Why isn’t the amazing current generation of creative (jazz) musicians better known? Maybe because major artists of the not-so-distant past are practicing the art form at splendid peaks, overturning clichÃ©s about dwindling powers of octogenarians. Read my column in City Arts New York for a report that touches on Sonny Rollins, Roy Haynes and Muhal Richard Abrams, who tower over the start of the fall 2010 season.
Archives for September 2010
Gone from Youtube are two brief but vivid excerpts from Sonny Rollins’ 80th birthday concert at the Beacon Theater on Sept. 10 — one showing the great tenor saxophonist in duet with percussionist Sammy Figueroa, the second documenting the surprise, climactic contributions of Ornette Coleman to the set, and Rollins’ inspired improvised responses.
Too good to not post: Ornette Coleman was surprise guest with Sonny Rollins at his fast-become-famous Beacon Theater 80th birthday party on September 10 (backstage there was birthday cake shaped like a saxophone, made of marzipan). Note SR’s quote at about 10 minutes in of “I’ll Take Manhattan,” which he certainly did. [[As of 9/15/2010 this video has been removed from Youtube by it’s “user.” Research will follow.
thanks to whoever made these public, though in the future — PLEASE get artists’ agreements to film and make public . . . And the embedding is disabled, but here’s Don Cherry playing Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Billy Higgins, from New Orleans circa 1986.
A bootlegged video excerpt of Sonny Rollins at the Beacon Theater, 9/10/2010 is available on youtube — the sound doesn’t do him justice, and I don’t intend to encourage unauthorized video, but it is out there to give the world a brief idea of last night’s concert.
At age 80, Sonny Rollins is indisputably the greatest living jazz tenor saxophonist, proved last night throughout a 2-hour set at New York’s sold-out Beacon Theater in which harmolodic sage Ornette Coleman sat in, backed by drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Christian McBride, on
“Tenor Madness.” “Sonnymoon For Two”. Rollins was hunched and hobbled when he came onstage, but once he started blowing he stood upright and blasted his big bold sound with energy that brooked no diminishment of strength or inspiration, bending only to fire another fussilade of freshly wrought invention as if from his guts.
Contrary to my paean to Richard M. Daley’s support of Chicago’s music and arts, Chicago Tribune rock-crit Greg Kot writes of the Mayor’s treatment of the local music scene as a “second class citizen.” It’s true the City has messed with club venues — Marguerite Horberg of established the multi-genre Hot House years back and now runs the progressive culture initiative Portoluz regaled me last weekend with tales of fire inspectors evacuating theaters mid-show over petty infractions and other harrassments; Kot reminds us of Chi’s failure to get behind its indigenous rock, blues, pop and jazz as New Orleans, Austin and other U.S. cities have. Jury’s out on whether Daley’s been overall good or bad for music, but the issue deserves careful analysis, and I urge Jazz Beyond Jazz readers to take a look at Kot’s piece as well as this collaborative Trib report.
Shocking news from Chicago: Richard Daley won’t be mayor for life. Yet he’s the Windy City’s most significant patron of culture, leaving a legacy that ought to — that is, should, and might — survive him. Which was unexpected when he succeeded Mayor Harold Washington in 1989, but clear from my visit to Labor Day weekend’s 32nd annual Chicago Jazz Festival.
Can we guestimate how many listeners will be out hearing jazz this Labor Day weekend, at festivals free and/or famous around the U.S.? Chicago, Detroit, Tanglewood, Aspen, Vail, Los Angeles, Washington DC (well, Herndon VA), Philadelphia, San Jose, Macinac Island (Michigan) Indianapolis, St. Louis, Wilmington and Bethany Beach (Delaware), San Diego, Tucson, (see also the Latin Jazz fest, Sept 10 -11), Albuquerque. and Charleston all have concerts, street fairs and other celebratory activities based on or including jazz in its many and varied forms. Is anyone tabulating how many folks will be exposed to America’s indigenous art form at this end of summer? And what’s wrong with those municipalities that can’t get it together to support public events that comprise such joyful noise? If you know of other Labor Day jazz gatherings (blues count in my book; so does Latin jazz, swing/trad, whatever. . .) please leave info (with link, if possible) in the comments box below.
The Jazz Institute of Chicago‘s annual club tour is an urban presentation innovation and a treat, revealing an unheralded depth of local audiences, entrepreneurs and artists. On Wednesday night, Dudley Owens blew tenor sax with the largest sound I’ve heard maybe ever, in combo with an older pianist (sorry I didn’t get his name) who played as no one ever told him he couldn’t, turning the keyboard inside-out. They completely refreshed the Billie Holiday standard “All of Me” at a friendly, funky hangout called City Life Cocktail Lounge on East 83rd Street, while a shakedancer flirted outrageously with regulars at the horseshoe-shaped bar and jazz fest fans who’d paid a flat fee to be bused around to 13 venues, sampling the city’s diversity. Chi-town’s jazz scene may be short on fame and fortune but is rich with grit and gusto and a loyal, born ‘n’ bred following.