LADY KRISTINA AT LARGE IN NEW YORK: JAZZ AND GENTRIFICATION


 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Kristina McBride ~Int’l Jazz Editor at Large   I recently ventured to NYC to go see the legendary Pharaoh Sanders in Brooklyn. I hadn’t been to New York in around 13 years, so I wanted to take my time and see the city and experience it all over again, taking in the old with the new. It felt wonderful to walk the streets again, block after block. I considered the fact that I had never been to Harlem and wanted to get off the beaten trail, so I got on the A-Train and got off at 125th and Malcom X Blvd. I was overcome with a sense of peace and excitement simultaneously.

I had arrived in the cultural mecca of Black Americans. Legends had walked these streets: Langston Hughes, Malcom X, Zora Neale Hurston, Amiri Baraka, Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, Miles Davis…I can go on and on. I was hearing Gregory Porter’s “On My Way to Harlem” on a loop in the musical soundtrack of my mind.  I gazed at the buildings surrounding me.  All the goings-on was a sensory wonderland, displaying mothers pushing their babies around the corner while on their cellphones.. a young man rushing toward the subway, perhaps he won’t be late to his shift.

Wow..the Nigerian grandmothers sitting at their stalls with their wares for sale, fanning themselves from the impossible heat of a New York Summer.  And, of course I walked past the Apollo Theater, snapped a few pictures of myself, Then I sauntered in the vibes and wisdom from the vendors selling their body oils, shea butter,black seed soap and Dashikis.

I finally met up with a long-time friend, both of us were hungry,  we decided to stop by a café for some grub. On the way, he pointed to the left and said, “There it is…that was the Lenox Lounge.” I paused abruptly on the sidewalk, taking in the sight in front of me. It was a massive, hollowed space flanked by two buildings with awnings.  I stood in front of the empty lot where the Lenox Lounge once stood, now filled with bulldozers that will go back to work demolishing what remained that following Monday. Including a massive, blue metal removal bin, I wonder what was in it. Could it be any of the chairs or light fixtures, or maybe pieces of the beautiful, honeycomb tile floor? Not even the marquee was there. One would never know that the place ever existed.

Rumors are a Sephora is being constructed in its place. Another frivolous, over-priced store in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Or at least they’re trying to. Only just a few weeks before my visit there, was a vote to stop the renaming of a section of Harlem to “SoHa” (short for South Harlem). Harlemites wouldn’t stand for that nonsense.

I wish this could have been the case in D.C. where this is happening all over as the “brown folks” are being moved out to attract younger, richer, and incidentally more white people into the city. “The sight of a Whole Foods at the Corner of Malcolm X Blvd and 125th befuddled me as I came out of the subway station.” Such an odd place for a store like that for that neighborhood, but it’s a sign of things to come.

So many of our cultural landmarks and venues that was home to Black America’s music and its artists over generations are rapidly disappearing: Bohemian Caverns and HR-57 in Washington, D.C.; in Philadelphia, although they have been long-gone are Pep’s and The Showboat, and it’s even worse nowadays according to some long-time Philadelphians.

Older Philly Jazz fans into their 80’s now, feel the new spots  aren’t hosting any jazz whatsoever. In  Los Angeles, the home of Leimert Park’s World Stage, they too have been bullied by the threat of gentrification. Presently preparing to put up a staunch fight for culture and legacy . We now have to hear jazz in these sterile environments, where the band has to fight with the noise of people chatting-away as musicians create Living Art right in front of them.

Absolute worst..annoying people practically standing on the bandstand just to capture video and pictures to post to FB, and insta-gram, trying to prove how hip they are .

Most aren’t really into the music anyway.  Even worse than all that , if you do love the music and want to go out to hear a good gig, it’s a small fortune sometimes, $15 and up covers plus $20 food/drink minimum is not uncommon. Good luck if the gig is in a city that requires pay to park! The venues aren’t paying anything decent for the band to play, so musicians aren’t working.

Kristina on Sax

The artistry and music are suffering because of it all, Hopefully, there is an urgency to remedy this situation.

I contemplated this as I walked away from the empty, hollow shell where the Lenox Lounge once stood, looking back several times,searching deeply for a sense of hope. ### by Kristina McBride

Next Up Nov.1:They Called Him Morgan:My Spin on the Movie

 

 

 

 

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SHANA TUCKER DEBUT AT DETROIT’S CLIFF BELLS ~ ONE NIGHT ONLY


posted by Robert J. Carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

Shana Tucker Chamber Soul artist
Shana Tucker Chamber Soul artist

shanatucker_credit

The lovely and talented singer-multi-instrumentalist, Shana Tucker makes her first trip into the motor city,binging her special brand of Chamber Soul to

CLIFF BELL’S
Thursday, October 22, 2015       @ 8 & 9:30 PM
2030 Park Avenue, Detroit MI 48226

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CLIFF BELL’S, the historic downtown jazz club (a few blocks from the Windsor Tunnel). Supported by a stellar rhythm section, Detroit’s Finest: Jon Dixon (piano/keys), Kamau (bass), and Alex White (drums), it’s all going down this THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, with two sets at 8:00 and 9:30 PM..

