April 2008 Archives

Arturo O'Farrill told me that he and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra were "cast out of the castle" after five years as a resident ensemble with Jazz at Lincoln Center. But he's hardly packed it in: He's created his own nonprofit, established a broader aesthetic mandate with the orchestra's first season at Symphony Space, and grown outspoken about Latin jazz as no exotic "other".

I've grown to admire O'Farrill as a pianist, composer, bandleader, and man. I recall his first visit to Cuba, in 2002, when he visited the childhood home of his father, Chico O"Farrill. And I can't forget the tears in his eyes while he watched as the corner where he grew up, at 88th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan, was renamed "Arturo 'Chico' O'Farrill Place." He's done his father's legacy proud, and then some.

You can find my piece on Arturo (the son) in The Wall Street Journal here.
April 30, 2008 11:55 PM | | Comments (0)

Just when I was feeling guilty about heading into Passover without a thought of my desert-crossing ancestors or my going-without-bread family members, I ran into Ronald Lewis, a sweet-hearted, tough-minded guy who is still among the lonely pioneers who've returned to his Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. (He was a key character in a piece I did for Salon last year.)

"You comin' to the Seder?" he asked.

"What Seder?"

"The one at my house."


Turns out LJ Goldstein, photographer, Jew-about-town, founding member of Krewe du Jieux, was holding his krewe's ritual dinner at Lewis's recently restored home. If my culture was on display for a night at Lewis's place, so was his, permanently: When I introduced my wife, Erica, Lewis commanded: "Go see my museum!" -- the House of Dance and Feathers located just behind his home (this is the second edition, and impressive at that, reconstructed after Lewis lost his previous artifacts in the floods).

Some guests had prepared traditional Jewish fare -- kugel and matzoh ball soup and so on. There was brisket, too -- from The Joint, a favorite Bywater barbecue spot. We sat on the floor and worked through two hours of a Passover service far more faithful than my family's version. And different -- the Haggadah, for instance, began with "Shalom, y'all." Helen Regis, scholar of all things second-line, was there, as was Joel Dinnerstein, who is on Tulane Univeristy's faculty. So was Willie Birch, whose paintings, drawings, and mixed-media sculptures tell stories of struggle and transcendence as powerfully as the Haggadah.

"Yeah. I'm doin' a multicultural thing," Lewis joked when Birch showed up. When it came time to give thanks and to reflect, he turned serious. "I'm thankful for being back. But I miss the Ninth Ward like it was. I used to be able to just walk and see everyone and everything where there is still mostly nothing."

From there, as any good Seder does, we traced the tale of enslaved Jews on the run from Egypt, and I thought about how little difference there is between "Let My People Go" and "Let My People Go Home."

April 22, 2008 8:18 PM | | Comments (0)
I'm in New Orleans now, gearing up for jazzfest (and here's a little psych-up piece I did for Billboard on that). But were I in NY, and were I attending the Tribeca Film Festival, I'd be sure to catch a terrific documentary by Dawn Logsdon and Lolis Eric Elie, "Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans." My synopsis in the Village Voice guide to the fest is here (just scroll down a bit). And I'd check out another doc, "Old Man Bebo," on Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés (I've included a piece I once did on Bebo for The Wall Street Journal below):
April 16, 2008 4:29 PM | | Comments (0)
I've been too long away. Forgive me. I arrived in New Orleans two days ago to find that the trial of David Bonds, the accused murderer of Hot 8 Brass Band snare drummer and educator Dinerral Shavers, had finally begun. It was a dramatic three days of testimony, after which, to an outrage I'm sure I share with others, Bonds was acquitted on all counts. 
I'll have more to say on this matter, but I'm off to the Experience Music Project Conference in Seattle to present a paper on jazz funerals, dirges, and hymns in post-Katrina New Orleans. You can find the Times-Picayune stories on the trial here.
April 10, 2008 9:03 PM | | Comments (0)



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.