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Twenty-Five Great Jazz Soprano Saxophone Performances

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The soprano Saxophone has been the stepchild to its large brothers, the Alto and Tenor saxophones in jazz music. Despite a lineage that dates to the early twenties, the soprano was not widely used as a solo instrument in many early jazz recordings, with most soloists preferring the clarinet for its warmer, richer sound. The soprano is typically found as a straight barreled instrument although small curved horns that look like baby alto saxophones with a straighter crook are also in use. The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846. Modern soprano instruments have a range of between Ab3 to E6 pitched one octave higher than the tenor, but some skilled players can play in the altissimo register allowing them to play even higher.

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Sidney Bechet photo credit unknown

It has been said that the great Sidney Bechet, a New Orleans born classically trained musician, discovered a quality soprano saxophone while on tour in England with Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra, sometime around 1920. Bechet, who was a world class clarinetist, wanted a solo instrument that could better stand up to the louder brass cornets and trombones of the era. In the soprano, he found that the bright, piercing sound of the instrument had the strong, clear voice he was looking for and people started to notice. Bechet is considered by many to be the father of the soprano saxophone in jazz. While certainly the most celebrated player of his era, he was not the only practitioner of this quirky horn back in the twenties. The first record that I found featuring Bechet on a serpentine soprano solo was from Clarence Williams Blue Five recording of “Wild Cat Blues” recorded on July 23, 1923 in NYC. Boyd Atkins was famously heard several years later playing a momentous soprano saxophone solo while with Louis Armstrong and his Stompers on “Chicago Breakdown” from 1927. Duke Ellington would sometimes use multi- reed players Johnny Hodges and Otto Hardwick to play soprano as a section instrument in his orchestra, but on occasion the soprano was featured as a solo instrument as with Johnny Hodges beautiful work on “Harmony in Harlem” from 1937.

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Lucky Thompson photo credit unknown

By the nineteen forties the premier practitioner of the soprano was the inimitable multi-reedist Lucky Thompson. You can hear some of his brilliant work while he was in Paris back in October 1940 on a session where he recorded the sensuous “Lover Man.” Thompson became disenchanted with the music business in the United States and moved to Paris from 1957-1962. It was after all Paris that had so thoroughly embraced Sidney Bechet in the early twenties both because of his musicianship and because Bechet’s Creole heritage had ties to the French language and to French colonialism in hometown of New Orleans. It was here that Thompson, though predominantly known as a tenor player, became more interested in the soprano and would continue to pioneer its use in more modern jazz. You can hear the man’s brilliant command of this difficult instrument on such tunes as Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Way” from his 1964 album Lucky Strikes.

By the late fifties and into the sixties another young saxophonist was starting to go his own way on the instrument, abandoning his Dixieland roots and focusing exclusively on the high register horn with a more modern approach. Saxophonist Steven Norman Lackritz aka Steve Lacy is perhaps best known as the soprano’s modern-day Sidney Bechet. His debut album was aptly titled Soprano Sax and was recorded in 1957. After playing with Thelonious Monk he became enamored with the quirky pianist’s compositions and rarely performed or recorded without including at least one Monk tune in his repertoire. Lacy also adventured into the avant-garde and the experimental music scene. His work and the work of saxophonist John Coltrane on the soprano would influence legions of players that followed.

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Steve Lacy photo credit unknown

Reportedly Miles Davis purchased a soprano for his saxophonist at the time John Coltrane, while the group was on tour in Europe in March of 1960. Coltrane started progressively using the straight horn and he soon after broke from Davis to form his own group with McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. At that time only Steve Lacy was actively utilizing the instrument in jazz. The instrument had little reach outside its limited use in the world of jazz until saxophonist John Coltrane made his ground-breaking album My Favorite Things using his soprano. The adventurous Coltrane made the soprano soar on this modal exploration of a Rogers and Hammerstein song from the Broadway show The Sound of Music. The song was transformed into a hypnotically driven, raga inspired chant whose melody was immediately familiar despite its wildly exploratory improvisational forays over a repeated vamp. It became an instant hit and a vital bridge to an expanding non-jazz audience. It also opened the doors for many future players to explore the transcendental, eastern inspired sound of this unique instrument. The multi-instrumentalist ( not yet Rahsaan) Roland Kirk played a manzello quite proficiently. The manzello is a King saxello soprano saxophone with an extended bell. Kirk made his statement on the instrument in the late sixties with his “A Handful of Fives.”

Since Coltrane, world and jazz music has seen a proliferation of players who have taken the instrument down new and unexpected paths. When fusion came on the scene in the early seventies, mixing the bombast of rock with the improvisational bravado of jazz, the soprano found its way into the music. Saxophonist’s like Pharaoh Sanders, a Coltrane disciple, took the music into a spiritual mode allowing us all to “Astral Travel” with or without the aid of hallucinogens from his 1971 album Thembi.

Multi-reed players who mostly played tenor would occasionally feature their soprano skills throughout their careers. Notable players like Zoot Sims, who came to the soprano relatively late in his career, did a beautiful version of “Moonlight in Vermont” from his 1976 album Soprano Sax. The masterful Jerome Richardson was no stranger to the soprano and his work can be heard from the early fifties into the late nineties on such big bands as the Mingus Big Band and Oliver Nelson’s Big Band. His work is represented here as a featured solist in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra on the song “The Waltz You Swang for Me” from the 1968 live at the Village Vanguard recording. At the same time Bechet devotees like Bob Wiber and Kenny Davern would keep the Dixieland spirit of the old master alive, although admittedly modernized, with songs like “Song of Songs” a dueling soprano performance from 1977.

No list of soprano masters would be complete without the extraordinary work of the great Wayne Shorter. His legionnaire work with his band Weather Report and on his own solo efforts are trailblazingly beautiful. Perhaps one of his most memorable performances for me was “Beauty and the Beast” from his seminal album Native Son from 1974.

Other notable soprano players included Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell, Gerry Niewood, Joshua Redman, John Lurie, Jane Ira Bloom, Jane Bunnett, Jan Gabarek, John Surman, Klaus Doldinger, Kenny Garrett, Steve Wilson, Sonny Fortune, Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes, Bob Sheppard, Chris Cheek, Chris Potter, James Carter, Jeff Coffin and Paul Mc Candless. The saxophonist Branford Marsalis has become a superb player on the soprano and has distinguished himself from a fine field of newer players. The avant-garde modernist Evan Parker has carved himself his own place with a sound like no other. The inimitable Sam Newsome is in a class by himself having taken the instrument into new areas of sonic experimentation and texture.

In the field of popular crossover, soprano saxophonists that come to mind are Grover Washington Jr, Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets, and Jay Bechinstein of Spyro Gyra, and in the smooth jazz arena there is Dave Koz, Najee and of course Kenny G to name a few. Amazingly it is Kenny G’s soprano saxophone on “Going Home” that has probably been the most played song on the instrument in its history! It is often used in China, even twenty-five years after it was recorded, to signal to shoppers that it is closing time and indeed time to go home.

