Jazz musicians and fans have been sending out their thoughts and prayers via Facebook and Twitter following the news that pianist Mulgrew Miller suffered a serious stroke yesterday. Details are somewhat limited but it is reported that Miller is currently in intensive care.
Miller, who has been called a protege of Oscar Peterson, suffered a stroke back in 2011 and made a full recovery. Musicians such as Terence Blanchard, Geoff Keezer, and Charlie Haden have been sending out well-wishes on Twitter.
They Died Before 40, a new jazz film, features eight jazz artists, most of them relatively unknown. They all died before reaching the age of 40. Actually, four of the eight died before reaching the age of 30! Seven died before 1944 and one died in 1956. The greatest jazz band in history has been playing in heaven for more than 50 years!
The film presents this band, organized in heaven, playing Stardust, “a tune recorded in heaven.” (They each recorded Stardust individually as a leader or sideman before they died. An audio engineer has been able to take some of each of these individual recordings and produce a beautiful version that can be heard in this film for the first time.)
When these men were chosen, serendipitously, by Howard E. Fischer, the producer, director and writer, he did not realize that they actually comprised what could be a functioning band – rhythm section (piano, drums, guitar and bass), two tenor saxes and two trumpets. Who are these men?
The rhythm section consists of Fats Waller, piano (died at 39 in 1943); Charlie Christian, guitar (died at 25 in 1942); Jimmy Blanton, bass (died at 23 in 1942); and Chick Webb, drums (died at 34 in 1939) who was not available for this recording (he never recorded this tune), so Big Sid Catlett sat in for him. The two tenors are Herschel Evans (died at 29 in 1939) and Chu Berry (died at 33 in 1941). The two trumpeters are Bunny Berigan (died at 33 in 1942) and Clifford Brown (died at 25 in 1956).
The film also presents one piece of music each artist recorded that highlights his great talents. Interspersed is biographical information, expert commentary, photos and other material related to each. The film introduces these musicians and their music in the hope that more people will explore their music and learn about their lives. In addition, as an important aspect of the film, music historians talk about how the musicians’ lifestyles contributed to their deaths and how they died. At the end of the film a scroll lists about 20 other jazz musicians who died before the age of 40.
Additional funding is needed to complete the film.
More information about the film can be found on Kickstarter, a funding platform -http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jazzfilm/they-died-before-40.
Jazz Journalists Association ‘Jazz Heroes’ are activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities. The ‘Jazz Hero’ awards, made on the basis of nominations from community members, are presented in conjunction with the Jazz Journalists Association’s annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism.
Seattle’s Julian Priester is one of 25 Jazz Heroes designated by the Jazz Journalists Association to celebrate those who have had a significant impact on their jazz communities. There will be a Jazz Hero award presentation for Julian Priester at Tula’s at 6 PM PST on Tuesday, April 30, International Jazz Day.
Trombonist Julian Priester, also known as Pepo Mtoto (“Spirit Child”), has from the very beginning of his musical career demonstrated Zen-like equanimity when presented with conflicts or opposites. Growing up in a South Side of Chicago neighborhood with the hard rocking blues of Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley in his head but high school band disciplinarian Captain Walter Dyett instructing him in something very different may have had something to do with it. Or maybe it is just his calm personality, his ability to listen and absorb, and the subtlety of his expressivity, characteristics evident in his own music of the past nearly 60 years, from his first jobs in Sun Ra’s Arkestra through his retirement last year from the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.
“Jazz is really about the human experience. It’s about the ability of human beings to take the worst of circumstances and struggles and turn it into something creative and constructive. That’s something that’s built into the fiber of every human being. And I think that’s why people can respond to it. They feel the freedom in it. And the attributes of jazz are also admirable. It’s about dialogue. It’s about sharing. And teamwork. It’s in the moment, and it’s nonjudgmental.” – Herbie Hancock
In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day is chaired and led by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, and legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. The Institute is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration, which began in 2012.
International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. Each year on April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth for social change. International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage in April.
