Archive for June, 2010

2010 montreal jazz fest – parade +

June 30, 2010

Each day at 5pm during the Montreal Jazz Fest, the parade hits the street, starting at St. Urbain & Ste. Catherine and winding its colorful way up into the Place des Arts. It was a little smaller yesterday than some previous ones I’ve seen but no less loud and bright. The band sounded great in their brassy renditions of Ain’t Gonna Study War No More, Down by the Riverside, and When the Saints (of course). Just one of the things to look forward to every day!

The evening held blues, Bhangra, and straghtahead jazz…more pics to come.

2010 montreal jazz fest – after the rain

June 29, 2010

We’re taking a break from this week’s World of Music to spend some time at one of the premiere outlets for great jazz in the Northeast. However, you can count on hearing music far beyond jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival: Eastern European Gypsy brass bands, griots from Mali, blues singers from Australia and North Africa…I’ve seen them all there. Along with Ravi Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Kenny Werner, you-name-it for top names on today’s scene.

For straightahead jazz you’re still in the right place. Before arriving at the festival, the early evening held a stop at the  Cinematheque Quebecoise, where a triple film feature revealed three classics: Now (1965), from Cuban director Santiago Álvarez (with Lena Horne singing over a civil rights video montage); Ken Levis’ 1980 film Jackie Mclean on Mars, a documentary on Mclean’s legendary passionate classes at Hartford University, along with a couple of unexpectly insightful, personal practice sessions; and Serge Leroy’s concert footage from the John Coltrane Quartet’s 1965 Comblain-la-Tour date, with the Man and his ace quartet at their top in Naima, and My Favorite Things. It’s one thing to listen to recordings from that era. They give you a good feel for the energy that fueled the Quartet at that time. It’s another thing to SEE the steam pour off of McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones working through the Coltrane charts on that chilly summer night in Belgium.

Last night was a good cross-section of the diversity the Festival offers, with roadhouse blues, soft jazz fusion from Haiti, Arab hip-hop, and a big band version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love (wherein the female Robert Plant surrogate did a fairly creditable job with the howling vocals). The freshly rain-slicked Place des Arts glowed in reflecting puddles of Festival lights and banners while the warm, VERY humid night hummed with its own musical vibrations.

I experience many different things each year in Montreal – but even if I just came for the jazz I’d leave happy.

co-operative arts: like!

June 26, 2010

Thursday evening at the Monitor Barn on Route 2 in Richmond. I must pass by this place three or four times a week on the way home. Last night I had a good reason to stop.

Word had gotten around recently that a meeting was going to be happening last night in the Barn. Via friends, via the local Front Porch Forum, you know – the way things always make the rounds in rural communities like most of those in Vermont. The Richmond Area Business Association (RABA) and the Richmond Economic Development Committee had organized the symposium, to give arts presenters and organizations in the Richmond, Huntington and Bolton areas an opportunity to get together with area citizens and talk about their common ground. Turns out there’s quite a bit, in challenges – successes – and ideas for how to move forward.

On the “challenges” side, problems like volunteer burnout, funding, fulfillment of mission, overextension, and limited resources of all kinds all came up during the conversation. Pretty familiar themes for anyone organizing events. But along with the down side of these things, there was also acknowledgment of the creativity, vision and talent that drives the events along with a widespread interest among the group in pulling our events together in some centralized, organized way.

After an inspiring set of Scottish music from the Highland Weavers, representatives from Celtic First Night, Huntington Valley Arts, Valley Stage, and The Minor Key gave presentations describing their organizatinon’s mission and outreach programs, and talking a bit about the challenges they face.

By the end of the night several large sheets of paper containing our brainstorming ideas were draped dramatically over the chairs and instrument stands at the front of the meeting. Sculpturally, almost, one could say.

Next the notes will be organized and screened for common themes. They’ll be sent out to everyone who attended the meeting, and then we’ll get together again to review them and begin identifying a process and next steps to get us to a more unified place.

Funding and promoting the arts has never been easy, straightforward or even a ‘given’ in our world. It’s always a struggle – but as artists, our work is better for that need and ability to continually evolve, respond, and interpret according to the changing circumstances of our times.

Stay tuned for more news from the Richmond/Huntington/Bolton arts coalition. We don’t have a name yet, but it won’t be long now.

auto harp

June 22, 2010

This rocks.

playlist #117 (6/21/10)-the world cup of music

June 22, 2010
World of Music
Pgm #117 – …the show that’s like a World Cup, for your ears!
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm EDT – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Sonny Rollins: St. Thomas / Saxophone Colossus / Prestige 1501 –  (USA)
Kali: L’Histoire du Zouk / Caribbean Party / Putumayo 132 – (MARTINIQUE)
The New Islanders: Caribbean Cruise / Music of the Caribbean / Intersound 8906 – (TRINIDAD)
Sunshiners (covering John Lennon): Woman / Welkam Bak Long Vanuatu / Ter A Terre 21 – (OCEANIA)
Emad Sayyah: Balla Tghanni Ya Mourkos / Bellydance from Lebanon / ARC Music 2278 – (LEBANON) *NEW*
Celia Cruz: Celia’s Oye Como Va / Siempre Vivré / Sony 489544 – (CUBA)
Mario Grigorov: Cuban Soil, Cuban Sun / Paris to Cuba / Warm & Genuine Records 1 – (BULGARIA)
Toots and the Maytals (covering Phish): Back On The Train / Dub Like An Antelope / Red Hillz Music 2009 – (JAMAICA)
Madagascar Slim: Good Life / Good Life Good Living / MS 1 – (MADAGASCAR)
Trombone Shorty: Hurricane Season / Backatown / Verve 14194 – (N’AWLINS) *NEW*
Golem!: Tell Her You Love Her / Citizen Boris / JDub 113 – (USA)
Razia: Yoyoyo / Zebu Nation / Cumbancha (demo) – (MADAGASCAR) *NEW*
Staff Benda Bilili: Je t’aime / Très Très Fort / Crammed Discs 51 – (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)
Long-ge: Playing Mahjong / Blues Around The World / Putumayo 253 – (TAIWAN)
The Cottars: Fare Thee Well, Northumberland & The Purple Wave / Feast / Rounder Records 7068 – (CAPE BRETON) *NEW*
Chuck Bernstein: Delta Berimbau Blues / Delta Berimbau Blues / CMB Records 102844 – (USA)
Gil Scott Heron: New York Is Killing Me / I’m New Here / XL Recordings 471 – (USA) *NEW*
Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott: Pelham Gardens / East-West Trumpet Summit / Origin Records 82561 –  (USA) *NEW*
Fela Kuti: No Agreement / The Best of the Black President / Universal 3145431972 – (NIGERIA)
Alicia Villareal: No, Oh, Oh / Se Cruza / Universal 2264 – (MEXICO)
The Hot Club of San Francisco: Spivy / Gypsyland / Lost Wax Records 501 – (USA)
La Macanita: Adiós Tristeza / The Rough Guide to Flamenco / Rough Guide 1189 – (SPAIN)
Señor Coconut: Firecracker / Yellow Fever! / Nacional Records 54124 – (CHILE)
Black Uhuru: Hey Joe / Now! Dub / Mesa 79022 – (JAMAICA)
Novalima: Coba Guarango (Toni Economides Remix) / Coba Coba Remixed / Cumbancha 11 – (PERU)

who knows what we’ll play?

June 20, 2010

We’ll try this again. After two weeks of being on vacation while the Radiator was hosting JazzLab during the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, World of Music attempted a valiant return to the air last week only to be thwarted by a tangle of technical issues at the radio station.

So, we’re back this week with Gypsyland from the San Francisco Hot Club, Razia’s new release Zebu Nation, and since it’s the day of the summer solstice we’ll hear warm-weather sounds from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Africa. I’ll take a look around and see what else we can come up with. Hope you’ll be there. We take requests: (802) 861-9666.

World of Music is a nebulous mix of blues, poetry, jazz, and world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

like sonny

June 18, 2010

The week after the Discover Jazz Festival is always such a let down. There’s so much, for such a concentrated time – and then it’s all gone.

I’m consoling myself this week with some of the photos taken during the 10 days of the Fest, catching up on everyone else’s blogs reviewing the shows, and listening to recordings I’ve recently had my ears re-opened to, like Sonny Rollins’ The Bridge and Easy Star All Stars’ Dub Side of the Moon. It’s been fun.

In Bob Blumenthal’s Meet the Artist session with Sonny Rollins last Friday night (was that really only a week ago!?), Mr. Rollins was asked by an audience member about his relationship with John Coltrane. “Ah, I knew I’d get the Coltrane question!” was how his answer began, with chuckles from the audience. He went on to say that he considered himself and Trane “good friends, I would say we were very good friends”.

If you’re in Fest withdrawal like me this week, here’s a little story that will go some way to help by offering a deeper answer to that “Coltrane question”. (You’ll just have to get past the pretentious way the filmmaker says “saxophonist” – saxOFF-onist. He’s not English. So I don’t care where he got it from, it sounds pretentious. Otherwise – a great story, well, told.)

the 9th

June 16, 2010

Program alert! Yesterday’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook featured a fascinating, insightful look at Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” Symphony #9. I thought I knew a lot about the circumstances that led to the symphony’s creation, and about the world it lived in. I learned a lot with this program. Like, when the symphony premiered – it had three conductors! Not quite the image you get from the movies.

Check it out, it’s worth a listen.

not in our stars, but in ourselves…

June 14, 2010

(Hubble image)

…no, actually, it was just in our stars this afternoon. NOT in ourselves that we were underlings.

Unfortunately multiple studio equipment problems this afternoon (no headphone audio, no studio monitor audio, only one CD player…) prevented this week’s World of Music from going on the air. So we’ll save the blues, the calypso, the gypsy jazz grooves for next week’s show.

Same time, next Monday from 3-5pmET on The Radiator. (105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at

discover jazz – day 9 (part two)

June 13, 2010

“He’s like the Einstein of jazz.”

That was the comment made by my seat partner at last night’s concert with Sonny Rollins. And that was before a single note had been blown. It was an observation on the 79-year old’s appearance, but it could just as well be a comment on his musical stature.

Rollins walked onto the stage to a standing ovation, wearing his trademark sunglasses, an elegant off-white jacket, and shaking a wild head of thick gray hair. Yeah. He’s a cool jazz guy. You’d better believe it.

With a furious run of notes, we were off on a musical joyride that wouldn’t end until Rollin’s former bandmate Jim Hall, had come out to send off the evening with two heartbreakingly stunning final tunes: In A Sentimental Mood, and If Ever I Would Leave You.

Other ventures into calypso (an homage to his parents’ native Virgin Islands), blues (with Rollins singing “Low Down Dirty Shame” in a fun, winking style); and straight ahead be-bop were equally powerful. Guitarist Russell Malone’s tasteful and gorgeous lines floated through the music like delicate parasol seeds, freshly blown from the dandelion stem. When Jim Hall took Malone’s place for the last two numbers, it seemed fitting. The two share much musically. Longtime bandmate Bob Cranshaw also did his part to offer many gorgeous moments, and percussionists Sammy Figueroa (congas) and Kobie Watkins (set) grounded the group with spirited solo work and solidly artful playing throughout.

I have to mention the one detraction to the night’s otherwise outstanding musical adventure: the Flynn Center’s eternally temperamental sound system in the house was not on its best behaviour to host a night with the jazz legends. I was fortunate to have seats 8 rows back, dead center, and I strained to hear Rollins through the first several numbers when all of the other instruments were playing. Really? Really? Sonny Rollins can’t be heard? If that’s what my experience was, what was it like for folks sitting futher back, or on the balcony? He did come through loud and clear in the ballads, and by the end during his tradeoffs with Hall the mix sounded just fine. But no one should ever have to work that hard to hear Rollins. He certainly did his part.

After the first couple of tunes, the gentleman sitting next to me whispered to his partner, “He’s got a lot of WIND!” That’s a fact.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a more musical experience at Burlington’s Discover Jazz Festival, and it certainly surpasses many I’ve had elsewhere. I’m very happy that memory will be my last from this year’s events.

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