Archive for November, 2012


in our last blog i observed that the recent MSM Afro-Cuban concert was loud in the extreme.  your attention is drawn, please, to his “comments” as leader Bobby Sanabria took umbrage at that observation.  it is reprinted herewith.
In regards to the negative commentary regarding the recent MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra concert, Harlem Hothouses, which was in tribute to long gone Harlem nightclubs and dance halls and the dislike of the conductors leadership by the blogger/writer, it must have gone over the audiences heads since at the very end they, the audience, gave a 6 minute standing ovation (it was timed by the stagehands) to the orchestra and conductor. After three curtain calls they demanded an encore which they received. There were many highlights. One in particular was the world premiere of MSM alumnus Dr. Jeremy Fletcher’s “Invisible Man” which was in dedication to the renowned Ralph Ellison novel of the same name with its unique use of rhythm (the piece was built in multiples of 3, 4 and 12) in nod to the Yoruba deity Elegua, tonal shading – a nod to Ellington’s use of color, and dynamics which were controlled by the conductor. It’s unique use of the bass clarinet as the instrument to be featured (Leo Pelligrino) a choice made by the conductor, received a rousing ovation for Mr. Pelligrino’s unique skills on an instrument rarely featured as a jazz soloist and for composer Fletcher’s brilliant tone poem. Patrick Bartley’s alto feature on Isfahan and the multi-movement finale Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Duke Ellington were yet other highlights of many during the evening. The final judges were the audience and the ovation at the end which reflected and affirmed what really happened during the evening.
in addition, Mr. Sanabria added the following commentary,   which i pass on for your consideration.  Sanabria is correct as to Louis’s cry in The Peanut Vendor; he does NOT sing “Maaa-ni,” but “Mar-ie.”  mea culpa.
as i wrote to Mr. Sanabria, we critics sometimes lose sight of the fact that, as i have always maintained, audiences are  the bottom line.  for good or for ill.  and this one responded positively, and loudly.  nothing personal was intended or implied.  that’s why we’re out here.  for good of for ill.
Hi Arnold,
I would appreciate that you print my rebuttal immediately and not wait a month for your next blog. Your comments did not convey anything but a dismissive, disrespectful, arrogant tone/attitude toward not only me and my work, but to my talented students who played their butts off and wowed the audience present. In addition your trivialization of the original compositions that were premiered at the concert and their composers by mentioning only one and not the other in your review was truly low. As you well know, both pieces received rousing ovations. There was even thunderous applause in the middle of the performance of Eugene Marlow’s Billy Taylor tribute piece the band was swinging so hard. My solo on Mango Mangue (on timbales not drums) which you chose to characterize as nothing but triple FFF loudness, received the loudest ovation. I have the audio of the entire concert to prove it.
Since I know you personally and consider you a friend and colleague, I’m frankly shocked and disappointed in your arrogance and total misrepresentation of what went down. What concert did you attend? One would only expect something like this from a person who has a vendetta against another person.
BTW, since you’re a stickler for accuracy and are into ”I gotcha’ ” moments, Armstrong does not sing the opening phrase “Maaa-ni” on his version of El Manicero (The Peanut Vendor). As I pointed out at my presentation for the Ellington Society, he completely changed the words to say Ma – rie, a womans name, which has absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics and meaning of the original song.
Be that as it may, I agree with you totally, his interpretation of just the word itself on the recording is sublime. Imagine what it would have been if he had sung the real lyric(s).
Ache’ (positive energy),
Bobby Sanabria




The Manhattan School of Music‘s Jazz Program celebrated three decades of superb performances during the 2012-2013 season.  as casually as i say that put into the proper perspective 30 years of jazz is a lifetime, almost a third of our musical journey.  i got the opportunity to be present for a few of their concerts as well as some related performances.  herewith the first report.

putting it in context, there were a couple of storms in there, petrol shortages, major power outages, floods, a public transportation shutdown and a sudden spurt of winter in New York City.


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