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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Musicman Dispatch

Sonny 'The Musicman' Bradshaw offers another update form multiple points on the music compass, looking at Reggae Month (starts tomorrow) and other regional and global developments


….social writers Chester Jackson-Francis and Novia McDonald -Whyte missed The Kings House launch of ‘Reggae Month’ headlined by The Governor General and The Prime Minister, perhaps scared of the mostly black reggae icons who were present. The social writers would have mentioned the names of the entertainment ‘industry which included Derrick Harriott, Copeland Forbes, Sly Dunbar, Brother Sam Clayton , The MRR, Dizzy Moore, Herby Miller, Dennis Howard, Eggy Evans, Tarrus Riley, Bunny Lee, King Jammy, Dean Fraser, Producer Riley, Jimmy Riley, Barbara Blake-Hannah, Desi Roots Young, Lloyd Parks, Clyde McKenzie, Ronnie Burke, Sharon Burke, Jerome Hamilton, Mr. & Mrs. Bagga Case, Sonny Bradshaw, Basil Walters, Maurice Gordon, Lloyd Stanbury ,Roy Rayon, Tommy Cowan, Carlene Davis, Ephraim Martin, Derrick Morgan, Niney Holmes, Steve Golding, Danny Brownie, Lovindeer, Carolin Cooper plus many more who we can’t remember, but there were some important names who did not make it due to lack of organising time…….Eddie Seaga, Chris Blackwell, Bunny Goodison, Winston Blake, Byron Lee, Shabba Ranks, Shaun Paul, Shaggy,………. Yes, Babsy Grange whose knock-out remark ‘from Trench Town to the halls of Kings House’ describing the march of Reggae was so apt……and the unveiled logo so terribly unartistic and unrepresentative……………but we have to unravel the true meanings of some words here like ‘music’, ‘culture’, ‘reggae’, and ‘the Jamaica Brand.’………who will take us there, or we wait on the foreign whiteman to do it for us……,.you have your work cut out for you Ms. Grange……….not the UWI Reggae Studies joke…February Reggae Month a brainchild of dreadlock entertainment lawyer Lloyd Stanbury endorsed by The Government , a great tourism vehicle now, while Synergy Reggae Sunsplash innovators Tony Johnson, John Wakeling, smile in their graves and Don Green and Ronnie Burke wonder why it has taken so long - 30 years to recognize Jamaica’s Popular Music promoted on Jamaican Radio TADP in 1959 by jazzman Sonny Bradshaw……………will someone please return the file with 5-years of weekly Jamaica Hit Parade Top 30 Charts compiled at J.B.C…………composer-performer. Bob Marley would also be greatly pleased as he took the baton around the world.. religiously and otherwise leaving a full football team of sons to carry on the music relay in the face of public illiteracy……………may the new ones write some more music the world can use…………….. copycat jumping on the band-waggon is a cultural syndrome practiced in Jamaica like- in manufacturing, in spring water, in craft vending, in politics, in the music business and now in ‘Jazz’ Festivals including Awards, Public Concerts, Jamaican acts,Divas (women), charities (In aid of), free tickets, hotel prizes……..oh well, copying is the greatest form of flattery…………they call it imitation……died on the gig one of the region’s brilliant jazz pianists, Adrian Clarke of Barbados…….a great loss.... One love

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jazz fest wrap '08

As promised (a day late, hopefully not a dollar short), here is my overall review of Air J jazz fest 08


Jazz and Blues 08


Another Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues festival has swept through the western capital of Mobay. But this one can hardly be classified as 'just another Jazz & Blues'.
Firstly, the numbers: final audience figures were not yet available at time of writing, but it's fair to say that this festival was the largest ever in terms of attendance. Moreover, all three nights, and not just the climactic Saturday attracted huge numbers.
The line-up was undoubtedly a huge factor in driving these numbers. One of the strongest presentations in recent festival history, the 2008 lineup held the promise of music for almost every ear – and delivered. The was the curiosity factor surrounding big names long absent from Jamaican shores, like Diana Ross (more on her anon) and Anita Baker, who had not been to the island since her early 'You Bring Me Joy' hitmaking days. Curiosity also, about how a previously unheralded 13-year-old girl with the name Yanofsky would fare with the notoriously demanding Jamaican audience.
But by the time Sunday morning (January 27) dawned, all such questions had been answered, and while each patron had his or her own take on who 'took' each of the nights, there's little doubt that a great many musical appetites had been satisfied.

Thursday: Anita was sweeter
“Just a bunch of ol' love songs” is how Michigan native Anita Baker characterized her repertoire to the crowd who thronged the Aqueduct venue on Thursday's opening night. She could hardly have undersold it more. For the vast majority of the audience came to hear exactly that, and demonstrated in no uncertain terms their familiarity with those 'old love songs' singing, without prompt, the entire first verse of Sweet Love. The lusty chorus moved Baker almost to tears onstage and sent her performance pretty much into overdrive. She danced, cooed and conversed her way into the hearts of the audience, who refused to allow her to leave. A return engagement in Kingston would certainly not be out of place.

