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News of Note

The Guardian: Cecil Taylor Swindled Out of $500,000 Kyoto Prize

cecil_taylorCecil Taylor had a prize sum of nearly half a million dollars stolen from him by a general contractor who befriended the pioneering jazz pianist while working next to his house in New York City, according to a criminal court in Brooklyn.

Noel Muir, from New York’s Long Island, could face up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted. He is currently waiting arraignment on a charge of grand larceny in Brooklyn’s criminal court.

Taylor, one of the key figures in the free-jazz revolution, was invited to collect the prestigious Kyoto prize by Japan’s Inamori Foundation in November 2013. According to a statement by the district attorney in Brooklyn, Muir, a contractor who had worked for Taylor’s neighbor, joined him for the event and helped the musician prepare for the trip.

Source: The Guardian

Kenny Garrett Named Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University

kenny_garrettKenny Garrett, the internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist, bandleader, arranger, and composer, has been appointed director of the Jazz Studies Program at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.

Garrett, who will join the University faculty on September 1, becomes the fifth world-renowned musician to lead the program. Founded in 1973, the program has been directed by legendary trumpeter and composer/arranger Thad Jones, renowned bassist Rufus Reid, and internationally acclaimed pianist James Williams. Most recently, the program was directed by preeminent pianist Mulgrew Miller, who died in May 2013.

Source: William Patterson University

Berklee College of Music Names Jazz Trumpeter Sean Jones Chair of the Brass Dept

Jimmy Katz

by Louis Burton

Berklee College of Music has named noted trumpeter Sean Jones the next chair of the college’s Brass Department. Jones, who played lead trumpet with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for six years, is an internationally acclaimed trumpeter and composer who just released his seventh album, im•pro•vise = never before seen, on Mack Avenue Records.

Jones will succeed trombonist Tom Plsek, who served as chair of the Brass Department for 25 years. Berklee, a college for the study and practice of contemporary music, is located in Boston, Mass.


NYT: Charlie Haden, Influential Jazz Bassist, Dies at 76

Photo: NPR
Photo: NPR

Nate Chinen
NY Times

Charlie Haden, one of the most influential bassists in the history of jazz, died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 76.

His death was confirmed by Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years. For the last several years he had been struggling with the degenerative effects of post-polio syndrome, related to the polio he contracted in his youth.

Mr. Haden had a deep, grounded way with the bass and a warm, softly resonant tone. His approach to harmony was deeply intuitive and sometimes deceivingly simple, always with a firm relationship to a piece’s chordal root. Along with his calm, unbudging rhythmic aplomb, this served him well in settings ranging from the ragged and intrepid to the satiny and refined. His own acclaimed bands, like the Liberation Music Orchestra and Quartet West, handily covered that stylistic expanse.

Source: New York Times

NYT: Horace Silver 85, Master of Earthy Jazz Dies

horace_silverPeter Keepnews
NY Times

(June 18, 2014) Horace Silver, a pianist, composer and bandleader who was one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the 1950s and ’60s, died on Wednesday at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y. He was 85.

His death was announced by Blue Note Records, the company for which he recorded from 1952 to 1979.

After a high-profile apprenticeship with some of the biggest names in jazz, Mr. Silver began leading his own group in the mid-1950s and quickly became a big name himself, celebrated for his clever compositions and his infectious, bluesy playing. At a time when the refined, quiet and, to some, bloodless style known as cool jazz was all the rage, he was hailed as a leader of the back-to-basics movement that came to be called hard bop.

Source: New York Times

NYT: Jimmy Scott Dies At Age 88

jimmy_scottBy Peter Keepnews, NY Times

Jimmy Scott, a jazz singer whose distinctively plaintive delivery and unusually high-pitched voice earned him a loyal following and, late in life, a taste of bona fide stardom, died on Thursday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 88.

The cause was cardiac arrest, his wife, Jeanie Scott, said.

Mr. Scott’s career finished on a high note, with steady work from the early 1990s on, as well as a Grammy nomination, glowing reviews and praise from well-known fellow performers like Madonna, who called him “the only singer who makes me cry.” But the first four decades of his career were checkered, with long periods of inactivity and more lows than highs.

Source: New York Times


Jim Wilke To Step Down As Jazz After Hours Host

Photo: Mark Harrison
Photo: Mark Harrison

Jim Wilke and his radio program Jazz After Hours have been an institution on the jazz radio landscape for more than 30 years.

Jim recently announced that he will be stepping down as the host of the program. The show will continue with former KJZZ music director Jeff Hanley stepping into Jim’s big shoes.

On an editor’s note, I grew up with this show and it had a great deal to do with shaping my appreciation of this incredible music. The thing I most appreciate about Jim and the program he provides is the fact that he really seemed to make it a point to do a fresh and interesting show each time he was one the air. I spent many a late night with Jim, starting in college, and always came away from the show with the names of at least 10 to 15 recordings I needed to purchase as a result of listening to the show.

It was a truly an honor  when I got the opportunity to interview Jim several years ago. I will miss Jim’s great voice on the program, but I will cherish the education in music that he provided me for so many years.