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 record label, with its roster of legends, has been celebrating its anniversary since the beginning of the year. The concept of signing innovative young guns remains the same as it did when Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Fats Navarro came aboard, followed by the younger generation of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock and Jackie McLean.
To commemorate its 75th anniversary, the label brought together some of its musicians under the direction of pianist Robert Glasper, who put together the group Our Point of View, featuring trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, guitarist Lionel Loueke, saxophonist Marcus Strickland and bassist Derrick Hodge, with drummer Kendrick Scott.
Our Point of View celebrates the vitality of the label by looking ahead and bringing together the leading young artists on the roster who consistently move jazz forward. As part of the celebration, the group has performed in Paris and London, with limited engagements in Monterey, Calif. Dec. 12, the group plays its only New York appearance, at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St.) in Greenwich Village at 7:30 p.m. To commemorate WBGO’s 35th anniversary, they have teamed up with Blue Note Records at the close of their 75th anniversary to present this performance.
“Blue Note had an incredible roster and incredible music. Everybody played for that label,” said saxophonist Strickland. “It’s an honor to be a part of this band.” When asked about the group’s repertoire for the evening, Strickland noted they will perform a Blue Note selection, possibly Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt” and their original music.
“Blue Note trusted artists to do their thing,” said Strickland. “The best way for us to pay homage is to do our music.”
For more information, call 212-505-FISH or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a general admission standing event, and tickets are $40 and $75 for VIP opera box seating, with a two-item food/or drink minimum per person.
The Bronx was known for its hot music, from jazz to salsa, where folks throughout New York City flocked to clubs such as the Bronxwood Inn, Concourse Plaza and the Savoy Ballroom to hear anyone from Tito Puente to Joe Cuba, Eddie Palmieri, Roy Campbell Jr. and Lee Morgan.
Unfortunately, those days are gone, but the Bronx is gradually coming back, with consistent happenings at the Bronx Heritage Center. Dec. 11, the Center, along with P.S. 55 (450 St. Paul’s Place) will present the quirky ensemble Canadian Brass, Grammy-nominated composer, arranger and percussionist Bobby Sanabria and Quarteto Ache and Circa95 at 6 p.m.
Canadian Brass has recorded more than 130 albums and top 25 Billboard hits. They are known for their energy, showmanship and skill—ready to tackle anything from baroque to jazz, pop and holiday classics.
Sanabria is a native of the Bronx, as well as an active member and advisor at the Bronx Heritage Center. The activist and educator often performs in New York public schools and is currently teaching an Afro-Cuban big band ensemble at the Manhattan School of Music and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He has performed with Mario Bauza, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Chico Freeman, Paquito D’Rivera, Candido, Ray Barretto, Henry Threadgill and Charles McPherson.
Harlem’s favorite theater, the Apollo, will be all decked out in holiday jazz Dec. 13 and 14 as they celebrate the holiday season with the return of “Ellington at Christmas: Nutcracker Suite,” featuring excerpts from Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” with jazz interpretations of the original Tchaikovsky composition, arranged by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, and an excerpt from Ellington’s “Sacred Music Concert.”
Under the musical direction of David Berger, the two-part program will mix the ingredients of the holiday into one joyful journey through jazz, ballet, tap and gospel. With narration by TV and Broadway actor Norm Lewis (“Scandal,” “Phantom of the Opera”), “Ellington at Christmas” will sing and dance with vocalists Lizz Wright and Priscilla Baskerville, tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith, students from the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the 50-voice Arts High School Advance Choir from Newark, N.J.
An Apollo legend, Ellington often headlined at the theater in the 1930s and 1940s. This year, the Apollo will present three performances of “Ellington at Christmas,” with two shows at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 13 and a 3 p.m. matinee Dec. 14.
Tickets are $35 to $65. Call 212-531-5305 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
“Due to medical complications, Lou Donaldson will not appear at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola this weekend. We will celebrate his incredible music with his band of over 20 years.” This was the notice on the club’s website last week.
What, no “Sweet Lou”? How is the engagement going to work out? Let’s face it, Donaldson is a showman with lots of humor and a noted gravelly voice when he sings “Hard Drinking Woman.” However, Donaldson’s abled band, with alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, Hammond B-3 organist Akiki Tsunga, guitarist Randy Johnston and drummer Fukushi Tainaka, did not let the audience down.
Playing at the top of their game was no new venture for these musicians—after all, they wouldn’t be playing with the great Donaldson if they weren’t always swinging. OK, we missed the humor, but the songs from the Donaldson music book “Alligator Boogaloo” and “Gravy Train” were hardcore swinging jazz funk with hot sauce. Johnston offered a tune of his own in honor of Donaldson titled “The Great City (When You Get in Make Sure You Can Get Out),” a tune made popular by vocalist Ernie Andrews.
The rendition of “Cherokee” took off at breakneck speed, with a drum lead and rousing alto with intense interjections by Aldana, Tsunga on organ and Johnston. At the end of the set, the audience yelled for more. Yes, they learned a lot from the master.
Most importantly, Donaldson’s illness was stated as nothing serious, and he should be back on the scene shortly.