UNESCO and United Nations missions, U.S. embassies and government outposts around the world hosted special events for the first annual International Jazz Day on April 30, 2012 to honor this revered musical art form. Universities, libraries, schools, community centers, performing arts venues and arts organizations of all disciplines around the world marked the day through concerts, education programs, seminars, lectures, book readings, public jam sessions, master classes, photo exhibitions, dance recitals, film and documentary screenings, theater presentations and spoken word performances. More than one billion people around the world were reached through 2012 International Jazz Day programs and media coverage.
In 2012, UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz presented three high-profile programs: a daylong celebration in Paris at UNESCO world headquarters; a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz; and a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Among the world-renowned artists that participated were John Beasley, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Teri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Robert Cray, Jack DeJohnette, George Duke, Sheila E., Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Hiromi (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Danilo Pérez (Panama), Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Treme Brass Band and Stevie Wonder. Hosts included Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.
Istanbul, Turkey has been named the 2013 Global Host City for International Jazz Day. The city will host a daylong series of jazz events including workshops and seminars, panels and roundtable discussions, film screenings, student master classes led by prominent musicians and educators, and a major evening performance that will be broadcast on public television stations worldwide. The Institute and UNESCO will continue their partnership to encourage schools, universities, libraries, arts organizations, community centers and other entities in UNESCO’s 195 member states to host jazz concerts and educational programs on International Jazz Day in order to reach people of all ages and backgrounds.
This year, celebrations in Istanbul will kick off with a special early morning performance for high school students conducted by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others. The evening concert at Istanbul’s famed Hagia Irene will feature performances by stellar musicians from around the world, including pianists John Beasley, George Duke, Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Abdullah Ibrahim, Keiko Matsui and Eddie Palmieri; vocalists Al Jarreau, Milton Nascimento and Dianne Reeves; trumpeters Hugh Masekela, Imer Demirer and Christian Scott; bassists James Genus, Marcus Miller, and Ben Williams; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Vinnie Colaiuta; guitarists Bilal Karaman, John McLaughlin, Lee Ritenour and Joe Louis Walker; saxophonists Dale Barlow, Igor Butman, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter and Liu Yuan; clarinetists Anat Cohen and Hüsnü Şenlendirici; violinist Jean-Luc Ponty; Pedro Martinez on percussion and other special guests to be announced in the weeks ahead. John Beasley will be the event’s musical director. The events will be streamed live.
If you are holding an event for International Jazz Day, you can register it on the International Jazz Day website by clicking here.
You can watch a Live Webcast of the International Jazz Day Global Concert, from Istanbul, Turkey on YouTube. The Webcast begins at 9pm (Istanbul) / 7pm (London) / 2pm (New York) / 4am (Sydney – May 1st).
The Seattle Women in Jazz Festival, the first festival of its kind locally, will highlight some of Seattle’s best jazz bands, led and/or comprised of women. The festival will also work to engage youth in the art of jazz and to reach out to potential audience members who may not have previously attended a jazz concert.
The festival will run April 26th through April 28th and will showcase musicians including Cynthia Mullis, Kate Olson, Naomi Siegel, Jeannette d’Armand, Leah Natale, Stephanie Porter, Katy Bourne, Jacqueline Tabor, Joanne Klein, Sarah Elizabeth, Tuesday Velasco, Debby Boland Watt, Julie Olson, and Dina Blade. Venues include Egan’s Ballard Jam House, The Triple Door, the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, The Vera Project, and LUCID Lounge.
The festival also recently announced the winner of the Red Holloway Memorial Scholarship to Eliana Colachis Glass, a 15-year-old Freshman at Roosevelt High School, who is taking lessons in voice, piano, and guitar! She will be taking a vocal summit and stage performance workshop at Berklee School of Music in Boston, this summer. Elaina will be recognized and will perform at 4 PM PST at The Vera Project (Located on the corner of Warren & Republican Ave. N., next to the Key Arena, at the Seattle Center) on Sunday April 28th.
For more information on the Seattle Women in Jazz Festival, visit their website here.