Denise Perrier stars with the Tammy Hall Trio in An Autumn Serenade

Denise Perrier, 2017
Denise Perrier, 2017

Denise Perrier
and The Tammy Hall Trio
An Autumn Serenade
At Piedmont Piano Company
October, 1st

Come celebrate the leaves turning to vibrant colors of red and gold and rejoice in the cool evenings ahead with songs of the season. The night will start with a solo piano set from pianist Tammy Hall, later joined by vocalist Denise Perrier, bassist Marcus Shelby, and drummer Jack Dorsey. They will serenade you with sultry ballads, Bossa Nova, the blues, and unlimited Swing!

Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 4pm
at Piedmont Piano Company
1728 San Pablo Ave. (at 18th), Oakland, CA

$20 – To reserve tickets with your credit card,
please call (510) 547-8188  tel:(510) 547-8188)

Learn more about Denise Perrier by visiting  www.deniseperrier.com

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Norah Jones will release her new CD, Day Breaks, on October 7th, 2016.

Norah Jones will release her new CD on October 7th, 2016
Norah Jones will release her new CD on October 7th, 2016

Norah Jones has announced the October 7 global release of Day Breaks (Blue Note Records), her stunning sixth solo album which is a kindred spirit to the singer’s breakout debut Come Away With Me and finds the 9-time GRAMMY-winner returning to the piano and her roots. The album features jazz luminaries including her Blue Note label mates saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade on a 12-song set that presents 9 new originals alongside covers of songs by Horace Silver, Duke Ellington and Neil Young.

“This new album, Day Breaks, feels full circle because I’m going back to my early influences,” says Norah. “After the first record, I drifted away from the piano a little bit. I still played it, but was more inspired to write on guitar. I really loved playing piano on this record.”

Born March 30, 1979, in New York City, Norah Jones, the daughter of Ravi Shankar quietly grew up in Texas with her mother. While she always found the music of Billie Holiday and Bill Evans both intriguing and comforting, she didn’t really explore jazz until attending Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. During high school, Jones won the Down Beat Student Music Awards for Best Jazz Vocalist and Best Original Composition in 1996, and earned a second Best Jazz Vocalist award in 1997.

Learn more about Norah Jones at Blue Note.

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Rolando Morales thoughts this week and August 2016 Calendar

Rolando Morales at private event
Rolando Morales at private event
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.”
 "That depends, Sir, " said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
 Aaahh… The good old days, when low-cutting political insults required wit and eloquence.

August 1, 2016

Hola, Mi Gente!

July’s political theater has helped the month scurry by.  When coupled with the positive experiences of so many private events I played through last week, the month seemed but a blink of an eye.  (Which reminds me…  For those of you who have been asking, yes, my right eye is so much improved, but I still have an intermittent white veil that obstructs part of my vision, but that should go away within a few more weeks.)

Through it all, my August Calendar suddenly reveals itself tomorrow, Tuesday August 2nd with my first appearance in almost 6 weeks at Maria, Maria in Danville from 6-9pm.  That will be my only public appearance of the week, as I will be doing only private events for the next  week.

After I return, there will be plenty of public shows to chose from throughout August.  Some highlights include an exciting version of my Trio performing on Saturday August 13 at the brand new Pairings Cellars in Pleasanton.  The band will feature the great Paraguayan violinist Carlos Reyes, Grammy-winning Latin percussionist/vocalist Omar Ledezma and myself on guitar, guitar synth and voice.  Details below.  

Then on August 17, I’ll be doing a very rare Wednesday duet performance for you South Bay fans at the San Jose Fairmont in the Lobby Lounge from 9-Midnight.  I’ll feature the delightful violinist Ms. Patricia Weiss.  She has shared the stage with the Gipsy Kings.  Details below.

There’s much more to come.  I’ll  see you at the show!

Ciao,

Rolando 

PUBLIC PERFORMANCES FOR AUGUST 2016

Tuesday Aug 2, Maria, Maria Cantina, 710 Camino Ramon Road, Danville CA, approx 6-9pm.  After 5 weeks away, Rolando finally returns to Carlos Santana’s most elegant restaurant for Taco Tuesday.  $1 tacos, baby!  And Rolando on solo guitar and voice with his diverse repertoire performing out on the patio by the fire pits.  (925) 820-2366.  See www.mariamariarestaurants.com.

Friday Aug 12, Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro, 461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, 6 to 9 pm.  Rolando returns to the place The Examiner and Independent have proclaimed has the “Best Seafood and Best Mexican Food” anywhere, on solo guitar and voice in the Restaurant Room.  Call (650) 589-1163www.donpicosbistro.com.

