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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PINE for The Drum

-From thejazzbreakfast

Saxophonist Courtney Pine has been announced, together with poet Benjamin Zephaniah, as a patron of Birmingham intercultural arts centre The Drum, and will be crucial in encouraging high profile support of the centre’s expansion campaign.
The Drum’s press release reads like this:
Courtney Pine (Photo © John Watson/
Courtney Pine (Photo © John Watson/
We are delighted that Courtney Pine and Benjamin Zephaniah have chosen to lend us their support and encouragement for The Drum’s ongoing development, and in particular our Raising the Roof campaign. Both artists are long-time friends of Birmingham’s cultural scene, appearing and performing at The Drum in the past, and now helping ensure great future opportunities for our audiences and young people.
“It is a great honour to become a Patron of The Drum, particularly during the organisation’s twentieth anniversary. The Drum has evolved into an essential part of Birmingham’s cultural ecology, providing a creative intercultural platform in the UK’s most diverse city, which is home to Europe’s largest Under-16 population.
The Drum’s Raising the Roof campaign will increase the capacity of the Auditorium by a third, transforming it into a flexible, dynamic space… A place where individuals, groups and communities – whatever their age, culture of social background – will be welcome.
I do hope that you will join me in helping to make this visionary scheme a reality for young people in Birmingham.” - Courtney Pine CBE
“The Drum is the kind of place I would have liked to be around when I was growing up in Birmingham. It is so important to have places where young people can explore and develop their talent, which is exactly what The Drum’s Young Gifted Brum achieves so successfully.
Supporting The Drum means supporting some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK by giving them the creative platform they deserve. To do that you need the right place with the right equipment, and that’s why I’m so excited about The Drum’s Raising the Roof campaign, which is going to create a flexible dynamic space fit for the 21st Century.
It’s such an honour to have become a Patron of The Drum, and I am proud to ask you to join me and help bring their vision to reality. That’s what we do. We Keep it Real. ” – Dr Benjamin Zephaniah
Raising the Roof is a revolutionary £4.8 million plan to redesign, refurbish and upgrade The Drum with new features, facilities and equipment, including expanding our Auditorium capacity, and most importantly, improving and upgrading our services and facilities for young people working in Digital Arts, Dance, and Drama.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jazz DAY (2014) in J-A

Its described as THE global Jazz Jam: Since 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. The further caps a month of celebrations marking Jazz Appreciation Month.

Here in Jamaica, while the genre may have gone south in terms of mass appreciation from a few generations ago (when clubs like the Glass Bucket and Silver Slipper and bands like the Skatalites ruled the roost), there remains a nub of hardcore jazzophiles, many of whom will be heading to the Zinc Shack on the famed Hip Strip in second city Montego Bay, for the Jmaaican version of International Jazz Day.

This will take the form of a dance party/selector session presented by Gordon Wedderburn through his GW Jazz outfit. Wedderburn, who has hosted Jazz radio in the UK and also worked in the hospitality industry locally is committed to keeping Jamaica "in swing" with the rest of the world's jazz aficionados.

"Its our small way of recognizing the huge contributions of jazz to popular music and even of Jamaican musicians to jazz and music as a whole," he said in articulating the motive behind the event. "There'll be music for dancing and music for listening and just an overall atmosphere of good vibes."

Wedderburn, with support from musicophile and writer Michael Edwards previously staged a birthday tribute to the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti in October 2013, and plans are afoot to renew that event this year. Overall, the aim is to grow both events so as to be able to welcome live musical participation as the support base - and corporate interest - grows.

Internationally, Jazz Day 2014 celebrations will be centred in Osaka, Japan and will feature a wide array of live and synchronized acts, including giants Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

J& R Goes Under: Requiem for a record Store

One of the last bastions of music retail in the Big Apple having survived Sam Goody, Tower, Virgin, HMV and countless others who came and went over the years J&R Music World was a solid rock of retail.  
Opened in 1971 with one store on Park Row I can remember when Raachele Friedman worked the register in their record department down in the basement under her father’s upstairs electronics store.  From that one store they expanded to pretty much buying up all the real estate on that one block (except the hardware store) to an empire and giant of electronics retail with an international reputation.  
Back in the hey day of the record business J&R Music World probably sold more records per square inch then any retailer in the US.
In fact when they first started they paid all their vendors in cash.  I was a sales rep back then and believe me when I tell you they kept many an independent record distributor afloat with their cash flow.
From 1985 to 1987 I managed their jazz department,  a stand alone store on top of their classical store at 33 Park Row.
Back in those days the record business was flush.  You could sell records with both hands 9 to 5 with no problem.
During the lunch rush (Noon to 2) you could sell a box of records right off the wall of any new release you played in the store. 
I did ‘In Stores' with many jazz legends including Horace Silver, Abbey Lincoln and Wayne Shorter.
You never knew who would stop in the store.  One time the actor Matt Dillion came in looking for classic Be Bop records for a role he was considering.
The article in the New York Times says it’s a reorganization so who know’s what the future will bring.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Hard Rain" lands soflty yet unforgettably

From her sharp yet subtle interpretations of such pop classics as "Once In a Lifetime" [Talking Heads] and "I'm A Believer" [Monkees] to her adaptations of Nina Simone classics, Barb Jungr is one of our very favourite singers - however you wish to classify her music. We can't wait to hear for ourselves.
Advance word - as you can see below - on her latest CD, Hard Raid (in which she appropriates Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) is more than positive, and we can't wait to hear it 
4 Stars Jazzwise
"Investing everything she sings with telling insight, Jungr's complete affinity with the material lends the collection a galvanising power."
8/10 Uncut
"The commanding and rhapsodic singing brings connection and insight…superlative arrangements….To give such standards precious new life is quite some achievement."
The Sunday Times
"1000 Kisses Deep is simple heart-stopping. Jungr's attention to timbre and nuance brings new depth to every syllable."
5 Stars Independent
"This music is the North American Songbook's climax, revealed by its greatest interpreter."
4 Stars The Times
"Enthralling…Jungr is the perfect interpreter of this kind of material.

Blues Matters
"An unforgettable release. Brilliant."

Doug Boynton

"For my money, Ms. Jungr is one of the best living tellers of Bob Dylan’s tales."
Track listing, track times and composer:
1. Blowin’ In The Wind (Bob Dylan)
2. Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
3. Who By Fire (Leonard Cohen)
4. Hard Rain (Bob Dylan)
5. First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
6. Masters Of War (Bob Dylan)
7. It’s Alright Ma (Bob Dylan)
8. 1000 Kisses Deep (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
9. Gotta Serve Somebody (Bob Dylan)
10. Land Of Plenty (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
11. Chimes Of Freedom (Bob Dylan)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Jazzin the "New Land": Dennis Rushton Group at Terra Nova's Regency Bar & Lounge

its a most rewarding scene for an audience, whether composed of aficionados or musical neophytes, to hear musicians who not only have ability, but are clearly enjoying themselves.
Such was the scene last Thursday evening at the tony Regency bar & lounge, the Terra Nova's category-defining upgrade of its former El Dorado Room. Dennis Rushton on piano, Paul Madden on bass, Obed Davis on drums and Ian Hird on alto sax and flute treated a very receptive gathering to a night of rumbling resonance, sharp stick work, sonorous keyboard runs and plangent horns.

No surprises on the set list, of course. Starting with the Joe Zawinul-Cannonball Adderly classic Mercy Mercy Mercy and encompassing Nat King Cole's "L-O-v-E" Spyro Gyra's "morning Dancer" and "Blue Monk" among others. It is part of the commercial aspirations of the project, after all, to set a familiar and refreshing scene for the executive, professional and self-made types who gradually brought the room to near capacity over the course of the 3-set show.Conversations of all types were conducted in the chic lounge and on the adjoining terrace. A multi-screen plasma composite, mounted on the far wall facing the entrance showed muted hip-hop/r n'b videos, and ironic counterpoint to the music on the floor.

That said, musical aspirations were undoubtedly met, and the interplay between the four - all longtime fellow travelers on the city's cocktail music circuit - was palpable and made for a hugely enjoyable evening. Madden and Davis have grown beyond even their considerable talents of a few years ago - Madden coaxing deep resonance from the irridiscent strings of his instrument. Davis meanwhile continues to show the fruits of continuous application and study of the trapset - offering bursts of speed and power without sacrificing musicality nor slipping too far from his bandmates. His work on the high-hat was particularly distinguished on the night.

