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JAZZ Grammy Winners 2020: The Full List | Pitchfork

JAZZ Grammy Winners 2020: The Full List | Pitchfork


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https://pitchfork.com/news/grammys-winners-2020-the-full-list/
 

Best Latin Jazz Album
Chick Corea & the Spanish Heart Band – Antidote

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
Brian Lynch Big Band – The Omni-american Book Club

Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Brad Mehldau – Finding Gabriel

Best Jazz Vocal Album
Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells

Best Improvised Jazz Solo
Randy Brecker – “Sozinho”

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Things Found In Albums

Things Found In Albums


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This came out of a massive vinyl collection we purchased over the holiday’s

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Louisiana teacher Mickey Smith Jr. wins 2020 Grammy Music Educator Award – YouTube

Louisiana teacher Mickey Smith Jr. wins 2020 Grammy Music Educator Award – YouTube


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With all the negative stories coming out about the Grammys this one is uplifting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFPqUa5DXzs

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Five myths about jazz – The Washington Post

Five myths about jazz – The Washington Post


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https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-jazz/2020/01/23/72dba37e-3e0b-11ea-8872-5df698785a4e_story.html
 

Five myths about jazz

No, it isn’t dead, and its purveyors aren’t all hopped up on drugs.

Natalie Weiner

Professor Longhair, at the piano, plays the Newport Jazz Festival in 1973. (Richard Drew/AP)
Professor Longhair, at the piano, plays the Newport Jazz Festival in 1973. (Richard Drew/AP)

If you’re not already a fan, your vision of jazz might contain a guy (always a guy) in a fedora playing tenor saxophone in a smoky bar. Or a self-satisfied aficionado waxing poetic about a rare free-jazz LP, acting as though he’s the only one capable of decoding its knotty melodies as he pushes his glasses up his nose. Yes, jazz has an image problem: More than a century after its genesis, the genre remains shrouded in many of the same erroneous cliches that initially made it so controversial — as well as a slew of newer ones. The trouble comes when that mystique looms large enough to keep people from ever exploring the music.

 

Jazz is more serious than other genres.

 

“People, when they say that they ‘hate jazz,’ they just don’t have context — they don’t know where it comes from,” explains the exasperated protagonist of the 2016 hit musical “La La Land.” Ryan Gosling’s character is the exact kind of straw man that often represents jazz in popular culture, arguing that what makes the music good is an intrinsic complexity and importance that requires great intellectual rigor to comprehend. Whether in “Jerry Maguire,” “The Office” or “Veep,” jazz’s self-serious reputation has turned it into shorthand for snobbish orthodoxy. Even participants promulgate this notion. “The greatness of jazz lies not only in its emotion but also in its deliberate artifice,” wrote Wynton Marsalis in a 1988 New York Times essay.

In fact, jazz requires exactly as much or as little expertise to listen to and appreciate as anything else. Understanding the music’s history can certainly inform the listening experience — as with music from any genre — but all you really need to appreciate jazz are open ears. Reverence and study are not prerequisites: After all, many of the most canonical jazz records were meant to be danced to.

 

Jazz was born in New Orleans.

 

One oft-cited, very easy history of jazz begins with the relative musical liberation of New Orleans’s Congo Square, continues with cornetist Buddy Bolden and pianist Jelly Roll Morton (who played in Storyville, the city’s red-light district), and moves with Louis Armstrong up the Mississippi on the paddle wheel boats to Chicago. New Orleans was the most cosmopolitan city of its time, a place where African Americans had many more opportunities to participate in public life. This is the way Ken Burns tells it in his massively popular documentary “Jazz,” and the way it was told for decades prior by everyone from renowned jazz historians like Marshall Stearns to the National Park Service.

But the trouble with this story is that jazz had no Big Bang. Its roots involve so many different kinds of music: blues, spirituals, West African rhythms as they had been reimagined in the Caribbean, European classical music and more. Those sources informed musicians around the country. As a result, music we would now identify as jazz emerged almost simultaneously in a number of different communities from Jacksonville to Kansas City around the turn of the century. Unfortunately, the documentation of jazz’s earliest days is so poor that it might be impossible to ever truly understand them.

 

Jazz must swing.

 

“Most jazz is very rhythmic [and] has a forward momentum called ‘swing,’ ” explains the website for the National Museum of American History. (Now, name a music that is not “very rhythmic.”) Swing is a way of playing eighth notes unevenly to produce a shuffle effect. It was one of the initial innovations of jazz and quickly became one of its distinguishing features. “Swing” and “jazz” are often treated as interchangeable terms because of the assumption that swing is one of jazz’s essential qualities: Jazz at Lincoln Center’s education program, for example, is called Swing University.

But “straight” eighth notes have been integral to jazz from the start, especially in jazz from the Caribbean and South America, such as mambo or bossa nova. Dave Brubeck combined “straight” eighth notes and swing to monumental effect on “Blue Rondo a la Turk” in 1959, and playing “straight” has become popular among contemporary jazz artists — who, like Brubeck, are also prone to experimenting with unusual time signatures. Those experiments tend to be a little simpler rhythmically when musicians aren’t trying to swing as well.

 

Jazz musicians were (or are) on drugs.

 

“Charlie Parker’s heroin addiction helped make him a genius,” argued the New York Post in a recent article, just one of the countless places where jazz musicians’ habits — not their work — are featured front and center. (Parker, like a number of jazz musicians, was a user; he died at 34 because of complications from drug use.) It’s a sensationalized, romantic vision of the music, one that reinforces an imagined connection between addiction and superlative creativity. And it’s not new: Since the days of “Reefer Madness” (1936) and “The Man With the Golden Arm” (1955), jazz music and its practitioners have been linked in popular culture with illicit drug use.

But the majority of jazz musicians did not regularly use intravenous drugs, according to an anonymous survey conducted by Nat Hentoff in the late 1950s — even though heroin was in vogue while the music was most popular. Instead, the cliche plays into a long, racist history of disproportionately prosecuting black drug users. The now-humorous cannabis euphemism “jazz cigarette” has its roots in early propaganda designed to paint black communities (and their artists) as dens of iniquity — and create reasons to arrest them. After various drug prohibition laws went into effect, they were enforced against black artists to seize their cabaret cards and thus keep them from performing. The notion lingers despite the fact that hard-drug users account for an even smaller proportion of jazz musicians today.

 

Jazz is dead.

 

Jazz accounts for 1 percent of music consumption — album sales and streaming — in America, according to Nielsen. The Michigan Daily recently described jazz as “a genre considered to be ‘dying,’ if not dead already.” Who can blame the student journalists, when outlets like CNN still grapple with the question: “What was the cause of death, and when did it pass away?” it asked in 2016.

But people have said jazz is dead since Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk had the moldy figs aghast with their audacious bebop in the 1940s. Though there are real questions about whether the term “jazz” is useful, the music it describes has always been diversifying and regenerating. If anything, streaming technology presents unprecedented opportunities for music makers and fans to learn more about jazz’s history, as well as the wide range of artists active today. It’s integral to hip-hop (just listen to A Tribe Called Quest or Kendrick Lamar) — now the dominant form of pop music — and vibrant jazz scenes in Los Angeles, Chicago and London speak to a new generation of artists committed to live, local music. Physical album sales are growing incrementally thanks to the vinyl renaissance, and festivals remain generally well attended. In many ways, the music is healthier than it’s been in decades.

Twitter: @natalieweiner

Five myths is a weekly feature challenging everything you think you know. You can check out previous myths, read more from Outlook or follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
https://www.jazzpromoservices.com

HAVE A JAZZ EVENT, NEW CD OR IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE JAZZ COMMUNITY YOU WANT TO PROMOTE? CONTACT JAZZ PROMO SERVICES FOR PRICE QUOTE.

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100 years ago in Spokane: Bandleader praises jazz as ‘really and truly melodious’ | The Spokesman-Review

100 years ago in Spokane: Bandleader praises jazz as ‘really and truly melodious’ | The Spokesman-Review


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100 years ago in Spokane: Bandleader praises jazz as ‘really and truly melodious’

Published: Jan. 25, 2020, midnight

Jazz music was here to stay.

That was the message delivered by Spokane band leader Charles “Chuck” Whitehead, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported. 

Whitehead said it was time for musical “highbrows” to face facts. Jazz had become overwhelmingly popular with the larger American public; it was spreading to Europe and other foreign lands; and “it was “really and truly melodious” when not overdone.

Whitehead said some people continued to turn up “disdainful noses” at jazz. But orchestra leaders knew that people applaud only “perfunctorily” when presented with “heavy” classical music. But when presented with lighter, popular jazz, they become “sincerely enthusiastic.”

The telltale sign, he said, was the tap-tap-tapping of toes in the audience.

Whitehead said that when jazz first arrived, it depended on “extremely syncopated” music and on the “acrobatics of the drummer.” But now, in 1920, the term jazz had been extended to include nearly all of popular music.

“The public demands melody, tunes which stick in the memory and may be whistled and hummed at home and on the street,” he said. 

Jazz delivers those qualities and “lightens burdens, eases cares and makes folks happier,” he believed.

It should come as no surprise that Whitehead’s orchestra was known throughout the Northwest as a “super-exponent of real jazz music.” 

The young Bing Crosby, destined to be a world-famous jazz singer, was a Whitehead fan.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Brooklyn Fire That Claimed Two Lives Has Also Stopped the Music at an Emerging Jazz Club | WBGO

Brooklyn Fire That Claimed Two Lives Has Also Stopped the Music at an Emerging Jazz Club | WBGO


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https://www.wbgo.org/post/brooklyn-fire-claimed-two-lives-has-also-stopped-music-emerging-jazz-club#stream/0
 

Brooklyn Fire That Claimed Two Lives Has Also Stopped the Music at an Emerging Jazz Club

By  • 5 hours ago

 

Made in NY Jazz Café & Bar had already closed for the night when tragedy struck, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The club, which opened several months ago, inhabits the ground floor of a four-story building on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. At around 2 a.m., a fire broke out in an apartment on the fourth floor, trapping two people inside. The couple — Steven Munoz and Destiny Marmolejo, both 22 — were found unconscious in the apartment and rushed to a nearby hospital, where they were eventually pronounced dead.

For Michael Brovkine, co-owner of Made in NY Jazz, this information arrived in piecemeal fashion.

“At 2 in the morning, I got a call from my partner saying there was a fire in the building, but it wasn’t coming from the club,” he says. “We didn’t know the details.”

Reached by phone on Friday, Brovkine first stated the obvious: that the loss of life was a tragedy, by far the gravest consequence of the fire. But he also spoke about the implications for his club, which has been a welcome addition to the Brooklyn jazz landscape since opening last fall. A formal assessment is forthcoming, but it’s clear that there was major water damage from the effort to extinguish the blaze.

“First of all, the firefighters vacated the entire building, because it’s closed for their investigation,” he says. “We checked the office, but they said not to touch anything.”

He adds: “Second, the equipment is ruined, completely. So we need to rebuild the stage and work on the acoustics again. And third, some professionals, who build houses after fire, said that we will probably have to tear the walls down because of the smoke. So honestly I don’t even know what to answer.”

A notice on the club website explains that it is closed until further notice, with all shows canceled. (The Dan Aran Trio had been booked for this weekend.)

Made in NY Jazz opened last year in a space that formerly housed the well-regarded Uzbek restaurant Nargis Bar & Grill. The chef-owner of Nargis, Boris Bangiyev, became Brovkine’s partner in the new club, which has been a home to the swinging modern-jazz mainstream — a noteworthy departure from the more eclectic sensibilities of Park Slope standby Barbès, or the Gowanus outpost ShapeShifter Lab.

The club’s official kickoff was a late-October engagement by pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White. Earlier this month, White returned to preside over his own 70th birthday celebration, leading a trio with pianist Christian Sands and bassist Christian McBride. Made in NY Jazz had also featured groups led by drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, trumpeter Valery Ponomarev and singers Charenée Wade and Allan Harris, among others.

“It felt like a Manhattan space – like the kind of jazz clubs you find in the West Village, with a cover charge and a two-drink minimum,” says Mike Rubin, a veteran music journalist who lives on the same block, and noted the smell of smoke and flashing lights early Wednesday morning.

With a main room designed to seat 50 patrons and an adjoining bar with space for 20 more, Made in NY Jazz opened with the intention of featuring music five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday. That schedule was recently reduced to Fridays and Saturdays only.

An email from Brovkine to the club’s mailing list on Jan. 13 announced some new plans: “We have made a decision to relocate! We hope it will happen fast, but for now, we will be only keeping 2 days with live music at the current location.”

Brovkine, who grew up studying classical piano in Siberia, also runs the online Made in NY Jazz Competition, which he founded in 2013. A longtime resident of the Midwood section of Brooklyn, he now resides on Staten Island, though he still harbors fond memories of bygone Brooklyn jazz clubs like Pumpkins, in Flatbush. “To build a club in Brooklyn was pretty tough,” he says, alluding to both financial and bureaucratic hurdles, as well as the need to draw a consistent audience.

Made in NY Jazz will hold its seventh annual gala at TriBeCa Performing Arts Center on May 16. “We’re going to concentrate on that,” Brovkine says, “and on our sixth anniversary festival in Montenegro, which is in June this year. So I guess I’ll switch my focus until I hear more about this place. We will look around also in the neighborhood to check some other locations.”

On Friday night, Rubin paused to take some pictures of the storefront at 155 Fifth Avenue, where candles and flowers had been arranged in a makeshift memorial for Marmolejo and Munoz.

He also took an image of a Vacate Order posted by order of the city on Thursday. “The Department of Buildings Has Determined That Conditions in This Premises Are Imminently Perilous to Life,” the notice reads. “This Premises Has Been Vacated and Reentry is Prohibited Until Such Conditions Have Been Eliminated to the Satisfaction of the Department.”

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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HAVE A JAZZ EVENT, NEW CD OR IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE JAZZ COMMUNITY YOU WANT TO PROMOTE? CONTACT JAZZ PROMO SERVICES FOR PRICE QUOTE.

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Claudio Roditi, Lyrical Jazz Trumpeter, Is Dead at 73 – The New York Times

Claudio Roditi, Lyrical Jazz Trumpeter, Is Dead at 73 – The New York Times


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Services for CLAUDIO RODITI
Saturday February 1st, 2 – 6 pm
Jacob A. Holle Funeral Home 

2122 Millburn Ave, Maplewood NJ 07040

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/arts/music/claudio-roditi-dead.html
 

Claudio Roditi, Lyrical Jazz Trumpeter, Is Dead at 73

By Peter Keepnews

Jan. 24, 2020, 2:26 p.m. ET

The Brazilian-born Mr. Roditi’s playing fused the gentle lilt of samba with the drive of the post-bop trumpet tradition.

 

Claudio Roditi in performance at the 2014 International Jazz Day Global Concert in Osaka, Japan. He was a force on the New York jazz scene almost from the moment he arrived in 1976. Claudio Roditi in performance at the 2014 International Jazz Day Global Concert in Osaka, Japan. He was a force on the New York jazz scene almost from the moment he arrived in 1976. Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

Claudio Roditi, a Brazilian-born jazz trumpeter celebrated for his impeccable technique, warm sound and lyrical playing, died on Jan. 17 at his home in South Orange, N.J. He was 73.

His wife and only immediate survivor, Kristen Park, said the cause was prostate cancer.

Mr. Roditi was a force on the New York jazz scene almost from the moment he arrived in 1976. He worked with top musicians like the pianist McCoy Tyner, the flutist Herbie Mann and the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, one of his earliest influences. He was for many years a featured member of Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra, a big band comprising musicians from the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil, and he continued to perform with what was billed as the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band after Gillespie’s death in 1993.

He also led his own bands and recorded more than 20 albums as a leader, most recently for the Resonance label.

Mr. Roditi’s playing was a seamless fusion of Brazilian music and jazz, combining the gentle lilt of samba with the drive of the post-bop trumpet tradition.

“I am a Gemini,” he once said. “I was born in one country and live in another, but I love them both — and both kinds of music, too.”

The dual nature of his approach was reflected in album titles like “Samba Manhattan Style” (1995), “Jazz Turns Samba” (1996) and “Brazilliance x 4” (2009). The “Brazilliance” album, on which he was accompanied by an all-Brazilian rhythm section, garnered him his first and only Grammy Award nomination, in the Latin jazz category.

Mr. Roditi also had an affinity for Afro-Cuban music, as heard most notably in his work with the Cuban expatriate saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, with whom he performed and recorded on and off for more than three decades.

In an interview with the Newark jazz radio station WBGO shortly after Mr. Roditi’s death, Mr. D’Rivera called him a “very special” musician who was “original without really trying.”

Claudio Braga Roditi was born in Rio de Janeiro on May 28, 1946, the only child of Alberto and Deise (de Braga) Roditi. His father was a coffee buyer, and the family had homes in both Rio and the town of Varginha, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, a center of coffee production.

Interested in music from an early age, he began taking piano lessons at age 6 and playing trumpet in his school’s marching band shortly after that. When he was 9, his father bought him his first trumpet; frustrated at the limitations of his playing, Ms. Park said, he destroyed the instrument in anger — but his father bought him a new one the next day.

Mr. Roditi’s interest in jazz, especially the modern kind as played by Gillespie and Charlie Parker, was sparked by an uncle who, he later recalled, “must have had the best jazz record collection in the whole of Brazil.” In 1966 he reached the finals of an international jazz competition in Vienna organized by the pianist Friedrich Gulda. One of the judges of that contest, the trumpeter and fluegelhornist Art Farmer, became a friend and mentor and encouraged him to pursue jazz as a career.

He moved to Boston in 1970 to study at the Berklee College of Music and was soon a fixture of the local scene. After relocating to New York six years later, he found work with Brazilian and Afro-Cuban bands as well as jazz ensembles.

Critics took note. Reviewing a performance by the saxophonist Charlie Rouse’s band in 1977, Robert Palmer of The New York Times praised Mr. Roditi’s “swaggering work” on both trumpet and valve trombone. (He also played fluegelhorn, although trumpet was always his primary instrument.)

He recorded his first album as a leader, “Red on Red,” in 1984. Among the more unusual items in his discography is “Symphonic Bossa Nova” (1994), on which the conductor Ettore Stratta led the Royal Philharmonic in orchestral arrangements of compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. Mr. Roditi most recently recorded as a guest soloist with the all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra on the album “Diva & the Boys,” released last year.

“Over the years,” Ms. Park said in a statement, “many reviewers of his performances have noted Claudio’s ‘selflessness’ onstage, how he happily shared any limelight with his band mates. He was completely inspired by the communication he felt on the bandstand. He actually felt happiest in that type of musical sharing.”

 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
https://www.jazzpromoservices.com

HAVE A JAZZ EVENT, NEW CD OR IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE JAZZ COMMUNITY YOU WANT TO PROMOTE? CONTACT JAZZ PROMO SERVICES FOR PRICE QUOTE.

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Claudio Roditi, Lyrical Jazz Trumpeter, Is Dead at 73 – The New York Times

Claudio Roditi, Lyrical Jazz Trumpeter, Is Dead at 73 – The New York Times


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Services for CLAUDIO RODITI
Saturday February 1st, 2 – 6 pm
Jacob A. Holle Funeral Home 

2122 Millburn Ave, Maplewood NJ 07040

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/arts/music/claudio-roditi-dead.html
 

Claudio Roditi, Lyrical Jazz Trumpeter, Is Dead at 73

By Peter Keepnews

Jan. 24, 2020, 2:26 p.m. ET

The Brazilian-born Mr. Roditi’s playing fused the gentle lilt of samba with the drive of the post-bop trumpet tradition.

 

Claudio Roditi in performance at the 2014 International Jazz Day Global Concert in Osaka, Japan. He was a force on the New York jazz scene almost from the moment he arrived in 1976. Claudio Roditi in performance at the 2014 International Jazz Day Global Concert in Osaka, Japan. He was a force on the New York jazz scene almost from the moment he arrived in 1976. Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

Claudio Roditi, a Brazilian-born jazz trumpeter celebrated for his impeccable technique, warm sound and lyrical playing, died on Jan. 17 at his home in South Orange, N.J. He was 73.

His wife and only immediate survivor, Kristen Park, said the cause was prostate cancer.

Mr. Roditi was a force on the New York jazz scene almost from the moment he arrived in 1976. He worked with top musicians like the pianist McCoy Tyner, the flutist Herbie Mann and the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, one of his earliest influences. He was for many years a featured member of Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra, a big band comprising musicians from the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil, and he continued to perform with what was billed as the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band after Gillespie’s death in 1993.

He also led his own bands and recorded more than 20 albums as a leader, most recently for the Resonance label.

Mr. Roditi’s playing was a seamless fusion of Brazilian music and jazz, combining the gentle lilt of samba with the drive of the post-bop trumpet tradition.

“I am a Gemini,” he once said. “I was born in one country and live in another, but I love them both — and both kinds of music, too.”

The dual nature of his approach was reflected in album titles like “Samba Manhattan Style” (1995), “Jazz Turns Samba” (1996) and “Brazilliance x 4” (2009). The “Brazilliance” album, on which he was accompanied by an all-Brazilian rhythm section, garnered him his first and only Grammy Award nomination, in the Latin jazz category.

Mr. Roditi also had an affinity for Afro-Cuban music, as heard most notably in his work with the Cuban expatriate saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, with whom he performed and recorded on and off for more than three decades.

In an interview with the Newark jazz radio station WBGO shortly after Mr. Roditi’s death, Mr. D’Rivera called him a “very special” musician who was “original without really trying.”

Claudio Braga Roditi was born in Rio de Janeiro on May 28, 1946, the only child of Alberto and Deise (de Braga) Roditi. His father was a coffee buyer, and the family had homes in both Rio and the town of Varginha, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, a center of coffee production.

Interested in music from an early age, he began taking piano lessons at age 6 and playing trumpet in his school’s marching band shortly after that. When he was 9, his father bought him his first trumpet; frustrated at the limitations of his playing, Ms. Park said, he destroyed the instrument in anger — but his father bought him a new one the next day.

Mr. Roditi’s interest in jazz, especially the modern kind as played by Gillespie and Charlie Parker, was sparked by an uncle who, he later recalled, “must have had the best jazz record collection in the whole of Brazil.” In 1966 he reached the finals of an international jazz competition in Vienna organized by the pianist Friedrich Gulda. One of the judges of that contest, the trumpeter and fluegelhornist Art Farmer, became a friend and mentor and encouraged him to pursue jazz as a career.

He moved to Boston in 1970 to study at the Berklee College of Music and was soon a fixture of the local scene. After relocating to New York six years later, he found work with Brazilian and Afro-Cuban bands as well as jazz ensembles.

Critics took note. Reviewing a performance by the saxophonist Charlie Rouse’s band in 1977, Robert Palmer of The New York Times praised Mr. Roditi’s “swaggering work” on both trumpet and valve trombone. (He also played fluegelhorn, although trumpet was always his primary instrument.)

He recorded his first album as a leader, “Red on Red,” in 1984. Among the more unusual items in his discography is “Symphonic Bossa Nova” (1994), on which the conductor Ettore Stratta led the Royal Philharmonic in orchestral arrangements of compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. Mr. Roditi most recently recorded as a guest soloist with the all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra on the album “Diva & the Boys,” released last year.

“Over the years,” Ms. Park said in a statement, “many reviewers of his performances have noted Claudio’s ‘selflessness’ onstage, how he happily shared any limelight with his band mates. He was completely inspired by the communication he felt on the bandstand. He actually felt happiest in that type of musical sharing.”

 

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only known TV appearance of Gene Ammons Just Jazz – YouTube

only known TV appearance of Gene Ammons Just Jazz – YouTube


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD9-6iRxJLA

previously “lost” video content from an early 1970 PBS TV broadcast of “Just Jazz” from WTTW/Chicago. This is the only known TV appearance of Gene Ammons. This broadcast was produced by NEA Jazz Master Dan Morgenstern, and was discovered among over 60 boxes of Morgenstern’s memorabilia at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. see https://bit.ly/30IslzT Gene Ammons Tenor Sax, King Kolax Trumpet, George Freeman Guitar, Wallace Burton Piano, Chester Williamson Bass, Bob Guthrie Drums

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National Museum of African American Music sign lit up for first time | Davidson County | wsmv.com

National Museum of African American Music sign lit up for first time | Davidson County | wsmv.com


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https://www.wsmv.com/news/davidson_county/national-museum-of-african-american-music-sign-lit-up-for/article_f5f322a0-3c0d-11ea-8252-abf4315e1b1f.html

National Museum of African American Music sign lit up for first time

  • WSMV Digital Staff
  •  
    • Updated Jan 22, 2020 | Posted on Jan 20, 2020 
    • 0

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A big milestone was celebrated Monday at the National Museum of African American Music, which is under construction along Broadway in downtown.

Crews lit up the building’s new digital sign, located above the future museum’s main entrance.

The sign will be used to showcase the artists and displays being featured in the museum once it opens later this year.

Museum officials said things are gradually coming together.

“You see the shape to the building. If you were to go inside, you’d see the inside of the building taking shape as well,’ said Henry Hicks, President and CEO of the National Museum of African American Music. “There’s a museum in there. We haven’t put it all quiet together yet, but we’re getting close, and this sign is one more step along that path.”

The museum is set to open this summer. Officials said it will be the only museum dedicated to celebrating African American music and the influence of African Americans on music. The museum is part of the Fifth and Broadway development across from Bridgestone Arena and the Ryman Auditorium.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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The New Age of Las Vegas Music Residencies| Billboard | Billboard

The New Age of Las Vegas Music Residencies| Billboard | Billboard


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https://www.billboard.com/articles/deep-dive/the-new-las-vegas-music-market/8548612/rebirth-las-vegas-residencies?utm_source=Sailthru
 

Rat Pack to Fame Monster: The Rise, Fall and Lucrative Rebirth of the Las Vegas Residency

In 2003, Céline Dion ushered in a new age of residencies that, with arrival of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and more recently Lady Gaga, Aerosmith and Lil Jon have tripled business in the last five years, according to one industry veteran

With 5,200 seats, the Park MGM’s Park Theater is a fraction of the size of the arenas and stadiums that Aerosmith has been playing for decades — and that’s exactly the point.

In early April 2019, the rockers, who this year are celebrating 50 years as a band, launched Deuces Are Wild, their first Las Vegas residency. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry — alongside Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton — took the stage beneath a giant reproduction of their winged logo. Tyler, 71, and Perry, 69, who were long ago dubbed the “Toxic Twins” due to their former drug use (both are now sober), headed to the front of the stage where they proceeded to scream and shred through “Mama Kin” and other Aerosmith classics.

Once the hum of Perry’s guitar faded on “Sweet Emotion,” the band broke out a pair of deep cuts, the bluesy murder ballad “Hangman Jury” and the bleak “Seasons of Wither.” Tyler, holding a harmonica, and Perry, with an acoustic guitar, eased into chairs set on a platform that jutted out from center stage. Hands from the front rows grabbed for the scarves trailing Tyler’s microphone. The rockers hadn’t been this close to their fans since the band’s earliest shows in dank Boston clubs, and, according to Perry, reestablishing that intimacy without sacrificing the pomp and power of an arena tour was exactly why the band had come to Vegas for a 50-show run that has been extended through June 2020.

