JAZZ NEWS / EVENTS
Newport Jazz Festival Reveals 2022 Lineup
Published March 24, 2022 - Lee Mergner for JazzTimes
Today the Newport Jazz Festival announced the lineup for its 2022 edition, which will take place as usual at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I., from July 29 to July 31. Headliners of the legendary festival include Norah Jones, Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, the Ron Carter Quartet, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and many more!
Full Article Here: https://jazztimes.com/blog/newport-jazz-festival-announces-lineup/
Interview with Palm Springs Women's Jazz Festival Artistic Director - Sweet Baby J'ai - on Outspoken with Joy Silver
Published January 31, 2022
Sweet Baby Jai is the co-founder of the Palm Springs Women's Jazz Festival. She visits with Joy Silver on this episode of Outspoken about the monumental part that both Billie Holliday, with her song Strange Fruit, and Nina Simone, with her Mississippi Goddam, played in bringing about awareness, activism, and social change through their music. They also explore what women in jazz are doing today along those same lines.
Sponsored by My Little Flower Shop in Palm Springs, CA.
The Harp in Jazz
Published January 3, 2022 by Geoffrey Himes - JAZZTIMES
From Harpo Marx to Brandee Younger, the harp has a distinguished but rarely told history in jazz. Long underused, it still has lots of untapped potential. “I’m always amazed at how the harp, which has been around basically forever, is still evolving,” harpist Park Stickney says, “and this seems to be truer than ever in the last 20 years. I’m curious to see where it goes next.”
Full Article Here: https://jazztimes.com/features/profiles/harp-in-jazz/
Year in Review: The Top 40 Jazz Albums of 2021
Published December 14, 2021 - JAZZTIMES
Our critics pick their favorite new releases of the year.
We calculated our top 40 new releases of 2021 based on year-end lists by our writers. They were asked to choose the 10 best new releases and five best historical titles—i.e., albums and box sets consisting primarily of music recorded 10 or more years ago. Each voter’s individual ballot, featuring both new and historical releases, will be available on jazztimes.com as of December 20, 2021. Albums and box sets released between November 9, 2020 and November 12, 2021 were eligible. Some discs may have slipped through the cracks, however, as official release dates shifted or weren’t available.
Full Article Here: https://jazztimes.com/features/lists/year-in-review-top-40-jazz-albums-2021/
2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Nominations List
Find out who's nominated in each of the 86 categories at the 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show
NOV 23, 2021 - 9:54 AM
The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, is just around the corner. Today, the Recording Academy announced the nominations for each of the 86 categories.
See below to see who's nominated at the 64th GRAMMY Awards.
(The 64th GRAMMY Awards recognize recordings released between Sept. 1, 2020 — Sept. 30, 2021.)
The Recording Academy will present the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show on Mon, Jan. 31, on the CBS Television Network(opens in a new tab) and stream live and on demand on Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET / 5–8:30 p.m. PT. Prior to the telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be held at the Microsoft Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on GRAMMY.com and the Recording Academy's YouTube channel(opens in a new tab).
Veronica Swift: Behind the Mask
At the ripe old age of 27, Veronica Swift is ready to retire the descriptor “jazz singer.” To hear her tell it, she’s after something that’s harder to define: temperamentally ambiguous material, thorny lyrical subtexts, difficult emotions—all the stuff that forces a vocalist to keep adapting and evolving. As Stephanie Jones discovers, she’s up for the challenge.
Considering the 2021 Grammy Nominations: In Jazz, the Usual Suspects, with a Spoiler or Two
Grammy nominations are always an imprecise barometer, contingent on too many factors to provide a clear view on any scene. Still, the 2021 jazz field, announced this afternoon, ratifies an industry consensus that has implications well beyond the award podium.
There have always been perennial favorites at the Grammys, of course, in jazz as in other genres. Any short list would have to include pianist Chick Corea, who has racked up 23 wins over the years, and whose nods for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo bring his career nomination total to 67.
