The Jazzcat

Archive for May, 2005

Spending Time with My Main Man George Duke!!

by on May.21, 2005, under News

Photos

I have known George Duke for over 20 years and have on occasion had

the opportunity to stop by the studio and hang for a little while.

George knows, has played with and has produced many artists in the

music business and it has not been just jazz. He has worked with artist

that have spanned every genre of music which has given him the

opportunity hear and call upon that vast wealth of knowledge when

producing and playing piano.

I was present at a session for the award winning album, “The

Calling”, in which Dianne Reeves took home the well deserved Grammy

Award in the best jazz vocal album catagory. It is wonderful when

family can collaborate their talents and be honored with the highest

form of appreciation.(George and Dianne are cousins)

Billy Childs is not only an extraordinary pianist but, he is a

master composer and arranger as well. He was a major component for the

success of “The Calling”, an album celebrating the memory of the great

Sarah Vaughan.

At an early age, George was taken to see a Duke Ellington concert

and then knew he wanted to play the piano. He had been influenced by

Miles, Cal Tjader and Les McCann but, he got his funk from

stirring up emotions playing piano in the baptist church. Al

Jarreau, Stanley Clark, Flora Purim, Airto, Jean Luc Ponty, Sonny

Rollins, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams,  Cannonball Adderley and

Dizzy Gillespie are only a small handfull of jazz greats that George

has worked and collaborated with over the years.

Today was just a quick visit to say hello to a great friend.

You can find out more about George by checking out his site at George Duke.com.

LeRoy Downs

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Legendary Singer, Songwriter, Playwright, Oscar Brown, Jr. Hospitalized

by on May.20, 2005, under News

Oscar Brown Jr. RIP

Oct. 10, 1926 – May 29, 2005

Industry attorney Jon Waxman reports to us that Chicago native, legendary singer/songwriter, playwright, and true American musical treasure, Oscar Brown, Jr., is in intensive care at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago.  The 78-year-old veteran entertainer was recently admitted to the medical facility in severe pain and reportedly has suffered paralysis to both of his legs.  Brown underwent successful 14-hour emergency surgery on Monday, May 16th to stop the spread of an infection in his lower spine.  He is presently listed in stable condition recovering from the surgery, however, his prognosis remains uncertain as of this time.

Oscar Brown, Jr. is hailed as a cultural icon and Civil Rights activist, noted for his classic compositions including, The Snake, Signifyin' Monkey and his lyrics for Miles Davis' All Blues, Bobby Timmons' 'Dat 'Dere, and Nat Adderley's, Work Song. Early in Brown's career, he hosted Steve Allen's Jazz Scene USA and the PBS series From Jump Street/The History of Black Music.  Brown has mentored several aspiring young performers and in 1968 hosted a Gary, Indiana talent show that led to his discovery of The Jackson Five and singer/actor Avery Brooks.  In 1969, Brown is credited for rewriting the comedy production Big Time Buck White, and his musical version of the show was presented on Broadway, featuring former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in the lead role.

The Brown family requests “Prayers” from his Global family at this time and will provide a formal statement following his recovery period.  For information about Mr. Brown and to send to him any personal messages you may have, please visit his web site at http://www.oscarbrownjr.com, which will also accept messages for Oscar.  Good wishes from all of you will go a long way to help aid in his recovery.

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The World Stage Stories

by on May.17, 2005, under News

    World

Stage Stories

     Produced by Jeffrey Winston & Chet Hanley

  

 

§      

May 20                      

Roy McCurdy

 

     First-call drummer Roy McCurdy not only sips from the Fountain of Youth — he has bathed in

it.   Since the early 60’s, Roy has stoked

the fire for Cannonball Adderley, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Milt Jackson, Bud

Powell, Wes Montgomery, James Moody, Kenny Drew and Bobby Timmons, among

others.   Roy’s sensitive brushwork has also

accompanied celebrated divas such as Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter, Ernestine

Anderson, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald.