I could not have assembled such a well studied list without the generous help of saxophonist, arranger and educator Bill Kirchner, multi-reedist Scott Robinson, and saxophonists Michael Blake and Dave Anderson. To them I offer my sincerest thanks. With the above brief history, and acknowledging in advance to having undoubtedly left off some important players whom I may not be aware of, here are my picks for twenty-five great jazz soprano saxophone performances in roughly chronological order:

Sidney Bechet “Wild Cat Blues” from Clarence Williams Blue Five; Sidney Bechet, sop sax; Clarence Williams, piano; Thomas Morris, cornet; John Mayfield, trombone; Buddy Christian, banjo. Recorded in NYC 1923

Boyd Atkins: “Chicago Breakdown” from Louis Armstrong and His Stompers with Louis Armstrong, trumpet; Boyd Atkins, sop sax; Frank Walker, baritone sax; Rip Bassett, banjo/guitar; Earl Hines, piano; Albert Washington, tenor sax; Honore Dutry, trombone; Bill Wilson, cornet; Tubby Hall drums. Recorded in Chicago, Illinois 1927

Johnny Hodges: “Harlem in Harmony” with the Duke Ellington Orchestra recorded in September 20, 1937 in NYC with Johnny Hodges , sop sax; Duke Ellington, piano; Rex Stewart, cornet; Cootie Williams, Arthur Whetsel, Freddie Jenkins, trumpets; Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, trombones; Juan Tizol valve trombone; Barney Bigard, clarinet; Otto Hardwick, alto and clarinet; Harry Carney, baritone sax; Freddy Guy, guitar; Billy Taylor, bass, Sonny Greer, drums.


Steve Lacy : “Day Dream” from the album Soprano Sax recorded November 1, 1957 at Van Gelder studios in Hackensack , NJ with Wynton Kelly, piano; Buell Neidinger, bass; Dennis Charles, drums.

Lucky Thompson: “In A Sentimental Mood” from his album Lucky Strikes recorded September 15, 1964 at Van Gelder Studios in Hackensack, NJ with Lucky Thompson, sop sax; Hank Jones, piano; Richard Davis, piano; Connie Kay , drums.

John Coltrane: “My Favorite Things” for his album My Favorite Things recorded October 21,24 and 26th 1960 with John Coltrane, sop sax; McCoy Tyner, piano; Steve Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: “Handful of Fives” from his album The Inflated Tear recorded November 27-31, 1967 with Roland Kirk, manzello; Ron Burton, piano; Steve Novosel, bass; Jimmy Hopps, drums; Dick Griffin, trombone.

Jerome Richardson: “The Waltz You Swang for Me” from his work on the album Monday Night Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra live at the Village Vanguard album from October 1968 recorded at the Village Vanguard in NYC with Jerome Richardson, sop sax; Richard Davis , bass; Thad Jones, flugelhorn; Mel Lewis, drums, Roland Hanna, piano; Jerry Dodgian, alto sax; Seldon Powell, tenor sax; Eddie Daniels, tenor sax; Pepper Adams, baritone sax; Richard Williams, SnookyYoung, Danny Moore, Jimmy Nottingham, trumpets; Jimmy Knepper, Garnet Brown, Jimmy Cleveland, Cliff Heather, trombones.

Pharaoh Sanders: “Astral Traveling” from his album Thembi recorded November 1970 and January 1971 in California with Pharoah Sanders sop sax; Lonnie Liston Smith, Fender Rhodes; Michael White, violin; Cecil McBee, bass; Clifford Jarvis, drums.


Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Steve Grossman: “Brite Piece” from Elvin Jones Merry Go Round recorded Feb 12, and December 16, 1971 at Van Gelder Studios, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ with Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Steve Grossman, sop saxes; Elvin Jones, drums, Gene Perla, bass; Jan Hammer, electric piano; Don Alias, oriental bells.

Here is a live performance of the group in France in 1972 unfortunately without the great Joe Farrell or Don Alias, and with Steve Grossman on tenor.

Joe Farrell: “La Fiesta” from Chick Corea’s Return to Forever recorded February 2nd & 3rd, 1972 in London with Joe Farrell, sop sax; Chick Corea, electric piano; Stanley Clarke, bass; Airto Moreira, drums and percussion; Flora Purim , vocals and percussion; “La Fiesta” starting at 38:00 minute mark

Grover Washington Jr.: “Invitation” from a live broadcast on WBCN in Boston, Mass in Spring of 1973 with Grover Washington Jr., sop sax; Bill Meek, Fender Rhodes; Charles Fambrough, bass; Daryl Brown, drums.

Wayne Shorter: “Beauty and the Beast” from his album Native Son recorded in 1974 with Wayne Shorter, sop sax; Milton Nascimento, vocals; David Amaro, guitar; Jay Graydon, bass; Herbie Hancock, piano and keyboards; Wagner Tiso, organ; Dave McDaniel, bass; Roberto Silva, drums; Airto Moreira, percussion.

Zoot Sims: “Moonlight in Vermont” from his album Zoot Sims- Soprano Sax recorded January 8th and 9th 1976 at RCA Studios NYC with Ray Bryant, piano; George Mraz, bass; Grady Tate, drums.

Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern: “Song of Songs” from a live performance in October 1977 with Bob Wilber curved bell sop sax; Kenny Davern, straight sop sax; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Geroge Duvivier, bass; Bobby Rosengarten, drums.

Gerry Niewood: “Joy” from his album Gerry Niewood and Timepiece from 1976 with Gerry Niewood, sop sax; Dave Samuels, electric vibes; Rick Laird, bass; Ron Davis, drums.

Klaus Doldinger: “Ataraxia Part 1 and 2” from the album by his group Passport Ataraxia recorded in Germany 1978 with Klaus Doldinger sop sax and keyboards; Dieter Petereit, bass; Willie Ketzer, drums; Roy Louis, guitars; Hendrik Schaper, keyboards; Elmer Louis, percussion.

Dick Oatts: “Ding Dong Ding” from the Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra with Bob Brookmeyer recorded live at the Village Vanguard 1980 with Dick Oatts sop sax; Jim McNeely, piano; Rufus Reid, Bass; Mel Lewis, drums; Bob Mintzer, Steve Coleman, Gary Pribeck, Richard Perry, reeds; Bob Brookmeyer, trombone and arranger; Earl McIntyre, John Mosca, Lee Robertson, Lolly Bienenfeld, trombones; Earl Gardner, Larry MosesRon Tooley, trumpets; Stepahnie Fauber, French horn.

Jane Ira Bloom: “The Man with the Glasses” from her album Mighty Lights recorded at Vanguard Studios in NYC November 17 and 18, 1982 with Jane Ira Bloom, sop sax; Charlie Haden, bass; Fred Hersch, piano; Ed Blackwell, drums.

Chris Cheek: “Ice Fall” from his album Vine recorded 1999 with Chris Cheek , sop sax; Brad Mehldau, electric piano, Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar; Matt Penman, bass; Jorge Rossy, drums.

Sam Newsome: “Toy Tune” from the Orrin Evans Album Grown Folk Bizness released in Oct 1999 with Sam Newsome, sop sax; Orrin Evans, piano; Rodney Witaker, bass; Ralph Peterson, drums.

Branford Marsalis: “The Ruby and the Pearl” from his album Eternal recorded October 7-10th, 2003 with Branford Marsalis, sop sax; Joey Calderazzo, piano, Eric Revis Bass, Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums.

Paul McCandless: “May or Mai” live in concert with Antonio Calogero in Messina, Italy on November 28, 2007 with Paul McCandless, sop sax; Antonio Calogero, classical guitar.


