Wed, 31 March 2010
In an unlikely pairing of talents, the ageless wonders of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band have paired up with Indie Rock darlings My Morning Jacket on a recent album, and will be opening shows for the band on their upcoming tour. I had the chance to question Benji Jaffi of Preservation Hall on this unusual pairing,and the band's latest CD Preservation.
What inspired you to make the “Preservation” album, and who decided which musicians would be invited to sit in with you?
Our distribution company RED, wanted to create a benefit project for New Orleans. I came back to them with the idea of pairing the PHJB with guest artists and hence PRESERVATION was born.
Whose idea was it to have Jim James sit in? What was it like working with a “rock musician” so much younger than many members of the band?
My Morning Jacket and Jim James have been on my radar for quite some time. When Jim got wind of the project, he immediately reached out to me and wanted to know how he could participate. We chose two songs, “Louisiana Fairytale” and “St. James Infirmary Blues” (the Pres Hall band has renamed it St. Yames Infirmary Blues). Jim and I connected the moment we met. We are roughly the same age so it wasn't a stretch working with him. He is incredibly sensitive and was genuinely interested. New Orleans music knows no age. I've grown up around older musicians my whole life, so it was perfectly natural to have him perform with us.
Whose idea was it to have PHJB tour with MMJ? Was there any trepidation on the part of the band to play venues where the fans were expecting rock music? Anyone in the band particularly excited about the prospect?
Don't forget, New Orleans Jazz is Rock Music!!!! Louis Armstrong was the Jay Z of his day!!! Go back, read the newspaper articles. In the early 1900's, people thought jazz was responsible for dismantling the moral fibre of America's youth. We were invited by MMJ to join them on tour. It will be very interesting to see who rocks the crowds harder. No one can sit still to our music. The rhythm is infectious. New Orleans Jazz is America's orignal dance music.
What is it about New Orleans traditional music that attracts the current group of “alternative and indie” or “jam band” artists? Dirty Dozen Brass Band has toured with Dave Matthews Band and recorded with Elvis Costello and the Black Crowes. PHJB is touring with MMJ and has recorded with Jim James and Andrew Bird.
New Orleans Jazz is real. The musicians performing in New Orleans today are direct descendants of the earliest New Orleans Musicians. Our culture has remained intact for 100's of years. As the rest of the world speeds towards mall culture, there are fewer and fewer places to turn to have to have honest experiences. Most importantly, our music is amazing. Our music touches/feeds the heart AND the soul. It's impossible to sit still when Pres Hall strikes up. Combine these elements and you have the ambrosia of American music.
What are you most proud/happy with on the “Preservation” album and why. Any plans to do more recording like this if it is successful?
I am proud of the entire project. Every artist, every session was unique and special in its own way. For me, I'm still in disbelief I had the opportunity to collaborate with artists who have been influential to me over the years. The session that epitomizes the project to me was when we recorded "We Shall Overcome" with Pete Seeger and Tao Seeger. Knowing how important Mr. Seeger is to our history and how central he was in the civil rights movement made this session more than a recording project. Having Mr. Seeger at Preservation Hall interacting with our musicians made the project, for me, historical. The completion of many circles. Also, politically and musically, Mr. Seeger was a huge influence on my father and mother who moved to New Orleans to participate in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960's. I'm convinced Preservation Hall would not exist today if it were not for Mr,. Seeger's influence.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:59am EDT
Mon, 29 March 2010
I'm not sure the Passover seders are ready to be dazzled by the electric jazz of Randy Weston, but if the title fits, share it, and today we celebrate a "Blue Moses".
Weston recorded this album for Creed Taylor's CTI label in 1972, mixing electric funk jazz that the label did so well with his sense of African rhythms and instruments. And what a band - Weston on electric and acoustic piano, Grover Washington Jr on sax, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Cobham on drums and Airto on percussion. All arranged by Don Sebesy and engineered by the inimitable Rudy Van Gelder.
What's it all mean? Weston's liner notes for the album explain:
The title song, is adapted from the rhythms and melodies of a religious song, "Sidi Mussa" (Arabic for Moses), one of the spirits evoked by an Islamic brotherhood of the Gnawa. (All the North African rhythm patterns have a spiritual identity; each identity has its own color - Sidi Mussa's color is blue.). There are a number of these brotherhoods in North Africa; the Gnawa originated in West Africa, and most of its members ore black. There are groups in Mali and among the Hausa in northern Nigeria whose music, rhythms and rituals are similar to those of the Gnawa in Morocco and Tunisia. The music of the Gnawa, which is passed from generation to generation without being written, is heard throughout Morocco. The instruments used vary in different areas, but generally the Gnawa use the gembri, a large box-shaped three-stringed instrument that is held like a guitar and sounds somewhat like a stringed bass; kakobars, large iron "castanets" held in the hands (which may be the forerunner of the sock cymbal); various kinds of drums and hand-clapping. (My son, Azzedin, learned the Gnawa rhythms he plays on his drums by listening carefully to the kakobars.)