Baker was indeed a tough act to follow for the night's closer, James 'JT' Taylor. But the man who formerly led Kool & the Gang through a string of r&b/pop hits remained undaunted. Aided by his band and a trio of buxom back-up singers, Taylor delivered all of the K&G favourites, including 'Misled' 'Celebrate' 'Reggae Dancin' and the hit ballad 'Cherish'. The latter featured the back-ups in wedding gowns for a 'mock nuptials'. It was the kind of show that could have stood on its own in just about nay other venue, and JT.
Jamaican talent certainly made its presence felt on the Jazz & Blues stage. AJ Brown delivered welcome serendaes from his new CD, Sounds of Love as well as longtime favourites (All Fall Down, Love People) and a more talkative Jessica Yap opened up on violin, doing justice to Bob Marley and disco one-hit queen Gloria Gaynor (I Will Survive). Duane Stephenson gave a soulful, heartfelt stint that surely endeared him to many, while Marjorie Whylie led Jamaican jazz stalwarts Myrna Hague and others through an excursion of standards and contemporary tuens.
The night got a dose of caliente from New York City-based Latino funksters Yerba Buena, who made their Mobay debut this year, having been part of the 2007 lineup that was featured in Kingston. Their sure-fire brand of polyrhythms and 'Spanglish' sing-alongs got the audience fired up early. Fusion veterans Spyro Gyra marked 25 years last year, and showed they were none the worse for the wear, delivering a quality set of alternating tempos.

Friday: African Connection
One of the of the Jazz and Blues fest is the opportunity it offers for discovering new or previously unheralded acts of real substance. A Grammy nomination is undoubtedly a significant calling card, but Ryan Shaw had little else to recommend him to a Jamaican audience (an indictment of our local radio stations?) and the onus was on him to prove that he belonged on the big Jazz & Blues stage. His endearing “funk n' soul” hybrid (with just a wee bit of Southern country twang) ensured that the next time an MC says 'This Is Ryan Shaw” audiences will be primed and ready.
Roots reggae again took the spotlight on the second night in the forms of Etana and Chalice, the former overcoming some admitted nerves brought on by the occasion, the latter displaying a renewed commitment to the form, sounding more revved up than ever. The audience felt it and afforded them an encore which they graciously satisfied.

Revved up could also be used to describe horn legend Hugh Masakela. Almost equally famous for his gruff vocals (on the likes of Bring Back Nelson Mandela) as for his piercing yet fluid trumpet sound, Masakela and his South African All-Stars came onto the Rose Hall stage, grabbed hold of the audience and refused to let go until the final number. He thanked the Jamaican people collectively for their solidarity with Black S Africans during the worst years of the anti-apartheid struggle and introduced two vocalists, one male, one female who each displayed significant tremendous prowess. The lady in particular thrilled the audience by effortlessly taking her voice through several pitch levels while remaining in tune with the rest of the band.
The great artists develop a reputation for 'leaving it all on the stage'. From the moment she entered with the title track form her latest disc, The Real Thing, Jill Scott personified the kind of earthy yet thoughtful sensuality that has earned her accolades and fans around the world. 'Jilly from Philly' wove several spoken interludes into her musical narrative, sharing with the audience tidbits from her current personal and career situation. But it was the songs that the people came to hear, and they alternatively oozed and tumbled free from her voluptuous frame. Again, a return engagement would certainly be welcome.
Lou Gramm, who as former front man of the group Foreigner scored such hits as Urgent and I Want To Know What Love Is, unfortunately became the festival's only tragedy, as a reported acute bout of laryngitis sidelined him from his scheduled performance. We wish Lou a speedy and full recovery and anticipate a make-good from himself and his band.

Saturday: An 'Ocean' of Love
One artiste who may never have the opportunity of a make-good is Saturday night headliner Diana Ross. By insisting that the onsite monitors be turned off during her performance, in order to prohibit the broadcast of her image, and further reducing the visible stage area by piling speakers at the very front of the stage on either side Mizz Ross ended up angering many of the folks who came anticipating a performance worthy of her diva classification. This did not materialize, and the mood of the audience cascaded.
Fortunately, Ross was followed by Billy Ocean, who aptly demonstrated the proverbial line from one of his biggest hits 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going'. Proving he was more than tough enough for the Jazz & Blues faithful, the Trinidad & Tobago native opened with (One Of Them Nights before proceeding to kill them softly with fondly remembered ballads like 'Suddenly' 'Colour of Love' and his cover of Paul McCartney's 'Long & Winding Road'. Of course, he couldn't leave Jamaica without dropping “Caribbean Queen”
Earlier, a couple of rising stars, one Jamaican, the other foreign, stamped their respective class on the event. Christopher Martin continued to come into his own on his main stage debut, while 13-not-yet-14 year old Canadian Nikki Yanofsky, with Mom and Dad cheering from the audience, wore her Ella Fitzgerald influence very well, scatting and cooing like a seasoned pro. (which, having been singing publicly since age 4, she arguably is).
At 79, no one can argue that Koko Taylor isn't a seasoned pro, but the 'Queen of the Blues' refreshingly made herself the handmaid of the audience, showing that she still had a few moves left as she wiggled to blues classics like 'Ernestine' 'Let The Good Times Roll' 'Jump For Joy' and 'Wang Dang Doodle.'
Mary Mary came to spread the gospel message but made sure to leaven with a healthy dose of funk and r&b, aided by their winning stage presence and genuine interactions with the audience. No one was left unmoved, regardless of their religious persuasion.
The showcase stage, while not approaching the consistently high-level performances of previous years, still offered solid interludes to the main stage action, with the likes of pianist Kamla, vocalists Katrina and Stephanie and rap reggae chanters Wraps n' Kush among the standouts.
It may be deemed inappropriate by some of an event like this to attempt to be all things to all persons. But its clear that the organizers have sought within the ambit of a certain formula, to provide a showcase that succeeds on several levels musically, and to give both the casual 'lymer' and the serious music lover a fair shake.

