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THE LATIN/JEWISH JAZZ CONNECTION : A CONDENSED PERSONAL HISTORY

The bandleader, composer, timbalero, vibist Tito Puente often thanked from the stage the Jewish people who habituated the Catskill Mountains for “saving our music.”  He was alluding to all those Latin lounge bands who perpetuated the mambo, cha-cha-cha, merengé, later the charanga and the rest of the dances which emigrated north circuitously from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and South America.

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NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL TURNS 60 – Concert, Tour & Announcement

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It’s that time of year, again.

Le Grande Dame of Jazz Festivals which has purveyed innovative jazz for the past six decades returns August 1-3, 2014 at Fort Adams.  The celebration has already begun.

The Newport Jazz Festival sprang from the minds of George Wein and tobacco heiress Elaine Lorillard.  The latter wanted to introduce something to the summertude blandness of Newport, R.I. so they called upon a young entrepreneur who was presenting jazz at venues in Boston, MA.  It was to be the premiere outdoor music festival anywhere.  Even Woodstock used the Newport template with their engineers and producers as advisers.

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JOE WILDER : TRUE GENTLEMAN OF JAZZ DIES AT 92

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“I feel as though I’ve lost a close friend, or even a relative,” one musician close to  him and me said of trumpeter/flugelhornist JOE WILDER, who passed in Manhattan at age 92.  And we did.

Joe and I had become friends over the years.  His first greeting to me was never about me or himself but always about my vocalist wife, whom he liked.  “How’s the Mrs.?” he would ask goodnaturedly.

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“LOUIS IN HOLLYWOOD” : PRESENTATION BY ARNOLD JAY SMITH @ UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA LAS VEGAS

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I presented the second in a series of lecture demonstrations at the Arnold Shaw Music Library at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).  In the Fall of 2013 the topic was “Aspects Of Duke (Ellington).”  In the Spring of 2014 the topic was “Louis (Armstrong) In Hollywood.”  The premise was to show film clips of the great cornetist/trumpeter and the creator of what we now know as jazz in various guises with and without guests.

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MARIAN McPARTLAND CELEBRATED IN STYLE

In March “REMEMBERING MARIAN” was presented at the 92nd St. Y in Manhattan.  Marian McPartland, Ms. McP, as I had come to know her, passed the preceding summer leaving a gap in NPR programming where her “Piano Jazz” featured a who’s who of jazz weekly.

Here, too, there was a parade of McP worshipers both in the star-filled audience as well as on the stage.  Host, Jon Weber, who took over the radio hosting, opened the proceedings with Eddie Gomez on bass playing Marian’s P-J theme, “Kaleidoscope.”  The tearing had begun.

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“SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF” PLAYS OFF BROADWAY

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The first thing you notice when you walk into the Upstairs Westside Theatre is the set by Lee Savage for Satchmo At The Waldorf.  You’re in the backstage dressing room of Louis Armstrong at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  There sitting on a table are his famous open reel tape recorders, on which Louis –he preferred Lew-is– recorded everything, and I mean everything from minor conversations complete with intimate squabbles with wife Lucille to late-night after-gig chit chat.  Lucille and I talked about it during our few conversations prior to her visit to my Jazz Insights course at the New School in 1979.  I also have heard some of the tapes.

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MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC JAZZ ORCHESTRA: CLARE FISCHER “EXTENSION”

MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC JAZZ ORCHESTRA: CLARE FISCHER “EXTENSION” Posted on April 11, 2014

The first time I heard the name CLARE FISCHER was on the Dizzy Gillespie LP “Dizzy Gillespie Plays Duke Ellington.” It was on Verve and it was s freebee given to Down Beat subscribers, of which I was one. I thought he was a she. I also heard lots of gaffs, spaces, dissonances and Ellington and Strayhorn played in a manner in which I was unaccustomed. (“Chelsea Bridge” remains a favorite chart.) I was in high school and still a neophyte jazz listener. It was an ear-and-mind-opening experience.

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ALAN BERGMAN ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY & FRIEND TO MUSICIANS DIES

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Word has reached JAZZ INSIGHTS that Alan Bergman –the lawyer not the songwriter– has passed away.  He had undergone surgery for cancer but he told me that doctors told him that they “got it all.”  Does anyone really know?

Alan was one of the good guy lawyers.  His clients were mostly, if not all, jazz oriented.  He was knowledgeable about the music biz and its foibles.  Dr. Billy Taylor was one and when I was doing Dr. T’s publicity for Peter Levinson Communications and beyond we conferred constantly.  Both Billy and his wife Teddy loved him.  Bergman was Taylor’s guiding light as to legal matters, and sometimes musically as well.  Bergman was an accomplished, and recorded, drummer.  Their relationship made Billy very comfortable on many levels.

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PAUL ASH REMEMBERED

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In my first encounter with the Sam Ash Music Store on Coney Island Ave. in Brooklyn, N.Y.  I was in Seth Low Junior High School, now Middle School, leading a small combo consisting of alto sax, trumpet, drums, with me at the piano.  The trumpeter went onto first chair N.Y., Phil and the drummer was studio drummer Terry Snyder’s nephew.  So we had some pedigree and creds.  The trumpeter was the sight-transposer; I was learning that from him.  Snyder supplied us with all the 78 rpm jazz records we could carry.  My folks called it “popular” as opposed to classical.  It was from Terry that I learned it was jazz.  But I digress.

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VOICE OF A GENERTION STILLED : PETE SEEGER DIES

The near-legendary Pete Seeger was many things to many people: a folk singer, an alternative political figure, a major musician who saved an instrument from oblivion, leader of a major folk group which influenced others and spearheaded an international folk revival, a voice of protest, an environmentalist and all around man of the people.  He was 94 and passed quietly.   (http://nytimes.com)

I was fortunate to have met him and on a few occasions actually got involved in political and musical conversations with him.  I booked his group, The Weavers, into Brooklyn  College, championed his social causes personally as well in print and caught him in musical contexts anathema to his folk musical calling, unless you consider the blues folk music as some do.

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