HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNY DORHAM: A JAZZ PROPHET


KD on Uptown label

posted by Robert J. Carmack _”In my opinion, pound for pound, he was among the “best of the best” trumpeters from all eras. In 1965, I was sitting in my jazz band class ,where I held down the alto sax chair..every Friday  was free-time where the student musicians  all breakup into small groups, go into the small sound proof practice rooms. That’s when we pull out our own records and learn the “heads” to the great jazz tunes of the day, or standards being played on many jazz stages everywhere. My best friend, Larry R. (RIP) at the time played trumpet, and was very much into the best of trumpet players.”

“He was the first one to bring Una Mas to class, certainly my first time hearing it, we had so much fun trying to play the record, then match up the tones of our instruments with the record.. especially in the fast parts ,when you really have to  listen and repeat the process over and over until it made sense.  We could exchange Miles Davis with Blue Mitchell or Dizzy with Nat Adderley ,But,  We never could swap-out KD for anybody, including Freddie Hubbard or Lee Morgan., These guys were my top three trumpets at the time, no particular order. In all that time since 1965, nothing has changed except, all three have passed (RIP). My love for his sound has increased over the years. I’ve been able to study his style, tone and composing skills. It just draws you into the core of his play, or the heart, where all of his great, melodious playing  is displayed over and over again.  The solos he played were classic compositions in themselves. ”       albumcoverKennyDorham-UnaMas

Kenny Dorham was a musician’s musician. Universally admired and respected by his peers and fellow trumpeters, KD worked with every major figure of the modern jazz movement–Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, Art BlakeyBud Powell, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Max Roach.

Yet for all his popularity with fellow musicians, who loved his unique tone and melodic ideas, Dorham was constantly overshadowed by more obviously brilliant and original voices during his lifetime. He had the misfortune to play beneath the shadows cast by Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown and Miles Davis. Only in the 18 years since his death has a fuller and wider appreciation of KD’s talent developed. There is now a “school” of Dorham trumpet playing.

Kenny was a singularly gifted instrumentalist and improviser who distinguished himself in Bebop but really came into his own during the Hard Bop period when his mature playing graced the Jazz Messengers and the Max Roach Quintet, both quintessential groups of the genre.

“I want to do a book on some of the musicians that I feel were bypassed . . . Like Kenny Dorham. Most people know Kenny, but Kenny during his whole lifetime never got the accolades and never got the roses that he should have received for all that he gave us.”

Jackie McLean -1972

KD  double exposure

Kenny was also an excellent jazz composer and a highly proficient arranger. He used to “ghost” many of the charts which were published under the name of Walter “Gil” Fuller. Dorham was a sensitive ballad singer to boot.

From the 1950’s onwards, Dorham occasionally led groups of his own–the first was called The Jazz Prophets–and gave early and crucial exposure to such younger men as Bobby Timmons,Herbie HancockJoe Henderson, Charles Davis, Kenny Burrell, Butch Warren and Tony Williams.

It is difficult to imagine that this singular talent, who proved to be a discerning critic as his Down Beat reviews revealed, was forced to take jobs in munitions and medical plants and a sugar refinery to sustain his family because the rewards of playing jazz were so poor. Kenny’s playing got better and better from 1954 onwards. In the 1960’s he recorded with Barry Harris, Cedar Walton, Jackie McLeanJoe Henderson, Eric Dolphy, besides making an impressive series of LP’s under his own name for Blue Note. Dorham was a consultant for the Harlem Youth Act anti-poverty program in New York, and a member of the board of the New York Neophonic Orchestra. In the 1970’s Dorham continued to play gigs and appear at festivals. KD, who possessed one of the most uniquely beautiful trumpet sounds in jazz, died on December 5, 1972 of a kidney ailment from which he had been suffering for some time.

KD Z 3

Remembering Alice Coltrane: She Stood In Her Own Shadow


alicecoltrane2X  Trane painting

posted by Robert J. Carmack

For more than five decades, the Coltrane name remains at the forefront of modern music. It is lauded throughout the United States as well as internationally where it has received great acclaim. The musical offerings cover an eclectic variety of artistic expressions recorded on ABC ImpulseWarner Bros., and Impulse-Universal.

Alice Coltrane, (McLeod) August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007

was an jazz pianistorganistharpist, and composer, and the second wife of jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane. One of the few harpist in the history of jazz, she recorded many albums as a bandleader.

