Gerald Wilson, a big band leader and trumpeter whose fountain of jazz compositions and arrangements became a pivotal force, influencing eight generations of musicians, died Sept. 8 in his home in Los Angeles.
Rain, the demon of outdoor jazz festivals, spread its hysterical tears over the Detroit Jazz Festival last week, denying bassist Stanley Clarke and Dr. Lonnie Smith’s octet the opportunity to close the festival on its Labor Day finale.
It’s very difficult for any band to maintain a high profile for an extended period of time, but saxophonist Patience Higgins and the Sugar Hill Quartet have kept Harlem swinging for more than 20 years.
John Blake Jr., who continued the early tradition of bringing the violin into the jazz arena and making its voice heard with the music of Africa to avant-garde, R&B, blues and spirituals, died Aug. 15 in Philadelphia.
Charlie Parker, the pride of Kansas City, Kan. would have been 94 on his birthday, Aug. 29. The festival named in his honor will celebrate its 22nd year Aug. 22 to Aug. 24.
The Jazz in the Valley Festival, which commences Aug. 17, has an outstanding lineup of musicians to get Big Apple jazzheads out of their city complacency and on the highway or train to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for the 14th annual festival in Waryas Park.
When you are successful, it is easy to rest on your laurels, but a lackadaisical attitude was never a part of George Wein’s mentality, which is why his Newport Jazz Festival just celebrated its 60th year.
In the midst of this Harlem gentrification, more venues are opening their doors to live jazz. Every Thursday, the Lenox Saphire (341 Lenox Avenue at 127th Street) brightens with The Phil Young Experience and Friends.
The history and culture of jazz will be given a platform July 24 (tonight) at 7 p.m., when the Abyssinian Jazz Vespers, in association with the 2014 Harlem Music Fest, presents “Post ’50s Jazz, the Artists, the Culture, the Cool.” It will be an informative music perspective on the developmental seeds of “modern jazz” in Harlem featuring a panel of well-versed musicians, including trumpeter, composer and arranger Charles Tolliver; vocalist Eunice Newkirk; pianist and composer Onaje Allan Gumbs; and bassist and composer Mickey Bass.
New York City jazz fans know it’s summer when they notice the birds flapping their wings over Harlem, grooving to the Summerfest Jazzmobile running full steam from July to August.
Bobby Womack, who became a force on the R&B scene for over five decades, couldn’t be called a jazz vocalist, but during his reign, his gravelly, soulful voice surely influenced a host of R&B singers and inspired jazz vocalists along the way. He was acknowledged in the rock world for writing and originally recording the Rolling Stones’ first U.K. No. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now.”
Upon hearing of Ruby Dee’s death at the age of 91 on June 11, I was saddened. I quietly remembered my mother who loved the actress. “I love me some Ruby Dee,” she would often say.
To celebrate the trumpeter Miles Dewey Davis III’s 88th birthday on May 26, the street where he owned a brownstone (312 W. 77th St.) and lived for many years was named “Miles Davis Way” in his honor (the northwest corner 77th Street and West End Avenue).
The world woke up on May 28 to hear that poet, author and activist Maya Angelou had died quietly in her home in Winston Salem, N.C., at the age of 86. She lived a life that encouraged people to be leaders and not followers, to be independent thinkers who believe in justice and pursuing the truth.
Recently, preschoolers were totally involved in their new activities as they were introduced to jazz through arts and crafts and live music by pianist and composer Jonathan Batiste.
Joe Wilder, the understated trumpeter with the smooth tone, a longtime member of Count Basie’s Orchestra and one of the first African-American musicians to play in the pit bands of Broadway shows, died on May 9. Wilder was 92 years old and a resident of Manhattan for many years.
There are only two days left to the Undead Music Festival, which is taking place in Brooklyn and the Village.
Charles Rogers, a long-time entertainment columnist for this publication, died on April 29 at the Bishop Henry B. Hucles Nursing Home in Brooklyn.
Before Jazzmobile’s outdoor season begins traveling throughout city streets it will swing indoors from May 4-10 celebrating the fourth annual 2014 Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival.
Sistas’ Place will hold a fundraiser for jazz on April 24.
The novels, poems and essays of James Baldwin are stimulating words, sharpened with the truth, that instigate change and promote activism in some form or another. He was a word warrior-activist rallying for a change in society’s thinking.
Recently, jazz fans from as far as Florida, Georgia and Connecticut traveled to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., for the formal donation of one of John Coltrane’s saxophones.
The Jazz Standard was recently sold-out while bassist Rufus Reid was holding court
Jazz is happening on Sundays at Harlem’s famous Paris Blues!
Anytime Roy Haynes performs, the venue becomes a sold-out happening, but his recent two-day engagement at the Blue Note became even more significant with the appearance of bassist Ron Carter
Nasheet Waits' ongoing group, Equality, featuring Darius Jones, David Virelles and Mark Helias, will perform two shows on Feb. 28 at at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village.
Richard McDonnell, who started the small independent record label MAXJAZZ in his living room in St. Louis and went on to gain international attention in the jazz world, died on Feb. 8 at St. Louis University Hospital.
