What Happens Now?/Post Nine/Volume Three

Let us start with this: 
McDonald’s: “There are too many black people in the store” should NEVER be an acceptable reason for workers at your stores to be fired. Ensure NO ONE ELSE who works for you is racially harassed, and pay the 10 workers in South Boston, Virginia, fired on racist grounds, back pay and damages today.Ron10-183x300

Amazing that this kind of comment is made by people in management positions in today’s business world. Of course, not surprisingly, it seems to me that all over this country there seems to be people who really don’t get it. But are we so casual about these kinds of comments that we accept this kind of behavior by the likes of one of the largest and longest of businesses that we have enjoyed over many years? Are we missing something, or is it that the many years we have been doing business with McDonalds that we did not pay attention to their business practices? Well, I prefer to pass judgement on the premise that maybe, just maybe, there may be management people that have been replaced by former managers who did not have have these negative opinions of their employees, regardless of race. Those of us who were introduced to the McDonalds brand from its inception many years ago were very seldom, if ever from my experience, treated in this manner. Additionally, McDonalds has been a leader of diverse practices, such as their McDonald Houses, that provide services by people in need of health assistance over the years, regardless of race. Are we to believe that this is the same McDonalds that allows their management staff to make comments such as those shown in this petition?

The articles that follow will be my take on several current news items that I feel are important to readers who are interested in the art of music. I have made these comments based on the current February news that came across my desk at the time. Hopefully, you will agree that my entry is newsworthy.

Bob Dylan who has a new recording, released at the beginning of February, has caused quite a stir in the music industry. The recording, Shadows In The Night, is a dedication with songs celebrating Frank Sinatra with a few exceptions. That stir is a direct result of numerous reviews, articles and interviews since the record release because of the material on the recording that is an unusual display of artistry by the iconoclastic singer  and the songs he chose to sing. The 73 year old Dylan has been around the music industry for years now, in and out of the business, depending on how he chose to orchestrate that inevitability in the past.

I have to go back to the late fifties and when Dylan was just getting started in his late teens trying to learn his craft as a singer of various songs, and being influenced early by the likes of Hank Williams and others, and in his early twenties directed his interest to the art of folk music. The likes of Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger that were strong performers at the time peaked, and the younger crowd, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan included were beginning to make music that made them stars in their own right, and Dylan, because of his songwriting abilities that spoke to an audience about the current scene at the time that was changing; such songs as Blowin’ In The Wind, that was made a hit, sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, and songs that were performed by Nina Simone  and others over the years.

The current issue of the Daily Beast has a thirty minute speech that Dylan made accepting a Musicares’ 2015 Person Of  The Year Award, about his life, and Bob Dylan has come around once again, and the music world is better for it. His honesty and his outlook at this time in his life is quite telling and deserves a special reading.

The following interview is from the AARP Magazine article.http://pubs.aarp.org/aarptm/20150203_PR?folio=28#pg30

Talkin’ Jazz Two of the most prominent jazz piano players in that genre,  Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea will tour together for the first time since 1978. The pianists will perform a number of duet dates in the United States and Canada beginning March 14 in Seattle, before heading to Europe in July for a handful of shows. They will also play in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The pair’s 1978 shows resulted in two album releases, An Evening with Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert in 1978 and CoreaHancock the following year.

Jimmy Greene: Beautiful Life “Music has a unique way of communicating and healing. I’m so thankful that music is my profession – that I am able to write and arrange to create settings that convey the emotions I experience, not the least of which is the pain that my family and I have endured at a time when words fail.” 

Jimmy Greene’s new release, Beautiful Life on Mack Avenue Records, is a celebration of the life of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken, along with 19 other children and 6 educators, on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived,” Greene says. He fulfills that mandate with an intense, cohesive, genre-spanning program—juxtaposing the hardcore instrumental jazz for which he is best known with traditional spirituals, contemporary Christian music, standard ballads and three original songs framing his own lyrics. Animating the repertoire is a gold-standard rhythm section (Renee Rosnes, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums), augmented at various points by guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose, Jr.; pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon and Latanya Farrell; spoken word from Tony Award®-winning actress Anika Noni Rose; a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; as well as an accomplished children’s choir.