Saturday Aug 13, Pairings Cellars, 310 Main Street, Suite B, Pleasanton CA 94566, 8-11pm.  Rolando returns to this brand new, exciting social hotspot in downtown Pleasanton.  This new wine bar features fine wines, tapas and the Rolando Morales Trio, featuring from Paraguay, the thrilling violinist with Steve Miller and Arturo Sandoval, the great Carlos Reyes; from Venezuela, the Grammy-winning Latin percussionist/vocalist Omar Ledezma; and Rolando Morales leading the way on guitar, guitar synth and voice. Free!x www.pairingscellars.com(925) 398-8846.

Sunday Aug 14, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 2-5pm.  Rolando returns for the Maria, Maria Tardeada series.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch outdoors and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek.  He may be joined by flautist Bob Harrison.  www.mariamariarestaurants.com, or call (925) 946-1010.

Wednesday Aug 17, The San Jose Fairmont, Lobby Lounge, 170 South Market St., San Jose CA, 9pm-Midnight.  Rolando returns for you South Bay fans to this elegant venue.  Celebrate the night with fine wines, unique martinis, appetizers and sushi along with the Rolando Morales Duet, this time featuring the delightful violinist who played with the Gipsy Kings, Ms. Patricia Weiss; 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.

Saturday Aug 20, Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro, 461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, 6 to 9 pm.   Rolando  returns on solo guitar and voice in the intimate Restaurant Room for a rare Saturday night performance.  Call (650) 589-1163 and see  www.donpicosbistro.com.

Sunday Aug 21, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 2-5pm.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek.  If it’s too hot, it will be indoors.   He may be joined by Bob Harrison on flute.   www.mariamariarestaurants.com,   (925) 946-1010.

Friday Aug 26, Pairings Cellars, 310 Main Street, Suite B, Pleasanton CA 94566, 8-11pm.  Rolando returns to this brand new, exciting social hotspot in downtown Pleasanton.  This new wine bar features fine wines, tapas and this time, Rolando on solo guitar and voice.  Free! www.pairingscellars.com(925) 398-8846.

Saturday Aug 27, Vine at Bridges, 480 Hartz Avenue, Danville, approx 8-11pm.  The Rolando Morales Duet returns to this cool winery and nightspot.  Enjoy a wonderful selection of wines, superb dinners and munchies while enjoying this powerful duet.  Tonight Rolando reunites with the charismatic Latin percussionist/vocalist from George Benson and Prince, the delightful Estaire Godinez; and on guitar, voice and his pedal board of magic, the passionate Rolando Morales.  They’ll cover the musical spectrum.  Don’t miss it!  www.thevineatbridges.com(925) 820-7210

Sunday Aug 28, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 2-5pm.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch at Carlos Santana’s lively cantina and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek. He may be joined by Bob Harrison on flute. www.mariamariarestaurants.com,   (925) 946-1010.

Tuesday Aug 30, Maria, Maria Cantina, 710 Camino Ramon Road, Danville CA, approx 6-9pm.  Rolando returns to Carlos Santana’s most elegant restaurant for Taco Tuesday.  $1 tacos, baby!  And Rolando on solo guitar and voice with his diverse repertoire performing out on the patio by the fire pits.  We’ll see if he has any special guests sitting in…  (925) 820-2366www.mariamariarestaurants.com

All other shows are private.  Why not hire Rolando for your own private event?  He’s available for corporate shows, weddings, parties, concerts and festivals. The Rolando Morales group is available as sextet, quintet, quartet, trio and duo depending on your entertainment needs and budget.  

 

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Rolando Morales Duo will perform Thursday July 28, 2016 at San Jose Fairmont

Rolando Morales and Danilo Paiz will perform at the Fairmont San Jose
Rolando Morales and Danilo Paíz will perform at the Fairmont San Jose

Hola, Mi Gente!

I’ve had some splendid experiences this past week at some lovely private events.  One was up high in the clouds with a panoramic view of the Bay Area.  They flew in a magical chef from northern Italy and her husband as sommelier providing the amazing Italian wines.  I blended some Italian music into my international flavors and it went over so well, I’ll be returning soon.

My Trio’s debut last Saturday at Pairings Cellars was also a hit, so another version of my Trio, will be returning there in about 3 weeks.  I’ll keep you posted.

