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Remembering Frank Morgan: Tears, Laughter and Music in Culver City

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Frank Morgan Memorial Celebration The Jazz Bakery Los Angeles (Culver City), CA January 5, 2008 2:00-5:30 P.M.

A memorial celebration is always a bittersweet affair. There is an inescapable sadness over the passing of a friend, but there is also joy in remembering the spirit of the departed who will remain forever in our hearts. On Saturday, January 5th at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City, the great altoist Frank Morgan was eulogized by many of his friends and fans.

Saxophonist Azar Lawrence opened the event with an inspired display ...

BIG BAND IN THE SKY

November 2007

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Specs Powell, 85, percussionist, pianist, vibraphonist. New York, NY, June 5, 1922--San Marcos (San Diego), CA, September 15, 2007.

Gordon “Specs Powell, who beat a distinguished path from a drum stool, started by doubling on piano in his own Swing era combo, and later became one of the first black musicians hired by a national radio network.

CBS took the drummer on in 1943 for the Ed Sullivan Show, where he backed Billie Holiday and other stars, continuing in later broadcasts with the Mildred Bailey (CBS) Orchestra.

He died September 15, at 85, of complications from heart and ...

BIG BAND IN THE SKY

October 2007

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George Melly, 80, jazz and blues singer, author, raconteur. Liverpool, England, August 17, 1926--London, England, July 5, 2007.The Oscar Wilde of jazz? George Melly, an eccentric Englishman of many careers whose singing style invoked his idol, the blues singer Bessie Smith, died in London after a stretch of emphysema and dementia. He was 80.Melly was an exponent of the British brand of “trad jazz, a blend of Dixieland, music hall styles and blues. Clad in African robes and sitting in a wheelchair, he gave his last concert a week before his death, and finished ...

BIG BAND IN THE SKY

September 2007

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Max Roach, 83, drummer, bandleader, composer, educator. Newland, NC, January 10, 1924--New York, NY, August 15, 2007.

Max Roach, widely deemed the most innovative percussionist in contemporary jazz and a composer who leaped the boundaries of four-four time and standard instrument combinations, died August 15 in a New York hospice. He was 83 and had suffered for several years with dementia.

Roach “built on the innovations of Kenny Clarke, elaborating the style, bringing more complex cross-rhythms into play, and employing greater textural variety," notes The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz.

The drummer had fast hands and could keep several ...

BIG BAND IN THE SKY

March 2006

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Pat Pace was the musical pride of Akron, Ohio, a classical and jazz pianist, accordionist, composer and teacher who made only two commercial recordings, decades ago, both released on obscure labels (one of them maybe his own). For the last 20 or so years, Pace had given up gigging and was living the quiet life, teaching younger pianists. I am grateful to Andrew Homzy of Montreal for e-mailing two articles from the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. In his “Final Coda for Legend of Pat Pace (Jan. 10), columnist David Giffels tells of the second-generation Italian-American prodigy who took all music ...

BIG BAND IN THE SKY

February 2006

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Romano Mussolini has joined the big band above. My scout, Jerry Gordon, forwarded a Reuters obit from Steve Barbone--a name that may ring a bell. “I am a jazz clarinetist based in Philadelphia, doing around 250 gigs a year," Barbone replied to my e-mail. “In 1999, I played at the Pee Wee Russell Memorial Stomp as a sideman in Ed Polcer's Band, with Joe Ascione, Daryl Hannah, Tom Artin, Ed and a bassist." Steve, who leads The Barbone Street Jazz Band, “went to Italy in 1962 to visit the Italian branch of my family, meet and hear my cousin play ...

BIG BAND IN THE SKY

December 2005

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New Orleans struck up the band one Sunday this fall for the first jazz funeral in the music's birthplace since Hurricane Katrina opened the levees and laid waste to the Crescent City. “The brass band ... toted donated instruments, reported Shaila Dewan in The New York Times. “The procession leaders wore salvaged bits of their traditional funeral finery. Just after 2 p.m. ... the strains of 'Just a Closer Walk With Thee' streamed past the heaps of stinking garbage and fallen roofs like milk and honey and sweet Abita beer, a flash of grandeur and ritual that hearkened to a ...



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