Kenny Garrett: “Detroit” from Seeds from the Underground released April 2012 with Kenny Garrett, sop sax; Benito Gonzales, piano; Nat Reeves, bass, Rudy Bird Percussion; Ronald Bruner drums; Nedelka Prescod, vocal.

Jan Gabarek: live at Mai Jazz Festival in Stvanger Cocnert in Norway, 2013 with Jan Gabarek, sop sax; Rainer Brǘninghaus, keyboards; Trilok Gurtu, drums; Youri Daniel , bass.

You may also like to check out my Twenty-Five Great Jazz Baritone Performances
by clicking here. Or if your into jazz flute my Twenty-Five Great Jazz Flute Perfromances by clicking here.

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Twenty-Five Great Jazz Baritone Saxophone Peformances

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Ronnie Cuber

The cumbersome and often unwieldy baritone saxophone has long been relegated to the position of a shadowy stepchild to its more grandiloquent brothers, the tenor and alto saxophones, in jazz music. A low register behemoth that requires voluminous breath, careful control and formidable stamina, it has been used primarily in jazz orchestras to produce those low resonant notes that bring the bottom end to life in modern jazz orchestra arrangements. Prominently used in the great jazz orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, the baritone saxophone was played by the great Harry Carney in the Ellington band and by Jack Washington in the Basie band. Carney, with his incredible use of circular breathing and his pure uncluttered tone, is widely recognized as having been a pioneer on the instrument, bringing the baritone out of the obscurity of the saxophone section and into the limelight of a solo instrument.

Using Carney and to a lesser extent Washington as inspiration, baritone players started to experiment with the versatility of this instrument. In the forties and fifties Serge Chaloff pioneered the bebop sound on the big horn with his solo work and as one of the infamous “Four Brothers” saxophone section in Woody Herman’s Second Herd. Saxophonist Leo Parker continued this path finding his niche playing a boppish blues inspired baritone and Cecil Payne was known for the warmth and heartiness of his sound which was partially inspired by his work with Dizzy Gillespie. The diametrically opposed styles of the cool school innovator Gerry Mulligan and the facile, hearty work of Pepper Adams brought the baritone front and center and undoubtedly inspired the next generation of players.

The instrument has gone through a dramatic metamorphosis in the hands of avant-garde players like Hamiett Blueitt, impressionistic players like John Surman and Colin Stenson, and free players like Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson. The tradition has been expanded and enhanced by such great players as the incendiary Ronnie Cuber, Nick Brignola, Dennis DiBlasio, the superlative James Carter, Xavier Richardieu and modern master Gary Smulyan and the future looks bright with young stars like Alain Cuper, Brian Landrus, Claire Daly, Frank Basile, Lauren Sevian and Jason Marshall.

Since the instrument has been such an important part of the saxophone sections of so many great bands over the years, it is important not to forget the players who have made such an important contribution to this music on this instrument, while never seeing the spotlight of the solo. Many of their work is timelessly hidden in the seamless perfection of the band’s signature sound, a sound of singular voicing. Some do double duty on baritone and other reed instruments. So let’s’ not forget the work of the previously mentioned Jack Washington who worked with Basie; Charlie Fowlkes, who played in the bands of Arnett Cobb, Lionel Hampton and Count Basie; Ernie Caceres, who at times played with Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman; Laurdine “Pat” Patrick who played with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and spent forty years in Sun Ra’s Arkestra; Haywood Henry who played with the Esrkine Hawkins band; Glen Wilson, who teaches and has toured with Buddy Rich and the Bob Belden Ensemble; Jack Nimitz, played with Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Oliver Nelson and Herbie Mann; Danny Bank who played in the bands of Artie Shaw, Oliver Nelson and countless other bands and was heard on numerous studio sessions. Carl Maraghi played with “Doc” Severinsen’s Band and works in Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society band. Ed Xiques who has played in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and is now with the Westchester Jazz Orchestra and George Barrow, who played with Oliver Nelson’s orchestra.

Other great multi-instrumentalists that double regularly on the baritone as part of their multi-reed work include the inimitable Scott Robinson with Maria Schneider’s Orchestra, avant-garde multi-instrumentalist Vinnie Golia and the versatile Howard Johnson, whose principal instrument is Tuba.

A big thank you goes out to Andrew Hadro and his JazzBariSax.com which was a invaluable resource for this article and all things baritone saxophone.

Here are my top twenty-five greatest jazz baritone saxophone solos in roughly chronological order:

Where it all started the master:

Harry Carney: Live in Copenhagen Denmark with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (1965-1971):
“Sophisticated Lady”

Serge Chaloff: from Blue Serge 1956 with LeRoy Vinegar (b), Sonny Clark (p), Philly Joe Jones (dr) “All the Things You Are”

Lars Gullin: with Rune Ofwerman (p), Bengt Carlson(b), Nils-Bertil Dahlander (dr) 1957 “Lover Man”

Jerome Richardson: from Roamin’ with Richardson 1959 with Richard Wyands(p),George Tucker (b) Charlie Persip (dr) “I Never Knew”

Leo Parker: From the album Rollin’ with Leo with Dave Burns (tpt), Bill Swindell (T sax), Johnny Acea (pno), Al Lucas (db), Wilbert Hogan (dr).from 1961 “Bad Girl”

Gerry Mulligan: with Paul Desmond (as), Wendell Marshall (b), Connie Kay (dr) 1962 from Two of a Mind, “Stardust”

Sahib Shihab: from And All Those Cats, from 1965 with Francy Boland (p), Jimmy Woode (b), Kenny Clarke (dr), Fats Sadi (bongos & vibes), Joe Harris (perc) “Bohemia After Dark”

Sahib Shihab & Cecil Payne: with the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Band in Copenhagen, Denmark 1968 “Ray’s Idea”

Pepper Adams: Live in Baltimore September 1969 with Duke Pearson, Richard Davis Mel Lewis and Richard Williams.: “Billie’s Bounce”

John Surman: from Extrapolation 1969 with John McLaughlin (g), Brian Odgers (b), Tony Oxley (dr)

Hamiet Bluiett : live with the Charles Mingus Band in Nov 1972 Berlin, Germany with Joe Gardner (tr), John Foster (p), Charles Mingus (b) and Roy Brooks (dr). “Peggy’s Blue Skylight”

Cecil Payne: Live in NYC at Jack Klinesingers Jazz Tribute to Charlie Parker 1973 with Ted Dunbar (g), Richard Davis (b) and Roy Haynes (dr) “Koko”

Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker Band live at Carnegie Hall 1974 : w Bob James (p), John Scofield (g), Ron Carter(b), Dave Samuels (vib), Harvey Mason (dr) “Bernie’s Tune”

Gerry Mulligan: live with The Charles Mingus Band w Charles Mingus (b), George Adams, (ts), Don Pullen(p), Jack Walrath (tr), Dannie Richmond (dr) Benny Bailey (tr) live at Montreux 1975
“Take the A Train”

Nick Brignola and Pepper Adams : from Baritone Madness 1977 with Dave Holland (b), Derek Smith (p), Roy Haynes (dr) “Donna Lee”.