This week I wrap up our July Calendar with my buddy Danilo Paíz.  This wonderful Latin percussionist/vocalist from Nicaragua has played with me from the very beginning when my first band Passion and Grace was newly formed.  We’ll be doing a duet performance for you South Bay fans at the San Jose Fairmont in the Lobby Lounge this Thursday, July 28 from 9-Midnight.

I also have Don Pico’s on Friday and Maria, Maria in Walnut Creek on Saturday, with all the details below.  I’ll  see you at the show!

Ciao,

Rolando

LAST PUBLIC PERFORMANCES FOR JULY 2016

Thursday July 28, The San Jose Fairmont, Lobby Lounge, 170 South Market St., San Jose CA, 9pm-MidnightRolando returns for you South Bay fans to this elegant venue.  Celebrate the night with fine wines, unique martinis, appetizers and sushi along with the Rolando Morales Duet, this time featuring the Latin percussionist/vocalist from Dizzy Gillespie and Rubén Blades, Danilo Paíz; 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.

Friday July 29, Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro, 461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, 6-9 pm.   Rolando  returns on solo guitar and voice, now in the intimate Restaurant Room.  Call (650) 589-1163 and see www.donpicosbistro.com.

Sunday July 31, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx. 2-5pm.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch at Carlos Santana’s lively cantina and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek. (Don’t worry, if it’s too hot he’ll be indoors.)   He may be joined by Bob Harrison on flute.   www.mariamariarestaurants.com,   (925) 946-1010.

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Rolando Morales Trio to perform at Pairings Cellars in Pleasanton, Saturday July 23rd.

Rolando Morales , Estaire Godinez and David Belove will perform on Saturday July 23rd at Pairings Cellars in downtown Pleasanton.
Rolando Morales , Estaire Godinez and David Belove will perform on Saturday July 23rd at Pairings Cellars in downtown Pleasanton.

Saturday July 23, Pairings Cellars, 310 Main Street, Suite B, Pleasanton CA 94566, 8-11pm.  Rolando debuts at this brand new, exciting social hotspot in downtown Pleasanton.  This new wine bar will feature fine wines, tapas and the Rolando Morales Trio, featuring from Prince and George Benson, the charismatic Latin percussionist/vocalist    Estaire Godinez; from Pete Escovedo and Tito Puente, bassist David Belove; and Rolando Morales leading the way on guitar, guitar synth and voice.  Free! www.pairingscellars.com(925) 398-8846.

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Rolando Morales Public Performance July 2016

Rolando Morales , Estaire Godinez and David Belove will perform on Saturday July 23rd at Pairings Cellars in downtown Pleasanton.
Rolando Morales , Estaire Godinez and David Belove will perform on Saturday July 23rd at Pairings Cellars in downtown Pleasanton.
Rolando Morales Performances July 2016

Thursday July 14, Vine at Bridges, 480 Hartz Avenue, Danville, approx 7-10pm.  After 2 months away, The Rolando Morales Duet returns to this cool winery and nightspot for its only Thursday night appearance, coinciding with the Danville Car Show.  Enjoy a wonderful selection of wines, superb dinners and munchies while enjoying this powerful duet.  Tonight Rolando reunites with the Latin percussionist/vocalist from Uruguay, the leader of Candela, Edgardo Cambón; and on guitar, voice and his pedal board of magic, the passionate Rolando Morales.  Don’t miss it! www.thevineatbridges.com(925) 820-7210

Friday July 15, Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro, 461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, 6 to 9 pm.   Rolando  returns on solo guitar and voice in the intimate Restaurant Room.  (650) 589-1163 and see  www.donpicosbistro.com.

Saturday July 16, Wente Vineyards, Estate Winery and Tasting Room Patio, 5050 Arroyo Road, Livermore CA 94550, 1-5pm.  Rolando’s first public Wente appearance was a hit, so he returns a second time.  Enjoy a superb wine tasting experience on the lovely Wente Estate and enjoy Rolando on solo guitar and voice out on the patio among the lush grounds of the Estate Winery.  www.wentevineyards.com/tasting-rooms/estate-winery-tasting-room.

Sunday July 17, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 2-5pm.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch at Carlos Santana’s lively cantina and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek. He may be joined by     Bob Harrison on flute.  www.mariamariarestaurants.com,   (925) 946-1010

Friday July 22, Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro, 461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, 6-9 pm.   Rolando  returns on solo guitar and voice, now in the intimate Restaurant Room.  Call (650) 589-1163 and   www.donpicosbistro.com.