Needed: a return of the pre-event shows, such as obtained in 2007, and a wider geographical spread of concerts to give fans in other locales the opportunity (perhaps a Jazz Roadshow in the weeks leading up to the main event, featuring the upcoming acts).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jazz & Blues wrap

Look out for the complte warp up of the Air Jamaica jazz and Blues festival, starting Monday
inlcuding interviews with artists and organizers and impressions of the runnings and who has the best booth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

To Havana & Back, via Texas

It was one of those nights - pianist luke Dixon and CO (Co. being "Jubba White on drums and Alves Reid on bass)pinch hit for an incapacitated Harold Butler, the scheduled act and - lo and behold - by the second set, no one was missing Harold.
Add the presence of Cuban percussion maestro Gilberto for a couple of magical numbers during the second set, and the presence of a busload of Texas college undergrads in the third (supposedly here on some sociology exercise - yaah, riiight) and Christopher's live showcase on Tuesday night sped toward the juke joint it was desired, if not meant to be, with spontaneous dancing and good vibes all around.
By the time the band played their last encore, a half-improvised Latin variation, even the normally ultra-cliquish folks at the back of the C-shaped power bar were getting into it, and those folks preparing to sample jazz in Mobay got a perfect mood-setter.
Of ocurse we all wish the best for the Butler, but given the great performance of his replacements, we have to say: Harold who?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Air J Fest honours Dermot

Congrats are in order for Dermot Hussey who will accept the special achievement award atthe Air Jamaica jazz & Blues Festival

CARIBPR, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan 18, 2008: Dermott Hussey, veteran radio broadcaster and co-author of ‘Bob Marley: Reggae King of the World,’ is set to be honored for his lifetime dedication to music by organizers of the 2008 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival.

Hussey will be presented with an award by Walter Elmore, executive producer of the January 24-26, 2008 festival. The award will be presented on January 26, 2008, the final night of the festival in recognition of Hussey’s contribution to the creation of the festival.

`Dermott was the person that was planning a jazz festival in the island back in 1995 – 1996,` reminisced Elmore. `I happened to be in on one of the planning meetings and from that meeting and the fact that he was working on a Jazz festival is how the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival was started by Allen Chastanet of Air Jamaica airlines.`

Hussey is also producer of the Bob Marley interview released on Marley\\\'s album Talkin\\\' Blues. And was the person who read the eulogy for veteran reggae singer and former Wailer, Peter Tosh, at his funeral in 1987.

He also produces and presents “Riffin” 5 times a week, Monday to Friday at 8.35 p.m. on on Newstalk 93FM, is the program director at XM 101 and is a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. The veteran radio journalist has already won a Musgrave Medal, a prestigious Jamaican award for services to media and music.

The 2008 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues line-up is sizzling hot and in just a week, legendary singer, Diana Ross; eight-time Grammy Award winner, Anita Baker, revered ‘Caribbean Queen’ singer, Billy Ocean and Grammy winner Jill Scott will be among those thrilling fans at the Cinnamon Hill venue at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, Montego Bay.

Chicago-born Grammy- award-winning blues singer, Koko Taylor, has also been added to the Saturday night line-up while others set to perform are newcomer Ryan Shaw, Spyro Gyra, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Yerba Buena, pianist Marjorie Whylie, JT Taylor, Kool & the Gang\\\'s former " Legendary Voice," Jessica Yap; AJ Brown, Dwight Stephenson and 13-year-old powerhouse Nikki.


'Mr Jazz' enriches Richmond

Music critic
Published: Jan 18, 2008

It may be a cold, gray Sunday morning in Richmond, Va., but there’s warm music and a welcoming voice on the radio. New Orleans native Michael J. Gourrier, a volunteer disc jockey at WRIR-FM, the city’s three-year-old community radio station, is spinning real jazz.

“WRIR, radio for the rest of us,” he announces from the station’s homey studio on Broad Street. “It’s time for another edition of Bebop and Beyond with Mr. Jazz. I’m your host, Mike Gourrier, inviting you to stay tuned for America’s contemporary classical music, the idiom we know as jazz.”

A bear of a man with myriad interests, Gourrier doesn’t look his 67 years. Nor does he show the tremendous loss he experienced in August, 2005.

Gourrier and his wife of 28 years, Eloise, are among the hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians driven from their homes by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood that covered 80 percent of their city.

Prior to Katrina, Gourrier was a DJ at New Orleans community station WWOZ-FM for 24 years. He’s greatly missed there, said WWOZ program director Dwayne Breashears.

