Friday, June 30, 2017

John Malveaux: SAVE THE DATE July 29, 2017, 90th birthday tribute to living legend Clora Bryant during 22nd Central Ave Jazz Festival

Clora Bryant

John Malveaux of 

Trumpetist Clora Bryant playing with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm led eventually to collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, among others. Clora was the first female Jazz artist to tour the former Soviet Union.
SAVE THE DATE July 29, 2017, 90th birthday tribute to living legend Clora Bryant during 22nd Central Ave Jazz Festival

On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 10:11 AM, John Malveaux <> wrote:

Zeinabu irene Davis' fond portrait, rich with tunes and anecdotes of pioneering female jazz trumpeter Clora Bryant, a proponent of West Coast jazz whose early stints with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm led eventually to collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, among others.
SAVE THE DATE July 29, 2017, tribute to living legend Clora Bryant, Central Ave Jazz Festival-Council member Curren Price Jr-9th District

John Malveaux

Souvenir Program for "Love Rejoices" of H. Leslie Adams, Sung by Cheah Chan Duo June 16, 2017

H. Leslie Adams

H. Leslie Adams Souvenir Program June 16, 2017 Ramsey Lewis review – grandmaster of jazz delivers wit, warmth and poignancy

Refined and playful … Ramsey Lewis. 
Photograph: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The Guardian

Like the late Nina Simone, Ramsey Lewis was a gifted church pianist who harboured childhood dreams of classical piano fame but found inspiration in jazz, blues and soul when he was told there were no jobs for African American classical recitalists in the 1940s. And like Simone, Lewis turned that disappointment into a unique fusion of song-rooted gospel communality, jazz spontaneity and European classical symmetries, which made him a much loved multiple recipient of gold records and Grammies.
Latterly, the Chicago musician, now 82, has launched a late-career renaissance as a long-form orchestral composer. His work now hasa playful funkiness and a sometimes whisper-quiet lyrical refinement – even if the soul hooks could hardly be more familiar and his fastidiously classical side sometimes makes him recede into a world of almost impenetrable privacy.
Lewis had a close connection with African American superstars Earth, Wind & Fire in the 70s. He soon reminds his audience of those collaborations with an account of Tequila Mockingbird (“The label named it,” he announces mock apologetically) in which the Wes Montgomery-like guitarist Henry Johnson and bassist Joshua Ramos set up an infectiously chugging unison hook cushioning a bright Latin-chordal piano melody, while synth player Tim Gant softly mimics a soul-jazz horn section on the accents. Lewis improvises unaccompanied in delicate treble twists, chord-punching rhythm patterns and wry trills before the band clamours back into the hook.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lolita Files exposes new truths in "Once Upon A Time in Compton" (Brown Girls Books)

Lolita Files

With fans including Kanye West who secured the rights to her lauded best-selling book Child of God, Lolita Files exposes new truths in Once Upon A Time in Compton (Brown Girls Books). Lolita's research has spanned over four years - and is a firsthand glimpse into a world during an era many have heard about in song and legend, but have rarely had the opportunity to witness at ground level, from the inside out, through the eyes of two men who witnessed and experienced it all.
Full of revelations never shared, Once Upon a Time in Compton reveals the good, the bad and the underside of life in Compton. For twenty years, gang unit detectives Tim Brennan and Robert Ladd patrolled the streets of Compton. They witnessed the birth and rise of gangsta rap with acts they knew personally, such as  N.W.A and D.J. Quik; dealt firsthand with the chaos of the L.A. riots, its aftermath, and the gang truce that followed; were involved in the investigations of the murders of hip-hop stars Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., and were major players in an all-out tug-of-war with City Hall that ultimately resulted in the permanent shut-down of the Compton Police Department. Through it all, they developed an intricate knowledge of gangs and the streets and a methodology that has been implemented by local law enforcement agencies across the country. Lolita discloses their compassionate and fair approach to community policing earned them the respect of citizens and gangbangers alike. 
In A&E's upcoming six-part docuseries "Who Killed Tupac?" Lolita focuses on the investigation 20 years after the death of the prolific rapper and actor. Each installment includes aspects from the legendary artist's life as well as follow civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump as he conducts an investigation into key theories behind his 1996 killing and lack of due process, while seeking to show how it is relevant to what is happening in the social justice movement in America today. Key interviews include Tupac's brother Mopreme Shakur, his childhood friend E.D.I. Mean as well as Al Sharpton, Christopher Darden, members of his group Outlawz and more.

