I am proud to report that I am Vice-Chair of the Board of the Portland (Oregon) Jazz Festival, now in its 11th year and which just opened last night with terrific performances by Eliane Elias and Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band. Programmed by industry veteran Don Lucoff, the Festival features an amazing array of talent in ticketed and free shows played out in performance halls and clubs all over our community.
Jazz is keeping interesting company these days. On one end of the spectrum is the ageless Ahmad Jamal, who plays tonight, and on the other is 24-year-old Cecile McLorin Salvant, who plays tomorrow night and is described by Chris Barton of the Los Angeles Times as “a rising star…whose Grammy-nominated sophomore album, ‘Woman Child,’ was one of the sharpest, most magnetic releases of 2013.” Her recording showcases a singing style in the tradition of Abbey Lincoln and Sarah Vaughan, at times even dipping into what Barton describes a “Paul Robeson-like purr” while singing Bert Williams’ “Nobody.” […] Continue reading »
One of the things I like about jazz, kid, is I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Do you?
- Bix Beiderbecke
A great symbol of the Jazz Age, Bix Beiderbecke was one of the era’s most influential soloists, and remains one of jazz music’s most enduring and colorful personalities.
This short biography of Beiderbecke (followed by a fantastic listening guide of his performance on “Singin’ the Blues”) as published in the most complete and entertaining history on jazz music, Jazz, by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux, tells a concise, interesting story of Beiderbecke’s life. […] Continue reading »
Dizzy Gillespie, with Yugoslav composer Nikica Kaogjera in tow, cycle the streets of Zagreb during a State Department tour designed to counter Soviet propaganda.
During the peak of the Cold War, propaganda was king, and was especially played out in the non-aligned, emerging nation regions of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Responding to what was termed by the U.S. State Department as the Soviet Union’s “gigantic propaganda offensive,” in 1954 President Eisenhower created the Emergency Fund for International Affairs, whose role would be to present American culture abroad for the purpose of demonstrating the benefits of freedom (and capitalism) on artistic expression. According to Penny Von Eschen, author of Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, “Eisenhower resented Europeans’ depiction of the country as a ‘race of materialists’ and was distressed that ‘our successes are described in terms of automobiles and not in terms of worthwhile culture of any kind.’” […] Continue reading »
Show me a clarinet, teacher,
one from a distant continent’s wood
that has suckled nourishment
from a heated, morning sun
then show me the reed,
the dried, shallow, vibrating stick,
that will tickle sound
through many dark nights
when those with flicking tongues
articulate their passion
between panted breaths.
Show me the silver,
flailing fingers have mined
with a synchronized motion
[…] Continue reading »
In 1959, this bandleader toured Europe with a group originally put together to play for Harold Arlen’s show Free and Easy. Who is he?
[…] Continue reading »