Celine Dion

 

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“It was important to us to maintain the hardcore, garage band feel of what Aerosmith is while bringing in the big show element of a Las Vegas production,” Perry told Billboard before a Deuces Are Wild performance. “When you move closer to the Strip and its flavor, it’s a world of its own. Over the last few years, we’ve talked about coming in and doing some kind of residency, and then we were hearing about the pop acts doing it. It got to a point where we didn’t feel like doing another album, and we wanted to do something different. This seemed like the natural thing. We said, ‘Look: if we’re going to do it, let’s do it in a way no one has for a rock band.”

vegas deep dive use only

Aerosmith

Katarina Benzova

What Aerosmith has done, with the guidance of creative director Amy Tinkhim, producer Steve Dixon and Academy Award-winning design firm Pixomondo, is create an aural and visual retrospective of its five-decade history. In addition to a hit-laden live concert, Deuces Are Wild includes a half-hour video presentation that features clips of early performances and never-before-seen backstage photos and other memorabilia. Inflatable versions of the stuffed animals and playthings depicted on the cover of the band’s 1975 breakthrough album, Toys in the Attic, descend from the ceiling at one point. The stage show features dancers in surreal costumes that take a page from the visual style of Vegas staple Cirque du Soleil.

“You’re immersed in Aerosmith’s world when you come to this show,” says Perry.

Aerosmith is one of the latest acts in a growing group of legacy and contemporary artists seeking to mine the Strip’s potential as a magnet for music fans. One industry executive who’s involved in the residency business (and requested anonymity) estimates that it has tripled in the past five years, and other data indicates that Vegas is thriving as a market for live music. In 2018, 58% of the city’s 42 million annual visitors — a total that’s roughly 14 times its actual population — attended a show of some kind. Of that number, the average tourist caught 1.3 DJ sets during her stay, which translates to approximately 25 million people dancing to Calvin Harris at OMNIA, Zedd at Hakkasan, The Chainsmokers at Encore Beach Club and other stars of the EDM scene.

And those are just the DJs. On any given evening in Vegas, a patron can hit three residency shows (or more, if they’re ambitious), sometimes without even leaving their block on the Strip. Aerosmith shares the Park Theater with Janet Jackson’s song-and-dance retrospective, Metamorphosis, and Lady Gaga’s two residencies, her set of Great American Songbook standards, Jazz & Piano, and her cosmos-themed celebration of her biggest hits, Enigma. The 14 residencies that mounted 10 or more performances in 2019 — which include Mariah Carey’s Butterfly Returns, Gwen Stefani’s Just a Girl and Diana Ross’ Extraordinary Evening — grossed a combined $195 million and each sold in excess of 10,000 tickets, according to Billboard Boxscore. Gaga sold over 150,000 tickets during the course of 28 shows in 2019 — about 7.5% of the 2 million tickets that Live Nation Las Vegas president Kurt Melien estimates his division sold in 2019. (Live Nation is co-producing and co-promoting Gaga’s residencies with MGM Resorts International.)

Lady Gaga performs during her 'ENIGMA' residency at Park Theater at Park MGM on Dec. 28, 2018 in Las Vegas.

 

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This Artist’s Residency Ticket Prices Are Outpacing Even Celine Dion’s

 

Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Sting, Keith Urban David Lee Roth, Def Leppard, Robbie Williams, Cher and living Vegas legend Wayne Newton are among the pop, rock and Vegas stalwarts with 2020 residencies. Hip-hop fans can check out Lil Jon, Drake, Tyga, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and more.

The artists are coming for big paydays, certainly: According to Billboard Boxscore, Céline Dion, who had the two highest-grossing residencies of all time, A New Day (2003-07) and Celine (2011-19), grossed over $630 million; Gaga’s Enigma and Jazz & Piano grossed $48.4 million in 2019; Aerosmith’sDeuces Are Wild, also at the Park, grossed $37.5 million in the same year; Jennifer Lopez’s All I Have (2016-18) at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood took in $101.9 million.

But there are other key factors as well. With a typical tour, the artists are the ones passing through town, but in Vegas, the world comes to see them. Sets can be more ambitious because they don’t have to be pulled down in tight windows of time, and the artists aren’t subjected to the grind of being on the road. Los Angeles-based artists merely have to take a 45-minute flight to Vegas (and then a 10-minute drive to the Strip from the airport). Or an act can simply make a beeline from the hotel suite to the stage. Perry says that for the first few shows of Aerosmith’s residency, he didn’t leave his hotel when there wasn’t a show or production refinements on the agenda. As Deuces Are Wild producer Steve Dixon puts it, “If [the artists] have a better quality of life, it allows them to put on a better show.”

Still, a residency isn’t necessarily a sure bet — even with big investments in talent, tech and spectacle. Six months after A-list DJ-producer Marshmellobegan what was supposed to be a two-year, $60 million residency in the brand-new KAOS nightclub at the Palms Resort Casino, the commitment was canceled and the club was closed after losing $13.2 million in 2019, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The executive team that brokered the deal has also since departed the Palms, and the debacle now serves as a cautionary tale for those in the Vegas nightlife industry.

And yet, the artists keep coming.

vegas deep dive use only

Wayne Newton

Erik Kabik

The golden figurehead of Cleopatra’s Barge looms a few slot machines down from the lobby at Caesars Palace. Behind her, Wayne Newton waits. The floating lounge’s stage is just big enough to fit a drum kit, a few sidemen in tuxedos and Newton, who spent 2019 celebrating 60 years of performing in Las Vegas with his latest (of many) residencies on the Strip, Up Close & Personal. As soon as the lights go down, Newton pops up in the back of the venue, his broad grin and sequined tux glinting as he snakes through the crowded cocktail tables to the stage. As he moves among the audience, he shakes hands and poses for photos without missing a line of his opening number, “Viva Las Vegas,” from the Elvis Presley movie of the same name.

The audience, especially a young, wide-eyed couple visiting from England, revels in Newton’s campy bravura performance. It is one of his first nights back at work after an emergency spinal procedure forced him to cancel a run of shows in April 2019, but save for a reference he makes in a joke at the top of the show, he betrays no sign of his ordeal.

“Years ago, I was with [show-business legend] Danny Thomas on his television show,” he says backstage after a Wednesday night set. “We went out to lunch on one of the breaks, and he said, ‘You feeling OK?’ I said, ‘I just got a little bit of a cold.’ He said, ‘You don’t tell your audience that, do you?’ I said, ‘No! I don’t, why?’ He said, ‘Because they don’t deserve to hear it. They’re there to forget their problems, not hear about yours.’ That is a rule that I’ve truly lived by my entire career.”

Paris Hilton and her attorney David Chesnoff appear at the Clark County Regional Justice Center Sept. 20, 2010 in Las Vegas.

 

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Mr. Las Vegas, as Newton has been called for ages, arrived there as a teenager from Phoenix with his brother, Jerry, in 1959. His rise to lounge regular corresponded with the ascent of the Rat Pack and Presley, who would electrify Vegas audiences 10 years later during a four-week engagement at the International Hotel. Up Close & Personal serves as both a retrospective of Newton’s work and a condensed lesson in Vegas entertainment history, with his own career-defining single, “Danke Schoen,” featured among a set list of Presley and Frank Sinatra favorites.

Newton has witnessed Vegas’ tremendous evolution over his six decades there. He has long been known as a cheerleader for the town, and, as such, says he’s frustrated by the lingering misconception that, despite the influx of such contemporary music stars as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Kelly Clarkson, the city is still largely a place where dinosaurs of the entertainment industry roam.

“So many acts that I ran into on the road [would] say, ‘I would never play that town,’” he recalls. “I said, ‘Why?’ ‘Well, it’s the image…’” Newton is referring to the elements of seediness, such as prostitution and mob corruption, that led to Vegas’ “Sin City” nickname. “I said, ‘Do yourself a favor,’” says Newton. “‘Quit reading the news, quit watching television, come to town and take a look.’”

“The term ‘residency’ has been beat up pretty good,” says Chris Baldizan, senior vp entertainment and development at MGM Resorts International (which includes the Park Theater, T-Mobile Arena and other venues). But, he adds, it’s now viewed as a “model for artists to do something besides touring. That whole stigma around Las Vegas being where you go to die or whatever, that’s long gone. Now, the artist has to be right, and it has to be the right time in their career.” For Baldizan, Lady Gaga is an excellent example of this serendipity. “The only place you can see [Lady Gaga] right now is in Las Vegas,” he says. “One of the things that struck me when we sat down to talk to her was that she’s in the prime of her career. I think she already has changed the landscape of Las Vegas and the entertainment scene, and we’re only in year one of the two years we know we’re doing for sure.”

Jennifer Lopez performs during the finale of her residency, "JENNIFER LOPEZ: ALL I HAVE" at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Sept. 29, 2018 in Las Vegas.

 

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Which Countries Shell Out the Biggest Bucks for Vegas Residencies?

 

In the 1950s, casino tycoons, hoping to coax visitors to their budding desert oasis, booked star entertainers — Liberace, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett and Sammy Davis Jr. — into their lounges and ballrooms. The Rat Pack, with Sinatra, Martin and Davis at its core, turned the Copa Room at the Sands into a destination and drew foot traffic to the casino floor in the process. The Rat Pack’s popularity swelled into the ’60s, as did Vegas’ reputation as a place where entertainers aspired to perform because of its high standard of talent.

Although Elvis’ first Vegas two-week run in 1956 was panned as a “jug of corn liquor at a champagne party” by a Newsweek critic, his return to the town in 1969 was a triumph that led to a long stretch at the International. Presley earned $100,000 a week there when he played the Showroom — by comparison, Lady Gaga is guaranteed a little over $1 million per show for her residencies — and continued to perform there through 1976, the year before he died. As Presley morphed into a bloated caricature of himself, Vegas declined with him, and residencies there became associated with relics running on the fumes of nostalgia.

In the 1980s and ’90s, casinos sought to overcome the stigma by investing in nonmusical ventures. “We went through the white tiger syndrome with Siegfried & Roy — and every hotel had a magic act with a white tiger,” says Newton. “Then we went through the impersonators — show after show after show,” followed by what Newton calls “the Cirque syndrome,” a reference to Cirque du Soleil’s ubiquity in the city. There are currently seven ongoing Cirque productions in Vegas, including The Beatles LOVE, a tribute to the Fab Four musically directed by late Beatles producer George Martin and his son, Giles Martin. (The elder Martin died 10 years after the show’s premiere in 2016.)

Sir Paul McCartney in the Cirque du Soleil "LOVE" control booth on June 30, 2006.

 

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Newton says Vegas is now in the midst of an entertainment renaissance. “We’ve moved into a very diverse show policy, which is wonderful, because no matter what people’s preferences are in music or entertainment, there’s something here for you,” he says.

He and other Vegas insiders agree that, in terms of live music, the resurgence began in 2003 when Céline Dion’s A New Day opened at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Caesars built the venue for the residency at a cost of almost $100 million with AEG Live (now AEG Presents) and its Concert Wests division agreeing to pay for the production and guaranteed performance fees. Concerts West then operated the Colosseum and produced all of the residencies there until last year.

“For Céline’s first residency, the investment in the production was really as much as the cost of building the theater itself, but it turned out to be a wise investment because people kept coming for all those years,” says AEG Presents/Concerts West senior vp John Nelson, who assisted Concerts West president/co-CEO John Meglen in bringing Dion’s first residency to fruition. “The economics of a resident show in Vegas are such that these super-large production budgets can be amortized over a number of years, over a lot of performances.”

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Celine Dion

Denise Truscello

A New Day, which ran until 2007, remains the highest-grossing Las Vegas residency of all time, according to Billboard Boxscore. Dion’s second residency, Celine, which ran from 2011 to 2019, ranks second. Combined, they sold nearly 4.6 million tickets and grossed over $630 million. The latter, which boasted a full orchestra, a company of dancers and a water curtain that swirled around Dion as she sang the final bridge of “My Heart Will Go On,” set a new standard for production values in Vegas without sacrificing intimacy. With just 4,300 seats, the Colosseum gave Dion the opportunity to banter with fans and interact with those in the coveted first row.

“We learned from Celine that there are key characteristics of successful residencies today,” says Jason Gastwirth, president of entertainment at Caesars Palace. “When you were in that theater, you felt like you were getting to know her; that you were spending the evening with her. Those who have successful headliner residencies have understood that in this more intimate environment, you need to engage with the audience in that way.”

Dion benefited from more than box-office grosses and the adoration of her fans. The residency kept her off the road, allowing her to spend more time with her twins, Nelson and Eddy, who were born in 2010, and to care for her husband-manager, Rene Angélil, during his long battle with throat cancer, from 2013 to his death in 2016, in Vegas, from a heart attack at the age of 73. When Celine closed in 2019, the twins, now 10, and her 18-year-old son, René-Charles, joined her onstage for the show’s finale: Dion sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while a slideshow flashed personal photos, including one of her holding hands with René-Charles as a toddler backstage at the then newly built Colosseum.

Where the members of the Rat Pack had availed themselves of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas nightlife during their heyday, Dion had taken advantage of the stability that a residency offers. And so it’s no surprise that other artists raising young children, including Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and Mariah Carey, are gravitating to the format.

Dion’s success signaled a shift in the allure that Vegas held for tourists. “The casinos used to use performers to bring in people to gamble,” says Newton. “Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop were doing two shows a night at the Sands, and the cover, with dinner, was $5.95.” Today, he says, “People come to town and gaming is their third choice; shopping is second. Entertainment is their first.”

George Strait performs during one of his exclusive worldwide engagements, "Strait to Vegas" at T-Mobile Arena on Sept. 9, 2016 in Las Vegas.

 

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Larry Rudolph, who manages Britney SpearsAerosmith and Pitbull, noticed this development as well. “I saw a change in the demographic very clearly,” he says. “Instead of middle-aged couples coming in, grabbing dinner and a show, gambling and going to sleep, there were these 21-, 25-, 30-year-old people coming, and they had a different agenda. They didn’t care about gambling. They were there for the entertainment and the nightlife and everything related to it.”

Rudolph saw an opportunity to fill the entertainment gap that, he says, existed between the residencies that appealed to an older early-bird demographic, such as Newton and Donny and Marie Osmond, and the late-night EDM- and hip-hop-centric clubs run by the Wynn and Hakkasan groups that attracted more of a millennial crowd.

The latter group was “underserved,” says Rudolph. “There was an open space for a pregame show, where that audience, instead of going to a 7 or 8 o’clock show as the older crowd wanted, had an opportunity to attend one that started at 9:30 and ended at 11, where people could come, drink, have fun and get pumped up for the club.” And Rudolph was confident he had the ideal artist to do that show: Britney Spears.

vegas deep dive use only

Britney Spears

Marco Piraccini\Mondadori via Getty Images

Spears opened her Piece of Me residency across the street from the Colosseum at Planet Hollywood’s Axis Theater in 2013 (since rebranded as the Zappos Theater), and demand extended its original slate of 96 performances to 250. The residency grossed $138 million before its final show in 2017. A number of Spears’ pop peers then followed in the same venue, including the Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, Stefani and, most recently, her fellow Mickey Mouse Clubalum Christina Aguilera.

Although Rudolph looks like a genius now, he says he was initially met with a lot of resistance from those with a vested interest in Spears’ success. “When I first announced the show, I almost got death threats from various people,” says Rudolph. “The president of her record company at the time called me and said, ‘What are you doing?! You’re going to kill her career!’ I said, ‘No, you don’t understand. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Vegas. I understand the market. Watch what’s going to happen: Britney’s going to come in, she’s going to slay it, and every other pop artist is going to want a Vegas residency.’ And that’s exactly what happened.”

Rudolph has since installed Aerosmith at the Park; secondary-market tickets to the Live Nation-produced Lady Gaga shows have set a record on StubHub, and it seems like every month another major artist announces a Vegas residency. But there have been unsettling developments as well. The abrupt cancellation of Marshmello’s residency and the shuttering of KAOS has some Vegas nightlife insiders concerned that the DJ market has peaked, and in February 2019, Spears canceled a second planned residency at the Park, Domination, because, she said then, she wanted to spend time with her ailing father. Subsequent reports, however, indicated that ticket sales were soft.

Asked if there is concern about residency saturation, Live Nation’s Melien says, “We’re not even close,” adding, “There’s so much growth ahead for us — for the whole pie.”

Rudolph agrees. “Vegas isn’t the place where artists go to die — it has been proven,” he says. “Vegas is the place where artists go to thrive.”

Additional reporting by Joe Lynch and Dave Brooks.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
https://www.jazzpromoservices.com

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Preservationists Lobby City To Save Ken Nordine’s Edgewater Mansion – CBS Chicago

Preservationists Lobby City To Save Ken Nordine’s Edgewater Mansion – CBS Chicago


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Preservationists Lobby City To Save Ken Nordine’s Edgewater Mansion – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Ken Nordine was known internationally as a jazz poet, and now, preservationists are rushing to save his Edgewater mansion from the wrecking ball.

Nordine’s 7,300 square-foot mansion at 6106 N. Kenmore Ave., just north of Glenlake Avenue, was recently listed for $2 million.

It is the last single-family home on the block, just a few blocks south of the Loyola University Lake Shore Campus. And it was marketed for medium- or high-rise development.

Preservationists are lobbying the city, saying the Nordine mansion meets the requirements for historic landmark status.

“People say: ‘Oh, it’s a great place to live! We love Edgewater! We love all the history! And then people come in and start tearing buildings down,” said Bob Remer of the Edgewater Historical Society, “and we’re trying to prevent that.”

The Chicago historic survey already has the mansion orange-rated, requiring 90 days’ public notice before it could be torn down.

Nordine died in February at the age of 98.

 

 

 

He was well-known stream-of-consciousness, free-association poetry that he read aloud under jazz music backgrounds. First working in radio beginning in the 1940s, Nordine went on to release the albums “Word Jazz” in 1957, “Son of Word Jazz” in 1958, and “Word Jazz Vol. 2” in 1960.

Nordine was hired in 1966 to write and record 10 poems giving quirky personalities to 10 paint colors for a series of advertisements for the Fuller Paint Company, according to AllMusic.com. That project led to the celebrated 1966 album “Colors.”

 

 

Nordine’s syndicated radio show, also called “Word Jazz,” ran for more than 40 years – appearing every Sunday night at midnight on WBEZ for generations of creative-minded night owls.

Nordine also worked with members of the Grateful Dead in the 1990s and appeared at the High Line Festival curated by David Bowie in 2007, according to AllMusic.

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Remembering Dave: A Brubeck Family Album at Wilton Historical Society

Remembering Dave: A Brubeck Family Album at Wilton Historical Society


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https://news.hamlethub.com/wilton/events/49836-remembering-dave-a-brubeck-family-album-at-wilton-historical-society
 

Remembering Dave: A Brubeck Family Album at Wilton Historical Society

President Barack Obama stated, “In order to understand America, you have to understand jazz, and in order to understand jazz, you have to understand Dave Brubeck” when he bestowed upon him the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor at the White House in 2009. As a pianist, bandleader and composer, Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) is widely acknowledged as one of America’s most significant post-swing era jazz musicians, creating a body of music that was bold and accessible. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of jazz legend – and Wilton’s own — Dave Brubeck, the Wilton Historical Society will present Remembering Dave: A Brubeck Family Album. All are invited to the opening reception 4 – 6 on Friday, February 21, 2020 (no charge). The exhibition incorporates material from the Dave Brubeck: Jazz Ambassador show which detailed his illustrious 70-year career and was presented at Jazz at Lincoln Center soon after Brubeck’s death, and highlights other facets of his life such as his impact as a composer, a performer, a civil rights activist and as family man. Remembering Dave: A Brubeck Family Album exhibition presents additional material that speaks to Dave’s life in Wilton with his wife Iola, and six kids, including musicians Darius, Chris and Dan. Growing up on a vast ranch in California, he learned to ride, how to be a cowboy; visitors will be able to see a Western-style saddle that belonged to his father, as well as Dave’s cowboy hat. A highlight of the exhibition is the opportunity to see a new short film produced by the Brubeck family which contains rare footage of “Cowboy Dave.” Another section of the film shows Wilton composer, lyricist, pianist, and educator Eugenie Rocherolle interviewing fellow musician Dave Brubeck. The exhibition will run through April 18, 2020. Free for Wilton Historical Society members; $10 entrance fee for non-member adults, free for under 18.

Dave Brubeck 100 is the world-wide celebration of the 100th birthday of Dave Brubeck, the jazz composer, pianist, cultural ambassador, and visionary musician, which will take place on December 6, 2020.

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How the Grammys went through 3 bosses in 6 months – Los Angeles Times

How the Grammys went through 3 bosses in 6 months – Los Angeles Times


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https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2020-01-18/grammys-dugan-portnow-step-up-recording-academy?mc_cid=76dc064a8e
 

3 CEOs in 6 months: How the Grammys went from ‘step up’ to meltdown

The press room backstage at the Grammy Awards is a bunker-like space beneath Staples Center sports arena, a nondescript room that isn’t typically a beehive of activity, much less a frequent source of breaking news.

The biggest names in pop music typically skip it after they’ve won awards or completed performances on the star-studded telecast. It tends to be a hangout for first-time winners or stiff-upper-lip also-ran nominees on what’s branded “music’s biggest night” by CBS-TV and the Recording Academy, which collaborate on the annual ceremony.

So when the academy’s then-President Neil Portnow stepped in front of reporters following the Feb. 18, 2018, Grammy Awards, the expectation was that he would deliver less-than-memorable bromides about the academy’s pride in all nominees and winners, and its overarching mission to promote music as a universal language.

Neil Portnow

Former Recording Academy chief executive Neil Portnow speaking at his final Grammy Awards in 2019.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Instead, when a reporter tossed him a question about the evening’s male-heavy winners’ circle — best new artist winner Alessia Cara was the only woman presented an award during the televised part of the ceremony — Portnow said the time had come for female artists “to step up because I think they would be welcome.”

The next day, the remark went viral. After pop star Pink and a raft of musicians and others called for him to step down, Portnow tried to walk back his statement.

The quote was “taken out of context,” said the career bass guitarist who worked his way up through the ranks of the music business to his post leading the industry’s primary advocacy organization, which he held for 17 years. He insisted he never intended to imply it was somehow women’s fault for their poor showing at the Grammys.

“I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face,” he said, “but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.”

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But the damage was done.

Within weeks, the Recording Academy announced the formation of a blue-ribbon task force to examine “conscious and unconscious bias” in the music industry and at the academy. It was charged with making recommendations about the roadblocks hampering women from being equally represented among Grammy winners and nominees, as well as in the halls of record companies, recording studios, management offices and music venues.

Tina Tchen, former chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama, was the high-profile choice to lead the task force. She assembled a 15-woman, three-man team from the entertainment industry and academia to take a serious look at the factors holding women, people of color and those in the LGBTQ community back in the music business.

Deborah Dugan

Recording Academy president and CEO Deborah Dugan was placed on administrative leave on Thursday, just 10 days before the Grammy Awards.

(ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Portnow’s comment was ground zero for what was intended to be a hard reevaluation at the Recording Academy. That led to the selection last spring of a new president and chief executive, Deborah Dugan, who took the reins on Aug. 1, a day after Portnow’s contract came to an end.

Her appointment by the academy’s board of trustees was greeted enthusiastically in most quarters as a pivotal step forward: A woman at the top of the nonprofit organization heralded real and necessary change.

On Thursday, however, just 10 days before the 2020 Grammy Awards ceremony will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the rosy glow became a raging inferno.

Shock waves rippled through the academy and the music industry at large after Dugan was suddenly placed on “administrative leave” by the academy’s board and accused of misconduct stemming from what was described in a public statement as a complaint from “a senior female member of the Recording Academy team.” The statement added that “The Board has also retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations.”

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The nature of the complaint was not detailed and academy representatives declined to offer additional information. A New York Times report said the academy employee’s complaint involved “bullying.” The employee, who took a leave of absence after filing her complaint, is widely believed to be Claudine Little, Portnow’s former assistant.

Dugan, through lawyer Bryan Freedman, quickly issued a heated statement of her own: “What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told. When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”

Dugan is said to have filed a memo weeks ago with the academy’s human resources department outlining concerns she’d developed over voting irregularities, financial mismanagement, “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal fees and “conflicts of interest involving members of the academy’s board, executive committee and outside lawyers.”

On Friday, musicians, record producers, label execs and others expressed their shock at the meltdown between Dugan and the academy. But on reflection, many expressed empathy for Dugan, talking of the academy as an “old boys’ club” in which many veterans were dead set against the kind of changes her hiring portended.

Others criticized her as an outsider who didn’t understand or seem to care to learn about the nuanced workings of the 62-year-old academy and its symbiotic relationship with artists, record labels and various constituencies.

 

 

She came to the post from heading (Red), the AIDS nonprofit formed in 2006 by U2 singer Bono, and previously held top posts at Disney Publishing Worldwide and EMI/Capitol Records.

“In fairness, she didn’t have the qualities or experience to run the organization,” a source familiar with the academy’s leadership said, asking not to be identified. “She felt she was hired to restructure the Grammys. Somehow she got the message that’s what she was there for. But she never stopped to learn how things work.”

Even in the short five and a half months she’d been at the helm, Dugan, who was recommended to the academy by executive recruitment firm Korn Ferry, drew comparisons with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dawn Hudson and her tumultuous eight-year tenure at the top.

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What Hudson said about the film academy in a recent interview could double as a comment about the music industry and the Grammy Awards: “The academy grew up around a cozy club that was the center of the universe, and it was wonderful — if you were part of that club. We are still an exclusive club,” she said, “we’re just not an exclusionary club.”

The Grammys wrestled in recent years with exclusion by gender. A USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study issued just before the 2018 Grammy ceremony showed that more than 90% of awards in five top categories over the previous five years — record, album, song, new artist and producer — went to men, and just 9.3% to female recipients, a statistic that framed the tone-deaf quality of Portnow’s “step up” comment.

One significant effect of what the task force labeled “a public relations crisis” over Portnow’s remark was a precipitous drop in contributions to MusiCares, the philanthropic wing that provides aid to musicians in need, according to a lawsuit filed last year by longtime MusiCares Vice President Dana Tomarken, who was fired in 2018 after 25 years with the academy.

Her wrongful termination suit alleged that support for MusiCares fell from $5 million in 2017 to barely $1 million in 2018. The suit also alleged financial mismanagement surrounding the Grammys’ 60th anniversary event in New York, which incurred significantly increased costs over the expense of staging it in Los Angeles, where it traditionally has been held in recent decades.

The suit was settled through arbitration in November, with both parties agreeing not to disclose details of the settlement.

The biases affecting women, people of color and LGBTQ creators in the music business are deeply ingrained, the task force concluded in the 47-page final report issued in December. It contained 18 specific recommendations to address the various ways such biases play out. The academy has adopted and begun implementing some of those recommendations; others are still awaiting action.

Most notably, the task force discovered early on that the academy’s 25,000-strong membership, of which about 13,000 are voting members who decide on the Grammy Awards, is overwhelmingly white and male.

So is the academy’s 40-member board of trustees, which has averaged 68% male and 69% Caucasian since 2012. (An academy representative pointed out this week that the eight-person executive committee that elected to put Dugan on leave is 50-50 female-male.) 

The same biases were found of the select nomination review committees that winnow down submitted recordings each year to five or, in the case of record, album, song and new artist, eight nominees for final selection by the voting members.

Harvey Mason Jr.

Interim Recording Academy President Harvey Mason Jr.

(Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Tchen’s task force recommended quickly revamping the review committees to make them demographically in step with the general population. That resulted in selection groups that were 50-50 male-female as well as more racially diverse.

Some of those with knowledge of the task force’s operations told The Times last week that they encountered significant resistance to many of their recommendations for change, with men as well as women suggesting that old practices and old thinking were still deeply entrenched at the academy.

“I was one of a handful of people who came in to try to help Neil when the whole thing started imploding, said another industry veteran, also on condition of anonymity, who was not on the task force but was familiar with its proceedings. “It was such a rude awakening to learn how deeply and structurally flawed the organization was. It really is an old white boys club. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but it’s made up of a lot of guys late in their careers for whom this was the biggest platform they’ve ever had and they were going to do anything they could to hang on to it.”