Comment by email:
Thank you for sending this along. We will share with Lolita and her team and share via social media. Thank you, James &  Lauren

Los Angeles Review of Books: If You Really Want It: A Conversation with African-American French Hornist Robert Lee Watt

Robert Lee Watt

June 29, 2017

Makeisha Madden Toby

ROBERT LEE WATT didn’t allow racial stereotypes and the low expectations of others to hold him back. From the beginning, the classical musician used that negativity as his fuel to excel.
In The Black Horn: The Story of Classical French Hornist Robert Lee Watt, he has narrated his fascinating journey. The fourth of seven children, Watt grew up in poverty in New Jersey and became the first black French hornist hired by a major US Symphony, spending 37 years with the LA Philharmonic.
Watt, 69, first heard the French horn as a kid, in the William Tell Overture — and knew that he’d found his calling. Although he came from a musical family — Watt’s father played the trumpet, his mother piano — he did not have much support. The senior Watt didn’t approve or understand his son’s interest in the French horn. “It’s an instrument for thin-lipped white boys,” Watt remembers his father saying. “Your lips are too thick for that narrow mouthpiece.”
That didn’t deter him. His musical passion eventually gave Watt access to a world of possibilities: he’s traveled the globe, learned to pilot a plane … and he isn’t shy about revealing his sportsman-like dalliances with myriad women — sections which could have benefited from stricter editing. He also shares stories of his friendship with jazz trumpet great Miles Davis.
The Black Horn is candid and often humorous. Watt’s stories of transcending racial and class discrimination are especially edifying. In chapter 24, for instance, he details an encounter with the dean of the New England Conservatory of Music, who had just learned that the LA Phil wanted to hire Watt. “[He] looked at me with that typical surprised, wide-eyed and trembling lips look that older white people typically give a black person when said black person significantly exceeds their expectations,” he writes.
I caught up with Watt at a Starbucks not far from his home in Baldwin Hills to talk about how he made it through despite the pushback, his tempestuous relationship with his father, and the future of African Americans in classical music.
MEKEISHA MADDEN TOBY: Yours was an unlikely path for a black kid in the ’60s, but in the book you talk about all of these people in your life who helped you — your guardian angels, including your high school assistant superintendent, who’s like a character out of Dickens’s Great Expectations.
ROBERT LEE WATT: Donald Smith that was his name. He believed in me. He’s still there in the area. Maybe I’ll see if I can find him when I go back at the end of the month. I think he’s still alive. It’s worth a check.
I’m still in touch with Bledsoe [a childhood friend who encouraged him]. He went into the Merchant Marines. He’s my sandbox buddy from the old days. I studied French horn with Harry Shapiro [the Boston Symphony’s principal hornist] at the New England Conservatory, and he was very paternal to me, and lived to the age of 100. There were a lot of people looking out for me.
Still, you had to overcome a lot of racism and racist remarks, which you capture very well in the book like finding out you were being called “Boston Blackie” behind your back not long after you arrived in Los Angeles. Were those moments cathartic to write about?
It was cathartic, and it was a good writing exercise. I had to show the reader why something was racist without using the word racist. Show it, don’t tell it. Those were my big writing lessons.
The things people would say to your face were equally appalling, like, “Your lips are too thick to play the French horn.” Do you cringe when you think about those remarks?
It’s what they believed and it wasn’t just white people. My father said it to me first. They had these old ideas and, in his defense, he didn’t know any black French horn players. These ideas were stuck in their heads and they dumped them on their kids.