~ The Bill Heid Piano Trio ~

“Her voice alone would support a career. What makes Tucker special is her adherence to the cello, boldly taking the instrument into new territory.” -INDYWEEK.COM

Shana Tucker is a singer-songwriter and cellist who credits her genre-bending ChamberSoul™ journey to the influences of her jazz and classical roots, interwoven with 80’s & 90’s pop music, movie soundtracks, and world music.

Shana Tucker Detroit

Shana’s journey as a solo artist began in 2009, when she arrived in Durham, NC and quickly became a staple in the vibrant Triangle music scene. INDYWEEK.COM  writes, “Indeed, crossovers and connections are a central theme of Tucker’s career, from the cello’s liminal range to her interests in various genres.

Her debut album SHiNE corrodes the music industry boundaries between classical, jazz, folk, R&B and soul. Triangle Arts & Entertainment notes Shana as “a complex musician who offers not only a world-class voice that rivals that of Cleo Laine or Diana Krall, but also is an accomplished cellist…able to compete with musicians who make their living simply by playing one instrument…”she carves out a space that is intrinsically hers”.

http://www.shanatucker.com/

HAPPY 85 TO JAZZ LEGENDARY SAXOPHONIST SONNY ROLLINS !


posted by robert j. carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

SONNY ROLLINS  SEPTEMBER 7 1930

Sonny Rollins MOHAWK
Sonny Rollins in 1959 w Mohawk
Sonny Mohawk 3 Rollins
Prestige Records Golden Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins turned 85 years old today . its hard to believe ,not because of his age, but, in spite of his age. He still holds court somewhere in the world on major stages blowing long, multi-note phrases, swinging  violently on the most miniscule of sub-themes set up by his own improvisations. Very few things are more exciting than watching and listening to Sonny Rollins in Beast mode. My first experience seeing and hearing him was as a curious child watching 1950s television, that just happened to have a jazz band playing that night. I saw this really cool looking black man with a shiny horn , sun glasses and a Mohawk. I think it was Steve Allen or Jack Parr’s version of the The Tonight Show.    Sonny Rollins was more than a jazz musician, he was a mentor to other jazz musicians, cultural and fashion icon whose influences went beyond the bandstand as well. He was the first black man I ever saw with a Mohawk (1959)..Quite the dresser on stage when he wanted to, He was the first I ever saw with clean-shaved head(1960s) and diamond-studded Ascot.

My first live Sonny Rollins concert, I was now 21 and living in Los Angeles 1971, he was performing at the museum of modern Art outside.. I watched with such wide-eyed delight as he swung so hard on unbelievable tempos, countered that with such tender,velvety arpeggios like he did on such classics as, I Can’t Get Started or Don’t Blame Me. Fast-forward to late 1990s and I’m now living in Atlanta Georgia watching a much older man with full head of snow-white hair and full beard, with a very nice suit with red “Chuck Taylor” Converse basketball shoes.  This time his band personnel was young guys except for his long-time bassist Bob Cranshaw. The results were still the same…long-winded solos on jazz standards and some west indian folk songs    paying homage to Rollins’ West Indian roots.

Sonny at Newport 2001
Sonny at Newport 2001

This man has appeared in countless numbers of countries on even more super numbers of stages,over (7) seven decades of playing professionally and like a great Rolls Royce classic, even though high milage, He still purrs and runs like new.

Well done sir! Happy Birthday Sonny, keep coming back!

CLARK ” MUMBLES” TERRY REACHES THE BIRD’S EYE at 94


posted by  Robert J. Carmack #blues2jazzguy

clark Terry
(Clark Terry illustration by Paul Kisselev)

The American Jazz community is jarred once again by the passing of trumpet master,Clark Terry (94). He was considered a major influence on trumpet coming out of the swing and Bebop eras, while bringing style and hip humor to generations of musicians, including Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. The seventh of 11 children, Clark Terry was born into a poor St. Louis family on Dec. 14, 1920. Louis Armstrong was his mentor. Dizzy Gillespie once described him as “the greatest trumpet player on earth.”       My first experience with Terry was  where he’s playing solo with Doc Severson and the Tonight Show Orchestra with Johnny Carson. Often, his stage signature tune was a humorous vocalese- based riff tune called mumbles. 1960s, Terry went on to record an entire monologue based around the mumbles character having an argument with his girlfriend , thus, it was his calling card over the decades of his career. I kind of saw him as another Hipster like Dizzy,with the Tam and big glasses, who played trumpet on the top shelf. when injecting humor and style into his personality, that made watching him so cool .He was also one of the first black musicians to hold a staff position at a television network ,and was for many years a mainstay of the “Tonight Show” band. One of the most high-profile proponents of teaching jazz at the college level. Clark was a well respected , serious Jazz musician with a great sense of humor. Also, a perennial favorite at all the traditional Jazz festivals. He will be sorely missed by all of the jazz audiences around the world and right here in the USA.

