Friday, March 27, 2009

Free Duke Ellington Tribute Concerts at UCLA

The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology and The UCLA Friends of Jazz present

Duke Ellington's 110th Birthday Anniversary Festival of Music

April 4 – 5, 2009

Schoenberg Hall, UCLA

2-5 pm
UCLA Jazz Student Combos play Ellingtonia, directed by Kenny Burrell, George Bohanon, Clayton Cameron, Charles Owens, Michele Weir, and Charley Harrison.
7 pm
UCLA Philharmonia Orchestra, Neal Stulberg, conductor. Performing specially selected Ellington extended works. Special guest: renowned vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. Jens Lindemann,t rumpeter and director of a new student brass ensemble, playing Ellington compositions. Ellington’s Music for String Quartet arranged by Paul Chihara. Solo guest artists: pianist Tom Ranier, vocalist Bill Henderson, percussionist Clayton Cameron, and guitarist and Jazz Studies Director, Kenny Burrell.

1-2 pm

Ellington's folk opera Queenie Pie (excerpts), (Southern California Premiere), featuring some of UCLA’s finest vocalists and instrumentalists, conducted by Marc Bolin.
2:30-3:30 pm
Ellington's Sacred Music Concert(excerpts). Featuring Dwight Trible and Chester Whitmore, with Kalil Wilson, Lauren Michelle, and Joseph Buchanan, conducted by Charles Owens.
7 pm
UCLA Jazz Orchestra directed by Charley Harrison, UCLA Contemporary Jazz Orchestra directed by Kenny Burrell and James Newton, UCLA Latin Jazz Ensemble directed by Bobby Rodriguez. UCLA Jazz Faculty soloists with Kenny Burrell, Charles Owens, Barbara Morrison, Clayton Cameron, Roberto Miranda, and others. Special guests: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ernie Andrews, Dwight Trible, Herb Jeffries, Chester Whitmore, and Gerald Wilson.

Open to the public and free of charge

Parking in Lot 2 — $9 (Hilgard and Westholme Avenues)

Information: (310) 206-3033

Herb Jeffries sang with the Ellington band from 1940-1942. He's 95!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Attention! Songwriters Wanted

Second only to the blues, the backbone of the jazz tradition is the popular song. Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) wrote a lot of 'em. You've probably heard of some them. He contributed music and/or lyrics to things like Blues In The Night, Satin Doll, One for My Baby (And One for the Road), Jeepers Creepers, Autumn Leaves, etc. He's credited with over 1500 compositions!

The Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University are encouraging songwriters and writing teams from all music genres to apply for the fourth annual Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project this June in Evanston, IL. The weeklong workshop is no-fee for participants, and will be led by Tony and Grammy award-winning composers.

Last year's program featured emerging songwriters from across the country in the fields of pop, music theatre, hip-hop, folk, Latin and country. To qualify, writers must be between the ages of 18 to 30. (That excludes me!) For writing teams, at least one member must meet this criterion. Through the generosity of The Johnny Mercer Foundation, there is no fee for this workshop for the writers and writing teams selected, and a stipend will be offered to cover a portion of travel and boarding expenses. All 2009 applications must be postmarked by April 13th.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Day The Music Died, Jazz Edition (Part I)

Last month, there was a lot of media hoopla over the 50th anniversary of “the day the music died.”
Tomorrow on this date in 1959, Lester Young died just a few months short of his 50th birthday. Like the rockers, Pres’ passing was memorialized in song, most notably Goodbye Porkpie Hat by Charles Mingus and Wayne Shorter’s Lester Left Town.
Pres is/was a highly influential voice on the saxophone. Amongst just a few of the many, you could name saxophonists like Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Art Pepper, Wardell Gray, Stan Getz, Paul Desmond, Paul Quinichette, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims.
A few months before the UCLA Freddie Hubbard concert, I had picked up a used copy of the double LP Complete Savoy Recordings of Lester Young. In the song Crazy Over J-Z, the band uses a riff based on the standard Louise. Since I was playing the album to death at that time, that phrase became the opening of my baritone sax solo.
Even though Paul Gonsalves was primarily influenced by Ben Webster, he was able to dig Pres, too. In his famous 1956 Newport Jazz Festival solo on Diminuendo In Blue and Crescendo In Blue, he starts chorus 13 with a quote from Lester Young’s Up ‘n’ Adam:

Gone, but not forgotten. Where’s that Lester Young postage stamp?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

RAHSAAN ON TV - 37 years ago....

From 1968-1973, there was a black themed television show called Soul. In 1972, they featured an hour of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The link can be found here . While you're there, check out shows featuring Tito Puente and Max Roach, amongst others. (Thanks to the Rahsaan Roland Kirk yahoo group for finding this.)