Then I went to high school, and the white band director said the same thing — he had also taught my father in high school. But he ended up being the guy who helped me the most. He bought a new instrument for me through the high school, so I could really play. But eventually, I had to get my own.
I took my instrument home every day and there were these privileged white kids who lived across the lake from the school and got to ride the bus, and they didn’t bother to take their instruments home when the band director found that out, he let them have it.
Like me, most of the black kids had to walk a mile to school, or get there however they could, from the west side. So many kids had to do that and worse. It’s so important for young people to hear these stories and know they can persevere. It doesn’t matter where you start off. It’s where you end up if you really want it.
Going back to your dad: Did he see you as a rival?
A lot of people say black men of that generation had a hard time complimenting their kids, and he was always very critical of us. He had a very condescending posture and, in a way, he resented my strength and independence as much as he admired it.
Growing up, he was denied so much, so there was a quasi-envy, and when he missed my Boston Pops performance, it made me bitter at him for a long time. But he lived until he was 82 and, before he died, I forgave him. He served a purpose. I had a father.
In chapter 42, you share a fond memory of your father and brothers saving your life during a fishing trip. So he wasn’t a complete monster.
He had his moments. I think he wanted to support me, but I took this gift away from him. He ran out of his audition at Juilliard because he got frustrated — he wasn’t classically trained and didn’t know what the technical terms meant. When I became an adult, we played music together.
In contrast, you depict your mom as a saint — a woman who put newspaper in her shoes to walk through the snow to send you a money order while you were away at school. How much of a role did she play in the man you became?
She worried about me and wanted to make sure I never went hungry. They say when your mother dies you get over it but that connection never dies. It’s so powerful.
My mother used to feed the little kids next door and we barely had enough but she shared with those kids. A few summers ago, I saw a homeless woman without shoes and I could hear my mother saying: Poor thing. Give her your shoes. You have plenty others. I gave her the old Crocs I was wearing. That’s what my mom wanted me to do. She was so generous and my father was so selfish. I hope I have more of my mother’s genes.
Your self-description is equally fascinating. In one part of the book, you describe yourself as a “poor, nobody kid from a cold-water flat on Springwood Avenue.” How have you overcome that image?
That was my self-image, but I don’t feel that way anymore. There were people who made me feel that way to keep me in my place. There has always been a part of me that felt like: How do you like me now? I’m playing at Carnegie Hall. My mother was proof that class doesn’t come from money. She was so poised and carried herself in a way that commanded respect. That’s where I got my class.
You talk a lot about your sexual conquests, but the teenage romance between you and Leslie is one of the best parts of the book. She was your first love and someone who inspired you to be a better student and person. Have you stayed in touch with her?
She was my high school sweetheart but I changed her name in the book. She’s in Maitland, Florida. She never married, and went into mental health. We met up in New York 10 or 12 years ago. She looks the most like I remember than anybody else I knew in high school.
Why do you think you never got married or had children of your own? Were you having too much fun?
That’s part of it. I also grew up as one of seven kids, so I’ve always valued my space. I like kids and they like me, but for some reason I never ended up with any. I look around and there are so many people who should’ve just left [marriage and children] alone because they make a mess of people’s lives. It’s beautiful, and if it would’ve happened I would have been totally immersed.


Sergio A. Mims - Brandon Keith Brown interview from Thüringische Landeszeitung newspaper

Brandon Keith Brown
 (Photo: Thomas Müller)Sergio A. Mims sends this release: 

"So be emotional!"

