The Jazz Legacy

AAJ Staff BY

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The music we love is about a century old, which makes it more than a tradition. By this point it's a legacy.

Some people don't like to use that word to describe a vibrant living art form like jazz, because it suggests images of old guys in black and white obsolescence, the kind of thing you might encounter in a dated documentary film. But the jazz legacy is a gift that stays verdant and green today through the ongoing efforts of artists worldwide. Looking back in history at the same time we face music of today (and thus a glimpse of the future), there are a lot of connections to make within the evolving continuum.

Bassist Charlie Haden has been making beautiful music for five decades, and while his latest record, Land of the Sun , may have caught our ear, he has also been involved in a number of crucial ventures in the history of jazz and free improvisation. R.J. DeLuke catches up with Haden , who curiously enough prefers not to call himself a jazz musician, on the subjects of responsibility, heritage, and politics.

Saxophonist Fred Anderson, now in his mid-70s, has been a busy participant on Chicago's creative music scene for quite some time. He currently operates that city's Velvet Lounge , profiled by Jeff Stockton . Chicago's '60s avant-garde movement was paralleled by one 300 miles away in St. Louis, presented in Benjamin Looker's comprehensive book on that city's short-lived but significant Black Artists' Group.

Other legacies we celebrate this month include the performance poetry of Kamau Daaood , interviewed by Rex Butters ; and Miles Davis' plugged-in period, celebrated in the recent performance/documentary DVD Miles Electric , with two reviews . Wayne Shorter's contributions receive formal acknowledgement in Michelle Mercer's new book, of which we present a total of three reviews . John Kelman also looked into jazz journalist Gary Giddins' new compilation, Weather Bird , which spans a wide-ranging musical universe.

Among more contemporary coverage, we present a review by Franz A. Matzner of the second annual Anguilla Jazz Festival , which featured straight-ahead jazz in a balmy setting. Dr. Judith Schlesinger devotes her latest Shrinktunes column to drummer Joe Ascione , who's learned a lot from his challenges. And Kyle Simpler looks at a humorous new book on jazz by AAJ contributor Walter Kolosky . Finally, blogger Bret Primack is now a columnist, and his latest update of Jazz and the Net concerns a big-time record label deal .

December also marks the launch of several important new features at the site. Visit the All About Jazz Store for our current selection of jazz-oriented T-shirts, including the soon-to-be-classic all-blue one with the AAJ logo. Come back in coming weeks to see other products on the virtual shelf, including music and more. The AAJ Visual Arts Center relaunched this month, with super easy navigation to explore four exhibits (and much more coming in the near future). And our New to Jazz? feature now appears in a new, fresh form for curious jazz newbies to inspect.

To check out an ongoing legacy, we advise you to visit the AAJ Bulletin Board to chat with pianist Bill Carrothers , whose conversations have already yielded several interesting nuggets.

Those are the highlights of over 300 reviews and articles this December at All About Jazz . Stay tuned for our Best of 2004 lists and much more, coming at the start of the new year. And thanks for being a part of this jazz community!

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