Roger Rosenberg: live with the Bob Mintzer Big Band live in Berlin 1987 and October 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA

Joe Temperley: Live with the Buck Clayton Orchestra 1988 “Angel in Blue”

Nick Brignola: from What it Takes 1990 with Randy Brecker (tr), Kenny Baron (p), Rufus Reid (b), Dick Berk (dr) “Star Eyes”

Ronnie Cuber: on Mingus Big Band 93: Nostalgia in Times Square ; “Moan’in”

James Carter: on the Real Quiet Storm 1995 with Craig Taborn(p): “Round Midnight”

Mats Gustafsson from Catapult 2005 “The Light”

Jason Marshall: Live at the Montreal Jazz Festival June 2010, with All McClean (ts), Dan Thouin (p), Adam Vedady( b), John Fraboni (d) : “Cherokee”

Brian Landrus: from The Deep Below from 2015 : “The Fly”

Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufield : Never Were the Way She Was 2015 “Won’t be a Thing to Become”

Gary Smulyan: live at the Le Ducs de Lombards, fall of 2016 “Laura”

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https://soundcloud.com/sunnysiderecords/gary-smulyan-laura

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South African Styles of Music: Classical Music in South Africa, Mbaqanga, South African Hip Hop, South African Jazz, Kwaito, Mahotella Queens, Township Music, Damian Stephens, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, Makgona Tsohle Band

South African Styles of Music: Classical Music in South Africa, Mbaqanga, South African Hip Hop, South African Jazz, Kwaito, Mahotella Queens, Township Music, Damian Stephens, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, Makgona Tsohle Band


Used – Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Pages: 34. Chapters: Classical music in South Africa, Mbaqanga, South African hip hop, South African jazz, Kwaito, Mahotella Queens, Township music, Damian Stephens, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, Makgona Tsohle Band, Counting Headz: South Afrika’s Sistaz in Hip Hop, Cape jazz, Isicathamiya, National Youth Jazz Festival, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, A

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Blue Note President Don Was on the Future of Jazz

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Photo by Gabi Porter

This interview first appeared in OffBeat Magazine.

Improvisation has always been at the core of jazz music.

Collective improvisation–a piano player riffing on a bass line thumping out of an upright following the whims of a drummer–has served the entire jazz industry well over the past century or so.

But, when you take a step back to get a wide-angle view of the landscape of the current music industry, the theory of improvisation can be applied in interesting new ways.

What if a jazz band now consists of one 17-year-old and her tricked out computer? What if randomized algorithms govern each sequential synthetic piano note? What if hip-hop beats become melded indelibly to jazz standards? What will jazz music sound like in five years?

Not all of these questions will be answered, and some new methods of producing music will never even gain traction, but it takes a certain kind of mindset to be open to the possibilities presented by the modern world.

Blue Note Records President Don Was has just such a mindset. Over his long and varied career, Was (born Donald Fagenson) has cultivated an outlook that allows him to be focused on preserving the past while remaining open to the limitless possibilities of the future.

The devoted music scholar got his start as a bass player in the band Was (Not Was), racking up several hits throughout the ’80s, including the still catchy “Walk the Dinosaur.”

Was–along with Keith Richards–produced Aaron Neville‘s Blue Note debut album My True Story. He has also paid serious tribute to New Orleans by producing the instantly legendary Dr. John tribute at the Saenger Theater.

Was artfully curated the musicians picked to participate in the show, carefully placing titans like Bruce Springsteen amid a bevy of contemporary New Orleans musicians. The mix paid off in a big way, and the show will go down as an epic New Orleans event.

In 2012, after producing albums for dozens of top artists from the Rolling Stones to Neil Diamond, Was settled in as the president of Blue Note, one of the last bastions of jazz in the increasingly fractious music industry.

Was is spending just as much time looking back through the legendary label’s history as he is looking forward to the future.

And Don Was has never been afraid of the future.

What is your take on the music industry as a whole right now?

Well, these are crazy times. If you’re a traditionalist in the music business–and I’m not even discussing musical taste, but just in how the business model works–everything you know has been turned upside down.

I feel fortunate that I’m fairly new to the hardcore business side. I still approach it like I did as a musician and like I do as a record producer.

If you put the artist and the music first, you figure that it’s the record company’s responsibility to get behind a select group of artists and make sure that they have the means to capture all of their ideas in the recording studio and get them out in front of people.

There are a million ways to enable that to happen.

What kind of an outlook does the music industry as a whole have for the future?

I am actually quite optimistic about the future of the music business and I’m a great believer that you just have to consider our responsibility to the musicians first.

If you approach from that point of view, everything falls into place.

Do you think your personal perspective has been formed by having worked your way up from being a musician yourself?

Yes, I really do. It’s a weird business. If you stay true to the music and the spirit of the music and the spirit of the musicians, the bread will follow. I absolutely believe that, and it’s totally been informed by my own experience, from my own days of being a struggling bass player in Detroit to now.

This isn’t some innovative idea of mine, you know? I kind of inherited the mantle of Bruce Lundvall, who is one of the great record men of all time. He ran the label for 30 years, and he enabled a whole lot of folks to make records. That’s really your gig, to enable people to keep making records.

Even when traditional records have been replaced by YouTube clips?

Well, yes. Personally, I believe that the days of selling tracks to consumers as a business model are gone.

To me, that doesn’t mean you stop making music, and that doesn’t mean you can stop generating the bread necessary to keep making records. It just means you’ve got to be able to be very creative about how you go about it.

It seems like the current business approach has musicians chasing fans and trying to make it personal for them instead of fans seeking out and finding new musicians.

I think they’re coming to fans in more overt ways. Really, to me, thinking back to my experiences as an artist in Was (Not Was), we made a great effort to come to people.

We were out there singing “Walk the Dinosaur” live on every Morning Zoo program on every radio station across the country and trying to be funny at 5:30 in the morning.

I think the interaction between musicians and fans is just a little more visible now. I think you have to make an effort to get music to people. Otherwise, you’re just making music and that’s it, and what’s the point in that?

If you look back at the history of the music industry and you look at a guy like Robert Johnson, he used to stand in front of the barbershop and play for free just to give a teaser to get people to pay to go see him at the roadhouse that night.

Then someone came along and said “if you let me record you, we can get you on the local radio station, and you can reach 100 times the amount of people you’ll reach standing in front of the barbershop,” and that was the bargain. There were no royalties or anything like that, and some guy would sell records out of the trunk of his car in front of appliance stores. It wasn’t this huge industry, but it made people aware of the music. I think we can still do that.

Right now, there seems to be more of a movement towards kids with laptops and iPads creating music rather than musicians spending years learning to play traditional instruments. How does that change your approach to recording jazz artists?

Jazz is a pretty broad term. A lot of folks don’t even like to use it anymore. I think that the definition is always supposed to be changing. If it encompasses people doing stuff on their iPads, it’s the spirit in which they do it that matters more than the technological developments.

If you play with a certain abandon and improvisational sense, you can swing like a motherfucker with your iPad.

How does that fit with the history of jazz masters recorded by Blue Note?

When you look back at Blue Note over 75 years, it endured and kept the aesthetic intact by constantly reinventing itself and constantly changing.

If you play improvisational music night after night, which I’ve done as a musician for 50 years, one of the rules is you should never play it the same twice. Every night when you come in to play, you should close your eyes, clear the slate, and approach the song with a beginner’s mind and start fresh and just play what appears.