“Michael knows more about jazz than most people will ever know,” Breashears said. “That’s why they call him Mr. Jazz.”

A life-long jazz fan, Gourrier has attended every New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival since the event’s 1970 start. Even after Katrina, he continues to be a presenter at the festival’s AT&T/WWOZ Jazz Tent.

Katrina-related floodwaters ruined most of the 12,000 CDs, 8,000 LPs, 500 books, photos and memorabilia Gourrier kept in a specially built room in his 9th Ward home.

“After being soaked in 6 1/2 feet of water, the mold and mildew got the rest of the stuff,” he said.

Because a few photos of Gourrier with such musical heroes as Horace Silver and Cab Calloway were placed on a high shelf, they escaped the water. And about 150 CDs, cherry picked from his collection earlier in 2005, survived.

Moving to Richmond in early 2006 following four months in Texas, Gourrier made lemonade from a big, sour lemon. He loves Virginia’s historic, beautifully preserved capital city and he’s nearing his second anniversary at WRIR.

Giz Bowe, jazz director at WRIR, is thrilled to have Gourrier as the other half of the station’s two-man jazz department.

“Jazz is his life and his love,” Bowe said. “The fact that he is volunteering his time and his talent to WRIR is just amazing. We’re lucky to have him.”

In typical New Orleans fashion, Gourrier grew up saturated in his hometown’s music-centered culture. He also sang in his church choir and his mother took him to Xavier University’s grand opera productions.

“A lot of musicians, who I considered famous, lived in the neighborhood,” Gourrier said. “And I would listen to music on the radio, everything from Guy Lombardo to Duke Ellington.”

As he grew older, Gourrier’s interest shifted from big bands to smaller groups led by Ramsey Lewis, Oscar Peterson and Ahmad Jamal. He experienced his jazz epiphany upon hearing a track from Horace Silver’s 1956 LP, Six Pieces of Silver.

“The day that I heard ‘Senor Blues,’ that’s when I became a bebopper. To me, 1940 to 1965 was the golden era of jazz music. So many dynamic compositions and artists came out during that period. People still practice the basic tenets of the bebop idiom and I consider bebop the foundation of contemporary jazz.”

Gourrier’s inspiration for being a jazz DJ hasn’t changed since his move to Richmond.

“My primary motivation is to expose people to an indigenous American art form that they otherwise would not have the opportunity to be exposed to,” he said in the WRIR kitchen last month. “And music is a very important part of life. I say music is medicinal. Take a big dose every day.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The BIG 4


How to Buss Session

The BIG 4 Questions of Artiste promotion





For the answers, email liveplug22@gmail.com or call (876) 426-3106 to register
for our exciting, career-making session series.

Jazz & Blues on film


The U.S. Embassy and Red Bones Blues Café for the fourth year will collaborate to bring selected films from the series, “JAZZ,” by renowned filmmaker Ken Burns, as a precursor to its annual African American History Month observances. In addition, there will other documentaries featured such as the Blues Masters, The Howlin’ Wolf Story among others.

The films, which are free to the public, will be shown from January 24 to February 28, at the Red Bones Blues Café` in Kingston, starting at 7:30 p.m.

On January 24, Ken Burns’ “Gumbo” explores how jazz begins in 19th century New Orleans, where the sound of marching bands, Italian opera, Caribbean rhythms, and minstrel shows fills the streets with a richly diverse musical culture. Here, African-American musicians create a new music out of these ingredients by mixing in ragtime syncopations and the soulful feeling of the blues. Soon after the start of the new century, people are calling it jazz.

“Blues Masters – The Essential History of the Blues” on January 31, captures performances of the early masters on film and those that were are profoundly insightful and entertaining such as Son House, Leadbelly, Bessie Smith, B.B. King , Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Big Joe Turner, Mamie Smith, Ethel Waters with Count Basie and many others.

Another film from the Ken Burns series, “Our Language” will be featured on February 7 while ‘The Howlin Wolf Story,’ will be shown on Wednesday, February 13. This eminently watchable documentary is about Chester A. Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf with some history of the Blues in general.

“A Masterpiece at Midnight” and "Antone's Home of the Blues: A Legend Every Night" will be featured on February 21 and 28 respectively

Live music review - Christopher's

Christopher's Tuesday Night Review

'Easy Bouncin' with Kamla
There was, back in the foggy past of Jamaican radio, a programme by the name of Easy Bounce, the format of which perfectly backed up both sides of the name. It was not the detestable 'easy listening' lullabies that many people seem to fall prey to, but neither was the 'bounce' so racy as to turn off those in search of musical refreshment.
That search was easily satisfied on Tuesday night as the deceptively unassuming pianist took the crowd through three sets that had enough of the 'usual' crowd-pleasers, but was unusual in the treatment of same. From I Shot The Sheriff and So Jah Say and Satta Massa Gana to the Herbie Hancock standbys, Watermelon Man and Cantaloupe Island to Mercy Mercy Mercy, Hamilton didn't so much lead her three cohorts (Shurwayne Thompson on bass, Akil 'Red bull' Karram on drums and music night Founder Seretse Small on the now familiar 'naked' guitar, with the body cut out on each side), as she held council with them, checking off changes and encouraging solos.
The final set, with its versions of David Rudder's The Hammer among others got a few feet a dancing. By nights' end, Kamla had proven that she was a worthy addition to the growing stable of Christopher's 'regulars (this was at least her third visit), not to mention to the small stage at the Air Jmaaica Jazz and blues festival - coming in two weeks.

Next Tuesday: The 'Butler' returns to Do it

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More of Yanofsky

Assaid, we await to be ipressed, but Air JAzz & Blues artist teenager Nikki Yanofsky continues to get glowing pres in her native Canada

Canadian Star to Perform Debut Concert and at Carnegie Hall
As Oliver Jones said upon hearing Nikki Yanofsky sing, “jazz is alive and well in Canada.” The thirteen-year-old music prodigy stars in her debut solo concert in Toronto at the Isabel Bader Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Yanofsky will be backed for the performance by the 10-piece Imani Gospel Choir and an eleven-piece jazz ensemble.

The Toronto debut will take place just before Yanofsky heads off to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall on Friday, Feb. 8, with the New York Pops Orchestra, under the baton of award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch.

The youth is capturing audiences and media hearts around the globe for her virtuoso talent, the teenager sings the songs of the Great American Songbooks with stunning maturity and seeming effortlessness. She has performed with some of the finest in the industry, notable appearing on the tribute album We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song (2007), which launched a whirlwind of activity, seeing her perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival and selling out a four-night run.

Over the past year Nikki has made numerous television and radio appearances, including a CBC documentary. She has been profiled in a number of magazines and newspapers, sung the national anthem at Montreal’s Bell Centre and performed with legendary jazz pianist Oliver Jones.

For more information visit www.nikkionline.ca

Monday, January 14, 2008

Heads Up Take 6

Their previous album, Feels Good, was a nice return to their roots and now the acapella singers have caught the ear of Heads Up Records boss Dave Love. Heads up, BTW, is als othe home of another acapela vocal group, South African kingpins, Ladysmith Black Mambazo

January 14, 2008, Cleveland , OH – Heads Up International, one of the world’s premier crossover jazz labels, today announced the signing of an exclusive recording agreement with the a cappella jazz group Take 6. Heirs to the rich tradition of the doo-wop and gospel groups of 1950s, and leaders in the second wave of jazz and pop vocal groups that emerged in the 1990s, Take 6 will make their Heads Up debut with a yet-to-be-titled album of jazz standards and originals scheduled for release in August 2008.

“Take 6 is arguably the greatest a cappella jazz group of all time,” says Dave Love , President of Heads Up International. “For the past twenty years, they’ve proven their vocal mastery in a variety of genres and they’ve worked with some of the biggest names in jazz and R&B. Musically and spiritually, they’ve enriched the lives of every person they’ve come in contact with. We are excited and very proud to count them among the Heads Up ranks.”

“We’re very excited as a group to be part of Heads Up,” says Take 6 co-founder Claude McKnight. “We’re very ready to move into this next phase of our career. We were with a major label for a long time, then we were on our own for a while with our own company. Now, Heads Up is helping us with all aspects of our career. We’ll be exploring not just our spiritual side, which we’ve always done, but also more of our jazz side as well.”

“When we hooked up with Dave Love , his appreciation and enthusiasm for what we do was evident from the very beginning,” says Take 6 member Dave Thomas. “We knew right away that it was going to be a great partnership. Heads Up has such an enthusiastic team that’s ready to promote the thing we do best. This is the story of two of the best coming together.”

Formed in Alabama in the early ‘80s, Take 6 launched their career by singing traditional spirituals and newly composed gospel material. They released their self-titled debut album on Warner Brothers’ Reprise label in 1988, and spent the next two decades crafting a series of records that defied easy categorization but instead embraced a broad cross-section of styles – soul, gospel, R&B, pop, jazz and more. Although they have enlisted the help of session musicians along the way, the greatest strength of their recordings has been – and continues to be – their richly layered and masterful vocal harmonies.

The group has set the bar high for their Heads Up debut, which will include guest appearances by R&B legend Aaron Neville and others. “While we sing lyrics that always exemplify our spiritual and moral convictions, what we really are at the core is a jazz vocal group,” says Thomas. “So we’ve decided to do an album of jazz standards, and make it the vocal jazz album for all time.”

Claude McKnight stands behind the ambitious claim. “We go into every project saying it will be the best,” he says. “At least the best we’ve ever done, and depending on the concept or the genre, it may in fact be the best that’s ever been done by anyone. When we take on a project or step into a new phase of our career, we’re not afraid to say, ‘Hey, let’s move some mountains.’”

Riffin' once more

Both the programme - and our updates - suffered a bit of disconnect for different reasons, but have no fear, Riffin' fans, Dermot's back with the music:



MONDAY: Caribbean pianist, Michel Camilo,from the Dominican Republic moves effortlessly between classical music ,jazz.and latin music

TUESDAY: Bassist John Brown leads a quintet through some of the songs associated with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

WEDNESDAY: Richard Bona, from the Cameroon demonstrates how and why he is one of the best of Africa’s contemporary artists, in his album “Reverence”. Anne Nesby from “Sound Of Blackness”, sings powerhouse “soul”

THURSDAY: A reprise of an album that is on several of the best album lists of 2007, Ron Carter’s, “Dear Miles”.

FRIDAY: The great funk band from the 70’s , Mandrill, started by the Wilson brothers from Panama and Brooklyn, in a steaming “live” performance at the Montreux Festival in 20002.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

News from The Musicman

Back when the papers still cared more about music than about hype, the Musicman column by the ageless Sonny Bradshaw was the ONLY reason I picked up The Star (okay, okay, I may have 'glanced' at the Page Three girl, 'occasionally')

But Sonny is still going strong and his stream of consciousness reflections on what's happening musically remain as inescapable as ever. See for your self.

JAZZ NEWS by Musicman December 2007- January 2008

2008 Steve Pope new editor The Voice/Gleaner …. Is that still in…….Colour Telly Britain.s first black TV Station……..Two photographic Publications now out - 101 Men Change Makers by photographer Peter Ferguson and The 17 year Jazz Journal of The 17th Annual International JAMAICA OchoRios Jazz Festival…………….top Tenor Saxist Ruben Alexander died in Montego bay………..Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival is January 24 to Saturday 26 in Montego Bay with stellar pop stars Diana Ross, Anita Baker, Kool main vocalist, Jill Scott, and a local contingent lead by Marjorie Whylie with Myrna Hague singer …………….congrats to singer-entertainer Ritchie Stephens lifting the Gleaner Award.,…..good show for music……… sad passing of baritone jazz saxist Cecil Payne…………and then we lost master drummer Max Roach too…… jazz music radio is being smothered as the word ‘jazz’ is not good on the air at home and abroad……….news & Talk (x-Mona radio) is doing jazzman Monte Blake with ‘Merritone Brunch, on Sundays noon to 4 pm supporting Dermot Hussey ‘Riffin’ during the week Monday to Friday 8.35pm while Bunny Goodison –The Mighty Burner- on Sunday’s and new comer Lou Gooden is on the new Bess 105 on Sundays with Smooth Jazz 10-midnight………..but Errol Smith Hot 102 is still on in the mornings with ‘Treasures’ with Ella, Monk, and the like……. and singer Alton Ellis is recovering from hospital …. Good ….singer Tyrone Taylor of ‘Cottage in Negril’ also left us…………..bebop saxist Frank Morgan who visited Jamaica Red Bones Jazz Café & Ja. OchoRios Jazz fest many times died in The US …..and the New Year shocker was the departure of the world’s swingingest pianist Canadian Oscar Peterson……. What a loss…….. but good news was the further recognition of Jamaican Saxophonist 85 Year old Andy Hamilton of Birmingham in this years Queens Honours with an MBE………congrats you …….with the J.F.M . Jamaica Federation Of Musicians gone underground this 2008, we call on The Broadcasting Commission Hopeton Dunn & Cordell Greene to insist that the ‘blank label’ records of singers and musicians being played on our 21 radio stations be identified for credit either before or after playing so that we the musicians could get a little copyright returns (now called intellectual property) ……………a word to’ the new ‘, please do not ape first world radio, they can be quite backward too,,,,,,,,,,The International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) conference will be in Toronto this January 9-12 and will highlight a strong UK Jazz input involving established musicians Martin Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone plus Dune Showcase with Gary Crosby Nu Troop plus talented saxist-composer Denys Baptise, trumpet star Guy Barker Nikki Iles, Ian Shaw and Courtney Pine will be there…………….prize winning newcomers Empirical Quintet will also make the heavily sponsored trip……………get set for The Summer Jazz event The 18th Annual International JAMAICA OchoRios Jazz festival June 7 to 15…June Is Jazz Month.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I Wish I'd Written This

Drummer Kendrick Scott, who I had the pleasure of catching in Barbados in 2007, captures my sentiments on the musci biz withthe formation of his media venture, World Culture Music. Read on:

World Culture Music:
World Culture Music is an artist collective record label and multi-faceted music company that was created by Kendrick Scott to form an alliance of like-minded musicians who are making a significant impact on both today's jazz scene and on music in general.

WCM's mission is to blur the labels in music, cross the cultural divides, bypass the corporate structure and provide the next generation of talent an outlet to fulfill their creative visions.

As an alternative approach to the traditional record label, World Culture Music's objective is to bring the artist closer to the listener with no filters in creativity and honesty. WCM provides young creative musicians an opportunity to maintain all artistic control over their music and enables the musician to decide how it will be presented to the world. Unified under WCM, its artists can connect with their audience on a broad scale.
WCM presents artists of the highest caliber who are some of today's most in-demand musicians. Drummer Kendrick Scott, vocalist/composer Julie Hardy, trombonist Nick Vayenas, and guitarist Mike Moreno have established themselves as some of the leading musical figures of their generation. They have played on over 35 recordings combined and performed with some of_ today's top jazz acts including Joshua Redman, Terence Blanchard, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton, Greg Osby, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Dianne Reeves Jeff "Tain" Watts, Michael Buble, Kenny Garrett, and Ravi Coltrane.

Monty off Rebel Salute; final respects to Oscar beckon

Many music aficionados are mourning the death, over a week a go of piano master Oscar Peterson.
Monty Alexander, who's been establsihing his own piano legend, was closer to the giant than most and thus has acceded to the fmaily's request to perform at a memorial, thus taking him off the previously confirmed Rebel Salute show. Following is the reelase from Monty:


Dear Friends,

I have been looking forward to playing at Rebel Salute 2008 since this past May when Tony personally invited me to participate to the event.

In these last few days however, I have been experiencing a profound sense of personal loss with the passing of the great pianist Oscar Peterson, who died at 82 on December 24 in Toronto, Canada . For the last five decades Dr. Oscar Peterson was the giant and master of piano artistry in the world of Jazz, and he was my good friend. He had been one of my strongest supporters since I first met him in the 1960's. Oscar Peterson set the greatest example for excellence in Jazz not only for every pianist but also for all instruments-he played with power, force and passion. No other true Jazz artist had such an illustrious career.

I feel compelled to respond to his family's request that I perform at a special memorial concert in his honor. The concert is on January l2 in Toronto, Canada ; the very same day as Rebel Salute. This brought me considerable conflict and internal struggle because I had made a promise to my brother, Tony Rebel. I have spoken to Tony of my dilemma and I am grateful that he understood my situation; that I must be in Toronto on January 12. I do hope that those who care for my musical efforts will also understand my difficult decision.

Tornto is also the site if this year's annual conference of the Int'l Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) nad we can be sure several tributes to Peterson will be rendered there.

Please acquaint yourself with the legacy of the Majestic Giant of music: Dr. Oscar Emmanuel Petersono II I : www.oscarpeterson.com

Friday, January 04, 2008

The 'Village Wizards' on Jazz

adding to the chorus of lists, here's the Village Voice magazine's take on the year's best in jazz

The 2007 Jazz Poll
This year's finisher's
by Francis Davis
January 2nd, 2008 2:52 PM
The Year of the Woman

With all the ballots counted, our decidedly un-macho Jazz Poll finally finds its headline
by Francis Davis

Jazz Record of the Year
1. Maria Schneider, Sky Blue (ArtistShare) 188.5 points (26 ballots)

2. Charles Mingus, Cornell 1964 (Blue Note) 133 (19)

3. Michael Brecker, Pilgrimage (Heads Up) 104 (15)

4. Terence Blanchard, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) (Blue Note) 95 (13)

5. Joe Lovano & Hank Jones, Kids (Blue Note) 92 (14)

6. Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters (Verve) 75 (13)

7. Dee Dee Bridgewater, Red Earth (DDB/EmArcy) 71 (9)

8. Joshua Redman, Back East (Nonesuch) 62 (12)

9. Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, My Foolish Heart (ECM) 61 (8)

10. Abbey Lincoln, Abbey Sings Abbey (Verve) 55 (8)

11. McCoy Tyner, Quartet (HalfNote/McCoy Tyner Music) 54 (9)

12. Anat Cohen, Poetica (Anzic) 43 (6)

13. Trio M (Myra Melford/Mark Dresser/Matt Wilson), Big Picture (Cryptogramophone) 42 (7)

14. Carla Bley, The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu (ECM/Watt) 41 (7)

15. Paul Motian, Time and Time Again (ECM) 35 (7)

16. Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake, From the River to the Ocean (Thrill Jockey) 34.5 (6)

17. Joe Zawinul, Brown Street(Heads Up) 34 (5)

18. Anat Cohen, Noir (Anzic) 32.5 (5)

19. Miles Davis, Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF/Concord) 31 (5)

20. William Parker, Corn Meal Dance (AUM Fidelity) 31 (4)

21. Steve Lacy & Roswell Rudd, Early and Late (Cuneiform) 30 (7)

22. Bill Holman, Hommage (Jazzed Media) 30 (4)

23. The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Heads Up) 29.5 (5)

24. Jewels and Binoculars, Ships With Tattooed Sails: The Music of Bob Dylan (Upshot) 29 (4)

25. David Murray, Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 28.5 (7)

26. David Torn, Prezens (ECM) 26 (4)

27. Charles Tolliver, With Love (Blue Note/Mosaic) 25 (5)

28. Muhal Richard Abrams, Vision Towards Essence (Pi) 25 (4)
Bill Charlap, Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note) 25 (4)

30. Matthew Shipp, Piano Vortex (Thirsty Ear) 24.5 (5)
David S. Ware, Renunciation(AUM Fidelity) 24.5 (5)

32. Anthony Braxton, 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 (Firehouse 12) 24.5 (3)
Tyshawn Sorey, That/Not (Firehouse 12) 24.5 (3)

34. Chris Potter, Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard (Sunnyside) 22 (4)

35. The Claudia Quintet, For (Cuneiform) 21.5 (4)

36. Bennie Wallace, Disorder at the Border (Justin Time) 20.5 (3)

37. Harry Allen & Joe Cohn, Music From "Guys and Dolls" (Arbors) 20 (4)

38. Roscoe Mitchell, Composition/ Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (ECM) 20 (3)

39. Chris Potter, Song for Anyone (Sunnyside) 19.5 (4)

40. Peter Brötzmann/Mats Gustafsson/Ken Vandermark, Sonore: Only the Devil Has No Dreams(Jazzwerkstatt) 19 (2)
Evan Christopher, Delta Bound (Arbors) 19 (2)

42. Bill McHenry, Roses (Sunnyside) 18 (4)
Tierney Sutton, On the Other Side (Telarc) 18 (4)

44. Exploding Star Orchestra, We Are All From Somewhere Else (Thrill Jockey) 18 (3)

45. Powerhouse Sound, Oslo/Chicago: Breaks (Atavistic) 18 (2)

46. Andy Bey,Ain't Necessarily So (12th St.) 17.5 (3)

47. Robert Glasper, In My Element (Blue Note) 17 (3)

48. Nels Cline Singers, Draw Breath (Cryptogramophone) 17 (2)
Mark Murphy, Love Is What Stays (Verve) 17 (2)

50. John Abercrombie, The Third Quartet (ECM) 16 (4)

Back on the Corner

The following review, from online feature-zine, earplug (part of the Flavorpill network).

i'm privileged to have a 2-disc special (Japanese market) issue of the One The Corner sessions, but this six-disc full set is part of Columbia/Legacy's ongoiong orgy of Miles product in the wake of the 80th anniversary of his birth in 2006.
The music? Coming on the heels of his Bitches Brew sessions its some of the darkest, yet most rhythmically complex stuff to come out of Davis' ever-fertile muse.

Album Review
January 3, 2008 Miles Davis
The Complete On the Corner Sessions
Columbia Legacy
September 25, 2008

"Overlooked" is perhaps the wrong way to describe this six-CD collection of unfurled funk fury. For those with a more casual interest in Miles Davis, "unexpected" may be the more apt adjective (followed by a long string of superlatives). Almost every recent review goes certifiably apeshit — a stark contrast to the critical reception the same tracks received when they were first released in the '70s. After plugging in for Bitches Brew, Davis and his ensemble were at the peak of their powers, and here they deliver a series of rhythmic manifestos, leaving a choppy wake that musicians have been wading in ever since. Culled from recordings of one of Davis' most legendary and controversial bands, the box set comes with the added, poignant bonus of stellar liner notes from recently passed writer Tom Terrell. Angular, dark, and angry, the unfettered grooves are informed by everything from Sly Stone to Indian music and Karlheinz Stockhausen, all later looped and pieced together (by hand!) by producer Teo Macero. Simply put, it's a milestone in the use of electronics.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Then again......

If i cna have half of Roy Haynes' passion, skill and drive at 82.
I'd be ahlf wya to heaven. At the other end ofthe age spectrum, a young
saxohponist goes through his paces.

Can't stress it enough - jazz is for all - all ages, all races, all classes

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Branford Qtet

Branford Qtet
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Braggtown -released in 2006, probably enjoys the heaviest rotation of any CD I own. If oyu're going to cop Coltrane, then this is the way to do it. Bookended by 2 powerhouse tunes, the leader's jack Baker, and bassist Eric Revis' Black Elk Speaks

OPope album cover

OPope album cover
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Odean Pope and his Saxophone Choir in a live date from the Blue Note. Hardly any more needs to be said. Just listen.

Haynes CD

Haynes CD
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
A 2006 release, whose title stems for mthe familiar first word of an official proclamation ('Whereas....") in thsi case, the Mayor of Minneapolis/St Paul declaring an official Roy Haynes Day.
The drummer, still kickin' at 82, leads his Fountain of Youth band through some standards (Mr PC, Bemsha Swing) contemporary works by the likes of Chick Corea and Joe Henderson anda totally engaging solo improv, Haynes' Hippity-Hop.

SchwarzBart CD

SchwarzBart CD
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Technically not a best-of 2007, as it was initially released in France in 2006, but made available to the wider market in '07.
No matter the dates, a worthy addition tothe list. Joyous yet cerebral, with distinctly Caribbean touches. Another artist I'd like to hear more from in '08

joshua redman CD

joshua redman CD
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Not quite the Redman I was expecting to find after his previous release (Momentum) but stilla great exposition of mdoern jazz, witha great combo between younger and elder (the saxman's father Dewey, who passed after making this recording) on the track India


Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Not one that attracted repeated listens from me in 07, but for this, my thirf Hiromi CD, one can't accuse the japanese wunderkind of being boring.

Roney album cover

Roney album cover
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
Rather than get buried under a lot of electronics, Roney, ably assisted by wife Geri Allen on piano and borther Antoine on reeds among others, uses the modern textures to good effect on this relentlessly brash CD. Allen is brilliant, and young bassist Rashaan Carter reveals a composiitonal flair (Inflorescent) that marks him as one to watch out for in '08

TB album cover

TB album cover
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
As good as advertised (and acclaimed in several fora) this is Blanchard's further maturation into an importnat artist. Powerful, fluid and diverse.

Best of 2007

I love lists. Earlier today I sat and watched a aseries of list shows on the NFLNetwork that included the Top 10 Team Nicknames of All Time.

The following are my choices for 2007*

*I'm including three I bought in 2007, but which were actually released in '06

Antonio Sanchez' Migration

Antonio Sanchez' Migration
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop
One my best-of for 2007