Dugan’s leave is not expected to have a direct effect on next Sunday’s Grammy show, which is being assembled at Staples through the week, with artist rehearsals kicking into high gear as of mid-week. While the independent investigations are carried out, Board chairman Harvey Mason Jr. is serving as interim president of the academy.

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys is returning as host after making a well-received first appearance as emcee last year. Emerging artists Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are among the field-leading nominees this year — they received a combined 20 nominations — and will be among dozens of musicians performing during a telecast.

To hear it from those directly involved, the behind-the-scenes drama hasn’t dulled the shine that is part and parcel of a Grammy win. A music industry veteran who also asked not to be identified said, “The interesting thing is, to most artists, winning a Grammy is still incredibly important.”

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Jimmy Heath, 93, Jazz Saxophonist and Composer, Is Dead – The New York Times

Jimmy Heath, 93, Jazz Saxophonist and Composer, Is Dead – The New York Times


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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/19/obituaries/jimmy-heath-dead.html
 

Jimmy Heath, 93, Jazz Saxophonist and Composer, Is Dead

By Giovanni Russonello

Updated Jan. 20, 2020, 1:13 p.m. ET

Mr. Heath, whose compositions became part of the midcentury jazz canon, found new prominence in middle age as a co-leader of a band with his two brothers.

 

Jimmy Heath at the NEA Jazz Masters Awards ceremony in Manhattan in 2013. Besides performing, he was also known for his abilities as a composer and arranger. Jimmy Heath at the NEA Jazz Masters Awards ceremony in Manhattan in 2013. Besides performing, he was also known for his abilities as a composer and arranger.Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Jimmy Heath, a tenor saxophonist whose sharp and lively compositions became part of the midcentury jazz canon — and who found new prominence in middle age as a co-leader of a popular band with his two brothers — died on Sunday at his home in Loganville, Ga. He was 93.

His grandson Fa Mtume confirmed his death.

Mr. Heath’s saxophone sound was spare but playful, with a beaming tone that exuded both joy and command. But his reputation rested equally on his abilities as a composer and arranger for large ensembles, interpolating bebop’s crosshatched rhythms and extended improvisations into lush tapestries.

He was a teenager touring the Midwestern dance circuit with the Nat Towles Orchestra in the 1940s when he became enamored with arranging. At first he could hardly read music, but he proved a quick study.

When a particular harmony struck him, he hounded his fellow horn players to tell him what notes they were playing, then pieced together the chords on sheet music. Before long he was writing for a 16-piece band of his own, whose lineup included the future saxophone luminaries John Coltrane and Benny Golson.

His career in many ways tracked the life cycle of postwar jazz in the United States. After touring with dance bands, he moved on to the fresher, more cosmopolitan bebop style, playing in groups led by the trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.

Originally an alto saxophonist, he earned the nickname Little Bird for his ability to emulate the fleet playing of the bebop pioneer Charlie Parker, known as Bird. He soon switched to the tenor, partly to skirt the comparisons, and established himself as a central figure on the New York scene.

In the mid-1970s, when R&B and rock had eclipsed jazz’s popularity, he founded the Heath Brothers with his older brother, Percy, a bassist, and his younger brother, Albert, known as Tootie, a drummer. That band welcomed the electric instruments and strutting rhythms of a younger generation into its own distinctive style, which hopscotched between straight-ahead jazz and soulful fusion.

And when jazz began its ascent into the academy, Mr. Heath was among the veterans who shepherded the transition. In 1964 he became a founding faculty member at Jazzmobile, an organization that presented concerts and classes to young people in Harlem. Decades later he helped forge Queens College’s jazz studies program.

An avid communicator, Mr. Heath was particularly wily with wordplay. He called the trumpeter Roy Hargrove “Roy Hardgroove.” The drummer Grady Tate became “Gravy Taker” because he snatched up so many good-paying gigs.

Mr. Heath titled his autobiography, written with Joseph McLarin and published in 2010, “I Walked With Giants,” a playful reference to his 5-foot-3 stature as well as to the fact that he spent much of his life working alongside the most lauded names in jazz.

Reflecting on his long career, Mr. Heath often said that although he never achieved as much renown as some of his contemporaries, he was satisfied. “You become an icon when you’re dead,” he told NPR Music in 2014. “I always say I’d rather be an acorn, and be alive.”

Yet from the 1990s on, he did enjoy recognition as a jazz eminence. In 2003, the National Endowment for the Arts named him a Jazz Master.

To his students, Mr. Heath was an ambassador from an earlier time who never lost his hunger for fresh inspiration. He often said most of his songs were inspired by the people he met. One song was named simply “Nice People.”

James Edward Heath was born in Philadelphia on Oct. 25, 1926. His father, Percy, was a mechanic and laborer who played clarinet in the local Elks Club band; his mother, Arlethia, sang in their church’s choir. Jimmy moved to New York at 22, eventually landing a spot alongside his brother Percy in Gillespie’s pioneering bebop big band. Gillespie became Mr. Heath’s primary mentor.

Around this time, Mr. Heath’s life off the bandstand took a turn. After the breakup of his first marriage, he sought solace in heroin, which was then prevalent on the jazz scene. Even as gigs with the likes of Miles Davis and Clifford Brown raised his standing, his habit overtook him.

In 1955 he was imprisoned on drug charges. He kicked his addiction in prison, and as leader of the penitentiary’s big band he spent much of his time writing tunes and arrangements, as well as learning the flute.

He would sometimes smuggle out compositions and arrangements by giving them to his brother Tootie during family visits. The charts quickly made their way onto a few popular records, including Chet Baker and Art Pepper’s 1956 album “Playboys,” which included mostly Mr. Heath’s tunes and was later reissued as “Picture of Heath.”

Mr. Heath returned to Philadelphia drug-free in 1959, but the terms of his probation prevented him from touring. He was forced to pass up a spot as Coltrane’s replacement in the Miles Davis sextet that recorded the celebrated album “Kind of Blue.”

So he made his own way, mostly in the studio. He released a string of well-received albums for Riverside Records, featuring compositions like “Gingerbread Boy” and “For Minors Only” that would become staples of the jazz repertoire. Even when he recorded with just a sextet, his crafty arrangements gave the sense of a chattering, wall-to-wall conversation among bandmates.

He also found freelance arranging work, writing charts for Ray Charles and others. Eventually he became a staff arranger at Riverside.

On the day he left prison, Mr. Heath met Mona Brown, a visual artist, whom he married the next year.She was white, and her parents refused to attend the couple’s wedding; after the marriage, they stopped speaking to her. Eventually she and Mr. Heath moved to an apartment in Corona, Queens, where they would live for more than 50 years. She survives him.

In addition to her and his grandson Fa Mtume, he is survived by their daughter, Roslyn Heath-Cammorto; a son from his first marriage, James Mtume, a percussionist, vocalist and songwriter with whom he occasionally collaborated; his brother Tootie; six other grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Another son, Jeffrey, died in 2010. Percy Heath died in 2005.

Jimmy Heath and his wife had moved to Georgia three years ago.

At Town Hall in 1976, Mr. Heath presented the premiere of his first long-form piece, “The Afro-American Suite of Evolution.” John S. Wilson of The New York Times called it “an illustrative survey for which Mr. Heath showed his versatility by composing segments that caught the spirit of the various periods.” Mr. Heath considered the concert to be a turning point in his career.

The Heath Brothers released their debut album, “Marchin’ On,” that same year. The group featured Percy, who had become one of the world’s best-known bassists through his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet; Tootie, who had recently worked with Herbie Hancock; and the pianist Stanley Cowell. The album included Jimmy’s four-part “Smiling Billy Suite” (dedicated to the drummer Billy Higgins), which laced saxophone, flute and the Central African mbira, or thumb piano, into a viscous groove.

“It was a time of transition in the jazz world,” Mr. Heath wrote in his autobiography. “I was trying to evolve and create music that was acceptable to the generation of the ’60s and ’70s. In fact, I’ve been told by certain people that they started listening to jazz as a result of what the Heath Brothers were recording.”

The band went through a series of personnel changes; Tootie left after two albums and a guitarist, Tony Purrone, came on board, as did Mtume, Mr. Heath’s son, on percussion and vocals. The Heath Brothers’ Columbia album “Live at the Public Theater,” released in 1980, was nominated for a Grammy.

The group went on hiatus in the mid-1980s, after Percy Heath joined a reunited Modern Jazz Quartet, but the three brothers came together again in the late 1990s. Tootie and Jimmy continued to record and perform after Percy’s death.

Mr. Heath took over the fledgling jazz program at Queens College in 1986, helping to create its master’s curriculum. His 10 years there were his most fertile period as a composer of large-scale works.

In 1993, his Verve album “Little Man, Big Band” was nominated for a Grammy. Also that year, he jammed with President Bill Clinton at a White House jazz concert produced by the Thelonious Monk Institute, where he served on the board of advisers.

Mr. Clinton borrowed Mr. Heath’s saxophone to play on a blues number and, with Mr. Heath’s help, found the right key. As Mr. Heath recalled in his book, “He stumbled, but he landed on his feet.”

Mariel Padilla contributed reporting.

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Singer-Songwriter Robert Parker of ‘Barefootin’ Fame Has Died

Singer-Songwriter Robert Parker of ‘Barefootin’ Fame Has Died


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http://www.offbeat.com/news/robert-parker-obit/
 

Singer-Songwriter Robert Parker Of ‘Barefootin’ Fame Has Died

January 20, 2020 by: 

Celebrated New Orleans singer-songwriter and saxophonist Robert Parker, writer of the 1960s smash-hit “Barefootin’,” has passed away at the age of 89. 

In a one-sheet promo, Jerry Reuss shared details of Parker’s life and career. Parker was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 14, 1930. When he was a teenager, he began playing saxophone and soon was playing behind local legend Professor Longhair. Parker began playing at the Tijuana Club in the 40s and 50s which introduced him to booking agent Percy Stovall as well as encouraged Parker to start his own band, Robert Parker and the Royals, who toured around the southern US. Parker was highly sought-after for session recording. New Orleans artists such as Jimmy Clanton, Ernie K-Doe, Fats Domino, Frankie Ford, Irma Thomas and Huey “Piano” Smith all hired him to play on their recordings, earning him high respect and regard around the city. During his tenure with the Tijuana Club house band, he shared the stage with icons including Ray Charles and Little Richard.

In the late 50s and early 60s, Parker worked as a solo act under a few local labels; however, nothing garnered major success. After the collapse of the music industry economy in 1963, Parker began working a day job at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, though still continued to work with his booking agency. Despite the challenge Parker faced, he continued to focus on his music and maintained the hope that he would be able to return to the music industry. 

In 1999, Parker’s agent booked him a gig at Tuskegee University in Alabama. It was there that he received inspiration for the song that would become “Barefootin’”: “The girls took their shoes off and piled them in front of the bandstand before they danced. That stayed with me,” Parker once said. In other instance, Parker played a show in Miami with a comedian who came on stage and said “Everybody get on your feet, you make me nervous when you’re in your seat,” which became the opening line of “Barefootin’.” 

After going back and forth with labels, NOLA Records eventually pressed a couple of boxes of records of the single, which sold right away. This prompted one of NOLA Records owners, Ulis Gaines, to take the record to local stations which caused the single to take off. “Barefootin’” peaked at the number-two spot on the R&B charts and remained on the charts for 17 weeks.

The legacy of “Barefootin’” still remains alive in New Orleans, with the song used in commercials for radio and television, and it’s likely one can hear the song while walking down the streets of New Orleans. In a 2006 article on“Classic Songs of Louisiana” for OffBeat, Jeff Hannusch wrote of “Barefootin,’” “[It] was irresistible because it combined the old New Orleans syncopated beat with contemporary soul. Along with ‘Tell It Like It Is,’ it briefly lifted the New Orleans recording scene out of the mid to 1960s doldrums. ‘Barefootin’ missed topping the charts by one place and reached number seven in the pop charts in the U.S.A. It was a huge international hit as well, even reaching the U.K. charts for the second time in 1987.”

In 2012 Robert Parker received OffBeat’s Best of the Beat Lifetime Achievement in Music along with Jean Knight, The Dixie Cups, Frankie Ford, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson and Ernie Vincent. The tribute band was lead by Ernie Vincent with each recipient performing their hit song. Looking frail, Robert Parker managed to get on stage, but when the music played he was transformed into a younger version of himself, wowing the audience.

The Parker family says funeral arrangements are pending.
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJsg2X_Do-M

 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Jimmy Heath Newport July 29, 2016 – YouTube

Jimmy Heath Newport July 29, 2016 – YouTube


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ1zEpTK-M4

Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Freddie Hendrix, Jeb Patton, David Wong
Newport July 29, 2016

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Jimmy Heath & Bill Charlap Highlights Soundcheck

Jimmy Heath & Bill Charlap Highlights Soundcheck


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Every now and then you’re in the right place at the right time.

I was lucky to snap this pic at the Highlights in Jazz 33rd Anniversary show soundcheck Feb. 9, 2006.

It was a double bill featuring the BILL CHARLAP TRIO With Kenny Washington & Peter Washington + LIVING JAZZ LEGENDS Slide Hampton & Jimmy Heath.

Here’s Jimmy Heath at the piano and Bill Charlap discussing the music before the show.

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R.I.P. Jimmy Heath A Salute To Jimmy Heath May 3, 1990 @ NYU

R.I.P. Jimmy Heath A Salute To Jimmy Heath May 3, 1990 @ NYU


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Nice little snapshot of how the jazz scene was covered in NYC back when.

Thank God Jack Kleinsinger is a pack rat for jazz.

His entire 47 year archive is online thanks to drummer Danny Gottlied and the jazz dept at UNF.

Check it out here:

https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1137&context=kleinsinger

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latinjazz] Claudio Roditi – REST IN POWER

latinjazz] Claudio Roditi – REST IN POWER


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January 19, 2020

Dear Family and Friends around the World,

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved husband, Claudio Roditi, late Friday evening, January 17, 2020. He was a loving husband and best friend to me for 45 years, although I never lost sight of the beautiful fact that music, particularly jazz, was his very first love!

I’m sure most of you know that in the past three years Claudio was dealing with cancer. He didn’t like the concept of “battling” or “fighting” cancer. He accepted it and felt it was more like something that he was just trying to live with. His optimistic and courageous attitude stayed with him throughout his journey with this illness ‒ right through the very end, which was at home, with me, and very peaceful. It was a relaxed release.

Claudio’s accepting approach was fundamental to his nature. He was a loving, kind and peaceful person, who thrived on the feeling of unity among people. He always had a knack for creating a good feeling among people. Claudio loved getting people together whom he felt might have common interests and would enjoy each other’s company. “A good hang,” he’d call it.

His entire life was geared to enjoyment: of Life and living it, of great music, of good food, traveling around the world playing his beloved rotary horns, meeting interesting and talented people, making new friends and visiting the longstanding ones, and maintaining his ready sense of humor. Claudio loved to laugh! He always saw the humor in situations, and frequently we were doubled over laughing about something or other.

Over the years, many reviewers of his performances have noted Claudio’s “selflessness” on stage, how he happily shared any limelight with his band mates.. He was completely inspired by the communication he felt on the bandstand. He actually felt happiest in that type of musical sharing. Perhaps it stemmed from the fact that he was an only child. He was always looking for brothers and sisters! I know many of you who are musicians could feel that deep bond with him.

Claudio’s father, Alberto Roditi, bought young Claudio his first trumpet, which Claudio destroyed in a fit because he couldn’t play it! Alberto bought him another one the next day and drove him around to see big bands (like Cab Calloway’s) that appeared in Brazil in the 1950s. As a teen, he was more widely exposed to jazz through an American Uncle, nicknamed “Tax” (his name was Harold Taxman), who moved his monster jazz LP collection from Chicago to Rio when he married Claudio’s Aunt Cida. 

Claudio came to the Unites States in 1970 with a true passion for jazz. He initially moved to Boston, where we met, to study and learn to play jazz. This fire for jazz (and Brazilian music) never left him! In his last weeks he was blowing on his mouthpiece and listening to music, to the latest CD he was on: “Diva and the Boys” by The Diva Jazz Orchestra, which has been number 1 on the jazz charts recently.

It feels like it will be difficult to move through life without him, doesn’t it? I know that so many of you knew and loved him, each in your own special way. He loved you, too. He was so humbled and full of gratitude for all the caring and support all of you showed him, especially over the past few years. It made an enormous difference to him. You should know that for sure. 

So how will we manage without him? I would say that one hundred percent of Claudio Roditi is in every piece of his music. Put on a CD, lay back and listen ‒ he’s there, his beautiful spirit is right there, and it’s bound to make you smile at some point.

From the core of my heart, I truly thank you all for loving Claudio and being so kind to him. I plan to create a legacy of his music (he wrote over 200 songs), his vintage performance videos and DVDs, his writings, and the like. It’s hoped that this legacy, Claudio’s enduring legacy, can serve to light a passion and nurture it for young musicians inspired by this miraculous art form called jazz.

Sending you love,
Kristen Park

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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ART BLAKEY WALKING MY CAT NAMED DOG  – YouTube

ART BLAKEY WALKING MY CAT NAMED DOG  – YouTube


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIGLFKxrUO4

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Jazz Saxophone Legend Jimmy Heath Has Died : The Record : NPR

Jazz Saxophone Legend Jimmy Heath Has Died : The Record : NPR


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https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2020/01/19/535609079/jazz-saxophone-legend-jimmy-heath-has-died
 

Jazz Saxophone Legend Jimmy Heath Has Died

Tom Vitale 

January 19, 202012:59 PM ET


Saxophonist, composer and arranger Jimmy Heath.

Lonnie Timmons III/Getty Images

Jimmy Heath, a prolific saxophonist, composer and bandleader who played alongside some of the biggest names of jazz, including Miles Davis and John Coltrane, has died.

Heath died Sunday morning in Loganville, Georgia of natural causes, his grandson told NPR. He was 93 years old. His family was at his side, including his wife of 60 years, Mona Heath, his children Mtume and Rozie, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and his brother, drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath.

In a career that spanned seven decades, Heath brought the bebop he loved to big bands — and into the 21st century.

Heath is best known as a saxophonist, but he wrote and arranged music throughout his life. In 2013, when he was 87 years old, he told NPR it was important to be a complete musician. “Not just to stand up and improvise,” he stressed. “You know, you got to compose. I want to be a person who can compose, and leave something here for posterity.”

 

 

Jazz Legacy Films YouTube

Heath left hundreds of compositions that were performed by his own bands, and others.

Listen to new music, watch the latest Tiny Desk concerts and more, sent weekly.

Phil Schaap is a curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He says that one of Jimmy Heath’s most important contributions was bringing the bebop revolution of the 1940s to succeeding generations.

“Moses is dead. The tablets are still here,” Schaap declares. “Well, Jimmy Heath read the commandments of jazz, and he got the tablets from the great prophets. And he used it his way to great benefit, and he even fed it back towards the prophets. You know, Miles Davis used his stuff. Charlie Parker used his stuff. And John Coltrane was nurtured by Jimmy Heath.”

 

 

YouTube

James Edward Heath was born October 25, 1926, in Philadelphia. His sister Elizabeth played piano; his older brother Percy played violin and bass; and his younger brother Tootie played the drums.

“My father played the clarinet,” recalled Jimmy Heath. “He was an auto mechanic for a living, but he played the clarinet on the weekends. He’d get it out of the pawn shop and play in a marching band in Philadelphia. But my mother sang in a church choir. But we were privy to have all these great recordings in our home at that time. We heard all the bands. The big bands were prominent at that time.”

Jimmy Heath developed a big sound on his saxophone. But he was a little man — 5’3″. For most of his life, his colleagues on the bandstand called him “Shorty” and “Little Bird” (a reference to saxophonist Charlie Parker, who was nicknamed “Bird”).

 

 

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“My father told me about that. He was a small guy,” Heath said. “He says, ‘Jimmy, you just got to work harder as a little person. Because the big guys get all of the girls, and all of the gigs. They get everything. But if you pursue your profession, and music, like I do, every day, just like before you came in here, I was practicing. And things like that, you can overcome these myths.'”

Jimmy Heath had to overcome more than myths. He beat a very real heroin habit, and went on to perform and record for more than half a century. He also taught for 20 years at Queens College in New York. Heath said the reason he was able to do all that was simple. 

“I’m going to do this until I leave. This is all I love. It’s a matter of love. If you love what you do, and you can make a living at it, What’s better?”

And Jimmy Heath was one of the best.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Norma Tanega, Who Sang About a Cat Named Dog, Dies at 80 – The New York Times

Norma Tanega, Who Sang About a Cat Named Dog, Dies at 80 – The New York Times


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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/17/arts/music/norma-tanega-dead.html?action=click
 

Norma Tanega, Who Sang About a Cat Named Dog, Dies at 80

By Richard Sandomir

Jan. 17, 2020

She had only one hit record, but it was a memorable one: a quirkily titled song about freedom, dreaming and her cat, who really was named Dog.

 

Norma Tanega on the British television show “Ready Steady Go!” in 1966, the year her song “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” was a hit. Norma Tanega on the British television show “Ready Steady Go!” in 1966, the year her song “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” was a hit.Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

In 1966, when Norma Tanega released her first single, rock fans were becoming used to unusual lyrics. But as it turned out, that song, “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog,” wasn’t as quirky as the title suggested: The song was inspired by her cat, whose name was indeed Dog.

“I had always wanted a dog, but because of my living situation, I could only have a cat,” she said on her website. “I named my cat Dog and wrote a song about my dilemma.”

She turned that situation into a lilting song about freedom, “perpetual dreamin’” and “walkin’ high against the fog” around town with Dog (whom in real life she really did walk).

Accompanying herself on guitar and also playing harmonica, she sang, in a low voice: “Dog is a good old cat/People what you think of that?/That’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m at.”

The song reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and quickly assumed a life of its own, covered by various artists, including Barry McGuire, whose apocalyptic “Eve of Destruction” had reached No. 1 a year earlier, as well as jazz artists like the drummer Art Blakey and the Jazz Crusaders. Decades later, versions of the song were recorded by Yo La Tengo and They Might Be Giants.

But she would never have another hit.

Ms. Tanega died on Dec. 29 at her home in Claremont, Calif., about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. She was 80. Her lawyer, Alfred Shine, said the cause was colon cancer.

Soon after the release of her hit song, Ms. Tanega was part of a nationwide tour with Gene Pitney, Chad & Jeremy and many other artists. Later in 1966 she performed in England, where she met Dusty Springfield, the British pop star.

The meeting led Ms. Tanega to write or co-write songs for Ms. Springfield, including “No Stranger Am I,” “The Colour of Your Eyes” and “Earthbound Gypsy.” They also had a romantic relationship for several years, during which Ms. Tanega wrote a song called “Dusty Springfield” with Jim Council and the jazz pianist and vocalist Blossom Dearie, who sang it on her 1970 album, “That’s Just the Way I Want to Be.”

“Dusty Springfield, that’s a pretty name,” the song starts. “It even sounds like a game/In a green field, hobby horses play the dusty game/When it’s May.”

Recalling her chemistry with Ms. Springfield in an interview with the Southern California newspaper The Daily Bulletin in 2019, Ms. Tanega closed her eyes and said, “She heard me.”

While in England, Ms. Tanega recorded her second — and last — solo album, “I Don’t Think It Will Hurt If You Smile” (1971). When her relationship with Ms. Springfield ended, she returned to the United States, settling in Claremont.

Norma Cecilia Tanega was born on Nov. 30, 1939, in Vallejo, Calif., and grew up in Long Beach. Her father, Tomas, was a Navy bandmaster and musician. Her mother, Otilda (Ramirez) Tanega, was a homemaker.

As a teenager, Norma painted, and gave classical piano recitals and taught herself the guitar. After graduating from Scripps College in Claremont and earning a master’s in fine arts from Claremont Graduate School, she moved to Manhattan to join the folk music scene.

 

“I just want to sing for people,” Ms. Tanega said. “You might say it’s mass love.” “I just want to sing for people,” Ms. Tanega said. “You might say it’s mass love.”

A job singing in a summer camp in the Catskills brought Ms. Tanega to the attention of a producer, Herb Bernstein, and to Bob Crewe, the songwriter and producer behind many of the Four Seasons’ hits, who signed her to his New Voice record label in 1965. “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” came out early the next year.

During a stopover on her nationwide tour, Ms. Tanega told The Detroit Free Press that she wasn’t sure what genre to put herself in.

“The folkies don’t like me and the rock ’n’ rollies don’t like me,” she said. She nonetheless enjoyed performing, she said: “I just want to sing for people. You might say it’s mass love.”

After her second album and her return to Claremont, she began a long teaching career. She was an adjunct professor of art at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and taught music, art and English as a second language in Claremont public schools.

She also focused on her art, which culminated in an exhibition of her landscapes and abstract paintings last year at Claremont Heritage, a historic preservation center. In comments published for the show, David Shearer, the executive director of the center and the curator of the exhibition, compared some of her work to that of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Robert Rauschenberg.

She never gave up music. Over the years, she played earthenware instruments in the Brian Ransom Ceramic Art Ensemble and performed and recorded with several bands, including Hybrid Vigor, the Latin Lizards and Baboonz.

No immediate family members survive.

Nearly 50 years after the debut of Ms. Tanega’s first album, its opening track, “You’re Dead,” was used as the theme song for “What We Do in the Shadows” (2015), an acclaimed mockumentary by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi about a group of vampires living in present-day New Zealand. (The movie spawned a TV series on the FX network that is heading into its second season.)

“Don’t sing if you want to live long,” she sang. “They have no use for your song./You’re dead, you’re dead, you’re dead/You’re dead and outta this world.”

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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How a revitalized recording studio is bringing Georgia’s Macon into the spotlight | PBS NewsHour

How a revitalized recording studio is bringing Georgia’s Macon into the spotlight | PBS NewsHour


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https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-a-revitalized-recording-studio-is-bringing-georgias-macon-into-the-spotlight


 

How a revitalized recording studio is bringing Georgia’s Macon into the spotlight

Jeffrey BrownJan 17, 2020 6:25 PM EST

Many a masterpiece has been recorded at Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon, Georgia. Otis Redding’s manager, Phil Walden, co-founded the label, and Capricorn went on to produce a decade of southern rock hits. But as the music industry changed, Capricorn went bankrupt and fell into disrepair — until a recent revival lifted the studio, and the city, back into the limelight. Jeffrey Brown reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now celebrating the sound of Southern rock and a new effort to restore the place that helped create it.

    Jeffrey Brown visits Macon, Georgia, for our “American Creators” series, and part of our ongoing arts and culture coverage, Canvas.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    “Dreams,” a classic song of the rock era. It was made famous by the Allman Brothers Band and performed on a recent night at Macon City Auditorium by musicians from then and now, as part of a celebration that looked both to the past and future.

    Keyboard player Chuck Leavell helped put together the concert. He’s been travelling the world for decades as music director for the Rolling Stones. But he lives on a tree farm near here and, back in the day, was a member of the Allman Brothers Band.

  • Chuck Leavell:

    It’s intimate, and it reminded me that that was one of the cool things about it, because you were tight, you were right there together with your fellow musicians when you were working.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    He often recorded here at Macon’s famed Capricorn sound studios, newly restored to its former glory.

  • Chuck Leavell:

    My memories are so strong of making great music in this room. And so many other musicians would tell you the same thing.

    It’s just such a special feeling. It’s really hard to describe, the magic of music. When you hit the right note, man, that magical feeling that you get when you are cutting a song, that you feel like, wow, this has a chance to be a hit. And we have cut a lot of hits in this room.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The story actually begins earlier, with a local singer who became an international superstar, Otis Redding. Along with his manager, Phil Walden, Redding dreamed of building a musical hub here in Macon.

