Artist Highlight – John Handy

John Handy

"Music elevates the human spirit"
 -- John HandyJohn Handy

John Handy is a performer and composer who continues to sweep audiences into ecstasy with his vast range of creative, emotional, and technical inventiveness. With a superb knowledge and practical experience with music of several cultures, he fuses, with each selection, a musical genre that is coherent, provocative, logical, and enjoyable. As a singer, he brings a kind of storytelling narrative to the blues that is entertaining, educational, and moving; while his up tempo scat vocals could be compared to the best scat singers anywhere. He sings ballads with inventiveness that is rare among singers.

John Handy has written a number of highly acclaimed, original compositions. “Spanish Lady” and “If Only We Knew” both earned Grammy nominations for performance and composition. The popular jazz/blues/funk vocal crossover hit, “Hard Work“, brought him fame in another realm; while “Blues for Louis Jordan” displayed his talents in rhythm and blues. He has written many compositions of various sizes for both instrumental and vocal groups. His more extensive works include Concerto for Jazz Soloist and Orchestra which was premiered by the Parnassus Symphony Orchestra; and Scheme Number One which was lauded as a fine example of fixed and improvised music by the great composer, Igor Stravinsky.

John Handy at Lincoln Center in 2016

John Handy has performed in the world great concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Berlin Philharmonic Auditorium, San Francisco Opera House, Davies Hall; the major performance venues including Tanglewood, Saratoga (NY), and Wolf Trap; and the pre-eminent jazz festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, Pacific Coast Jazz Festival; and international jazz festivals at Montreaux (Switzerland), Antibe (France), Berlin (Germany), Cannes (France), Yubari (Japan), Miyasaki (Japan), among others. His album and CD covers read like a who’s who of record labels – Columbia, ABC Impulse, Warner Brothers, Milestone, Roulette, Boulevard, Quartet (Harbor), MPS Records and many others.

His most recent recordings are “John Handy Live at Yoshi’s” and “John Handy’s Musical Dreamland” (available only on Boulevard Records, Stuttgart, Germany), “Centerpiece“, and “Excursion in Blue“. Some of his earlier works have been reissued on CD – “John Handy: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival“, “The Second John Handy Album“, “New View“, and “Projections“. He recorded with Sonny Stitt, and recorded nine albums with Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop.

His album and CD covers read like a who’s who of record labels – Columbia, ABC Impulse, Warner Brothers, Milestone, Roulette, Boulevard, Quartet (Harbor), MPS Records and many others.

For the best and most updated information visit John Handy’s website:  www.johnhandy.com

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Artist Highlight – Ella Fitzgerald

"Music comes out of her. When she walks down the street, she leaves notes."
 -- Jimmy Rowles
Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald is considered one of the very best singer in the world. She is admired by her fans, young and old alike and she inspires her fellow artists and musicians. She performed at top venues all over the world. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common – they all loved her.

Dubbed The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.

Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman.

Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter

She toured all over the world, sometimes performing two shows a day in cities hundreds of miles apart. In 1974, Ella spent a legendary two weeks performing in New York with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. She was inducted into the Down Beat magazine Hall of Fame, and received Kennedy Center Honors for her continuing contributions to the arts. 1958 the first Grammy awards were held and Ella Fitzgerald won Best Female Vocal Performance for The Irving Berlin Songbook (album) and Best Individual Jazz Performance for The Duke Ellington Songbook (album) 1959 Grammy awards, Best Female Vocal Performance for But Not For Me and Best Individual Jazz Performance for Ella Swings Lightly.

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Va. on April 25, 1917. Her father, William, and mother, Temperance (Tempie), parted ways shortly after her birth. Together, Tempie and Ella went to Yonkers, N.Y, where they eventually moved in with Tempie’s longtime boyfriend Joseph Da Silva. Ella’s half-sister, Frances, was born in 1923 and soon she began referring to Joe as her stepfather. Their apartment was in a mixed neighborhood, where Ella made friends easily. She considered herself more of a tomboy, and often joined in the neighborhood games of baseball. Sports aside, she enjoyed dancing and singing with her friends, and some evenings they would take the train into Harlem and watch various acts at the Apollo Theater.

In 1934 Ella’s name was pulled in a weekly drawing at the Apollo and she won the opportunity to compete in Amateur Night. Ella went to the theater that night planning to dance, but when the frenzied Edwards Sisters closed the main show, Ella changed her mind. “They were the dancingest sisters around,” Ella said, and she felt her act would not compare. Once on stage, faced with boos and murmurs of “What’s she going to do?” from the rowdy crowd, a scared and disheveled Ella made the last minute decision to sing. She asked the band to play Hoagy Carmichael’s Judy, a song she knew well because Connee Boswell’s rendition of it was among Tempie’s favorites. Ella quickly quieted the audience, and by the song’s end they were demanding an encore. She obliged and sang the flip side of the Boswell Sister’s record, The Object of My Affections. Off stage, and away from people she knew well, Ella was shy and reserved. She was self-conscious about her appearance, and for a while even doubted the extent of her abilities. On stage, however, Ella was surprised to find she had no fear. She felt at home in the spotlight. “Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,” Ella said. “I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.” In the band that night was saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter. Impressed with her natural talent, he began introducing Ella to people who could help launch her career. In the process he and Ella became lifelong friends, often working together.

In January 1935 she won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House. It was there that Ella first met drummer and bandleader Chick Webb. Although her voice impressed him, Chick had already hired male singer Charlie Linton for the band. He offered Ella the opportunity to test with his band when they played a dance at Yale University. If the kids like her she can stay, Chick announced.

Shortly afterward, Ella began singing a rendition of the song, (If You Can’t Sing It) You Have to Swing It. During this time, the era of big swing bands was shifting, and the focus was turning more toward bebop. Ella played with the new style, often using her voice to take on the role of another horn in the band. You Have to Swing It was one of the first times she began experimenting with scat singing, and her improvisation and vocalization thrilled fans. Throughout her career, Ella would master scat singing, turning it into a form of art. In 1938, at the age of 21, Ella recorded a playful version of the nursery rhyme, A-Tisket, A-Tasket. The album sold 1 million copies, hit number one, and stayed on the pop charts for 17 weeks. On June 16, 1939, Ella mourned the loss of her mentor Chick Webb. In his absence the band was renamed Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Band, and she took on the overwhelming task of bandleader.

Ella Fitzgerald sings April in Paris with her husband Ray Brown on bass

While on tour with Dizzy Gillespie’s band in 1946, Ella fell in love with bassist Ray Brown. The two were married and eventually adopted a son, whom they named Ray, Jr. At the time, Ray was working for producer and manager Norman Granz on the “Jazz at the Philharmonic” tour. Norman saw that Ella had what it took to be an international star, and he convinced Ella to sign with him. It was the beginning of a lifelong business relationship and friendship.

Under Norman’s management, Ella joined the Philharmonic tour, worked with Louis Armstrong on several albums and began producing her infamous songbook series. From 1956-1964, she recorded covers of other musicians’ albums, including those by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and Rodgers and Hart. The series was wildly popular, both with Ella’s fans and the artists she covered.

"I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them," Ira Gershwin

Ella Fitzgerald on the Dean Martin Show

Ella also began appearing on television variety shows. She quickly became a favorite and frequent guest on numerous programs, including “The Bing Crosby Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Frank Sinatra Show,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Nat King Cole Show,” “The Andy Willams Show” and “The Dean Martin Show.”

Ella Fitzgerald received so many awards that they are too numerous to mention in this article, some of the highlights which included:

• 13 Grammy awards
• A-Tisket, A-Tasket entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame
• Kennedy Center for Performing Arts’ Medal of Honor Award
• The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
• Pied Piper Award
• American Society of Composers
• Women at Work organization’s Bicentennial Woman
• Authors and Publishers’ highest honor
• George And Ira Gershwin Award for Outstanding Achievement
• National Medal of Art
• Honorary chairmanship of the Martin Luther King Foundation
• Received first ASCAP award in recognition of an artist
• Honorary doctorate degrees from Dartmouth, Talladega, Howard and Yale Universities
• Peabody Award for Outstanding Contributions in Music
• The first Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award, named “Ella” in her honor
• NAACP Award for lifetime achievement

Ella continued to work as hard as she had early on in her career, despite the ill effects on her health. She toured all over the world, sometimes performing two shows a day in cities hundreds of miles apart. In 1974, Ella spent a legendary two weeks performing in New York with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. Still going strong five years later, she was inducted into the Down Beat magazine Hall of Fame, and received Kennedy Center Honors for her continuing contributions to the arts.