Saturday July 23, Pairings Cellars, 310 Main Street, Suite B, Pleasanton CA 94566, 8-11pm.  Rolando debuts at this brand new, exciting social hotspot in downtown Pleasanton.  This new wine bar will feature fine wines, tapas and the Rolando Morales Trio, featuring from Prince and George Benson, the charismatic Latin percussionist/vocalist    Estaire Godinez; from Pete Escovedo and Tito Puente, bassist David Belove; and Rolando Morales leading the way on guitar, guitar synth and voice.  Free! www.pairingscellars.com(925) 398-8846.

Sunday July 24, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 2-5pm.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch at Carlos Santana’s lively cantina and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek. He may be joined by Bob Harrison on flute.  (925) 946-1010  to  www.mariamariarestaurants.com

Rolando Morales Duo at Fairmont July 28, 2016

Thursday July 28, The San Jose Fairmont, Lobby Lounge, 170 South Market St., San Jose CA, 9pm-Midnight.  Rolando returns for you South Bay fans to this elegant venue.  Celebrate the night with fine wines, unique martinis, appetizers and sushi along with the Rolando Morales Duet, this time featuring the Latin percussionist/vocalist from Dizzy Gillespie, Danilo Paíz; 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.

Friday July 29, Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro, 461 El Camino Real, San Bruno, 6-9 pm.   Rolando  returns on solo guitar and voice, now in the intimate Restaurant Room.  Call (650) 589-1163 and  www.donpicosbistro.com

Sunday July 31, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 2-5pm.  Enjoy a Mexican brunch at Carlos Santana’s lively cantina and Rolando performing on the newly renovated front patio on solo guitar and voice by the creek. He may be joined by Bob Harrison on flute.(925) 946-1010.   www.mariamariarestaurants.com  

All other shows are private.  Why not hire Rolando for your own private event?  He’s available for corporate shows, weddings, parties, concerts and festivals. The Rolando Morales group is available as sextet, quintet, quartet, trio and duo depending on your entertainment needs and budget.  

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Rolando Morales shares his thoughts about this week.

600

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
                Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Towards Freedom, 1958

Hola, Mi Gente!

It’s been a tough week for our country. So much tragedy and violence, needlessly inflicted. We feel burdened with pain and anger. We’re reminded of how little some things have changed over the last six decades. How do we as a nation move forward?

I thought President Obama delivered a beautiful, powerful speech today at the memorial for the five fallen officers in Dallas. Playing the role yet again of Consoler in Chief, he helped the nation cope with the violence which has traumatized our country, while at the same time, eloquently compelling us to admit to the real racial oppression that people of color experience daily. He urged us to listen to one another, to find the similarities that unite us and to empathize with and acknowledge the real pain each side experiences.

I was encouraged to hear him say that “we will need to act on the truths that we know. And that’s not easy, it makes us uncomfortable. But we’re going to have to be honest with each other and ourselves.” That’s the way forward.

At all my performances, I have been including special songs to ease our hearts and souls in these trying times. Even at last Saturday’s Sausalito Seahorse performance, our world class band played a rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?” to an appreciative audience. Big thanks to Carlos Reyes, Estaire Godinez, Celso Alberti and David Belove for their talents, and to all of you who packed the Seahorse again.

This Thursday I’m doing a special show at The Vine at Bridges in Danville on Thursday July 14 with my talented buddy from Uruguay, Edgardo Cambón. I’ve been away from there for a few months, and they’ll have the 2016 Danville Hot Summer Nights Hot Rod and Classic Car Show happening right outside, so it’s definitely worth coming out for. Details.

I’m also returning to Wente Vineyards this Saturday July 16 from 1-5pm on solo guitar and voice. Details.

I’m also excited to be part of the Grand Opening of a new Wine Bar, Pairings Cellars on Main Street in downtown Pleasanton. We’ll be kicking off our appearances there next week Saturday night, July 23 with a great trio featuring the percussionist/vocalist from Prince, Estaire Godinez; the great bassist from Pete Escovedo, David Belove; and I’ll be there on guitar, guitar synth and voice. Details.

There’s so much more in store. Just check out the calendar, make your reservations and I’ll see you at the show!

Ciao,
Rolando

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Edgardo Cambon joins Roland Morales at The Vine at Bridges, July 14, 2016

Edgar Cambon joins Rolando Morales tonight at The Vine at Bridges
Edgar Cambon joins Rolando Morales tonight at The Vine at Bridges

Thursday July 14, Vine at Bridges, 480 Hartz Avenue, Danville, approx. 7-10pm.  After 2 months away, The Rolando Morales Duet returns to this cool winery and nightspot for its only Thursday night appearance, coinciding with the Danville Car Show.  Enjoy a wonderful selection of wines, superb dinners and munchies while enjoying this powerful duet.  Tonight Rolando reunites with the Latin percussionist/vocalist from Uruguay, the leader of Candela, Edgardo Cambón; and on guitar, voice and his pedal board of magic, the passionate Rolando Morales.  Latin Jazz at its best. Don’t miss it!  www.thevineatbridges.com, (925) 820-7210.

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Artist Highlight – Ehud Asherie

Ehud Asherie
Ehud Asherie

Ehud Asherie, “a master of swing and stride” (The New Yorker), is a jazz pianist who integrates the venerable New York piano tradition into his inventive style. Born in Israel in 1979, Asherie lived in Italy for six years before his family moved to New York.

Though he began playing piano as a child, his passion for jazz came later—with a Thelonious Monk cassette tape—and his first visit to Smalls Jazz club in Greenwich Village. Largely self-taught, or rather, “old-schooled,” Asherie learned the ropes at Smalls, spending the wee small hours of his early teens becoming a fixture of the late-night jam sessions.

Mentored by the late Frank Hewitt, Asherie began to develop “his virtuosity and his ear for clean, crisp lines“ (The Star-Ledger). From Smalls to the Rainbow Room, from Lincoln Center to The Village Vanguard, Asherie has since worked with a broad range of musicians including:

Eric Alexander, Roy Ayers, Peter Bernstein, Jesse Davis, Bobby Durham, Vince Giordano, Wycliffe Gordon, Scott Hamilton, Ryan Kisor, Jane Monheit, Catherine Russell, Ken Peplowski and Clark Terry.

Beyond his dedication to jazz music, Ehud Asherie has also developed a passion for traditional Brazilian music. His appreciation and profound knowledge of the music, language and culture are the foundation of Asherie’s project entitled Bina & Ehud, a duo formed in 2003, with Brazilian guitarist, Bina Coquet.

Asherie has toured clubs and festivals around the world, including South America, Europe and Asia. Asherie’s playing can be heard on countless recordings, including the 2010 Grammy Award winning soundtrack of HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’. He recently released his twelfth album as leader entitled Shuffle Along (Blue Heron Records), a solo
piano performance.

Published on Feb 21, 2015
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises

Perry Tannenbaum in Jazz Times praises Ehud Asherie

“After three releases on Posi-Tone leading small combos from the piano, 31-year-old Israeli native Ehud Asherie switches over to Hammond organ for his latest quartet outing, Organic. Fats Waller and Count Basie come readily to mind as jazz immortals who doubled on the two instruments. While their piano styles were more individualized than Asherie’s at this stage of his career, their doubling is reduced to dabbling when compared to Asherie’s imposing proficiency at the organ, which instantly catapults him to the front ranks of current B3 practitioners and invites comparisons with the greats of the past.”  See full article

Thank you Tom O’Neil for introducing this to www.riovida.net.  We hope to learn about the rest of your favorites.

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Artist Highlight – Noah Griffin

"They see the possibility of a black president as natural as Tiger Woods winning the Masters"
                             Noah Griffin (talking about his children)

Noah Griffin regularly performs in San Francisco, New York, Boston, London, Rome and Paris. Noah Griffin’s Tribute to Cole Porter took the world by storm and he regularly sells out at such classical venues as Birdland in NY.  He sang with Duke Ellington, Nat Cole and has appeared in New York, Boston, London, Rome and Paris.

Noah, since the age of 7, has delighted audiences with his marvelous voice. From 1953 to 1958 he sang as a soloist with the San Francisco Boys Chorus under the direction of the late Madi Bacon, performing in Carmen, Boris Gudenov, Turandot, and soloing in La Boheme with the San Francisco Cosmopolitan Opera Company. The Boys Choir performed at the 1956 Republican convention in San Francisco, sharing the stage with Nat King Cole, Johnny Ray, Leontyne Price and Paul Robeson all legends with whom the Boys Choir collaborated.

In the late 50′s Noah helped formed a Rock group called the Kings covering Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town” on a USO recording which played overseas to our troops stationed in Europe. By 1960 he was off on his own singing at various local venues, teen dances and school rallies. He began study with the respected Judy Davis. The highlight of his high school career was winning a coveted opportunity to audition at the world renowned “hungri i” nightclub. It was also during those years he was signed to a minor record label and performed on the bill with the “Shirelles.” College years at Fisk University began more intense voice study under James Van Lowe and an association with the Fisk University Choir and the famed Jubilee Singers.

