I may burn at the stake for political incorrectness, but it’s the truth: I have an intense aversion to gospel music. My distaste dates to a haunting childhood vision in which an overwhelming Mahalia Jackson is routed by a malevolent clown.
Archives for October 2007
Jazz at Lincoln Center opened its canon to Swing Era guitar heroes Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian last week, while John Scofield, one of the instrument’s current avatars, disappointed in performance of This Meets That with his trio + Scohorns. Where does the six-string ax belong, and what’s it to do?
A decade ago, pianist Herbie Hancock established his “New Standards” initiative, aiming to wed sophisticated improvisation to a contemporary American pop songbook (post-Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, et al). At last, after several disastrous attempts, he’s justified such a project with River: The Joni Letters — infusing well-known high art pop songs by inimitable Joni Mitchell with the depth of lyrical, inspired jazz.
Thelonious Sphere Monk (Oct. 10, 1917 – Feb. 17, 1982) should be celebrated today on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and always for the indestructible resonance of his compositions, pianism and performance style. He is an authentic icon of the American alternative, the possibility of us each becoming, and making sense of, who we uniquely are.
It’s easy to hear Monk’s influence in present day jazz — as easy as listening to a parade of 18 jazz and classical keyboardists in 10-15 minute increments from 5 p.m. to 9:15 this evening (Oct. 10) at the Fazioli Piano Marathon in the Winter Garden of World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan, admission free. They’ll lack the touch of the man himself — but then, he is inimitable. Check out his juggling act with cigarette, handkerchief, fragmented melody and flowing counterpart on “Round Midnight”, co-credited to Cootie Williams and Bernie Hanighen, but one of Monk’s signature songs.
At the National Endowment for the Arts party last week announcing the 2008 of Jazz Masters at least one celebrant was hoping the award would kick-start a professional cycle.
“You know,” said the 80-year-old trombonist/composer, paraphrasing the sequence of recognition he said Fernando Lamas had once applied to his career arc: “Who is Tom McIntosh? Get me Tom McIntosh! Get me a Tom McIntosh type! Get me a young Tom McIntosh! Who is Tom McIntosh?”
More than three dozen pundits and several hundred devotees of “jazz” old and new, free-form and familiarly-structured, abstract and/or pure blue — writers, broadcasters, editors, photographers, new media specialists and teachers (most of whom fulfill several of those roles simultaneously) — from some 20 countries — pondered the big picture – “Jazz in the Global Imagination” at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism lecture hall Saturday in the first such international conference ever held in the U.S.
It was sponsored by the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, produced by its director George E. Lewis, and consulted by the Jazz Journalists Association. That’s an organization I’m deeply involved with, which hosted auxiliary events — a party and jazz tour of Harlem, a Sunday brunch sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center so hip that Wynton Marsalis attended.