New York Times
LOS ANGELES — Herbie Hancock, a pianist of sparkling touch and brisk intuition, has often seemed like a figure rushing ever onward, and the direction in which he has increasingly hurled himself is globe-trotting cultural diplomacy. “I don’t consider myself a spokesperson for jazz,” he said recently, implying that he has bigger concerns.
Seated in the living room of his casually elegant home here in West Hollywood, not far from an alcove crowded with Grammy Awards — more than a dozen of them, including one for album of the year — Mr. Hancock, 73, was in a cordial mood, quick with a disarming laugh. He was also still jet-lagged from an East Asian tour that had ended in copious meetings with government officials about International Jazz Day, his signature initiative as a good will ambassador for Unesco. Fortunately, there was a stretch of relative calm ahead before he was due in Washington, for this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, where he’ll be among a class of five honorees that includes Billy Joel and Shirley MacLaine. (The gala concert, which happens next Sunday, will be broadcast by CBS on Dec. 29.)
Source: New York Times
New York Times
Chico Hamilton, a drummer and bandleader who helped put California on the modern-jazz map in the 1950s and remained active into the 21st century, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 92.
His death was announced by April Thibeault, his publicist.
Never among the flashiest or most muscular of jazz drummers, Mr. Hamilton had a subtle and melodic approach that made him ideally suited for the understated style that came to be known as cool jazz, of which his hometown, Los Angeles, was the epicenter.
He was a charter member of the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s quartet, which helped lay the groundwork for the cool movement.
Source: New York Times
Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times Book Editor
Some books make me wish they came with sound tracks. Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington and Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker are both that kind of book.
These two new biographies of giants of 20th century American music focus on the mid-century decades that saw an explosion of creativity and interest in jazz, and their authors’ passionate evocations of that music had me reaching for YouTube or iTunes every few pages.
Both books were written by men who are notable critics and jazz enthusiasts. Duke is by Terry Teachout, an accomplished music and drama critic, author of biographies of Louis Armstrong and George Balanchine and himself a jazz musician. It’s a full-length biography of the man born Edward Kennedy Ellington in 1899 in Washington, D.C. Grandson of a slave and son of a butler, he grew up to lead one of America’s most popular orchestras, compose more than 1,700 pieces of music and receive the Medal of Freedom from President Richard Nixon.
Source: Tampa Bay Times
Bassist, vocalist, composer and bandleader Esperanza Spalding has just released “We Are America,” a new music video highlighting the injustice of prolonged indefinite detention at the prison at Guantánamo Bay.
Spalding says she was motivated by nagging concerns that grew as she was on tour with her band. “It was the first time I heard about the hunger strike. I was touring in Europe, and I was appalled and embarrassed about what was happening. When I returned home, I remember I started researching online to see what I could do about it, and I saw that I could download this action pack. With that you had some important info to use to call your representative. And I did, I did call my representative and Senators. In fact, I got a letter back from one Senator who basically said that she was not going to proactively deal with it but that they would ‘keep my comments in mind’, or something like that. But I really wanted to do more. And my band actually came to me first and said they wanted to do something too.”
Read Spalding’s LA Times Op-Ed Here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-guantanamo-esperanza-spalding-20131115,0,4212698.story#axzz2l0ALF5Cv