While attending Harvard Law, Noah nurtured his singing career performing regularly in and around the Boston area at the “Point After,” the “Ramada Inn on the Charles” and various other venues. It was during that period he was selected to solo with Duke Ellington in his Boston for debut of his “Sacred Concert.” Returning to San Francisco Noah was a regular at the “Sea Witch”, “Cobb’s Pub”, the “Plantation Inn”, “Roland’s” the “Forbidden City” and other night spots. For ten years Noah was the soloist for the Walt Tolleson Big Band. In addition to singing, Noah hosted a talk show for many years on KGO radio as well as a television appearances and wrote a syndicated column for the Hearst Examiner and newspaper chain. A fan favorite at Giants games, Noah along with collaborator Bob Voss, wrote the opening day song for the Giants at the former PacBell Park. The two collaborated for the dreamy anthem and official Ballad of the Golden Gate Bridge re-released for the Bridge’s 70th anniversary in May 2007. This version is produced by former Motown producer and writer Michael B. Sutton. Noah and Bob collaborated on a highly popular Christmas CD with two original songs Noah wrote for the production which merit annual local airplay.

Eddie Fisher has called him a “great singer” and George Shearing “loves his work.”

After graduating from Harvard Law School in Boston, Noah Griffin returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where he has lived ever since. While raising his children, Noah Griffin had an illustrious career as a syndicated newspaper columnist, radio talk show host, singer and songwriter.

Noah Griffin has been hosted by the Nations of Great Britain, Nassau, Japan, Brazil, and Taiwan. He has met six United States Presidents and several World Leaders — all from whom he has been fortunate to learn.

Noah Griffin’s vast range of experience uniquely qualifies him to speak on a wide range of topics. Educated at Harvard Law, Yale and Fisk University in history, he’s been the recipient of two Fellowships: CORO Foundation Public Affairs and Phelps-Stokes History Fellowship. He has spent 35 years in government, politics, media and journalism. In those capacities he served on statewide staff in two Presidential Campaigns, as an administrative aide to Dianne Feinstein and Press Secretary to San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan. He served as Director of Public Affairs at Charles Schwab Company and was Public Information Officer at San Francisco City College under Chancellor Evan Dobelle.

He was an on air Disc Jockey at the old KFOG in San Francisco and WJIB in Boston. He produced and hosted weekly interview shows on K-101 and KFRC radio. Griffin hosted Public Affairs Interview Program on San Francisco TV Stations KMPT Channel 32 and KTSF Channel 26.

Noah Griffin writes for the Marin IJ. He wrote for 5 years for the Hearst Examiner and was nationally syndicated with Scripps Howard. In that capacity he appeared twice on the PBS News hour with Jim Lehrer. He has been featured in the Boston Globe, the NAACP Crisis Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, The Saint Petersburg Times, and Jet Magazine. He’s appeared on CNN, CBS Sunday Morning and Talk of the Nation. He has been written about and or covered in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Magazine.

Noah Griffin has worked with George Lucas. Griffin also worked alongside the late Bernie Averbuch to establish the Court of Historical Review and Appeals in which capacity he brought Anna Hauptman to San Francisco to retry the Lindbergh Kidnapping Case in a moot court setting. He’s dined with Lauren Bacall, shared the stage with Nat Cole, Leontyne Price, and Johnny Ray. He has interviewed notables from Gore Vidal, Louis L’Amour, Milton Berle, Peggy Lee, John Huston, Paul Henried, Howard Koch, the Smothers Brothers, Cesar Chavez Peter, Paul and Mary. He’s opened in song parody for the Capitol Steps. He’s been blessed to have counted William Warfield, George Shearing and Eddie Fisher among his musical admirers. California Historian Kevin Starr has praised the work he has done on the documentary on the Golden Gate Bridge. He wrote the preface for the book on “Who Killed Martin Luther King”, is cited in 10 books and is a student of the Kennedy Assassination. He is a published poet and has committed more than 50 poems to memory. He has written and recorded the official ballad of the Golden Gate Bridge and the College of Marin Anthem.

© 2013 Noah Griffin

Noah Griffin is married with the glamorous Meredith Browning Griffin. Learn more about their whirlwind romance by visiting this link.

How Noah met Meredith, a Whirlwind Romance

 

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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

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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

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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/

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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.

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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

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