Outside of the arts, Ella had a deep concern for child welfare. Though this aspect of her life was rarely publicized, she frequently made generous donations to organizations for disadvantaged youths, and the continuation of these contributions was part of the driving force that prevented her from slowing down.

To learn more or to watch a few videos about Ella Fitzgerald major performances visit:  www.ellafitzgerald.com

Ella Fitzgerald started a non-profit organization in 1993 that is still going strong. http://www.ellafitzgeraldfoundation.org/news.html

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Artist Highlight – Thelonious Monk

theloniusmonk

"Everyone is influenced by everybody but you bring it down home the way you feel it."
                                                        Thelonious Monk

Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire (including his classic works Round Midnight and Blue Monk). He is often regarded as a founder of bebop, although his playing style evolved away from the form.

Round Midnight

His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are impossible to separate from Monk’s unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations. Round Midnight is a 1944 jazz standard by jazz musician Thelonious Monk. It is thought that Monk originally composed it sometime between 1940 and 1941, however Harry Colomby claims that Monk may have written an early version around 1936 (at the age of 19) with the title Grand Finale. This song has also been performed by many artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea and Hermeto Pascoal.

Blue Monk

Bebop or bop is a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos and improvisation based on harmonic structure rather than melody. It was developed in the early and mid-1940s. It first surfaced in musicians’ argot some time during the first two years of the Second World War. Hard bop later developed from bebop combined with blues and gospel music. Melodically the predominating contour of improvised bebop is that it tends to ascend in arpeggios and descend in scale steps. While a stereotype, an examination of Charlie Parker solos will show that this in fact is a key quality of the music. Ascending arpeggios are frequently of diminished seventh chords, which function as 7b9 chords of various types. Typical scales used in bebop include the bebop major, minor and dominant (see below), the harmonic minor and the chromatic. The half-whole diminished scale is also occasionally used, and in the music of Thelonious Monk especially, the whole tone scale.

Charlie Parker, Well You Needn’t

He was born on October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Thelonious and Barbara Monk, two years after a sister named Marian. A younger brother, Thomas, was born a couple of years later. His parents moved to New York when young Thelonious was five years of age. A year or so later he was picking out tunes on the family piano. Monk started playing the piano at the age of nine; although he had some formal training and eavesdropped on his sister’s piano lessons, he was essentially self-taught. By the time he was 12 he was accompanying his mother at the local Baptist church as well as playing at “rent parties”, those informal gatherings where tenants who were behind with their payments to the landlord would hold a party in the hope that visitors would contribute to the debt clearance!

Thelonious Monk started his first job touring as an accompanist to an evangelist. He was inspired by the Harlem stride pianists (James P. Johnson was a neighbor) and vestiges of that idiom can be heard in his later unaccompanied solos. However, when he was playing in the house band of Minton’s Playhouse during 1940-1943, Monk was searching for his own individual style. Private recordings from the period find him sometimes resembling Teddy Wilson but starting to use more advanced rhythms and harmonies.

He worked with Lucky Millinder a bit in 1942 and was with the Cootie Williams Orchestra briefly in 1944 (Williams recorded Monk’s “Epistrophy” in 1942 and in 1944 was the first to record “‘Round Midnight”), but it was when he became Coleman Hawkins’ regular pianist that Monk was initially noticed. He cut a few titles with Hawkins (his recording debut) and, although some of Hawkins’ fans complained about the eccentric pianist, the veteran tenor could sense the pianist’s greatness.

Fortunately, Alfred Lion of Blue Note believed in him and recorded Monk extensively during 1947-1948 and 1951-1952. He also recorded for Prestige during 1952-1954, had a solo set for Vogue in 1954 during a visit to Paris, and appeared on a Verve date with Bird and Diz.

In 1955, he signed with Riverside and producer Orrin Keepnews persuaded him to record an album of Duke Ellington tunes and one of standards so his music would appear to be more accessible to the average jazz fan. In 1956 came the classic Brilliant Corners album, but it was the following year when the situation permanently changed. Monk was booked into the Five Spot for a long engagement and he used a quartet that featured tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. Finally, the critics and then the jazz public recognized Thelonious Monk’s greatness during this important gig. He came to Europe to play at the Paris Jazz Fair and played in the audiences at the Salle Pleyel and the Club St. Germain, joining in the loud applause for this true jazz original. Towards the end of the Fifties, with riverside records setting up all manner of interesting studio sessions, he formed his own quartet, first with tenor saxist John Coltrane, then Johnny Griffin and, in 1959, Charlie Rouse. It was Rouse who probably had more experience of Monk’s music than any other horn player, for Charlie remained with Thelonious from 1959 until 1970. In the autumn of 1967 Monk’s quartet was booked to take part in a touring extravaganza under the title “Jazz Expo ’67”; along with men such as Dave Brubeck, Herbie Mann etc. It was decided to enlarge Thelonious’s working group of Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales and Ben Riley with the addition of some additional frontline players and the so-called Nonet made its appearance in the Odeon Hammersmith, in London, just a week before the Salle Pleyel date presented here.

Thelonious Monk, who was criticized by observers who failed to listen to his music on its own terms, suffered through a decade of neglect before he was suddenly acclaimed as a genius; his music had not changed one bit in the interim. In fact, one of the more remarkable aspects of Monk’s music was that it was fully formed by 1947 and he saw no need to alter his playing or compositional style in the slightest during the next 25 years. After his death it seemed as if everyone was doing Thelonious Monk tributes. There were so many versions of Round Midnight that it was practically a pop hit! He played with the Giants of Jazz during 1971-1972, but then retired in 1973. He passed away on February 17, 1982.

By Ranie Smith

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Misinformation wars shape our minds and hearts unless we analyze the source of information.

Russia shapes opinions in the West by sponsoring anti-government media content

RTX21N3D-614x409

Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA take part in a demonstration march, in reaction to mass assaults on women on New Year’s Eve, in Cologne, Germany, January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Full Article

The war for “hearts and minds” is in full force like never before.  The internet has liberated both the distribution and the reception of content.

In the East, Radio Free Europe in particular has spread Western News and Western concepts for many years to counter act the spread of Communism in the Border States of the Soviet Empire.  This created a cushion of discontent and mistrust against the Soviet Union and eventually its disintegration. The Soviet people dreamed of living in a “free world” and they wished especially to gain the Western style material comforts.  What they had not learned while growing up in an oppressive society is the concept of trust, sharing, caring, and the fact that you have to actually work and earn that material wealth.  Many were well versed in “working the system.”  As a result the economies quickly became the personal playgrounds of oligarchs who were not at all interested in creating a strong middle class.  History shows that a strong middle class is a prerequisite of a free society.  It takes a lot of political will to support a strong middle class.  The oligarchs take and take and take and use the public without their knowledge.  This works primarily through misinformation.

For the past decades and especially since the inception of Cable TV and the Internet Russia has joined the information war.

Their press release reads:

RT’s (Russia Today) Spanish channel and pan-Latin American network TeleSUR in Venezuela launched a new joint project on Monday, aimed at providing a different perspective to Western mainstream media. RT is already the leading news provider on YouTube. Last December, RT hit 2 billion views on the popular video hosting resource. Only a year earlier, RT International was the first news channel to achieve over 1 billion views.

Are you aware how impactful the spread of the Communist point of view is?

On a daily basis misguided news clips that are fantastically well produced and design to spread hate and discontent are not only shown on YouTube but are spread on facebook, twitter and other social media outlets.

