September 2007 Archives
It's high time a first-class jazz symposium was held. I'm back in New Orleans documenting a culture at once in crisis and in bloom, but were I in New York I'd be at Columbia University this weekend, for talk about jazz and its place in the world as well as worldly music from some of the best players in jazz.
If New Orleans musicians were drafted like basketball stars, this guy would be the blue-chip first-rounder. He's one of a celebrated lineage of musicians, the Andrews family, as well as a vanguard of young players in New Orleans who freely mix traditional styles with pop music. I'll be writing more about him, and you'll be hearing more about him, but for now this, from my piece in this week's Village Voice.
Shortly before he dropped into Iraq for less than 24 hours, President Bush did something of a drive-by in New Orleans to commemorate Katrina's second anniversary and his continued indifference to its aftermath. I commemorated that presidential non-event in this piece about trumpeter Terence Blanchard in this week's Village Voice:
Sitting in a rented room in the Faubourg-Marigny section of New Orleans, around the corner from the jazz clubs lining Frenchmen Street, I thought about the late-August day that had just passed: the second anniversary of the floods resulting from the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina. President George W. Bush dipped his toe in the city for the occasion--dinner at a Creole restaurant, a quick address delivered at a Lower Ninth Ward school--and then slipped out of town again like a criminal on the run.
Joe Zawinul was one badass mutha. At 70, he could swim a mile, hard. Or outdrink you, glass after glass of that sweet Slivovitz wine he favored. Or kick your ass -- OK, maybe just scare you in to to thinking he would with a single glare.
Or he could sit at a piano and play the most tender ballad you'd ever heard. Or, from behind one of his arsenal of electonic keyboards and synths, create a groove that, as one musician put it, "just entered your body."
But at 75, early this morning in his native Vienna, Austria, Zawinul died after a lingering illness.