An American in Weimar: Brandon Keith Brown directs the Staatskapelle at their open air and oscillates with it between hot and cold
Weimar. "What you want" this year is the open air concert night with the StaatskapelleWeimarIn the Weimarhallenpark. Plays are only pieces that the audience wanted in advance. On the conductor's desk stands the young American conductor Brandon Keith Brown, who had celebrated his Europe debut only four years ago and is now playing with the Staatskapelle for the first time. Our newspaper spoke to him.
Would you have thought that the audience wanted so many contemporary compositions besides some burners? Pieces like "Danzon No. 2 "by ArturoMarquez Or "Palladio" of Karl Jenkins, Which are comparatively young?
Both pieces are very popular. The wishes of the audience are no surprise to me. I have hoped for a long time, the "Danzon" byMarquez To be allowed to conduct.
Why did you include a "winter piece" like "Sleigh Ride" in this summer concert?
Christmas in July is not a new concept. The holiday season is cold, in July it is warm. This makes a big difference in the musical and also in the psychological temperature. So how to perceive the music. We will heat things up with Queen, then cool down with a sleigh ride. This creates a special magic for Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker".
Is "an American in Paris" played in full length - so full 20 minutes?
Naturally! A novel is difficult to understand if one skips individual chapters. And the music changes so often that the piece is absolutely entertaining. Gershwin's genius has created a real masterpiece here.
Is it more challenging to direct such a wish program than to concentrate on one handwriting and a composer or at least on a few composers in one evening?
Yes, it's a crazy program, is not it? My usual programs with Bruckner Or Mozart are certainly more focused. I try to put on the clothes of every composer and carry his message. This program has many fast changing clothes! This challenges me as a conductor. Brian Tyler's "Assassin's Creed", for example, is a great score I did not know and probably would never have studied.

Opera News: From Homeless to Harmonious: DC Native Rises to Become Thriving Opera Singer

Soloman Howard
(Dario Acosta, Opera News)

Opera News

June 2017

How does one go from poverty and homelessness to a successful opera star? Bass Soloman Howard discusses his journey and career in a recent article in Opera News magazine. 

In times of doubt and struggle, Howard's  mantra was a line from Muhammad Ali, “I don’t have to be who you want me to be.” Washington, DC and his faith helped him start his career, and his daughter’s future and gratitude help him keep going. 

Here’s a link to the full article:

Comment by email:
Fascinating! Hope to hear him perform soon. Sergio  [Sergio A. Mims]

John Malveaux: Geri Allen, Pianist, Composer And Educator, Dies At 60

Geri Allen at the Village Vanguard in 2011.
John Malveaux of  

Pianist Geri Allen 2006 CD "Timeless Portraits and Dreams" included LIFT EVERY VOICE & SING by legendary opera tenor George Shirley. Hear NPR story:

National Public Radio

Geri Allen, a widely influential jazz pianist, composer and educator who defied classification while steadfastly affirming her roots in the hard-bop tradition of her native Detroit, died Tuesday in Philadelphia. She was 60, and had lived for the last four years in Pittsburgh.
The cause was cancer, said Ora Harris, her manager of 30 years. The news shocked Allen's devoted listeners, as well as her peers and the many pianists she directly influenced.
In addition to her varied and commanding work as a leader, Allen made her mark as a venturesome improviser on notable albums with the saxophonist-composers Ornette Coleman, Oliver Lake, Steve Coleman and Charles Lloyd; drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr.; bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian; and many others. Her recent collaborations with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, in separate trios featuring bassist Esperanza Spalding and tenor saxophonist David Murray, found her in a ceaselessly exploratory mode, probing new harmonic expanses and dynamic arcs.
Allen's solo piano work, from Home Grown in 1985 to Flying Toward the Sound in 2010, reveals an uncommon technical prowess and kaleidoscopic tonal range. The subtitle of Flying Toward the Sound claims inspiration from Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock specifically, but on this and other recordings we hear Allen, unfailingly distinctive. From Home Grown, the track "Black Man," with its looping, interlocking pulses and forward momentum, points clearly toward a rhythmic sensibility heard today from such celebrated pianists as Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer.