Summer brings on many of the jazz festivals in all corners of the world, just about through the month of September. If that gives you the opportunity to take in one of these events, you have many to choose from and the many artists that partake in them. There are too many to list here, but a few stick out that are worthy , especially if you’re looking for festivals close to home or on some exotic location. Some have already taken place like the exceptional, Montreal Jazz Festival, ending at the end of July and at this posting the excellent Newport Jazz Festival taking place currently. Here are a few:
Chicago Hyde Park Jazz Festival September 28-29; Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival September 28, 2013; Caramor Jazz Festival July 26, 27, 28; Newport Jazz Festival August 2-4; Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival August 1-4
The Travon Martin-George Zimmerman trial has ended, of course with lots of scrutiny, observation and commentary because of the outcome of the verdict.
Travon Martin, a young seventeen year old teenager was returning home from a local convenience store with candy and a cold iced tea when he was approached by an unknown adult who perceived him unjustly to be a person with criminal intentions. An altercation between the two resulted in the death of the teenager because the man was armed with a gun.
Travon Martin’s death is a travesty. An unfortunate event because of the perpetrator’s aggressive actions. Plain and simple. When George Zimmerman was told by the police to stay in his car and not pursue Travon Martin, if he did so, the young teenager would be alive today.
Talkin’ Jazz In future postings I will discuss the various genres of singers and musicians in the jazz idiom. This effort will give you an idea of the multitude of players and singers in jazz, a sort of basic history lesson that will help to educate and introduce you to the many parts of the jazz idiom.
We will start with singers in jazz and some of the influential singers who were instrumental in forming the jazz art of singing. We start with the female singers.
For me, I was six years old when I first heard a singer that so impressed me that it never left me as the most important singer in my lifetime, and that was Billie Holiday. From the first time I heard her recordings and until now, many years later, she had a voice that was everlasting. Even near the end of her life, when her voice was not what it had been in her younger years, she still retained that quality and intonation that established her in years of singing. When I heard Billie’s voice on a recording somewhere in public, her voice broke through the clutter and the noise and it stood out. She was outstanding.
Of course, at that time, she was influenced by the great trumpeter, Louie Armstrong, and Bessie Smith, as well. Even though Billie was singing until the late fifties until her death, she maintained her credibility until this day.
We follow Billie into the thirties with singers, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, and others. Ella and Sarah maintained their status above all others because of their talent and abilities, but because of excellent management during their careers. Ella and Sarah sustained their popularity right into the end of the century, recording and doing concerts. They were the innovators of the singer’s art at that time. Ella with her standout Songbooks and Sarah with many options, especially at the end of her career with her Brazilian songfests with the many Brazilian songwriters.
While Sarah was honing her talents with the Earl Hine’s band as pianist and singer, with the help of singer, Billy Eckstine, who became her close friend and singing partner on many recordings, she was preparing to move on to become one of the most important voices in jazz. In later years Billy and Sarah became close associates and recorded again in some recordings for two major recording companies one of which was the Roulette Record label that were standout recordings.
Ella on the other hand, recorded by Decca Records for years had found an audience after she joined Chick Webb’s band and after his death in a leadership role. Her personal recordings were outstanding doing duets with Louis Jordan and the vocal group, The Ink Spots. Her talent led her to Norman Granz and Jazz At The Philharmonic, and that placed her into the jazz category with the great jazz stars, like Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie. Norman Granz took on her management and that led to the Song Books of the masterful songwriters, Gershwin, Porter and Berlin, and many others. That sealed her as being one of the most important singers of the century, above all others. In that group of musicians, one person stood out, and that is, Duke Ellington, and Ella and Duke and his songs were also deeply important at the time.
While Ella and Sarah maintained their popularity as they aged, Sarah especially with her magnificent voice that seemed to improve with age, especially with her choice of material with the Brazilian composers, like Antonio Carlos Jobim, that kept her in the limelight.
It seemed that Billie, Sarah and Ella were the basis of all the other singers that followed them until this day. The others were defined by their art (the three), but did not take a back seat as they moved forward with their own talents and abilities. There is Carmen McRae, Dinah Washington, Anita O’Day, Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson to name a few. Their recordings became standards and as they performed before live audiences and in the recording studio, they were defined by those standards as well.
We discussed Carmen in a previous post, but while Dinah Washington and Carmen were forming their wares at the same time as youngsters, Dinah, earlier with Lionel Hampton and Carmen with Mercer Ellington and other jazz musicians, were preparing their vocal artistry at that time. They became single recording artists and became standouts. Dinah in the prime of her recording stature was taken away early in her life, but left a legacy of great recordings. Anita O’Day on the other hand had a stunning start in her career, but even though she maintained a recording career, that career waned.
Betty Carter, became a standout singer in the jazz idiom because of her insistence to become an individual artist. She was a singer like no other and she became a standout singer in personal appearances. Her audiences adored her and delighted in her ability to be creative and distinctive. Betty Carter was special.
Nancy Wilson became a young star early in her career. With the help of other musicians like Cannonball Adderley, she joined the Capitol label and stayed there during numerous, recordings, including her recordings with Cannonball and George Shearing that established her as a major recording artist. (more to come)
The Art Forum While this has been a part of the blog for some time, it now has a title. It can contain just current announcements or long dissertations of information about art and art subjects. This month we add some announcements. We publish only those here in the U.S.:
National Gallery Of Art in Washington, DC, Charles Marville: Photographer Of Paris, displays the 19th-century master’s dreamy shots of the City Of Light. Sept.29-Jan 5; nga.gov
The Institute Of Contemporay Art/Boston hosts the first museum survey devoted to Amy Sillman, known for her paitings that deftly meld abstract and figurative imagery. October. 3-Jan. 5; icaboston.org
New York’s Queens Museum Ot f Art opens its dramatically reconceived space, doubled in size by Grimshaw Architects. October 12; queensmuseum.org.
Porshe by Design: Seducing Speed, at Raleigh’s North Carolina Museum Of Art, pays homage to the legendary marque. October 12-January 20. ncartmuseum.org.
The NasherSculpture Center in Dallas commemorates its tenth anniversary by installing ten new works of public art across the city. October 19-February 16. nasherssculpturecenter.org
Christopher Wool retrospective, showcasing his signature text paintings, at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. October 25-January 22; guggenheim.org.
San Francisco’s de Young Museum assembles 300-plus recent pieces by David Hockney. October 26-January 20; deyoung.famsf.org.
Finis Each time I get to the end of my blog before posting it each month I try to end it with a positive statement. There are lots of things that I think about each time I write the blog, and lately I find that there is so much negative energy out there that I find it difficult to sort it out to find the positive feelings that I wish to share with you as my readers, so that I make you feel good. So, I am going to hold out to save it for future postings so that I can review what I wish to pass on to you. As the summer closes, enjoy the warm days because for most of us it will end soon.