Clark Mumbles Terry
RIP CLARK TERRY… You were the Best of the Best!

CLARK “MUMBLES” TERRY: THANK YOU ! A PERSONAL THANKS FOR BRINGING THE FUN TO JAZZ


posted by Robert J. Carmack  #blues2jazzguy

Clark Mumbles Terry

RIFFIN’ WITH THE HIPSTER: KICKIN ‘ OFF BLACK HISORY MONTH @ THE WORLD STAGE


posted by Robert J. Carmack   #blues2jazzguy

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THE DON LITTLETON TRIO    

IT never “Rains” in Southern California is not true, its just a matter of what type rain..as I laugh out loud. I went into Leimert Village  on Saturday, Feb. 7 to catch a special show at the small, but mighty World Stage in Leimert Park Village. Yes, the same one founded by Billy Higgins and Poet Kamau Daaood  over 20 years ago. Tonight , I was invited out by drummer/percussionist Don Littleton who was fronting a TRio of sort “without Piano”  just drums/percussions, woodwinds and Bass Violin.  what an Order!  a quick peek at The personnel told me not to miss it. Though its been over 30 years since I lived in Leimert Park, I still enjoy driving back out from the Inland empire area to “GET MY REAL JAZZ FIX”.  DON had assembled an eclectic trio of master Jazz musicians . including Don himself, Bassist John B. Williams, who many of you may remember in the early days at the Lighthouse Jazz  Club with The Horace Silver Quintet, and fans of the Arsenio Hall first show in the 80s. He was Bass player /Poet in the “POSSE” Band led by Michael Wolff.  Mentors and teachers like Ron Carter,  no wonder John is one the premier bassist on a “first call status.”  Muti-Reed man Pablo Calogero was the glue on saturday night as he weaved his way through Jazz Pioneer’s compositions without piano, with him carrying the onus of melody and creating new melodies off the harmonics of the original. MONK, DUKE ELLINGTON, Coltrane, just to name a few.  The “Entree” was the mastery of improv.   One of the tunes that stood out  for me was a “call and response” ditty by Ellington  re-spunned by the Trio.

(hear original  Angelica by Ellington/Coltrane by clicking on link)

This group was able to get up under the skin and  find your soul  to connect with you in the audience. No fluff  or gimmicks, just pure  Jazz, soul , passion and experience took us on a 90 minute journey.  I was particular amazed at the woodwind player, Pablo Calogero, who played masterfully on Saxes,Flute and a rare appearance of the infamous BASS Clarinet..a monster on any set.   Don Littleton  on Traps Don Littleton Trio B w Pablo Colgero & John B

 

John B. made it easy  for us in the audience to complete the picture that was being painted by the group all evening. I love it when I don’t have to deal with musicians just “faxing it in” just because the ideal environment is not there.  all of the musicians were true professionals on an obvious slow night at the door.. it did not bother their creativity one bit. (www.johnbwilliams.com)

Slap drum & Bass Clarinet alone
Bass Clarinet & Soprano sax with Cajons(slap Drums)

 

 

STRINGS OF SOUL WITH JAZZ GUITARIST JACQUES LESURE


posted by Robert J. Carmack  #blues2jazzguy

L-R George Benson,Paul Jackson,Jr., Jacques Lesure
L-R George Benson,Paul Jackson,Jr., Jacques Lesure

Shown here with his brethren of the “Git’ Box,”  jazz man Jacques Lesure trading road stories , flats and sharps, and whats on tap for the next Jacques Lesure CD. Left to Right, Grammy winner George Benson, Paul Jackson Jr and Jacques. Noted Jazz Drummer, Willie Jones III , president at WJ3 Records announced the release date as sometime in the spring of 2015 , possibly April stated,  Ed Lovell, Lesure’s longtime friend and manager. Jacques Lesure’s sophomore  CD on WJ3 Records will feature Jones III hitting drums, but also composition contributions from journeymen jazz artists, Donald Brown (grammy nominated pianist) and Eric Wyatt. Jacques Lesure, a Los Angles-based guitarist is originally from Detroit, Michigan; home of the famous Motown sound. Jacques attributes his sense of style and signature sound to his development in Detroit. “Growing up in Motown, you can’t help but be influenced by some of the greats like Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Betty Carter; great gospel artists such as The Clark Sisters, The Winans  and  singer Fred Hammond, they’re all from Detroit” said Jacques Lesure.