Dianne Reeves, a four-time Grammy winner for Best Female Jazz Vocalist who doesn’t perform in New York often enough, will have a two-day engagement in time for that special day for lovers, Feb. 14 and 15.
With all the new venues in Harlem, jazz seems to be making some new headway in the community where it was once king.
Roy Campbell Jr. was known for wearing his baseball caps pulled down and his rigorous trumpet sound
Amiri Baraka, a riveting force armed with words that scurried the battle fields of life and pierced the curtains of falsehoods with hard-hitting truth, died on Jan. 9 at Beth Israel Medical Center, confirmed his son Ras Baraka, a member of the Newark Municipal Council.
Dwayne Burno, one of the more creative bassists of his generation who explored the full realm of the jazz idiom—a practice that allowed him to handle any musical challenge as a band leader or first call bassist—died on Dec. 28, 2013, in New York.
The Wynton Marsalis Septet was a hot holiday ticket in town. Marsalis was playing at Dizzy’s Club Coca–Cola (Jazz at Lincoln Center) for two weeks, including New Year’s Eve.
On Dec. 21, Harris and the Harlem Night Songs Big Band will take the audiences of Ginny’s Supper Club (310 Lenox Ave., 125th and 126th streets) on an adventurous musical journey that stretches to the outer limits of jazz.
Jazz events around the city
Chico Hamilton, the composer and drummer whose cool melodic sound kept jazz audiences attentive for over six decades, died on Nov. 25. He was 92. Hamilton’s publicist April Thibeault noted that he died of natural causes at his home in New York.
Today (Thursday) is your last day to see “eMerge 2.0: Melvin Van Peebles & Artists on the Cusp.”
Ronald Shannon Jackson, one of the most influential avante-garde drummers of the 20th century
Jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne dies at 83
When early blues heroes are mentioned, the name discussed most often is guitarist-singer Robert Johnson. However, Tommy Johnson (1896-1956), his senior and no relation, was also a great guitarist-singer out of the Mississippi Delta. He influenced many aspiring musicians in Mississippi and around the country, including such artists as Howlin’ Wolf.
There are two facts regarding Billie Holiday: She is the most controversial singer in the history of jazz; and she remains the best jazz and blues singer to ever walk across a stage. Today, the only way to comprehend the complicated life of America’s greatest female jazz singer is to see “Lady Day,” starring Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Little Schubert Theater (422 W. 42nd St.). As a singer, Bridgewater wastes no time getting into Holiday’s signature songs “Miss Brown to You,” “Them There Eyes” and “All of Me.”
The Steve Kroon Latin Jazz Sextet, Ray Charles and Michele Rosewoman coming to New York
In Harlem, it seems more restaurants are flirting with jazz on a somewhat regular basis. The Phil Young Experience and “The Jazz Masters in Harlem” were so good last month that they will return to Dinosaur BBQ (300 W. 125th St.) on Sept. 25, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. The first set starts at 7 p.m. in the Bridge Room (second floor).
On Sept. 17, the Joe Locke Group, featuring pianist Ryan Cohan, bassist David Finck, drummer Jaimeo Brown and special guest vocalist Kenny Washington, will hit the stage for one night at 54 Below (254 W. 54th St.).
The summer is over that quickly. It makes one contemplate relocating to Florida or California for perpetual sunlight, but then what happens to all that music that only New York City can offer?
The death of Sathima Bea Benjamin on Aug. 20 was mourned in both the U.S. and her homeland of South Africa. The 76-year-old vocalist and composer died in Cape Town, South Africa, and was buried there on Aug. 21, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
The writing of any obituary is done with a heavy heart, but it becomes an even more heartbreaking task in a case like last week, when four big deal contributors to jazz passed away in a three-day period.
Since the passing of conductor, musician and arranger Butch Morris in January, there has been a void in the creative domain of free music. Singers, wordsmiths and musicians find joy in his music as they listen to his genius concept of conduction.
George Duke, the uncomplacent keyboardist, arranger, producer and singer who stayed energized by crossing and mixing the genres of funk, jazz, fusion and R&B, died on Monday, Aug. 5 in Los Angeles. He was 67.
August is the month that Harlem Week kicks into full blast. The 39-year-old event has become New York City’s prime family affair in Harlem. It’s running now through Aug. 24. There are events of interest for everyone, from New York City Economic Development Day, the Children’s Festival, to Senior Citizens Day, the Historic Black College Fair and the Junior Tennis Classic. While Harlem Week is celebrating “Motown the Musical,” this year’s theme is “Living the Dream: Celebrating History in Tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington,” which will take place on Aug. 28 in Washington, D.C.), and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln. It should be noted the Emancipation Proclamation was based on the president’s constitutional authority; it was not a law passed by Congress. The Proclamation did not outlaw slavery and did not make the ex-slaves citizens. The Proclamation made freeing the slaves a goal of the Union war effort and was a step toward outlawing slavery. It was the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December of 1865 that made slavery illegal everywhere in the U.S.