SPATE OF MOVIES WITH JAZZ IN THEATERS AND ON TELEVISION
“KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON”
By now we’ve all heard of the movie “Keep On Keepin’ On” starring CLARK TERRY and a piano phenom named JUSTIN KAUFLIN. Advisement: Bring tissues, lots of ‘em. Herewith a few others.
There’s one about overlooked bebop pianist JOE ALBANY entitled “Low Down,” a loving portrait by his daughter Amy. And there’s another which features jazz called “Whiplash.”
There’s a further jazz connection in that “Low Down” is directed by Jeff Preiss who is the brother of jazz deejay (WKCR) and journalist Cliff.
The piquant photographer DAVID REDFERN passed at his home in France in November, 2014. The British-born great –he was well over 6 feet tall– took some of the iconic images in all of jazz history. Some of them adorn album covers, front covers of magazines, newspapers of the world and U.S. Postage Stamps, of which I am a collector. While he dabbled in rock, folk and blues his forte was jazz. (You can get all those details from the numerous obits in the major publications the world over. But this is personal.)
As Duke Ellington said of his parents, “They never let my feet touch the ground till I was three,” so is the attention paid by Prof. Ken Hanlon & his wife Carrie Hanlon, Esq. to this blogster.
I lecture at Hanlon’s University of Nevada/Las Vegas (UNLV) in the spring and fall in conjunction with my archives which will be housed there. It’s a massive work-in-progress folks. I’ve presented “Aspects of Duke (Ellington)”, and “Louis (Armstrong) in Hollywood.” This past October 2014 it was Nat King Cole’s turn in the box.
Singer ANNIE ROSS, ex of the ultimate and historical vocalese group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, has recorded a brand new CD. Entitled, and dedicated to Billie Holiday, “To Lady With Love,” the CD features 11 signature tunes of Holiday’s plus one of Ross’ own, “The Music Never Dies.” On the latter Ross recalls all her heroes and influences. It’s a very moving moment and quite frankly moves me to nostalgic tears every time she sings it. The CD has been released on Mike Longo’s CAP label. [see below]. Ross is accompanied intimately on the CD by Bucky and John Pizzarelli.
IMPROV COMIC DELIVERY ONE DEGREE FROM JAZZDOM. PROOF IN ROBIN WILLIAMS
The improv comic genius that was ROBIN WILLIAMS was never far from jazz in his roles. Let’s start at the beginning.
Overlooked by virtually everyone who has written of his tragic departure was Williams’ affiliation albeit tangentially with jazz. Bear with me and follow the thread.
“IT RAINED BOTH WATER FROM THE HEAVENS AND MUSIC FROM THE STAGES.”
AUGUST 1-3 2014
As if in the tradition of some of the past Festivals the weather made a grand entrance at this year’s NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL: It poured on Saturday, raw on Sunday. Mud notwithstanding the music was the sunshine that warmed our hearts.
When the NJF was held in July celebrating Louis Armstrong’s birthday (sic) there was the inevitable day of rain. But there has never been a rainout. Once in a while a hurricane breezed by but no cancellations.
MAN ABOUT TOWN
The ubiquitous pianist/arranger DICK HYMAN popped into the Apple within the last few months. He lives in Naples, Fla.
In May 2014 in Symphony Space the Sidney Bechet Society presented an All Star Tribute to the late founder of Arbors Records, Mat Domber. Domber, who lived in Clearwater, Fla., planted his company’s output solidly in the mainstream of jazz, i.e., Swingtime and its forebears rarely venturing beyond.
In June Hyman was honored by being given his space on the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame. Read on.
They’ve gone and made a movie about one of my jazz journalist heroes. A theater movie no less. The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes On The Life Of Nat Hentoff, a documentary by David L. Lewis, opened at the IFC Center in New York City on June 25, 2014 and as we celebrated his country’s birthday at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles on July 4. I mention that because in no other country in the world could Hentoff have stood up and shouted his published words. The much revered, he said, first amendment gave him that right he told me in a recent telephone conversation. HUAC also did take note, however.
During April 2014 Jazz At Lincoln Center presented a TRIBUTE TO DAVE BRUBECK. His family participated as well as guests playing his music.
Amongst the gems was a longtime fave of mine called The Real Ambassadors. Originally on vinyl, later a CD, this 1961 loosely sketched bauble with lyrics and libretto by Iola Brubeck was supposed to be headed for Broadway but backers evaporated for what might have become a controversial show..