May 20, 2013, 1:51 pm
Mary Lou Williams
According to a recent Washington Post article by Adam Bernstein, this year’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival will be the last produced by Washington DC’s Kennedy Center to focus exclusively on female headliners. Next year, it will be rechristened the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, keeping the name of the venerated pianist, composer, arranger, but featuring at least one all-male act for the first time.
As Bernstein wrote:
“The decision to redefine the Kennedy Center’s jazz festival was urged by Jason Moran, the 38-year-old pianist and composer who began working as a jazz adviser to the arts center in 2011…. Moran said his musical development was “inspired by everyone,” including women such as the jazz pianist Geri Allen, so he did not place a stark emphasis on gender. In his mind, the Kennedy Center’s festival would benefit by concentrating instead on the legacy left by Williams, who died in 1981 at 71.” Continue Reading
May 13, 2013, 2:14 pm
Ok, maybe I’m not actually fishing. This guy looks nothing like me. Blu Notes will be on hiatus this week, back Monday, May 20.
May 10, 2013, 4:24 pm
The Red Bull Music Academy is an interesting entity, with which I’m just gaining familiarity. On its website, it explains itself as:
…a world-travelling series of music workshops and festivals: a platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape. This year we’re bringing together two groups of 31 selected participants – producers, vocalists, DJs, instrumentalists and all-round musical mavericks from around the world – in New York City. For two weeks, each group will hear lectures by musical luminaries, work together on tracks and perform in the city’s best clubs and music halls. Imagine a place that’s equal parts science lab, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Kraftwerk’s home studio.
That’s a mouthful. But a quick search around the site reveals a scope, depth and outlook that might deliver on at least some of such promise. The online magazine alone is worth a visit. There are pieces up now about: the union of Jazz and Metal; a history of Hip Hop’s earliest Internet appearances; and one titled, “The Hum of the City: La Monte Young and the Birth of NYC Drone.” (I’ll be reading that last one.)
I want to call your attention to a new piece up now by Ned Sublette, titled “Bugalu on Broadway: The Dawn of Salsa in New York City.”
It’s a colorful and wonderfully annotated study that traces the musical innovations and permutations made by Puerto Ricans in New York City during the 1970s, which ultimately had global impact. Continue Reading
May 9, 2013, 5:21 pm
Just back in town, and I’ve barely cracked the stack of new and forthcoming CDs that arrived in the mail, let alone the downloads waiting in my in-box. Here’s a list so far of what’s on my playlist so far. Continue Reading
May 7, 2013, 8:31 pm
Around midnight, as Saturday turned to Sunday in New Orleans, Dee Dee Bridgewater removed the feathered wig she’d been wearing to reveal a shaved head. By then, she was well into an 18-minute version of “God Bless the Child.” Here’s my account of music in and around this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
May 3, 2013, 5:12 pm
Kidd Jordan is a hero wherever freely improvised music is prized. In New Orleans, he’d be considered heroic even had he stopped playing decades ago, so influential is his work as educator. Now it’s official: Jordan was named in the inaugural class of recipients of the Jazz Journalists Association “Jazz Hero” awards in New Orleans this week. Get my full story here.
May 1, 2013, 11:00 pm
The winners in the 28 music categories of the Jazz Journalists Association Awards were announced today. To find out who got what, look here.
Winners of the JJA’s Jazz Awards for excellence in journalism will be announced at a ticketed event to be held at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City on June 19.
I’ll offer no spoilers, except to say that one big winner was trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, pictured here. The voters were no doubt moved by Smith’s recent “Ten Freedom Summers,” a magnificent extended suite that pairs Smith’s Golden Quartet with a chamber orchestra, and which earned him a spot among the finalists for this year’s Pulitzer Prize in music. Continue Reading
April 30, 2013, 4:24 pm
The scene at Congo Square, in New Orleans, during last year's International Jazz Day Festivities
Jazz has always been international—born of African and European traditions transplanted to a New World, innovated into being in the United States, ever open to global influences and embraces.
Jazz’s reach and its identity will be celebrated with events around the globe, most notably with a historic all-star concert at 2pm EST in Istanbul, Turkey. All this is to mark the second annual International Jazz Day, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and meant to “highlight jazz’s unique power for advancing intercultural dialogue and understanding across the world.”
The concert, which will be streamed live here, is being co-presented by UNESCO, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and the Republic of Turkey. It will take place at Istanbul’s historic Hagia Irene, the city’s oldest church dating back to the fourth century. Continue Reading
April 26, 2013, 2:52 pm
John Murph has a provocative new post at The Atlantic’s site, questioning Sony Masterworks invocation of the Okeh Records legacy. His post draws from an earlier one about the label from a consistent source of provocative (and thought-provoking, if you ask me) commentary, trumpeter Nicholas Payton. No matter how you feel about the issue of nomenclature when it comes to music (Payton has campaigned against the word “jazz”), the irony here is too delicious to miss the point (or the fact that there is one). Continue Reading
April 25, 2013, 10:11 pm
Trumpeter Adam O'Farrill (left) and his brother, drummer Zack.
“Jazz April” is a media campaign created by the Jazz Journalists Association “to raise awareness of the jazz resources all around us, and generally make noise to show that jazz is everywhere, in April and all year long.” One thing the JJA has taught me is the value of mentorship toward realizing such goals. So I’ve given over my space today to Elias Malaquias, who works with me as an intern during his final semester at Institute for Collaborative Education (ICE), a small progressive secondary school in Manhattan. Continue Reading