Archive for the ‘Larry Blumenfeld’ Category

Larry Blumenfeld on “Facing the Music: Who Hears Jazz?”

January 16th 2010

A survey of reactions and responses to NEA data on declines in audiences for live music:
http://www.apapconference.com/docs/InsideArts_ND09_Jazz.pdf

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Blumenfeld: Shorter at Carnegie Hall

December 7th 2008

longer shorter (toward eternity)
by Larry Blumenfeld

Wayne Shorter turned 75 in August and decided to celebrate with a Carnegie Hall concert last night. I’d help you blow out the candles, Wayne, but you left me breathless.

On the program were the Imani Winds, a classical quintet of four women (flutist Valerie Coleman, oboe player Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mariam Adam, and bassoonist Monica Ellis) and one man (French horn player Jeff Scott), who performed a brief piece by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. The quintet followed with “Terra Incognita,” a chamber piece composed by Shorter, originally commissioned by the La Jolla Music Society in 2006. Lively and flecked with phrases and harmonies distinct to Shorter’s oeuvre (was that a snatch of “Water Babies”?), it offered merely hints of things to come.

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Larry Blumenfeld: Homecoming on Muddy Ground

June 5th 2008

By Larry Blumenfeld

Above all else it was a homecoming: The Neville Brothers performed at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Continue Reading »

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Larry Blumenfeld: Jazz as an African Dialect

June 5th 2008

By Larry Blumenfeld

If a film were made of guitarist Lionel Loueke’s career to date, the master shot sequence would be his 2001 audition for admission into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, then housed at the University of Southern California. Continue Reading »

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Larry Blumenfeld: Dreaming Big

May 6th 2008

By Larry Blumenfeld

For years, Arturo O’Farrill says, his wife would ask as he left for work, “Is this a ‘Gon-ki gon-ki gon-ki’ gig? ” Meant as an inside joke — they’re both musicians — the question couched a simple truth: Much of what passes for Latin jazz is caricature, exemplified by a single watered-down rhythmic phrase to approximate a vast sea of musical culture.
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Larry Blumenfeld: Maine Attraction

May 6th 2008

By Larry Blumenfeld

“Condoms. Tampons. Excess hair. SMALL AN-I-MALS!”
So sang the dozen folks forming a circle within a tiny cabin last July, holding that last syllable until Arturo O’Farrill dropped his right hand with a conductor’s authority. I’d just made the nine-hour drive from Brooklyn, New York, to Deer Isle, Maine, but my bleary eyes found strength to widen. I laughed. Continue Reading »

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Larry Blumenfeld: Ritual Matters

March 10th 2008

Mardi Gras Indian Chiefs Stand
Spectacular, Tall, and Proud

Doing their part to keep New Orleans culture alive

by Larry Blumenfeld

“It’s amazing how much joy and hope these beads and feathers bring.”

The Sunday before Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Donald Harrison Jr., Big Chief of the Congo Nation, son of Big Chief Donald Sr., lay on the living-room floor of his mother’s house in the Ninth Ward, cutting leopard-print fur in a pattern as he spoke. Nearby, a sofa and chair were covered with beads and rhinestones, along with ostrich and turkey feathers that had been dyed a golden yellow. Harrison was preparing to “mask,” to enact the city’s least-understood tradition, and these days, perhaps, its most essential: Mardi Gras Indian culture. These rituals, which date to at least the mid-1800s, are an African-American homage to the Native Americans who once sheltered runaway slaves and to the spirit of resistance.

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Larry Blumenfeld: To America, and Blue Note

March 5th 2008

By Larry Blumenfeld

If any music label’s identity is staked to that of American jazz, it is Blue Note Records. Beginning with its launch in 1939, and especially since the 1950s, Blue Note has chronicled jazz’s progression, while becoming an intrinsic element of the American musical landscape. The musical ferment of New York City from 1950-70 among a close-knit cadre of jazz players can be fairly well-depicted by a succession of the distinctive album covers designed by Reid Miles, often featuring iconic black-and-white photographs taken by Francis Wolff. The two men behind Blue Note’s formation, Alfred Lion and Wolff, were immigrants from Germany, a detail especially worth noting in light of the fact that, so far this year, the Blue Note banner has been waved most emphatically by two musicians born and raised outside the United States: pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, from Havana, Cuba; and guitarist Lionel Loueke, from Benin, Africa. Continue Reading »

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Larry Blumenfeld: How Herbie Learned the Lyrics

February 12th 2008

The scene has been enacted countless times in coffee shops and dorm rooms: Folks sitting around and listening to or, maybe, just reading Joni Mitchell lyrics, digging for biographical facts, mulling over meanings, exclaiming “ooh” or “ahh” at an unexpected image drawn with words. But in May 2007, these were no college students on study break, no latte-sipping dilettantes kicking back, dissecting Mitchell’s work. This was Herbie Hancock reading aloud the lyrics of “Court and Spark.” And that was Wayne Shorter clapping his hands as he let out a deep sigh of recognition. It was the prelude to a session at Hollywood’s Ocean Way Recording studio for Hancock’s new album, River: The Joni Letters (Verve), which turned out to be not so much a tribute to Mitchell as an investment by a master musician in the power of exalted lyrics.

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Larry Blumenfeld: Preservation Hall in All Its Forms

January 6th 2008

New Orleans — Three distinct groups lined up on St. Peter Street, just off Bourbon Street, one recent Sunday evening. The first awaited tall cocktails called “Hurricanes” at Pat O’Brien’s bar. The second had signed up for a “ghost tour” through the French Quarter. The third sought passage through the iron gates at 726, better known as Preservation Hall. Once inside, that last group sat in a dusty room on benches and narrow floor cushions, sans food or beverages, seeking to drink in only traditional jazz and to commune with a singularly haunted spot.

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