm not publishing any of them until all the tries are in and the winners have been chosen. Is it hard to write a blues lyric? See my examples from yesterday, or search the web for classics, which are plentiful. Three to five choruses fitting a standard 12-bar blues form, … [Read more...]

Last week in New York beyond jazz

The season for creative music opened with several roars: Ornette Coleman triumphed at Jazz at Lincoln Center -- Postive Catastrophe at the New Languages Festival was an absolute delight -- Los Angeles trumpeter Bobby Bradford lead an ace quintet at the Festival of New Trumpets at the Jazz Standard -- and those are only the gigs I could make, I missed so many more.Ornette Quartet, photo by Nick Himmel, courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center … [Read more...]

Best American city for jazz? Chicago

I'm a Chicago homie -- long removed but never really gone -- so don't expect objectivity, but a recent visit proved my native metropolis is #1 in America and maybe everywhere for its active, creative, meaningful, almost-economically-viable, neighborhood-rooted, exploratory and world class jazz. I say this even as my dearly adopted New York City kickstarts as freshly energized a fall season as any I recall.Jazz is the lifeblood of Chicago in a way it ain't in NYC, at least not right now. Jazz-soul-blues is Chicago's street music. Chicago's … [Read more...]

Today’s the day NYC goes beyond jazz

On September 17,New York kicks off a fall season more highly charged with new creative energies than any in memory. An army of mostly young, skilled, ambitious and devoted musicians is making itself heard in the East Village, Soho, Brooklyn, on the Lower West Side and in the clubs -- while benevolence is cast by the first ever performance -- at last -- of Ornette Coleman at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Sept. 26. … [Read more...]

Best DC jazz presenter: Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center presents more jazz in 2009-10 than all the other US government cultural institutions combined -- some 40 concerts of new and established talent in all styles. No surprise, public performance being the Center's reason for being, while the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution are mandated for research and archival activities. But who supports the KenCen's jazz? … [Read more...]

McLaughlin-Corea Five Peace Band and a fan’s disappointment

The Five Peace Band -- guitarist John McLaughlin, keyboardist Chick Corea, alto saxist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade -- opened the last leg of a multi-month tour with a three-night stand at Jazz at Lincoln Center last night. The players' musicianship can't be faulted, their energy was high and they looked like they were deeply  engaged in having fun. So are my expectations and/or standards disproportionate, unfulfillable? Why at concert end did I feel more enervated than invigorated?  … [Read more...]

Eddie Palmieri sets Jazz at Lincoln Center afire

Eddie Palmieri, the genius and prophet of Afro-Caribbean jazz, showed Herbie Hancock, maybe Wynton Marsalis and certainly the roaring audience at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall a thing or three last weekend. His band La Perfecta II, reconstituting the instrumentation and compositions for mambo, cha-cha and pachanga dancing Palmieri introduced in 1961, blew the lid off the joint as I've heard no other band do since it opened in 2004, establishing Latin music's clavé rhythm for all time at the core of what Marsalis likes to call "the house … [Read more...]