Thursday, April 30, 2020

International Jazz Day thoughts about our new world of virtual jazz

The world at-large - and the jazz world as we knew it and enjoyed it - have changed drastically over the past six weeks because of the pandemic. No near-term end is in sight for the challenges it has caused.

Unless they were held prior to early March, none of the 2020 editions of listeners' favorite jazz festivals, are likely to be held this year.The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival have pulled the plug until 2021. So have many others. Clubs and concert venues are shuttered. Nobody knows with any certainty when they can reopen.

But there are some positive things happening. Funds have been started to assist impacted artists. Even though their traditional revenue streams have dried up, musicians have found ways to remain creative and help bring some solace to listeners. 

There is a wide range of virtual concerts and jazz sets streamed live from artists' homes or home studios through the internet's social media platforms.

Those I've tuned into include daily or near-daily performances by pianists Makoto Ozone ("Live From Our Living Room") at home in Tokyo, Fred Hersch ("Tune of the Day") from his piano at home in Manhattan, and Ted Rosenthal from his home in New York, trumpeter Mark Morganelli from Tarrytown NY, Hammond B-3 organ player Tony Monaco from his digs in Columbus OH, and guitarist Nate Najar & singer Daniela Soledade from St. Petersburg FL.

Those same platforms have given artists a new technology tool with which to reach eager ears. Educators have been able to work with their students - including ensembles - remotely. Group performances have been broadcast - with each band member sitting in a different location. Check out the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra's "Quarantine Blues," an original composition that the players wrote, arranged, and recorded entirely on their respective mobile phones while isolating themselves in their homes. It's posted right here on YouTube.

Yes, we're in unusual times. We're adapting to it - and trying to get through it as best we can.

Today brings the ninth annual edition of International Jazz Day. This is also the global celebration's first virtual edition. Instead of the planned Global Host City all-star concert and activities planned for Cape Town, South Africa, organizers have scheduled an online all-star concert with many featured artists. Tune in at 3 p.m. EDT at the International Jazz Day website or you can watch it stream on Facebook.

Jazz hasn't left us. It's only a mouse-click or smartphone screen away. It's up to we listeners to support it as best we can.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Jazz musicians silenced by coronavirus, Chapter 2 (updated 5-31-2020)


Here is part two of our chronological listing of jazz-related COVID-19 deaths from the novel coronavirus, updated as we receive them. Our profound sympathies to their families, friends and fans as we remember their musical legacies.
Bootsie Barnes, 2007

  • Tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, a Philadelphia jazz legend, died April 22. He was 82. His many musical partners over the years included trumpeters Lee Morgan and John Swana, saxophonist Larry McKenna and drummers Tootie Heath, Philly Joe Jones and (childhood friend) Bill Cosby.
  • Bassist Howard Tweddle died April 22 in Ottawa, Canada. He was 69. The British-born engineer and musician moved to Canada in 1981.
  • Guitarist Rob Saunders died April 27 in Hopkinton MA, He was 69. He was a gypsy jazz specialist, as well as a fine illustrator.
  • Brazilian singer, drummer, composer, lyricist and writer Aldir Blanc died May 4 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 73. His songs were recorded by Nana Caymmi, Milton Nascimento and Elis Regina, among others.
  • Brazilian samba singer and composer David Antônio Corrêa died May 10 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 82. He died of kidney failure brought on by COVID-19, less than a month after being hospitalized for surgery after he was run over by a vehicle. 
  • Composer, guitarist and singer Evaldo Gouveia died May 29 in Fortaleza, Brazil. He was 91. Gouveia composed more than 1,200 songs in his career. He came to prominence in the 1940s' golden age of radio. He had been in fragile health since a stroke in 2017.

