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Saving Old Records to L.A. Throwback Bands

Saving Old Records to L.A. Throwback Bands
Fradley Garner By

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Library of Congress Acts to Save Old Recordings

More 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 that need funding for audio preservation.

This year the NRPF is starting to raise money for the purpose. "America's recorded sound history is incredibly rich," Loughney said to the Associated Press.

"There's just a lot of material that's sitting in archives that is slowly deteriorating," he warned, "and unless an effective national approach is taken to saving these materials, it's going to be a tremendous loss."

"Building owner riffed over stripping of Harlem's iconic Lenox Lounge façade and Art Deco interior fixtures sues for $50 million"

So blazoned the headline in the New York Daily News. Alvin Reed, former tenant and owner-manager since 1988 of the 70 year-old Lenox Lounge, and his movers, allegedly ripped off the bar's façade, neon sign and much more, last New Year's Eve.

They took "everything from the premises"—from fixtures, banquettes, mirrors, bathroom doors, to Zebra Room mementos — and deposited them in Reed's new club two blocks away. Reed's lawyer, Tyretta Foster, said the items he took "were part of a bill of sale that was transmitted when he purchased the business and the furnishings." The $50 million suit demands their return.

One of New York's oldest venues, at 288 Lenox Ave., the bar hosted a "who's who" of major artists who performed there over the decades, including Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

The lounge served as the hangout of Detective John Shaft in the 2000 remake of the movie, Shaft. Both the façade and interior were backdrops in American Gangster. In one scene, Denzel Washington's character, Frank Lucas, meets with Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the club's famous Zebra Room.

Meanwhile, Reed is getting set to reopen the Lenox Lounge in new quarters at 333 Lenox Ave. this summer. He also took the outdoor neon marquee sign with him. Chain restaurateur Richard Notar aims to beat Reed open this spring with a new jazz spot at the old site. Its name remained to be announced.

Phony Shooting Story Rings True in The Daily Currant

Then there's the story about the Los Angeles police, in the manhunt for ex-officer Christopher Jordan Dorner, shooting up the blue 1989 Ford Aerostar van carrying three members of "The Brubeck Ambassadors Jazz Band" and their manager. They were headed for a Dave Brubeck memorial concert in the area.

The story, published February 13, 2013 in The Daily Currant, rang true. It was picked up, among other media, by, the largest jazz trade organ, and at the Jazz Friends blog. Several contributors jumped to deny it. But that didn't convince everyone. Wrote one non-believing Jazz Friend:

"It is important to be crystal clear on this. The shooting incident did not happen. It's a satire, a hoax. Trace the story back to the original... The Daily Current [sic] is an American satirical news blog. . . . A number of its . . . stories have been taken for true news reports by press and . . . the public.

"Based on 95% of the Comments at various sites . . . 95% of all readers (including me) believed it!! Worse yet, I passed it on to fellow musicians and am now contacting every single one to recant. This is a perfect example of . . . 'If it's in print, it must be true.' By Russ Panzarella."

"Contrafact"—a Borrowed Chord Structure

What do you call a tune based on a chord structure borrowed from another tune?

At least 40 jazz songs borrow the chord changes from George and Ira Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm." ("Chasin' the Bird," "Jumpin' at the Woodside," "Lester Leaps In," "Rhythm-A-Ning" are four.)

The term for this is contrafact. "As a compositional device," reports Wikipedia, "it was of particular importance in the 1940s development of bop, since it allowed jazz musicians to create new pieces for performance and recording on which they could immediately improvise, without having to seek permission or pay publisher fees for copyrighted materials (while melodies can be copyrighted, the underlying harmonic structure cannot be)."

Contrafacts have been used as early as the 16th century in classical music.

A New "Swing Street" in New Orleans?


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