Louis Armstrong House Museum Celebrates Int’l Jazz Day

In celebration of International Jazz Day (sponsored by UNESCO), and the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month (a major initiative of the Smithsonian Institution), the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Jazz Journalists Association presents Louis Armstrong at Freedomland: Never Before Heard Recordings of an American Icon, a Listening Session & Lecture on April 30th.

This event showcases the public premier of newly discovered recordings by the beloved trumpeter and entertainer, Armstrong, at a fabled although short-lived Bronx amusement park in 1961. Highlights from Armstrong’s live performances from the 85-acre park billed as the “World’s Largest Entertainment Center,” which boasted more than 63,000 guests for its opening day in 1960, will be played. These recordings, recently donated to the Museum by the son of Freedomland sound engineer Peter Denis, have never been circulated or issued, and are not listed in jazz discographies.

The program will be presented and interpreted by Ricky Riccardi and Dan Morgenstern.   Mr. Riccardi is the Museum’s Archivist and the author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years.  Dan Morgenstern, newly added to the program, recently retired Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University and a Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism honoree of the JJA’s. He is a jazz historian and archivist, author, editor, and educator who has been active in the jazz field since 1958. A prolific annotator of record albums, Morgenstern has won seven Grammy Awards for Best Album Notes (1973, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1991, 1995, 2006, and 2009). He received ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award for Jazz People in 1977 and in 2005 for Living with Jazz. In 2007, Dan Morgenstern was named the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the nation’s highest honor in Jazz.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has issued a proclamation honoring International Jazz Day, which will be presented as part of the program.

Following the presentation, the Jazz Journalists Association will toast Armstrong at a special soul food reception to mark the finale of its JazzApril media campaign at in support of Jazz Appreciation Month, International Jazz Day and grassroots jazz activism in the U.S. and beyond.

Due to increased demand, the event  has been relocated to the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, originally to be held at the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The event is free and open to the public and begins at 2:00 pm.

Reservations for this free event can be made by calling the Louis Armstrong House Museum at 718.478.8274.

Further information about the Jazz Journalists Association is available from President@jazzjournalists.org. The Jazz Journalists Association media campaign for JazzApril can be found online at www.JazzApril.com. The Louis Armstrong House Museum can be found online at www.LouisArmstrongHouse.org.

“Jazz April” gets kicked off today

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has designated April as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) .UNESCO, in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, has declared April 30 to be International Jazz Day (IJD). The U.S. Conference of Mayors is urging its members to support local efforts to celebrate both JAM and IJD in 2013.
The Jazz Journalists Association’s JazzApril campaign supports both JAM and Jazz Day. The term “JazzApril”to refer to both and to stress that all of “April is Jazz Month.”
Throughout the U.S. and around the world, jazz musicians and supporters are planning special April concerts and events. The month’s activities will reach a crescendo on April 30, when Herbie Hancock and other jazz luminaries perform in a day-long series of Jazz Day concerts live streamed from Istanbul, Turkey.
 Through the Jazz April campaign, the Jazz Journalists Association is supporting these efforts by:

  • encouraging and helping media makers, musicians, venues, businesses and organizations, as well as individual fans and listeners, to use traditional, online and social media as well as other means to spread the word that “April is Jazz Month.”
  • working with local jazz organizations to raise the profile of jazz in their communities by designating and celebrating local “Jazz Heroes” and gaining official local government recognition for Jazz Month activities.
 You can find more information on JazzApril at www.jazzapril.com.

Music Craft: Jazz Films at Northwest Film Forum

The Incredible Jimmy Smith
credit: vervemusicgroup

Music Craft is a series of jazz documentaries and concert films presented by Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, and sponsored by 88.5 KPLU.

Saturday December 15, 7pm:  Jimmy Smith

This documentary from 1965 made for German TV follows B-3 organ master Jimmy Smith and his trio on tour:  Berlin, Helsinki, London, and points between.  A snapshot of life on the road and on the stage, the film’s highlights are the concert footage, and the scenes of  interaction backstage with Dizzy Gillespie and his band.  It’s also a time-capsule view of the world in 1965, with Jimmy and Dizzy’s bassist Chris White commenting on civil rights and racism, the Beatles, and the “new attitudes” of young people.

Saturday January 19, 8pm:  Sarah Vaughan

From a performance on German TV in 1969, Sarah Vaughan mesmerizes with her incredible vocal range and expression.  She lives up to both of her enduring nicknames–Sassy, for the way she teases and plays with melodies and lyrics; and The Divine One, for the pure angelic tones she produces.

Saturday February 16, 8pm:  Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek

Keith Jarrett’s European quartet set the standard for exploratory acoustic jazz in the 1970s.  In this 1974 Jazz Workshop session for Germany’s NDR public broadcasting service, the interplay between Jarrett and Garbarek is nothing less than magical.

More information on the series at Northwest Film Forum.

2013 jazz Grammy nominees announced

The nominees for all categories for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced, with the awards ceremony to be held February 10th, 2013. As usual, the jazz categories will be announced during a online pre-telecast, reserving the prime time telecast for categories such as rap, rock, and country. It is nice, however, to see the Best Latin Jazz Album category back on the list.

