mardi, février 27, 2007

In celebration of two friends (an Aquarius and a Pisces) who recently celebrated their born days, I'm taking them to see King Hedley II tomorrow night but, if I wasn't, I would certainly check this out:

Geri Allen's Carnegie Hall Debut
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
7th Avenue between 57th & 56th Sts.
New York City
Wednesday - February 28, 2007
Box Office: 212- 247-7800
$44 - all seats


Geri Allen, Piano; Darryl Hall, Double Bass; Jimmy Cobb, Drums; with Maurice Chestnut, Tap Dancer

vendredi, février 23, 2007

I figured I'd used a Miles Pic since I'm currently reading a Gil Evans bio.

52 is a Jazz listening group that aims to cultivate a friendly community of open-minded Jazz fans. Each month 52 coordinates outings to free or low cost venues in New York City.

So far we have checked out events by small groups, so we're long overdue for a performance by an orchestra, in this case one comprised of young rising talents.

The Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra presents
"New Composers, New Stories"
Justin DiCioccio, Conductor

Tuesday February 27, 2007
7 PM
John C. Borden Auditorium at the Manhattan School of Music
120 Claremont Avenue
(The school is just west of Broadway and 122nd. Take the 1/9 train to 116th or 125th)

Please RSVP to me via e-mail if you can attend.

mercredi, février 21, 2007

We don't need no more trouble

This is despicable and disappointing but rings all too familiar.

mardi, février 20, 2007

"...50 Cent Away From a Quarter..."

peedi peedi

Great interview with Peedi Peedi at The Sound of Young America. Uniquely talented dude. Hope his album really drops.

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lundi, février 19, 2007

Sometimes you gotta let go...


Fan that I am of Mos Def masterwork Black on Both Sides, Black Star, prefame showcases like "Fortified Live" (or in the realm of TV, The Cosby Mysteries) and his brilliant Bamboozled performance, I can't ever again imagine ponying up money or giving free time to see Mos Def perform. I caught him last a few years ago at Blue Note. During the intimate Valentine's Day set (in which I was subtly propositioned by a freaky White couple) he covered love songs by Seal and Andre 3000 in a memorable medley and offered a poignant rendition of everybody's favorite "Umi Says." But it seems he's become increasingly indulgent and less disciplined in the studio and on stage (exemplified by his drunk unfunny shtick at a live taping I caught of a previous season of Def Poetry Jam) while maintaining his defining genre thwarting visionary ambition. This has made for a bad combination. Ben Ratliff's review of Mos Def's January Carnegie Hall performance confirmed my sentiments (although I deeply respect dude for the choice of costume).

Here are two three reviews of Mos Def at BAM's Brooklyn Next this past weekend:

From My musings on Things That Might Not Matter to You
From Clever Creature
From Stayin' Hungry
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jeudi, février 15, 2007

I got into racial exceptionalism, not too long ago. It rankles. Here it goes again :
"Aesthetically, Cee-Lo is an Oreo..."
Miles Marshall Lewis, "Insanity and Other Mutations", Village Voice

lundi, février 12, 2007

"I feel sorry for your mother."

"It's hard to defend 'I got hoes in different Area Codes.' It's hard to defend 'Move Bitch Get Out the Way.'"~Chris Rock, Never Scared

