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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

From Far and Wide

A Chorale-a-Day Keeps the Blues Away

By Published: November 15, 2010
To celebrate his 31st birthday, the New York-based, Canadian composer and soprano saxophonist Rob Mosher
Rob Mosher
Rob Mosher

sax, soprano
gave himself a challenge: writing 31 Bach-style chorales in 31 days. He started October 20, and at press time he was on target. "I'm a big fan of Duke Ellington's 'I don't need time, I need a deadline' approach," quotes Mosher. Every day he posts that day's chorale, so you can hear it on a keyboard as he blogs about it at robmosher.com and at kickstarter.com.

The ASCAP award-winner's work embraces jazz and classical idioms. Later, he'll record all 31 pieces, each one- to two minutes long, with himself on soprano sax; Micah Killion on trumpet and flugelhorn; Peter Hess on bass clarinet and tenor sax, and Nathan Turner on tuba. $3,100 has mostly been raised via kickstarter.com, to fund the quartet's recording and CD release. Why turn to the Internet for self-funding? Composers always have had backers, Mosher explains. "Bach had the church, Mozart had royalty, and Beethoven, later in his career, funded himself primarily through commissions."

"Sonny Brings the Presents to His Own 80th Birthday," by Dan Morgenstern, with photos by Fran Kaufman, is the cover story of the November Jersey Jazz. Published continuously since 1972, the 50-to-60 page journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society may be the country's oldest jazz society magazine. Morgenstern, America's honored jazz advocate and historian, is director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, Newark. Contributing editor of Jersey Jazz (Tony Mottola, editor), his "Dan's Den" column is also published at All About Jazz. The November journal is offered free to AAJ readers, as a pdf file, from November 15-20. E-mail me for a copy and please write "JJ OFFER" in the subject box.

"Jazzerati," a global listing of jazz-connected people, events, organizations and venues, is used by creator Donna Mercer (@ elementsofjazz.com) and her 12,650 followers on the social networking site, Twitter. Donna, a native of Philadelphia and jazz fan, started the project in 2008. The roster offers hot links in red that whisk you to the relevant Twitter page—first by the numbers 0-9 ("18th & Vine Jazz |18th&VineJazz | Portland, OR & NYC" is the first entry), then A to Z, starting with the first name of the person, or first letter of the organization, event, venue with a page on Twitter. First entry is: "Aaron Diaz | aarondiazuk | Birmingham, UK." Last is: "Zoltán Oláh | bassjazz | Budapest, Hungary." Donna adds daily jazz "tweets" (posts) to her Twitter account, but surprisingly, she tells me, she has received fewer than 10 new additions to her list of 1,500-plus page links. "That may increase, however, as more people such as yourself discover it."

Those Andrews Sisters go on resonating down the generations. Back in January 2008, Phil Glaser, an ex-patriate American book finder in Greater Copenhagen, posted on You Tube the "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," a hit song from the 1941 Abbott and Costello film, Buck Privates. By November 4 this year, says Phil, 436,774 views had been clocked. In the comments box, roseyapple91 wrote that the video "reminds me of my childhood when my grandmother and I use to dance around her living room ... whilst granddad would sit in his arm chair and watch us ... whilst smoking his pipe."Cheryl C wrote, "My mom is 92 ... and has dementia. I have this song & Big Band songs on my computer. I play them for her every day, she perks right up and jams in her seat. She does love music."

Another Andrews, first-name Troy, is no relation to the singing sisters. "Trombone Shorty" of New Orleans won his nickname at age 7, "in a jazz funeral parade where he wielded a trombone that dwarfed him. An older brother shouted 'Trombone Shorty!' and it stuck," added writer Jackson Griffith in Sacramento NewsReview.com. Traditional groups like Preservation Hall Jazz Band perpetuate the early 20th-century New Orleans style. Younger, eclectic groups like the now 26-year- old Troy Andrews' sextet, Orleans Avenue, take aboard the rock and funk and hip- hop they heard as teenagers. Their latest album, Backatown, was released this spring on Verve Forecast Records.

The 19th International Guitar Festival is tuning up to strum July 2- 10, 2011 in Mottola, Italy. That includes a masters class and competition for young guitarists in three age groups, born from 1991 to 1999. A related question: Could the late, eminent American guitarist, Tony Mottola, have his roots in that town of 1,575 mottolisi families in the southern province of Taranto? The guitarist's son and namesake says no. "My father was aware of the festival and the idea amused him," Tony Mottola, the Jersey Jazz editor, tells me, "but there is no connection to our family name as far as I know. My Italian relatives were from the Naples area, at about the same latitude, but Naples is on the east coast and Mottola is close to the west coast." The festival draws hundreds of dedicated guitarists from the world over.

New Life for old jazz videos is offered for DVD players worldwide, thanks to an initiative by Danish Radio. "In jazz circles, it is definitely not forgotten that many great jazz musicians performed in Denmark 30 to 40 years ago," says Charlotte Gry Madsen, of DR International Sales. She named, among others, Bill Evans, videotaped at Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk in 1975; videos of Oscar Peterson from 1964 and of Sonny Rollins from Danish jazz festivals in 1965 and 1968. The DVDs are produced as part of their "Jazz Icons" series by a California firm, Reelin in The Years, which earlier had purchased videos of Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk from the DR archives. "These are rare recordings of high quality, and therefore we have people regularly asking about them," says Madsen. More info: cgm@dr.dk.

Dan Block, veteran tenor saxophonist and clarinetist, got a warm endorsement from his tenor and flutist friend, Frank Wess, on the liner of his new CD, From His World to Mine, Dan Block Plays the Music of Duke Ellington.Dan told me how the tenor men met. In the late 1990s, he had a steady Monday nightgig with alto saxophonist Joe Cohn, at the Zuni on West 43rd St., Manhattan. "Frank was there just about every week, so I played with him a lot. When Jerry Dodgion formed his sax section band called The Joy of Sax, Frank and I were the two tenors. We did a CD, which is out there in circulation (it's called The Joy of Sax) and two different weeks at the Village Vanguard. I've also played with his nonet a bit at Dizzy's club, though as a sub, both for Ted Nash and Scott Robinson."


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