Here's a link to Chapter 1.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Jazz musicians silenced by coronavirus, Chapter 1 (updated 5-1-2020)

Here's a chronological listing of jazz-related deaths from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), updated as we receive them. Our profound sympathies to their families, friends and fans as we remember the musical legacies they have given us.
  • Argentina-born jazz saxophonist Marcelo Peralta, died in Madrid on March 10. He was 59. Peralta moved to Spain in 1996. 
  • Congolese singer Arlus Mabele, the king of soukous, an Afro-Caribbean dance rhythm similar to the rhumba, died March 19 in Paris. He was 66. 
  • New York City-based pianist,composer writer and educator Mike Longo died on March 21, two days after his 81st birthday. He was the musical director and pianist in trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s band for many years.
  • Camaroon-born Afro-jazz saxophonist, arranger, conductor and former jazz club operator (Leopoldville, Belgian Congo's Tam-Tam) Manu Dibango. He died March 24 in Paris. He was 86. He worked extensively in France and Belgium.
  • Swedish trombonist Olle Holmquist died March 25. He was 83. 
  • Denver jazz saxophonist Freddy Rodriguez Sr. died March 25. He was 89.
  • Los Angeles-based saxophonist and big-band leader Pat Longo died on March 26. He was 90. 
  • Drummer, bandleader and educator Dick Bennett (born John Beneduce) died March 26 in New York. He was 85. After performing with trumpeter Leonard Sues quintet, he led the Souvenirs Orchestra and the M.A.S. Swing big band. He taught at the Gene Krupa/Cozy Cole drum studios before opening his own studio.
  • Jazz, blues, gospel and rock guitarist Wayman Henry, 66, died March 27. He lived in Mobile, Alabama.
    Wallace Roney, 2009
  • Pianist Joseph Fogarty of Huntington, Long Island, NY, died March 29. He was 77.
  • Trumpeter Wallace Roney, bandleader and Miles Davis protege, died March 31. He was 59.
  • Bassist Alex Layne, a longtime fixture on the NYC jazz scene, died March 31. He was 80.
  • Pianist, composer, educator and NEA Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the Marsalis family of jazz musicians, died April 1. He was 85
  • Clarinetist and French Quarter Festival board member Alex Lewis died April 1 in New Orleans. He was 75.
  • Guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, the father of singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli and bassist Martin Pizzarelli, died April 1 in New Jersey. He was 94.
    Bucky Pizzarelli, 2009
  • Drummer Lysa (Lee-sa) Dawn Robinson, who played both jazz and rock, died April 2 at Lankenau Medical Center near Philadelphia. She was 55. Among others, she played with Pink and Billy Paul, as well as Philly jazz guitarist Monnette Sudler.
  • Violist Vincent Lionti died April 4. He was 60. A NY Metropolitan Opera orchestra member for more than 30 years and Westchester Youth Orchestra conductor, he performed on jazz recordings by singers Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Harry Connick Jr., Jane Monheit, Aaron Neville and Steve Tyrell, bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Steve Kuhn and saxophonist Joshua Redman.
  • Singer Jan Fourney died at her home in New York City on April 6. She was 66.  
  • Pianist, producer and composer David Horowitz died April 6 in New York. He was 77. In addition to leading his own quintet, he performed with the Gil Evans Orchestra, drummer Tony Williams’ Lifetime band and folksinger Tom Paxton.
  • Music producer Hal Willner died on April 7, one day after his 64th birthday. He was a long-time sketch music producer for “Saturday Night Live,” music coordinator for the Jools Holland and David Sanborn-hosted “Night Music” TV series, which ran from 1988-90, and produced a wide range of recordings and tribute compilations, including jazz. 
    Woody Allen, Eddy Davis, 2008
  • Banjo player, singer and composer Eddy Davis, leader of Woody Allen’s jazz band since the 1980s, died April 7. He was 79.
  • Pianist and educator Dave Roper of Bethlehem PA died April 8. He was 82.
  • Sam Hargress Jr., owner of Harlem's Paris Blues jazz club, died April 10, one day after his 84th birthday.

  • Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz died April 15 in New York City. He
    was 92.
    His career, which began in the mid-1940s, coursed through bebop, cool jazz and avant-garde jazz.
    Lee Konitz, 2014
  • Boston-area bassist Ray Rose died April 15. He was 93.
  • Bassist, violinist and poet Henry Grimes died April 15 in New York. He was 84. He returned to the jazz scene in 2004 after a 35-year absence during which he was living in obscurity in Los Angeles. 
  • Saxophonist Giuseppi Logan died April 17 in New York. He was 84. He returned to New York's free-jazz jazz scene in 2009 after an absence of nearly 40 years.
  • French guitarist Jacques Pellen died April 21. He was 63. Born and based in Brittany, he founded the late 1980s collective Celtic Procession. He also worked with flutist Sylvain Barou, percussionist Trilok Gurtu and trumpeter Paolo Fresu, among many others.