Greene himself is one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since graduating from Hartt School of Music in 1997. He composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness.

“In the days after my daughter was killed, playing and writing music wasn’t even a thought,” the 39-year-old saxophonist says. “I was very much in shock, grieving deeply and trying to just function coherently. Family and friends surrounded us and held us up, and we received 10,000 communications—emails, texts, Facebook messages, voice calls, letters—from people around the world. The community of musicians was front and center for that support. When I called, they responded, ‘Whatever you need, just say the word, and I’ll be there.’”

In late January 2013, Greene, feeling that “I needed to get back to some sense of routine,” resumed a regimen of practice and composition. Soon thereafter, Norman Chesky, the co-owner of Chesky Records and HDtracks, reached out with an extraordinary offer.

“An intense amount of media attention was focused on my family and all of us in Newtown, so I was fairly guarded whenever communicating with someone for the first time,” Greene relates. “But Norman offered to donate the production of a recording that I could do whenever I was ready, and to give me complete ownership. I was humbled and honored by his generosity, and began to devote my energies to the project.”

Greene decided to weave lyrics and singers into the flow for the first time on one of his recordings. “Ana loved to sing and listen to singers, and had a wonderful singing voice,” he explains. “So an album dedicated to her memory needed to have singers and songs that were important to her and me and my family.”

Beautiful Life opens with a recording of Ana singing the traditional “Saludos” (“Greetings”) at a Christmas celebration (parranda) in Puerto Rico with her mother Nelba Márquez-Greene’s family—and her father playing in the background—a year before her death. Greene segues to a section in which he and guitarist Pat Metheny perform “Come Thou Almighty King” before concluding with another family recording of Ana singing the hymn to her brother Isaiah’s piano accompaniment.

The wistful “Last Summer,” a quartet feature, evokes Greene’s impressions of the photograph of his children—captured from the rear with their arms around each other’s shoulders in the family’s backyard in Winnipeg, Canada, where Greene taught at the University of Manitoba between 2009 and 2012—that appears on the cover of Beautiful Life.

The mellow tenor voice of Javier Colon, Greene’s one-time classmate at Hartt who won the 2011 edition of NBC’s The Voice, delivers Greene’s lyric for “When I Come Home” supported by the quartet, Greene’s signifying tenor saxophone and the strings.

Greene initially recorded “Ana’s Way” instrumentally as “Ana Grace” on the 2009 recording Mission Statement. Complementing Grammy® Award-winner Kurt Elling’s characteristically penetrating, graceful interpretation is the Linden Christian School Early Years Choir, comprising classmates of Ana and Isaiah in Winnipeg; solos by Greene and Rosnes distill the oceanic emotions of the lyric. “It was brutal seeing Ana’s friends again, without Ana there amongst them,” Greene says. “But we got through it somehow, and I think the results are very touching.”

Iconic pianist Kenny Barron joins Greene for conversational readings of the Broadway songs “Where Is Love?” fromOliver and “Maybe” from Annie, the latter featuring Greene’s pure-toned soprano saxophone. “Kenny, Christian and Lewis were the rhythm section for the 1996 Thelonious Monk Competition, where I was named first runner-up,” Greene recalls. “They made me feel welcomed and comfortable, that I could do this for my life, and so I wanted them involved.”

“My daughter loved Annie, and would sing ‘Maybe’ a cappella with great pitch and rhythm in the back of the car when we were driving around,” Greene recalls. He includes “Where Is Love” in homage to Jackie McLean, his primary musical mentor, who showed Greene, then 15, the melody at their first meeting at Hartford’s Artists Collective.

The penultimate track of Beautiful Life, titled “Prayer,” is Greene’s musical setting of the text of the “Lord’s Prayer.” Cyrus Chestnut accompanies Greene’s devotional tenor saxophone; illuminating the message is Latanya Farrell (who Greene met while attending Hartt), whose powerful contralto enchanted Ana as a toddler.

