A talker and listener, actor-dj-writer-oral historian, good humored realist and pragmatic idealist, Studs Terkel (1912 – 2008) stands as an American cultural patriot, who enjoyed as rich if not untroubled a life as genuinely democratic artist might hope for over the course of the 20th century — earning Roger Ebert’s thumbs up asÂ greatest Chicagoan. Studs was hugely enthusiastic about music, loving blues as well as jazz, gospel, rootsy folk,Â the Great American Songbook,Â the soundtrack of the labor and Civil Rights movement, classical stuff too — taste way above and beyond genre. May we sometime soon see his like again.
Archives for October 2008
Globalism held its head high at the tenth annual Ponta Delgada Jazz Festival last week. Five nights of concerts performed by an international coterie of improvisers in the superb acoustics of a nicely modernized old center-city theater for a stylish, educated audience didn’t seem a cultural far cry, though they were held in the capital of the Azores, the mid-Atlantic archipelago 700 miles from mainland Portugal.
A reader asks: “Could you please post the name of the [Ornette] Coleman song sampled for that sketch” on Steven Colbert’s Comedy Central showÂ of October 9?
Presentations of jazz that break all sorts of bounds, pushing far beyond stale conventions — jazz beyond jazz — are so prevalent in Manhattan that the energy expended just being on the scene can leave me too drained to report on the good stuff. Five shows in the past month –Â Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Mali project at the Blue Note, Myra Melford‘s new quartet at Roulette, Richard Bona and Lionel LouekeÂ in the Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center, James “Blood” Ulmer with Vernon Reid’sÂ neo-blues band at the Jazz Standard and an evening celebrating the AACM chronicle and music of George E. Lewis at the Kitchen — while different as can be, barely hint at theÂ range of what’s happening here and now.
Steven Colbert plays a pointed dance on the funny-bone, but misled his “nation”Â unintentionallyÂ at least once Â last nightÂ in the segment “Who’s Not Honoring Me Now.” At 12 minutes into the show, he sniffed at the MacArthur Foundation’s award of a $500,000 fellowship to saxophonist Miguel Zenon, tongue-in-cheeking “Never give money to a jazz musician — they’ll just blow it on heroin and berets.”Â
A major international jazz festival right now in Washington D.C.? How odd: Is it the End of Times? Are we fiddlin’ while Rome burns? Or could it be a new beginning?Â
The Portland Jazz Festival, pronounced dead on September 8 due to the pullout of Seattle-based title sponsor Qwest Communications, now rises from its ashes on the wings of Alaska Airlines and an advisory board of local businesses and individuals. According to a press release issued today by PDX Jazz, the fest’s umbrella organization, “the 6th Annual Alaska Airlines Portland Jazz Festival presented by The Oregonian A&E will take place, as scheduled, Februrary 13-22, 2009.” The 10-day fest’s theme will be the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. Does this suggest corporate and community support for jazz is available — if you know where to find it?