All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Barbara J. Kukla, Dave Braham and Don Williams at the West Orange Public Library

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Barbara J. Kukla, Dave Braham and Don Williams
West Orange Public Library
West Orange, NJ
February 9, 2014

The focal point of a recent event at the West Orange Public Library was Barbara J. Kukla's recently published book, America's Music: Jazz In Newark. The author, a former writer and editor for the Newark Star-Ledger, was joined by keyboardist Dave Braham and drummer Don Williams, both of whom are featured in the volume. Prior to the program's onset, it was clear that Kukla was interested in eliminating boundaries between her and the audience. She warmly greeted individuals as they entered the room, asked where they came from, and inquired about their interest in her work.

While Braham and Williams were assembling their instruments, Kukla warmed up by offering brief, somewhat casual remarks about her writing, jazz in Newark, and her introduction to the music. Once the musicians were ready and the program's starting time had arrived, she began to work in earnest. The spirit of jazz resonated in Kukla's improvised remarks, which touched on numerous topics in the book without reading or quoting from it.

Kukla's words and ideas required real concentration and commitment on the part of the listener. She's a busy, effusive speaker, full of rewarding digressions, and doesn't hesitate to take the long route to make a point. Kukla has any number of stories to tell, and leaves a trail of names, places, dates, and impressions along the way. For example, a question from the audience about the location of Newark jazz clubs in the 1950s and 60s prompted a detailed geography lesson. Although it was primarily her show, Kukla welcomed and played off of spur-of-the-moment comments from Braham and Williams. A longtime Newark area resident, Williams grew up with several of the book's subjects and their families.

At various points in the program, Kukla paused and asked Braham and Williams to perform. The selections included items from the Great American Songbook, as well as "Broadway" and "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free." At one point, an inspired Braham didn't wait for an invitation—he spontaneously started playing and Williams joined in. To Braham's credit, it didn't feel like an interruption, but rather an extension of Kukla's remarks.

Apart from her knowledge of and involvement in Newark's jazz scene, both past and present, Kukla displayed a passion for the social and political fabric of the city. She offered fervent, knowledgeable opinions about the challenges of raising the quality of public education, as well as the importance of supporting capable, hard working teachers and administrators—like Braham, who has taught elementary school music for twenty years. Kukla's remarks on these subjects were not unlike a long, tenacious jazz solo which leaves the listener exhausted, enlightened, and possibly transformed, by the experience.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb Live Reviews
Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Gilmore Keyboard Festival" Live Reviews Gilmore Keyboard Festival
by John Ephland
Published: June 3, 2018
Read "Instant Composers Pool at The MAC" Live Reviews Instant Composers Pool at The MAC
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "John Brackett Quartet at Redfish Restaurant" Live Reviews John Brackett Quartet at Redfish Restaurant
by Martin McFie
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art" Live Reviews Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 10, 2018
Read "Vision Festival 2018" Live Reviews Vision Festival 2018
by John Sharpe
Published: June 5, 2018