Hurray for Treme

khandi alexander

"Do Watcha Wanna," the season finale of Treme, had everything I watch the series for: Compelling characters embodied by terrific actors; plausible and suspenseful quick-cutting across and interweaving of plot strands;confident command of realities afflicting post-Katrina/pre-Gulf oil spill New Orleans, andthe extraordinary depiction of living, breathing, hugely enjoyable music as a central factor in peoples' lives, whether or not they're professionally involved. … [Read more...]

Jazz, blues & beyond in Amman: Pops, Bird, Diz, Lady Day @ UJordan

I spoke on jazz and blues at the University of Jordan, a modern 45,000-student institution, in an event sponsored by the American Embassy while in Amman on family matters a couple weeks ago. About 50 avid students of music, arts and literature and their informed faculty watched videos of Louis Armstrong at age 32 doing "Dinah," Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie playing "Hot House," Billie Holiday with all-stars singing "Fine and Mellow" and Muddy Waters among other immortals from the American Folk Blues Festival, 1962-69, vol. … [Read more...]

The jazz of victory and celebration

It's odd that of all the nuances of expression jazz can convey, the thrill of victory and celebration of success is hard to find among the music's classics. Barack Obama's heartening win of the presidency prompts me to search out joyous music, but I can't think of a movement akin to the bells ringing in Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" in the repertoire of Miles, Ornette, Cecil or Coltrane, Mingus, Monk, Bird and Diz, or Ellington, Basie and Goodman. The crowning last chorus of Armstrong's "Tight LIke This" comes to mind, though the satisfaction … [Read more...]

What every infant should hear

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?  … [Read more...]