She graduated from high school with a scholarship to the Detroit Institute of Technology; however, her musical achievements began to echo throughout the city, to the extent that she played in many music halls, choirs and churches, for various occasions as weddings, funerals, and religious programs.  Her skills and abilities were highly enhanced when she began playing piano and organ for the gospel choir, and for the junior and senior choirs at her church.  In later years, she would further her musical attributes by including organ, harp and synthesizer to her accomplishments.

Alice McLeod studied classical music, and also jazz with Bud Powell in Paris, France, where she worked as the intermission pianist at the Blue Note Club in 1960. It was there that she was broadcast on French television in a performance with Lucky ThompsonPierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke .  She began playing jazz as a professional in Detroit, with her own trio and as a duo with vibist Terry Pollard. She married singer Kenny Hagood in 1960, and had a daughter with him (Michelle).

From 1962-63 she played with Terry Gibbs‘s quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. In 1965 they were married in Juarez,Mexico. By January 1966, she replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group. She subsequently recorded with him and continued playing with the band until his death on July 17, 1967. Coltrane became stepfather to Alice’s daughter Michele and the couple had three children: John Jr. (1964–1982), a drummer; Oranyan (b. 1967), a DJ; and Ravi (b. 1965), a  grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist.  After her husband’s death ,she continued to play with her own groups, later including her children, moving into progressively more meditative music.  b& w alice coltrane harp

Coltrane was a devotee of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. In 1972, she moved to California, where she established the Vedantic Center in 1975.  By the late 1970s she had changed her name to Turiyasangitananda. Coltrane was the spiritual director, or swamini, of Shanti Anantam Ashram (later renamed Sai Anantam Ashram in Chumash Pradesh) which the Vedantic Center established in 1983 near Malibu, California.

On rare occasions, she continued to perform publicly under the name Alice Coltrane. The 1990s saw renewed interest in her work, which led to the release of the compilation Astral Meditations, and in 2004 she released her comeback album Translinear Light. Following a 25-year break from major public performances, she returned to the stage for three U.S. appearances in the fall of 2006, culminating on November 4 with a concert for the San Francisco Jazz Festival with her son Ravi, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Charlie Haden.

It proved to be her last major concert, in which ,this writer was in attendance. Alice Coltrane died of respiratory failure at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles, age 69. She is buried alongside her late husband John Coltrane, in Pine Lawn Memorial Park, FarmingdaleSuffolk County, New York.

alice Coltrane   ABC Impulse

Discography

A Monastic Trio
Huntington Ashram Monastery
Ptah, the El Daoud
Journey in Satchidananda ****  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuDuNfqXnrc

Universal Consciousness    **** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx2B5t4doTE     
World Galaxy
Lord of Lords
John Coltrane: Infinity
Reflection on Creation and Space
The Elements
Illuminations (with Carlos Santana)
Radha-Krisna Nama Sankirtana
Transcendence
Transfiguration
Turiya Sings
Divine Songs

Infinite Chants
Glorious Chants
Translinear Light

PRESIDENT OBAMA JOHN COLTRANE LEGACY CONNECTION


posted by Robert J. Carmack – music historian/blogger

I found this quote while researching Ravi Coltrane, and had no idea, our U.S. president is a John Coltrane fan. Famed photographer Jim Marshall took the 1960 picture of Trane.  That picture hangs in the white house with inscription and signature.    

President Barack Obama up close and personal with Jim’s shot of  John Coltrane. The President’s inscription reads:

“To Jim – I’m a big fan of your work … and Coltrane!” Obama-Coltrane-copy-300x230

‘Ambition sometimes gets a little out ahead of you,’ Ravi Coltrane said. He was sitting in his living room in Brooklyn, next to his son’s tiny drum kit, talking about his new album, “Spirit Fiction.”  ‘You start imagining more than you can actually pull off, and you cross that line from possibility into impossibility.’

“On the wall nearby was a framed photo of President Barack Obama standing in the White House gazing at a black-and-white photo of another musician, a saxophonist like Ravi.

To Ravi,’ it is inscribed. ‘From a huge fan of your father’s.’ ”   Even Ravi did not know until President Obama sent him this photo.  (shown above)

Grammy Nominee RAVI COLTRANE

Grammy Nominee RAVI COLTRANE

                                                                                  John Coltrane  Impulse

What a Difference a Day Makes:Happy Birthday Dinah Washington


posted by Robert J. Carmack    Ruth Lee Jones, aka Dinah Washington, was born on August 29, 1924. She was a singer and pianist, who has been cited as “the most popular black female recording artist of the 1950s”. Primarily a jazz vocalist, she performed and recorded in a wide variety of styles including blues, R&B, and traditional pop music, and gave herself the title, “Queen of the Blues”. She’s a 1986 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Dinah elegant

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Lee Jones was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Chicago as a child. She became deeply involved in gospel and played piano for the choir in St. Luke’s Baptist Church while still in elementary school. She sang gospel music in church and played piano, directing her church choir in her teens and being a member of the Sallie Martin Gospel Singers. She sang lead with the first female gospel singers formed by Ms. Martin, who was co-founder of the Gospel Singers Convention. Her involvement with the gospel choir occurred after she won an amateur contest at Chicago’s Regal Theater where she sang “I Can’t Face the Music”.