The Corea album under consideration is Trilogy 2, which features two other Grammy favorites: bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. As a rhythm team, they appear twice more on the list, for their heralded reunion with saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau. (RoundAgain, credited to all four artists, is up for Best Jazz Instrumental Album; Redman’s tenor essay on “https://youtu.be/i-bDMvvfCZQ" target="_blank">Moe Honk” is up in the Best Solo category too.)
Another returning hero in Best Jazz Instrumental Album is drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, a three-time Grammy winner who, with the collective Social Science, has an undeniably strong contender in Waiting Game. A somewhat less expected Best Album nominee this year is pianist Gerald Clayton, for Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard — though it may be worth nothing that Clayton’s entry in the Best Solo category, on the Bud Powell tune “Celia,” finds him at his most Corea-esque.
NJPAC's TD James Moody Jazz Festival - November 5 - 21
NJPAC’s TD James Moody Jazz Festival celebrates the creativity and diversity of ‘America’s classical music’ from its roots in the church, through Buster Williams’s Jazz Vespers performance, to the forward-looking music of Grammy-honored composer-bandleader Maria Schneider. Along the way, the festival celebrates great contemporary divas like Dianne Reeves, Chaka Khan and Lillias White, as well as instrumental virtuosos like Chris Botti, Don Braden and Cyrus Chestnut. Topping it all off: NJPAC will spend an evening honoring the past and present of the Civil Rights struggle through song and verse, as the Arts Center presents The Movement Revisited by jazz superstar Christian McBride.
BRIC JazzFest Brooklyn Oct 21 - 23, 2021 | 7PM
Join BRIC Oct. 21, 22 and 23 for our seventh annual JazzFest! This acclaimed three-day marathon jazz festival will return in-person to BRIC House (647 Fulton) this fall.
This year's stacked lineup includes Cécile McLorin Salvant, Sun Ra Arkestra, Madison McFerrin, Roy Nathanson, Nick Hakim, Hailu Mergia and more! One of BRIC's premier performing arts programs, JazzFest is a widely known jazz music festival that brings together legendary figures, groundbreaking artists and newcomers from across the genre.
Advance tickets are $35 per night and $85 for a full-weekend pass. See you there!
Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force: Dear Love (Empress Legacy)
By A.D. Amorosi for Jazz Times, September 23, 2021
Since her 2017 debut A Social Call, Jazzmeia Horn has plumbed the art of vocalizing in a manner suggesting a gold miner looking to alchemically forge something precious and new. For Dear Love—her third album, and first with her Gil Evans-ish band, Her Noble Force, writ large atop the credits—there’s a gentleperson’s agreement: Keep it soulful but always just a little weird.
Return to Jazz at Lincoln Center for the 21-22 Season!
Wynton Marsalis' milestone 60th birthday concert.
Cecile McLorin Salvant, Camille Thurman and the Darrell Green Quartet and Dianne Reeves.
Tickets on Sale Now - Jazz.org - 212.721.6500 - Broadway at 60th St
Women in Jazz Music: A Hundred Years of Gender Disparity in Jazz Study and Performance (1920-2020)
Don't Miss the 2021 Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival!
This year’s festival will feature Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, Patrice Rushen, Gregory Porter, Eddie Palmieri Afro Caribbean Jazz Septet, Christian McBride’s New Jawn, Branford Marsalis, Jeff “Tain” Watts Suite Pittsburgh, Lakecia Benjamin, Kenny Garrett Quintet, Jazzmeia Horn, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and The Baylor Project.
Get your tickets NOW! See you in Pittsburgh, September 17-19, 2021.
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
Mary Lou Williams: Mother of Us All
PUBLISHED AUGUST 23, 2021 by Shaun Brady for JazzTimes
Four decades after her passing, pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams is just beginning to be recognized as a crucial contributor to the history of jazz. Despite the fact that her career spanned so many styles and eras, the conflict between tradition and innovation that’s ever-present in jazz was not absent from her perspective.
Pianist Sumi Tonooka was just 19 years old when she began taking the train from Philadelphia to Harlem to study with Mary Lou Williams. Those formative lessons took place in the same apartment where, a few decades earlier, the leading lights of bebop—Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie, and Elmo Hope among them—would gather for regular salons where ideas were shared that helped shape the direction of jazz. It was a prerequisite that Williams’ young student be very aware of the ghosts that lingered in that space.
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
2021 DC JazzFest Celebrates 17 Years of Jazz
The 2021 DC JazzFest will take place from September 1-5, with 20+ concerts, interviews and exclusive events featuring international superstars and homegrown talent alike. Our signature event, the DC JazzFest at The Wharf will take place September 4-5, over Labor Day Weekend, as a hybrid of in-person and livestream performances to a worldwide audience. VIP, seated and general admission tickets are now available. Visit the DC JazzFest website for more information on the 2021 lineup, tickets and more!
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
Equal at Last? Women in Jazz, by the Numbers
Little Change in Share of Women-Led Albums Until 2019
PUBLISHED January 12, 2021 – NPR Music
In the 2019 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, five of the top 10 new releases were recordings led or co-led by women artists — a startling 50%. In fact, it is the largest number of projects led by women in the top 10 since the annual poll began 14 years ago, surpassing 2018, when women comprised a third of those rankings.
That would seem to be good news for a musical community that has been frustratingly slow to embrace women musicians. Women in jazz have traditionally been singers, a role that allows them to be dismissed as entertainers who are not fundamental to jazz as "serious" art. Few female instrumentalists — or, for that matter, composers, arrangers and bandleaders — have become part of the music's story, one that stretches back to the late 19th century.
But with the results of the 2020 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll only days away from publication, it is an opportune moment in which to revisit — and question — claims of women's progress. Any of the optimistic assessments occasioned by this poll, and in the wake of jazz's #Me Too stirrings in recent years, are likely to be premature. Only when women's participation in the music has been clearly defined, documented and measured can we be certain of any improvement in their collective status — or lack thereof.
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
Newport Jazz 2021: Day1
The iconic event, slightly modified, returns to Fort Adams
PUBLISHED August 3, 2021 – Mac Randall/Jazz Times
Two years ago around this time, they had a jazz festival in Newport, R.I., the same way they have for decades. One year ago, as we all know … not so much. And although it was sweet indeed to see and hear the return of Newport Jazz to Fort Adams on July 30—an absolutely gorgeous summer day of sun, salty breezes, countless sails aloft in the harbor, and outstanding musical performances—reminders of what we’ve been through over the past year and a half weren’t hard to find.
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
National Endowment for the Arts Announces Jazz Masters
PUBLISHED JULY 27, 2021 – New York Times
Its 2022 class includes the bassist Stanley Clarke, the drummer Billy Hart, the vocalist Cassandra Wilson and the saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr.
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday vs. the Truth
PUBLISHED JULY 26, 2021 – BY LEWIS PORTER for JazzTimes
Despite what the movie says, there was no U.S. government conspiracy to suppress the landmark song “Strange Fruit”—and that’s just the biggest thing it got wrong.
In Lee Daniels’ film The United States vs. Billie Holiday, the words “Earle Theater, Philadelphia, May 27, 1947” flash onscreen, and one sees a row of policemen, with Holiday’s manager Joe Glaser standing at the center of them. Billie comes onstage and sings the first words of “Strange Fruit,” solo. Immediately, Glaser orders the police, “Get her off that stage!” and they storm forward.
But wait! Holiday was not at the Earle Theater on that date. She never sang “Strange Fruit” as the first number in a set, and never sang that or anything else a cappella. Glaser didn’t generally attend the performances of the many artists he managed. Most significant, never in her entire career was Billie stopped while performing “Strange Fruit.” Yes, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics pursued Holiday for her drug use. But there was no federal objection to the song “Strange Fruit,” nor was there any campaign to suppress it.
Read the entire article by clicking on the link above.
Detroit Jazz Festival:
The Detroit Jazz Festival has announced the 2021 lineup!
Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, Omar Sosa, Gregory Porter, Abdullah Ibrahim Headline 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival.
The Return of Festivals: A Full Report (for Now)
What's planned for upcoming jazz festivals this summer and fall.
Published June 17, 2021 in the Jazz Times ~ Lee Mergner
The pandemic that began in March 2020 had a disproportionate effect on jazz festivals, in part because the majority take place in the spring, summer, and early fall, and in part because they are by definition large gatherings of people. Some festivals tried postponing their in-person events, while others reverted to virtual or streamed performances—either live, archival, or both, but without audiences.
With vaccinations on the rise, more festivals are resuming activities with live audiences this summer and fall, though all have had to comply with the directives of their local and state governments. And the corresponding protocols vary widely from state to state. Regardless, it’s exciting to see musicians performing live in front of audiences, at whatever capacity is allowed.
Here is a rundown of the festivals that we’ve heard from or about in chronological order. It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: All events and dates are subject to change.
NEA Jazz Masters Event Goes Virtual for Second Year
The 2021 tribute concert is scheduled for April 22; honorees include Terri Lyne Carrington, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Phil Schaap, and Henry Threadgill
PUBLISHED MARCH 18, 2021 – BY JAZZTIMES
The NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert for 2021 will once again take place virtually, streaming on April 22 in a program co-presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and SFJAZZ.
The concert will honor the 2021 class of NEA Jazz Masters—the highest honor that the United States bestows on jazz artists—including Terri Lyne Carrington, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Phil Schaap, and Henry Threadgill.
Vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and actor Delroy Lindo will host the virtual program. Performers will include Obed Calvaire, Avishai Cohen, Roman Filiu, Vince Giordano, Christopher Hoffman, Joe Lovano, Wynton and Jason Marsalis, Pedrito Martinez, Dan Nimmer, Linda May Han Oh, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, David Virelles, Lizz Wright, and the SFJAZZ High School All Stars, with saxophonist and SFJAZZ member Miguel Zenón serving as musical director. (Carrington, one of the honorees, has been the usual musical director for NEA tribute concerts.)
The concert will be webcast online on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on arts.gov and sfjazz.org. The concert will also be available via radio broadcast on SiriusXM Channel 67 Real Jazz, in California on KCSM 91.1 FM, in Illinois on WDCB 90.9 FM, and in Washington, DC on WPFW 89.3 FM. The concert webcast will be archived at arts.gov.
Visit the NEA website for more information on the Jazz Masters fellowship.
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Welcome to the 2021 VIRTUAL SPRING SEASON
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and a roster of special guest vocalists will perform songs by some of the most powerful performers and songwriters of the 20th century. Under the music direction of JLCO trombonist and vocalist Chris Crenshaw, this brand-new program looks back at four great singers whose unapologetically honest art has stood the test of time in its meaning and musicality.
A group of rising star vocalists adept in jazz, blues, folk, and beyond—including Melanie Charles, Shenel Johns, and Ashley Pezzotti—will lend their unique voices to impassioned new big band charts arranged by Crenshaw and members of the JLCO. The repertoire will span decades and include songs written and/or made famous by Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln, and Nina Simone.
2020 Readers’ Poll Results
Voting conducted via an online survey posted on our website
Published February 4, 2021 – By JazzTimes
Voting for the 2020 JazzTimes Readers’ Poll was conducted via an online survey at JazzTimes.com. Winners are bolded; runners-up are listed below in order of number of votes (an asterisk * denotes a tie). When casting their ballots, readers were asked to focus on artists’ achievements occurring between January and December 2020.
