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A few of the old Juke Joints still survive. Wynton Marsalis takes on a trip down History Lane finding several Juke Joints still operating.
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In a downhome neighborhood on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala., Rita James bought an abandoned building and built a happy home for the blues. Her tiny, unmarked Red Wolf club invites the entire community.
Just four years old, The Red Wolf is a real juke joint. It’s roots go all the way back to Emancipation. In the old South, poverty made life more extreme. So folks found barns, shacks, anywhere – to play, sing and dance their sorrows away. Over time, these places became known as juke joints. Within their walls the blues were born.
Every Wednesday night, Wilson takes the microphone and gets the people on their feet. But it’s the music that brings them together.
“I just make them feel good,” Wilson said. “That’s just me period. Anywhere. I make the crippled feel good – make them think they can walk again.”
First-timer BJ Miller drove 500 miles from St. Louis for a chance to blow her trombone in a place where spirits are served, and freed.
“It’s not that they just serve alcohol,” Miller said. “It’s that they are serving musicians the opportunity to express themselves – and that’s not everywhere.”
“The blues has good and sad, so it’s for good too,” Wilson said. “And you know I like the blues. I like music period, I like all music, so music cheer me on and make me feel good.”
The blues are good for the soul. Their rhythms are inseparable from the American identity, and they’re not naive. The blues tell us bad things happen all the time, and they do, and we can engage with them. The blues are like a vaccine. If you want to get rid of something, give yourself a little bit of it, and when the real thing comes – you’re ready for it.
If Rita has any say in the matter, they’ll be an integral and constant part of the future. Wilson said her club will stay open, “until I drop.”
Still creating unbelievable musicians!
The painting is from the Bruni Gallery, If you haven’s seen Bruni Sablan’s work before – Check it out here. Reprints are available as well as originals.
In 1986, four years after the death of Thelonious Monk, a benefit concert honoring the memory of the enigmatic jazz composer and pianist was held at Washington’s Constitution Hall. There was talk at the time of building a statue in Rocky Mount, N.C., Monk’s home town, but his widow, Nellie, hoped for a more dynamic way of remembering her husband.
“She wanted something that was living, vibrant and involved young people,” recalls Thomas R. Carter, who organized that concert 25 years ago.
Out of a widow’s wish grew the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which has become one of the most important behind-the-scenes forces in promoting the music that Monk helped define. The Washington-based institute is best known for its annual international competition, which has launched the careers of such jazz stars as Joshua Redman, Jane Monheit and Eric Lewis, and is by far the most significant musical contest in the jazz world.
“It was a huge moment in my life as a jazz musician,” says Redman, who won the 1991 saxophone competition. “I was out of college only a few months. At the time, I had every intention of going to law school the next year.”
Redman was taking a year off to explore his interest in jazz and entered the competition “as a lark,” competing against such stellar saxophonists as Eric Alexander, Chris Potter and Tim Warfield.
“I often feel a little sheepish about it,” Redman says. “I had a great time, but I honestly feel I shouldn’t have won.”
Ready for the spotlight or not, Redman became an instant star in the jazz world, and the Monk competition has come to be recognized as the nation’s top forum for discovering new jazz talent.
Redman will be among two dozen past competitors returning to Washington this weekend as the Monk Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary. Twelve young pianists from around the world will take part in this year’s competition, which begins Sunday at 1 p.m. at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium. Three finalists will perform Monday night at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater, where the winner will be chosen.
The competition, which is modeled after the Van Cliburn and Tchaikovsky contests in classical music, guarantees its winners a recording contract, concert bookings and scholarship money.
“It’s one of the best things happening in jazz for younger musicians,” says Monheit, whose second-place finish in 1998 helped propel her international career. “I don’t know where I’d be without it.”
In recent years, the Monk competition has emerged as something more than a listening party for jazz buffs. It has also become one of Washington’s most glittering celebrity spectacles, bringing together luminaries from jazz, entertainment and diplomacy. The co-chairs of this year’s gala are Quincy Jones, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Debra Lee, the chief executive of BET. A special honor will be given to singer Aretha Franklin on Monday…
Long time Dizzy Gillespie Tenor Sax man has left us…
Here Moody tells the story behind his Classic, “Mood for Love”
James Moody, an international jazz star since 1949 and a San Diego resident since 1989, has played his last refrain. An acclaimed saxophonist, flutist, composer and band leader for 60 of his 85 years, Mr. Moody died Thursday at 1:07 p.m. at the San Diego Hospice, according to his wife, San Diego Realtor Linda McGowan Moody, who was by his side. His death came after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
“He couldn’t have gone more peacefully,” said Mrs. Moody, who on Monday had her husband moved from their San Carlos home to the San Diego Hospice.
Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis hailed Mr. Moody, with whom he had often collaborated at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, as “a titan of our music.” He also praised Mr. Moody as “just impeccable, his musicianship, his soul, his humor.”
Mr. Moody first achieved prominence in 1946 as a member of bebop trumpet icon Dizzy Gillespie’s all-star big band. Noted for his ebullient stage persona and his ability to inject warmth and joy into even his most intricate compositions, Mr. Moody leaves behind one of the longest and most distinguished jazz careers in memory. Read the rest of this entry »
A friend of mine, now departed had an original master cut of Benny Goodman live at Carnagie Hall in 1929. It just doesn’t get any better than listening to the scions of Jazz Music in their original performances. Due to technical limitations at the time, all recording had to be done directly to a recording disc. These discs were about 10″ in diameter and only held about 3 – 3 1/2 minutes of recording (they didn’t have tape yet) time similar to the 78’s (for you young folks you’d probably have to see one of those in a museum)…
Which leads to an interesting tidbit. Vinyl Record sales are going up as folks are re-discovering the huge audio quality differential between Analog and digital systems like CDs and MP3’s.
This particular find of old recordings, called the Savory Recordings could be the biggest find ever in terms of the early recorded Jazz greats from the 30’s. I had heard of William Desavouret, AKA William Savory only by chance. He happened to live locally, and in a conversation at a audio store specializing in old vinyl and the equipment to enjoy it, a couple of the guys who apparently knew him, and had heard some of the material. I never got to hear any of it – but it stuck in my mind because the conversation resulted in listening to some of my friends old recordings on some unbelievable audio equipment.
For decades jazz cognoscenti have talked reverently of “the Savory Collection.” Recorded from radio broadcasts in the late 1930s by an audio engineer named William Savory, it was known to include extended live performances by some of the most honored names in jazz — but only a handful of people had ever heard even the smallest fraction of that music, adding to its mystique.
After 70 years that wait has now ended. This year the National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired the entire set of nearly 1,000 discs, made at the height of the swing era, and has begun digitizing recordings of inspired performances by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, Harry James and others that had been thought to be lost forever. Some of these remarkable long-form performances simply could not fit on the standard discs of the time, forcing Mr. Savory to find alternatives. The Savory Collection also contains examples of underappreciated musicians playing at peak creative levels not heard anywhere else, putting them in a new light for music fans and scholars.
“Some of us were aware Savory had recorded all this stuff, and we were really waiting with bated breath to see what would be there,” said Dan Morgenstern, the Grammy-winning jazz historian and critic who is also director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. “Even though I’ve heard only a small sampling, it’s turning out to be the treasure trove we had hoped it would be, with some truly wonderful, remarkable sessions. None of what I’ve heard has been heard before. It’s all new.” Read the rest of this entry »
Hank Jones, perhaps the last living link to the early Jazz greats died this morning at the age of 91. Jones never got the acclaim of others – but always was there when there when the Greats gathered…
This clip is Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins – with Hank Jones on Piano, Buddy Rich on Drums, and Ray Brown on Bass…
It doesn’t get any better than this!
Here is Hank Jones talking about the development of “BeBop” –
Lastly – interpretation of the Classic – “Take the A Train” – Read the rest of this entry »
Some of you may remember Dee Dee Bridgewater from the 70’s. Little gal, with a powerful voice – thought to be the successor to the Great ladies of Jazz, Ellah and Sarah…
Dee Dee’s voice is comparable to many of the great ladies of Jazz
Their first joint appearance was an awfully long time ago. China Moses was not even born when a heavily pregnant Dee Dee Bridgewater struck a tastefully naked Earth Mother pose on the cover of her album Just Family. Thirty-two years later mother and daughter — both beautiful, both charismatic — have been living on different continents, yet their bond seems as strong as ever.
They come together tonight for what promises to be a captivating double bill, Bridgewater presenting her celebration of Billie Holiday, while Moses opens with her tribute to Dinah Washington. The hard-living Washington was only 39 when she succumbed to an accidental overdose. Holiday was only 44 when she died, four years earlier, in 1959. Read the rest of this entry »