  • Karla Redding-Andrews:

    I think his sound came from deep within his soul, from what he was taught in the church.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Daughter Karla Redding-Andrews today runs the Otis Redding Foundation, which offers music education programs to children.

  • Karla Redding-Andrews:

    This was going to be where he would be able to be home and record, and be able to go back to his ranch and fish and hunt and swim, and bring other artists to Macon, and really just — just catapult Macon to this sound that’s so special to our community.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    That dream ended when Otis Redding died in a plane crash at age 26 in 1967. But, two years later, Phil Walden and his brother Alan launched Capricorn Records.

    It would become home to a soulful Southern rock, with acts including the Marshall Tucker Band, Bonnie Bramlett, Elvin Bishop, and many others. There were 10 years of hits. but the music industry changed. Capricorn ended up in bankruptcy, the studio building was abandoned, and eventually fell into disrepair.

    Now it’s back, with a performance by Jimmy Hall, former singer for Wet Willie, another Capricorn band, and a grand opening in December, where the public had a chance to check out the facilities.

    A developer had bought the buildings as part of a growing downtown renaissance here, including new loft apartments, and then donated the studio buildings to Macon-based Mercer University.

    With outside funders, including the Knight Foundation, for the record, a “NewsHour” underwriter, Mercer has turned the space, now called Mercer Music at Capricorn, into a nonprofit incubator for local musicians, along with a small museum celebrating the history.

  • William Underwood:

    This project will propel the renaissance.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Mercer president Bill Underwood says he grew up loving Southern rock, but this is about something else.

    What does Mercer get out of this?

  • William Underwood:

    Mercer gets a vibrant community. One thing I have learned is that dying, decaying communities are not attractive to people.

    The more vibrant, interesting and exciting your community is, the better able you are to attract talented faculty, talented students and staff. So anything that’s good for this region is good for our university.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    So, five, 10 years down the road, what do you see?

  • William Underwood:

    I see lots of creative, talented young people with tattoos and nose rings running all over downtown Macon.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    That sounds good to you?

    (LAUGHTER)

  • William Underwood:

    Yes, as long as it’s not my daughter.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The new dream is that Macon once again becomes a musical hot spot, with the restored studio serving as an anchor.

    That would suit 20-year-old Maggie Renfroe, who grew up here, before moving to Nashville to pursue a music career.

  • Maggie Renfroe:

    If the history and the music here in Macon continues to grow, and the next thing we know a label pops up here, I would be the first person to come back here and show Nashville and show L.A. and New York that Macon really could be a spot where it’s a music hub.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    I asked Otis Redding’s daughter Karla what she hopes to see in Macon in the coming years.

  • Karla Redding-Andrews:

    The next Otis Redding to come out of here.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Yes? That’s no little thing, by the way. Right?

  • Karla Redding-Andrews:

    But you know what? It’s possible. Because they have everything they need right here to make it happen, great engineer, great recording room. There’s no reason why it can’t happen.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    And why not? All it takes is some hard work, commitment and support, and, as the great Otis Redding song tells us, sung on this night by Taj Mahal, a little respect.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jeffrey Brown in Macon, Georgia.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some great news for that Southern city.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Vinyl Mastering How It’s Made on The Discovery Channel – TRUTONE MASTERING LABS

Vinyl Mastering How It’s Made on The Discovery Channel – TRUTONE MASTERING LABS


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http://www.trutonemastering.com/mastering/vinyl-mastering/vinyl-video/

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The Pleasure and Pain of Being Cole Porter | The New Yorker

The Pleasure and Pain of Being Cole Porter | The New Yorker


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https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/20/the-pleasure-and-pain-of-being-cole-porter
 

The Pleasure and Pain of Being Cole Porter

Almost inhumanly prolific, the songwriter produced a new kind of American lyric—and language.

January 20, 2020 Issue

 

The artist’s genial and productive surface masked turbulent waters.

Photograph by Horst P. Horst

Back in 1976, the incomparable drama critic Kenneth Tynan wondered in his diary when someone was “going to take a deep breath and declare that, at some time in the thirties, the serious music tradition finally withered, curled up and died of sterility and malnutrition; and that the greatest composers of the twentieth century are Berlin, Rodgers, Porter, Kern, Gershwin, et al.” This view, bold enough at the time to be fit only for a diary, has by now become commonplace. In the mid-nineteen-seventies, you had to haunt London record shops to find Ella Fitzgerald’s Gershwin or Cole Porter albums. Now those recordings, and the songs they illuminate, are everywhere. Prompted, perhaps, by the publication, in the early seventies, of Alec Wilder’s groundbreaking study, “American Popular Song: The Great Innovators 1900-1950,” the old songwriters have come to have a new presence, and their songs even a collective brand name: the American Songbook. Their music is now taken up routinely by the same rock singers who once seemed to have overshadowed them, with some (Van Morrison singing “A Foggy Day”) oddly good, some (Rod Stewart singing “Someone to Watch Over Me”) oddly bad, and some (Bob Dylan singing “The Night We Called It a Day”) just odd.

Like all victories in art, this one has a double-edged result. On the one hand, the music is, mostly, out there. On the other, the essential work of discrimination is lost in a blanketing cloud of nostalgia. Embattled memory takes things apart; complacent nostalgia squashes them back together. The first wave of rediscovery had ukases and prohibitions—Alec Wilder wrote off essentially all of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and almost everything self-consciously “jazzy” in Gershwin. (He preferred Harold Arlen, who knew jazz inside out, to Gershwin—a shocking view then.) These days, a smiling, everyone-together spirit inflects the appreciative albums and Lincoln Center celebrations; Tynan’s “et al.” covers a lot of talents, big and small. When you are in the middle of a battle, as Wilder was, it is important to sort out the fighters from the freeloaders. Once it has been won, everybody gets a medal.

So, with squads of scholars arriving on the field after the battle, to tend the wounded and bury the dead, we have a renewed chance not just to get the story right but to get the stature right, to figure out who ranks where and why. Certainly, Porter’s ghost could not ask for better care than he has been given in “The Letters of Cole Porter” (Yale), edited by Cliff Eisen, a professor of music history at King’s College London, and Dominic McHugh, a musicologist at the University of Sheffield (and the editor of Alan Jay Lerner’s letters). Laid out with a meticulous scholarly apparatus, as though this were the correspondence of Grover Cleveland, every turn in the songwriter’s story is deep-dived for exact chronology, and every name casually dropped by Porter gets a worried, explicatory footnote. The editors have also included some secondary material that is not, strictly speaking, correspondence at all, such as a hair-raising journal of the mid-thirties M-G-M movie project that became the Eleanor Powell vehicle “Born to Dance.”

As an artist’s letters, they are, truth be told, disappointing. There are few flights of fancy or spontaneous improvisations in Porter’s writings to friends—for such a famous wit, there is remarkably little wit. The most arresting passages of writing and thinking arrive less often in letters-from than in letters-to. Abe Burrows, the great musical “book writer”—what others call a libretto Broadway people call a book, and what others call a book they usually call revenge—contributes several good things. He offers Porter definitive wisdom about making musicals: “Doing a show is not unlike bringing up a child. The child develops a life of its own. The parents do their best but certain things remain immutable, and the child is what he is.” Porter, a great appreciator, tells Burrows that he liked those words enough to paste them in his scrapbook.

Yet a reader, without learning much directly about Porter’s art, comes away from the book with an even higher opinion of him as an artist than might have been held before. Though he was born into genuine if provincial affluence, with second-tier European royalty filling out the family’s dance card on vacation, he chose to become a working stiff. Reversing the usual American ascent from labor to leisure makes for a more strenuous, and more moving, story. The labor produced a new kind of American lyric, and language.

Porter’s personal tale was well known even when other songwriters’ were not. To get a bio-pic, peers among the great songwriters had to die young, like Gershwin (who got a pretty good movie in “Rhapsody in Blue”) or Lorenz Hart (who got a terrible one in “Words and Music”). But Porter was the subject of two movies, including one, “Night and Day” (1946), made in his lifetime and with his reluctant collaboration, despite the unsayable but far from secret truth that he was gay. In his own social world, he was about as out as a man could be in those days, with a rich repertory of lovers and assignations.

Porter’s story was appealing because it was seemingly so generational—so Fitzgerald-like in its ascension from Midwestern beginnings to East Coast fame. Born in Peru, Indiana, in 1891 to the wealthiest family in town—perhaps the wealthiest in all of Indiana—he went to Yale right before the Great War. (Fitzgerald, four years behind him, at Princeton, regarded Porter’s commercial career a little enviously, as a path not taken.) A precocious though largely untrained musician, Porter wrote what are still among the school’s fight songs. Then came a short period of service in the war, followed by a long holiday in Europe through the early twenties, with a loving but mostly sexless marriage of convenience to Linda Lee Thomas, of the Virginia Lees. It was a perfect Gerald Murphy-style Jazz Age life, disrupted only by Porter’s determination to get to New York and become a successful Broadway songwriter—a very strange, and very “Jewish,” ambition for a young socialite.

Beneath his smooth, genial, almost inhumanly productive and evasive surface, there were turbulent waters. His very name, for all its air of Ivy League ease, represents a burdened legacy. The Porters were his difficult, scapegrace father’s family; the Coles were his mother’s rich and ambitious Indiana family. He was a Porter by birth but, if his mother had anything to do with it, would be a Cole for life.

Privilege has its privileges, and Porter’s queerness, evident in the countless letters in this volume to kindred souls, like Monty Woolley—the once famous character actor, whom he’d met at Yale, the original star of “The Man Who Came to Dinner”—seems never to have tormented him, as it did Hart. Porter, by temperament and entitlement, came of age among the openly bisexual European upper crust. Everyone knew that he was a gay man with a marriage of convenience; everyone agreed to maintain the pretense that he wasn’t. Far from a drama of either repression or subversion, the situation seems like an oddly happy social concord.

His letters to his lovers are in the same register as those of the Oscar Wilde–Robbie Ross circle in London a few decades earlier: chummy more than erotic, with a transparent language of concealment, a more or less open code of intrigue. “Way out here one gets that wicked city idea about New York & all those purlieus,” he writes to the dancer Nelson Barclift, from his cottage in Williamstown. “Have you been in a purlieu tonight? Confess. Say, ‘Guilty.’ But do write me soon that you have reported it all to Ben & Ollie”—gay friends—“for, for some intangible reason, they cleanse the impurity out of what they touch. And they touch plenty.”

It might be argued, and has been, most notably in William McBrien’s 1998 biography, that Porter’s sexuality shaped his sentiments, which burst out in happy one-night-stand songs like “Just One of Those Things” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” with their note of sexual infatuation, cherished but not easily transmuted into domesticity. “I’d sacrifice anything come what might / For the sake of having you near / In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night / And repeats, repeats in my ear” does not lead us neatly to become the folks who live on the hill.

But Frank Sinatra had no trouble applying the songs, or their emotions, to Ava Gardner or her successors. At a time when everyone was chafing against the constraints of bourgeois morality, a sex song like “Let’s Misbehave” spoke as clearly to straying straights as it did to cruising gays. The sport of writing in a tightly organized genre like popular song is not to smuggle in specifically subversive subtext when the censors aren’t looking but to make the subversive emotions universal enough not to need a subtext. Porter was to straight sex in his “affair” songs as his best friend, Irving Berlin, was to Christianity in writing “White Christmas”—the outsider’s triumph was to own the insider’s material. It may be, as some have suggested, that the climactic lines “But if, baby, I’m the bottom / You’re the top” in Porter’s “You’re the Top” already meant in 1936 what they mean in erotic slang now; the point is that, post-Porter, they no longer had to mean only that.

Porter is so famous for his gifts as a lyricist that it might seem mischievous to the point of perversity to suggest that his real greatness resides in his skills as a composer. Yet how many other popular composers have had more hits with instrumental, unsung versions of their work? Artie Shaw’s version of “Begin the Beguine” is the best known, but the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s album of Porter songs, from the mid-sixties, with Paul Desmond’s peerless sax, is just as good. Though rarely overtly jazz in the Arlen-Gershwin manner, his melodies have so much mysterious inner propulsion that, asked to swing, they practically swing themselves.

For all Porter’s aristocratic mien, his tastes were rather plain, as those of the American upper classes usually are—high taste is typically simple taste, as anyone who has eaten at a Wasp club knows. His list of requirements for a hotel room in Philadelphia during a tryout included sliced liverwurst, salami, and bologna, and twenty-four cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Another small but striking social trait that runs through the letters is the preponderance of presents that were incumbent on people in show business then; Porter gives and gets flowers, paintings, wine, books for the smallest of reasons, and then writes at length to thank the present-giver, or to thank the present-recipient for his thanks. People who came of age in Porter’s time took gift-giving as seriously as the Kwakiutls took their potlatches, and for the same reason: coming of age in a culture of surplus, they believed in constant exchanges of the signs of prosperity.

Porter, high-Wasp tastes and all, had to navigate a Broadway and Hollywood world that was astoundingly uniform in its Jewishness. A famous story has Porter confiding in a friend that he was going to write “Jewish tunes,” meaning minor-key pentatonic croonings of the kind that Berlin had mastered in “Blue Skies.” In Mary Martin’s first showstopper song, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” the melisma in the middle section is self-consciously, even uncomfortably, Eastern European-sounding in order to indicate that “Daddy” is Jewish.

The degree of reverse cultural assimilation that this Gentile from the Midwest had to undertake is captured in one of the funniest letters Porter ever wrote, to his (Jewish) agent, Irving Lazar:

Thank you for your letter of Dec. 28 1955. I am not an idiot child. I do not call Sol “Saul” nor do I call Saul “Sol.” These are two different people. There is a producer named Sol Siegel—and an assistant producer named Saul Chaplin. Sol sent Saul to be with me here for ten days while I wrote new material. . . . Since Saul (not Sol) returned to Culver City, I have received charming telephone calls from Sol, and a most enthusiastic letter from Saul.

It’s a Porter lyric in miniature (“Sol Sent Saul to Tell Me All”), and shows what a forest of alien manners, or at least names, a boy from Indiana had to make his way through at a time when all the other great show-tune innovators—Kern, Gershwin, Rodgers, Arlen—were Jewish. What other kind of tunes could you write?

Porter’s story does have a dramatic climax. In the fall of 1937, when he was forty-six, he endured a horrific accident, in which the horse he was riding fell on him and crushed one of his legs. The injuries led to more than thirty operations in the course of his life, all excruciatingly painful, and a legacy of permanent suffering. Just how agonizing his condition must have been, and what consequences it had for his work, has been a source of much speculation. Wilder, among others, insists that there was minimal good work after the accident. Eisen and McHugh dispute that verdict; certainly, his most successful Broadway shows, including “Kiss Me, Kate,” all happened well afterward. Still more certainly, the letters are heroic in their avoidance of self-pity, though they also reveal for the first time just how bad his injuries were. “When the cast was removed, I shall never forget the first sight of my leg,” he wrote to Monty Woolley from his hospital bed. “I asked ‘What is the jelly it’s covered with?’ And the reply was, ‘That’s not jelly, that’s blebs’ ”—blisters. “It was hard to believe for the whole leg looked like a flowing mass of lava and it sorta made me sick.” Heavily drugged, he managed to write down some of his “craziest illusions”: “My right leg stretches, slanting upwards before me, like the side of the hill, the summit of which is my toes. From the ankle down—and approaching me—any number of small, finely sharply toothed rakes are at work.”

The rakes got only more sharply toothed over time. He managed to persevere, it seems, by a mixture of champagne and stiff-upper-lipness. But not a day of it could have been easy for him. There are long, relatively unrevealing diaries from later trips to the Greek islands and Naples and beyond, and the extent of his activity doesn’t sound at all like that of a crippled man. On the other hand, one of his companions says that he was “inhuman” on these voyages, a comment that seems to refer to the prodigious gifts of concentration necessary to keep out the pain and focus on the pleasures.

Porter writes engagingly, as an artisan, about the business of putting on a show. It is pretty clear that he measured a show’s success simply by the number of hit songs it produced, and he had savvy theories about how long it takes a song to become a hit once it’s out in the world. He writes minimally about his own creative process for the same upper-crust reason that he writes minimally about his suffering—only second-rate people go on and on about their inner lives. Analyzing is the same as complaining, and self-analysis is the twin of self-promotion.

Clues about his creativity shine through the workmanlike surface, though. Porter still wrote in a revue style where the characters were hardly worth dramatizing. The producer Cy Feuer, who put on two late Porter shows, says in his memoir that Porter didn’t really care where the songs fit within the story; he was blithely composing numbers for “Can-Can” (1953) while the book writer and the director struggled bitterly with the plotline, and though he threw in new ones as needed, he seems to have stood mostly aside, amused and productive, as the rest of the creative team raged and yelled. In fact, Abe Burrows wrote a couple of deft, diplomatic letters asking Porter to please wait to write the songs until they knew what the story was. Told that the integrity of the show demanded that there must not be any ooh-la-la songs about Paris, Porter airily wrote the most obvious of all such songs, “I Love Paris.” It was too irresistible not to include.

He didn’t need the shows to write drama. The songs were the stories. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and “So in Love,” though situated in the plot of “Kiss Me, Kate,” are hardly situational. He constructed songs so that each one is a drama in itself, with an allusive, erudite verse leading to a simpler storytelling refrain. In perhaps his greatest song, “Just One of Those Things,” from 1935—it’s a song that Holden Caulfield, who likes nothing, likes—the verse is an offhand sequence of references that were not quite commonplace then: Dorothy Parker, Heloise and Abelard. The chorus becomes slyly dynamic (“Just one of those crazy flings / One of those bells that now and then rings”), building from kiss-off to remembered kissing. The movement is minimal but emotionally exact (“Our love affair / Was too hot not to cool down”), and describes a journey from mere ruefulness to actual regret, a small but significant emotional arc that requires a great singer to convey.

List songs are anathema to the post-Sondheim sensibility, trained as it is on Oscar Hammerstein’s heightened dramatic style, but Porter’s lists are his poetry. Ring Lardner, in these pages, made fun of the overwrought imagery in Porter’s romantic lyrics; where Porter had “Under the hide of me / There’s an, oh, such a hungry yearning / Burning inside of me,” he offered as an alternative “Night and day, under the rind of me / There’s an Oh, such a zeal for spooning, running the mind of me.” But Porter is never the least bit off when it comes to Americana. He takes pleasure in rhyme for rhyme’s sake, in the play of language, and does so in a way that is, oddly, far more in tune with the main lines of the American avant-garde of his time than operetta style could ever be.

In “You’re the Top,” the collisions of high and low, the mixed vernacular that expects his audience to be equally comfortable at the movies and in the museums, is the purest kind of E. E. Cummings–Stuart Davis thirties pop avant-garde: “You’re the top! / You’re the Colosseum. / You’re the top! / You’re the Louvre Museum. / You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss. / You’re a Bendel bonnet, / A Shakespeare sonnet, / You’re Mickey Mouse.” The beautiful chaos of similes—Cellophane! Botticelli! A Waldorf salad!—captures the hyperkinetic collisions of New York experience as perfectly as Mondrian’s “Broadway Boogie Woogie.” The wit of the build, leading past Rome and Paris and culminating in high Americana, is complemented by a brilliantly quiet bit of rhyming—had “Mickey Mouse” and “Strauss” been rhymed before? When George and Ira Gershwin wrote their own Strauss tribute, a couple of years later, the waltz “By Strauss,” Ira had to cheat a little and make all the rhymes German, including rhyming “Strauss” with “Fledermaus”—the difference between “Fledermaus” as a rhyme and “Mickey Mouse” being the difference between talent and genius.

While still a very young man, Porter coined the phrase “See America First” (it was the title of his début musical, a George M. Cohan spoof), and that gift for creating idioms may be a clue to the quiddity of his genius. Porter is one of the three great lyricists of invented American speech, with only Chuck Berry in the fifties and Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead in the seventies his equal in this respect. Berry constructed a world of fast cars and fried chicken and teen-age back-seat fumblings, with the right jive to cover it all; Hunter, in songs like “Uncle John’s Band” and “Friend of the Devil,” invented a lost nineteenth-century world of runaway trains and pursuing sheriffs and brass bands playing by the riverside which somehow resonated as an available American reservoir of myth. (Of course, people had written songs about cars before Chuck did, but he was the one who had the specific wit to put Maybellene’s Coup de Ville in a contest with his own V-8 Ford. Just as, where the Band wrote about Dixie in the winter of ’65, only Hunter made up Uncle John, who could have been equally at home playing during the Civil War or at Woodstock.)

Hart heard a world; Porter made one up—a New York of penthouses and night clubs and hangovers which still resonates as another kind of American myth. Even phrases now as familiar as “I’ve got you under my skin” and “I get a kick out of you” are not precisely idioms taken directly from American talk, the way that Hart’s “I could write a book” and “I’ve got five dollars” are. No doubt people had long said that a thing got under your skin or that we got a kick out of something else, but no one said exactly those formal sentences; Porter’s special work was in elevating the smallest of small talk into comic poetry. It gave him license to invent a vernacular. “Down in the depths of the ninetieth floor,” “But in the morning, no!,” “I’m always true to you, darling, in my fashion,” even “You’re the top”—none of these things were idiomatic before Porter transformed them from little acorns into mighty jokes. When, in “Blazing Saddles,” the villain quotes “You Do Something to Me” (“Now go do that voodoo that you do so well!”), we know at once that he is quoting Cole Porter.

Porter’s condition worsened—in 1958, the crushed leg would have to be amputated—and though his energy didn’t slacken, the quality of the work did decline. The letters trace his work on one good movie score (“High Society”), a couple of so-so shows (“Silk Stockings” and “Can-Can”), and a promising but too-late-in-the-day collaboration with S. J. Perelman on an Aladdin musical for television. What’s odd is that Porter writes voluminously in the nineteen-fifties without ever mentioning the recordings of his work that would do more than anything to assure his immortality: the Nelson Riddle arrangements of his greatest songs, which Sinatra recorded in the decade beginning in 1953. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Just One of Those Things,” “Easy to Love,” “Anything Goes”—these are the high points of Porter interpretation. (Sinatra’s sadly obscure live recording of “Night and Day,” with the Red Norvo vibraphone trio in Australia, is perhaps the best of all.)

As Will Friedwald and James Kaplan have both pointed out, the Riddle-Sinatra “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” was as pivotal a recording in American music as “Like a Rolling Stone” would be a decade later. Before that, Porter is Astaire and elegance; after that, he swings and can become anything more. Although Porter’s biographer Robert Kimball recently assured an audience that Porter had admired Sinatra and befriended him—his slightly dubious evidence being that Sinatra took over Porter’s apartment in the Waldorf after his death, in 1964—that doesn’t show up in the letters, and one wonders if Porter was even fully aware of the Riddle-Sinatra records, beyond the royalties he collected. Yet Porter lives on in such recordings of single songs more than in the spasmodic revival of shows that often need heavy rewriting to exist onstage at all. His dramatic songs are all the dramatic revival we need.

All art aspires to the condition of music, Walter Pater wrote; within music itself, all music dreams of becoming another kind of music. Art songs dream of becoming pop songs and pop songs dream of becoming folk songs, too familiar to need an author. We hear Porter now without knowing that it’s Porter we’re hearing. Like Stephen Foster, he sublimated his suffering into his songs, until the songs are all we have, thereby achieving every artist’s dream, to cease to be a suffering self and become just one of those things we share. ♦

Adam Gopnik, a staff writer, has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1986. He is the author of, most recently, “A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism.”

 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Hedgehog Plays Piano. Jazz Style! – YouTube

Hedgehog Plays Piano. Jazz Style! – YouTube


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV4THp-bXo0

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Next generation of jazz musicians performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center: PIX 11

Next generation of jazz musicians performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center: PIX 11


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https://www.pix11.com/news/morning/next-generation-of-jazz-musicians-performs-at-lincoln-center

MANHATTAN — Witness history in the making at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jack Rudin Jazz Championship as the next generation of jazz stars from the top university jazz programs compete in front of Wynton Marsalis and a panel of esteemed judges to win the performance of a lifetime.

Todd Stoll, Vice President of Education at Jazz at Lincoln Center, discusses the event, which takes place from Jan. 18 to 19.

For tickets, click here.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Bill Fay Was a Hidden Gem. One Musician Made Finding Him a Mission. – The New York Times

Bill Fay Was a Hidden Gem. One Musician Made Finding Him a Mission. – The New York Times


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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/15/arts/music/bill-fay-countless-branches.html?action=click
 

Bill Fay Was a Hidden Gem. One Musician Made Finding Him a Mission.

By Grayson Haver Currin

Jan. 15, 2020

The English singer and songwriter, now 76, has made as many studio albums this decade as in the previous six combined after a producer named Joshua Henry tracked him down.

 

Bill Fay in 1970, when a Decca imprint released his self-titled debut album. Bill Fay in 1970, when a Decca imprint released his self-titled debut album.Decca

Joshua Henry never understood why his father owned “Time of the Last Persecution,” an obscure 1971 psychedelic-folk album by the British songwriter Bill Fay.

Henry, a 40-year-old songwriter and producer devoted to old-school analog technology, grew up in the woods at the edge of California’s Sierra Nevada. His father, Jamie, wasn’t a record collector: He reluctantly served in Vietnam before becoming an antiwar activist, then spent his final four decades as a hardscrabble logger. “Last Persecution” was never issued in the United States, and barely caused a blip in England’s very crowded singer-songwriter scene of the early ’70s. After its release, Fay vanished from music.

All his life, Henry remained curious about the Fay LP, with a portrait of a disheveled singer on its stark black cover. When he was caring for his father, who was battling cancer, the album became a lifeline between the two men. They’d listen to Fay, dissecting his peculiar mix of apocalyptic vision and hopeful grit. After his father’s death in the summer of 2010, Henry began trying to make good on a fantasy they had shared: to find Fay and help him make his first record since 1971.

On Friday, Fay will release “Countless Branches,” his third album in the 10 years since Henry tracked him down and urged him to return to the studio. Fay — now 76 and married, almost all he’ll allow about his personal life — has made as many studio albums this decade as in the previous six combined. Like the once-lost rock star Rodriguez or Fay’s fellow British folk singer Vashti Bunyan, he has been given an unlikely second chance in the new century. No one seems more puzzled about that resurgence, or leery of its potential spotlight, than Fay himself.

“When Joshua told me about his dad and that he’d grown up listening to my music, it was real and profound,” Fay said by phone from his North London home. “It felt like the natural path I should follow. But it’s strange.”

Fay stumbled into music in the ’60s. As a college student in Wales, he began to forsake his electronics curriculum for writing songs featuring piano and harmonium. His demos found their way to Terry Noon, briefly Van Morrison’s drummer and a budding music impresario, who helped Fay secure a contract with an imprint of Decca Records and assemble a sharp studio band.

His self-titled 1970 debut featured idealistic odes to friendship, nature and peace swaddled in swooping strings and cascading horns. But only a year later, he’d turned to thorny rock for “Time of the Last Persecution.” Fueled by the horrors of the Vietnam War and the violence of the Jim Crow South, Fay railed against social corruption for 14 fractured songs, framing life as a revolving door of chances to get right with God. Dense and challenging, the album flopped.

Soon after Decca released “Last Persecution,” Fay was, as he says, “deleted.” Labels rejected subsequent demos and his father died from an aneurysm, leaving Fay as his mother’s longtime caretaker. During the next four decades, he raised a family and worked as a groundskeeper in a London park and a fish packer in a supermarket. Still, in a quiet corner of his home, he slowly built a meager recording rig with a cheap eight-track and a little keyboard, shaping full-band arrangements of songs he never intended for anyone to hear.

