Al in NYC

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  1. Monk + Giants of Jazz tour

    There were 2 Yankee Stadium concerts as part of Newport in New York in 1972. July 7 with Ray Charles, Nina Simone, BB King, Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan, and a Jimmy Smith jam session with Kenny Burrell, Joe Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, and Roy Haynes. And July 8 with Roberta Flack, Lou Rawls, Herbie Mann, Les McCann, and the Giants of Jazz. My dad went to both of them, and several more of the Newport in NY events that week. I have the programs somewhere in the back files.
  2. extensive baby face article

    I just ran into this article out there while looking for information on Baby Face's years on the Chicago scene in the late '60s for a friend who is involved in the jazz education world there. It really a stunning piece of research and a wonderful article about a masterful musician about whom much too little information has been available for so long. Bobby Tanzilo is to be congratulated. Tanzilo's article clarifies or settles a number of questions about Willette's background and life beyond his recordings that have been rolling around for years. Fascinating that his sisters also recorded for a major gospel label. And the information about his father, the pro-segregation Arkansas radio preacher known as Prophet Willett, also served to help close another odd circle in my research on the voting rights movement in the south (another snippet of information here: It was a connection that I never would have made. Listening on this cold dreary NYC afternoon to the wonderful Behind the 8-Ball, and deeply loving it.
  3. Harold Mabern R.I.P.

    I just caught up with this news. Shocking, even though he was in his 80s, because I just saw him playing, wonderfully as usual, just a few weeks ago. He worked right up to the end and apparently died of a sudden heart attack. He was not a complex player, and was by his own telling self-taught (in large part by watching Phineas Newborn Jr's hand work), but his work was always interesting and very enjoyable, and often smoking and stunning. Like a lot of Memphis players there was a fair amount of R&B based funk in his work. Plus, the couple of times I had the occasion to interact with him I found him to be a quiet, gentle, but very engaging person. He will definitely be missed on the NYC jazz scene, where he had become an always welcome mainstay over the past decade plus. Bye Mabes...
  4. Kenny Burrell

    I wouldn't consider asking for my money back. Kenny Burrell is certainly welcome to the smallish amount of money I sent (or even more) just by asking. However, I am quite concerned by the weirdness that seems to be going on around him, his health and welfare status, the actions and health of his wife, and how someone with his income, insurance, etc. has apparently become broke or near broke.
  5. Kenny Burrell

    I've been very concerned over this situation and the Post article has just amplified my concerns. None of this has seemed quite right from the start, especially given what we know about Kenny's status at UCLA. I send some money to the Go Fund Me, of course, since even beyond his considerable contributions to music Kenny was an old friend of my parents and had been even closer in the old days with a number of our family's friends. After all, when a friend comes to you for money your first reaction isn't 'what do you need it for?' or 'why do you need it?', but 'how much do you need?' That doesn't mean you should suspend all critical thinking though. I must say here that I am extremely disappointed in the Jazz Foundation, which is an organization I have trusted and contributed to going back to the involvement of another old family friend, Nat Hentoff. If they had put out a more cautious or non-committal statement I might not be so disillusioned, but their statement about the story behind the Go Fund Me made it sound like they had actually confirmed the situation beyond just taking Katherine Burrell's word for it. The Foundation's confirmation, repeated throughout almost all of the stories about Katherine Burrell's funding plea, was key in so many people suspending their skepticism and giving their money so generously. This now seems to be a highly unfortunate black mark against an organization that has done so much; one that makes me wonder what else is going on over there now. Unfortunately, this all sounds a lot like a case of mental illness running unchecked. All of the germophobic paranoia and the zealously guarded secrecy and isolation lead me to the conclusion that others on this thread are probably correct that something is going very wrong here. The reports of boxes constantly outside their apartment, and the unconfirmed accusations of "identity fraud", lead me to another troubling thought, that the problem here may be related to disordered and out of control spending. I've seen this happen in the lives of the mentally ill and/or elderly relatives of friends. The combination of credit cards, the internet, Amazon etc, and TV shopping like QVC make it all too easy for disordered spending and compulsive acquisition to take over one's life, empty bank accounts, and mire folks in crushing high interest debt. All of this leaves me, as it seems to leave many of you, deeply concerned about what is going to be done with all of the Go Fund Me money, and even more concerned about the present status and the future of Kenny Burrell.
  6. Kenny Burrell

    I just caught up with this shocking news from an NPR story on my feed this morning. Made me cry. Kenny was an old acquaintance of my late parents going back to their days at Wayne U. and a very close friend of some of their friends both inside and outside of the music world. My mother was a probate/elder care attorney late in her career, and through her I have seen things go spectacularly bad for even seemingly secure people. Often all it takes is a couple of bad events together, combined with the declining health, declining mental and physical energy, fixed income, and increasing personal isolation that are part of growing old (to say nothing of the industry of sharks who exist to profit, legally or illegally, off of these difficulties), to quickly find oneself in serious trouble. I'm sure it's not too political to say that the way we treat our older people, and our health care non-system, are a national shame. Anyway, I will certainly give to Kenny and his family. If only for him taking the time at Baker's a couple of times to speak with my young self and impart some life wisdom and musical knowledge to an ill-informed and taste-deficient teenager. All you had to do was ask...
  7. An interesting exercise, and one I had not even thought about even though I have a copy of the picture hanging over the couch at my cottage in Ontario. My list (as far as I can remember): Golson, Farmer, Blakey, Griffin, Mingus, Krupa, Kaminsky, Freeman, H. Jones, Silver, Sullivan, Rushing, Hawkins, Shihab, McPartland, Rollins, Williams, Hinton, Heard, Mulligan, Eldridge, Gillespie, Basie. Several of these performers I was dragged off to see by my folks when I was a kid, which I may not have been totally happy about back then, but am deeply thankful for now. Despite the fact that he was perhaps my father's favorite jazz musician of all, I somehow missed seeing Thelonious Monk, which has to go down as the biggest miss of my musical life.
  8. Mark, please go ahead and copy my post. I used to spend several weeks a year in Detroit, but almost all of my family is deceased or gone from the Detroit area now. We still own property in Ontario on Lake Erie though, so I do get around the area a bit during the summer. I'm almost always there over Labor Day weekend, so I make a point of trying to attend several shows at the jazz festival. Nice to hear about Cobb's. I spent quite a bit of time there, and even more around that neighborhood, back during my teens and early 20s. I remember the end of the Bob Cobb era and mostly remember the Henry Normile era. That neighborhood is certainly quite a different place these days.
  9. Mark, thank you, you have just jogged a memory loose for me! I've been wracking my brains for years trying to remember where I saw Mingus as a teenager. I mentioned it to my father before he died, because I remember it was he that took me and my mother to see Mingus (my dad loved a lot of his work), but even he couldn't remember where it was in Detroit. He even suggested that we may both be mis-remembering it, and that it may have been in New York. All we were sure of is that it was winter, and cold, and that it was a wild show. But Strata on Selden it definitely was, because once I saw it mentioned I remembered that it was right around the corner from Zakoor Novelties, which was where dad would take my sister and I to buy all sorts of cheap fun stuff. I'm pretty certain it wasn't that Tuesday show though, because that would have been a school night for me. I do remember that Mingus was increasingly unhappy with his side men through the evening, including Roy Brooks (who was the only one of them I thought I remembered, so thank you for confirming). To the point where he scowled at them and told them all to lay out while he played a very extended bass solo. I do remember just loving it though, and playing the grooves off of my dad's Mingus records for the next year or so. As someone who remembers that era in Detroit jazz, and came of age right at the tail end of it (I even spent part of my 18th birthday at Cobb's listening to Sam Sanders and Visions), I can't tell you how much I look forward to your book and your perspective on the now almost forgotten blossoming of creative jazz that happened during that era in Detroit.
  10. The fascinating story of how Allen Eager came to be one of the winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring sports car endurance race, and the even more fascinating story of the woman who taught him how to race and did most of the driving. With short stops along the way for Steve McQueen, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and others.
  11. Roy Hargrove

    Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn...... Just saw this terrible news on television just now, and was shocked and deeply saddened and, unfortunately, not too surprised. Last time I saw Roy, although he played great as he always did, he was clearly barely making it. And, like I'm sure a number of people here, I also saw Roy in past years in a condition where he wasn't really in a state to play, But the Roy I'll remember is the one I followed around from gig to gig for several years because he would almost always blow everyone's socks off. The Roy who was up at the very top of players of his generation. The Roy who dominated a not much over half full Jazz Gallery on a snowy night and just couldn't stop playing for the few folks assembled there. The Roy who despite his extroverted stage presence had a few soft friendly words for my father when Dad complimented him on the way he approached certain tunes. He is gone far too young and will definitely be missed. Bye Roy...
  12. Aretha Franklin, RIP

    And then tells an easily disproven lie to try to explain it away. Typical.
  13. Aretha Franklin, RIP

    Recorded at her father's church in 1956 when she was only 14 years old. Put out by Detroit record store owner and recording producer Joe Von Battle, whose recordings of her father's sermons had made him a significant recording star (which is why the Rev. gets cited on the label of this record). It was also issued on this J-V-B LP. The single was also later picked up by Chess subsidiary Checker, and much later reissued on this CD of Aretha's earliest recordings.
  14. Aretha Franklin, RIP

    Sad, sad day. Truly one of the greatest voices in the history of American music. Here she is in her prime, ripping it up at home at Cobo Arena in Detroit on "Aretha Franklin Day", Feb. 16 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the presenters at this event. Often forgotten now is Aretha's work (and, of course, the core work of her father) in the civil rights movement. She also performed at MLK's funeral. I was fortunate enough to see her when she was still close to being in her best voice, in a benefit concert in Feb. 1976 at Masonic Temple in Detroit. It wasn't quite as ecstatic as the show in the clip, but it was pretty damn close. My best friend's mother, who had lived near her and gone to school with Aretha and her siblings as a kid, took us backstage to meet her after the show, and she was wiped out but gracious and friendly with that famous smile.
  15. Birks/Birk's/Birks'

    Mark, nice to hear that Dave is still with us and still doing OK. Back in the late '40s and early '50s he was in a group of jazz-crazed (and otherwise-crazed) young men that included my father. But Dave was the one with enough money to put his passion into action, so while my dad was penning record reviews for little neighborhood shopping papers Dave was in a recording studio with Dizzy Gillespie and many other greats. I later went to high school with his son, and Dave hired on a few of my classmates for part-time work at his company cleaning up ugly messes. I still have a few of my dad's old DeeGee 78s stuffed in the shelves over at our family place in Ontario, and a photo of my 2 year old self shaking Dizzy's hand at a benefit for one of my father's organizations.