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News of Note

The Art of Cool announces its 2016 lineup, gets back to jazz

the art of coolby Eric Tullis

Tonight, before Los Angeles jazz adventurer Terrace Martin hit The Pour House stage in Raleigh for The Art of Cool Project and 9th Wonder’s monthly soul series Caramel City, Art of Cool president Cicely Mitchell announced the full lineup for next year’s third annual Art of Cool Music Festival, scheduled May 6–8, 2016, in Durham.

Source: Indy Week

Variety: Film Review: ‘Miles Ahead’

miles-ahead-nyffSource: Variety
Don Cheadle flails about trying to channel the spirit of late jazz-trumpeting legend Miles Davis in “Miles Ahead,” a biopic that rejects typical genre conventions to the point of chasing itself down lame, tangential paths. A passion project for its star, who also directed, co-wrote and co-produced the feature, this portrait aims for insight by striving to match its own form to that of its subject’s music, whose inspired improvisational tunes repeatedly defined the course of modern jazz. A wild, and wildly uneven, free-form investigation of Davis’ turbulent personal and professional life that’s bolstered by an outsized lead performance, the film — premiering as the closing-night selection of this year’s New York Film Festival — is set to open next year through Sony Classics, though its all-over-the-place style will temper mainstream theatrical interest.

Willis Conover, The Voice Of Jazz Behind The Iron Curtain

Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts "Music USA" from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.
Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts “Music USA” from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

Willis Conover was known around the world, but not so much at home. He was the voice of jazz over the Voice of America for more than 40 years, most of it during the Cold War.

Imagine what it was like to sit in the dark of a hushed room in Prague, Moscow or Warsaw in the 1960s, fiddle with the dial of a shortwave radio, slide over crackles, pops, and jamming, to finally find the opening notes of “The A Train” and a rich baritone intoning slowly through the static, “Good evening. Willis Conover with Music USA … ”

He played the Count, the Duke, and Satchmo, Dizzy, Miss Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker.

Source: South Dakota Public Radio

Luc Burgelman: How Jazz Music Prepared Me for Life as a CEO

Luc BurgelmanLast week, I found myself in an Italian restaurant playing improvised jazz music with a few other musicians. Despite what it might sound like, I’m not a full-time musician. I’m actually CEO of a big data startup, a far cry from my musical moonlighting gig.

But as I played, I couldn’t help but connect the dots between the two roles. On paper, CEOs and jazz musicians may seem like they are on opposite ends of the spectrum and appear to have very little in common. We think of executives as rigid, driven, and all business, while musicians appear to be casual and more free spirited.


UK Telegraph: Blue Note to open jazz club in China

Blue Note to open in China
Blue Note to 0pen in China

The great jazz trumpeter Buck Clayton would fondly recall his time in China in the 1930s, when jazz was the soundtrack to Shanghai.

Although jazz was massively popular in China during the 1920s and 1930s, it suffered greatly under Chairman Mao, who banned it out-right during the Cultural Revolution of the Sixties, decrying it as “capitalist, bourgeois decadence”.

A thaw began in the 1980s (when even George Melly played in Beijing) and has really taken hold in recent years, with a revival in many cities and the return of jazz festivals to places such as Changsha.

The groundswell is such that Blue Note, one of the world’s best-known jazz franchises, has announced an expansion to China as it banks on a growing appetite for live performances among moneyed consumers.

Source: The Telegraph

Jazz at Lincoln Center and Sony Music Team Up for Blue Engine Records

blue_eng_logoJazz at Lincoln Center has shelves upon shelves of recordings from concerts it has presented since its founding in 1987, including a studio recording featuring the pianist Chick Corea, a musical Mass with a gospel choir written for the 200th anniversary of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York and concerts with the saxophonists Sherman Irby and Ted Nash. Now, that organization, together with Sony Music Entertainment, is bringing that archive, as well as new studio and live recordings, to the public through the creation of its own label, Blue Engine Records, to be announced on Tuesday.

Source: New York Times

LA Times: Ornette Coleman, jazz innovator and disruptor, dies at 85

ornette_colemanWhen saxophonist Ornette Coleman played clubs in Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, audiences often covered their ears and waited outside until his set was done. He shunned the conventions of melody and harmony and encouraged his bandmates to do the same, producing a sound too dissonant for mainstream tastes.

So in 1959, when the iconoclastic musician and composer blew into New York for a gig at the legendary Five Spot jazz club, hostility flowed — drummer Max Roach expressed his disapproval by punching Coleman in the mouth.

But the club was filled, night after night, for weeks. By the the end of his run, Coleman had launched a new kind of cool.

“He’s doing the only really new thing in jazz since the innovations of Parker, Gillespie and Monk,” pianist John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet said at the time.

Coleman, whose spontaneous approach to jazz improvisation and imaginative compositions stamped him as one of the most innovative and controversial figures of the post-bebop era and brought him a Pulitzer Prize for musical composition in 2007, died of cardiac arrest Thursday in New York, said his publicist, Ken Weinstein. He was 85.

Source: Los Angeles Times

New ‘Late Show’ Bandleader Jon Batiste Shares the History of Jazz

Jonathan+Batiste+i7636eFZrWomThe Late Show with Stephen Colbert recently named gifted and charismatic New Orleans jazz musician Jon Batiste as bandleader. At the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, Batiste sat down with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson for a lively conversation that was part performance and part discussion (watch Batiste and Isaacson join in song at the 44:15 mark). They talked about the roots of jazz, their hometown of New Orleans, the importance of arts education, and the state and future of American musical traditions.

Source: Huffington Post

CDN: DC Jazz Festival to roll out over 120 acts in 80 neighborhoods

JAZZ-FEST-POSTER-800b-700x467WASHINGTON, June 6, 2015 – Touting itself as the fastest growing jazz festival in the U.S., the 2015 D.C. Jazz Festival will welcome a diverse selection of locally, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists performing in venues across the Nation’s Capital this week from Wednesday to June 16.

As the area’s largest and most diverse music festival, boasting more than 125 performances in nearly 60 venues across the city, the DCJF reaches more than 60,000 visitors of all ages each year.

“As a supporter of the DC Jazz Festival for the last seven years, we are proud to be associated with the overall growth of the festival and in particular, Jazz in the ‘Hoods,” said Erik A. Moses, managing director of Events DC’s sports and entertainment division. “The Jazz in the ‘Hoods series brings people together to enjoy great jazz in a variety of DC’s coolest neighborhood venues,” he noted.

Source: Communities Digital News

The Canadian Press: Montreal jazz festival a boon for businesses

image MONTREAL — When Ray Charles opened the inaugural Montreal International Jazz Festival in 1980, founder Alain Simard was working on a budget of $70,000.

Little did he know that years later the festival would stave off financial ruin and draw millions in money and crowds to become one of the country’s most economically successful events of the summer.

“We could never have imagined that it would become a symbol of Montreal and bring about $100 million economic windfall each year,” said Simard, who is overseeing his final festival this year beginning June 26.

Source: The Canadian Press

ITT: The Collective That Saved Jazz

salim_Tony-Smith-192.web_850_592By Salim Muwakkil
This year, a truly golden anniversary is taking place in Chicago: the 50th birthday of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization unlike any other in the history of jazz music—or any musical genre, for that matter.

The AACM is at once a management firm, artistic salon, aesthetic manifesto, training ground for young musicians and musical manifestation of black cultural nationalism. In short, it’s hard to pin down. But what’s clear is this: It is the most illustrious jazz collective in history.

The AACM was formed in Chicago in 1965, when jazz was losing its pop currency to rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. For jazz musicians, as AACM member George Lewis explains in his 2007 book, A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, everything was beginning to evaporate: club dates, dance-band jobs, instrumental recording sessions. And so musicians came together and organized, under the logic that if the clubs refused to hire them, they would create their own venues and put on their own concerts.

Source: In These Times

Marcus Belgrave, jazz trumpeter, dies at age of 78

Marcus BelgraveMarcus Belgrave, a jazz trumpeter who graced stages and studios with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Cocker and Motown artists galore, has died. He was 78.

Belgrave came to Detroit in 1962 and became a studio musician for Motown Records, playing on hits including My Girl and Dancing in the Street.

Hazelette Crosby-Robinson, a cousin of Belgrave’s wife Joan Belgrave, said the musician died on Sunday at an Ann Arbor care facility. The cause of death was heart failure.

Belgrave remained active on the Detroit and international jazz scenes up until his death. He started playing professionally at 12 and joined the Ray Charles Band in the late 1950s.

Source: The Guardian (UK)

Melissa Tham: The Singlish-speaking jazz singer

Melissa Tham
Photo: Hon Jing Yi

SINGAPORE — When we heard jazz artiste Melissa Tham perform with the Christy Smith Quartet at the Singapore International Jazz Festival earlier this year, the singer’s rich, emotive vocals made jazz music seem far more accessible than one thought possible. Interestingly, while Tham comes across as your regular, endearing Singaporean girl — who is not afraid to flaunt it — with a love of jazz, she likes “all kinds of music, lah”.

“It’s nice sometimes when I listen to something on YouTube, or someone tells me to check some person out,” said the 29-year-old. “But I’ve always felt most at home with jazz or, specifically, swing. I like that feeling when I listen to Frank Sinatra — that swagger. I really like that feeling because it makes me feel so shiok!”

Source: Today Online

NYT Saxophonist-Composer Bob Belden Dies at 58

Lost-Jazz-Shrines-for-Ticketing-Site-Event-PageBob Belden, a jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger, bandleader and record producer who was both a historian of the music and a force in moving it forward, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 58

He died three days after having a heart attack, said his sister, Beth Belden Harmstone.

Engaged and opinionated, Mr. Belden was part reformist and part conservationist. As a bandleader and record maker, he often looked for ways to connect the jazz tradition to other energies. In February he performed in Tehran with his group Animation, in a concert brought about in part by the American nonprofit organization Search for Common Ground. It was the first time an American musician had played in Iran since 1979.

Source: New York Times