“I was disappointed,” Fay said, “but music was never my living. And I wasn’t like other people, who had become part of a scene. I went back to what I had always done, which is the gift and blessing of working on music in its own right.”

As a quarter-century passed, both of his albums morphed into critical favorites and collector’s items, fetching hundreds of dollars in record stores and obtaining cult status among indie-rock cognoscenti. In the mid-90s, the songwriter and producer Jim O’Rourke found Fay’s music while researching Ray Russell, the electrifying guitarist on both Decca albums. O’Rourke was captivated by “the very specific way it expressed depression,” he said recently from his home in Japan, and by its blend of Christian imagery and sometimes-outlandish orchestrations.

When a small British label reissued both albums on one CD in 1998, O’Rourke began telling his friends. As O’Rourke worked on Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” he played Fay’s debut for Jeff Tweedy. 

“I was astonished: How have I not heard this? How is this not something that is part of our DNA?” Tweedy said of the first time he listened to Fay, speaking from Wilco’s Chicago studio. “It’s music that sounds like it was designed in a laboratory for me to fall in love with.” 

Wilco began performing Fay’s beatific “Be Not So Fearful” in 2002. At a time when the band seemed to wrestle nightly with newfound popularity, the song’s muted optimism — “When you wake up, you will find you can run” — offered a reassuring benediction. In 2007, after years of Tweedy pleas, Fay stepped onto a stage for the first time in three decades to join Wilco at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. 

O’Rourke also sent “Last Persecution” to David Tibet, whose wildly experimental group Current 93 had long used Christianity to consider the apocalypse, too. “My mouth opened, and I was thinking that this is my favorite singer-songwriter ever,” Tibet said in a phone interview. “I had never heard anything like it. I had never heard someone convey such profound feelings and power so simply.”

By the late ’90s, Tibet had become a veteran musical sleuth, tracking down forgotten singers he felt never got their due, including Tiny Tim and Shirley Collins. Despite rumors that Fay had absconded to a Christian cult, Tibet began looking for him; within a week, a British journalist connected him with a guitarist who had once played with Fay and became their intermediary. The two became fast friends.

In 2005, Tibet released “Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” an album Fay had made in the late ’70s with a local band but shelved. In early 2010, Tibet also issued a two-disc sampler called “Still Some Light,” culled from decades of Fay’s home recordings.

A year after its release, the liner notes in that set finally gave Henry the lead he needed. He asked Tibet to forward Fay a letter announcing his intention to help him make the record that the music industry had denied him for four decades. Fay just needed to show up and sing.

When Henry began his quest, he wasn’t sure Fay was even alive. When he found him, he learned Fay was hoarding a mountain of cassettes and Minidiscs containing songs he’d worked on a little each day for most of his life: “He started sending demo after demo of mind-blowing songs.”

Henry reached out to 50 labels, sharing his early findings and his vision of strings, background singers and guest stars for Fay’s comeback. The American indie-rock label Dead Oceans finally agreed to invest in Fay the way it would in an acclaimed young band prepared to make its big break. 

“There were some demos, and the songs were as great as ever,” said the label’s owner Phil Waldorf, who originally fell for those first Fay reissues while working at the now-defunct New York record shop Other Music. “But Bill isn’t a traditional touring artist. That allowed us to color between the lines and imagine what working with someone like this means.”

The gamble paid off: Fay’s first two albums for Dead Oceans, “Life Is People” in 2012 and “Who Is the Sender?” in 2015, were both profitable and effective follow-ups to the records he’d made 40 years earlier.

Fay was still writing about his distrust of governments and his belief in the goodness of people. Henry smartly dressed those songs in chamber-pop elegance. Tweedy lent his voice to a jangling tune called “This World,” while Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce added subtle harmonies to “Bring It On Lord,” a paean to valuing the days you have left. Fay’s voice wavered and rasped with age, the seams worn like proud wrinkles of wisdom.

And his songs, new and old, reached wider audiences. Fay made his only live television appearance since the ’70s on Jools Holland’s late-night BBC show in 2012. The New Pornographers singer A.C. Newman covered Fay for the soundtrack of “The Walking Dead,” while the electronic abstractionist Oneohtrix Point Never performed a prismatic interpretation of a somber “Life Is People” tune on tour.

If Fay’s first two albums for Dead Oceans were audacious reintroductions to his legacy, the new “Countless Branches” is his modest statement of being. Fay insists he’s no less appalled at the ways of the world now than he was during the Vietnam War, when he made “Time of the Last Persecution.” But the 10 pieces on “Countless Branches” feel like postcards from a lifetime spent overcoming such despair. “I’m filled with wonder, once again,” he repeats over sparkling piano during the album’s emotional centerpiece, “Filled With Wonder Once Again,” his cracking voice offering a reassurance that, one day, you will be, too. These are calming hymns for another chaotic time.

Despite his late-rising star, Fay has yet to return to the stage, though Tweedy invites him to every edition of Wilco’s music festival. Fay maintains he’s not a recluse; he just believes rehearsing and traveling require too much time. He’s still got lots of “song-finding” to do.

As Fay was recording “Countless Branches,” he signed a contract extension with Dead Oceans, a move that stunned Henry, who assumed he would recede into the shadows after “Life Is People.” But they now seem permanently linked as collaborators and friends, bound by love and trust neither expected. 

“After my parents died, I didn’t have much family left. Bill has been a big part of filling that void,” Henry said. “He’s like a father to me.”

While Henry is anxious to coax Fay into the studio with younger musicians he’s influenced like the War on Drugs or Ben Gibbard, Fay is in no hurry. 

“It’s best I spend my available time doing what I’ve always done,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m thankful that side of my life has continued for all my life — finding songs in the corner of the room.”

Celebrate curiosity. Gift subscriptions starting at $25.

Celebrate curiosity. Gift subscriptions starting at $25.

 

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Pharoah Sanders: “If You’re in the Song, Keep on Playing” | The New Yorker

Pharoah Sanders: “If You’re in the Song, Keep on Playing” | The New Yorker


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“If You’re in the Song, Keep on Playing”: An Interview With Pharoah Sanders

The legendary saxophonist on buying his first horn, playing with John Coltrane, and searching for the right sound.

Jazz musicians have always placed a premium on “saying something.” Technique, training, and theory will only get you so far, and may even lead you in the wrong direction; what matters is the ability to hit on an emotion or an idea that feels at once familiar and revelatory—to speak a common language in a decidedly uncommon way.

From this standpoint, few musicians have said more than the saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of a school-cafeteria cook and a city employee, Sanders moved to New York in 1962, at the height of jazz’s postwar avant-garde—also known as “free jazz” or “the new thing”—which was spawned by the late-fifties experiments of the saxophonist Ornette Coleman and the pianist Cecil Taylor. Sanders’s début album, recorded in 1964 for the ESP label, garnered little attention, but his playing caught the ear of John Coltrane. Coltrane invited Sanders to join his band in 1965. The following year, Impulse!, the label that had been exhaustively documenting Coltrane’s evolution, gave Sanders another chance to record as a leader. The result was the surging and expansive “Tauhid,” an album that positioned Sanders as both Coltrane’s foremost disciple and an artist with ideas of his own.

Coltrane died in 1967, and Sanders recorded some with his widow, Alice Coltrane, a multi-instrumentalist and composer, before returning to the studio for Impulse! two years later, with his own group. The resulting album, “Karma,” set the template for a remarkable five-year run. While remaining as fiery as ever, Sanders had developed an interest in soaring, magisterial melodies, and the rhythms of his recordings, while dense and multi-layered, often hewed toward a steady groove. He also incorporated unexpected elements: non-Western instruments, yodelling by the sui generis vocalist Leon Thomas. As the title of “Karma” suggests, Sanders, like Coltrane, felt that music had a spiritual dimension. “The whole musical persona of Pharoah Sanders is of a consciousness in conscious search of a higher consciousness,” Amiri Baraka later wrote.

Subsequent Impulse! releases, such as “Jewels of Thought,” “Thembi,” and “Black Unity,” extended a musical quest that has now, in one form of another, lasted more than fifty years. But for someone who has said so much through music, Sanders has said very little to the press, doing only a handful of interviews in the course of his career. I spoke with Sanders earlier this fall, in Los Angeles, where he had just celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday by playing two shows in the area. Sanders still projects a distinctly Southern brand of soft-spokenness, one that’s equal parts humility and aversion to fuss. Although he is an acknowledged master who has been honored at the Kennedy Center, he speaks of himself—and seems to sincerely regard himself—as just another working musician trying to make a living.

We talked about his beginnings as a musician, his approach to recording over the years, and his collaborations with jazz legends. But Sanders was more inclined to reflect on the challenge of finding a good reed than to dilate on his legacy. What really mattered, it seemed, was his feeling that he could never get it right. Over the course of the conversation, it became clear that he wasn’t being compulsively hard on himself or willfully oblivious. Rather, he was still searching, possibly for something that he knew he would never find.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

You just had your seventy-ninth birthday—happy birthday!

Thank you.

What keeps you going, musically? Why are you still out there touring?

Well, I still try to make a living. I haven’t retired. I’m not working that much, but, you know, jobs come through.

What are you trying to accomplish artistically at this point?

Right now, I don’t even know myself!

Your sets these days touch on all the different things you’ve explored in your career. I saw you play in Portland earlier this year, and you played some standards and ballads as well older, more open-ended material, like “The Creator Has a Master Plan,”1 from “Karma.”

I just play whatever I feel like playing. It’s hard to keep a band together these days, so I never know most of the time who’s going to be in the band. Whoever I decide to use, if I can use them, well, that’s it!

Let’s go back to the beginning. Before you took up the saxophone, you played the clarinet in church?

I started playing drums first.

Oh, I didn’t know that.

Then I wanted to play clarinet. I went to church every Sunday, and there was this memo up in church that someone had a metal clarinet. That person just passed away maybe a few days ago. He was about ninety-three or ninety-four. That’s how I got my first instrument. Seventeen dollars!

When did you switch to saxophone?

Well, in high school I was always trying to figure out what I wanted to do as a career. What I really wanted to do was play the saxophone—that was one of the instruments that I really loved. I started playing the alto. It’s similar to the clarinet—if you can play the clarinet, you can play the saxophone.

Why did you switch to tenor from alto? What did you like about the sound?

Tenor was the most popular instrument at that time to get work. I would rent the school saxophone. You could rent it every day if you wanted to. It wasn’t a great horn. It was sort of beat-up and out of condition. I never owned a saxophone until I finished high school and went to Oakland, California. I had a clarinet, and so I traded that for a new silver tenor saxophone, and that got me started playing the tenor. The minute I bought it, I wanted an older horn, so I traded my new horn for an older model.

I read that you went to Oakland because you were studying art and you were going to go to art school.

I was painting all the time, pictures. I got into music very late. I used to do all that kind of work.

Have you painted at all since then?

No, I haven’t done anything for many, many years. I’ve wanted to go back into it, but I just haven’t.

After just a couple of years in Oakland, you moved to New York. Had you decided to focus exclusively on music?

I had to get it all together. I didn’t know enough about lots of things—basic things. I knew I needed to get some studying in, in order to get into playing saxophone, because I wanted to play jazz. So I had to cut out a lot of activities that I was doing and spend more time practicing scales and stuff like that.

Is it true that you were homeless when you first moved to the city?

I didn’t have nowhere to stay. Everybody was talking about, “You should go to New York.” They said, “That’s the place to go!” So that’s the reason I went to New York. I hitchhiked a ride to New York.

What year was this?

1962.

So, when you get there, the avant-garde—or whatever you want to call it—is in full swing. It’s been three years since Ornette Coleman’s residency2 at the Five Spot.3 Sun Ra has moved the Arkestra4 from Chicago to New York. Were you following all of this?

I didn’t know what was going on. I was trying to survive some kind of way. I used to work a few jobs here and there, earn five dollars, buy some food, buy some pizza. I had no money at all. I used to give blood and make fifteen dollars or ten dollars or whatever. I had to keep eating something.

But you managed to establish yourself as a musician.

I always wanted to work with my own band, so I got some guys together and started working down in New York, in Greenwich Village. I could pick up a few little weekend jobs. You had to do something to survive.

Who was in that band with you, your first band?

I would ask around for some musicians, and we played—I didn’t even hardly know their names.

Was Billy Higgins5 in that band? I read that you two knew each other—and that he was homeless, too.

Billy Higgins, he would come around in that location a lot, in the Village. I met him, and I heard him play. On occasion, we kind of talked a little bit about the music, and I found out how great he was. I started listening to some of his recordings. Like I said, all the time, I was still trying to find some type of job or work—it didn’t matter whether it was playing music or whatever it was. There was one time I got a job being a chef, cooking, in order to survive.

You started working with the Arkestra in 1964, and then, in September, 1965, you joined Coltrane’s band.6 That was a lot of people’s first exposure to you. Do you know why he chose you?

I don’t even know the reason myself. I don’t feel like he needed me or another horn. I think he just felt like he was going to do something different.

What was it like to work with him? There’s an idea of him as this saint-like figure.

His whole demeanor reminded me of a minister. He didn’t act like a lot of musicians that I’ve met in my life. John, he was always extremely quiet. He didn’t say anything unless you asked him something. I never asked him anything about music.

Really?

Never.

But he was making a conscious choice to work with younger musicians.

He always had some kind of a way of looking to the future, like a kaleidoscope. He saw himself playing something different. And it seemed like he wanted to get to that level of playing—I don’t know if it was a dream that came to him, but that’s what he wanted to do. I couldn’t figure out why he wanted me to play with him, because I didn’t feel like, at the time, that I was ready to play with John Coltrane. Being around him was almost, like, “Well, what do you want me to do? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

He always told me, “Play.” That’s what I did.

What was your relationship with him like?

I loved being around him because I don’t talk that much, either. It was just good vibes between us both. We were just very quiet. All the time that I’d been listening to John, I’m hearing something else, just being around him. He would never start some kind of conversation—he would say something, but it wouldn’t last that long. He never would elaborate, or go deep into it. He said a few words, and that was it.

Was he funny at all? Did he ever joke around?

He had a sense of humor about him, I think. One time, Jimmy Cobb was playing with him, and his stick got loose, and it went across to John and hit him, or something. John said, “Yeah, he’s just trying to get back at me.”

His sense of humor was in his music. Sometimes he’d remind me of Monk.7John would play things Monk would play, but it was a little bit different, faster. I’d turn around and look and say, “Oh. O.K.”

Monk’s music is definitely humorous, but I don’t think many people hear that in Coltrane.

He got a lot of stuff from being around Monk. He didn’t sound like Monk, but he understood the humor.

After John passed away, you continued recording with Alice Coltrane.8

You know, her playing was amazing. I loved what she was doing. But I always felt like what I was doing wasn’t good enough. Maybe I was playing a little bit more dominant than what she wanted—she seemed more intellectual than I was. But I tried to play something close to the concept that she was doing.

At one point, I had told her, “I don’t know if you like the way I’m playing or not. I don’t know whether this fits, or what.” She said, “You’re doing O.K. Just keep on playing. Keep on blowing.”

Around this time you also start leading your own bands, and you start recording for Impulse! as a leader. Did you feel like you knew what you were doing then?

No, I don’t think I was really ready. But I had to go on anyway, and study while I was trying to get it all together. I knew I had to be better than what I was. I had to keep moving. I learned a lot from John. I remember I used to talk to Philly Joe Jones.9 I talked to a lot of different people.

On those Impulse! records, you’re experimenting a lot with non-Western instruments, finding ways to use vocals in a freer context, and getting into more groove-oriented rhythms. Were you thinking through things in advance or just figuring them out in the studio?

We just worked it out while we was there. That kind of spontaneous move.

You started working with some musicians who people didn’t know well at the time, like Leon Thomas,10 Lonnie Liston Smith,11 Sonny Sharrock.12What were you looking for when you heard them?

I was looking for musicians who played with lots of energy. I wanted to be able to play that way myself. In order to do that, I had to find musicians to work with who had that kind of energy.

You were making incredibly intense music during this period, on albums like “Jewels of Thought” and “Thembi.” Was that just where your head was at that time—constantly in a kind of heightened state?

I don’t know. I was still trying to reach for something, I didn’t know what.

Today people call this music “spiritual jazz.” But it wasn’t like anyone sat down at a table and said, “Let’s invent this whole new kind of music.”

It just happened. That’s the way I look at it. It just happened. I was never satisfied with my playing, for a long, long time. Still sort of have problems like that.

Still? Do you feel like you’ve ever had a moment, or a record, where you’ve been, like, “I got this one right”?

No.

Really?

I used to hear other bands, other groups, when they were making a recording. And a lot of musicians I’d hear would be working on one song maybe for, could be a week, or a few weeks. Make sure everything is right.

You, on the other hand, were recording two or three albums a year with Impulse! Was that how often the label wanted you in the studio?

Well, they wanted a certain number of records a year, being signed with somebody. The thing you don’t want to do is make them too close together, playing the same way as you were before. You’ve got to do something fresh. Some people like to wait for that kind of thing to happen.

But that’s not how you approached it.

I just felt like going in there and doing what I wanted to do.

Would the label give you any direction, or were they hands-off?

They tried to let you know how many songs to play. I just kind of ignored it. Sometimes, I would just play one tune for the whole side. I just kept on playing, like it was a suite. Looking from one thing to another. If you’re in the song, keep on playing.

Did you rehearse?

No, we never rehearsed.

Did you ever do more than one take?

Maybe on a few things we did, something where I didn’t really like the way I first got started up and started out playing. But whenever I heard it back, I kind of liked it, so I said, “Well, I should have kept it.” Anyways, it’s too late now.

It kind of taught me something else. It made me think, Why do I have to do it this way? Let’s keep on playing until it all comes together. That’s what we did. That’s what I always do. You know, try to keep on creating.

You’ve mentioned several times now having not liked how your playing sounded—this seems tied into the idea of your always searching for something new. Is there any recording where you’re happy with your sound?

I haven’t made it yet. Sometimes on my horn, a couple of notes, I’m feeling satisfied with it, but the rest of the notes just is not sounding right. So I’m still working on that.

I have a problem with finding the right reeds, and the right mouthpiece, the right horns. I used to buy boxes of reeds, and if they don’t play right I’d just throw them right on the floor, put them in the trash. Maybe a box of threes, or a box of fours. They never sound the same.

Do you think most musicians think this way? Are you all just perfectionists?

I don’t know. I know when I listen to other musicians, they sound beautiful to me. When I hear myself playing, I sound like… They sound beautiful. I just wonder, what are they all using?

What do you listen to these days?

I haven’t been listening to anybody.

Not even older stuff?

I haven’t been listening to anything.

I listen to things that maybe some guys don’t. I listen to the waves of the water. Train coming down. Or I listen to an airplane taking off.

Have you always been listening for sounds like that?

I’ve always been like that, especially when I was small. I used to love hearing old car doors squeaking…. Maybe it’s something you’re really into, then maybe you’ll get a sound like that. I just wondered, Would that be a good sound?

Sometimes, when I’m playing, I want to do something, but I feel like, if I did, it wouldn’t sound right. So I’m always trying to make something that might sound bad sound beautiful in some way. I’m a person who just starts playing anything I want to play, and make it turn out to be maybe some beautiful music.

When you were first in the public eye, with Coltrane, people didn’t get that.

I don’t know if I got it myself.

Do you go back and listen to your recordings?

Yeah, I look at them sometime. I’ll change it up if I’ve been playing something that I’ve maybe played before.

The goal is to never repeat yourself?

I try not to, but it seems like I do at times. Then I stop playing and catch myself and say, “Let me try something else.” It’s almost like I play one idea and then I just try to look at it, like, “O.K., I’m going to try to see if I can play it backward.”

People still associate you with the kind of music you were making in the sixties and seventies. But over the years you started doing a lot more traditional playing.

Well, I was trying to do a lot of things—like ballads. I was playing a lot of those before I came to New York, before I started recording. Maybe I just kind of slowed down a little bit. A whole lot.

What are your favorite ballads to play?

I like “Berkeley Square.”13 I feel like I haven’t played enough on it. Every time I play it, I try to play something different.

It makes me think of Coltrane’s “Ballads.” People were surprised by that record, because they didn’t think of him as that kind of player.

John always loved to play ballads. He played some ballads when I was working with him, when he kind of opened up more freely. On some jobs I did with him, he played a ballad every now and then. Then he got back in his spaceship and took off again.

That’s where he was. You never knew what he was going to do next until he did it. He just started playing himself, and we all just start coming in. Whatever time we felt like we were needed, we came in.

Do you still feel like that? Like you have no idea where you’re headed and are just going to see where the music takes you?

A lot of time I don’t know what I want to play. So I just start playing, and try to make it right, and make it join to some other kind of feeling in the music. Like, I play one note, maybe that one note might mean love. And then another note might mean something else. Keep on going like that until it develops into—maybe something beautiful.

 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Adela Holzer, Whose Fall From Grace Was Theatrical, Is Dead – The New York Times

Adela Holzer, Whose Fall From Grace Was Theatrical, Is Dead – The New York Times


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Adela Holzer, Whose Fall From Grace Was Theatrical, Is Dead

By Anita Gates

Jan. 8, 2020

She went from being “Broadway’s hottest producer” to “one of the cleverest and most successful white-collar criminals in the history of this state.”

 

The Broadway producer Adela Holzer at her arraignment on fraud charges in Manhattan Criminal Court in 1989. The Broadway producer Adela Holzer at her arraignment on fraud charges in Manhattan Criminal Court in 1989.The New York Times

In 1975, in the dining room of her East 72nd Street townhouse, Adela Holzer was interviewed by a reporter for The New York Times, who later declared her “Broadway’s hottest producer.” 

The same year, People magazine described her as “a strong-willed 41-year-old Spanish-born redhead” (the age was quite a bit off) who “has what it takes — money, taste and, perhaps most important, a willingness to back new plays to the hilt, take a bath and still try again.”

The theater world was smitten. At a time when almost all producers were men, Ms. Holzer, a shipping magnate’s glamorous, self-possessed European wife, had two hits on Broadway: “All Over Town,” a farce by Murray Schisgal about a psychiatrist, directed by Dustin Hoffman, and “The Ritz,” Terrence McNally’s bathhouse comedy, which brought Rita Moreno a Tony Award. Ms. Holzer was also a producer of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest import, “Sherlock Holmes.” 

Determined and confident about working only on worthy productions, she told The Times, “I have three college degrees, and I know if something is good.”

Two years later, Ms. Holzer was bankrupt. Two years after that, she was in prison, convicted of seven counts of grand larceny. 

Over the next three decades, she spent a total of 14 years behind bars for schemes that involved European land deals, oil wells, international car dealerships, immigration scams and an imaginary marriage to a Rockefeller. 

Ms. Holzer died on Sept. 1 in Boca Raton, Fla. She was somewhere between 90 and 95. The death, which was not reported at the time, was confirmed this week by her son Carlos Castresana, with whom she had lived in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale.

The Wall Street Journal once compared Ms. Holzer to Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fictional social climber — mysterious, elegant and doomed. In 1979, a writer for The Washington Post had another author in mind. 

“Adela Holzer might have sprung from a Harold Robbins novel,” he observed. “There is simply no other way to explain her.”

 

Ms. Holzer with Dustin Hoffman in 1974. She was a producer of “All Over Town,” a farce by Murray Schisgal, which Mr. Hoffman directed. Ms. Holzer with Dustin Hoffman in 1974. She was a producer of “All Over Town,” a farce by Murray Schisgal, which Mr. Hoffman directed.John Soto/The New York Times

In the same article, Mark Tepper, who prosecuted Ms. Holzer’s 1979 case as an assistant New York attorney general, called her “one of the cleverest and most successful white-collar criminals in the history of this state.”

Ms. Holzer’s theater career began when she invested in the Broadway production of “Hair,” the blazingly original counterculture musical that ran for four years after its move from an Off Broadway theater in 1968. Magazine and newspaper articles recounted her good fortune, turning a $57,000 investment into more than $2 million. New York magazine later reported that she had put in only about $7,500 and earned $115,000 or so.

Whatever the exact numbers were, Ms. Holzer was inspired to do more theatrical investing. Her next shows included hits like “Lenny” and “Sleuth.” But she wanted to be a hands-on producer, not just a signer of checks. One of her first efforts, “Dude,” a 1972 musical by two of the creators of “Hair,” bombed with a vengeance, closing after 16 performances. But she persisted.

In 1975, she was riding high. Then she wasn’t. By the next spring, she had produced three new Broadway flops: The Scott Joplin opera “Treemonisha” held on for almost two months, but both “Truckload” and “Me Jack, You Jill” closed in previews. She followed those with “Something Old, Something New,”starring Hans Conried and the Yiddish theater star Molly Picon; it closed on opening night, Jan. 1, 1977.

At that point, theater was the least of Ms. Holzer’s problems. She had declared bankruptcy seven weeks earlier. She had been arrested on fraud charges over the summer and was free on $50,000 bail, awaiting the first of the three criminal trials that would shape the rest of her life.

The indictment, which finally came in 1979, was for a classic Ponzi scheme: paying her earliest victims “profits,” which were really just funds from her next group of investors, and so on. One of those early investors was Jeffrey Picower, who was later implicated in the Bernie Madoff scandal, a much larger Ponzi scheme.

Ms. Holzer was offering shares not in theater productions but in a Toyota dealership in Indonesia and real estate in Spain. At the time, she insisted that she could have cleared things up if she had been allowed to travel to Indonesia. (Her passport had been taken away.)

Ms. Holzer served two years (1981-83) in state prison. Her lawyer was Roy Cohn.

In the late 1980s, she attempted a comeback with “Senator Joe,” a pop opera about Joseph McCarthy. (Mr. Cohn had been his right-hand man in pursuing suspected Communists in government.) But the show never opened, partly because of financial problems. 

She was soon arrested again, on grand larceny charges. It was revealed that she had told numerous associates that their investments — in oil and mineral deals — had been guaranteed by the banker David Rockefeller, to whom she claimed to be secretly married. That lie was bolstered by at least one fake marriage license and by a framed silver photo of him at her bedside. It was later reported that the photo had been clipped from a magazine.

When detectives approached her on East 43rd Street to make the arrest, she ran and had to be caught and pinned on a car hood to be handcuffed. She thought the three detectives were muggers, she said later.

As part of a plea deal, she acknowledged guilt on one count of larceny and was sentenced to four to eight years. She served four (1990-94).

Things had changed in 2001, when she was arrested yet again, this time charged with 39 counts of fraud. At the time, she was using a different surname, Rosian — she was living with a man named Vladimir Rosian on the Upper West Side — and the stakes were much lower. She had been charging immigrants $2,000 to $2,700 each, falsely telling them that she had influence on immigration legislation and could help them gain permanent resident status.

This time she was sentenced to nine to 18 years. When she was released in June 2010, she was in her 80s.

Even behind bars, Ms. Holzer sought the spotlight. In 1981 she acted as a spokeswoman for her cell-block neighbor Jean Harris, who was serving a minimum of 15 years for the murder of her lover, Herman Tarnower, known as the Scarsdale diet doctor. After a review of a book criticizing Ms. Harris appeared in The Times, Ms. Holzer wrote a letter to the editor vouching for Ms. Harris’s character.

Ms. Holzer’s resistance to truth telling apparently knew no boundaries. “If she told me the sun was shining, I’d go out to look — and I’d take an umbrella,” Michael Alpert, who had been her theatrical public relations representative, told Vanity Fair in 1991.

She was born Adela Sánchez (her middle name may have been María; she used it in more than one alias) in Madrid on Dec. 14 — possibly in 1928, although her death certificate said 1923. As New York magazine reported in 1989, her father, Felipe, was an engineer, not a rich industrialist, as she had told her new American friends. Her mother, Beatriz, was not a member of the Guinness brewing family, as Ms. Holzer had claimed.

Ms. Holzer always said that she arrived in the United States in 1954, alone and pregnant, escaping an early marriage, and that was true. Even the details, about having arrived on the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth and traveling first class, are documented. (According to Cunard’s records, she was born in 1926.) The part she didn’t mention was that the marriage — to Juan Castresana, an insurance company executive — had already lasted nine years, and that she was leaving her first three sons behind.

The story she told journalists about her early years in New York was that she had worked as an interpreter at the United Nations and taught Spanish literature at Columbia University, but no records of those jobs could be found. She later began dabbling in commodities — or so she said.

In 1955, according to The Washington Post, she was charged with grand larceny for forging a Spanish notary stamp on a $3,000 note. In 1963, according to Vanity Fair, she was arrested after offering sex to an undercover police officer for $25. The charges were dismissed in both cases.

That was after her second marriage (believed to have begun in 1957), to Walter Jan Duschinsky, a Czech physicist, with whom she had a son. She was widowed in 1961, when he died in an automobile accident. In 1968 she married Peter A. Holzer, president of his family’s shipping business. They divorced in 1979, the year of her first trial.

In addition to her son Mr. Castresana, her survivors include another son, Arnim Holzer.

“I think people care more for me than I care for them,” Ms. Holzer said matter-of-factly during the Vanity Fair interview. “People say I’m cold. I don’t think I’m cold.” She just didn’t let herself “get too close to people,” she said.

Ms. Holzer insisted that she never held grudges and that she had developed thick skin after her many difficulties. Her public behavior suggested otherwise, but it did evolve.

In 1979, at the end of her first trial, reporters mentioned that she was in tears as she was led away. In 2002, at the end of her third trial, The Associated Press reported that as Ms. Holzer left the courtroom she had one final message for the prosecutor: 

“I’ll see you dead, like me.” 

Jack Begg contributed research.

 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Musicians’ Pension Plan Seeks to Cut Benefits – The New York Times

Musicians’ Pension Plan Seeks to Cut Benefits – The New York Times


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Musicians’ Pension Plan Seeks to Cut Benefits

By Michael Cooper

Jan. 7, 2020

The plan, running out of money, wants to take the rare step of cutting benefits that have already been earned.

 

Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians endorsing Bill de Blasio for mayor of New York in 2013. The local’s new leadership is concerned about proposed changes to the union’s pension benefits. Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians endorsing Bill de Blasio for mayor of New York in 2013. The local’s new leadership is concerned about proposed changes to the union’s pension benefits.Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

The largest musicians’ pension plan in the United States is seeking to cut retirement benefits that have already been earned by thousands of musicians, in an effort to keep the plan from running out of money.

The plan, the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund — which covers more than 50,000 people, including Broadway musicians, players in some orchestras, and freelance musicians and recording artists — declared over the summer that it was in “critical and declining status” and would run out of money to pay benefits within 20 years.

The fund calculated that it had, as of last March, roughly $1.8 billion in assets and $3 billion in projected liabilities — a severe shortfall. Now its trustees are taking the rare step of trying to cut benefits that have already been earned by many of the plan’s participants.

“We faced two challenging options — to allow the plan to run out of money within 20 years or try to prevent that from happening by applying to the government for approval to reduce earned benefits,” plan officials wrote in an email to participants on Tuesday. The email said that if the plan did nothing and ran out of money, the federal government’s insurer, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, would likely step in and pay retirees even less than the new proposal calls for.

Under the proposal that the plan filed with the Treasury Department late last month and shared with members on Tuesday, more than half the plan’s participants would see no reduction in their benefits; about 45 percent would see their retirement benefits reduced by up to 19 percent of what they have been promised; and a little under 2 percent would have their benefits cut by 20 to 40 percent. Benefits would not be cut for retirees over 80, and cuts would be reduced for those over 75. 

If approved, the cuts would go into effect next year.

Several musicians expressed concern about the proposed cuts. Adam Krauthamer, the president of the union’s largest local, Local 802 in New York, said in an email to The New York Times that it was “a tough day for unionism, for the A.F.M. and for my fellow musicians across the country.”

The executive board of Local 802 wrote in an email to its members that many musicians “will be severely impacted by the impending cuts.” Officials at the local pledged to scrutinize the proposed cuts and the application process; work to help Broadway musicians implement a new 401(k) plan to help them prepare for retirement; and push for more accountability from the pension fund and the board of trustees that oversees it. 

The American Federation of Musicians, both nationally and among its local chapters, has been pushing for federal legislation to help address the growing national problem of underfunded multiemployer pension plans. But there have been few signs of action in Washington.

The underfunded musicians’ plan and the prospect of benefit cuts have roiled the union in recent years. Mr. Krauthamer was an insurgent candidate who was elected president of Local 802 in 2018 in a major upset that was driven largely by concerns about the plan. Some musicians have sued the plan’s trustees, claiming mismanagement of the fund, which the trustees have denied. Many rank and file musicians are becoming activists when it comes to their pensions.

A number of factors have contributed to the fund’s shortfall, plan officials and musicians said. It enacted a series of expensive benefit increases before 2000, and then suffered major losses in the recessions since. The lawsuit brought by the musicians describes a series of bad investment decisions in recent years. And the fund now pays out more in benefits to retirees — whose ranks have swelled — than it receives in contributions from currently working musicians and employers, draining the fund.

The plan is seeking to cut benefits under a recent federal law, the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act, which was enacted in 2014. The Treasury Department will accept comments on the proposal and has until mid-August to review it. If it approves the plan, the proposed cuts will be put to a vote of the membership. But the law makes it difficult to reject cuts: Such a rejection would require a majority of all the plan’s participants, not just a majority of those who vote.

“This means that not voting counts the same as a vote to approve the reduction,” the plan noted in its email to members.

 

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Film Review: “Satan & Adam” — The Story of a Dynamic Blues Duo: The Arts Fuse

Film Review: “Satan & Adam” — The Story of a Dynamic Blues Duo: The Arts Fuse


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Film Review: “Satan & Adam” — The Story of a Dynamic Blues Duo

January 4, 2020 Leave a Comment

By Matt Hanson

Following the stories of these unique, gifted, and sadly overlooked individuals can be as gripping as the music they made together.

Satan & Adam, directed by V. Scott Balcerek. Streaming on Netflix and elsewhere.

Satan & Adam on the street. Photo: Facebook.

In the early ’80s, Adam Gussow was an Ivy Leaguer on his way to a teaching gig in The Bronx when he happened to pass an intriguing street musician, on a street corner in Harlem, right in front of the frosted glass door of The New York Telephone Company office. He was a one-man band simultaneously playing guitar and percussion, singing the blues with a ferocity that stopped Gussow in his tracks. Inquiring as to who this talented fellow might be, a local informed him that it was Satan. Come again? “Everybody around here knows Mister Satan.” Gussow was impressed by the bluesman’s chops and eventually worked up the courage to ask if he could sit in, charmingly promising that “I won’t embarrass you.” After pondering this for a minute, Satan accepted the offer. The unlikely duo started jamming, and it worked. The rest is history, lovingly and heartbreakingly documented in the new Netflix film Satan & Adam.

Of course, the obvious contrasts between these two bluesmen are the first thing you notice. Gussow is a brainy middle-class kid from the New York suburbs with Dutch Reform and Jewish ancestry who had graduated from Princeton with a degree in Literature and, after a bad breakup, decided to drop out of Columbia to play on the street with Satan full time. Gussow is also a talented harmonica player, but he hadn’t played much publicly before sitting in that random day in Harlem. The music clicked instantly, the passersby dug it too, and Gussow decided that the life of academia wasn’t for him. He would be Satan’s accompanist for the next several years.

“Satan” was the preferred moniker for Gussow’s partner/friend/mentor, whose Christian name was Sterling Magee. We get some of Magee’s backstory in the film, but there’s still a layer or two of mystery around him. In his former life as a sideman, Magee backed up a very impressive series of musicians, including the likes of George Benson, King Curtis, and even James Brown at the Apollo Theatre (tellingly it is within eye-shot of the spot in Harlem he later claimed for himself). Rumor has it that Ray Charles liked his playing but didn’t want to risk being overshadowed. The film attempts to explain the origin of Satan’s self-chosen sobriquet, but many of the explanations are vague — as they probably should be. Suffice to say that his moniker has less to do with diabolism and more to do with a deep personal loss, an immersion in the Bible, and an idiosyncratic aesthetic vision not unlike, as one critic puts it, that of a George Clinton or Sun Ra.

The political implications of these two pairing up are made clear. Harlem in the ’80s, as Al Sharpton explains, was economically depressed and edgy but culturally fruitful. The neighborhood has a tradition of being on the front lines of American artistic excellence in any number of ways, but seeing a nerdy white boy backing up a bearded eccentric black man playing music that is usually identified with the Southern African-American experience was a novelty that few failed to miss. At one point Gussow points out, with characteristic humility and frankness, that being in that deeply Other social space put him at risk. But the music he made with Satan undeniably clicked, despite the improbability of the two ever meeting otherwise, which provided plenty of reasons to keep their partnership intact.

 

 

For years, the two played at the same spot in Harlem and occasionally elsewhere around NYC, gaining something of an underground following in the process. U2 stumbled across them during their Rattle & Hum tour and were sufficiently awed to include one of Satan’s shorter ditties on one of their records. Satan and Adam laid down some killer records that reflected their amazing tightness as a unit and their street-honed chops. Better yet, they were prominently featured in the blues tent at New Orleans’s prestigious Jazz Fest a few times. They toured all over America and Europe together. Gussow wrote some books and articles about his experience, and Satan certainly appreciated being the bandleader for once, although he was justifiably deeply skeptical about a music industry that he had already seen rip off innumerable black artists. It was Satan who doled out the money after the shows.

For nonmusicians (like me) a band “getting discovered” can sound like a dream finally coming true; a golden ticket allowing scuffling artists to finally ride off into the sunset. But, as any musician will tell you, going on the road can be a huge grind. There’s the lack of sleep, the weird hours, the bad food, the pressure to perform, and the forced proximity to hangers-on. Satan and Adam lasted an impressive length of time playing great music together, but eventually even this dynamic duo succumbed to burnout. Satan’s troubled youth eventually gave way to a troubled old age. Despite the slow drain of time he still manages to find some moments of peace, embracing the joy and triumph that can only come when he plays his music.

Satan & Adam doesn’t end on a sour note, but some of the most dramatically weighted moments focus on the two men’s alternate life trajectories long after their partnership dissolved. There’s a special poignance in seeing how each reckons with the remembrance of blues past. The stereotype would have it that blues music is about feeling bad, drinking too much, or cavorting with shady company. But for those who love the genre this is only the tip of the emotional iceberg — seeing these two play the wonderful old standards initially made famous by luminaries like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Ma Rainey demonstrates how songs we tend to take for granted continue to generate deeper emotional resonances — particularly when you know what it means to the musicians at that moment. Following the stories of these unique, gifted, and sadly overlooked individuals can be as gripping as the music they made together.


Matt Hanson is a contributing editor at The Arts Fuse whose work has also appeared in The American InterestThe BafflerThe GuardianThe MillionsThe New YorkerThe Smart Set, and elsewhere. A longtime resident of Boston, he now lives in New Orleans.

 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Old Musicians Never Die. They Just Become Holograms. – The New York Times

Old Musicians Never Die. They Just Become Holograms. – The New York Times


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Old Musicians Never Die. They Just Become Holograms.

By Mark Binelli

Jan. 7, 2020

 

Buddy Holly revived as a hologram for a show in Los Angeles. Buddy Holly revived as a hologram for a show in Los Angeles.Base Holograms

Companies are making plans to put droves of departed idols on tour — reanimating a live-music industry whose biggest earners will soon be dying off.

Buddy Holly revived as a hologram for a show in Los Angeles.Base Holograms

In preparation for his first American tour in a decade, Ronnie James Dio spent months sequestered in a modest office suite in Marina del Rey, in Los Angeles. The office was on the second floor of a strip mall, above a vape shop and a massage parlor. I visited at the end of May, only a couple of days before the opening date of the tour, and among Dio’s team, there was a tangible air of anticipation. Dio never became a household name, but he is considered one of the great heavy-metal vocalists of all time, up there with Ozzy Osbourne (whom he replaced in Black Sabbath) and metal-adjacent rockers like Axl Rose and Robert Plant. Beginning in the 1970s, Dio took a lead role in codifying a number of his genre’s most ludicrous, yet utterly foundational, conventions. He sang of wolves and demons, toured with an animatronic dragon and supposedly introduced the splay-fingered “devil horns” headbanger’s salute, which he claimed his Italian grandmother used to flash as an old-world method of warding off the malocchio and other forms of bad luck.

Opinion among the Dio faithful, nonetheless, was divided on the subject of his “Dio Returns” comeback tour, largely because Dio has been dead for almost 10 years. The Marina del Rey office suite was the site of a visual-effects company creating a Dio hologram. The hologram would tour with a living backing group consisting, in large part, of former Dio bandmates.

If you missed the tour, you might want to take a moment here and call up one of the fan-shot videos posted on YouTube — say, “Rainbow in the Dark,” Dio’s 1983 hit, filmed at the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta on June 3, during which the Dio hologram prowls a central portion of the stage, bobbing, weaving, twirling his microphone cord to the monster riffs and occasionally using his free hand to air-conduct his most operatic vocal flourishes. (“His” — would “its” be more apt? Neither word feels quite right.) At one point, the bassist, Bjorn Englen, takes several very deliberate steps to his left, allowing the hologram to dance in front of him and adding to the illusion of a three-dimensional conjuring.

The hologram itself has an uneasy pallor, a brighter shade than the humans onstage but at the same time insubstantial, like a ghost struggling to fully materialize. One crucial decision that had faced the animators was choosing the right age for their creation. Dio in his MTV-era prime tempted them, of course, but then wouldn’t it be strange to watch him perform alongside band members who were roughed up by the ensuing years like the rest of us? Then again, Dio’s actual age in 2019, were he alive, would be 77, which is not ideal for a heavy-metal frontman. The creative team ultimately settled on a spry, middle-aged Dio, outfitting him in black leather pants, a studded leather wristband and a bell-sleeved white tunic embossed with a silver cross.

A start-up called Eyellusion produced “Dio Returns.” It’s one of a handful of companies looking to mold and ultimately monetize a new, hybrid category of entertainment — part concert, part technology-driven spectacle — centered, thus far, on the holographic afterlives of deceased musical stars. Eyellusion also toured a hologram of Frank Zappa in the spring, in a show overseen by Zappa’s son Ahmet. The tour kicked off in April at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y., about an hour north of Manhattan in Westchester County. A few hours before the show, I talked to the owner of the venue, the 47-year-old concert promoter Peter Shapiro. In 2015, he was a producer of the Grateful Dead’s 50th-anniversary “Fare Thee Well” concerts. The five shows grossed more than $50 million, becoming, according to Billboard, “one of the most successful events in live-music history.” We met at the Capitol Theater bar, which is called Garcia’s and serves as a sort of secular reliquary devoted to the Dead’s frontman, Jerry Garcia. The décor included one of Garcia’s banjos and a Chuck Close-style portrait of Garcia made entirely of Lego bricks. Shapiro, who attended a preview of the Zappa concert, said, “What I just saw felt closer to seeing Zappa than seeing a cover band do it,” adding that, based on ticket sales alone, he would definitely book another hologram show. The theater, which holds 1,800 people, was close to sold out for opening night.

“But here’s the headline,” Shapiro went on. “Look at who’s gone, just in the last couple of years: Bowie, Prince, Petty. Now look who’s still going but who’s not going to be here in 10 years, probably, at least not touring: the Stones, the Who, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Elton John, McCartney, Springsteen. That is the base not just of classic rock but of the live-music touring business. Yes, there’s Taylor Swift, there’s Ariana Grande. But the base is these guys.”

A hologram of Roy Orbison.Base Holograms

Shapiro’s calculation might be morbid, but he isn’t wrong. According to the trade publication Pollstar, roughly half of the 20 top-grossing North American touring acts of 2019 were led by artists who were at least 60 years old, among them Cher, Kiss, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Dead & Company and Billy Joel; the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Bob Seger took the top three slots. Using technology to blur the line between the quick and the dead tends to be a recipe for dystopian science fiction, but in this case, it could also mean a lucrative new income stream for a music industry in flux, at a time when beloved entertainers can no longer count on CD or download revenues to support their loved ones after they’ve died. “If you’re an estate in the age of streaming and algorithms, you’re thinking: Where is our revenue coming from?” Brian Baumley, who handles publicity for Eyellusion, told me. Some of those estates, Baumley bets, will arrive at a reasonable conclusion about the dead artists whose legacies they hope to extend: “We have to put them back on the road.”

Tupac Shakur became one of the earliest test subjects for the new technology 15 years after his murder, when his hologram made a surprise appearance at the 2012 Coachella festival. To actually project a person-size holographic image into three-dimensional space, à la Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” would require powerful, prohibitively expensive lasers that would also burn human flesh. The Tupac hologram was created with a combination of C.G.I., a body double and a 19th-century theatrical trick known as Pepper’s Ghost, some variation of which has been used for almost all the hologram musical performances of recent years.

As the magician and magic historian Jim Steinmeyer recounts in his book “Hiding the Elephant,” John Henry Pepper, the director of the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London, popularized the technology with a dramatization of a scene from the Charles Dickens novella “The Haunted Man” on Christmas Eve 1862. To call up his ghosts, Pepper projected a bright light onto an actor in a hidden, cutout space beneath the stage, something like an orchestra pit, casting a reflection onto an angled pane of glass. The glass stood upright on the stage but remained invisible to the audience. The spectral image appeared slightly behind the glass, “moving in the same space with the actors and the scenery,” Steinmeyer writes. “If all the players were perfectly synchronized, the ghost could interact with the characters onstage, avoiding sword thrusts or walking through walls.” Pepper intended the original display, which took place at the Polytechnic Institution, as a scientific lecture, but the audience’s riotous response persuaded him to go the magician’s route, and soon he began touring the illusion in British and American theaters.

 

Base’s Whitney Houston begins performances this year. Base’s Whitney Houston begins performances this year.Base Holograms

The Tupac hologram performed only two songs, shouting, “What the [expletive] is up, Coachella?” and rapping “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” alongside Snoop Dogg. But his digital resurrection worked as a proof of concept. A handful of one-off stunts involving other dead musicians followed: A Michael Jackson hologram performed at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, and the Mexican pop superstar Juan Gabriel made a holographic appearance at his own memorial concert after his sudden death in 2016. Still-breathing musicians also made use of the technology, including the rapper Chief Keef, who in 2015, as a means of avoiding outstanding legal warrants, beamed a hologram performance from California to a music festival in Hammond, Ind. But the outstanding question remained: Would audiences turn out for an entire hologram concert?

Marty Tudor, chief executive of Base Hologram Productions, is an entertainment-industry veteran whose multifarious career has included, among other things, managing Paula Abdul and Jon Cryer, producing a series of exercise videos with a trainer from “The Biggest Loser” and running an independent record label. When he saw footage of the Tupac hologram at Coachella, Tudor had a hunch that there might be potential for the new technology beyond gimmicky festival cameos.

Tudor took the idea to Brian Becker, the former chief executive of Clear Channel Entertainment, which was the largest events promoter and venue operator in the country during Becker’s tenure. For Becker, live entertainment was a family business. In 1966, his father, Allen Becker, a life-insurance salesman from Houston, helped found a regional events-promotion company called Pace Entertainment that eventually became a major national promoter. When Brian joined the company after college, he helped to start Pace’s theatrical division, which soon came to dominate, and largely invent, a regional touring market for effects-laden Broadway spectacles like “Cats,” “Miss Saigon,” “Les Misérables” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” The technical innovations of those shows, Becker told me, “evened the score,” signaling to regional audiences that they would be seeing a production with all the same bells, whistles and helicopters as a show in New York or London. “We’re always cognizant of seams in our industry that might allow us to do things differently,” Becker said. After hearing out Tudor’s hologram pitch, Becker wondered if the technology might represent such a seam.

In the wake of the Tupac performance, a somewhat motley assortment of newly minted hologram companies were asking themselves the same question, and soon a scramble to lock down exclusive deals with music estates ensued. Digital Domain, the visual-effects house that created Tupac, wound up declaring bankruptcy not long after the Coachella performance, but one of its owners, a Florida investor named John Textor, quickly started a new company, Pulse Evolution, which produced the Jackson hologram and soon after announced that it had also cut hologram deals with the estates of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, as well as for the band Abba, which broke up in 1982. An eccentric British-Greek billionaire named Alki David, meanwhile, started a rival hologram company, Hologram USA. An heir to a Coca-Cola bottling fortune, David, along with his partners, announced that he would be producing holographic images of Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday and Jackie Wilson, among others. (In September, David and Hologram USA were charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with “making false and misleading statements to investors and potential investors.” David has said he intends to countersue.)

Base Hologram, which was founded by Tudor and Becker, started out by securing rights to produce holograms of Maria Callas and Roy Orbison, debuting each show in 2018 with performances in Europe and America. Orbison’s estate, which is controlled by his three sons (via a company called Roy’s Boys), approached Base after a deal with another hologram producer fell through, Tudor told me. “Roy was a fairly static live performer — most of the movement you have onstage is him strumming his guitar — so he was the perfect first performer for our purposes,” Tudor said. (A 58-date Orbison-Buddy Holly hologram tour began in San Francisco in September.) The Callas hologram was necessarily more emotive. At a brief demonstration I attended at Sotheby’s in New York, the hologram wore a white gown and a long red shawl. After performing “Melons! Coupons!” from Act III of “Carmen,” a scene involving fortune telling, the hologram tossed a deck of cards in the air, which briefly froze alongside the music before drifting to the ground. “Though a melodramatic touch, it worked,” Anthony Tommasini wrote in his New York Times review of the Lincoln Center performance, in which he described the show as “amazing, yet also absurd; strangely captivating, yet also campy and ridiculous.” In February, Base will unveil the dead-celebrity-hologram sector’s biggest marquee name thus far, at least for a full concert: Whitney Houston, whose tragic, relatively recent death has made the planned tour the most controversial of any on the books. (Shortly after the announcement, Questlove tweeted: “& hell begins.”)

Deborah Speer, a features editor at Pollstar, which covers the live-entertainment industry, told me that based on the numbers she has seen for the Orbison and Zappa tours, “obviously, there’s a market” for hologram shows. According to the trade publication, the solo Orbison tour grossed nearly $1.7 million over 16 shows, selling 71 percent of the seats available, while Zappa sold an average of 973 seats per show, nearly selling out venues in Amsterdam and London. Whether such tours can cross over from clubs, theaters and performing-arts centers into arenas remains to be seen and will depend largely on the success of bigger-name stars like Houston.

Early one morning in May, I visited a soundstage in the Griffith Park neighborhood of Los Angeles to observe a motion-capture shoot for the Whitney Houston hologram. The soundstage was a cavernous, warehouselike space, moodily lit, aggressively air-conditioned. Several of the Angelenos on hand complained about the cold, including Tudor, who sat in a nearby director’s chair wearing a puffy vest over a striped dress shirt and jeans. Fatima Robinson, the director of the production, wore a head scarf and a winter jacket and cupped a rechargeable electronic hand-warming device between her palms. Robinson is a choreographer whose credits include Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 Grammys performance, the Weeknd’s 2016 Oscars performance, the film version of “Dreamgirls,” NBC’s live broadcast of “The Wiz” and music videos for Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Aaliyah. Robinson also choreographed Houston herself — the living Houston — in 1993, for the “I’m Every Woman” video. “She was pregnant at the time and in a wonderful place,” Robinson told me.

Veterans of pedigreed Hollywood postproduction houses create the C.G.I. holograms in the same way they would make characters like Gollum or Thanos: Motion-capture photography records the performance of a body double, which becomes the basis for a three-dimensional digital model, a block of clay animators proceed to modify — in the case of celebrity holograms, most drastically by augmenting the body double’s features with a digitally sculpted likeness of the artist, which can lip-synch to an existing vocal track.

The Houston body double took the stage and began to run through the moves for the first song of the day: “Step by Step,” a jaunty, affirmational gospel-dance track from the 1996 soundtrack to “The Preacher’s Wife.” The double had freckles and wore her hair in dyed cornrows but possessed Houston’s approximate build. She wore black tights, a black T-shirt and a baggy white cardigan (costumes created by Houston’s former stylist would be worn in a subsequent shoot) and stood atop a sort of oversize lazy susan, which crouching tech guys, who referred to the device as a turntable, slowly spun as she lip-synched to the song.

Robinson sipped tea and watched the pantomime intently. After the first run-through, she said, “We need to go a little slower.” The body double had been chosen from a pool of 900 applicants, and she was clearly a talented performer in her own right. (Base requested that The Times not reveal her identity.) “Step by Step” remains an underappreciated Houston song, cloying but oddly irresistible, and as I watched it mock-sung over and over, I felt freshly reminded of Houston’s skill at putting over mediocre material, not just in the obvious way — that is, through the power of her voice — but with her presence, that way she had of conveying joy, supreme confidence and the ecstasy of the choir all at once, and at the same time letting us know, even back then, that she wasn’t as sweet as her songs’ lyrics might suggest. This complexity came through in the body double’s performance, in the way she worked her shoulders or flashed a hard look at the nonexistent audience. Houston wasn’t much of a dancer, but “she had a serious strut,” noted Robinson, who had studied her performances like game tapes.

Lit for the filming, the double cast a horror-movie shadow on the soundproofed wall of the otherwise darkened soundstage. There was something eerie about the way Houston’s voice and the mid-’90s dance beat echoed through the vast space — music being played at club volume to a nearly empty room, with no one dancing, not even the avatar pretending to sing. But despite the workaday setting and the unconcealed artifice, by the third or fourth time I heard the song, I couldn’t help feeling … something. Would I describe myself as moved? I’m not sure. But I also found myself wondering if, despite how fundamentally wrong the entire concept for this show felt, there might be some crazy way it could actually work. The future hologram moved her mouth around Houston’s voice:

Well there’s a bridge
And there’s a river
That I still must cross
As I’m going on my journey
Oh, I might be lost

In the final show, Tudor whispered to me, the turntable could be digitally removed or made to look like something else. The creative team hadn’t settled on anything yet. But if they wanted to, they could make Houston look as if she were floating on air, spinning, ascendant.

A hologram of Maria Callas.Base Holograms

I met Ronnie James Dio once, when he was alive. Tenacious D, the parody band that gave Jack Black his start, had recorded a gently mocking tribute song called “Dio,” in which Black demands Dio’s cape and scepter and informs him that he’s too old to rock (“no more rockin’ for you!”). Dio had been a good sport about the whole thing and agreed to make a cameo in the Tenacious D movie, which premiered in 2006 at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I remember standing around the after-party, nursing a drink and feeling awkward, when I spotted Dio, chatting in a corner of the ballroom with his wife. I decided to introduce myself. He was quite short, even for a celebrity, and exceedingly gracious. He told me Black had personally called to pitch the film, insisting that they wouldn’t make the movie unless he agreed to “play the part of Ronnie James Dio.” Smiling, Dio continued, “Then he said: ‘Well, we will make the movie. But it’ll be [expletive].’ ”

Across town in Marina del Rey 13 years later, I sat in the office of Eyellusion’s creative director, Chad Finnerty, as he digitally manipulated a photorealistic 3-D image of Dio’s face. Finnerty grew up in Pennsylvania with dreams of becoming a Disney animator — old-fashioned cell animation, like what they did on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” — but by the time he graduated from college, the world had gone digital. He spent years working as a C.G.I. animator at Digital Domain, on movies like “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” When Jeff Pezzuti, a Westchester-based vice president of finance at a cloud-computing consulting firm, decided to start his own hologram company, Eyellusion, he reached out to Finnerty, asking if he wanted to talk. Pezzuti loved heavy metal — he wore a Dio T-shirt for his seventh-grade class picture — and after seeing the Tupac hologram, he wondered, “Can we do something like that in the rock world?” Eyellusion has since received a $2 million investment from Thomas Dolan, whose family owns controlling interests in Madison Square Garden and AMC Networks and whose father founded the New York-area cable-television giant Cablevision.

Finnerty supervised the creation of the Zappa and Dio holograms for Eyellusion. “I’m a bit rusty with this program,” he apologized, pecking at his desktop keyboard. Soon a hideously lifelike digital rendering of Dio’s face appeared on a large-screen monitor hanging on the wall. For a moment, it bobbed in front of a black backdrop, which made me think of the old “Charlie Rose” set. I briefly thought about pitching a “Black Mirror” episode in which a Charlie Rose-type character interviews the cryogenically preserved heads of rock stars. “We collected all of our data in 2017,” Finnerty explained. That’s when they filmed the body double and did the facial capture, is what he meant. During the facial capture, hundreds of eye, mouth and facial-muscle movements of a living subject (not necessarily the body double) are recorded. Imagine a puppeteer, Finnerty said, only with thousands of puppet strings to manipulate.

He clicked his mouse, manipulating a digital lever on the screen, and “Dio’s” eye suddenly, eerily shifted to the left. You couldn’t do this two years ago, Finnerty went on, moving another lever. “Dio’s” eyes shifted right, up, down. Finnerty said he had done lots of work on “The Walking Dead,” but that was forgiving, because it’s zombies. Having a person look real while performing a song for six minutes, with no cutting away or other editing assists that would be available in a film or television show, that was something else entirely.

“Dio” winked, puckered his lips, raised an eyebrow.

I stared at the image’s mottled skin, textured and painted with a level of detail down to the pore. “Hair simulation is the most difficult part of the entire process,” Finnerty said, adding, “My hair guy is also my fire, water and ice guy.” His lighting team had done the skin. Had Dio submitted himself to a full-body scan while alive, the process would have been much easier. Finnerty thought it would be great if more living musicians and actors were proactive about being scanned. Any actor who has starred in a movie involving significant amounts of C.G.I. has already been scanned, he pointed out.

The more bullish hologram boosters envision all sorts of uses beyond the second coming of music deities major and minor. Finnerty just made a hologram for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library of the former president. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has campaigned holographically, and a circus in Germany uses holographic projections of elephants and horses instead of live animals. Base, meanwhile, has cut a deal with Jack Horner, the paleontologist who served as a scientific adviser for “Jurassic Park,” to create dinosaur holograms that will travel to natural-history museums. Imagine, Becker said, a dialogue between holograms of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Or a Julia Child hologram teaching a cooking class. Or a Derek Jeter hologram teaching you how to bat.

As for concerts, in the not very distant future, Finnerty predicted, the technology would evolve to the point at which a puppeteer sitting in the wings with a laptop could work the digital strings live — allowing the hologram to react to the crowd or to members of a live band. Imagining this future as he watched “Dio” on his screen, Finnerty referred to him as the “asset,” as in: “This asset is ready for any other adventure we want to put him on. We could beam him into a bar. A coffee house. Not that Dio would play a coffee house.”

Whenever I wondered aloud whether fans might find the shows unsettling or disrespectful, the hologram-industry representative I happened to be speaking to would grow defensive. It’s stagecraft, part of a larger production, the person would tell me. We respect these artists, and we take what we’re doing very seriously. And as these representatives point out, people see tribute acts all the time. An Australian Pink Floyd, Tudor said, just played in Los Angeles! Pollstar’s Speer told me that well over 175 tribute bands reported numbers to the magazine; one of the better performers, “Rain — a Tribute to the Beatles,” often turns up in the top half of the Concert Pulse chart, averaging 1,833 tickets and $95,955 per show over the past three years.

For what it’s worth, the crowd at the Zappa concert seemed utterly charmed — cheering when the hologram Zappa materialized in the center of the stage during the opening number, “Cosmik Debris.” I was sitting about eight rows from the front. It looked like Zappa up there, more or less, though his form radiated the paranormal brightness that holograms can’t help emitting. Eventually, “Frank” addressed the audience: “Good evening. You won’t believe it, but I’m as happy to see you guys as you are to see the show. I’m your resident buffoon, and my name is Frank.” The artificiality of the canned banter had a “Weekend at Bernie’s” aspect to it, making me hyperaware of the sunglasses covering the lifeless eyes of the corpse propped up between living people (in this case, a hot backing band composed predominantly of musicians who had toured with Zappa over the years).

In certain respects, Zappa’s psychedelic jams and goofy, satirical lyrics lent themselves perfectly to the experiment, allowing the creative team to deploy the Zappa hologram judiciously (“like the shark from ‘Jaws,’ ” someone backstage told me) in and around trippy visuals that reminded me of old screen-saver graphics: animated dental floss, a penguin being punished by a dominatrix, Zappa as a leisure-suit-wearing Ken doll.

As I watched the show, my mind drifted, and I began to imagine more dubious ways corporate entities might exploit their particular assets. With artificial intelligence and voice cloning, there would be no reason to limit the shows to recordings made when the artist was still alive. An Aretha Franklin hologram could shush a noisy audience member, banter with her drummer and cover “Shallow.” Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson could form a supergroup with holograms of Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. Kurt Cobain, sporting the same faded green cardigan he wore on “MTV Unplugged,” might turn up at a surprise appearance with Billie Eilish at the Grammys. A one-off Beatles reunion in Hyde Park, live Paul and Ringo, hologram John and George. Hologram Biggie takes the Thomas Jefferson role in “Hamilton.” Bob Marley interrupts his performance of “Exodus” to plug the new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

On the stage of the Capitol Theater, a grotesque claymation version of Zappa had materialized, and the guy sitting next to me began air-drumming alongside the live percussionists. Before the concert, Ahmet Zappa had pointed me to a passage in his father’s 1989 autobiography in which he seemed to predict the technology that would allow him to return to Port Chester 26 years after his death: a digressive riff about his “idea for a new device, potentially worth several billion dollars,” one that would “generate free-standing 3-d images, in any size (on your coffee table at home, or on a larger scale for theatrical use).” So maybe Zappa would have appreciated his 2019 tour. And maybe holograms will make the leap from ridiculous-seeming technology to ubiquity, like podcasts or e-cigarettes.

Ahmet was 15 when his father received a diagnosis of prostate cancer and was given three months to live. One way to think about the show, he told me, is as “a very childlike way of dealing with loss.” For a couple of hours every night, Frank is up there onstage again, playing with his guys, and Ahmet can almost convince himself that he has his father back. You’d think there would be a market for something like that.


Mark Binelli is a contributing writer for the magazine. He last wrote a Letter of Recommendation column about badly dubbed movies.

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In Appalachia, Crafting a Road to Recovery With Dulcimer Strings – The New York Times

In Appalachia, Crafting a Road to Recovery With Dulcimer Strings – The New York Times


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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/arts/design/kentucky-opioid-recovery-luthiery.html
 

In Appalachia, Crafting a Road to Recovery With Dulcimer Strings

By Patricia Leigh Brown

Published Jan. 3, 2020

 

Mike Belleme for The New York Times

In Kentucky, where music is the lifeblood, an apprentice program run by luthiers provides meaningful jobs and helps remove the stigma of opioid addiction. 

Mike Belleme for The New York Times

HINDMAN, KY. — The heritage of handcrafted stringed instruments runs deep in this tiny Appalachian village (pop. 770) stretched along the banks of Troublesome Creek. The community has been known as the homeplace of the mountain dulcimer ever since a revered maker, James Edward (“Uncle Ed”) Thomas, pushed a cartload of angelic-sounding dulcimers up and down the creek roads, keeping a chair handy to play tunes for passers-by.

Music is the region’s lifeblood: Locals like to say that “you can toss a rock and hit a musician.” But these strong cultural roots have been tested by the scourges that devastated Eastern Kentucky, an early epicenter of the opioid crisis. Hindman is the seat of Knott County, one of the poorest regions in the United States and one that continues to grapple with overdose death rates that are twice the national average. It is also in the top 5 percent of counties most vulnerable to the rapid spread of H.I.V. and hepatitis C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decline of the coal industry has brought even more economic hardship to these isolated hills and hollows — providing fertile ground for Appalachia’s signature epidemic.

But last year, an unlikely group of renegades — suspender-wearing luthiers from the Appalachian Artisan Center here — embarked on a novel approach to the hopelessness of addiction called Culture of Recovery, an apprentice program for young adults rebounding from the insidious treadmill of opioids and other substances. Participants, about 150 so far, learn traditional arts like luthiery — the making and repairing of stringed instruments — under the tutelage of skilled artisans. They come to the program through a partnership between the Artisan Center; a local residential rehab center for men, and the Knott County Drug Court, which is just down the block from the Appalachian School of Luthiery.

“We’re dusty old woodworkers, not trained therapists,” said Doug Naselroad, the master luthier who with a former colleague dreamed up the program. “But so many times now, giving somebody something to do has proved to be a powerful step in their recovery.”

 

Doug Naselroad, a master artisan, plays a mountain dulcimer in his Hindman apartment that he made as an exact reproduction of one created in 1928 by James Edward “Uncle Ed” Thomas. Mr. Naselroad is a founder of Culture of Recovery, which teaches traditional instrument making to adults rebounding from addiction. Doug Naselroad, a master artisan, plays a mountain dulcimer in his Hindman apartment that he made as an exact reproduction of one created in 1928 by James Edward “Uncle Ed” Thomas. Mr. Naselroad is a founder of Culture of Recovery, which teaches traditional instrument making to adults rebounding from addiction.Mike Belleme for The New York Times

The factors that have led to the crisis here have followed a circuitous route, like the hairpin turns on mountain roads. They include a sky-high poverty rate, a legacy of accident-prone industries, high incidences of childhood trauma, low educational attainment and a fatalism springing from a lack of opportunity and geographic isolation. These treacherous social determinants laid out a welcome mat for Big Pharma.

“That Oxy is vicious,” said Randy Campbell, the Artisan Center’s executive director, referring to Oxycodone. He drove up a steep road to the family cemetery where his 64-year old brother, James Turner Campbell, was laid to rest from addictions to that drug and alcohol. “It grabs the educated as well as the noneducated.”

The art of crafting an instrument by hand requires keen focus, attention to detail and commitment to a goal — qualities that can help during recovery, in concert with therapy, peer-support groups and other rehabilitation work, experts say. The process is not linear: most people relapse at least once, said Kim Cornett Childers, a Circuit Court judge in Knott County who presides over the drug court.

Some opt for other activities like yoga, adult education or prayer groups. The power of Culture of Recovery, Judge Childers said, is the reconnection with the region’s resilient artistic heritage. “Many clients have never had anyone tell them they’re proud of them, or done something they’re proud of,” she said. “Now they’re creating something tangible and beautiful.”

The program was started with a $475,000 grant from ArtPlace America, a consortium of foundations, federal agencies and others who fund arts projects dedicated to community development. The results, albeit from a small sample, have been promising: About 94 percent have successfully graduated from the drug court, up from 86 percent before Culture of Recovery started. Most initially came to the court with indictments for drug possession, trafficking or burglary. The recidivism rate, which was already low, has dropped by more than half, with fewer people incurring new criminal charges, she said.

Historic dulcimers from the 19th and 20th centuries at the Appalachian School of Luthiery.Mike Belleme for The New York Times
John Hamlett, a master craftsman, creating a maple mandolin at the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Company. He designs mandolins and is teaching the art through the apprentice program.Mike Belleme for The New York Times

Transforming Wood Becomes a Passion 

One of the graduates is Nathan Smith, 39. Now a tenacious and promising luthier, Mr. Smith was swept up in a typical pattern in which the physical demands of his job shoveling coal and operating machinery led him beyond his doctor’s initial prescription for pain pills. He began buying them off the street — “It helped me work and not hurt as much,” he explained — and then started reselling the pills to support his habit. The result was a drug trafficking charge, a brief stint in jail and then entry into the Court’s intensive, supervised outpatient treatment program, which lasts 18 months and often more.

Mr. Smith gravitated to luthiery, making his first dulcimer, played on the lap, and apprenticing at the school for nearly a year. “I fell in love with it real quick,” he said. “It is something I had a passion for that I didn’t even realize.”

He has been off drugs for two years and four months and is employed full-time with the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Company, a new nonprofit founded by Mr. Naselroad in partnership with the Artisan Center. Two of the company’s six full-time employees are former Culture of Recovery apprentices. All are in feverish deadline mode, honing the high-end artisanal guitars and mandolins made from Appalachian hardwoods that they will be taking to the National Association of Music Merchants trade show in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 16. 

Troublesome Creek hopes to garner enough orders to expand its operation and hire more committed Culture of Recovery apprentices. It offers a potential career path and the kind of meaningful work that pays a living wage without a college education. This effort is a rare economic beacon for the county and received an $865,000 boost from the congressionally funded Appalachian Regional Commission, which assists communities in 13 states affected by job losses from coal mining and related businesses. 

With his scraggly beard and pencils tucked into his cap, Mr. Smith showed off his training guitar recently: a black walnut and spruce beauty with a cursive “Smith” inlaid in abalone on the neck. The act of transforming a piece of wood into music still fills him with awe. “It’s an amazing feeling to hold a guitar and know I made it myself,” he said.

Nathan Smith with a guitar he made. He apprenticed at the Appalachian School of Luthiery through a drug court program and now works at the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Company. He has been off drugs for more than two years.Mike Belleme for The New York Times
Earl Moore was the first apprentice to Mr. Naselroad and founded the luthiery program while still struggling with addiction. He apprenticed for six years, building some 70 instruments and reconstructing his life. His progress served as the blueprint for Culture of Recovery.Mike Belleme for The New York Times
Kimberly Patton holding a ceramic angel that she made. She became involved with the Appalachian Artisan Center through the drug court program and, as a successful graduate, has been teaching at Culture of Recovery.Mike Belleme for The New York Times
Jeremy Haney with a guitar he made. Mr. Haney came through the Hickory Hill Recovery Center to learn instrument making at the Appalachian School of Luthiery. He is now an employee at the Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Company.Mike Belleme for The New York Times

The sprawling factory in a former high school is imbued with the aromas of Red spruce and other woods, and the shoptalk is about screws and laminated steel chisels. Designing a fine stringed instrument requires years of experience, which is why most musicians don’t attempt it. The density of Appalachian hardwoods compares favorably with imported tropical rosewoods, Mr. Naselroad said. Though Osage orange and Black locust have traditionally been used for fence posts, they have what luthiers call a great “tap tone.” “The wood talks to us a little bit,” he explained. “It has to ring like silver.”

Creating Something ‘Tangible and Beautiful’

The name “troublesome” comes from the creek’s propensity for flash-flooding. It is one of many memorable place names — Mousie, Rowdy, Dismal Hollow — found among the jagged cliffs around Hindman. The city, built mostly from native stone, is “strung out along the creek like pearls on a necklace,” observed Ronald Pen, a professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky.

The main bridge is named for Jethro Amburgey (1895-1971), a dulcimer maker who taught generations of students at the historic Hindman Settlement School, which emphasizes Appalachian traditions, especially literature.

In true mountain style, Mr. Amburgey was related to “Uncle Ed” Thomas (1850-1933), credited with pioneering the Appalachian, or mountain, dulcimer with its heart-shaped sound holes and an hourglass form one maker described as “shaped like a lady with a quiet and lonely sound.” 

Thomas was also a distant cousin of Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) in nearby Viper. During the folk revival from 1940s to mid-60s, she did more than anyone to popularize the dulcimer in Greenwich Village and beyond. “Hey, what do you call that contraption?” Woody Guthrie asked her at the 1948 “Spring Fever Hootenanny” in New York, according to her book “The Dulcimer People.” “Why, you can get more music out of them three strings than I can get out of twelve!” Ritchie set the stage for the dulcimer’s broader embrace by musicians including the Rolling Stones (in “Lady Jane”) and Joni Mitchell’s irresistible album “Blue.”

Homer Ledford (1927-2006) was a gifted instrument maker and bluegrass musician who fashioned his first fiddle out of a dynamite box covered with matchsticks, or so the story goes. He was Mr. Naselroad’s mentor.

Mr. Naselroad built his first guitar at age 16 to bestow upon a love interest. “It wasn’t a very good one,” he recalled. “I don’t know what became of the guitar or the girl.” He honed his craft at Collings, the custom guitar company in Austin, Tx. “Because of Doug’s design and expertise these instruments will speak differently,” Prof. Pen said of Troublesome Creek, which hopes to lure Kentucky-raised stars like Chris Stapleton and Tyler Childers as supporters. 

The company joins a movement across Kentucky to provide “recovery-friendly” employment. 

“Our work force is dying,” said Beth Davisson, the executive director of the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, referring to government data showing drug companies saturated the state with 1.9 million pain pills — roughly 63 pills per person per year — between 2006 and 2012, which were then prescribed with wanton abandon. By 2018, statewide prescription drug monitoring programs were starting to have an effect, with overdose deaths beginning to decline slightly. But the abuse of prescription drugs, along with heroin and fentanyl, remains a critical public health issue.

‘A Talent You Never Knew You Had’

The idea for Culture of Recovery was inspired by Earl Moore, now 43, whose addiction began with buying OxyContin on the street, ultimately leading to several relapses, two suicide attempts and jail time for the illegal use of a credit card. His father left the family when Mr. Moore was young. “I took that personally,” he said. “I found I could do substances and erase all that.”

But Mr. Moore had an affinity for woodworking inherited from his forebears. He found out the Appalachian School of Luthiery had opened in town and approached Mr. Naselroad. “Earl said, ‘I know you have a felony background check, and I’m not going to pass it,’” Mr. Naselroad recalled. “But he told me he thought it would save his life.” One goal of Culture of Recovery is to reduce the stigma around addiction.

Mr. Moore apprenticed with Mr. Naselroad for six years, building some 70 instruments and forming a lasting bond. He went on to earn a master’s degree in cybersecurity, his full time career. “Addicts are the best hustlers,” he said. “I’ve spun it to the good.”

Kim Patton, 36, now the pottery instructor, went through the drug court after being indicted three times for trafficking. She was molested by a family member at age 14. “I never felt good about myself,” she said. “Anything you asked the doctors for, they would give.”

Now she turns recovering addicts toward pottery-making and sells her own work on Facebook and Instagram. Culture of Recovery led her to discover “a talent you never knew you had till you got clean and sober,” she said. Her T-shirt reads: “From Drug Addiction to Pottery Addiction.” “Without art, God knows where I’d be at,” she said.

Though hardly a cure-all, artistic activities “can be powerful antidotes to distress, emotional violence and drug abuse,” said Dr. Harvey Milkman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Metropolitan State University in Denver. They can help promote the brain’s natural ability to induce pleasure, which is “better than dope,” he said.

Idle time is detrimental to people in recovery. Mike Nix, the program director at the Hickory Hill Recovery Center in Hindman, and a former addict, said that once the men “shake off the streets” with detox, they may be ready to learn a skill. About 85 residents have participated in Culture of Recovery one day a week since the program began, and it has been a positive complement to peer-led recovery, Mr. Nix said. 

“Let’s be honest — these guys didn’t get here on a winning streak,” he said. “They come in pretty raw. It may seem small, but when they think, ‘I’m going to build a guitar,’ they take raw material from nothing and reach a goal — some for the first time in their lives.”

Culture of Recovery is at the forefront of nascent efforts by museums and other cultural institutions to address the addiction crisis. Doris Thurber, an artist in Frankfort, Ky., started a program for women now called “Yes Arts” four years ago after the overdose death of her 27 year-old daughter, Maya Rose. In Manchester, N.H., The Currier Museum of Art has teamed up with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids on a program for parents and siblings dealing with a loved one’s substance use. With an art educator, the families discuss a painting or sculpture with a salient theme, and the contemplative nature of the space is a balm. 

“We have a big social crisis in New Hampshire,” said Alan Chong, the museum’s director. “This is more important than a blockbuster show, to be blunt about it.”

In Hindman one evening, a harvest moon laying heavy in the clouds, Mr. Naselroad, the master artisan, donned a red cowboy shirt and a Stetson to host the “Knott Downtown Radio Hour,” a monthly show on WMMT FM — a “Hindman Home Companion” of sorts. One of the highlights is a “Songwriters Circle” of tunes written by those in recovery. 

Last month, the show was recorded at Hickory Hill, which was built on an old strip mine site. Amid living room beams inscribed with words like “self-discipline and “perseverance,” “the Hickory Hill boys,” as Mr. Naselroad calls them on air, sang about regret, loss, longing and especially faith. One poignant anthem to the Lord was called “Calm a Storm in Me.”

Nevertheless, the storm of addiction is powerful. Dan Estep, who teaches blacksmithing for the program, lost a student to a fatal overdose recently. The man was in his mid-30s and the father of three. “This particular guy grew up with his whole family on drugs,” Mr. Estep said. “It must be like quicksand.” 

Mr. Estep, 62, who has been a blacksmith for 40 years, said that teaching his craft to people in recovery is the most important work he has ever done. “We can give it all we’ve got, but in the end it’s up to the individual,” he observed. “Humanity is the biggest project of all.”

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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Get Those Records, Tapes and CDs Onto Your Smartphone – The New York Times

Get Those Records, Tapes and CDs Onto Your Smartphone – The New York Times


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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/25/technology/personaltech/digitize-analog-audio.html?auth=login-email
 

Get Those Records, Tapes and CDs Onto Your Smartphone

By J. D. Biersdorfer

Dec. 25, 2019

Ready to convert your older analog audio to more portable digital formats? Here’s how to make it happen.

 

With a bit of time, software and gear, you can convert your old audiotapes, CDs and vinyl records into digital files for personal use with your smartphone, media server or online archive. With a bit of time, software and gear, you can convert your old audiotapes, CDs and vinyl records into digital files for personal use with your smartphone, media server or online archive.J.D. Biersdorfer

A huge amount of the world’s audio has been digitized, but many veterans of the Analog Age still have out-of-print albums, lectures and other content locked on vinyl records, cassettes and CDs. Converting the audio to digital formats for personal use is much simpler than it used to be, though, thanks in part to gadgets that connect to a computer’s USB port.

In addition to making files that play on your smartphone or media server, digitizing your analog audio creates an electronic archive you can store online for safekeeping. The steps for converting your old recordings vary on the formats and equipment you have, but here’s a general outline of the process and the equipment you may need. 

Get Audio-Editing Software

No matter what type of analog media you’re converting, you need software to digitize it. Capturing the audio to a computer has been a common approach for decades, and free programs to do the job include Apple’s GarageBand for Mac and the open-source Audacity (for Windows, Mac and Linux), which has its own guide for converting records and tapes. Commercial software is also available, like Roxio’s $50 Easy LP to MP3 or the $40 Golden Records from NCH Software.

 

Audacity is a free audio-editing program that can digitize records and cassette tapes. Audacity is a free audio-editing program that can digitize records and cassette tapes.

Choose a digital format for recording. Uncompressed or lossless formats like WAV, FLAC and AIFF preserve more of the original audio for higher-quality sound, but compressed formats like MP3 create smaller files.

Follow the software’s instructions for importing audio. After you capture the whole album, you can use the program to slice up the recording into individual tracks, label the songs, and clean up hiss, pops and other noise.

Digitize Vinyl

If your stereo equipment is long gone but you held on to your old records for sentimental reasons, using a compact USB-based “conversion” turntable that connects directly to the computer is one approach. You may not have ultimate control over the recording quality, but it’s usually the easiest process to convert the vinyl yourself. 

For the less technically inclined, ION Audio makes several conversion turntables, including the $110 Premier LP, which connects to the computer with a USB cable and includes its own conversion software. Audio TechnicaCrosleyand Sony also make USB turntables.

If you still have a turntable with a headphone jack or a port labeled “line” (or a stereo receiver with a “phono” input for the record player), a device called a USB phono preamplifier links your hardware together with audio and USB cables to pump the sound into the computer for recording. ART Pro Audio USB Phono Plus ($100) and Reloop iPhono 2 USB Recording Interface (about $100 in the United States) are two options.

For USB-based recording using older turntable systems without the headphone jack or line output, you’ll most likely need to include a separate phono preamplifier box to boost the audio signal as well. The $50 Rolls VP29 and the $66 ART Pro Audio DJPRE II are two models to consider. 

Digitize Audiotape

No tape deck? Tape players with USB connections for the computer or flash drives can be found online starting at around $20. These devices can be quite efficient for digitizing old lectures, family history and other recordings.

Inexpensive tape players link to the computer to digitize cassette recordings.J.D. Biersdorfer

If you still have a tape deck, check its jacks. A cable with a 3.5-millimeter plug on both ends or an RCA-to-3.5mm cable are common for connecting to a computer’s line-in port (if it has one), or you may be able to use a USB interface box like those used for digitizing vinyl.

Convert CDs

Still have CDs you want to transfer but no CD player or computer disc drive? External USB-based CD players sell for as little as $20 online. Once you connect one, spin up those discs and import the tracks with Apple’s Music app for Mac, Microsoft’s Windows Media Player or another free CD-ripper app.

If your computer no longer has a disc drive, external CD player are available online for as little as $20.J.D. Biersdorfer

Outsource the Job 

The do-it-yourself approach is not for everyone, but audio conversion services will happily digitize your old analog media for you — for a price. This can range from $15 to $35 for each record or tape converted, but some companies include restoration and sound-cleanup services as well. Memories RenewedEver Present and DiJiFi area among the many conversion companies to check out.

Keep Looking

While not a surefire solution for a fully digitized library, some unreleased and obscure recordings turn up online eventually, as did tracks from Jeff Buckleyand Prince this year. 

The Internet Archive can also be a treasure trove for old 78 r.p.m. recordings from the early 20th century, as well as early hip-hop mixtapeslive concerts and other bits of audio history. But no matter if you’re converting your analog audio yourself or scouring the internet, patience has its rewards.

Celebrate curiosity. Gift subscriptions starting at $25.

Celebrate curiosity. Gift subscriptions starting at $25.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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It’s Got a Great Beat, and You Can File a Lawsuit to It – The New York Times

It’s Got a Great Beat, and You Can File a Lawsuit to It – The New York Times


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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/06/arts/music/pop-music-songs-lawsuits.html?action=click
 

It’s Got a Great Beat, and You Can File a Lawsuit to It

By Jon Caramanica

Updated 1:06 p.m. ET

Pop music isn’t made in a vacuum. Copying isn’t always bad. And a new trend pulling more pop stars into courtrooms is a dangerous one. 

 

Clockwise from top left: Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Robin Thicke, Lizzo and Ed Sheeran, pop stars who have been accused of borrowing in their music. Clockwise from top left: Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Robin Thicke, Lizzo and Ed Sheeran, pop stars who have been accused of borrowing in their music.Clockwise from top left: Getty Images; Associated Press; EPA, via Shutterstock

The past year was an exceptionally active, unusually silly and indubitably worrying one for pop music lawsuits. 

In August, after determining that Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” a very generic trap song, had borrowed from “Joyful Noise,” another very generic trap song by the Christian rapper Flame, a jury awarded Flame and his co-plaintiffs $2.8 million in damages. (Perry is appealing the verdict.) In October, the inactive third-rate emo band Yellowcard sued Juice WRLD for $15 million over perceived similarities between one of his big hits, “Lucid Dreams,” and one of their non-hits, “Holly Wood Died.” After the rapper’s death in December, the band announced it was still moving forward with the litigation.

In both cases, the alleged musical connection is flimsy at best. But these are the sort of claims that have found oxygen in the wake of the “Blurred Lines” ruling in 2015. In that case, a jury awarded the estate of Marvin Gaye $7.3 million (later lowered to $5.3 million) after it determined that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I.’s song had a little too much in common with Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” It was preposterous, and chilling as well. Not only could you be held liable for theft, intentional or otherwise, but you now could be held liable for being influenced, too.

That is, to put it plainly, bad news for pop stars, and the producers and songwriters who help them craft hits. They are now marks for frivolous litigation premised upon nebulous assertions as well as a complete and willful ignorance of how pop music is actually made.

Occasionally, pop innovates in a hard stylistic jolt, or an outlier comes to rapid prominence (see: Lil Nas X), but more often, it moves as a kind of unconscious collective. An evolutionary step is rarely the product of one person working in isolation; it is one brick added atop hundreds of others.

Originality is a con: Pop music history is the history of near overlap. Ideas rarely emerge in complete isolation. In studios around the world, performers, producers and songwriters are all trying to innovate just one step beyond where music currently is, working from the same component parts. It shouldn’t be a surprise when some of what they come up with sounds similar — and also like what came before.

The idea that this might be actionable is the new twist. Every song benefits from what preceded it, whether it’s a melodic idea, a lyrical motif, a sung rhythm, a drum texture. A forensic analysis of any song would find all sorts of pre-existing DNA.

A copyright troll exploits that, turning inevitable influence into ungenerous and often highly frivolous litigation. And given how lucrative the “Blurred Lines” judgment proved to be, it has become a de facto blueprint for how claims about originality will be litigated moving forward: If there is a whiff of potential borrowing on a song (and there almost always is), the borrowed might come knocking.

This forecloses on the possibility that there is some value in copying, or duplicative ideas. It also suggests that all copying is alike — the brutally unethical kind, and also the Leibniz-Newton kind. It fails to make a distinction between theft and echo, or worse, presumes that all echo is theft. It ignores that the long continuum of pop revisits sonic approaches, melodies, beats and chord progressions time and again. It demands that each song be wholly distinct from everything that preceded it, an absurd and ultimately unenforceable dictate.

What’s left in its wake is a climate of fear. In some recent cases, you can sense pre-emptive gamesmanship, as when Taylor Swift gave a writing credit to Right Said Fred for a cadence on “Look What You Made Me Do” that recalled “I’m Too Sexy.” Or the rapid settlement Sam Smith reached with Tom Petty for perceived similarities between “Stay With Me” and “I Won’t Back Down.” Whether there was a direct borrowing didn’t seem to matter; the potential for the perception of theft was enough to instigate an arrangement.

In these situations, the alleged source song was a popular one — the case could be made that even if there was no direct influence, there was an ambient one. Copyright law makes no distinction between conscious and unconscious copying, which means that even though fully unpacking claims like these might mean parsing the difference between outright and unconscious theft, or between thievery and parallel influence, those distinctions may well be, apart from the determination of damages, moot. 

Cases like that are the exception, though. Most of the allegations that have been brought in recent years stretch the bounds of credulity. 

A singer-songwriter named Steve Ronsen suggested that a passage in “Shallow,” the Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper hit from “A Star Is Born,” is partly derived from one of his songs, “Almost,” and threatened a lawsuit. The Weeknd was sued by a trio of songwriters — Brian Clover, Scott McCulloch, and William Smith — who allege that his song “A Lonely Night” was a rip-off of an unreleased song called “I Need Love” that they’d written more than a decade earlier. Migos were sued by a rapper, M.O.S., who said that the title phrase of their song “Walk It Like I Talk It” had appeared in a song of his more than a decade prior (the case was dismissed). Miley Cyrus is being sued by a Jamaican performer, Flourgon, over a lyric in her song “We Can’t Stop.” Ed Sheeran has been the target of several lawsuits; an infringement claim for an ostensible borrowing on “Shape of You” from a singer named Sam Chokri has his royalty payments for that song on hold. But in almost all of these cases, the scope of the alleged infringement is so minor, so generic, that it suggests that a basic element of composition is up for an ownership grab.

Perhaps these claims are legitimate. There is, maybe, a slight chance of that. Theft is not unheard-of. The signature boast in Lizzo’s No. 1 hit, “Truth Hurts,” was lifted from a tweet, and went wholly uncredited until two songwriters who worked with Lizzo at a session that initially yielded that critical line publicly staked a claim for credit. Lizzo responded by announcing a lawsuit seeking to have their claims formally declared invalid and, for good measure, extended songwriting credit to the author of the tweet.

Sometimes these quibbles come down to a determination of who has the permission — literal or social — to borrow, and from whom. Perry’s “Dark Horse” was a late-career attempt to absorb trap music, a genre far from her comfort zone. In a sense, the lawsuit by Flame, by no means the only performer to have used a similar-sounding beat, was a kind of culture-borrowing tax.

Or maybe Perry could have had an outcome more like Ariana Grande, whose 2019 No. 1 “7 Rings” was the subject of several claims about its originality, particularly a cadence associated with 2 Chainz or Soulja Boy. In this case, Grande had already ceded 90 percent of her royalties to the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (the song interpolates “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”). But after a meeting with 2 Chainz, the two agreed to collaborate on a pair of songs. Similarly, an air-clearing phone call brought a claim by Three 6 Mafia against Travis Scott to a swift and amicable resolution this year.

The echoes deployed by Grande and Scott were intentional homage. In hip-hop especially, artists frequently incorporate fragments of earlier songs as a kind of wink, or nod to a forebear. But depending who’s doing the nodding, it doesn’t always go smoothly. In 2014, Drake revisited lyrics by the Bay Area hip-hop elder Rappin’ 4-Tay, who, unimpressed, chose to publicly invoice Drake for $100,000. (As of last year, Drake had not paid.)

If echoing is always going to be treated as thievery, then songwriting credits and payments should be trickling back way past the 1970s and 1980s, all the way back to Robert Johnson and the Carter Family and Chuck Berry and the Last Poets — perpetual royalties for foundational innovations.

The idea that there is a determinable origin point where a sonic idea was born is a romantic one. But a song is much more than romance these days — it is an asset, and a perpetual one at that. Note the recent boom market in the rights to song royalties. Check out the listings on royaltyexchange.com, where you can bid on fractional ownership to the rights for thousands of songs. Or the catalog gorging happening in the music publishing sector, with firms like Kobalt and Merck Mercuriadis amassing huge catalogs. Strategies like these are the equivalent of placing bets on every square on the roulette table. A fractional claim (via songwriting or sample credit) on a pop megahit can mean millions of dollars.

This system encourages bad-faith, long-shot action. Juries filled with non-music experts are ill-suited to make decisions in cases that tend to come down to the testimony of dueling musicologists. Perhaps a better solution is needed: an arbitration panel, with buy-in from all the major record labels and song publishers, where claims can be adjudicated by a jury of peers.

That system would certainly have spared Led Zeppelin, which has been embroiled in a copyright suit over “Stairway to Heaven” with the trustee of the singer of Spirit, a 1960s psychedelic rock band. That case, even flimsier than the “Blurred Lines” one, has dragged on since 2014 and will continue in 2020.

But a similar fate might be destined for “Blurred Lines,” too. Last fall, Pharrell Williams, the song’s producer, gave an interview in which he described his work on the song differently than he had in his sworn testimony. A few weeks later, the Gaye estate filed a motion accusing him of perjury and asking a judge to revisit the decision. Even $5.3 million doesn’t buy restraint.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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40 Years Later, Reggae’s Heart Still Beats in the Bronx – The New York Times

40 Years Later, Reggae’s Heart Still Beats in the Bronx – The New York Times


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40 Years Later, Reggae’s Heart Still Beats in the Bronx

By Brandon Wilner

Jan. 5, 2020

Lloyd Barnes has run the Wackie’s recording studio and label since the late 1970s. As he prepares for his next chapter, he wants to ensure its spirit lives on.

 

Lloyd Barnes, known as Wackie, is behind one of the longest-running reggae studios in the United States. Lloyd Barnes, known as Wackie, is behind one of the longest-running reggae studios in the United States. Gioncarlo Valentine for The New York Times

Lloyd Barnes carried a shopping bag full of cleaning supplies up to a humble recording studio tucked above a financial services center and a Caribbean restaurant in the Eastchester neighborhood of the Bronx. A colleague was in a session with a dancehall vocalist, and Barnes pointed out his most recent nonmusical project, a custom-upholstered sofa embroidered with his record label’s logo: a dreadlocked Lion of Judah with its tail cocked up aggressively, and a flag displaying a star of David next to the name Wackie’s. 

Together, the studio and label make up one of the most respected reggae institutions in the United States, and Barnes, a calm, lanky man with a penchant for crisp clothing, is their founder, chief producer and champion. Wackie’s began in 1976, but 1979 was the year he and his team locked in to their sound and released records by stars in their prime: Johnny Osbourne, Wayne Jarrett and the Heptones’ Leroy Sibbles. The label went on to put out cult classics like Horace Andy’s “Dance Hall Style” and Love Joys’ “Lovers Rock Reggae Style,” which, despite multiple reissue campaigns, are still not easy to find. 

 

 

 

It’s been 40 years since Wackie’s hit its stride, and it has held a prominent place in New York’s music history ever since. First as a reggae sound system that put on parties, later as a studio and record shop, it has served as an expression of the immigrant-led aesthetic exchanges that came to define the city’s musical fabric. But Barnes isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be able to focus on his beloved studio. Now 75, he underwent double bypass surgery in 2017 and later developed nerve damage affecting his neck and arms. Though he recovered, he’s now looking back at his career with appreciation.

“I’m just thankful I’ve gotten to make music how I want — a true feeling from within,” he said in an interview in the studio’s break room, decorated with posters for international events and the label’s original certificate of incorporation. “When you do that for as long as I have, you’re filled with gratitude.”

His concerns now are ensuring that his studio carries on the traditions of roots reggae and lovers rock — the primary styles he works in — and sharing his knowledge with the younger people who populate it. “I’m like a primary doctor,” he said. “I help them with whatever part of their music I can, but I know when to offer my skill and when to recommend someone else who can do that style better.”

Barnes, known to reggae fans as Bullwackie and to friends simply as Wackie, was born in the Trench Town neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica, and joined his mother in New York in 1967. His nickname traces back to Trench Town, where his friends wanted a wild-sounding name for their crew. After deciding that their first choice was too lewd, they settled on Bullwackie Boys.

Trench Town is known as the birthplace of reggae, where bandleaders like Alton Ellis and Delroy Wilson forged the upbeat dance style of ska into the cool sway of rocksteady. Barnes recalled seeing greats like Ellis, Bob Marley and Ken Boothe around the neighborhood. He got involved with his church’s music program, helping to pump the pipe organ on Sundays, which also gave him access to other instruments. When he heard the new music bubbling up from the nascent Rastafari movement, he felt naturally drawn to it.

He would sit in on Duke Reid and Prince Buster sessions at Federal Records, the studio that later housed Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong label. Then he came across the work of the dub reggae innovator King Tubby.

“He was the real king of dub; he set the pace,” Barnes said. “There was always a standard way to do a mix, but when he used effects and played with the vocal or drum track, there was real expression and courage. Seeing that gave me the picture of freedom.”

Alongside Glen Adams’s Capo Records and Linval Thompson’s Thompson Sound, Wackie’s was one of the first reggae labels established in the United States. Most didn’t survive the switch to CDs and the rise of dancehall in the 1990s, but Barnes persevered by offering audio services to other artists and labels, and continuing to believe in his own musical instincts. Today, Wackie’s is probably the longest-running American reggae studio.

In 1976, Barnes set up shop at 4781 White Plains Road in the Bronx, where his studio had an adjoining record shop called Wackie’s House of Music. At the time he worked in construction, and spent his earnings on equipment from the Sam Ash music store on West 48th Street in Manhattan. Financial constraints led to technological ones, which required resourcefulness in his recording strategies. The result was a rich and textured sound that gave his studio’s music an audible signature, which in reggae and dub carries just as much weight as the songwriting; the studio itself is considered an instrument. 

Barnes recorded and released albums by a stable of lesser-known and emerging vocalists and songwriters — Love Joys, Milton Henry, Junior Delahaye, Annette Brissett and Prince Douglas — all backed by his mighty studio band, the six-piece Wackie’s Rhythm Force. On the early hip-hop single “Wack Rap” by Solid C., Bobby D. and Kool Drop, Barnes experimented with styles that demonstrated the Bronx’s swirl of influences at the time, combining M.C.s with a disco beat and elements of dub production. His innovations appealed to artists in other genres, too: The dub techno innovators Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus started reissuing Wackie’s records on their Basic Channel label in 2001.

Wackie’s relocated to Englewood, N.J., after the sale of the White Plains Road building in the late 1980s. Barnes spent much of the following decade in Kingston helping run a label the reggae musician Sugar Minott put together to bring up younger artists, but returned to New York in 1998 when his mother became ill. Around that time, Wackie’s moved back to the Bronx; it settled into its current location on Boston Road in 2014.

Ira Heaps of the now-defunct East Village record store Jammyland met Barnes when his shop became an outlet for some Wackie’s pressings done in 1998. For Heaps, the label captured a distinct New York spirit. “The dark, sparse sound was what I loved,” he wrote in an email. “New York was a great place in the ’70s and ’80s. It was dangerous, but full of soul. That whole vibe definitely found its way into the music.”

In 2013 the streetwear brand Supreme released a line of clothing honoring the label. “I grew up with that Sugar Minott record,” the company’s special projects director, West Rubinstein, said, referring to the 1983 album “Dance Hall Showcase Vol. II.” While the Wackie’s line wasn’t the most marketable collection, the goal was “to educate, to try to help young people understand the real culture that’s right beneath their feet, particularly in New York City.”

In the late 2000s Barnes took a break from recording and releasing new music, but continued to offer the mixing and mastering services that have paid the studio’s bills. He still makes his way to the studio several days a week to oversee projects he’s working on with his protégés, Eric “Synester” McGill and Steadley “Meddz” Reid, both producers and digital engineers. He records with his daughters Crystal and Jasmine, and is still working with artists whose names have adorned Wackie’s records for decades: Claudette Brown of Love Joys, Jah Batta, the Wackie’s Rhythm Force members Jerry Harris and Jerry Johnson, Prince Douglas and Coozie Mellers.

The studio has incorporated digital tools and techniques alongside the analog gear that Barnes has used for decades, but Barnes still considers himself a proponent of old-school recording techniques and hands-on instrumentation.

“Imagine you’re sitting in front of a program, and you got 500 hi-hats, and you’ve never listened to a real drum set,” he said. “I always tell the people around me: a real hi-hat, you can make it sound like anything. But you can’t make anything sound like a real hi-hat.”

Barnes and his wife, Sonia Cole Barnes, have lived in Yonkers for the past 20 years, and he still dreams of opening a music center in the Bronx to provide young people access to instruments and offer the kind of education and enthusiasm that he was exposed to back in Trench Town. He recalled going to watch studio sessions and being frustrated that he wasn’t permitted near the piano.

“I remember that all the time,” he said. “I used to say: ‘One day I would love to have a studio. Then people could touch the piano.’”

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
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He’s back, cool cats! WRTI jazz DJ Bob Perkins returns to the airwaves after a stroke

He’s back, cool cats! WRTI jazz DJ Bob Perkins returns to the airwaves after a stroke


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https://www.inquirer.com/life/bob-perkins-wrti-jazz-stroke-return-20200105.html
 

He’s back, cool cats! WRTI jazz DJ Bob Perkins returns to the airwaves after a stroke

Posted: January 5, 2020 – 5:00 AM 

John Marchese

He’s back, cool cats! WRTI jazz DJ Bob Perkins returns to the airwaves after a stroke

 

MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer 

Growing up in a two-bedroom rowhouse near 19th and Reed in South Philly during World War II, Bob Perkins received intimate and powerful instruction on the healing properties of radio.

“My dad was my radio school,” the 86-year-old remembered. “He fell ill around 1940 with rheumatoid arthritis,” and was forced to leave his job as an elevator operator. “He loved radio programming, and since I was the last kid at home, we listened together to all the great voices — John Facenda and Edward R. Murrow — anything that was on the radio, from Jack Benny to the Philadelphia Athletics games. I knew the Athletics’ batting averages like they were my own name.

“I got radio rammed down my throat, because that was my father’s relief from his pain.”

Perkins sat and listened and learned his lessons and developed a calling. For 50 years he has been one of the great voices of Philadelphia radio, starting in 1969 with a nearly 20-year stint as a news and editorial reader for WDAS, known in those days as The Voice of the Black Community.

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“I did what I could,” he said, “because I didn’t know a thing about writing editorials. But I mimicked what I thought the great guys I’d grown up with would do, and I got away with it for years.”

» READ MORE: Talking all that jazz with WRTI legend Bob Perkins

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His older brother had introduced him to the music of Duke Ellington, which sparked a lifelong love of big band and jazz music. He wanted to share his obsession. Not quite content as a newsman, in the late ‘70s he volunteered for a moonlighting job as a weekend music DJ with WHYY, where he coined his on-air moniker: “BP with the GM” — Bob Perkins with the Good Music.

“That when I first became aware of who he was,” said Larry McKenna, the tenor saxophonist who is one of the deans of Philly’s jazz scene. “The thing I liked about what Bob did was that he didn’t call it a jazz show. He’d just play people that he liked. On this show he would play a record by Dick Haymes or Doris Day or Rosemary Clooney. But then he’d also play Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson, John Coltrane, and Bird.” (The last being the nickname for the brilliant bebop jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.)

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“I remember telling my friends about it,” McKenna adds. “You should hear this guy.”

 

 

When WHYY dropped its music programming to concentrate on news and information, Perkins moved uptown. Over the last 20-some years, BP with the GM has become an icon of the Philadelphia airwaves, holding down a prime, three-hour early evening time slot Monday through Thursday on WRTI. The station, run by Temple University, plays classical music during the day and transforms in the evenings into one the country’s premier jazz music broadcasters. He throws in a four-hour show on Sunday mornings for good measure.

One day in late summer last year, his familiar and congenial voice — the aural equivalent of a cup of hot chocolate and a soft blanket — went silent.

» READ MORE: Two Philly jazz masters celebrate their birthdays (and their best-friendship)

Perkins had suffered a stroke. “Since I turned 65,” he reports with a tone more of irony than self-pity, “it’s been one thing after another. But what are you going to do? My gerontologist tells me, ‘Keep moving.’”

Maureen Malloy, the director of jazz programming at WRTI, says there was “an insane amount” of listener response to Perkins’ unexplained absence. “We weren’t sure at first when he’d be back, so we didn’t say anything.” Finally, in mid-November, a post went up on the WRTI web page. It was typically BP in tone.

“I’ve got high mileage on my odometer,” Perkins wrote. “BP and ‘Father Time’ have been having a continuous battle over the last several years and I’m trying not to let him win the battle! I’m waiting for my doc to give me clearance to return to work so that I can keep putting out that good GM …. I look forward to you lending me your finely tuned ears very soon.”

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BP brought the GM back for the first time in more than four months — his longest absence from the Philadelphia airwaves in 50 years — on a Thursday night in December, followed a few days later by his Sunday show at 9 a.m.

What he will bring to the microphone in a neat control room on Cecil B. Moore Boulevard just west of Broad Street is something his colleague Bob Craig describes as “a style that is very, very warm and very personal and very loose.”

WRTI's legendary jazz host, Bob Perkins, in his Wyncote, PA home on December 19, 2019. Perkins has been ill and off the air for a few months but will make his return in the first week of January.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer 

WRTI’s legendary jazz host, Bob Perkins, in his Wyncote, PA home on December 19, 2019. Perkins has been ill and off the air for a few months but will make his return in the first week of January. 

“BP going one on one with the audience shows a very strong kinship,” said Craig, himself a 40-year veteran of local radio. “He’s speaking their language – especially people who have been listening for years and years.”

In this new age of music streaming, where a service like Spotify uses neural networks, big data language analysis, and artificial intelligence machine learning techniques to winnow songs that are channeled down a high-tech digital assembly line to listeners, Perkins relies on a soft, squishy computer that he admits is a bit more unreliable since his stroke and which he refers to in his characteristic parlance as “the old noggin.” In other words, he plays what he knows and likes. He is one of the few DJs at WRTI, or any radio station in existence nowadays, allowed such a luxury.

“I program most of the music on the station,” said Maureen Malloy. “But BP programs his own. I think it would be silly to have me programming for a jazz historian.”

The music that appeals to BP’s old noggin is what he calls “the melodic stuff with no expiration date,” most of it recorded decades ago.

A survey of the playlist from one of his last shows before his stroke is a ramble through classic jazz interpretations of American Songbook standards. Like the theme song from the 1944 film “Laura,” played by saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins. Or Tony Bennett singing “My Foolish Heart” accompanied by pianist Bill Evans. A few Philadelphia artists were sprinkled into the evening, including Perkins’ longtime friend, saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, and vocalist Phyllis Chapell, who dedicated her latest album to BP. The mix of music was an image of the man who chose it: smart and warm and nostalgic, displaying impeccable taste and a steady, low-key, and almost offhand hipness.

In mid-December, as he planned his return to the airwaves, Perkins was worried that some physical effects of his stroke — a few fingers that weren’t obliging — might compromise his technical performance in the control booth. But his well-honed approach to the music would remain unaffected.

“I look to my dad and my older brother,” Perkins said, “and I guess I was just programmed to do what I do. People say, ‘You ought to give it up, man, go retire somewhere.’ Why? I’m the only one that’s doing this thing on regular radio and I enjoy very much what I’m doing, and the feedback that I get from people who enjoy it. Maybe it’s one of the high points in their life. This music conjures up some beautiful memories. You can find some solace in what you like.

“Music,” said BP about the GM. “That’s our savior, man.”

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
https://www.jazzpromoservices.com

HAVE A JAZZ EVENT, NEW CD OR IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE JAZZ COMMUNITY YOU WANT TO PROMOTE? CONTACT JAZZ PROMO SERVICES FOR PRICE QUOTE.

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Jack Sheldon, Trumpeter and ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ Singer, Is Dead at 88 – The New York Times

Jack Sheldon, Trumpeter and ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ Singer, Is Dead at 88 – The New York Times


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Jack Sheldon, Trumpeter and ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ Singer, Is Dead at 88

By Peter Keepnews

Jan. 3, 2020

He played with leading jazz musicians. He bantered with Merv Griffin. But his best-known work may have been on a children’s cartoon series.

 

Jack Sheldon was the vocalist on songs like “I’m Just a Bill” from the animated television series “Schoolhouse Rock!” But he was also a prominent jazz trumpeter. Jack Sheldon was the vocalist on songs like “I’m Just a Bill” from the animated television series “Schoolhouse Rock!” But he was also a prominent jazz trumpeter.Kari Rene Hall/Los Angeles Times, via Getty Images

Jack Sheldon, an accomplished jazz trumpeter who also had a successful parallel career as an actor — but whose most widely heard work may have been as a vocalist on the animated television series “Schoolhouse Rock!” — died on Dec. 27. He was 88. 

His death was announced by his manager and partner, Dianne Jimenez. She did not say where he died or specify the cause.

Jazz fans know Mr. Sheldon as a mainstay of the once-thriving West Coast scene and as a sideman with Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman and other bandleaders, as well as the leader of his own ensembles. Lovers of obscure TV shows might remember him as the star of the sitcom “Run, Buddy, Run,” the story of an innocent bystander who finds himself being pursued by gangsters, which lasted all of 13 episodes in the 1966-67 season. 

 

 

 

And anyone who grew up learning about grammar, arithmetic and civics by watching the ingenious short musical cartoons known as “Schoolhouse Rock!” knows Mr. Sheldon’s voice, if not his name: He sang two of that series’ most memorable ditties, “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill.” 

He was also for many years a member of the band led by Mort Lindsey on “The Merv Griffin Show,” one of Johnny Carson’s more durable late-night competitors. In addition to being featured as a trumpet soloist, Mr. Sheldon honed his comic chops in goofy exchanges and vocal duets with Mr. Griffin. (His humor sometimes toyed with television’s taste standards. Mr. Griffin once asked him if he had finished high school; he responded by rolling up a sleeve, pointing to his arm and saying, “I had the highest marks in my class.”)

Beryl Cyril Sheldon Jr. was born on Nov. 30, 1931, in Jacksonville, Fla., and was playing trumpet professionally by his early teens. He briefly attended the University of Southern California and Los Angeles City College and, after two years in the Air Force, where he played in a military band, settled in Los Angeles in 1952.

He was soon working and recording regularly, with his own groups and with the saxophonists Art Pepper and Dexter Gordon, among many others. He toured Europe with Benny Goodman’s band in 1959 and continued to work with Goodman on and off for more than 20 years. 

“There actually weren’t so many of us at the time,” Mr. Sheldon told JazzTimes magazine in 2011, recalling a West Coast contingent of young modernists that also included his friend and fellow trumpeter Chet Baker. “Now there are a million jazz guys out there, and they all play great. But what we were doing back then, back in the ’50s — that was different. We knew we were doing something special.” 

Known for his warm, rich trumpet sound, Mr. Sheldon was also a busy studio musician, accompanying singers like Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee and playing on the soundtrack of numerous movies. He was a favorite of soundtrack composers like Johnny Mandel — who featured him on “The Shadow of Your Smile,” from the 1965 movie “The Sandpiper” — and Henry Mancini.

“It’s a haunting trumpet he plays,” Merv Griffin told The Los Angeles Times in 2002. “Henry Mancini once told me, ‘If I’ve got a couple making passionate love onscreen and I’m writing the score, it’s Jack Sheldon’s trumpet I want.’” 

Mr. Sheldon led an onscreen big band in the 1991 movie “For the Boys,” starring Bette Midler and James Caan as performers entertaining the troops through several wars, and kept the band together afterward for nightclub engagements. He also led a small group, the California Cool Quartet.

But he had more than trumpet playing in his portfolio. As a singer, he charmed audiences with an appealingly laconic, conversational style. His offbeat between-songs patter — inspired, he once said, by the nights he spent on bills with Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl — led to occasional work as a stand-up comicand acting opportunities on TV comedy shows including “The Cara Williams Show” (1964-65), on which he played a jazz musician, and “Run, Buddy, Run,” his first and only starring vehicle, as well as his long-running role as Mr. Griffin’s foil. 

When the jazz pianist, singer and songwriter Bob Dorough was hired in the 1970s to provide music for what became “Schoolhouse Rock!,” Mr. Sheldon was one of the vocalists he used. He breezily sang about the use of words like “and” and “but” on ”Conjunction Junction,” written by Mr. Dorough, and about how a bill becomes law on “I’m Just a Bill,” written by Dave Frishberg. Years later, he would sing parodies of those songs on episodes of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

In addition to Ms. Jimenez, Mr. Sheldon’s survivors include a son, John; a daughter, Jessie Sheldon; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A daughter, Julie, and a son, Kevin, died earlier.

Mr. Sheldon was the subject of a 2008 documentary, “Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon,” directed by Penny Peyser and Doug McIntyre, which in addition to featuring copious performance footage addressed his struggles with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. 

In recent years Mr. Sheldon had various health problems but continued working. He lost the use of his right arm after suffering a stroke in 2011, but he was eventually able to resume playing using one hand. 

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services T: 845-986-1677 E-Mail: jim@jazzpromoservices.com
https://www.jazzpromoservices.com

HAVE A JAZZ EVENT, NEW CD OR IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE JAZZ COMMUNITY YOU WANT TO PROMOTE? CONTACT JAZZ PROMO SERVICES FOR PRICE QUOTE.

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