While working the flute on a couple selections, Hird reeled off some tart alto sax runs, including one extended solo that literally brought all other proceedings to a halt and elicited cheers from even the white-jacketed bartenders behind the counter. Leader Rushton smartly worked a modulated version of  his more outre show mode - offering tasteful fills punctuated, rather than obliterated, by appropriate flourishes.

This show was the third since the inauguration of the weekly series, the prior ones sadly missed by this writer. Not that it was even needed, but the night's performance provided ample incentive for more consistent attendance going forward.

Monday, January 6, 2014

That's a Lot of Coca-Cola: jazz @ Lincoln gets 20 million boost

the New York Times today reports that financier and philanthropist Robert J. Appel has given $20 million to Jazz At Lincoln Center "to benefit the organization’s performance, education and broadcasting efforts. The gift will also be used to help promote the center’s global initiatives of audience development and jazz advocacy."
Appel's pledge has been called "the largest private contribution to date in support of jazz music."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jazz into Law: Preserving the Heritage

The road to official recognition for the jazz art form continues with the re-introduction of a near 30-year old bill designating Jazz as an official National Treasure in the US. The National Jazz Preservation and Education Act of 2011 will build on Congressman John Conyers, Jr.'s  1987 Resolution by establishing jazz education programs
aimed at elementary and secondary students and by preserving the many artifacts, documents,
and photographs that tell the story of jazz in America. By preserving the past and creating a new
generation of jazz musicians and fans, this legislation will help to ensure that this uniquely
American musical genre lives on

In 1985, under the leadership of Mr Conyers, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) Jazz Issue Forum and Concert was established to enhance and perpetuate the art form, emphasize its cultural heritage, and force awareness and pride within the African American community. Each year, the Forum explores a different aspect of the jazz experience in order to promote a better understanding of the diversity and vibrancy of this music as a dynamic cultural phenomenon within our society. Over the past 26 years, Congressman Conyers has covered such topics as mentoring, opportunities for new talent, jazz education, the economics of jazz, and the contributions of women in jazz. The Forum is held in conjunction
with the CBCF's Annual Legislative Conference. Traditionally, the Forum followed by a free
concert where live jazz is performed by some of America's finest jazz artists. The Jazz Issue Forum and Concert has brought together an impressive array of talent, from song stylists to composers, from musicians to publishers, from broadcasters to educators, and historians and archivists. Among the notables who have previously participated are: Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet, Abby Lincoln, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Donald Byrd, Barry Harris, Dr. Billy Taylor, Shirley Horn, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Count Basie Orchestra, Gary Bartz, Hank and Elvin Jones, Wynton and Ellis Marsalis, and many more.
In 1987, the Congress passed Conyers’ House Concurrent Resolution 57 designating jazz a
"national American treasure."

In 1990, the Congressman won passage of a resolution commemorating tap, a form of dance
closely associated with jazz. That measure designated May 25th, the birthday of Bill
"Bojangles" Robinson, as National Tap Dance Day. Also in 1990, Congressman Conyers won
passage of appropriations legislation awarding the Smithsonian Institution with funding to
establish a comprehensive jazz program, including the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
During the 111th Congress, Mr. Conyers introduced House Resolution 894, honoring the 50th
anniversary of the recording of the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue and reaffirming jazz as a
national treasure. The album is widely considered the greatest jazz album of all time. The House
of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 894 on December 15th, 2009. The
vote showed a strong commitment on the part of Members of Congress to preserving and
celebrating American music and culture.

In the 112th Congress, Congressman Conyers introduced H.R. 2823, the “National Jazz
Preservation and Education Act of 2011.” The Act will make needed investments that will allow
for the preservation of artifacts that document our country’s jazz legacy and educate America’s
youth about this national treasure. Specifically, the Act will establish a National Jazz
Preservation Program at the Smithsonian and resurrect both the Jazz Artists in the Schools
Program and the Ambassadors of Jazz Program

Congressman Conyers has been supportive of efforts to present live jazz to the public in the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area through his past service on the board of directors of such
organizations as Capital City Jazz Festivals, Inc., and District Curators. He has also served in the
past on the boards of the National Jazz Service Organization, and the Rhythm and Blues