The BMI Foundation is extending the deadline for scholarship applications to FRIDAY, JANUARY 29th, 2021
Including the Future Jazz Master Scholarship, John Lennon Scholarships, peermusic Latin Scholarship and the Nashville Songwriting Scholarship.
Program applications must be completed online no later than Friday, January 29, 2021 11:59PM. For complete details and to apply, please visit bmifoundation.org/programs.
Apply now! Program details below.
BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship
The sixth annual BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship will award $5,000 to a rising jazz star pursuing a graduate degree in Jazz Studies, Jazz Performance, or related majors. The award was established in 2015 in honor of the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship, a lifetime achievement recognition program of the National Endowment for the Arts. bmifoundation.org/jazzmaster
John Lennon Scholarships
The 24th annual John Lennon Scholarships will award three prizes totaling $20,000 to U.S. college-student songwriters (age 17 to 24) for the best original songs submitted to the competition. Established in 1997 by Yoko Ono in conjunction with the BMI Foundation, this scholarship program honors the memory of one of the preeminent songwriters of the 20th century, John Lennon, and has become one of the nation’s most esteemed accolades for emerging artists.bmifoundation.org/lennon
Nashville Songwriting Scholarship
The sixth annual Nashville Songwriting Scholarship will award $5,000 for the best original song in any of the following genres: Americana, blues, bluegrass, contemporary Christian, country, folk, and roots. The contest is open to students between the ages of 17 and 24, who are enrolled in any college or university located in the United States. GRAMMY-winning recording artist and BMI songwriter Kacey Musgraves endorses the competition and serves as a final judge. bmifoundation.org/nashville
peermusic Latin Scholarship
Established by music publisher Ralph Peer II and generously funded by peermusic, the 18th annual peermusic Latin Scholarship competition will award a $5,000 scholarship for the best original song or instrumental composition in any Latin genre. The contest is open to students between the ages of 17 and 24, who are enrolled in any college or university located in the United States and Puerto Rico. bmifoundation.org/peer
BMI Founders Award for Radio Broadcasting-Deadline is April 2, 2021
The third annual BMI Founders Award competition is open to radio broadcasting students age 17 - 24 nationwide. A $5,000 scholarship will be awarded for the best original essay response entry. The program was established in 2015 to recognize future innovators of broadcast radio, and commemorates the group of radio industry leaders who founded Broadcast Music, Inc. in 1939. bmifoundation.org/broadcast
About the BMI Foundation
The BMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 to encourage the creation, performance, and study of American music. The Foundation’s programs include competitive scholarships for songwriters and composers, operating grants for nonprofit arts presenters, and support for innovative music education initiatives in schools and communities across the country. For more information about the work of the Foundation, please visit www.bmifoundation.org. For exclusive news and content, follow @bmifoundation on Instagram and Twitter, and like “BMI Foundation” on Facebook at facebook.com/bmifoundation.
BMI Foundation/ email@example.com
The Global Music Venue Jazz Fest
January 15-17, 2021
An impressive lineup united virtually!
The inaugural Global Music Venue Jazz Fest will run January 15-17, 2021; bringing together renowned global artists for a series of solo performances, masterclasses and interactive Q&As. Participants include Terri Lyne Carrington, John Patitucci, Kenny Werner, Larry Goldings, Melissa Aldana, Peter Bernstein, Sullivan Fortner, Lage Lund, Alexa Tarantino, Gilad Hekselman, and Tom Oren. The 3-day virtual event will include free educational opportunities for aspiring jazz musicians.
The Global Music Venue Jazz Fest is an initiative by producer Lolivone de la Rosa, an emerging guitarist and composer pursuing a degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Guitar Performance at Berklee College of Music.
For more information on the 2021 Global Music Venue Jazz Fest and ticket inquiries please visit https://www.globalmusicvenue.com/. The event will be viewable via a private link, sent via email an hour before the event start.
2021 Grammy Nominations
The Grammy Awards have been postponed until March 14: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/arts/music/grammys-postponed-covid-19.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Music
This year’s Grammy nominees in Jazz and Blues include a number of women. Most of them are no surprise being veterans from past nominations and Grammy winners. However, there are a couple of new artists that have been rewarded for their fresh sounds and unique approaches - the Croatian singer, Thana Alexa and the U.S. born daughter of African immigrants, Somi.
Best Jazz Vocals:
Thana Alexa, CD, Ona
Carmen Lundy, CD, Modern Ancestors
Somi, CD, Holy Room
Group – Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, CD, Waiting Room
Orchestra – Maria Schneider, CD. Data Lords
Best Contemporary Blues Vocals:
Ruthie Foster, CD, Live at the Paramount
Bettye LaVette, CD. Blackbirds
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on January 31, 2021 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It will recognize the best recordings, compositions, and artists of the eligibility year, running from September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020.
The 2021 Grammy Award nominees will be announced on Tuesday at noon ET/9 a.m. PT, courtesy of Recording Academy interim president Harvey Mason Jr., special guests Dua Lipa and Imogen Heap and other presenters.
The one-hour livestreamed event will air on Grammy.com, as well as on the Recording Academy’s social media platforms. CBS All Access and Pluto TV will also stream the announcement.
Additional artists participating in this year’s ceremony include Christian music singer Lauren Daigle, country music singer-songwriter Mickey Guyton, Nigerian Afropop signer Yemi Alade, classical violinist Nicola Benedetti and regional Mexican singer-songwriter Pepe Aguilar. “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King and “The Talk” host Sharon Osbourne will also appear at the event.
Christmas Eve with Jazzmeia Horn
Dear Friends and Fans,
This year has been a tough one for us all, but with each other's support we stand tall in unity. The effects of COVID-19 have been extremely challenging for everyone, including artists, as we have been isolated from our communities and supporters.
Although the world has changed, art is still essential to our everyday lives as human beings. With my music, I strive to create art that inspires and uplifts people through traumatic experiences, especially during this era of adversity that we are all facing. Music feeds the soul and encourages healing. Nina Simone said it best, “It's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live.” Now more than ever it is important for patrons of the arts to offer financial support to artists, enabling us to continue to create through these challenging times.
During my time in quarantine, I've written a book and composed songs from the depths of my soul in which people of all races, identities, classes, and religions can relate. I desire to share my artistry with you.
Join me and my team at Artistry of Jazz Horn on Christmas Eve as we present your favorite Christmas songs and offer to you the premiere of my latest unreleased project entitled “Where We Are” which is now available for vinyl pre-order.
Thank you, "Yours in Music, Jazzmeia"
“If nomenclature is destiny, Jazzmeia Horn was indeed born to swing. Maturing in what is proving to be a renaissance period for female jazz singers, Horn—who has won in both the Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan vocal-jazz competitions—holds her own as an assured and spunky interpreter of song.”
The New Yorker
“Horn is among the most exciting young vocalists in jazz, with a proud traditionalism that keeps her tightly linked to the sound of classic figures like Nancy Wilson and Betty Carter, but a vivacity of spirit and conviction that places her firmly in the present.”
The New York Times
“...Jazzmeia Horn breaks free of the constraints of vocal jazz, offering a mature album of original music that speaks to self-love, self-expression, and perhaps most importantly, the courage to love unconditionally.”
Facebook: Jazzmeia Horn Fan Page
Pre-order Album Now
Ella - Forever the First Lady of Song
November 14th 7PM EST
In 2017, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual gala celebrated Ella Fitzgerald's centennial in what remains one of our most beloved concerts. Now, due to popular demand, we're re-airing this special performance for the first time, honoring a woman whose legacy and influence define a classic era of jazz.
The University of Pittsburgh will host its 50th Annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert: Celebrating Dr. Nathan Davis and Geri Allen, online on Nov. 2 through 7
- with performances by national artists Terri Lyne Carrington, Vijay Lyer and Nicole Mitchell, along with Pittsburgh-based musician Dwayne Dolphin. The week also inlcudes panel discussions, a cyber symposium in collaboration with Columbia University, performances by faculty, and reflections on the past five decades of Pitt Jazz. To see the full schedule, go to jazz.pitt.edu.
Current Director of Jazz Studies at Pitt, Nicole Mitchell states, “The Pitt Jazz Studies Program is one of the oldest and most reputable in the country and it’s our immense honor to herald visionaries Dr. Nathan Davis and Geri Allen who built it with creativity, love, inventiveness and tenacity so that it can stand strong today. It’s important for us to remember from where we came so we can plan well where we will go for the next fifty years in jazz.”
Cécile McLorin Salvant Wins 2020 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant
By Allison Hussey for Pitchfork
October 6, 2020
The musician is being recognized for “using manifold powers of interpretation to infuse jazz standards and original compositions with a vibrant, global, Black, feminist sensibility”
Jazz singer and composer Cécile McLorin Salvant has been awarded a fellowship with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She is the only musician in this year’s group of “genius grant” recipients. She joins several other scientists, writers, and scholars among the 2020 honorees, who will each receive $625,000 to use over five years.
The foundation recognized Salvant for “using manifold powers of interpretation to infuse jazz standards and original compositions with a vibrant, global, Black, feminist sensibility.” Her most recent studio album was 2018’s The Window.
Last year’s group of MacArthur fellows included guitarist Mary Halvorson.
By David Peisner for the New York Times
Aug. 24, 2020
Didn’t Know the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird.’ Then It Helped Her Fly.
Ten years ago, the Fab Four’s song about civil rights gave the soul singer a creative spark. Now she’s releasing an album of tracks originally popularized by Black women.
In the summer of 2010, the soul singer Bettye LaVette stepped onstage at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles with a 32-piece string section behind her and performed a four-decade-old song she’d only just learned: the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”
At the time, LaVette was about seven years into a long-overdue career resurgence. As a teenager in the 1960s, she had scored a few memorable R&B hits, including the slinky, aching “Let Me Down Easy,” but she failed to make the kind of impact that many of the artists she came up alongside in Detroit — Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, Aretha Franklin — enjoyed. To many record collectors, LaVette was a great forgotten singer whose earthy voice could transform any song into something more than even its author imagined. To most everyone else, she was just forgotten.
For decades, she’d had albums shelved, projects scuttled and even one manager shot. LaVette calls this seeming yen for misfortune “buzzard luck,” but beginning around 2003, her fortunes began to change with a string of critically acclaimed albums.
Preparing for the Beatles tribute, her husband, Kevin Kiley, suggested she perform “Blackbird.” “I’d never heard the song before in my life,” LaVette said in a phone call from her home in West Orange, N.J., where she has been riding out the coronavirus pandemic. “Kevin played it for me and I said, ‘I wonder if people know he’s talking about a Black woman?’”
Performing to a packed crowd 10 years ago, LaVette felt a deep connection to the signature lyric. “I just said, ‘All my life I’ve waited for this moment to arrive.’ That is exactly how I felt.”
LaVette rejiggered the song into the first-person, slowed the tempo to a crawl and added a bed of strings. Her wholesale reinvention of the classic tune became the foundation for an album that would take another decade to blossom. “Blackbirds,” due Friday, is a collection of songs celebrating the formative work of — as LaVette calls them — “black birds.” All the songs, save for the Beatles song that inspired it, were originally popularized by Black female singers, including Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington.
“These women are the first Black women singers I heard,” she said. “Knowing what all these women went through, I can find myself in each of the songs because I’m a black bird too.”
Please click on link above for full article.
Helen Jones Woods
Member of an All-Female Jazz Group, Dies at 96.
She played trombone in the multiracial International Sweethearts of Rhythm, but later put down her horn forever. She died of the coronavirus.
Helen Jones Woods was an African-American jazz musician who toured the country, including the Jim Crow South, in the 1930s and ’40s. This could be the start of a familiar story of racism on the road. But Ms. Woods’s journey has some distinctive wrinkles.
Ms. Woods played trombone in the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female, multiracial ensemble so anomalous that the white members had to wear blackface in the South to avoid trouble.
When the group split up in 1949 — bruised by the road and feeling exploited financially — Ms. Woods found the classical world no less racist. After her first performance with the Omaha Symphony, her father, who did not share her light complexion, picked her up, tipping off the orchestra that she was not white.
“They fired her,” said Ms. Woods’s daughter Cathy Hughes, a founder and chairperson of Urban One, a media company that focuses on Black culture. “She never touched her horn again.”
Ms. Woods died on July 25 of the coronavirus in a hospital in Sarasota, Fla., her daughter said. She was 96.
“I was absolutely stunned and speechless (I’m never speechless) when I learned I was receiving the award. What an honor to be in such great company of others that have received it and to be acknowledged in such a big way for the work I love to do in jazz. I will continue my work to the best of my ability as long as I’m allowed to.”
Dorthaan Kirk has been a major force at WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, Newark Public Radio—the only full-time jazz format station in New York and New Jersey—working in various roles for more than four decades. Called “Newark’s First Lady of Jazz,” Kirk has been active as a curator and producer of jazz events primarily in and around Newark, New Jersey, and is an avid supporter of musicians and jazz education for children.
Kirk grew up in Texas and lived in California before moving to the East Coast in 1970 with husband Rahsaan Roland Kirk, a jazz great known for playing multiple horns simultaneously, whose career she managed. Kirk was already a jazz fan before marriage, but her husband introduced her to more musicians and new venues, and she became more knowledgeable about jazz history through him.
When her husband died unexpectedly in 1977 at age 41, Kirk wanted to continue to work in the jazz business. She was introduced to Bob Ottenhoff, who was working on getting the Newark Board of Education to transfer their underutilized broadcast license to create the first public radio station in New Jersey, as a full-time jazz station. Ottenhoff hired Kirk as one of the original employees that launched WBGO in 1979. Before retiring in 2018, Kirk was the special events and community relations coordinator; the curator of the station’s art gallery, which is open to the public; and managed the annual WBGO Jazz-a-thon as well as the WBGO Children’s Jazz Series, which offers free jazz concerts by top-name musicians specifically for young people since 1993.
Kirk has been active for decades in the Newark community presenting jazz events. In 2000, she coordinated with the Rev. Dr. M. William Howard Jr. of the Bethany Baptist Church in Newark to present free-of-charge monthly Jazz Vespers, live jazz events during the months from October to June, that have featured nationally renowned performers, such as Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, and Gregory Porter. Since 2012, Kirk has been the consultant producer for a monthly jazz brunch series titled Dorthaan’s Place in her honor at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Nico Kitchen & Bar in Newark. In addition to recruiting talent, she has also acted as master of ceremonies for these events.
She continues to be the keeper of the flame of her late husband’s musical legacy: managing his music; acting as administrator of his publishing company; and organizing special events in his honor, such as the tribute at St. Peter’s Church in New York City in December 2007.
Kirk has been the recipient of numerous awards from the City of East Orange, City of Newark, and New Jersey State Assembly for her community-based initiatives in the arts. In 2013, she received the Humanitarian Award from the American Conference on Diversity, Essex County Chapter. For her 80th birthday in 2018, the Dorthaan Kirk Scholarship Opportunity Fund was created to support jazz students in the Newark area.
Annie Ross 1930–2020
Annie Ross, a British-American vocalist who was among the most celebrated jazz singers of the 1950s and a noted character actress and cabaret singer in her later years, died July 21 at her home in New York City. She was four days shy of her 90th birthday.
Annie Ross, Birdland, NYC, September 2015 (photo: Jeff Tamarkin)