April 2007 Archives
Second-lines parade roll on, less expensively.
City and Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force Agree on a Fee
They were back at Lafayette Square, in the early morning hours yesterday morning, across the street from US. District court, right under the statue of Henry Clay, a statesman best known as the "great compromiser": Tamara Jackson, president of the Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force; Katie Schwartzmann, staff attorney of the ACLU; Carol Kolinchak, pro bono cooperating attorney; and some two dozen officers and members of the 19 Social Aid & pleasure clubs represented in a lawsuit protesting the raised police security fees imposed by the city of New Orleans. Gerald Platenburg wore a collared shirt bearing the logo of his club, Nine Times, from the Upper Ninth Ward; his business manager, Corey Wilkes, was at his side. And T-Shirts and jackets signified some of the organizations whose weekly assemblies, shows of solidarity, purpose, music and joy, were in doubt: Valley of Silent Men; We Are One; Lady Rulers; Original 4, Original Pigeontown Steppers, among others.
As the 10am hearing time approached, a circle was formed, hands joined. "We pray for the continuation of our culture of our peaceful assembly, of our music and dancing," said Theris Valdery, president of the Revolution club, "and freedom from the obstacles in our path."
But 10 am came and passed, as Schwartzmann and Kolinchak huddled at the end of a third-floor hallway with City Deputy Attorney Joe DiRosa.
Today, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt presides over a hearing that will have a powerful impact on a seminal New Orleans cultural tradition, second-line parades, as he hears arguments in a lawsuit against the city, filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force, in protest of security fee hikes that appear arbitrary, discriminatory, and, according to ACLU staff attorney Katie Schwartzmann, unconstitutional.
For those in New Orleans, your presence at U.S. District Court Eastern, 500 Poydras St., Judge Engelhardt - Section C 351, at 10am, can only lend support. (Tape recorders or cameras not permitted, cell phones must be off.) The Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force will likely assemble by 9am in Lafayette Square, across from the courtroom at 9am.
Please read on for more details and background:
I'm just back from the Experience Music Project pop conference in Seattle (some reflections to come, I swear). And I'm back in New Orleans, gearing up for two consecutive weekends of the Jazz & Heritage Festival, not to mention a constellation of other festivals, mini-festivals and loosely affiliated musical events (much more to come about all that, I promise even more resolutely).
But if I could be two places at once, I'd steal away to the Blue Note in Manhattan on Sunday, May 6th for that rarity of gigs -- the kind of which you could predict neither the billing nor the sound. This one-night affair pairs the most potent living force in modern improvisation (save for perhaps Ornette Coleman) with the greatest living male jazz singer.
Those saddened pauses that accompany the news of a jazz master's passing is something any critic knows well. But in the case of pianist and composer Andrew Hill, who died early this morning, I can reflect on the dozens of memorable performances I witnessed and the thrill I felt recently when his new recordings, his older unissued work, and his reissued classics converged to command listening time and demand critical praise.
What I loved most about Hill's music, for me, defies words. Neverthless, here's what I wrote in a capsule review about his 2006 CD Time Lines for a Wall Street Journal roundup:
Dr. Michael White is precise and colorful in conversation, whether detailing the music of George Lewis and other pioneers of New Orleans traditional jazz or describing the sights and smells of his first tortured visit to his flooded home, post-Katrina.
Here's a "Cultural Conversation" piece I did on White for The Wall Street Journal: It opens at the Sound Café, at one of the weekly engagements that found the clarinetist joining forces with the members of the Hot 8 Brass Band, extending the lineage he inherited.