Ana became a fan of Anika Noni Rose—a high school classmate of Greene’s in Bloomfield, Connecticut—after hearing her inhabit the role of Princess Tiana in the animated film The Princess and the Frog. Rose’s recitation of Greene’s optimistic soliloquy “Little Voices” precedes another appearance by the Linden Children’s Choir.

“Many people have asked what they can do to help, and this is my answer,” Greene says. “Let’s remember what happened at Sandy Hook. We can each hold up our end of the bargain, which is to somehow learn to love ourselves, and then see past ourselves and love our neighbor. That’s pretty simple, but if we all did it, I think our existence would be different.”

A portion of the proceeds from Beautiful Life will be donated to the following charities in Ana’s name:

  • The Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers—initiated by Greene’s wife Nelba, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through partnerships with schools, mental health providers, community organizations and faith leaders.
  • The Artists Collective—where generations of children and families in Greater Hartford have gained access to world-class training in the arts
  • (The two articles are the courtesy of Jazz Times Magazine)

Sinatra celebrates 100 There is no doubt that in the last century there were an abundance of singers in any genre that stood out among the many. But, one stood out above the rest as one of it’s leading exponents of the art, and that person was Frank Sinatra, who celebrates a 100 birthday this year of 2015.

There are many books available on the Sinatra history, so I do not intend to repeat the numerous pages about Sinatra and the longevity that he enjoyed as an entertainer in various positions he was part of. I enjoyed his masterly delivery of the American Songbook as a singer and this is what he will be remembered for.

From the years he spent with Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, and on his own in the forties, there were lows depending on the position he found himself in through the years, but the highs were so many that the times he had his difficulties are not worth mentioning as we celebrate his artistry. I know many who were not Sinatra fans, but I knew others who were in the Sinatra fan base and they stayed there forever.

Marveling when Sinatra came to Capitol Records and joined Nelson Riddle as his conductor, the time he spent there with masterful recordings, and the television appearances that featured him as the sole performer were astounding. That kind of television were only for those who were in the same class as he was.

Sinatra went on to produce his recordings on Reprise Records to finalize his place in musical history. His recordings have been appreciated by countless radio producers over the years, and hopefully in this new age there will be those who will continue to appreciate the American Songbook, not only from Sinatra, but from the recordings of Nat Cole who was taken away early in his career, and Tony Bennett and others who continue to record these masterful recordings for posterity.

Here’s to Frank. Happy Birthday, Ole Blue Eyes.

Highlights20050310-109CTerryR.I.P., Clark Terry. Clark Terry, the legendary trumpet player, and one of the most important jazz legends in the 20th Century, has died. Clark was 94 and was a long standing member of some of the most important jazz bands and orchestras, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and his own accomplished recordings that will be a part of jazz’s history of that period.

Clark for many years an educator at the University Of New Hampshire and the William Paterson University in New Jersey, was surrounded by family, friends, and students when he passed away, a fitting tribute to him because he was an influential educator and held numerous high school and collegiate jazz clinics and summer camps.

Clark played with all the great musicians, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk among others.

Last year, the St. Louis native starred in the documentary Keep On Keepin’ On, which chronicled his relationship with budding student Justin Kauflin during his final years.

FeaturedUp NextKEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON, Justin Kauflin + Clark Terry Documentary with Director Alan HicksTheLipTV36:13Autoplay is paused.Up NextNaN / 0KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON, Justin Kauflin + Clark Terry Documentary with Director Alan HicksPlaylist (0)Mix (50+)

Finis I made every effort this month to make the February blog full of information and interesting subjects to read. Diversity is what I am reaching for each month for those who read the stories that I attempt to bring to you. There is much news from many resources, some bright and cheery, and some not so. The world is a difficult place and sometimes it takes a lot to get through the day without something to jar you and please you. Hopefully, there is something here in my blog that will bring you joy rather than something bringing you displeasure. I hope to bring you information that will keep you informed as you attempt to go through a busy time in your day and to inform you of information that will you may not otherwise know bout.




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