I believe that reinvention and evolution are built into jazz on a cellular level. If you really follow the music that we created throughout the history of the company, we were always pushing the boundaries, and that’s something we will continue to do.

If you accept that the state of jazz is supposed to be one of constant evolution, these times are right in keeping with it. There’s a place for a kid with an iPad.

How does New Orleans fit into the contemporary jazz scene?

Off the top of my head, a leading exponent of New Orleans music is Jon Batiste, who I’d love to see end up on Blue Note Records. I think he’s really incorporated the musical spirit of the city to the extent that I, as someone who has never lived there, can be see it in what he does. You can’t see one of his shows and not recognize New Orleans.

Terence Blanchard is on the label, and he’s one of the dominant living forces of New Orleans music. He’s about to start a new album that’s totally different for him. He’s a guy who likes to keep things moving, I think, and yet he stays really rooted in the traditions.

I think it’s very much alive, New Orleans music. I think it resonates with people because so much influential music came out of New Orleans on every level–from blues to rock ‘n’ roll to jazz. New Orleans is embedded in the DNA code of music. That New Orleans feeling.

I have two kids who are drummers, and they don’t necessarily know Earl Palmer, but they do Earl Palmerisms all the time. It has just permeated the musical vocabulary on such a fundamental level.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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All That Jazz

All That Jazz


Francis Yardley may be the high kicking – and cross-dressing – star of an all-male version of Chicago but he “can’t do it alone”. Bitter and on the booze after the breakdown of a relationship he thinks that the chance for true love has passed him by.A handsome shy rugby player called Tommy seems to be the answer to his problems but Tommy doesn’t like the lipstick and lace. Can they find a way forward and is there still a chance for happiness “nowadays”?This short story is part of the ENCORE! ENCORE! Anthology.

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Utah Jazz Comfy Feet Baby / Infant Slippers

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Fender American Special Jazz Bass – Maple Fretboard – Black Finish

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NBA Grab Wristlet Bag, Utah Jazz, Wristlet, Top Zip, Brown, Red, Green, Purple, Medium, Brand Print

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Wilco Lights Up New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest

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Wilco

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2015 ended its first day with a bang. And a series of lightning flashes. Then torrential rain, but not before headliners from Wilco to Keith Urban to Jimmy Cliff worked in as much music as they could before the weather shut down their respective stages.

My first stop-in-your-tracks moment was the Kambuka African Dance & Drum Collective thanks to the kind of serendipity that Jazz Fest specializes in providing. You don’t know what’s just around the corner, but it’s always worth making the turn.

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Kambuka African Dance & Drum Collective

“I will rise again, through rain and flood and wind,” Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band sang just before the heavy weather arrived. “The clouds will pass, the sun will shine and I will see again.” The band has a loyal following that ends the set with a sea of waving hands in an annual moment of Zen.

Transitioning from trance to dance, we caught Royal Teeth, newly signed to Electra Records. Guitarist / vocalist Gary Larsen says that after their third year performing at fest, “Each year gets better for us. There’s always a familiar connection we have with the crowd at Jazz Fest because they are our friends and our neighbors. The crowd is there for the dancing and the energy you can only find at a New Orleans festival, so we try to bring out all the stops each year. They welcome us with open arms. It’s an honor to be able to play such a great festival at home and feel the love from our city.” Exuding positivity during their set, Larson told the crowd: “You look beautiful, New Orleans!” Since I had eaten a beignet covered in powdered sugar while wearing black, I resembled a speckled trout but appreciated the sentiment.

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Royal Teeth

Next, we headed to the WWOZ Jazz Tent in case of rain and because New Orleans native son Nicholas Payton nearly blew the tent-top off with his Nicholas Payton Trio featuring Vicente Archer on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Payton’s new album is titled Numbers, and #5 was a triumph. Payton refers to his genre as Black American Music (#BAM) rather than jazz. Since the state of jazz ends up hotly debated before, during and after Jazz Fest every year, what it is called may as well be part of that conversation.

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Nicholas Payton Trio

David Fricke, marking 30 years at Rolling Stone Magazine, is one of many writers whose festival interviews have given audiences a look behind the scenes over the years. After one of Wilco’s previous Jazz Fest appearances, he interviewed bassist John Stirratt and asked what new albums were inspiring him. Stirratt mentioned legendary songwriter Bobby Charles’ new release. When my husband told Dr. John about the shout out, he called Bobby to pass along the compliment. Their phone conversations were always long and legendary. At one point Dr. John clarified to Bobby: “Wilco … No, NOT a washing machine!! …” Once that was cleared up, Bobby was happy to know he was remembered and we got to tell Stirratt that Bobby Charles thought his band was an appliance. Bobby died later that year, so it was meaningful that he had the chance to hear the praise from a fellow Louisiana native.

Wilco remains as popular at Jazz Fest as they are in their hometown of Chicago, and after today the band has four Fest appearances under their belt. Jeff Tweedy told the crowd: “I don’t know how many times we’ve played here but this feels like the best.” He then gave a shout to an audience member whose sign read: “It could be worse” and said: “That’s our motto. Did you know that? On our guitar pics it says: “It could be worse. We wanted to send a message that hopeful, but not TOO hopeful.”

The band then launched into “Secrets of the Sea” while the crowd watched the clouds gather. It felt just hopeful enough.

Photos by Jeff Beninato

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Kanter rips Jazz, praises ‘professional’ OKC

Enes Kanter claimed to have more to say about his tumultuous tenure with the Utah Jazz, but didn’t hold back all that much.
ESPN.com – NBA

Clava Bags – Jazz Glitter Heart Coin Purse

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Add a little disco to your handbag’s life with our fabulously fun accessory. An adorable heart-shaped coin purse will have you grabbing for change all of the time and the bright colors make it easy to spot in your bag! A glittery zipper pull makes opening and closing a cinch and fits coins and few folded bills. Micro honeycomb pattern in the glittered pattern to add a little depth to this vinyl piece.

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Saucony Jazz Hook & Loop Purple, Size 8.5M Baby Shoes

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Joe Williams Jazz Great Rare Every Day Signed Autograph 1st Edition Book

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Saucony Jazz Original Running Shoes – Women’s Size 6.5 Color Navy/Silver

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Saucony Jazz Low Pro Vegan Originals Running Shoe – Women’s – B Width Size 11-B Color Black/Oatmeal

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Saucony Jazz Low Pro Originals Running Shoe – Women’s – B Width Size 9.5-B Color Black/Gray/Red

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Saucony didn’t sell their sole, they just trimmed it down a bit. Introduced in 2002, the Saucony Jazz Low Pro Originals Running Shoe is a sleeker alternative to the classic Jazz O silhouette complete with two different colored laces for mix -and -match styling. Size 9.5-B Color Black/Gray/Red
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Saucony Jazz Hook & Loop Navy/White, Size 4M Stride Rite Baby Shoes

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Saucony Jazz Low Pro Vegan Originals Running Shoe – Women’s – B Width Size 5.5-B Color Green

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Jazz on a New Summer Night’s Dream

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Bandleader Pablo Batista in rehearsal for the premiere of The Journey (photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Kimmel Center’s Solstice in the City had a little something for everyone including rock concerts in Verizon Hall, an arcade in the plaza to carnival style and the requite a DJ booming out pop tunes to go with shabby Philly dancing (fortunately some salsa tunes drew a few couples who knew actual steps). On the lower level in the SEI Innovation Studio it proved to be a sublime jazz on a summer’s night dream.

