Louis Armstrong House Museum 2012 GalaThe Manhattan PenthouseNew York, NYDecember 4, 2012While waiting their turn to play as the Louis Armstrong Centennial Band, trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, banjoist James Chirillo, tubaist David Ostwald and drummer Marion Felder enjoyed a great meal before the Second Annual Louis Armstrong House Museum Gala on December 4, 2012 on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. MC Michael Cogswell--21-year Director of the Museum and a former musician--recognized everyone responsible for their generosity.Tonight's first Louie Award recipient, saxophonist Jimmy Heath, expressed decades of jazz musicians' sentiments: No ...read more
Les Lieber and Friends Jazz at NoonThe Players New York, NYJune 3, 2011 At age 99,Les Lieber was feted with lots of applause at The Players in New York City's Gramercy Park, because of a May 5, 2011 feature article by Corey Kilgannon in the New York Times, featuring the alto saxophonist opening Stardust" a capella, in the soundscape and style of his youth (about 1932). Swinging electric guitarist Bill Wurtzel, an advertising creative director and jazz professional, held the band together so the businessmen that play here only one hour ...read more
In his All About Jazz review of Yesterdays (Jazzing Music, 2008), Samuel Chell described singer Myrna Lake's recording as an exploration of the power of memory itself, a musical narrative yielding the discovery that memory, like the songs that are eventually designated standards, is a moment in the present, an instant distinguished by heightened awareness and relived, powerful emotion." Remembering the legendary Myrna Lake, who died last November from complications of heart disease, I recall her performance one night at Harlem's Lenox Lounge. That Friday, September 22, 2006, the Zebra Room sported the same black and white ...read more
The Champian Fulton TrioBirdlandNew York City, USADecember 16, 2010Please welcome Champian Fulton," Birdland's proprietor, John Valente, announced at six o'clock on Thursday night, December 16th, 2010. Why the unusual early start time? Hush, hush, Fulton had arranged to showcase her trio for Palmetto Records. Opening with No One Loves Me, Exactly Like You," and Cole Porter's If It's All Right with You," with its startling change in tempo, there's was no doubt: she's alright! Just like a singer sittin' in at a smoky saloon, Fulton updated the formerly overdone Won't You ...read more
Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet Randall Sandke Hardcover; 288 pages ISBN: 0-8108-6652-8 Scarecrow Press 2010In Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet, musician and author Randall Sandke tackles the stubborn and controversial question of whether jazz is the product of an insulated African-American environment, shut off from the rest of society by strictures of segregation and discrimination; or whether it is more properly understood as the juncture of a wide variety of influences under the broader umbrella of American culture. His book takes the ...read more
Lee Konitz QuartetJazz Legacy SeriesCreole Music Supper ClubNew York, NYMarch 21, 2009
For two nights Lee Konitz was improvising at Creole Restaurant, Third Avenue at 116th Street in Harlem's Barrio. On the Saturday, March 21st 10pm show Mickey Bass introduced the Quartet as part of his Brownstone Entertainment Complex's Jazz Legacy Series, beginning with a joke not worth repeating. Mr. Konitz responded by telling one of his own about a guy at a bar who ordered three scotches.... I wish he had announced his first tune instead. The humor may have been expendable, ...read more
Creole a la Django Thalia Theater, Symphony SpaceNew York City September 15, 2008
It is unusual for the clarinet, the smallest and hardest-to hear-instrument in a jazz ensemble, to be in the forefront. But Evan Christopher has brought the musical stick front and center in the various sized ensembles he has led in New Orleans and Paris.