The Dixie Chicks owned last night's Grammy awards ceremony with wins in the top three categories powered by their recalcritant hit "Not Ready to Make Nice" but the three bottle brunettes also found a kindred spirit in rapper/actor Chris "Ludacris" Bridges whose snide "special shout outs" to Oprah and Bill O'Reilly (both former critics) revealed a man also not nowhere near ready to make nice. Rocking his new signature fade, oversized diamond studs, and a grey three piece suit Ludacris assumed center stage to accept his trophy for Best Rap Album distinguishing himself from his peers by accepting his award with a haughty but goodnatured 'I told you so' to L.A. Reid, a minor jab at the academy whom he insinuated recognized his music on account of his cornrowless appearance. Then before he carried himself away Oprah's name came out his mouth. Paired with asinine broadcaster Bill O'Reilly, no less, for attempting to hold Mr. Bridges accountable for his use of self-hating language on an edited appearance on her television show. But Mr. Bridges exists on another plane: where individuals can stake their livelihood on Black female exploitation; where misogyny can unquestionably serve as an ambitious man's moneymaker; where theatrical delivery, crassly humorous one liners, public expressions of devotion to one's daughter and the release of a hollow anthem for troubled young women can win you accolades and shore up your success no matter how undeserved. That he thinks cutting his hair made him a grown ass man is disconcerting. That he would follow up his single "Moneymaker" with "Runaway Love" is outrageous. Young women's limbs equated to drumsticks make them want to run away. The global sex trade or what he casually refer to as "Pimpin' All Over the World" make them want to run away. Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, by proxy, makes young women want to run away. And when a self-made Black billionaire philanthropist held him accountable for his self destructive commercial musical production, he, who is too narcissistic for self-evaluation, questioned her credibility and authenticity and continues to do so up until this very day. The gods must me crazy.

Edit: Funny tangential development spotlighted at C&D.

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dimanche, février 11, 2007

More at KING

jeudi, février 08, 2007

All Around the World the Same Song

Back when I was a diligent grad student, I stopped by one of my professor's (Daphne Brooks visiting from Princeton) office hours and somehow we got on the subject of rock groupies, which I had researched out at UCLA for a summer. She suggested I check out EMP and since I'm from Seattle and it coincided with my planned spring break visit, I checked it out. During one session, I was sitting by a friendly and engaging woman. We chit chatted and headed to the a few sessions together. I soon realized that she was great working journalist whose work I had frequently read. She invited me to lunch with some other other journo friends which was a little awkward 'cause they were all old friends and established journos and I was just a student. Somehow in the convo I mentioned that the recent profiles of Alicia Keys and 50 Cent read the same. I thought this was a rather innocuous comment but it didn't go over well and I stayed quiet for the rest of the meal but after reading this poor Post piece on Amy Winehouse I'm reminded of that comment. So much of what I read is formulaic. What happened to voice, perspective, insight? Writing for me is a work in progress but criticism, literary and cultural, is a more honed skill. As a critical reader I am deeply and dependably dissapointed. So much writing relies on obvious readings of text (performance, behavioral, literal). My assumption is that professionals in all fields are professional because they provide added value. This one is an equity trader because he has investment acuity. That one is a dancer because she expertly negotiates and embodies movement. This is faulty assumption, I know. We do what we do for a variety of reasons and thanks to a variety of relationships but I wish that assumption held truer.

mercredi, février 07, 2007

The Jazz Museum in Harlem is an incredible developing entity that fully engages the NYC community with a number of free programs and performances. This one is not to be missed. ~jb

Miles Davis & George Avakian

Thursday, February 8, 2007

George Avakian, Record producer
6:30 pm | at the Jazz Museum offices
call 212-348-8300 to RSVP

On February 8, 2007, Harlem Speaks welcomes legendary producer George Avakian. His contributions to jazz have been huge through the years. A jazz critic as early as 1937, Avakian wrote about jazz for Mademoiselle and Pic during 1946-48, helped revise Charles Delauney’s famous Hot Discography when it was first published in the U.S. in 1948 and contributed to both Down Beat and Metronome. He pioneered both reissues (discovering previously unissued Armstrong items from the 1920’s) and put together one of the first jazz albums (Chicago Jazz) for Decca in 1940. After World War II, he began producing jazz records for Columbia, becoming quite influential in the 1950s when he also ran the popular music department. Among the many artists who he worked closely with were Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis, and he frequently penned insightful liner notes. After leaving Columbia in 1958, Avakian worked for World Pacific, Warner Bros. and RCA, freelanced with many other labels, was an important supporter of the Charles Lloyd Quartet and recently celebrated over 60 years in the jazz business.

mardi, février 06, 2007


Pic swiped from Brooklyn Vegan

Quick notes on the night before last:

The Sprint commercial was the best with the Letterman promo running a close second. I also liked that Chevy HHR ad.

The Snickers commercial was despicable. Kudos to John Aravosis of America Blog for organizing a quick assertive response yesterday in which I participated by e-mailing Snickers and threatening not to purchase any more of their products unless the ad was pulled--that I don't eat Snickers is neither here nor there. (On the subject I wish the colored children and sadly sometimes adults who hawk M&M's on the train would offer Luna Bars and/or Organic Fruit Leather. I don't eat candy. If they sold healthier snacks they could so expand their customer base. Actually I take that back. I wish they had more social and economic opportunity so they wouldn't have to sell M&M's "not for no sports team but to put a little money in their pockets and stay out of trouble") More another day on how the NAACP, Al Sharpton and Black leaders in general can learn from grassroots web based activists like Aravosis and the good people over at

Prince put on the best halftime show I have ever seen (caveat: I haven't seen that many superbowls.) Incorporating FAM's band was stellar (even though on a few closeups I noticed a few band members flubbing the choreography). "Best of You" was incredible. I loved that song at first sight (MTV2 a while back while flipping the channels) and it was on regular rotation on my iPod until it crapped out and I had to go the Genius Bar to exchange it for a new one.

I'm guessing, and I think Al Sharpton is with me on this, that Prince wore the doo-rag 'cause he has a conk and it was raining. Optimum relaxer maintenance demands that one avoid water at all costs. It mistifies me that Black haircare is still so baffling to other folk. I do agree that the halftime show was an overlooked opportunity to tribute James Brown however briefly. Cut "Proud Mary", add something from JB's catalogue, and bring out Maceo as always. I should note that after seeing Prince perform in Madison Square Garden I seriously considered abandoning my New York life and following Prince around the world (and by world I mean Toronto, Minneapolis and L.A.) despite the fact that his catalogue peaked before my time.

"Southside" is that shit. Rex Grossman is pure boo boo.

Boomer Esiason malaprops a lot for example I caught him conflating 'conjecture' with 'contrast' in the super long pre-game show.

Having consumed my share of shitty carrot and corn studded mushed vegetable patties, lentil burgers, portabella burgers and other underwhelming vege options at a range of establishments (excluding Tiny's Sandwich Shop and Cafe Flora) , I made tasty juicy vegan burgers with Gimme Lean, Ener-G Egg Replacer, Italian seasoning and chopped garlic.

Criminal Minds was supremely dissapointing (still no match for the foolishness of 24) Luckily for the both of them I am almost always willing to suspend disbelief.

I am rethinking "Proud Mary." It might have been brilliant. I'll have to evaluate its gender politics.

* I've been reading Salt, on and off, and listening to live D'Angelo hence the title of this post.

vendredi, février 02, 2007

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 2, 2007; B07

Whitney Balliett, 80, a jazz reporter who spent more than four decades writing thousands of graceful and definitive stories for the New Yorker magazine and helped create one of the finest jazz programs on television, died Feb. 1 at his home in Manhattan, N.Y. He had liver cancer.

Jazz critic and poet Philip Larkin described Mr. Balliett as "a writer who brings jazz journalism to the verge of poetry." Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, called him "the greatest prose stylist to ever apply his writing skills to jazz."

Mr. Balliett began writing a regular jazz column for the New Yorker in 1957. To convey the essence of music and musicians, he avoided technical terms. He considered himself an "impressionist" when he wrote about musicians because music itself is fleeting, so "transparent and bodiless." Jazz in particular, he wrote, had "odd non-notes and strange tones and timbres."

In his observations, he created portraits of entertainers in action. As an amateur drummer, he had a particular appreciation for skilled drummers.

Writing of one of his idols, the drummer Sidney "Big Sid" Catlett, he said, "One was transfixed by the easy motion of his arms, the pulse-like rigidity of his body, and the soaring of his huge hands, which reduced the drumsticks to pencils."

One of Mr. Balliett's most-anthologized pieces was his 1962 profile of clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, titled "Even His Feet Look Sad."

As for Russell's music, Mr. Balliett wrote: "No jazz musician has ever played with the same daring and nakedness and intuition. His solos didn't always arrive at their original destination. He took wild improvisational chances and when he found himself above the abyss, he simply turned in another direction, invariably hitting firm ground.

"His singular tone was never at rest. . . . Above all, he sounded cranky and querulous, but that was camouflage, for he was the most plaintive and lyrical of players."

Whitney Lyon Balliett, the son of a businessman, was born April 17, 1926, in Manhattan. While attending the private Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he began what he called his "erratic noncareer as a drummer" after hearing a jam session on a Sunday afternoon at Jimmy Ryan's club on New York's West Side.

"The famous old New Orleans drummer Zutty Singleton was hypnotic," he later wrote of the experience for the Atlantic Monthly. "He moved his head to the rhythm in peculiar ducking motions, shot his hands at his cymbals as if he were shooting his cuffs, hit stunning rim shots, and made fearsome, inscrutable faces, his eyelids flickering like heat lightning."

After graduating from Cornell University in 1951, he wrote about jazz for the Saturday Review while working as a proofreader for the New Yorker. William Shawn, an admirer of jazz pianist Fats Waller, gave the young staff writer a jazz column in 1957.

The same year, he and jazz critic Nat Hentoff helped create the CBS-TV program "The Sound of Jazz," an offshoot of the series "The Seven Lively Arts."

The jazz show, hosted by New York Herald Tribune columnist John Crosby, brought to millions of homes such eclectic performers as Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk. The program also twinned unlikely pairings of musicians, such as Russell and Jimmy Giuffre, clarinetists of two very different generations and styles.

Eric Larrabee wrote in Harper's magazine that "The Sound of Jazz" was the "best thing that ever happened to television." Columbia Records produced an album of the show's performers, and a video of the program was released in the mid-1980s.

Jazz critic John S. Wilson, writing in the New York Times in 1985, said that "putting Monk on national television at a time when, to the extent the general public knew of him at all, he was apt to be considered weird and possibly menacing, was a courageous and positive act."

Mr. Balliett contributed short articles for the New Yorker's Talk of the Town section as well as book, film and theater reviews. He also wrote poetry. He left the magazine staff in 1998.

Collections of his New Yorker writings were published frequently over the years. His books included "American Singers" and "American Musicians." One massive volume, subtitled "a Journal of Jazz," came out in 2000.

Reviewers noted that Mr. Balliett's taste was more traditional than avant-garde, and he tended to overlook more contemporary players, but he liked to approach all music with a degree of curiosity. He also had a reputation for writing sympathetically about his subjects, often letting them speak for paragraphs at a time to convey their rhythm and personality.

"You have to look at it from the musicians' point of view," he told the Times of London in 1993. "Often they don't get paid more than the union minimum or they've been on the road. I once traveled with Duke Ellington's orchestra, for about five days, and I couldn't believe it. Jesus! You don't know where you are, you have no sense of time or place, you can't sleep right. How these guys do it for so long, I don't know."

His marriage to Elizabeth King Balliett ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 41 years, landscape painter Nancy Kraemer Balliett of Manhattan; three children from his first marriage, Julie Rose of Accord, N.Y., Blue Balliett of Chicago and Will Balliett of Manhattan; two sons from his second marriage, Whitney L. Balliett Jr. of Natick, Mass., and Jamie Balliett of Erie, Colo.; a brother; a half-sister; and seven grandchildren.