Jay Wahl, artistic director of the studio’s programming has been piloting arts residencies programs and commissions bringing together a stellar line-up of Philly vanguard musicians, composers and allied artists. Workshop installments have been in development for a year and and the completed works were a centerpiece of the Solstice fete.

Local saxophone great Bobby Zankel assembled a raucous jazz-dance set collaborating with choreographer Raphael Xavier and his troupe of six dancers that interplayed from structured routines by the dancers and electrifying improvs with the musicians.

Compositions by Zankel and Cuban percussionist Francoise Zayas, with Xavier dancing and narrating with his troupe starting with a piece called ‘Still be Young’ explores themes of alienation of African American youth, with inspiring messages of community solidarity and expression, danced out in hypnotic hip-hop lexicon. Xavier’s dancers fuse many individual variations of hip-hop variants and explosive acrobatics.

Zankel and his tight group of six musicians moved within a trove of jazz genres, reflective to the dancers pick up the orchestral pulse, or solo lines of one of the musicians. All of the band members weighed had virtuosic passages, some to the jazz singer Venissa Santi’s floating lilting mezzo tones to sultry vocalese.

The second concert featured trumpeter Josh Lawrence’s 11-piece orchestra. Lawrence may have been the marquee draw, but he was very much just a member of the band on the sixty-five minute piece, four movement opus titled Life Mosaic: Birth, Adolescence, Maturity and Death composed by drummer Amwar Marshall (Born, Into What Village?), Bassist Jason Fraticelli (Adolescence (Waltz for the Universe’), trumpeter Josh Lawrence (Presence) and guitarist Tim Conley ( Impermanence: Death).

Marshall’s driving rhythms, (with Francois Zaya, who returned for this set, on bongos) is a galloping engine. Lawrence’s trumpet can shift from blue fire cool to blistering staccato in a second. Tim Conley on electric guitar is trance inducing and Fraticelli’s bassline never evaporates. In one section, pianist Brian Marsella played a mach — speed, era traveling piano riff that just blew the roof off. But truth be told, everyone distinguished themselves separately and together on the bandstand.

Philly’s big-bands are starting to be a healthy trend in jazz, not as a return to a bygone era, but what is possible to achieve with new generations of jazz artists skilled in many jazz forms and eras.

Full disclosure, I was completely listener spent after the first two concerts ( you can call me wimp) but judging from the development stage Pablo Batista & the Mambo Syndicate that I had attended in the spring, his work The Journey was the capper on a great evening of jazz. Batista led his 16 member big-band of Latin jazz fusion with side specialists Bata drummers on traditional instruments and a string quartet in the mix. It was not titled The Journey for nothing.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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Horace Silver Dead: Pioneering Jazz Pianist Dies At 85

Horace Silver, a pianist, composer and band leader with a tireless inventiveness who influenced generations of jazzmen with his distinctive hard bop sound, has died. He was 85.

The Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Silver died Wednesday in New Rochelle, New York, but had no other information. “Horace Silver was one of the hardest swinging piano players in jazz, both as a section player and a soloist,” said Ramsey Lewis, a pianist influenced by Silver. “Moreover, he was one of the finest human beings that walked the earth.”

And one of the most influential, carving a sizeable wake through the jazz world in a career that seemed special from the start.

The pianist was something of a prodigy and moved to New York at the insistence of Stan Getz in the early 1950s after the famed saxophone player hired a rhythm section that included Silver for a one-off in Hartford, Connecticut. Silver was just 21.

He played with Getz for a while — Getz would record some of his early compositions — and other towering pioneers like Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. He soon began a series of collaborations and recordings that remain highly influential in jazz a half-century later — starting with his partnership with drummer Art Blakey that led to the seminal hard bop album “Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers” in 1955.

Though he eventually left the Messengers, Silver continued a string of milestone albums for Blue Note, a label he recorded for until 1980, which are still referenced often, including “Six Pieces of Silver” in 1956 and “Blowin’ The Blues Away” in 1959.

Silver’s father was born in Cape Verde and the folk music of that island nation was always part of his influences. An innately funky player with a keen sense of style, he also incorporated the blues and gospel into his compositions, modernizing jazz at the same time those sounds were transforming other genres like rock ‘n’ roll and R&B.

“It’s like making a stew,” Silver said in a 2003 All About Jazz interview. “You put all these various ingredients in it. You season it with this. You put that in it. You put the other in it. You mix it all up and it comes out something neat, something that you created.”

Songs like “The Preacher,” ”Song for My Father” and the evocatively titled “Filthy McNasty” showed the possibilities of jazz when leavened with other sounds, and his experimentation would not end there. He eventually began to include lyrics with his works and explored social and political themes in his music in the 1960s and ’70s, even dabbling in what he described as cosmic philosophy.

“Horace Silver’s music has always represented what jazz musicians preach but don’t necessarily practice, and that’s simplicity,” bassist Christian McBride told NPR in 2008. “It sticks to the memory. It’s very singable. It gets in your blood easily. You can comprehend it easily. It’s very rooted, very soulful.”

Silver, born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva in 1928 in Norwalk, Connecticut, moved to Los Angeles later in his career. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1995 for his album “Hard Bop Grandpop” and in 2005 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave him its president’s merit award.

His most widely heard composition, however, was not one he recorded himself. The rock group Steely Dan borrowed a riff from “Song for My Father” for their 1974 hit “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number,” a song that remains in heavy rotation on classic rock and oldies stations.

___

AP writer Charles J. Gans in New York contributed to this report.
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Saucony Jazz Original Running Shoes – Women’s Size 12 Color Black/Silver

Saucony Jazz Original Running Shoes – Women’s Size 12 Color Black/Silver


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Herb Jeffries Dead: Jazz Singer And Actor Known As ‘The Bronze Buckaroo’ Dies At 100 (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Herb Jeffries, the jazz singer and actor who performed with Duke Ellington and was known as the “Bronze Buckaroo” in a series of all-black 1930s Westerns, died of heart failure Sunday morning at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 100.

His death was confirmed by Raymond Strait, who worked with Jeffries on his not-yet-published autobiography titled “Color of Love.” With a mellow voice and handsome face, Jeffries became familiar to jazz fans, but segregation in the film industry limited his movie career. He scored a big hit with Ellington as the vocalist on “Flamingo,” recorded in 1940 and later covered by a white singer, the popular vocalist Tony Martin.

Among the other songs he did with Ellington were “There Shall Be No Night” and “You, You Darlin’.”

“The camaraderie in his band was like a bunch of guys in college,” Jeffries recalled in the book “Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music.” ”Ellington had a knack for developing talent and stars. … He was more like a father to me than a boss.”

Jeffries has been described as the only black singing cowboy star in Hollywood history and, more recently, after the deaths of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and others, as the “last of the singing cowboys.”

Sometimes billed as Herbert Jeffrey, he starred in four Westerns aimed at black audiences from 1937 to 1939: “Harlem on the Prairie,” ”Two-Gun Man From Harlem,” ”The Bronze Buckaroo” and “Harlem Rides the Range.”

As The New York Times noted, the low-budget films (produced by a white man, Richard C. Kahn) are “notable less for what’s in them than that they exist at all.”