Sidney Bechet, one of jazz history's most forceful clarinetists, had few rivals and was an innovator equal to trumpeter Louis Armstrong, who stood out in any recording he made, especially in the 1920s and ...read more
Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks Club Cache at Sofia's Restaurant, Edison Hotel (downstairs) New York City May 5, 2008
Sofia's Restaurant, Club Cache at 221 W. 46th Street, NYC last saw music of this ilk--improvised jazz instrumentalists favoring the swing-jazz rhythms of the 1920s and 1930s--so many years ago in this room downstairs under the Edison Hotel hardly anyone remembers. Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks Orchestra will attempt to revive a midtown New York City tradition by catering to summer tourists and conventioneers. I just love the energy of the early jazz,"says Giordano. I ...read more
Lewis Porter, Moderator; with Don Byron, Daniel Carter and Nat Hentoff Jazz Talk: Is Jazz Black Music? Irene Diamond Education Center New York, New YorkJanuary 31, 2008
Is Jazz Black Music? Where does jazz come from, to whom does it belong and is this important?" The program, advertised as a Jazz Talk" by Jazz at Lincoln Center (now on Columbus Circle), polarized some and infuriated many attendees. Moderator Lewis Porter, a professor of music and author, explained that he purposefully titled the topic to provoke inquiry and at the same time disavowed the ...read more
Nnenna Freelon, Ronald K. Brown and Evidence Dance Company The Blueprint of a Lady Apollo Theater, NYC November 10, 2007
Subtitled The Once and Future Life of Billie Holiday," a concept of vocalist Nnenna Freelon in collaboration with choreographer-dancer Ronald K. Brown and his Evidence Dance Company, the occasion was introduced by Jonelle Procope, President of the Apollo Foundation, as the the first Art & Soul presentation of The Apollo Performing Arts Series.
The Apollo Theater event was preceded by a Friday evening Collaborative Spirit" interview moderated by NJPAC's Baraka Sele to ...read more
Don Friedman Trio with Gary Smulyan Kitano Lounge New York, NY March 9, 2007
Without any fanfare Don Friedman's piano a cappella intro to Alone Together intricately established the melody and sequence of his first performance on Friday the 9th of March 2007 before the evening's lead instrument, an antique green-tinged brass saxophone played by the youthful Gary Smulyan--bespeckled above, soul patch below and wearing a beret on top--stood in the piano curve improvising with the power of a full-ranged baritone saxophonist supported by Doug Weiss on a gorgeous dark-maroon wooded, recently repaired ...read more
On Christmas-day night at St. Nick's Pub, Melvin Vines (for three years the Monday & Tuesday night bandleader, trumpeter, videographer) opened the 11 o'clock show playing a flugelhorn improv in response to news of James Brown's passing, joined by the unobtrusive comping of Chip Crawford (recently with Harold Ousley at Dizzy's, originally influenced by Donald Byrd) on the house electric piano. Sympathetically supportive on drums, except for his explosive solos, was Greg Bandy (whose first bandleader was Benny Carter) along with Aaron James (formerly with John Hicks) on string bass.
A holiday spirit continued with Vines two originals--first Alternativo," then ...read more
Dick Hyman and Bill Charlap, Jazz in July, Kaufman Hall, Tisch Center for the Arts, New York, New York, July 19, 2006
20 years on a wonderful carousel ride is enough, pianist/producer, Dick Hyman mused for a New York Sun reporter upon retiring, at age 77, from New York's most successful annual series--Jazz In July at the Kaufmann Concert Hall in the Tisch Center for the Arts on 92nd Street. Hyman successfully produced six evenings per year from 1984 to 2004, totaling 120 well thought-out, musically arranged, and staged shows. One rehearsal ...read more
Social Swing Dance Savoy Ballroom at Irving Plaza New York, NY March 12, 2006
Harlem's swing jazz is still the heartbeat of swing dance, a craze that originated in the 1930s taking its name from a transatlantic flyer. In the 1980s it experienced a resurgence in popularity and continues to be a favorite to this day. The high-flying one, two, quick step is still the standard for the 80th anniversary celebration of the Savoy Ballroom.
This history was revealed by an panel presented by The New York Swing Dance Society on Saturday, ...read more
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