By 1941-42 she was performing in such Chicago clubs as Dave’s Rhumboogie and the Downbeat Room of the Sherman Hotel with Fats Waller. She was playing the Three Deuces, a jazz club, when a friend took her to hear Billie Holiday at the Garrick Stage Bar. Joe Sherman was so impressed with her singing of “I Understand”, backed by the Cats and the Fiddle, who were appearing in the Garrick’s upstairs room, that he hired her. During her year at the Garrick – she sang upstairs while Holiday performed in the downstairs room – she acquired the name by which she became known. She credited Joe Sherman with suggesting the change from Ruth Jones, made before Lionel Hampton came to hear Dinah at the Garrick. Hampton’s visit brought an offer, and Washington worked as his female band vocalist.

She made her recording debut for the Keynote label with “Evil Gal Blues”, written by Leonard Feather and backed by Hampton and musicians from his band, including Joe Morris (trumpet) and Milt Buckner (piano). Both that record and its follow-up, “Salty Papa Blues”, made Billboard’s “Harlem Hit Parade” in 1944.

She stayed with Hampton’s band until 1946 and, after the Keynote label folded, signed with Mercury Records as  solo singer. Her first record for Mercury, a version of Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin‘”, was another hit. Between 1948 and 1955, she had 27 R&B top ten hits, making her one of the most popular and successful singers of the period. Both “Am I Asking Too Much” (1948) and “Baby Get Lost” (1949) reached Number 1 on the R&B chart, and her version of “I Wanna Be Loved” (1950) crossed over to reach Number 22 on the US pop chart. Her hit recordings included blues, standards, novelties, pop covers, and even a version of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” (R&B Number 3, 1951). At the same time as her biggest popular success, she also recorded sessions with many leading jazz musicians, including Clifford Brown and Clark Terry on the album Dinah Jams (1954), and also recorded with Cannonball Adderley and Ben Webster.  dinah Washington
In 1959, she had her first top ten pop hit, with a version of “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes”, which made Number 4 on the US pop chart. Her band at that time included arranger Belford Hendricks, with Kenny Burrell (guitar), Joe Zawinul (piano), and Panama Francis (drums). She followed it up with a version of Nat “King” Cole’s “Unforgettable”, and then two highly successful duets in 1960 with Brook Benton, “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” (No. 5 Pop, No. 1 R&B) and “A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)” (No. 7 Pop, No. 1 R&B). Her last big hit was “September in the Rain” in 1961 (No. 23 Pop, No. 5 R&B).

Washington was well known for singing torch songs. In 1962, Dinah hired a male backing trio called the Allegros, consisting of Jimmy Thomas on drums, Earl Edwards on sax, and Jimmy Sigler on organ. Edwards was eventually replaced on sax by John Payne. A Variety writer praised their vocals as “effective choruses”.

Washington’s achievements included appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival (1955–59), the Randalls Island Jazz Festival in New York City (1959), and the International Jazz Festival in Washington D.C. (1962), frequent gigs at Birdland (1958, 1961–62), and performances in 1963 with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Performing at the London Palladium, with Queen Elizabeth sitting in a box, Washington told the audience: “There is but one Heaven, one Hell, one queen, and your Elizabeth is an imposter.”

Washington married seven times. Her husbands were John Young (1942–43), George Jenkins (1946), Robert Grayson (1947), bassist and bandleader Walter Buchanan (1950), saxophonist Eddie Chamblee (1957), Rafael Campos (1961), and pro-football player Dick “Night Train” Lane (1963).  She had two sons: George Kenneth Jenkins and Robert Grayson.

dinah stamp

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so6Y1RJcPAI
Washington was an outspoken unapologetic liberal Democrat. She once said, “I am who I am and I know what I know. I’m a Democrat plain and simple, always have been. I’d never vote for a Republican because in my opinion they don’t have what it takes to run any kind of private or public office. That’s all.”