When watched without analysis as to the source of the material it may look like a “normal” news report.  But when viewed through the lens of what the news provider in RT’s case the Putin government and in TeleSUR’s Case the Venezuelan Communist Party are trying to accomplish it is rather ominous.

We are now entering an era of true democracy of information.  Everyone has access to every point of view.  When someone shares information make sure you analyze the source of the information before you swallow it hook, line and sinker.  One of the best ways to know if the source of information is trust worthy is to check whether the owners and their countries providing it protect freedom of the press. If a country openly suppresses journalists you already know dictators and/or would be dictators are trying to get you to support their nefarious cause to suppress knowledge and public opinion. Their goal is to undermine and destabilize countries that offer freedom of speech.   Let your friends know when they are being brainwashed by horrid people without realizing it.  Promote critical and analytical thinking.  Russia does not love freedom of speech as it is reported that 56 Journalists were killed since 1992.  When they sponsor people like Abby Martin to do their bidding in the West – Buyer Beware, know the source.  More When watching her Russia / Venezuela sponsored content knowing it comes from Russia makes it sound entirely different.

Reuters reported recently that until a few years ago Germany had been left out of the misinformation war stemming from Russia.  Those days are gone and while Putin is railing and making fun of Germany’s problems with Neo Nazi’s the Russian government is actually sponsoring it.  Full Reuter’s Article

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Artist Highlight – Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong
"What is harder than rock, or softer than water? Yet soft water hollows out hard rock. Persevere."   Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

As a young aspiring musician I learned that it was a good practice to not only study the music but to investigate the previous makers and innovators of the music so that you had an understanding of where the music came from and the climate in which it was created so that you could more readily understand and adapt your consciousness to the development of your own musical journey. In saying this, the first autobiography of a musician I read was that of Louis Armstrong, because at that time in my development he was still alive and was known to me to be the ultimate musician /entertainer of color of our time. In preparing to write this article I talked to several trumpet players in the area, but due to our individual intense schedules it was not possible to talk at great length about the man that was revered and loved by all that either knew him or knew of him. I do know that as a solo guitarist when I play the Louie Armstrong song “Wonderful World “ that there is a reverence that comes over the audience to the degree that I wait for the proper point in my performance to allow the vibe in the room to be just right to give the dignity to “Pop’s” classic. Going online to do my research I decided to compile excerpts from several websites [noted at the end] to piece together what I think is a pretty decent overview of a beginning of a Louis Armstrong background. There is so much more to be said that is not included that I truly hope you will pursue the rest of the information yourself by going to these websites reading and then going out to acquire some Louie Armstrong music and listening for yourself–I surely did. Thank you for your time and consideration.  Sincerely Lloyd Gregory

Louis Armstrong  

Louis Armstrong  4 August, 1901 – July 6, 1971, nicknamed Satchmo and Pops, was an American jazz musician. Armstrong was a charismatic, innovative performer whose inspired improvised soloing was the main influence for a fundamental change in jazz, shifting its focus from collective melodic playing, often arranged in one way or another, to the solo player and improvised soloing. One of the most famous jazz musicians of the 20th century, he first achieved fame as a cornet player, later on switching to trumpet, but toward the end of his career he was best known as a vocalist and became one of the most influential jazz singers.

Armstrong was born into a very poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent his youth in poverty in a rough neighborhood of uptown New Orleans, as his father, William Armstrong (1881-1922), abandoned the family when Louis was an infant. His mother, Mary Albert Armstrong (1886–1942), then left him and his younger sister Beatrice Armstrong Collins (1903–1987) under the upbringing of his grandmother Josephine Armstrong.

He first learned to play the cornet (his first of which was bought with money loaned to him by the Karnofskys, a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, that hired Louis to work on their junk wagon.) in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he had been sent after (as police records show) firing his stepfather’s pistol into the air at a New Year’s Eve celebration. To express gratitude towards the Karnofskys, Armstrong wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life. He followed the city’s frequent brass band parades and listened to older musicians every chance he got, learning from Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit, Black Benny and above all Joe “King” Oliver, who acted as a mentor and almost a father figure to the young Armstrong. Armstrong later played in the brass bands and riverboats of New Orleans, and first started traveling with the well-regarded band of Fate Marable which toured on a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River; he described his time with Marable as “going to the University”, since it gave him a much wider experience working with written arrangements. When Joe Oliver left town in 1919, Armstrong took Oliver’s place in Kid Ory’s band, regarded as the top hot jazz band in the city.

In 1922, Armstrong joined the exodus to Chicago, where he had been invited by Joe “King” Oliver to join his Creole Jazz Band. Oliver’s band was the best and most influential hot jazz band in Chicago in the early 1920s, at a time when Chicago was the center of jazz. Armstrong made his first recordings, including taking some solos and breaks, while playing second cornet in Oliver’s band in 1923.

He and Oliver parted in 1924 and Armstrong moved to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, the top African American band of the day. Armstrong switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section

He returned to Chicago, in 1925, and began recording under his own name with his famous Hot Five and Hot Seven with such hits as Potato Head Blues, Muggles (a reference to Cannabis or marijuana, for which Armstrong had a lifelong fondness), and West End Blues, the music of which set the standard and the agenda for jazz for many years to come.

Armstrong had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of famous songs composed by his old friend Hoagy Carmichael, Armstrong’s famous interpretation of Stardust became one of the most successful versions of this song ever recorded, showcasing Armstrong’s unique vocal sound and style and his innovative approach to singing songs that had already become standards.

As with his trumpet playing, Armstrong’s vocal innovations served as a foundation stone for the art of jazz vocal interpretation. The uniquely gritty colouration of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated. His scat singing style was enriched by his matchless experience as a trumpet soloist, and his resonant, velvety lower-register tone and bubbling cadences on sides such as “Lazy River” exerted a huge influence on younger white singers such as Bing Crosby.

After spending many years on the road, he settled permanently in Queens New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille Armstrong played more than three hundred gigs a year Armstrong kept up his busy tour schedule until a few years before his death. While in his later years, he would sometimes play some of his numerous gigs by rote, but other times would enliven the most mundane gig with his vigorous playing, often to the astonishment of his band. He also toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under sponsorship of the US State Department with great success and become known as “Ambassador Satch”. While failing health restricted his schedule in his last years, within those limitations he continued playing until the day he died.

Louis had many nicknames as a child, all of which referred to the size of his mouth: “Gatemouth,” “Dippermouth,” and “Satchelmouth.” During a visit to Great Britain, Louis was met by Percy Brooks, the editor of Melody Maker magazine, who greeted him by saying, “Hello, Satchmo!” (He inadvertently contracted “Satchelmouth” into “Satchmo.”) Louis loved the new name and adopted it for his own. It provides the title to Louis’s second autobiography, is inscribed on at least two of Louis’s trumpets, and is on Louis’s stationery Friends and fellow musicians usually called him Pops, which is also how Armstrong usually addressed his friends and fellow musicians (except for Pops Foster, whom Armstrong always called “George”.

Some musicians criticized Armstrong for playing in front of segregated audiences, and for not taking a strong enough stand in the American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) civil rights movement.

Armstrong, in fact, was a major financial supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, but mostly preferred to work quietly behind the scenes, not mixing his politics with his work as an entertainer. The few exceptions made it more effective when he did speak out; Armstrong’s criticism of President Eisenhower, calling him “two-faced” and “gutless” because of his inaction during the conflict over school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 made national news. As a protest, Armstrong canceled a planned tour of the Soviet Union on behalf of the State Department saying “The way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell” and that he could not represent his government abroad when it was in conflict with its own people.