 

 

§      

June 3                      

Billy Childs

 

             

                  Both a brilliant pianist and composer, Billy’

phone rings often.  The USC    

            graduate has toured and performed

with Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis,

            Eddie Daniels, Bobby Hutcherson,

Oscar Brown, Jr. and Allan Holdsworth.  Billy

 

            also led Night Flight, a group that featured vocalist Dianne Reeves.  In 1988, Childs

            began to record a series of four

sessions as a leader for the Windham Hill label.            

            Six years later, Mr. Childs penned

a commissioned concerto for the Monterey Jazz

            Festival.  

              

 

§      

June 10                     Fayard Nicholas

 

             When it comes to sheer athleticism, the legendary

Nicholas Brothers set the

standard for tap.  Their

dazzling footwork is well-documented in film classics such as Stormy Weather, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, The Pirate and Carolina Blues.  Their stellar careers spanned Vaudeville,

stage, theater, film and television.  The

Nicholas Brothers appeared with Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford,

Lucky Millinder and Eubie Blake.  The

eldest and surviving brother, 90-year-old Fayard, is still as witty and dapper

as ever.  

 

        All programs begin at 8:00 p.m.                            Donation: $ 10.00

 

The World Stage

4344 Degnan Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA

 

For more information, call Clint

Rosemond at (323)  290-6565

TheWorldStage.org

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Terence Blanchard and his brand new CD on Blue Note called "Flow"

by on May.17, 2005, under News, Radio

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Slide Show

Jazz

musicians are some of the coolest cats on the planet. Creative, down to

earth, and soulful are just a few short descriptions for these

individuals who take life and transform it into beautiful, intense and

crazy expressions. Their language is based on reality and keeping it

real is what straight ahead music is all about. Straight ahead, forward

thinking and towards the future is where the creative ideas lie.

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“Flow”, Terence Blanchard’s brand new album soon

to be released this June expresses music as it is happening now in the

present and let’s your imagination “Flow” straight into the future. You

may think that these cats have taken a word and created a concept to

build an album on. Not true. Flow was the last tune written for this

album and its funky rich bass line and melodic groove were

just some of the key elements that cohesively brought it all

together.

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This album was produced by Terence and Herbie

Hancock, who has not produced anyone else’s project besides his own

since he collaborated with Dexter Gordon back in the day. It was

Herbie’s idea to take “Flow” and divide it into three parts and spread

it throughout the album as a three-part suite. It works in part to

provide direction and a solid base on which to “Flow”.

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Terence and I spent some good time hangin’ out in his Hollywood hideaway and we got a chance to talk about “Flow” and get inside the music and the man behind it.

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LD: How did you come up with the concept for flow?

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TB: “Whenever we play, these guys go in different

directions every night. And, that is kind of one of the unfortunate

things that when you guys listen to the CD, you are only hearing one

version of the tunes. When it came time to come up with a title for the

album, we were going through all of these things to try to find the

word that best describes what we do live, and “Flow” was the thing that

came about.”

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LD: On “Benny’s Tune”, I heard one note that

reminded me of some of the music on “The Heart Speaks”. How do you play

that note and not go back to what you have played before, but go

forward to what you will play in a new composition?

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TB: “You can’t think about it. This is the whole

reason why musicians have to continue to be on a path to higher

learning and trying to expand the pallet. Because if you make a

conscious decision to be different, it may not be as musical as it

should be because it is not coming from the right place. Whereas if you

are learning new things, you start to develop new tunes based on new

sounds that you like and things start to move in different

directions.”

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LD: Whenever you play with other musicians, you

take a little piece of what they have and incorporate it into your

being, it becomes a part of you. What little piece have you

incorporated or learned by playing with Wayne (Wayne Shorter) and

Herbie?

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TB: “What I have gotten by playing with Herbie and

Wayne over at the Thelonious Monk Institute is just the key to just be

free! When you start to play this music, you are always looking for

validation from your elders, and those guys make you feel like you have

just as much of a right to play this music and you can do whatever

comes to mind. Forget about upholding the tradition and just really be

who you are. This band has developed its sound purely by just trying to

figure out how to play these compositions.”