Early morning of December 14, 1963, Washington’s seventh husband, Dick Lane went to sleep with his wife, later he found her slumped over and non-responsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of secobarbital and amobarbital, which contributed to her death at the age of 39. She’s rests in peace at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNY DREW BARON OF HARD BOP JAZZ


posted by Robert J. Carmack

Kenneth Sidney “Kenny” Drew  August 28, 1928 – August 4, 1993

Kenny Drew Trio

Drew was born in New York City in 1928 and received piano lessons from the age of five. Drew’s first recording, in 1950, was with Howard McGhee, and over the next two years he worked in bands led by Buddy DeFrancoColeman HawkinsLester Young, and Charlie Parker, among others.  After a brief period with his own trio in California, Drew returned to New York, playing with Dinah WashingtonJohnny GriffinBuddy Rich, and several others over the following few years.  He led many recording sessions throughout the 50s, and in 1957, He appeared on John Coltrane‘s  classic Blue Note album Blue Train.

Drew was one of several American jazz musicians who settled in Europe around this period: he moved to Paris in 1961 and to Copenhagen three years later.   While he sacrificed much of the interest of the American jazz audience, he gained a wide following across Europe.

Kenny Drew was a well-known figure on the Copenhagen jazz scene, recording many sessions with the Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.  “Living in Copenhagen, and travelling out from there,” Drew remarked, “I have probably worked in more different contexts than if I had stayed in New York, where I might have got musically locked in with a set-group of musicians.  This led to a grand recording with Dexter Gordon ,  “One Flight Up” another expatriate living in Europe at the time.

Kenny Drew and Dexter Gordon appeared on screen in Ole Ege‘s theatrically released hardcore pornographic film Pornografi – en musical (1971), for which they composed and performed the score. Drew died in 1993 and was interred in the Assistens Cemetery in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. He even have a street named after him in southern Copenhagen, “Kenny Drews Vej” (Eng., Kenny Drew Street). Drew has a son, Kenny Jr. who’s also a Jazz pianist.


Kenny_Drew_and_His_Progressive_Piano
Kenny Drew Blue Note

JAZZ FESTIVALS OR MONEY MAKING VENTURES?


Posted by  James Chism

James Chism

The proliferation of jazz festivals around the world to broaden their programming into areas either tangentially related to jazz…or, in some cases, away from jazz entirely. Festivals like the one in Miami called “Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival” its upcoming artist lineup for its upcoming festival has no real Jazz artists (local or otherwise) as part of this event. Now in its ninth edition, it seems that the public is being misled–especially Jazz music fans and tourists visiting Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and surrounding areas—into thinking that the music performed will be “Jazz.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What is being billed as a weekend of festivities using “Jazz” as part of its name is a music festival composed of mostly R&B and Soul music artists, Babyface, Fantasia, Ne-Yo Monica Earth, Wind & Fire, Charlie Wilson, New Edition Najee (Smooth Jazz) Rachelle Ferrell and Mary Mary.

This event is misrepresenting Jazz and misleading the public about an art form proclaimed by the United States Congress as a rare and valuable American national treasure. I am disheartened by events like this that demonstrate no regard for the integrity and deep legacy of this art form. (Also see HR 2823, National Jazz Preservation and Education Act of 2011- Rep. John Conyers Jr. [D-MI14]) While the real Jazz music is suffering from lack of fans and very few places in the area where local musicians get to perform, “Jazz in the Gardens” has managed to attract big money sponsors using “Jazz” as part of its Brand—including the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club, Macy’s, Comcast, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, American Airlines, the Miami Dolphins, the Fairmont Turnberry Resort, and others.

We are constantly in the trenches educating kids about Jazz heritage and helping build the next generation of Jazz musicians and fans; and here we have this event that is miseducating children on what Jazz is really about. This event shows no respect for the heritage of Jazz and the people who went through great pains to pass this art form onto us so we can enjoy the fruits of their hard labor—including: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, and many others.

As a destination attraction, “Jazz in the Gardens” is sending a negative signal about Miami and Fort Lauderdale to people around the world that enjoy this art form. Those who believe that a jazz festival stops being a jazz festival the minute it introduces any non-jazz into the program are advised to stop here. One suggestion, from those who have a problem with broader programming, is to pare back (“get back to your roots”) and become smaller, niche festivals.

In practical terms, that simply isn’t possible. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, they say, and festivals would have a near-impossible challenge of selling funders with the premise that “we’re going to become a smaller, more focused festival, and appeal to a smaller, more select audience. Now, how about some money?”