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47am EDT
Fri, 12 March 2010
Famed New Orleans jazz saxophonist and Berklee alum Donald Harrison (left), featured in Spike Lee's critically acclaimed documentary When the Levees Broke, is a performer who spans genres; he has played with Miles Davis and mentored the Notorious B.I.G., among others. He was in Boston, Masachsuetts this week and gave a special N'Olens style blessing to the Berklee School of Music's new Africana Studies center. This room is a space on campus for students to be actively involved with the Africana Studies curriculum initiative. He was accompanied by percussionists Thimba Mkhatshwa and Berklee Presidential scholar from New Orleans Joseph C. Dyson (right).
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09pm EDT
Wed, 10 March 2010
Tune in to 89.9 FM NY on March Wednesday 10th as they dedicate a full day of programming to the celebration of ’s birthday.
Cornetist, pianist, and composer Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, born March 10th of 1903 in Davenport, Iowa, was one of the great musical innovators to emerge in the 1920s. One of jazz’s earliest soloists, he is of enduring importance to the dynamic history of jazz. Young Bix taught himself to play cornet, listening to his brother’s Victrola phonograph and records of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. When his parents sent him to Lake Forest Academy with the hope that he would focus on academics rather than music, they unwittingly sent him nearest jazz capitol: Chicago. When he broke curfew so many times to hear jazz that he was expelled, he began an illustrious career as a professional musician. He joined a seven-man group called the Wolverines in 1923, leaving the group in a year later to play with the orchestra. In 1927, he joined the most popular band of the time, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, the band of the self-proclaimed “King of Jazz.” Cornetist recalled, “All of a sudden, comes this white boy from out west, playin’ stuff all his own. Didn’t sound like Louis or anybody else. But just so pretty, and that tone he got. Knocked us all out.”
But in 1931, when Beiderbecke was twenty-eight, his alcoholism led to his death. He became “Jazz’s Keats” as Dorothy Baker’s novel, A Man With a Horn, and subsequent Hollywood films mythologized him as jazz’s fallen hero. Beyond the legend, we all remember him for his curious, extraordinary style and pure, cool tone. Bix lives!
WKCR is a non-commercial, student-run station affiliated with wkcr.org and on iTunes radio. . We broadcast to the New York City Region at 89.9 FM and over the internet at
Category:general -- posted at: 4:07am EDT
Mon, 8 March 2010
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010, WKCR 89.9 FM- NY will dedicate a full day of programming to the celebration of Ornette Coleman's birthday.
The musicians and composers of jazz who have left the greatest mark are those who fit into the Ornette Coleman mold; these are the artists who weren't concerned so much with the mastery of craft as with the opening of artistic doors. Ornette (b. March 9, 1930) is and has been pursuing the untouched horizons in music since the beginning of his career. Emerging from the Texas blues tradition (all of his music has the gutbucket wail of the blues in there somewhere), Ornette took L.A. and then New York City by storm with his visionary quartet in the late 1950s. His revolutionary concept placed melody, not harmony, at the center of improvisation. That's the key to really hearing Ornette--it's all in the melodies. He played music that left set chord changes behind, improvising harmony in real time, opening the way for the free jazz innovators of the next few decades. He calls his system of approaching music harmolodics, a compound of harmony, motion, and melody. Ornette continued to work with the musicians from his original pianoless quartet ( at the bass, Don Cherry on trumpet, and either Ed Blackwell or Billy Higgins at the drums) through the early sixties, and then moved to a trio (David Izenzon, bass, and , drums) that began to explore the rhythmic dimension with greater improvisational freedom. The seventies and eighties brought new sounds with his explorations of electric instrumentation and amplification (his Prime Time band can sound like wild space funk at times), as well as compositions for orchestra. Ornette won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 record Sound Grammar, and he continues to play today. Tune in to WKCR 89.9 FM and join as we celebrate innovation, relentless individualism, and commitment to artistic freedom. WKCR is a non-commercial, student-run station affiliated with Columbia University. They broadcast to the New York City Region at 89.9 FM and over the internet at wkcr.org and on iTunes radio.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT
Sat, 6 March 2010
They've seince moved to Burlington, Mass, and grown into a well-respected label.
Three decades have come and gone since then, and Rounder just released Grand Ole Opry, the concert will also be presented as a PBS television special that will begin airing on the network in this month and released on DVD in May.’ 40th Anniversary Concert, an album of the concert that celebrated the label’s 40 years in the . Recorded in October 2009 at Nashville’s
The event is a superb exhibition of Rounder’s diverse roster, and features Grammy® winning Rounder artists Jerry Douglas, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck, and along with musical host Minnie Driver, and special guests featuring Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas and Jazz/R&B pianist, Steve Martin’s banjo-playing show at The in Nashville, from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s 2008 CMT “Crossroads” special, and from Madeleine Peyroux’s 2009 concert in Los Angeles.. The CD will include performances by these artists as well as select performances from
The event was filmed by High Five Entertainment, and a portion of the ticket proceeds were donated to NARAS’ Grammy® in the Schools Programs to cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture. The Grammy® Foundation influences the lives of young people by opening the windows of opportunity that music can provide for their futures.
Jazz fans know that Rounder has been the home of Madeleine Peyroux, the talented singer-songwriter. She wows them in the concert with her renditions of "Don't Wait Too Long" and Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love". Click here to listen to her version of the classic "Smile", with music by Charlie Chaplin (yes, that Charlie Chaplin) and lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. The song closed her fine 2006 CD on Rounder, Half the Perfect World.
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17am EDT