Jeffries starred as Bob Blake. The films featured his horse Stardusk, the vocal group the Four Tones, and comic relief from prolific character actor Mantan Moreland. Among the songs: “I’m a Happy Cowboy,” ”Get Along Mule” and “(Got the) Payday Blues.”

“The Bronze Buckaroo” was recently revived on a DVD release called “Treasures of Black Cinema.”

Jeffries “did something outrageous, and then rode off into the sunset,” actor-director Mario Van Peebles told People magazine in 2005. “He did us proud.”

Jeffries remained active as a singer into his 80s and 90s, touring and putting out the 1995 CD “The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again)” and following it up in 2000, with “The Duke and I.” Among the honors that came his way late in life was a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, dedicated in 2004.

“I don’t believe in age,” Jeffries told The New York Times in 1995, when he was appearing at a local club. “I believe this magnificent thing we have on our shoulders can help you evolve,” he said. “In jazz, we keep going. There’s no such thing as retiring, or being retired, so you never feel unwanted or useless. And that keeps your body vital.”

He was born in Detroit to a racially mixed couple, referring to himself in a 2004 interview with The Oklahoman as “an Italian-looking mongrel with a percentage of Ethiopian blood, which enabled me to get work with black orchestras.”

He lamented the days touring in the South when he was with Earl Hines in the 1930s. Black audiences were made to stand separately off in a corner and not allowed to dance.

“I don’t think anybody was thrilled about the conditions, but if you wanted to advance and develop you couldn’t show anger,” he said.

He made light of the covering of “Flamingo,” too, recalling he joked with Martin that he knew Martin had copied him because “you made the same mistake in the lyrics that I did.”

Jeffries told American Visions, a publication on African-American culture, in 1997 that he was inspired to seek backing for the cowboy movies after seeing a black boy crying because other children with him “wouldn’t let him play cowboy. But in the real West, one of every four cowboys was black.”

But he had no plans to star in them himself, he said, until the search for a suitable actor-singer-rider came up short and he embarked on a crash course on lasso handling and other Western skills.

Strait said Jeffries recently had several surgeries that “just wore him out.” He added that Jeffries “believed in one world and one people and was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. He was always funding something or doing something for kids.”

Jeffries is survived by his fifth wife, Savannah; three daughters; and two sons.

___

Biographical material in this story was written by former AP staffer Polly Anderson.
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Robert Plant, Big Freedia Rock: Good Day for Golden Gods and Goddesses at Jazz Fest

Robert Plant was in fine form closing out the stage at Saturday’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, with Phish jamming across the track for hours. From Led Zepplin classics to thoughtfully curated covers, he did not disappoint. AXS Review: Here.


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Robert Plant

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Big Freedia, a force of nature if ever there was one, performed before Robin Thicke’s set but it won’t be long before the New Orleans native is closing out a Jazz Fest stage while bringing down the house. She bounced through a sizzling set in honor of her mother. AXS Review: Here.

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Big Freedia

***

New Orleans native Kermit Ruffins was full of Kermitude, advising fellow trumpet player Irvin Mayfield to “stay well away from my wife,” and joking that “he follows me everywhere. With a trumpet as smoking as Kermit’s, you can stay as unfiltered as you like. He shared with the audience that he was only half stoned on account of the Jazz Fest gig.

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Kermit Ruffins

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Jazz Fest is saluting the music and culture of Brazil this year and, as ever, you never know who or what may be coming around the track. The samba beat goes on.

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Photos by Jeff Beninato
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Carlos Santana rocks New Orleans Jazz Fest Day 1

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival day one wrapped with a combination of die-hard Carlos Santana fans one of which is festival Executive Producer Quint Davis who ended up playing maracas with the band; and The Avett Brother whose fans cleared a path as Seth Avett jumped from the stage to the crowd and jammed while strolling, in an interesting Mosesish maneuver.

Ticket prices are up to $ 70 at the gate this year, and some press coverage asked in advance how the crowds would bear up with the cost. They apparently bore up just fine. The first-day crowd that felt more like a Sunday to this local. The sandy racetrack was lined with kids making sandcastles, as always. Food lines snaked further out to the track as patrons lined up for their favorite seafood combo, as always. And THAT GUY, the one with hair that’s business in the front and party in the back as he rocks his unbuttoned vintage red bean Bayou Wear shirt and boogies through the artist entrance was there, as always.

I’ve been thinking of what it is that draw the crowds back to the festival year after year. The writer I was standing next to at the scorchingly wonderful Reubén Blades set has been coming to Jazz Fest for all its 45 years. There she was, stage-side, waving at Quint as he introduced the band. As always. And that’s what brings the crowds back. There’s not a lot of As Always to depend on these days.

Yes, there are more Coachella-styled teens with flower wreath headbands spinning along the track. Hippies may eventually give way to hipsters and it’s going to be fascinating to see where they go with Jazz Fest as it strides through middle age. But the music will still be there, no matter what turn the granddaddy of music festivals takes.

As always.

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Carlos Santana


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Leah Chase

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Shamarr Allen with his music students (guest John Popper sat in next)

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The Avett Brothers

All photos by Jeff Beninato
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Meet The Braxtons. Tamar’s Style and Jamaica Jazz & Blues: The Trend with Victoria Recaño on Zappos

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Ka-POW! This week Victoria escapes to the warm island shores for the Jamaica Jazz & Blues festival, where she runs into the entire Braxton family! Tamar Braxton swings by to talk about her personal flair, and Victoria tells you how to rock Toni Braxton’s on-stage look. As always- stay fabulous, stay in the know, and keep up with The Trend.

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Jazz Ballads, Pro Vocal Women’s Edition, Softcover with CD

Jazz Ballads, Pro Vocal Women’s Edition, Softcover with CD


Whether you’re a karaoke singer or preparing for an audition, the Pro Vocal series is for you. The book contains the lyrics, melody, and chord symbols for eight classic songs. The CD contains demos for listening and separate backing tracks so you can sing along. The CD is playable on any CD, but it is also enhanced for PC and Mac computer users so you can adjust the recording to any pitch without changing the tempo! Perfect for home rehearsal, parties, auditions, corporate events, and gigs without a backup band. This volume includes 8 beautiful standards: Body and Soul – A Child Is Born – For All We Know – Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?) – My Foolish Heart – The Nearness of You – Night Song – Unforgettable. Songlist: Body And Soul A Child Is Born For All We Know Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?) My Foolish Heart The Nearness Of You Night Song Unforgettable

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Luciana Souza: A Bossa Nova Baby Makes Her Mark in the Jazz Realm

In 2013, Luciana Souza gained a place among the world’s top contemporary jazz singers by earning not one but two Grammy nominations, for The Book of Chet (for Best Jazz Vocal Album) and Duos III (Best Latin Jazz Album). The 47-year-old Brazilian vocalist now has a total of six Grammy nominations, a distinction that has gone largely unrecognized in her native country. She has also appeared on Herbie Hancock’s Grammy-winning River: The Joni Letters and works by Bobby McFerrin, John Patitucci, Till Brönner and Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, to name a few, and performed with several symphony orchestras. Souza sings with a quiet intensity and — in The Book of Chet and Duos III — favors spare, stripped-down arrangements. Her voice is clear and perfectly in tune, with a beautiful tone, and her phrasing is often daring, even startling. She’s a vocalist who once said “each phrase for me has a certain gestalt” and she invites you to savor both the notes and the spaces between them. Souza is spectacular in a João Gilberto kind of way — you have to listen attentively to fully appreciate all the nuances.