As is usually the case in a world driven by bottom lines, even artistic pursuits like festivals are expected to grow—to become bigger and better. “Shrinking” sends a bad message to just about everyone, and will do absolutely nothing to support the solicitation of funding, sponsorship and other critical forms of partnership that help festivals with everything from nailing down venues and getting instrument support to paying travel expenses to bring in artists from abroad.

In closing, I understand why they call it a Jazz Festival because it’s easier and more importantly less expensive to underwrite/ insure. If you have a rap, R & B, rock etc festival it simply cost more to underwrite/insure. They understand with Jazz you have a more educated, mature and average age crowd of 45 and over group ergo there’s less likelihood of the potential for something to happen. The solution is to support Jazz organizations that put on real jazz festival like Jazzonian, Gold Coast Jazz Society, South Florida jazz, Jazz Arts Music Society of Palm Beach and many others in South Florida. It should be noted that this is a worldwide pandemic for Jazz. We must all work together to keep Jazz viable.

James Chism – Vice President  & Executive board member for Jazzonian;a non-profit group that preserves the integrity and legacy of Jazz by providing training,scholarships and performance venues for youth and budding musicians in the South Florida community.http://www.jazzonian.org/main.html

BENEATH THE SPIN: ERIC WATTREE ON THE DEBATE OF MODERN JAZZ


re-post by Robert J. Carmack  of a blog originally posted by Eric Wattree

Wattree Eric pixReflections on the Stanley Crouch, Mtume Debate on Modern Jazz

I recently watched the debate between columnist Stanley Crouch and percussionist James Mtume on the evolution of modern jazz with great interest. Crouch, the steadfast jazz purist, essentially took the position that much of what’s passing for jazz today is actually a corruption of the art form, while Mtume took the position that Crouch was simply out of touch with the new face of jazz. . In my opinion, Stanley Crouch was right, and James Mtume was simply remaining consistent with what his musical philosophy seems to advocate – playing to the audience and giving applause priority over substance. But Crouch made the mistake of not framing the issue in a way that would allow him to sieze the bottom line. It’s not about the new versus the old; what the discussion is actually about is quality versus lesser quality, and that can be measured. . First, just because something is new doesn’t mean that it’s better. The problem with a lot of electronic music is electronics is being used to camouflage a lack of technical competence. There’s so much noise and electronic distortion going on that it gives the musicians the “freedom” to play bad notes, be less than melodic, and play musical nonsense. Where, on the other hand, acoustic music is intimate. It’s purely about the musician and his technical ability. Period. If Bud Powell played a bad note, or played the wrong chord progression, it would stick out like a soar thumb. But if he was playing electronic music there’s so much chaos and distortion going on that nobody would notice. Mtume was also talking about “technical exhaustion.” He said that after a given time, in a given context, everything has been played that can be played in a given form of music. That’s also nonsense – in fact, the ability to do something new with the rhythm and chord progressions of “Stella by Starlight” is exactly what we mean by art. .

Wattree’s Chord Chart

There are only ten basic numbers known to mankind – 0 to 9. Yet we can take those ten numbers and combine them in an inexhaustible number of ways. On the other hand, there are TWELVE notes in music, and just like with numbers, you can build an infinite number of scales, chords, and rhythmic constructions with those twelve notes. So Mtume’s claim that you can “exhaust” the possibilities of what can be played on a saxophone is total and demonstrable nonsense. . The fact is, Miles started having problems with his chops so he went into retirement. But he loved music so much that he wanted to get back into the game, so being the genius that he was, he simply INVENTED a form of music that he could play. Then we had a generation of musicians who came along behind him, who didn’t have a vision of their own, that built an entire musical movement based on what Miles created to accommodate his old age and disability. . And finally, Mtume justified this “new music” by saying that it inspired young people who weren’t previously into jazz.

But the fact is, art is NEVER suppose to lower itself to accommodate the tastes of the lowest common denominator of the people. Art is suppose to raise the consciousness of the people up to it. That’s why it’s called art. . But the fact is, there’s a very simple way of resolving this debate over the relative merit of this so-called “new thing” over traditional jazz. Just like with good parenting, you can measure quality by what quality produces. So we can easily measure the relative quality of the two eras by measuring the quality of what the two respective eras have produced. Where is today’s equivalent of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, or Jackie McLean?  And where are today’s jazz standards, like ‘So What,’ ‘Round Midnite,’ ‘Moody’s Mood for love,’ ‘Impressions’ or ‘A Night in Tunisias?’ I’ll tell you where – they don’t exist. . The great jazz standards of the past are no longer being produced because the towering jazz giants who produced them have become all but a thing of the past.