Here are the nominees for all jazz categories, and a poll at the end of  each category so you can guess at the winner:

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

Cross Roads

Ravi Coltrane, soloist

Track from: Spirit Fiction

[Blue Note]


Hot House

Gary Burton & Chick Corea, soloists

Track from: Hot House

[Concord Jazz]


Alice In Wonderland

Chick Corea, soloist

Track from: Further Explorations (Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian)

[Concord Jazz]


J. Mac

Kenny Garrett, soloist

Track from: Seeds From The Underground

[Mack Avenue Records]



Brad Mehldau, soloist

Track from: Ode (Brad Mehldau Trio)



[poll id=”10″]

Best Jazz Vocal Album

Soul Shadows

Denise Donatelli

[Savant Records]


1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project

Kurt Elling

[Concord Jazz]



Al Jarreau (And The Metropole Orkest)



The Book Of Chet

Luciana Souza

[Sunnyside Records]


Radio Music Society

Esperanza Spalding

[Heads Up International]


[poll id=”11″]

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

Further Explorations

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian

[Concord Jazz]


Hot House

Chick Corea & Gary Burton

[Concord Jazz]


Seeds From The Underground

Kenny Garrett

[Mack Avenue Records]


Blue Moon

Ahmad Jamal

[Jazz Village]


Unity Band

Pat Metheny Unity Band



[poll id=”12″]

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Centennial: Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans

Gil Evans Project



For The Moment

Bob Mintzer Big Band

[MCG Jazz]


Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You)

Arturo Sandoval

[Concord Jazz]


[poll id=”13″]

Best Latin Jazz Album

Flamenco Sketches

Chano Domínguez

[Blue Note]



The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band

[Clare Fischer Productions/Clavo Records]



Bobby Sanabria Big Band



Duos III

Luciana Souza

[Sunnyside Records]


New Cuban Express

Manuel Valera New Cuban Express

[Mavo Records]


[poll id=”14″]


Passing of Dave Brubeck leaves impact on many

Dave set an example that any musician would be wise to follow – to be loving and treat everyone around you with respect, and create new music every minute we have on this earth.” – Pianist Taylor Eigsti

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, responsible for the recording of the seminal album Time Out which still ranks as one of the best selling albums of all-time, and the first jazz musician to have a single sell 1 millions albums, died this morning of heart failure. He was 91.

In 1951, he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and made a regular habit of touring and and performing at college campuses, bringing his musical approach to a younger audience. In 1954, Brubeck became only the second musician at that time to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

The career that Brubeck sustained had an enormous impact on musicians and fans. Brubeck was a recipient of the prestigious National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master award. Today

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman reflected on the loss:

 “On behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts, it is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of National Medal of Arts recipient and NEA Jazz Master Dave Brubeck. One of our nation’s greatest and most popular jazz pianists, Brubeck’s experiment with odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, and a distinctive harmonic approach resulted in a unique style of music. Brubeck became a leader in cultural diplomacy, taking part in the first Jazz Ambassadors program during the Cold War. In a 2006 interview with Dana Gioia about his cultural diplomacy efforts, Brubeck said, ‘One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born – or before you’re born – and it’s the last thing you hear.’His diplomacy efforts led to be the first recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy from the U.S. State Department.We join many others in the jazz community and beyond in mourning the loss of this renowned figure in jazz while celebrating his life and contributions to our nation’s musical legacy.”

Jim Wilke, host of the nationally syndicated program Jazz After Hours, had this to say of Brubeck:

“I was one of those college kids when the Dave Brubeck Quartet began touring the college circuit in the 50s. The DBQ was one of the first jazz groups to do that and ‘Jazz Goes to College’ was big on my campus and heard coming out of dorm rooms, jukeboxes and the radio station where I worked.  I played alto sax in a quartet that attempted to emulate the Brubeck Quartet in style if not repertoire as we improvised counter point on standards, and we four were rapt listeners when Dave Brubeck played on our University of Iowa campus.”

In 1959, Brubeck released the album Time Out, which featured a variety of time signatures unconventional to jazz such as 5/4 and 9/8. While critics were somewhat divided initially on how to respond to this release, Time Out enjoyed major success on the charts. In 1961, the single Take Five became the first jazz single to ever sell 1 million copies. Time Out still ranks as one of the best selling jazz albums of all time. In 2010 National Public Radio (in partnership with 88.5 KPLU and Jazz24.org) polled listeners and readers on what they thought the greatest jazz songs of all-time were. The list, called The Quintessential Jazz 100, ended up ranking Take Five as the number one jazz song of all-time, according to voters.

Throughout his career, Brubeck maintained a devotion to traditional jazz while at the same time branching out and exploring a variety of other avenues which included larger jazz groups, orchestral works, ballet and opera, which often were inspired by his spirituality.

Pianist Taylor Eigsti, who performed with both Dave Brubeck and his sons, Chris and Dan, shared with me today the inspiration he received from the jazz legend:

Dave set an example that any musician would be wise to follow – to be loving and treat everyone around you with respect, and create new music every minute we have on this earth. I feel lucky to have known him, and his amazing family throughout the years, and will always be inspired by the Brubeck family and all of the positivity and brilliant music Dave gave to the world.

Brubeck received awards from both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and on Nov. 7 the Dave Brubeck Quartet was recognized for the second consecutive year as the Best Jazz Group in the Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll – quite the honor considering Brubeck had stopped touring.

Dave Brubeck  is survived by his wife, Iola, four sons and a daughter, grandsons and a great granddaughter.