He was an extremely generous man, who was said to have given away almost as much money as he kept for himself. Armstrong was also greatly concerned with his health and bodily functions. He made frequent use of laxatives as a means of controlling his weight, a practice he advocated both to personal acquaintances and in the diet plans he published under the title Lose Weight the Satchmo Way. Armstrong’s laxative of preference in his younger days was Pluto Water, but he then became an enthusiastic convert when he discovered the herbal remedy Swiss Kriss; he would extol its virtues to anyone who would listen and pass out packets to everyone he encountered, including members of the British Royal Family. (Armstrong also appeared in humorous, albeit risqué, advertisements for Swiss Kriss; the ads bore a picture of him sitting on a toilet — as viewed through a keyhole — with the slogan “Satch says, ‘Leave it all behind ya!’“)

In his early years, Armstrong was best known for his virtuosity with the cornet and trumpet. The greatest trumpet playing of his early years can be heard on his Hot Five and Hot Seven records. The improvisations which he made on these records of New Orleans jazz standards and popular songs of the day, to the present time stack up brilliantly alongside those of any other later jazz performer. The older generation of New Orleans jazz musicians often referred to their improvisations as “variating the melody”; Armstrong’s improvisations were daring and sophisticated for the time while often subtle and melodic. He often essentially re-composed pop-tunes he played, making them more interesting. Armstrong’s playing is filled with joyous, inspired original melodies, creative leaps, and subtle relaxed or driving rhythms. The genius of these creative passages is matched by Armstrong’s playing technique, honed by constant practice, which extended the range, tone and capabilities of the trumpet. In these records, Armstrong almost single-handedly created the role of the jazz soloist, taking what was essentially a collective folk music and turning it into an art form with tremendous possibilities for individual expression.

In 1964, Armstrong knocked the Beatles off the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart with Hello, Dolly (song)”, which gave the 63-year-old performer a U.S. record as the oldest artist to have a #1 song.

Hello Dolly performed in Germany

In 1968, Armstrong scored one last popular hit in the United Kingdom with the highly sentimental pop song What a Wonderful World, which topped the British charts for a month; however, the single did not chart at all in America. The song gained greater currency in the popular consciousness when it was used in the 1987 movie Good Morning Vietnam, its subsequent re-release topping many charts around the world.

It’s a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack on July 6 1971, at age 69, the night after playing a famous show at the Waldorf Astoria’s Empire Room. He was residing in Corona, Queens, New York City, at the time of his passing. He was interred in Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, in Queens, New York City.

Today, the house where Louis Armstrong lived at the time of his death (and which was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977) is a museum. The Louis Armstrong House & Archives, at 34-56 107th Street (between 34th and 35th Avenues) in Corona, Queens, presents concerts and educational programs, operates as an historic house museum and makes materials in its archives of writings, books, recordings and memorabilia available to the public for research. The museum is operated by the City University of New York’s Queens College, following the dictates of Armstrong’s will.

The influence of Armstrong on the development of jazz is virtually immeasurable. Yet, his irrepressible personality both as a performer, and as a public figure later in his career, was so strong that to some it sometimes overshadowed his contributions as a musician and singer.

As a virtuoso trumpet player, Armstrong had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation. Through his playing, the trumpet emerged as a solo instrument in jazz and is used widely today. He was a masterful accompanist and ensemble player in addition to his extraordinary skills as a soloist. With his innovations, he raised the bar musically for all who came after him.

Armstrong is considered by some to have essentially invented jazz singing. He had an extremely distinctive gravelly voice, which he deployed with great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing, or wordless vocalizing. Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra are just two singers who were greatly indebted to him. Holiday said that she always wanted Bessie Smith’s ‘big’ sound and Armstrong’s feeling in her singing.

On August 4, 2001, the centennial of Armstrong’s birth, New Orleans’ airport was renamed Louis Armstrong International Airport in his honor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Armstrong

http://www.satchmo.net/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Consumers influence officials and corporate execs toward pro-health and pro-sustainability actions and attitudes

Enjoy listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony while reading.

International response for glyphosate is moving along providing credence to those who are against the international trade deals. In May India decided to tightened rules for the sale of genetically-modified cotton seeds in a move that will cap royalties. Since Glyphosate kills all variety of plants, except for those that are artificially and genetically modified the crops in India now comprise 90% of all crops. After local farmers, regions and states complained about the financially abusive pricing by Monsanto, the world’s largest supplier of both Glyphosate Weedkillers and Weedkiller resistant seeds the government finally acted. From now on the seed prices are held at 800 rupees ($11.87) for a packet of 450 grams nearly one pound. In a country where you can hire a full time maid for an entire week for three dollars this new price is still quite expensive. This high price of $11.87 per slightly less than a pound will be held for a period of five years and then it will decrease by 10% per year thereafter. Once a GM seeds variety looses their traits or its effectiveness it will not be eligible for royalties.  The seeds typically loose those traits as the use of weed killers has starkly increased because of new weed killer resistant crops, GM traits are expected to have a limited period of efficacy.   More

The order also aims to break up the Monsanto monopoly without naming the company by adding that any local seed company seeking licenses for selling any new Bt cotton variety shall get the license within 30 days of requesting the licensor.

Monsanto is successfully battling attacks on their corporate ethics successfully on many fronts.  However in April 2016
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria disagreed Monsanto’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by Edward Hardeman, because simply having an EPA-approved label “does not prevent a jury from finding that that same label violates FIFRA.” The judge also said FIFRA requires “adequate” warnings about the potential risks of herbicides. In an order (PDF) denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Chhabria wrote:

“In this light, it’s hard to see how Hardeman’s failure-to-warn claims could ‘be construed more broadly than’ FIFRA. Indeed, Hardeman’s complaint explicitly bases his California-law failure-to-warn claims on Monsanto’s alleged violation of FIFRA.”

Europe Delegates decided in March to delay their vote to extend the permits to market Glyphosate products through-out Europe based on opposition from Germany and France.  They decided to await the results of a study that will definitely determine whether or not Glyphosate causes cancer. Currently Glyphosate has a 2A – maybe and maybe not – rating.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: Rushing to grant a new license now, without waiting for an evaluation by Europe’s chemical agency, would be like skydiving without checking your equipment first. As long as there is conflicting scientific advice, glyphosate should not be approved for use in the EU. And countries would be better advised to do without it.

Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of Glyphosate based products while Chinese Companies hold approximately 50% of the market.  Other companies involved are Adama, Albaugh/Atanor, Bayer, Cheminova, Dow, Excel, Nufarm, Phytereup, Sinon, and Syngenta.

The Guardian reported:

Meanwhile officials who wish to vote on the issues are uncovered to be completely biased and in many instances are working for organizations who receive large “donations” from Monsanto and similar firms. In 2012, the ILSI group took a $500,000 (£344,234) donation from Monsanto and a $528,500 donation from the industry group Croplife International, which represents Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and others, according to documents obtained by the US right to know campaign.

The Green MEP Bart Staes said: “The timing of the release of this report by the FAO/WHO could be described as cynical, if it weren’t such a blatantly political and ham-fisted attempt to influence the EU decision later this week on the approval of glyphosate.” More

Meanwhile in the US  ISP reports:  “The department must recognize the harm that is already being done to organic and non-GMO farmers and put the responsibility squarely where it belongs – with the biotech companies … Now USDA can no longer claim ignorance about this problem.”

Even as contamination reports continue to grow, the U.S. government’s most recent response, drawn from the AC21 recommendations, has been to encourage “good stewardship” practices and communication between neighbouring farmers. Yet non-GM farmers say that, in practice, this has meant substantial outlays of both time and money in order to safeguard their crops – and virtually no corresponding responsibility on the part of farmers using genetically modified crops.

Glyphosates are a big deal and GMO crops may end up causing much harm, despite the fact that as survey conducted in 2013 showed that 93% of the US populations wishes to have GMO ingredients clearly labelled.

Consumers cannot rely on the regulatory bodies to care for their health.  The regulatory bodies are influenced by their funding, their goals in the defense industry, their corporate bottom line and their duties to share holders.  However, as consumers become more aware perhaps consumer demand will dictate a more health oriented stance by governments and industry alike.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

From one Revolutionary to another (Beethoven and David Bowie)

Classical Revolution Orchestra (USA)
‘Eroica’ Beethoven Symphony No. 3 and the Music of David Bowie

Classical Revolution celebrates its 10th anniversary by presenting its first ever series of orchestra concerts. The performances focus on two of the most vastly influential figures in all of music: the symphonies of Beethoven and classical arrangements of compositions by David Bowie.

