Regardless of America’s ever-changing situation, Black music has always been its soundtrack depicting the mood of the times, from war to peace, lynchings to chain gangs, segregation, civil disobedience, integration, police brutality and nonviolent resistance.
Some of the most influential jazz musicians to ever play an instrument recorded on Blue Note Records, founded in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, with Francis Wolff joining with them shortly afterwards.
The on-going jazz fable is the music is dying, and it has yet to reach a younger audience. Hopefully, eager enthusiasts will be able to kick six feet of dirt on this mindless concept after venturing into Minton’s to witness the collaboration with the Harlem School of the Arts Dec. 7.
The neighborhood bar in Harlem has become little more than a memory only cherished by the community’s elders.
He was called “Little Jimmy Scott,” but his heart was that of a giant.
During Russell Gunn’s recent one-nighter at the Blue Note jazz club, his music took the audience to the musical cliff’s edge, and as the pebbles fell beneath their feet, they breathlessly moved to a spiked groove.
Cassandra Wilson, the most daring of female jazz vocalists, whose style transcends categories with its infusion of soul and blues, will carry on at the Blue Note jazz club (131 W. Third St.) Oct. 16 through Oct. 19, with two shows each night at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
‘Keep On Keepin’ On’ is one of the best films of the decade. It chronicles the life of legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry (age 89 at the time of filming) focusing on a period when he was battling diabetes-related complications while working with his young protege, pianist Justin Kauflin (then age 23).
For pianist-composer Randy Weston, jazz is more than a flow of hip music with improvisational statements, it represents the roots of Africa, the origin of jazz.
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.”