The Jazzcat

Archive for January, 2011

Stanley Clarke Creates Channels for New Musical Modern Men and Women

by on Jan.28, 2011, under News

by A. Scott Galloway (special to “The Jazz Cat”)

For four amazing decades, Stanley Clarke has thrown down the gauntlet as among the
most chameleonic renaissance men of music. Renowned as a jazz bassist on upright and
electric instruments, he has more realistically touched the full spectrum of music from
Classical, Film Scores and Chamber Music to Rhythm & Blues, Pop, Funk and all strata
of Jazz – from Straight Ahead and Fusion to the coolest of smooth. In the `70s the man
rocked out on a legendary tour with Ron Woods’ New Barbarians and this year, he and
his Stanley Clarke Band are enjoying two Grammy nominations. Through it all, Clarke
has amassed international awards and accolades, critics’ polls and readers’ polls, leaving
no rock or pebble unturned in his quenchless thirst of musical exploration.

These days, Stanley Clarke – vital as ever – is sitting in a compassionate seat of seniority,
giving back to the music community that supported his growth at every turn by forging
streams of creativity for the musicians coming behind him. We’ve seen it coming in his
embrace of young musicians such as Herculean African American drummer Ronald
Bruner, mind-blowing Japanese pianist Hiromi Uehara and blazing Ukrainian-born
keyboardist Ruslan Sirota in the large and small ensembles under his name. And for the
last decade, we’ve seen it in the amazing talents he and his wife Sofia annually shepherd
via his Stanley Clarke Foundation Scholarships. This year – after blistering solos and
outstanding ensemble performances from five contestants – high school aged drummer
Zech Hogan and guitarist Jon Williams were the recipients of $12,000 scholarships to
Hollywood’s Musician’s Institute (MIT). Among the judges were Earth Wind & Fire
keyboardist Larry Dunn and his lovely singer wife Luisa Dunn, bassist Bunny Brunel,
singer Howard Hewett, and keyboard legends George Duke and Greg Phillinganes.

Clarke steadfastly believes that talent, not soci-economic background, should be the
principal factor in an artist’s chance to go on to create artistically at higher levels. “I have
never lost my awareness that opportunity to excel in art, in fact in all of society, is not
equally available to everyone, Sometimes the only thing that separates a young person
from success at a high level is the path. We can provide that.”

The next tier of Stanley Clarke’s ever broadening net is the launch of his new record
company Roxboro Entertainment, a project a long time coming and a source of
tremendous pride. Named after Clarke’s Philadelphia high school, the company is
supporting exceptional instrumental talents of today. Two artists bowed on Roxboro last
December: guitarist Lloyd Gregory (who produces a laidback contemporary sound on
his self-titled Roxboro debut that is his fifth CD overall) and Kennard Ramsey (a multi-
instrumentalist with an ethno-atmospheric Latin American vibe on his debut offering
Somos). “Lloyd is a player that just loves to play, just like me,” Clarke says of the in-
demand musician whose worked as a sideman with sax man Gerald Albright. “Kennard
I first knew from his work as a film (“Romeo Must Die”) and television (“Lincoln
Heights”) composer, so I knew his album was going to have a precise, clear direction.”

These first two artists Clarke signed do not have the straight ahead jazz background
that Clarke came into music with professionally before exploring many more genres he
loved. “What I did is what I did,” he reasons. “What somebody else is doing today is
what they’re doing. I’m always interested in anybody playing music for the right reasons
– with honesty and for the sake of the art that burns within them.”

Clarke is officially launching Roxboro with a first class party in North Hollywood,
inaugurating a new venue called The Federal on Friday January 28. The evening will
include multi-media projects introducing guests to the label’s complete artist roster. It is
there that in addition to Gregory and Ramsey, the audience will meet jazz pianist Sunnie
Paxson whose CD Jazz Divertido promises to be a straight ahead blend of her originals,
standards and a composition from Clarke. Also upcoming is a solo album from Stanley
Clarke Band keyboardist Ruslan Sirota – simply titled Ruslan – that will include piano
duets with Chick Corea and George Duke. Those releases are slated for spring.