Classical_Revolution_cropped

Since 2006 Classical Revolution has given more than 1,000 live concert performances in over 100 community and neighborhood venues across the Bay Area with the goal of expanding audiences and making classical music accessible.

Sunday May 29th, 7:00pm
Duration: 90 minutes with intermission.

Cowell Theater
Tickets: General Admission
$20 advance, $25 door

If you want to learn about Beethoven and Eroica watch a BBC show about Eroica here it is at your leisure on YouTube:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Allison Lovejoy in recital at Enso Piano accompanies singers Gerry Basserman and Colleeen Touriane, May 21, 2016.

This Saturday, May 21, the third in a series of magical musical events in Half Moon Bay. Come join Carrie and Mauro again in their effort to keep serving the community through the unique creation called Enso. Donations, loans and art purchases welcome.

Allison Lovejoy in recital at the Enso piano.
Gerry Basserman and Colleen Touriane, songs.

Music, refreshments, art, and poetry, from 6 til 9 pm
These salons are rich and satisfying. Bring a friend!
Enso : 131 Kelly Ave, Half Moon Bay, CA

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

CRYPTICAL show tonight at Sweetwater in Mill Valley

13227752_10154162326079250_3399527170027185366_o

We hope you got enough sleep last night, ’cause tonight’s CRYPTICAL show includes a whopping 32 Grateful Dead classics performed live for your listening and dancing pleasure. Tonight’s lineup includes Barry Erde, Stephen Ramirez, Mitch Stein, Mark Corsolini and very special guests Dave Hebert (JGB) and Sunshine F Becker (Furthur).

We’ll have a Shakedown Street Bazaar including some very talented local vendors, and will be offering some really great auction and raffle items to benefit the Rex Foundation.

The Grateful Dead’s own Howard Danchik will be mixing the show, so bring your friends along as we bop on back to Portland in 1974 for an epic show that’s sure to have you dancing into the wee hours!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

David Mort’s latest book Voodoo Child now available on Kindle

David Mort’s latest book “Voodoo Child” is available now from the Kindle Book Store. You may be interested in it as it covers the evolution of the blues and rock.

One of rock music’s more iconic images is that of Jimi Hendrix onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival in ’67, kneeling over the remains of his burning guitar after his performance of “Wild Thing.” He was beckoning the flames to rise as if summoning up demons and dragons from hell, which is what several fans described as witnessing after ingesting “Monterey Purple,” a strain of LSD concocted especially for the event.

Thirty years earlier, a bluesman by the name of Robert Johnson supposedly made a pact with the Devil at the crossroads in return for becoming an Ace” on the guitar. So perhaps Jimi had made a similar pact as both their souls were claimed at the age of 27. And before Robert there was another “Ace” named Charlie Patton who, like Jimi, could play the guitar behind his back, above his head and with his teeth. And before Jimi there was T Bone Walker who performed in a similar fashion. And as these three musicians were African Americans with Cherokee ancestors, perhaps they’d inherited an added spiritual dimension.

By the time Robert Johnson made his supposed pact however, the myth was already as old as the hills. The fact is that most blues musicians were itinerants who’d chosen a life on the road over a mundane, family or domestic existence, leading loved ones to conclude they were dancing to the devil’s tune.

For the purposes of my story, which traces the evolution of blues, r n b, soul and rock n roll from the Mississippi flood of ’27 to the deaths of Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, all such talented musicians, those deemed “Aces” “Kings” or “Queens,” had made similar pacts with the devil. Artists such as Buddy Holly, Bessie Smith, Eddie Cochran, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, who when their respective souls passed over, often after meeting a violent death at an early age, could be claimed to play for the “ARKestra Paradiso.”

This “ARKestra,” so called because it boasts two players per instrument, performs in a room whose walls are made of a membrane fashioned from tightly stretched goat skin or vellum. Therefore, it can pick up on sound waves travelling through air and water. This room is situated in an old slave ship named “the Paradiso” which floats on a giant underground lake, so can detect vibrations through its wood, taut ropes or sheets, and surroundings. This lake is in a giant cavern known as the Orpheus chamber, situated deep inside a mountain, home to stalactites, stalagmites and crystalline, flower like structures named anthodites, which also pick up on vibrations passing through rock. Consequently, these musicians are performing in a closed environment that resonates like a gigantic bell, thereby creating a wall of sound.

The “ARKestra” is composed of pairs of those musicians deemed “Aces,” “Kings” or “Queens,” plucked from the flood of misery that segregation created to help change the New World for the better. They mentor and sympathetically resonate with musicians still alive, and working through their performances and recordings, seek to create a new vibe called the “big beat,” woven from different strands of music.

The old slave ship, “Paradiso,” is also home to the largest record repository in the world. Known as the “ARKhive,” it comprises two copies of all the recordings ever made in the New World, arranged year by year in the aisles of the original slave hold.

David Mort

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Rolando Morales and Estaire Godinez to perform at Fairmont San Jose May 19

Image 2 - Version 2 (1)

Thursday May 19, The San Jose Fairmont, Lobby Lounge, 170 South Market St., San Jose CA, 9pm-Midnight.  Rolando Morales returns for you South Bay fans to this elegant venue.  Enjoy fine wines, unique martinis, appetizers and sushi along with the Rolando Morales Duet, this time featuring the amazing Latin percussionist/vocalist from Prince and Rolando’s first band, Passion and Grace, Estaire Godinez; and Rolando Morales leading the way on guitar and vocals and his magic pedal board.   Free!  See www.fairmont.com/sanjose/ for info, or call (408) 998-1900.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

WomenNow and New Delhi Restaurant host Spring India Day on June 11th in Union Square

WomenNow and New Delhi Restaurant will be hosting their second Spring India Day on June 11th in Union Square in the heart of San Francisco. Spring India Day is a free annual festival. It is a celebration of the colorful and exuberant Indian culture.

Come join us as we take over beautiful San Francisco’s crown jewel – Union Square – for a full day of fun and entertainment. Spring India Day will be featuring henna artists, Bollywood dancing, music, a high couture fashion show, and more! Our food booths will entice your taste buds with several Indian regional cuisines including samosas, keebabs, curried rice, exotic island delights, South Indian delicacies, and roadside chat selections.

Where: San Francisco’s Union Square
When: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Date: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

This event is organized by WomenNow TV in association with New Delhi Restaurant and benefits Compassionate Chefs Cafe a 501(c) non-profit organization with a mission to help Kids Across the Street in the Tenderloin After School Program and Across the Ocean in Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India to help them become global citizens.

Gandhi’s intention behind his Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, was to help uplift the underprivileged. On this very location, we are helping to fund the school for children of Harijan (Untouchable) Street Cleaners. This school helps us continue Mahatma Gandhi’s movement to eradicate the social injustice of being labeled Untouchable. These children will help to uplift their impoverished communities from within. It is most basic of all human needs to be clean and have nurturing human touch.

Closer to home, we are also supporting Tenderloin After School Program – which provides valuable services to kids of families living in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. The Tenderloin After School Program serves as a shelter from the street culture and many harmful influences that abound in this area. TASP provides kids with a safe space to be, where they can play and study, and get the proper support and training necessary to succeed in life.

Compassionate Chefs will be hosting a photo booth next to the main stage with props and backgrounds. Bring your smiling face and help out a great cause!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Artist Highlight – Duke Ellington

“The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.” Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington is considered one of the world’s greatest composers and musicians and one of the most notable influences on jazz history. He was also a prolific composer. It is estimated that his orchestra recorded around two thousand compositions. These included instrumental pieces, popular songs, suites, musical comedies, various film scores, and “Boola,” an unfinished opera.

The United States bestowed upon him the highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The French government honored him with their highest award, the Legion of Honor, He played for presidents, royalty and for regular people and by the end of his 50-year career, he had played over 20,000 performances worldwide. He was “The Duke,” Duke Ellington.