I can’t think of one person of the stature of Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, or Jackie McLean that’s been produced in over thirty years, and there’s a good reason for that – the quality of the music that’s been produced over the past thirty years is not conducive to producing people of that stature and creative ability. That in itself should close the case on this debate.

But now let’s look at how young some of the old-school giants of jazz were when they reached their musical maturity. Charlie Christian, the father of the modern jazz guitar – died at 25. Charlie parker – died at 34. Clifford Brown – died at 25. Booker Littler – died at 23. Paul Chambers – died at 33. Fat Navarro – died at 26. So John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy were relatively old men when they died – John Coltrane died at 41, and Eric Dolphy at 36. So many of the giants of the past made their mark on the world and moved on long before many of today’s musicians have even gotten all of their scales together. And there’s a reason for that – because in the past young musicians were held to a much higher standard, and exposed to a far superior quality of music, and musicianship..

The musicians of the Bebop and Hard Bop eras understood from the outset that they weren’t  going to get rich playing the music that they loved, so they sought to validate themselves through excellence, while many of today’s musicians are in a hurry to learn their chromatic scale so they can run out and achieve wealth and fame – they figure they can learn to play in Gb Maj while they’re on the road. Then they get out and play distorted chord progressions, add a thunderous beat and loud electronic distortion to camouflage their limitations, and label it as “The New Thang.” Thereafter, they slap one another on the back as brilliant, and dismiss those of us who recognize it as noise as being “out of touch.” .

So the bottom line is, many of the so-called musical “revolutionaries” never took the time to learn what jazz is really about. Jazz is more than just another form of music, and it’s not just fun-n-games. Jazz is also a way of life. There’s a political component to it – a way of thinking that reflects a unique way of viewing reality. So jazz purists are not simply upset over a modified beat and the introduction of electronics, they’re also upset over the caving in to mediocrity and the abandonment of the political principles and qualities that jazz represents. . After all, one of the greatest contributions that jazz has made to the black community is informing the world that we’re not the frivolous and thoughtless people in which we’d previously been portrayed. The harmonic complexity of bebop served to bring the dazzling intellectual capacity of black people to the world stage.

So naturally, jazz purist are both reluctant and hostile to going back to the people-pleasin’ days of what is essentially a musical form of Steppin’-Fetchism. . Jazz has traditionally been the cultural anthem of social revolutionaries – both black and white – who are willing to fight the good fight. Thus, jazz purists resent the mongrelization and surrender of those principles in lieu of “Can we all just get along?” To them, that represents the selling of our principles. That’s why the word “commercialism” is looked upon with such disdain. Miles Davis  So you can’t just put a funky beat behind noise and call it jazz, because once you go frivolous, the spirit of jazz has been abandoned. While jazz does kick up it’s heels on occasion, it’s a very serious form of music that’s designed to appeal to the mind, not just the Ass. For that reason, a logical and organized structure is essential to its character. Without that, and it’s arrogantly distinctive swagger, it’s not jazz – Period.

MILES
We knew him as Miles, the Black Prince of style, his nature fit jazz to a tee.
Laid back and cool, a low threshold for fools, he set the tone of what a jazz man should be.
* Short on words, and unperturbed, about what the people thought;
frozen in time, drenched in the sublime, of the passion his sweet horn had wrought.
* Solemn to the bone, distant and torn, even Trane could scarcely get in;
I can still hear the tone of that genius who mourned, that precious note that he couldn’t
quite bend.
Eric L. Wattree is a writer, poet, and musician, born in Los Angeles. He’s a columnist for The Los Angeles Sentinel, Black Star News, The Atlanta Post, and several other publications. He’s also the author of “A Message From the Hood.”

Some of the greatest minds I’ve ever known held court while sitting on empty milk crates in the parking lots of ghetto liquor stores, while some of the weakest minds I’ve ever known roamed the halls of academia in pursuit of credentials over knowledge.
Http://wattree.blogspot.com
Ewattree@Gmail.com