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LD: Do you set up some skeletal framework and let the cats put their layers on top of it or how does it all come together?

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TB: “It is a combination of a number of things,

but the main thing is that the compositions have to be interesting.

Compositions evolve and the way you hear them at first is much

different than after you have heard them for three months. You can’t

control it! You have to allow it to be what it is going to be and just

go with it. I have the best fun playing with these guys because they

take me in directions that I would have never ever gone in without

them. This is the best band that I have ever had in my life!”

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LD: Has Blue Note given you the freedom to do your dance?

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TB: “Being on Blue Note is so different than being

on any other label that I have been on. Other labels are run by

businessmen who love the music and it was reflected in the projects

that they wanted you to do. But, when I got to Blue Note, I knew guys

like Bruce Lundvall and Tom Evan and Michael Cuscuna for a long time,

but what I started to discover is that these guys are serious music

lovers. It came time to do another record of all original music and

when it was presented, those guys heard it and said, “Let’s go with it!”

 

LD: In terms of your personal growth as a musician, how is it possible for you to measure that?

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TB: “Well, there are of course all of those

technical things that you want to work on like having your phrasing or

your sound develop in a certain way, but that thing that I have come to

learn is that you can’t determine what it is and you can’t predict it.

You always set goals for yourself, but you really just kind of have to

accept the totality of your situation, not just accept the things that

you want to accept.
I have been watching this band grow and it goes in

some directions that I would not have gone in, but I sit back and

listen to it and say, “Wow, that’s hip!”

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LD: Well, when I listen to this album, it sounds

like a soundtrack. Did you write it that way or can you not help but

write that big?

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TB: “Well, no what happened with this record is

the same thing that happened when I wrote “Jazz in Film”. I had been

writing for orchestra all of this time and had all of this experience

and I need to bring that together with what I am trying to do as an

artist. I had been using electronic instruments in my film music for a

long time and I started to hear these other colors and sounds, but I

did not want to use those instruments in any way that would replace

acoustic instruments. They were just there to enhance what we do.”

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LD: How can we get your music and jazz music in general into ears, minds and hearts of those who only like easy listening music?

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TB: “It’s an interesting time in which we live in

because I really think that the music can break out and touch a lot of

people, but it’s encumbered upon us as artists to strive to be who we

are, work hard and have something to offer. Because I think the

listening public is dying for it!
I think that there are a number of people out

there that when you put on great music, they respond. I have to find my

sound and my rhythm and I think in doing that, you start to create a

rhythm and a sound that is part of your generation and part of your

culture and it touches more people.”

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LD: In terms of artistry, the music, radio and the

music business in and of itself, do those things benefit you? For some,

all of those circles do not come together.

 

TB: “It took some time for all of those things to

come together for me and it is just a matter of being diligent. See one

of the things that you have to remember is that I am one of the few

guys that have managed to keep a band and that is hard. Because the

economics of the business don’t necessarily give you a safe haven. I

think that is part of it and I think that people expect from me a group

sound, but you have to make sacrifices. And I think that these

particular guys in the band understand what we have as a group. When we

come back from a long break and we are playing a gig for the first

time, and nobody wants to say it, but somebody will finally say, “Damn,

I miss you cats!”

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LD: I have heard some people making the comparison

between you and Art Blakey in terms of honing young cats and bringing

them up in the music.

 

TB: “Well I learned a lot from him in terms of

leading a band. When I first joined the band, he wanted us to write the

tunes. I wanted to play all of the old Messenger stuff, but Art did not

want to do that. He said that, “You have to do your own thing; you have

to put your mark on this music”.  He just gave us all of this room to do our own thing and then featured us every night in his own band.

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At the time, Billy Pierce was the musical director

and when he left the band, I was the youngest one and he said to me,

“You need to be the musical director because you need to have that

responsibility” and that was cool because it helped me learn how to

lead a band and program shows. Bu said that “You’re a Jazz Messenger

now, don’t worry about anything. You are just here to get your stuff

together and learn how to be a band leader because that is what we need

in the business, more band leaders”.

 LD: If we were to describe your band in terms of hoop, what would your squad be like?

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TB: “My squad would be like the old Lakers. I am

talking about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael

Cooper and Magic Johnson. That’s the kind of squad that I have and it’s

funny, I am not the point guard. I am just waiting around for someone

to pass me the ball so I can shoot!

The reason why I compare my band to that team is

because you did not know how to defend that team. Anybody could be hot

on any given night and whoever was hot, Magic did not have any ego

about it, he fed them the ball.”

 

LD: So what’s happening in the movie business, are you working on a new project?

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TB: “Yeah, there is a project called, “A Kill and

the Bee” with Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett that Spike is going

to have in production this summer.”

 

LD: Spike has been pretty instrumental?

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TB: “Spike has been big, big, big. One of the

biggest things about Spike is that I came to his world and he had a

definite idea about what he wanted. But, he has been open to anything;

you just have to convince him. And when he sees the practical

application of all of the music, he’s like, Cool!

He doesn’t want me to score films like the LA

dudes score films. He likes melody playing through the scenes, which

could be rough sometimes, but that type of structure has made me grow

in terms of how to structure those melodies around the dialogue and use

certain types of structure to make room for the dialogue. It’s been

great!”

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Well, it has been great and truly a pleasure

hangin' with the one and only Terence Blanchard. Everyone please check

out this CD. It's due to be released in early June and it is called,

“Flow”. You will dig it!

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LeRoy Downs

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Click image to read the interview on JazzReview.com

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Click picture to listen to a live interview with LeRoy Downs and Terence Blanchard on KRML Jazz and Blues Radio

 

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Al Williams Sextet at the LAX Westin Hotel

by on May.15, 2005, under News

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Slide Show

 

It has been quite

some time since I have reported to you from the LAX Westin. Yes, it is

true that I am there every Wednesday night as the master of ceremonies.

However, for me to write about this great music we call “Jazz”, some

elements must be present:

 

1)      Authenticity – Authenticity must be present. The music must be natural and come from the purest place in each musician.

2)      Excitement

– There needs to be an element of excitement. Great relationships on

the bandstand lead to effortless sound and communication in the music.

3)      Playing – The music cannot just be played, it has to be PLAYED, FELT and HEARD!

4)      Audience

– The audience is a key participant in the music. The band feeds off of

the energy of the audience and positive body movement and applause

contribute greatly to the overall success of the music.

 

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I was extremely glad

to see Al Williams walk up here in the Westin with a group of burners.

These cats believe in high energy, good music and big fun. Set one was

my favorite. Whenever you start off a set with a Thelonious Monk tune,

you know you are in for an evening of  straight

ahead wonder. The sextet played music from Herbie, Art Blakey, Lee

Morgan, Eddie Harris, Benny Golson and the list goes on.

 

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Henry Franklin

contributed a few original pieces with his thunderous and melodic tone

on the bass. It has been quite sometime since I have had a chance to

see “The Skipper” perform and tone and creative lines were just what I

wanted to hear. In the front line was Noland Shaheed on trumpet and

Andre Delano on tenor, alto and soprano. These cats were lighting it up

just like it was the 60’s all over again. Derrick Finch was tingling

the ivorys with al those Herbisms and creating lots of dynamics in his

melodies. Tony Poingsett was turning it out on percussion and of course

the powerful sound of “Mr. Long Beach” himself Mr. Al Williams on drums.

 

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I spent some good

time with Al during the last International Association of Jazz

Educators convention that was held here in Long Beach. It was great to

hear stories about Hampton Hawes and some of the other cats that he has

played with over the years. Al, if you did not already know, is one of

the main cats responsible for bringing jazz to Long Beach. He promotes

the Long Beach Jazz Festival every year and still finds time to get out

and gig with the fellas.

 

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The second and third

sets were all about the Blues. The sound is huge and I am so surprised

that the audience here at the Westin was not up on their feet dancing

around. The Al Williams sextet puts on a great performance so next

time, don’t miss them!

 

LeRoy Downs

 

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