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WHITNEY HOUSTON DEAD AT 48

IMPORTANT GOSPEL-TINGED SOUL & POP VOICE STILLED

journalist Eugene Holley, Jr., from his hometown of Wilmington, DE, called to commiserate on the tragic passing of Whitney Houston at 48. his take was that “you get out of Newark as quickly as you can; she waited too long.”

while still a record company exec Barbara Harris remembered telling Whitney’s dad, John, that his then-very young daughter was a real talent. he concurred. Harris called Houston’s life and death “a terrible tragedy indeed.”

a friend and a fellow jazz traveler a retired air-traffic controller from Boston left a massage asking, “Is it true? i just can’t believe it.”

ESPERANZA SPALDING ON THE ACADEMY AWARDS SHOW

BASSIST/VOCALIST/COMPOSER HAS LAST LAUGH

i’m sure she doesn’t feel that way about it. but i do.

having been vilified for not selling enough after being voted 2010′s Best New Artist by Grammy voters Esperanza Spalding, shamefully an unannounced cameo on the ACADEMY AWARDS telecast, radiant in a white gown and crowned by an over-the-top ‘fro, sang, on camera, the tribute section for recently deceased Academy members. the song she sang was “What A Wonderful World,” which was notably made famous by Louis Armstrong. i’m sure certain Grammy execs would not have approved. sales are down for the song.

MINGUS. MINGUS. MINGUS. MINGUS.

BIG BAND, ORCHESTRA, DYNASTY, HIGH SCHOOL COMPETITION

under the aegis of the indefatigable Sue Mingus, widow of Charles, the above emphatic if repetitively self-titled bassist’s album sprang to life during the 2012 Presidents Day weekend. there were a Mingus Big Band weekend at Jazz Standard (8 sets); the Mingus Orchestra at St. Bart’s Church (Sat.) and at the Standard (Mon, 2 sets), the Mingus Dynasty Ensemble at Manhattan School of Music, all wrapped around the otherwise enveloping Mingus High School Competition at MSM (both Sun.).

TAPPIN’ BIRD ; FLYIN’ MALLETS : SALUTES TO CHARLIE PARKER & BOBBY HUTCHERSON

CHARLIE PARKER ON TAPS

when i was in grade school we used to hold talent shows.  i was an accompanying pianist.   there was one girl who dazzled us by tapping, a popular idiom way back then.  flash ahead to the Catskill Mountain hotels and bungalow colonies where the Saturday night shows always had a comic, a headliner, and somewhere in there a tap dancer.  i was not as well-trained for what comes next.

2012 JAZZ JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION AWARDS; NORMAN GRANZ BIO

LOTS TO CHEER ABOUT IN 2012, SOME OLD SOME NEW 

in a standout –and sold out Blue Note Club in N.Y.C.– presentation coordinated & choreographed by Prez Howard Mandel and JoAnn Kawell, there were many of the usual musicians who were winners, and a happily growing smattering of newbies.

not undeservedly, and certainly not a bad thing, more new names are coming up behind the biggies such as perennial multiple wnners Sonny Rollins and Joe Lovano.

THE GREAT CUBAN ENCOUNTER +35; CHAPTER 4: DESCARGA & DISCOVERY

MORE BROKEN RULES: SETTING THE SCENE 

thus far NYT Guy and i avoided CubaTour.  walked unescorted from the Daphne pier to a main road.  hailed a cab.  offered the driver a tip.  spoke to a Communist aparatchik, at her headquarters.  and refused an invitation to remain in Cuba and report back to the U.S.  and i’m still here reporting.

the recurring thought of should we be allowed to walk these streets alone was gnawing at me.  we had just left Havana’s Red Square HQ after tossing a serous invitation back at them and here we are marching towards we-didn’t-know-where.

MILES DAVIS STAMP IN MANHATTAN x2 SHEILA JORDAN/JAY CLAYTON IN BROOKLYN

MILES DAVIS/EDITH PIAF STAMPS CELEBRATED IN TWO CEREMONIES

he was known as “the Dark Prince.”  she “the Little Sparrow.”  (“Piaf” means “sparrow;” songwriter Randy Newman might call her a “short person.”)  they never sang together.  they never met.  he saw her perform in Paris.  she liked jazz.  yet there they were being honored jointly on U.S. and French Postage stamps pictured below (courtesy USPS), Miles Davis, an icon of America’s musical artform, and Edith Piaf a tragic national French symbol.

 

PHOEBE JACOBS: AN APPRECIATION ; NARAS REINSTATES LATIN JAZZ

WONDER WOMAN

she didn’t have an invisible airplane, yet she flew.  no bulletproof bracelets, yet she fended off any brickbats thrown at her clients.  her couture, while always fashionable, was her disguise, as was her smile and demeanor.  but her magical powers were seemingly endless.  there will be no comic books, movies, radio shows, television series about Phoebe Jacobs.  she was a publicist.  having been there, done that, i know we are supposed to stay in the shadows and let our clients shine through.

THE GREAT CUBAN ENCOUNTER +35: CHAPTER 3: “THE DEAL ”

DISCLAIMER

Catro did not greet us, not even an acknowledgment, at anytime during our visit.  not so much as a note of welcome, official or otherwise.  i know he liked jazz, at least the Afro-Cuban variety.  (Latin-jazz? see my blog on that subject.  NARAS take note.)

sadly, i did not travel with Dizzy Gillespie to the home of the late congero Chano Pozo, or to any other abodes such as those of members of the Cuban Ensemble known as Irakere.  the CubaTour busses did get to the Hemmingway House, or so i was told.

GIL EVANS @ 100: “SVENGALI” LIVES!

COMPOSER/ARRANGER/BANDLEADER/KEYBOARDIST/INNOVATOR IS FETED IN NYC.

it’s early 1976.  i would be interviewing for Down Beat one of the  great heroes of this music in his loft apartment in the former Western Electric laboratory and warehouse in the Far West Village called Westbeth.  (the “Beth part is for Bethune St.)  Gil Evans lives here with his family, wife Anita and sons Noah and Miles, the former named for a naval officer of note; the latter for a navigator of other notes.  i am all atwitter.


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