Jazz Performer Les McCann To Be Honored By Living Legends Foundation


Les McCann004-01 now a

posted by Robert J. Carmack

Los Angeles,Calf._Soul Jazz singer and pianist  Les McCann is on tap to be honored by the Living Legends Foundation,Inc.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, August 22 at 6:PM . McCann is being acknowledged for his large body of work that spans five decades. the festivities are being held at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center. Mr. McCann, along with two other musicians, saxophonist/educator Daniel Jackson and saxophonist, Bobby “Hurricane” Spencer.  The awards presentation is part of a series entitled, Living Legends Jazzabration. the organization’s mission is unique in the fact that they select and honor Living Jazz & Blues Legends;celebrating their contributions while they’re alive and can appreciate the recognition .For reservations and more information, call Linda Morgan 562-762-6441, or go to their site

http://www.LivingLegendFoundation.com

Les McCann at Mike headshot

Leslie Coleman “Les” McCann (born September 23, 1935, Lexington,Kentucky.  Les McCann is a Soul Jazz pianist/vocalist whose greatest success came as a crossover artist of R&B and Soul. McCann’s humble beginnings began in the military  when he won a Navy talent contest for singing,which led to an appearance on the Ed Sullivan.  Les landed a contract with Pacific Jazz label in the early 1960s, where he produced a series of Jazz trio and compilation records with other label mates.

By 1969, now with Atlantic Records, He released Swiss Movement,  a recording by McCann with frequent collaborator, saxophonist  , Eddie Harris and guest trumpeter  Benny Bailey at that year’s Montreux Jazz Festival. that album contained the song “Compared To What”, and both the album and the single were huge Billboard pop chart successes. “Compared To What” featured political criticism of the Vietnam War. The song was not written by McCann, but a fellow Atlantic composer/artist, Gene McDaniels had written it years earlier.

“Compared To What” was initially recorded and released by soul vocalist Roberta Flack. Her version appeared as the opening track on her debut recording, First Take (1969). After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann, primarily a piano player  began to emphasize his  rather “gruff” vocals more.

He was considered an innovator in the Soul Jazz style, merging jazz with funk, soul and world rhythms. He was among the first jazz musicians to include electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer in his music.

In 1971, he and Harris were part of a group of soul, R&B, and rock performers — including Wilson PickettThe Staple SingersSantana and Ike & Tina Turner — who flew to Accra,Ghana for a historic 14-hour concert before more than 100,000 Ghanaians. The concert was recorded for the documentary film Soul To Soul. In 2004 the movie was released on DVD with an accompanying soundtrack album.

Les McCann discovered Roberta Flack and obtained an audition which resulted in a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

A mild stroke in the mid-1990s sidelined McCann for a while, but, in 2002 he released a new album, Pump it Up. McCann has also exhibited as a professional painter and photographer. These days Mr. McCann is quite busy doing what he was born to do..performing and planting smiles on the faces of his audiences all over the world.  Well done Mr. McCann, You deserve it.

In 1967, at the world-famous Lighthouse Jazz Club, three teen-aged musicians  attended a Les McCann Trio concert, and went backstage afterwards. they were met by a gregarious, fun-loving guy,  who was very generous with his time  by answering questions and just offering some encouraging words ..One of those teenagers was myself, Robert J. Carmack.

Living Legends jazzabrations

Hard Bop Jazz Master Pianist Cedar Walton Dies


posted by Robert J. CarmackCedar Walton

August 19 2013_  Jazz pianist,composer and  longtime hard-bop icon Cedar Walton died today at his Brooklyn New York home .no details regarding cause have been reported. Walton,79 is survived by his wife Martha and a host of family members and close friends.  as more details are revealed this publication will report those facts.

Walton was first taught piano by his mother, and, after high school, moved to Colorado to commence studies at the University of Denver. There, during after-hours jazz club gigs, he met musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane, who would sit in with Walton’s group when traveling through town.

“In 1959, he recorded with Coltrane on his seminal album Giant Steps, but the recordings weren’t included on the initial issue of the album; the alternate tracks were later issued on the CD version. From 1960-61, Walton worked with Art Farmer and Benny Golson’s band Jazztet.

“Walton’s next significant musical association was with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During his years with Blakey (1961-64), Walton stepped forward as composer, contributing originals such as “Mosaic,” “Ugetsu,” and “The Promised Land” to the group’s repertoire. …

“In 1974, Walton joined with bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins, and saxophonist Clifford Jordan to form the group Eastern Rebellion, which would perform and record sporadically over the subsequent two decades. Other musicians rotated in and out of the band, including George Coleman, Bob Berg, Ralph Moore, David Williams, Curtis Fuller, and Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros. …

“In addition, he continued to perform in rhythm sections for Milt Jackson, Frank Morgan, and Dexter Gordon and accompanied vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Freddy Cole. He also led the backup trio for the Trumpet Summit Band, which started as a project for the 1995 Jazz in Marciac festival in France.”  To be continued ,part II “Remembering Cedar”   coming August 25 in Hipster Sanctuary

Remembering Duke Pearson:Jazz’s Other Duke


Duke Pearson Right Touch LP

posted by Robert J. Carmack

Jazz pianist and composer who also had experience as producer,bandleader,arranger and A&R  man for Blue Note in the 1960s and beyond. His talent and perseverance help shape the Hard Bop  direction for Blue Note records.

