R.I.P. Rose Marie McCoy

You may not recognize the name of songwriter Rose Marie McCoy (1922-2015), but you likely know her work. The Arkansas-born McCoy scored her first hit with Gabbin’ Blues recorded by Big Maybelle. Her songs, co-written with Charlie Singleton and others, were recorded by Nat “King” Cole, Louis Jordan, Dinah Washington, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Scott, Sarah Vaughan and many more. She reportedly turned down offers from Atlantic, Stax and Motown Records, and set up shop in the Brill Building. Ms. McCoy, who continued to write into her 9th decade passed on Jan. 20 . She was 92.

Here are some of my favorite songs written or co-written by Rose Marie McCoy. The first one features McCoy herself taunting Big Maybelle. The last is a rare 78 of McCoy herself singing

Living Legends Panel Discussion

On Friday Oct. 10, 2014 I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion celebrating the seven Living Legends of Jazz: Roy Haynes, Jimmy Heath, Rufus Reid, Larry Ridley, Reggie Workman, Kenny Barron and  the 2014 honoree pianist, composer Joanne Brackeen. The discussion took place at Levine Music in Washington D.C. and was co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. I gave my camera to Josh Kohn and asked him to take some shots of the panel in action. Continue reading

Blue Note at 75 Panel Discussion

Had the pleasure of interviewing Lou Donaldson, Michael Cuscuna and Jason Moran at the Blue Note at 75 panel discussion, May 10, 2014 at the Library of Congress. I was a bit under the weather that day, but the conversation lifted my spirit. Special note of thanks to Bruce Lundvall for his contributions to jazz and American music.

 

Interview with Archie Shepp (1982)

I recently found a handwritten transcript of my unpublished interview with saxophonist, composer and educator Archie Shepp. The first part of the conversation was taped on Feb. 8, 1982 in a College Park motel room the morning after Shepp’s concert at the University of Maryland. The conclusion was recorded immediately after in my car on the way to National Airport. Shepp, at the time an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, began by discussing the flaws in our educational system.

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…I don’t think much of degrees anyway. I think the educational system is pretty shoddy. There’s a great deal of hypocrisy. It’s inefficient, irrelevant. It’s outmoded.

So what do you advise your students when they come talk to you?

 

To completely rehaul and overhaul the educational system when they get out of school. Sure, because I’m part of the system doesn’t mean that I subscribe to every aspect of it. Just like being an American or being a Russian or anything else; you can love your country without having to accept everything that people do as absolutely correct. I feel that way about the educational system. It has a lot of flaws. It’s racist and it’s a system that unfortunately perpetuates racism at the school where I teach. I think they’ve done very little to encourage certainly the participation of other, shall we say, musical cultures in their program. In fact, they seem to feel that the only “classical” music per se is Western classical music, which is a total lie and an oversight. After all, there are many, many people who have musical cultures that are much older that those we find in Europe and the U.S. The Chinese and the Africans and the Indians, for example. Go ahead, man; what did you want to ask me? Continue reading