Ahmad Jamal's Identity Crisis
Ahmad Jamal a terrorist? Surely not the renowned American pianist who's given hundreds of concerts over the last half century. So it was puzzling why the $10,000 that the Festival da Jazz in Moritz, Switzerland ordered paid to Jamal in advance of his July 16 appearance, was promptly frozen by U.S. authorities. The artist's management insisted it was a case of mistaken identity. Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi, a convicted Yemeni on the FBI most-wanted list for helping plan the 2000 USS Cole bombing, which killed 17 American sailors off Yemen's port coast, was the man they were after. "We were obviously suspected as financers of terrorism. That is absurd," Moritz Micalef, a festival spokesman, told the press. The matter was straightened out and the money paid to the pianist's account. To help avoid future mix-ups, festival organizers invited the Federal agents involved to attend the concert as guests of honor. The U.S. Justice Department reportedly declined to comment.
Hudson Jazz Workshop Free Concert
A free clinic and workshop concert awaits you on Sunday, August 14, at the Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren St. in Hudson, NY. And if you're an aspiring instrumentalist or vocalist, the fifth annual Hudson Jazz Workshop welcomes you to sign up (for a fee) for a long weekend of learning, starting August 11. Daily individual and group instruction covers improvisation, duo playing, technique, composition, harmony, accompaniment, rhythm and repertoire. Every evening there are "practical performance" sessions. Earlier workshops attracted students from Japan, Armenia and Denmark, as well as the United States and Canada. They're drawn by the faculty: Armen Donelian, a local pianist, composer and educator, and Marc Mommaas, an award-winning Dutch saxophonist of New York City. A Jersey City native, guitarist Vic Juris, joins them for a day.
Maria Jameau Meets a Challenge
Traveling out West last year, Challenge Records' Anne de Jong, from The Netherlands, found Boston-born Maria Jameau and her Blue Brazil band performing outdoors at a farmer's market in little Healdsburg, in the heart of Northern California wine country. He signed the singer on the spot. "I was amazed by the purity of her Latin-American voice in a jazz setting," says de Jong. "Not commercial hustle, but passionate music sung with devotion." Jameau studied music and dance in Brazil, West Africa, Europe and Northern India. A former faculty member of the New England Conservatory in Boston, she also teaches classes for children, grownups and teachers out of her studio in St Helena, CA. "I am constantly grateful for the ... abundance of amazing music (and dance, and visual arts) out there for us to tap into at any time," Jameau blogs. "It can touch us in the deepest and most healing ways, whether alone or together in sorrow or joy." Her new album with Blue Brazil, GEMA (Challenge, 2011), lets the world hear some of the songs performed at the market.
Nancy Wilson's Last Club Date
Gasps and shouts of No! filled a sold-out house at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan this summer when Nancy Wilson announced that this would be her last club date before retiring. At press time, the singer's website showed only one more concert with her trio, at Ohio State University, Athens, on September 10. "I want to go home, and stay home," said Wilson. The 74-year-old song stylist has been performing for nearly 60 years, recording more than 70 albums and winning three GrammyEmmy. Her debut single, "Guess Who I Saw Today," was so successful that Capitol Records released five Wilson albums between April 1960 and July 1962. On her website, however, Wilson does not bolt the door. "I am feeling good and looking forward to doing a few engagements this year. Management only announces confirmed appearances, but plans are ever unfolding, so keep checking my schedule."
Buddy DeFranco Spanned the Gap
Most clarinet players even the giants, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw couldn't bridge the gap from swing to bebop. And recordings show they did try. An exception was Buddy DeFranco. Many consider the Camden, NJ-born DeFranco the world's premiere clarinetist. He blew straight through the jazz revolution without missing a note. Now 88, DeFranco has made more than 150 albums and, since the 1940s, won countless critics' and readers' polls. Watch and listen to his 1983 version of "Yesterdays."
Primack Videos Clock 25,000 Worldwide Hits a Day
Whether jazz lives on depends on love for the music being passed on. Bret Primack is doing his share to keep America's gift to music surging down the generations. The "Jazz Video Guy" uses FaceBook as a vehicle to the future. His more than 700 posted short videos average 25,000 hits a day worldwide. Primack was awarded Best Short Form Jazz Video at the Jazz Journalists Association honors day in June, for his video Sonny RollinsGetting It Back Together. Primack has produced more than 100 shorts just about Sonny Rollins and co-players since he started as website and media producer for the "saxophone colossus" six years ago (over 3.5 million views from 142 countries!). Sonny Rollins Meets Ornette Coleman, his newest, is a trailer for Road Shows, Vol. 2 (Doxy, 2011), to be released on September 13. Another video, spun from interviews and performances at the 2011 Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans, has educators, musicians and students explaining why you have to be taught.
Thanks to NJJS member Joán McGinnis of Mission Viejo, CA for web research assistance.