A 2004 Jazz Visit to Ukraine

img_0030I recently dug up, dusted off and added some photos to this old report on my State Department-sponsored lecture tour to Ukraine back in 2004. Subsequent visits have shown interesting things still happening there, so I offer this post for the sake of context and warm memories.

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Before & After: Lionel Loueke

 

DSCN9463Benin-born, New York-based guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke returned to DC in late April to play the White House for International Jazz Day. He seemed to enjoy the challenge of this listening session, even taking notes about unfamiliar artists Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sonny Sharrock for follow-up research. The music world was still reeling from the sudden passing of Prince the week before, so we included a track from The Artist in order to learn about his reputation in Africa. Loueke continues to tour internationally behind his recent live trio recording, GAÏA (Blue Note).

 

 

Robert Glasper

“Junior’s Jam” (from Miles Ahead Soundtrack, Columbia/Legacy). Glasper, Keyboard, Keyon Harrold, trumpet, Marcus Strickland, saxophone; Burniss Earl Travis, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums. Recorded in 2015.

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Jazz Singers Exhibit

DSCN8595I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of curating the new Jazz Singers exhibit at the Library of Congress. I’m grateful to all my colleagues in the Music Division and the Interpretive Programs Office for help and support during the months leading up to our Feb. 11 opening. Special thanks goes to Exhibition Director Betsy Nahum–Miller for keeping us focused and on schedule. Betsy and I are now working on a version of the exhibit we’ll send out to Disney Hall in Los Angeles in the Fall.

I’m pleased to report that we got a nice early boost from the New York Times when they posted a preview, then Milenio, the national newspaper in Mexico, weighed in. I was especially pleased when Will Friedwald, who has written several important books on jazz singers, came to Washington to view the exhibit and and for context spent time delving into more of the jazz treasures in our special collections. Will then returned to New York and wrote this insightful, perceptive review for the Wall Street Journal.  Continue reading

Listening Session: Randy Brecker

Randy_Brecker

Randy Brecker and I did this late night listening session after one of his concert performances at the 2011 Copenhagen Jazz Festival. He had been up for two days but was inspired by the selections played and offered insights into both the music and players.

1) Terri Lyne Carrington

“Michelle” (from Mosaic, Concord). Carrington, drums; Geri Allen, piano; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Anat Cohen, saxophone; Esperanza Spalding, bass; Gretchen Parlato, vocal. Recorded in 2011.

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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 singing.  Continue reading