The Jazz Journalists Association announces the 2023 Jazz Heroes -- "activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz," formerly the A Team -- emphasizing as it has annually since 2001 that jazz is culture that comes from the ground up, by individuals crossing all demographic categories, working frequently with others and beyond basic job definitions or profit motives to sustain and spread the vital music born in America. This year the JJA (a non-profit professional organization for journalists covering jazz) is honoring 36 … [Read more...]
Jazz journalism online, virtual reality book party
I'm inordinately proud of the new JJANews website because it makes easily accessible the videos, podcasts, articles with photos and online-realtime activities of the Jazz Journalists Association, such as lthe March 26 public Book Bash! with authors, editors and publishers, being held on on our unique virtual reality SyncSpace.live site -- plus background/office assets, in a clear, functional way. Kudos to designer Melanie Nañez. You have to visit the site yourself to see what it really has to offer. My gratification extends, though, … [Read more...]
“Supermusician” Roscoe Mitchell’s paintings revealed!
Roscoe Mitchell -- internationally renown composer, improviser, ensemble leader, winds and reeds virtuoso who has pioneered the use of "little instruments" and dramatic shifts of sonic scale in the course of becoming a "supermusician . . .someone who moves freely in music, but, of course, with a well established background behind . . ."* reveals his equal freedom in another medium in his first exhibition, "Keeper of the Code: Paintings 1963 -2022," which opened Jan 20 (closing March 23) at the Chicago gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey. A … [Read more...]
Armstrong in Chicago 100 years ago sparked jazz
Lest we forget: In 1922 Louis Armstrong arrived in Chicago from New Orleans, with his wife Lil Hardin, mentor King Joe Oliver and colleagues such as the Brothers Dodd (clarinetist Jimmy, drummer Baby) kick-starting jazz into the most spontaneous, joyful, virtuosic, collaborative art form the U.S. has yet produced. The Jazz Institute of Chicago celebrated this anniversary throughout 2022 -- here are four brief articles Kent Richmond and I co-wrote for the JIC JazzGram, telling the story with playlist embedded. … [Read more...]
Electroacoustic improv, coming or going? (Herb Deutsch, RIP; synths forever?)
As the year ends/begins, I'm thinking electroacoustic music is a wave of the future. But maybe it's been superseded by other synth-based genres -- synth-pop, EDM, soundtracks a lá Stranger Things. Is Prophet, the just released 1986 weird-sounds bonanza from Sun Ra with his Arkestra exploiting the then new, polyphonic and programmable Prophet-5 synth, timeless or passé? In February, I saluted Herb Deutsch, co-inventor of the Moog synthesizer, on his 90th birthday. Deutsch died on December 9, with synthesizers ever more present in music … [Read more...]
I saw Jimi Hendrix three times
On the 80th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's birth (11/27/42), memory and legacy of America's unsurpassed guitar-artist (written 2011): I'm bouncing around in the back seat of a pal's car with a couple other high school wannabes, cruising through our leafy-green, cushy but staid Chicago suburb, when the most amazing music comes roaring out of the dashboard radio. We're not going fast – have no urgent destination -- but the music shakes us up. We've never heard anything like it before. Few have. It's early summer 1967. A crude, siren-like, … [Read more...]
JazzBash! Immersive virtual Awards event plus!
I daresay the JazzBash! on Sunday, 9/11 is the first ever virtual hybrid Awards party/live Jazz Cruise auction/online concert from six U.S. cities/conference of activist panelists/bar with storytellers and presenters, live improvised painting, exclusive jazz photography exhibits and more -- in immersive environments depicting noted jazz sites through which attendees -- musicians, critics, the general public -- can roam at will, by cursor. Thanks to the genius of SyncSpace.live, the Jazz Journalists Association (of which I'm president, … [Read more...]
Who plays the saxophone? And why?
I love the sound of a saxophone, or rather the broad range of sounds available from this family of reeds instruments. Breathy, vocal-like, smooth, light, penetrating, gritty or greasy, able to cry and/or croon (sometimes both at once), it strikes me as capable of the most personal of musical statements, although that's probably a projection based on my imagination set free listening to these horns, mostly in the context of jazz, for more than half a century. But in some ways the sax seems a throwback. By the time I started actively … [Read more...]
Listening to Coltrane’s “Ascension,” and what I’ve done. . .
Yesterday's Concert dropped a podcast in which I offer guidance in listening even to challenging jazz recordings such as John Coltrane's ambitious, gnarly Ascension. And semi-shameless self-promotion: Music Journalism Insider has published a comprehensive career interview with me. For Todd L. Burns' invaluable, subscription-supported newsletter/platform about music journalism, I lay out at his request the steps that got me to my present point -- writer/editor/radio producer/president of the Jazz Journalists Association, board member … [Read more...]
Appreciating Charnett Moffett as a solo bassist
Saddened that bassist Charnett Moffett has died of a heart attack at age 54, I post this appreciation -- also serving as a profile -- written in 2013 to annotate his solo bass (!) album The Bridge, which he described as "my most personal and challenging release so far." Solo bass records are rare, and might seem to appeal mostly to bassists and bass aficionados. But on The Bridge Charnett Moffett, the charismatic bass virtuoso with an impressive past and equally brilliant future, has proven here -- without benefit of a band -- … [Read more...]
Happy 90th to electronic music pioneer Herb Deutsch
Herb Deutsch, the trumpeter-pianist-Theremin player-composer-Moog synthesizer co-creator and jazz inspired improviser turns 90 today, February 9, 2022, and a hearty Happy Birthday to him! In celebration, Moog Music has produced a video interview with this emeritus professor of Hofstra University, where he taught composition and electronic music, as the first of a series titled Giants. He's been less often mentioned in the story of the revolution in musical possibilities wrought by physical architecture for generating and processing … [Read more...]
Holidays with music, in person or not
Despite my avowed abhorrence of Christmas music, I enjoyed maestro Kurt Elling leading his hometown quintet in a holiday-themed performance at Chicago's City Winery last Sunday. My entire evening -- accompanied by best friends, and including the surprise discovery after the Winery show of a heartening young trumpeter at the Hungry Brain -- was a reminder that hearing music in person with others is a key experience, even if the potential for spreading disease makes us stay home. [What I've been listening to at home: Favorites of … [Read more...]
Jazz Autumn: Returns, galas and even awards
If all "jazz" shares a single trait, it's that nothing will stifle it. Adjusting to covid-19 strictures, Chicago (just for instance) in the past two months has been site of: A stellar Hyde Park Jazz Festival;Herbie Hancock's homecoming concert at Symphony Center;audiences happily (for the most part - no reported incidents otherwise) observing appropriate covid restrictions in intimate venues where I've been -- including Constellation, the Jazz Showcase, Hungry Brain and Fitzgerald's; a heartening multi-kulti success -- Japanese taiko … [Read more...]