Under the Radar

Under the Radar is about jazz and creative music legends who have taken less-travelled paths. It's about relative unknowns and journeymen doing extraordinary, and sometimes under-recognized work; it's also about pioneers--the ones out front and those behind the scenes, experimenting with new ideas.

UNDER THE RADAR

Jazz Societies, Part I: The Skipp Pearson Jazz Legacy Foundation

Read "Jazz Societies, Part I: The Skipp Pearson Jazz Legacy Foundation" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The oral history traditions of West African griots led the preservation and interpretation of music that would become the fundamentals of jazz. In previous Under the Radar columns we looked at institutions that further the cause of safeguarding the genre; university-level academic programs and jazz museums whose hands-on experiences, community outreach, teaching and sharing of history, are helping to keep jazz relevant. In the decentralized, smaller, and culturally diverse world of jazz societies, the dissemination of jazz history is often ...

UNDER THE RADAR

The New Golden Age of Jazz Radio

Read "The New Golden Age of Jazz Radio" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

There was the Jazz Age, and later, the Golden Age of Radio. There was no golden age of jazz radio unless one considers the brief, ten-year reign of devolution when swing music dominated the airwaves. Think about this: New York City has not had a twenty-four-hour commercial jazz radio station in over ten years; decades longer depending on a listener's position on genre. CD 101.9 (WQCD FM), a long-running smooth jazz station, did not nourish serious jazz aficionados. Their lineup ...

UNDER THE RADAR

The Black Swan: A History of Race Records

Read "The Black Swan: A History of Race Records" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Montgomery, Alabama native Perry Bradford was an African-American composer and vaudeville musician when he approached General Phonograph Company, Director of Artists, Fred Hagar in 1920. Bradford was pitching Mamie Smith, a relatively unfamiliar pianist and singer from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hagar agreed to a two-side recording deal. Widely regarded as a blues singer, Smith more frequently performed popular music and vaudeville tunes but her blues recordings earned her the title “Queen of the Blues." It is widely reported that the ...

UNDER THE RADAR

Experimentalists: Talking with Adam Berenson, Dana Jessen, and Abdul Moimême

Read "Experimentalists: Talking with Adam Berenson, Dana Jessen, and Abdul Moimême" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The newly opened Théatre des Champs-Elysées was sold out on the night of May 29, 1913. The well-heeled Parisian audience had come to enjoy the much-anticipated premiere of Igor Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring" which featured the choreography of the acclaimed Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Some accounts of what transpired that night appear to be exaggerated. There were no riots in the street outside the theater, as had been reported, but there was considerable violence in the theater as fans ...

UNDER THE RADAR

Invisible Man: Willis Conover and The Jazz Hour

Read "Invisible Man: Willis Conover and The Jazz Hour" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Willis Conover stood with a cordoned off pool of reporters and photographers, being kept at arms-length from celebrities and dignitaries on the White House lawn. There was no table assigned to him at Bill Clinton's 1993 celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival though Conover had been involved with George Wein's project from the beginning, serving on the festival's board of directors and acting as a host. There was no recognition of the man who had organized ...

UNDER THE RADAR

Women in Jazz, Pt. 2: The Girls From Piney Woods

Read "Women in Jazz, Pt. 2: The Girls From Piney Woods" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

In Part 1 of Women in Jazz we looked at the historical position of women in early jazz. Despite their influence in shaping the art, their talent as composers, arrangers, instrumentalists, and band leaders, women have often been token additions; marginalized window dressing in a male-dominated world. One hundred years after Lil Hardin held the ladder for Louis Armstrong, saxophonist Tia Fuller provides a window into how little things have changed for women in jazz. The composer and ...

UNDER THE RADAR

Women in Jazz, Part 1: Early Innovators

Read "Women in Jazz, Part 1: Early Innovators" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

"Lil Hardin [Armstrong]...often imagined herself standing...at the bottom of a ladder, holding it steady for Louis as he rose to stardom." (Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, 2012). “The all-female band is an anomaly in music, one that must constantly prove itself as a 'band,' and not just 'girls playing music together.'" (Mary Ann Clawson, 1999). Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times." (Björk, 2015). Recent media projects such as Director Judy Chaikin's Girls ...


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