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Monday, March 24, 2008

Africa -Brazil Redux

Last week's progs, it was discovered, had a recording flaw, So they ahve been cleaned up and represented.

MONDAY: The mastery of West African singer, Cheikh Lo, whose music encompasses, Senegalese m’balax, Zairean soukous, Fela Kuti’s , Afro-Beat, Cuban guajira, reggae and Malian Bambara music.

TUESDAY: Quincy Jones talks about his early career, and demonstrates “This Is How I Feel About Jazz”, with a group of handpicked musicians who bring his musical philosophy to life. .

WEDNESDAY: Riffin on a theme by the Blue Monk Jazz gallery, and its recent tribute to Charlie Parker, by Lester Sterling of the Skatalites.

THURSDAY: Afro-Cuban pianist, composer and producer, Omar Sosa, weaves a tapestry of music drawn from the Caribbean, South America and Africa, in his album “Afreecanos”.

FRIDAY: A musical journey that begins in northeastern Brazil, with pianist Jovino Santos Neto, before becoming “dubwize with Noiseshaper., a “dubmeister” from Austria. Visiting, Dakar, for Senegal’s famous Orchestra Baobab, before returning to Jamaica with Cedric Brooks, and the Divine Light.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Papa Loved Mambo: Cachao dies

Another of the truly grat ones has left us:

Cuban bass player, mambo pioneer Cachao dies in Miami area

Associated Press Writer

MIAMI - Cuban bassist and composer Israel "Cachao" Lopez, who is credited with pioneering the mambo style of music, died Saturday at age 89, a family spokesman said.
Known simply as Cachao, the Grammy-winning musician had fallen ill in the past week and died surrounded by family members at Coral Gables Hospital, spokesman Nelson Albareda said.

Cachao left communist Cuba and came to the United States in the early 1960s. He continued to perform into his late 80s, including a performance after the death of trombonist Generoso Jimenez in September 2007.

Cachao was born in Havana in 1918 to a family of musicians. A classically trained bassist, he began performing with the Havana symphony orchestra as a teenager, working under the baton of visiting guest conductors like Herbert von Karajan, Igor Stravinsky and Heitor Villa-Lobos during his nearly 30-year career with the symphony.

He also wrote hundreds of songs in Cuba for bands and orchestras, many based on the classic Cuban music style known as son.

He and his late brother, multi-instrumentalist Orestes Lopez, are known for the creation in the late 1930s of the mambo, which emerged from their improvisational work with the danzon, an elegant musical style that lends itself to slow dancing.

"The origins of `mambo' happened in 1937," Cachao said in a 2004 interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. "My brother and I were trying to add something new to our music and came up with a section that we called danzon mambo. It made an impact and stirred up people. At that time our music needed that type of enrichment."

The mambo was embraced early on and Cuban composers and jazz musicians have tweaked it over the years. It also influenced the development of salsa music.

In the 1950s, Cachao and his friends began popularizing the descarga ("discharge" in Spanish), a raucous jam session incorporating elements of jazz and Afro-Cuban musical approaches.

Cachao left Cuba in 1962, relocating first to Spain, and soon afterward came to New York where he was hired to perform at the Palladium nightclub with the leading Latin bands.

In the United States, he collaborated with such Latin music stars such as Tito Puente, Tito Rodrigues, Machito, Chico O'Farrill, Eddie Palmieri and Gloria Estefan.

He fell into obscurity during the 1980s after he moved to Miami, where he ended up playing in small clubs and weddings.

But his career enjoyed a revival in the 1990s with the help of Cuban-American actor Andy Garcia, who made a 1993 documentary about the bassist's career, "Cachao ... Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos" (Like His Rhythm There Is No Other) and also produced several CDs, including the Grammy-winning album "Ahora Si!" in 2004.

In 2006, Cachao was saluted at two Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra paying tribute to the Latin bass tradition, and he led a mambo all-star band at a JVC Jazz Festival program at Carnegie Hall.

In a statement Saturday, Garcia credited Cachao with being a major influence in Cuban musical history and said his passing marked the end of an era.

"Cachao is our musical father. He is revered by all who have come in contact with him and his music," Garcia said. "Maestro ... you have been my teacher, and you took me in like a son. So I will continue to rejoice with your music and carry our traditions wherever I go, in your honor."

Cuban-born reed player and composer Paquito D'Rivera said Cachao made friends everywhere he went with his affable personality and good sense of humor. D'Rivera said he was working on a piece he had written for the multiple Grammy winner when he heard about the death.

"He was what a great musician should be. He represented what true versatility in music is all about," D'Rivera told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Jazz As A Metaphor Pt II

The formed sub-culture of the jazz scene was set apart by its adopting of a special
language and style of dress. (The Sonny Bradshaw Seven wore rakish Berets.) Although
the image was one of overwhelming maleness, the fan base had a large female
component, who were as knowledgeable about the music as their male partners, and
were respected within the space. This was the youth sub-culture of the 40’s and 50’s prior to the arrival of Rock and Roll and the development of the regions’ popular musics, and as such was meant for dancing, a vitally important element of black life and entertainment.
It was an urban phenomena which drew to it black men marginalized within their
own country by the white political superstructure and who not only found a way to speak without words, but also a way to create a world of their own.
Young men like Sonny Bradshaw and Horace Galbraith made their own radios
and defied the colonial ban on information; they listened to Cuban radio, Germany, calling, Armed Forces Radio (AFRS), Voice of America and anything else they could
pick up.
It was to be the big disappointment of Bradshaw’s life, when the Royal Air Force
call came for technicians and other Air Force personnel from the Colonies and everyone else in his little group of electronic experimenters got the chance to go to England, but he was just one month too young. As he says: I was never to wear the wonderful blue uniform that the girls were crazy about.”
During the school Summer holidays, through the intervention of his teacher from
Central Branch/Conversorium school, Bradshaw acquired a holiday job as a wrapper at
Montague’s Music and Novelty store on Tower Street, and after leaving Kingston
Technical High School was employed full time as clerk in the novelty section where the musical instruments were housed. This was to be the start of Bradshaw’s serious interest in music-making and a long 60-year career.
At Montague’s Music store, Bradshaw discovered European classical music and
got accustomed to the form and style of popular composers as the music teachers who, on the other side of the store, tried out every piece of music before they bought it; at the same time, listening on his home-made radio, he was able to hear the American Hit Parade, and young Jo Stafford singing the popular reworking of Chopin’s Prelude in Eflat into ‘No Other Love’ as well as classical themes such as Debussy’s ‘My Reverie’ of which he says: ‘gave me the opportunity of noting the differences and similarities in the black and white worlds of music; I think it was called musical appreciation, and when I discovered modern classical composer Stravinsky doing things with one of my favourite bands, the Thundering Woody Herman Herd...I knew it was time for experimentation. Of the lot, I rather liked the melodic lines of Chopin, also Beethoven for his percussive and jazzy feel; in addition I had to sell the five-inch statuettes of the ‘great composers’ and noting their attire and hairstyles-long hair and curls, along with hearing their music across the music store, I concluded that these guys were not rich or even high-class individuals, but struggling musicians making a living out of what they believed in. This was very encouraging. I took on Valse Trieste by Sibelius one Saturday when the tore was empty……….this piece attracted me greatly as I kept wondering what chords the
composer was using to accompany that beautiful dirge-like composition. I took home the piece, and with my little harmony book, took all week dissecting the left and right hand notes to arrive at my set of chords and doing a four-part ensemble for trumpet, alto-sax, trombone and tenor sax; after a few corrections, it sounded great, but there was no-where to play it!!’.
As his interest in music grew so did the conflict between his day job and his
occasional night-time playing which caused him to be late for work on those occasions.
He eventually gave up the job to the great annoyance of his father, who nevertheless
supported him by asking Mr. Roy White who was not only the leader of the Roy White
Jump Sultans Orchestra, but also the woodwork teacher at Kingston Technical, if he had a place for Sonny in his band. Mr. White duly auditioned Sonny and gave him a place as third trumpet in the section.
The band rehearsals were kept at Mr. White’s woodwork shop at Beeston Street
and further exposed Bradshaw to black music and musicians, the charts for which Mr.
White imported especially for his band. Although his stint with the Jump Sultans was
short, just a few months, Bradshaw was to be exposed not only to black music and
musicians, but also to politics, as Mr. Whites woodwork shop was also a political
meeting place, as he was an activist for the PNP/TUC coalition.
As Bradshaw’s career developed, it became clear that his main instrument was to
be the ‘Orchestra’. Of all the musicians and bandleaders operating at the time he was the only one who consistently wrote his own arrangements for his band as opposed to using the stock arrangements such as those which his old boss used to bring in from the US. He taught himself to play the bass and the trumpet, later on adding the Fugelhorn, thereby developing into a multi-instrumentalist. He bought himself an arrangers book and taught himself arranging by studying the workings of the brass instruments, the wind instruments etc., and wrote out his experimental ideas, even while having nowhere to play them. Unlike his contemporaries whose works are recorded on vinyl, Bradshaw’s works are written compositions which may be read and interpreted both visually and musically. Says Bradshaw:
“I didn’t just write for my band but for any band that I was in and for other
musicians as well. Milton McPherson also wrote quite a few things, but he was before
In later years Bradshaw would write music for plays on radio, for Pantomimes
and other theatrical productions, radio commercials, themes for JTB (Jamaica Tourist
Board)promotional films as well as his own compositions and arrangements for other
bands and singers.
After making the decision to leave his job at Montagues’ music store in pursuit of
music, Bradshaws’s entrepreneurial spirit was to come to the fore; he had already decided to form his own band and being bored with the stock arrangements being played by the Roy Coburn band which he joined after leaving the jump Sultans, he left the band and stayed home practicing and writing arrangements. According to Bradshaw only his mother understood; his father certainly did not!!
In 1950 the first Sonny Bradshaw seven was formed. The format was based on
that of the Johnny Dankworth Seven, a British band which Bradshaw admired. The
personnel included young Joe Harriott saxophone(just out of Alpha with permission from Sis.Ignatius)and Bradshaw himself on Trumpet with a little scat vocals thrown in. He was twenty-four years old and the youngest bandleader.
Throughout its 40-year life this band would become the half-way house between
Alpha Boys Home and the world of professional music making for a number of
musicians musicians many of whom have subsequently become world-famous within popular music and jazz.
They were immediately successful as a result of the Cocoa Cola Company’s new
Sunday morning promotional shows at the Carib Theatre which employed the new band
with its new sound and after the first show contracted them for three months. The shows were simply called ‘The Coca-Cola Show’.
The young band acquired a following of young fans and Bebop became the music
of the day heralding a new kind of dancing, away from the foxtrots, waltzes and Swing of their parents and on to what they called ‘progressive’ dancing which reflected the improvisatory style of the music.
Bradshaw’s next entrepreneurial foray was the production of a four-page music
magazine called “The Music sheet” in 1952. With encouragement from friend Hartley
Neita, the ‘Music Sheet” was developed into a 20-page magazine called The Ivory
Magazine in conjunction with the Ivory Club, chaired by Vance Lannaman and of which
Neita was a member. After two editions the magazine ceased due to conflicts with
Lanaman; Bradshaw returned to his 4-page Music Sheet which came out monthly and
continued until 1955. At JBC he developed the Jamaica Hit Parade and became the main
supplier for the English market of Jamaican hits. Later, Bradshaw would become an
importer of the Farfisa Organ from Italy which can be heard on many Bradshaw
recordings and which was being used to replace the piano as bands became smaller and
had to be more flexible.
As a result of the success of the Norman Granz productions ‘Jazz at the
Philharmonic’ the Jazz Concert idea arrived in Jamaica in 1954 when Bradshaw and his
friend and piano player from the SB7 Lloyd Adams put on the first Jazz ‘concert’ at the Ward Theatre in Kingston. Previously he had put together at the request of empressario Stephen Hill an All-star band for Hill’s ‘celebrity Concerts’ which was to accompany stars, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Rae, and Johnny Mathis. This ‘Jazz Concert’ however, was to be a Carnegie Hall style event, in the manner of the Norman Granz productions, presenting music for listening as opposed to music for dancing. The programme included presentations of trios, quartets, quintets, the SB7 with Strings and bongos, and the Big Band (16-pieces) which has remained in existence to the present.
Note; The Milton McPherson Orchestra was a society band along with the Ivy
Graydon, Whylie Lopez and George Alberga bands. The ivory club was a group of
young professionals and civil servants who were music lovers. They met at the YWCA
on North street where the Ministry of Labour now sits. Copley Johnson was the Vice
chair. Lannaman went on to develop ‘Lannaman Shipping’ The Sonny Bradshaw Seven
accompanied Carmen McRae twice. The Big Band has subsequently been renamed The
Jamaica Big Band

Monday, March 17, 2008

A 'Bird' flies South on Riffin' this week



MONDAY: The mastery of West African singer, Cheikh Lo, whose music encompasses, Senegalese m’balax, Zairean soukous, Fela Kuti’s , Afro-Beat, Cuban guajira, reggae and Malian Bambara music.

TUESDAY: Quincy Jones Riffs on “This Is How I feel About Jazz”, with a band of handpicked musicians, who bring his musical philosophy to life.

WEDNESDAY: Riffin on a theme by the Blue Monk Jazz gallery, and its recent tribute to Charlie Parker, by Lester Sterling of the Skatalites.

THURSDAY: Afro-Cuban pianist, composer and producer, Omar Sosa, weaves a tapestry of music drawn from the Caribbean, South America and Africa, in his album “Afreecanos”.

FRIDAY: Northern Brazilian musical styles, by pianist Jovino Santos Neto, and the music of Orchestra Baobab of Senegal.

Jazz As A Metaphor for Life pt. 1


In his book “The Steelband Movement” Stephen Steumpfle quotes the Guyanese
writer Wilson Harris’ call for a ‘History of the region that moves beyond the chronicling
of imperialism to include “the arts of the imagination” and suggests that the art-forms
created by slaves in their New World “represented the renascence of a new corpus of
sensibility that could translate and accommodate African and other legacies within a new
architecture of cultures” and “is of utmost importance and native to the CARIBBEAN,
perhaps to the Americas as a whole.”
For my own part he could well be speaking of the African- American art-form
JAZZ which has flourished in the Caribbean, having been born there, spreading its
tentacles throughout the world, and claiming aficionados, both black and white. Within
Caribbean Jazz one of the most influential figures of the colonial and post colonial period
has been Jamaican composer/arranger, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Sonny
Within the Caribbean the Jamaican population is, perhaps, the most entertainment
oriented, with a wide range of entertainment options being offered continually, from
reggae shows to gospel concerts to fashion shows to dance presentations; from tea parties
to brunch to lunch to major imported star events and concert recitals, with theatre being a
year-round activity offering roots plays and comedies. With the exception of the actual
music events (Reggae shows, Gospel shows, concert recitals), all other events are
accompanied by music, jazz being one of the forms most often used in this context, Roots
plays being the obvious exception. As a result Jamaica has had the longest era of
sustained Jazz activity in the region.
The political and intellectual objection to North American cultural invasion
expressed by those of nationalist/socialist ideology has resulted in a resistance to
anything supposedly North American which has had the effect of dismissing Jazz as
having nothing to do with 1) the Caribbean, and 2) with Black people, this last being the
most unfortunate, since it demonstrates a gap in the information line and the throwing
away of a very precious baby with some bath water!!
Perhaps because the music arena is always a site of cultural contestation there was
and is conflict between the many areas of musical tradition in the Caribbean, tied up with
the struggle for cultural identity and social space.
There are those trained in European classical music, who embrace that musical
tradition and regard it as the only socially acceptable way to be entertained, all things
European being the ideal. Others, equally well trained, but not as enamored of the
European tradition, and not belonging to the ruling upper and middle classes, have used
their skills to develop in other ways, such as the jazz player, and the pannist.
The use of grass-roots cultural forms in the 50's by the power-seeking middle
class nationalists everywhere in the Caribbean, saw the emergence of popular music
forms that were to become Nationalist symbols of identity and of resistance to the ruling
European elite. Jazz, being too much of an individualistic and skill-oriented performance
art to fit into the frame work of the new cultural policies being developed, was politically
marginalized, in spite of the fact that jazz musicians and professional musicians in
general, come traditionally from the black underclass. These same musicians were to
become the artistic force behind the development of the regions many popular forms,
creating the musical structures upon which hung the lyrics of the songs which would
dominate the region for the next fifty years.
In Trinidad it was the Steel-Pan and Calypso which were to take on political
significance in the Nationalist struggle; in Cuba it was the ‘Son’ which began to take on
more Afro-Cuban elements, ‘the result of an insightful grasp by Cuba’s leader, of the
deeper cultural realities of Caribbean life in terms of the centrality of the African
presence in the cultural calculus’, thereby ‘invoking an Afro-Latinity’. Rex M.
Nettleford. Caribbean Cultural Identity: The Case for Jamaica, 1978 p205. This Afro-
Latinity went on to give the world of Jazz, Cu-Bop and Re-bop from the term ‘Arriba” as
well as the dance forms Mambo and Rumba.
In Haiti it was Voodoo-Jazz which employs folk themes and voodoo rhythms. In
Dominican Republic it was the Merengue and in Jamaica it was Ska. Not only was Ska a
creation of the Jazz musicians of the day, but one Jazz musician in particular was to be
instrumental in bringing the music and its young exponents to wider public notice
through his radio programme TADP(Teenage Dance Party), which was broadcast five
days per week, and stayed on air for five years. That musician was Sonny Bradshaw, who
today is also at the forefront of the struggle to keep jazz alive and recognized as the
classical music of black people and the musical resource from which other popular black
music forms spring. Employed by the fledgling JBC (Jamaica Broadcasting
Corporation)as a member of the JBC Orchestra, Bradshaw was kept on as staff producer
when the orchestra was disbanded, and being of nationalist/socialist orientation, he was
himself acutely aware of the need for nationalist symbols and for music to reflect the
growing self-awareness of the population.
In this regard, he saw no conflict between his love and playing of jazz, and his
promotion of Jamaican popular music. He himself was to go on to experiment with big
band arrangements of Caribbean themes, Reggae and dancehall compositions, his most
controversial work being his re-arrangement of the National Anthem, which employs four
bars of reggae rhythm accompanying the words “justice, truth be ours for ever, Jamaica
land We love”. Jazz then, according to Kamau Braithwaite, “Was the way to disrupt the
hegemony of culture in the British west Indies, and to open the way for the development
in indigenous culture, and functions as a mode of resistance and aesthetic counterpoint to
mainstream Anglo-American Music and the European classical tradition”. The Art of
Kamau Braithwaite, Stewart Brown. P.64/76
Losing ground to the new Jamaican popular music, Jazz became a victim of the
cultural engineering that was taking place and was thereafter demonised as being elitist; it
nevertheless maintained its following among the older demographic who remembered,
and for whom it was their rallying cry, and their vehicle of resistance and transcendence.
Most of those jazz musicians, with few exceptions, were disenfranchised ex Alpha and
Stony Hill inmates whose choice of music instead of woodwork or other practical skills,
left them on the edge of employability, just as it does today, even though popular musics
in the Caribbean, especially Reggae, can command huge audiences and huge payrolls.
Those musicians who could find work in the recording studios which were
beginning to open up, such as Studio One run by Clement ‘Coxone’ Dodd, stayed in
Jamaica and became the musical force behind the songs and sounds which would become
the hallmark of the ‘60s. Many left their homeland, heralding the near death of Jazz at
home while becoming major contributors to the development of jazz wherever they went.
This response to the Nationalist movements of the period was to be echoed in many of
the territories in the region, Bradshaw being the exception, never having migrated, and
choosing instead to fight his battles on familiar ground.
Alpha Boys Homes was a Catholic run home for homeless or abandoned boys.
The Stony Hill School was a Government run institution for delinquent boys

Pt II on Wednesday

JazzFest School & Community Band contest launched

The Sonny Bradshaw Community & School Band Exposure Competition was announced At The Lunch Time Concert at The Jamaica School Of Music – Edna Manley College of The Performing Arts on Thursday 13th March.

The programme included performances by the student music body under the direction of Mr. Ibo Cooper and featured a rehearsal-performance by The horn sections of The Jamaica Big Band conducted by Mr. Sonny Bradshaw.
Details of the competition, established over ten years ago without corporate support was announced with invitations for preparation to all schools with a music department who may enter groups from trios to big band with wind instruments.

Community and School Bands may enter while preparing three music items, a Duke Ellington composition, a Bob Marley composition and a Blues composition of choice.
Assessment will be conducted by a Music Committee comprised of Ms. Marjorie Whylie O.D., Mr. Frankie Campbell O.D. and Mr. Harold Tinglin music teacher.

The selected top three entrants will be exposed during The Public Community Concerts during Jazz Week June 9-14, while the Winners will be presented on Closing Father’s Day Jazz of The Festival at The Shaw Park Beach Hotel.

Prizes will be announced before the conclusion of The Community & School Band Competition.

Past winners in this competition were Herbert Morrison School, Browns Town High,

The Alpha Band (three times) and last year’s winners Dint Hill Technical among others.

Entry Forms may be had from The Jazz Centre, 22 East Kings House Road, Kingston 6 Ph; 927-3544.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ocho Rios Jazz artist profile - Nadje

Nadjé Leslie

The coveted title “Junior Instrumental Grand Champion of the World” was won in 2006 by a Jamaican!! Nadjé Leslie’s reggae violin piece mesmerized the 12-panel judges at the 10th annual “performing arts Olympics” named the World Championships of the Performing Arts which culminated at the glamorous Hollywood Palladium on Saturday, August 11, 2006.

Nadjé won the beautiful star-shaped acrylic trophy, as well as 3 gold medals for the three violin pieces entered (“Moto Perpetuum”, “Rock pon Jesus” and Maxi Priest’s “Close to you”). She further won three plaques for the overall champion for each instrumental category - classical, contemporary and original works, as well as the “Industry” gold medal for Suitability for the Music Industry. Nadjé also won medals for dancing with the Esor Dance Ensemble in the Pop and Folk categories.

In addition to performing at many corporate, civic, weddings and church events, Nadjé also entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Festival Competition. She was crowned National Instrumental Champion 2006 and was awarded 2 trophies and 3 gold medals for her violin solos as well as 2 golds for dancing with ESOR Dance Company.

She went on to represent Jamaica at the CARIFESTA cultural celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago.

She recently performed at Culturama 2007 in Tampa and Coral Springs, Florida, Caribana in Hartford Connecticut, and at the Air Jamaica Jerk Festival in Fort Lauderdale. While in Connecticut she received a Civic Award from the Mayor of Hartford. Nadjé is the recent recipient of the Kiwanis Youth in Excellence Award for the Arts.

Nadjé, now a fourteen year old student of Wolmers High School for Girls is pleased to present her first Album, Violin Girl in Jamaica- “NADJE VOLUME 1”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tobago Jazz by boat

Yacht your way to Tobago Jazz

If you haven’t booked your flights and accommodation for the Plymouth Jazz Festival (Tobago) as yet, you’re probably pulling your hair out wondering how you you’re going to get there, and where you’re going to stay, because from all reports accommodation is booked to the hilt, and flights from Trinidad are gone! Plus the ones Caribbean Airlines recently added have been snatched up.

This happens every year, and locals and international visitors alike are left in mid-air wondering how they’re going to make it to Tobago, from Trinidad. If you’re coming from Europe or the UK, you stand a better chance of getting flights directly to Tobago. Delta Airlines also offers direct flights to Tobago out of Atlanta, Georgia. Now, for those who have to get from Trinidad to Tobago, if you were just about to plan how you’re going to camp out at the airport hoping that people don’t take their flights (so you can get their spots) or that you get on the delayed lists, STOP! We’ve found the perfect, alternative solution for you, courtesy the brilliant people at the Yachting Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT).

YSATT is offering a special where you and your crew can charter a yacht for the weekend, which will take you to Tobago, and double as accommodation. This way you can also sail around to different bays in the day, and return to Plymouth for the show at night, then hop back onboard for a lulling sleep.

For further information and to book a yacht, contact Gina Hatt-Carvalho, the Administrator at Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (Shipwright's Building, CrewsInn Marina, Western Main Road, Chaguaramas). Her telephone number is 634-4938, and you can email her at ysatt@tstt.net.tt or info@ysatt.org. Be sure to let Gina know you heard the good news from MACO

From Dub to Calypso on Riffin' this week



MONDAY: The Dub as indigenous resistance, by indigenous peoples. The Nublu Orchestra led by Butch Morris, presents, another sonic view, not far removed from dub. Cuban pianist, composer, Omar Sosa, brings the journey full circle, by drawing on the diaspora for his magical sound.

TUESDAY: Brad Mehdlau’s Trio “Live”, is a treat, by a pianist who relishes both the improvisational and the formal aspects of music, while indulging, eclectic melodic taste.

WEDNESDAY: A landmark Festival, celebrates its 50th year with a group of All Stars, James Moody, Terence Blanchard and Nenna Freelon, at the Monterey Jazz festival.

THURSDAY: The cool sounds of the bossa nova, a Brazilian style, that swept America and the world.

FRIDAY: “Calypso Awakening”, recaptures, calypso, rising in the mid-fifties, one of its greatest periods, with Mighty Sparrow and Lord Melody.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Happy Birthday O C

In recognition of the 78th birthday of jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, the following excerpt from his biography at AllAboutjazz.com

Born in a largely segregated Fort Worth, Texas on March 9, 1930, Coleman's father died when he was seven. His seamstress mother worked hard to buy Coleman his first saxophone when he was 14 years old. Teaching himself sight-reading from a how-to piano book, Coleman absorbed the instrument and began playing with local rhythm and blues bands.

In his search for a sound that expressed reality as he perceived it, Coleman knew he was not alone. The competitive cutting sessions that denoted 'bebop' were all about self-expression in the highest form. “I could play and sound like Charlie Parker note-for-note, but I was only playing it from method. So I tried to figure out where to go from there,” Coleman said.

Los Angeles proved to be the laboratory for what came to be called free jazz. There began to gather around Ornette a core of players who would figure largely in his life: a lanky teenage trumpeter, Don Cherry and a cherubic double bass player with a pensive, muscular style named Charlie Haden, drummers Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins also joined the intense exploratory rehearsals in which Coleman was honing his vocabulary on a plastic sax, despite the lack of live gigs.

But simply by persisting, Coleman's creativity attracted champions. Bebop bassist, Red Mitchell (an old associate of Cherry's) brought the saxophone player's to Contemporary Records' Lester Koenig, originally intending to sell him some of his compositions. After realizing the difficulty musicians were having in playing the music Koenig asked Coleman if he could play the tunes himself. The meeting led to the Coleman’s debut 1958 album, Something Else.

The energy and electricity that had been building around Ornette and his players exploded during a now legendary season that Coleman played at the Five Spot jazz club in New York in November, 1959. Intrigued by rumors of the unorthodox young Texan's approach, buzz preceded the shows and as the initial two weeks extended to a six-week run, the revolutionary Coleman quartet became the must-see event of the season

3000 Jazz Events In One Year

From the New york Times

Published: March 5, 2008
Jazz at Lincoln Center has announced its 2008-9 program, with what it calls its biggest season ever: more than 3,000 events.

The plans show an increase in educational events, concerts for children and worldwide touring by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which started working regularly in 1992 with Wynton Marsalis as leader. “All the expansions are based on specific requests,” said Mr. Marsalis, the executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The pianist Ahmad Jamal will perform with his trio and in collaboration with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (Sept. 18 to 20). There will be a meeting of East Coast and West Coast big-band styles with the orchestra and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (Oct. 23 to 25). A mini-festival built around Thelonious Monk from Nov. 20 to 22 will include the pianist Marcus Roberts with the orchestra at the Rose Theater and a performance by the pianist Danilo Perez, doing his Latin-rhythm reinventions of Monk in the Allen Room.

There will also be a two-night stand by Eddie Palmieri’s Latin-jazz big band (Feb. 6 to 7); a 50th-anniversary concert in honor of two landmark albums, John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” (Feb. 12 to 14); and a run of concerts by a quintet led by the keyboardist Chick Corea and the guitarist John McLaughlin (April 23 to 25).

In addition, the season will include the 14th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival, one of the organization’s most effective educational projects (May 8 to 10); a swing dance party in the Allen Room (May 29); and a series of duo concerts.

Topics of the talks, panel discussions and jazz history classes at the organization’s Irene Diamond Education Center will include Bix Beiderbecke, Ornette Coleman, Lester Young (who will be the subject of a class taught by the clarinetist and saxophonist Don Byron) and the question of why there are not more women in jazz.

Full details on dates and ticket sales are available at jalc.org

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Should We Weep or Laugh?

Can't say I'm a fan of the so-called smooth genre, but we have to be careful how we bury genres prematurely

Smooth Jazz: Gentle Into That Good Night?As the Genre Declines, Stations Switch To New Formats in D.C. and Nationwide
By Marc Fisher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 9, 2008; M05

Born in focus groups conducted in windowless conference rooms, named by a
radio station consultant, derided by critics, smooth jazz vanished from
Washington's FM radio dial as the month began. It was 14 years old.

Actually, it was a listener who uttered the phrase that a consultant used to
sum up this fusion of instrumental music styles. At a focus group held in
Chicago by Broadcast Architecture, the firm that first sold radio stations
on the new format in the early 1990s, a woman who was asked to describe the
songs being tested blurted out "smooth jazz."

What she was describing was a jazzlike sound without the jazz essential of
improvisation, a melody-driven, generally instrumental set of songs played
primarily on instruments used in jazz. But even that fungible definition
fell apart as smooth jazz spread to about 200 radio stations, including
Washington's WJZW (105.9 FM), which switched to a 1960s-heavy rock oldies
format. In recent years, smooth jazz came to mean not only saxmen Kenny G
and Dave Koz but even singers Norah Jones, India.Arie and Sting.

Despite hoots and catcalls from fans of straight-ahead jazz and yawns from
pop and rock lovers, smooth jazz was a rare kind of success -- a genre of
music created not so much by the artists and the record industry as by radio
programmers who identified a style, found an audience and inspired musicians
to make the product.

As far back as the 1970s, the jazz fusion movement's lighter hits, from
artists such as Bob James, George Benson and Spyro Gyra, won airplay not
only on the handful of jazz stations around the country but on light rock
and easy-listening stations. Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" from 1977 was
probably the first smooth jazz hit, even if the genre didn't yet exist.

It wasn't until 1987, when a Los Angeles station became the first major
outlet to devote itself to the music of David Sanborn, the Rippingtons and
Al Jarreau, that a financial incentive developed for instrumentalists to
write and record music that would serve as the aural wallpaper that this new
format sought.

Radio programmers looking for a way to serve office workers and stressed-out
commuters built a recipe including ingredients from fusion jazz, light R&B,
pop balladeers and a few straight-jazz artists who followed guitarist
Benson's lead toward less intellectually challenging, more melodic numbers.

>From the start, critics hated the stuff, dismissing it as the elevator music
of the '90s. Michael B¿rub¿, a cultural critic at Penn State University,
defined the genre as "a form of musical waterskiing over the groove." But
smooth jazz stations generally did well, winning an audience that was
unusual for radio -- racially mixed, crossing boundaries of age, geography
and income level.

Bird Lives! at Temple Hall tomorrow

March 12 (that's next Thursday) will mark 53 years since Charlie 'Bird' parker left this earth

The following is not explicitly a tribute to the sax legend, but rather an exploration of his legacy, on the instrument, on the music and on the culture.

Herbie Miller
Blue Monk Production

Lester Sterling’s Quartet

A Tribute To Charlie “Yardbird” Parker

Blue Monk Jazz Gallery
At Temple Hall Estate
Saturday Match 8 | 8 pm
Sunday March 9 | 4pm
20 minutes from Manor Park
Music Charge $500

Altosaxophonist Lester “Ska” Sterling is one of Jamaica’s most influential musicians. Born into a musical family (brothers Gladstone, Roy and Keith are all well known in their own right) Sterling learned his craft at the famous Alpha Boys School before performing on the busy Jamaican jazz scene in the competitive 1950s. Once an armature boxer and before turning to the saxophone, a recognized trumpeter, Sterling is a founding member of the legendary Skatalites. On the literally hundreds of recordings on which he has participated, Sterling’s solo features, while remaining fresh, intelligent and inspired, have excited listeners for over four decades. On each listening, songs like Lee Harvey Oswald, Indian Summer and Pupa Lick, remain among the hallmark of songs whose musical excellence set standards that define the finest quality that exemplifies Jamaican popular music.

Make this Ornithology weekend extra special by enjoying two unforgettable evenings at the Blue Monk Jazz Gallery at the Temple

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ocho RIos Jazz Profiles - Yolanda Brown

Saxophonist YolanDa Brown is considered by many to be one of a kind.

To hear YolanDa play music is to know her…

From very early musical beginnings she has come to make the Tenor and Soprano Saxophones her very own.

YolanDa Brown expresses her innermost feelings through her music and in so doing, never fails to rise to the next level with each performance. A belief in the open truth of music has seen her develop a wide genre vocabulary and songbook, backed by an undeniably awesome performance talent.

YolanDa is as comfortable re-interpreting a current chart-topper, as she is reprising a Jazz standard or launching into an original composition. Always in evidence is her raw emotion which as become synonymous with the YolanDa Brown sound.

Born and raised in London, YolanDa Brown has grown up surrounded by an eclectic mix of music, the influences of which can be heard in every breath she plays and in every note she writes.

She references Jazz, Afro-Jazz, Gospel, Reggae, Salsa, Hip-hop, R&B, with consummate ease, even going back to Mento throughout her performances, but her style and phrasing always remains her own.

With such a musically diverse DNA to her soul, is it any wonder that YolanDa Brown touches so many people through the voice of her music!

In conjunction with her music, YolanDa Brown has completed a Masters in Management Science, as well as a Masters in Social Research Methods and is currently studying for her PhD at the University of Kent. She also fronted a TV talk show on a Sky Channel.

YolanDa Brown has performed in numerous venues including: Jazz Café, Café de Paris, St. Martin in- the- Fields, Smollensky’s on the Strand, Mermaid Theatre, Cargo, The Broadway Theatre and Hackney Empire.

A worldwide performer, she has also played for the High Commission in Jamaica, Jazz venues in Miami, the Frankfurt Auto Show, the Rotterdam Carnival and the IslaVuelta festival in Spain, to name but a few.

The release of YolanDa Brown’s debut EP, entitled “Finding My Voice” and her sold out debut concert at the Mermaid Theatre London in July 2007, were both met with rave reviews from press and her ever growing fan base.

We now await with great anticipation the DVD release of that magical evening.

YolanDa Brown has worked with artists ranging from MOBO Awards Best Album Singer Terri Walker to Mercury Music Prize Saxophonist Soweto Kinch, Chicago Star Brenda Edwards, Jazz Calypso Legend Russ Henderson MBE and Queen of Lovers Rock Janet Kay to name a few...

In response to overwhelming popular demand, YolanDa Brown held her second solo concert on Saturday 8th December 2007, at the prestigious Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square, London. The show at a venue twice the capacity of her debut concert, was also sold out.

Many people have come to realise the uniqueness of the artist that is YolanDa Brown.

YolanDa Brown's main aim through her music is to "Make the Saxophone Her Voice..."

“Bright young saxophone talent – sounding somewhere between Stan Getz and Courtney Pine (minus the showboating chops) – Brown's music is an accessible mix of classic jazz tones with a twist of R&B and funk. Something of an unusual 'crossover' star in the making (she's not a singer for starters)”

“A name you are going to hear you are going to hear lots and tonnes and loads about in the not too distant future”
-- BBC London

“One to look out for in 2008”
-- Choice FM

Monday, March 03, 2008

Riffin' This Week

Tonight's show not too long ended (we accessed mail a bit late today) but -as usual - the rest of the Riffin' Week looks great. Check it out



MONDAY: “Cannon Re-loaded”, a celebration of the music of Cannonball Adderley with Tom Scott and special guest Nancy Wilson.

TUESDAY: “The Duke Ellington Legacy”, interpreted by his nephew, Edward Ellington, the second.

WEDNESDAY: Master drummer, Poncho Sanchez, leads an Afro-Cuban mix with a twist of Booker T and the Mg’s.

THURSDAY: To Be Or Not To Be Funky. Saxophonist, Maceo Parker answers the call in blazin fashion, with a funky Big Band.

FRIDAY: Joe Gibbs, remembered. A great producer of 70’s reggae. “Spirits In the Material World”, a Reggae Tribute to the Police, featuring, Junior Reid, Ali Campbell, Inner Circle and Tarrus Riley.


Kofi Blows 'The Silent Truth'

Award winning saxophonist Tony Kofi has performed with many of the leading talents in the world of Jazz and popular music having toured extensively throughout the world, most recently as the youngest member of the World Saxophone Quartet.

Spring 2008 will see the release of Tony's third album 'The Silent Truth' under the Specific Jazz label. 'The Silent Truth'sees the critically acclaimed Tony Kofi Quartet reunited, that Kofi perfected while playing Monk. "It was only a matter of time before revisiting the magic of the quartet format," says Kofi. "It's been four years since recording the music of Thelonious Monk (on the album All Is Know), so I thought 2008 was the right time to bring us all back together, same line-up only this time performing original compositions, having solidified our group sound from the first recording". The pieces range in mood from the driving swing of If I Spoke My Mind to the playful and gently reflective Cicada, and demonstrate a continuing maturity in the sound of both the group and the individual players.

The Tony Kofi Quartet features Winston Clifford on the drums, pianist Jonathan Gee and bassist Ben Hazelton. The Silent Truth will be released on 7 April 2008 with an album launch concert on 21 April 2008 at The Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ocho Rios Jazz Artist - Lila

Lila (LEE-LAH), the essence of love, good, creativity, strength, and imagination. Lila is a seasoned, professional multi-instrumentalist whose dedication to her craft is shown through her musical expression, compositions, and enthusiastic performances. Her primary instrument is the violin and her mastery of the instrument’s intricacies gives her the innate ability to touch the heart, soul, and spirit of her listeners. Lila is.

While at Georgetown University, Lila was selected out of a nationwide audition to participate in the New York String Seminar Orchestra, where she had the opportunity to be mentored by Maestro Emeritus Alexander Schneider and Maestro Isaac Stern. Through consortium, she went on to become a founding member of The Howard University String Quartet, and a student at The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. After participating in classical performances at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center, Lila felt a strong desire to explore the musical genre of jazz and became enthralled with incorporating violin and other orchestral instruments into this endless sea of creativity that is given to us all through jazz.

In the last year, Lila has performed in numerous venues locally and nationally including The Memphis Italian Festival, The NeoSoulville website launch party, and Fire and Ice Jazz Club. In September of 2007, Lila opened the Congressional Black Caucus’ Jazz Forum and Concert with her rendition of “The National Anthem” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and she was the featured entertainment for the VIP Reception at The Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference. In October of 2007, this outstanding band also opened for and backed up The Drifters at a show in Missouri. Locally, you can hear Lila and her soulful jazz ensemble at Café Soul Jazz Club, www.cafesoulrestaurant.com, in Memphis, TN on the third (3rd) Friday of every month. Additional performances are listed as booked via Lila’s website, www.musicbylila.com .

Currently, Lila is an Orchestra Instructor at a local middle school in Memphis, TN, where she has designed a youth, jazz and hip-hop orchestra. She also manages her own private studio in which she teaches Suzuki violin and piano. In June of 2008, Lila will be a featured artist at The Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival, where this year’s theme is “Women in Jazz”. Lila has agreed not only to perform, but also to conduct workshops throughout the festival week at The Alpha Boys Orphanage, which will be the festival community’s fundraising focus this year.

Jazzofonik & Ocho Rios Jazz

Jazz First is first with news on the Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival, scheduled for Jun 8 -15. Official pre-launch of jazz Month takes place in May.
Keep coming to Jazz First for links and updates on artistes, events, travel, listening parties and other developments.
Help me to make this the most succesdful Ocho Rios Jazz fest ever and show thata majority straight-ahead jazz event hasaa vibrant future in Jamaica