Posted in Uncategorized, tagged cabaret, indie wire, jazz, langston hughes, lorraine hansberry, music, nina simone, npr, odetta, wgbh on August 28, 2012 |
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I was driving home from Rhode Island Sunday, when I paused the radio at WGBH. A terrific audio essay was on, hosted by Nina Simone’s daughter.
Nina Simone was among the most important voices of the sixties for me, right up there with MLK Jr., JFK, and Joan Baez. Her blend of jazz, blues, and folk was underpinned by powerful emotion. I think I had all her albums back then. A classically trained pianist, Simone had a distinctive voice that was full of caring and pain, even though her personality was often described as abrasive. (And as far as that goes, she had her reasons.)
The best thing about the WGBH broadcast was the selection of the songs. Brought back memories. I was also interested to learn about her connections to Langston Hughes, Odetta, and Lorraine Hansberry.
Hear some of her music at NPR.
Photograph of Nina Simone and her daughter, indiewire.com
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged activism, folk music, folksinger, huey, in good time, jazz, marian mcpartland, music, pete seeger, pianiast, song, susan stamberg, t'ai chi chuan on August 18, 2012 |
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A 91-year-old Hindu gentleman has joined the tai chi chuan class I take Saturday mornings. His wife brings him a little after we have started, and he walks slowly between the wall of mirrors and the line of practicing students to sit in a folding metal chair, where the teacher explains the upper-body part of the exercises so he can join in. Age has not kept him from that.
After today’s class, I was driving home and heard Susan Stamberg interview Marian McPartland, 94, here, on National Public Radio. A fantastic jazz pianist, McPartland recorded her last Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz show only two years ago — after 33 years — but continues as artistic director. She is also the subject of a documentary called In Good Time that highlights the day in August 1958 when she was part of a famous photo of jazz greats in Harlem, below.
Speaking of nonagenarians, folksinger and activist Pete Seeger, 93, showed up on Colbert recently. At first I thought he was not answering a question and was wandering, but it soon became clear he was unfurling a story in his own way and that it would end precisely on point.
Seeger still splits logs to heat his house with wood. And his banjo playing hasn’t aged a bit.
Photograph: Art Kane/Art Kane Archives
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged annette philip, children, christian, ecumenical, friendship, jazz, jewish, kids, kids4peace, middle east, music, muslim, peace, religion, singer, travel poster, understanding, youth on March 23, 2012 |
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Last night I went to a jazz benefit for the nonprofit Kids4Peace Boston, which sponsors a summer camp and other events for children of three faiths — Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. The children are from both the United States and Jerusalem and are 11 to 12. Read more about the program here.
The fundraising event was held in the Grand Circle Gallery in Boston, which features magnificent travel posters and travel photography from the 1930s and 1940s. The entertainment was provided by Indian vocalist Annette Philip and her jazz quartet. Very impressive.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged boyd lee dunlop, brendon bannon, buffalo new york, critic, dan barry, delaware nursing, jane scott, jazz, music, nursing home, piano, rock music on December 17, 2011 |
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I blogged here about the late Jane Scott, who was still reviewing rock bands into her 80s. Today I thought I might write on a couple mature gals in wheelchairs who write a political blog on WordPress. Unfortunately, their language is too salty for a blog associated with Luna & Stella. So I’m going to tell you about a jazz musician who, having been rediscovered in his 80s in a nursing home, and is back in the business.
As Dan Barry writes in the NY Times, “For years, the donated piano sat upright and unused in a corner of the nursing home’s cafeteria. Now and then someone would wheel or wobble over to pound out broken notes on the broken keys, but those out-of-tune interludes were rare. … Then came a new resident, a musician in his 80s with a touch of forgetfulness named Boyd Lee Dunlop, and he could play a little. Actually, he could play a lot, his bony fingers dancing the mad dance of improvised jazz in a way that evoked a long life’s all. …
“And so Mr. Dunlop would have remained, summoning transcendence from a damaged piano in the Delaware Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, his audience a couple of administrators, a few nurses and many patients beset with dementia, loneliness and age — were it not for a chance encounter … .
“In the spring of 2010, a freelance photographer named Brendan Bannon arrived to discuss an art project with nursing home administrators — and Mr. Dunlop greeted him at the door. … A bond quickly developed, and before long Mr. Dunlop invited his new friend to hear him play what he referred to as “that thing they call a piano.” Mr. Bannon, who knows his Mingus from his Monk, could not believe the distinctive, vital music emanating from a tapped-out piano missing a few keys.
“ ‘He was a beautiful player,’ Mr. Bannon says. ‘He was making it work even though it was out of tune.’ ” Read the whole story.
I told my kids that I used to hope I’d make a splash before I was 40. Then before I was 50. Now I’m thinking 90 is more realistic.
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The Hip Harpist I wrote about before has a lot of interests, about which she both tweets and blogs extensively. An especially kooky interest is her Burnt Food Museum.
She explains: “The museum was founded in the late 1980′s one night when Deborah put on a small pot of Hot Apple Cider to heat, then received an unexpected . . . fascinating . . . and very long phone call. By the time Deborah returned to the kitchen, the Cider had become a Cinder and thus the first, and perhaps still the most impressive, exhibit: Free Standing Hot Apple Cider was born.
“Since then, countless other works have entered the museum, such as Thrice Baked Potato, ‘Why Sure, You Can Bake Quiche in the Microwave,’ the indestructible ‘Mmmm……Soy Pups,’ and the lovely matching set of Pizza Toast.”
Like the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA, the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and celebration of bad art in all its forms), the Burnt Food Museum gets a lot of press in the mainstream media for sheer kookiness. These cultural institutions are both in the Greater Boston area.
Don’t let anyone tell you Boston is staid.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged apollo, brookline, ella fitzgerald, grace kelly, harlem, jazz, montreal, nikki yanofsky, saxophone, scat, temple university, verve records on May 25, 2011 |
We went with Suzanne and Erik to the Apollo in Harlem for an awesome jazz concert.
When I tell you about the talent that performed, you will never believe that the tickets were only $10. But sponsors put the show in the reach of pretty much everyone. Savion Glover (of Tap Dance Kid fame) may have been the best-known name, but the Temple University band and others were also great, not to mention two young women in their teens who blew the audience away. One was saxophonist Grace Kelly from Brookline, Mass., who already has a big reputation both here and abroad.
The other was Nikki Yanofsky, “a 17-year-old musical prodigy from Montreal. At the age of 13, Nikki became the youngest artist ever signed to Verve Records, when she recorded Airmail Special for the compilation We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song. In 2008, Nikki’s debut release, Ella…Of Thee I Swing, a live tribute to Nikki’s hero, Ella Fitzgerald, earned two Juno nominations. Nikki’s musical education was further enhanced by collaborations with such jazz luminaries as The Count Basie Orchestra, Oliver Jones, and The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.” Her scat singing was amazing, and her ballads showed control and maturity beyond her age.
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