Souza’s artistic influences include Gilberto (who invented bossa nova’s guitar beat and introduced a low-key vocal style) and singers like Chet Baker, Carmen McRae and Joni Mitchell. She’s a child of bossa nova and jazz in more ways than one. Souza was born in São Paulo to songwriter parents (Walter and Tereza Souza) who were part of the bossa nova scene in their city and later founded Som da Gente, a small independent record label dedicated to Brazilian jazz and instrumental music, which included the great composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal on its roster. At home she was surrounded by the music of her parents and their musician friends. “Music was everything, music was the bread maker, music was the dream, music was hopeful; it was humor, it was the language that was spoken at the house. My father being a guitar player, he never left his guitar; he was constantly playing. It was happy, it was fun,” Souza recalls.

Walter wrote commercial jingles to pay the rent, and he started using little Luciana in the recordings when she was just three years old. She says:

I think they detected early on that I could sing in tune and I was musical and I had a facility for learning melodies and learning language. So they encouraged me and the recording studio was like the living room to me. It was an extension of everything we did. We sang at home, we sang in the studio. They would teach me a melody, and I just loved it.

At age 18, Souza moved to Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music. There, she developed her talents as a singer as well as her abilities as an educator — she eventually joined Berklee’s faculty and after that taught at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Since 1992, she has released 11 albums, and won her first four Grammy nominations with Brazilian Duos (2003), North and South (2004), Duos II (2006) and Tide (2010). She has interpreted Brazilian standards, recast songs by great American songwriters as bossa nova (The New Bossa Nova) and boldly devoted entire albums to musical interpretations of poets (The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs and Neruda). Along with way she married bassist-producer Larry Klein, with whom she has a young son; they moved to Los Angeles in 2006. He produced both The Book of Chet and Duos III. Souza has now been living in the U.S. for nearly thirty years, and is glad about her choice. “I came here — to Berklee, to Boston, to New York, and L.A. — because this is the music I want to make. I want to be in the environment, I want to be with the musicians, I want to speak this language; I need to be here.” She adds, “As much as I miss Brazil, I find that here I can really be myself.”

Her two recent Grammy-nominated albums reflect Souza’s musical vision and her versatility. The Book of Chet is an homage to jazz trumpeter-vocalist Chet Baker (1929-1988), who was a major influence on many bossa nova musicians, and includes songs recorded by him such as “The Thrill is Gone,” “Oh You Crazy Moon,” “The Very Thought Of You,” “You Go To My Head” and “Forgetful.” The song choices were an attempt to capture the breadth of his career, rather than to compile his biggest successes.

“I was obsessed with him when I was in graduate school at the New England Conservatory,” Souza comments about Baker. She says:

And then twenty years later I came across one of [his] biographies and then his autobiography and Let’s Get Lost [the 1988 documentary about Baker]. And it came back to me — why did I love him so much? And I got all the records out. His voice moves me so deeply…the way he sings…It’s so pure, so direct, so unadorned. To me, there’s an incredible, quiet, calm sadness. He’s like a kindred spirit, musically and vocally.

On The Book of Chet, “The Thrill Is Gone” (not to be confused with the B.B. King song of the same name) is particularly haunting, with Souza’s rather somber vocals over hypnotic repeating figures on bass and guitar, while “The Very Thought of You,” with Souza’s luscious rendering, is another of the album’s many high points.

The Book of Chet and Duos III were released the same day and both were direct live recordings with few instruments. However, while the former album is consistently understated and introspective, with slow tempos that push the envelope, Duos III ranges across a variety of genres, including bossa nova, baião, some lively sambas (like “Tim Tim Por Tim Tim” and “Doralice,” both with impressive scatting) and the wordless singing of “Dona Lu,” written for Souza by Pereira.

On Duos III, the third in a series, Souza performs duets with three renowned Brazilian guitarists — Romero Lubambo, Marco Pereira and Toninho Horta — as she interprets Brazilian compositions, most of them standards, from composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim (four selections), Haroldo Barbosa, Dorival Caymmi, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins, Djavan, Dominguinhos and Cartola, as well as Pereira and Horta.

Souza likes the combination of voice and guitar “because it’s how I grew up and because of my dad doing that.” She adds:

The guitar doesn’t sustain and the sound decays and dies; it allows for silence. The guitar can be very percussive, very melodic, and very harmonic, obviously. All these different possibilities in terms of orchestration can happen with just one instrument. So it is my favorite instrument but also it comes from the Brazilian tradition. A lot of these songs were written on guitar, we can do them in the original keys, and it just colors the music in a certain way, gives it the right color, the right timbre.

She adds, “and the people that I play with are very able and agile and most of them really have this sensibility in terms of improvisation.” Each of the three guitarists has a quite different approach, technically and artistically. “You take the same exact guitar and give it to Romero or Marco or Toninho, for example, and they sound completely different. Marco is almost an intellectual with the guitar; he’s a romantic, so he brings that kind of heavy heart, but is full of technique and thought” while “Romero is all fire, all rhythm, completely improvisatory.”

Regarding Toninho Horta, she comments that in “the lineage of Brazilian music, Toninho gets a chapter as a songwriter, as a lyricist, as a guitarist. He’s innovative in every way. His sense of harmony is unlike that of any other Brazilian — the most refined, advanced and modern thing in Brazilian music that I know of.” She teams with Horta, known to many Americans for his work with both Milton Nascimento and Pat Metheny, on four songs, including his own “Pedro da Lua” and “Beijo Partido.”

Duos III and The Book of Chet were recorded after a nearly three-year break while Souza focused on being a new mother. “At this point in my life it was very important to put out those two records because I hadn’t made a record [in a while] and it just made sense to come out very quiet and very strong.” About her six total Grammy nominations, Souza says, “It feels good. It talks about all the possibilities for small artists. Only one [album] was done for a major record label [Verve], and five others for independents. It’s sort of an homage to my parents, because they were an independent record company.”

The Luciana Souza Quintet — with guitarist Lionel Loueke, harmonica player Gregoire Maret, bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Kendrick Scott — will perform Jan. 17 at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, LA, Jan. 18 at the Carver Center in San Antonio, and Jan. 23 at Duke University in Durham, NC.
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Mens Jazz Zebra Platform Shoes

Mens Jazz Zebra Platform Shoes


Step out in snazzy style with these black and white faux zebra fur men’s Jazz platform shoes and pimp your

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Saucony Baby Jazz H&L Running Shoe – Boy’s – Medium Width

Saucony Baby Jazz H&L Running Shoe – Boy’s – Medium Width


Now you and your baby can have matching Saucony Originals! The Saucony Baby Jazz Hook and Loop Running Shoe for boys offers extreme comfort and that effortlessly cool look that never goes out of style. A rubber outsole with triangular lugs provides traction and flexibility for a comfortable, smooth ride. Suede and nylon upper Hook-and-loop closure Rubber outsole for superior traction Imported Size 4.5-M Color Navy/White
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Saucony Jazz Low Pro Vegan Originals Running Shoe – Women’s – B Width

Saucony Jazz Low Pro Vegan Originals Running Shoe – Women’s – B Width


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