Ellington got his nickname of “Duke” from a childhood friend who commented on his elegant manners, bearing, and dress. Edward Kennedy Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. to Duke’s parents, Daisy Kennedy Ellington and James Edward Ellington. They served as ideal role models for young Duke, and taught him everything from proper table manners to an understanding of the emotional power of music. Ellington began playing piano at age seven. During the summers in Philadelphia or Atlantic City, where he and his mother vacationed, he began to seek out and listen to ragtime pianists. Duke sought out Harvey Brooks, a hot pianist in Philadelphia where Harvey showed Duke some pianistic tricks and shortcuts. Duke later recounted that, after he returned home he had a strong yearning to play. Previously he had not been able to get started, but after hearing Harvey he said to himself, “Man you’re going to have to do it.” Thus the music career of Duke Ellington was born.

Ten years later in 1923, Duke made his first recording. Ellington and his band, The Washingtonians, played at places like the Exclusive Club, Connie’s Inn, the Hollywood Club (Club Kentucky), Ciro’s, the Plantation Club, and most importantly the Cotton Club. Thanks to the rise in radio receivers and the industry itself, Duke’s band was broadcast across the nation live on “From the Cotton Club.” The band’s music, along with their popularity, spread rapidly. Duke Ellington and his band went on to play everywhere from New York to New Delhi, Chicago to Cairo, and Los Angeles to London. Ellington and his band played with such greats as Miles Davis, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Louis Armstrong. They entertained everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to the US President. Some of Ellington’s greatest works include “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Satin Doll,” “New Orleans,” “A Drum is a Women,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Happy-Go-Lucky Local,” “The Mooche,” and “Crescendo in Blue.”

Duke did a series of spiritual concerts, one of which was performed at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Duke had many friends here in San Francisco, many musicians that are still playing in local clubs to this day and have wonderful stories to tell of “The Duke.”

What made “The Duke” so great was that he knew each of his musicians’ abilities well (many had been with him for decades and were legends in their own rights) and wrote his music to accommodate their skills and strong points. The music was written specifically for his band.

The road was hard for Ellington and he made great sacrifices to keep his band together, but the sacrifices paid off in the undying loyalty of his musicians and a legacy of music to be cherished for all times.

Duke Ellington passed away in 1974.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Artist Highlight – Stanley Clarke

Innovator From the Deep

Once in a while a Jazz musician comes along and changes the course and direction of music, an instrumentalist that takes his instrument into a new direction that [all those] others after him follow like a beacon. These innovators, to name a few, include: Charlie Parker on alto sax, Wes Montgomery on guitar, Oscar Peterson or Bill Evans on piano.1

However, on the bass, there is only one: Stanley Clarke

Stanley Clarke, raised in Philadelphia, burst onto the music scene as a teenager in 1971, arriving in New York straight out of the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He immediately landed jobs with famous bandleaders such as: Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, and a budding young pianist composer named Chick Corea.

Before Stanley Clarke, the traditional role of the bassist in the band was that of [the] timekeeper; and also [functioning as] the foundation, the person in the band that played the lowest note in the chord, the note that the chordal structures of the songs were built upon. Stanley came along with a deep sense of melody crafted from years of listening to all of the musicians that came before him, not just the bassists. He also had an intense command of the instrument, because of his height, large hands and sincere and total dedication.

He began to pull away from the traditional role of the bassist and started to bring his instrument into the forefront. Stanley pushed himself towards perfection with relentless attention to be the best. His efforts catapulted him to the front of the stage as a viable melodic bass soloist where his dream manifested first in the Grammy Award Winning jazz-fusion band “Return to Forever ”. RTF recorded eight albums, two of which were certified gold (“Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy” and “Romantic Warrior”); and one, “No Mystery”, won a Grammy award.

One of Stanley Clarke’s fellow bassist’s, Victor Wooten, an accredited bassist of the new era who followed in the tradition, presented the 2006 Bass Player Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award to him and had this to say: “There’s no way I would pass on the chance to present this award to Stanley Clarke, a man who has changed the lives of so many musicians, created opportunities for all of us bassists, and been a huge influence on me and my playing.

Presenting Stanley Clarke with a Lifetime Achievement Award is a dream come true.” Wooten continued, “Scoring movies, making recordings, and touring the world, Stanley Clarke has paved the way for all of us by spreading low-end love all over. To me, that is what a Lifetime Achievement Award is all about. It’s not just what you’ve done with your life, but also what you’ve done to help others improve their lives. I believe that Stanley has done more than he realizes in that regard”.

Clarke is a man of “firsts”— having been the first bassist in history who could double on acoustic and electric bass with equal ferocity, as well as the first bassist ever to headline tours, selling out shows worldwide. Clarke recorded what is now considered to be the must-know bass anthem, “School Days.” To this day, accomplished and aspiring bassists continue to imitate his style seeking to master his pioneered techniques.

Lloyd Gregory

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Stanley Jordan Interview about “Friends”

UC Jazz Club Favorite Artist, Stanley Jordan sits down for an exclusive personal Interview with Edie Okamoto to talk about his latest CD, aptly entitled “Friends.”

For many years Jazz Superstar, Stanley Jordan, has been known to stretch, push, and actually break musical boundaries. His fans and jazz critics alike have come to expect him to be different and controversial. While his skills allow him to write and perform at levels that astound and thrill – his new CD provides a glimpse into the depth of his understanding of traditional jazz.

On his newest album, Friends, Stanley Jordan takes the time-honored path of inviting a hand picked cadre of special guests: guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern, Russell Malone and Charlie Hunter, violinist Regina Carter, saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassists Christian McBride and Charnett Moffett, and drummer Kenwood Dennard. The results proved truly outstanding on numbers ranging from a Bela Bartok piece to a Katy Perry pop smash, a heady original blues and three jazz classics spanning swing, cool and modern. There’s a listener friendly samba, an airy spirit song and Stanley Jordan plays some serious piano on a couple of songs, revisiting his very first love, the piano, with newfound confidence and wonder. Listen to samples on Amazon.

Stanley Jordan who tours all around the world about 80% of his time, spent some special times with his friends to produce this instant classic Jazz album: Friends.He invited a host of collaborators for this rare gathering of contemporary jazz greats.

During a rare in-depth interview Stanley Jordan who will be in the Bay Area performing at Yoshi’s on October 11th and 12th, tells our UC Jazz Club readers about the cast.

“Friends” Special Guests

Regina Carter
“Through my classical background, I developed an early appreciation for violin, and that interest continued even after I got involved in jazz. So it’s no surprise that I’ve been a fan of Regina Carter, because she is an amazing violinist who combines my favorite elements from the jazz side and the classical side. I once read an article about her project in Italy where she played an original Guaneri violin, and in that moment I knew that I would thoroughly enjoy playing with her someday. So I was honored when she accepted my invitation to join this project. Her sensitivity on the Bartok piece is just so exquisite–it makes me cry! And her perfect blend with Ronnie Laws on “Samba Delight” is a fresh, new sound that’s full of lightness and joy.”

Reflecting on working with the violin virtuoso, Stanley Jordan continues, “Regina Carter is an amazing violinist who combines my favorite elements from the jazz side and the classical side. Doing improvisations of ‘classical’ compositions often means spelling out more than just chord symbols. In this case, I wrote out many of the voicings I was using so we could improvise in a cohesive way. The result was a dense page of notes, which was probably a lot to drop on Regina at the last minute, but she rose to the occasion admirably. The sensitivity of her playing is so exquisite–it makes me cry. The first is “Romantic Intermezzo,” based on the theme of the 4th movement of Bela Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra.” This deeply stirring piece features Regina Carter on violin and I am featured exclusively on piano.

Kenwood Dennard
No question about it–Kenwood Dennard is a drummer’s drummer. I hope his performances here make many more people aware of his incredible gifts. As a progressive rock fan, I loved his work with the band Brand X back in the 70s and I used to watch him perform with Jaco Pastorius in the early 80s. His creativity is unsurpassed. In fact, every time we play together he does something new that I’ve never heard before. We’ve played together for over 20 years now and he just keeps getting better! He knows his music inside and out, having a deep background in harmony and music theory in general, so he understands what I’m doing and he knows just how to play with me in all situations. Listen to how he adjusts his playing perfectly for each song. That’s why he is the only drummer on this album. I knew I would be in good hands. “Bathed in Light” is an original that feels like a “spirit song.” I had Kenny Garrett and Nicholas Payton on horns and Christian McBride on bass in a softer turn than the swinging opener “Capital J.” On the inspiration behind the music and title, Stanley Jordan muses, “The splashy guitar chords bring out the meaning of the title. Sometimes when we’re bogged down in the details of things, we get depressed. But when we put things into proper perspective, the clouds part and we see a rainbow. I was having one of those moments when I wrote this song.” On “Bathed in Light”, when we got into the studio I realized the song needed a keyboardist, but I had not hired one for the date. Mirroring the Zen of all this, Kenwood Dennard played live drums and keyboards simultaneously! He played the drums and the keyboard at the same time live in the studio with no overdubs!

Kenny Garrett
“I opened Friends with the straight ahead original “Capital J” (as in “jazz with a capital J”) featuring Kenny Garrett on tenor saxophone and Nicholas Payton on trumpet. So much of the great jazz I grew up with was built on a strong horn line.” Jordan remembers. “In the spirit of those great classics I wrote this tune. I first heard Kenny Garrett when my band was on the same bill with Miles and Kenny played in his band. Kenny combines a deep musical knowledge with a natural and effortless facility. My favorite part of “Capital J” was just comping behind the horns. My first experiences hearing Kenny Garrett were in live concerts when my band was on the same bill with Miles Davis and Kenny played in Miles’ band. He was always one of the highlights of Miles’ show. Since then I’ve always wanted to play with him. He is one of the more creative sax players around today. The level of his musicianship is astonishing! He combines a deep musical knowledge with a natural and effortless facility. In this way he is always a joy to listen to, yet his concept is so deep that you can listen repeatedly and find new things. His solo on “Capital J” is a thing of beauty. When we were in the studio preparing to record “Capital J” and he started warming up on the chord changes I remember thinking how grateful I was that he was there because he was absolutely perfect for that song.

Charlie Hunter
Charlie Hunter is a kindred spirit because he is someone who, like me, has found his own path for approaching the guitar. Our approaches are similar because we both wanted to expand the instrument into a more polyphonic, “orchestral” direction. But although we’re similar conceptually, we are complementary in another sense, because he is more like a bassist who also plays lead and I’m more like a lead player who also plays bass. This makes it easy for us to play together. On Friends we collaborated on “Walkin’ the Dog,” a hip trip to Bluesville which recalls the great B.B. King and also offers some edgier things going on around the fringe. I am so thrilled that got to collaborate with the groove master Charlie Hunter again. Our paths have crossed in many jam band situations and venues. We both play multiple parts at once, but he plays more in the lower range while I play more in the higher range, so we complement each other very well. On “Walkin’ the Dog” Charlie and I play the melody in unison first then the second time he plays the melody while I play a counter melody of parallel dyads harmonized mostly in fifths, giving it a modern sound that provides a cool counterpart to the gritty main melody. A while ago I went to see him in Flagstaff, AZ and he invited me up to sit in. We just fell naturally into a compatible musical space playing his tunes. Since then we’ve talked about doing something together, and here it is –hopefully just the first of many.

Ronnie Laws
Ronnie Laws is a remarkable and versatile musician who is at the crossroads of many musical worlds. He pulls it all together from be-bop, deep-pocket funk, Coltrane-inspired pentatonics and sweet ballads. His sound and style give him an original and very recognizable musical voice. When I showed him “Samba Delight” he remarked on how much he liked the tune. It felt really good to hear that, because I composed it with him in mind! We have been on the same bill in various live settings and we have always played together whenever possible. It was a true honor to have his contribution on this project.

Russell Malone
Russell Malone is unquestionably one of the top jazz guitarists of our time. He can play straight-ahead as well as anyone out there, which really comes through on “Seven Come Eleven”. And with his breezy melodic sense he is a very soulful and listenable player. He combines a playful imagination with a mathematical sense of structure and line, making him ideal for the atonal improvisation “One for Milton”. He had recently been doing a lot of playing with Ornette Coleman, so he was already primed for the kind of free improv that we created together on that day. His out of the box free style has always been one of my favorite aspects of his playing. This jazz super standard “Seven Come Eleven,” is a song made famous in Benny Goodman’s band as a feature for electric jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian. Bucky Pizzarelli played a rousing solo on it, and Russell Malone was great as he provided a cool yet uplifting spirit.”

Christian McBride
This was our first chance to play together, making it a dream come true for me because I have admired his playing for many years. He was very sensitive as he adjusted his approach to each song, playing just the right part at all times. “Christian McBride‘s amazing tone, his flawless, crisp execution, his strong melodic concept and his deep sense of swing make him one of the greatest jazz bassists alive today. His sharp mind and generous spirit and attention to every detail really come through on both of the songs he did with us.

Charnett Moffett
A take on Claude Debussy’s “Reverie” in a jazz context features my road trio of Charnett Moffett on bass and Kenwood Dennard on drums and me. The group has been performing this for many years, which explains the fluid ease with which we weave through it. We pretty much stuck to the form on this one except for a brief modal improv, which was obviously not written into the original composition, but I feel that it gets across the meaning and spirit of the song.  Charnett Moffett and I go all the way back to the Bay Area free jazz scene of the late 60s and early 70s. I used to see him perform as the youngest member of the Charles Moffett Family when he was 8 and I was 15. These were formative years, and the Moffett Family were my “Jacksons of Jazz”. Charnett Moffett and I have been working together since 1985 and there is no bassist on the planet who knows me better than he does. I knew I could depend on him to be the primary bassist on this project, and he came through with flying colors. He displays astonishing versatility as he approaches each tune in just the right way and he nails it all, from straight-ahead to samba to blues and everything else. His technical skills are unsurpassed and his creative imagination and sheer musical brilliance are an inspiration. There is no one else like him!

Nicholas Payton
On Capital J, Nick’s tone is fresh and full of life, and he creates interesting, complex improvisations while still leaving plenty of space.I had wanted to play with Nicholas Payton for a long time, and here I finally got my chance. The experience lived up to all my expectations and more because both his musicianship and his spirit were such a joy to connect with. His playing is so melodic, so facile, and just so musical! His tone is fresh and full of life and he creates interesting, complex improvisations while still leaving plenty of space. In this way he combines many of my favorite aspects of both Miles and Freddie, yet he has his own sound and style. I used to play trumpet a bit and it’s still one of my favorite instruments. Sometimes I feel like taking it up again, but then again, I’d much rather just listen to Nick Payton, because he is saying it all!

Bucky Pizzarelli
To me Bucky Pizzarelli is a jazz icon. I play jazz guitar, but Bucky Pizzarelli is one of the creators of the genre. I can hear so much history in his notes, and yet his sound is always fresh. He is a seasoned veteran whose chops are still very much intact today. I also joined up with Bucky Pizzarelli and Russell Malone to swing the classic Seven Come Eleven. When I first told Bucky Pizzrelli that I was thinking about doing “Seven Come Eleven,” he just lit up! I love the old time 3-way-improv we played toward the end. There’s a point in “Seven Come Eleven” when he pours on the fire and starts playing this furious chord-melody passage that just keeps going and going, and it would have surely brought an audience to its feet in a live setting. In contrast, listen to his tender acoustic guitar rendition of “Lil’ Darlin'”. So beautiful! It was a great honor to play with such a legend. I had wanted to record with him for many years and I’m blessed to have finally gotten the chance to do so. He’s also a great guy. He brought a positive, cheerful energy to the sessions and he was an absolute joy to work with.