Reflecting on the mission of Roxboro Entertainment, Clarke states, “When you are
starting a record company, diversity plays a major role. All of Roxboro’s artists come
from different locations in the world and offer remarkable cultural differences.”

So, too, has the arc of Clarke’s astounding career. Interestingly, one of the two
Grammy nominations The Stanley Clarke Band received for their self titled Heads Up
International release is a re-recording of a piece that Clarke has returned to many times
before. It’s the composition “No Mystery” by pianist Chick Corea – founder of Return
to Forever, the shape-shifting band that rocketed Clarke to fame in the `70s. Not only
has Clarke performed it in multiple live settings and recorded it as the title track of RTF’s
Grammy-winning 1975 LP No Mystery, he also recorded it in an acoustic trio setting
called The Rite of Strings with guitarist/RTF alumnus Al Di Meola and violinist Jean-
Luc Ponty. “I consider ‘No Mystery’ a perfect piece of music,” Clarke marvels matter-
of-factly. “It is my favorite of all Chick’s pieces. It would be cool to see it win another
Grammy again after all these years.”

Grammy winners will be announced on Sunday, February 13. And with a little luck,
perhaps one of Clarke’s many Roxboro or scholarship apprentices will be in line for the
coveted trophy in the years to come.

(January 27, 2011)

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Elliott Levine and the Don Preston Quintet at Alvas Showroom!

by on Jan.26, 2011, under News


As far as jazz is concerned, I am so selective when it comes to experiencing music. The Great Duke said that there was two kinds of music and I say there are three; good, bad and extraordinary and good gets a “C”.


Everyone in tonight’s band is a leader and superb performer who thinks about creation and sound to its vast possibilities. Humans only use about 10% of the sphere leaving the masses truly unenlightened and gullible to be programmed to the simplest stimulation. I look at the crowd here at Alva’s Show Room tonight and see that we are small but mighty. Folks have to make a diligent effort to drive to San Pedro in search the truth and their truth inside the music. We range in age and ethnic diversity with the youth skewing the distribution. Leaves me hopeful for the future. In terms of the present, this moment “Right Here”, I predict a spike in the audible audacity of sonics, this moment in time, a beacon, if you will, that will inhabit the earth for a short time but leave its indelible “Impression” in the universe forever.

I got a chance to see the cats briefly before they hit the stage. Spreading love is a crucial part of the existence of this music, between players, musicians and audience, and whatever else we can do to pass it on and keep it on!

The play on music started with Don Preston on solo piano. Striking notes and letting the resolution speak. It is the space and the stars that are shining brightly, the melody and its implication are taking the fifth!


From stage right the sound baton is passed and we hear in the distance the coronet. As Bobby Bryant approaches the front line with plunger top in hand, we hear the purring of the cat with phat phrases as the story of the music and each of its characters unveil their individual monologues.

Elliott Levine enters from the rear on flute, the lion on his stroll through the jungle, roaring to the front where his throne is resides. On drums, David Hurley brushes his way on the scene introducing his sound and displaying a borrage of percussive flavor. The final hand off, the anchor man Nick Rosen lighting up the bass with deep resonations and heavenly harmonics creating a dance between space and beauty.

The stage has been set and the cast of characters come together to produce and blend individual, superior talent into a cerebral symphony of openness and freedom; a soul collective of living, moving and audible art!


Elliott speaks poetry over a bed of rich complimentary as he picks up his horn and joins Bobby to fragrantly raise the roof!

Listen, listen, how big are your ears to hear and enjoy such sweetness as “The Binary Code” of ones and zeros transform monologues to analogs. Live organic music can be a lesson in life, a gift in the form of sound waves that dance with brain waves creating a very unique and specific strand of deoxyribonucleic material. No one in the room produces a replication and the space in-between, around the audience and the band unite; an intimate evening of spirit and revelations.

Yes, the world keeps turning, the sun keep rising and many hours of your day have been hi-jacked by other entities but, you have to make it a point to stop, feel and seek the nutrients to enrich. Life is not just about running around chasing money, experience some of this living art and then measure your wealth.

Hear, invest and seek knowledge. Elliott Levine, Bobby Bradford, Don Preston, Nick Rosen and David Hurly, Vitamin A+, a win win!


LeRoy Downs

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The Jazzcat will be guest DJ on RISE; 90.7fm KPFK/ KPFK.ORG Tonight Sunday Night Jan 23rd @ 12pm -3am

by on Jan.23, 2011, under Events, News, Radio

Click Picture above to listen to older archived show!

The Jazzcat will be back on RISE with 3 Hours of non-stop creative cerebral jazz menagerie for your dome!!   The music will be bangin' as I will paint and splash the canvas with potent fragrant sonic sensations. We will have 3 wonderful hours to stretch so stay up with me!

 Sunday January 23rd
 @ 12am – 3am

 on 90.7 FM KPFK and KPFK.ORG.

Click Rise below to visit Rise on MySpace

Mark Maxwell, the humble facilitator of the sounds of the creator will be taking a night off for the weekend and has been grateful enough to bequeath the controls of the mothership in the worthy hands of The Jazzcat!

If you want to discover the best in jazz that the rest of the radio world has not figured out, tune in to Mark Maxwell every week for a 3 hour excursion into the Deep! I do not have the opportunity to spin jazz on the air that often so please stop by and have some fun with me!

See you there!

LeRoy Downs

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Jazz Bakery relocates to Culver City

by on Jan.22, 2011, under News

Jazz Bakery relocates to Culver City

Annenberg Foundation's $2 mil grant to fund reopening near Kirk Douglas Theater

By Steve Chagollan

the help of a $2 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation, L.A.'s

the Jazz Bakery, which has been somewhat of an orphan since losing its

Culver City lease in June of 2009, has found a new home — back in

Culver City.

Along with the Annenberg seed grant, the Culver City

Redevelopment Agency has cleared the way for the non-profit to develop a

downtown property next to the Kirk Douglas Theater on Washington

Boulevard, valued at north of $1 million, to serve as the Bakery's new

digs. The new space is expected to open by the end of 2012.


the Bakery's old home in the Helms Bakery complex went dark, the

organization has staged a series of “Movable Feast” concerts at a

variety of L.A. venues.

The non-profit was created by Ruth Price,

its president and artistic director, in 1992, and has developed a

reputation for presenting some of the most daring jazz programming in

Los Angeles, a city not necessarily known for its receptivity to some of

the form's more avant garde leanings. The venue has hosted rare visits

from pianists Paul Bley and Denny Zeitlin, world renowned Polish

trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, as well as more widely known artists as Charlie

Haden, Allen Broadbent, Charles Lloyd and John Abercrombie.


preliminary blueprint will include a main Bakery Performance Space that

will seat 200-plus, as well as a smaller theater meant to showcase more

niche acts, as well as film, video and poetry presentations. Like the

old space, the new Bakery will feature a lobby cafe, bakery and wine

bar. There are also long-term plans for development of a “virtual

museum” of West Coast jazz.

The Annenberg grant will provide the

Bakery with a boost toward further fundraising — from individual

donors, other foundations, corporations and local government — as

well as a reserve fund to support future operations. In the past, the

non-profit Bakery earned 80% of its annual $1 million budget from ticket


Price, who has always contended that the Bakery's mandate

was “about the music and not the money,” said in a statement that the

organization intends to “once again present the best in all forms of

jazz, seven nights a week, 52 weeks a year. In keeping with our

non-profit mission, we'll keep ticket prices affordable and the music


Contact Steve Chagollan at

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