“Even after 30 + years past his death, his legacy has to fight for any mention on broadcasts, books on jazz, and so-called jazz historian essays.”

The last few years,there has been rumblings of exhibits,Hall of Fame inclusion in Georgia, etc.so far,its only been conjecture and wishful thinking on the part of family members and fans. IMHO, Duke Pearson was too talented, and special to not be included in any Hall of Fame, museums or major jazz exhibits.Some of my favorite music in Jazz  just happens to be music composed, produced or arranged by Duke Pearson. Jeannine by Eddie Jefferson, & Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams group. The Phantom, Wahoo, Amanda, Sweet Honey Bee. I can hardly keep still whenever I plop on Rough N’ Tumble by Stanley Turrentine on Blue Note records,circa 1965. Pearson’s uncanny ability to conduct magic with large ensembles of 6-9 pieces, providing them with big band voicing and dynamics, thereby squeezing every ounce of soul out of the sessions he produced. The other aspect of Duke’s signature was his pick of the greatest musicians of the era,which mostly were on Blue Note or had recorded on blue Note sessions before. Anyway you sliced it, it always came out WINNER!!

DUKE was born Columbus Calvin Pearson, Jr. August 17 1932 in Atlanta, Georgia to Columbus Calvin and Emily Pearson. The moniker “Duke” was given to him by his uncle, who was a great admirer of Duke Ellington. Before he was six, his mother started giving him piano lessons, an instrument he studied until he was twelve.Then, he took an interest in brass instrumentsmellophonebaritone horn and ultimately trumpet. He was so fond of the trumpet that through high school and college, he neglected the piano. He attended Clark College while also playing trumpet in groups in the Atlanta area. While in the Army, during his 1953-1954 draft, he continued to play trumpet and met, among the others, pianist Wynton Kelly. Pearson himself confessed in a 1959 interview that he was “so spoiled by Kelly’s good piano”, that he decided to switch to piano again  Also, it seems that dental issues forced him to give up brass instruments. He continued to perform with different ensembles in Georgia and Florida, including with Tab Smith and Little Willie John, before he moved to New York City in January 1959.  

sweet hony Bee LP Duke

In New York, Pearson gained the attention of trumpeter Donald Byrd, who saw Pearson performing with the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Sextet (The Jazztet). Shortly afterwards, Byrd asked him to join his newly formed band, the Donald Byrd-Pepper Adams Quintet. Pearson was also the accompanist for Nancy Wilson on tour in 1961. During that same year, Pearson became ill before a Byrd-Adams show, and  newcomer  Herbie Hancock took over for him. This eventually led to Hancock taking over the position permanently.

On the 1963 Byrd album  A New Perspective, Pearson arranged four tracks, including “Cristo Redentor”, which became a big hit. That song, Pearson later commented, was inspired by a trip he took to Brazil.  Also that year, after the death of Ike Quebec, Pearson took over his position as A&R man for Blue Note. From that year until 1970, Pearson was a frequent session musician and producer for numerous Blue Note albums, while also recording his own albums as bandleader. This was odd, since Pearson also recorded his co-led big band with Byrd for Atlantic Records, a stipulation he made sure was in his Atlantic contract.  The Byrd-Pearson band consisted of iconic musicians like Chick CoreaPepper AdamsRandy Brecker, and Garnett Brown; the latter three were members of the Thad JonesMel Lewis band. Pearson’s compositions include the now standard, frequently covered “Jeannine”, composed in 1960, an early cover appears on  Cannonball Adderley‘s  album Them Dirty Blues (1960).

Tender Feelins  Duke P. My favorite non-Duke version is by Eddie Jefferson’s (vocalese arrangement of Byrd/Pepper Adams cut from the Half Note sessions. Pearson eventually retired from his position with Blue Note in 1971 after personnel changes were made; co-founder Alfred Lion retired in 1967 after the label was sold to Liberty Records the previous year and co-founder Frank Wolff died in 1971. Pearson opted to teach at Clark College in 1971, toured with CarmenMcRae and Joe Williams through 1973, and eventually reformed his big band during that time.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1970s, from which he died in 1980 at Atlanta Veterans Hospital He is survived by children, a host of family and long time friends, including peers from his long musical career  as innovator, producer and top shelf composer of jazz standards.