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LATIN JAZZ LIVES!

THE NAYSAYERS DON’T SEEM TO BE PAYING ATTENTION.

as i was saying, Latin Jazz is not an opinion, nor a subtext. the self-absorbed commercial –that used to be a dirty word among jazz people– elements of NARAS which oversees the Grammys have seen fit to unilaterally toss the category onto the junk heap. in reality the real junk heap are many of the remaining ones. the Jazz Journalists Association has also unceremoniously eliminated the category but for different reasons.

when i was a stringer for Billboard we jocularly posted the nonsensical expression, “it ain’t art if it don’t sell.” that was bullshit then and it remain as such.

BOYCOTT THE GRAMMYS!

NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION…

the 2012 Grammy Awards is the first one to eliminate many categories, the most prominent being Latin Jazz. there are those who argue that Latin Jazz is not a separate genre but a substratum of other music. why not then, they suggest, a category for bebop, or swing, or Dixieland. the answer is simple: trad-jazz, i.e. Dixieland, or New Orleans jazz, Swing, Chicago-style, Kansas City and bebop are cogs in the evolution of contemporary, or modern jazz.

IN THE BEGINNING

BILL KIRCHNER EVERYWHERE

THE TALENTED MR. KIRCHNER

somewhere in the 1980′s not long after a desperation move back to hometown Brooklyn, NY from my beloved Greenwich Village aerie, i received an invitation from an admired friend, saxophonist Bill Kirchner, who was to present his quartet at a library a decent bike ride from my downtown home. i was always looking for somethings to write about that were, shall we say, off the oft-trodden jazz path. we remained friends –and now colleagues– so when i read that his music was being showcased at one of his teaching institutions, the Manhattan School of Music, i jumped at the chance to hear his work in expanded versions by the estimable MSM Concert Jazz Band.

CLEM DEROSA JAZZ MULTITASKER: AN APPRECIATION

CLEM DEROSA JAZZ MULTITASKER: AN APPRECIATION

listing the vast accomplishments of my friend and mentor CLEM DEROSA does not carry the day. this larger-than-life human being shed his motral coil peacefully in his sleep after a long bout with cancer. he had recently moved to Denton, TX to be closer to his son, arranger, drummer, educator Richard. Clem was 86. there was snow on the roof but jazz fires were burning in the boiler.

Russ Garcia: Arranger for the Ages

the passing of arranger Russell Garcia aged 95 in his home in New Zealand prompted me to reprise a piece i wrote on his last visit to the U.S.A. for the blogsite www.jazz.com, the OctoJAZZarians. it’s in his –and my– permanent records. just search his name. RIP.

- © arnold jay smith

November 2011

ENUFF!

there are those who have told me that i don’t really vent. so here’s one.

it sounds like the U. S. is about to re-open relations with Cuba, again. Ambassador Jazz to the fore, again. there are trips advertised by jazz mags and travel agencies. Irakere’s Chucho Valdes has been hosting his jazz festival there for some time now. however, what has gone virtually unnoticed is that Pres. Jimmy Carter started all of this in 1977 when he surreptitiously organized a cruise from New Orleans to Havana with jazz musicians on board to co-mingle. (a complete report about the cruise and what happened in Havana will appear here next April when we celebrate the 35th Anny of said journey, which starred Dizzy Gillespie in a triumphant return to the Island since his discovery of Chano Pozo, Stan Getz, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, David Amram, Ray Mantilla, Joanne Brackeen, and a young man who was doing independent musical research named Ry Cooder. included will be new revelations heretofore undisclosed.)

‘SUP?

as i have intimated this blog will not be about your everyday goings-on.  during Oct. we visited a variety of places some not even on the jazz map.

DREYFUS/WILDE

first up was a live presentation of a play about Oscar Wilde.  it was performed in a magnificently preserved Beaux Arts room at the Prince George Hotel and presented by the Duke Ellington Center For the Arts.  a live trio played Ellingtonia while we picked at finger food: Frank Owens, piano; Jackie Williams, drums; JJ Wiggins, bass.  the play –”Blacker”– itself was not the thing for me.  however, there was an interesting sidebar. Wilde’s relationship with the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.  they say everyone is separated only by degrees from another.  i was told that Col. Dreyfus was a forebear of Dreyfus Funds, where my retirement is housed, and more importantly Dreyfus Jazz Records, for whom i was publicist.

Joyous Celebration for a Joyful Man

September 26, 2011

we said farewell to Frank Foster (aka Uncle Frank, Fos) at Abyssinian on Fri. the 23rd.  the truly giant tenor saxist & arranger was represented by family & friends who told & played his story with the love & gusto he passed on to them.  or should i say musical alliance as family doesn’t cover the topic.  Lady Cecelia Foster’s maiden name is Jones, as in Hank, Thad & Elvin.  through them there are the Otises, as in Johnny & Shuggie.  then there are the extended families, the musicians he touched: the Basie band for whom he arranged & later led, succeeding Thad, whose band he guest conducted at the Village Vanguard when Thad abdicated to Copenhagen.  (there’s an LP out there.)  and us.

Jazz Vent

October 5, 2011, 3:00 a.m.

 

from & for the hip.

don’t you just hate it?!

when singers learn from someone else’s recording, and get it wrong.  when they try to correct the lyricist’s grammar as in “I’ve Got It Bad,” and “I’ve Got Rhythm.”  when they don’t (can’t?) sing it once thru properly.  when even the song titles become obscured as in “On Green Dolphin St.”  there’s no “our” in the title of “Love Is Here to Stay.”  i can easily understand why “Oh, Lady Be Good” became just “Lady Be Good.”  we have Ella to thank for that.  there are too many to list here; someone on the Jazz Journalists Association site has already done it for us

RUMBLES IN PARADISE: “A TRIP THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY”

CATACLYSMS OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS ROCK HAWAII’S SOCKS

you all know the Hawaiian picture post cards: sunny climes, sandy beaches, the blue-green Pacific waters lapping them, the wave curls of the Bonsai Pipeline, the surfers, Diamond Head always looming in the distance, other defunct volcanoes strung together forming mountain ranges, the Pearl Harbor Memorials, the rainbows, sometimes double, triple and even quadruple helixes. one can almost hear the string sounds of steel guitars and ukuleles wafting as you look at them, “having a great time; wish you could hear.” [sound of stylus running across record right here!]


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