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

Music and the Creative Spirit

January 15, 2014

Dr. Basil Peter Toutorsky, Classical Composer & Pianist

By JOHN WESLEY REED JR.

The Toutorsky Mansion is a five-story, 18-room house located at 1720 16th Street, NW in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. As of 2012, it is the location of the embassy of the Republic of the Congo. The 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) mansion was completed in 1894 for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Henry Billings Brown, who paid $25,000 in 1891 to buy the land from the Riggs family, and spent $40,000 on its construction. The house was designed by architect William Henry Miller, the first graduate of Cornell University's School of Architecture, who modeled the exterior ...

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December 26, 2010

Curtis Mayfield: After the Rain

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

Throughout the passageways of my youth, perhaps no other voice was as critically important. When I questioned my own existence in a predominantly white school and community, it was his voice and music that carried me through. During my saddest and most vulnerable moments, he filled me with hope and the strength to face another day. When I was locked inside the torments of my own mind, he would free me from the shackles of despair. The Reverend Andrew Young would go on to say that his music had the spiritual power of Martin Luther King. For me and for ...

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November 12, 2010

Neil Young and the 2010 Bridge School Benefit

By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

The Bridge School Benefit has become one of America's most anticipated annual musical events. Promoted by Pegi and Neil Young, to assist children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs, this year's two day benefit promised to be one of the most remarkable of its 24 year history. With the first reunion of Buffalo Springfield in 42 years, it didn't disappoint. In 1986, Pegi and Neil sought an education for their son, Ben who was born with cerebral palsy. With no alternatives available, Pegi became the brain child and inspiration of the learning institute now recognized ...

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October 5, 2010

John Gilbreath: Within Earshot

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

Over the past 90 years, a music scene has been developing in the northwest corner of the US that has provided a fertile imprint on jazz. It may not be as critically important within a historical context as that of New York and New Orleans, but Seattle has a landscape that has been developed and nurtured by the caring and delicate hands of a diversity of creative individuals. It has developed its own abstract voice, its own individual personality and character in a creative world where risk and innovation is not the norm, but a requisite in order to sustain ...

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September 5, 2010

The Spiritual Beauty of Marilyn Crispell

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

There have been a number of pianists within the classical and jazz genres whose work have remained majestic and timeless, but never has there been a pianist quite like Marilyn Crispell. Never has a pianist been able to reach such extraordinary depths of spirituality and complexity. Nevertheless, levels of creativity rarely equate to levels of popularity and therefore, it's not surprising that visionary works remain largely misunderstood and unappreciated during their own time. Such is the case with Marilyn Crispell.But what distinguishes Crispell so subtly and distinctly from other pianists is her innate ability to express and transcend ...

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September 5, 2010

Fred Anderson: In Loving Memory....

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

I had the opportunity to interview with Fred Anderson on several occasions. In each instance I walked away with the feeling that I was a better person for the time I spent with him. It was his wisdom, his generosity of spirit, his knowingness that our time here on this planet was short at best, and his humble appreciation to have been able to play music during this lifetime.He had a gentle soul that was much larger than life, and his sound and spirit reached far beyond the realm of this universe. His passing digs deep and severed ...

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January 27, 2010

Greg Osby: A Candid Conversation

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

I have found that with forward-thinking artists, their music can be a direct reflection of who they are. That's largely my interest in these very creative individuals--in how they think and how they view the world through their own eyes. Greg Osby is fearless in expressing his convictions, and I think you'll find that his compositions reflect that very character. He is a creator and a fresh voice in a world that has a tendency to fall victim to the past.

Lloyd Peterson: Are you still doing things your own way?

Greg Osby: I have no other way, and creatively ...

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December 11, 2009

Terry Currier: A Coalition for Music Freedom

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

There is something almost sensual about the independent record store experience. Perhaps it's the element of discovery with each new find, or the common bond and passion shared with each other. Maybe it's the inspiration of hearing music that seems to arouse all the senses. Or perhaps it's the understanding that there is something more warm and soulful about music played from a treasured record than from a disposable downloaded file. Whatever it is, there is something magical that happens inside these music shrines.It wasn't long ago that horror stories were being written and the corporates were running ...

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October 22, 2009

George Lewis: A Power Stronger Than Itself

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

As an improviser, educator and an explorer of musical expression, George Lewis has become one of the significant contributors towards the respect and recognition Jazz is finally receiving as one of America's most notable and distinguished cultural achievements. He recently published what I consider to be one of the most critical books on Jazz and African American culture. I also consider the AACM to be the most culturally important group of artists that ever came together in the history of the United States. The following interview took place prior to the publication of his book, A Power Stronger than Itself ...

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August 17, 2009

Amiri Baraka: Perspectives on Music and Race

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

Amiri Baraka is the author of the insightful and comprehensive book, Blues People. It is a book that has opened many minds and readers to the African American Diaspora along with the history and roots of African American music. Baraka has now published a new book of essays titled, Digging (The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music). He is the author of over 40 books on poems, plays, essays, drama and importantly, the founder of the Black Arts Movement of Harlem in 1960, which became the blueprint for new American Theater aesthetics. He has taught at Columbia, Yale and the ...

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August 5, 2009

Tim Berne: The Subliminal Explorations of a Creative Mind

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

Fascinated by unconventional and complex ideas, saxophonist and composer Tim Berne has become a creative force, exploring all the possibilities in sound through his fearless and brilliant imagination. Lloyd Peterson: You didn't start playing the sax until you were about twenty. That would take quite a bit of confidence.Tim Berne: I didn't really think about it. In some ways, the more I played the more secure I became. But at the beginning, it was almost easier because I was so ignorant.LP: Was there appoint where you said, “Hey, I'm going to do this seriously?

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June 24, 2009

Bill Frisell: The Quiet Genius

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

If there is a given within the music of guitarist Bill Frisell, it's the honest approach in every note he composes and plays. There are no compromises. His magical world of creativity incorporates yet transcends all styles and genres of music, and as one of today's most original and innovative composers, he has created a unique and distinct voice that has developed into his own personal musical language. Without perhaps trying to do so, Frisell creates the greatest support yet for the argument that jazz doesn't have to be stylized, compartmentalized, or labeled. There is a seamless ...

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April 28, 2009

Ken Vandermark: The Passion and Ascension of a Brilliant Mind

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

This interview was originally published in 2006.

In a world that has difficulty and attitude toward unfamiliar and creative thought, Ken Vandermark is a visionary exploring possibilities with improvisational and compositional forms.A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, he has used the funding to support his interest in bringing together some of today's most innovative and forward-thinking musicians and composers in the global arts community. Embracing music and life without compromise, Vandermark is a bold and brilliant presence, relentless in his passion for creative and artistic ascension.Lloyd Peterson: Have we become a society that no ...

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March 20, 2009

Marilyn Crispell: Uncompromising Power and Grace

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By LLOYD N. PETERSON JR.

Her notes crash like waves at sea on a stormy winter's night; they gently float and slowly fall like early morning mist; yet it's the silence--the silence between the notes--which provides the haunting poetic beauty that is the music of pianist Marilyn Crispell.Lloyd Peterson: Is there a decrease in listeners for creative music today?Marilyn Crispell: I think jazz is under fire--the concept of jazz. I have noticed a change in Europe since the walls came down that a certain amount of interest has seemed to move away from that arena. Whereas in the States, where it ...

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