Mike Stern
Mike Stern and I cut our teeth in the same scene in New York in the early 80s. Even back then I felt he was one of the strongest players of our generation. He’s brilliant, creative, sophisticated and so well-schooled, that to play with him is an inspirational experience! Once we jammed together on “Giant Steps” in a hotel at a jazz festival in Canada. He knew the changes inside and out, and he glided through this complex tune with the greatest of ease. His playing was so impressive that ever since then I have wanted to record this song with him. On this project I finally got the chance! And not just his great playing but his eager, youthful spirit comes through. His style is interesting and complex–not to show off but just because he loves to explore the infinite possibilities of music.

Friends closes on an ear-turning note with “One for Milton,” a heartfelt yet adventurous tribute to one of Stanley Jordan‘s most beloved music teachers, composer Milton Babbit (1916-2011), who passed away as Stanley Jordan was preparing to record Friends. He tell us: “I studied theory and composition with Milton at Princeton in the late `70s and early `80s. He was a giant in his field and he left a big impression on me – musically and personally. In Eastern spiritual traditions a guru is someone whose very presence confers enlightenment. Milton truly fit this description. Russell, Kenwood and I created this from scratch as an improvisation. I’ve always been a fan of Russell’s more experimental side, and I’m glad that it got a good showing on this recording. We didn’t try to imitate Milton’s style, but in the spirit of his music we did take an atonal approach. There are parts that sound to me a bit like Milton’s teacher, Arnold Schoenberg.”

Reflecting on the wealth of music inspired by collaborating with the amazing talent on Friends, Stanley Jordan concludes, “This collection truly speaks to my belief in the integrationist spirit in music. When you integrate styles, you combine them into something new while staying true to the original sources. True friendship is also integral, because it involves mutual respect.

Our true friends are like mirrors revealing the diversity within each of us, and at the same time their acceptance gives us the courage to share our true selves with the World. I am so humbled and grateful to all of these wonderful musicians who graced this project.”

We thank Stanley Jordan to make room in his busy schedule for this sit down interview to share his latest stop in his world-wide journey. He also told us that he feels more at ease with himself and the world than ever before – in part – perhaps due to the arrival of his very first grand-child by his now also famous musician/performer daughter, Julia Jordan, early this year. With a loving family and great friends life is good.

We encourage all UC Jazz Club member to come out for his shows on October 11 and 12th, 20011 at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. Stanley Jordan looks forward to spending time with you again and thanks you for your on-going support!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Glyphosate, what’s the big deal?

Monsanto denies that Glyphosate is linked with cancer.  Other industry experts in this interview disagree and claim that there are many links with cancer as well as severe environmental damage.

Long term use lowered yield due to ever more glyphosate resistant weeds

“Widespread use of glyphosate has led to the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds covering an estimated 120 million hectares globally in 2010. So far, 23 species of weeds have been recorded, forcing Monsanto to acknowledge the problem and protect their profits by declaring that their warranty does not cover yield losses. Glyphosate-resistant weeds are threatening the utility of glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops. Resistant weeds are likely responsible for increased herbicide use. Argentinian use went from 2 to 20 liters per hectare between 1996 and 2010.” PermaCultureNews explains. That is a 10 fold increase of a toxic matter.

The National Pesticide Information Center reports that glyphosate is linked to cancer and to skeletal mal formation in the fetus.

When high doses were administered to laboratory animals, some studies suggest that glyphosate has carcinogenic potential. Some studies also have associated glyphosate use with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Glyphosate exposure has been linked to developmental and reproductive effects at high doses that were administered to rats repeatedly during pregnancy. These doses made the mother rats sick. The rat fetuses gained weight more slowly, and some fetuses had skeletal defects. These effects were not observed at lower doses.  Doses have been increased by 10 fold due to the fact that weed it proposes to eradicate actually grows immune.

Nature announces glyphosate probably carcinogenic to humans.

Nature reported on March 23, 2015 that the World Health Organization release a report stating:  “The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The Oncology Lancet reported in March, 2015, 17 experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC; Lyon, France) to assess the carcinogenicity of the organophosphate pesticides tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (table). These assessments will be published as volume 112 of the IARC Monographs.

Wenonah Hauter’s investigative article in Ecowatch, a foremost provider of scientifically-based, environmental news explains why the scientific studies are often so feeble about reporting their findings.  She wrote:  “Under the Influence: The National Research Council and GMOs charts the millions of dollars in donations the NRC receives from biotech companies like Monsanto, documents the one-sided panels of scientists the NRC enlists to carry out its GMO studies and describes the revolving door of NRC staff directors who shuffle in and out of agriculture and biotech industry groups. The new issue brief also shows how NRC routinely arrives at watered-down scientific conclusions on agricultural issues based on industry science.” Full article

The American Cancer Society gives glyphosate a 2A rating which means it it probably causes cancer in humans.  More

So what is the big deal with Glyphosate?   It lowers yield in the food supply, it increases weeds’ immunities and it most likely causes cancer, skeletal disturbances in fetuses, and it attacks the enzyme household in brain, liver and hearts of fetuses if the mother is exposed to high levels.

European governmental officials volunteered for a test checking the level of exposure in their urine.  The level turned out to be several hundreds of percentage higher than the legal limit.  Andrew Kniss wrote an excellent article for weedcontrolfreaks that shows in-depth research in on place.  Article  Glyphosate turns out to be a bid deal.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Jamala – 1944 (Ukraine) 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

Jamala wins the contest with a song about 1944

The message of the song is widely discussed. In 1944 Jamala’s great-grandmother and all members of the Tartars were deported from their home land, based on Stalin’s orders. During the transportation five of her great grandmother’s children died.

Only after the Soviet Union dissolved was the Tartar family able to return to Krim. Jamala claimed repeatedly that the song is entirely a personal story about her family. She was born in 1983 in Kyrgyzstan and returned with her family to her homeland Krim, before studying music in Kiev.

Her song caused quite an uproar as Eurovision’s guidelines expressly forbid political content in songs. Since 2014 the student Jamala has not been able to return to Krim to visit her family. Thus the song is a most personal story. Personal stories are allow and encouraged.

She won the 61st Eurovision Song Contest 2016 despite calls for disallowing the song since it angered Russians. PRI reported that Emine Ziyatdinova, a Crimean Tatar journalist and multimedia artist explained: “I was just in Crimea. People have it on their ringtones. It’s a way to protest what is going on.” More

Little wonder that Russian government officials are not pleased. Tass, a Russian News Agency, explained: “The Mejlis emerged back in 1991, when the descendants of Crimean Tatars, deported from Crimea after being charged with collaboration with the Nazis during World War II, began to return to the land of their ancestors. When Crimea reunited with Russia in 2014, the Mejlis failed to have itself registered properly at the Russian Justice Ministry. Its leaders reside outside the peninsula and refuse to recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia.”

Russia is protecting its access route to the Black Sea and its investment in the harbor. The Independent, a UK news media company explained in 2014: “Crimea is strategically important as a base for the Russian navy. The Black Sea Fleet has been based on the peninsula since it was founded by Prince Potemkin in 1783. The fleet’s strategic position helped Russia defeat Georgia in the South Ossetia war in 2008, and remains crucial to Russian security interests in the region.” More

The Tartar singer wants to see her family, the Russians need to keep their country secure, the Ukrainians… well, the Ukrainians are still struggling with the basic concept of democracy.

Newsweek reported on April 16, 2016 “In the span of one week beginning April 6, Dutch voters rejected ratification of a long-awaited EU-Ukraine trade deal, putting Ukraine’s aspirations of European integration in jeopardy; the Panama Papers exposed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s offshore assets, sparking a media firestorm in Ukraine; and Ukraine’s prime minister resigned after months of political turmoil, sparking a political clash in the search for his replacement.

Meanwhile, the ongoing war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region is steadily worsening, and a ceasefire that never fully took hold is teetering on the edge of collapse.

“No, of course the revolution didn’t achieve its goals,” Onyshchenko says. “People are definitely frustrated, but they are too tired to make another revolution.”  More

Eurovision has come a long way from the days when Abba won the contest with their song Waterloo.  I just love Abba and their song Mamma Mia was such fun. The world is getting more difficult, or perhaps we are just becoming more aware of it.  With that in mind Mamma Mia let’s all remember that we should all be there for each other:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail