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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vol. 5 # 11: Anticipating Jazz month, Stanley Clarke goes unplugged & more


EDITOR'S NOTE: yes, the issue is late, andfor that I apologize. Its hard maintaining a reg schedule when you're also moving into a new home, moving a new relationship to another level, etc, TMI
Anyhow, better late than never. Enjoy and please let us have your comments

Mike Edwards

n this issue:

- June is Jazz month;

- What is Jazz?: A history and time line

- blogging jazz (the first 5 years);

- Stanley Clarke's Jazz in the Garden reviewed;

- Live review: Christopher's Jams

- lOok out for: Sunday Lyme


Following our previous news line cocnerning the provisional jazz programmes, here is a


Festival Performers
Marie Claire (Dominican Singer)
Marje Whylie (Jamaica)

Wayne Batchelor (bass)
Harold Butler, Leslie Butler (Miami)
Andre Campbell (Jamaica – piano)
Foggy Mullings, Myrna Hague, Obeah Denton
Jon Williams
Peter Ashbourne
Courtney Sinclair
Kathy Brown; Byard Lancaster (Sax/Flute) Sonny Bradshaw
Desi Jones & Skool
Calvin Mitchell (Congas)
Ouida (Percussion)
Desi Jones Skool & Karen Smith (Mutabaruka Jazz)
Lisa Chavous & Byard Jazz (Philly)
Max Klezmer Band (Poland)
Keith Waithe Macusi Players (England)
Community & School Band Finalists
Fab 5 Inc - The Ska-Reggae Revival & Junior Soul
Jamaica Big Band

Leadingthe overseas charge are Byard Lancaster, with Lisa Chavous, Keith Waithe Macusi Players (UK) and the Max Klezmer Band (all the way from Poland)


It was back in 2004, shortly after the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival that year, that inveterate Web surfer and “incurable music aficionado” Michael Edwards, came across a link (“It might have been an ad on another site, I don’t remember now”) that would change his life.

That link, to Blogger.com, then an independent site (subsequently acquired by Google), offered the music journalist the opportunity to set up the equivalent of a web page on jazz at no cost, the major input being time and the sourcing and organization of content.

He jumped at it and the blog debuted in July 2004 as jazzofonik jamaica (“Jazzofonik” being a name he had already coined for himself), then changing about two years ago to Jazz First and now (since March of this year) evolving to Jazz Buss. “I added the extra “S” to convey the Jamaican sense of the music ‘getting a buss’ in terms of popularity, and also to align with the ‘double z’ in jazz” he explains.

For a time, Edwards also ran the blog in tandem with ‘Jazz Notes’ a weekly column he initiated and wrote while at the Jamaica Observer. His work has also appeared in the US magazine, Jazz Times, as well as the premier website, allaboutjazz.com. Occasionally, at events like Jazz in the Gardens and Seh Supmn Poetry, he also spins music from his own collection (not limited to jazz) under the moniker DJ-E and the Unpopular Uprising.

Edwards, who styles himself as “an advocated for the music” is pleased to see the growth in support for live musical performances, and for a greater diversity of genres being presented under the banner of live music. As MC of the growing twice-weekly “Live Jammin’ @ Christopher’s (previously Live Music Nation) at the New Kingston nightspot, he’s seen some of those changes first-hand. Even though the series ventures way beyond jazz, its still, Edwards says, a heartening development.

Against that backdrop, his biggest disappointment - the negative disposition of the media and the electronic media in particular to jazz – is even further magnified. “With precious few exceptions, broadcast media in Jamaica has left jazz for dead. With 18 radio stations, it’s just a disgrace that the same country that produced the Skatalites, Ernie Ranglin, Monty Alexander, Harold Butler and so many more does not have a single station dedicated to improvised music.”

The genre, he adds is struggling even in the US, with radio stations either closing down or dropping jazz from their programming, and also long-established jazz venues closing their doors – and that was even before the current recession.

But one big bright spot has been the World Wide Web, where the genre has practically exploded. Sites like My Space, jazztimes.com and the aforementioned allaboutjazz.com as well as Web streaming and radio outfits like last.fm and jazzradio are helping to push the music to the four corners and –more importantly – bring aficionados from around the globe together in the virtual space.

For his own part, his involvement with jazz as a journalist and blogger have taken him to events and festivals in Atlanta, Miami, St Lucia and Barbados, as well as annually to the Ocho Rios Jamaica Jazz festival and the former Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival (now Jamaica Jazz & Blues), with Toronto, New York and possibly Italy beckoning this year.

Assessing the last five years, Edwards, who continues to write features freelance, as well as promote music events is “Its been a good run, considering that this is unpaid, unsponsored labour done almost totally on my own steam, but the first five years are really just the warm-up,” he says. “My advocacy for jazz is about to enter a whole new phase, a phase where we more fully exploit the connections the Web makes possible.”

Thus, the Jazz Buss, Edwards says, is a “a vehicle with no terminal. It will stop, but it never parks.”


CD Review
Artist: Stanley Clarke Acoustic Trio
Title: Jazz in the Garden
Label: Heads Up

players: Stanley Clarke (bs); Hiromi(p) Lenny White(dr)

A stroll in the Park

Its somewhat hard to bleieve that Stanley Clarke never recorded an acoustic album asas leader before now. of course, he's well known for his varied exploits on electric bass (most recently in tandem with fellow virtuousos Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, as SMV), but one somehow always assumed that Clarke had cut his teeth as an acoustic bassist (which he did), and therefore had already established his credentials on the instrument with a recording under his name.

As it turns out, there's little for Clarke to prove as a player, a question settled by any one of the tracks on this CD. He ropes in old friend Lenny White on drums in the Japanese 'whirlwind' Hiromi, he has drafted a young but rapidly maturing player who has already fulfilled the promise of her prodigious talents displayed on her opening albums (Another Mind, and Brain)

The three combine well, especially on Sakura, Sakura and on Global Tweak (the latter a piano-drum duet). But its the catalog songs - Ellington's "Take The Coltrane" Joe Henderson's "Isotope" and Miles Davis' "Solar" that are most engaging. Somewhat less so, but clealry well-intentioned, is a cover of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' "Under the Bridge" which closes the CD. There, Hiromi shunes, but Clarke sounds like has picked upa an electric bass during the session.

Whether or not, its an enjoyable session from the maestro, and one hopes there'll be more "Garden " excursions for this group.

Recommended from the Web:www.jazzonthetube.com - classic jazz videos from all the greats
www.globaljazznetwork.ning.comThe Jazz Network Worldwide is now opening its doors to the artists that would like to submit one tune for compilation CD's that will be offered as an artistic collective in all genres of Jazz.

For those of you that are interested in being considered, please send the one song that you would like to submit to jaijai@womanofjazz.com and share what catagory of jazz it falls under along with your CD cover in jpg format and bio. Note in subject: JAZZ COMPILATION - STRAIGHT AHEAD (or whatever sub-set you fall under) so I can catagorize when received.

This process allows for us to virally market all the members in The Jazz Network, it allows for us to virally promote each other and the compilation set forth. TJWN has a promotion designed just for this effort as well.

There will be further instructions as to how the CD's will be distributed and the necessary legal paperwork will be issued that states your involvement, compensation and distribution once your music has been selected.

10% of the proceeds of each compilation CD will go to jazz musicians in financial duress whether that be with physical ailments, or just plain everyday needs that one would struggle through. This portion of the revenue will be handled accordingly through a non-profit organization that we couple with that supports these types of situations. I believe we have to help and heal each other through our gifts, music, skill sets and most of all 'heart'.


The music called Jazz was born sometime around 1895 in New Orleans. It combined elements of Ragtime, marching band music and Blues. What differentiated Jazz from these earlier styles was the widespread use of improvisation, often by more than one player at a time. Jazz represented a break from Western musical traditions, where the composer wrote a piece of music on paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the score. In a Jazz piece, the song is often just a starting point or frame of reference for the musicians to improvise around. The song might have been a popular ditty or blues that they didn't compose, but by the time they were finished with it they had composed a new piece that often bore little resemblance to the original song. Many of these virtuoso musicians were not good sight readers and some could not read music at all, nevertheless their playing thrilled audiences and the spontaneous music they created captured a joy and sense of adventure that was an exciting and radical departure from the music of that time. The first Jazz was played by African-American and Creole musicians in New Orleans. The cornet player, Buddy Bolden is generally considered to be the first real Jazz musician. Other early players included Freddie Keppard, Bunk Johnson and Clarence Williams. Although these musicians names are unknown to most people, then and now, their ideas are still being elaborated on to this day. Most of these men could not make a living with their music and were forced to work menial jobs to get by. The second wave of New Orleans Jazz musicians like Joe "King" Oliver, Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton formed small bands that took the music of these older men and increased the complexity and dynamic of their music, as well as gaining greater commercial success. This music became known as "Hot Jazz", because of the often breakneck speeds and amazing improvised polyphony that these bands produced. A young virtuoso cornet player named Louis Armstrong was discovered in New Orleans by King Oliver. Armstrong soon grew to become the greatest Jazz musician of his era and eventually one of the biggest stars in the world. The impact of Armstrong and other Jazz musicians altered the course of both popular and Classical music. African-American musical styles became the dominant force in 20th century music.


African Roots
Jazz is a mixture of many types of music. However, jazz's roots can easily be traced back to African origin. Unlike European music, the African music was based on simple melodies and complex cross-rhythms. Classic European music differed in that it was based on complex melodies and simple rhythms. The African music also featured a lot of slurs, vibrato, syncopated rhythms, and "blue notes". These blue notes were neither somewhere between the half steps. An example would be a note that was neither B nor B flat. Instead it was somewhere in between. Their music was mostly sung. The songs they sang were mostly spirituals or just tunes to ease the pain and boredom of hard labor. Jazz has been defined as the continual fusion of African and European music.

The term "Ragtime" was first used in 1883 by Fred Stone in the title of his song "My Ragtime Baby". By 1897 ragtime was the craze.

In 1899 Scott Joplin presents some of his own ragtime tunes to a publisher. Shortly after it was turned down by another publisher,

John Stark publishes "Maple Leaf Rag" for Joplin. In one year the song sells over a million copies.

The blues becomes a standard feature on honky-tonks and dance halls. Horn players begin to experiment with their sounds by imitating the human voice with growls and mutes.

At the end of the Spanish-American War there is an abundance of used military band instruments, especially in New Orleans. The New Orleans players play a mix of everything from blues, brass band music, and ragtime, to marches, pop songs, and dances.

At the same time, many people are migrating north to cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. The music travels with them.

Also during this time the phonograph is drastically improved. This allows the music to spread even easier as more and more people are buying phonographs and records.

In 1908, Columbia Records produces the first two-sided disc.

In 1910 the old Ragtime music is still popular, but sadly its popularity is on a decline. The dance craze starts. Dances like the Foxtrot become popular.

In 1914 W.C. Handy writes "St. Louis Blues". This becomes a tremendous hit as the Blues is also going full tilt.

Also between 1910 and 1920 , 12-bar form of the blues, based on the 1-4-5 chord progression becomes standard in order to make it easier to understand, notate, and play the Blues along with establishing a form and harmonies the players can work with.

In 1916 Daniel Louis Armstrong begins playing for $1.25 in bars in Storyville.

In 1918 he is hired by Kid Ory to replace Joe "King" Oliver on cornet.

1920-1929, The Jazz Age
Mamie Smith records the first ever recorded blues - "Crazy Blues". This signals the start of the Classic Blues craze of the 1920's.

Over 40 well known jazz players move to Chicago from New Orleans. In New York, speak-easys become numerous and in turn offer numerous opportunities to jazz musicians.

In 1923, Jelly Roll Morten sits in with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and helps to break down the color barrier.

By 1927, Coleman Hawkins loses his "slap tongue" style of playing tenor sax. He starts improving by using the notes of chords in the song instead of just basing the improv on melodies in the song (what had previously been done). This new style is not as coherent, but it is a big step leading to more modern forms of jazz.

In 1930 Armstrong swings harder than ever.

In 1931 he records "Stardust". The same year, the young Charlie Parker is given his first alto saxophone by his mother.

In 1932 Duke Ellington records the classic "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing".

Also in the 1930's, jazz begins to develop its own spoken language. New terms and phrases are being used. Examples include hot, break it down, freak lips, my chops are beat, boogie man, and chill ya.

The 1940's bring even more new styles. Dizzy Gilepsie starts using major thirds over minor changes when he records "Pickin' the Cabbage" in May of 1940. Parker and Gilepsie occasionally start and end phrases on the 2nd and 4th beats while the standard beats to end and start on are the 1st and 3rd. It is called playing "offbeat". At this time Jazz is moving in two distinct, yet opposing directions. One is a New Orleans revival called Dixieland and the other is bebop (also known as rebop or bop) which is born in New York City. Also, rhythm changes are bigger. Fast songs become faster while slow songs become slower.

Another great acheivement of 1941 was when Roy Eldrige joined drum player Gene Krupa's band becoming the first black performer to be accepted into a white big band.

In 1942 a recording ban limits the recording of the young bop movement. However, the music is becoming better recognized as a new type of music. The strike ends in 1944.

In 1946 the first vinyl record is produced. By '45 the clarinet is nearly out of the picture when it comes to jazz. This is mostly due to the saxophone's influence in the band. Even brass players are forced to take notice as the sax becomes king.

Also by the 1940's, jazz has developed into many different styles of music. Bop, trad, swing, cool, and dixieland are all being played. Latin music is also influencing jazz.

March 4, 1955 - Charlie Parker performs in public one last time in Birdland. On the 12th he dies of heart seizure, hemorrhage, and general bad health. He dies watching the Tommy Dorsey band on television. His last comment is that Tommy Dorsey sounded great. Many of the old Bop greats are dead - many from drug use such as heroin.

Free jazz is ahead.

In 1959 Bill Evans, Miles Davis, and the rest of the Davis group record "Kind of Blue". This is the first song to ever feature truly modal Jazz. Modes brought back improv to the melody line. At the same time, Coltrane is exploring polytonality by playing a melody in one key above the chord sequences in a different key.

Free Jazz and black rights somehow become intertwined. At the same time, free jazz and modal jazz are pushing bop further and further away and out of view. Soul jazz is beginning.

In 1967 Gary Burton, Jeremy Steig, Larry Coryell, the group Soft Machine, and others toy with the idea of a kind of jazz-rock fusion.

In 1971 Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong dies. Then, in May 1974 Edward "Duke" Ellington dies.

The Disco dance craze is on the rise.

January 5th 1979 – bassist Charles Mingus passes away in Mexico at the age of 56. Supposedly, on the same day in Mexico 56 whales become beached on the shore.

Gil Scott Heron starts experimenting with a new type of music that – with the influence of Jamaican “toasting” or DeeJaying, will be called rap.

The SONY "Walkman" becomes popular and helps to change the publics attitude to listening to music in 1981.

Thelonius Monk dies in February 1982.

In 1983 the CD is introduced, sparking a huge nostalgia for many different types of music, including jazz. By 1987 they become very common place in record stores. The vinyl records are thought to become obsolete, but their revival is ahead.

1992 brings a new form of jazz called acid jazz, combining elements of R& B and funk with jazz.

In 1995 jazz is beginning to show up more throughout the media and popular culture – in advertising in movies and TV shows and in other references.
Today there are many bands out there keeping the tradition alive. Many are ghost bands like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Others are young groups. Many of them play a Ska-Jazz mix. .

Look Out for:
Sunday Lyme
5-7 Roosevelt Avenue (now Herb McKenley Blvd), leading out from the Stadium entrance
From 6pm till about midnight.
starting June 28, 2009
- Refreshments on sale; recorded jazz as well as live performance by an eclectic mix of acts

Next issue online:June 16 - we wrap-up the Ocho Rios Jazz fest & more


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