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From Far and Wide

News spots and nuggets from all corners of the jazz world, gathered by Fradley Garner.


FROM FAR AND WIDE

Saving Old Records to L.A. Throwback Bands

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Library of Congress Acts to Save Old RecordingsMore than half of the oldest sound recordings, including some masters by George Gershwin, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, have been lost over the years, according to the Library of Congress. Patrick Loughney, chief of the library's audiovisual conservation division, believes the nation has developed a “cultural amnesia," forgetting how much of its history was captured in recorded sound.The library has revealed an ambitious plan to help libraries and archives across the country reverse the trend. The nonprofit National Recording Preservation Foundation (NRPF) will award grants to smaller archives ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Guitarist Tomas Janzon Basks in Bassists

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Guitarist Tomas Janzon Basks in BassistsPlayers who lead trios and duos featuring a bassist tend to stick with one. Tomas Janzon is happy with Essiet Essiet, 56, drummer Art Blakey's last bassist.Yet, “There are so many extraordinary bassists in New York," the Big Apple-based Swedish guitarist tells me, “that I am happy to work with lots of them. They're all so different, and I always make it a conversation. Sometimes you interrupt, sometimes you just listen and nod."Only the guitar is slightly amplified. When bass and guitar quietly start to explore new ground in ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Shakespeare's Sonnets Sung to a Jazz Beat

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Shakespeare's Sonnets Sung to a Jazz Beat“If music be the food of love, play on." And while you're at it, set 16 of Shakespeare's sonnets to music, and play and sing them to a jazz beat. Which, by my troth, is exactly what Caroll Vanwelden has done. The comely Belgian pianist wanted to produce a new album of her own compositions. “One day I found a book of the sonnets I used 13 years ago when I worked with an Iranian composer who wanted to put Shakespeare on classical compositions" Vanwelden recalls. “I went through the pages sitting ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

EU Sax Band of 12 Looks Across the Pond

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12 Horns Hope to Blow WestwardImagine a band of 12 saxophonists from 12 countries and musical backgrounds, with a touring calendar of at least 10 indoor and outdoor venues-including a marketplace and a train station-from July through December, 2012.Meet The European Saxophone Ensemble. Aged 18 to 34, the players range “from a virtuous contemporary reeds soloist to a punk baritone, from a jazz tenor to an Afro-soul Scandinavian baritone, from a chamber soprano to an alto playing in Eastern European traditional ensembles."The European Union-funded band was founded in 2008 by Belgian saxophonist and composer ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Record-Busting 100+ Bassists Serenade Tivoli

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Record-Busting 100+ Bassists Serenade TivoliThe seeds were planted by Oscar Pettiford, the seminal American cellist and bassist who put down roots in Copenhagen in 1958, and by the homegrown virtuoso Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, who played his vintage Italian bass like the nimblest-fingered guitarist when he wasn't bowing like Giovanni Bottesini. In August, 2012, the Danish capital's new Opera House was the locus of BASS2012, Europe's biennial and biggest convention of classical and jazz double bassists, lured by some 150 events: concerts, master classes, workshops, competitions--and schmoozing. A world record may have been broken when more than 100 stand-up ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Final Call to See "Pops" Making Records

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Final Call to See “Pops" Making Records September, 2012 is final call to catch Genius at Work: Louis Armstrong in the Recording Studio, the currently featured exhibit at the Louis Armstrong House and Museum in Corona, Queens, New York. “Records as well as photographs, scores and other artifacts reveal Armstrong hard at work recording his masterpieces," Jen Walden, a museum spokesperson tells me. “These treasures give you an inside look into what went on at the sessions, allowing you to listen to Armstrong's timeless music with fresh appreciation." A guided, 40-minute tour also pauses at Satchmo's 1961 summit ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Arabic Roots in Blues, Jazz, Rock?

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Arabic Roots in Blues, Jazz, Rock? Yes, Says Hofstra ProfDoes Islamic music have anything to do with the blues, jazz and rock? A whole lot, asserts Dr. Hussein Rashid, a native New Yorker who teaches religion at Hofstra University. In a lecture at Southern Methodist University in Texas, Rashid spoke of several waves of Islamic-Arabic immigration to America. Muslim Africans in slave-trade times were not allowed to practice their faith or play their ritual drums, and came to add their share to “Negro spirituals."He played a clip of the Adhaan, the muezzin's call to prayer, followed ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

John (and Bucky) Pizzarelli: First CD with Paul McCartney

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John--and Bucky--Pizzarelli's First CD with Paul McCartneyKisses on the Bottom (Hear Music, 2012), the album of vocal standards Paul McCartney always wanted to make with The Beatles, is the knighted bassist/singer's first release in nearly five years. Diana Krall and members of the pianist-arranger's band back him on most tracks. The New York Times singled out guest guitarist John Pizzarelli's “buoyant, ukulele-like sound." Could the three leading Times jazz reviewers be referring to John's unmentioned father? Bucky Pizzarelli joined the band for one of the two recording sessions, after it turned out that John could only do one. ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Ahmad Jamal's Identity Crisis

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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 ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Online Jazz Bookshop Thrives in Ontario Hills

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Would you pay $8,750 for a used but pampered hardcover copy of the classic Lady Sings the Blues, autographed by Billie Holiday? If you were a jazz bibliophile with deep pockets, and the book was a declared first edition, “boldly and handsomely SIGNED and inscribed at the first blank page"-- and, according to the bookseller's catalogue, with a “strong very good+" dust jacket “unclipped with original price of $3.95" showing--well, you might consider giving yourself, or that special jazzer, a little Christmas read. There are shelves of used jazz and blues, rock and pop ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

A Chorale-a-Day Keeps the Blues Away

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To celebrate his 31st birthday, the New York-based, Canadian composer and soprano saxophonist Rob Mosher 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 ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

October 2010

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Tenants of Tin Pan Alley are showing ever more pride in their habitat. Apartment residents and ground floor shops occupy the row of five historic brownstones on West 28th Street, Manhattan, where America's enormous sheet music industry took root in the 1850s. Here the careers of galleon figures Irving Berlin, W.C. Handy, George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and James P. Johnson were launched. An attorney who wants to do more than keep the wrecker's ball off the buildings, has helped tenants promote their first-ever art show. Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, says the structures “are safe ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

August 2010

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Two East Coast Big Bands specialize in music of the 1920s and '30s. Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks share the pre-Swing era with Long Island trombonist Ray Osnato and his South Shore Syncopators, a 10-piece band with five singers whose performances mimic a 1930s radio show, complete with honey-tongued announcer. Like Giordano, Osnato started young, collecting original arrangements and later transcribing vintage recordings. His book holds some 150 tunes, many associated with the youthful Bing Crosby, Paul Whiteman and Fletcher Henderson. Vince declined to comment on his colleague across the Hudson, except to note, in an e-mail, “I've heard thru ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Join #jazzlives and Show 'em!

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WITH THE JAZZ PUBLIC “SHRINKING," a new group of activists formed a “#jazzlives" campaign on Twitter to buck the trend. Surveys by the National Endowment for the Arts picture jazz being viewed by ever more Americans as a high-culture art form, like classical music. Fewer are hearing it live than at any time since the late 1940s. Sparked by the New York-based author and critic Howard Mandel, the campaign aims to use the Internet networking platform, Twitter, to show that “recent reports of jazz's demise are"--Mandel quotes Mark Twain on his own death--"greatly exaggerated." Mandel's group of jazz writers and ...



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